Saturday, March 30, 2013

When it rains, it pours.....

It's a short post for tonight. My students managed to share a bug right before the break. Thank goodness for theraflu. 

I created this document to work with both Colorful Semantics and for associations. The umbrellas can be used to formulate a sentence containing that word or perhaps two words. Each umbrella has another umbrella containing an associated word: skipping goes with jump rope. Your students can explain how the items are related. 

You can get your copy of the activity here.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Beckman Oral Motor: The Experience

Is gravity getting you down? (Or perhaps, the weight of all that paperwork hanging over your head....) Cheesy lines aside, I am amazed at how little I have given thought to gravity's affect on the human body. I guess it's partly from my mind being on other things and partly because I take gravity for granted. It's just there. We know it's there so why talk about it?

At the Beckman Oral Motor training, I feel like a veil was lifted from my eyes and I know that I cannot begin to describe this program in a way that will give it justice. The down and dirty version is that it is something that I would definitely recommend taking if you are interested in oral motor therapy (even OTs & PTs attended). We talked about anatomy in a common sense way and quite a bit about gravity's affect on the tiny little muscles of your face. Then, we learned about a way to assess how those tiny muscles are functioning and provide interventions to aid the ones that are a little weak. I know that the field has quite a bit of disagreement over oral motor interventions. My understanding of the debate is fairly weak, but I believe it all boils down to the fact that we always need to be able to show data that both proves a need and an outcome. The Beckman program does provide that evidence in a quantifiable way. You have specific measures that are just for assessment, just for intervention, and some that perform double-duty so to speak. In most cases, all it takes to do the techniques is your fingers and some gloves. (Although, in some cases a nuk brush is nice to have too.) Isn't it nice to know that there are some programs that don't require spending a ton of money on fancy tools? The intervention is also great because you only spend 2-3 minutes per exercise with breaks in between so the muscles can rest. This means that it can be easily incorporated into therapy without making students feel terribly uncomfortable.

I haven't used the Beckman protocol at work yet. It's something that I want to practice a bit more on with the help of relatives and friends. It's easier to work the kinks out with them than with a 6 year old.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Ducks in a row

I'm putting off my review of the Beckman training for a few more days. Monday decided to go off on the wrong foot. Here's to hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. 

In the meantime, I made a quick little activity to for parts of speech. I figure it will be a nice review activity for some of my language groups. 

You can grab your copy here.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SLP Link Up

Oh, How Pinteresting has started a Link Up for March. I'm pretty excited to see everyone's answers. You can find her instructions HERE. 

State of Mind

Ready for Spring break! 


My new Origami Owl Living Locket necklace. If you haven't seen them, it's kind of like a charm bracelet in a locket. My parents gave me it recently for my 26th birthday.   


I am prepping lots of evaluation reports this week. It's going to consume most of my time, but I hope to write a post about my latest CEU experience soon. 

Go check out all of the blogs that are linking up at Oh, How Pinteresting.  Happy Spring!

Friday, March 22, 2013

She's back with another thrifty share inspired by pinterest

One challenge in therapy is motivating my students to work on goals that are less than thrilling for them. Auditory recall has been a big challenge this year. How can reciting information be exciting after the thrill of copying the "teacher" is done? Well, I found these voice sticks on pinterest a long time ago for articulation and thought it might be handy. I made them back in November and promptly forgot all about using them for those groups. The bag caught my eye a few weeks ago while my kids were complaining about the recall task. Robot voices make anything more fun..........

 I added a few action sticks to add even more entertainment after the first attempt with these went well. The kids pick up a stick before I give them the target sentence. They have to use the voice or perform the action as they repeat the sentence. We do a new stick for every task.

You really can't go wrong with craft sticks and a Sharpie.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

And she's off once more....

I will be away at Beckman Oral Motor Training from Wednesday to late Friday. I hope to write about the experience in an upcoming post as it is something I have been quite excited about these past few weeks. The silver lining I guess you could say in the rush of IEPs. Thankfully, March 15th is now over and I'm a year older to boot.

Secondly, I just want to give a shout out to all of my blog followers and facebook fans. In my wildest dreams, I though I would maybe have 5-10 people notice my blog. I didn't really know what I was doing when I started out. I just knew that I wanted to keep track of my professional development so that I could always remember these early feelings. The moments of uncertainty I felt going into my room that first day and seeing how that barren space transformed into a room my students enjoy. The moments of excitement I feel whenever I geek out over a new training and even the times when I am stressed over paperwork. Its the joys and the imperfections of reality that inspire me to grow. Thank you for taking the time to read pieces of this journey even if it is only for the thrifty ideas. Those concepts are deeply embedded in my experiences and search to become a better SLP. I hope to help each of you in some small way. Thank you for allowing me that opportunity.

