It is the Little Things That Count

22 May

Many parts of the country have had their last days of school but we are still finishing up the last couple of weeks of our year.  It is easy to feel defeated and wonder if the whole thing is just one big paper using,  report making,  operation.  It is times like these that it is important to remember the things that made you smile through out the year.  Some the following gave me a smile.

dog eating homework

The task cards I make for TPT are usually made for specific student goals.  Some of my students have attention deficit disorders and I am always trying to find creative ways to keep their attention.  I remembered when I was a child that my  name never seemed to be in any stories.  I thought that some of my students may feel the same way so I decided to use the names from one of my classes on the task cards.  One of the boys saw his name and was thrilled.  He had to take the card and show his teacher. They were also thrilled to find their teacher’s name.  Such a simple thing to keep them enthused about task cards. It is one advantage  to making your own materials.

My students with Downs and Autism make me smile a lot.  They continue to show me the value of play and that a toy’s worth is determined best by it’s ability to spin.  Tops can spin almost anywhere for preposition development. A box of happy meal toys is priceless for cause and effect. Do not decide the value of a toy by its cost. Free is sometimes the best.

Good Will was a gold mine this year.  After a year of searching I  almost  fell over when I discovered a Cariboo game for $5.00.  It was only missing the key which I replaced with a golf tee.  My husband couldn’t quite figure out why I acted like it was Christmas.  It is truly a great game for speech therapy so don’t give up on the search.  When you least expect it the game shows up.

I have had an  iPad with some game apps available for reinforcement. When given a choice my students were choosing a game off my shelf rather than the iPad. I have to smile when technology doesn’t always win over the old fashion games. I find this encouraging because I feel board games are still better when it comes to developing social communication.  I know that many therapist are implementing 5 minute individual speech drill  sessions and are foregoing the games.  However, I have only a  few students who see me only for articulation.  They usually have a mix of language, articulation and social skill deficits.   The games play an important part in  therapy and give me a better idea of their skills then drill.

 

lessonplan dartboard

You may notice I have been  playing around with the design of my Blog.  I am not sure if I will ever be truly satisfied.  It is something else that keeps me entertained.  I fixed a few links lately that were not working.  Sometimes updates throw things off. Please make a comment if you can’t get to something.

 

Free Sample; Unexpected and Expected Behavior Task Cards

29 Apr


unexpected button

I use Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® curriculum with many of my students. One of the concepts that is explored in this curriculum is “I have thoughts about you and you have thoughts about me.” In other words, people are always thinking about each other and they may have comfortable or uncomfortable thoughts depending on their actions. This may affect how they treat individuals in the future. People want to be with people they are comfortable with and have good thoughts about. They may avoid those that don’t make them feel comfortable. Therefore being able to tell the difference between what is expected behavior in given situations and what is unexpected can help us when making and keeping our friends. You can find more information on her concepts at http://www.socialthinking.com/

I needed a good set of task cards to review actions that students may do or observe others do.  You may find them useful  if you are teaching from this curriculum. They are double sided with an unexpected behavior on one side and a matching expected behavior on the other side.

I put the cards in a draw bag. The students reached in and drew a card out, and placed it on the table.  They then decided if the side facing up was an expected behavior or unexpected.  They talked about how the actions make them feel. If the unexpected is presented first, students can talk about what they think the expected behavior would be on the other side.

sweater sleeve bag

Students checked their answers by using the Top Secret UV light which I got at our book fair.  I put a U or and E in the box for them to check.  There is also a QR code for those who would prefer to use a scanner. My students find this motivating and they can self check if they are working in small table groups.

The draw bag is an easy thing to make.  I took a sleeve off an old sweater and sewed across the bottom.  The cuff makes a nice finished opening and the bag is stretchy.  It has got to be the easiest bag I have ever made.

