Sunday, January 31, 2016

What Word Does this Say: Bl - e - n- d?

I’m on week 4 of talking about Phonological Awareness skills; those skills that demonstrate understanding of the sound structure of words, necessary for developing literacy skills.

This week, I’m talking about blending sounds into words.  This includes segmenting, blending, and deleting - in that order of difficulty - of the sounds in words.
(If you’ve missed any of the previous posts about Phonological Awareness in general and the specific skills in particular, you might want to go back and read all the posts from this month.)



To go back to our attendance or circle time activity, try breaking a student’s name into individual sounds when you call their name, and see if students can blend them together to respond or find their classmates.

Use words from any classroom activity, and segment them into individual sounds, and see if students can identify the word.  To go back to circle time songs, let’s use Old MacDonald again.
Old MacDonald had a farm. e - i - e - i - o
And on that farm he had a p - i - g. e - i - e - i - o
“What animal did he have?

Simon says, “Touch your h - ea - d.”  Do your students follow the direction?  You might need to ask, “What should you touch?”  Watch to see who responds first, and who waits to follow what everyone else is doing.  Those last students may not get it, and may just be following the environmental cues.

There are lots of ways to build sound blending into your daily activities.  You can work on sound segmenting by printing out words and having students cut them apart into their component sounds.  Begin with simple C-V-C words, to avoid confusion with blends and digraphs.
As always, the task is both more fun and more effective with a manipulative component, so have students use paper clips, crackers, gummy bears - anything - to count out and place in a  row the sounds in words as you say them.  Or have them stack blocks or legos in little towers.

The most difficult task is, as usual, deletion.  Say “ball.”  Say it without the /b/.  “All.”
This task is easier when the deletion of the sound leaves a real, familiar word.  It becomes more difficult when the remainder is a nonsense word. 

Share with us your favorite blending activities.

Next week we manipulate sounds in words to make new words.  

If you're looking for some resources for the tasks we've discussed, try these: Phonological Awareness Games and Phonological Awareness File Folders.


Until then keep on talking.





Sunday, January 24, 2016

Which Sound Came First?

This is our 3rd week of phonological awareness tasks.  If you missed weeks 1 or 2 (rhyming) go back and read the previous posts.  If you missed the introductory discussion of phonological awareness, go back 3 posts to catch up, if you’d like.


This week, we’re talking about sound sequencing and identifying the initial and final sounds in words.
At the easiest level, let’s match initial sounds.  Find the word that begins with the asme sound as ___.  You’ll want to use pictures for matching, providing at least 3 choices of responses.  Which words begins with the same sound as “mouse?”  Milk, fish, house.

Try saying,  “I am going on a trip, and I am taking ( 3 things that begin with the initial sound of your name) salami, surfboards, and sardines.  Go around the room and have each child tell 3 things (s)he is taking, based on the initial sound in his/her name.  Provide whatever level of scaffolding needed, especially for AAC users, who might need help navigating to the pages they need to find the words they want.

Go back to the words you used in the first task, but this time, have students name the initial sound.  If I say ‘mouse,’ what sound comes first?  You can also do this at circle time with each student’s name.  When you say “Tommy is here.” ask what sound his name begins with - have other students answer if Tommy already knows.

Go back and do these same tasks with the final sounds in words.  What words end with the same sound as my name?  Well, my name is Susan and the final sound is /n/.  What else ends with /n/?  Pan,  fin,  sun all end with /n/.

Here are some cards for practicing initial and final sound identification. 







If you’d like the whole resource for the cards I’m giving you here, it’s free on my TPT store here.

Do you have a favorite initial sounds task? Share it with us.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

What's to Love About San Diego in the Winter? A Lot!

Welcome to my stop on the blog hop. The Southern California Winter Blog Hop, that is.


A group of Southern California Educator Bloggers are here to tell you their favorite things about Winter in Southern California; including where to go and what to see. 
We're also bringing you some great Winter-themed educational FREEBIES, to help warm up your winter wherever you are.
So read this post, grab my FREEBIE, then head on over to the next post by clicking on the blog button below my FREEBIE.  Don't forget to enter the Raffle for a chance to win, too!

So, down to business.  What do I love about Southern California in the Winter?  For a New England transplant that's easy!  NO snow!! NO below freezing temperatures! NO ice!  Did I say, NO snow?!

I know it's a cliche, but there it is.  It is warm. Even when it is cold for San Diego, it is warmer than Boston.  A lot.



