Descriptive Sentences: What is old becomes new.

5 Mar

 

One of the benefits of switching work locations is activities that seem old in one school can become new to another group of students. I don’t like hauling a lot of materials around so sometimes I need to think of new  ways for adapting my materials to adjust to new goals.   This last week we had fun with the  game of Cariboo. Many of you may have this game but it can be hard to find since it is no longer being made. Don’t worry, you can make an alternative. If you click on the picture below it will take you to a previous post of mine about a game you can make that would work for this activity.  You just need to switch the pictures out and provide an incentive or clues under the covers.

Activity Tailor also posted some alternatives to the Cariboo game. Just click on the name and it will take you there.

You would think this game is mainly for the younger set, however I had 4th and 5th graders that were enthused to play.  There is something about clues and a secret that just arouses curiosity.  I thought once they discovered what was in the treasure box they would want to stop, but they asked for another round.

I did some adapting to make Cariboo relevant for the older students who were working on developing more complex sentences.    I inserted pictures for using pronouns and a variety of verbs for some of my younger students.  I brought out my  spinner for making descriptive sentences for the older students.  I had students pick a picture on the Cariboo game, spin the spinner and add what the spinner selected to a basic sentence describing the picture.   They could then open the door on the Cariboo game and look for one of six balls that are needed to open the treasure chest.

To get  the descriptive sentence spinner just click on the picture at the top of the page and  it will take you to my TPT store where you will find it.  It is a free download.  I bought the pronoun cards from another TPT store made by another SLP for the Cariboo game.  You probably have some of those cards  in some form already.

I used this same activity for my articulation students who labeled the pictures or described them.  It was a good way to practice using speech sounds in spontaneous sentences. Because they had to think up the sentences it was a little more challenging then imitating or reading sentences.

I hope I have helped with your lesson planning for this week.

 

Communication Board Maker and Pass the Pigs

19 Feb

I thought I was going to have a break for a while but I find myself working in an elementary school again. There is a high need for substitute  SLPs in the schools here and I couldn’t say no. On the bright side, it provides opportunities for blog post  topics.

So now you are wondering how Pass the Pigs has anything to do with communication board software.  Well this is a recent game I added to my collection and so I  did not have a communication board or access to software to make one.  Before thinking of making a purchase I started on a quest to see what was available on the web.  I found Picto-Selector.  I was surprised to  see the  possibilities with this free program.  A donation is encouraged. Best of all sharing was not prohibited as long as you  made sure you provided a link back to the site for recognition. The site is here: Picto-Selector.  You do need to download and install a program but it didn’t take long and I was happy it  passed the virus check on my computer. For a free product, I found the program to be quite flexible and user friendly.   A library of pictures is available within the program. You can use their grids but I chose to use my Power Point program  and make my own grid. I was able to drop pictures from the program and size them on that grid.  This also allowed me to insert my own pictures of the pigs.  I am happy with the results. You may want to give it a try.  The board at the top is an example.

As I have said before, I found that providing communication boards and game activities not only aids nonverbal students but add structure for building sentences and listening skills for some of our students with language processing difficulties.  Games can be used to reinforce turn taking and handling disappointment for those having difficulty with social skills.  Deep breaths and dot pressure anyone?

Here is your warning for  a topic change.   Recently I have I used Pass the Pigs as a game reinforcement. I was surprised to find my youngest students at the elementary school  found this game appealing.  A cup with 2 rubber pigs doesn’t seem that enticing to me. They were more then willing to give it a try though. As with most of my games, I adapted it for my purposes.  Most of the students worked  toward their goals as a prerequisite  for taking a turn. This game was ideal for short turns.   I simplified scoring for my youngest students.   The score sheet that was included with the game was difficult to follow and we spent too much time figuring out pig positions for a score.  I put the new scoring on a communication board for easy access.  I also have some students who had a hard time dealing with the “pig out” score which meant they lost all points. I switched it to zero points which is difficult enough for some students to handle.  I also switched the scoring to if they got 2 pigs with scores above 5 they could add them together for the score.  It was just easier to know that then trying to look up the variations.  Each student was allowed one roll instead of going until they decide to stop.  This was so turns remained short. No one knew the original rules so I didn’t have  complaints.
I joined the February blog link up for special education.  It will bring you to similar blog sites.

Traveling SLP, What is in your bag?

15 Jan

I  just finished a couple of weeks subbing as a middle school SLP.  I find  am still enjoying getting to know middle school students.  After so many years with elementary level students, it has been a nice change. It is one of the benefits of traveling.  It gives you the opportunity to change work environments.

As I started another subbing experience I got to thinking about which therapy items were most helpful on the first day when I don’t know the students and their goals.  The SLPs have been good at leaving plans for me but of course stuff happens.  For instance an app I needed required a password I didn’t know. Also I couldn’t find the assigned worksheet which was probably in front of my nose at the time. I found it the second day.  Between bell schedules, student schedules, and locating students it can be a lot to figure out that  first day.

