Followers, I am re-entering the blogging world after almost one year of a break! This year has been filled with lots of exciting things, both personal and professional. One of these changes has been a change to my caseload, resulting in my covering students in grades PreK-12. This has taken a lot of adapting, organizing, and creativity on my part. With less and less time for planning, I have been reaching for low or no prep activities and games that are flexible enough to suit the wide range of goals I target. One of my tried and true favorites is play doh.
My favorite thing about play doh: It makes everything fun. Even my toughest students are excited when I break out the play doh.
The best part for planning: I have been able to easily adapt activities for both preschool and elementary aged students.
This month I have focused on a winter themed unit. From my previous posts, I’m sure you know “The Mitten” by Jan Brett is a staple in my winter theme. Simply speech makes a corresponding “smash mat” activity available here on Teachers Pay Teachers. I love this activity because I can target so much–story retell, grammar, and sequencing for elementary students and questions, vocabulary, and requesting with younger students. Not to mention, EVERYONE loves play doh! From my preschoolers with Autism to language delayed 1st graders, there is just something about it!
In my most unprepared times, I have made my own play doh activities on the fly! All you really need is a prompt. Sometimes I’ll name a category and encourage students to name and create items in that category. Other times, I’ll encourage free building with play doh and engage students in discussion about their creation. So easy, adaptable, and fun!
There are many, many other smash mats and play doh available on Teachers Pay Teachers, for FREE! What are your favorite play doh activities?
When I tell people that I work with high schoolers and preschoolers, the first comment is usually “Wow! What a difference!” Surprisingly, the planning isn’t all that different! Across the board, my preschool kids and high school students are always asking if we can play games. Lucky for me, games are some of the most natural (and fun) ways to target speech and language skills. So, I have decided to compile a list of some of the games I use in therapy.
For preschoolers, I can turn anything into a game! Some of our favorites are things I bought for $1 at Target, or made myself by laminating pictures. Here are a few others the kids can’t get enough of:
The Sneaky, Snacky, Squirrel
Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco
These are just a few that I have used a lot this year. I have also made several of my own bingo and matching games. Games are always a hit with the younger kids. They really learn best through play and games!
Headbanz or Heads Up app
With my high school kids, these games are great for getting conversation going, turn-taking, asking/answering questions, social skills, vocabulary, describing, and categorization. They hit pretty much any language target we have!
I have found games to be easy for planning and some of the most enjoyed activities by the kids. When they target so many skills, I don’t feel “lazy” using games for therapy! What are your favorite games to use with students?
It’s been a while since my last blog post, and for good reason! I recently changed jobs and now work with both preschool AND high school students. The change has taken some adjustment, but I am ready to continue sharing therapy activities and some new ideas for older students!
Because this is my first post since my new position, I would like to talk about some of the topics I have covered with my high school students. As always, I need more ideas! So, feel free to comment additional topics below.
This past week, I co-taught a lesson on emotional intelligence. I found these two packets with a lot of activities for reflection:
Most of my students have goals for problem solving, vocabulary, making friends, and social skills. These activities facilitated a lot of discussion about feelings, skills, and interactions with others. I recommend checking these out!
One thing I struggle with is finding activities that are motivating for older students. I am trying to incorporate lots of interaction through games and cell phones where appropriate. What interactive activities or websites do you use? What topics do you cover with older students?
The last few weeks have covered a “zoo” theme. I found tons of activities to pair with this theme, and it even lined up perfectly with a class trip to the zoo! Here are a few things that I used:
We literally made a paper zoo. This VERY simple activity was really exciting for some of my students. I have several who take pride in making something tangible to take home. This did the trick. This activity was great for language building and vocabulary. We targeted sentence building, articulation, identifying objects, and making different animal sounds.
Disclaimer: This is not a child on my caseload, nor did I complete this craft with this child. This photo was taken from www.havingfunathome.com. Thanks for the great idea!
In any event, I did duplicate this activity with students on my caseload and boy was it cute! I liked doing articulation practice with this one, you could even write target words on the paper strips!
Little people toys are the best. This set is available on Amazon. It is always amazing to see what stories kids come up with. This set makes lots of noises too, great for cause and effect!