I also love the ocean.  I don't actually care about going into the ocean.  I love to sit in front of it. Watch it. Listen to it. Walk along the beach next to it.
I find the sound of the waves soothing.  That's my way to relax.

San Diego has lots of other great things to recommend it, too.  When I homeschooled my daughter in Middle School we went to Sea World and the Animal Park on a very regular basis.  We all love animals in our family.  Feeding the rays, the dolphins, and the lorikeets became  a fun way to spend a morning - before the crowds hit - and then go on with our way.



When my husband and I go on vacation, often we go looking for good snorkeling.  But some of the best snorkeling in the world is right here at La Jolla Cove.  Right in our own backyard, so to speak.

My Winter themed freebie is more New England based than San Diego, if you go by the images.  I've taken my Word Family Task Cards and created a sample page just for you using words and graphics with a winter theme.  
My passions include giving children a voice through teaching AAC - augmentative-alternative communication - and teaching them literacy skills.  So, as a part of developing the phonological awareness skills needed for developing those literacy skills, I have created a fun way to practice word families through sound manipulation.
Grab the FREEBIE by simply grabbing the image and putting it on your desk-top.





For a bigger free trial of the Word Family Task Cards, click here.
For the entire package of them, click here.

Here is the next blog:




a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep warm, and Keep on Talking!


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What's In Your Cart? Linky Party

It's time for another site-wide TPT sale.   Thanks to SLP Runner for sponsoring the Linky.



A great time to stock up on resources for teaching or therapy, or for clip art for new resources.
I have some new materials ready just in time for the sale.  I've been working really hard on some beginning guided reading/shared reading resources for special education and speech-language students.  I've used traditional, favorite folk tales and created language-based activities and reading structures for each of them.
I've used The Little Red Hen, Goldilocks and the 3 Bears, The 3 Billy Goats Gruff, and the 3 Little Pigs.  For all of the stories I included vocabulary activities, sequencing and retelling activities, and story element activities.



I also added informational text for background knowledge about bears and pigs and goats and baking bread.  There are "I Can Read" books for the students to make, and Working with Words activities.
There's a lot in each resource!  And for even more savings, I've bundled the first 4 into one money saving and time saving package!

I'm also happy with my resource for using wordless picture books for building pragmatic language skills.  The book Pancakes for Breakfast is perfect for  having students pay attention to body language and facial expressions, as well as context cues to determine what the characters are thinking and why they are doing what they do.





In my own shopping cart, I've got loads of great clip art.  There's so much to choose from on TPT.  Their are many great artists who lend a hand when we create fun materials for kids.  

A lot of my resources need realistic-looking art for the students with Autism with whom I work.  One of my favorite clip artists at TPT is Away With the Pixels. Her realistic animals are fabulous.
I also love her people; like these:


The Painted Crow store also has some great fairly realistic looking clip art; like tis set in my cart:



I've got LOADS more clip art in my cart. I've become a clip art junkie. I'm not afraid to admit it, and I have no plans to enter rehab.

Have fun at the sale. Pick up some bargains. And keep on talking.



Sunday, January 17, 2016

Can You Count the Syllables?

This is our 2nd week of phonological awareness tasks.  If you missed week1 (rhyming) go back and read the previous post.  If you missed the introductory discussion of phonological awareness, go back 2 posts.


This week I’m talking about blending and segmenting and deleting syllables in words.

One of the easiest ways to introduce segmenting words into syllables happens when you take attendance.  Many of the teachers I work with do this at circle time, calling each name or - for reading names -  holding up a name card for each student.  Now let’s add a step to that - segmenting the names into syllables and having students clap or stomp their feet or tap on their desks.  If you’re like Caroline Musselwhite you’ll have student chant the names repetitively while they clap/stomp/tap: Sus - an, Sus - an, Sus - an.  Where is Jor - ge, Jor - ge, Jor - ge?  I see “Lin - da, Lin - da, Lin - da.  Where is Beth - a - ny, Beth - a - ny,  Beth - a - ny?

Try segmenting words at snack time, and see if students can identify the word. 
I have a ba - na - na.  What do I have?
Tim has sa - la - mi.  What does he have?
John has an or - ange.  What does he have?

The hardest segmenting task is deletion.  We usually start with compound words, like baseball.  If I say “baseball” without the “ball,” what do I have?  “Base.”
A bit harder is deleting syllables in words; like saying “rocket” without the “et,’ which leaves…. “rock.”

