Saturday, December 27, 2014

Let's Celebrate New Years!

It's time for another TeachersPayTeachers freebie round-up! This time I am going to show you the freebie activities that I'm planning to use with my students to celebrate the arrival of 2015.

Craft Project
1. New Year's Resolution Mobile- This is a great way to discuss 2014 and what they want for 2015.
2. New Year Book- I see this as something I would use with older students who don't want to make a mobile.

1. New Year's Around the World- Comprehension, Comparison, & Vocabulary are all targeted in this packet. (I used a similar activity for Christmas and it worked really well for my students.)

P.S. My resolution is to stop drinking soda. Even though I've gotten myself down to 1-2 cans a week (unless its a really bad week), MyFitnessPal has taught me that I eat way too much sugar.

Monday, December 22, 2014

My wish this holiday season

My wish....

I wish that every child could know their grandparents.
I wish that every child could grow up hearing old family tales and lullabies.
I wish that every child could make chair forts before watching movies.
I wish that every child could go fishing with their grandpa.
I wish that every child could turn their grandma's pots into musical instruments.
I wish that every child could know the safety of strong arms rocking them to sleep.  
I wish that every child knew the vivid color of burnt-orange dirt from a garden.
I wish that every child had a family that loved them no matter what. 

And above all, I wish that we would treasure our time together more for it is fleeting.

Monday, December 15, 2014

On my sick day...the FedEx Santa brought to me....

I'm sad to say that some nasty cold plague has hit my school pretty hard. It took out half of our EC team and quite a few students (from what I learned in my brief time at work). It's been quite some time since I've spent two days laid out on the couch until the late evening. However, sometimes you do get small glimmers of goodness out of bad things....

Such as my Christmas present to myself.

It's an Ogee clock, which was a style popular in 19th Century America. My grandmother had a similar one that belonged to her mother. From my understanding, it was the only thing that she inherited from her parents as a child from a larger family. I spent many years admiring that clock as a child and have spent the past four years looking for a clock that could compare to my grandma's. I think she's proof that patience pays off. 

My new mission is to create a whole bunch of scrambled sentence activities to use with several of my language groups. I managed to make a small activity on Friday before the sickness really set in using some song lyrics that my students can't seem to "let go" of at the moment. I don't own any of these lyrics and looked them up through an online website so they may not be perfect. 

Grab your copy of Lyrical Scrambled Sentences here.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Some not so subtle gift ideas for friends and family members of SLPs...

It's that time of year when everyone asks that one dreaded question: "What do you want for Christmas?" 

Honestly, I think it is pretty tough to come up with a Christmas wishlist as an adult. I either feel like I'm being selfish in asking or wasting money on things that I could really do without in order to avoid asking for things I can actually use at work. 

1. Mary's Poppin's magic bag for travel therapy. I'm pretty sure it's probably indestructible in addition to all that space.
Just imagine the kind of responses you could get from students with all the crazy things you could pull out.
2. Coffee gift cards (or a cute mug for us hot chocolate drinkers).

3. A personal secretary to keep up with all of the meetings we go to. However, a cute planner will do in a pinch.

In all seriousness, I would suggest giving your loved one an item that they are hesitant to splurge on. Some of my favorite items are: a personal laminator with additional laminating pouches; the Expanding Expression Tool; the Total Teddy Talker Package; J. Moncure's entire A-Z book series (yes, they are older but I haven't found anything that compares); and a TeachersPayTeachers gift card. Puppets, books, and games are always appreciated too. If you have a crafty SLP who likes making her/his own materials, you might want to donate several packs of construction paper and glue sticks to the cause.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Get ready to color!

 We've had too many grey skies around my town lately so I decided to create a simple craft that would add a bright spot of color to the any grey day: articulation coloring pages.

As you can see from the picture below, the coloring pages I created are in a sense open-ended. You can have your students copy down words from your articulation deck or worksheets in whatever position they need. This gives them extra practice using those fine motor skills before they get to enjoy the coloring aspect. Students who are at more advanced levels can make up phrases or sentences for each word that they write on an attached sheet of paper, for example.

P.S. If you have coloring perfectionists, I sometimes play a familiar song (Do you want to build a snowman?) as a way to give them an idea of how much time they have to color. I give them a warning in the last 30 and 15 seconds. It doesn't help for all kids, but it's another trick to keep in your toolbox.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pinterest game gold

Right before Thanksgiving break I stumbled across a little piece of pinterest gold that I have to share with all of you. It's called Ho, Ho, Ho or a Lump of Coal. (I just call it the Santa game.) The principle of it is very simple: if you get a Ho, Ho, Ho card and take an extra turn. Coal cards mean that you have to return all your cards back to the stack.

