Monday, March 31, 2014

What's new at Speech2U: March Edition

Once a month, I take a few moments to share what new products I've been working on.  Things continue to be hectic around here on the work front but I've been slowly plugging away at a new Interactive Flashcard product for Multiple Meaning Words.

These products are some of my favorites.  I'm trying to help children on my caseload learn abstract concepts by providing concrete visuals and systematic practice.  These can work with students in early elementary as well as older learners with cognitive disabilities or those on the autism spectrum.

One of the things that I struggle with when first starting to work on the idea of multiple meaning words is that many of my kids don't read.  But I also find that these same learners tend to think of language in more black and white terms and have difficulty understanding that words that sound the same could mean different things.

This product includes 120 homophones/homographs with teaching slides, word maps, sentence completion tasks, child friendly definitions AND homework pages.

I worked hard to maximize page space which means less cutting and prep time too!   

That was all I got accomplished last month.  But I'm excited to be a part of Playing with Words:365 fundraiser for juvenile arthritis.  Katie is offering 2 bundles from your favorite TPT sellers for only 20.00 a piece.  And the money goes to a great cause.

I'm giving away one copy of Interactive Flashcards: Multiple Meaning Words.  You can enter below to win your copy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Mama-on-Days: Kindergarten Readiness

I wish my actual job would stop being so busy so I could spend some more time hanging out here.  Do you ever drive yourself crazy trying to do it all?  I know that I do.  I love being able to write and think of therapy ideas.  I have so many ideas and things that I want to write about.

But I've also got a 5 year old who will go to kindergarten next year.  I can't believe how quickly he has grown up.  On Tuesday morning, his preschool teacher showed me how she was teaching him to tie his shoes.  When I picked him up that afternoon, he had figured out how to do it himself.  Typical child development blows my mind.   He also drew this picture:

I alternate between being very proud of his letter spacing for a five year old, and chagrined that it was my kid who asked the teacher how to spell, "Honey, Where are my pants."

He started reading some of the BOB books which he is really proud of.

And it's a little bit of a relief to me, since his dad doesn't really like to read.  I actually asked my husband to read something out loud just to test his ability to read when we were first dating.  I think I tricked him into taking an online IQ test too.  I realize that this makes me very strange.  In case you are concerned, my husband passed both of my tests easily.    

I've been doing therapeutic reading with the Biscuit in the hopes that he would grow up to be a reader.  So we talk about prior knowledge, and what everyone is thinking and feeling in a story and what we predict will happen next.

So I bring up these three amazing accomplishments-and have to admit.  I've done nothing to support these at home.  No special classes, flashcards or Saturday work stations.  I never bought leap pad toys with letters on them or even magnet letters.   He watches t.v. and plays some games on the iPad and plays with lego's and action figures.  We do like to make crafts and go on adventures.  I wish we played more outside but it was a gazillion degrees below zero this year and I don't like to be cold.

I am not a perfect mother.  The only special activity he did was gymnastics when he had just turned three.  It ended when he was placed in a group full of adorable 2 year old girls in tutus.  He was the one who ran across the room, kept trying to get on the wrong equipment, showed horrible upper body strength and listened to me about half the time.  He spent a lot of time peppering the teachers with questions or with me grasping onto him in some form of time out.  He was just being a boy but the looks from the other mother's made me feel like I had brought a serial killer to class.

We don't always remember to bring show and tell.  Sometimes we send inappropriate things.  I'm the mom who sent her kid in with farting putty (but we called it something else-noise putty maybe?)  I think I sent him in with a tube of lipstick one day and a paper clip on another day.  Some days I can't get him anything.  It's okay.  It's my job to disappoint him a TON when he is little like this.  That way when he gets older and doesn't make the Sports team or American Idol or whatever he wants to do, he'll be prepared.

I let him dress himself which means that today he wore a short sleeve blue Iron man shirt, over a long green Hulk shirt with orange pants.  He sometimes accessorizes this with a purple slap bracelet, a silver Happy New Year necklace and several super hero rings.  His hair gets too long and sticks up funny most of the time.

I bring all this up because in spite of my parental failures, he is going into Kindergarten well prepared.  This is because of typical child development and having the resources to send him to a good childcare center.  (Not the best and most beautiful with 12 programs teaching Spanish and Chinese because those are SO expensive.  But just a regular preschool with metal siding and old plastic chairs with teachers who get child development.)

I do have a plan for kindergarten readiness though.  We've started working on making sure his face is washed before school.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Whole Body Listening: Sponge Bob Style

Whole Body Listening is a concept that was introduced by Susanne P. Truesdale and first written about in the Language Speech and Hearing Services in the Schools.

