Friday, January 31, 2014

Peek At My Week 1/31

Full disclosure - this week was disjointed. We had a professional development day today, so that always throws me off a bit. End of the quarter means progress reports (check out my tips for those here). I managed to get "in the zone" and got mine done. Hooray!

I did try out the Let's Be Social app on Monday with a few of my kids, and it went very well. If you're interested in the app for yourself, read about my experience here. I haven't had an A-HA moment in quite awhile, but I had one on Sunday! <--- check it out because you'll get a freebie! 

Next week, I'm hoping schedules and such will get back to normal. I'm planning on taking some time to plan for next month. I'm trying really hard to plan smarter, not harder (#2 of my 2014 resolutions). To do this, instead of planning for each week, I'm trying to plan for the whole month. We'll see how it goes. I may have to just try 2 weeks to begin with. 

Several of my kids have goals for irregular plurals. These unfortunately require a lot of drill, because they're...well, irregular. I've noticed my kids have a really tough time with the nouns that have the same singular and plural form. So I made a poem that you can grab for free! Just click the picture below!

Back to normal next week! What was your week like?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

LOVE-ly Speech & Language Activities

It's almost February, which means Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day! I've rounded up a few activities from the past year that should work nicely in your speech room for the month of February!

Groundhog Day is February 2nd. I usually have at least a few kids working on positional concepts and they frequently get tripped up by above/below and in front/behind. My answer? Use this FREE activity to target these concepts with a fun groundhog theme! Click on the picture below!

Another groundhog freebie that is brand new is a NPST activity if you're new to these and want to try it before you buy it. To grab this one, you just have to like my Facebook page

One of the newest products to hit my store is a NPST (No Print Speech Therapy) activity called Broken Hearted. It targets conjunctions, context clues, and synonyms. 

Work on multisyllabic words with Multisyllabic Hearts (2-5 syllables). No pictures are included on this one, but the cards feature a heart for each syllable to provide your students with visual cues.

Target social skills with this fun conversation heart themed activity. There are 4 colored hearts that each target a different skill: compliments, asking for help, greetings, and ending a conversation. It's played like "pin the tail on the donkey" so your students can be up and moving! 

Work on multiple meaning words with Multiple Meaning Mail. Each envelope has a word and requires 2 stamps to be mailed - the stamps need to be matched with the envelopes.

I'll most likely be adding a couple more activities, but if you follow my TpT store or Facebook page, you'll be the first to know!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

{Review} Let's Be Social App

Disclaimer: A copy of this app was provided to me; however, the opinions expressed are solely my own!

Let's Be Social is an app from Everyday Speech that sells for $14.99 in the app store. It features stories and related questions that cover a range of social topics including personal interactions, navigating the community, social behavior, handling change, and social relationships. You also have the opportunity to add your own lesson! Below is a picture of the personal interaction stories:

When you start a lesson, the SLP/student can read a short story:

After the story, the student is presented with multiple choice questions that are related to the story:

You can also add your own question: 

I tried this with my 2nd graders and it worked well. They were able to read most of the stories themselves and we talked about the story before going to the questions. They liked being able to select their answers within the app. We have been working on good listening behavior, so I made a story for that. You can add pictures, but you don't have to! I love that you can add your own questions and really customize it for your students. 

What I Liked:
-lessons are short which is great for some of my students
-the ability to add your own lessons and questions
-provided with a pretty good variety of stories to get started
-the format: story followed by questions to check for comprehension
-you could add simple questions vs. lessons for lower functioning students (object identification, prepositions, etc)

What I Would Change:
-I think this app could work well for middle and high school if more stories were provided that were geared towards upper level grades (you could do this yourself too)
-It would be great if you could upload short videos as the story!

Overall, I think this a great starting point if you're looking for basic social skills. You have the ability to build on and add your own, which is fantastic. You can add a student as a "skill set" and create personalized social stories. It's definitely worth checking out if you're not sure what social skills app is right for you!

