Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Fun with Mr. Potato Head

I posted a picture some time back on my facebook page about giving a new Mr. Potato Head a bath. I was asked to write a post about how I use Mr. Potato Head for therapy. Now that my husband is on the mend and the school year is winding down, I thought it was time to actually sit down and write out my thoughts. Mr. Potato Head goes to elementary school.....

The first thing I would like to say is that Mr. Potato Head is a pretty popular guy among my kindergarten to 2nd grade groups. He sometimes even pops up with my older groups although in a slightly less traditional manner.

1. Pronouns- This is one of his most obvious uses.

2. Attributes- You can talk about the size of the Potato Head, clothing options, hair options, etc.

3. Following Directions- This tags along with pronouns. I often ask my students to give the Potato Heads certain accessories or pair them up with some of my animal figurines. If you can find a doll house, why not turn it into Mr. Potato's house for spatial concepts?

4. Sensory bin- I use this to help students calm down when they are over stimulated. It's also a great way to teach about body parts and senses.

5. Requesting/turn taking- I have used Mr. Potato Head to get some of kindergarten students to request rather than to grab items that they want.

6. Articulation- As other bloggers have said in the past, you can use Mr. Potato head to practice at phrase/sentence level using target sound pictures. You can also use phonics figurines if you have the Lakeshore tubs (or can borrow from teachers) or your own set of gathered items.

7. Parts of Speech- As I said earlier, Mr. Potato Head sometimes visits my older groups. I often use pieces from my collection for Colourful Semantics lessons that involve sorting items into who, what, and where.

8.  Create your own Spud Story- I like to think that every variation of Potato Head has his/her own story. We can make up a story for our Potato Head and talk about his/her adventures. It could be Star Wars, a day on the farm, a day at the pet shop....you can't go wrong.

While I have seen some bloggers suggest to buy Mr. Potato Head on Amazon, I would suggest looking for him at thrift stores. I have found my entire collection by shopping at Goodwill, Salvation Army, and garage sales. The most expensive set I bought was the Star Wars set, which was $5. Just make sure you give them a good bath before bringing them to work.

Monday, May 8, 2017

5 Step Power Plan

As the end of the year approaches, I thought I should share how I am wrapping up my inclusion lessons for Social Thinking:

The 5 Step Power Plan
Even superheroes like Superflex have to have a plan! Why? It helps us understand when we can do things on our own and when we need help. There are simply too many Unthinkables out there for Superflex to defeat on his own. He gets help from the Thinkables. I compare it to the relationship between Batman and Robin. Batman can do many things on his own, but he's a much better superhero when he has his friend's help.

What are the steps?

The Decider:

The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes
With this book, we made a list of all of the potential deciders who could help Beatrice and why they might or might not be the best choice. The one that I consider the decider in this book didn't make even one of the lists we made, which is also an important lesson itself. Don't overlook the impact that animals can have on their owners. Also, this is a great opportunity to talk about the importance of asking for help.

Social Detective:
Brain games video clip
This is actually something I saw in one of the Social Thinking webinars. I knew that there had to be a way to use this clip with my students. Social Detective, of course, is just a review from the beginning of the year. We talked about how the lady has to use her smart guess tools to figure out what to do.

The Brakester:
If Winning Isn't Everything Why Do I Hate to Lose
I can't think of a better way to talk about hidden rules. Who teaches you to say "bless you" when someone sneezes? How do you know when to say "happy birthday?" These are things that we have to learn by seeing and doing. While sports have many rules that are stated, they also have many more hidden rules about the way players behave.

Flex DoBody:
My Day is Ruined!
When everything seems to be bad, we have to use our flexible thinking to find the silver lining.
Bubble Gum Brain
This is a clever book that reminds students not to get stuck in one way of thinking.

Cranium Coach:
Giraffes Can't Dance.
I'm Going to Like Me. 
Kid President Heroes 
Last, but definitely not least, is Cranium Coach. This is your brain's way of empowering yourself through life.

Please note that all of the books suggested in this post were personal purchases (thank you Amazon for having the best selection of books anywhere). There are plenty of great resources out there that I don't know about but will share as I discover them. 

Monday, May 1, 2017


I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
Frank Herbert

Why am I writing about fear on a blog that is dedicated to speech and my experiences as a Speech-Language Pathologist? Well, because I am honestly terrified of what tomorrow brings. 

I had the pleasure of learning a whole huge list of different genetic disorders in graduate school for one of my child language classes. It was one of those things that I hadn't really thought about before as my family didn't have much history of anything. 

It's much more personal now that I'm married. My wonderful husband has to go into surgery tomorrow because he does suffer from one of these lovely genetic conditions (a mutation in his case). Hand surgery.....I know it's not heart or brain surgery, but to me it's still something that's really scary. It still involves a structure that's very important to his ability to work and drive. It still involves getting around small nerves. It still involves him being put under. 

The most difficult part is not being there. I've been sick so much this year with everything that has come through the building that I can't miss any days. I can't help him through the recovery process because we are still two hours apart and I have to help my grandmother. 

I need life to calm down just a little.