The teacher who came up with the idea used it for sight word practice. I, on the other hand, decided to write Christmas related words that my students either have to describe or use in a sentence. You can easily make articulation versions too (or just take the lazy way out like me and tape the special cards to several of your articulation cards).

It has been a huge hit in my room this week with all of my grade levels. I highly recommend making your own set before the holiday season is over. If you can't use the holiday version, I created a simple winter themed-version that you can grab here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Merry Sentences to You!

In honor of the short work week and Thanksgiving holiday, I am going to share my latest activity just a little bit earlier than I originally planned. 

Happy Holiday Sentences contains three different activities to help students practice formulating grammatically correct sentences.

The first activity is scrambled sentences. I love using these with my students because it allows them to physically manipulate the sentence. It usually goes faster than I expect because they really enjoy this activity.

The second activity is a set of vocabulary cards that students can use to create their own scrambled sentences (or regular sentences). You might also decide to use them with the Expanding Expression Tool or print two for a matching game.

The third activity targets pronouns. Students have to pick the correct pronoun based on the person beside the Christmas tree.

As always, grab your copy of Happy Holiday Sentences here.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Visions of sugar plums danced in their heads....

Today, I want to introduce you to one of my new favorite holiday materials for following directions. I found these little gingerbread people at the Goodwill Outlet this summer and feel in love with their happy little faces. They are slightly chunky and bendable which makes them perfect for kindergarten students. 

I did a little bit of digging via Google to find out who actually made this nifty little guys. Is it any surprise that they are from Learning Resources? They really do come up with some of the cutest stuff.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

It's all about pacing....

Rushing. It's a familiar experience to all of us. We are always in a hurry to go here and here and here. We have to move quickly to get to the next big thing. In the process, we often lose sight of what's most important. It is my Thanksgiving wish that each of you finds time to enjoy something small. Maybe it's the joy of a handwritten letter or taking a picture with your family. Just don't forget to stop and smell the roses in the mad dash to get gifts (and taking care of December IEPs) as the holiday season looms ever closer.

Children, of course, imitate our sense of urgency with their own desire to have everything NOW. They want to grow up. They want to graduate. They just want to go to recess. I remember feeling like everything took forever. So it should really not come to any surprise that sometimes they also rush through their conversational speech. Enter an SLP's best friend: the pacing board. 

Initially, my homemade pacing boards are met with dubious looks. I admit that pacing boards, even ones that are made with snazzy graphics, don't look like much. Yet, it's the simplicity that often makes them work so well with students who are distracted by everything. They just have to point to stickers and work on their target. I mostly use the boards to help my "fast talkers" to slow down. It works much like having to use their finger to point to each word as they read from their sight word books. They have to spend more time thinking about what comes next, which is usually just the trick to getting them to use a more natural pace. You can also use pacing boards to help segment and blend sounds. I have even found that they are very helpful for bringing fricative sounds in the initial position from isolation to word level.

In the spirit of the holiday season, I decided it was finally time to spruce up my boards to include more than just smiley faces and star stickers. In this packet of pacing boards, you will find boards for 3-6 targets. I also included some blank pages just in case you have some shiny holiday stickers on hand.

You can grab your copy of Holly Jolly Pacing Boards here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My top 10 reasons for why every school-based SLP needs a group dinner night.

Do you ever get together with your fellow SLPs? Here are some reasons why I think an SLP dinner night is a great thing:

10. The great food. 
9. Discussing all the lovely germs that have infested your building and how you are trying to avoid them.
8. Discussing what you liked/didn't like about a recent CEU without having to feel guilty.
7. Talking about the latest ASHA Leader or ADVANCED for SLPs.
6. Giving each other tips to try out for difficult cases.
5. Complaining about the lack of toys at Goodwill recently. 
4. Talking about new places in town.
3. Catching up on personal life happenings.
2. Getting rid of the isolation feeling.
1. Celebrating success stories!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thinking ahead to jingle bells....

I posted recently about working with several of my students on facts versus opinions. It has been an interesting experience to uncover just how hard it is for students to differentiate between the two. I decided that we needed another activity to help us go in more depth with opinions with a topic that they are already getting excited about: Christmas.  

