Friday, August 30, 2013

School is hopping for me!! Whooo else is HOPPING Back to School?

Welcome to another great BACK TO SCHOOL SLP Blog hop!!
Here's your chance to get some back to school ideas and freebies from ME {and lots of other awesome SLPs!} as well as win some fantastic prizes!  

I hope you've been having fun hopping around all of the speechie blogs! 

In case you're just joining us, let me bring you up to speed... 

Just hop through all of the Back to School blog posts and collect the letter clues along the way.  Unscramble them to reveal a phrase that will give you access to the raffle at your last stop!  

Look at the cool stuff you can win! ...

More on how to enter later.  Let's get on with my back to school tips and freebies!

I've been back in school for 3 solid weeks now.  

So far, I've made exactly 10 different schedules!! Can anyone relate? 
That's GOT to be the worst part about back to school!! 

Our school is running different class and PE schedules on Monday/Wednesday, Tuesday/Thursday, and a whole different schedule on Friday!! 
I only THOUGHT scheduling was tough in the past! 
I''ve now survived a whole new level of scheduling nightmares!
Neither I nor the kids can remember when the heck I see them for speech so I did something I hadn't done in years- I made notes for them to know when to come to speech. 
We displayed these in their classrooms or the older kids taped them in their school planners.  You can grab these Whooo's coming to Speech notes HERE if you'd like! 

The best part about back to school?  The kiddos! 

This year I have lots of fun planned for their therapy sessions both IN and OUT of my room! 
If you've read my previous BACK TO SCHOOL post you'll have already seen my new classroom and the activities that I used to start the school year with a bang.  You can read more about them HERE and HERE 

I'll admit that the first 3 weeks of school have officially kicked my bootay.... and made me realize I needed to get better organized AND tweak a few things! 

Here's what I've been tweakin....

not to be confused with twerking (ewwww)

I  tweaked my student behavior system

This year my students will be able to save up our school currency {colt cash!} to buy prizes in my room simply by following my 4 simple rules that I talked about in my previous back to school post. 
I found these cute paper pockets on Etsy and put magnets on the back.  I used to have an entire prize store.  This year I have narrowed it down to 2 choices- a little prize or a big prize.  

I found a cute owl treasure chest on Oriental Trading that went perfectly with my owl theme.  At the end of each session, if students followed my rules, they earn 1 colt cash.  They can stash the cash in their pocket (to save up for a prize) or spend spend spend (if they have enough cash).  Of course, extra sweetness gets ya more Colt Cash! 

While it's back to school time, you can grab the Behavior to Hoot About sign HERE  

Sidenote: My latest obsession: these sweet peel and stick chalk labels and chalk markers from Hobby Lobby that I used to embellish the little paper pockets 

I'm sticking them on everything!! 

I'm tweaking the way I recognize student achievement! Even the smallest achievements!

Seriously y'all, school is hard- much harder than when we were kids.  
I see stressed out teachers and beaten down kids everyday.  
Who better to spread some positive vibes than us? 
We work in a care centered profession in a not-so-care-centered world.  I'm on a mission to boost self-esteem and make kids feel proud of every little success 
(Let's face it, most of the children we work with struggle). 

Since this is my first time EVER with a hall bulletin board, 
I'm excited to be able to give my kids shout outs for the whole school to see!! 
Due to confidentiality I will only use first names but the kids will still know it's them that I'm praising when their name is on my bulletin board, and I think they will be excited to "make the board" as either hardest worker, most responsible with homework, most improved speech, best behavior, or GRADUATION!  You can grab the components to this bulletin board HERE.  Hurry! If you miss this freebie, you can still find this HERE.

I'm also excited to have already started dishing out some certificates for awesomeness. I've got a stash of certificates all ready- for everything from returning speech homework regularly -to reaching to goal -to mastering a sound, and more and more and more.  Even losing a tooth or having a birthday are great reasons to celebrate! And what I really can't wait for is to start handing out speech diplomas!! 
These 2 are just a couple of certificates from my bundle of 41 Speech and Language certificates and diplomas.

I'm tweaking my shabby old coarticulation binder and giving it a facelift

It was time to retire it. It was tattered and torn.  Man oh man, I should have taken a photo of it before I chunked it in the garbage.  Sadly, I have no photo of it.  I will miss it.  It was a good sidekick - circa 1995- may it rest in peace. 

