Mouse's First Spring!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018
I am a huge fan of thematic units! I love going along with my students' classroom themes and incorporating seasons and holidays into my therapy sessions. Spring has officially arrived here in Florida so I am in full spring mode. This past week we have been reading, Mouse's First Spring by Lauren Thompson. (This post contains Amazon affiliate links for your convenience. This means if you purchase something from my link, I may make a small commission.)
This is one of my favorite books to use with my younger students. In the story, little mouse and mama mouse go out for a walk. Mouse sees all sorts of spring creatures for the very first time.... butterflies, snails, and worms, oh my!
 This book is great for spring vocabulary, descriptive words, and story sequencing. I love having hands-on activities for my students when we read a story, so I created a set of story sticks to use with this book.
 The story sticks are free in my TpT shop and easy to assemble. After I print and laminate the story pictures, I attach them to a stick with velcro. I use a paint stirrer (you can get these for free from Home Depot or Lowes) That's it! It's a simple but effective activity for my students. And it doesn't take up a lot of room in my bag which is huge since I am constantly on the move to see my students.
I purchased the book on Amazon for under $7. You can find it here. 
You can find the story sticks, here!
PS- if you ever want to preview a book to see if it's one that's age appropriate or relevant to your students, look it up on YouTube. There are almost always videos of someone reading the book. Check it out before you buy!

Spring Sensory Bin!

Friday, March 9, 2018
It's almost spring! However, living in Florida, it's felt like spring has been here for a few weeks already. Enough so, that I have already opened up my my spring storage box full of books and activities. If you have been following my blog for a while, you know that over the past year I have been using sensory bins with my students to reach so many goals. I wanted to share with you a fun and inexpensive sensory bin that I used this past week!
One thing I love about sensory bins is that they don't have to be expensive to be functional. I got the base of my bin for $1.00. I chose to use the shredded paper grass that is typically used for easter baskets. What says "spring" more than green grass?! Some other ideas that come to mind are: rice or pasta died green, black beans to look like dirt, green yarn or cut up smoothie straws!
Next I went to my favorite place, the Target's dollar spot, to find fun spring fillers! 
Right now they have adorable felt flowers and food boxes. My friend Rachael from Texas Speech Mom has created some fun activities to use with these flower boxes. I love when I can repurpose anything to be used in more than one way, so I happily purchased these! 
While there, I also found squishy, stretchy caterpillars! These have been a huge hit with my kids. I immediately thought about using the food boxes with the caterpillars and using it while reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle!
These bins have been so much fun to use. I have used them as companions to stories we have read but also just used them for structured play activities. Sensory bins are fun to use while trying to obtain language samples because they really can elicit so much language (requesting, describing, sequencing, pretend play, etc)
   






Bjorem Speech Sound Cues

Monday, February 5, 2018
Let's chat visual cues today. Visual and verbal cues can be amazingly powerful tools to help your child reach their speech and language goals. But finding something that is engaging and that works isn't aways easy.
 I can't tell you the number of times I have hand drawn awkward pictures to help my students understand a sound. Or acted out a new vocabulary word (let me tell you, there were no Emmy awards given!) When I was working in the schools, I followed the kindergarten teachers' lead and incorporated gestures into letter names and speech sounds to give learning a multi-sensory approach. I love tying visuals and movement into my lessons because it works!
I recently learned about Bjorem Speech Sound Cue cards and have been using them in all of my articulation sessions! These cards are colorful and fun! Plus they are pocket size so they fit perfectly in my therapy bag. My students love using these and think they are fun. 
Each sound has a nickname ( the drum sound, popcorn sound, vacuum sound, mad cat sound- as shown in the video above) which gives each sound meaning. This is an important skill for children as they are learning letter sounds and how to read. 
 In addition to articulation therapy, these cards are fantastic to use when working with children with Apraxia/motor planning, phonological awareness, and literacy skills. Teachers, therapists, and parents could all use these with their children!
Bjorem Speech Sound Cue cards are recommended for children 18 months and up. This fabulous box of cards includes 22 consonants and 12 vowel cards. A picture is on the front of the card and a sound nickname and description is on the back. These cards are made from a very durable material. I carry these in my bag all over town with me and use them with children all day long.... and they are in great condition. You can purchase your own set, here! You will not be disappointed!
This post was sponsored by Bjorem Speech






