A Start to the New School Year for Speech Students

26 Aug

We often start the new school year trying to get acquainted with our students. There are the new incoming students you know nothing about except for a check mark indicating special education services on the registration records. If there is more than that, often the record hasn’t been updated for a year and isn’t that accurate. If you hit the jackpot, you might actually get the last progress report.

Then there are the parents who want to give their child a fresh start in a new school and see if anyone will notice prior difficulties if nothing is said. This is usually the child with behavior challenges among other things. Don’t worry! The teacher will seek you out within the first couple of days.

I love those parents that have kept all the paperwork in a file folder and can give you up to date and missing copies. In some cases, technology has improved things by linking records across schools but sometimes it still takes awhile before everything comes together. Meanwhile, you need to figure out student needs so you can get that schedule written.

Then there are your former students. There are your 1st graders working on sibilants who are sporting missing front teeth or new braces. That stubborn /r/ difficulty may have clicked in but you need to find that out because of course that child’s paperwork is due to be renewed the first couple of weeks of school. The best are those who were unintelligible a year or so ago and now speak clearly. The new teacher questions why they have speech on their records.

To start out the new year, I usually haul out one of my conversation ice breakers. It gets students talking and I get an idea of where to start. One of my favorites is a suction cup ball you can often find at Target, The Dollar Store or any party favors section. It would also be possible to use a dice or spinner with numbers. The questions can be written on a sheet of paper and numbered. I really like the suction ball. Everyone likes to throw a ball at a target and it is quite engaging even for reluctant students.

To prepare for this, I draw a target on a white board with an erasable marker making a few rings and target areas. I label the rings with numbers 1-6. I make a corresponding list of numbers and have the students brainstorm conversation starters.

For example at the beginning of the school year they may come up with questions such as:

1. Did you take a road trip during the summer? 2. Did you learn anything fun? 3. Did you get anything new? 4. Did you eat any fun foods? 5. Did you see any movies? 6. Did you read any books?

The students take turns throwing the ball at the target and then answering the questions according to the number area hit. The other students are then required to ask a follow up question according to the answer and topic.

I like this activity because students of any age and ability can do it. I have plenty of opportunities to observe their speech and language skills. I can observe students in a mixed group and see how they interact. I can use this activity to see how a student answers questions, stays on topic, and contributes to a topic that has already been started. It goes fairly quickly because turns do not take long.

I hope you find this post useful and have a good beginning to your school year.

It is time to get ready to go back to school.

5 Aug

I have worked hard on updating my TPT products this summer. For those of you who have purchased in the past, make sure you come back to freshen up your products for the next school year. You will be able to download the updated products without paying again.

You will mainly see differences in the covers and clipart. I tried to be more diverse and improved the quality. I made minor adjustments to the content and added a little extra. When I was reading some of the material, I had some of those “What were you thinking moments.”

Bundles provide a good value. You might want to consider them if you are a first time buyer and can take advantage of a 25% off sale.

In a few cases I added more to a product. I added another page of cards to “The Size of the Problem. People have asked for more scenarios so I thought I would add a little more value to it. It is included in the Social Skills Bundle. By buying the Bundle you are getting one product free.

I finished updating the complex sentence sets and they are also in a bundle.

If you are a new educator, take advantage of the free trials under the index heading at the top of the BLOG . I have been busy updating those as well. They are a good way to try out the cards on your students to see if they will work for you.

I know everyone is likely to be on a tight budget for materials. This site is meant to be a place where new and seasoned educators could get materials free or with minimal funds. It also needs to be self sustaining. There seems to be no way to do this without some advertising. Although TPT is probably annoying to some, I think it is better to have a self hosted BLOG site then have unrelated pop up ads that restricts the amount of access and downloads.

This brings me to my next topic. TPT has added a fee in addition to the commission if products are sold for less then $3. That is why you may have noticed products in the $2.00 range have raised in price throughout TPT. When a sale price is included, there is not much left going to the seller. I have adjusted some prices on products and tried to make them more worthwhile to buyer and seller by adding more pages. I am trying to keep the costs down by making my own clipart. They may not be as professional looking as some of the products, however the content is time tested. I appreciate those of you who have bought products and given me good reviews despite my odd clip art.

