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December 30, 2015

Winter Find It on the Go

Today I am sharing one of my favorite products with you. It's called Winter Find it on the Go for Language Skills. It's been very popular with other SLPs and is currently featured as one of Super Power Speech's picks in her January Lesson Plans, so I thought I'd give you a preview of this fun and very FLEXIBLE product.

Winter Find It on the Go is a collection of 18 winter-themed search and find picture scenes in a flip book format. It is divided into 4 categories: Colors and Counting, Actions, Categories and Associations.  It also includes an Extra Target section, which lists additional targets that can be addressed for each picture scene.

It includes scenes for holidays (Hanukkah, Christmas and Valentine's Day),

polar animals, winter activities and familiar routines such as bedtime.

Each page lists targets to find and features a specific goal, such as past tense verbs. Students use a dry erase marker to circle the targets as they find them, and then wipe the page clean when they are finished.

If you're not working on the specific target listed on the page, flip to the back section for suggestions of other goals you can target! So flexible!!! In this 18-page book, you can target more than 40 different skills!

I find myself reaching for this product again and again. I've used it with every child on my caseload! It's even great to use with my articulation kiddos!

You can add this go-to product to your winter materials collection by clicking the link to my TpT Store.

November 27, 2015

3 Ways to Practice Social Skills Before the Holidays

The holiday season is now upon us, and it's the most wonderful time of the year! Homemade cookies, hot chocolate, beautiful lights, fabulous celebrations, catchy music, spending time with friends and family and excitement everywhere! It can also be overwhelming...especially for our kids with social communication needs.

I want to take a minute and tell you how I am going to help prepare my kids with social communication needs for some of the situations they might encounter during the holiday season. These kids hold a special place in my heart, and I really, really, REALLY want them to have successful interactions in social situations this holiday season. So we're going to do some practicing, and I've got a few tools to help.

1. This time of year tends to be all about gifts, and for kids (any kid, not just ones with social communication disorders), it's often about the gifts THEY want and hope to receive. My kids with social communication needs really have a hard time understanding that the gifts they most desire are not always good choices for their friends and family. So last year I created this little activity to help them take the perspective of others and select gifts for them that match their age and likes/dislikes. It's called Choose the Right Gift and you can grab it for free in my  TpT Store.

Students use store ads to choose presents for fictional person based on their likes and dislikes, and then share their selections and rationale with the group. This freebie contains 8 half-page worksheets that depict a fictional character, and 2 customizable worksheets.  Here's how I use them:

Give one half-sheet to each student and tell them they will be choosing 2 gifts for the person listed on the page.
Have the students share the name and the age of the person he/she will be “shopping” for with the group. 
Next, have the students share the likes and dislikes of their person.
Show the students a variety of store ads, explaining that each store features different categories of items to purchase. Ask each student to select a store ad/catalog, based on their person’s likes.
Students choose 2 gifts from the ads that match their person’s interests, cut them out and paste them on the gifts at the bottom of the page.
As a group, students share what gifts they selected and why they chose them.

This was a very popular activity with my social skills group last year. I really loved how it helped them to think outside themselves.

2. The second tool I'm going to use is the holiday version of my popular Think Before You Say It activity to help my kids use their social filters in social settings this holiday season.

Kids are given a social scenario card that depicts a situation they may encounter this holiday season along with a negative thought. They will then evaluate and determine if a statement is unkind or disrespectful.

Then, they change that negative thought into a positive, respectful statement and write it on the speech bubble card. We get all kinds of amazing discussion happening when I've used the original version, so I'm expecting this one will be great, too.

3. The last tool I'm going to use is a social scavenger hunt. I've been using social scavenger hunts all school year to work on conversation skills, and they have really been great! The kids have loved them, and their parents have asked for copies for the students to use at home with family and friends. They are part of a mini-unit I am creating to target conversation skills, specifically making small talk, that will be available for purchase after the first of the year.

But I wanted to share this part with you NOW, because it would be so great to use as a party game or a warm-up activity in any group. And it makes kids HAVE to ask each other questions and interact! You don't need to have the mini-unit yet or be working on conversation skills specifically to make this work for you.  It's just a great social activity that I know your kids will love.

Did I mention this sample activity is a FREEBIE in my TpT Store? Go download it, and let me know how it works for you.

Here's to happy, successful social interactions! 