Using The Mitten in Therapy!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018
I live in Florida, but lately it has felt like it should be snowing here! My native blood is not used to temps in the 40's! (I know, I am a total baby to all you Northerners!) But most of the time we are still wearing shorts and enjoying the beach in January, so snow is often a foreign concept to my students. I try to incorporate as many books and activities I can that will help them understand what winter is like in other parts of the world. 
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. This means if you purchase something using my link, I may receive a small commission. 
For years I have been using The Mitten by Jan Brett. I love this story because it gives great opportunities for story sequencing and vocabulary.  In the past I have always used print out characters from my story companion unit, but a few months ago I came across an adorable felt set! I found it on Facebook from a mom and daughter team called Pharmgal Crafts. 
It's easy to use one story or a theme and stretch it out over a few weeks!  This doesn't mean you have to read the book every time, although the kids do love hearing familiar stories. I have been able to use this mitten and character set to story sequence, practice following spatial directions (in, under, etc), and throw them into my "snowy" sensory bin! They kids love these and make story re-telling so much more fun. I also have a free Mitten smash mat that I like to use for sentence expansion, descriptive words, and vocabulary review.
I often use story books with my articulation students as well and my language kids. Books give you so many opportunities to practice good articulation. Sometimes we go on a 'word hunt' as we look and listen for words in the story with our target sounds. Other times I will read the story aloud and purposely mispronounce target sounds for my students to catch. Having your older students read aloud to you is a great way to practice carrying over their productions into reading. And since I am a sucker for a fun theme, I created Mitten ART-ticulation worksheets to go with this story! 
This is such a fun story to use in therapy. If you don't own the book, you can snag it on Amazon for under $4, here! What are some of your favorite winter themed books?
       


2017 SLP Holiday Gift List!

Friday, December 15, 2017
I can't believe the holidays are here! This is my favorite time of the year. But it can also be stressful. So much to do, so much to buy. Secret Santa gift exchanges, co worker treats, gifts for your own child's teachers and therapists. We always want to pick out the perfect gift, but it's often hard. So, I threw together a list of some of my favorite things to help you out! 
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links (which means if you purchase something using my link, I may make a small commission)

One of my absolutely favorite things are comfy, soft graphic tees. I wear them just about everyday to work with jeans or scrub pants. My favorite tee shop is The Blue Envelope. I love this company because it's owned and ran by a fellow mom.  I have never been disappointed my purchases (I own at least 6 of her shirts!) and she ships orders out fast!! 

An Erin Condren Planner!! I am one of Erin Condren's biggest fans. I have been using her planners for years. They are colorful, durable, and can be customized. All SLPs need a good panner to keep track of their therapy sessions, meetings, due dates.... and life outside of work. This is a perfect gift for the new year! Use this link to get $10 off your first order!

A large, durable therapy bag. I have always been a big fan of 31 totes. My last therapy bag from 31 lasted me 5 years. But I recently ordered one from L.L.Bean and am in love! To call this thing sturdy would be an understatement. I ordered the large Boat and Tote and can fit everything I need it in. I am a traveling therapist... so that's a lot! 

Games! If the SLP you're shopping for works with children, he or she will be thrilled to receive the gift of games! Some of my current therapy favorites are: Yeti in my Spaghetti, Pop Up Pirate, The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, and Pancake Pile-Up! And you can never go wrong with PlayDoh!


Speech Therapy Christmas Ornaments! The Peachie Speechie is known for her witty SLP apparel, and now she carries Christmas ornaments as well! You can check out all her goodies, here!

Office Supplies! I kid you not. I would be the happiest girl opening a box full of flair pens, Astrobrights paper, binder rings, rolls of velcro dots, and laminating sheets. All things I use on a daily basis!