Thank you to Everyday Speech for the opportunity to review this app!

Monday, January 27, 2014

A-HA Moment: Picture Frame = Barrier Game

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience.

I recently was cleaning out a random storage box and found this one of those plastic picture frames. It was empty and the SLP wheels started turning. A-HA! It's perfect for a barrier game setup. Oh, and really cheap!

I  made a simple background in powerpoint with graphics from My Cute Graphics (free) and printed 2 copies. I have the Melissa and Doug reusable stickers (pictured below) so I pulled those out to use.  I made sure to have 2 of the same item so that each student can have one. 

If you'd like to try this out, I have some free backgrounds for you! My picture frame is 10 inches high x 6.5 inches wide, so I made the pictures to fit those dimensions, but you could easily make your own if you have bigger ones. Grab your copy here

There is one for outside, under the sea, and a room in a house. 

The person sitting on the "backside" of the frame sees a slightly different image, so you might want to place your student on the "inside," but I don't think it's that bad! And who can argue with reusing something?!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Clinical Skills Confidence: Progress Reports

It's almost that time again for me. End of the quarter = progress reports. This is when I'm glad I do my best to keep my data binder organized, because I usually can grab this and start the daunting task of inputting all my progress reports. Here are my tips:

1. Don't wait until the last minute! This probably doesn't need to be said, who needs the extra stress of knowing you are quickly running out of time? I start thinking about them a few weeks before the quarter ends so I can make sure I grab data on all the goals/objectives. I take data on at least one objective every single session, so that's not too much more work. 

2. Make a list and check it off. I make an excel list of my kids at the beginning of the year with pertinent information like name, DOB, IEP date, disability category, and IEP goals/objectives. It's a lot of work in the beginning of the year, but it saves me time later. I copy and paste the names and print it out. As I'm going through the kids, I check off each name when I do his/her progress report.

3. Try to spread it out over a few days. If I get "in the zone" I can crank out 20 at a time. I try to tell myself "get through X number today and do the rest tomorrow." It's more manageable, plus we all know how tired our eyes get after several hours of staring at the computer screen.

4. Check in with teachers (if possible). They're busy putting in grades too! Most of the time, I'm in contact with teachers at least weekly, but if I've been wondering/concerned about how they're doing in the classroom, it's worth the extra 10 minutes to seek out the teacher to ask. We're coming up on the end of the 2nd quarter, so academic concerns are usually cropping up about this time. 

How do you efficiently manage progress report time? 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Love It & List It Linky

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience!

This month's Love It & List It Linky features social skills materials. Jenna kicks it off with her picks here. Make sure to head there to check out other SLP bloggers' picks!

Here are mine:

1. You Are A Social Detective!: This is probably on a lot of peoples' lists, as it's a great starting point for the Social Thinking Curriculum. The comic book format is engaging for kids and you can carryover the concepts into different environments.

2. Emotion Select: This is a $0.99 app for teaching basic emotions. It's a recent addition to my iPad, but I'm beginning to focus on facial expressions with a few of my students and this is a great starting point.

3. I've been doing weekly social skills groups with the autism teacher at my school. We have been using Cariboo as our "game" because it's adaptable for different levels. The main focus has been getting the kids to request their turn, wait for their turn, and pass the box onto the next person. If they're higher functioning, I can have them request the door they'd like to open. Unfortunately, they don't make this game anymore, but sometimes you can find it in local thrift stores!

4. Polar Bear Pragmatics: This is an activity I created and it's perfect for the winter months because it features adorable polar bears! It focuses on topic initiation, topic maintenance, appropriate responses, emotions, and tone of voice.

5. Talking Stick: At the beginning of the year, I had a pretty chatty group who would all talk over one another. My solution? I made a talking stick. I had a cardboard roll from something (you could use a paper towel roll) and covered it with washi tape. I used it with this group with the stipulation that only the student with the stick could talk while others had to be listening. Worked like a charm! I don't have a picture of it because it's at work.

There ya have it!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

{Review} Social Thinking: Whole Body Listening

Graphics: Creative Clips

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience. 

One part of the Social Thinking Curriculum that I've really been focusing on is Whole Body Listening. It's described in Thinking About You, Thinking About Me and some other products as well. What is it?

Basically, what it sounds like. Listening requires us to use our WHOLE body, not just our ears. How frequently do we say "look at me?" I know I'm guilty of that! Just knowing that the person is looking at you though isn't enough! We have to use our eyes, ears, mouth, hands, feet, body, brain, and heart to listen. Whoa! This is a lot to take in for some of my kids, so I decided to break it down. On the Social Thinking website, there are a lot of resources, including the printable one below (click on the picture to check it out - it's about halfway down the page). 

Most of my students LOVE to color, so this was perfect. We talked about the various parts of our body that we use to listen. I cut up the parts and we did a matching activity and talked about each part. I wrote down each part does and we matched them before coloring in the different parts. You could easily do this with index cards - I just grabbed and used what I had on hand. 

So now, I feel like I could say use a cue like "eyes" or "brain" if I notice a student who's not listening. After doing this activity, I feel that will help my students think about themselves and think about others. Do you teach Whole Body Listening to your students? How?

Monday, January 20, 2014

S...peachy Feedback January 2014

First S...peachy Feedback of 2014! Once again, I'm naming 2 winners. One for a free product and one for a paid product. Check out below to see if you're a winner!

Shara Kuehl left feedback for My PlayHome Speech/Language Companion Packet!

km2121 left feedback for Speech in the New Year!

Email with your choice of TpT product (bundles excluded)!!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Peek At My Week 1/17

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience!

This week involved a little of this and a little of that. With no snow in our area this week, I decided to hold off on the snowflake craft that I had planned on doing. I replaced it with a cute story called "The Mitten Tree" by Candace Christiansen. It's about an elderly lady who knits mittens for all the children in the town and puts them on a tree. I should've done this before the holidays, but oh well. I printed out a mitten page (see below) and we colored, cut them out, described them, and glued them on a tree. 

I found some great MLK freebies, like this one and this one that worked great with my older kids. I also used grade level passages from ReadWorks because I like to sneak in some curriculum based lessons as much as I can. This week, our schedule was really different since a lot of my kids were being tested. This resulted in me running around trying to find the kids, switching kids, etc. Needless to say, I'm happy it's Friday! And the start of a long weekend!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

{Review} Using Commercials for Social Thinking

Graphics: Lovin Lit

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience.

I sometimes get sucked into informercials (Nutribullet and Total Gym anyone?), particularly when I have insomnia. That might be because 3AM is when those are shown. But back to the point. 

Commercials! In therapy? Yes! You can target many Social Thinking topics like "unexpected vs. expected behaviors, thinking with your eyes, and smart guesses." 

The above trademarked terms are part of the Social Thinking program. If you're unfamiliar with these terms, here's a brief rundown.
-unexpected vs. expected behaviors: expected behaviors are those that make other people feel positively towards you while unexpected behaviors are those that make other people feel negatively towards you
-thinking with your eyes: this encompasses eye contact and reiterates the point to that our eyes can provide valuable information in social situations
-smart guess: this are what we can make when we are involved in a social situation (opposite is wacky guess) 

*These terms are explained in the Thinking About You, Thinking About Me book and You Are A Social Detective! which are pictured below*

Some examples of video clips:

#1: You could use this one to discuss the following: name some verbs, what should you do in class vs. what shouldn't you do, vocabulary used like "toll, abyss, distance." Or "expected vs. unexpected behaviors" while you're in class. 

#2: This one can be used to make predictions about what will happen. Plus, there are cute polar bears.

#3: This one is for AT&T. I love these commercials! You can discuss how the kids are thinking with their eyes, expected vs. unexpected behaviors when working with a group, etc.

