Ending Another School Year and Summer Activity

6 Jun

I didn’t expect to be doing this again but here I am wrapping up another school year.  After announcing retirement last year,  I ended up substituting for SLPs on personal and medical leave in 2 middle schools, and 2 elementary schools. It kept me quite busy and  in semi-retirement.  I did enjoy the reduced schedule.

Our year ends later than most areas of the United States.  We also had another half week added because of our more than usual snow days.  I think the students and I are ready to see summer vacation arrive.

I know this is too late for most of you, but I like to do a special activity for the last days of therapy.  I found Summer Bingo Boards among my downloads from last summer.  I decided Loop Cereal  Bingo would be a good vocabulary and conversation building activity to wrap up the year. The bingo boards were not marked with any identifying information and I have no idea where they came from.  They appear to be a free download from some place but I can’t find the address.   If you are the creator I would love to give credit so please let me know.  I am making them a free download so people can get them here but if there is a better url address I will switch it out.  They are black and white so they won’t use up the color ink.  Just click on the button.

There are 9 boards using summer pictures to illustrate summer vocabulary items.  I am printing mine out on regular computer paper so each child can have his/her own sheet.  That way  loop cereal can be placed on them for markers and each child will have a fresh sheet of paper.  Students can eat the cereal when they get a BINGO.

 

 

 

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What animal is it? Question Activity

12 Mar

20160311_075422

Do you have a collection of stuffed animals that seems to reproduce before your very eyes?  I do.   I inherited a collection of Beanie Babies from my children when they left home.  They were so adorable that I had difficulty parting with them.  Naturally they ended up in my  room of misfit toys, my therapy room.  I have them stored in a shoe storage unit that fits over a door.  As people noticed them they added more to the collection.  After I started using them for therapy, I found how valuable they truly are.

The animals are very enticing even to some of my older students who have moved on to Minecraft. I  have used them for calming distraught Kindergarten students.  Teachers  have borrowed one for the day to get a student through trauma.  Students have used them when they forgot theirs on a “Read to your stuffed animal day.”

I have used them when reading animal stories.  Students take a animal from a grab bag and  listen for the part of the story where  their animal shows up.  It keeps them focused on the story and gives something for their hands to hold.

I have some unusual ones that become a help for expanding vocabulary.   For example, some students have not had exposure to a jelly fish.  I know my stuffed animal is not an exact replica  but does give the idea.   This leads  to a discussion to what is different about a real jellyfish and the stuffed version.  My jellyfish has the typical stuffed animal round eyes which led to the question, “Do jellyfish have eyes?”.    We explored this on the iPad and it provided a very interesting topic.

They are great for categorization according to traits.  A favorite activity I made up is ” Mystery Animal”.  I especially like this activity for its use of questions and cognitive skills. It is a memory and cognitive task to remember the details and use that information in a meaningful way. I have a velvet box that is the mystery box.  One student hides an animal in the box and the other students ask questions to determine its identity.  The rule is they need to ask a descriptive question before they can identify the animal. Some of  my students have difficulty coming up with relevant questions or ask the same questions several times.  I made this communication board to help them with formulating questions.

20160311_075612

This is a pdf version you may be able to download and print  for use.   What animal

They have been used as rewards for behavior plans.  Students earn animal babysitting priveledges and  swap one out occasionally.  This keeps the incentive going.  It is nice to have an incentive that doesn’t need funding or involve food.

Amazingly, I have only lost a few over the years.  They seem to find their way back to my room at the end of the school year.

 

Body Parts and Emotions Theme

21 Feb

LeprechaunI traditionally use the months of February and March to work on  body parts  and emotions theme.  There are quite a few free materials you can use out there. To help you with your search I have listed a few activities I have used with my early language learners.

I started with following directions and naming body parts by putting band aids on a print out of a boy and girl.   Teachers notebook: Toadally Tots Shop has a free download called Betty and Billy Boo-Boo which you might want to check out here.  This was not only good for naming body parts but was also good for subject, object, and possessive pronouns.

I used musical play to encourage movement and use of body parts.  The Hokey pokey song works well for this.  There is an  United Kingdom version: Hokey Pokey- Kids song on You tube.   I used a hula hoop to designate the middle of the circle which worked out particularly well on this version as it mimicked the video.  I liked the speed on this one because  my students could keep up.  Head Shoulders Knees and Toes is another good one.  I used this version here.

I used bubbles to motivate some of my reluctant participants.  Students drew a body part from a bag.  You can use pictures printed from a symbol system or for those who respond better to objects you can use potato head parts.   I blew bubbles and they tried to pop a bubble using their body parts that corresponded to the one they drew.  They got quite a kick out of getting a bubble with their nose.

