Monday, August 21, 2017

It's Time to Ditch the Treasure Box!

As educators that work with children, we naturally want to reward them for their successes. Especially when working with students with special needs, the smallest gains should be celebrated! When I started my career in the school system, I used a treasure box. I would spend my own money and buy trinkets from the dollar store on a regular basis. I eventually got tired of spending my own money on "junk" that probably got thrown in the trash a few days later.
Fast forward a few years, and I started using Brag Tags. These were fun, motivating tags that my students could proudly wear or have displayed in the speech room whenever they met a goal or did something pretty amazing. 
 Now that I am traveling to different homes, schools, and daycares to see my students, brag tags don't quite work. I still love the idea but needed something a little more travel friendly. This is when Brag Bracelets were born!
These bracelets are very easy to keep with me as I travel to each student. I print them, cut them out, and store them in a plastic container (a large zip lock baggie would work, too). I made them black and white so they are ink friendly but super fun to print on colorful paper! Another fun idea is printing them on white paper and letting your student color them before they proudly display their bracelets of honor!
 I created 44 different Brag Bracelets with a fun Emoji theme (who doesn't love Emojis?!) and added them to my store for you to enjoy with your students, too! If you would like to see any other sayings added, please send me an email and I can add more to this packet. You can check them all out, here!
 I hope you have an amazing year with your students!


Monday, August 14, 2017

Why I Love Using My Little House in Speech Therapy!

Sometimes you come across an item you just know will be perfect to use for speech and language therapy. One that is engaging and gets your mind racing with ideas of how you can use this to target so many goals. This happened when I was first introduced to My Little House!
My Little House was created by speech language pathologist, Yvonne Johansen. She designed this house after years of using a felt board in therapy. One of the coolest parts of this house is that it can be laid flat or velcroed together to be a 3-dimensional house! 
 There are endless goals that can be targeted with this house. Since it was created by an SLP, each piece of this house was designed with an educational purpose. For example, in the bedroom, there is a clock on top of the nightstand, a pair of shoes under the bed, and a cat behind the mirror. There are so many opportunities to work on positional words in each room of the house!
My Little House comes with 36 felt pieces designed to go with the house. But I have used these pieces to target categorization of house hold items, vocabulary, following directions, and descriptive words sometimes before we even touch the house.  
It has also elicited so much language using it in structured play based therapy sessions. This is a perfect opportunity to work on requesting items. Sometimes I give the child the wrong item on purpose so we can also work on yes/no questions, too! Since the pieces match the items printed on the house, I've also use this to target matching/same/different concepts. 
My Little House is also reversible, and will look like the outside of the house when set up that way. This can be fun for introducing the lesson with a story about the house or a fun inferencing activity where your students could guess what is inside each room before you reverse it. 
As a traveling SLP, I love that this can be folded flat and easily carried in and out of therapy settings. It also takes up minimal room in my trunk which is important these days! This would be a perfect addition to a therapist's bag of tricks or for a classroom.  It would also be a great purchase by a parent so they could have some fun with language at home!  To learn more about My Little House or to purchase your own, click here!
Use code: SIMPLYSPEECH to get 10% off your order!

Thank you, My Little House for sponsoring this post!

Monday, August 7, 2017

DIY Desktop Organization Toolbox!

I cannot believe summer is already coming to an end. Even though I am not "going back to school" and starting fresh, I use this time to refresh my organization techniques and revamp my style! For quite a while now I have seen teacher toolboxes all over social media. I had been dying for one but didn't have the space. This summer I did some major purging and finally was able to bring this baby home!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links.
If you haven't seen one of these boxes yet, they are a tool organizer that you usually see used for screws and nails. I remember my dad always had these in the garage for his gadgets. I ordered mine from Amazon but you can probably find them at any hardware store. There are many different types and styles with different numbers of drawers, but here is a direct link to the one I ordered: Toolbox
Unfortunately you won't find these in pretty colors. I mean, I get it, they're supposed to be in a garage. But this dull grey color just wouldn't cut it. So I bought some mint colored spray paint from Home Depot and added this job to my husband's Saturday honey-do list! It turned out so pretty!
Now what's an organization toolbox without pretty organization labels?! This tropical watercolor clipart was calling my name as soon as I saw it. I think I may make matching binder covers with this clipart too....
You can download these labels in my TpT store for free here: labels. They are editable but if you want to match the font, it's called Coffee Makes Me Smile by A Perfect Blend.
Print out the labels on cardstock, cut, and secure them in the box with a little bit of scotch tape. I didn't laminate them but that may make them a bit more durable.
Now my desk looks so cute with an extra pop of color! And my desk drawers have much more space now that all my gadgets and office supplies are stored in here.
Enjoy!

