The Virtues of a Grab Bag and Grab Bag Hack

1 Nov

Have you ever wished for extra arms while conducting speech therapy?  Who can forget those early days of  SLP training and starting of clinical hours.   At the time, it seemed impossible to manage everything. I wished for more hands to manage materials, data taking tools, and especially the young clients.   If you turned  your back, your clients had control of the materials and you became an octopus trying to get them back.  This was not a good start to the session.

I got  to thinking about the hacks I discovered along the way that made a difference.  A grab bag was one of my real life savers. If you haven’t discovered the virtues of a grab bag  you have really missed out.

There are lots of advantages to using a grab bag.  A bag allows for control of the materials and prevents students from helping themselves to  items before you are ready to use them.  It allows for controlled  turn taking.  Only the person with the bag has access to the items. They  take items one by one before handing it on to the next person.

It creates  intrigue for some  students who would not otherwise be interested. Who doesn’t like discovering what is hidden in the mystery bag?   And finally, when you find yourself switching locations and working from room to room, you can keep better tabs of those small pieces if they are contained in a  bag that is portable.

I used grab bags frequently with my  early language learners, especially in small groups.  It creates a natural context for communication boards when training core vocabulary such as “I have, I see, I want,” and that mportant question for vocabulary development,  “What is it?”.   I have used grab bags with a activities such as potato head, the car races, and windup toys.  You can use a clear freezer for students who need  to see the parts and request them.

Here is an example of a communication board I used with  mechanical toys and a grab bag. The board is made from Picto-Selector graph which is a free download.  It can be found at https://www.pictoselector.eu/  

A bag can also be used with older students seated around a large table.  The bag can be passed so items can always be reached.  You have one less thing in your hands which really helps when taking data.  You can even have different  bags and different cards in each so students can work on different objectives by pulling from their bag. I have a lot less trouble with a stack of cards being scattered across the table and floor.

I imagine you are saying, “I want one of those. Give me the directions for that grab bag already.”   Well here they are:

Find an old sweater or sweatshirt that has long sleeves and cuffs.  Simply cut the sleeve off, turn it inside out and sew across the flat bottom.  You can glue the bottom opening closed with a glue gun if you can’t sew or don’t have a sewing machine.  Turn it back to the right side and you should have a bag with a cuff opening for the top. Now tell me that isn’t simple.

 

 

Halloween Trial and Error Activity for Social Skill Building

5 Oct

 


It has been a while since I posted but I am back. I had a great summer visiting family and am refreshed.  Recently, I was looking at old posts.  Back in  April 2013, I posted about an activity called Trial and Error Pass.  I have always felt this activity had a lot of value. I was surprised to find the post is now 4 years old.  Some of you may not even remember seeing it the first time.  Sometimes when an activity is packaged a little differently It allows for multiple presentations without students disengaging because they have seen it before.  I decided to rework it  with a Halloween theme.

Halloween is often a time when students are allowed a group celebration.  Students may think it is time off from work but little do they know.  It is an opportunity to build social skills.   Trial and Error Pass is a good activity to use with small groups or a class.  For those  who are working on social skills, it provides an opportunity for students to generalize skills into a classroom setting.

You can make this activity easily enough on your own with  clip art.  If you want to save some time and effort you can down load it from my TPT store for a  minimal cost. Just click on the button for a direct link.

The activity requires students to use a trial and error method of problem solving.  It reinforces the idea that mistakes are not necessarily bad and can be used for learning.  It also teaches students to work together toward a common goal.  The solution is found by observing the mistakes of everyone and it would be very difficult to succeed individually.  It also requires students to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict the pattern.

This activity can be used with small groups of students, two competing teams, or with one or two students.  The object of the game is to cross a grid in 6 moves stepping on the correct sequence of objects.  They determine the path by trial and error.

 

.

Cards are laid out on a carpet in a grid pattern.  If you do not have room to lay them out you can print off a grid to make a game board and use a game marker to represent the person crossing  the grid.  I think using large motor movements makes it more interesting for some students.

A judge, who could be a student or teacher, is selected.  The judge takes one of the  pattern cards that will be the solution to the stepping pattern.