To work on facial expressions, I found this Leprechaun that works well for a movable face.  The Leprechaun comes from http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com/.   It gives directions on how to draw a Leprechaun which can then be placed on a toilet paper roll.  There are directions for making it on the toilet paper roll here.  you can make a Mad lib leprechaun story here. The students have fun turning the roll to get a different face to match an emotion in the story.

I hope you have fun with these activities and it makes your lesson planning easier.   Let me know if you have any other activities that can be added.

 

 

Irregular Plurals Interactive Book

30 Oct

Morgan button                                                Click on this box  for direct link

Sometimes we need to allow ideas time to grow.  We don’t always have the right  materials and knowledge when we first start out with an idea. It takes trial and error.  This is a  good lesson to impress upon our students. My wish to write a children’s book was a personal example of this.  I thought you might be intrigued about the process I went through.

Publishing a children’s book was one of those things on my bucket list. So 20 years ago I began to work on it.  It had several different titles and variations but in the end I called it  Morgan the Magician and his Amazing Box.   I didn’t always have a lot of time to devote to it. I would get a part of it going, end up with a road block, and it would get stuck back in the filing cabinet until I was ready to attempt it again.

cover

So how did I end up with the idea of Morgan the Magician you ask? Irregular plurals are not something that seem that important at first glance. Classroom instruction spends only a short  time on them.  They seem to play a small part of what students need for academic performance.   However I find my language students usually have  difficulty  with them and don’t acquire them through the  general education curriculum. I usually try to find some opportunity to review them.

For my therapy students, I started out my career using the usual task cards and tried to

morgan beginningget them to memorize them.  What else can you do when irregular plurals don’t follow the usual rules and are so  irregular.   This seemed to take more time out of therapy sessions than it was worth. Some would get memorized from the cards but were not used in any  other context.  So I tried to think of a better way.  I decided putting them in a story would give them some context.  My own children always liked the stories that had  pull flaps and they could  interact with.  Rhyming also helps us to remember things.  So this began my journey on making an interactive book with flaps that used rhyming.  I often had rhymes swimming in my head so I had empathy for Dr. Seuss.

page 34

I started by making it for personal use first.  In  the first version, I hand drew the characters and objects. This was before graphics were available on computers for  the average person.   My own children said my wizard looked freaky and would scare children.  I  decided I better make him  a more friendly magician.   My first version had a pull strip that was pulled  through a door so that the single item went in the door and the plural came out the other side.  It was a workable book  but  the strips were a bit cumbersome and students had a tendency to pull the strips all the way out.  I also wanted the pages to be double-sided.  The last challenge was making it printable and user friendly for construction.  That turned out to be the biggest challenge.

Getting a publisher interested would be another challenge, but then came Teachers Pay Teachers.  I found I could just publish it myself.  page3 I discovered Power Point and that this program could be used for formating and placing  clip art easily on pages.  I got a notebook with a sketchbook app which openedup new possibilities for drawing characters.  I could draw the magician once and then make some changes to him as I  went without him changing appearance too much.  No more hand drawing each page.  It made it possible for me to make the clip art,  make multiple pages, and make it in such a way that others could make copies for themselves.

Then I had one of those light bulb moments.  I could just use doors and have the pages back to back.   The single task card could be placed in the door by the student.  The next page could  contain the plural form of the word.  The task cards are separate so they can be attached with velcro and used for  other activities.  Such a simple method that took years for me to come up with.

 

iregular plural button

Click on the button at the top of this post for a direct link to TPT and the book.

 

 

Don’t Fall Through the Ice

8 Jan

This is our first week back from the holiday break. Some of us are in the grips of winter.  Baby its cold out there!  It seemed appropriate to go with a winter theme  and cold things.  I dug into my archives and brought out my version of “Don’t Fall Through the Ice”.  This activity has been in the vocabulary section and there are written instructions that can be printed out  under the link.  I didn’t include pictures so some of you may have missed it.  As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. The activity is really very simple and made from recycled materials.  I get a lot of use from my coffee cans.  All you need is a wide mouthed container like a coffee container, a large rubber band, paper towels, marbles, and a spinner made from a plastic lid.  The spinner has the words, one, couple, few, and several.  The marbles are placed in a container of water.  The paper towel is stretched across the mouth of the container and held by the rubber band.  Students take turns spinning the spinner, taking the corresponding amount of marbles from the water, and placing them on top of the paper towel.  Eventually the water will weaken the paper towel and the marbles will fall through.   I used this activity as a reinforcement for  students during therapy or as a group activity to work on the concepts of amount.  I have table groups play and then compare the number of marbles they put on top before they fall through.  In addition to the spinner words you can talk about the concepts of wet/dry, weak/strong, and most/ least.

Ice game

5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

2 Nov

Goodwill is such a good place to  find cheap games to adapt for therapy.  This was a recent find.