Monday, July 31, 2017

How I Use One Book to Reach So Many Goals!

I absolutely love using books in therapy. It doesn’t matter if I am working on articulation, vocabulary or fluency, I will find a way to work a book into the session.  After years of group therapy while working in the schools, I believe I have perfected the skill of working just about any goal into a lesson with a book.  Below is an example of how I have done this with one of our most beloved books, There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly by Lucille Colandro. I would love to hear how you use books in therapy, too!
This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience. 
Articulation:
Go on a word hunt! Search for words that contain your student(s) target sound and make a list! If your students are older and are readers, have them read the book aloud to the group while they work on carrying over their good speech sounds as they read.

Part Whole Relationships:
Picture books can be the perfect tools to use to work on part whole relationship questions!
“Where is the lady’s hat?”
“Where is the cat’s nose?”
“Where are the dog’s eyes?”

Yes/No Questions:
Working on yes/no questions can be really fun. When you (the adult) make a mistake, kids always find it hilarious. On the page pictured above, the lady swallowed a cat. But read the story as, “There was an old lady who swallowed an elephant! Is this an elephant?” You will most likely get a giggle and a “Noooooo! That’s a cat!”

Retelling/Sequencing
These Old Lady books are fabulous for retelling and story sequencing. Use visuals and have your kids retell the order of events for the story.
Predicting: 
Guess what she will swallow next! Take it a step further and ask why?

Fluency:
Read the story aloud to your students. Read some pages with smooth speech and other pages with "bumpy" dysfluent speech. Have your students raise their hand when they hear "bumpy" speech or tell you if you are using your good fluent speech techniques! 

Memory Skills:
Randomly close the book and have your student recall all the animals that he/she remembers seeing in the book so far.
Attributes:
On the page below,  all of the animals are pictured. Ask your student(s) questions about defining characteristics of the animals. For example:
"Which animal has wings?" 
"Which animal has soft fur?"
"Which animal has pointed ears?"
"Which animal is the biggest?"
Pronouns:
Talk about each picture using pronouns to correctly describe what happened. (I like to use a visual sentence strip to help my younger students with this.)
"She swallowed a cow!"
"The cow is bigger than her!"

And these ideas are just the tip of the iceberg! I really love using the Old Lady series books in therapy because there is one for just about every season/theme. You can check all of them out on amazon, here. But so many books work just as well for hitting multiple goals, not just this one. 
A huge benefit to using one book to touch on all, if not most, of your caseload's goals is that it reduces your baggage. Since I no longer have a classroom and travel to each of my students, the lighter the load, the better! 
Have more ideas of goals to hit with this book? Share with everyone below in the comments!

Friday, July 28, 2017

DIY Spelling Game!

Happy Friday! If you have been following me on Pinterest, you know I am a big fan of DIY games for both my own kids and to use in therapy. With Kenzie getting ready for kindergarten in a few weeks, I have been pinning fun, educational ideas all summer. Today I have a guest post by Jennifer from Education.com with a fun spelling game! Check it out!

Picking words out can be tricky for your emerging reader when she's looking at a swarm of letters on the page. In this early reading activity, your child will place letter markers on a grid to make words appear out of the jumble.

