Sunday, March 26, 2017

It's Spring ~ Fresh Ideas for Speech Therapy

I waited and waited for winter, and it came and visited for 2 days then left us with just months of BLAH. This week, however, it is certainly clear that SPRING has sprung!

The day lillies are flourishing, and our roses are in full force! 

My hubby has been working away in the gardens. I don't really touch dirt, but I do cheer for him from my reading chair.  Even the Black-Eyed Susans are raring to do (a little early this year). 

I'm throwing this next pic in just for the purposes of joy. 
New Orleans shutters and porches just make me happy.  I love Spring! 
It's one of the few times in South Louisiana that we don't sweat buckets everyday. 

Everywhere I went this week, Spring was looking right at me. 
Hello, cookies, you're beautiful but bad for me. 

Check out this adorable bulletin board I spied at a school this week. 

Yes, we are still in school; we haven't even had our Spring Break yet.  Have you? 
RIGHT NOW is - hands down - the busiest time of year for SLPs - at least in our district. 
This is how my fellow SLPs and I are feeling....

No, I'm not even exaggerating a little bit. :( 

To get you through Spring, the Frenzied SLPs are here to offer some fresh ideas for therapy...

There are so many spring themed books, that it's not hard to find some that are stories perfect for Spring. I always like to bring in props for my little ones to manipulate when using storybooks. I scored these Eric Carle goodies years ago when they were offered in Happy Meals, but any bug toy or plush will do the trick. Check out my favorite springtime book and activities HERE

Feeding the caterpillar both articulation cards AND basic concepts are both a staple (and a crowd pleaser) in my therapy. 

^^^^Somehow they never bore of it ^^^^

Another staple is Roll and Cover (for articulation drill!), 

and I use these springtime foam beads for so many things- lacing making necklaces, roll and cover, and for hiding items in (like for my Spring quick drill game below). You get 1,000 of these little boogers for just a few bucks at Oriental Trading. 

If you don't have anything to hide the cards in, that's totally fine. Kids like quick drill even just facedown on a table.  It's strangely addictive, and they love seeing which cards they will pick. 

One of my go-to games for spring therapy is Jumping Jack! Think "pop up pirate" except with a bunny! It's super reinforcing for any skill, because after they've performed a skill just the way I like, they get to pull a carrot from Jack's bunny hill. With my little ones - whoever makes Jack jump wins the game. With my older ones, you lose if you make Jack jump (yes, I get to make the rules :). 

I also use it with this little dollar store bunny tower game I picked up years ago for a buck... (I still see it every year at Target or Walmart so keep your eyes peeled). 

Kids can dot/daub or color the carrots after saying the target X times. This awesome packet has language targets, too, but I happened to use it with the articulation ones yesterday. It's my new favorite, and it was a hit with one little client in particular.  I'll be using it with my little ones well through Easter - and probably pull it out anytime I'm in a time crunch. 

Something else I whip out in a time crunch is a good old cut and paste activity.  For groups, it gives everyone something to do while waiting their turn to drill.  Best of all? These Spring cut, color and paste pages require absolutely no prep - Just print & use (for the days you are feeling frenzied). 

Another favorite game of mine is Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt Game by Educational Insights. I bought this for my preschoolers, but even the big kids love it. Be the first to collect the colored carrots you need for your basket to win the game (or the MOST carrots- again I make the rules)! Like most games by this company, there is also a fine motor component, but if it's too hard for my kids, I just let them grab the carrots with their fingers.  

As you can see, sometimes kids need TWO baskets which is fine with me because the game lasts longer!

When I only have one client, I get to play against them :) 

It's under 10 bucks at Amazon and, nope, I don't get paid to hustle it; I just love it. 

Of course, speech homework is a must. I use these (and more) pages from my Spring Fun Pack

For me, artic dot art is also a must to get ton of repetitions in with zero moaning and groaning. 
It makes for great homework, too.  Win-win.  

It's also just a great follow up activity after reading that classic caterpillar story.  

Speaking of dot art, if you're into craftivities, this one is another great follow up activity to the Very Hungry Caterpillar... Coffee Filter Butterflies! I have my students paint the coffee filters with dot paint/bingo daubers (like the one pictures above) to minimize the mess.  I purchased the butterfly bodies years ago at a craft store, but a colored or painted clothespin does the trick, too. Then we use pipe cleaners to make the antennas.  Super cute, huh? 