#4: This one can be used to discuss unexpected vs. expected friend behaviors, as well as what "sour" and "sweet" mean in this situations.

#5: These can help introduce the topic of thinking with your eyes. Have your students be looking at the facial expressions of the other kids. 

Make sure you preview these before using them with your students! Clips from TV shows could also be used, but that's a whole other post.

If you're interested in learning more about Social Thinking, click here. Some products were provided to me for review; however the opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

{Review} Language Trainer by Smarty Ears

I was contacted with the opportunity to review Language Trainer by Smarty Ears recently and excitedly said yes. I have other Smarty Ears apps (Articulate It and Language Adventures), so I wondered what this one would be like. One lucky reader will also have the chance to win a copy, so keep reading!

*Disclaimer: I was provided with this app; however, the views expressed are solely my own*

Language Trainer is an app with 4 different activities including Picture Naming, Picture Identification, Divergent Naming, and Sentence Completion. 

I used it with my elementary aged students and it worked fabulously. It does look different that other Smarty Ears apps, but I actually really like the clean, simple layout. Sometimes my kiddos get a little TOO excited about the visual stimuli and it can be hard to focus them. With this app, I didn't have that problem. You can see a video of the app in use by on the Smarty Ears website here

Activity: Picture Naming
During this activity, an item is named and the student needs to touch the corresponding item. If the incorrect button is chosen, that picture disappears and the student can keep trying. I loved that!! You have the option to change how many items appear (2-5) in the settings.

Activity: Picture Identification
During this activity, the student has to name the picture. You can record the student and manually score (correct, incorrect, or cued). 

Activity: Divergent Naming
During this activity, a category is provided and the student has to name items within the category. If correct, you touch the check and the drop down menu moves to the next box. You have the option to change how many items need to be named (2-6) in the settings. I think this was my favorite activity - my kids loved checking the box and moving on - it was motivating for them!

Activity: Sentence Completion
During this activity, the student hears a sentence and simply has to provide a word/phrase that makes sense. This helped my students with word retrieval issues! 

What I Liked:
-clean, simple design
-not too much visual stimuli (graphics, etc)
-ability to use with a variety of populations and age ranges (I see preschool-6th graders and used it with almost all grades) 
-variety of activities
-Sentence Completion activity could be used to generate other sentences. I like that this activity helps kids think outside the box and come up with different things that fit!

What I Would Change:
-You can only use this app with one student at a time. This is not really an issue for me. I honestly don't really use data collection methods within apps (gasp). I actually blogged about that recently. It's something to think about if you like using apps with groups.
-Nothing else, really. If you like to have reinforcers right inside the app, that might be something you'd like to see added. 

Language Trainer is on sale in the app store for $14.99 if you think this is a good app for your caseload. If you are looking for an app that you can use with a wide variety of ages and populations, this is it. I can see it working well for several goals: describing, object functions, sentence formulation, AAC users, etc. 

Enter for your chance to win below:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

What Do You Do "Old School?"

I know that lots of apps nowadays have data tracking features, which are supposed to make our SLP lives easier. But it's time for me to confess:

I don't use them. 



Once you've recovered from the shock, let me explain. For whatever reason, I still like pencil/paper. I think it's a habit from grad school. I always administered tests in pencil - and I still do! I like to take data in pencil in case I need to erase. 

So I still use good "old fashioned" data sheets and do all my data online during sessions. I don't ever use the data collection features in apps. Maybe it's because I like the security of knowing I have a paper copy of it in case the app crashes. Or maybe not. 

Are there any "old school" habits you have? Fess up! 

Friday, January 10, 2014

Peek At My Week 1/10

Going back to work after any break is hard. Like "I want to throw the covers over my head and stay in my nice warm bed" hard. We had a "cold day" on Tuesday, which broke up the week a little. I used my SPEECH in the New Year freebie a lot to see how my kids were doing after the break. It was a nice way to ease back into the routine.