I was left a folder of goals, data sheets,and worksheets which was very helpful. The goals were your typical ones about building various complex sentences and articulation mainly at the sentence level.  There were students building a dictionary using Tier II vocabulary.  There were also a few others with social communication goals and using AC to communicate.

There was  a note stating I could make changes and use what I wished. I appreciated that note because it gave me license to change things up a bit.  Student’s appreciate the newness a sub can bring and I usually am better with materials I know rather than reading directions a few minutes before students enter that 1st day. I find students are more cooperative if you are interactive with them.

I thought fellow SLPs would like to know what materials were in my bag that first day and how I used them. I try to travel light and make everything fit in a beach tote I own.  I also put my lunch in there because I often don’t know how much time is in the schedule to find any.  It is one less thing to worry about. So lets look in that bag.

Chelsea was making sure I packed my lunch. Can you tell that it is often a worry of hers?

In my bag I brought  my Go Fish Deck of descriptive snowmen.  Go Fish is one of those universal games good for all ages.  Adding a descriptive feature, increases the therapy value.  I am always surprised to find a few students who don’t know how to play.  This school has high poverty and a newcomer population so this may not be that surprising after all. The deck consists of a variety of snowmen that are all different but enough alike that students really need to work on describing them.

In the game of Go fish, they asked for snowmen producing complex descriptive sentences.  Some  also worked on articulation in phrases and sentence.  They particularly drilled r, s, and th in the word “with” as they said sentences such as, “Do you have the snowman with a blue hat, a striped scarf, and a carrot nose”.  They also drilled  sentences such as, “There is a snowman who has skates on his feet, and is skating.”  I provided a sentence frame for some students who needed an example to get started.  A few students were working on written sentences so I had them write it out as a separate exercise from the game.

You can print yourself out a deck of snowmen by finding them at Speaking of Speech.com  in the Materials Exchange section, under thematic units and snowman game.  Click on the snowman below for a direct link to that section.

Many years ago I purchased a Dover Coloring Book called “Whats Wrong with this Picture by Anna Pomaska.  This is one of my prized possessions for a therapy material that is easy to carry . It can be used as a regular coloring book.  However, I have slipped pages into plastic sleeve covers so students can use dry erase markers for marking on the page and then they can be wiped off for the next group.   Students enjoy finding the things wrong in the pictures and they are good prompts for verbal production as well as written sentences.  I found that Amazon.com still sells this book. You will not regret having this in your bag. click on the picture below and it  will provide a direct link to Amazon.   I do not have any affiliation with Amazon and do not get anything from the purchase.

I also  brought an assortment of my cards from this web site and TPT.  I am finding that a lot of these cards also work for middle school.  I used the Tier II vocabulary cards heavily because they happen to be some of the same words they were putting in their dictionaries.

I paired these up with an old game called “Pig Mania”.  It is a dice type game in which you toss pigs and get a score depending on how they land. I believe this is now  being sold as “Pass the Pigs.” in many toy sections of stores. It added a little bit of incentive after each task card.

The students working on social skills used various apps and problem solving using a 5 point scale to rate behaviors.  Commercial materials were provided so I didn’t go into my bag although I did have my “Size of the Problem” with me.

So that rounded out my day and I was able to cover everyone with the things in my bag.

Free Association Task Cards to Celebrate the New Year

27 Dec

 

 

 

 

I have been working on more categories of association task cards of late.  I thought my blog readers might enjoy having something new to start the year.   These are similar to the previous sets I have made but cover plants, land elements, and transportation vocabulary.

This is a sample set for you to try.  It has 12 cards and the complete set at TPT has 32.

I find this vocabulary to be more difficult for elementary and have you used it with the middle school population.  When you add them to the previous free sets you should have about 36 cards.  If you haven’t downloaded the others you can do a search for task cards and find the others.

As many of you know, one way to build vocabulary is to develop word association skills.  These are  task cards to help develop that skill.  When given a set of four words students compare and contrast  words to find which word  does not belong in  the set of four (the odd one out).  They then give a reason for their choice. This involves a higher level of thought process and awareness of word meanings beyond memorizing definitions.

A QRC code is  provided to explain the answer given.  Students can use this feature for self checking.   It is possible to have more than one answer although only one answer is provided.  You can download an  APP  on most mobile devices to scan and read the code. The reader is from  http://www.qrstuff.com/

The cards also lend themselves to answering wh questions, and using negatives such as  does/doesn’t in sentences.  I also  use them for eliciting spontaneous speech when  practicing articulation.

 

I hope you enjoy the free download and have a Happy New Year.  Thank you to all who have purchased from my TPT store and helped cover the cost of the “In Spontaneous Speech Blog.”  I have gotten thanked from people in my travels and that always makes me feel like  it is worth while continuing.

You can find the TPT set here. 

 

What Animals Teach About Communication

18 Dec

I am an animal lover by nature. I have lived with animals most of my life.  I have had a variety over the years; lab rats, a rabbit, cats, dogs, and horses. They have all  taught me a lot about communication.

Animals  may not communicate  in words but they definitely get  their messages across.  As anyone knows who has an animal buddy, once they get to know you as someone who will listen they will teach you how to communicate with them. They have taught me to look for more than just words for communication.  They have taught me the power of observation.

It is important to acknowledge that behavior is communication.  When you realize this, it opens all kinds of ways to interact.  This knowledge can help you when working with nonverbal students. I am not trying to compare humans to animals here.  I realize there are big differences.  For the purposes of this post, I just want to open your mind to nonverbal communication and observation of behavior. My animals have made me a better clinician with students who do not always communicate verbally.   Below are some things I have learned from them.

1 .Foremost it is important to establish a relationship. You won’t know full potential until you develop a good relationship.  I have marveled how animals keep their true personality from you until they trust you. Why would a human not  feel any differently.  Don’t make judgments about abilities until you get to know your students.  Take some time to get to know them and establish a relationship before you make demands.

2.  Play is not wasted time if it helps to  develop a relationship.  I worked with a student who was blind and physically impaired. He could operate a switch with his head. He had major difficulty interacting with his peers and most peers didn’t think he could do anything.  He in turn would let everything happen around him.  I arranged voice output for him so that he could say a riddle and then give the answer.  His mother reported back that this was really successful in his apartment complex.  Children came up to him to interact with him for the first time.  He operated the switch correctly to tell a riddle and then would find the location for the answer by auditory feedback and scanning.  He loved it when they laughed at the answer. The children saw him as a playmate for the first time. We found out what motivated him and it opened up a new world to him.

3. Animals have taught me to look at communication from different perspectives.  They need to have a reason to communicate for their benefit. If they want something, they will make all kinds of requests. There are all kinds of ways to get attention and communicate. The dogs hit the pantry door for treats or the door to get out. I didn’t have to teach them that, they learned on their own. One dog is very vocal about the schedule.  He has dinner and treat time figured out and comes at the same time each day to tell me if I am late.  He is very vocal about it and I swear he can say words.  Even the rabbit would hop to the refrigerator when he saw the door open. He would put in a request for fresh parsley.  He surprised us one night by getting out of his cage.  He could have roamed the entire house but instead joined us in bed, right on top of my husband’s bare chest. I guess he got cold and was lonely.  Circumstance can be set up, but sometimes it happens naturally.  We need to be observant of those times and use them to our advantage.

4. Sometimes we get undesirable behaviors because needs are not met. Behavior can be communicating a want or need. It is important to look at the total picture and not just the behavior.  If you have had a rabbit you know it can bite through power cords in 2 secs.  He didn’t like us talking on the telephone if it took away from his petting time. He actually went under the bed and bit through the telephone cord while my husband was talking to my daughter.  One of my dogs doesn’t like it when I watch TV.  He makes a habit of grabbing fabric from my sewing supplies and running through the house, fabric flowing behind him.  It gets me off the couch every time.

Similar things happen with our students when they are bored or frustrated and need a change.  You may see biting, throwing, and hitting.  It is important to look at the total picture before working on the behavior.  What is the student really trying to communicate?  If they have an alternative way to communicate  will the behavior stop?  We should always look at this before punishment.

5. Horses have taught me about differences in perception and reactions to environment. Horses tend to be sensitive to environmental changes and if it is too different you flee and sort it out later.  I had an old guy that was pretty mellow under most circumstances.   I remember when I went for a first ride down the road in the Spring.  A neighbor had built a garden shed from  the previous Fall.  I really didn’t give it much thought because it had become a neighborhood fixture.  However the horse hadn’t seen it there before. It startled him and made him do a quick stop. He didn’t want to move forward.  It made him nervous because it shouldn’t be there. He gave it the evil eye, as I assured him it was OK.  Eventually I convinced him it wouldn’t jump out and he moved forward.   If I hadn’t been observant about the shed , I wouldn’t have known what the problem was.  It is important to look at problems from other perspectives.

 

When students are nervous about something and want to flee or need to stop to sort it out, give them time to adjust.  Sometimes we want things done fast when a little time is all that is needed. It doesn’t help to put the pressure on. Sometimes small steps are needed to move towards a goal.

6. You can teach good behaviors by repetition but you can also teach bad behaviors.  Sometimes you teach things without even realizing it.  If you stop at the same place while going in a circle more than two times with a  horse it  is likely to stop on his own on the third time. This happens with the lesson horses that get so use to the sequence and vocal commands of the instructor.  The students aren’t really controlling the horses and it can give the impression that the students are really good riders.

7. If you are teaching students, make sure you are not teaching one response for everything.  I often see this with yes and no responses which can be difficult to interpret because of the many forms questions take to get a Yes, and No answer.  Students may not be able to understand the question.  The yes may function more as an “I want.”  Yes and No responses may seem to be an easy and versatile response for a communication board but may actually be too vague for a student to use effectively.

I would love to hear from my readers about your experiences with animals. Have they taught you a lot about communication?

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