Lately, I've been using the heck out of my new interactive book for Spring
It's hands-on and lots of fun. Sure, it takes a little time to make, but now I'll be able to use it forever... 

...with both verbal and non-verbals kids. 

The velcro and visual answer choices make it easier for kids with autism to respond and the hands-on factor keeps all my "babies" engaged. They even ask to do it again and again. For the older students who can read but need practice answer questions, I use the question cards that are more removed from the book and the questions are posed after the whole book has been read.  

I just love little hands engaging with a book. 

Today I'm trying out Spring Cariboo with a little guy for the first time (before it hits my TpT store tonight or tomorrow). Do you have Cariboo?? Honestly, you can use this with or without Cariboo, but it's definitely more fun with the Cariboo game.  

I hope this post inspires you to get your Spring themed therapy on :)  
Check out all of the Frenzied SLPs posts below to get even more fresh ideas.  
Happy Spring to you! 
Please feel free to link up with us and share what YOU are doing in your speech room these days!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

St. Patrick's Day Therapy is Always Magical!

Call me crazy, but Christmas is not my favorite holiday. It always makes for great family memories but also comes with lots of pressure and chaos.  I love holidays that are just ALL about fun- easy, breezy fun times.  That's why I always look forward to Halloween, Mardi Gras, Cinco de Mayo, and St. Patrick's Day! It's fun being a school SLP for St. Patrick's Day.  All the kids try to wear something green (without violating the dress code) and worry about getting pinched. I stayed equipped with green stickers to ward off meanie pinchers. With my after school clients, it's just as fun.
 I LOVE St. Patrick's Day therapy! 
I It's weird and wacky and kind of pointless, and I can't get enough of it. I start on March 1 and don't stop the "leprechaun magic" (and everything GREEN and rainbows) until March 17. 

Since I was lucky enough to be given a Cariboo game (thanks to a parent of a former student with autism), we definitely get our Cariboo on!! This year, we actually played outside in the yard because Spring seems to have come early! 

This little guy happens to need to work on wh- questions (so many of our kids do!) Isn't is just CRAZY how motivating this game is?  Just to get the treasure chest to slowly open (and they they want to do it all over again which is FINE with me!) 
See this game HERE. 

Of course, dot art is a staple in my articulation therapy, and who doesn't love rainbows? So we have definitely been going some St. Patty's dot art. 

I love dot art (for any skills but mostly artic) because you can sneak tons of practice in and the kids just think they're painting. *win-win.

I love it even more because you can send it home for "speech homework" and kids get even more practice that way (if their parents are on board). 

See all those little pictures? That means kids don't need to be able to read to know what word to practice. I use this the most with non-readers - especially preschoolers. Getting to "dot" a word after saying it (once, twice, three times) is immediately rewarding. 

Of course, it also dresses up the therapy room with St. Patty's masterpieces, too, which is always a plus. You can find this dot art HERE. It's absolutely no prep- just print and use- and has a page for all of these phonemes.../p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /k/, /g/, /f/, /v/, /h/, /j/, /w/, /m/, /n/, "sh," "ch," " j," /l/, /l/ blends, /s/, /z/, /s/ blends, /r/, vocalic r, variations of vocalic r, and /r/ blends 

I probably sound like a broken record always blabbing about quick drill, too, but it's a MUST for also getting tons of artic repetitions in therapy! If you've used these, you know exactly what I mean. 

If you haven't you should try it! They're the simplest low prep games that kids BEG for - which is crazy because they're super simple - because they're sort of addictive. 

I like putting the quick drill cards in a themed "container" sometimes just to shake things up. This little treasure chest full of gold coins was just perfect. If you want to check out quick drill, there are tons right HERE and this one is called Lucky Dog.

Of course, we all have students or clients working on listening and/or following directions. To keep their little hands busy (to fool them into thinking they're not working), I like to use "color" or "cut" while working on this skill.  Here is a "listen and color" activity.

Of course, before practicing a skill, we should always "teach" it (or a strategy) first. Practicing without teaching is just constant assessment and we don't want to fall into that trap. 
I really like visuals to teach strategies for skills I target with my little guys. 

