Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Expect the unexpected...

As 2015 heads closer and closer to Christmas, I am reminded of all of my blessings and the lessons I have learned this year. In my personal life, I have the blessings of my new husband, three healthy puppies, and the continued support of my wonderful family. In my work life, I have a job with a decent commute, friendly coworkers, and sweet students. 

I have also had many lessons since starting in my new position. The adjustment from one district to another. It sounds like it would be easy, but it is honestly one of the hardest things to do if you leaving a place where you felt safe and comfortable. I'm happy at my new school but I have pangs of homesickness once a week. The biggest challenge, I think, is getting adjusted to preschool part of my caseload. It's one piece of the puzzle, but I feel like I am almost like a CFY again with that paperwork and finding materials. The other is simply missing having that close-knit group of SLP coworkers that I could always count on. That sense of closeness is noticeably vacant now.  

One thing that I have really learned to embrace this year is Social Thinking. I've never had the opportunity to use it before now and I can say that I have really missed out.
So far, I have been using a copy of You're a Social Detective that our part-time SLP loaned me. We are about part-way through the book now and I love it. We've made our own "smarts" posters and a list of expected/unexpected behaviors for various locations at school. 

I found this orange cone puppet at Goodwill amidst the Halloween headgear back in October. He is part of some vacation Bible school program according to his packaging. At $5.50, he is a considerable splurge for a puppet but I figure it would be hard to come across another one of these little guys. He is the perfect accessory for social skills lessons on Expected and Unexpected behaviors. Whenever we come across something "Unexpected", he pops up as a visual cue for my students to pay attention and use their social skills toolbox.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Looking ahead to 2016.....

While I know it's just December, I decided to make my next product focus on New Year's so I can rest just a little bit easier during Christmas break. I'm looking forward to being able to walk back into the building after New Year's and know that I have an activity ready for my toughest group---the fifth graders. 
This Would You Rather? activity is designed for practicing articulation sounds at the carryover level. It's a nice break from reading passages, but it is also a great way to practice reasoning skills. I always make my students explain the reason why they would pick X and not Y.  

I created this activity on simple sentence strips that can be placed into many different types of containers. I'm going to use a pringles can decorated like a top hat, but some of you might use an actual hat if you have one.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Thankful for pronouns

November always seems to rush by in a blur of IEP meetings, regular staff meetings, special activities, and holiday gathering. It is no small wonder why I have been looking for a few quick activities to pair with fall themed books for my language groups. This activity was actually inspired my old pronoun book creation. I pulled it out a few weeks ago and decided that we still needed more structured practice. So here is a Thanksgiving creation from my speech room to yours....Hope you enjoy!

Included in this activity are four sheets for structured pronoun practice. Students have to label the person using either he or she and then decide which item that person might be thankful for during the fall. Most of the pictures are related to fall and can be used to target fall vocabulary. 

I have also included a page with a boy and girl pilgrim to be used as a magazine sorting activity. In similar fashion to the structured pages, students should tell you sentences as they make a thankful collage.

You can grab your copy of Giving our Thanks here.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Part Two of my recent finds....

Last week, I posted about my recent discovery of the Entire World of R products. I absolutely love their two story books, but I also needed something for students who aren't quite ready for reading paragraphs. I started out by simply writing two to three target phrases on sentence strips. These work really well if you have students who are struggling readers. You have complete control over the words that they will encounter. I wanted something similar for targeting sentence level, but I didn't have time to make my own. Luckily, I noticed that Amazon also carried the Entire World of R flip books

It's an eight book set that targets the different variations of /r/ in every position of words. It's $84 on Amazon which is definitely hard to swallow when you first see the books. Why? They are printed on some sort of cardboard-like paper that students can easily destroy by bending or inadvertently ripping out when turning the pages too roughly. I wish they were made more similarly to Super Duper's flip books and turn & talk series. It is a pretty big negative for a material that is very useful otherwise. I really like how students can mix up the pages to create their own silly sentence or just follow the original order of the pages. (Would I buy it out of pocket again now? No. This is something I think would be better on a purchase request given the questionable quality.)
The second material we are currently enjoying in my room is Alfredo's Food Fight. This was Goodwill find in the .50 cent game section. I took a chance and bought it without doing a thorough inspection of game pieces. I was lucky to find out that it was complete and barely used. 

