Thursday, January 31, 2013

Duration Map Emergencies....

I use duration maps a lot in therapy.  Duration maps provide a visual representation for children so they know how much time is left before they can be (or have to) be done with an activity.  A simple way to do one would be if your child has 5 minutes left in activity to draw 5 circles on a piece of paper.  Let your child know that your have 5 minutes left to complete the activity.  For some children, it's helpful to have a visual representation of what is next on the schedule to make the transition easier.

I use duration maps a lot to help my clients know how many trials or repetitions they need to complete before they will be finished.  Sometimes I just hold up my fingers, sometimes I draw out circles on a piece of paper.  Today I wanted to draw a map but realized I didn't have a piece of paper nearby.  Oddly enough, I did have a paper plate handy.

So I quick drew 10 circles on the plate.  And they kind of (not really) looked like cookies.  I had the client draw in the chocolate chips, but you could make those part of the activity.  (Say rhubarb 5 times and then draw 5 chocolate chips.)  I realize that no one will probably ever ask their clients to say rhubarb, it's just what came to mind late at night.

Then we finished up our activity.  Every time we finished a 3 picture cards, we got to "eat" a cookie.  We crossed off the cookie and made obnoxious cookie eating noises.

My drawings were horrible (clearly) but it was a really fun and motivating activity for the client I worked with.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

More Dollar Spot Finds...

I loved Highlights magazines as a kid.  I liked the Hidden pictures, the rebus stories, the poems, but my FAVORITE was the Goofus and Gallant pages.  I was really excited when I found this book at the dollar spot this week.  Here are some other things I picked up:

I think the Rebus story book will be fun for articulation and syntactic structures.  The Poems to Go book looked like a fun way to address inferencing and maybe figurative language.

The success charts are actually for my four year old.  But I liked how it has it broken up by the goal and the child's performance each day of the week. It could be a good resource for home programs.  Dream it Up has 2 question prompts written in a talking bubble on each page.  I'm planning to use it for carryover and language reasoning activities.  Questions include: What do you think computers will be able to do in 10 years that they can't do now.  (Scary question...)  In the corner, the book with the two boys is a Modern Day Goofus and Gallant.  Good for basic social skills training.  And I got a plastic bathtub.  I've got an idea for an activity with this.  I'll let you know as soon as I figure it out.

What great finds have you found at the Dollar Store?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

One more Squinkie therapy idea...

Just one more quick Squinkie post and then I'm done for at least another few months.  One of the things that I like about Squinkie's is that it allows me to use my clients favorite things for motivation.  Here was a quick activity I did with one client who needed to work on he/she pronouns and auxiliary + ing forms. 

First, I took a bunch of the He/She cards I made and put them upside down on the table.  I put a different Squinkie on each card.  

On my client's turn, they flipped over the card and had to decide if the Squinkie was a boy or a girl.  Then they placed the Squinkie on the corresponding verb card.  

Finally we practice saying the sentence:  He is yawning.  

We were still having some difficulty remebering to say "is" in the sentences.  So I added a physical cue.  On the name of the Superhero (or he/she) we put both our hands out in front of us.  We clapped our hands together when saying "is" and we slapped our hands on our legs when we said the verb  +ing forms.  This really helped get the client to start marking the "is" and by the end of the session, they were able to do with just a verbal model.  

Friday, January 25, 2013

Squinky Directions Part 2

I found this little Polly pocket house at Goodwill for 1.99 this weekend.  It folds up for easy storage.  I liked the fact that there are lots of different areas that you could use for spatial concepts or following directions.  The refrigerator opens, you can move the stairs or you can lift up the bed at the top of the toy to hide a toy underneath. 

I like to use real objects or toys during therapy tasks because I think it is motivating and it's functional.    I thought this would be a great opportunity to work with kids on following single and multistep directions.
Walmart had their superhero Squinkies on clearance for 4.50 per pack.  If you don't have any, now would be the time!  I'll admit I have a lot of squinkies.....  

But that just helps with describing tasks.  (Find the yellow and blue Squinkie, which Squinkie Can fly...)  Squinkies come with a variety of plastic gumball machine toy containers.  Each pack comes with a different color (red, sparkly pink, pink, clear etc.)