Monkey on the bed

This  type of games works  well for my  students in the Life Skills program.  It keeps them  engaged,  promotes turn taking, and teaches  language with repetition.  Many of my students are working on making comments using sentence frames such as I want,I have, and I need.  They are also working on using descriptive words such as colors, amount and basic prepositions.  I make a communication board available for my verbally challenged students.  I use the visual cues to prompt sentences.  The students I worked with last year are now using the communication boards independently to form 3 word sentences.  Children with autism often get stuck in an echo pattern where they answer questions by repeating the question.  The communication board helps break up that pattern.

This  game also gives opportunity to practice verb + ing sentences.  Students pick a circle card depicting a monkey getting ready for bed and use verbs such as brushing teeth, taking a bath and putting pajamas on.  After describing the picture, the students put a monkey on top of the bed and then spin the spinner.  The student then pushes the button on the bed post the number of times the spinner indicates.  At some point the bed will spring  and the monkeys will fall off. There is a game board that also comes with the game, but my students had fun using it at this basic level and I felt I had control over the pieces.  I found this game had a lot of possibilities for students at different levels.  I’ve thought of making more round disks to add to the variety of verbs that could be picked.

The Value of Playing Cards

20 Jul
playing cards

playing cards

Before we had smart phones and iPods many of us remember playing cards when waiting any length of time with a group. Sometimes it is good to look at the old traditional card games because there is a reason why they had staying power.  Children still like playing them. Card games such as Go Fish, Rummy, Old Maid, Crazy 8 and UNO can meet a lot of different therapy needs as well as provide a recreational activity for disabled students to mix with non disabled students. You may remember we used a game of UNO in our “Circle of Friends Group” to work with a student who performed on academic grade level but was severely impacted socially by Autism. http://cjmonty.wordpress.com/category/circle-of-friends/.

Card games have the advantage of engaging a number of students of different ability levels within a structure. They provide lots of opportunity for modeling by peers in predictable interactions.  The use of card games provides a training ground to reinforce social skills some students need to develop in order to participate in a group and have a conversation. It also allows the peer group to interact with a disable student and see them as a person they can develop a friendship  and play with.

Our high needs students benefit from some preparation such as communication boards, video modeling and visual cue cards. Many of my students I work with  in the Life skills Programs  are working on skills such as maintaining focus with a group, staying on topic, realizing their turn, the turn of others, perspectives of others, and appropriate emotional control with unexpected events.  In addition, they may be working on vocabulary and following directions.

I have collected free downloads of some traditional card games.  I hope this will make it easier for some of your planning for next school year. Some of these have the advantage of using specific themed vocabulary.

UNO

There are some creative variations on the internet. However this particular game is under copyright so I didn’t feel I could post them.  The regular game is very useful for working on following directions.

This is a board that is a tech speak overlay but I just use the board without the device for my less verbal students. http://www.boardmakershare.com/Activities/Search?SearchText=uno

Old Maid

I have used cards that come in pairs such as opposite cards, and plurals.    Just add a blank card that does not match with the others for the old maid.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Opposite-Sort-Freebie-702983

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ocean-Plurals-Freebie-670212

I Have, Who Has

This is a fairly recent card game that seems to have a lot of potential for small groups.  Students need to maintain focus to stay with the group and participate.

Animals created by Ashley Hughes

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Have-Who-Has-Animals-197698

Food by Ashley Hughes

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Have-Who-Has-Food-30-Cards-198322

Winter vocabulary by Kindergarten Squared

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Have-Who-Has-Winter-Vocabulary-Freebie-460163

Synonyms by Dee Bibb

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-haveWho-hasSynonyms-587727

Halloween Vocabulary by Mandy Neal

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-HaveWho-HasHalloween-360098

Back to School Vocabulary by Simply Speech

http://kcummingsslp.blogspot.com/2012/07/back-2-school-i-have-who-has-freebie.html

Go Fish

http://www.boardmakershare.com/Activity/1729317/Go-Fish-Cue-Card  communication board

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pronoun-People-Go-Fish-570158 (pronouns)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Go-Fish-for-Irregular-Plural-Nouns-230009 (plurals)

http://www.filefolderfun.com/Pages/PreschoolPictureMatch/GoFishGame.html   (Feelings)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pet-Shop-Go-Fish-Card-Game-230710  (Pets)

http://bogglesworldesl.com/cards.htm    (a variety of flash cards for vocabulary building.)

If you need help remembering the rules this is a good place to look them up.

http://www.webterrace.com/family/games.htm

Most Useful Apps

28 May

The school year is coming to a close and it will be time to return  the iPads to the technology department.  We don’t always get the same iPad back in the Fall.  If  the technology department has completed updates it is possible they come back  wiped clean.    I didn’t keep a list of apps last year and I regretted that.  I decided to post my most used apps on the page now called Videos and Apps. Maybe you will find one you haven’t discovered yet.  They were all free when I originally downloaded them.

I thought I would also write a bit about how I use what I call my Pretend Play apps.  Three of my favorites are Toca Hair Salon, Toca Monsters, and PlayHome Lite.   I use these boards  frequently with my students in the  Life-skills programs.  I have found I need to create a lot of structure and routine or it becomes the student making a lot of random hits on the screen and basically zoning me out.  If there are two students, it is often difficult to get one student to  give up their turn to the other student.  I don’t find a session very fruitful under these conditions. Maybe you have had that experience too.   I have found that adding activity based communication boards to go along with the apps  adds the structure and the control I need.

I use Boardmaker to make the communication boards and usually start with a pretty basic framework.  My pronouns and nouns are on the left side of the board.  The next section contains the verbs needed, then prepositions and adjectives.  I leave the right side for my  My Turn, Your Turn, Finished, exclamations like Oh-no, and Do it again. By keeping the basic framework the same, the student becomes familiar with the icons and knows where to look for them. You do too which makes it easier to model the sentences.    If you keep your framework similar, you can make new boards easily by using the same framework and only replacing the vocabulary you need for the new activity.  I use plastic protectors and just slip the new board in.  This has saved me from laminating.

Quite a few of my students are working on using  two to three  word phrases using carrier phrases such as “I have____”, “I want____”,  “I need____”, and turn taking.  I require them to use words or the communication board before manipulating something on the iPad.  They then indicate Your Turn to the next student.  I model this behavior as I play with them and it isn’t long before they are talking with me in a more natural context.  It also works if you are working on subject pronouns and verb forms.  I model which tense of the verb I want them to use such as future tense on something they “will” do. I am posting pictures  of  two of my boards  I use with the apps “Play Home Lite” and “Toca Hair Salon”.  Has anyone else discovered this works for you?

playhouse

Toca Hair

Spring is for the Birds

1 Apr

It is time for a new Spring bulletin board.   I became inspired by the paper curl bird on fun family crafts here.  I changed it a little bit mainly because I didn’t think my students would be able to handle that many paper curls.  birds

I continue to try to have some speech therapy value with the bulletin board.  This one will promote giving and following directions as well as  understanding idioms.   As in the past  I used the app  Storykit  to have students produce and narrate the instructions on making the birds. I hope you have found this great free app by now.  It is in the blog roll if you need to find it.    Here is the story kit link to How you make Paper Birds.   If you use the app it will look like a book with pages rather than a story board.

My older students will have a homework component. I made flyers with idioms printed on them and they can either write or tell me the meaning after researching it.  Here is the flyer. Bird phrases.   I’ve been giving animal crackers for a reward lately.  They go with the theme of Spring animals and I tell myself they aren’t as bad as giving candy. The students seem to like to work for them.

Bird Board redoThis is the look of the bulletin board so far. The birds are suppose to be sitting on wires.   I guess you could say it is a work in progress.

Flip cameras are great for speech therapy!

8 Apr

This week I explored ways to use a flip camera.  This isn’t an expensive model.  It’s a Vivitar 410 which you can get for about $25.    The ability to plug it into my computer and have  immediate viewing  has made it valuable for feedback.  I’m still learning how to use all the functions, but for the most part it has been record and play.  I’ve been able to download files to both my home PC and the Mac I use at school.  It also records sound.   I have a program on my home computer that I’m able to segment, cut out portions, and add captions if I want.   I’ve done that with the ‘Circle” video clips. The therapy clips I have played  directly on my computer after taping them. They come up as a full screen, so the students get the impression they are on TV.  It’s amazing what this does for motivation.

I started using it with the “Circle of Friends ” in the previous post to give my student with autism a preview of coming events.  It has allowed him to join the group with less anxiety and has helped to give him visual instructions on the activity.  Anyone that has worked with students with Autism know the visual representation is very important for instruction.  It has also been a key motivator for the general education students in the group.  It  gives them a chance to do some rehearsal and feel that it is a special group.

I also tried using it with a  student working with fluency.  He came to that point where he needs  to practice his speech in a less structured activity.   I video taped him giving  instructions on folding an origami animal.   We then played  it on the computer and judged his fluency.  He enjoyed watching himself and I think it gave more feedback and confidence than the usual tape recording.

Finally I tried using it with two students with attention deficits that have difficulty keeping focused on any one activity for more than 10 minutes.  I’m always struggling to keep their interest.  They are always trying to get me to allow them to fold paper airplanes.  Using the  flip camera allowed me  to combine both productively.  I taped them giving directions on folding an airplane of their choice.   We then watched the tape and discovered that key directional words or prepositions were missing.  Next session can involve adding captions and using more directional words.  I see there is also the potential for future storytelling.  I think it is a worthwhile purchase  for those considering it.

For those of you keeping up with the “Circle of Friends”, we did not meet this week.  Friday was a teacher grading day and students were not present.