The object of the game is to throw meatballs at Alfredo as he spins around. The fork launchers can be a little testy if you aren't paying attention to the "noodles" (yarn). It's really bad to get stuck in the forks. However, it is hilarious to see the meatballs flying around. I have used this with preschoolers and fifth graders alike. It is something that they all have loved and request to play again.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Kicking up articulation therapy a notch.....

Between struggling with bronchitis for three weeks and watching two family members fight fraudulent credt/debit card charges, I have been less than motivated to do much of anything besides sleep. I did; however, discover several new materials recently that have made my life a little bit easier. 

My favorite finds are these two books of carryover stores from Say It Right that I found on Amazon. 

The Entire World of /R/ Book of Stories contains simple sound loaded paragraphs for /r/ in its various forms. Each story has 3 comprehension questions that students can either respond to aloud or write down. I typically end up asking more than just the three for additional practice at the spontaneous speech level. This book has been wonderful for my third and fourth grade students. Even though the stories are obviously fictitious, they hold the interest of my students in a way that some of the ones on Communication Connects do not (I can't complain too much about getting those stories for free though). The stories have some challenging words that I model but most of them are decodable. At $35, it is something that I would recommend for people who have a large amount of articulation students on their caseload.

The Big Book of  R Carryover Stories also contains sound loaded paragraph stories with comprehension questions for /r/ in its various forms. The stories in this book are longer and often more challenging than the yellow book. I've used it with fourth and fifth grade students, but I can see this easily carrying over into the middle school therapy room as well. I like this book because it is not nearly as difficult as the You Decide : Carryover Articulation Stories for S and R book that my previous district had. (Granted, that book is another great resource for more advanced readers/grade levels.) You can have each student read their own story at around 5 minutes apiece versus nearly 20 for the other. At another $35, it is something that I would recommend for people who have a large amount of upper elementary articulation students on their caseload.

Overall, I am really happy that I decided to bite the bullet and purchase these two books out of pocket. I can really envision using them for years to come.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pronouns at Recess

Once again, I find myself blogging about pronouns. I spend most days talking about pronouns at least twice if not more. I typically do this by drawing a boy and girl stick figure with various articulation and verb card decks. It's an easy way to keep my therapy table from getting loaded down with clutter. However, I recently decided to add in a little technology to the mix using my projector.

This simple little slideshow is designed to be used with PowerPoint on either a Smartboard, projection screen, or a computer. You just click view slideshow. 

Students are given a choice of pronoun at the bottom of each slide for either labeling or developing a sentence based on what they see. 

If you are using a Smartboard, you can let students draw additional items into the picture. They can also write their sentences on the board. You can also have them write sentences on a whiteboard.

Grab your copy of Pronouns at Recess here.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Which Gnome???

This school year, I feel like I am going back to the basics that I used during my CFY. I'm learning the needs of some 45 students (for now) and facing new challenges. Simple activities are high on my radar. I want something quick so that I have a variety of materials to hold their attention. Sometimes it is easier said than done to find these....but I think my latest creation hits the nail on the head. 

Which Gnome? is a quick game to practice pronouns and speaking in simple sentences. The first part of the activity consists of simple drilling cards. Students can point to the correct gnome or say the appropriate pronoun after you present the sentence.

The second portion of this activity consists of a full black and white pages. Students cut and paste the objects on the bottom to the gnome picture. My students have to tell me a complete sentence  with a pronoun before they get to paste the object to the picture scene. Once all the pictures are attached, I let them color the picture and take home for additional practice.

Grab your copy of Which Gnome here.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Lifestyles of a commuting SLP

The long and winding road
That leads to your door
Will never disappear
I've seen that road before
It always leads me here
Lead me to you door...

Commuting-- Everyone's favorite nightmare regardless of whether or not you have a long drive. I was considerably blessed to spend the past four years driving just six miles from my former house. The traffic made the trip usually run about 15 minutes each way. Now that I've moved, I get to enjoy a 30 minute drive to and from my new school. Luckily, I get to enjoy one of the most spectacular views that I've ever known on my daily trips. It is a constant reminder of how small my problems are in comparison to the world around me.

But, it also leads me to wonder what other SLPs with long commutes do....Surely, I am not the only one who has these thoughts on the way to work. I guess I could ask in one of the plethoras of facebook groups, but I think it means more to me to simply share my musings on here.