A Bow of Approval is geared towards upper elementary and middle school students. They are given the option between two items and select the one that they prefer. In a large group, you may want to have them physically choose sides to make this activity more engaging. They can turn and talk to their partner(s) about their answer before telling the rest of why group why they picked that side. If you don't have the space, you can simply have each student share their reasons at the table.

To grab your copy of A Bow of Approval click here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Saying goodbye is never easy....

On Saturday, I lost my grandfather to bone cancer.
I hope those of you who have found my free materials to be useful will consider donating a small amount of money to your local Hospice in memory of someone you love for all that they do to help the dying pass with dignity.

Until next week....

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Inclusion Files: Letters from 4th Grade

Writing. Writer's block. Overcoming the block and writing some more. It's a vicious cycle that plagues all of us at one time or another. Even as an SLP blogger, I can still get hit by the same wave of writer's block that drove me to tears of frustration on several occasions during college.  

One of the interesting things I have learned recently from inclusion is the 4th grade writing cycle. They focus on one type of writing each six weeks. The first six weeks focused on personal narratives. Each student wrote about an experience that was important to them (be it something that scared them or something that was one of the best moments in their life.) My favorite moment happened when the classroom teacher asked them to practice describing objects/places without coming right out with the actual name at first.
This would make a great little reminder for writing notebooks.
This six weeks, the students are learning how to write opinion papers. It is very interesting to see the look on students' faces when they are told that they get to write about their opinion on a topic of their choosing (out of 3 options). It is almost like Christmas for some of them and some of them need a little encouragement to realize that its okay to have your own opinion (particularly not having to like what your friend likes). My latest little freebie is for those students who are not quite as sure of the difference between a fact and an opinion. Students must read the cards and sort them into piles. They also get to make up their own cards for their peers to sort to really give them some hands on practice. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I'm all ears!

Ears, ears, we're all ears in speech! Thank you, pinterest, for literally throwing one of the easiest crafts ever my way!

I'm using these Listening Ears for my beginning articulation groups. It is a great little visual cue for my younger students to remember to listen closely as we work on their sounds. You can find a copy of them on pinterest by searching for Listening Ears.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Pumpkins full of character

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays as a Speech-Language Pathologist. There are tons of amazing books, talking in creature voices, cute games, prize box treats, fun hats, etc.......I love it all! 

Now that I've had my little bit of fun with the video, it's time to get on to the real spooky attraction of the week: Character trait pumpkins. Social skills and demonstrating good character traits has become a huge focus at my school. On every morning announcement we review our character trait of the month and social skill of the week. They also discuss character traits in their reading and social studies lessons. Halloween seemed like the perfect time to review some of these same topics with my pull-out groups.

I gave each of my students a blank pumpkin. They picked out their favorite character from a book, cartoon, or movie to draw. It helps to have a computer or I-pad handy in case they want to have an image to reference.

Beast boy, an angry bird, and Leonardo. We have quite an eclectic collection to hang in the hallway. 
Once they had their pumpkin complete, it was time to start describing the character's traits on the clouds. It was a great way to show them that characters can have similar traits even though they appear to be very different on the surface.

We attached the clouds using string. Then, they had the opportunity to choose some Halloween decorations or add designs to their backgrounds.

My models.

Monday, October 6, 2014

New learning adventures

I am taking a small step into a very big area of the "unknown" for me: Augmentative & Alternative Communication devices. 

It has involved research, research, and more research. My method of choice is to start by looking at a few journal articles (unfortunately I have a knack for find the ones that are never really all that practical to a school setting) and then heading over to blogs. I want to give a shout-out to PrAACtical AAC as that blog is really a god-send to anyone just getting started with AAC. She gives you so many incredible tips and resources. 

My second shout-out goes to the Considerate Classroom, which gave me a very simple solution to my fear of lost communication cards. I downloaded her free language book on BoardmakerShare and made additional pages using PowerPoint. 

I am ridiculously proud of myself for making these two communication books. The bright pink one will stay with me while the green one will soon be spending its time all over the school.

Power Point is an SLP's best friend.
Guess it won't be a surprise for me to start researching professional development workshops in AAC now....

