Teaching Left from Right

19 Mar


I don’t know about you but I’ve found that the concept of left and right can be one of the most difficult  for students to grasp.  Because of this I am always on the look out for ways  to incorporate it into my activities.  I am going to showcase a few games I have used during therapy sessions to reinforce the concept plus add little incentive for the other goals we may be working on.  The students don’t realize it but my games are often selected for a dual purpose.

First off I usually show my students how to tell their left from their right .  When they place their hands palm sides down, their left had will form the letter L which stand for Left.  Easy Peasy Classroom has a nice set of posters to illustrate this.  Click on the picture and it will take you there.

I recently found the game called  Left, Right, Center. It is less than $7.00 at stores such as Wal-Mart, which is a reasonable price for my budget. It is also  small for carrying in my therapy bag. It is a dice game that is a nice incentive game because turns are quick and it is more of a game of luck than skill.  This means that any of my students can be successful regardless of abilities.  It also gives multiple opportunities to figure left from right.

The game consists of chips and a set of dice  with the letters L, C, R or a black dot.  Everyone starts with 3 chips.  Players roll the number of dice that corresponds to the number of chips they have.  They pass the chips according to the roll on the dice.  L means a chip to the person on the left.  R means a chip to the person on the right.  C means a chip to the center of the table and a black dot means you keep a chip.  Eventually there will be only one person left with chips and they get to claim the center.  Then the game is over.

I have also used the game of Block Head.  It is a game that has been out for a number of years, so you may have it.  You could use regular blocks but you would not have the crazy shapes then.  I adapted it for left and right practice by adding a spinner. The spinner is part of a set of spinners that are a free download at my TPT store. just click on the picture.

Block Head is a basic game of taking turns stacking different size blocks until someone knocks the block tower over.
 Students practice left and right by spinning the spinner and then using the hand designated by the spinner.  Students can develop an awareness of which hand feels more comfortable to them and use that to figure out which hand is which.


There is also a game I made up for my kindergarten concept groups called Skip and Pass.  It is  in the vocabulary section of this blog or you can click on the green lettering.  A small group of students form a circle and each child has a black or white shape in front of them.  I make die cut shapes.  Students take turns throwing a large dice in the middle of the circle. The die indicates if students pass a ball or bean bag left or right around the circle and who is skipped according to the shape in front of them.  It is a good game to teach group participation as well as several concepts including left and right. The pattern for the dice is included in the instructions.

I hope you found these options useful.  I am taking part in a linking party for special ed. blogs so check out some of these other sites.  We love your comments.  It keeps us writing.



The Question Chain Group Activity

22 Nov


Conducting speech therapy  in a classroom setting can be a bit of a challenge especially for a group of students with a wide variety of skills such as in a life skills program.   I often  have limited time and resources as well. I am thankful to have a number of activities in my toolbox that have worked in a number of settings.   The question chain happens to be one of them.

The question chain can be used to target a number of goals to include asking questions, answering yes and no questions, staying on topic, and concept vocabulary such as long short, and equal.

The only materials you need are plastic links or you can use strips of paper to make an old fashion paper chain.  If you use the strips of paper to make a paper chain, a stapler is best for connecting rather than glue.  It is faster and they stay together better. You need enough to make a chain of 10 or 15 links for each group you form.  I usually divide the class into 3 to 5 groups so there are 3 to 5 students in each group.  You can be flexible here.

The procedure is really very simple.  Yes and no questions are asked and students are polled in each group.  Each group puts a link together for each yes answer.  The chains get longer and are compared to see if they are equal or if some are longer or shorter.

Depending on your group you may need to have preformulated questions. You can vary the complexity of the questions by how you ask them.  It is really adaptable to the abilities of your group.  The following are possible example questions.

  1.  Do you have a brother or sister?
  2. Are you wearing blue?
  3. Do you have a pet (dog, cat, and fish)?
  4. Do you like pizza?
  5. Did you ride the bus today?
  6. Do you have short hair?
  7. Did you walk to school?
  8. Are you wearing red?
  9. Are your eyes brown?
  10. Do you like to eat carrots?

After giving some of the preformulated questions, the  students can  be given a chance to ask their own questions.

If you would like to follow some other blogs for special education, follow the link below.

 Just a reminder of the TPT sale. Dont forget to use the code for a discount.

A Group Therapy Lesson for the Concepts of Half and Whole.

6 Nov

At my recent assignment at the middle school, I did push-in  speech therapy sessions with the life-skills classroom.  Students had a variety of skill levels.  It can be a challenge to find activities everyone can do and enjoy. There was  not a curriculum or materials available to me so I ended up using my ingenuity to make lessons. That is when I was  thankful for the history I have posted here. I dug back to the beginning of my post archives. I did find some inspiration but it  was also an eye opener. My posts have come along way since then and the post really didn’t look to appealing.  I thought a revision would be helpful since it is unlikely many are finding it from six years back.