I also had a multi-pack of colored tongs I'd gotten through Amazon for a plane trip with my little one.  (I thought I was buying a single pair of tongs for a busy book type of game but ended up with a container of 12.)  With all of these options I was able to target a variety of directions.  (Ex. Find the yellow ball, Take the red tongs and pick up a superhero and put him in the blue car. )

When working during functional activities, I find it helps to write down my targets prior to the session so that I am able to maximize the therapy time we have.  For this activity, I decided to make up some direction cards so I would be sure to target everyone's goals during the session.  The second bonus to the cards is that it takes the pressure off of you, the speech-language pathologist.  You're not the bad guy who's just bossing them around when they want to just PLAY with their toys.  It's the cards.  For those kids that really want to just play with the superheroes for awhile, I let them earn 10 seconds of play time for every card they answered correctly.  If you are looking for some direction-following inspiration, you can use the cards that I have HERE.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Motivation: Random thoughts

I have days where I just can't seem to get the motivation to do get things done like going to the gym or balancing my checkbook or floss.  Somethings I need to bribe myself into doing.  Pay your bills and then you can play a quick game of Bejeweled Blitz.  It helps when you get a lot of positive feedback.  I've been getting really great, motivating feedback from other therapists on my Teachers Pay Teachers site.  It makes me want to create more materials. 

This weekend, my four year old was napless and pretty wild.  I'm going to be honest with you and admit that I may have said something along the lines of "THAT is enough talking.  No.  No. more. talking.  Mommy needs to get this (progress reports) done."  Is telling someone to stop talking cause for an ASHA censure???  Anyhow, the next day, we were at the gym and saw an old babysitter of his.  He was being pretty shy so I thought he'd like to tell her about all of the superheroes he likes.  "Hey, tell her about your most favorite thing in the WHOLE world." I prompted.  He smiled up at us and said, "Mommy."  Talk about motivation!  That filled my mommy patience cup right up. 

It made me thing of the clients that I work with.  For many of them understanding language, telling simple stories or using clear speech are challenging skills.  What kind of feedback do they need and what kind of feedback do they give themselves?  How does the feedback that we give them in speech therapy help or decrease their motivation to change and improve their skills.  I try really hard to give consistent and specific feedback with the kiddoes that I work with.  Good job or great trying is nice to hear.  But what about, "I like how you put your lips together when you said "buh." OR "When you define a word using a category it really helps me to figure out what you are talking about."  Ultimately they need to monitor themselves so I will ask, "How do you think you did on that, " or "Was that easy or hard?"  or "Do you think that activity was helpful?" 

Another strategy I pulled from a parenting book.  (I think it was the Happiest Toddler on the block.) I tell "secrets" about them.  I will use a stage whisper when talking to their parents about how good their attention was or how I have really notice improvement in their skills.  Sometimes I will pretend to whisper in stuffed animal ears or "fake" a phone call.  Getting praise from one person is great but overhearing someone praising you feels even better. 

I'm not above a bribe (external motivation system) for my clients.  Today I had a client work for the opportunity to take a screenshot picture on the I-pad of one of the members of One Direction.  Then we imported the photo into a photo editing app and drew purple mustaches on him. 

How do you give students feedback and help them take ownership of their goals?  How do you motivate them?

Thursday, January 17, 2013


I was cleaning out my kitchen last weekend and found my quesadilla maker in the back of one of my cabinets.  I've never met a kitchen appliance I didn't like, but eventually they end up dusty in the back of one of my cabinets.  I'm betting you could score a few at your local Goodwill.

I was looking for some activities for this week, making quesadilla's sounded like a great idea.  

I took pictures of the activity with my iPad at home.  We started by discussing the ingredients.  With some clients, we worked on categorization skills: What are 5 other vegetables that you could use to make quesadillas.  We also worked on short term memory.  How many ingredients could they remember once we got to the kitchen.  

We worked a lot on verb tense forms during this activity.  I will place the cheese on the tortilla, I am placing the cheese on the tortilla, I placed the cheese on the Tortilla.  

For some kids we addressed spatial concepts: put the toppings ON, the tortilla is UNDER the cheese, the I am putting the quesadilla IN the machine.  

We worked on hot/cold during the activity.  Mostly with "Don't touch the quesadilla maker-it is HOT." For safety, I had the maker up on a counter top away from little hands.  

We also worked on synonyms: Close/shut, cut/slice, hot/warm, place/put.  

Then we worked on "conversational skills."  I have two old phones that we use to pretend to call each other.  I had a script I made using the Custom Board Apps by Smarty ears.

I also made some flash cards for simple sorting tasks during the activity.  We worked on sorting answers based on whether they would answer a "who, what or where" question.  We also sorted verbs by tense (past, future, present.)  The download also includes procedure retell activities and a game targeting questions semi-related to the activity.

UPDATE:  The FREEBIE is over for now, but you can still get the product on my TPT Store HERE.  Make sure not to miss any freebies by liking Speech2U on Facebook or clicking on the link to follow my blog at the top of the page.  Want to win a copy of your own?  Comment below on how you would use this activity OR what other functional activities you would like to see here.  I'll pick a winner Wednesday night (January 23rd).  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Conjunction Resources

"Conjunction Junction, what's your function..."  

That song and the "I'm just a Bill, sitting here on Capitol Hill" (seemingly prophetic in these divisive political times) send me back to my flannel night shirt days.  Saturday mornings my brother and I would wake up so early there would be a test pattern on the screen.  We'd watch it.  Eventually cartoons would come on and we'd sit in front of the t.v. until some boring show about an old guy and a Bear came on.  This has nothing to do with my post on Conjunctions, it's just a quick way for me to reassure myself that I'm not letting my little guy watch too much television after all.  

So I have a new TPT product: Valentine's Day Conjunctions.  The BEST thing about this one is that only half of the product is themed.  SO you can use it all year round.  Students work on joining sentences using "and," "but" and "or."  Valentine's Day Conjunctions is available HERE.

Here are some Youtube video's I found to support this lesson.  First, the classic: 


Katy Perry Fireworks: Conjunctions style.  (The singer in this is horrible, but you could always learn it and belt it out American Idol style during your sessions.)  

Justin Bieber loves Conjunctions.  Cute video that highlights conjunctions in his song "Baby"

WARNING.  This next video is not really appropriate for kids.  But it's clever and a good way to demonstrate WHY conjunctions are important.  I'm sure you could adapt it with sock puppets or some crazy iPad app.  

Here's one more resource from Grammaropolis: A song about FANBOYS.  (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so.)  

I love using music to try to teach concepts.  What songs or resources have you used to teach these skills?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hot lips and Octopus hangers...

I spent too long at Target this week because I was avoiding going back out into the FREEZING cold.  I ended up with some fun Dollar Spot crafts for Articulation or language cards.  Check out these cute animal clips.  They come in a set of 3.  I used them for articulation today, but you could easily use them for following directions activities.

I also got some "hot lips" clips for working on bilabial sounds.

The Octopus hanger is my ALL TIME favorite for Articulation Drills.  I hang it on a long string in my therapy room.  The children have to say the card a certain number of times before the Octopus will "eat" their card.  Then they have to say each card again (maybe in a sentence) as they take the cards down at the end of the activity.  I got the Octopus hanger at Ikea last year for under 10.00.  Well worth the money.

Happy Monday!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Year's Resolution #2: Stop being a materials hoarder.

You can tell a lot about a speech language pathologist by the size of their laminator.  Well, at least I have a special love for laminators.  I started in grad school with rolls of cloudy/clear contact paper.  This was back in the days of the old Linguisystem SPARC books and I'd stay up late in my dorm coloring articulation cards using my 48 box of crayons I purchased for that purpose.  I even got a "skin color" crayon add on pack to make sure I was demonstrating diversity in my cards.  Then I'd try to laminate it, but the contact paper would roll up or get stuck to my arm or get a big annoying bubble right in the middle of my newly colored picture of "THERMOS."  I laminated a little-probably cursed a lot.

Eventually I graduated to a roll laminator.  It worked great, but velcro didn't stick to the back of roll laminated stuff.  Somewhere in this house I still have my "laminating kit" with a few velcro loop-backed scraps and sandpaper to rough up the back of the laminated paper so you could add velcro onto them.  Then I heard from a friend of mine that pouch laminators were better-you didn't need to sand the back and you could even take them into the pool with you several times before they would start to disintegrate.  (One of my first jobs allowed me to do pediatric aqua therapy at a local fitness club.  I used a kickboard with velcro on it to create visual schedules for the pools.  Pool therapy seemed like the best idea when I started, but mostly it involved trying to do speech therapy with a kid while creepy strangers in speedos watched me from a hot tub.)  

Now I have a fancy laminator that allows me to laminate up to 7mm thickness, a laminator that lets me make stickers or magnet sheets AND a tiny sticker laminator for tiny laminating emergencies.  Which brings me to New Year's Resolution #2:  Stop being a materials hoarder.  I've purchased many packets from fellow speech language pathologists on Teachers Pay Teachers as well as enjoyed the FREEBIES that have been offered.  But then I forget to print them out.  So that's my goal for this weekend.  Print out and laminate the rest of the TPT packets I purchased.

