Friday, August 22, 2014

Under the Sea

As you all know, I love to use thematic units to plan my treatment sessions.  Every summer, I do an Under the Sea theme, which is one of my favorites!  This year, my caseload is full of 3- 5 year olds, the perfect age to really enjoy Under the Sea activities.  I always start with a book, and this one is AWESOME!



This is one of those awesome books with wonderful rhythm and repeated line text, making it super easy for little ones to join in the telling of the story.  In case you're not familiar with this one, the story goes like this:  a boy is diving in the deep blue sea, looking for treasure to share with his mama.  On his journey, he meets many adorable sea creatures and even a shark who chases him after he finds the treasure.  He rises up from the deep blue sea to find his mom waiting for him with a fluffy bath towel.  The last page shows a bathtub full of sea creature toys, which is wonderful for making inferences about where the boy actually saw all of the creatures.  It is so fun!  I've used it for years!  Here is the link to Amazon if you'd like to check it out.



Here's how I use it.  I collected a box full of sea creatures that match the ones in the book.  I photocopied a picture of the boy swimming from the book, cut it out and taped it to the lid of the box.  We set the lid off to the side while we read the book.  When a new sea creature is introduced in the story, the child finds its match from the box.  We talk about the creature, and then put it on the lid as we say, "Swim away!"



I just love this book!  The pictures are so adorable and the kids stay so engaged.  It's a winner!

Another favorite activity has been building sand castles with that kinetic sand that has become so popular.  My son bought me a jar from Brookstone last Christmas and it's become another favorite.  It truly is amazing...it doesn't make a huge mess!  And it feels so soft and crumbly...it's addicting!  Anyway, we used those tiny paper cups to make awesome sand castles.  I made a little script:  First you put in 5 scoops of sand.  Then  you smash it down with the spoon, and add 5 more scoops.  Smash it down again, then flip the cup over.  Lift the cup to see your sand castle.  Finally, put a flag on top.


The kids quickly learned to follow the sequence.  It was fun to see them problem solve when their castles didn't turn out they way they expected them to be.  After they knew the sequence, I had them give me directions to make one.  This was a great activity for learning to tell a sequence.


Aren't they cute?  I made the flags out of straws and washi tape.

I have several preschoolers working on plurals, pronouns and verb tenses, so I made some fun activities to target these skills and others.  I made a deck of sea creature cards that can be used in a zillion ways.  Our favorites have been to use them to play some childhood favorites, Go Fish, Memory Game and Old Maid.  These games have withstood the test of time for a reason:  they are easy to learn and jam-packed with learning opportunities.  Here's one page of the cards...there are 17 different cards in all...34 if you double them.

Aren't the graphics by My Clipart Store cute?  So clean and colorful.  I love them!

I also used some of the cards to play another popular game:  The treasure hunt game.  I hid gold coins under sea creature flaps attached to a plastic sheet protector.  Kids turned over a card, and lifted the flap that matched the card.



If there was a gold coin under the flap, the child got to put it on his treasure chest.  If not, he continued to turn over cards and lift flaps until a gold coin was found.


What's under the flaps in addition to gold coins???  Target words and phrases!!!

All you have to do is print off this sheet and 3 others with different targets and place them all in the same sheet protector.  Then, print the sea creature page...

...cut them out, and tape them onto the sheet protector, covering each picture on the target page.  Be sure to only tape the top side of each sea creature square, and it's easiest if you work from the bottom of the page up.

This activity was great for working on pronouns, -ing verbs, past tense -ed verbs, and auxiliary verbs.  The best part about it is you only have to tape the sea creatures on one sheet protector.  You just have to move the target page of your choosing to the top of the pile inside the sheet protector.  How great is that?

I also used the treasure chest mats and coins for another activity.  A couple of my kids are working on auditory memory skills right now, so I made a sea creature themed activity for them.


This activity was harder than it seems for several of my kids. I even used it with a sixth grader, and it was difficult for her!  Anyway, what I did was start with cards that had 3-4 syllables on them and work up to ones that had 7-8.  I read a card aloud to the child and the child repeats it back.  After he/she says the words in correct order, they receive a piece of gold to put on a treasure chest mat.  We played until 10 pieces of gold were collected, but it's meant to be open-ended.  You choose how long you play!

I have to say, this is one of the most versatile sets I've made.  I've used it to target so many goals with several different age groups.  If you'd like to check it out, visit my TpT store here.  And, as always, I'd love to hear what you think about these materials.  Please leave a comment below!


Pam


Thursday, June 12, 2014

Owls, Owls, Owls!