What You Need:
  • Paper plate
  • Pencil
  • Dark marker
  • Construction paper in four colors
  • Nickel
  • Scissors

What You Do:
  1. Before you get your young reader involved, pick out three easy words that she knows already.  It's important that these words include a variety of letters. We used “away,” “here,” and “jump.” The instructions will be written using these three words.
  2. On the paper plate, trace the nickel to make a grid of 5 rows with 5 columns. 
  3. Use the nickel to trace circles on the construction paper. You'll need to draw four circles on one color of construction paper for "away," four on the second color for "here," and four on the third color for "jump." Trace 13 circles on the last color. These are for the remaining spaces in the grid.
  4. Cut out all of the circles.
  5. On the bottom row of the grid, write "jump." Letter four matching markers J, U, M and P.  
  6. Repeat step 4 for "here" and "away."  
  7. Fill in the remaining spaces in the grid. Be careful not to use any of the letters in your three sight words. As you fill in the “extra” spaces, make corresponding markers.
  8. Call your child in to play. As she lays the markers on the grid, the words will emerge from the background.
  9. Make additional grids and have your child work through the set to hone her letter and word recognition skills. You can also make larger grids with even more words if she wants an even greater challenge!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Zoey & Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows!

This post contains Amazon Associate links for you convenience. 
Have you tapped into the Zoey and Sassafras book series yet? If you haven't, and have children or students in the K-4th grade age range, you must! Zoey is a little girl that, like her mother, can see magical mystical creatures. They come to the barn in the back of her house and ring a tiny doorbell when they need help. 
 On my way home from Portland last week I read the first book in the series, Dragons and Marshmallows. I absolutely fell in love with this book and can't wait to share it with my students. I think I am going to start reading a chapter with Kenzie (who's 5) before bed each night. Since I loved the book, and knew my students would too, I created a story companion to go along with it.
 I have included a story map, 2 compare and contrast activities, and an Herbivore or Carnivore animal sort. In the story, Zoey had to figure out if one of her sick creatures was an herbivore or carnivore so she knew what to feed it!
 I also included a science journal because Zoey kept notes on her creatures in a journal. Give your students a specific animal to journal about or let them write down observations they see when venturing outside the classroom. I made my journal with brown paper bags and ribbon. It's left pretty open-ended so you can do a lot of different things with this journal. I also made it color paper friendly because I am a huge fan of Astrobrights paper!
This is a super fun book that will definitely keep your students engaged. You can download a FREE copy of my story companion, here! Can't wait to hear what you think of Zoey & Sassafras, too!


Monday, July 17, 2017

Taking the Pressure Out of Trying New Foods!

People always assume that if you are a speech therapist your kids have perfect speech and language. Same with feeding therapy. I often hear, “Oh you must have the best eaters at home!” No. Nope. Not even close. I have to use the same techniques that I use on my clients, on my own children at home. And sometimes, they are more resistant than my clients because, well,  I’m mom. The toughest battle I have to conquer with my kids is getting them to try new foods. Once they try it, they often like it. But just getting them to take a teeny tiny bite of a new food takes a lot of work. 
For my son, it’s usually reverse psychology. "Don't you eat that carrot!"And then he will eat the dang carrot. But for my daughter, it’s a little trickier. She doesn't fall for my tricks anymore. I’ve had to get a little more creative with her to help take the pressure of having to like a new food out of the equation. I never expect her to like everything she tries. And I try to stop using the “Try it, you will like it!” statement because no one likes everything, and that’s ok. 
I created a chart for her that we keep on the refrigerator. On the chart there is a place to write the new food and circle if she liked the food or did not like the food. She doesn’t get rewarded for liking the new food, but for trying it. After trying 4 new foods, she gets rewarded with a treat of her choice. She usually picks donuts or going to pick out something from Target's Dollar Spot (gosh, she's just like her mother) You guys, this has worked so well. The pressure to like the new food is gone. AND there are now a handful of new foods I have been able to add into our rotation (even broccoli!!) which is a celebration of its own. 

This is a great little chart to use with your feeding clients or your own children at home. 
You can download a free copy for yourself here :) I'd love to hear what you think of this or any tricks you have up your sleeve!