The original post was labeled Concept Group 12.  A real catchy title uh. That was before I realized the importance of a title for search engines or appeal.  It was a time when I was pushing into Kindergarten classes and teaching concepts using group activities.  Although each lesson focused on concept vocabulary, we also worked on taking turns, asking questions, and following directions.  The lesson I used this last week with my middle school life skill students  focused on the concepts of right, left,  top bottom, half, whole, and match.  The class still benefitted from working on social pragmatic skills, following directions, and concept vocabulary.

You need some old alphabet animal cards for this activity. Prepare the cards ahead for use in the classroom.alpaf1
          The ones I used came from an old reading program that was taken out of circulation. There are two free downloads available on the internet from Jason’s Online Classroom and  Jan Brett’s blog.


To prepare the cards, I cut them in half.


Divide them into two piles.  One pile should have the upper halves and the other pile the bottom halves.  Count out the number of cards to the number of students. There is a possibility of 26 matched sets so you may not need all of them.  Do make sure you have the matches in the two piles.

In the classroom, pass out the top halves of the cards to students and talk about how it is only the top  half of the card or animal.  Show them that you have the other bottom half of their cards.

Mix up the 2nd pile of bottom half cards and place them in a box.  Let the students draw a random card and match it to the card they already have. This creates a somewhat  cooky animal which often elicits some laughter. You can take this opportunity to ask them if they have a match and how do they know it is not a match. You can also talk about bottom and top.


The next part  works best if students are seated in a circle.  It involves following one and  two part directions as you direct them to pass the top or bottom to the student on the left or right. I vary the directions according to the ability level of the group. They may not be able to handle two part directions such as hand the top card to the person on the right. in that case I bring it down to one step such as pass the bottom card  and direct the direction.  After each pass they look to see if they have a match.  If they get a whole set they can keep it and discontinue the passing.  Keep going until everyone has found their whole card.



Have a Winter Blast

19 Jan

Speech Therapy with a snow theme.

snowman prep

It is time to bring out the cold weather activities .  January started out with a winter blast here.   The first two days back from winter break were cancelled because of freezing rain, snow, and ice.  I see the cold bast is continuing across the United states so many other places are getting snow days as well.

I have a few snow activities posted on this site from previous years. You may or may not have noticed them.  I thought  I would showcase some of the activities I have used recently.

For my early language  learners I have brought out the cornstarch and shaving cream snow.  It is easy to make, only 2 ingredients.  All you have to do is mix one or two cans of shaving cream with two boxes of cornstarch . The shaving cream makes it feel tingly cool, has a soft silky texture and a refreshing smell.  To make this wonderful artificial snow add the shaving cream into the cornstarch  gradually until the mixture will form a ball when squeezed together in your hands .  Although it brushes off hands fairly easily,  I recommend putting plastic down on carpet, so it doesn’t get ground in and hard to vacuum up.

corstarch snowYou can add a few extras for snowman accessories.

cornstarch snowman 1

I found this activity works well after reading a short story about a snowman.  Choose your favorite one.  There are quite a few out there.

I made a  snowman story on  StoryKit a few years back.  The link is here.   It explores prepositions using a snowman theme.

I also used a felt board story about making a snowman.  The directions are here.

Have fun playing in the snow.

Just a reminder that there is a sale on Teachers Pay Teacher starting January 20.  Now is a good time to get those things on your wish list.

  Don’t forget to use the code START16 to get the discount.   You can click on the penguin for a quick link to my store.


penguin clip art (2)

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.



The Never Ever Dinner Plate for the Development of Negation

23 Mar


dinner plate cover jpg

You may remember in the original posts of this blog,  I wrote about using a push-in model of therapy with Kindergarten students using table games to teach concepts that were measured on the The Boehm Test of Basic Concepts.   For those of you who are unfamiliar with this test, The Boehm Test of Basic Concepts is a norm-referenced, standardized test of fifty common language concepts for children in Kindergarten through second grades.  The concepts are important for following classroom directions and when acquiring math skills.    Children with language delays, 2nd language learners, and those with lack of preschool experience benefit from direct instruction on these.  The vocabulary section on this blog  has some of the games that we developed and adapted.  If you are interested in researching back to the original posts just put Concept Groups in the search bar and you can see how a year of school lesson planning went.  I  still use  the same activities so they have held up over the test of time.

One of the Activities, “The Never Ever Dinner Plate”  needed some refreshing.  My sets are looking a bit worn after 5 years.   The directions are in the  vocabulary section but  you still need to do quite a bit of work  finding  the clip art and collecting  it together.   This can be daunting when you don’t have much time and you are not sure of its true value.  I decide to make a new set and  preview it here so you could see what it actually is.  This game/activity  was used to teach the negatives (never, not), the concepts of match, full, half, and categories of food.  It is also good for talking about a balanced diet if you have a nutrition program or theme.  It was used in our Lifeskills program for that purpose.