A few ideas for commuting SLPs

  1. Jam out to music 
  2. Listen to radio talk shows
  3. Plan out future shopping trips
  4. Plan out what you want to do for the day
  5. Listen to audiobooks
My biggest struggle with the commute is figuring out how to come home with enough energy left to cook. I am afraid to admit that we have been eating out far too much lately. Oh well, we can't be perfect all the time!

Friday, August 28, 2015


Adjust per Webster's dictionary:

: to change (something) in a minor way so that it works better
: to change the position of (something)
: to change in order to work or do better in a new situation

My horseshoe table and the meeting table.
I would say that all three of those definitions apply to life lately. First, I had to change rooms at my new school on the very first workday. It went from being in a secondary building in the morning to being in the main building that afternoon. It was exciting and stressful to know that I would have a full-sized classroom. I've even expanded my classroom furniture vocabulary thanks to the lead custodian.

It's still fairly un-decorated at this point as I wasn't expecting anything more than your typical therapy closet. Eventually, it will have an Inside Out theme going on. My favorite feature is the huge window. We also have a really awesome projector connected to the computer. I cannot wait to show my new students the "Biscotti Kid" video for our whole body listening lesson.

Another really awesome surprise is the therapy I-Pad. I'm slowly learning how to use it.

If learning a new district's system wasn't enough work, I was also crazy enough to let my husband talk me into getting Buddy a friend. We ended up bringing him home TWO. The little one in the picture has stolen my husband's heart. Unfortunately, we've had to deal with the lovely issue of fleas, deworming, teething (on every electrical devices they can find), and some type of bacterial infection that puppies from breeders often get. I haven't had much time to work on freebies with the three of them running around in a destructive cloud of teeth and claws. Puppies are a great source of exercise. :)

Monday, August 10, 2015

Life is sweet

I am in the mood to do a little celebrating today. I finally got to sign my contract with my new school district! It is such a huge relief to have the paperwork done after all the craziness that took place with my job hunt over the summer. Why?

Well, I got TWO phone calls from other districts that I had interviewed with previously on the day that I moved to my new town (while I was in the midst of the 2.5 hour drive with two days before my wedding). I had already accepted a position with a large district after giving up hope on the job that I really wanted. Life; however, has a funny way of working out and I was able to get the job with my "dream" district. It is much  more similar to my previous one and that makes leaving a place that I loved so much a little bit easier. I also get the bonus of having a much better commute to work. It just goes to show you that a little bit of patience goes a long way. 

Since I am not quite sure of what I will be facing at my new school, I am trying to create some very generalized activities that I can use to hit multiple goals. Word Collector is aimed at syntax goals.

There are several ways you can use this activity. 

1) You can have students sort the words into the different parts of speech bags.
2) You can have students describe the word. (I would use the Expanding Expression Tool for this.)
3) You can have students formulate sentences using their words.

Grab your copy of Word Collector here!

Saturday, July 25, 2015


The good thing about rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off for two months is that you don't have much time to think. I feel like I am finally catching my breath. No more being preoccupied with wedding, honeymoon, and moving to a new town. I am feeling much more settled and sort-of ready to start in my new district.

This little guy has been helping me out by keeping me constantly on my toes.
Luckily, he gets along very well with his Aunt Serena.
As someone who is fairly introverted, the prospect of having to meet a whole bunch of new people and adjust to a new space falls into the dread category. It seems like it would be an easy transition with so much advanced warning of the move, but I am still struggling with the "what ifs" of being the new person. I have been searching for some new ideas on TeachersPayTeachers to kick the new school year off with a few less nerves. Here are some of the things I've found recently:


  1. Back-to-School Icebreaker game
  2. Conversation Starters


  1. Bear-Y Good Speech /r/ sheet (perfect for Teddy Talker)
  2. 100 Word Chain for any sound


  1. Ninja themed following directions
  2. No-Print Idioms 

Social Skills

  1. Free Emotions Cards
  2. Unthinkables video clips
  3. Social Emotional Worksheet (for older students)
  4. Inside Out Board Game (not from TPT but really cute freebie)


  1. CF Supervision Forms (These are pretty nice templates)

Parent/Teacher Communications

  1. Parent Communication Letters (Seasonal)
  2. Parent Contact Log (single student per sheet)
  3. Teacher Communication Forms
  4. Speech Notes

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

It's the most magical place on Earth....