This week at Small Talk, we've been reading the book, Owl Babies, by Martin Waddell.  This is a fantastic book for preschoolers that tells the tale of three babies owls who wake up to find that their mother is gone.  Sarah and Percy are very brave, but Bill just wants his mommy!  The owls make guesses about where their mother might have gone, but become less brave the longer they wait.  Finally their mother comes back and the baby owls rejoice.  It's a great story that most little ones can relate to, and its just plain adorable!  Here are some of the owl activities I planned to go with this book:



Sorting day and night objects:  I gathered small objects of things that we see or do in the daytime or the nighttime and put them in my mystery box.  I made a mat for the daytime objects and one for the nighttime objects.  Kids reached into the mystery box, pulled out an object, labeled it and then put it on the corresponding mat.  This activity was so great for improving vocabulary skills and answering "when" questions, not to mention sorting items of a category.



Following 2-Step Directions Game:  I made a cute open-ended game board that I used for several different activities depending on treatment goals.  This one was one of the kids' favorites and could be played with a single player or several.  Players turned over a card, I read the directions on each card, and the child performed the actions to follow the directions.  Many of the direction cards contained actions an owl might do, such as flap their wings or say "hoo hoo".  For the kids still working on novel 1-Step directions, I used the same cards, but only gave one part of the the direction.



I turned my Butterfly Garden canopy into a treetop that covers the ceiling in my office.  I attached felt leaves with safety pins and it feels like we are sitting right among the branches.  The kids made owls to hang from the canopy.  It's magical!



Look what I found at my favorite toy store...Owl flashlights!!!  We'll be using those next week when I hide the Mommy Owl around the room.  We'll turn off the lights, and go on an owl hunt!  I can't wait!  I'm sure it's going to be fun!


I've been using this awesome toy as a reinforcer during drill activities.  After the child says the target word or phrase, he or she gets a piece to put on the tree.  This darling wooden tree set comes from Hearthsong and has lasted many years.



Since the Owl Babies text includes many past tense -ed verbs, I decided to make a game to provide more past tense -ed opportunities.  I made another game board that explained that the baby owls watched the kids who were busy in the house and yard below the owls' tree.  Players took turns drawing a card and describing what the owls saw the kids do.  This worked great for both past tense verbs and pronouns.  I even used this game with my older elementary kids who are about to join a social thinking group and are working on identifying another person's plan.  I had them make a "smart guess" about what the person on the card was doing, or how they might be feeling and then had them make a guess about what that person might do next.



And speaking of games, these two games are great for preschoolers.  Easy to learn, easy to play, and not much set-up required.  I found these at my favorite toy store, too.


Last but not least...look at this adorable owl!  His eyes pop out when you squeeze them!  I can probably find a million different ways to use them, but for now, we just say our target words 5 times while we squeeze our owls (I have an orange one, too)!

Whew, that's a lot of fun crammed into one week!  I'm exhausted!  Do you have any owl ideas to add to my plans?  I'd love to hear them!


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Early Speech Sounds Game Companion for a Popular Elephant Game


Do your kids enjoy Hasbro's Elefun game as much as mine do?  I mean, who wouldn't love catching colorful butterflies as they fly out of an elephant's long, blue trunk???  This game's a hit with all the kids on my caseload, whether they are 2 or 12!  That's why I came up with a way to turn this game into one that's jam-packed with speech and language learning opportunities.


I made an open-ended mat that can be used with just about any speech or language goal.  It has five nets and a multitude of butterflies that can be cut out and "caught" in the nets.   Kids are given a butterfly to place on a net after they complete a task, such as saying an articulation target five times.  After they collect five butterflies, we play a round of Elefun, catching as many butterflies as we can in our real nets.  Once the round is over, we go back to the table to do it again!



I also made 11 sets of target word and riddle cards.  Many of my kiddos are preschoolers working on early speech sounds and CVC words, so I chose my targets based on their needs.  I made cards for /p, b, m, t, d, k/ in the initial and final positions of words and a set of CVC cards.  Each set of cards is color coded and clearly marked to make life (and organizing!) easier for us busy speech paths.

The first time we play, I tend to just use the picture cards without the riddles so the kids can become familiar with the target words.  Then, depending on the child's age and receptive language skills, I will introduce the riddle cards.  I will usually display 2-3 picture cards in front of the child and then read a riddle card.  After the child answers the riddle correctly, he or she puts a butterfly on a net.  This is a fabulous way to work on both speech and language at the same time!  Best part...the kids love it and will play it again and again!!!

Sounds like fun, huh?  If so, check it out at my TpT store.

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.

Enjoy!

Pam