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February 17, 2012

Shopping Around


This is my first ever blog post, so please be patient with me as I'm learning the ropes. I have been so inspired by other creative speech pathologist bloggers, that I decided I'd give it a try, too. I know that I have become a better therapist by "borrowing" ideas and materials posted by some fabulously creative professionals to use with my own caseload. It energizes me! So I want to "give back", and share some of my ideas with you. I'm so glad we have the chance to learn from each other, aren't you?

I was thinking about what I would want to share in my first blog post and this is it: Make your treatment sessions more interesting and fun by having a theme. I didn't do this for the first several years of working in my private practice, but since I have, it has made a big difference for both me and my clients. It really isn't that difficult to plan or execute, and with a little creative organization, you can save all your themed activities to use again another year. I use my theme ideas as a starting point and plan several activities that I can use to meet a variety of language and articulation goals. As the weeks progress, I add more activities and tailor them to suit individual needs. We usually get at least a month's worth of activities out of each theme before we get bored. The kids enjoy it when I mix things up and introduce a new theme. They have even given me suggestions about what theme they would like to do next!

For the past two months, my office has been transformed into a grocery store, complete with a cart, a scale, a cash register and shelves of food. Kids of all ages have been "shopping" at my store and learning lots along the way. Here are some of the activities we've done:

Shopping with Shopping Lists

I made several different kinds of lists for kids to use to shop in my store. I used the Boardmaker program from Mayer Johnson to make picture lists of items in the store (see photo). Some lists are just the pictures of the items, and some lists include attributes (ex. round things, crunchy things, long things). For my kids who are working on phonemic awareness, I made lists of things with different beginning letter sounds. For older kids working on language processing skills, I made riddle lists (ex. "Find something creamy that you can eat with a spoon"). For my articulation kids, I made lists with specific sounds. As you can see, this activity can be used with just about any child for a wide variety of goals! And no matter their age, they ALL love shopping!

Categorizing - Separating fruits from vegetables, red fruit from green fruit, things in a can from things in a carton...the list goes on!

Comparing and Contrasting - We used the scale to compare objects to see which was heavier/lighter. This was a great activity for carryover for my kids working on /r/, by the way. We also chose two fruits or two vegetables and talked about how they were alike and different.

I could go on and on, describing all the activities we've done the past few weeks. But to keep things short and sweet, why don't I just give you a list of SOME of the goals I've managed to fit into this unit:

*Vocabulary - this one's self-explanatory; the list is nearly endless!
*Following Directions - from simple to complex, and all the steps in between
*Matching numbers - I put "prices" on canned and boxed food items. When the child "checked out" his/her groceries, he/she pressed the correct numbers on the cash register.
*Pretend Play/Role Play
*Pre-Literacy Skills
*Working Memory Skills
*Answering Wh- Questions
*Money Concepts
* Plurals

I'm sure I'm forgetting plenty of other goals we've addressed. Oh well, you get the point! Grocery Store is always a favorite theme around Small Talk, and it really wasn't very difficult to pull together. All you really need to do is purchase a sturdy child's grocery cart, a cash register and some play food. Most of my purchases came from Lakeshore or Target and have stayed looking good for several years. I also use a lot of wooden toys from Melissa and Doug. I have found that trying to use cardboard boxes from real groceries just doesn't cut it.

I hope this post has inspired you to think creatively when you plan your treatment sessions. 

I look forward to chatting with you again!


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