Books! Books for therapy are great, but I am thinking more along the lines of book for the SLP. We are busy people by nature. We take on the weight of the world and have a hard time saying, "no!" I have found Emily Ley's books Grace Not Perfection and
  A Simplified Life to be just what I need. It's a fantastic reminder to slow down and simplify. And I always feel like she is talking right to me when I am reading! 

And if all else fails... there are always gift cards. You really can't go wrong with a gift card to his/her favorite Coffee shops, Amazon, Target, or iTunes!

But overall, it's the thought that counts! Have a wonderful holiday season!! If you have any more suggestions, please share them in the comments below.



Putting the ART in Articulation!

Thursday, November 30, 2017
My students absolutely LOVE completing crafts during speech sessions. They love it because they get to take something home they are proud of. I enjoy it because they are focused and working hard during the entire session. 
I also love a good no-prep,print and go craft. So, a few months ago I created some cactus color-by-word articulation worksheets, appropriately named ART-ticulation! My students enjoyed them so much that I started creating them for the upcoming holidays! These have been great to send home as homework as well as use during therapy sessions. 
I personally one work one on one with my students, but since all the pictures turn out the same, these work really well for mixed articulation groups as well!
At the moment I have ART-ticulation worksheets for the following themes:
Cactus
Pumpkins
Monsters
Turkeys
Santa
Snow Globes
...but I just download another giant bundle of clipart for these, so many more are on the way!
You can check all of them out in my TpT store, here!

Peekaboo Beans Children's Clothing Review

Thursday, November 16, 2017
I absolutely love shopping for kids' clothes! You can usually find me stocking up at Old Navy or Target on Cat & Jack swag, but recently I learned about another clothing line, Peekaboo Beans from a fellow SLP, KellyZarfia. I had never heard about this brand before, but was excited to learn more. 
Kelly explained to me that Peekaboo Beans creates ethically manufactured, sensory friendly, long lasting, grow with me styles, that are made with children's development in mind. The clothing was designed with play in mind. Their clothes are designed to promote play and imagination, to help kids feel empowered and to promote independence.  I loved this idea. Adorable clothes made to be play clothes? And sensory friendly? I was sold. My kids are active and not so gentle on their clothes. My little guy always asks to have tags cut out of his shirts so I was interested in seeing how sensory friendly these clothes would be for him. 
 Not only do they create clothes with play and development in mind, but they also host pop-up play dates to get kids back outside and playing. They also donate to 'playgroundbuilders.org' which is an organization that builds playgrounds in war-torn countries. I love organizations that love to give back. 
And, word on the street is that these clothes have great re-sale value. If I am not handing Kenzie or Kameron's clothes down to a friend's child, I usually take them to consignment shops or sell on Poshmark. Typically the re-sale value is low on clothing from popular retail stores, but Peekaboo Beans can be re-sold at around 40% the original price, if not more. 
We received 2 outfits from Peekaboo Beans. Both of my kids loved them and can't wait for it to cool down enough here in FL so they can wear them again. The material is so soft, yet durable. Nothing thin about the fabric. 
Kenzie received the Owl Eyes on You tee and a pair of leggings. The first thing I noticed was the thumb holes in the top! The jeggings were very soft and had a smooth waistband (something I am always looking for when buying her pants, itchy tags are not fun!)
Kameron scored a Cabin Kid Hooded Tee and a pair of jogger pants. The first thing I noticed about the pants was extra material at the knee, clever! So many of Kenzie and Kameron's pants are worn at the knee.  The tee was heavy enough to wear during our Florida winters! And it has pockets! 

You can check out Kelly's website, here, to learn more. All of the items are adorable. And most importantly,  there are no small parts like buttons or snaps and the zippers are are fused together to prevent breakage.  Tops with zippers include chin guards to create a barrier between your Bean’s chin and the zipper.  And there are no drawstrings on hoodies which can get caught during play. Ahhhhmazing! One less thing to worry about while your kids are out being active!
You can contact Kelly with any questions at: kzarifa.peekaboobeans@gmail.com 

This post was sponsored by Kelly Zarifa
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