It teaches children the skill of listening by breaking down what each part of the body does.  For example, our hands help us to listen by being quiet or staying in our lap.  Our brain helps us listen by thinking about what the speaker is really saying.

It's brilliant because the skill of listening is really complex.  But when we break it down, we can really help by giving our students and clients specific feedback about what we want them to do to "listen."  It's also a skill that can be taught to all children, which would make it a perfect lesson to use if you are pushing in to a classroom.

Here are a few resources and crafts that I've used when teaching this concept.

1.  Can you Listen With Your Eyes by Nita Everly
I didn't realize that this book was out of print when I made up my picture above.  I liked using it for preschool children.  Linguisystems has a variety of Early Social Behavior Books which are printed on coated behavior which makes them great for holding up over time.

2.  Whole Body Listening Larry:  I love the illustrations in this book.  There are two different versions-one for listening at home and one for listening at school.  You can find them at

3.  Whole Body Listening Picasso Style:  This is how I've typically introduced it.  I cut out different "body parts" and have the child I'm working with glue on the pieces.  We talk about each part, and write out what they do as we are making the craft.  To make it quicker, you could type in what each body part does and then have the child glue that on.   I liked using their words as we were making it but in a group I would probably do it differently.

4.  Whole Body Listening Sponge Bob style.  I had one client who loved Sponge bob and who I didn't think would be able to sit still for my typical activity.  But he did really well when I incorporated his special interest.  In this one, I printed off the concepts and had him glue them on the back.

It usually takes a few weeks for my clients to understand the concepts.  Once they do, I can give them more specific feedback about what they need to do for the rest of the year.  (Example, I'll start when I see that your eyes are listening.  Or Did your brain listen and think about what I was saying?  I love how your hands are listening right now.  They are right in your lap.)  It's also fun to practice these skills within listening games/activities.

How about you?  What are you doing to help your students or clients learn good listening skills?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Soapbox Saturday: Are you an expert OR are you just a colleague in another setting?

Full disclosure:  I work in both schools and outpatient settings.  In some ways I think this helps give me a unique perspective on both settings.  I wrote about this before but I think it bears repeating:  

I've admitted in the past that I have made recommendations to parents-with the best of intentions-that have undoubtedly caused my school colleagues headaches.  Looking back, I regret these mistakes.  It is not the job of the outpatient therapist to TELL the school speech language pathologist what to do.  And we need to be careful about what we say to parents in the guise of recommendations.

Sometimes a simple comment is taken to be a recommendation.  Here's how a typical conversation might go:
Parent: Joey's been getting in trouble in school.
Therapist, "Oh no?  What's going on?"
Parent:  "At snack time, he keeps grabbing other kids crackers."
Therapist, "Have they tried visuals?  I know I use this app on my iPad which is great for helping kids to request."
The parent then goes to the school and tells them that they need to buy their child an iPad because their outpatient therapist recommended it.  
As therapists, we love to make recommendations-we want our clients and students to succeed.  But how annoying would it be to have people constantly trying to give you recommendations and suggestions for how you NEED to do your job.  Would you like it?  Probably not.  Do you remember that day in class when they separated all of the students who were hoping to go into a school setting and the professors told them they didn't need to come to anymore classes since they were just going into the schools?  Of course not.  Because we ALL have the same training and requirements for becoming a speech language pathologist.  It may feel good to have a parent ask your opinion or treat you like you are the expert.  But it doesn't help our profession or your colleagues in the schools.
Taking a weekend CEU course doesn't make you an expert in the field-it just means you have different tools in your toolbox.  I think of an expert as someone who teaches a specific technique, has written books or specialized in a certain population.  All Speech language pathologists are experts when compared to the general public on speech and language disorders.  But most of the SLP's I work with are generalists-meaning that they need to be able to treat a variety of different disorders.

If parents ask me for recommendations related to school or IEP goals, I simply say something along the lines of "I really can't make recommendations for the school since I'm not in the setting and don't know the other teachers and space as well as Mrs X.  I'd be happy to contact her and collaborate with her on your son's plan of care."  When I talk with the school therapist we discuss each other's goals and what has or has not worked in our therapy sessions.  We talk about fun therapy ideas and try to trouble shoot things that are not working.  I might ask to see if they've noticed carryover of anything that I'm working on at school or see if they would be open to probing for it-or maybe peeking in a classroom to see if a student is doing it.