How about you, have you got all of your materials organized?

Here's a bonus I saw on Pinterest last year:

How to make your own HE/SHE card decks

I came across a great website last fall called:  It's an FREE site that allows you to print certificates, flashcards and some therapy materials.  If you work with students on emotions, you definitely want to check this site out.  There is an option to create a "Facial Fan," Thought Bubbles to print out and  Face Spinners for Emotion Recognition.  Awesome!
There is also a program called AAC cards which allows you to create choice cards easily.

I have a resourceful coworker who had created their own cards for receptive identification of he and she.  So, when I saw this program, I thought it would be a great way to make my own set of cards.  Here's how you can make YOUR own...

Go to  Click on the AAC cards to start.

On the left side of the screen, you can type in your search keywords.  For this project I generally tried the present progressive form (ex. drinking) first to see if I would get results for both a boy and a girl.  If not, I would try boy drinking or he drinking.

You can also add the labels on the pictures by using the cream box on the right.  I couldn't find a way to save these, so this is an activity you need to complete and print off immediately.  The first two search boxes correspond to the first line of pictures.  Once you activate the search the program does a quick internet search of images in the flashcard box.

Continue creating sets of 4 rows of he/she cards until each box is filled.  Then print out on cardstock, laminate and cut out.  Repeat until you have a full deck of cards.

Here's how I use it in therapy:
1.  Receptive Identification: "Show me/Point To/Touch She is sneezing"
2.  Contrast practice: "She is sneezing." "He is sneezing"
3.  Verb tense forms
4.  Building verb vocabulary.  This one is fun to have them say the verb and then pretend to do it themselves.

Tell me, is this something that would be helpful for you to use?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

January Organization: Object functions and Categories

Have I mentioned that I love manipulatives?  A few years ago, I was lucky enough to purchase a 5 pound box of Barbie accessories on Ebay for a spendy 30.00.  It was this purchase that allowed me to create my first category box.  I used some pieces from an old category kit from Lakeshore learning and was able to add a ton of pink and purple items from the Barbie collection.  (I think I had 100 pairs of shoes alone.)  I supplemented with plastic figurines (vehicles, occupations, farm animals) I bought with my 40% off coupon at Michaels.  I raided old therapy games and activities, scoured garage sales, Goodwill and the Dollar Store for category materials.  I ended up with enough for a categories box

I used some pieces from an old category kit from Lakeshore learning and was able to add a ton of pink and purple items from the Barbie collection.  (I think I had 100 pairs of shoes alone.)  I supplemented with plastic figurines (vehicles, occupations, farm animals) I bought with my 40% off coupon at Michaels.  I raided old therapy games and activities, scoured garage sales, Goodwill and the Dollar Store for category materials.  For awhile I just had three boxes filled with tiny manipulatives.  We could pull them out in therapy and it was great for vocabulary, naming items, categorizing, talking about object functions, describing etc...

When I purchased my matching set of plastic boxes, I decided to organize the categories into three levels based on the materials on  

Five pounds of Barbie materials and 15 years of odds and ends is a LOT more than you think.  So I also ended up with an Object Functions Box with suggested levels from  

But that wasn't all.  I still had enough to create a 2 syllable and a 3 syllable bin.  

As with my other boxes, I typed out the contents or some verbal cues to use during therapy and used contact paper to laminate the paper to the box.

Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Resolution #1: Stop being a blog stalker

Okay, I admit it.  I'm a blog stalker.   I'm not sure how people normally read blogs, but if I find a blog I like,  I start at their latest entry and then keep reading until I get to their first entry.  Sometimes (OFTEN) I take notes.  I used to take notes on a soap opera that I watched in junior high so I could discuss it with a friend of mine who wasn't allowed to watch soaps.  (I wonder about junior high me....)

What I don't do when I'm lurking around on your blog is comment.  Sometimes I've tried, but then got confused on what name to write or couldn't figure out how to sign up for an account on the site.  Sometimes I'm just so busy reading that I don't take the time.

Although I'm relatively new to this blog, I wrote pretty prolifically (and graphically) about my experiences as a pregnant momma.  It's probably just as well that the site closed and I lost my postings on it.  When I was writing it, I LIKED to get comments.  I'm an approval junkie.  If you write a comment that's flattering, I'll read it 20 times.  If you write a comment that's mean, I'll read it and probably be sad for a little while.  But that's okay, not everyone is going to find what you have to say worthwhile.  Still, I found that when I was getting feedback-good/bad/indifferent-I was more motivated to sit down and write.

Last week, January 1, this blog reached the 500 view mark.  Today it was at 700, that's motivating for me to write.

There are SO many amazing, insightful and inspiring blogs out there.  I want to make sure that these bloggers know that I want them to keep writing.  So one of my 2013 New Year's resolutions is to stop being a blog stalker.  I promise to take some time and write a quick comment if I'm inspired or use an activity.  I promise to leave a note of appreciation every once in awhile.  And more importantly, I promise to try to be respectful when doing it.  (For example, it's not really a compliment when you appreciate someone and then imply that they can only do it because they have no family or no life or no real caseload....)

So here's a philosophical question: If a blogger writes in the wood and no reads it, do they still exist?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Penguin Vowels

I just finished a revised version of Penguin Vowels on my TPT store-I'm really excited about this one for several reasons: 

1.   Helping children produce accurate vowels makes a HUGE differences in their intelligibility.  Consider this sentence:  "I eat two potatoes."   A child who has all of their vowels intact but no consonants would produce it like " I  ee  ooo ah-A-O." vs. a child who has most of their consonants but reverts to a lax "ah" vowel.  "Ah aht tah pahtahtah."  With a little bit of context the first child is going to be easier to understand.  Vowels are especially important for clients with lower muscle tone or medical diagnoses such as Down Syndrome.

2.  While there is agreement that vowels are an important part of intelligibility, there are few treatment materials or continuing education courses which address vowel production.  Deborah Hayden's PROMPT therapy does the best job I've found so far in addressing vowel production in speech.  To learn more about PROMPT therapy please visit the PROMPT institute website here.

3.  This was the second TPT activity that I was able to get my husband, a professional illustrator, to provide some of clip art.  He is really talented and it's just fun to work on things together.

Anyhow, My newly revised PENGUIN VOWELS increased from 28 pages to 42 pages of materials.  New additions included: Cheat sheets for common spellings of long vowels and hints for productions of long/short vowels and dipthongs. 

Penguin Vowels is available HERE.  I hope you enjoy is as much as I do!

January Organization: Speech Kits-Social Skills Edition

There's nothing better in January then reorganizing your materials.   A year ago, I took some time to organize my Speech cabinet into Speech Kits.  You can see my Same and Different Kit here:

I've been practicing for 15 years, so I've accumulated ALOT of toys, materials and odds and ends.

Most of the materials in this kit are designed to complement Michelle Garcia Winner's Social
Thinking® Curriculum.  To learn more about the Social Thinking® and the vocabulary listed below please refer to her website:

 To organize my cabinet, I started by getting all of the same type of storage boxes so that they stacked easily.  I typed out the materials in the kit, labeled it Social Skills and then used contact paper to secure the sheet to my container.  These are the materials in my Social Skills Box:

1.  Balanced Weight Scale from Learning Resources.  To work on conversational turn taking and balanced conversations. 
2.  Jello Brain Mold I purchased from Target after Halloween to work on Flexible Thinking©  and also the ideas of different kinds of Social Smarts©. 
3.  A Rock and a Flexible Brain© purchased from Social Thinking®.
4.  Mini Magnifying glasses purchased at a party goods store to focus on looking for social clues or being a Social Detective. 
5.  Giant Body parts purchased at the dollar store to focus on Whole Body Listening concepts and Thinking with your eyes©.
6.  Magnetic Poetry Emotion Faces.  I like these because it breaks it down to what are the eyes feeling/what is the mouth feeling.
7.  Shoe NotePads to go with Jenna Rayburn's In your Shoes Pragmatic Download as well as other perspective taking in your shoes activities.
8.  Chalkboard paper thought bubbles I purchased at Michaels.  

Here's to an Organized and Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Prefix, Root Words and Suffixes

I forgot to include this activity in my posts regarding prefix, suffixes and root words.  Going along with the toolkit idea from my TPT download, you can use nuts and bolts to practice meanings.  I went to the local hardware store and picked up a handful of nuts and bolts.  I was looking for a double bolt where I could place the root word on and add a nut on either side.  The only ones I found were blunt edged on one side with a pointy screw on the other side.  Although it would likely be a fun activity, I try to avoid materials that would impale me.

Anyhow, it's pretty simple-the key is to get the largest bolts you can find, then write the names of the prefixes, root words and suffixes you want to practice.

Overall it was a pretty cheap activity, coming in under 5.00.
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