Now, I want to leave you with a simple idea that I came up with to avoid hunting for stray Easter eggs in every little nook of your speech rooms.
 Meet the ribbon basket. 

I just cut long strips of butcher block paper from our workroom. I curled the paper using my scissors which took about 10 minutes to do. I wrote following direction tasks on pink paper, opposites on orange, and open-ended articulation tasks on bright blue. The basket keeps the Easter hunt contained but it doesn't spoil any of the fun. It's also a great way to work on turn-taking skills which we are reviewing.

One of my little friends was so proud of this find.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

SLP Spring Fever Blog Hop: Welcoming the Cherry Blossoms

Welcome to the SLP Spring Fever Blog Hop! 

You will get the chance win prizes and get freebies by touring 12 fantastic blogs. Here is the lineup: 

1. Figuratively Speeching SLP
2. Just Wright Speech
3. Queen's Speech
4. Putting Words in your Mouth
5. Straight Up Speech
6. The Speech Umbrella
7. Miss Thrifty SLP
8. Rae's Speech Spot
9. Speech2U
10. Word to the Wise
11. Let's Talk Speech Language Pathology
12. SLP for Me – guest posting on Figuratively Speeching SLP

12 winners will receive a goodie basket of one Spring-themed activity from each participating blog owner/page owner in the blog hop.A grand prize winner will receive the following in addition to the activities:Codes for 3 Hamaguchi Apps (see Figuratively Speeching SLP’s reviews)A code for a Mobile Ed App (undetermined at the moment)4 songs from A green Big Grips iPad 2 case

Now, on to a little bit about the freebie I created.....I have been fascinated by Japanese culture since 6th grade (yes, I used to watch anime for those of you in the 20-30 year old crowd) and studied some of its history in college. My favorite images of Japan come from the beautiful spring blossoms of the cherry trees. In 1912, the Japan sent 3,020 cherry tress to America as a sign of friendship that we continue to celebrate today in spite of WWII. It amazes me. I want to share that amazement with my students by introducing them to D.C.'s Cherry Blossom Festival. The freebie includes a little bit of history for reading comprehension, synonyms, and pronouns. Be sure to look for a little green frog and his very special message in the download!

Grab your copy of Language Blossoms here. I hope you and your students will enjoy it!

The rules of the contest are simple: You must decode a secret message. In order to complete this task, you will need to visit each of the 12 blogs and download a freebie. The freebie will contain a word that is part of the code. When you enter the contest through rafflecopter, you will be asked to type in the secret code. Have fun and enjoy blog hopping with us! The contest will run from March 17th  to March 23.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Fixing sentences...

My motto for this week is "just keep swimming." The IEP load will eventually lighten up now that the 3/15 curfew for April 1st headcount is upon us in my district. I don't know if headcounts are something that all districts do or not, but it's a pretty big deal around here. We've all been scrambling and the NC DPI made it just a teeny bit worse by deciding to mandate speech therapists giving parents evaluation reports at the evaluation meeting. I will admit that evaluation reports are probably the bane of my paperwork existence. It's very repetitive because all of my information is already in the evaluation form (DEC 3). In the past, I had been doing this step after the meeting so I could get the official diagnosis on the form. That's definitely not going to work anymore. I guess this post is a symbol of my morning and attempt at moving out of the denial stage. 

In the meanwhile, I created a small photo album of words that are out of order. The students have to figure out how to fix the sentences. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Opposites DIY

You may have seen my pronoun notebooks. If not, I would like to introduce you to the wonderful possibilities of magazines & sales ads. I spend an hour or two each weekend cutting out pictures that I like from them and newspapers. I mainly use the pictures to create notebooks that target various skills, but you can use them for following directions or art projects as well.

Here are a few pictures from my giant book of opposites (1 page to introduce and 5 pages of opposites). 

Here are a few pictures from my book of feelings too.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hats off to a world of possibilities....

I spotted these great little hats at Dollar Tree this past weekend in their summer section. My mind was instantly filled with all the possibilities they hold.

A blank canvas.

The cards you see in my pictures are for wh- questions. I just wrote the words on colored note cards and tape them on the hats based on the task. The colored note cards are a great way to keep each task set separate rather than shuffling through a bunch of plain cards. I've made a pronoun set in addition to the wh- cards so far. 

My plans for the hats are twofold. I can use them for safari hunts around my room or the hallways for target cards. I can also use them to assign a specific word for each student. The one who gets the who hat has to answer my who questions for that round. It can easily be turned into a game of "musical hats."

