Summer Games For Speech

26 Jun
Summer game toys

Summer is here and thankfully we are getting back to normal for summer play. The age old question may be coming up now. “What can I do?” Take advantage of that boredom to review language concepts. Students may be interested in participating in their own Summer Olympic Games. Just go into that toy closet and bring out the beach or nerf balls, balloons,  pool noodles, frisbees, and jump ropes  for some fun. Students won’t even know they are reviewing concepts at the same time.  These items can be adapted for almost any ability level.  Here are some ideas I have used in the past.

For a game of badminton, tie a jump rope between two chairs, trees, or poles to make a net.  Use the pool noodles to hit a balloon over or under the net in a game of balloon badminton. Review vocabulary such as over, under, beneath, high, and low. Best of all, the noodles won’t hurt anyone who is accidently hit in the enthusiasm. Also the balloons are slower moving for individuals who need a slower pace. Make sure you have back up balloons for when they break.

Take a few of the noodles and bend them in an arch. Fasten them to the ground with dowels, sturdy sticks or lawn stakes. Use the center holes in the tubes to fit over the sticks after you pound them into the ground. Make a course similar to the one used in a game of croquet. Use other noodles to hit nerf balls or balloons through the arches. The dog may even let you use his frisbee. Count how many hits it takes to get through the course and use comparison vocabulary such as less, least, more, and equal.

pool noodle arch

Make circles with the pool noodles by joining two ends. with a dowel. Fill juice or milk jugs with water to make good sturdy targets for a ring toss. Practice throwing the circle or hoops around the jugs as you would at a carnival. Use distance vocabulary such as close, further, near, and far.

noodle ring

Fasten rings to chairs, trees, and poles with bungee chords, or tape. Make an air golf course. Use straight noodles to hit balloons through the hoops. This may not work with a breeze but you can change to nerf balls or a frisbee You can also switch it up by throwing the noodles like spears through the hoops. Review vocabulary such as almost, close, far, near, and through.

I hope you enjoy your summer and come back refreshed. Hopefully these ideas give you a good start for making your summer games a success.

Family Dog

Crocodile Dentist Adapted for Communication

7 Feb

I updated Crocodile Dentist with a new communication board.   It was a popular game with my early language learners and I managed to wear out two crocodiles since the original posting in 2013. This was a great game for speech therapy reinforcement and to encourage communication. Apparently some of you are still using it.

Readers  have requested the communication  board I made to go along with the game but unfortunately I don’t have it any longer.  It was left behind with the game when I moved on to other schools.  I no longer have access to the program Boardmaker to print the digital copy. However, there is a free program called Picto-Selector that I have been using to make communication boards.  This program may be a good option for some of you.  Click on the colored print to find the site to download it. I made the board below using it. If you want to download this board click on the board below.

Meanwhile, here are the game adaptations I posted about in 2013.

Crocodile Dentist is a plastic crocodile that has a spring loaded mouth.  The mouth closes when a certain tooth is pushed down. Kids enjoy the suspense of seeing who is going to get bit. I give the  kids an option of using using a tongue depressor because some take this quite seriously. The trigger tooth changes location each time the mouth is opened.

Some of you may already use this game for reinforcement.  I thought you might like to know how you can expand its use a little further.  I use it to expand a student’s verbal output to 2 to 3 word phrases using a communication board and to follow directions using prepositions.

I colored the teeth alternating colors using permanent markers.  I used pink, green, and orange because I already had a die that had those colors.  If you don’t have a die you can make a spinner or use colors for a die you have.

For my students with limited verbal abilities, I use the communication board along with the die in a plastic jar.  I have the students shake the die to get the color of tooth they need to push down.  I then model phrases using the communication board while playing the game.  The game creates a lot of opportunities for repetition of phrases such as “I have ….” or “push down green tooth”.  I also reinforce saying “your turn” and “my turn.”   After repetition the students start to say the appropriate phrase when you point to the correct icons as a prompt.  Finally, they may prompt themselves by pointing to the icons and verbalizing.  This is a good way to break up an imitative pattern that often happens when training non-verbal children and uses a natural context for turn taking.

The colors are used in the direction cards also.  Click on the free download icon for the cards.  Cards were made using the concept vocabulary:  next to, beside, between, right, left, colors, not, side, front, either/or.  Children take turns drawing the cards and following the directions for the tooth to be pushed down.  We play a variation by giving each child three poker chips.  They feed the crocodile a chip if he bites.  The person who feeds all three chips is the winner.             

 I provided a word program down load because I thought people may need to adjust the color words for their needs. If you have any difficulties with this, leave me a comment.  Print out the cards and have the students pull them out of a bag and then follow the directions while playing the game.

A reminder that Teachers Pay Teachers is having a February sale.  If you have been putting off purchasing, now is a chance to get a discount. Don’t forget to use the code.



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 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.

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.

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.