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review: B.E.A.R.R. Tracks

Today, I would like to invite all of you to journey with me again into the wonderful world of Teddy Talker to learn about the new B.E.A.R.R. (Building Early Articulation and Reading Readiness) Track Card Game

The Cards:

Here you can see the Letter Cards. These cards are placed in a pile with the letter side facing down so students initially see Teddy making the correct placement for that sound. Based on the action card they select, sometimes students have to ask another player to make the target letter sound by using this visual. I have to say that it's probably one of the most impressive parts of the game for me.

Here you can see the different types of Action Cards: Teach Together; Do & Tell; Trace & Say; Look & Say; Listen & Say; Listen & Touch; Write & Say; and Build & Say. Students who find a Wild Card get to pick their favorite sound and make it. These cards are the multi-sensory component of the game.

How to play:

Each student picks one of the color cards. Then, you can let the youngest (or oldest, or best behaved, etc) select an Action Card and a Letter Card. Students perform the action on the Action Card to earn a paw. The actions may be something simple like tracing the letter while saying the sound or something harder like working with a partner to teach how to say that sound to the rest of the group. The goal is to earn five of the paws to create a bear track for Teddy to follow. They announce "Teddy's ready" and lead their Teddy Card up the path while saying their sixth target sound/letter to win. I love the simplicity of the game play. It's one of the least complicated card games I've used with my students outside of doing the typical matching games. 

 One "challenge" I have decided to try with my students is to work together to make one large bear track for Teddy. This is a way for them to work on developing their team building skills as well as their sound-letter correspondence.

Initially, I used the card game with my first grade groups as a quick informal assessment to see if my they still remembered how to produce their target sounds. I made a quick note to myself on post-its of any they forgot so we could review with Teddy's rhyme cards and my mirror. I left both of these items out when we played the game again so we could pause for another review if needed. Keeping a mirror nearby is certainly something I would recommend while playing the B.E.A.R.R. Track game in case you need that extra visual. You could also use the large Teddy board or print out several small copies of Teddy from the Teach Together Toolkit for each student to use with the Build & Say cards.

My students really enjoyed the writing and tracing cards. It really gave them the opportunity to show off what they know without being too intimidating. I would have to say that the Build & Say cards were the most challenging. I had to give several models of that one before they were willing to try. My guess is that all the little tiny mouths were just a tad overwhelming even though we did go through each type of action card before playing. Sometimes, you just have to stop and remind everyone that it is okay to mess up on the first try. Learning is messy and fun. (Which is probably why they now hand me the card deck with a big grin.)

I have also used the B.E.A.R.R. Tracks game with a few of my kindergarten students already. We are in our pilot year of implementing Letterland in the classrooms. I like to incorporate it into our speech time because it forms a strong connection to what they are learning. We added in the cues for each sound as we said them, named the character, and then tried to think of one word with that starts with that sound. It sounds like a lot of components, but it honestly made them that much more invested in the activity. 

If you and your students love Teddy Talker, I would definitely recommend looking into purchasing the card game. It is a great way to review goals, practice following directions, and work on important social skills (turn taking and working together in particular).

Happy trails!

Disclosure Statement: Creative Speech Products provided resources in exchange for a feedback. The opinions expressed in this review are mine. No other compensation was provided. 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

I'm drowning in picture cards.

 The one bad thing about being a fan of homemade materials.....

I have a million picture cards to cut out, glue to construction paper, 
cut out again, laminate, and cut out again.

I think I may have finally met my match in making these colorful semantics cards. 
I'm drowning in a sea of colorful construction paper.

What was I thinking?!?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Inclusion Files: Adventures in Math Vocabulary

Let me just start everyone off with a warning, I am definitely one of those people who went into Speech-Language Pathology precisely because I'm not a huge fan of math. I love chronological age calculators (any calculator really), tally marks, and simple percentages. 

So, without further adieu, welcome to a brief crash course introduction to Common Core Math through the eyes of an SLP.

There are lots of blocks and they go everywhere. (I recommend walking very carefully.)

These lovely blue (and sometimes wooden) blocks are base ten pieces. I admit that I do like these little blocks as they are a great visual and tactile cue. My students don't have to draw a million circles, sticks, dots, squares, count all their fingers and toes, etc to count out each number. They just grab X of whatever manipulative that represents that placement. What I don't like are the names for these blocks. "Blocks" (thousands), "flats" (hundreds), "skinnies/rods" (tens), and "bits" (ones)....even if it does sort of describe the way they look. Mostly, I find it frustrating because I have to call them one name here and another name there. It's confusing for me and I'd imagine that the students get confused too. Consistency is key

They also get to learn how to draw this really spiffy chart to use with the base ten pieces. They can write the number and then draw it in base ten form to solve equations. It's another great visual. The only bad part is when the students have to take all of this stuff and turn it into "expanded/extended form".