I used Crazy Speech World's Super Hero Word Association cards with some of my kids. Huge hit! P.S. Did you check out her sparkly makeover?! You can do that HERE. Jenn was one of the first speech blogs I started following, and she's awesome!

I caved and bought Super Dupers Classifying Cards when they were on sale last week. They came in and I used them a lot this week for various activities. I'm glad I have a set of cards that can be used for many different things. I'll be sure to share some of the ways I use them.

I decided not to have a craft of the week this week, but plan to have one next week. Hint: I got some of the items for a whopping 30 cents after Christmas at Target. The kids enjoyed using some of the fabulous games I picked up at a local thrift store ($16 for all that loot):

Who had snow/cold days this week? What did you do in therapy?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Clinical Skills Confidence: Speech Therapy Materials That Won't Break The Bank

Graphics: Lovin Lit

Disclaimer: Affiliate links are included for your convenience.

I'm fairly certain that most SLPs have very little (if any) money to spend when it comes to therapy materials. During the jobs that I've had since graduating, I got used to purchasing or making my own materials. I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing - mainly because if I leave the job, I get to take whatever I bought with me. 

But I don't have endless funds of my own to spend, so recently I've taken a trip off the beaten path to find some other low cost options for materials. Confession: I get bored with the same materials over and over, so I like to change it up just as much as the kids do!

Don't get me wrong: I frequent Super Duper and Linguisystems often. I REALLY miss Super Duper's 50% off weekly sales - as that was my go-to pretty much every week. There has been one weekly deal lately that is usually 50% off. Oh, and obviously TpT!!!

I thought I'd share some other websites that I have found some pretty awesome deals on (I was not provided any compensation for mentioning these sites and I have not personally ordered from all of them, they are simply ones that I've found on my own):

1. Educational Insights: Their $10 and below section currently has things like Hot Dots, Make Your Own Hot Dots set ($5.49), and phonics books. 

2. Speaking Of Speech Swap Meet: This website, created by Pat Mervine, allows SLPs to post materials for sale. All arrangements must be made by the individuals. 

3. Really Good Stuff: The Outlet section has tons of items, separated by category (under $1.00, under $2.00, language arts, etc). You might need to do a little more digging, but finding a deal makes it worthwhile!

4. Etsy: If you search "speech therapy," you can order from a shop called SENtoys or Felt Resources that have some items that I think would be great for therapy. I have lost countless hours of time just searching all the other great stuff on Etsy, like Dean Trout's Little Shop of SLP for totes that will hold all your materials! SLPMomma takes care of SLPs around the world!

5. MpM School Supplies: Their clearance section is amazing! Some things that caught my eye were Memory Boosting Mnemonic Songs for Grammar, Storytelling with Puppets, Props, and Patterns, and several books.

These are just a few websites that you might want to check out. I always like Oriental Trading, local consignment and thrift stores, Dollar Tree, and the Dollar Spot at Target. What is your favorite place to score a deal?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

SLP Secret Santa Exchange!

What's better than a secret santa gift exchange? An SLP secret santa gift exchange! Some fellow SLP bloggers that I've gotten to know over the past year decided to try one out this year. I was super excited to take part. I did participate in my school's secret santa this year, but this one was fun because SLPs all over the place were participating!

Below are the gifts I received from the person who drew my name:

Whitney Smith of Let's Talk sent me a beautiful chevron infinity scarf and an adorable Rudolph ornament. I forgot to snap a picture before I opened the package...I think I was a wee bit excited about the whole thing! It was seriously like being a kid again! 

I have already worn the scarf a number of times and received compliments on it! The ornament is currently sitting on top of my TV shelf - it will soon be stored with my other ornaments and will take a place of honor on next year's tree. Thanks to Whitney for an awesome way to get into the holiday spirit! 

Definitely check out Whitney's blog, Facebook page, and TpT store! She has some really great book companion packets, plus lots of other ideas on her blog!