When a parent asks you for a recommendation or makes a disparaging comment about the school speech language pathologist take this as an opportunity to educate the parent on the differences between habilitative/medically based therapy and school therapy.  Let them know that you have the same credentials as your colleagues in the school and that schools have distinctly different criteria and rules then outpatient settings.  As a profession, we are stronger when we are together.

Hope you liked this post.  Next week I'm taking the other side with: I feel like you hold the keys to the kingdom.  Why won't you let me in?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Speechy Feedback link up: March edition

Nicole over at has a monthly linky party where we get the opportunity to choose someone who has left specific and meaningful feedback on our Teacher's Pay Teachers or Teacher's Notebook products.  I read all of my feedback and really appreciate anyone who takes time to leave feedback for me.  Getting great feedback is a little bit like finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  It really is even though that is a super corny St. Patrick's Day reference in the middle of this blog post.  

This month we are picking two people.  One who left feedback on a paid product AND someone who left feedback on a free product.

When I went to pick someone who had downloaded a freebie, there was only one person who had taken the time in the last two months.  My primary freebie has been downloaded over 7,000 times but only 42 people took the time to leave feedback.

Here's a hint for leaving feedback on product freebies.  First of all, it's free.  If you don't like it or see errors send a message to the creator.  It doesn't seem right or polite to leave negative feedback on something that is free.  TPT guidelines suggest that freebies are less than 10 pages long and often may be a sampler of a larger product.  If you liked someone's freebie, chances are you are going to LOVE their paid product.  Finally, it can be tough to remember to leave feedback on a freebie since it won't show up as a downloaded product.  Here's what I do to make sure I remember to leave feedback.  I look at the product as soon as I download it and think about how I would use it in therapy-or who I would use it with.  I try to leave feedback right away because otherwise I will forget.  As a seller it can get discouraging when you put out a freebie and don't get a lot of feedback on it.

Here are my picks for this month:

Thanks to Chris L. for taking the time to leave feedback on my Slam Dunk Perspective Taking Freebie.  

And a big THANK YOU to a fellow TPT seller, Kari R. for her awesome feedback on one of my newer products: Nothing Minimal about these Pairs: S Blends.

Please email me with your choice of any product (not bundle) from my store.  Have you gotten great feedback lately?  Link up with Nicole by clicking on the button below: 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Soapbox Saturday: No, I'm not assessing your speech and other ridiculous things people say when you are a Speech Language Pathologist

Years ago, I went to a very fancy destination wedding for a relative.  I'm from Minnesota and hang with the crowd that gets their fanciest dresses at the local department store or maybe Kohl's if they have one of those coupons.  This was the kind of wedding where everyone wore designer one of a kind cocktail dresses and carried expensive handbags.  I remember talking to one person who worked on the set of a popular soap opera.  He asked what I did for a living and I told him that I was a Speech Language pathologist.  This is often followed by a pause as the general public rarely knows what this means.

I explained that I helped teach children how to communicate.  He responded by saying, "Oh wow.  I really admire that.  I could never work with children all day long.   Plus, I would never go into a field where I couldn't make a lot of money like in the schools.  I think people like you are saints."
Umm....what do you say to something like that?  Maybe I should've asked for a little money for trinkets at the airport since I make so little money.

Usually when I meet someone and tell them what I do, they may act a little self conscious or say something like "I'd better watch what I say then."  Completing a language sample at a party seems like it would be frowned upon-so usually I'm not paying attention to their speech.  Well at least until they ask-then I totally am.

Many times people mention that they had speech when they were younger.  I'm not sure if I should ask what they were there for or not.  Sometimes I will just smile and say, "Well you can't really tell."  I should ask what their favorite speech therapy game was.  I wonder if they remember.

Every once in awhile, I get someone who immediately pretends like they have a speech impediment once I tell them what I do.  This is usually cause for some eye rolling but I thank god that I don't have an even more awkward job like being a gynecologist.  I'd hate to see what they act out when they meet someone in that profession.

Sometimes people will have specific questions related to development.  They may have questions about their own children or more often the neighbor's child or the cousin of a friend.  I love having the opportunity to educate people about speech and language services but sometimes I wish I'd double checked my developmental charts before I headed out to the party.  How many words are kids suppose to have by 3?

If I asked, I usually suggest that they seek out a speech and language evaluation but I know that people are hesitant.  I recently got stuck at Target with a daycare provider grilling me about a little girl in her care.  I kept suggesting an evaluation and she kept speculating about what she could do.  You could recommend that the parents get a speech and language evaluation.  