You see, when I was a graduate assistant at LSU in 1995 , a professor assigned me to create a list of all phonemes in every context in every length of utterance - using the coarticulation environments. It was all the lists you'd ever need to do articulation therapy.  If you haven't read my post on coarticulation, you gotta check it out.  Coarticulation is good stuff! 

Anyway, from that assignment,  my coarticulation binder was born, and it's still alive and kicking today,  but now the lists are more current and more extensive.  I'm updating the old list one sound at a time.  You can find lists with /r/, vocalic r and /r/ blends, voiceless and voiced th, /l/, /l/ blends, /h/ and /j/ in my TpT store. More lists are being added all the time :) 

So now it's shiny and new and organized- along with a snazzy cover you can  download HERE if you want one of your very own.  
My previous post about coarticulation has a voiceless th freebie list for you and now you can also grab voiced th RIGHT HERE  {free only during this blog hop!} or in my store
Finally, I'm making a system for managing my forgetfulness!

I turned 40 this year.  I tell people that I used to be a computer but now I just feel like  an adding machine.  I need sticky notes everywhere and reminders jotted on my board OR I WILL LOSE EVERYTHING - possibly including my mind! 

Well,  if you follow me on Instagram,  you've seen my secret weapon to make sure I don't lose all of my loot this year (and I've heard your pleas for my borrowed materials sign!)  

Yep, I'm keeping track of borrowed materials.  Let's face it, SLPs have the coolest, most clever and most fun stuff! Everyone is jealous :) This check out sheet posted on a bulletin board in my room will help me get my goodies back...
because I know darn well I will not remember who borrowed what
You can grab it HERE for a short time if you {like me} need a little help in this area :) 
If you missed this uber cute form, catch it here. 

Now that you've snatched up a few freebies {and possibly some ideas you can use}  let's get back to blog hop business...

Pssstt... don't miss it...^^^^^ that was my secret letter
 Good Luck unscrambling the words :) 

Now hop to the next fabulous blog for more back to school fun and your next clue! 
OR click on the images below if you want to go back to the first blog (to start from the beginning) or skip to the last blog (to enter the raffle after you've gathered all of the letters and think you know the secret words), but be sure to hop through every blog so you don't miss any great back to school tips or freebies! 


Hope you enjoyed your hop through my blog! Please consider following me here and there: 

Happy Hopping and Good Luck!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tongue Depressors that won't make you gag :)

Kelly over at Speech2U inspired me to write about 3 ways to use popsicle sticks and tongue depressors in therapy. 
(besides the obvious of holding popsicles and depressing tongues of course!). 

As part of her Third Thursday Three for All, Kelly challenged SLPs to tell creative ways they use these in therapy. You know you all have these hiding away in a cabinet :)

So here are my 3 fun ways: 
{Actually there's 4! I just couldn't decide!!} 

1) Make-a-Rainbow (DIY) STICK GAME! 

This is one of my very favorite ways to use tongue depressors that I blogged about in February!! 
It's great for reading practice, speech practice, basic reading comprehension, and reasoning. 
You can read all about how to make and and use it HERE and catch the freebie to use for the DIY in my store by clicking HERE

2) A Twist on the French Fry Articulation Game! 

There are loads of french fry artic games out there- this is my version- super simple and amazingly irresistable to kids....

First you have to convince some nice person at McDonald's to hook you up with some free french fry containers. 
Disclaimer: This is not as easy as it sounds! 

I like the little baby french fry containers that you get in a happy meal these days.  
Sidenote: my own children are grown so I hadn't ordered a happy meal in years. 
When I saw these baby fry containers a few months ago....well, first I thought it was the Happy Meal toy..... then I thought it was a joke.  
 I LOL'd for real.  
Now that the shock has worn off, I just think they're just too cute so I tried to score some. 
Not easy. 
I even offered to pay for them but it was a NO GO for some of these hardcore McD employees.  
It took me a few tries to find a nice McDonald's employee to give me some.  One resistant cashier only gave me three but then I hit the motherload one day when one of the cashiers recognized me as someone who worked at her elementary school. OH YEAH!  
(see motherload below!) 