A student begins the challenge by stepping on one of the objects in the first row and moves one row ahead for each step.    As the move is made the judge indicates if it is the correct one by saying right or wrong move.   There are  buzzer sounds available on apps for electronic devices that make it even more engaging for some students.

The  student continues to move forward as long as he steps on the right object.   If  it is the wrong step the person returns to the start or the end of the line and watches the attempts of others until they get to the front of the line again.  The students may notice that a pattern is developing as students discover the correct moves.  This will speed up the progress until someone finally makes it across.  The students should be reinforced for working as a team and not make it an individual competition to make it to the finish.

If you prefer not to have a Halloween them to the activity there is the generic version. Just click on the button and it will take you there.

This fall I am enjoying my retirement status and doing things I didn’t have time for the last few years. It was nice not to have the stress that comes with the beginning of the year.  I have been thinking about all of you SLPs in the trenches.

I hope your year is going well.

Sustainable Web Hosting by Canvas Host

 

 

 

Speech Therapy in the Classroom for Older Students

3 Jul

 

Are you assigned to work with upper grades next school year and wondering how you could work in the classrooms?  Many of us are a bit intimidated to actually do this.  For older students with language processing difficulties, working in the classroom may seem to be the best option. There can be many benefits. It is often a struggle to make therapy relevant for older students and they may  resist being removed from class. It may be a hassle to schedule everyone around academic instruction and you have a lot of students in one particular class. Working in  the classroom allows you to see how the students are functioning in class and you can see how instruction is being presented to the students.  You can consult better with classroom teachers to meet the needs of your students.

However, there are some downsides to the push-in model.   You may not have control over your teaching environment and it may be less than ideal in large classes with limited space. There are the  distractions of other students and you may feel like you are intruding on the classroom teachers space and time. If you don’t get the lesson plans ahead, you may not come adequately prepared for the lesson being presented by the classroom teacher.  It is also difficult to work with more than one student in a class without being your own little group in the back of the classroom.  If you have a high caseload, scheduling can become a  nightmare with inflexible time blocks taken up by single students.

I have experienced mainly  two scenarios with the push-in model.  In one, the Speech Language Pathologist, (SLP) works with a few students in the back of the room and scaffolds what is being presented by the classroom teacher using visuals or breaking it down in segments.  This can be useful for a few students if done discretely. It can also be quite distracting to other students who want to see what is going on and not follow what the classroom teacher is presenting.

In scenario two, the SLP takes over part of  the classroom instruction and co-teaches.  This can be quite effective, especially when the teachers can play off their strengths.  It does require some advance planning and meeting time between teachers.  For the SLP, it may be harder to meet the individual needs of the students you are targeting because you are working with an entire class. I find that taking data is really difficult because your attention is drawn in so many directions.  Often It is hard to sustain this as our caseloads increase through the  school year.  Sometimes you may start with a handful of speech students in a class and then find the students you were targeting moved and you are left with one student in the time slot.

The following are a few methods and activities you may want to try.  These  work best when information is being given in a lecture format such as with social sciences or history.


You can work in the classroom with a small chosen group of students to write notes as information is presented and formulate questions on note or index cards.  This activity can be expanded as a total class activity with some students receiving help and others being independent. It is important to include a question and answer on the card.  The questions and answers can then be gathered and used later in a review activity with the whole class participating.  This process helps students who need a rehearsal of information or information segmented.  It gives students a reason to be engaged and helps those who have difficulty taking notes on relevant information.

I have found game show type activities work well for reviewing at the end of a unit. Once you have it set up it can be used multiple times with little preparation. Now you can bring out the  note cards the students have already prepared and swap them out at the end of each unit you review.

I showcased a Jeopardy activity on a previous post. You can reuse this game by placing letters under the dollar amount cards. You may or may not have categories depending on the topic.  Pile the question cards into draw piles corresponding to the letters and categories if you have them.  You may want to have teams write answers on white boards to avoid blurt outs.  If the question is answered correctly the person or team receives the dollar amount. Don’t forget to put bonus cards in to increase the suspense. For some reason handing out fake money is a real incentive. I hope you have kept it from the previous post.

