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.
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.
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.
I 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.
Do you need a simple project for the winter season? This tree was made by my students and completed during one 20 minute therapy session. Students at all grade levels seemed to enjoy making them. They also made a good bulletin board that was culturally sensitive for this time of year. I added the silhouettes to discuss winter sports and the word silhouette.
I targeted quite a few goals with this project. As usual, I used the app StoryKit to make the directions. My articulation and older students began by sequencing and taking pictures. They recorded the directions using their best articulation skills. My language students targeted vocabulary such as stencil, limbs, triangle, around, and tree trunk. My language processing students listened to the directions and followed them in the correct sequence.
You can get the pattern for the stencil here.
The storykit directions are here. I removed the verbal directions because of student confidentiality.
January sure has gone fast. Here we are a week away from February. We are coming to the end of a grading period so I am busy writing progress reports. I am a bit behind because of other meetings. I am sure you can all relate to that. We have a new software program which makes it a little harder. The paper work has been a bit of a challenge this year.
It is getting harder to be creative with the bulletin board lately. I stayed with my theme of antonyms for February. I looked in my cupboard and noticed that I have a large supply of straws on hand. Valentines Day brings out the cupid in all of us so I decided to make arrows. It helped that we have die cuts for hearts available. The die cut makes a heart as an outline and a smaller heart to be pushed out of the center. We used the smaller hearts to make the point of the arrow and used a folded rectangle for the feathered end. The students wrote a word on the arrow head and the opposite word on the white paper to match. It doesn’t look like the words are visible in the picture. This is the beginning of our project. I will post updates as we go. The students are making directions as usual. However, we are regulated for voices as well as visual images so I can not post my story kit directions until we are done and I can remove the child audio. This is what it is looking like. Here is the Storykit link to the directions: arrow directions
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.
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.
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.
It seems a lot of people were enthused about the rubber band and paper cup activity. If you liked that one, you may also like the paper tower activity. It has been in the social pragmatics section. Sometimes when directions are just on paper you don’t see how great an activity is. I think the paper tower might be one of those activities. You usually don’t have to go far for materials. Just empty out your recycle box.
This activity works well with Rockbrain if you are doing the Superflex program. A little instruction about being flexible with your thinking and allowing other people to have different ideas helps on this one. I have used this activity with different sizes of social pragmatic groups who were sometimes divided into competing teams. They were given flat pieces of paper out of the recycle bin and told to build as high of a tower as they could. No other materials were allowed. There really isn’t a wrong way to do this. It seems they typically divide into the cylinder group, or the fold into squares or triangle group.
It really is a good activity for group participation and sharing of ideas. They have made it as high as 6 levels. By that time a student is standing on a chair and no one is breathing. One false move and the whole thing comes tumbling. Hopefully no one will have a Brain Eater moment.
Just a note to let you know I updated the (Comprehension of Complex Sentences) I am putting 3 pages for a free download here.
I have 36 cards available at the TPT store
Having a party day mid week sure throws off the concentration. There was a level of energy that was hard to contain. It made for a long week with a lot of interruptions.
This month the 4th grade students studied different types of machines. The final task was making machines that would deliver valentines to their valentine boxes. The styrofoam cup activity that is in the pragmatics section is a good example of a tool/machine operation. I decided to bring it out again to reinforce what was happening in the classroom and add my language component. I used it previous years with larger social pragmatic groups so some of you may already have found it and used it. I thought it was worth mentioning again. I would love to hear how it worked for you if you tried it. Please go to the pragmatic section to download more specific directions.
This time I adapted the activity for my smaller therapy groups of 2 to 3 students. We used 6 to 8 strings on a rubber band and each student pulled 2 of them. I added myself to the mix. Basically the tool is a rubber band with 2 feet lengths of yarn tied to it. Students take a yarn in each hand and pull to open it enough to fit around the end of a styrofoam cup placed bottoms up on a table. They were instructed not to use their hands when moving the cups. When they released the tension the rubber band grabbed the cup and they then lifted the cup with the yarn pieces and moved it into position to form a pyramid. 15 cups make a nice size pyramid. Students took turns being the leader to give directions.
I found adding myself allowed for some sabotage. I just didn’t move unless specific directions were given. One person not moving can make a big difference in the operation of the rubber band which is the beauty of this activity. They learned quickly to use positional words and to work cooperatively. I pointed out that “Whole Body Listening” is important here. One person can ruin the whole operation if they are not focused on the group and cups. That rubber band can assume a rather flat appearance and not be functional if someone isn’t pulling right. Also they can’t make assumptions that people will know where to move.
This was a difficult week to get through, mainly because the cold that has been running rampant through the school population finally got me. Even after taking a day off, I haven’t had as much energy. Our neck of the country was also settling in for a cold spell when the boiler gave out in the main building. It made the classrooms quite cold. You just never know what teaching environment you will have in these older buildings. I am looking forward to the three day weekend.
The title of my post this week refers to a video I put in the video section. Look for Gopher Broke. I used it this week to talk about prediction, developing conflict and story plot. It is a 4 minute animated video that does not have words and is great for interpreting what will happen next. I stopped it along the way and asked students what clues they noticed and what predictions they could make from them. We also talked about what details in the story made it interesting.
I used the video to lead up to my instruction on story telling. I have used a free app called “Toontastic” in the past that the students have really liked. Unfortunately some of my students are obsessed with fighting scenarios and can’t get past these to develop other forms of conflict or plot. They need help in getting their creative juices flowing. I came across Story Sticks on Sarcasm 101. I decided to try something similar and made my own story craft sticks. I color coded for characters, conflict, setting and miscellaneous like she did. However, I printed them out on paper and used a glued stick to glue them on the sticks. I then just color coded the tips and edges with a color crayon. I find writing on craft sticks is a bit difficult and hard to read so I opted for the paper. Click here to see what I wrote on the sticks. Story Sticks. You may want to make some changes to the list so I kept it in Word format.