Kids cannot resist these- just the thought of french fries at school makes them happy.                                        

Honestly, it makes me happy, too.   
To play is simple.  Each child gets a container.  They spin the spinner to see how many times they have to say their sound, word, phrase or sentence and that's also the number of "french fries" they get to put in their container.

Either when a timer rings, you run out of popsicle sticks or the session is over, the child with the most sticks wins! 

Easy, peasy and motivating!
 I can get TONS of drill knocked out using this!
3)  Mustache in the Mirror
Ok is it me or do kids just NOT focus on themselves in the mirror??? When I'm trying to work on articulator placement, I whip out my mirror.  We are SLPs.  We ALL USE THE MIRROR.   Why oh why don't kids LOOK in them!?   The look at me, they look at each other, they look all over the room.  I could NOT for the life of me get them to focus on their face in the mirror let alone their mouth.  Problem solved...

I put paper mustaches on popsicle sticks and now they LOVE looking at themselves in the mirror. They look right at their mouths like I've been dreaming of!! These mustaches are magic I tell you!! Most of the little ones beg to bring them home, too.   

4) Articulation Cans 

Since my kids LOVE to play the pick a stick rainbow game so much, I decided to make more activities with sticks.   I am getting bored to death of using articulation cards and having students repeat sounds targets.  I decided to create articulation cans- cans full of sticks with target sounds pictures on them to use for therapy. I found about ten thousand tongue depressors in my cabinets when I moved rooms over the summer so this activity made good use of those! 

Did you catch the blond cutie pie above?  She happens to be my friend's daughter (which is why I have permission to post her picture) and her grandfather owns a paint store.  Her "Pops" gave me a couple dozen pint paint cans.  I used to use them as part of my behavior incentive system but now they are my articulation cans.  

Here's how I made the articulation cans and how I use them: 

1) I wrapped the cans with pretty paper.  If you don't have "connections" at the paint store, you can buy these for mere cents at any paint store.  If you give a sob story about them being for your classroom,  the store may even donate them! 

2) I made myself some cute labels. You can have them, too.  (more on that in a minute). I decided to combine sounds in one can (like k/ and /g/, /d/ and /t/, etc) so that I didn't need so many cans. 

3) Then I made little tongue depressor sized pictures for each phoneme (and blends). 

I laminated them (not really necessary) and ran them through my zyron machine to add adhesive to the back of them. 
It's just easier than adding adhesive to each one.  
Then I cut out the little tongue depressor sized pictures. 

I cannot tell a lie.  It took a long time. 
I did it while watching reality TV (guilty pleasure) . 
Also,  somehow I find cutting lamination therapuetic. 
{ Is it just me ? } 

I learned that there are 2 different sizes of tongue depressors.  These fit the slightly larger ones.  Mine were the smaller variety so I just cut these a little toward the inside of the line.  

Then I stuck them on my tongue depressors ! Voila! 
There are sticks for /r/, vocalic r, /r/ blends, /s/, /z/, /s/ blends, sh, ch, j, /l/, /l /blends, /k/, /g/, /f/, /v/, /t/, /d/, /b/, and /p/. Whew. 


Back at the ranch (my speech room).....
I slapped my labels on my cans and plopped the phoneme sticks in the corresponding cans! 
(oh you can have the cute sign, too.) 

Here is how I have used them so far: 

1) Students come in and grab their can.  The sticks inside will be their target words for therapy that day rather than me calling out words or flipping sound cards.  I will tell you it got a little "clangy" so I put a little swatch of fabric in each can and that took care of that.  Students either said the word represented on the stick or they made a sentences, etc, according to which level they are working on. 

2) While I drill with other students in the group, I have the students who are waiting their turn pick sticks and sort them by initial, medial and final sounds. Good for building phonemic awareness and for getting them thinking about which part of the word they need to focus on when it's their turn to try that word! They just plop each stick in the corresponding square of their paper.  Keeps hands and brains busy!

OR for students who can write, they can pick sticks while they wait and write a sentence about each stick. Then they can take it home for speech homework! 

3) Finally, I can use these as a ticket out the door.  After therapy is over, as the kids leave my room, they pick one stick from their sound can- one last chance to show of their skills! 

If you want to try the articulation cans, you can read more about them and grab everything you need to make them (except the tongue depressors, cans, and the paper to wrap around them) HERE 

Thanks Kelly for inspiring this post! 
Happy therapizing!

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Saturday fun and a SALE!

