Camping

Camping is a summer activity that many of my preschoolers have never been exposed to or learned about. As such, it has served as a fun theme for speech this week!

I introduced this theme by asking students about their experiences with camping. Most students associated camping with fire, s’mores, and sleeping in tents. I read “Pig Pig Goes to Camp” by David McPhail to talk about other camping activities.

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To reinforce some new vocabulary, I found a fun “camping” themed Bingo game.

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This game is available as a free printable here. This was useful for describing functions, naming vocabulary, and identifying described objects.

Of course, no camping theme would be complete without s’mores! Using these free marshmallow sticks from The Speech Room News, I had students practice artic words (3x for each marshmallow) and build s’mores as a reward. S’mores were made out of cardboard (graham cracker), laminated chocolate bar pictures, and cotton balls (marshmallow). A pretend campfire was perfect for roasting marshmallows!

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Lastly, we worked on many different targets while “catching” fireflies in a jar. This craft was a great reinforcement activity. Sadly, I never got a picture of the finished product. To create it, we stamped our fingers and drew faces to make fireflies. Some of my students used multiple colors to create really pretty jars! Here is a copy of the mason jar template I used. It is pictured below!

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We enjoyed this theme! What are your favorite camping activities?

Scoops of Fun in Preschool!

This week’s theme is Ice Cream! This theme has been so much fun…I have yet to meet a preschooler who doesn’t love ice cream! Fortunately, there are many (free) activities that go with this theme. Here are some that I used this week:

This “popsicle” craft was so easy and fun! Use different colored construction paper, make strips and shapes for decoration, and add a popsicle stick to the back!

 

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Ice cream sound cones: These buildable ice cream cones are perfect for targeting artic sounds. The best part? They are FREE from this Reading mama.

 

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What would a theme be without some dot art? This page is also free as part of a pack from totschooling.

 

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This Fisher Price game really was “scoops” of fun! It is intended to be a matching game, but I also used it as reinforcement for most of my speech and language targets.

In addition to these activities, I found tons of cute ice cream crafts on Pinterest. I also found a great matching game and free file folder game. I’d call this one a success! What themes are you targeting this summer?

 

Summer

Summer session has begun! The past week has been spent learning new names, new faces, and new IEP goals! While I don’t have theme therapy plans to share this week, I do want to share three important things I have learned:

  1. Build rapport. This is important regardless of the population you work with. For adults, it only can take a few minutes. For children, it can take multiple sessions. The time spent building rapport is crucial to have future successful therapy sessions.
  2. Involve parents. I have started doing home visits for the first time in my career. It has been quite a change to go from having little contact with parents to having parents sit with me in therapy sessions! Building rapport with parents is just as important as building rapport with children. Parents need to feel that their child is working with someone knowledgeable. Most of them also want to know what they can do to help their child. Having parents right next to me has really forced me to “up” my game! I try to explain what I am working on with the child (because it often just looks like play) and encourage ways they can work on the same skills on their own. I also like to try to find out what methods parents are using for communication at home. Sometimes, if a child is nonverbal, there is no real method. It then becomes the SLP’s job to provide resources for the family.
  3. Ask children. I spent tons of time planning what I thought were fun, engaging activities. I didn’t touch a single one of them. During initial rapport building sessions, it became obvious to me that I needed to abandon my plans. Rather than reinvent the wheel, I asked my students what they like. The answer: games. What could be easier? This was a simple reminder to me that I don’t need to reinvent the wheel for therapy to be fun!

With week number 1 in the books, I am feeling (slightly) more confident and ready to begin week 2! How are your summer sessions shaping up?

Under the Sea

“Under the Sea” is a fun way to get excited for warmer weather! There are tons of (free) activities available to incorporate speech and language targets. Here are some that I used:

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Obviously, I love sensory bins. I found all the necessary materials from Powerful Mothering. I had students search for animals in both my small and large boxes. Therapy targets included describing objects, labeling, using carrier phrases, and articulation. For articulation students, I paired a target word with each object found.

My office has different themed stamp sets. We had fun creating our own “under water” scenes using stamps of different ocean animals. This activity helped us practice spatial concepts and other language targets.

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Spurtle Turtle is a cute game available on Amazon.com. The object of this game is to find coins that match. It also encourages turn taking. I was able to use it as reinforcement for most of my students’ goals.

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Gift of Curiosity makes tons of themed do-a-dot printables. All you have to do is sign up and most materials are free! These were fun to complete while practicing artic targets or “drill” type language targets.

Happy Summer!

