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?

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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…

Spatial Concepts

Spatial concepts are an IEP objective for most of my students. I usually find myself struggling for natural activities that will give lots of practice with understanding or using spatial concepts. Its fairly easy for me to identify when this skill is lacking, but treatment sometimes has me stumped. I have thought a lot about different ways to work on this skill and as a result, this blog post was born!

For starters, lets talk about development. Linguisystems has a downloadable chart that outlines when each concept should be emerging. It also provides developmental norms for acquisition of other concepts including colors, matching skills, etc. This chart is useful to reference when writing IEP goals. Working with preschoolers, I typically focus on teaching “in,” “on,” “under,” “next to,” “in front of,” “behind,” and “between”.

In my opinion, the best way to teach these concepts is by using manipulative objects. I hide an object under/on/behind, etc. the table or other object and try to have the student find it and describe the location.  In group or classroom sessions, I try to encourage spatial concepts as they occur more naturally. Often, this involves following directions such as lining up behind a certain peer, cleaning up toys by putting them on the shelf, getting materials next to the books, etc. Classroom sessions often provide the most functional therapy!

51gd0ej8eal-_sx258_bo1204203200_For those students who need a bit more structure, books can be used to practice labeling pictures of more naturalistic/functional scenarios. Snow on Snow on Snow by Cheryl Chapman uses spatial concepts on almost every page! Aside from the written story line, the pictures provide lots of opportunities to expand on character location using words including “on,” “under,” and “next to”. Interactive books with velcro pieces also provide more structure within lessons.

 

 

Hopefully you have found some inspiration from this post! What other ways do you teach spatial concepts? What activities do you incorporate?

Holiday Speeching

This post is long over due, and unfortunately, will be one of my shorter entries! December seemed to fly by and though I did plenty of winter/holiday themes, I didn’t think to document very much! In fact, I took only two pictures of activities during the whole month. That being said, this blog post will leave a little more to the imagination than usual.

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This first picture comes from a “winter” theme that I started at the beginning of December. We made penguins! As you can see, this template is from gluedtomycraftsblog.com and has the perfect pot belly for sticking on just about anything! I used this craft mostly as a reinforcer for my articulation kids. Pretty simple–just print the template, add cotton, googly eyes, and a nose! The kids loved it.

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To celebrate the Christmas season, we “practiced” opening a Christmas stocking. This was so much fun for my students! I put different items in the stocking including wrapping paper, ribbon, foam objects, themed erasers, puppets, etc. Each item was related to Christmas/holidays in some way. I had students reach in, take one/some/many (targeting those quantitative concepts) and then label or describe the object they pulled out. This was a simple activity that involved using items I already had laying around! You could also use articulation cards or targeted vocabulary pictures as stocking stuffers. Some of my students chose to do this more than once during our holiday theme.

So there you have it, short and sweet! These are two of the many things we did over the last month. My resolution for the new year is to keep up my blogging!

 

Turkey Talk

Thanksgiving is around the corner so I thought I’d share a few last minute craft ideas! Here are two low prep, multi functional activities!

  1. Turkey Feathers

This worksheet is a TpT freebie. Adding feathers turned this into a fun sensory activity! I used it mostly for kids practicing sounds, words, or building sentences.

2. Thanksgiving plate

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I printed off some clip art pictures of Thanksgiving foods to facilitate discussion about Thanksgiving dinner. For articulation students, I printed target words from Mommy Speech Therapy. We made up silly sentences with the carrier phrase “I eat  ___” using target words!

Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Halloween

WordPress just informed me that today is my “one year anniversary” of blogging! To celebrate, I’m sharing some fun Halloween activities that are so low prep you’ll be able to get them ready in time for Monday!

Sensory boxes with Halloween items! I had these foam objects and hid them in my bean box. This was a great vocabulary and sentence building activity. I also used it to target quantitative concepts. With foam objects, the kids had something tangible to take home, but any thematic objects (bat rings, witch fingers, etc.) would be perfect for a sensory bin.

Practice trick or treating! This is as simple as it looks: brown paper taped to make a door and cut paper pictures of different candies. We practiced all the social language involved with trick or treating (saying trick or treat and thank you) and sequenced the events that occur (first we knock on the door, then we wait for the door to open, say trick or treat, and choose candy). Students working on pronouns practiced using “I” to say “I want a Reese’s” or “I am dressed as X.” This was a really motivating (and simple!) activity for my preschoolers.

For a quick “print and go” activity, I found pictures to match “There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Bat” from teaching heart. This is another story that is fun to sequence and incorporates some thematic vocabulary.

What are some of your favorite Halloween activities? Happy Halloween!

 

 

Fun on the Farm!

I love talking about the farm this time of year! Usually, I have so many activities I can stretch this out for few weeks and target it more than once during the year. Here are just a couple of activities from the week:

We made our own barns!

This was an easy craft with minimal prep. I printed pictures of animals and made two cuts in a piece of red construction paper. Fold the sides in to make doors and you’re done! With many of my students, labeling animals and animal sounds was a challenge. We also worked on identifying animals receptively, CV sounds, and spatial directions with this craft.

We did sensory activities!

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If you’ve seen my other posts, you probably know that I am a big fan of sensory boxes. The one pictured above is my “travel” sensory box, so it’s a bit smaller than my usual one. Because it is smaller, I hid pictures (laminated) in the beans. In my bigger one I would use toy animals to make it more fun! I used this with all of my kids and it was a big hit! Even some of my less verbal students imitated some sounds with this.

Of course, my themes would not be complete without books. This week I used “The Very Busy Spider,” by Eric Carle, “Click Clack Moo, Cows that Type,” by Doreen Cronin, and “Duck for President,” also by Doreen Cronin. These three books are each at different levels which was perfect for use with my students of all abilities. With the upcoming election, “Duck for President” was an especially funny read!

 

Also perfect for preschool are all the farm themed songs! We sang lots of “Old McDonald” and “The Farmer in the Dell” this week. Hope you enjoy these activities as much as we did!