Inspirations for therapists & parents 

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Apples for everyone: using apples with your middle school population

apples for everyoneWhen you look on pinterest and TPT, you will find TONS of materials for teaching with an apple theme.  It is a great teaching unit theme because apples are in season and are a strong part of what we associate with the autumn/fall season.  As I dabbled with all my online resources, I found that there wasn’t much out there that was appropriate for my middle school peeps.  My Independent Living Skills students are academically functioning between a 1st-3 rd grade level, so teaching about apples would be perfect for their language levels, but I needed to find materials that were not babyish while still covering functional vocabulary.

My ILS SDC teachers are doing agriculture this month for their community skills elective class that they are teaching, so I thought apple farming would work well for planning lessons.  Here’s what this dabbling speechie came up with!

I push into the students Community based elective class, so we started the class with watching two short videos about apples.  The first video is about the nutrition and the second is about apple farming.  After watching the videos, I had the teacher and the 4 teacher aids be in charge of different tables.  This class has both of the Independent Living Skills classrooms, so their are 22-24 students in there at one time.  All the students are verbal, but do best when there is a small group.

I showed Apple farming video that has really good visuals for vocabulary such as tractor, barrels of apples, orchard, and barn.

I found this book on amazon and decided to buy it because it was such a good price (amazon affiliate link included for your convenience).

At one table station, I had a teacher aid read the book to the students and ask them questions about apples.

apples 3

The students really enjoyed the pictures and the book was short enough to keep their attention span.

apples 1We had a taste test of different apples.  This activity covered two objectives.  One was to learn about initiating conversation with peers and giving your opinion about something.  I made visuals for my students on the autism spectrum that needed a little nudge to share.  It worked!!  The other objective was to work on math concepts: more, less, and equal.

apples 4Apple Unit FREEBIE by Khrys Bosland  has an awesome graphing sheet to record which apple was each student’s favorite.  I think a few students added two favorites (I wasn’t manning that station).

apples 5With my 7th grade RSP language students, we tasted apples and oranges and then compared/contrasted them.  We also worked on describing the taste with adjectives.  I used the videos above to have them work on memory strategies to recall details from the videos and identifying the main idea from the videos.  I have been working on taking notes with just the KEY information with 2-3 words.  They had to share facts from the videos using that strategy.

apples 2Autumn Apples Speech & Language Pack from Queen’s Speech was a great resource for working on describing apples and the vocabulary words for parts of the apple.  The pack includes mini book companions for some other great popular apple books.  I just ordered Apples by Gail Gibbons which is a great book to learn facts about apples.  There are question/answer cards about the book in this pack as well.

My students that need to work on making complex sentences got to use these pre-write graphs to create a paragraph about apples.  They could talk about what you can do with apples, describe an apple, share the nutritious information about apples or apple farming.  We are on our first draft and they liked it.  It was nice to bring in a healthy snack and watch my students be excited about eating the fruit.  This theme was adapted across many of my groups, so I hope you try some of these ideas during the apple harvest season! (408)

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Monday’s Motto: Get. Out. Of. Bed.

get out of bedIs it just me or does it feel like November vacation is a loooooonnnnngggggg ways away?  This girl has been struggling to get out of bed in the morning, let alone wake up early to make it to the gym.  Once I get to work, things have been fine, it’s just slow moving in the mornings.  My Monday’s Motto: get my booty out of bed ON TIME.  No more pressing snooze, snuggling under the warm blankets, rushing around the house, forgetting to eat breakfast, etc., etc., etc.

Jill Scott sings it best when she says “Gotta get up for another day”.  There are days when I wish I could be a kid again and just stay home and play.  But, somebody has to pay the bills.  To help my motto for the week, I am looking forward to my Friday Starbuck’s treat and have a little sweet treat for my lunch each day.  The hubby bought be some already made salads, so I don’t have to stress about making lunch in the morning.  How do you get through the weeks when your body and mind are laggin’?  Hope you got your game plan ready for how to survive another week in good spirits! (175)

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Monday’s Motto: Make Lemonade!

make lemonadeMy Monday’s motto is simple and to the point this week.  When life hands us not so great circumstances, we have to find a way to turn it into something sweet and positive.  Easier said than done, right!!??  There are parts of the SLP job that brings a sour, bitter taste to our mouths.  Most of you are probably screaming one of these fun words at the computer right now….PAPERWORK, HIGH CASELOADS, and MY CLOSET FOR A SPEECH ROOM!!

With most things in life, I have found that with all wonderful blessings, there is always an obstacle ready for me right around the corner.  Each year as I progress further as an SLP, I remember what my “lemon” was for the year and that turning point when I sucked up the sourness and decided to make something sweet out of the situation.  I wish I could go to happy hour with you all and swap stories because I have some of those “is this really happening to me” type of stories that can only be shared around a table with good drinks and snacks to share.

This year I have a caseload of 59 (it started at 55), a room that doesn’t have a bathroom next to it, materials to use with the ability to order more if need be, a great boss, supportive staff and of course, fun, amazing SLP’s to collaborate alongside.  My lemon this year, I hate to admit is working with middle school students.  Before you judge hear me out.  I love, love, love all of my Independent Living Skills students, my social-pragmatic students, my social-emotional students and my 7th grade girls that I get to teach language intervention.  My lemon is the 1/3 of my caseload that DOESN’T want to see me at all, no matter how nice, if the IPAD is dangled in front of them or if they get to pick the activity.  Even when I have brought in youtube videos there was still whining for the first 5 minutes of the session.  There have been a lot of moans and groans from some of my groups.  We are talking every single time I go to pick them up!  I even resorted to the mom lecture: “Sorry, but this is part of life.  We all have commitments that we need to fulfill that we don’t want to, so enough already!”  It worked enough to get them to my room and then the disgruntled looks and sighs continued the rest of the session. It’s not that I don’t want to work with middle school students, in fact I have some of my fondest memories working with this age group, but it is quite defeating when I have to battle them all session for compliance.

Middle school kids are really awesome when you can get them talking and participating.  So, after a couple of weeks of venting with my hubby, I decided it was time to bring in reinforcements.  A.K.A  hot cheetos, takis, sour patch candy, and Arizona ice tea.  I originally got these goodies for my students with social-emotional disorders as an incentive for expected behavior.  They have to have 4 sessions with more expected marks vs. unexpected marks to earn one of the above mentioned incentives.  I of course, called parents and checked with teachers before implementing this system.  It has been working awesome and my time with these students has been really “sweet” since starting this system.

Last week, when I had to go pick up my little cherubs because they wouldn’t come on down on their own, I couldn’t stand hearing the unpleasant comments, so in a moment of desperation I blurted out “will you work for hot cheetos?”  Well, I tell you ladies and gents, the little ones perked up, the complaining ended and we actually completed some work. Whew…..thank goodness I found something that worked!  The rest of the week went smoothly and the stress melted away.  I continue to remind myself that when faced with unhappy situations, it’s always best to find a solution rather than wallow in the muck wishing someone would just make it all go away because in most cases, no one is coming to rescue you!

Do I wish I didn’t have to provide snacks to students that really should be intrinsically motivated to come see me?  Yes, I do.  But I also recognize that this is a temporary solution to get buy in and I can fade this system with time.  So, I hope you are able to make something “sweet” this week and turn your trials into something positive to share.  I would love to hear your “making lemonade” story.  It always feels better knowing someone else has been there too. (334)

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You still have time to enter my GIVEAWAYS!

giveaway enterRight now I have 5 game giveaways going on and you have till Tuesday September 30th to enter for your chance to win!  Click on the pictures to take you to the game reviews and giveaways.

diggity dog 1Love this game and so did my speechies!

bubble talk baby in drawerBest game ever!!

pancake pile up 2Super fun game for your little ones!  I share some other fun tips on how to use the game pieces.

toss across 3Hands down, this game makes everyone happy even MOST of my middle school students (you can’t win them all over).

frozen spot it 2

All my kids love Frozen, so this is a great edition to your speech stash of materials!  Go enter and you may win!!

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Birthday Game Day #5: Spot It! Frozen GIVEAWAY

2nd game giveawayWe are on birthday bash game giveaway #5 and this next game is super cute!  All your peeps that love the movie FROZEN will be in heaven when you pull this game out in the therapy room.

frozen spot itBlue Orange Games has a new addition of Spot It! that is designed for children 3 and up.

frozen spot it 2It comes in a compact container, so it is easy to transport between your schools that you service.

frozen spot it 3

The game is played like the traditional Spot it! games.  There are different variations on how to play, but basically you have to find a match with one of the items on the cards.  There is always one card that has at least one item.  My son and I play where we each get one card and then put the rest of the deck face up.  Whoever spots an item on our card that matches something in the top pile, yells the word and gets to collect the cards.  Once all the cards are gone from the pile, whoever has the most cards wins.  This game is an amazing tool to work on executive functioning skills while having fun!  This helps with focus/attention, processing speed, impulse control and visual perception.  This also teaches letter identification and matching skills.

How I would use in therapy:

    • I would use this as a reinforcer for the end of therapy.  It is a quick game that can be played in 2-5 minutes.
    • The students needs to be able to identify their letters and know the items on the cards, so I would review these items in therapy and work on attributes for describing the words.  Then, we would play the game!
    • Before we played the game, I would use the characters from the movie Frozen and we would do a compare/contrast venn diagram.  The kids could explain who their favorite character was from the movie and why.  We could even do a little writing activity.  At the end of the activity, we would get to play the game!
    • For those little ones that aren’t there yet with knowing all their letters, I would use the cards to have them work on basic sentence structures such as “I see ____”.
    • I would target basic concepts above, below, next to, and beside having the students find items with the basic concept words.

Make sure you check out my other game giveaways that are going on this week! Pancake Pile-Up!, Bubble Talk, Toss Across and Diggity Dogs.

The people from Blue Orange want to share the love and give away this game to one of my followers!!  Woohoo!!  Enter below for a chance to win!

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Birthday Game Day #4: How would you use it? September GIVEAWAY

2nd game giveawayMy birthday blogging bash is still continuing with another fun GAME GIVEAWAY!  It’s time for my how would YOU use it? monthly giveaway and I am giving away a copy of the game Toss Across.  I have some kids that need to be distracted by a game while they are working and anything with bean bags is usually a winner.

how would you use it september

You can snag this fun game at amazon (affiliate links included).  I know my students love anything that involves throwing, so I picked this game up for my speech room.

This game can be played on the ground or on a table.  It isn’t super huge, so you could bring this along from site to site if you are a traveling SLP.

toss across 1It is 17 x 10.5 x 4.5 inches and very light weight.  It comes with 6 mini bean bags as well.  When you toss a bean bag and it hits a square, it will either be an X, O or a blank.  Whoever gets a tic tac toe wins the game, but the other opponents can knock out your X or O and change the status of the game.  You can also hit more than one square.

Speech Room News shares a great idea on how to use this game “articulation” style.

toss across 2I used my Fall Grammar & Vocabulary Pack to work on verbs and putting together simple sentences by taping the cards to the “blank” spots of the toss across game.  If the bean bag hits a square and spins a picture card, the student has to create a sentence.

toss across 3My older students working on social skills did a little Q & A with this game.  If the square landed on a Q, then they had to ask a question to a peer.  If they landed on an A, then they had to answer a question from myself or a peer.

How I would use in therapy:

  • Playing the game as a reinforcer is always a great option.  The turns are so quick, that you can get a lot of practice in between rounds.  Sometimes I do drill and kill for 5-10 minutes, then let the kids play for 2-3 minutes, then we are back at it again with practice.
  • Tape point cards to the game pieces and play a point style game.  Whoever has the most points at the end wins!  This would be used as a reinforcer for whatever speech or language target the student is working on.
  • Work on categories with this game.  Again, tape pictures of different items in a category and the student has to name and describe the item by attributes.
  • Practice turn taking, waiting, and the expected vs. unexpected behaviors for winning/losing a game.  Have the students pair up into teams to work on making encouraging comments when their peer does an awesome shot.

HOW WOULD YOU USE THIS GAME IN THERAPY?  I would love to know your ideas because when we all share our tips and tricks, it helps everyone out!

Enter for your chance to win this game!!  Make sure you check out my other game giveaways that are going on this week!  Pancake Pile-Up!, Bubble Talk, and Diggity Dogs.

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Birthday Game Day #3: Pancake Pile Up GIVEAWAY!

2nd game giveawayWe are on day 3 of my birthday bash week! It has been so much fun prepping these game review posts for you all. Today, I have a game that will make you want to go head to the kitchen to prepare some real pancakes for yourself.  pancake pile up 1Educational Insights created Pancake Pile-Up relay game to serve as a fun activity to work on balance, coordination, simple sequencing, and team work.

pancake pile up 2

This game comes with 10 Pancakes in 5 different flavors-blueberry, strawberry, banana, chocolate chip and plain, 10 order cards, griddle game boards, and two spatulas.

pancake pile up 4To play the game, you need at least 2 players.  Each player gets a pancake order and act as the servers.

pancake pile up 3Both teams run back and forth collecting the correct pancake and stack them up.  The first player/team to complete their order wins!

I found some books that would be perfect to read with our little speechies before playing this game. One of my favorites is If You Give a Pig a Pancake.  My kids love that book and it is the perfect book to work on items in the breakfast group as well as cause/effect.

How I would use in therapy:

  • Read a fun book about pancakes in the therapy room and then play the game as a fun reinforcer.
  • We used the pancakes in the game to practice describing by attributes.  We also brainstormed other items that are round and items that we eat for breakfast.
  • You could use the pieces in the game to work on pretend play, initiation of conversation, and turn taking.  One person could be the waiter, the other is the customer.  You can work on “please”, “thank you”, asking for help at a restaurant and all the fun vocabulary around cooking pancakes.
  • Work on more/less with your students by handing different amounts of pancakes to different students.  They have to count them up and figure out who has more/less.
  • Use the pancakes as a visual reinforcer for when the activity will be completed.  The student practices their speech target and then gets to flip a pancake over. Once all the pancakes are flipped over the activity is completed!
  • Hide the pancakes around your speech room.  The student has to use “preposition” words to get more clues where the pancakes are located such as “is the pancake under the desk.”  Once the students find all the pancakes, play the relay game as a reinforcer!
  • Use the pancakes as visuals for phonological awareness tasks.  Each pancake is a sound.  When the sound needs to change, have the student swap a new pancake in there to represent the new sound and word.

Grab this game for $17.99 at Educational Insights or purchase on amazon (affiliate links provided).  The awesome people over at Educational Insights is giving a copy of this game to one of my followers.  Be sure to enter this giveaway in the rafflecopter below.
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Birthday Game Day #2: Bubble Talk

2nd game giveawayToday I have a game that has been blast to play with all my upper elementary and middle school students.  When I saw this game at Target, I had to have it.  I think you will want it too!

bubble talk game 1The format of the game is similar to Apples to Apples.  You place a photo card in the middle of the table and each player finds a “talk caption” that they think would best represent the people or animals in the photo and puts it face down in a pile.  The judge shuffles the cards and then reads the talk bubbles out loud for the group.

bubble talke pumpkin pieNext, the judge picks the “talk bubble” that they think goes best with the photo and that person gets a point.  This ends the round and then you get a new photo.  Everyone can be the judge, but I was the judge in the speech room to avoid too much conflict.

bubble talk babyThere are pictures on both sides of the cards, so there are plenty of cards to make this game last for a while.

bubble talk baby in drawerHere is how I use this game in therapy:

  • Each round is really quick, so it is a great reinforcer for fluency and articulation goals in between production practice.
  • I used my visual attribute strip and had my vocabulary students describe something in the photo.  Above is a picture of a baby in a drawer.  The student had to describe the dresser by attributes.
  • My higher functioning social thinkers really liked this game and I got a lot of spontaneous eye contact, comments and initiation without prompting or asking.  This is also a great way to incorporate humor.
  • Most of these photos require people to use context clues to determine what is happening.  These photos are great for working making smart guesses, inferencing and predictions.
  • Use these photos to have students create sentences using conjunctions, noun-verb agreement, and verb tense.
  • Let the students bring in photos from home to use with the game.  Before using the picture, the student has to retell who, what, where, when, and why about the photo.  This targets personal narration and language organization.
  • Talking about what is expected vs. unexpected about the photo and what the person may be feeling or thinking can be incorporated.  There is a photo of a man dressed as “super man” trimming the hedges in his yard.  We talked about how this might make people have uncomfortable thoughts about us.
  • You could also target think vs. say as well as let the kids make their own talk bubble cards for fun.

Things to consider with this game:

  • There are two giant stacks of talking bubble cards, which is awesome, but you need to filter through the cards to make sure they are school appropriate.  I found a card “That’s what she said”.  I don’t want any uncomfortable moments with my middle school boys (enough said).
  • I would also filter through the photos to make sure they would be appropriate.  Most are, but you just never know.
  • This game is best used with kids who are exhibiting higher social thinking skills and cognition.  There are a lot of underlying skills required to understand and enjoy this game.  My 4th-5th general ed students loved it as well as my middle school students, so don’t be afraid to try this with upper elementary students.

You can also snag this game on amazon (amazon affiliate link provided).  Since I have such awesome followers, I wanted to give this game away for FREE to one lucky person.  Enter below!