The original game was played like this:  Each child was given a  plate mat and 3 pictured food items that match the outlines of the foods on the plate.  I make a set of plates for each table so that each child will have a different plate.  I made the meals balanced so dairy, vegetables, fruit, proteins, and grains are represented. There are also a set of non food items  for each table group.  These are items a child would never eat.  The cards, including the nonfood items, are mixed and placed face down in rows in the center of the table.  Students take turns flipping one card over on their turn to see if it matches a food item on their plate. If it does they can place it on their plate. If it doesn’t they turn the card back over. If it’s a non food item, emphasize that children “never” eat it. It is “not” food.  The nonfood item is then flipped back over.  They are basically foil cards.  While you are playing you can also discuss categories of food and if their plate is ½ full empty etc.   The game is over when one of the children is able to fill their plate with the proper food items.  I have them swap plates and they are always eager to do it again.  There is usually a lot of discussion about what they do like and don’t like to eat.

The full set of 10 plates is available at TPT.  Click on the apple for quick access.TPT button

Never Ever Dnner Plate Preview

More Fun With Angry Turkeys

19 Nov

Last year at about this time I made turkey bean bags and used them in a toss game.   I brought them out again for another round of Angry Turkeys.  This  game is made from toilet paper rolls and coffee can lids.  I simply covered the toilet paper rolls to give them color.   I improved it a bit by making the  green pigs from paper rolls cut in half.  I just printed  clip art of a pig and taped it to the paper roll.  This is what it looked like.photo

For the activity at school, I used Sounding board.  It is a free app by Ablenet  that allows you to make a communication board with pictures.  I wasn’t able to  share it  so  used the same pictures and converted it to Storykit.  Here is the Storykit version.  http://iphone.childrenslibrary.org/cgi-bin/view.py?b=nma32raqfbftw6v5g23r

The directions for the Turkey Bean bags are here.

The students placed the pigs in the proper spots while reading the story.  They then all tossed a turkey on the count of 3. They always want to do it again. I love  activities that are self reinforcing. photo (1)

Concept Group 21

14 Apr

This week we used ball  relays to go over the concepts behind, in front,  through, over, and end of the line.  They also practiced following 2 to 3 step directions and working in a team.  We formed 3 lines of about 10 students each.

The first direction was to pass a ball through their legs to the person behind them.  The ball continued to be passed until the last person received it and then the line could sit down.  They were encouraged to work as a team and use encouraging words to keep team mates going.  The first group required instruction on sportman ship  and appropriate words to say to another team when they lost.   The 2nd direction was to pass the ball over their head to the team mate behind them.  Again they could sit down when their team completed the task.  These two tasks were then combined together.  The ball was passed through legs to the last person in line and then the last person returned the ball passing it over the head of the  person in front of them.  When it came to the beginning point everyone sat down.

The final task was dividing each line in half so there was a group A lined in single file and facing a group B also in single file.   Separate the two lines enough that a ball can be tossed from one side and still caught on the other side.  The first person in group A tosses the ball to the first person in Group B.  After tossing the ball the group A person runs behind the Group B line and becomes one of them.  The front person in line B now tosses to the person in the front of line A and then goes to the back of line A.  This continues until the lines have now switched to the opposite sides.  This requires some thinking for the students to follow the directions.  Don’t be surprised if one line becomes longer than the other as people get in the wrong line after throwing the ball.  This created an opportunity for a little problem solving.

Concept Group 20

6 Apr

Today we used the gym once again.  We have access to a large parachute in our gym equipment.  It is a great tool to work on concept development.  We started by spreading it out on the gym floor.  It’s good to establish a few rules such as all activity stops when a whistle is blown and everyone needs to hold onto the edge of the parachute unless told otherwise.  There are always a few students who can’t resist trying to  run under the parachute.  To start, we  had the students grab the edge with their right hand, pick up the parachute, and circle to the left.  We still have a few students that do not recognize their left from their right so we reviewed that once again.   Next they practiced holding the parachute high and low as they walked   We then reversed the process and had them grab it with their left hand and hold it high and low.  We then have them grab the edge with both hands and wiggle it up and down  fast and then slow.  A ball is placed into the center and they are told to try to keep it in the center.  In  the last activity we have them hold it above their heads while 4 students’ names are called.  These students are then instructed to run across the middle and under the parachute to the opposite side.  By the time the parachute activity is completed we have reviewed the concepts center, edge, right, left, across, center, low, high and above.

Concept Group 19

31 Mar

We used Tiddly Winks as the group activity this week.  This is a reasonably cheep game that usually comes with at least four sets of different colored winks (plastic circles), a felt take off point, and a target area.  I divide the sets up so there is one big wink and 3 small ones for each table group.  I make extra target areas from small saucers or cups.  We talk about the concepts, center, over, close, edge, and far.  The students then take turns using the larger circles to pop the smaller circles into the targets by pressing on the edges.  Each child gets 3 attempts before moving on to the next child.  The tables can be in competition for who gets the most winks into the targets.  I let the students decide if they want the target moved far or close to them.  It takes a bit of skill to make them pop up, but most get it on the 3rd attempt.  It’s not usual for the winks to fly over their target.  It leads to the use of prepositions quite naturally.