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December 16, 2014

My Early Intervention Therapy Bag

Today I'm linking up with Kristin at Simply Speech to tell you what is in my Early Intervention Therapy Bag.

1.  My number one thing I can't live live without when working with the little ones:  BUBBLES!  Of course, not just any bubbles will do, I must have the ones from Gymboree. They are the best because the soap liquid is thicker and the bubbles last long enough to reach out an pop them. Seriously, what good are bubbles that pop immediately upon blowing???  No cheap bubbles for me.  It's not worth the frustration.  And of course, you need great bubble blowers, too.  I like ones that the kids can do themselves, like the fish pictured above, where a gentle squeeze is enough to make bubbles.  The other two blowers are ones that the kids can put in their mouths and easily blow their own bubbles.  I love these blowers!  I've used them to target so many oral-motor skills, such as lip rounding, breath coordination, and sequencing.  Unfortunately, I've had them so long that I cannot remember where I purchased them.  Bummer, because I really need a few new ones!

 2.  My favorite oral motor tools are ones that are sturdy and easy to clean/sanitize.  The NUK brush and the ARK brush are both wonderful for oral motor stimulation exercises.  The brush heads are gently textured and small enough to fit comfortably in little mouths.  I also love Chewy Tubes and ARK Grabbers.  You can find all of these items at Talk Tools.

 3.  Puzzles!  I love the wooden puzzles from Melissa and Doug, which I have featured in this post, but I also love this one from Fisher Price for my littlest ones.  The pieces are easy to hold and have unique features such as a door that opens and closes, rattles and sounds.

 4.  What could be more intriguing than wind-up toys?  All the kids love this one, a wind-up Thomas the Train that goes around its own carry-along track.  This one is from Tomy, from a long time ago, so it might be hard to find.  Thankfully, mine is still in good condition!  I have a large collection of other wind-up toys, too, that also work well to target a variety of skills including turn-taking and requesting.

5.  Lift the Flap books are always popular with the EI crowd.  The Spot books by Eric Hill are some of my favorites.

6.  I love cause and effect toys that easily facilitate interaction opportunities.  I love marble mazes and car ramps, because the children quickly learn to put the ball or car at the top of the toy and let go and are mesmerized during its journey down the track.  When it reaches the bottom, I quickly grab the ball or car, and wait for the child to indicate he'd like another turn.  This type of toy never seems to get boring!  The one pictured above is another vintage toy that I've had for 25 years, but you can find similar ones in any toy store.

7.  Magic wands are always fun, just because they are!  Especially when they make a magical sound, light up and spin!

8.  Last, but not least, I love Noisy Stories by Joan and Jessica Rivard.  This book is a collection of stories that feature repetitive line text and early developing sounds. They are so wonderful for use during my sessions but also to send along with the parents for home use. You can find this book at Mayer-Johnson's website.

Thanks for checking out what's in my EI Therapy Bag.  Go to Simply Speech's page to check out what others have in their EI bags for some more great ideas.

November 26, 2014

Why SLPs Need TpT: Fabulous Materials!

Today I'm linking up with Speech Time Fun to tell you why I think SLPs need Teachers Pay Teachers.

I've been using Teachers Pay Teachers for a couple of years as both a buyer and a seller.  It has become my go-to resource for all things speech and language related.  There are so many amazing products available, and all at extremely reasonable prices.  The products have all been created by talented SLPs and are often just the thing I need to address a specific goal at a specific time.  The quality of all the products I've purchased is top-notch, and the kids on my caseload have loved them. It is also incredibly convenient.  All the digital products you purchase are available for instant downloading, which is a huge benefit.

I have a GIGANTIC collection of TpT materials, and if I listed them all, you'd be reading this post until Christmas!  So I think I will just tell you about several that I just can't live without.

One of my favorite sellers is Mia McDaniel. She is an incredibly creative person who creates extremely useful products.  Some of my favorites are her Tackling Apraxia Products.

