Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How I Use This Toy: Wooden Puzzles with Doors

Do you have this puzzle or one something like it?  A wooden one with doors with magnetic objects hiding inside?  I'll bet you do.  It seems to be one of those staple items that all SLP's keep in their bag of tricks.  I've been getting A LOT of use out of this one over the past several days and was reminded how versatile it can be.  I want to share my ideas for using it in treatment with you.

Make a color copy of each of the magnetic pieces.  Cut them out and laminate them.  Use these cards for matching and following directions.  Before the session, I mixed up the placement of the magnetic pieces, making sure they were hiding behind doors of places they didn't belong.  I put the cow in the oven, the car in the lunch box, and the turkey in the present.  When we were ready to play, I showed the child one of the cards and asked them to find the match.  The child looked behind the doors until he or she found the match.  Then I chose another card, and repeated the sequence.  Here are some of the goals we worked on while doing this:
     *  Answering Wh-questions:  Where is the _____?  What is this?  Where does it belong?
     * Asking Wh-questions:  Where is it?  What's next?
     *  Negatives:  It's not there.
     *  Answering Yes/No questions:  Is this a cow?  Does a car go in a cookie jar?
     *  Using the pronoun "I":  I found it!  I did it!
     * Using CVCV words:  open, hiding
     *  Saying "my turn"
     *  Talking about silly matches:  giving a reason why a cow doesn't belong in the oven.
     *  Talking about why an object and a door do go together.
     *  Let the child be the teacher.  Give him the cards and have him tell you which one to find.

Just adding these simple cards to this very intriguing puzzle really expanded the opportunities for increased language use.  I found that my kids stayed engaged with this activity far longer than when it was presented as a simple game rather than using it as-is.

How about this idea:

Hide something other than the magnetic piece behind one of the doors.  I chose to hide a heart because it's Valentine's week, but you could use anything:  Picture cards with speech sounds, a picture of the child or his parent, whatever you want.  Then practice phrases such as, "Is it in the bird cage?"  "Is it behind oven door?" and other concepts.  Kids love hide and seek!  This one's sure to be a hit.

Have fun!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Get Up and Move Giveaway

My fellow blogger, Jen Moses is giving away an entire packet of activities to get your students up and moving while practicing their goals on her blog SLPrunner.  Be sure to go check it out and enter for your chance to win.  You'll find one of my activities there:  Balloon Bop!  This is one of my favorite go-to activities when my kids are squirmy and sitting at a table just isn't going to work for them.

Kids draw a card that either tells them to say their word/phrase/sentence a specific number of times or to bop a balloon with their body part.  I usually have them bop the balloon with a partner (which is usually me!) for one minute while they say their target.  It's a blast!!!  Check out my blog post from last year to see how I use this activity in more detail.  Or visit my TpT store to grab a copy now!

Jen's got several of these fun, motivating activities bundled together just waiting for you to win!  Get up and move and GO VISIT her!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Even MORE Fun with The Mitten

You'd think by now there would be nothing left to post about companion activities for one of my favorite winter books, The Mitten by Jan Brett.  But winter just seems to keep going on and on, and so do my ideas for using this book for kids big and small.

One activity I have used with ALL my kids (ages 2-12) is a set of animal figurines, rock salt, and a mitten.  Do you use rock salt for pretend snow?  It's so fun!  It's easy to scoop, feels kind of cold and really looks like ice.  I keep mine in a large plastic container and we scoop some out onto a plastic plate so the animals and the mitten can be in the snow.  The little ones love to find things hidden in the snow and put the animals inside the mitten.  The older ones have used this set to retell the story after we read the book.  I was lucky to have most of the animals from the book, but I can't find a mole or a badger!   The kids don't seem to mind.

Another activity I've gotten a lot of mileage with is my Mitten Companion Set for the Don't Break The Ice Game by Hasbro.  I made a set that is similar to Winter Clothing Don't Break the Ice Companion that includes small cards to tape onto the ice blocks and two sets of game cards.

One set of cards features pictures of all the animals and characters in the story, along with a smaller version of each picture to tape on the ice blocks.  The younger kids love to turn over a card and tap the matching ice block until it falls.  It's a great way to learn new animal vocabulary.  When used with my Mitten Fold-Out Book, you can practice the repetitive text from the story.  You could have the child turn over a card and say "The ______ went in.  Push, push, push!" before they tap the ice block.

The second set of cards features wonderful vocabulary words found in the original text of The Mitten.  There are so many great words that add to the detail and the richness of this story!  Words like burrowed, talons, commotion, admire, tunneled, lumbered and jostled.  I used these cards along with the picture cards for the older kids.  They turned over one card from each pile and had to make up a sentence that included both words.  For example, in the picture above where the two cards show "rabbit" and "talons", the child might say, "The rabbit saw the owl's sharp talons so he let him in."