Now I've blogged about this DIY game before BUT I have to mention it again, because it's a student favorite as well as one of my favorites for so many skills. If you follow the link to that blog post (the highlighted words, there's a freebie you can grab). 

I call it "Make a Rainbow" game, and it is great for assessing articulation carryover, perfect for basic reading comprehension, super for problem solving/reasoning, and just surprisingly challenging for all kids. The object of the game is to collect sticks that form the colors of a rainbow - which is why I love it for March but I use it year 'round. It's definitely worth the time and effort to put it together with a little paint and craft sticks.

You can grab the {free} cards in my store HERE

Another "staple" for articulation therapy (or any skill drill really) is roll and cover. We use the ever-popular magnetic tokens which kids love to clean up with a magic wand after. These are just one page in a big pack of speech and language activities for St. Patrick's Day

Here's another from that packet that is a "go-to" to send home for articulation homework around St. Patty's Day! 

Sooooo I am addicted to the foam beads that you can buy in bulk for every holiday and season (I happen to buy mine from Oriental Trading). Making a necklace out of these is always a BIG hit for each season. I attach yarn to a large plastic "needle." After little ones practice a skill or perform a task (or 2 or 3)  that I need them to do, they get to pick a foam beads to thread. It's simple and they love it. They can have as many beads as they earn (a cheap bag of these has around 1,000 beads so I let them have at it!!) Isn't this cute? They're a hit with the kids and the moms. 

I also love these St. Patrick sticker scenes from Oriental Trading. I use sticker scenes of all themes for my littlest ones. Again, they're great for busy hands and putting a sticker is immediately positive reinforcement of whatever skill we are working on. 

I can't forget the big kids. I LOVE doing language therapy with kids in 3rd-5th grades. Therapists at a primary school recently asked me to come help them with that population. Instead of going to advise, I asked to model therapy with a group of very unmotivated 4th graders. I knew I had to bring this packet of passages. 

The students started off with a "bad attitude;" one guy kept his head on the table. I just carried on and ignored that.  A couple of girls in the group got interested. Within 5 minutes even the two disconnected tough guys were fully engaged. I SWEAR.  NO KIDDING. 

When the session was over, they 2 SLPs were amazed. I explained to them that it WAS NOT ME. 
It was the content that pulled them in.  Our language kids HATE TO READ.  First, I did not make them read. I only had them listen and speak. Listening comprehension and speaking are the pre-requisites to reading comprehension and writing. When we build listening comp and speaking, we are building reading comp and writing, too. Secondly, I brought weird stuff for them to read.  
I firmly believe that if we have intriguing - and slightly wacky- content for reading and discussion, we reel these kids in.  Have you seen what they read in class?  It's often a snooze-fest. 

The secret is irresistible content. I swear by it. Engaged, interested students can learn.
These passages includes questions of all types including those that target inferencing, using evidence from the text to support answers, using context clues, comparing and contrasting, telling main idea, etc. The packet includes art and writing activities, too.
After reading each passage I reall like watching videos pertaining them when I can find them. That also helps boost engagement and spurs discussion.  
Find lots of high-interest, non-fiction reading HERE...

and this (strange but fun) packet of non-fiction passages all about lucky charms HERE

Lastly, I love love love a good open-ended game. Why? 
They're perfect for any skill and are life-savers for mixed groups.

This new addition to my St. Patty's therapy is an open-ended game called St. Patty's Cakes

Each child gets a card of the cupcakes he needs to throw his/her St. Patrick's Day party and has to pick cupcakes cards to find the one he/she needs. Like in all of my open ended games, there are wild cards that shake up the game!  The first person to collect all 5 cupcakes (or the most cupcakes if you run out of time) WINS! 

Friendly competition just makes this more fun and motivating, and of course, everyone loves cupcakes. This is what I'll be using this coming week! 

I hope you're walking away with some fun ideas for therapy during the month of March! 
If you want more you can read about more St. Patty's therapy HERE AND HERE (this one has a freebie!)

Thanks for stopping by and Happy St. Patrick's Day. Don't forget to wear your green! 

Jasper Roberts Consulting - Widget