It's been much too long since my last post. I have really missed blogging and working on new materials. So to get things back into gear, I thought I would share a few pictures of what I've been up to the past month......

The wedding cake had the same pattern as my wedding dress.

The wedding kiss via Mickey and Minnie.

My first ever trip to Disney World. It was amazing until my husband tried to get me on the rides. 

Wedding ears.

The Haunted Mansion ride was the only one that I really enjoyed out of all four parks.

The beautiful mural inside the castle breezeway. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


This is a hard week for me in so many ways even though it has been a long time coming. I've planned and prepared as best I can....and yet, now that this week is finally here I am struggling. It's moving week.

I said good-bye to my speech room in my little hometown for the last time on Friday. It was difficult to walk away from that bare-bones room after four years of calling it home. It was even harder to say good-bye to my coworkers and students. That school will always hold a dear place in my heart no matter how far away life takes me.

I am very fortunate to have a new job already. I will be in school with a hour commute each way. Although I dread the drive (my old 15 minute drive has me spoiled), I don't think there is any other setting I would rather be at this point in my career. Maybe someday I will work my way up to a university clinic, but for now I am happy being in a place where I can help children.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Checking Up on Opposites

One of my recent Goodwill shopping trips has inspired me to think a little outside of my normal card-shaped bounds this month.....I found a wooden brochure holder from a medical office of some kind. It was in pristine condition for just $3.99. Being someone who changes her storage strategies every year, I decided to jump on the deal and figure out a way to incorporate it into my deep appreciation for 5 minute articulation tasks. 

When I start a task of potentially summer-long proportions, I like to test it out on a smaller scale to see if I truly want to devote that many hours into it. The result is what you see here.

In what little practice I've been able to do with my students this past week, it has been so much easier than shuffling through flashcards. My students are also getting to learn how to open and close a brochure. This is likely to be the first in a series of brochures that will hopefully target language goals as well as the articulation set that I hope to complete this summer (in the midst of getting married, going on a honeymoon, and moving). The trick is to have access to a printer that does double-sided pages without assistance. 

When you fold the paper it will turn out looking like this.
I selected opposite concepts that I frequently work on with students of all ages. The little boxes underneath the pictures allow the students to mark off if they got the concept or needed a second try. You could also use the boxes as a way of progress monitoring instead by writing the date underneath and whether or not they got the answer correct.  

Grab your copy of the Opposites Brochure here!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Off the beaten path....

I recently had a new kind of yard sale experience. A town-wide yard sale.

It was definitely an interesting and informational trip. So here are a few things I learned:

1. Some sellers will have absolutely NOTHING priced. I suppose this is to encourage haggling, but I really didn't like having to sound like a pricing parrot.
2. You will run into some sellers who think they are running a one/two day antique shop. Yes, pedal cars are really cool but the $400 price tag was not so much.
3. You might want to bring a rolling cart along so you don't end up stuck carrying something really heavy around for long.
4. There will be an overload of people shopping. Be fast. Be a yard sale ninja.
5. Spend the rest of the year working on the fine art of haggling.
6. Bathrooms are hard to find. Scout out gas stations on google maps before you head off on the trip.

P.S. I had absolutely no success at finding any new therapy materials, but loved every minute of my trip.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Looking towards summer....

This school year, more than any other that I've experienced thus far, has been challenging. So many changes come with getting a new superintendent and principle than I realized or noticed during my student days. 

I am grateful for the challenges, the changes, and the growing that both my students and I faced this year. It has made all of us stronger. 

I am grateful for the ideas rolling around in my head for next year. 

I am grateful for other SLPs continuing to visit this blog. It keeps me inspired to find new ideas and make new materials. 

And, I am grateful for summer being right around the corner. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

To everything there is a season....

It's hard to believe that it's May 11th and the end of school is just around the corner. I've been busy with kindergarten screenings and the teachers are just starting the end of year district benchmark assessments. It is a little bit different than our previous benchmarks as the entire school schedule has been shifted. 

The change and working on cause & effect with one of my inclusion groups inspired me to try my hand at making a foldable activity. 

Students have to tell me a possible consequence (effect) of the written action. Then, they get to pick a number and do whatever is hidden.

The actions range from making a silly face to describing an object and even to play-acting what they would do/say in the situation.

You can grab your copy of Consequences here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Lessons from Kindergarten Screening

We are currently in the middle of Kindergarten Screening. It has really snuck up on me this year. My mother and grandmother are certainly right in saying that time has a way of passing you by before you even notice it. So here are my reflections on this year's screening.

  1. The test developers REALLY need to consult with a Speech-Language Pathologist before creating future articulation tasks. They also need to consult us on the horrid "I Spy" task too. 
  2. I hate tweezers. 
  3. The language section seems to take 10 times longer than any other section. (The only exception to the rule is when you have someone taking a really long time to score.)
  4. The screening goes much more smoothly when everyone pays attention to what sections a child has/has not completed and brings them to X area for a needed section. 
  5. Blocks should not be used in the children's waiting area. It makes it very difficult for other children to pass the hearing screening.
  6. You will always have a least one kid who pitches a fit at the sight of the headphones & audiometer. Unfortunately, some are easier to reassure than others. 
  7. You will always have someone show up late when its about time to leave.
  8. Never say "will you"....without expecting someone to eventually refuse.
  9. The rhyming task is a nightmare. Always has been and always will be. 
  10. You will be ridiculously tired the next day for no reason at all. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

My Second NCSHLA Spring Convention

For my regular readers, I do apologize for not posting on Monday like usual. The end of April and beginning of May is a crazy time this year. I have three weeks worth of kindergarten screenings (because we go to one school each week for either 1-2 days), EC meetings, IEPs (almost done with all of them!), and the state conference. I may look like a train wreck on May 12th, but my life will calm down considerably as the End of Grade testing fever picks up for everyone else.

The 2015 NCSHLA Spring Convention was another really good professional development experience. I love that it offers a good variety of topics without the overwhelming feeling that the national conferences can create. This year, I felt like the conference was much more geared towards the medical side to make up for last year being more school-centric.  

So I'm going to focus more on a few of the neat things I happened to see in the exhibit hall. (Please note that I am not being paid or otherwise compensated to talk about any of these things. I just thought they were cool.)

1) The Dolores One: Medical Speech-Language Pathologists will want to pay attention to this one. It's basically a machine that helps amplify a client's voice by being placed on the patient's neck near the vocal folds. This means that it doesn't interfere with respiratory care equipment. Yet, it still allows you to hear what the patient is saying. The demonstration with CPAP mask was really incredible. I love to see how technology and ingenuity can come together to solve very distressing problems.

2) Discovery Toys interactive books: Ahoy, Pirate Pete and Once Upon a Time

According to the vendor, these books have recently returned to print after a several year hiatus. I absolutely love the idea of letting students pick the direction of the story. It can be as silly or as normal as they want. Plus, the graphics just pop.
The only thing I didn't love about these books were the price tag. $19 was a little steep for something that I can see being damaged in overzealous argument between two or three competitive students. These are going on my "watch" list. 

3) Super Duper's Pirates and Pals Preposition card deck: I have the biggest weakness for pirate stuff. I have no idea why. I ran up to the display copy of these cards the minute I saw them. They would be really motivating for young pirate fans. 

4) Literacy Speaks!: I think I must have been living under a rock or in graduate school when this program came out. My favorite part of the kits are the little books that you can print out from the CD. However, it is one of the more pricey items I saw. I know that the cost of materials continues to grow problematic as more districts are having to cut funds. This one is probably just going into the "dream" files as I cannot imagine my district buying this over our testing materials.

And my secret to not ending up broke after visiting the booths at convention: 
Only bring enough money for food!

Monday, April 13, 2015

We're going bananas for multiple meaning words

The warmer weather has me thinking of tropical places and the Disney version of the "Day-O" song. My students are all focusing on plant and environmental themes this six weeks in science so I thought I would make a game-based activity that featured a fun animal. 

The layout of this game is pretty simple. Students pull out cards from the pile that will either have a word, a monkey (lose a turn or take another turn), or a banana (word challenge). Whoever has the biggest pile at the end of the game wins. 

When students get a banana card, they complete the pyramid chart for one of the words in their pile. I like to let my students pick the words unless their is a specific word that I know they need some additional practice with. They complete the pyramid by writing the two different meanings and drawing a picture for each. My older students (4-5th) also get to write a sentence for one of the meanings on the bottom of the paper.

Here is an example of what it might look like completed:

Grab your copy of the Great Ape Escape here!