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Birthday game day #1: Diggity Dogs

2nd game giveawayMy blogging Birthday celebration is here!  All week long I am doing game reviews and GIVEAWAYS!  Stay posted all week!

diggity frontI am soooooo happy to get my birthday party started by sharing this CUTE and FUN game.  Most of my speech students LOVE dogs, so this is one is a keeper!

diggity dog 1Educational Insights  created a game that has real life photos of dogs that need to be adopted!  This game worked best with kids who were 5+ because it is a more a complex game of go fish, so you have to be able to ask other players for a match as well as find 3 cards that match what the dogs are wishing for in their heads.  Once you get all three cards, you get to adopt the dog!  Whoever has the most adopted dogs at the end of the game wins.

diggity 2You set the 7 dogs out on the table and give each player 3 cards.  On your turn you ask another player for one card. If they don’t have the card you need draw from the draw pile.

How I use it in therapy:

  • Most of my elementary caseload have articulation and fluency goals, so we used this game as a reinforcer after they practice their speech targets.  We aimed for higher productions because in between turns could take a bit longer.
  • For language, this could be a fun way to have students describe the different dogs by use adjectives.  Students who are working on articulation carryover could also describe the dogs in connected speech.
  • Any game such as this one is an awesome way to work on social skills with turn taking, asking questions using the players names with expected nonverbal language (body posture, eye contact, tone of voice), waiting your turn, and learning to keep a secret.
  • This game was pretty motivating for my students, so  there was some big disappointment (aka tears) when a student didn’t get to adopt the dog they wanted.  That was a good opportunity for me to discuss small and big problems and the expected behaviors for when things don’t go our way.  The student moved on and we were able to continue to play.  As much as winning and losing isn’t fair, it is part of life, so our little speechies need to learn how to control their emotions when they lose.
  • This game works on executive functioning and being able to plan ahead.  You have to match 3 cards and they have to match one of the dogs, so this takes mental flexibility (changing your plan when someone doesn’t have your card or takes your card), impulse control (not blurting out what cards you have or what dog you are trying to adopt), and organization (creating and executing a plan for how you are going to adopt a dog).

Why I love this game:

  • I loved that this game comes in a small box, so if I had to travel between schools, this would be an easy game to travel in my work bag.
  • The kids loved the real life photos of the dogs and started initiating conversation about their OWN dogs.  Love it when there is lots of chatter and laughs in my room.
  • You can make your own dog pictures, so kids could potentially bring in pictures of their dogs to use in the game.
  • The directions are easy to read, set up was a breeze (2-3 minutes) and the dogs are on sturdy cardboard.

Diggity Dogs Game is available for $14.99 on their website.  You can also purchase on amazon (affiliate link included) and get free shipping if you are a PRIME member.  I was provided a copy of this game for review, but no other compensation was provided.  The awesome people at Educational Insights are giving away a copy of this game to one lucky follower!  Enter below on the rafflecopter.

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Autumn Themed No Prep, Print N’ Go pack is FINALLY here!

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Grab this pack on my TPT store!

I finally finished my newest no prep, print n’ go pack, just in time for the Autumn season.  This is also the peak time for IEP’s and assessments, so this pack is going to serve it’s purpose!  Great therapy activities with LESS time to prep, so you have more time to finish writing those IEP’s.

preview autumn packCategories, grammar, synonyms, fluency, social skills, articulation, comprehension, and fun games are all in this pack!  You will be able to find an activity for just about everyone on your caseload.   This pack is designed for kindergarten-4th grade, but I have been using some of the comprehension sheets with my middle school students as a warm up activity to make sure they really know what the wh-question words mean and how to search for information in a passage.

autumn no print pack 1

There are cut and glue activities, print n’ go puppets (all you  need is popsicle sticks and tape) for the 5  little pumpkin song, Thanksgiving and Fall season.  There are multiple meaning sheets, synonyms, and thematic BINGO activities.  There are also some articulation sheets that are perfect for homework as well as reinforcer games/sheets to use with any speech and language target.  The coolest part of this pack is that I was able to make some sheets editable, so you could add in targets that are specific to your students.

I bought these reusable pocket charts (amazon affiliate link included) to use with dry erase markers and my worksheets.

autumn pocket sheetsI love that if I can’t get to the copier, I can quickly print a worksheet or activity and be able to reuse the worksheet for many groups.  I got 10 of these in a pack, so I have enough for each of my sites.  The kids really like using the dry erase markers and I am finding there is less grumbling with my middle school students when I use them.

I am back with a little youtube video on how to assemble the pumpkin craft in my pack.  I tried out my talents using imovie on my IPAD, so forgive me if it’s not the best!
What do you all think?  I know IEP season is just beginning, so this will be such the time saver for my room.  The first three folks to leave a comment will get this pack for FREE! (937)

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