When I first started working, I used to drive my non SLP friends crazy by geeking out too much on what I do in therapy.  Now, I know that most people don't want to know the ins and outs of speech therapy-I save that for my online SLP friends and coworkers.

How about you?  What is the most outrageous thing someone has said to you?

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Dun Dun DUN!!!! Super Lazy Speech Therapy Secret #5

I've been battling a cold for awhile and it's made me get a little lazy with my treatment planning.  I love to find super simple, super lazy tricks to keep my kids motivated during therapy.

This one is pretty lazy.  Just grab any speech material book or card.  In between questions, make the dramatic dun-dun-DUN sound.  It doesn't really make sense-but it's silly enough that the kids didn't seem to care.  

If you are feeling a little bit motivated, you could also use your laptop and this "DRAMA button."  

What are your super lazy speech therapy tips?  

Monday, March 10, 2014

Mama-on-Days: Surviving Airplane Flights: the toddler years and beyond

One of the worst flights we took was when the Biscuit was 2 years old. This was about his fourth or fifth trip. I'd prepared. I had bags of snacks, I made 15 busy bags, I had a bag full of no no items like rolls of tape.  I bought a special harness to buckle him into his seat. I bought a DVD player and 5 movies. 
 I. Was. Prepared.  
Unfortunately, I WASN'T prepared for the woman in front of us. She was a kid hating, word search loving, chair thumping grump. Biscuit wasn't interested in the movies, but I thought we had been doing pretty good. I realized, that was not the case, when she slammed into the back of her seat-hitting the biscuit in the face and then yelled to her husband about the kid who keeps hitting her seat. I didn't complain about her husband whose body weight kept slamming into my knees. I figured he couldn't help it-much like mt 2 year old-who was bumping his tray while playing quietly. But I get that it sucks when you aren't able to draw a straight line in your word search.

With relatives on both coasts, we've had lots of opportunities to travel with our son. He has his own frequent flier card and took his first trip at 2 months of age. As a parent you get used to people cooing over your infant when you go out in public. This is not the case when you travel. Get ready for people to roll their eyes or sigh when you get on board. They automatically assume that they are going to be sitting next to the screaming satan child for their whole flight.
It probably doesn't hurt to bring THEM snacks. It's hard to be irritated when someone just gave you a bag of cheezits. Traveling with a newborn wasn't that bad for us. Things got more challenging when the biscuit got a little older. Here are a few tips:
  • After the chair slapping incident, I started getting to the airport early to enjoy a preflight cocktail or two. I was never much of an airport drinker until I had a kid. I used to be more concerned with maintaining adequate hydration. But it is stressful to travel with small children. Having a drink before hand just made me able to tolerate the other people on the flight and deal with the unique challenges hat come when traveling with little ones.
  • Bring the stroller. It helps to navigate the airport PLUS sometimes you get to go to the front of the security line. Look helpless and overwhelmed and TSA will come to your rescue.
  • Be prepared for the awkward moment when they have to test your breast pump for explosive residue.
  • Busy bags are your friend. Bring lots.
  • Rely on the kindness of strangers. When we were going to Arizona after my dad died, I was not in a good place to parent. So when my four year old locked himself in the bathroom stall minutes before our flight took off. I had nothing. I threatened, I yelled. I bit back my tears. I was THAT mom. Another woman came up and said, Oh, is he stuck? I'll climb under and get him out. To this day, I am grateful for her.
  • Relish the ridiculous moments. We had a late flight that came in around midnight. The Biscuit was deleriously tired. He saw a no smoking sign and asked what it was. I told him and he said, "okay-but I WILL smoke when I am older." I said no and he proceeded to throw his largest tantrum to date. Crying, throwing himself on the floor, pleading and screaming at the top of his lungs: "I CAN TOO SMOkE WHEN I AM OLDER!!!!!" All the way past security, through baggage claim and to the car. You can only laugh.
  • Finally,I used to let people without children let me feel guilty. But I came to a realization that made me feel better. They were kids once. So regardless of whether or not they have kids that nosy other people-they probably annoyed people when they were young.
And it gets better: flying with a 5 year old was a breeze.  I just wrote this blog while he was playing some game on my iPad.  (Screen time only counts when you are on land, I think.)  Do you have any horror stories about traveling with small children?  I'd love to hear about them below.  Of course, if you found this post helpful or amusing, please consider sharing it with the world via Twitter or Pinterest by clicking on the links below.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Scrambling: St. Patrick's Day Activities and a FREEBIE!