We’re getting closer to summer! What do you include in your zoo theme? What activities are getting you to the end of the year?
It is finally starting to feel like spring in upstate NY! In the preschool world, spring brings an absolutely crazy paperwork time. Meetings, testing, and reports have taken over a huge part of my work day, on top of my regular caseload! I have to admit, lesson planning has taken a back seat. I recently did a a very simple spring activity that was hit with my little ones. Hope this gives you a little inspiration as we make it through these last few months!
I love all of the “There Was an Old Lady…” books. They are easy for targeting a variety of skills and always tell a cute story. There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed A Chick helped us practice prepositions, yes/no questions, vocabulary, and verbs, among other skills. After reading the story, I had my students make a chick of their own using construction paper, googly eyes, and feathers. This activity was easily adaptable for some of nonverbal students by including the iPad and pictures, as you can see above.
Very simple prep, and a fun activity that everyone enjoyed! What are your favorite spring themed lessons?
We are under a “state of emergency” and travel ban up here in the northeast! As the snow falls (2 feet and counting!), I figured I might as well put together a blog post about therapy plans this week. This week’s focus is “St. Patrick’s Day” and here are a few last minute ideas!
Leprechaun Speech templates from O’Doodles on Teachers Pay Teachers! I am using this free resource for articulation/phonological therapy. I wrote words containing target sounds in each shamrock, had kids practice the words 3x each, and color! Easy, quick, and also a good activity for carryover at home.
Another great Teachers Pay Teachers resource made by Teaching Talking. I plan to use this one with chips and magnet wands. These open ended boards are truly open ended–a great reinforcer activity for any therapy target!
Last but not least, these Do-a-Dot Printables from Gift of Curiosity are a fun, low prep activity also suited for any therapy target!
This week’s activities are all free, low-prep, and easily adapted for targeting different skills. Thanks to all of the creators for making planning so much easier this week. What activities are you using for St. Patrick’s Day?
Have you ever had the opportunity to mentor a student intern or clinical fellow? This spring, I am mentoring an undergraduate student who is interested in speech pathology. This is the first time I have had the opportunity to do this, and as a result, I did a little research to ensure I would know what to expect. In my research I came across useful tidbits for both mentors and mentees. I thought I would share some of the “good ones” here, as well as some of what I’ve learned so far.
Tips for Mentors:
- Keep an “open door” policy. This might seem like a “no-brainer,” but the student is there to learn from you. Encourage questions. Make time to explain what you are doing, even if you feel you don’t have time.
- Be friendly. Another fairly simple concept, but this can make all the difference! Have you ever worked in a setting or worked for someone who just wasn’t friendly? It can really put a damper on even the best work settings.
- Be flexible and be prepared. Students should learn what the job is really like. Change up your schedule to allow them to see different populations/disorders/group settings. Show them child-directed versus therapist-directed types of interventions. Conduct evaluations, data, etc. Let the student get involved (under supervision) when they are ready! Involvement is the best way to learn.
- Prepare your clients. This was one I learned in the moment. Some of my children got very shy around a new person. Encourage the mentee to interact with students as much as possible to help reduce any client anxieties.
- Be confident! Ok, this was one I really struggled with in the beginning. However, I truly surprised myself when I was able to answer some of the “tough” questions. Remember, students are there to learn from you, not to judge you! Even if you don’t know how to help them in the moment, you can always search for resources later on.
Tips for Mentees:
- Don’t be afraid. I mean this quite literally. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, to get involved, or to ask for responsibility. You are there to learn, and the best way to learn is to get involved!
- Explore other areas. One thing I wish I had done more as a student is to observe occupational therapists, physical therapists, psychologists, etc.We all work together as a team, and a thorough understanding of all related fields is very important.
- Network. You never know where you’ll end up looking for a job! Forming good relationships with staff can be a foot in the door to future employment.
- Make/take materials. This is a great time to learn from others about what materials are “worth it” and to get lots of free copies! I am still using so many materials that I made during undergraduate clinic. It has saved me tons of time!
- Ask for help. This is a mentored experience. If you are feeling overwhelmed or stressed, let your mentor know! You are still learning, and should not expect to know everything!
What do you think? What do you wish you’d known as a student? As a mentor?