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Tomorrow is a teacher workday. Yay! I'm looking forward to getting caught up with my Medicaid billing, plans of care, and evaluation reports. The chance of me getting everything accomplished is not terribly high, but at least I can get a good chunk of this stuff done. It also gives me time to recover from the wildness of the week. I guess my students have spring fever because their behavior has been extremely chaotic this week. I ended up having to take out pom-poms from my "Kiss Your Brain" jar. They just managed to get within 3 pom-poms of having it full too. (When it's full, I let every student go to the prize box.) 

My biggest excitement came from another "surprise" transfer student who's 90 day timeline for initial placement is almost up. An hour of testing, 45 minutes of trying to figure out what happened to previous bilingual testing results, and quite a bit of stress-eating later the assessment crisis was over.*Whew* All I can say is that it is a serious blessing when staff at the previous school is thoughtful enough to let us (the ENTIRE team) know about transfers in the middle of the referral process. I wish it happened more often and thank you to those of you who do respect the sanity of your fellow SLPs. 

The best news for today comes from the fact that I finally finished one of my Easter-related ideas. Egg-tastic! is something I created for my 3-5 grade groups. It has some social skills activities, categorization tasks, and sentence ordering tasks. As always, you can grab of copy of it here

P.S. The Dabbling Speechie has a really great idea on her blog for reminding articulation students to pay attention to their sound production with thought bubbles. You can easily adapt this visual cue for language activities as well, such as making a set for pronouns or smileys for sentence formulation. I prepared my articulation set today and am just waiting to get them laminated.

Monday, March 4, 2013

We're going on a safari!

The cold weather has definitely made my mind wonder to the joyous thoughts of summer (when I will probably complain about the heat wave). It also makes me realize that the school year is rapidly coming to a close with lots of IEP meetings until the bitter end. I am switching over to "survival-mode" mindset and activities that can be pulled out for quick reviews. 

One of my biggest targets this entire year is wh- question words and how to answer these questions. It's a goal that goes from kindergarten to 5th grade with lots of variety. However, I stress the importance of my students knowing the specific meaning of those wh- words. We use my story recall rope to review the meaning of every wh- word at least once a week. We practice with expo markers, dice, flower spinner, etc....The only thing I haven't really done is use actual paper materials for this goal. I decided to make a quick sorting activity for these words that uses either pictures or actual word cards. I also made an alphabet letter hunt for my kindergarten students to search for around my room. You can get your copy of the activities here.

In terms of colorful semantics, I am using a set of three Mad-Lib type activity books that I picked up at Walmart recently. I like that each story requires the student to think of words to use before they see the story. We reviewed the parts of speech as they picked out words to use. (The Zany Tale books also do wonderful in the copier which can be trickier than you'd think.) The best part is that my students get to laugh at how strange the stories turn out and we can talk about ways to make them sound more realistic. 

In other news, I get to go to Beckman Oral Motor training in two weeks! I've heard great things about the program and am really looking forward to learning the techniques. I think I may need to keep a list of skills that I really want to focus on for the CEU requirements. It's rather overwhelming when you look at ASHA's website (although that could be just me). I'm worried about going to another training that ends up feeling like a huge infomercial. One experience with that through Letterland was enough. At the top of my list are: Hanen Program, something for the phonological cycles approach, and auditory-verbal techniques.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Lucky Leprechauns! March is finally here :)

March is my favorite month out of the year. I love spring weather and it usually starts up around here towards the end of March. I'm also a huge nerd when it comes to British and Irish history. I love learning about old English, all of the folktales, and dream of  eventually visiting the United Kingdom. 

The only thing that I don't like about March is finding books to use for therapy. In graduate school, I used Gail Gibbons book about St. Patrick's day at my school placement. Gibbons writes books that are very informative, but they don't always go over so well in therapy sessions. The St. Patrick's day book is one of the not so great ones. It works for 4-5th grade. The little ones just had the tendency to tune the story out. 

This year, I found one that is more to the level that all of my students can enjoy. It's called the Luckiest Leprechaun and is a great book about friendship. 

The friendship is an unlikely one, a grumpy Leprechaun and a happy-go-lucky dog, from the start. The plot follows how Lucky is able to prove herself to Mac by rescuing him (and, more importantly, his gold) from Professor Chester. You can use it to address social skills (Why does Lucky want to be friends with Mac when he's mean to her? Would you want a friend to treat you like that?), comprehension, and sequencing of events.

I've made a book companion of sorts to go along with this story. The majority of the packet can be used with anything. It's only the wh- section that is book specific. You can get your copy here.

Have a wonderful weekend!