In my TPT packet, there are 28 expected cards and 28 matching unexpected cards side by side.  They are meant to be printed on card stock, cut on the horizontal lines and folded back to make a double sided card.   I put a box on each card so I could write with my UV light pen a U or E in the box.  Students can light the answer up. I also put a QR code for those who like that option. The QR code is from http://www.qrstuff.com/. When scanned it will read expected or unexpected to correspond to the side it is on.

I am putting 2 pages of the cards below for you to review as a freebie.  If you like them consider getting the full set at TPT.   Just click on the cover page button at the top  for a direct link to the product.  Your patronage covers the cost of this website and keeps it advertisement free, except for me I suppose.  I am trying to keep the commercial  aspect down and provide resources. I know most of us are on really tight budgets.

 

Pool Noodle Fun for Speech Therapy

23 Apr

It is always hard this time of the year to find activities for group therapy with my Life Skills groups.  There are usually 5 students in each group and the abilities are really varied.   I try to include some motor activity because this keeps their attention.  Using objects for actions is more meaningful for them then paper tasks.   However there are a few students who have motor difficulties which makes it difficult for them to do some tasks and work with the group.

pool noodle picture

 

 

My inspiration often comes from my closet.  This is a picture of what I found.   I decided to make a badminton type activity.  They used the pool noodles to hit balloons through the hulu hoop and then over the jump rope stretched across two chairs.  We encouraged two students to hit it back and forth to complete turn taking.  I  reinforced  the prepositions of over, through, below, under, and above.  My early language learners  practiced  phrases such as “Give it to me”, “Hit it”, “I want it”.

One of my students kept saying “there it is”. He was a student who we usually had trouble engaging and he blossomed with this activity.  For a student with Downs he had amazing eye hand coordination.  I hope he does badminton for Special Olympics.

I liked the pool noodles because they didn’t hurt if students hit each other and the balloons slowed down the process enough that all the students were able to hit them. I recommend having spare balloons.  We had one student who couldn’t resist squeezing and popping them.

 

 

Butterfly Paper Folding / Bulletin Board

7 Apr

butterfly bulletin boardIt is Spring here in the Northwest.  Many of the classes use butterflies for instruction on the cycle of life. They watch caterpillars form cocoons and develop into butterflies.  I found directions for folding paper butterflies on Pinterest.   They made a good activity for my bulletin board and a direction following activity.  It also helped to reinforce what was happening  in classrooms. Here is a picture of the bulletin board.

The directions were fairly simple and could be completed within a  20 minute time frame.  I added pipe cleaner  antennae.  The students just bent a pipe cleaner in half and wrapped the ends around their fingers a couple of times. They then stapled it to the top.

These directions really reinforced the concept of half.  We also talked about parts of a butterfly.  I was surprised to find my students didn’t know what antennae were.

I couldn’t make better directions then what were already posted here.  There are easy to follow directions  on  goorigami.com.  I just put them up on my iPad.

 

Whirly Therapy Fun

1 Apr

20150331_154939I am not sure what they are called, but as a child I called it a Whirly.  They were a great find this last weekend in the Easter basket toys at Walmart.  It would be a good time to look for them.   I  was trying to find new mechanical toys for my early language learners who get engaged by anything that spins and pops.  For $2 you couldn’t go too wrong.  I did wonder how long it would last but it was sturdy enough to make it through a morning of therapy with the younger K through -2nd grade Life skills class.   There is a precaution for aiming it at people and there is the string to watch out for.

 I used it this week and it was a big hit.  It was great for learning  communication intents and making requests.  It gave opportunities to review the concepts  of  around and over.  If the string was pulled strong enough the spinner would stay on the ceiling a few minutes spinning over our heads. The students would give me the Whirly and make requests for fast pulls.  We also practiced a few more prepositions when  finding  the location of that spinner after it came down.   A few of my students needed a person to hold the device while they pulled the string.  This encouraged joint attention to a task. I like it when a toy can offer so much opportunity for natural communication with very little effort.

Here is the communication board I used for the activity.

twirly board

Free Trial of How and Why Question Comprehension Cards

14 Mar

howwhybutton

I  have several students who are  answering  a  how question with a why response. Our students with language delays, autism, and 2nd language learners often have trouble with these skills.  “How” and “Why” questions are question forms that require a higher level of thinking and language skills to formulate responses.  The students often need the ability to problem solve or take on another perspective when answering them.  When looking through  the Language Arts section of the  “Common Core Standards”  I discovered this would be a skill they would need. Like many of you, I am rethinking what is most valuable to my students as we try to align curriculum with the “Common Core Standards”.  I made  task cards to specifically address  how and why question forms from a  given text.

Students  may require some direct teaching  on the differences between how and why questions.  How question  have  a few variations.  It may require a student to tell how something is done in steps, how something is done descriptively,  the amount  of something,  or state of being such as  with “How are you feeling?”.  The answer may contain an adjective or adverb.

Answering why questions  often involves finding the antecedent or cause  of an event.  The answer recalls  facts that happened before an event.  For example the question  “Why did the dog dig a hole?” He dug a hole because he smelled a bone under the ground.   Compare this to the  how question.  “How did he get the bone?”  He dug a hole with his paws and grabbed it with his mouth.

Answers to how question often  relate an action and possible  steps. These response can seem to be quite similar  to a student.  For instance, look at these questions and answers. “Why did the lights go out in the storm?” or “ How did the electrical wires get knocked down in the storm?”  The answers, “The electrical wire was knocked down in the storm because a branch hit it.” and  “A strong wind blew a branch off the tree and it hit  the electrical wire which was torn down.”  They seem interchangeable except the because is used in response to the why question and how elicits a series of events. Our language learners will shorten their  response to, “A branch fell off the tree”, for both questions.

The  packet I am posting on Teachers Pay Teachers  has  30, 3 inch by 3 inch cards with 3 questions on most cards.  In the packer there are 4 cards that deal with how many questions and amounts.  26 cards deal with the variations of how and why listed above. There are 17 cards that also contain a question on  vocabulary  within the story context.  This provides opportunity for students to derive word meanings from the text and verbalize it.  You can find them here or by clicking on the picture button at the top of the page which takes you to TPT and also gives a preview.

I made a free trial packet for my readers.  You can get it by clicking on the button. free trial button

There are 3 pages of cards for a total of 9.  You can see if they are something of value for your students.  I have been using them with my 3rd through 6th graders.  I try to keep the picture cues meaningful and appropriate for middle school range.  I  have a lot of boys and they don’t tolerate things that look cute. I make them double sided so they have possible answers available.  This helps when I have groups and it is motivating for them to flip them over and see if they got it right.


Adaptive Don’t Spill the Beans

5 Mar

20150305_074758_resized       Don’t Spill the Beans is another game that I have used with my language learners. It has always been good for general reinforcement.  Many of you probably have the game already.

I often became annoyed by the spilled beans.  They were difficult for my students with poor fine motor concerns  to pick up and took precious therapy time collecting them.  I thought there had to be a better way.  Then I remembered my Chipper Chat therapy materials.  It is a product from Super Duper which many of you may also have. You can breathe new life into your  “Don’t spill the Beans”  game by switching out the beans with the magnetic chips. The students are always enthused about using the magnets and it makes it easy to pick up the spilled chips.  I usually have the students pick up the chips with the magnets and place them in individual saucers to compare the amounts.  You can also vary the game by having students collect specific colors that spill. The magnets have really helped with quick clean up.   I added a communication board to practice sentence frames and turn taking..

Dontspillbeancb2

Have a Heart

9 Feb

valentine flowerProgress reports are in and it is time to get back to planning for therapy.  February is a short month so it goes by quickly.  I find I still need to keep things simple for my younger folk.  We dressed the bulletin board up with heart animals.  This activity was more open-ended then the ones I have done in the past.  I used a die cut to cut a variety of hearts in different sizes and colors. They used sequins for the eyes.  Students were told  to put the hearts together to form an animal.  I showed them a few pictures from Pinterest and then they were on their own.  It was hard for them to get started.  When they found they could try pieces out 1st before gluing they got a little more adventurous.  It was a good opportunity to practice social skills to ask for tools and materials. We have worked a lot on sequencing and this activity required them to think about the order of gluing.   I also listened to my articulation  students to see how they were progressing with their spontaneous speech. Quite a few of my students decided to take them home to give for Valentine’s Day.

They came up with a good variety of animals.

20150209_155652

Winter and Cold Theme

9 Jan

I have noticed that there are a lot of wintery cold places across the United States weather map.  Some of you have even experienced a snow day or two.  We have experienced mainly cold here with blasting wind. We have not had the ice that is typical of this time of year or snow.  We needed to make our own.

January is a good month to bring out the winter theme items.  I found a snowflake on Pinterest that was easy to make and looked impressive.  It looks so good that the students don’t want to leave thenm for my bulletin board after making them.  Thus I only have 3 of the large ones up there. My bulletin board is looking like this.  I put the snowflake directions on the free app Storykit.  You may download them here.free download button

 

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corner2

I added the corner template to make it easier for the students to draw the curved arches in the corners of the triangles. I used cardstock. and cut the slits just wide enough for a pencil.   Download a copy here.free download button

 

The students were able to make them within  a 20 minute time period.  The directions review vocabulary such as half, triangle, corner, arch, curve, middle, small, medium, large,  and center. Have fun. Of course they also get practice following directions.

 

 

Happy New Year 2015

4 Jan

I hope everyone had a good holiday break and are refreshed for 2015.  My holiday  took an interesting turn this year. I strained my back wiping  dog feet the weekend before Christmas.  Large dog feet  but that really shouldn’t have done it. Who could be mad at a face like this.Baxter head

Moving around like I usually do was pretty much out of the question.  My husband dutifully took over household chores including cooking.  It was one the most restful holidays I ever had.

I was just beginning to feel better when the 2nd bad turn happened. My web site was hacked into December 29th. I am thinking that most of you were not visiting at that time which was probably a good thing.  If you were you might have been greeted by Russian prose.  You can imagine how surprised I was.

As most of you know, I became self hosted in July and moved my Word press blog. It gave me a little more freedom for developing the blog and got rid of the ads.  I knew there was a risk for hacking but didn’t think it would happen so soon.  Fortunately I used a local server; Host Pond.  I contacted them and they  provided personal service promptly.  Host Pond helped me  by cleaning up and putting new security measures in place.  I think the Russians were in control only a couple of days.  The representative from Host Pond patiently explained to me what security risks I had. So now with a new plugin (Wordfence)  I will be notified by email when someone suddenly has administrator privileges.  

By the way, my old site cjmonty.wordpress.com is still coming up as a bad site in Google.  As a connected site it was flagged as well.   It is only used for referral purposes and I will be dropping it. Now would be a good time to drop that url if you haven’t done so already.

I did manage to get a little preparation done for when I get back.   I have several students who benefit from fidget toys.  You may have noticed cloth marble mazes on Pinterest if you were looking for sensory fidget items.  They looked simple to make and I am always looking for  items that can not become missiles in the end.

To make them I used textured cloth; fleece and terry cloth.  I cut a 9 inch circle for one and 9x 8 inch square for the other. I then sewed around the edge leaving a gap to turn it inside out.   round maze

After turning it inside out, I  drew a maze leaving 1 1/4 inch channel for the marble to move through.  I then sewed on the lines with my sewing machine.  These can be as simple or difficult as you want to make them.   For the square I sewed straight lines.

square maze

 

 Remember to alternate the lines from reaching the edge so you have a path for the marble.
maze4
                                                Maze2
   I made the circle look like a snail with the marble moving from the edge to the inner circle.  Just sew a spiral going to the center.  I used a simple stitch first to make sure the marble would make it through and then used a stretch stitch to make it sturdier.  When you are finished,  insert a marble through the opening  and sew the opening shut.circle maze
 Students use their fingers to move the marble through the maze.