Idioms of Fortune is another game I have made up.  It can be used as a review game also.  As a bonus it reviews  idiom vocabulary at the same time.  You may want to form teams again as in the previous game and use white boards.

I print out a large illustrated version of an idiom. You may want to have a few of these on hand because sometimes it is figured out sooner than you think.   I set the printer so it prints out the illustration on multiple pages and then tape the pages together to form one large picture.  You can Google idioms and find quite a few.  I used raining cats and dogs from openclipart.org because it did not have restrictions.

This styro-foam poster board I found at the dollar store is turning out to be quite useful. I stuck my idiom picture on it and then tacked index cards on top so that the picture wasn’t visible.  The smaller the cards the more questions that will be needed.  It should look something like this.  Then mark the cards in some fashion.  I put the alphabet on mine. .  

Someone draws a question card and reads it.  This could be an assigned student or the teacher.  A student or team agrees on an answer to present. You may want to use white boards and have the teams write answers.  Again this really helps with the  blurt outs.  If they are right they can choose a card, look at the picture and then take a guess on what  idiom is being illustrated.   The first team to guess is the winner.

This is what it may look like after a few cards are drawn.

You may or may not plan a reward for the winning team. Some students find the competition is enough and don’t care about rewards. You may want to do the opposite type of reward and have the losing team do something silly like sing a nursery rhyme for the other team.  Middle school students seem to  like permission to be silly.  Agree on the terms before starting.

I hope you find these activities useful.  If you have information to add to this topic, please comment.

Free Game Show Activity to Elicit Asking Questions

15 Apr

I will take “Places” for $20 please.

Quite a long time ago, when Jeopardy was a familiar TV game show, I used the idea to create a game for eliciting questions and naming items of a category.  It was a good game because it really made students think about categories and how to describe words. It also emphasized using the correct forms for who, what, where, and does/do questions. I liked using it with groups because it worked on so many goals at once with multiple opportunities for practice.  The students were always enthused about playing it mainly because they liked the play money. Sometimes they would request keeping the money as a reward.

The directions for the game are under the expressive language heading, under the title Jeopardy. Previously the game was not as complete.  You were left to find the category pictures on your own.  Well you are in luck. I left my materials for this game at my old school so I had to reconstruct it. I decided since I had to make a new one, I would update it on the blog as well. Now you should be able to print all the materials out without searching for the category vocabulary.  I used the picture program Picto Selector which I am liking more and more.  It is free to try so you may want to take a look.  I made the category cards from it.

To prepare materials for  this game, you need to print and cut out the cards.  I had a pocket calendar I used previously which made an easy place to insert the cards.  I no longer have it.   As a substitution, I  bought a foam board used for project presentations at the dollar store. It makes a cheap alternative. I can hang cards on it with push pins. I really prefer the pockets but this works.  Star stickers are optional. I stick stars on the back of some of the money cards to indicate a double pay out.  You need play money. You may be able to find some at the dollar store. If not,there is some you can print for free on www.KidsMoneyFarm.com.

In order to set the game up, I  placed the category cards along the top row. I then placed the object cards in a row below the categories they belong to.

I then took the money amount cards and pinned them on top of the object cards. It should look like this.

I do pre-instruction about what kinds of questions to ask for the type of answer you want to get.  For example  I emphasize who questions are for people answers and work best for the category of occupations and where questions are best for the  places.  This may be confusing for some students who just want to describe the picture.  There are free charts that illustrate who, what, where, why and how questions on TPT or Pinterest..  I usually have one of these posted in my room for reference.

The  students play by choosing a category and a  the dollar amount. The student is given the card with the pictured object or action and is given the task of asking a question so that the other students will reply by giving the answer on the card. For example:  If a student asks for places for $20 he would get a picture of a road.  He would then ask the students the question, “Where do people drive cars?”  Hopefully the other students will provide the answer, road  The student who asked the question gets the dollar amount in play money.

Depending on the abilities of my students I vary what I expect before they earn the money.  Generally, if the student produces a grammatically and semantically correct question that elicits the correct answer he gets the dollar amount of the card.  If there is a star on the back he gets double.

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.