Sunday, September 25, 2016

Spooky Scary Spectacular Speech for the Season


October is almost here.  Can Halloween be far behind?  It seems to me that Fall has become one hurried-through round of holiday celebrations after another.  Last year, I got the impression that stores went straight from Halloween to Christmas without even taking a breath for Thanksgiving.  
There are tons of fun ways to work on language around Halloween.  With costumes and characters and monsters galore the opportunities for stirring up stimulating adjectives abounds. 
One of my favorite therapy activities has always been barrier games.  There are so many speech and language targets you can work on, and kids tend to love the almost competitive aspect of the games. 
Barrier games tend, historically, to focus on giving and following directions and using good, concise descriptors.  But you can also use them to target speech sound production; just make the images to be placed in the scenes all use the target sound in the target location. Can you put happy pigs in the pen with the sheep?






I have barrier games in my store for both Fall and Halloween, and last week’s blog post talked about how to turn simple stock photos into barrier game opportunities.
Last year I also wrote a post on how to create and set up your own barrier games.  You can read it here if you missed it.

I’ve also found that most kids love to play “Memory” or “Concentration”-type games; even kids whose short term memories are pretty……well, short.  I have a free set of pumpkin describing cards for playing this type of game; with a variety of funny and frightening pumpkins to describe.  While not strictly Halloween-themed, this pumpkin card game can last through the Fall season from now until Thanksgiving.  Grab it for free here.


If you’re old enough to remember the old Highlights kids’ magazine (do they still publish it?), you’ll remember that one standard feature of every issue was a compare and contrast activity.  There were 2 scenes that were pretty complex, and the trick was to find all the ways that they were different.  Often one scene was missing elements of the other.

I love to do compare and contrast activities like that and, again, I’ve found that most kids love the challenge of finding the differences.  In that vein, here is my latest free resource, just for readers of my blog: a set of compare/contrast cards using monsters from Krista Walden at Creative Clips.  Pick up your free copy here



And just in case you were thinking that your AAC users couldn’t participate in these activities, take a look at their AAC systems.  Do they have colors, shapes, sizes, and other adjectives in their systems?  They should be able to say “red, not blue” or “stripes, not spots,” in response to monster cards.  Or “2 eyes, no teeth,” in response to the pumpkin cards.  
Just another reminder that AAC intervention doesn’t have to be different or require different materials, and that AAC users don’t need to be seen alone - communication is a social act. Have fun with it.
And, keep on talking.







Sunday, September 18, 2016

Top 5 Uses for Stock Photos in Speech - Language Therapy

I recently discovered a photographer on TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) who was offering a fabulous deal of a one time payment for literally dozens and dozens of beautiful stock images to be used in resources or for marketing or your therapy or class rooms.



I am always on the hunt for good photos that I can use both personally and commercially.  Thinking about how I could use Elizabeth’s photos really sparked some thinking (which, I admit, still hurts my head some days).

So, what are my top 5 tips for using these photos in therapy?

  1. Describing skills: tell me about this picture
  2. Compare and contrast skills: how is this picture the same as that one? How are they different?
  3. Barrier games: give 2 students the same photo and a group of other objects to place in the photo to play a barrier game (see this post on barrier how-to’s)
  4. Labeling skills: tell me what it is (my least favorite, by the way)
  5. Association skills: where would you find this? What else would you find there?


Let’s start with describing.  I want students to tell me everything they can beyond the label(s) of the item(s) in the photos.  I always have visual cues for students who need the visual reminder to tell the category, location, function, size, shape, color, amount, texture, taste and sound and smell (if applicable).

Then they can compare and contrast.  There are multiple photos of the same object(s0 in this resource, so there might be a picture with 10 colored pencils laid in a neat row across the top of the page that can be compared to a picture with a hand grasping those colored pencils in a bunch.  The pencils are the same, their colors and sizes and shapes and even degree of sharpening are all the same.  Their location is different, and the addition of the hand in the second photo is different..

How about a barrier game?  Barrier games are played by having two students facing each other, but with a barrier between them that prevents them from seeing each others’ papers.  Both have an identical group of smaller pictures or objects to place on the page.  One student tells the other which of these smaller objects to place on the photo, and where to put it/arrange it.  At the end, the barrier is removed and students can compare their two pictures to see if they are the same.  
If not, where did they go wrong?  Were the directions not clear enough?  Did the listener not process the directions correctly?  Help the students figure out what each did well, and where they went astray.
 And here is a link to a bundle of fun barrier games in my store.  I also have seasonal and other fun themes.

Labeling and association are the easiest of the skills to work on.  Can students name the familiar, every day objects in the photos?  Can they name pencils, pens, markers, rubber bands, pumpkins, leaves, and more.  Can they tell you what other things you might find in the same places?  For example, if you have pencils and paper clips, can you tell me where you would find them, and name 3 things you would also find there?

Bonus: You can also use clip art and symbol cards to create more therapy activities from these photos.  For example, I might use one of the leaf photos and one of the pumpkin photos and have pictures of kids raking, jumping, carving, choosing, etc.  Have students sort which actions go with which photo, then use a sentence to tell about what the kids are doing.

Have fun with these great photographs.  You can find Elizabeth Coller’s Stock Photos store on TPT.

Check out my activities for describing and defining and my visual cues for telling about.





And.... keep on talking!






Sunday, September 11, 2016

Can Your AAC Users Join in on Talk Like a Pirate Day? Try this!

I’ve joined up with Sweet Southern Speech and other SLPs (speech-language pathologists) for a linky party for Pirate Day fun. If you read this post all the way to the bottom, you will find links to more blogs with fun ideas and resources that are pirate themed.

“Talk Like a Pirate Day” just keeps growing in popularity.  I have friends who are way into the whole anachronistic experience, including a couple who fence.  Kids, especially, love the opportunity to be silly and the excuse to act like the ‘bad guys’ for a while.


But how do your non-speaking kids take part?  Does this become just another experience that they observe but can’t join?   Not if they have a speech generating device and 10 minutes of your time.  Don’t have 10 minutes to spare for programing?  Then give them this communication board to use.  If you and other students provide Aided Input and reciprocal vocalization, everyone can sound like a pirate!
If you’re looking for pirate themed resources for your therapy session, you might like my companion resource for “There Was an Old Pirate Who Swallowed a Fish”  This is another story where sequencing skills take center stage; similar to the “I Know an Old Lady Who…” series.  This time, it’s a pirate who swallows all sorts of pirate-y things, until he gets so big that he sinks.


My favorite activity is the pirate game, where students roll a single die that has symbols for 6 of the items in the story.  They collect pirate-like ‘gold pieces’ until someone gets all the pieces and has to put them in order to re-tell the story.  I have students play until everyone has all the pieces.  This gives every student the opportunity to sequence the pictures and/or tell  or summarize the story.

I spend a lot of time working on building narrative skills with students, so that they can build their skills in relating experiences, having conversations, and retelling stories.  Those skills are crucial for both social and academic success.

The resource also contains activities for describing, building vocabulary, labeling parts of a whole, and phonological awareness (including alphabetizing, recognizing and using rhyme, identifying the initial or final sounds in words and counting syllables in words and words in sentences).






Here is the die, which you can use to have students retell the story or repeat the line that goes with the item they land on.

Avast ye (Stop right there) and Keep on Talking!