Hi everyone, I hope this Saturday finds you relaxing or doing something fun!! 
As for me and my bunch, we spent the morning dishing out and selling jambalaya plates for my son, Riley's, high school band fundraiser. 

Outside.   In south Louisiana.

IT.   WAS.   HOT....

 but it was fun----and I got a free facial from standing over the jambalaya pot :)


That's my baby.   Growing up too fast.  Is he cute, or what?  Even better, he's a sweetie.

Now I'm off to shop for shoes and some neccesities for my "speech room."  
I hope I hit a shoe sale!! 

Speaking of sales, tomorrow is Teacher Pay Teacher's big Back to School SALE!
Everything at my store will be 20% off PLUS with code BTS13, TpT will give you an extra 8% off! 
That's 28% off my whole store - all 66 of my products- 
Sunday August 18 and Monday August 19 only!

Thanks to my friend Jennifer at Speech Universe for the owl graphic!

See ya at the sale! My cart is already full! 



Sunday, August 11, 2013


Welcome to the Back to School SLP Blog Hop!  

This is your chance to collect great back to school ideas, win prizes and get freebies by touring 17 fantastic SLP blogs!
 Use the Linkytools at the bottom of this post to hop around our 17 blogs, collect ideas and grab the clues!

I hope you'll make it through my BACK TO SCHOOL blog post and read more about the blog hop at the end :)  I have lots to share with you! 

I've already gone BACK TO SCHOOL!! I admit it was a shock to my system but I returned on  August 5 and it has been full speed ahead since then!! 

This year our busting-at-the-seams primary school got temporary buildings and I was moved to a REAL classroom!! This is my 19th school year as an SLP and this is the first time I have a real room all to myself!! I almost don't know what to do with myself! 

(parts of this door sign can be found here so you can make your own) 

I spent many days this summer moving into my new room.  
I wanted to make it feel like home.  I mean, it is my home away from home.  
So in getting ready for a new school year in a new room, here are the things I've been working on...

1) DECOR!! 

Ok decor many seem trivial, but I am all about having a cute room!! 
I want it to be happy and welcoming for my students! 

I've had an owl theme for the past 4 years and I just had to keep it. All of my students (and the whole school!) know I love owls and I've gotten so many sweet owl gifts from them that I couldn't bear to ditch it. 

For the first time EVER, I have a bulletin board in the hallway outside of my room! I'm so excited! I decided to stick with the owl theme and use it to spread some positive vibes out into the hallway.  
"Owl-ways be your best yOU!"
Good words for all of us, I think. 

I cut out the owl and the blue letters on my cricut and purchased border and cute colorful circles.  Then I typed up a bunch of positive messages: 
"Be unique"  "Be kind"  "Be awesome"  "Be friends"  "Be Confident" 
Those can be found here but are free this week only! 
My funky doodle letters above my dry erase board say "OWL-WAYS Use Your Very Best SPEECH!" 

(and here's a tip, these $4.99 stools from IKEA are perfect to haul around the school if you do RTI door to door like we often do) 

  2) Rules & Incentives

At my school, we don't call them rules; we call them "expectations."  
So I post my Speech Expectations although I rarely encounter behavior problems. 
Students who follow the expectations receive our school currency - colt cash.
They can use it to buy privileges during the school year or prizes from ME!

*You're not seeing things.  Yes, I have a full size fridge in my room.  Yes, I am spoiled to work in a fabulous and generous school system. :)

But anyway, I covered the back of my 2 file cabinets with fabric, and this is where I post my expectations.  Students earn cash for following expectations and keep them in their cute little paper pockets on the fridge (magnet on back) and can choose to save them up or spend them on my prize box.

Oh and there's good ole Ned's Head perched atop the fridge!! You can read about one of the many things I do with him HERE. 


With all this space, I'm finally feeling organized. I bought lots of blue fabric bins at Target and they happened to fit perfectly on my bookshelf (which my husband thankfully put a new coat of gray paint on). 
I made my own tags so I can know what is in each bin (no hunting!)  Since I need my TpT products and purchases handy all the time, I put them in large envelopes and keep them at hand in baskets I got for 1 buck each!! 