 

Summer Carryover

Recently, I had a family ask for ideas to work on speech and language skills over the summer. That made me think-every family should be receiving SOMETHING for summer practice, especially if their child is not returning for summer services. A quick internet search really saved me a lot of time–many fellow SLPs have already created great resources for summer carryover! Add in a cover letter to explain your packet and you are ready to go!  In case you are also ending late like my school, here are some ideas for what you can include:

Articulation:

  1. mommyspeechtherapy.com has word lists for every sound in every position. I sent many of these home with instructions to play it like a bingo game, practice with stamps or stickers, or just make up silly sentences.
  2. Worksheets: We have tons of books (Say and Glue, Artic Scenes, etc.) that I haven’t touched all year. Why? I have no idea, they are such a great resource! Many have directions to help guide parents.
  3. Schoolhouse Talk has fantastic resources on her TpT page. She has made generic calendars with an articulation idea for each day. Here is the link to her page.

Language:

  1. Again, Schoolhouse Talk has calendars to target language. These have a language idea for every day! Here is the link to those calendars.
  2. Speech Room News is another TpT seller with awesome materials. She has created parent handouts for every season, in both English and Spanish! Here is the link to her summer packet.

 

With the help and resources from these fantastic SLPs, I was able to make my summer packets in no time! What do you like families to practice over the summer? What resources do you use?

Fishing Fun!

As the school year is coming to a close, I am beginning to break out some summer themes! This week we talked all about fish, as a segue into next week’s “Under the Sea” theme. Here are some of my favorite things from the week:

1. Books: The Rainbow Fish and The Pout-Pout Fish

 

The Rainbow Fish is a classic, as far as I am concerned. This book teaches a social skills lesson that fits for everyone- sharing with friends is not only a good thing to do, but also makes you happy! This book also helped teach colors, and some ocean animals. Some of my kids used pictures to retell this story and share the message with others.

The Pout-Pout Fish is a story that is new to me this year. I found this book at the library and will definitely be using it again. This book was great for talking about feelings. It also incorporates repetition.

2. Rainbow Fish Craft

 

After reading The Rainbow Fish, my students colored in a “fish” template in all different colors. We added a piece of aluminum foil to create the shiny scale. This was a hit! The fish template came from this website. Of course, we worked in our speech and language targets during coloring breaks!

3. Fishing Game

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This is not the exact game that we have, but is the same idea. Fishing games are lots of fun and can easily incorporate different targets. The best part is, even if you don’t have a game, they are so easy to make! Attach paper clips to anything (e.g., artic cards, pictures, etc.) and just use a magnet to pick it up. I forgot the magnet wands one day and it was just as fun to fish with our hands!

Coming soon– “Under the Sea” activities and ideas for summer homework packets!

 

Book Review: The Sleep Revolution

It’s been a busy few weeks as the school year comes to a close. As my stress level has increased, I have focused on ways to help myself relax when I get home. One of the best ways I destress is by reading. As SLPs, educators, parents, anyone- we are all too familiar with sleep deprivation. Over the last couple of weeks, I read a book called “The Sleep Revolution” by Arianna Huffington. Yes- Huffington, as in The Huffington Post. Though just the title of this book might be enough to make your eyes droop, it was extremely fascinating! It really has helped me think about the importance of sleep and make small, but important changes to better my sleep. It is filled with history, facts, and answers to common sleep questions, while also providing tips to improve sleep, even including an appendix of meditations and helpful apps. Sleep is the foundation of our very existence!

Here are some of facts and tips shared in this book:

  • Cut off caffeine after 2pm
  • Sleep is intertwined with every aspect of brain health
  • Poor sleep leads to poor memory, and remembering things that didn’t really happen!
  • Those who sleep 7 hours or less per night are more likely to come down with a cold than those who sleep 8 hours or more
  • Drowsy driving is as big of a problem as drunk driving
  • Through dreaming we can solve problems, and often have some of our best ideas!
  • Make sleep a priority-schedule it on your calendar like you would anything else
  • Take technology out of the bedroom! It emits blue light that can suppress melatonin and affect sleep.
  • The optimal sleeping temperature is between 60-66 degrees
  • Exercise helps sleep- no matter the time you can fit it in
  • Reduce food intake 2-3 hours before bed time and avoid spicy foods which can cause heartburn and bloating

I could go on and list tons more facts and ideas, but instead, I will leave it up to you to read the book! This one is truly worth it, whether you have sleep problems or not. What books have you read lately or plan to read this summer? Happy reading!