November 8, 2015

Frenzied SLPs: Thankful and Grateful Blog Hop

Woo Hoo! I am so excited to be part of The Frenzied SLPs Thankful and Grateful Scavenger Hunt hosted by Sparklle SLP, SLPrunner and Speech Universe! We all have so much to be thankful for, and we're happy to let our gratitude spill over by treating three lucky winners to some awesome prizes!

In case you've just joined the blog hop here with me, here's how it works:

1. Read each Thankful and Grateful post from The Frenzied SLPs!
2. Collect the character at the bottom of each post. Don't forget to write down the characters in order to reveal the secret phrase.
3. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of any post by entering the phrase
4. Visit The Frenzied SLPs Facebook Page for an extra entry.
5. Three winners will be chosen after the rafflecopter closes on 11/13/2015.

So, what am I thankful and grateful for? I have been blessed beyond measure by God with the gifts of my family and friends, my practice and my colleagues both near and far. I could write PAGES of reasons that I'm thankful to be part of this awesome online community of speech-language pathologists who make me a better clinician, collaborator, product creator and person each and every day but I'll keep it short and sweet and just say that I value you all immensely and I'm thankful for each and every one of you!

I want to share a moment of gratitude I experienced this past week that lead to other moments of thankful reflection.  Have you ever had one of those seasons of life where you are so busy with your work responsibilities and your personal life that it feels like it is all you can do to make it through each day? That's what my life has been like for the past month. I looked at my calendar last Sunday to prepare for the week and felt exhausted before the week even began. By Tuesday, I realized I was looking at my week as if  it were a long to-do list to be completed by Friday night, checking off each appointment and event like tasks I had finished. It was like I was waiting for each day to be over so I could be one step closer to Saturday. Have you ever done that? Have you spent energy wishing time away instead of appreciating the moment? I realized I was so busy waiting for Friday to be over that I wasn't really being fully present for my clients, family or friends. I was just going through the motions.  I'm not sure what triggered that realization (Oh wait. Yes I do. It was God, whispering with that still, small voice of conviction.), but as soon as I realized it, I knew I needed an attitude shift.

So Wednesday morning, I made the decision to stop wishing the week away and just be fully present for each therapy session and event, appreciating the time spent with each person. I can't even tell you what a difference that decision made in my attitude I had toward facing each busy day! I took the time to really be with each child I'd been blessed to work with, and to give them the kind of service they deserve. I really enjoyed the people I spent my evenings with and was thankful to have had the opportunity to get to know them better. I let go of the anxiety and preoccupation of preparing for the next day's schedule by understanding that people are more important than my desire for everything to be perfectly executed. I got through my week feeling a little tired, but I wasn't as exhausted as I thought I would be.  It ended up being a pretty good week, and I am pretty sure my attitude shift had a lot to do with it. And I am grateful for that.

So, are you ready to move onto the next blog to see what my colleague Rose is thankful for? Before you go, here's your letter:

Next, click on the image below to take you to Cooking Up Good Speech:

Don't forget to enter the contest to win some awesome prizes! You can enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to go back to the first blog in this blog hop? Click on the the image below:

November 4, 2015

Paper Bag Owl Craft

These paper bag owls made from paper lunch sacks have been a big hit in my speech room this week! Let me show you how to make them. Here's what you'll need to prepare:

  • buy large-sized paper lunch sacks
  • cut out hearts from patterned scrapbook paper or construction paper. My hearts were approximately 4"x5"
  • cut out circles of three different sizes. I made mine 3", 2.5" and 1". Make the largest circles any color you want, make the medium-sized circles white or cream, and the small circles black.
  • cut out triangles for the beak and feet. Mine were 2" triangles.

First, cut 2 inches off the top of a lunch sack. I used a large-sized lunch sack, which was approximately 6" x 4" x 12.25".

Next, measure 2.5" down from the top of the flat side of the bag (i.e. the side that doesn't have the bottom folded up) and mark it.

Fold the top of the bag over at the 2.5" mark and make a crease across the top.

Open the folded flap and cut the corners off diagonally by starting at the center point and cutting across to the edge at the fold.

Cut off both corners to make a triangle.

Fold the triangle down along the crease. It should look like the picture above. If you want the triangle to rest closer to your owl's eyes, fold an inch below the original crease.

Glue the heart on so the point is almost at the bottom of the bag.

Glue the large circles on first,

...followed by the white and black.

The beak goes on next.

Turn the owl over and glue two triangles on the back, with half of each triangle sticking off the bag.

Gently open the bag and set the opened bag on the table with the owl facing you.

Gather the top edges of the bag in at the side folds and fold the triangle back over the front. That's it! Aren't they so cute??? We filled our owl bags with homework pictures and worksheets to take home. Perfect!

You can work on all sorts of language goals with this little craft. Here are a few suggestions:

  • shapes
  • sizes
  • colors
  • following directions
  • plurals
  • possessives
  • pronouns
  • sequencing
I love these, and I hope you do, too!

October 26, 2015

Frenzied SLP's: Treats of Halloween Linky

Helloooooo!!! I am honored to be joining the Frenzied SLPs for this Treats of Halloween Language Tricks and Activities Linky Party hosted by Annie of Doyle Speech Works, Laura of All 'Yall Need and Manda and Shanda of Twin Speech Language and Literacy to share some of my favorites!

We made these darling Frankensteins last week in my speech room. I saw several variations of these posted on Pinterest so I decided to give them a try. They were fairly easy to put together and ALL the kids loved them, from preschoolers to upper elementary. You just cut rectangles from black card stock or construction paper, and then cut out the center to make a frame. Make the top edge jagged to look like his hair. From the scraps, cut out eyebrows, crooked smiles and bolts. Cut circles for the eyes out of white paper and draw the eyeballs in the center. Cut a piece of clear contact paper to fit the rectangle and stick it onto the frame. Cut odd-shaped pieces from green tissue paper to fill in the face.

I used these mostly as reinforcers while working on articulation targets. After the kids said their target words/phrases 3-5 times, I gave them a piece to stick on their Frankenstein. They really turned out cute!

I used Frankenstein as a reinforcer for language activities, too. I paired it with my Halloween Flip Book for Adjectives and had the student make up a sentence using the pictures from the book.  This little flip book is great, by the way, for working on adjectives and talking about if the picture pairs are probable. Can flashlights be scary? Why or why not? And here's another treat: it's a freebie! Just click on the link above to find it.

Another thing I love to do in the week leading up to Halloween is practice trick-or-treating. So many of our little ones really need help practicing this routine, and a play house with characters is the perfect way to do it! The house in the picture is from Fisher Price, and it's really fun.

Another thing I'll be using this week are the Halloween-themed pages from my Fall Find It on the Go flip book. These print-and-go pages are fun search and find activities that kids really enjoy and can be used to target multiple goals. The page pictured above is great for working on finding things that go together. I like to have the children tell me why the items go together after they find each pair. So many great language-learning opportunities! Check out this very flexible flip book at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

One last quick and easy activity I'd like to share is Halloween Block Play.  I attached some cute Halloween-themed pictures to wooden blocks with clear packing tape, and they have been a hit! Here are some ways I've been using them:

  • following directions: Great for positional directions (top, bottom, next to, behind, in front, between, etc.) and temporal directions (before, after, first, last, etc.).
  • Describing object location: Let the child be the teacher and tell YOU where to place the blocks.
  • Storytelling:  Line up several blocks on the table. Have the student tell a story using the blocks as prompts.
And guess what, I have another treat for you...you can find these cute pictures as freebie in my store! You can find it here.

I hope you found a few treats in this post that you can add to your pumpkin-shaped bucketful of language tricks for Halloween.  You can even find MORE treats by heading on over to the other Frenzied SLPs' blogs to check out their tricks and treats. Just click on the links below:

An InLinkz Link-up

October 20, 2015

Quick No-Prep Halloween Activities for Preschoolers

Want some fun, motivating no-prep activities to do this week?  I've got a couple of ideas!

A number of years ago, I bought these wooden shapes from a craft store. Every October I bring them out, and use them in ways I never have before. They are durable and appealing, and most of all, the kids love them. Here are three ways I used them:

  1. Mystery Box!  I have this wonderful mystery box that I got from Lakeshore Learning that has holes in each end of the box. I have the child close their eyes, and I sneak one of the shapes inside the box.  Next, I let the child reach in and touch the shape from the other side. I held onto the shape from the other side as well to help prevent the child from taking a peek, but you wouldn't need to do this if the child has enough self-control not to peek. Then, I give the child three or four clues about what the object is and let the child guess. After the child makes a guess, he/she pulls the object out of the box.  Here is an example of the clues I gave: You see it on Halloween. It is white. It flies. It is scary. It says "Boo!"
  2. Flashlight Hunt!  This one was my little friend's idea. He asked me to turn off the lights and hide the wooden shapes around the room so he could find them using a flashlight in the dark. How could I resist? So we did just that. It worked perfectly for working on object location! We found the shapes "on" the floor, the bench, the shelf, the chair, the box and the table and said the location each time. We repeated this activity three times, but he could have done this all day! I just know his mom is going to go home and recreate this using Halloween things they have at home.
  3. Make a Sentence! We laid the shapes on the table and named each one. Then we chose two shapes to tell a "story" about. For example, after choosing the witch and the ghost, the child said, "The witch and the ghost went trick-or-treating." This was so great for generating sentences and ideas about what the characters might do! It's the perfect way to introduce storytelling to your littles.
I know you probably don't have these same wooden shapes, but no worries! You could do these same activities using picture cards. And if you don't have a mystery box, use a tissue box instead! 