Click on any of the pictures and you will be linked to the product page on TPT. I hope you have a good start with your new school year.

Social Skills Updates

28 Jul

The In Spontaneous Speech blog is in the process of much needed reconstruction and updating. The adventure started when I recently updated the Social Skills products on my Teachers Pay Teachers Site. This resulted in the free sample products not matching here on the site and needing updating. Of course it then became a cascading effect of changes, some external and some internal. However, I think you will like the changes. I will move on to the other headings later on, and I will keep you updated. Please read on to discover the changes.

First I updated the free product samples on the Social Skills Page, and they are ready for downloading. I started with the Social Skills Page since many of those cards were the oldest and seemed the most outdated. I used new clip art and added additional cards to some of these products.

When you have a chance, download the new free samples and replace your older ones. You can check out the new free samples by clicking on Social Skills on the index strip at the top and following the page down. You will notice the new buttons.

I switched the down load storage site so it should be easier to do downloads. In the past you may have encountered a two step process to get to the down load and sometimes may have received a message that the site had reached its maximum downloads. This was another complicating factor of the old infrastructure. When I started many years ago, I used Keep & Share, Photobucket, and a few other places as data storage sites. I had links going to 3 or more places and some of those places have since added restrictions. It made it difficult to figure out where problems were occurring if something stopped working. It became quite an undertaking to keep the links going.

Thank you for your product support because you have kept this site going and helped with the improvements since it’s conception. Very little is free in life so I am sure you aware that this site costs a bit to operate. The product sales have allowed me to get to a self hosted site with download capability within the site. This alleviated the need for multiple storage sites and all those links. I have been switching the links as I get to them.

This adventure also started because I started to cringe at some of the cards from those older sets. My clip art was less than stellar. Originally, I made them for my use and didn’t have time for frill. Now I have more time to explore digital art which was another interest of mine.

When I first started making task cards, I didn’t have experience with digital art or drawing tools you use on computers. I began drawing my own clipart because I couldn’t always find the clip art I was looking for. I wanted figures that were relevant to the content of the card and not the same figures everyone else was using. I didn’t want the clip art to depict very young children, because I know some of the students using my cards might be older than average for a grade. I knew older children may get put off by clip art that appears to depict young children. I also needed some very specific actions and objects.

Within the last year, I have acquired a notepad and stylet. I have been making digital art using the free app, Auto Desk Sketchbook. After trying other programs, this one seems to make the most sense to me. I love drawing without buying all those supplies that go with it. I discovered how to use layers, which allows you to revise drawings multiple times without having to start over, which is a real plus for me.

Before I close, a reminder to those who have purchased the full card sets on Teachers Pay Teachers, you will be able to download the updated versions free by just getting another download on the TPT site. They are all listed under the original titles. The card sets in the Social Skills Communication Bundle are all included in the update and can also be purchased separately. To get to the TPT site, click on the picture below.

I am ending this post using the thought process of Bad Thing and Good Thing. Bad Thing: Updating is a real headache and overwhelming after 7 years of building a foundation on trial and error. Good thing: Hosting a Blog has been a great hobby and learning experience. There was something cathartic about writing it all down. It gave me a boost and support at work when I forgot materials going between multiple work sites. I could bring up what I needed on a lap top or iPad. It was a great creative outlet. Finally, it forced me to look at my data files and create a better filing system.

With any such endeavors, there are a lot of chances for errors. Please let me know if there are errors on products so I can make corrections. It seems like a few always slip through. Constructive suggestions are always welcome.

Descriptive Bingo and Barrier Game with Egg Shapes

12 Apr

This is a descriptive barrier and bingo game I made a few years ago. In February of 2013 to be eggs act. Sorry I couldn’t resist that. It was so long ago that quite a few of you probably haven’t seen or found that post. I thought it would be a good time to bring this activity back up for review for Spring and give you a free activity. I will put a sample download toward the bottom of the post that you can print and use.

This is one was one of my favorite activities because it covered so many goals in a mixed group. I used it with students from upper elementary all the way to high school. I found that my high school students sometimes needed a break from all that drill and pencil/pad pushing work. The vocabulary used is often found in math and science materials.


The cards can be used in a variety of ways to include bingo, matching games, go fish, following multiple directions, comparisons, and finding a mystery card that is described. You can use a pack of colored pencils and have students draw what another student describes. I sometimes used an app called Educreations which turns an iPad into a drawing surface.

The following vocabulary can be elicited: inside, parallel, diagonal, end, striped, spotted, across, center, corner, intersect, above, below, vertical, horizontal, half, between, left, right, perpendicular, heart, square, diamond, triangle, rectangle, and star.
The cards range from eliciting two step directions (make a green star in a red triangle) to more complex directions that require 5 or more steps. For example: (draw red lines that intersect to form right angles to each other in the center, draw a red triangle in the upper left corner, a yellow circle in the upper right corner, a green heart in the lower left corner and a blue star in the lower right corner).
They can also be use for articulation practice for multiple syllable words containing /l,r,s/ and blends. It provides opportunity for spontaneous speech during a structured activity.

This is a picture of one of the Bingo cards.

Click on the star below for a one page copy of cards you can print out. There is a full set of cards and bingo boards on my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.

Click for a direct link to Teachers Pay Teachers

The Royal Game of UR

1 Apr

Recently, I discovered the Royal Game of UR. It is an ancient game that gives us a look into the common lives of past civilizations. It would be a good lead in for students studying Ancient History and researching how we have discovered information about past lives. It is generally good for students that are middle school age and above. They will likely be intrigued by it’s history and the game looks age appropriate.
The game has a bonus of originating in the Middle East. We have many students who have Middle Eastern ancestry. We often lack materials representing this ethnic group so it is nice to include things when we can. We can validate this culture and show the positive contributions rather than the negative that seems to be in our mainstream.

Just to give you a little background, the first recognizable game boards were excavated at the Royal Cemetery of UR between 1922 and 1934 in an archaeologist dig by an English archeologist, Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. Most people base their replications on one found at this excavation and housed in the British Museum. They are dated to the First Dynasty of UR around 2600 BC. Other versions have been found throughout the Middle East but were generally not in very good condition.

Game of UR board kept at the British Museum.

I know some of you are wondering how this ended up on a speech blog so here is my reasoning. I like to discover new games and discover how they can be used to teach social communication and general language skills. This one could be used for encouraging participating in an activity with a partner for a length of time, focusing on a topic, handling disappointment, (there are frequent set backs), anticipating consequences for actions, following directions and developing strategy. The rules are fairly simple so students can grasp them in 5 to 10 minutes.

It is generally a race game with conflict. It is a two player game in which each player is required to get 7 tokens across the board before the other player. Set backs occur when a player lands on the opponents token sending it off the board to start over. Luck and strategy both play a part in success so one student may not necessarily over power another student because of cognitive ability. The games last an average of 20 to 30 minutes depending on how much you think it through.

It is not entirely clear what the original game rules were and several sets of rules have been published. A tablet was discovered in Iraq in 1880 outlining rules for a game using pawns, dice, and throws prior to Wooley’s excavation of his game. This tablet was later linked to being the possible rules for the UR game board. The original game used triangular rocks with painted tips for dice and variations on safe places and getting another turn in specific places.

You can see how it is played by watching this youtube video. Irving Finkel is a curator at the British Museum and has produced a number of youtube videos on artifacts that are housed there. He is a unique individual who really plays the part. His videos are entertaining as well as informative.

If you are interested in locating the game that is pictured on my heading, they are being sold on Etsy by True Laser Cutting. I like this particular version because it comes in a wooden box with room to store all the pieces. I can carry it to various schools and not lose any. There is also a 10% off coupon for teachers at checkout so don’t forget to use that. Type in 10FORTEACHERS near the final checkout button.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TrueLaserCutting?ref=l2-shopheader-name