Here are some syllable counting picture cards for you to use. 





You might also want to hop over to my TPT store and pick up my free compound word book.  You can use the words and pictures for a deletion task.

If you want more fun with counting syllables, try my Fun Counting Syllables games with two themes (ballet and baseball) for fun with syllable segmenting. 


Next week: Identifying initial and final sounds in words.  In the meantime, keep on talking!


And tell me, what is your favorite segmenting activities?



Sunday, January 10, 2016

Is There a Cat on Your Mat? Has He Caught a Rat?

Last week I introduced phonological awareness and promised a month of skills.  If you missed the discussion, go back 1 post to read it.





First up: Rhyme.  You may have noticed that many books for the preschool crowd use a lot of rhyme.  Dr. Seuss was a master craftsman when it came to rhyming. From “two fish…blue fish..” to “wocket - pocket,” and more his books delight children with their rhyme.
Some children, however, need explicit instruction to notice that the words sound the same at the end.  The similarities need to be pointed out and discussed.  Have students raise their hand - or a small flag - when they hear the rhyme.
“The eensy weensie spider climbed up the water spout
Down came the rain and washed the spider out “

Then instruction focuses on producing rhymes by matching the sounds.

One activity is a cloze procedure, where students can fill in the blanks.  You might begin by providing picture word banks from which they can choose a correct response.

Sally has fun  
playing in the ___. 

On the flower I see
a buzzing bumble ___.

I see the cat
chasing a ___.

Try it with familiar songs (you might not make sense, but that’s ok)

Old MacDonald had a farm. e - i - e - i - o
On that farm he had a ____ (ex.: charm) e - i - e - i - o

Here are some rhyming task cards for you to use to see if students can identify rhyming words.  





If you’d like the whole resource for the cards I’m giving you here, it’s free on my TPT store here:  



What are your favorite rhyming activities?
Next week: counting syllables.
’til then, keep on talking.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

My Top 3 Organizational Tips for SLPs



When I worked in a school district I was in 5 different schools every week.  I often felt like the tourists in the movie “If it’s Tuesday it Must be Belgium.”  Uh…wait. I might be the only one here old enough to remember that movie.  Well, it was a darkish comedy about tourists on one of those whirlwind tours of Europe.  Different day, different country.

My van was my office.  And by the time I drove from one school to the next and found a place to park (especially when half the parking lot was covered by heaps of snow) I was already late for the next group or class. 

So, I had to be able to find what I needed from the back of my car QUICKLY and run.  That meant color-coding.  Everything was color coded.  Unfortunately, back then there were fewer really cool office supplies with which to do this, but there were different colored file folders and plenty of highlighters.

Each day had a different color.  Each part of the day had a different color.  Each group had a different color.  You get the idea, right?  Of course, there weren’t that many different colors, so I had to do a little creative combining.  Then I actually had to remember the system.  Fortunately, I was a lot younger then and it was much easier.  Find the color, grab, and GO!

My second organizational plan sounds obvious. Alphabetize.  Categorize. (and more color coding).  I was also the district-wide diagnostician.  I did all of the district’s speech-language-communication evaluations.  Yup.  All of them.  In all of the schools.  More moving quickly.  So, each different type of test protocol had a different color.  One color for phonology, one for memory and processing, etc.  Then, each group got alphabetized.  

Of course, it goes without saying that you’d alphabetize the student folders by their last name, right?  Um, not always.  Because most of these kids were not on my therapy caseload, I had to keep them separated by date of the meeting.  Because, quite frankly, I was still in that “If it’s Monday it must be…Sarah” mindset.  
Colleagues would want to talk about Sarah before the meeting.  Sara?  Sara who?  Which Sara? So, student folders actually got organized chronologically.  When was the meeting?  When did I need to get the report written?  OK, Sara on the 17th.  Got it.

Now, all of this might seem obvious, and those of you who are old hands at school districts have already shook your heads at the simplicity of it, but up until that job I had always worked in non-public settings, hospital settings, places where I either had a set group of students and my own office space, or I was an administrator and didn’t have to worry about any of this at all!  
So figuring out a way to make tis all work was a big help.

My last organizational tip was born of necessity when my current office space got crowded out by toys.  My home office space used to be my son’s room (he’s 32 now).  It’s not all that big once you add the desks, bookshelves, file cabinets, and stacks of stuff everywhere.  

