Tuesday, March 28, 2017

It's Spring! Fresh Ideas for Speech Therapy

I'm feeling excited to have the opportunity today to link up with the Frenzied SLPs for their super fun spring-themed blog hop!
I've enjoyed reading all of the posts so far and have gotten some fresh ideas for therapy! I'm currently on spring break right now, and enjoying every second with my baby boy... but I do know that next week will be here soon! So here's what I have planned for April in my speech therapy room:

Spring makes me think of rain, puddles, and bugs. If you're looking for a quick, low ink activity for your preschoolers, you might want to scoop up my bug-themed Preschool Print & Go packet.

I'm planning on targeting directives and requesting with my kiddos who use AAC. That frog toy, by the way, is about $5 at Walmart. It's pretty awesome, because it croaks. Seriously. I got it last week, sooo... hop on that deal. Literally. (OH, and p.s. That's my personal iPad, and a communication app I have ON my personal iPad. It's called LAMP. I'm using this pic for demonstration purposes, not to promote one device company over another- these toys would work great with whatever communication board or system your students are using!)

I JUST finished creating this book companion, and I'm pumped about it. That's pumped with a capital P, folks. Seriously. This product has consumed me for the past month. It was one of those, you're already in bed, but you need to turn the light on so you can document another idea you have for a worksheet type of packets.
In other words, my husband is so, so glad I finally finished this one!

It's a spring-themed book companion for ANY book! I designed it with my upper elementary kiddos in mind.

Alright, so I'll finish with this. I mentioned that frog I bought at Walmart earlier in my post. (Scroll up if you missed it). Well, while I was at Walmart, I ALSO found a 98 CENT CARROT JUMP ROPE. Whhhhhhhhhhhaaaaat?! My first thought was, "OMG. OMG. It's less than a dollar." That means when my husband checks the credit card bill, he won't be like, "Uhhh... what on earth did you buy?" The possibilities for therapy with this 98 cent carrot jump rope... endless. ENDLESS. I had to have it. Also, my husband had dropped me and baby boy off so he could tackle Lowe's on his own, and there I was, just me and an almost 8 month old, who looked very intrigued by the colorful carrot handles... so yes, I put it in my cart. I put it in my cart, then I went home and created this freebie, just for you. Okay, well, for me too. But please download it and leave some love. And remember, the carrot jump rope is not included.

Get it by clicking here.
I hope this post provided you with a few fresh ideas for spring. As always- thanks for stopping by!
Check out more fresh ideas here!

Friday, March 24, 2017

AAC Speech Therapy Activities: SLP Favorites

With any type of therapy, sometimes you just find activities that really work. I was thinking the other day about some of my favorite moments so far in my career as a Speech- Language Pathologist. Specifically, I recalled my favorite therapy sessions involving the use of AAC to target language objectives.

Sometimes, you plan and plan and plan… and the thing that works best is throwing aside all of those pre-cut crafts (which took hours, by the way) and carefully chosen toys (because you knew exactly what vocabulary targets you were going to use with each one) and going with the flow!

I think we are experts in being flexible. That is why, yes, I have spent time in the past dancing like a maniac and then freezing in place so my student could give me “on”, “off”, “go” and “stop” directives while we listened to Let It Go.

I have attempted to squeeze myself through a children’s crawl tunnel in order to demonstrate the concept of “inside” and “turn” taking. I have spun in circles because my student requested using the word “turn”. I have hopped on one foot, created Play-Doh masterpieces, and watched as my perfectly arranged stack of blocks was pushed to the floor. It was all done in the name of language development.

