Saturday, September 29, 2012

Food for thought

Food doesn't always have to be for eating.....

Children, at least the students I have, absolutely love to find "hidden" objects. My idea to hide puzzle pieces and Easter eggs in my room went over so well last year that I wanted to make the activity more accessible year-round. The solution is a bean box. It's easy to transfer to the inclusion class and it's more confined to reduce the loss of pieces.

To make my bean box, I bought 3lbs of black beans (cheapest type I could find at Lowe's grocery store) and a shoe-box sized clear container from the Dollar Tree. You could also use plastic pellets, rice, etc to fill the bin. I decided to hide kindergarten/preschool type objects in my box for the moment. It's also a great way to hide plastic animals used for articulation or categorization (check out Party City for those). 

You can use it for labeling, making a comment, predicting what's next, and articulation drills.  

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Embracing Colorful Semantics

One would think that a person with an English degree would be totally in love with grammar. I confess, that was definitely not the reason I chose to study English as an undergraduate. I loved studying literature and writing papers due to the wonderful themes and doors that books open. My taste ranged from Shakespeare to post-modernist to multi-cultural (mostly Native American) books. Poetry was not my thing even though I did try a creative writing course. I just didn't enjoy being constantly judged on the composition of my papers/creative writing pieces. This makes it a little easier for me to relate to my students who struggle with grammar. It's hard and stressful to be hampered by structure when all you want to do is get out this great message.

Grammar is not something that is easy to teach in my opinion. There are so many rules to remember and most of them are very abstract. The goal of therapy for sentence structure is pull those concepts down to a level that the students can understand. I have found that the majority of my students need visuals and in the past I have used cues for the meaning of wh- question words. The trouble was figuring out a visual system for word functions. It took roughly a year and a lucky find on pinterest to set me on course with Colorful Semantics....

I'm turning all of our activities into a grammar notebook for the students to keep. 
We made these little color picture cubes during therapy and this was the "homework"...write  the outcome.

Colorful Semantics is a program developed by a British SLP that uses a color coding system. It indirectly targets grammar by focusing on word meaning. I've tried it for about two weeks now and it seems to be catching on with my older students. I did alter the colors slightly after looking at the Alien Talk program and trying to coordinate it with my Story Grammar rope.

Orange- Who? People and Animals
Yellow- What ____ doing? The action
Blue- Where? The place
Green-To what? The object receiving the action
Purple-Describe. Tell me more about the person, animal, object, or the action
Red- Emotions- How do the characters feel?
Pink- How?
Brown- Why?
White- When? -Time

I used 4' die cut circles to make this craft. I wrote our target question words in black.
The blue writing is my hint for what the question words are asking about.
I wish I could afford the Alien Talk program, but I will just have to make do with my homemade version. I found these aliens via Microsoft Word's clipart. I made them all black and white so I could have the colors I needed. 
I've found some cute alien figurines for .25 at Michael's that I'm going to try to re-color.
Hopefully, the art project will work out well. You could also look for small stuffed animals. 

  1. London Speech & Language Therapists site of the free printable pack
  2. Speechie Speaks 1 and 2
  3. Integrated Treatment Services Resources
  4. Sandurstspeechies Resources
  5. Power Point Presentation by the Catholic Education Office in Melbourne 
  6. You-tube Video with more explanation
  7. Alien Talk (similar program)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

No voice....slight problem

There are some things that they don't tell you in graduate school. Actually, make that quite a few things....One of these terrific life lessons is that it's almost impossible to conduct therapy with no voice.

The wonderful cold that one of my students gave to me last week has finally morphed into an all out germ-infestation hiding out in my throat. I decided to be smart yesterday and avoid making the situation worse by pulling out the "magic" microphone. When I am holding this sparkly fake microphone, my students have to be quiet and listen to me. It works great with the older ones 4-5 and somewhat with the 2-3. I didn't have first graders, but typically they are not the greatest listeners (which is why following directions is on pretty much every single goal list lol). Unfortunately, my students seem to sense when I'm feeling under the weather and act completely crazy. The kindergartners took the cake in spite of the inclusion wanted to sing for 45 minutes straight, two wouldn't pay attention no matter how many times they were redirected, and one decided to have a total meltdown and run around screaming as loudly as possible without shoes (which is a daily thing so I expected it at least). I really love working with these students and learning from them as it is my first year working with such a needy bunch. However, I had practically lost my voice by the end of the day and was pretty much ready to cry. I also was in the process of guilt-tripping myself for having to ask the EC facilitator to lead my IEP meeting so I could rest my voice.

Needless to say, I've spent the majority of today's sick leave in a theraflu daytime induced haze. It's probably not a good idea to drink two cups of straight black coffee within 30 minutes of taking theraflu unless you enjoy feeling like a zombie. It took forever for me to fall asleep and then I was out for the whole afternoon. I blame the theraflu as well for this post as I will probably wonder what I was thinking as I wrote this in a few It currently seems like a good idea.

In the meantime, I'm still be accused of lying about Carmen SanDiego. One of my kids totally did not buy into the Hank Williams clue that Carmen just happened to email to me. He's the same one who called me out on the letter being fake. I've got another one who is convinced that Carmen is out to get him.....The lock-down drill yesterday didn't help much with dissuading him.  "I promise that Carmen is only out to steal stuff and won't hurt you." ERERERERBEEEEEPPPPP "Attention staff, we are going into lock-down." "It's CARMEN!!!!!!!" **face palms**

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Mobile SLP

I wish there were more hours in the day or that the weekends could be a day longer. I never seem to have enough time to get everything done...This weekend, I wanted to get two weeks worth of Medicaid billing done. I managed to catch a nasty cold from one of my sweet 1st grade students so I only accomplished billing for 3/7 students. (I don't bill for my ELL in K-3 or I would have 14.) This number is roughly half of what I had to bill for last year so I know it will get done before the end of the month. It's just going to eat up all my time after school this week and I was hoping to get started on the Reading standards. -.-

I don't know how many of you follow the inclusion model of treatment vs. pull-out. Last year, I pulled out all of my students and pushed in for one class on Fridays. It seemed like the best way to survive my CFY and get acclimated to my independence. Overall, I favor pull-outs for my articulation students. It is just easier to hear them and use intervention methods in my room so we can be as obnoxious as necessary (and we get pretty obnoxious for our /r/'s) : P . I also enjoy pull-outs because it gives me time to really connect with my students. They all know that I am pretty laid-back and don't mind listening to them. I love it when they start connecting their personal experiences to our stories or something that their peer shares. It also makes me glad to know that they feel like my room is a "safe" place to talk about things that need to be shared with someone. The majority of the topics are things far beyond my control, but sometimes I do get the opportunity to help. Recently, I inquired about helping one of my students get to participate in the school's recycling team since the kids have to take a test to join. (Why they have to pass a test to recycle is beyond me...but it's quote "really hard" so I'm doing my best to help.)

My district, like many that I know of, is pro-inclusion. Ideally, inclusion promotes understanding and diversity as well as exposing more students to the general curriculum. It's also good thing because you are able to work on material that is relevant to the classroom. (Although, asking me to help with math is probably about as good as having the blind lead the blind.) The kids aren't losing any of their instruction time and there is at least one other adult in the room to help with behavioral issues.

This year, I am getting the "best of both worlds" so to speak with my insane schedule. I'm doing pull-outs for my articulation students as well as my 2-5th grade language groups. I also get to spend roughly two hours (depending on the day) in the EC classroom doing co-teaching during kindergarten Letterland. It's been quite the positive learning experience so far. I get to see how the EC teachers manage behavior, how Letterland is actually supposed to go (re: my trainer just wasn't very good), and figure out how to take decent therapy notes on 2-3 kids per 45 minute session while the EC teacher has to focus on the entire group of 6. Enter my little secret friend who makes the inclusion block go so much better.......

You've met her briefly before, but here she is in all of her four shelved glory. 

Top shelf which concentrates on articulation and categorization. I keep Peabody artic decks in my cart and the Webber decks stay in my therapy room. This way I don't have to mess with transferring materials every session.
 I also have several bags of picture items for categories so I just keep one bag in my cart. 

The other half of the top drawer. I have several of my articulation puppets stored  here.
I also hide bubbles on this side occasionally.

