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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!

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!

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.

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.

*Update 2/8/16: Facebook no longer supports freebies on individual pages. You can find this freebie at its new home at my TpT store.