To me, writing in expanded form is basically writing what you put in the graphic organizer again. Some students get really frustrated with having to write all of this out as they know it's already there. They may even glare daggers at you.

And, "carrying over/regrouping"....The more I think about it, the less I want to say about this particular topic.

Math is a great time to work on following directions, initiating interactions and responding, and vocabulary. It just takes time, a dash of ingenuity, and very patient teachers who can put up with a million questions after their students go home. (And, my favorite lessons are the ones that involve least and greatest.) 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Setting Up Expectations: My goal of the week.

Each and every school year, I find myself trying out a new way to teach my speech room expectations. I consider the success or failure of the new method for the rest of the school year. Everyone has their own style so I thought I would share my idea for this year in case it might help someone else with a more reserved/laid-back demeanor. 

1) The Rules. 
I follow the "K.I.S.S." (Keep it simple stupid) method to rules. I never liked listening to teachers talk on and on and on about their rules (nor when professors harped on the syllabus for this, that, and the other). I don't expect my students to listen to a five-ten minute lecture either. Every year I have the same basic expectations:
      1. Be kind to others. 
      2. Try. Mistakes are just proof that we're learning.
      3. Don't say the word game.
      4. Clean up at the end. 
I may have to add something about "copying" each other to the list. However, these four basic expectations usually cover a wide range of issues.

2) The Book. 
Last year, our school leadership team gave everyone a copy of the "Have you filled a bucket" book. I'm pretty sure this is an educator's best seller. I used it at the end of the year with a few new students and now they are all getting to listen to it again. (And, it's likely the second time of the year for most of them already.) Studies show that we retain information better after multiple repetitions. I used a youtube video to make the story seem more like a movie. 

I think this book does a wonderful job of teaching students about respect. I also like the vocabulary-- we talked quite a bit about what invisible means last week.

3) Review. 
This week I am reviewing the concepts from the book. For my older students, we are filling out a bucket and a "dipper" with the different character traits. (Our third graders are learning all about character traits so the timing couldn't be more perfect.) My younger students are completing their bucket filling task with our favorite bear, Teddy Talker!

Another lesson I recently learned:
Teddy is a great model for tongue depressors when you have a student who is very wary of tactile cues.
I made a quick packet of good and bad behavior cards to sort. My students have to teach Teddy what a good bear friend would do whenever they come across a bad bee card. If they get a honey drop card, they simply get to stick it in Teddy's bucket. 

I was lucky enough to find this honey bucket over the summer for .25 cents!
It makes the perfect "invisible" bucket for Teddy!
I decided to make some extra non-Teddy cards in case my older friends need an extra review at some point. They can make up their own examples along with using the ones I created. 

If you would like a copy of this activity, click here

Saturday, September 13, 2014

To what's new and old

The first week of therapy always brings some interesting thoughts. I think this year is even more interesting with my district's huge push towards inclusion. In many ways, I feel like a CF all over again because of these changes and I know that I am not certainly not alone. So here are a few things about this past week.....

1. So far the teachers either have 1) no idea what to do with me in their room; 2) think I'm there to observe because they didn't look at the schedule I sent out; 3) only know that I work on speech sounds. 4) tell me to do whatever I need to.
Obviously, I will be presenting again on what Speech-Language Pathologists do and it will be at a staff meeting rather than a district PD conference.

2. I absolutely love pushing into the 3rd grade social studies/science block. I think those blocks may actually turn out to be better than literacy (and definitely better than math). Art is also another interesting option for push-in. 

3. Data tracking for inclusion is the pits. I am using post-it notes and sticking them to a little book that contains the goals of all of my inclusion students. It works alright for the most part. I can stick these on the goal page sheets and add to them later in the day when I have time. However, I think it has diminished the quality of my notes considerably. 

4. I cannot seem to figure out the new school schedule. I show up to classrooms when children are supposed to be there....and they're still at specials or outside or at lunch, etc....I guess we are all still a little confused on that one. 

5. Thanks to google docs, I finally have access to all of the lesson plans for each grade level/week. I'm still figuring out what some of the lingo means, but I am glad to finally have a rudimentary idea of what is going on. 

6. I love my articulation groups.

7. All of the things that I am learning right now will make me a better clinician for years to come.