The third shelf of my cart which focuses on language. I have pictures of objects and scenes.
I have my home-made sticker cards that I use for following directions and some association cards below them.
The "busy" book is something I use with one of my extremely low students for following directions. I also have an opposites book and a set of small books about common places (school, hospital, etc) that they might go.
The cart is a great way to transfer materials to and fro without much of a hassle. I store my data binders on the second shelf and my categorization "wheel" (pink snack tray) on the bottom. I plan to eventually use the bottom shelf for RtI once the librarian finishes bar-coding the 5 Minute Artic program that the district purchased. The top of the cart has a second copy of my schedule taped to it and is usually bare if I'm not taking some of my larger therapy things with me (like my box of animal toys or my Minnie Purse) that won't fit in a shelf. It has been the one of the best material investments I have made ($10) so far as an SLP even though I can and do "tweak" things in the EC classroom for my purposes. If you are not quite the materials junkie that I am, baskets from the Dollar Tree/Target/Walmart are a great way of transferring your materials around with you. I have also seen a few people using collapsible hand-carts. There are tons of posts on pinterest about organizing materials from both teachers and SLPs. It's really just a matter of trying things out until you find something that works best for you. 

P.S. If you are working with kids, get the flu shot and keep a bottle of germ-X on hand. It's not fail-proof but you will save yourself from some of the misery. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Sometimes, it's just not going to go the way you want it....

There are days when I feel on top of my little SLP world. It doesn't mean that therapy sessions go as planned, but rather that the kids are making progress. They are listening and participating out of their own free will without multiple prompts from me.  Days like this make me feel much more confident in my abilities as an SLP.

There are other days, like Tuesday, that make me feel completely stressed out for no good reason.

Well, perhaps there are a few reasons:
1) I'm a perfectionist
2) I'm very self-critical
3) I'm more pessimistic in nature

Honestly, I think it takes years to feel fully confident in the field (and I imagine that is the case for all fields). It's not something that any book can teach you. Confidence emerges in the act of practice and performance. It comes when you find a new "trick" to add to your "bag of tricks" or finally hear that *one* student get the /r/ sound in a word after exhausting every idea under the sun. It may be the days where you get to be the one to point out a really great resource to another SLP, teacher, or parent (pinterest is the greatest thing ever). It may be when you make a really cool resource to go along with a book or game to incorporate some tricky goal.

Sadly, the source of my stress this week was GAMES. I don't know why or how my therapy room suddenly became the Twilight Zone. I'll just blame it on the terrible weather. The only thing I heard from my kids was "Let's play a game;" "I don't want this game," "Can we do a game now?". Absolutely 0% focus, which is my worst nightmare as someone who considers behavior management to be her Achilles heel.

 My final breaking point came from the student who spent most of last year in this game-induced funk. I tried so hard to get this student involved in those sessions without a great amount of success. So I finally broke out my last resort....the closet (the one that I didn't have last year so couldn't use this trick.) Yes, I have removed  every single game from my room except 2-3 that I am rotating. The kids can only pick from those three games. It's not something that I really wanted to do, but I just cannot handle the whining right now. (I blame it on doing more inclusion groups and having almost no break asides from lunch). My students have surprised me so far by accepting the change without question.

My poor empty shelf
In the meantime, I found the perfect cowboy clue to use with Armadillo Rodeo next week. (They will get to listen to clips from Walk like an Egyptian the week after.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I like to move it, move it....with articulation

There are some days when I just pull out a game for therapy rather than books. This was the case on Monday due to the nasty weather. They get really antsy when they're stuck inside for recess even with their trips to the "screaming house" a.k.a. P.E. 

I pulled out a new game with a dual purpose: Twister Hopscotch.

I placed articulation cards inside of the rings. The kids had to identify the object/animal and tell me the word in a phrase ("I see the ____"; "I want the ____"; "I need the _____.") based on a card placed beside groups of rings. The second aspect of this game was created by the makers of the game. The spinner tells the students an action that they must perform while moving through the rings. They may have to clap, sing, dance, or wiggle to a color. I told my older students that they had to pick a ring that was not the color in the picture for added difficulty. 

Overall, the kids really liked the game. It got them moving and made drills much more fun. I had a few students that absolutely refused to sing despite my encouragement and models. There were also some that just couldn't quite grasp the concept of jumping and clapping at the same time. That being said, I would definitely recommend this game if you have the floor space and like active games. I'm very blessed to have just enough floor space to use this game (as well as those road floor mats) on rainy days.

Check out this article to see why hopscotch is good for kids.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Used bookstores

When I was growing up, I found bookstores to be a magical place and that hasn't really changed. What has changed is the overwhelming increase in prices. I know this is due to the economy and the invention of e-readers. That's all well and good, but it also means that the price of used books are higher too (unless you hit up library book sales, thrift stores, and yard sales) at your local used book stores.

I typically avoid used bookstores. The one in my hometown is extremely overpriced and the ones in neighboring cities aren't much better. They can't really help the situation. (And I can't really help the fact that I absolutely HATE reading books via computers/e-readers/tablets...this also goes for speech articles.) This results in the endless search for some recently released book for roughly a year or more at Goodwill. 

I went out to my old college town this weekend to see my "big sister." As I have briefly mentioned in previous posts, I went to a woman's college for my undergraduate education. My college has a lot of atypical college traditions but it also has some of the more traditional things too. We have a voluntary big sister-little sister tradition that most traditional students enjoy. It has the potential to create life-long friendships and definitely worked in my case. I see my "big" every couple of months or so back at our old stomping grounds. On this particular visit, we stopped off at the local used bookstore. 

Edward McKay Used Books & More
It was a piece of nostalgia as we often attempted to buy and sell textbooks here. The store layout has changed and we are no longer college students. Yet, the sweet smell of well-loved books and some not so loved remains the same. To my surprise, I even ended up buying books to use with my kiddos this time. I couldn't resist purchasing Jan Brett books for $2.20 and my teacher's discount helped save almost $1. 

If you have never used a Jan Brett book in therapy or when reading to your child, you need to try one out a.s.a.p.! I love her illustrations and the layout of her books. Each page shows a glimpse of what will happen next in the story. It's great for predictions and story-sequencing. The stories also have great messages that teach valuable life-lessons. I used her the Mitten and the Hat last year with craft activities. My favorite was having the students put the animals in their very own mitten as we read the story. It was wonderful for sequencing.

Jan Brett has many coloring pages for Hedgie on her website.

Ideas for this book.

For Armadillo Rodeo, I can already see the students designing their very own cowboy boot and answering questions about the story following my story-rope. They may even find a "picture" of Carmen at a rodeo tucked carefully inside (with no written note this time lol) as we continue to search for clues. 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Sometimes, pictures speak louder than words....

My first true "battle wounds" as an SLP.

This is from a scratch on my arm that I got while a kid was trying to run out of the EC classroom today.
I ran to shut the door and got accidentally hit as the student tried to beat me to the door.
The poor EC teacher got the worst end of the deal and ended up bleeding from a far deeper wound than mine.  

Please note that this is not an attempt to scare people away from the field, I just thought it would be a fun way of documenting another learning experience. It's honestly not as bad as it looks and I barely bled at all. My cats have done worse, but I did think it was important to show that some aspects of the job are more glamorous than others.

Also, this is the reason why you want to have picture schedules and "first-then" boards. It helps reduce the risk of this.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Questions kids ask....and other random musings

Okay, I was going to start this post by listing out everything that I do enjoy about the paperwork my job includes as I do enjoy parts of it though I ranted last time.

However.....I have to start out with the random questions my kids ask me:

1. Do you have kids? (I look at my left hand and wonder if there is some invisible wedding ring there that they can see....) Umm..No. I'm not married.
2. Why don't you have kids? Everybody has kids.   Uhhh...I'm too young and I'm not married.
3. How old are you?  Twenty-five (Twenty-four last year).    K: Well, my mom had me when she was X (usually 17-22) years old.  M: That's great, but I went to college for 6 years and it's very hard to go to college with kids.
4. Who wrote this?????!!!!  (I brought this one upon myself by writing a letter from "Carmen SanDiego"...didn't realize that one of them would recognize my handwriting and ask this at EVERY session)
5. Can I have this?   No. I use that with all of my students and they would be very upset if it's gone--this also goes for my mechanical pencils that I use for SOAP notes *face palms*.
6. Do you like math?   No.
7. Do you know where my house is?  No.
8. Do you know X (sibling/cousin)?  Depends on my caseload.
9. Will you buy this for the prize box.    I don't make that much money. Ask Santa.
10. How many stickers?   Two- it's always two. (Unless they either don't do their work or earn an extra special sticker)

Reasons why I love the paperwork aspect of my job:
1. IEPs are designed for every individual child. This means that it is unique to that child and his/her needs. The process insures the collaboration of the people (parents, Reg. education teachers, EC teachers, ESL teachers, PT, OT, SLP, psychologist, etc) who have an impact on the child's education & general life skills. Parents play the major role in all aspects of the process from initial referrals to graduation from services/school. 
2. Responsibility. I'm glad that we are held accountable for the services we provide. The children of today are tomorrow's future. They deserve to receive the best education we can offer to them. (That being said, there is always a risk of "hiccups" in the best laid lesson/therapy fire drills. Be flexible and use whatever life throws at you as a teaching opportunity.)
3. Data. I need to show proof that what I'm doing is working. If it's not working, then I better try something else. (This is handled mostly via SOAP notes written for every session but it also shows up in the Present Level of Academic Perfomance/PLAFF in the IEP.) It also helps me when I get new students who've received services in the past. 
4. I'm a self-professed English nerd and enjoy writing papers. (This is why I double-majored in two of the most writing intensive majors
5. I get to learn something new every day (like writing about assessing kids with sensory impairments that I've never dealt with before) since our paperwork is pre-audited. I've learned a ton from the EC program facilitators while writing IEPs. (Medicaid billing on the other hand--I've mostly learned that it confuses us all.)

Now for a handy-dandy therapy idea....

You may have noticed this little pink purse in a previous picture of my room. It's for a very simple game that I play with my younger students called, "What's in Minnie's Purse?". The purse was a Salvation Army find at $1.99 and it has been a hit. You can also use an old lunch box, paper bag, random old purse, etc. I suggest using something with eye-catching colors. 

To play: Select articulation cards and small toys for categories or naming. Shake them gently so the toys and cards will be mixed together. Let the kids pull out one object at a time. They talk about what it is that they found according to their goals. 

I keep the purse close for days when I just can't think of a great craft. The kids love the element of surprise.
You could use it for other goals as well: such as making predictions and guessing what the item is based on descriptions. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

IEPs can eat your life away

My brain is in total IEP mode right now. Why so early? I wasn't smart enough to realize that the September 30 cut-off date last year might suggest that an Oct. 3rd IEP should probably go ahead and be scheduled for the end of the year. Unfortunately one student comes from Pre-K, which means that I barely know this student and am scrambling to learn what I can.

For those of you who are not familiar or still learning about SLP, the reason why IEPs (Individualized Education Plans) are so important to school-based SLPs is that they are mandated by federal law. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 essentially states that every individual deserves the right to a free and appropriate education. The parents are not paying the public schools for their children to come to speech, OT, PT, EC, etc...(asides from what everyone pays out in taxes) because the child demonstrates an educational need for this extra support. There MUST be an educational need; however, and sometimes it may be hard to demonstrate how a certain disorder impacts their education (like..swallowing/feeding which I'm not allowed to deal with in my district).

The process for IEPs appears deceptively simply in grad. school when you have professors who make everything sound easy and a university clinic that operates in another realm of reality. It took me the entire school year (2011-2012) to learn enough to feel comfortable when leading IEP meetings as a CF. The challenges are numerous:
     1. Paper work that often sets you up to write things that can be considered pre-determination (and if you don't write things up ahead of time you are faced with a ton of awkward silence as you try to type/write everything).
     2. Language barriers
     3. Explaining everything in parent-friendly terms because you have been surrounded by your area of expertise for long enough that it seems like everyone should understand what you're talking about (in reality, you may be the only one of your kind in the building and NO ONE knows what you do...even after a year....)
      4. Finding a time when everyone can meet. Calling parents first or after consulting with the Reg. Ed. teacher is highly recommended as it saves a lot of headaches.
      5. Leading the meeting (especially if you are more introverted).

Don't get me wrong, I am glad that we have a federal law that protects our students and gets them the services that they need. I just wish graduate schools actually did more to show their students how time consuming and stressful the process can be when you first get out. Actually, there's a lot that I think graduate schools like to skim over but I suppose that disconnect is caused by their inability to foresee where their students will end up. The resulting "deer in headlights" experience as a CF is uncomfortable and I've heard quite frequently that it can take 5 years to truly feel comfortable in the job.

In the meantime, here is a freebie for a noun activity that I made recently. It's for sorting nouns from verbs. I made it for a grammar notebook that two of my students are working on this year. Each part of speech will be covered in a series of activities (like worksheets from online, sorting activities, recognition activities, cloze paragraphs, etc) that they can review at any point. I plan on using my new grammar chipper chat to help review each part of speech that we complete before moving on to the next topic. (I am ridiculously excited about the chipper chat and have already introduced my younger kids to the artic one.)
    *You may want to print out the slides via 6 to a page. That's what I did to make them more like flashcards.*

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Window into my world....

I realize that most people posted pictures of their rooms back in August. I just recently got access to a camera and thought I would share a tiny glimpse into my world.....(and, no, I don't have to share this space with anyone.)

Who is this? (Yes, I drew her free-hand.)
Oh! It's just Carmen SanDiego hanging out with the Speech Detectives.
Therapy area with strangely angled wall. Parts of Speech posters from Dollar Tree. 

Story rope. Hand drew everything except the cabbage patch kids which I colored.
More views of my therapy area. The bookcase holds assessment materials and  non-frequently used tx stuff.
Speech quilt brought to you by this site. Words cannot describe how much I love this thing.
Also featured: Sound stoplight and SLP rolling cart (Salvation Army $10) for mobile services in the EC classroom.
Closet/desk. Yes, that is real crime scene tape. 
Closet featuring my thrift store and yard sale finds.  My picture books are housed in the copier boxes by themes.
Obviously, this is something that I try to hide from my students as they would only focus on the games in the closet.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Getting crafty

I love my job. I enjoy working with children and getting to introduce them to the many wonderful things that language holds. Every job, however, has it's negative sides and most SLPs will tell you that paperwork is the biggest source of complaint. I am no exception to this rule. I loathe billing medicaid and writing IEPs when I barely know the student. (2 weeks of hearing screening= Miss Thrifty using the Labor Day holiday to figure out she has two re-evaluations to set up this week. The good news is that I do know 1 out of the 2 students.) 

There are days when I get so stressed out that I just want to sleep, eat (which is probably why I gained so much weight last year), or craft. It's my goal to turn this potentially destructive energy into something useful with a little help from Pinterest.

Here she is in all of her glory!

Pink Pig Project
I saw this wonderful little idea from a post on Speech Room News. I LOVED it and immediately went search of materials. My biggest trouble with this craft is getting the darn label of the whisk bottle. I gave up and used red duck tape to cover it up. It's probably not the most glamorous looking pig with all that tape, but  at least it has character. (Plus, the tape covers any rough edges that could hurt little hands.)
Supplies I used: 3 red pipe cleaners, red duck tape, 1 empty whisk bottle, two large googly eyes, 2 foam flowers (easy eyelashes), and two foam swirls (nose). It's not the easiest project, but I think it is still good for people who are not the crafty type.

I have also seen/heard about thumballs from my coworkers and pinterest. These are a great tool for therapy as it incorporates movement. Students get tired from sitting at their desks all day with pencils or markers. They need movement whether it's something big that requires the playground or something small enough to do on a table-top. My room is big enough that I do let students throw balls in a basketball hoop or play catch. The thumball is great for playing catch. Whatever their thumb happens to land on is what they need to do or answer.
The source of my inspiration.
I purchased my two thumballs from Lowes Food as part of their 75% off summer toys clearance. They were both $1 a piece. My larger green ball (same type of ball as in the picture) is for starting conversations. The purpose of this ball is two-fold: 1) social skills in therapy and 2) social skills in our new breakfast club. That's right, the EC department at my school is starting a social skills breakfast club and I can't wait. It's such a great way to connect students to each other across the grade levels (3rd-5th) and classes. They can have a support system in the other members when they can't find us. We are so lucky to have such an amazing Principle & Vice Principle to support our ideas. :)

The second thumball is a smaller yellow and red soccer-ball type thing. It is for categories with the red being for the harder groupings.

Color Changing Artic
The next thumball project is for articulation and reading comprehension. I managed to snag color changing balls at my local dollar store. The kids are going to go crazy for them. 

Blending Board
When I was at Orton-Gillingham training, the trainer showed us a blending board that she had made using a 3-ring binder. I had seen similar ideas on pinterest using spiral bound notecards cut in three rows as well as modified molding. This was something I needed to try. The Salvation Army typically sells binders for .49 cents and I managed to find a decent looking 1inch binder without a problem. I proceeded to fold the pocket part on each side in *roughly* halves. You want one side to be slightly longer than the other so that it will stand up on its own and the rings aren't directly in the middle where you can't change the cards. (Think isosceles triangle) 

 Once it looks roughly like this shape, I used duct tape to make sure the flaps were going to stay put. I added the monster blending cards from laternfish and called it a day.