Lazy Summer Days

May 30, 2017

Lazy summer days are ahead for many of us. 
I am excited about it.

I promised myself that this summer I would take the time to enjoy it.  

Last year I sewed all summer. I didn't go anywhere except to care for a friend who was ill. I know many SLPs have loved and appreciated my handiwork in creating all those felt book companions.  And I know my friend appreciated having me there to help her recuperate from surgery.  

But....I need a break.

Some down time

A little sunshine
Time with friends

A different scenery

It won't be all play because I'll be creating several new resources for you to use in your therapy sessions. I'm also going to be revamping some of those older resources, too.  So when you go back to school in August or September, you'll have some fresh ideas and ways to work with your students!

I hope that you will....

make the time, 

take the time, 

create the time, 

choose to enjoy your summer!
It doesn't last long and your body and brain need it!

Here's to a restful and rejuvenating SUMMER!

Why I Love Teaching Emotions

May 22, 2017

Today I have the privilege of bringing you a guest post by Erin Boley Dunkle, of Communication Blessings! Erin loves teaching emotions and has been very successful with it. Here's her story.

Have you ever had one of those students who just sticks out to you in your mind as one of your favorites? I have been an SLP for 12+ years now and there is one little guy who will always hold a special place in my heart. Ironically, I only worked with him for a year and I highly doubt anyone in his family even remembers me, but he sure made a lasting impression on me and how I do my job.
I was young, new SLP who had plenty of book knowledge, but nothing teaches you more than being down in the trenches. My favorite little guy was on the autism spectrum and had a behavior plan, but along with that, I also got to have CPI training. Wow, did that come in handy! The sweetest, most adorable kid you’ve ever laid your eyes on would suddenly turn into something like The Hulk whenever he reached his max tolerance, usually with writing. 
This is when my love for teaching body language and facial cues really began. I am a firm believer that there is no better teacher for our kids than their peers. I don’t care how much we say and do, NOTHING measures up to learning alongside their peers. When classroom peers take an interest and participate, that’s golden! 
I truly believe that having a solid understanding and use of a wide variety of emotions is VITAL for good social interactions with peers. Man, I wish I’d had some of my products back then! When I first started learning how to make my own products, this is one that was near and dear to my heart that I wanted to make “TpT worthy”. Despite the wide variety of emotion products in my store now, this one still remains my best seller. 😊 (I also have a monster version…because I monsters…and one with real photos).
My biggest goal, when working with any students who have social skills deficits, is to first make sure they understand emotions and their body language and facial cues. I do everything I can to break them down and make them as concrete as possible. When they can learn to identify the emotions of others (and the reason behind them!), that’s priceless in their social interactions. Seriously! For my favorite little guy, this was his major “AHA! moment”. He started to realize that his behavior outbursts scared some of his classmates that he so desperately wanted to impress. Conversely, many of his peers started recognizing when an outburst was coming and could help him problem solve….priceless!! 

After this “AHA! moment”, we were successfully able to build confidence with skills inside the classroom and even discovered that he was quite a math whiz. His confidence even trickled over into his clothing and food choices. He started trying new things and being proud of it! He made friends in his classroom and they cheered him on when he wore a different shirt for the day….again, priceless! I could give you many other examples as to why body language and facial cues are SO important for our students, but this one is by far my favorite. Having that core understanding of emotions (beyond just happy, mad, and sad) can open up so many other opportunities, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Erin's bio:
I am a proud alumni of the University of Kentucky. I have a Bachelor of Health Sciences degree in Communication Disorders and a Master of Science degree is Communication Disorders. I have been an SLP for a little over 12 years now. Most of that time, I have worked with PreK-2nd grade. I have also spent a few years working with upper elementary students as well as infants and toddlers.

Staying Motivated to the End of the Year!!

May 15, 2017

My daughter-in-law is a kindergarten teacher and this is her last week before summer break. I can't believe we are at the end of the year.  It has flown by for me because I'm not working in the schools anymore, but that doesn't mean I don't understand how difficult it can be to keep your head in the game and motivate the kids to work as well.  So let me share with you some motivating activities the help you get through these last days!

My new search and find activities are always good because you can target articulation and some language skills because they stimulate conversation and naturally have position concepts due to the location of the hidden objects!

These snack mats from Monae's Speech House are so colorful and FUN ....and very inexpensive!!

Do you have kids working on carryover?  Then these stories by Activity Tailor will fit the bill!

Kim's Bugs in The Grass is very cute and creative too! I couldn't decide on just one of her activities!

Are you are trying to get your summer packets together?  Then you'll want to include this from Renee at Keeping Speech Simple!

Here is a board game that's sure to grab the interest of all your little girls in therapy!

We can't leave social skills out!  This is perfect for summer!

Use in your sessions right now and send home in their summer work!  Excellent emotions product.

