Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What's going on in my speech room this spring….

After a real winter here in South Louisiana (we don't get too many of those), Spring has officially sprung! My husband is an avid gardener and he is in the process of whipping our yard and gardens into shape.  I wish I could brag that I have been knee deep in Spring cleaning, but alas, I have not been.  As any school SLP knows, this time of the school year is CRAZY BUSY and when I get home, all I can muster the strength to do is:

a) a little more school paperwork
b) collapse into a heap
c) take a nap
d) lounge around like a useless lump
e) have an adult beverage

Please make me feel less worthless by telling me you can relate?

Now since I can't do most of those things during school hours, 
things are still hopping in my speech room. 
Here's a peek at the action in case you are interested or need ideas for activities to get you through the next few weeks! 


We are using EETchy to write all about Spring. I can't even express how much the EET program helps my 4th grade students organize their thoughts (by prompting them what to focus on).  For this activity I actually wrote the topic sentence for them which was "Today is the first day of Spring." Then they used their small EETchy strands to create the rest of the paragraph.  It always results in a nicely organized paragraph which I love.  For homework, my students have to read their paragraph to adults (teachers, parents, etc.) and get everyone who reads it to sign and comment. 

Since figurative language is something I like to hit on all year long (not just during the 1-2 weeks they address it in the classroom), I have been also using this Spring Idioms product from FigurativelySpeechingSLP

I use Speech with Sharon's  awesome Idiom of the Week product year round, but for spring it's fun to address seasonal idioms.  I use both of these for push in/inclusion as well as small group therapy.  The kids love sticking their pencils through the answer they think is correct and then self-checking on the backside.  

My language students are also reading  about Easter around the World. Yep, I have caved and have moved toward non-fiction text (I will never abandon the fiction, though!) 

We will probably be doing this continually all the way until Easter because we have 22 passages (and the questions) to get through.  

These short passages that my students can actually digest are perfect for tackling comprehension skills (compare/contrast, main idea, making inferences, giving opinions, listening for details, etc).  

We painstakingly read and discuss each one and conquer the questions.   

Luckily, my kiddos are super interested in this so they don't protest.  I mean, did YOU know that in Australia there are Easter dilbies instead of Easter bunnies??  Cool stuff.  I also use it for Push in/Inclusion  and loan it to ELA teachers to use with all of their classes. 

I've found it high interest and useful for multiple skills. 

As usual, some of my mixed groups are working on skills using open ended board games. 

With my younger students who aren't quite ready for Easter around the World, we are reading Hopper Hunts for Spring, one of my favorite storybooks for his time of year. 

For my kids who need work on even answering just basic wh-questions, we are using my Easter Questions packet.   I printed all 87 questions in white and then I printed them again on colored card stock according to which type or question they were.  For instance, who questions on green, why questions on blue, etc. for when I need to grab a specific type for a lesson.  Even for my kids who are capable of answering these, I've been using them to work on restating the question in their answers- something they expect from our students on tests. 

Just today I started using my Easter Barrier games with my students who struggle with listening comprehension.  They asked for clarification on directions they didn't understand and we practiced subvocalizing the directions back to themselves before attempting tasks.  It's been a great strategy for one of my students in particular.  

In this instance, we didn't use a barrier. I used it as a listening and following directions game and wanted to be able to see what she was doing so that we could discuss it. 
I absolutely love these kind of games for articulation carryover also. 


We have been doing a lot of dot art. It's just so easy to whip out, and my students love it.  
For little bitty kiddies, I let them dot paint one circle per word we drill.  For readers, I write words on the circles that they need to practice, and then have them say the word or make a sentences, etc., depending on the level they are on.  
The fun colors of Easter are perfect for dot art! 

           I have one little cutie who can't stand to get paint anywhere on her. In fact, when I get paint on myself she is distraught for the whole session.  For her, we use the magnetic tokens instead of dot paint.  Who doesn't love love love cleaning up those magnetic tokens with the magic wand!?? 

These dot art pages are part of my Easter Fun Pack and Spring Fun Pack

I have a list of seasonal target words for all seasons and holidays and love to drill with those words.  

We have also been playing Funny Bunny! Not only is this a great game for Spring and Easter, it's one of my all-time favorite games in general.  Great reinforcement for kids! Nobody wants to fall into the holes in the hill and it's even easy for non-readers to play. 

We have been playing "Hello Spring" Quick Drill.  Man, oh, man, I was so tempted to have the kids dig these cards out of a flower pot of dirt to play the game but I thought that may have been going too far. 

Just today I stuffed our Hippity Hoppity Quick Drill Cards into plastic Easter Eggs.  
Gotta love a fun, engaging twist! 
Just wait to see what else I am going with these plastic eggs (coming soon!!) 

^^^ Or you can just put the cards in an Easter basket! ^^^

We have also been doing some intense drill (taking turns in groups) and I use these scratch art Easter Eggs from Oriental Trading to occupy the students while they wait their turn for drill.  You can see in the picture I also have "speech homework" to send home.  No one escapes my room without homework these days.  I'm on serious homework kick!      

I love Oriental Trading's scratch art! 

If you follow me on Instagram (and you totally should because it's currently my fave place to post) , you'll know that I recently dug out my Easter Craft box.  I have one for each holiday and it's like a little Christmas  each year when I open it.  I always forget what crafty goodies I had leftover from the year before.  It's always a fun surprise….

For example, I forgot that I owned a bunny headband! 
Must flaunt it again this year. 

Last but not least, we are doing our Stamp-A-Story for Easter. I use this in all kinds of therapy sessions.  It's great for retelling, sequencing, grammar, articulation carryover, fluency carryover, or you name it. 

We make silly stories, read them, present them to the class. We sometimes explain the absurdities. My articulation students highlight "their sounds" if they need a visual reminder when they read theirs to the group or class. The possibilities are really limitless.  You can grab this one HERE for zero bucks.  It's a freebie in my store! Again, students have to bring their silly story home, read it to others, and have them sign & comment (and return it to me).  If you don't have rubber stamps, I don't know how you manage, I use them for so much! 

If any of these activities sound fun or useful to you, guess what…. you can win them! 
Win any 3 of my products mentioned here PLUS Figuratively Speeching SLP's Spring Idioms packet!!  The winner will be announced on Friday! 
Just enter below, and I'd love to hear what's hopping in your speech room! 

Happy Spring, Y'all! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The good ole Popsicle Stick...How do I use it?

Last year, 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!).  

Now Miss Speechie at Speech Time Fun is linking up for more popsicle stick fun! 

 You know you all have these hiding away in a cabinet :)
So here's how I use them...

1) Make-a-Rainbow (DIY) STICK GAME! 

This is one of my very favorite ways to use tongue depressors that I have blogged about before. 
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! 

I've also had so so so many wonderful messages from SLPs all over the country telling me they use these for storytelling, vocabulary, sentence building and more! Wow! Wish I had thought of that first!  You can read the feedback at my TPT store to learn more 

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

AND due to popular demand, I now have an expansion pack for the articulation cans- more sounds and more than double the sticks! 220 MORE ARTIC sticks!! I don't know what I'd do without mine now that I've been using them since August! 

Thanks Kelly for inspiring my original post and thanks to Miss Speechie for the fun linky party. Read more about how other awesome SLPs use popsicle sticks in their therapy rooms here. 

Happy therapizing!

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget