Sunday, December 30, 2012

Goodbye 2012....

Before the year ends, I want to share one last item that I recently made for therapy.

I love using hedbanz in therapy for language groups and decided to adapt it for my articulation groups. I hope to make versions for other sounds as time allows. Here is your copy. I suggest printing it out on card stock or taping them to note cards (what I usually do). 

As 2012 comes to pass, I just want to say thank you for reading my blog. My discovery and unexpected journey into this field has been full of blessings and trials. I hope that 2013 is a year filled with joy and happiness for everyone.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas break is flying by too fast.

I am looking forward to seeing all of my students soon. They will have lots to tell me about their breaks and I can't wait to hear all about their adventures with Santa Claus.

I am sad; however, that Christmas break has flown by so quickly. The optimistic side of me thought that I was going to accomplish rocket science over the week. I've only managed to tackle one of the IEPs I wanted to complete and billing. There are now two more reading goal banks up for Common Core (1st Grade and 2nd Grade). I did make two wonderful pronoun notebooks and start on another project for articulation (I will post about it once it's complete). I also made another pinterest inspired craft for teaching shapes.

My camera batteries died so I can't show you my version today. Check them out here.
I love this idea as it works well with my students in the Letterland inclusion group. Shapes are part of their curriculum vocabulary and we've tried a variety of things to help them. They have watched LeapFrog videos, read the Greedy Triangle, listened to shape songs on Youtube, and made hand-drawn Christmas trees (mostly tracing over shapes) as part of a following 2-step directions activity. I love that the sticks include the number of sides that each shape has as it is something we are emphasizing to the inclusion group.

All you need are some different colored craft sticks (mine came from Dollar Tree) and a sharpie. It took a grand total of 5 minutes to make all of the shapes.

Break was also a great way to catch up on watching Nashville and Grey's Anatomy.

                                                                    Love this song.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Got pronouns?

My Christmas break project was to find a better way to teach the concept of pronouns to my younger students. It's such a hard concept for them to understand with the Pronoun Parade cards and using pictures from books (even though I love those strategies for my older groups.) My solution was to use the sales catalogs I have stock piled since Thanksgiving for therapy activities to make pronoun books.

Here's what the finished product looks like....(7 hours later)

This is the second of my pronoun books. The first one is for he, she, and they.
I tell what each word is used for twice with a single image. Then, I let them look at two pages with single images and examples of sentences they could say. The next step is for them to make up sentences on their own.
Walmart, Target, and ToysRUs had the best ads. I also used pictures from Belk, JC Penny, and Kmart.
The key to the book is to have just enough pictures on each page to avoid sensory overload.
What this project takes:
3-ring binder
15 sheet protectors (you can do more or less)
Basic copier paper or construction paper.
1 Sharpie
Lots of sales ads (I had a month's worth)
Lots of free time

Monday, December 24, 2012


I'm going to let you in on a two little secrets that I use to teach pronouns as a sort of Christmas present....

1) For she/he: I usually tell my students that "hers" and "his" are dead...not an option....not a choice. It is a little bit harsh, but I have found that my students will always use these two words if I don't place heavy emphasis on not using those words. 

2) I use the Pronoun Parade deck from Super Duper to drill my older students. We've turned it into a competition of sorts....whoever says the correct pronoun the fastest and in a complete sentence earns the card. They obviously want to earn the most cards so it's a great motivating tool. It usually takes about three minutes for us to go through all of the cards. 

I love this card deck as it's a versatile tool. I use it for describing images, who questions, and formulating sentences. 

Now, I have another idea for teaching pronouns that I will share with you in my next post. 

Merry Christmas

Wishing all of you a wonderful holiday!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Sometimes, all you need is a rubber band....

Learning to make do with what you's a lesson that my parents stressed to me since I was in preschool. (Perhaps, this is why I started out playing dolls with little wooden blocks that I drew faces on???)

Last year, I worked with lots of students on /s/, /sh/, and /ch/. I use your typical sound associations most of the time with my articulation groups. /s/- make a snake sound, /sh/- make a quiet sound, and /ch/- make a choo-choo sound. It's a great way of giving students a connection to the sound. However, there are quite a few kids that need more than just that auditory or visual cue. For these students, I suggest a simple solution:

Rubber Bands

They come in all colors and sizes.
I use rubber bands to teach the /s/ and the /sh/ sounds as they are a great tactile cue (I've also tried it with s blends). My students learn to stretch out the rubber band as they say the sound (at whatever level we are working on). The /ch/ on the other hand makes a short chopping sound so we act like we are chopping up a carrot. After a few sessions, I take the rubber band away and have them simply do the motion with their hand as they say the target. This slowly weans them away from the tactile cue but continues to aid in the visualization process. It works well for students who like to rush through drills too.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Let's have a fiesta!

Life has a funny way of teaching you lessons. When I was growing up, I assumed that everyone had the same things and same types of people in their lives that I had in mine. I remember hearing about those starving children in Africa who wished they could eat my broccoli and thinking that they were welcome to take as much as they wanted. College helped me grow up in many ways, but life as a school-based SLP continues to throw invaluable lessons my way.

The biggest thing being an SLP has taught me is to look at the world through fresh eyes and a different perspective. 

My goal is to make therapy sessions both fun and functional. I have to be able to put myself in my clients shoes even if they happen to be a lot smaller than my own. What do they really need from me and what will be a good way to get us there? Almost any object can be used for therapy whether it be an old magazine, store catalogs, restaurant menus, figurines, games, planting flowers, etc. It just takes a little imagination. 

Here is an example: pictured below is a snack tray that has seen plenty of celebrations in its lifetime. It showed up at Goodwill for $2 looking for a new lease on life. I couldn't resist buying it to use in my therapy room even though it is a bit scratched up. 

The hat can hold manipulative objects or drilling cards. However, I have been on the search to make sentences and plurals more fun for my older kids. My solution is to have a fiesta as there's not many things in life that are more fun than a party. It's a great way to get students to talk about their own experiences with birthday parties, Christmas celebrations, etc...and I love to hear their experiences.

 If you would like a copy of the fiesta document it includes the following:

Taco Sentences- Which ones are correct?
Mariachi Fill-Ins- Fill in the blank to complete the sentence (most target verbs)
Fiesta Chica- Plural nouns
WH Sombreros- Basic questions
Taco Articulation- /t/ production
Pronouns- He/She

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Pinterest Project #2

Pinterest and I have a one-sided relationship. I pin all of these great ideas that I plan on doing and they never get done. I think this is largely due to my impatience with crafts that take a long time to complete.

Multiple Meaning Word Cards (aka..the project that almost didn't happen)


30-40 paint chip samples from your local hardware stores. I prefer the Valspar type that has the nifty holes.
1 Sharpie maker. Make sure it will show up on dark and light colors.
1 binder ring for storage.

The hardest thing was finding a list of appropriate multiple meaning words. I used a sheet from graduate school and several websites to come up with my deck. I have made a list to share with all of you here. You can also use the list featured on SLP lesson plans. All in all it took about an hour and a half to do with the list searching. It took only 20-30 minutes to write all the words.

Once the project is completed, you can let the students write the two meanings on the cards with expo markers (extra practice for writing skills). You can also have them just go through the deck and say the meanings aloud.

Why do you call it the project that almost didn't happen?

I don't have a house/condo/independent dwelling as of yet. This means I had zero experience with home reno stores until I saw the idea to use leftover paint chips for therapy. I was terrified that a worker would come up and talk to me as I tried to grab as many paint chips as I could without looking too weird. This resulted in a haul of 10 per two visits. My grandmother brought me about 35 from her hardware store visit. Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out how she pulled it off without getting any questions. I swear she has some sort of magical air about her that makes people look the other way. She can get away with so much stuff that I wouldn't even dare to try (unless I was a kid again).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Quick Craft #1

I am trying to tackle a few of my pinterest inspired crafts. This one came from all of those eye sticks that teachers are posting for reading. 

The alphabet stick project is useful in a couple of ways:
    1) Sound-letter correspondence
    2) Simple CVC words (though I don't have any duplicate letters)
    3) Most importantly naming tasks. Tell me all of the things you can think of that start with A, B, C, etc....
    4) Sorting tasks with articulation sounds for sound discrimination.  

All of my materials came from the dollar store with a total cost of $2. I just had to peel and stick the letters to the foam sticks. It took a grand total of 5 minutes to accomplish this project.

P.S. I just watched the documentary below and found it to be fascinating. It's all about perspective no matter what the delay/disorder happens to be.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

“Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” ― Dr. Seuss

Greetings world! Blue W and Strong R are pleased to meet you. 
I love tricks that come to me at the spur of the moment, particularly ones for articulation. I love articulation therapy. It's a challenge that never gets old as kids can do some pretty funky stuff with their sound errors. 

Challenger= /r/ initial placement with two kiddos in the same group.

Normally, I have a peer in the group model the correct production of /r/ for them to start off. We use the mini mighty mouth to talk about how our tongue gets ready for the sound (I have found that putting playdoh on the roof of the mouth helps them understand just how far back their tongue is supposed to be when it touches the roof of their mouth) and the mirror. This has helped, but I am getting sick and tired of the old "talk like a pirate" example when the productions aren't good. So, I came up with the brilliant idea  of telling them that the /r/ sound is heavy. Like really, super-duper, awful heavy...They have to be strong "muscle men" to lift the /r/ with their tongues. It started with me "attempting" to lift the table while I said the /r/ in isolation. I lifted it up just a touch when I said the correct production and struggled when I said a /w/ instead. It surprised them to start with, but the words "muscle" and "strong" quickly invoked some sort of manly competition. 

Make that /r/ strong!!! You can do it!
P.S. "Mouthy" is a .25 cent find from Goodwill that I let the kids share while I use my mouth puppet 
I had them practice their "strong" /r/'s by lifting random things in the room while phonating. Glue bottles and tape dispensers seem to work fairly well. When they are ready to attempt the task without the tactile cue, you can just visually cue them by pretending to lift something heavy or pointing between your designated "strong" and "weak" production symbols. I use the action figures but you can easily use pictures. It has worked like a charm so far.

P.S. I totally told my kids that Santa watches them from the cameras in the hallways today. It seems like every group has been fighting over whether Santa is real or not except for my kindergarten groups. The Santa cameras cured the problem real quick. Yay for being able to focus on speech again! (Though I do feel somewhat bad for

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A blast from grad school past..Language Acquisition charts

I'm looking back at my old graduate school work right now. I was so proud of compiling all of these charts when I first started.  

Preschool Phonology Chart- Syllabic Structure Processes

Preschool Phonology Chart- Phonological Processes

Preschool Phonology Chart- Sound Acquisition Chart

Preschool Morphology- Brown's 14 Morphemes

Preschool Morphology- Brown's Stages

Preschool Morphology- Additional Features

Preschool Semantics Chart- Semantic Roles

Preschool Semantics Chart- Acquisition Strategies

Preschool Pronouns Chart- Strategies for Acquisition

Preschool Syntax Chart- Embedding

Preschool Syntax Chart- Sentence Development

Preschool Pragmatics Chart- Vocabulary Development

Preschool Pragmatics Chart- Conversational Skills

Preschool Pragmatics- Narrative Skills

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What's for lunch?

One of the issues that I struggle with as an SLP (and a less active person in general) is trying to eat healthy. I usually have about 15 minutes to each lunch when all is said and done. This was an epic fail last year as I turned to leftover pizza and calorie laden snack foods.

At the beginning of this school year, I made it my mission to find a healthier alternative so I can re-lose the weight that I have gained from the past three years. (I lost 40lbs back in college so I know it can be done with hard effort and limiting my favorite stress eating foods.)

Here are a few of the things I have tried:

Not a lot of tuna but decent.
Probably my favorite choice
My 2nd favorite

The key to frozen foods for me is to find ones with lower amounts of sodium. My family has a long history of heart disease and I don't want to be another number on the list. Healthy Choice has some of the better selections in that requirement. However, I get sick of eating them all of the time so I try Smart Ones to add a little variety.

I recently started back walking to get more exercise. I'm not the running type and am too embarrassed to drag myself into a gym at this point. It is really hard to get the motivation to do any kind of exercise after work, which has definitely been an unexpected struggle. Ah, life!

Anyone have any suggestions or stories of how they have found a healthy balance?

Monday, December 3, 2012

My thoughts on....the CASL versus the CELF-4

This post is inspired by all of the re-evaluations I have to do this year and the ones I have already gotten done.

At my school, I test the majority of the students with the Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals- 4th Edition (CELF-4). It was the test that I used for the majority of graduate school and the only multi-topic one that I have on hand at my school. (I have to borrow everything else from the other SLPs). Needless to say, I have a pretty good relationship now with this test. I really loved this assessment tool when I first started out. It covers syntax, following directions, retell, and pragmatics to hit the high points. My feelings towards the test have dampened a little over time as I've come to realize how much of an emphasis it places on syntax. It is not easy for students from lower socio-economic statuses or English as a Second Language to do well on this assessment. Granted, the test isn't supposed to be easy per say...but it really makes some of the kids frustrated. The students I test are so stressed about every test they take and I feel really bad for them as the tasks get increasing harder. I usually give them "brain breaks" to help ease some of the tension.  

So, I decided to give the Comprehensive Assessment of Spoken Language a try during my most recent re-evaluation.  
I really like the larger variety of subtests that it offers and the flexibility. It is still going to challenge students but I think the variety lessens some of the frustration. My student also seemed more confident than many of the ones who endure the CELF-4. The easy chart that tells you what to do for each age group is a life saver:

3-0 to
5-0 to
7-0 to
11-0 to
13-0 to
18-0 to
Comprehension of Basic ConceptsCS
Sentence CompletionSSSSSS
Idiomatic LanguageSSS
Syntax ConstructionCCCSSS
Paragraph Comprehension of SyntaxSCCS
Grammatical MorphemesSCSS
Sentence Comprehension of SyntaxCSS
Grammaticality JudgmentSSCC
Nonliteral LanguageCCCC
Meaning from ContextSCC
Ambiguous SentencesSSS
Pragmatic JudgmentCCCCCC

The hardest part of this test was figuring out the scoring manual. I got really confused with the layout of the scores and had to re-score it after consulting with the other SLPs in my district. That's definitely my biggest complaint with it.

I'm pretty sure I will be experimenting more with the CASL in the months to come. It's always good to open yourself to new tools.