Descriptive Snowman Activity

7 Jan

Snowmen picture cards are a very useful tool for practicing descriptive sentences in receptive and expressive language. They are one of my “go to” activities for speech therapy in the month of January. I use them in the traditional “Matching” and “Go Fish”  games.  The students all seem willing to participate because it doesn’t seem like work. They get multiple repetitions on skills they are working on and it doesn’t seem like drilling. These games are  played by a variety  of age and ability ranges  so work well with mixed groups of students.  Continue reading for a free download of cards further down.

Snowman with a blue scarf

When using these cards with my students, I provide carrier phrases for those students who are practicing certain complex sentence types. For example question forms: “Does your snowman have ….. ?”  and relative clauses,  ” Do you have a snowman who has ______ and a ________?” or prepositional phrase, “Do you have a snowman with___ and ______?” I require them to use the pattern until they no longer need a prompt and can do it on their own.

For those students who are working on articulation in conversational speech, there are plenty of opportunities to use the th, r, s, l in words and blends.

As you can see, this activity can be used for quite a mix of students. It is also great for getting data for progress reports at this time of year.

As a reward for making it to this point of my post, I made a free set of cards for your convenience. There are  5 sheets of 4 cards to make a total of 20 different cards.  You can make as many sets as you need. I usually make 4 copies of each page for a game of Go Fish. I have mine printed on cardstock and laminated. They have lasted several years.

button for free download
click here for free download

Just click on the free download button and you will get a printable pdf file. The snowmen in the pictures have similarities and differences, so students really need to listen carefully or make sure they are being descriptive enough when making questions for their listeners.  Saying the snowman has a black hat or stick arms will not give enough information. There are several that fit that description. This may require a student to ask for more information which is also a good skill for students to develop.

The snowmen are from  and are for personal use only.  Commercial use is not permitted.  Please use these cards with students on your caseload or class and not for resale.  If you would like to add more variety there are more snowmen for download on that site. Students can also use the blank cards to make their own versions of snowmen.

Tier II Vocabulary Task Card Challenge 3

23 Nov
Tier II Challenge 3 Cards Cover

Take a look at my latest set of Tier II Vocabulary Task Cards. Challenge 3 is written using words off 7th and 8th grade vocabulary lists. If you have used the Challenge 1 and 2 cards using lower level vocabulary, these are similar. Words are presented in a short paragraph and students complete word meaning and comprehension tasks. I have included a free sample in this post for you to try out. Scroll down to find the free download.

The cards are flexible for a variety of teaching situations and student ability levels. I always liked materials that I could tweak for different learning styles and students don’t appear to be getting something completely different from their peers. I think the instruction sheet below, included in the download, best explains the different options available.

The full set of task cards are on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT). You can assign them to individual students digitally on their EASEL platform. This allows for paperless teaching if you wish. You can also download and print them out on cardstock. They can then be used with individual students for home work or in learning centers. 126 words are covered in 20 cards/slides. A variation of the 20 cards using the same words means there are 40 cards/slides total. The free sample provides the word list used.

click here for free sample.

If these cards work for you and your students, you can purchase the whole set at my store “The Spontaneous Speech Spot”. Click below for a direct link to the full set.

Fun With Angry Turkeys

2 Nov

Angry Turkeys is a game that can be adjusted for the needs of different groups of speech students. For my younger students it was a great way to review prepositions. For my older students it was just a good reinforcement activity with a November theme.

Turkey beanbags

The toss game was originally based on the old app  Angry Birds. except I renamed it Angry Turkeys.  Students may not be as familiar with the app these days but that doesn’t really matter. Basically the app had pigs building stacked structures. The birds became objects to toss at them and break down the buildings when they hit.

 I made turkey bean bags from scrap fabric I had on hand.   The only other things you need are paper rolls and coffee can lids.  I covered the  paper rolls to give them color.   I made the green pigs from paper rolls cut in half.  I printed out clip art of a pig and taped it to the paper roll to represent the pigs.  

The directions for the Turkey Bean bags are here.

I started the game by making towers with the paper rolls and lids. I then gave students the pigs and told them where to place them or they told other students where to place them. This gave them practice following instructions and using prepositions.

photo (1)

 I then handed out the turkey bean bags. They all tossed one turkey on the count of 3 and hit the towers down. They almost always wanted to do it again. I love  activities that are self reinforcing and encourage review.

Summer Games For Speech

26 Jun
Summer game toys

Summer is here and thankfully we are getting back to normal for summer play. The age old question may be coming up now. “What can I do?” Take advantage of that boredom to review language concepts. Students may be interested in participating in their own Summer Olympic Games. Just go into that toy closet and bring out the beach or nerf balls, balloons,  pool noodles, frisbees, and jump ropes  for some fun. Students won’t even know they are reviewing concepts at the same time.  These items can be adapted for almost any ability level.  Here are some ideas I have used in the past.

For a game of badminton, tie a jump rope between two chairs, trees, or poles to make a net.  Use the pool noodles to hit a balloon over or under the net in a game of balloon badminton. Review vocabulary such as over, under, beneath, high, and low. Best of all, the noodles won’t hurt anyone who is accidently hit in the enthusiasm. Also the balloons are slower moving for individuals who need a slower pace. Make sure you have back up balloons for when they break.

Take a few of the noodles and bend them in an arch. Fasten them to the ground with dowels, sturdy sticks or lawn stakes. Use the center holes in the tubes to fit over the sticks after you pound them into the ground. Make a course similar to the one used in a game of croquet. Use other noodles to hit nerf balls or balloons through the arches. The dog may even let you use his frisbee. Count how many hits it takes to get through the course and use comparison vocabulary such as less, least, more, and equal.

pool noodle arch

Make circles with the pool noodles by joining two ends. with a dowel. Fill juice or milk jugs with water to make good sturdy targets for a ring toss. Practice throwing the circle or hoops around the jugs as you would at a carnival. Use distance vocabulary such as close, further, near, and far.

noodle ring

Fasten rings to chairs, trees, and poles with bungee chords, or tape. Make an air golf course. Use straight noodles to hit balloons through the hoops. This may not work with a breeze but you can change to nerf balls or a frisbee You can also switch it up by throwing the noodles like spears through the hoops. Review vocabulary such as almost, close, far, near, and through.

I hope you enjoy your summer and come back refreshed. Hopefully these ideas give you a good start for making your summer games a success.

Family Dog

Life Cycle of a Butterfly: A free one cut book activity

31 Mar

Spring is here along with new life. In past years, several of my schools, ordered caterpillar eggs in order to watch the life cycle of a butterfly as a science project. Students watched them grow into caterpillars and then magically change into butterflies. They would release the butterflies the last week of May. I found it helpful to review this classroom experience with some of my speech students. I made a one cut book template to commemorate the event. I thought you may also like to use it as a review with students. It is a free download at the bottom of the post. Read on for the directions.

All you need to get started is paper, a printer, or drawing tools. There is are two templates provided in the free download. One is blank for students to draw their own picture sequence. The second template has pictures already provided. For your own version, you can make a template in Power Point using a 3×2 table without a border, inserted into a 8.5 x 11 inch page in landscape mode. Students can draw or paste their own pictures in the template.

Remember when adding pictures to the template, the picture needs to be flipped upside down on the top section. The printer needs to be set to print the full 8.5 x 11 inch page, without a border. This will allow each page to be the same size when folded. You may need to go to custom settings on your printer to select “without border”. You need to print in landscape mode as well.

  1. After printing your template, fold it in half on the dot and dash line. This makes it easier for you to cut the red line. Cut just the red line.

2. Fold on the dash lines so it looks like the first picture

3. Push the section on the right half behind the other. The pages will be double sided.

Finished one cut book

Click on the star for a free download of the templates.

free download
click on the star for a free pdf download of templates and directions

Opinion, Fact, or Untrue Statements: How can you tell the difference?

3 Mar

Distinguishing when a  statement is an opinion, fact, or untruth is a critical skill. Students get bombarded everyday in social media with information that is not always correct, although it is presented as fact. They need to be able to weed out the facts and not get persuaded by inaccurate statements. This becomes especially pertinent when our students become voters. It became especially apparent during the last election cycle.

I have made a new activity for my TPT store to address this. There is a true statement, untrue statement, and opinion statement task cards for students to identify.  After students read the sentences on one side and identify them, they can be flipped to see the corresponding answers. As usual, I will provide a free sample of 3 pages (9 cards) for you to test out. The full activity  consists of 10 pages of 3 inch by 3 inch cards for a total of 30 cards. A digital option is provide by TPT. Please leave a comment if you have any suggestions to improve them or see an error. Click on the comment cloud in the post heading.

The cards use facts, myths, and unproven statements that are often passed around in society. These are intriguing to students and they will learn some interesting facts. They can be used for small independent group activities  or they can be  projected up on a screen for a class quiz activity.  Student’s  can compete against each other to earn points for correct answers.

A definition chart is provided in the free sample as well as in the TPT product. Students will need to review the following definitions to complete the activity accurately.

Definition Chart for Opinion, Fact or Fiction

You may use this chart for students on your classroom or therapy list. I ask that you refer people to this site for their own copy. Do not distribute or publish it for commercial use.

TPT has made revisions to their digital activity platform. It has been has renamed to TPT  Easel.  The cards will be available on this platform. It makes them available for digital and distant learning and provides teachers ways to manipulate the activity. Teachers can provide students options such as blocking answers with text boxes.  Students can write or type answers into those areas. Unblocked sheets with the answers can be provided for self checking.

Click on the star below for your free sample.

button for free download
click here for free sample.

The full 30 card activity can be bought at Teachers Pay Teachers. Just click on the button and it will take you there.

Opinion, Fact, or Fiction Definition button
Link to TPT Product

Sentences with Semantic Errors can Promote Meta Linguistic Skills

1 Jan
Cover for Semantic Errors Product

Using sentences containing semantic errors is a great strategy for enhancing vocabulary and comprehension skills. A few posts back I reported that  reading comprehension and meta linguistic skills are strongly linked (Achugar, Schleppegrell, & Oteíza, 2007). Tasks that require a student to read and think critically enhances their ability to remember and integrate what they have learned and not just read words. Students enjoy the challenge of finding and correcting errors and learn at the same time. In the process they will use critical thinking and draw from their knowledge of the world to correct the errors in the sentences.

With our current pandemic, many teachers and speech and language pathologists (SLP) have had to embrace digital teaching and learning. I decided to help out by upgrading “Silly Sentences” that can be used in a digital form. There is a text only version currently located under the Vocabulary heading. I took some of the sentences, added a few new ones, and added visual cues to make a Teachers Pay Teachers product called Sentences with Semantic Errors.

The Sentences with Semantic Errors can be presented a number of ways. They can be printed out, cut, and used as flashcards. They can be given out as worksheets. They can also be assigned digitally. They are available as a Digital Download on the Teachers Pay Teachers site. With this program they can be assigned to students using Google Classroom. Students complete pages digitally and return them digitally to a teacher for feedback.

The vocabulary is appropriate for 3rd through 6th grade levels. Picture cues help to convey meaning as well as make the cards more appealing if they are displayed on a screen. Using the TPT overlay, students can fill text boxes using the tools provided. Students can provide written or typed answers.

I am linking a free sample of the first two pages pictured. Click on the button below. I am not working directly with students at this time, so I do not have a trial group. I would appreciate any recommendations or comments you may have. This free download will not include the digital overlay which is offered with purchase through TPT and is on their platform. Comments can be made by clicking on the comment cloud located in the post heading.

Click on the button above for the free 2 page sample. Click on the cover below for a direct link to TPT and the full product.

Cover for Semantic Errors Product
Direct Link to TPT Product

Tips for our Homeschooled Non Verbal Students

25 Nov

COVID 19 has created an educational challenge for providing a home school education program for non verbal students. Many educators, teaching virtually, are trying to provide lessons using materials available in a student’s home environment. I have decided to highlight some of the lessons I have used in the past that would meet that need. If the student is participating by virtual means, you may need the help of a caretaker to prepare materials, model responses, and help the student. Most of the materials are common objects available to students at home.

The original posts for these activities can be found by searching in the archives of past posts under the tag Therapy Activities from Scratch and Communication Boards. The search tools can be found in the right column.

Does your student have goals such as maintaining focus, taking turns, increasing vocabulary and increasing sentence length? Many play activities only need visuals such as communication boards and props to make them into structured learning activities to address these goals. If a student has physical difficulties and is not able to manipulate objects, they can still participate by directing and making requests with a partner using a communication board or system.

There are a number of reasons to use communication boards and systems. They lead to more natural social communication with mutual turn taking. They can add structure and provide cues for repeating key phrases. They also provide visual support for children who have limited oral speech and understanding.

Educators can easily adapt to a students learning level and needs with the use of a communication board. An educator begins by providing full verbal models and pointing to the icons while providing a verbal model. They can then use the icons as prompts by pointing to the icons and waiting for the student to provide the verbal output. Eventually the student will prompt themselves by pointing to the icon and providing the verbal output independently. Finally they will no longer need the communication board during the activity and participate verbally without it. If a student’s intelligibility is poor, you will still know what he is attempting to say because the student can use icons as a visual cues. Hopefully you will avoid interactions such as “Say what I say” or ” I don’t understand, say it again.” Many students become frustrated when they find themselves in this type of communication exchange and then refuse to participate.

I have posted pictures of boards I have made in the past, for examples. You will need to adapt the icons for the materials and objects available to your student. There are a number of sources of pictures for making communication boards. Some of my sources include Open clip art, clip art from Teachers Pay Teachers (some are free samples) and Pictoselector which is a free program for Windows users. It can be found at Pictoselector allows you to use grid templates for icon placement and a number of icons. Boardmaker is another program that many schools have subscriptions too.

Toys and Grab Bag
Wind up toys with grab bag

A grab bag with toys is an easy item that can be made in the home environment. This one was made by cutting the sleeve off a sweater and sewing or gluing the bottom seam shut. You can put a number of different toys in the bag. Wind up toys are one of my favorite tools. They are always a high interest item.

The bag allows control of the objects from indiscriminate grabbing and hoarding, and facilitates turn taking. If the child is unable to wind or pull to activate a toy, all the better. That means they will need to request an action.

The Dollar store, Target Bargain bin, and Happy Meals are good places to find wind up toys. Mine have lasted a number of years. The student may also have favorite objects at home such as tops, balls, buttons, old switches, and tools.

Communication Board for Wind up Toys
Board made using Pictoselector
Stuffed Animals

Many students have a collection of stuffed animals matchbox cars or other objects. Add a fancy box and these can be put to good use. Hide an item in the box and have a student answer questions to find out its identity. The communication board is helpful for cuing a student for appropriate descriptive questions. Begin by modeling the questions while pointing to the pictures.

Animal Questions with icons from Open Clipart

Matchbox vehicles are a favorite activity. Students often acquire a stash of different ones because they are a cheap item to get on a shopping trip. I was lucky to be gifted a pack by parents and I collected more over the years. you can use them in the grab bag also.

Question Board for Vehicles

I’ve used this map with students to work with prepositions and descriptive vocabulary. The picture is an example of a simple map that can made by students to review the prepositions across, over, through, and between. It can be used with dice or a spinner as a simple board game, but students also like just driving along and telling where they are. You can have multiple trials by having them request different vehicles for making the trip.

Vehicle Board using Boardmaker

The race game is another opportunity to use the same cars. Students choose cars and then make comparisons and prediction on which vehicles will be first or last. It is another activity that provides opportunities to use adjectives and verbs.

Caregivers may want to venture out on their own with materials. However, I recommend that you consult with your student’s Speech and Language Pathologist (SLP) for constructing communication boards, and visuals to meet your student’s specific needs and goals. Although communication boards are presented here as examples, your student’s SLP will know the best vocabulary and language level for your student. An Occupational Therapist (OT) can help with setting up access to a communication board and tools so a student with a physical disability can manipulate objects. These professionals play important roles in an student’s education program and I can not guarantee results when their input is not included with a students education program.

I hope these examples give you some ideas. I would love to hear from fellow educators if you have other examples or ideas to share. If you are willing to share, I can add them to this blog post. You can comment by clicking on the comment cloud located at the top of the post by the heading. I monitor comments for spam so you will not see it posted immediately. You can also tell me if you would prefer to be incognito. Good Luck and stay healthy.

The Importance of Developing Meta Linguistic Awareness

2 Jul
Climb to the top

Vocabulary instruction has gone through some significant changes over the years.  Some of you may recall when students  were assigned a list of words, often the spelling list, and then required to write the definitions.   A lot of students detested the tedious task of looking  up words and copying definitions.  Often the words in the definition were hard to relate too, so it became a copying task with little benefit to learning the definitions.  Education theory has moved on to promoting meta linguistic awareness. Developing meta linguistic awareness can be especially beneficial when developing vocabulary. Research has revealed that promoting  higher level thinking skills increases retention of information and allows students to integrate what they have learned.  

    For those of you who may need a refresher; Meta linguistic language  skills are strategies that are applied, either consciously or automatically, to an oral or written linguistic interaction to allow one to think about language.  It is our ability to think about language and manipulate it beyond it’s written structure.  Remember the knock knock jokes and riddles  young  children attempt to tell around  6 yrs. of age.  They often lack  the punch line because they don’t grasp the idea of double meaning words.  This is the age when children are just starting to figure out that words and phrases  can be manipulated.  When they acquire this thinking ability, they are demonstrating meta linguistic awareness.

  Studies have found that  reading comprehension and meta linguistic skills are strongly linked (Achugar, Schleppegrell, & Oteíza, 2007).  If we want to get the most value from our teaching, we want students to develop thinking skills that  can be adapted to various situations.  You may have known a student or two who was an early  reader with above average reading skills in the early grades.  Although they were great sight readers in the early grades , they often faltered in the later elementary years.   They could  read the words individually but had difficulty comprehending within the text.  As the paragraphs and sentence structure became more complex there were often hidden meanings.  Things like double meaning words, satire, and unusual phrasing tripped them up.  Students exhibited difficulties with meta linguistic development could not adapt to the word meaning changes that occurred within context.

          So what does this mean when we are working with our students?  It means we want to encourage our students to think about language, be flexible, and think about if it makes sense within the context.  It is more than reading  a string of words.   The word meaning they memorized may not always work in every context.   They need to think about a variety of possible  meanings to get the best fit.  It means we want them to question, make associations, compare descriptive features, and contrast meanings.  We encourages students to be active thinkers and  in the process the information stays with them.

      For examples of speech activities using meta linguistics tasks, go to the top navigation heading and click on the section labeled Vocabulary.   Making word association is a great task for encouraging meta linguist skills. There is a good sampling of cards for download in that section.    There are free previews so that you can try some of them out with your students. You can get a pretty good tool box by just downloading all the previews and free cards.  Click on the star for a free preview and download of the Word Association Bundle. Click on the blue print for a direct link to TPT. The cards on TPT are available with the digital down load overlays and self checking with bar codes that work with the task cards or digitally.

Finding what is wrong with Silly Sentences is another activity that forces students to think about facts and how words relate to each other. It provides opportunities for students to recognized when the meaning doesn’t fit and not take it at face value. This is an important skill for today when we are bombarded constantly with false facts in social media. There are several sets of those for free downloads in the vocabulary section. I hope the activities in vocabulary section help you to explore and enhance the way you work on vocabulary development with your students.

Paper Candy Cane Directions for Students

12 Dec

I thought I would bring this to the top for the holiday season in case you need to occupy a child or two.

I know you are about ready for a break and busy finishing up those odds and ends. I thought I would help by providing a low prep project to keep a few students busy while others might be finishing up work. Click on the cover picture below and you will find a PDF file with step by step directions on making a paper candy cane.

click on image to follow link.

You can possibly download it for individual students on iPads or put it up on a overhead for all to see. Students love to see the way the stripes magically appear. They end up making several of them. They add some festivity on the end of a pencil.

Happy Holidays everyone and get rested for the New Year!

Follow Directions to Create a Leaf Turkey

17 Oct
Leaf Turkey

I am bringing this to the top because it is an oldie but goodie for this time of year.

Creating turkeys from leaves was one of my all time favorite speech therapy activities. It was my type of project; easy to set up, materials were easily available and it appealed to multiple ages and abilities. I could address following directions and prepositional vocabulary such as below, above, center, before, and after. I could expand it for the older elementary by using science vocabulary and discussing why leaves change color, and drop.

A walk to look at Autumn colors and changes in the trees, is a good way to start this project. Children can’t resist picking up the different colors of leaves and wanting to do something with them. I found the colors and shapes of Maple leaves work the best for this project. Keep in mind that each student needs two leaves. Pick those that still have a long stem attached. It is always helpful to have extras for those that get broken before use.

I originally posted this activity 6 yrs ago, so it may look familiar. Many of you probably haven’t looked back that far to find it in my archives. I found it recently and decided with some updating it was worth reposting. The original was made with an app called Story Kit on my school iPad and was uploaded to the children’s library here. I have updated it to a pdf file to allow access on multiple types of devices. Click on the button for access.

Free Download
Free Download

I originally placed all the turkeys on a bulletin board with signs. This became an introduction to satire. I hope you have as much fun with this as I did.