This sentence construction activity was an amazingly easy way to help my students add details and complexity to their narratives.   As I mentioned earlier, I had my third through fifth graders retell the story using the props after we read the book together.    I recorded their story using the video camera on my iPad and then transcribed the text.  I used a graphic organizer from the Snow Much Fun With Language set I purchased from If I Only Had Superpowers to map the parts of the story and list the details and vocabulary used.  Over the next two weeks, we used these cards again and again.  We defined words we didn't know, we acted them out by pretending to burrow under a table and jostle each other, and when we played the game, we made up AMAZING sentences.  At the end of our unit, I gave them the opportunity to retell the story with the props and reminded them to use some of the new words they learned.  I recorded them again and was absolutely ASTOUNDED at the improvements they made.  It was so cool!  One third grader's baseline story was 3:38 minutes long.  It included all the basic elements such as characters, setting and a sequence of events, but was very lean on details.  He did not describe the animals' reactions to the other animals wanting to squeeze into the mitten; he just named the animals and said they went into the mitten.   His sentences were very basic and non-descriptive.  His post-test story increase to 5:40 and included at least 11 new details and vocabulary words.  This version included the animals' responses to each other and was much more similar to the story we read together two weeks earlier.  I was so proud of him!  I LOVE it when we can prove success in our treatment strategies!

Want to try it for yourself?  You can find it at my TpT store here.

Have you been using The Mitten with your kids this year?  I'd love to here how.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Picky Penguin Valentine Freebie

I just added a new Valentine freebie to my Facebook page.  It's a cute little matching game I made to be used with those darling little mailboxes from the Target dollar section or any cute box or bag.  Each Valentine card features a fussy penguin who requests a specific heart for his or her Valentine.  Students find the heart that matches, sticks it on the card and puts it in the mailbox to be "sent".  Here are some of the Valentine cards:

It's a great activity for matching colors, following directions, and other speech and language concepts.  If you'd like a copy, all you need to do is go to my Facebook page, click on the "Like" button, and then click on the Free Downloads tab.



Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Right to Left, Left to Right? Mitten Story Revision

Some very savvy readers left some great feedback on my previous post stating that my Mitten story pages needed to be reversed so it could be read from left to right.  I took their comments to heart and reversed the order.  The finished product now looks like this:

You can find the revised version at my TpT store here.  See my previous post for instructions for assembly.  Thanks for understanding!

Monday, January 27, 2014

More Fun with The Mitten

Here's another great activity I've been using with my preschoolers this week.  It's a simplified version of The Mitten by Jan Brett made into a printable book that the kids can take home.  It has repetitive text, so little ones can quickly join in with retelling the story, and it's folded accordion-style so the mitten gets bigger and bigger and BIGGER as the story progresses.   It's so fun!   I made two versions.  One with the animals printed on each page, and one with animals to cut and paste on each page.  Here's what the pages of the printable look like:

I'm going to show you how to put it all together to make a book.  Cut out each of the story strips and one mitten.  Cut the mitten in half, following the dotted line.  To assemble the book, I always start from the left side and work my way to the right.  Glue along the left edge of the strip that has the mole on it. Place the left mitten piece on top of the strip, matching up the edge of the mitten with the dotted line of the tab that has the glue.  Be sure to glue the story strip in the center of the mitten.  It should look like this:

Next, fold the rabbit page to the left, like this:

and fold the hedgehog page behind the animal page to the right, accordion-style.  Be sure to fold directly on the dotted lines between the pages.  It should look like this when you're finished with the first strip:

Next, glue the right edge of the hedgehog page, and glue the story strip that has the owl on it on top of the glue tab, matching up the dotted lines.

 Continue to fold these pages like an accordion, folding the owl to the left, the badger to the right, etc.  It should look like this:

Repeat for the remaining two strips, gluing on the tabs and folding in alternating directions.   At this point, if you collapse your accordion strips into a stack,"The End"  should be facedown on top of the animals in the snow.  Open the page and fold back the glue tab to the right of "The End" along the dotted line like this:

Glue along the edge that is folded back. Place the right side of the mitten piece on top of the glue tab, making sure that it's centered, like this:

When it's all folded together, it looks like this:

It looks harder to put together than it actually is.  It's just a little folding and a little gluing.  You'll get the hang of it pretty quickly!

My little ones and their mommies have LOVED this one.  If you love it, too, you can find it at my TpT store here.

Stay warm and cozy!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mitten Craftivity for Preschoolers

This week at Small Talk, we're all about one of my favorite winter stories, The Mitten by Jan Brett.  It's a great story about forest animals who all push their way into a cozy mitten that was dropped in the snow.  I thought I'd share one of the activities we'll be doing with you.  It is this easy mitten "craftivity" that your little ones are sure to love and you can use to cover a variety of goals.

Start by tracing a large mitten shape onto white card stock and cut it out.  Next, cut a smaller mitten shape out from the inside of the mitten, leaving a 1/2"- 1" frame.  Trace the outline of the mitten onto the grid side of a sheet of clear Con-Tact paper and cut it out.  Peel off the grid paper, exposing the sticky side of the Con-Tact paper.  Place your mitten frame on top of the Con-Tact paper mitten, matching the edges.  Place the grid paper back onto the mitten, protecting the sticky surface until you are ready to use it.

Gather up some pieces to stick on your mitten.  I used some snowflakes I made with a paper punch, some squares of white tissue paper, and some pictures of the animals featured in The Mitten.  The animals I used are from a darling graphics collection by KPM Doodles.

Stick the snowflakes and mittens onto the sticky side of the mitten.  Be sure to place the animals face down.

Then, put squares of white tissue paper over the animals and the snowflakes, making sure to cover all of the sticky spots.  Turn it over to see all the animals inside the mitten!  I love this!  It's so easy and so CUTE!

I plan to use this for a variety of goals, including following directions, articulation, vocabulary, basic concepts, and a simple story retell.

What do you think?  Check back later in the week to see what other activities I have planned for my Mitten theme.  Until then, stay warm!