I primarily do AAC evaluations these days.  Which means lots of toys and games and fun stuff with which to engage kids.  I fully subscribe to the participation model (Beukelman and Mirenda 2005) of AAC evaluation.  So, basically I spend a lot of time playing with kids.  

Every time I set out to do an eval I had to re-pack my big rolling bag with whatever toys and activities I thought this particular kiddo might enjoy (that’s always the most important part of my pre-assessment questionnaire).

So, one day a few years ago, I got inspired.  I piled all of the toys on the floor and started to group them.  Typically boy toys or typically girls’ ?  Developmental age?  Adapted for motor access?  That last group was easy.  I definitely needed all of my switch adapted things in one place.  
The rest of the toys I roughly grouped by developmental age and usual interest.  Everything went into 5 different bags.  
Except for the one group that goes with me everywhere!  I don’t leave home without bubbles, at least 1 koosh - especially the really squishy kind - and my DVD player.


It’s much easier now to grab a bag and go.  A while I still customize - sometimes grabbing items from different bags, it is much easier to pack up and hit the road. 


So, that's how I've stayed organized.  Nothing earth shattering, but definitely useful.

Thanks to the Frenzied SLPs for hosting this blog linky!


Sunday, January 3, 2016

5 Steps in Literacy Instruction

I wish everyone a happy, safe, and peaceful New Year!  I am going to start the new year off with a series of posts this month (January 2016) about Phonological Processing and Awareness skills.  Phonological awareness is explicit knowledge of the underlying sound structure of language.

While phonics is the understanding of the relationship between letters and their sounds in written language, phonemic awareness is the understanding that the sounds work together to make words.



The National Reading Panel defines phonemes as, “the smallest units constituting spoken language.”  Phonemes combine to form syllables and words.  Phonemic awareness and letter knowledge  have been shown in many studies over the years to be the best predictors of how well children will learn to read during the first two years in school.

Phonological awareness refers to awareness of and access to the sound structure of language.  Spoken words are comprised of strings or sequences of phonemes that signal different meanings.  Awareness that changes in these sequences result in changes in meaning is crucial in literacy skills development.  If a student cannot conceptualize the order of sounds and syllables in words, he cannot associate the sound units with written symbols.

Phonological processing refers to the use of phonological information - particularly the sound structure of oral language - to process written language.  Tasks of phonological processing are highly predictive of reading skills.  The three types of phonological processing that appear specifically important to learning written language skills are phonological awareness, phonological memory and rapid naming. I am going to address the first of these; phonological awareness.
{To answer that burning question and not leave you hanging:  Phonological memory refers to coding information phonologically for temporary storage in short-term (working) memory.  Deficits in phonological memory do not appear to impact either reading or listening when the words involved are already a part of the student’s vocabulary; however, they can impact the ability to learn new vocabulary, as well as ability to decode new (and long) words.}

Because I tend to work with students who have more moderate to severe disabilities, I often find myself in special education classes where the literacy program consists almost solely of learning sight words.  However, sight word instruction is very limiting.  Students cannot memorize all of the words they need or will encounter, and reliance on memory means having no strategies to deal with new and difficult words.  Inability to read more words then accounts for an ver-widening gap in reading skills.

The skills we address in phonological awareness instruction generally include identification and discrimination of initial, final, and medical sounds in words; manipulation of those sounds (changing those sounds to make new words); understanding and producing rhyme and alliteration; ability to count syllables in words; sound and syllable blending; and sound and syllable segmentation.

And what, you might ask, is the SLPs role in phonological awareness?  SLPs can identify difficulties in and develop skills in language and literacy acquisition.  Our role in literacy instruction has been affirmed in the most recent legislation, and we continue to address the language-based difficulties students have with literacy instruction, beyond acquisition of vocabulary/semantic skills.

Breaking Phonological Awareness skills down into 5 components, I will address one skill per week:

  1. Rhyme - the ability to recognize and produce rhymes
  2. Word Construction - ability to blend, segment, and delete syllables in words
  3. Sound Sequencing - recognizing and identifying initial and final sounds in words
  4. Sound Separation - segmenting, blending, and deleting sounds in words
  5. Manipulation - ability to add or substitute sounds in words

The order of skills is first blending, then segmenting, then counting, and finally deleting. So, look for them in the following posts.
And tell me, what are your favorite reading foundation activities?


Until next week - keep on talking and keep on reading!