I knew I couldn’t be the only SLP out there dancing terribly and singing horribly in order to promote communication. So, I asked around to hear what some other SLPs had to say about their favorite activities:

I like to use adapted books to help teach AAC. I have an adapted version of Brown Bear, Bear and my favorite AAC moment was when my student read the entire book - start to finish - with his device all on his own. Kristin, Talkin' with Twang

One of my favorites is to use the song, "Ducks like rain". I have some communication sheets made up and I have a little macs that says quack that the children get. When they use the little mac or point on the communication board, to say "quack," they get spritzed with water (mimics rain). It's great for commenting and requesting and protesting (if they don't want to get sprayed!). Collette, Alberta Speechie

I love taking my patient around the clinic and having her introduce herself to other therapists and ask questions with her AAC device. She loves getting out of the therapy room and we get to work on functional communication at the same time! Alaina E., SLP, Texas

Here is one of my favorite AAC memories: I worked with a little boy who had a complex set of diagnoses including ASD, CP, and a paralyzed vocal fold. He had a g-tube, trach, and LOTS of challenging behaviors. No speech and the only vocalizations were reflexive sounds. His family was at the end of their rope because he would tantrum whenever he didn't get what he wanted, so they basically rearranged their lives to keep him happy. Within 18 months, he was using a high tech AAC device fairly well. Anyway, they were driving to school one day and he used his device to say, "Look up. Colors. 1 2 3 4. Colors." Can you guess what this smart cookie was trying to tell his mom? -Carole Zangari

I just did an eval this week for a boy whose mom was told her son really didn't need to do anything more than request - and he couldn't even do that because they hadn't given him anything by way of AAC to use. So I'm told he likes bubbles (BTW he is 14) and I start blowing bubbles and begin with a single word model (more). I work up to want + more. After a bit his mom and I are talking )I was answering a question she had) and I stopped blowing while I was talking. He reached over to the Nova Chat and pushed I + want + more + that. -Susan Berkowitz, SLP -
I like to read books with my AAC kids! It's great for kids at all different levels. For students just learning core words, I have them request "more" or "turn" to turn the page, and I use the pictures to facilitate commenting at the single word level. For students at a higher level, we target phrases or sentences rather than single word comments. -Emily S., SLP, Ohio

I hope you enjoyed those fantastic memories. Thank you to every SLP for sharing. Please, please, please if you are reading this post- share your favorite activities in the comments below.

Related AAC Blog Posts you don’t want to miss:

How Do You Plan to Model AAC? by Susan Berkowitz

AGB Speech Therapy, Teaching Shapes at Snack Time

Linda (Looks Like Language): It's Not Your Run of the Mill File Folder Activity

Finally, I wrote this blog post for ASHA. It provides tips for teachers on how to incorporate AAC throughout the school day. Check it out here.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Intro to AAC: Expressive Reporting Product Review

I had the opportunity to try out one of SpeechPage's newest products, Intro to AAC: Expressive Reporting.

This is a colorful product that comes pre-laminated and pre-cut, which is a huge timesaver.

This product has a unique feature: moveable parts! "Doors" can swing open via the velcro attachments.

I felt like this product enabled me to target a variety of language goals, beyond simple requesting. We targeted stating the location of objects using simple prepositions such as "in". (If your student demonstrates confusion with the idea of "in", you might want to start with placing the pictures inside a small container or sensory bin first).

We used this packet to work on asking (and answering) simple "where" questions.

We also worked on using directives in therapy. For example, the student directed me to "Put it (object) in".

Extension Ideas:

Here are a list of other ways you might be able to use this packet in therapy:

The child can request assistance using the word "help" in order to open or close movable doors. You can also model the word "help" if the child you're working with needs prompting with sorting tasks.

The child can request recurrence by asking for "more" of any item in a certain category.

The child can comment on the disappearance of the item when the 'door' is closed ("It's gone!").

You and the child can discuss if you "like" certain foods or not using the picture cards provided.

You can target adjectives with the cards. Discuss the taste or smell of food items. Talk about how the clothes are "dirty" before you place them in the washing machine, and then talk about how "clean" they are after you close the door and pretend to wash them. Discuss the different colors of all the items.

Work on simple verbs. Talk about how food can "turn" in the microwave or "go" in the washing machine.

Work on simple grammatical concepts or a variety of sentence structures. Work on regular plural -s (one cup, two cups), relative pronouns ("this" or "that"), irregular past tense verbs ("Yum! I ATE the burger!") and conjunctions ("I see crackers AND bread"). Simple sentence forms you could work on include noun + is + adjective (The pizza is hot!") or noun + is + preposition ("The pizza is IN the microwave").

In conclusion, I felt that this product was an efficient way to target multiple goals in my therapy session. Because it is laminated, it is durable and also easy to clean. The cards are colorful and would also be great additions to sensory bins.

Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for a blog review. All opinions expressed within this article are true, honest, and my own. In addition, I have utilized the following AAC apps in my pictures: LAMP and Tobii Dynavox Compass. These are apps that I have on my personal iPad, and were used simply for demonstration purposes, not with the intent of promoting one AAC app/ device over another.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Valentine's Day Speech Therapy

Alright, it's February, so you can BET we're all about Valentine's Day in my speech and language room.
I see nothing wrong with celebrating this chocolate-filled holiday a little early, so let me offer you a glimpse of what we've been up to in my speech room this past week.

I stopped at my local library and found this gem of a book, "Valentine's Day Is..." by Gail Gibbons. I'm a huge fan of utilizing the library and books in therapy.
Buy this book, borrow it, do whatever you need to do.
"Valentine's Day Is..." is seriously cool. It's perfect for my students who have goals to answer comprehension questions about informational text. It doesn't just talk about passing out candy and all that. It goes into the history behind the customs and beliefs. I'm a bit of a history nerd, so I was excited to learn about the connection between ancient Roman traditions and how we celebrate Valentine's Day today. I had a list of comprehension questions ready, and I checked in to make sure my students were understanding the text as I read aloud. We also discussed any tricky vocabulary. At the end, we made heart decorations. My students had to tell me one cool fact they learned from the book. I've had a few teachers stop by my room and tell me how much they enjoyed the responses my students came up with after I displayed the hearts in the hall.

Next, I have some students working on describing skills. Specifically, we were focusing on naming items in categories.

I'm a huge fan of the Expanding Expression Toolkit by Sara L. Smith. Multi-sensory learning? Yes, please. I have a few girls on my caseload who ask me over and over again, "Can we sing that song?" They love the EET song, and if dropping a beat in speech therapy is going to help them remember language elements, I am all for it. I combined the EET with my open-ended Super Duper game boards. Let me just tell you that the promise of even 3 m&ms can be very motivating. As a matter of fact, I found myself hoping that we'd land on the "eat a chocolate" piece. One for you, two for me...(I'm not affiliated with either of these companies, FYI, and am not being compensated for blogging about the use of their products.)

I mentioned before that I like to incorporate the use of multi-sensory tools in my speech and language therapy sessions.

Enter my Valentine's Day sensory bin.

My kids really enjoyed scooping out the spatial concepts cards. My Oh, la, la! Locations cards were perfect for celebrating this lovey-dovey holiday.

For my students working on higher level language, I pulled out my newest Valentine's Day Language packet. Many of these students are also working on spatial concepts. This one is perfect for your upper elementary/ middle school speech therapy students.

Dry erase markers + no prep for the win.

We also enjoyed reading about Cupid and Psyche, and then answering comprehension questions following the story.

What are you up to this month in therapy? I'd love to hear in the comments!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Interactive Illustrated Idioms Review

I have so many students on my caseload who struggle with understanding figurative language.
It's not always easy to find engaging materials to target this skill, and so many of my students are at different levels.

Some have goals to match an idiom to the correct meaning, others have goals to state the correct meaning of an idiom.
Some benefit from picture supports, while other students on my caseload need more of a challenge. Let's face it- as SLPs, we're used to being flexible!

I was so excited when I received my Interactive Illustrated Idioms from SpeechPage in the mail. First of all, they are colorful and fun, but not too "babyish". I used these cards with my 4th and 5th grade students, and trust me, they would have let me know if they thought the illustrations were "too young" for them. Next, these cards are pre-cut and pre-laminated. I don't have to go into great detail about why I find that AWESOME! Third, these cards are super easy to store. Mine are in a binder.

I have one student in particular who I knew would really need things broken down. I wanted to give him a field of only 2 answer choices. I simply traced two cards side by side on construction paper and then cut out the rectangle to achieve this. I then laminated it. We drew arrows to the correct answer choice in order to match the idiom to the correct meaning. Dry erase markers are always a hit in my room!

He was super engaged with these pictures from the start. After we went over all of the idioms on one page, I then wanted him to tell me the meanings.