I have used these with many children in countless ways.  The kids love the variety of popular characters featured in these sets, and I love that I can just print them and be ready to go.

Another favorite product I've purchased this fall is Preschool Speech/Language Probes and Data Collection by Lauren LaCour.

This tool has been enormously helpful for establishing and tracking both expressive and receptive language goals in my preschoolers.

I love to use games in treatment, and I have found some really great ones on TpT.  One of my favorites is Sizzle by Sublime Speech.

Kids turn over cards that have a letter and a category on them and have to come up with an answer that matches.  It is great for working on categorization, word associations, word finding, and processing speed.  I've used this game to target fluency, too.  I've even sent home sets of cards to be used as homework.  This is an awesome game and you NEED to add it to your collection!

Another go-to item I purchased this year was Cariboo: Year-Round Vocabulary Cards by Kari Radovich.

If you've been on social media in the last year, you know how much SLPs love the Cariboo game, and this one is an excellent resource to make that game even better.  This product includes cards to use in place of the original Cariboo cards, all organized by themes.  It is so useful!

I could go on and on about the materials I purchased on TpT.  I'm pretty much addicted and with new products being added every day, I can't see stopping anytime soon!  But I'm a seller, too, so let me tell you a little bit about my store.  I opened my store with the intent to share inexpensive materials with other SLPs, so almost all of my products are priced less than $2.00.  I love to make quick little games and materials to go along with favorite games and books.  I do not have it in me to make large, comprehensive units...my attention span is too short, so if you're looking for those types of materials, you probably won't find them in my store.  But let me show you some of my most popular items.

Snowman Slam is a great little game for following auditory directions.  It can be used with kids preschool through first grade.  To see this game in detail, click here.  By the way, this is just one of my popular Slam! games.  Check my store for the farmyard, Santa, Valentine, picnic and Valentine versions.

My Take Out Topics are great little no-prep sets for working on carryover for R, S-Blends and CH.  View them here.  I get lots of positive feedback on these and they are only $1.00 per set!

I'd love it if you'd take a look at all my little games and materials.  I think you'll really find something useful and fun.

Please let me know why YOU love TpT!

November 25, 2014

5-Star Products for SLP's: Feed the Monkey by The Speechstress

I have had the pleasure of linking up with nine other wonderful speech language pathologists to share some amazing products with all of our readers.  We all got together, swapped products from our Teachers Pay Teachers stores, and chose one to review.   I was fortunate to have the privilege to review this one by The Speechstress.

I was so excited because I just knew I'd be able to use this one with many of the kids on my caseload. This 51-page packet includes 5 different food category games, crafts and activities designed to target a variety of common early language goals.  I really love it, and I'm sure you're going to love it, too!

The first activity in the pack is a pack of black and white worksheets called Food Sort.  

There are three different worksheets, each comparing two different food groups.  Each page contains a written objective and directions for use, as well as descriptions of each category.  The children cut out the food items on the bottom of the page and glue them in the appropriate box.  This is great activity for sorting categories, but also for working on vocabulary and and comparing and contrasting.

The next activity features a worksheet for each food group with silhouettes of food items in that group.  It includes corresponding pages with food items to cut and paste, and suggestions for use. These pages can be used as a direction following activity, talking about similarities and differences, learning attributes, and answering WH- questions.  It's so versatile, and keeps the children engaged with cutting, coloring and gluing.  So fun!

The third activity is one for comparing and contrasting food items.  It includes two cubes to cut out and assemble and a wonderful visual aid poster that gives fabulous information to help them compare and contrast the food items.  I can't wait to try this one in January when I do my Grocery Store unit! It was easy to prep and I'm sure the kids will love it!

The fourth activity is the Monkey Grocery Grab game.  This cute activity includes a cube to roll, a basket to fill, and a variety of food items to put in the basket.  Depending on the level of the children you are working with, you can either let them cut and paste the basket and cube, or you could do it beforehand.  To play the game, each child rolls his or her own cube, and finds a food item that matches the category to place in the basket.  The first child to fill his or her own basket wins!  This would be a great activity to send home with the children as homework, don't you think?  I know my students always love to take home materials they make in my speech room.

The fifth activity is the Hungry Monkey Board Game, and it is so much fun!  You attach a darling monkey face to an empty tissue box and cut a hole in his mouth to feed him.  It includes this game board and food pieces...

...and these adorable game cards.  Aren't they so cute?  You print them double-sided so they have graphics on the front and back.  What a great idea!  It makes it so easy to keep them separated at a glance.  To play, players roll the dice, move their game piece the corresponding number of spaces, and follow the direction on the space.  They draw cards, find an item that matches the description on the card, and feed the item to the monkey.  The first person to the finish line wins!  This is just so fun!  You can play this game using one set of cards, or multiple, depending on the students' needs.  

I think this is a fabulous product, and one you should consider adding to your collection.  Here's what I like about it:
  •  It's a very comprehensive, well-designed product for learning about basic food groups
  • There are both color and black-and-white activities, which is always great for saving ink
  • The graphics are neat and appealing
  • It is so versatile; I can use this product for a variety of goals and with students at a variety of skill levels
  • It includes clear directions for each activity and suggestions for use to target specific goals
  • I know the kids will enjoy using it!
If you love this product as much as I do, go to The Speechstress's Store on TpT and check it out. Please make sure to look for the green star next to her logo and click on it to become a follower so you'll get updates on all her great products.  Then go check out some more fabulous product reviews on the amazing blogs listed below!  

November 19, 2014

Gnome Home: The Magical Fun Continues

All last week, my kids were enchanted to find evidence of the gnomes settling into their new home.  They found a ladder perched up against the tree, a wagon next to the path, a rake made of twigs near the wagon, and a twiggy broom leaning up against the door.  There was even a tiny basket with a pumpkin sitting on the table.  As they came into the room, we talked about the objects they found.

I took pictures of each of the new items and had them ready to show the kids.  This gave us opportunity to practice vocabulary words as some of the objects were unfamiliar to some of the children.  I also asked them what they thought how the gnomes might use the objects.  This led into a very fun object function game where we pretended to be gnomes.

I made two versions of this game.  In this first version, we pretended to be gnomes for the entire game.  We turned over a card, named the item, and then talked about what we would do with that object.  Then we pretended to use the item, such as pushing our imaginary wheelbarrows around the room, and sweeping with imaginary brooms.  This was such a great way to increase our verb vocabulary and practice stating object functions!

The second version of the game is a board game, where the child spins the spinner to determine the number of spaces to move.  If the child lands on a circle, he or she draws a card, names the item on the card and states its function.  If he or she lands on a flower, the child must also pretend to use the object.  This worked so well to work on pronouns and auxiliary verbs in addition to the vocabulary/object function goals.  If you like these games and would like to try them for yourself, be sure to look for them in my TpT store in a week or two.  They haven't been added yet, but some day, they'll magically be ready.  Just leave a comment for me to let me know you're interested.

This week, the gnomes are starting to leave signs of mischief around my room.

I left their wagon with some acorns in it on the sidewalk leading up to my door so my little friends would be sure to see it.  Each child has arrived at my door, excited to show and tell me what they saw.  We start language treatment the INSTANT we say hello.  They tell me where they found it, what was in it, and how they think it got there.  I tell them that the gnomes have been very busy and very forgetful, leaving all their tools inside my room.  When we get to the table, I show them the cards with the pictures of the tools from last week and explain that the gnomes forgot their things in my room, and we need to help them by finding the objects and returning them to the gnomes.

We put the wagon in the basket that the gnomes left behind (along with a pile of acorns) and started to look for the other items.  

We found their broom in the sticker box...