This is so fun for working with your preschoolers until the year is over or to send home in a summer packet!

And last but not least is this cup stacking activity that is mega fun any time of the year!

So there you have lots of things to add some motivation to the end of the year and several things you can send home for practice for the summer or use in summer school!

YOU CAN MAKE IT!  Yes, you can!

Leaving TpT Feedback Equals FREE Resources!

May 8, 2017

Just a quick post today to remind you to go through your TpT purchases and leave feedback before the big sitewide sale tomorrow! 

TpT has made many improvements and one of them is in locating the purchases that need feedback.

Go to your purchases and you will see the "sort by" box and when you click it, you will see five ways in which you can sort your purchases. Highlighted in blue you will see Needs Feedback, click it and all items that you have purchased that still needs feedback will pop up!  You don't need to scroll endlessly to find them as they will be listed for you. You can quickly leave feedback in no time!

With the big sale starting tomorrow, extra money to spend while everything is on sale will be wonderful!  

Do it NOW!

Articulation Idea For That Last Month Of School

April 24, 2017

May is the hustle and bustle month for most SLPs.

A gazillion IEP reviews and re-evals are all due in this one month.

We are tired.  

We are counting the days until the summer break. Not because we are lazy but because we have given our all for the last 9 months.

I've been there and I've done that.  I understand.  You don't have time to work on engaging activities, so that is why I have created this articulation activity, Search and Find for Early Developing Sounds. Just print put in page protectors and you are ready for therapy.

You choose the targets you want to practice and let your students search and find the pictures.  It is that simple.  You can choose how you wish for them to practice these sounds: say the word x number of times, in a phrase or a carrier sentence such as I found the ____ or I see the ____.

You can also target the question "where".....Where is (the) ____? Student: Here is (the) ____.

You can laminate these pages and just pull out the ones you are using for that session.  Or you can put them in sheet protectors and a binder.  This saves time as they are all in once place and you only have to flip to the page you want. Section divider pages are included.

The sheet protectors work great with dry erase markers!  Just wipe them off, close the binder, and return to your bookshelf.  I have not been as successful with dry erase markers and laminated pages. Maybe you have?

You can create the full 8.5x11 page size or you can create a half page size. You will set your printer to print 2 to a page. Cut the pages in half and insert into page protectors (I found the 5x8 binders and sheet protectors at Staples, but have heard they can be found at Target.)  Use the cover page as your binder cover.  This smaller size is my preference. 

I've included detailed instructions in this packet on how to set these up in binders so that the questions are at the top and the picture is at the bottom.  

A simple set up that you do once and have for years to come. 

Although this is for the early sounds, I am in the process of creating the later sounds this week so they will be available for you this May!  

To know when the later sounds are released follow me on FB or IG.  (The links to follow me there and my TpT store are at the top of my blog.)

I hope this helps you help them during this busy IEP season!

Stop Writing "F" on Social Media Posts!

April 17, 2017

People! People! People! You need to stop writing "F" as a comment on social media posts!

This is my current pet peeve.

I have lots of pet peeves and they change daily.  

This one just gets its attention today.

Is this like nails on a chalkboard to you?  It is to me.  I'm reading an interesting post and then start reading the comments only to find responses of "F" over and over again.  Or just as bad are the comments of "Following."  I know I shouldn't be bothered by such trivia when there are certainly greater issues in this world, but you see it every single day and it grates on me.

If I am stepping on your toes, I am so sorry.   However, I'm not just going to offend you and walk away.  I'm going to educate you on the proper way to follow that message you want to know more about.

Here is a picture tutorial of how to properly follow a post so you can be kept in the loop on forthcoming comments or answers to a posed question. It is also how you can save a post for future reference.

This picture is from Sarah Warchol's FB page 
She was recommending the following webinar.  I want to watch this webinar and don't want to forget where I saw this so I will save it.

It is very simple and takes no time to do this.  You click on the caret in the top right side of the post. The following picture shows where it is located.

When you click on the caret you will get a dropdown box with options.  You can either save the post or be notified of future comments on the post.

All I have to do is click save link or turn on notifications.  It really is that simple.

Now to find the things you have saved read this from the help center:

I hope I have explained how to do this without offending anyone.  It is like the old saying, when I knew better I did better.

My Best Tips for Eliciting the K Sound.

April 10, 2017

I originally wrote this post on April 18, 2011. My how time flies!

I have often felt baffled as to why kids cannot produce /k/ when developmentally we make posterior sounds before anterior. Think about it, a baby’s first sounds are goo-goo and ga-ga, so isn’t /k/ just a naturally developing response? It makes me go, hmmm. Luckily there are several ways to go about teaching this sound. These tips are not in any particular order, so don’t think Tip #1 is the best. All these tips have been used successfully by several of my colleagues and me.  Please remember what works with one child does not always work with another. We are simply sharing some ideas of things to try.