We flipped the construction paper over so that the clear, laminated part was at the bottom, and we stuck his notebook underneath. I then chose a targeted idiom and placed it on the page.

My next group benefited with a little less structure, so instead of providing them with the literal meaning pictures AND the figurative language picture, I only provided them with the answer choices.

I really love this product. It's versatile, fun, and engaging for my students. I highly recommend this product from SpeechPage if you're in the market for some figurative language therapy materials!

Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for a blog review. All opinions expressed within this article are true, honest, and my own.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Winter Speech Therapy Ideas

We are getting super close to winter break, and my students are so excited! In my speech room, we've been celebrating the upcoming holiday season in a variety of ways.

In honor of one of my favorite Christmas movies, Elf, I decorated my door and asked each of my students to tell me how they would spread holiday cheer. I really enjoyed their creative responses!

We played a very festive, giant tic-tac-toe game. This worked well in a mixed group- one of my students was targeting articulation goals, and my other student was working on forming sentences using conjunctions.
The "ornament" game piece was perfect for targeting the vocalic "or" sound. (Pictured: Entire World of R Vocalic R playing cards)

I also run a "speech group" lesson. I go into one of our special education classrooms. I typically do either some sort of "snacktivity" or "craftivity" with the students. We work on following basic directions and core vocabulary (perfect for my students using AAC to communicate!) while we assemble the snack or craft, and then follow up the lesson by describing what we've created using the Expanding Expression Toolkit. (Have you checked that out yet?! It's an amazing multi-sensory toolkit that my students love using).

For my students who are non-verbal or have severe language disorders, I create a picture-supported answer sheet to go along with the EET beads. (I'm sorry- I can't share that with you, since many of the images are from Google and I don't own the copyrights).

Here's an example of how I target core vocabulary during these activities: (pictured is a screenshot of the LAMP app):

I discuss with my students how we are going to "make" a craft today. I model this vocabulary target word and then assist my students in saying this word using their devices.

We discussed core vocabulary, such as the word "on", when we placed different craft pieces on the tree.

This particular activity was perfect for having my students request "more" paint as they added "ornaments" to the tree using cotton balls.

We discussed size concepts (the tree was "big").

We asked others to "look" at the trees we created.

At the end of the craft, we discussed how much we "liked" our trees.

I am always happy when one simple, inexpensive activity elicits a TON of language. My kiddos had a lot of fun with this tree craft, and I was able to target following directions, basic concepts, describing,and core vocabulary in one 30 minute lesson.

Hopefully this post will provide you with some fun and simple activities to use with your students.

Here's to hoping that you are sipping some hot chocolate and staying warm, wherever you live!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Ghost Talk Blog Hop

I love all things Fall and Halloween.
I'm sitting here, typing out this blog post, just wishing I was sipping on some pumpkin-flavored coffee. I've got my costume all ready to go this year- I'm being Dana Scully from the XFiles. I have a wig and her "FBI badge". Since my husband got to "couples costume" with the baby this year (the baby is going to be a little Pokemon character, and he's going to be a Pokemon trainer), I ordered the dog a matching costume. His name is Moo, so he's going to be Special Agent Fox Moo-der (Mulder). In addition, I'm planning on buying a pumpkin tomorrow, and my baby is all pumped right now to be wearing his orange "My First Halloween" sleeper. (Actually, he could care less. We were attempting tummy time and he fell asleep, so I thought, might as well write the blog post...)

Okay, so back to the point of this post.
Because of my love for this candy-filled holiday, I teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers who also happen to love Halloween.
We created a super fun blog hop filled with freebies for you! So you're at the right place, because you need to start at my blog. You'll download the story (yours won't be wrinkled when it prints- my dog stepped on it seconds before I snapped a picture) at my TPT store right here, but WAIT.
The Ghost That Wasn't Spooky

Make sure you come back, because you need to head over to my friend The Speech Attic's blog. Erin has an AMAZING sequencing packet for you, and then she'll tell you where to stop next to get the rest of your downloadable goodies!

Oh, and one more thing... please leave some love (aka feedback) when you download these packets on TPT if you enjoyed this blog hop. It'll be almost as awesome for me to read those messages as it would be to sip on pumpkin-flavored coffee.

 The Speech Attic