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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!