TIP #1 Cue with “Clear out the Popcorn”

This tip is not EBP and I am not trying to pass it off as such.  I am just sharing an out of the box idea for when all else has failed.  In my many years of practice, I have found that the major reason a child cannot imitate a sound from our model and demonstration is simply that they don’t understand what we are telling them to do. They just don’t “get it.” It also seems that they more often than not just don’t get it when we try to show and explain how to do those sounds that are made in the back of our mouths: /k/, /g/, /r/. So to help them “get it” I try to relate the sound to something to which they are familiar. Most all of us have eaten popcorn and don’t we all, at times, get a husk caught on the back of our tongue and have to clear it out? That is what I use to help them understand what I mean by the back of the mouth or back of the tongue, etc. Every child I have had in therapy can show me with 100% accuracy where the front and back of the mouth is located on a drawing and can point to the front and back of their own mouths, but yet cannot put their own tongues there. To teach them how to find and lift the back of their tongues, we practice that horrible hacky-growly guttural sound we make when clearing out the popcorn. We do this until I feel they fully understand what I mean when I say use the back of your tongue. Once they “get it” you can shape it into a beautiful /k/ in isolation and begin your regular therapy. If they forget to get their tongue up when drilling syllables or words, just cue with “clear out the popcorn.”

If you really want to be the fun “speech teacher” why not bring some popcorn to eat in therapy? Just check for food allergies first ;)

TIP#2 Cereal

You can also get correct tongue positioning for /k/ using cereal-Cheerios or Fruit Loops. This approach is taught by Sara Rosenfeld-Johnson in her Talk Tools program. Basically, what you do is place the cereal behind the bottom front teeth and have the child place the tip of his tongue in the cereal hole and hold it there to keep the tip down while making the /k/ using the back of the tongue. This technique is explained in detail in the Talk Tools program. Here is the link to the website. I highly recommend you learn how to implement this technique because it is effective. It is great for kids who front the back sounds and need the tactile cueing.

TIP #3 Tactile Cues—Holding the Tip and Blade

For years I have had kids to use their own finger to hold the tongue tip down to get the correct position for /k/ when they were substituting /t/ for/k/. Many times they will have to not just hold the tip but the tongue blade as well. You can start out with them holding only the tip down while they say /k/, but if they start making the /k/ with the blade of their tongue mid palate you will have to have them hold more of the tongue down and push the tongue further back in their mouths. This has been exceptionally effective at achieving a good /k/ sound. Many people do not like this approach, but if it works then I say use it. I have had some kids who have had to use their finger to hold their tongue down not only in isolation but through syllable and even a few into words (gasp)! However, never fear, I have never had a kid graduate from speech therapy and still have their finger in their mouth!! I never ask them to quit using their finger. They eventually get tired of using it and stop on their own. Don’t you think we sometimes worry too much about the little things?
When implementing this strategy if you are the one holding the child’s tongue via your own gloved hand, finger cot, or tongue depressor be careful of a hyper gag reflex. If you find a child with a hyper gag, you have two choices: 1) desensitize the gag reflex or 2) don’t use this approach. If the child can tolerate you inside his mouth a nice little tip is to use flavored toothpaste on a dental swab. It is just less invasive tasting.

TIP# 4 Use Gravity

Some children need a little more help learning to elevate the back of their tongue, and gravity helps! There are suggestions to have the children let their head lean over the back of their chair or have them lie on the floor. Personally, I have had no success with using the chair technique. I have had success doing therapy while the child is lying on his/her back on the floor. Initially, I just have the child lie on his back on the floor and do some deep breathing exercises to help him relax. I will sometimes lay a book on his stomach for this. They can see the book rise and fall as they breathe. After the child looks relaxed and at ease with lying on the floor, I begin therapy using the other techniques explained in this article. The one that seems to work the best is using tactile cues. I will start with a tongue blade and gently “push” the tongue tip down toward the back of the mouth. If this doesn’t work, I try having the child “cough” really hard, (similar to the clearing of the throat.) Usually, this combination of techniques works within one to two sessions, and we can go back to sitting in our chairs for therapy.

TIP#5 Getting Tongue Retraction

You cannot produce a /k/ without your tongue retracting back into the mouth. To achieve a tongue retraction response, stimulate midline of the tongue from anterior to posterior with a tongue depressor or your gloved finger. Pam Marshalla explains this very well on the website

I suppose this sums up every tip and trick we have up our sleeves. Hopefully, this has affirmed that what you’re doing is right or maybe even got you to thinking it is ok to try something off the wall in therapy.  I am all for Evidence-Based Practice but sometimes when all else has failed you must try something unique.  It just might work for this particular student.  

I will not discuss or debate EPB, so no need to leave heated comments.