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February 26, 2013

Nifty Little Counters

Today I'm sharing something I've found very useful in my treatment sessions over the past year.  I call them "Nifty Little Counters."  I use them for just about everything!  Well, anything that needs to be tracked, that is.

Basically, they are strings of beads attached to a piece of laminated card stock.  Some have only five beads on the string, but others have 20.  As you can see, the 20-bead counters have two groups of 10 beads, strung in a pattern of alternating colors for easy visual tracking.

So, what do I do with these???

1.  Initially I created these to be used with one of my tongue thrust kiddos.  We used it as a self-monitoring device to track correct swallows.  The student placed the bead counter on the table in front of her and moved one bead from left to right after each correct swallow.  It worked so well in our sessions, that I sent one home with her to track her swallowing during meals at home.

2.  I made the short one with the sports beads for the mom of a three year old.  She needed a nifty little trick to entice her child to work with her at home, which up until that point had been a challenge.  She pulls out the counter and five picture cards and tells him it's talking time.  After he says a target word (once or whatever the criteria she chooses) he gets to move a ball from one side to the other.  It is an easy way for him to see how many balls are left on the string to move, giving him some idea of the length of the activity.  She does this several times a day, and gets several short bursts of concentrated speech sound work.  Her child has become much more willing to "work" with her, knowing what the expectations are.

3.  I use this A LOT to help kids self-monitor resting posture.  I like to do what I call "interval training" with my kids who are learning new resting posture.  Typically I have them hold their tongue in the correct resting posture while engaging in an activity (such as doing homework, building a lego structure or drawing a picture) for a period of 5-10 minutes.  I run the stopwatch on my phone and tell them that I will ring a bell at 30 second intervals.  If their tongue is in the correct position when the bell rings, they can move a bead from left to right.  We set a goal of the number of beads to be moved beforehand, and when the goal is reached, we take a break.

4.  Sometimes I use a Nifty Little Counter to help track behaviors.  I have a chronic interrupter who will ask a question, and then interrupt me with a new one while I'm answering the first.  He gets to move a bead if he actively attends and listens to my answer without interrupting, and is rewarded after meeting a specified goal with a fun game or favorite activity at the end of the session.

5.  I have a second grader who shares an aide at school with another child.  His mother complains that he is not getting his work done at school or during homework time without constant input to stay on task.  We're using a Nifty Little Counter to help him to learn to be more independent.  Last week, I gave him a reading comprehension worksheet similar to one he would be given at school.  I explained that he was to read the passage and answer the 6 questions by himself.  I also explained that he could move a bead after reading the passage, and then one for each question as he completed them.  We separated 7 beads to one side of the counter so he had a visual representation of the length of his task.  I set a timer for 10 minutes, and then left the table.  I monitored him from my desk, occasionally checking back in with him to keep him moving forward.  He wasn't able to complete the task completely independently, but I think we're on the right track. The beads seemed to give him a sense of urgency to complete the task in a set amount of time.

Here is a picture of him making his own Nifty Little Counter.  I cut a 3" by 8 1/2"  strip of card stock and laminate it.  I punch a hole in the middle of each end, about a half inch from the edge.  Then I cut a 12" piece of plastic lacing string and stick one end through a hole, securing it to the back with a piece of tape.  We choose our bead sets, usually 4 different colors, and string them onto the plastic lacing.  After the beads are strung, I feed the plastic lacing through the other hole, securing it to the back with another piece of tape.

Here's one I just made this morning with just one bead:

I used this one to illustrate the production of final consonants in single CVC words.  Using the segmentation technique, the child said the CV segment of the word as she slid the turtle bead to the bucket and then said the final consonant when the turtle reached the bucket.  I just placed the target picture cards above the counter, moving the turtle back and forth for each one.

So that's it!  Easy and oh-so-useful.


February 20, 2013

One Year Ago: What I Know Now But Didn't Know Then

I completely blame it on Pinterest.

I stumbled across this amazing site a little over a year ago, thinking that I had found a decorating and style haven, only to find out that speech-language pathologists were using it as an avenue to share great ideas and materials.  And many of them for FREE!  I was immediately and completely hooked!  I'm sure many of you can relate.

I quickly set up "boards" to collect all these great ideas and started following blogs that I didn't even know existed.  And then, I took the craziest step of all and became an SLP BLOGGER!  Gasp!  I thought that it would be a fun, easy way to give back to the SLP community.  Little did I know, that although it IS fun and I DO enjoy sharing, it's a tough job sometimes.  There's pressure to perform, so to speak, and all those other fabulous SLP Bloggers keep raising the bar!  Some of these amazing ladies add several new blog posts per week and produce incredible packets of materials week after week after week.  How do they do that???  I am in awe.  And I own a lot of their stuff.