October 15, 2015

Put Your iPhone Camera to Work: Creating Stories for Your iPad

I love to make stories for my students using my iPhone and photo editing apps. It's really easy! Let me show you how I do it.

Every fall, three little gnome brothers turn up in my speech room to play. If you'd like to see the magical gnome home I created last fall, read this post. Each day, the kids arrive to find those industrious gnomes playing with our toys. This is how I made a story to record all the little gnomes' antics. I wrote this story to specifically target the pronoun "he" and regular past tense verbs.

I started by taking pictures every day of the gnomes posing with their toys.  After a week or two, I had enough pictures to make a story.

I load the pictures onto my computer and open the Picasa app.

I select a picture and then click on the "text" icon on the left side of the screen.

I type the text directly onto the picture. You can choose from a variety of fonts, colors and sizes. Then I click "apply" to save the changes to the picture.

I click the little green symbol above the red circle to hold the completed picture in the tray along with the others I want to add to my story. When I have the ones I need, I save them as an album.

Next, you have options of what you want to do with your story. You can save this file to iPhoto and just view the pictures on your phone or iPad, just like you would with any photographs. But I like to save mine to Dropbox so I can open the file and view just the photos in the file and so I can share the Dropbox link with families.  Here's what I do:

First I save the album to my desktop. Next, I choose the file from my desktop, and then click on "Move to Dropbox".

Once the file is in Dropbox, I can open it on my iPad or my iPhone and view the story, swiping the screen to turn the pages.

See? Wasn't that easy? There are probably many other ways to edit your photos to make a story, but this one really works well for me. I love that I can share the links with parents and that they can access them anonymously. The kids really enjoy them, too.  It's a great way for them to share about speech/language therapy with their families at home and practice their speech and language targets while doing so!

October 14, 2015

My Speech Therapy OOPS!


Have you ever had one of those speech therapy moments you wish you could take back? My friend, Karen over at The Pedi Speechie blog is hosting a series of posts by SLP bloggers sharing their speech therapy OOPS moments. Today is MY day to share, so head on over to Karen's blog to read about one of my most embarrassing moments!

Speech Therapy Oops!

October 11, 2015

Product Review: Halloween Attributes by Activity Tailor


Fall just seems to be flying by, and it's already time to start planning for Halloween! I've been searching Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers for a few more activities to round out my lesson plans, and I found this great product for comparing and contrasting by Kim over at Activity Tailor:

Halloween Attributes Game features three different sets of Halloween-themed cards along with a variety of comparing/contrasting activities, several that feature those motivating QR codes that every kid loves!

The first activity includes 8 jack-o-lantern pictures and 16 clue cards. Each clue card features three clues and a QR code. The students listen to the clues and remove the jack-o-lantern cards that don't match the clues until they are left with just one card. Then they check their answer using the QR code.

There's also a costume version of this activity as well as one using witch's hats. So cute and my kids will love the variety!

The second activity that I just love is the set of witch's hat Cariboo cards. My kids never seem to tire of the Cariboo game, and these darling little hats are going to be great for listening for details and for the expressive language skill of describing. If you don't have the Cariboo game, you can still use these cards for the same purpose, just lay them out on the table and hide several plastic chips under the cards.

The last activity included in this set is a chart for comparing and contrasting the Cariboo hat cards. I used the 8 hat picture cards from the QR code activity instead because my Cariboo cards were already mounted on my game, and they worked just fine. You place one card over each column and then you mark off the features of each hat. After completing the chart, I had my students describe each hat using the features checked on the chart. Then I had them compare and contrast the hats based on the features checked. I really liked this activity as it provided a visual way to organize details for comparing and contrasting.

This product is a great addition to my Halloween lesson plans and will provide opportunities for working on comparing and contrasting for at least two sessions. Go to Kim's Teachers Pay Teachers store to grab your own copy: Halloween Attributes