Speech at the Zoo

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:

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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.

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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!

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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?

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Spring Speech!

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!

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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?

It’s a snow day!

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!

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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.

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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!

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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?

Mentoring

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
  5. 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?

February Fun!

This post is dedicated to the Target dollar spot! Over the last few years, I have accumulated a number of great (and cheap!) items for therapy. These three are my favorites for Valentine’s day this year.

  1. Candy Store game! Have you ever played Granny’s Candies? This is essentially the same thing, but was $3. This game includes four boards, a spinner, and several candy pieces to place on the boards. It is perfect for teaching matching, description, same/different concepts, etc. It also serves as great reinforcement for just about any other speech/language target you can think of.
  2. Mailbox- I don’t know what it is, but there is nothing more exciting to preschoolers than mailing things. I had articulation students mail word cards, language students mail vocabulary pictures, other kids just stuffed it full of whatever would fit!Mommy Speech Therapy has free, printable target words by sound that fit perfectly into this little box. For $1, this has been on of my best buys yet.
  3. Foam hearts- I love foam crafts, and my kids do too! We will be making valentines using these as reinforcement.

There you have it! With the fun we’ve had so far, I think I will start using these games more throughout the year. What are your favorite February activities?

Winter Words

Can you believe it is already February? As the weather has turned colder, we had not one, but two snow days in the last month! The entire month focused on the general theme of the weather: winter. One great thing about winter is that there is a lot to learn about! Winter animals, hibernation, winter clothing, and snow activities are just some of the things I covered with my students this month. Here are some of the fun activities we did.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? by Bill Martin Jr./Eric Carle

This is a fun book to teach animal vocabulary. Along with it, this polar bear craft was super easy and low prep! I traced a polar bear outline onto paper and had the kids fill it in using torn white paper. I gave pieces as reinforcement for completing articulation/phonology practice or other drills.

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

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The original “bear hunt” is a book, but I confess, I didn’t read it to my students! Instead, we watched this youtube version. This was much more interactive, especially for some of my minimally verbal kids. Plus, preschoolers love music. I found a cute (and free) map printable from Pink Stripey Socks that we used to follow along with the song. Some students practiced imitating motor actions to follow along with the song. Others practiced using spatial concepts including “over,” “under,” “in,” and “through”. After narrowly escaping from the bear, articulation students fed their target words to this bear!

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel

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This book is written using both pictures and words. I had my kids help me “read” it by pausing and having them label the picture as I read each sentence. The repetitive nature of this book helped reinforce new vocabulary words. It also works well for pronouns (e.g., “he is wearing ____”). Making Learning Fun has some free story companion worksheets that are low prep and lots of fun.

These are just a few of the winter themed activities from this month. As you can see, I did a lot of literacy based activities. Great for easy planning, and also great for a variety of therapy targets! What are your favorite winter activities?

Evaluations

Lately, I have received several evaluation referrals for preschool children who stutter. Fortunately, last year I took a CEU course on stuttering taught by Scott Yaruss. This CEU turned everything I thought I knew, upside down!

In the past, I have always used frequency of stutters as a big determining factor in my recommendations for services. The problem with using frequency is that inevitably, the child will come into the evaluation and be completely fluent. Frequency only provides a snapshot of stuttering in that moment. Scott Yaruss instead points out that it is better to be able to identify whether stuttering is likely to persist or not. To do so, he identifies several risk factors consider.

  1. Gender- Males are more likely to persist with stuttering than women
  2. Language/Motor mismatch- Any mismatch in language and motor skills (typically observed as articulation skills) can be a negative risk factor.
  3. Child’s temperament- A highly reactive child is more likely to persist in stuttering. Reactivity could be to stuttering, or anything else in the child’s life.
  4. Concomitant disorder- If the child has any concomitant disorder, stuttering is more likely to persist.
  5. Parental concern- Highly concerned parents tend to increase the chance that stuttering will persist. Often parents are the ones who request the evaluation, so it is typically safe to assume parents hold some level of concern.
  6. Time since onset (TSO)- This is how long the stuttering has persisted. Typically a TSO greater than 6 months is a negative risk factor.

Typically I use the Stuttering Severity Instrument-4th edition to also give that “number” information that school districts look for. Providing the above information gives additional support to recommendations and helps boost students who may have had a spike in fluency during the evaluation!

Now for goal writing…