My little blog hit a milestone yesterday:  50,000 pageviews!  For me, that is huge, and I humbly thank anyone who has taken the time to read it.  I never dreamed that I'd have that many people be interested in my posts.  And thank you to my faithful 51 followers!  I got a slow start, but I think I've found my groove and I'm feeling okay about what I post, and as long as you still like it, we're all good.

I've learned a few things over the past year about blogging.

1.  Following other bloggers is a wonderful form of continuing education.

I have learned so much this past year in so many areas!  Jenna Rayburn's blog Speech Room News has taught me many blogging basics and many tricks and tips in making materials.  Her fun, useful materials made my treatment sessions more enjoyable and jumpstarted my creativity to create more materials myself.  Thanks, Jenna!  I couldn't do what I do without you!

Katie Yeh's blog Playing With Words 365  is written in a totally different  format than Jenna's.  Instead of sharing incredible theme-based materials, Katie writes amazing articles for parents and professionals about normal and disordered communication development, treatment techniques and resources.  I find myself going to her page more often than any other, and have shared her posts with parents countless times.  Thanks, Katie, you ROCK!

And where would I be without following that fabulous collection of boards on Pinterest from PediaStaff?  You can find anything you'll ever need just by browsing their boards.  Their pins have directed me to numerous SLP blogs and have benefited my greatly in terms of finding new, wonderful materials to use, recommending apps to use in treatment, and keeping me up-to-date with current trends and best practice techniques.  Heidi at PediaStaff, you're amazing!  Please keep doing what you're doing!

I could go on and on.

2. Blogging and bloggers are constantly evolving.

I've seen a trend developing over the past few months that I'm not especially fond of.  A year ago, bloggers would publish their posts with unique, creative materials, often offering them as freebies, but would also publish posts that provided app reviews or tips and tricks that they find useful in treatment.  Suddenly there's been an onslaught, it seems, of bloggers racing to produce huge materials units to sell on their Teachers Pay Teachers sites and not as many posting about research, helpful strategies or other topics.  I miss those posts!  Don't get me wrong, I love all those materials packs, I just like a little more variety.

It is easy to fall into the Teachers Pay Teachers trap.  I mean, come on, who doesn't want to be rewarded by people liking your stuff and paying money for it???  I jumped on the bandwagon and I must admit, I really enjoy getting those emails that inform me that someone purchased one of my products.  But I've sort have come full circle in that I've realized I need to remind myself that my main purpose in blogging is to share my ideas and creativity with the SLP community, not to make a lot of money on the side.  So my pledge to you as I continue to evolve and grow is to continue to offer freebies in my posts and to continue to keep my prices low on my for-purchase materials.  My greatest joy is to read your comments and find that my materials are useful!

3.  The SLP Blogging community is so supportive.

I've made several new friends this year that I've never met in person.  Isn't that cool?  I have several people I can count on to give me a comment on almost every post, and several fellow bloggers I can shoot an email off to for advice and/or feedback.  I've noticed that many bloggers are featuring guest bloggers on their sites to mix it up a little bit, and many are happy to share other SLP's posts on their Facebook pages.  Several have formed a collaborative blog called Speechie Freebies that offers free materials from it's collaborators.  Jenna Rayburn started an SLP Discussion Forum that makes it easy for us to participate in discussions on many different topics related to our field.  It's all so awesome!  I'm so honored to be a part of it.

In this frenzy to learn, find new materials and share, though, sometimes we forget our manners.  We need an honest blogging friend like CC to gently remind us to be polite and say thank you.  Her post http://ifonlyihadsuperpowers.blogspot.com/2012/10/social-pragmatic-skills-for-blog.html about social pragmatic skills for people who read blogs is one that stays with me.  Her words have prompted me to leave comments on posts I might otherwise not have, and to always say thank you when I download a freebie.  Really good advice.

Thanks again to those who have supported me by reading my blog, posting comments and using my materials.  Here's to one year down, and another just beginning!  I can't wait to find out what I'll learn next!


February 13, 2013

Farmyard Slam!

I've just completed a new addition to my Slam!  game collection.  Introducing Farmyard Slam!  I'm really excited about this one because my games keep evolving, and this one has a couple of great extra features.  And, since this one isn't holiday themed, I can play it all year long!   I can't wait to share!

Farmyard Slam is most similar to Snowman Slam! game in that it has game boards in addition to playing cards.  There are four boards, each with a different farm scene.  Here's an example of two of them:

Aren't they cute???  I used the On the Farm collection from KPM Doodles, which couldn't be more perfect!  

I made the direction cards a little different this time, too, to throw in a little categorization work along with following directions.  They look like this:

Each card contains a symbol for the category, and color or feature symbols so pre-readers can give the directions, too.

So what are the bonus features?  You can use this activity to work on following auditory directions that contain categories and features, but you can also use it for other goals, too. 