Anybody ever had vertigo after a cruise?  It's a really weird feeling.  Too bad I can't do all of my therapy laying on my side-or can I?

I spent some time this Sunday organizing my activities for this week:

1.  Shamrock Shakes: 

Mmmmm.....I used to love getting a Shamrock shake from McDonalds.  This I'm going to try making "Shamrock shakes" with some of my older clients.  I love Kale shakes and think that I can probably convince some of my clients that the kale leaves are from Shamrocks.  We will work on sequencing, vocabulary and verb tense forms.  Plus it's a great way for me to use that extra blender my husband thought I wanted one year.

2.  Rainbow Gold Toss:  
I used a similar game with plastic spiders and a spider web rug this fall.  I love quick and easy games that are also motivating.  I picked up the rug at Target's dollar spot and borrowed the gold from my son's secret stash of gold things.  (gold coins, fools gold from colorado, gold pirate earring and some costume jewelry he pilfered from my room all stored in a pirate box-I kind of love that he's already categorizing things.)

I'll let them come up with their own rules OR we will just try to throw the gold into the bucket of the rug.

3.  St. Patrick's Day Conversations and the Blarney Stone:
I'm going to try to find a rock to paint green from under the massive amounts of snow in our yard.  It's finally starting to thaw out.  It's been SO cold that we actually found a giant icicle in my attic this week.  I hadn't heard the legend of the Blarney Stone before.  Apparently whoever kisses it with be gifted with eloquence and persuasiveness.  Pretty much my whole caseload could benefit from that-including me!  Not sure that I will be able to motivate any middle schoolers to kiss it but maybe we can change it to whoever holds it in the speech room is given the gift of gab.

5.  Shamrock Freebies!
I feel so lucky to have the opportunity to make these products and am so grateful for all of the great feedback I've gotten lately at my Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook stores.  As a super big Thank you, I made a double Shamrock Freebie for my blog readers: 

You can get it by clicking HERE!

Do you celebrate St. Patrick's Day in your Speech room?  Let me know what you are doing by commenting below.  If you like any of these ideas, please consider taking a minute to pin this post by clicking on the Pinterest button below.  

Friday, March 7, 2014

Snowman Protein Shake Container Card Eaters

Like many people, I find it easy to fall into a love/hate relationship with my body.  In my twenties, I spent too much time obsessing over my hair-I wanted it to look just like a character on General Hospital.  But no matter how much I tried or where I got my hair cut, I couldn't get the perfect amount of volume in my hair.  As it turns out, the actress had cut her hair short and the producer's made her wear a wig for the entire year.  It's pretty hard to compete with a wig.  I've been working out in the early AM for about a year and a half and have gotten so much stronger.  My balance is better and household tasks (like gardening) have gotten so much easier.  This year, I'm working more at bringing my eating under control.  As it turns out once you are 40, it becomes a little harder to shed those extra baby pounds.  Technically, these are my pounds since my "baby" is now 5.  Anyhow, I try to focus on the positive while still trying to achieve my goals which was what the above little pep talk was about.

If you've hung in there, this post is not really about losing weight or getting fit.  It's about what to do with all of those extra protein powder containers, you might end up with when your gym has convinced you of the importance of a daily protein or Kale shake.  

I know we are all sick of Winter-so you might want to wait until next year for this project.  I love having different options for card eaters.   Originally, I wanted to do a Storm Trooper card eater but the paint markers I chose, didn't work very well.  I think the first one, looks like Breaking Bad's Walter White t shirt I saw.  Definitely inappropriate for the younger crowd.   

1.  Cut slit in the top of the container.  

You will notice a ton of smudges in this picture-this is because I tried to do this with an Exacto knife. The plastic on this was REALLY strong-and the knife kept getting stuck as I was trying to cut it out. I would try with a sturdier tool (maybe a Dremel?) next time!

2.  Cut out shapes.

This allowed me to break into some of my old scrapbooking supplies.  I stopped scrapbooking when my son was born.  I've mentioned this before, but apparently I only enjoyed scrapbooking about vacations and crazy college parties.  It's probably not a good sign when you decide to hide your scrapbooks from your son.  Now that the big scrapbook store by me has closed, I don't know that I will take it up again.  I used the circle cutters to cut out the eye shapes, buttons and the brim for the hat.  

3.  Cut out the carrot nose and attach all of the parts with glue dots. 

That's it-besides cutting the slit, it was pretty easy and the kids loved it.  What characters would you try to make using these containers?  I'd love to hear about it below!  If you liked this post, please consider sharing it with others by pressing the Pinterest or Twitter buttons below!  
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