Welcome Back

This was our first day back with students.  We start quite a bit later than most parts of the country.   Our school  seems to be in a growth spurt.  Additional kindergarten classes were added.  We have full day kindergarten now and more students are  enrolling. In the past,  we often lost students to private schools.  Parents needed childcare for the other half of the day and it was easier to have students stay in one place.

The building went through some renovations over the summer with new walls and doors  to make enclosed classrooms.  Our school was built during the time of the open classroom concept.  Through the years walls have been added but not always with doors.   This creates some interesting difficulties with noise, temperature control, and keeping  students contained in classrooms.  In the past we have actually used tape on the floor to show boundaries.  I am hoping the full day kindergarten will help alleviate some of my scheduling difficulties.

This was the Welcome Back bulletin board I made to start the year. I used rolls of brown butcher paper for the trunk of the tree.  I had a stencil for oak leaves.  I cut toilet paper rolls and glued the edges onto yellow paper to make the hive.  A teacher noticed my theme and gave me bee note paper.  We have a lot of bee themed materials at this school because our mascot is a bee.  It didn’t take long to put up. It is interesting how the tree has a different character each time.    I like to use a tree because it is easy to continue it through the school year and change it for the  seasons.

Bee lieve In Yourself

Bee lieve in Yourself, Welcome Back Stingers

Mouse Books for Language Samples

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Recently, I was looking for new books to add to my therapy collection and noticed that a favorite series of mine are still available.   It is the Mouse Books by Monique Felix.  I have 2 of them and I see there are more in the series now.  I bought mine years ago so the covers have changed.  They are still very reasonable in the $12 range.  I originally bought  mine for $3 which is very telling to  how old mine are.

The books are great for getting language samples  because they do not have  words, only pictures.   I have used them frequently for  my younger students.   The mice are engaging.   The books  are great at eliciting comparison and descriptive vocabulary.  Because they tell a story in a sequence of events I can also get a variety of verb tenses.  I can tell if the student recognizes there is a story sequence.  This is all valuable information to get informally to compare how students do with standardized testing.  Because I use them frequently, I can tell what the average student can do and when they are struggling.

Here is a bit of an inside view of The Opposites book.  There is a white mouse and a dark mouse that do opposite things throughout the book until the surprise ending.

 

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The Colors book illustrates the antics of a mouse in an art studio and explores mixing colors.

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If you are looking for  new books, you will not be disappointed in the number of ways you can use these.

 

 

Poppa’s Pizza Game Adaptation

 

Poppa's Pizza Topple.

I have some of my therapy games home for the summer since I had grandchildren visiting.  I noticed that I missed putting this one up on the blog.   Poppa’s Pizza Topple is a game I found at a garage sale a few years ago and I think it is still being sold in a few stores. It is a game  my students enjoy no matter what their ability level.  Pizza seems to be a favorite food of most children. I have used this game with students who are working on basic communication skills such as turn taking and making requests.  It can easily be adapted for students with limited verbal abilities by adding a communication board.    It also works well as a simple reinforcement for doing therapy tasks. At the most simple level, just use the pizza crust and have the student request ingredients and place them on the crust.  At the most difficult level, students place the ingredients on an unsteady pizza  crust propped up on Poppa’s finger.  They pick up the ingredients  according to what is rolled on the dice.   I recommend picking this game up and adding it to your collection if you get the chance.

Poppa's Pizza Topple.                                                                         pizza board

I had a request to show the communication board.  I do not have Boardmaker available on my home  computer to open this board. I ended up taking a picture of it. It will give you an idea of the symbols used.

Grand Opening

We did it.  Hopefully you have found yourself at the new web site.  You may be finding yourself here because of a redirect from the old site.  Please change any book marks you have to reflect the new url address....
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That’s a Wrap.

Spontaneous Speech Spot
Summer is here.  I don’t usually post  much about personal happenings, but they do have an effect on  my postings.  There has been  lot happening behind the scenes.   The month of June  came in with a flurry of events....
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The Art of Having a Conversation

 

Conversation strip 1

Students are sometimes referred to  Child Study Team (CST)  because of difficulties relating to peers. Concerns revolve around the student saying inappropriate things, being picked on and  starting   fights on the playground.   When you talk to the student, you may  find they have limited interests and talk excessively on one topic.  They have difficulties taking turns during a conversation.  In their attempts to enter a  conversation  they say something that can be  perceived as an  insult or bragging.  This results in a fight or peers not wanting to interact with them.  The student then  feels picked on or shunned.

Sometimes these students have a diagnosis of Aspergers or high functioning autism and are on our caseloads. They may need direct instruction on how to have a conversation. Learning  the art of having a conversation can help alleviate some of the difficulties.  However, it is a very difficult skill to teach without structure.    Left to their own devices,  the a session may go something like this.  A  student will start a topic of high interest to them. The other students  interrupt  to make off topic comments. One student dominates the topic with multiple comments until another student manages to derail to another topic with  multiple comments.  It becomes   a competition to control the topic rather than enjoy an exchange of information.  No one feels they have been listened to and arguments occur as they interrupt each other.  Each student  feels that only their topic and comments are right. I have actually had a student say they won because they had the most papers out.

How do we provide structure so it becomes a learning task?  It is  important  to break down  skills in in smaller increments  so they can understand and  practice.  I have used colored  paper shapes as visual cues to illustrate turn taking, topic changes and questions and comments.

Conversation strip 1 and 2

Can you guess which conversation is interactive with multiple people talking about a topic.  Which conversation is more likely  people talking for themselves?

During this process I have discovered  many of our students do not know how to start a conversation or recognize when another student is giving them an opening to start a conversation.   They may not see  the differences between a question and a comment and do not understand the hidden expectations of both. When a comment is said, they may misinterpret its intent and  not  respond appropriately.  I made comment and reply cards so that my students could work on this directly.  I made a trial set for you to try out.  See if they work for you.  There is a full set at the TPT store.  TPT is having their back to school sale Aug 4  thru Aug 5. so come on by to get the full set.

The trial cards are here.  comment cards wp   The TPT sale banner is on the sidebar.  You can select it to go directly to the store.   Please remember to use the Promo code so you get the full discount.

Sometimes the Best Things are Free

We are counting down with 4 1/2 weeks of school left.  We even saw some sunny days which made people think that summer will make it yet.  We get a lot of rain this time of year so sun is appreciated. It is hard to keep students interested when they would  rather be outside.  I am especially low on ideas for the life skills program.  I came across this BINGO game and it was the perfect activity for this week.  The students took turns drawing the call cards and making the faces so everyone could guess which one it was on their  Bingo card.  Even the students with limited verbal abilities had a good time.  You can find them at   http://peoniesandpoppyseeds.com/  here

 

Feelings BINGO

 

May is also the month I bring out the Pear Tree for Homonyms.  It seems to look different every year.  I thought you might like to see how it is looking this year.  I am still giving out lollipops for each homonym pair a student comes up with.  After doing this several years, I am pleased to find that students that contributed when they were younger do not need prompting to come up with words now.

Pear2014