...the ladder on top of the clock, and the basket and rake in other easy to find locations.  This was a great way to practice prepositions as well as laugh about what those silly gnomes did!  We talked about how we thought the gnomes got into my room, and how each thing ended up where it did.  Pure imagination!  We reviewed how the gnomes might use each object, practicing the skills we learned last week.  And then we collected the objects in the green basket to return to the gnome's yard.

Since prepositions were such a natural target, we played a little preposition game using the acorns from the wagon.  We used a gnome-sized trash can and some picture games to practice putting the acorns in, on, next to and under the trash can.  We talked about acorns, a new word to many, and very fun to play with.

At the end of each session, we reviewed the picture cards once again.

We talked about where those silly gnomes left each of the object and, if the parent wasn't present, we used the cards to help tell the story of where each item was found.  

The kids are LOVING these silly gnome activities!  I wish you could see them stopping to look at their house and yard each time they pass.  I wish you could see how much they talk to their parents and grandparents about the gnomes and what they see.  I wish you could see the magic in their eyes and excitement on their faces when they spy evidence of gnome activity.  I am having so much fun, too, and am amazed at the scope of speech and language learning opportunities that are directly tied to my sweet little gnomes.  It's beyond my wildest imagination!

November 6, 2014

A Magical Gnome Home

I've always loved the idea of magical holiday traditions such as Elf on the Shelf, where children find a mischievous little elf somewhere in their home, fishing out of the sink or headfirst in the flour bin, in the days leading up to Christmas.  I've toyed with the idea of hiding an elf in my therapy room, but just couldn't bring myself to do it.  I love the magic and creativity, but I'm just not a fan of the whole "elves catching me being good before Christmas" aspect of it.  So I found an Elf on the Shelf alternative:  a Gnome Home!

I've got this great dogwood tree right next to the sidewalk that leads to my office.  It's full of knots from branches that have been pruned in years past.  I decided it would be the perfect location for my magical gnomes to live.

I painted rustic windows on the knots...

...and made a stone pathway up to a door made from a piece of wood that I found at a craft store.

My 16-year-old son made the little table and chairs from a branch from the tree.  We decided we needed a bridge...

...so my older son crafted one and we painted it red to match the doorknob.  I love red!

We placed the bridge in the midst of the path...

...and added a scarecrow for a festive fall touch.

And now the magic begins!!!  All week long, my little friends have been enchanted by this happy little house tucked in amidst my landscaping.  If they don't notice it as they walk by, I take them by the hand and show them, telling them all about the magical little gnomes' new home.  Then I tell them that the gnomes left me this note:

...and tell them that we need to be on the lookout for those pesky little gnomes or for things that might belong to them.

In a week or two, the gnomes will make an appearance in my therapy room.  And, oh, the mischief they will create!  I can hardly wait!!!  They will be sure to bring with them lots of opportunities for practicing our speech and language goals and magic for the holidays and beyond.

September 19, 2014

Tips and Tidbits: Easy Volume Control Chart Freebie

I posted a picture of this volume control chart on Instagram today (even though it is a little blurry!  I need to work on taking better pictures!) and it got lots of "likes" so I thought I'd give it to you as a little freebie.

I'm using it right now as a visual to help a little friend with sensory issues control his volume.  We just slide the little basketball bead up the string if he gets too loud and slide it back down as he lowers his volume.  Simple, effective way to illustrate a fairly abstract issue.

If you'd like to make your own, you can find it at my TpT Store.

Quick Artic Activity: Domino Mazes

Here's a quick, no-prep activity that's been a hit this week with my upper elementary and middle school students:  Domino mazes!  I used this for an articulation activity, but you could use it for language goals, too.  Just use your favorite deck of articulation cards, turn one over, have the student say the target word as he/she places a domino on the table, creating a maze.  I have the student say the same word 5 times, placing a domino for each repetition.  The maze pictured above was completed in less than 30 minutes, and was done by one student who completed over 150 reps of her target sound in words.  This would be fun to do in a group as well.

Of course, the best part is knocking it down ;-)

If you've got dominoes, give this a try!

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!