This scene is at the top of the blue board.  You could use this to work on prepositions such as in, on, next to, behind and between.  You could have each child tell you three things about his or her farmyard scene using auxiliary and -ing verbs.  Or how about pronouns?  Each scene contains plenty of opportunities to work on these concepts and others.

Another fun bonus feature is a little hide and seek game.  Rascal Rooster is hiding somewhere in each farm scene.  Can you find him?  He's pretty easy to find in this scene, but he's pretty tricky to find in others.  Go back and look for him on the orange game board...you know you want to!  That is, if you haven't already!

I've also included three category cards that can be used for sorting the square picture cards by category. They look like this:

 So many ways to play!  And so many goals that can be targeted in one simple game.  Love that!

You can find Farmyard Slam and all my other Slam! games on my TpT site.  To go directly to Farmyard Slam!  click here.

Let me know what you think!


February 9, 2013

Balloon Bop-o-rama

I saw this pin on Pinterest today from The Weekend Homemaker blog and got inspired!

I taped tongue depressors to the back of a couple paper plates, blew up a balloon and quickly thought up several ways to play.  I used this activity ALL DAY LONG with kids as young as 2 and as old as 13!  Talk about multi-purpose fun!

I'm dying to share my ideas with you!

Let's start with my littlest ones.  I've got several little guys working on producing bilabials and CVC words.  I simply gave them a paddle and tossed the balloon gently to them after they said a word like "bop" or "pop" or "boom". We chased the balloon down, and did it again (and again and again!).  After awhile, we ditched the paddle and went on to "kick" and "bump".  Lots of laughter and giggles for sure.

Here's what I did with my preschoolers.  Do you remember the Christmas gift activity that I made using sets of cards from LessonPix?  I made a balloon version that looks like this:

I made a set of 12 balloons (click the link...it's a freebie!)  with cute graphics from a cute freebie by Kelly Leatherman and cut them apart.  I slid several Picture Card sheets that I made on LessonPix into a sheet protector and taped the balloons over the top.  By the way, did you know that you can make custom picture sets in minutes on LessonPix?  It's so easy!  And then, you just put the ones you need for the day inside the page protector and they're all lined up, ready for a quick change between kids!  Such a time saver!

Next, I hid a little picture of a balloon popping under one of the balloons.  The child then tried to find the hidden balloon by looking under one balloon at a time, saying each word 3 times before looking under another one.  When the hidden balloon was found, we both grabbed a paddle and moved to an open space.  I set the timer for one minute, and then we bopped the balloon back and forth.  We either said the target word under the hidden balloon for the entire time, or we counted how many times we hit the balloon back and forth before it hit the ground, and then had to say that number of targets the next round before bopping the balloon again.  The kids wanted to play this ALL DAY!  I cannot believe how many reps I got in this activity alone.

Now here's what I did with my older kids.  I made these cards to use with decks of picture cards that I already have.

Here's how to play:

1. Print 2 copies of each page. Cut and laminate cards. 
2. Mix the Action Cards with the Number Cards and place them face down in a pile.
3. Choose a set of target cards; Place them face down in a pile next to the Action and Number Cards pile.
4. Players take turns turning over a card from each pile.  If the card is a Number Card, the player says the target word/phrase/sentence that number of times.
5. If the card is an Action Card, the player must bop the balloon with a partner using the body part indicated by the arrow while saying the target for one minute.  To make it even MORE challenging, the players must bop the balloon using a paddle and the selected body part!
6. Play continues as long as you’d like :-)  

Isn't that fun?  I'm using it for articulation targets, language targets/concepts and resting posture activities.  Who knew you could get so much mileage out of a balloon???

You can download this super fun game here.  Be sure to leave feedback!

Have fun,


February 6, 2013

Valentine Slam!

 I have had so many requests for another version of my popular Snowman Slam!  and Santa's Cookie Slam! games.  As soon as I saw KPM Doodles' cute Valentine graphics, I knew exactly what that next version would be.  So here it is, Valentine Slam!

It's another great game for following auditory directions, played just like Santa's Cookie Slam.  This one is a little more difficult, however, as some of the directions contain as many as three attributes.  I find it helpful to review both the description cards and the heart features before we play the game, because many of my kids are unfamiliar with  the words "lace" and "checks".

 This is how to play.  The heart cards are scattered face up in the center of the table.  If there are 2 players, players take turns reading a direction card, and then both players race to slap the card that matches the description of the direction card.  If there are 3 or more players, one player is designated as the reader for the entire game.  This player reads the direction cards to the other players, making sure to hide the card from their view.  Again, players race to slap the card that matches the directions.  The player who collects the most Valentine cards wins!   Cards look like this:

You can find this game here.  Be sure to check my Facebook page for an especially "sweet" deal on February 7th (hint, hint!)