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March 29, 2017

Jumping Jack: How I Use My Favorite Spring Game

My new favorite game for spring (or anytime!) is called Jumping Jack by Goliath Games. It is a bright, appealing game similar in play style to an SLP favorite, Pop Up Pirate, that can be used with both preschoolers and elementary school students. Students take turns pulling carrots out of the base, trying (or maybe, NOT trying) to make the rabbit jump out of his hole.

I love using games like this for the following reasons:

  • High-interest: the students generally enjoy games that have some level of anticipation associated with them. They want to play them again and again.
  • Easy to play: there are very few rules to follow.
  • They promote joint attention and turn taking: players happily watch other players take turns, watching to see if the rabbit will jump.
  • Simplicity: There are very few pieces to manipulate.
  • Flexibility: I can adapt the way we play the game by adding companion materials designed to target speech and language goals.

In the photo above, students practiced their speech sounds while playing the game. Each student was given a page of stimulus pictures that contained their target sound. Students took turns choosing a target word to say, practiced it a specific number of times, and then removed a carrot from the base. If the rabbit didn't jump, the students placed the carrot on top of the picture. Play continued until the rabbit jumped, and then we played again. The picture pages featured in this photo are from my product Itty Bitty Black and White Articulation Cards and can be found in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

The more I played Jumping Jack with my students, I realized I needed more companion materials to target both speech and language skills. So I created Jack's Garden of Carrots:

This packet contains 89 black and white activity sheets that are perfect to pair with Jumping Jack, but can also be used as a stand-alone activity. It contains two separate sets of articulation pages, one with pictures (all the most frequently targeted sounds and blends) and one with words only (later developing sounds). Language targets include synonyms, antonyms, multiple meaning words, describing, categories, comparing, contrasting, answering WH- questions, and inferences. I use these sheets at the same time as the game, completing a task before each turn, and sometimes I have the students complete the worksheet before we play the game.

Sometimes I use these print and go sheets with dot paints, and other times I'll use play dough or mini erasers to cover the carrots.

Here's a photo of using an articulation sheet while we play the game...

 ...and here is one of when we completed the worksheets first. I had one student paint the tops of all the carrots and the other paint the bottoms the first time through the target word set, and then we traded paints and said all the words again. I got double the amount of reps! Score!

To push my luck even further, and get even MORE milage out of this handy dandy worksheet, I had the students say their words again before they removed carrots while playing the game. We covered the carrots with bunny erasers to keep track of the words we said.

Here's a shot of us using mini erasers to cover the carrots while we practice describing the size, shape or color of objects.

Honestly, this game is so much fun and so flexible! I love it when I can use one item to target so many different skills.

What do you think? Do you use this game or one that is similar? I'd love to know!

March 24, 2017

Sensory Bins: Adding the Unexpected

Sensory bins are all the rage with speech-language pathologists on social media, and I have enthusiastically jumped on the bandwagon. I've used them sporadically throughout my career, both in Early Intervention and with my private practice caseload with fantastic results, but after seeing so many amazing sensory bin creations on Instagram by my fellow SLPs, my interest in using sensory bins on a regular basis has soared to new heights!

My latest sensory bin creation is zoo themed, and didn't really require much creativity at all. Here's what I did:

1. I put pinto beans in a tub.
2. I added animals and props from various zoo toy sets.

That's it. Done.

Zoo in a whole new way!

But here's where it gets good: I added some things that are very unexpected, things that you wouldn't necessarily find in a zoo play set.

I added mini erasers of all different sorts! There are donuts, french fries, trucks, apples, pencils and more!

Why? Because it blasted language learning opportunities through the roof!

Children are naturally drawn to nonsensical things, like feeding donuts to elephants instead of hay, and giving a giraffe a pencil to use. They think it's hilarious! And it gives me the opportunity to target a wider variety of goals:

  • Negation: elephants don't eat donuts, a robot is not a zoo animal, a giraffe can't hold a pencil
  • Categories: this depends on the types of objects you use
  • Silly Sentence Construction: The elephant ate the truck. The lion stomped on the donut.
  • Absurdities: Do pencils swim? Do tigers play with rubber ducks?
  • Sentence formulation: I like to choose an animal and an eraser and say, "Make up a sentence about a lion and a truck." This one is SO GOOD for my little friends who are so concrete and struggle to imagine silly scenarios. 
  • Answering "why" questions: Why don't zookeepers take care of robots?
  • Prediction: The zookeeper gave the elephant an ice cream cone. What do you think will happen next?
  • Imagination!
Felice over at The Dabbling Speechie has wonderful ideas for creating and using sensory bins in treatment. She even has a tab on her homepage dedicated to sensory bins that lists her posts and offers materials to help you get started. Her printable list of categories from her "I Spy" sensory bin inspired me to make my own picture lists to accompany my zoo sensory bin.

These little lists have been so useful! So far, I've used them to target plurals, matching, final /s/ and /z/, copula verbs, vocabulary, and the pronoun "I".

They have also been helpful in helping direct the play of little ones who typically tend to only like to sift the beans through their hands, or scoop and pour. The mini erasers grab their attention, and they like to match them to the pictures.

Of course, you must used caution when adding any small object to a sensory bin. Especially if you have little ones who like to put things in their mouths as they could become a choking hazard. Be extra diligent!

So, how about you? Do you currently have a sensory bin that you're using? Try adding something that's a little unexpected. I think you'll love the results!

February 5, 2017

The Frenzied SLPs Sharing Kindness

Thanks for stopping by! You are so kind for visiting me! 

(Ha! See what I did there?)


We haven't seen much of it happening in our news these days. In fact, it seems like negativity and selfish behaviors reign supreme.

But, do you know what? Kindness is still out there. You just have to decide to look for it, and you'll see it all around you. 

That smile from the cashier at the grocery store.

That person who held the door open for you when your arms were full.

That unselfish person who let you go first at the four way intersection.

That kindergartner that ran up to you and gave you that hug on the playground.

That staff member who brought in homemade treats for the staff meeting.

That text from a friend, just because she's thinking about you.

And, do you know what happens once you start looking for it? You spot it, and it warms your heart. It gives you hope for humanity! And then, you start to become more aware of the ways you can spread kindness, too!

We learn from the examples of others.

With that in mind, I want to share my freebie with you. It's a Kindness Scavenger Hunt! Kids catch their classmates being kind to one another and write their names next to the behaviors they observe.

Once the list is full, you reward the students with a little kindness in return. You can give them one of these fun little brag tags, or a small treat. Even better, let them choose a brag tag to give to one of the people they spotted being kind!

Because I wanted to be extra kind, there are black and white versions of each of these sheets so you can save money on ink if that's a concern. You can find this freebie in my TpT store.  

"Be kind, one to another."
Ephesians 4:32

My friend, Jen at Speech Universe wants to keeping the kindness going, so click on the heart below to take you to her blog.

Or if you'd like to start at the beginning of the hop, click on this one: