Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"Lucky" Dollar Store Find = Quick and Easy Reinforcer Game for St. Patty's Day! I know I am jumping ahead a little with this post, but I was in the Dollar Store looking for these cute lips someone posted on Facebook to have in my room for Valentine's Day:
(I mean, come on, what SLP room would be complete without lip clip magnets! :-)

When I found this really cute magnet set that got my mind thinking ahead to March:
This kit for a dollar has a great little leprechaun magnet that can be cut in to pieces and put on a whiteboard or cookie sheet and used to play St. Patty's Day Hangman as a reinforcer.
After your student practices his/her speech skill, he/she can then guess a letter in the word you have on the board and if they aren't right, they can put the hat on the hangman's noose:
I would keep all of the pieces on the side in the order you want the leprechaun to be built....
....but what a fun and inexpensive thing to do in between the drill work!  I plan to use St. Patty's day vocabulary words like shamrock, blarney stone, pot of gold, etc. as the words they have to guess.  This is also a nice quiet game to play the week of St. Patty's Day since my older students will be taking state testing in writing that week.

You could also check out the Dollar Stores around other holidays and find more of these types of door magnets for Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc. to play at other times of the year.

Just wanted to share this idea in time for you to hit your local Dollar Store!

Friday, January 24, 2014

Social Skills Linky Party

Woo Hoo!  It is time for another great linky party hosted by Jenna at Speech Room News.  The topic is all about social skills!

Working on social skills is something I used to do on a regular basis before I became a SLP (back in the day I was a school counselor).  In my district, most of the work with social skills is done by our district behavior interventionist or school psych or counselor, so I pulled out my old travel drive from my school counseling days and uploaded some of the lessons I had written out.  I am glad I decided to keep my bibliotherapy collection of social skills picture books (that is the fancy term us counselors label our collection of therapy books) since I left the majority of my counseling materials with my co-counselor when I switched professions (and boy did I leave her some amazing stuff).  I'm sure most of us in speech pathology have heard of the Michelle Garcia Winner Social Thinking curriculum and Julia Cook books (glad I kept all of those , too!).  So I decided I would share some of the items from my counseling days that fit nicely with lessons we might do as SLPs. 

1)  The Way I Feel

I used this lesson for the book.  It is always a great idea to teach kids how to read emotions and facial expressions when first teaching about social skills.

And this is the drawing sheet that came with it.

2)  Velvet Words vs. Sandpaper Words

This is an easy activity that can be done in one session.  Unfortunately, I don't have an example of a completed one to show, but it is easy to describe.  Buy a pack of very rough sandpaper and a sample of velvet from a craft store.  Cut a 2 inch by 2 inch square of each and give each student both items one at a time.  We took a 9X12 piece of construction paper and folded it long ways in half and labeled one side Velvet Words and then Sandpaper Words  at the top of the other side (I model this on the white board as we do it together).  Then we feel the velvet square and we talk about how the velvet feels and why we like its soft texture.  Kind words and good manners can make us feel good just like the velvet.  Then we feel the sandpaper and discuss how the rough sandpaper makes us feel stressing that words can make us feel uncomfortable and even hurt someone.  We brainstorm examples of both types of words and list them under the correct category.  I always had a list of examples ready to help students get their brains going:  i.e. "Which type of word is please, thank you, you're welcome, ugly, get out of my way, I don't like you, you can't have it, etc.").

3) Social Skills Website

My upper elementary students used to visit this website with me to play some of the games on it such as
Let’s face it (identifying what people are feeling just by the look on their face),  Come Again (which has worksheets about idioms that can be printed or done on an interactive whiteboard), and Mirror Mirror (another one about facial expressions).  There are also lesson plans on the site as well.  The  site isn't fancy, but does a good job for the older students on your caseload.

4)  Personal Space Camp  (OK-  I had to sneak in one Julia Cook book)

So many of our kids, and often kids in general, have issues with personal space and boundaries.  The protagonist of this book learns great tools for understanding this abstract concept that you can practice with your students.  I always paired it with this "Touch the Can" lesson.
Touch the Can

Tools:  A group of objects that progressively gets smaller.  For example, begin with the beach ball, to a floor spot, small fuzzy object, dollar bill, quarter, and finally, a dime.
1.     Put the object in the center of the room.
2.     Ask the participants to each touch the object without touching any other person in the activity.
3.     Start with the large object, progressively using smaller and smaller objects.

4.    Groups usually achieve far more than they initially think possible in this activity, which is nice for building confidence in their abilities. 
5)  A House for Hermit Crab
A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle is a book you should be able to find in your school library.  It lends itself to discussions about what helps people make friends-  great social skills!  As you read it, ask your students how Hermit Crab felt the first time he stepped out onto the ocean floor, how he felt the second time, and why he was no longer scared.
Stress that Hermit Crab is an expert at making and keeping friends: he flatters the new sea creatures he meets and then asks them if they would help him.  I give them an example of what words I would use or what I would say to each of them to express what I like about each of them, as well as how you can ask for help when you need it (which many of our kids have a hard time doing).  Then let them practice giving compliments to each other or even to you! 

I like to also give them post-it notes that they can write words or phrases about what they like about me or a
volunteer in the group and we put the sticky notes all over the person (or me). We really take the time to talk
about HOW it makes the person feel when you give compliments.

6)  How To Lose All Your Friends
I'm sensing a trend...another book!  This one by Nancy Carlson.  Click here for the lesson I used with it in the past!
7)  Social Skills Jenga
Love a game to teach, and this is one that has pre-printed labels of questions you can attach to a Jenga game.
It can be ordered from here.
But, I just used an off brand version of regular Jenga where the blocks were different colors, and typed up a list
of questions that go with each color.  Students roll a die that comes with the game, and depending on the color
rolled, that is the block they have to remove after answering a question from that color category.
Mine came from Target about fifteen years ago, but you can still find them in most stores and on-line. 
What are your favorite tools for teaching social skills?

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Kiss That Missed

I love shopping at Amazon for books, but honestly, there are still few things I enjoy as much as a Friday night at my local Barnes and Noble.  You can frequently find me sitting in the children's section on the mini-stage they have set up for book readings, holding my coffee from their in-house Starbucks (of course, I am always drinking Starbucks!), with a stack of picture books ready to devour.

Now, being a public-school SLP, my budget is tight, limited, basically nil.  But I so enjoy using picture books in therapy, and I get way too excited each "season/holiday" when my local store puts out paperback book collections about the current season/holiday theme. Paperback is so much cheaper than hardback ones, and they only seem to come out during these times.  Pair that with my educator's discount card to get my 20% off, and the books become somewhat more affordable.  I truly get my GEEK on, and this past Friday I found a really cute one to share before Valentine's Day.

In a nutshell, a busy king blows his son the prince a kiss that misses his check and floats off in to a dark and scary forest.  The king dispatches a knight to track down the kiss, and thus, a funny journey begins.
As you can see from this sample page, this is a great book for story sequencing and retell.  I also love it for my students working on synonyms, descriptive words, compare and contrast (how are a prince/king alike/different?, a house/castle?, etc.), wh- questions, predicting, cause and effect, why questions, etc.  I get so much done with a great picture book that often it takes the entire session.  I think it would pair nicely with a quick Hershey kisses game (grab a bag of the Valentine colored Hershey Kisses, write a number on the bottom of each one, put on the table, and have the kids pick one after practicing their speech skills and that becomes their number of points and the one with the most points at the end of the game wins, or pick one before they practice to know how many times they are to practice their skills).  This quick five-minute game is a nice way to end the last few minutes of the session after enjoying a really good book. 

What are some of your favorite books to read on Valentine's Day?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Colorful Sentences (A Freebie to Share)

I have a new student who qualified in the area of syntax, so I wanted to create something that could be a visual for verbal sentences as well as written ones.  Since I plan on using the app Rainbow Sentences with her, I wanted to create something that can work with that program, or on its own.

If you haven't used Rainbow Sentences, here is more info about it.
The app helps students construct grammatically correct sentences using a color coded template.  You can even set the colors for each part of speech yourself, but I use the default one and made some templates for my student to use that match the system in the app.  The great thing is you can use them without the app.

This is an example of one of the templates in the freebie (and where I would love for my student to be one day!).  However, we will be starting with just a simple noun/verb sentence next week!  And that one is in the file as well.  I added the punctuation box on each of my templates because her goal is for syntactically/grammatically correct sentences verbally and in writing.  I plan on using these great clear pockets to slip the sheets in and letting her use a Vis-à-vis pen to write her sentences.
You could also use a sheet protector and get the same effect :-)

Grab your freebie here!

What do you use to help your students with syntax and grammar?

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Sneezy the Snowman Visits the Speech Room

Today is nothing but rain, and living here in the South, I have to admit I am jealous when it snows in other states and we just get the really cold temperatures.  Don't get me wrong, I don't want to be buried in it like so many people have this winter, but I do enjoy getting a nice blanket of winter white and a snow day from school at least once each winter.  I even have my kids do a snow dance (yes, they think I am crazy), and I tell them they need to sleep with a spoon under their pillow and their pajamas on backwards so it will snow (an old wive's tale).  Alas, we have had nothing but artic air and now just rain!  Bleh!

So, despite my local weather, and the fact I have 50 progress reports to write and four IEPs to write this weekend, I thought I would first share what we are doing this week centered around the book Sneezy the Snowman.
I ordered this book from Amazon, and I suggest you look it up on their site because they show a few pages of the story so you can see how cute the it is and how well it can work in a therapy session.  This book lends itself perfectly to answering wh- questions, making predictions (what will happen when the snowman drinks hot chocolate or gets in a warm bath?), why questions, story retell, sequencing, etc.  It really does work for any language goal, and of course, the text has plenty of words for my articulation students to practice.

Last year during the holiday break, I made a snowman toss game using a science fair trifold poster board from my local craft store based on this idea I found from Pinterest:
While this game will come out since it pairs so well with  the book,  I plan on buying some Styrofoam cups this weekend to make this cute Pinspiration idea that will keep a reinforcer game on the table for my groups that can't handle getting up and doing the toss game above.
I plan to use my orange sharpie to draw carrot noses and a black sharpie to draw eyes and a mouth on a set of cups.  On the bottom of the cup, I will write different points.  When we play, the cups will be set out on the table in the form of bowling pins and students will toss in a white yarn snowball.  If it lands in a cup, they get to remove that cup and record the amount of points on the bottom of the cup.

I do not make crafts very often in speech, but I saw this one this morning on-line and thought it might be a good one for some of my groups, plus I already have doilies that I bought at the Dollar Store:
I will also have this word search on hand for a few of my groups where I had students absent last week and still need to get data for their progress reports.  This word search is from Deanna Jump's website and the link is below.  It goes well with the story and allows me to listen to an individual student while the others complete the search and practice the words they find with each other.

Grab your copy at her site here.

Stay warm!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Ringing in the Olympics (plus a free open-ended game)

I have to admit, I am a huge summer Olympics fan, and really do not watch much of the winter Olympics other than the figure skating.   However, the cold weather and upcoming games are getting me in a mood to celebrate this special event!

If you have read any of my posts, you know I am a HUGE fan of games or activities that can be tailored to meet multiple types of groups and age levels.  Hence, a new open-ended game I want to share with you weeks before the big event so you can prep the game to use with your students!

I always like to start with information about the actual Olympics, so I thought I would use this fun facts website on Olympics written for kids:  I plan to show it on my SmartBoard, but you could print out the facts, cut them up, and have students read the facts aloud (or answer questions about what you read if they have question/auditory processing goals).  Then, a fun game to play at the same time, or after we learn about the Olympics. 

Grab your copy here