And since I had all of this wall space, I decided to make it functional!! 
The bulletin boards are just foam boards that I bought at Hobby Lobby for $3 each.  
I covered them with batting and cotton fabric and stapled everything securely on back.  I cut out letters and stuck them on!! 
A space to display student art and work 
AKA "work to hoot about!" 


Yep, I'm planning for interruptions! At my school not only am I an SLP, I'm also what my district calls the "lead teacher" for all of our special education staff.  I get lots of visitors and traffic in my room- paraprofessionals, special ed. teacher, administrators, general ed. teachers, other SLPs, and so on and so on.  Sometimes that makes therapy without interruptions difficult almost impossible. This year I'm planning for interruptions. 

First of all, I made a to0-cute sign for my door 
(that you can grab for free HERE

Secondly, I'm using my wall space so that when I do get an interruption, my students will no longer have to sit idle while adults speak to me. 

So remember that big empty green board?  
Well, it is now my PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT board.  The plan is that if I have to stop therapy to handle a "lead teacher" issue momentarily, students will go to the board and....

a) language students will know to read the words and make sentences with them. 

b) articulation students will know to find words or pictures that have their sound in them and practice saying them. If they are non readers- there are also pictures on the board to choose to say instead
 (after straining their brains to figure out if it has their sound -  I love that:)

When my visitor is gone, they will return to our therapy activity tout de suite!
I think we can get into that routine rather quickly.  I think this practice makes perfect board will be great for reading practice AND making students think about which words actually are their "problem" words. 

This is how I did it: 

I'm still working on it.  It's a work in progress until I find more mini clothespins!!  I made lots words and pictures to put on there-  enough to change them out regularly. 

When I'm all done this board will be covered  with words (*sigh* I love words) and I will pop it right back up on my wall. You can make your own board, if you like, because the title and cards are all part of my freebie :) Catch it during this August only!  If you missed it, you can still grab it here. 


Ok so this really is the most important part, and now that my room is cute and cozy, I'm ready to get down to therapy.  

So what do I have planned for my first week of therapy?  
Well, after the get-to-know-yous,  we will be doing BACK TO SCHOOL TRIVIA AND GAMES. I do these trivia games year round- you can find them in my TpT Store for summertime and Christmas.  

This trivia can be used multiple ways, but I like to add some time pressure. It's a great way assess my students' communication after their long summer break away from therapy.  I split the students into 2 teams - or put them one against another- and ask these fun trivia questions.  The first one to ring in (with my handy dandy service bells) and answer correctly gets a point.  For my kids who can't handle the competition, we play using the board game (and skip the time pressure). 

Since students are eager to spontaneously answer and earn a point, I get a true picture of their artic and fluency skills. I also get a good feel for their ability to answer questions. 
Plus, it's fun!  

Secondly, my articulation students will be playing School Time Quick Drill.  Why? 

If you want to include either of these activities in your first week of therapy, you can find them HERE and HERE for a bargain! 

STILL WANT MORE?  Let's get back to the BLOG HOP!

What can you win? 
5 winners will win a goodie basket of TpT products 
1 GRAND PRIZE WINNER will receive the bundle of TpT products in addition to
* a TpT gift card for $50
* School of Multi-Step Directions App from Virtual Speech Center
*Articulation Station Pro App from Little Bee Speech 
* Kid in Story App from Locomotive Labs

{Thank you to these awesome companies!  Don't you just love their apps???!  If you like getting chances to win cool apps like these, please take a second to "like" their facebook pages and thank them for their donation.  Tell them that the Back to School SLP Blog Hop sent ya!} 
How do you enter? 
* You must decode a secret message (that consists of 17 words- one from each blog)
* In order to complete this task, you will need to visit each of the 17 blogs and find the OWL CLUE
* The owl clue will include 1 word that is part of the secret message. 
* Once you know the secret message, you can enter it into rafflecopter on any of the 17 blogs between August 11 and August 17! 

What would you win from ME if you win the TpT Goodies? 

I'm contributing my Brown Bear, Brown Bear Speech, Language & Literacy Companion
with 36 pages of activities to do after reading one of my favorite BACK TO SCHOOL books! 

I hope you enjoy reading through the blog posts, downloading the freebies, and participating in our Blog Hop! 

Here is my part of the secret message! 

Good luck
and HERE is one last link to my freebie exclusively for my readers and blog hoppers! 
Please consider following me.....well....everywhere...

-Mia" rel="nofollow">a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget