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

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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..

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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.

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Fidget Mazes and 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.

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.

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.

 

roundmarblemaze

For the square I sewed straight lines.

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 Remember to alternate the lines from reaching the edge so you have a path for the marble.
  When you are finished,  insert a marble through the opening  and sew the opening shut.
 Students use their fingers to move the marble through the maze.
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The teachers really had good reviews on these. They held up well and were washable. once I got the hang of it, I could make one in 20 minutes.

Free Spinners for Game Adaptations

4 Dec

You may have noticed that I like to use spinners to expand the therapy value of some of my games and teach concept vocabulary.  I have some of them as part of my downloads in the vocabulary section.  The spinners in my previous downloads are  black and white and  not very colorful.  I decided to update them with pictures and color to make them more friendly for my non-readers. You can access them on TPT for FREE.  Just click the button.TPT button

 

The spinners are made from the clear plastic lids you find on products  such as  whipped cream  or oatmeal containers.  A pony  bead, paper fastener and spinner from heavy cardboard or plastic are added. The lids are clear so that the paper form  can be placed underneath and still be seen.  The paper can be replaced from one activity to the next and the same spinner stays intact. Look below to see my showcase of spinners and the games I use with them.

Left and Right Spinner.

This spinner  is used when playing Blockhead or some other block stacking game. It  targets the concepts of left and right.  The spinner has the directions of Left or Right  with a handprint for cuing. Students take turns spinning the spinner and use the hand that is indicated to pick up a block and stack to make a tower.  Point out to the students that when their hands are flattened on the table their left hand will form an L shape with the pointer and thumb. This is another cue they can use to distinguish their left hand from their right hand. I have used this as a table or center activity with table groups of 6 students in a Kindergarten class.

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 Size and Shape Spinner:

You need bean bags or soft balls that can be tossed, plastic pails and boxes of various sizes and shapes, and  spinners  with the vocabulary words printed on it.   Have the students  make a big circle with the containers placed in the center.  Instruct the children on how to toss the ball or bean bag safely so no one gets injured.

The spinners travel around the circle.  Students  spin the spinner and toss the bean bag or ball as required  trying to get the bean bag in the appropriate container that matches the word on the spinner.

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For the Amount Spinner, I use  a game I made up called “Don’t Fall Through the Ice ”       IMG326

amount spinner

Use the amount spinner, one 2 lb plastic coffee container.  A rubber band that fits around the mouth of the container, tissue paper, marbles, cup to place marbles in water, spinner with vocabulary words.  Instructions:  Put one sheet of tissue paper across the opening of the  2 lb container.  Fasten it down by stretching the rubber band around the top of the opening. You may need an extra set of hands to accomplish this.   It should look like a drum.  Put marbles in the cup and fill with water.  Children take turns spinning the spinner and taking the number of wet marbles indicated.

The students place the marbles on top of the tissue paper top.  The wet marbles will weaken the tissue paper and eventually fall through.  The wetter the marbles the faster they will fall th rough.  If you are using this activity with table groups they can count the marbles and compare who has the most or least marbles.

Don’t Spill the Beans is an other game that can be used with the spinner.


 

The conversation spinner can be used with any board game that uses a typical number spinner.  It works well with games such as Snakes and Slides or Chutes and Ladders. Students try to follow the prompts on the spinner and give an example.conversation spinner

Adaptive Don’t Break the Ice

10 Oct

 

 

Don't Break 1

During my career there have been certain students who have made a lasting  impression on me and aided in my growth as a speech language pathologist. It seemed that fate  crossed our paths so that we could learn from each other.  I am thinking in particular of a  student who I met in her Kindergarten year.  Her disability prevented her from speaking or using her arms and legs effectively although eventually she learned how to use her head to control a motorized wheel chair and a laser to activate an Alpha Talker and then a Delta Talker. This is when the field of  augmentation communication was beginning to blossom with more advanced electronic devices.  This child did not have the outward appearance of much ability other than a beautiful smile.  However with her devices her true personality could shine.

I will never forget the time I worked  with her at her home during extended summer services. She would be going into first grade when school resumed.  Her mother reported she had something to tell me.  She proceeded to tell me she had seen the movie Pocahontas.   That doesn’t seem that unusual except she used her Delta Talker  to do it and she had programmed the name Pocahontas into it  herself.  Those of you who have worked with min speak realize this involves not only getting into the programming mode but also selecting a symbol sequence to represent the name.  She did all of this using a laser attached to a head band.    She had learned the programming  by watching me during other sessions.  I learned not to underestimate her abilities when motivated.

She would be in her twenties now.   I lost track of her after her elementary years but I think of her often.  She reminds me that our first impressions of a student’s capabilities are not always correct.

break ice colors

How does this get us to Don’t Break the Ice  you ask?   Well it was difficult for her to play with her peers and have  normal interactions.  I was always searching for games I could adapt.  Don’t Break the Ice was one of the games I adapted so she could play too.  I basically took the orignal game and put masking tape along two sides.  I then color coded the rows. This allowed her to tell another student what block of ice she wanted to be hit out by saying two colors.   Where the colors intersect is the block chosen.  She used her voice output  system  to communicate.  The set up was also useful for other students  using a communication board.  You can color code  a dice or spinner.  Students roll a dice and then say what color they have or will hit out.   It is good for I want, I have, I need statements.

 

Don't break board

 

 

Mouse Books for Language Samples

8 Aug

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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.

 

 

Free Trial: Reply to a Comment Task Cards

31 Jul

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Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Back to School Sale on Aug 4th and 5th. If you are waiting for the right time to get back to school materials, now is the time.  Don’t forget to use the Promo code when you check out to get the full discount.

In a previous post I mentioned how I worked with students to recognize comments and questions and how they should make a reply.  I made comment and reply cards last  Spring.  I have since updated them to include  pictures.  I’m putting a trial set here for my readers to try out.  If they look like something you could use, the full set is on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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Reply to a Comment trial set

 

Quick link to Teachers Pay Teachers.

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Poppa’s Pizza Game Adaptation

28 Jul

 

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.