Pool Noodle Fun for Speech Therapy

23 Apr

It is always hard this time of the year to find activities for group therapy with my Life Skills groups.  There are usually 5 students in each group and the abilities are really varied.   I try to include some motor activity because this keeps their attention.  Using objects for actions is more meaningful for them then paper tasks.   However there are a few students who have motor difficulties which makes it difficult for them to do some tasks and work with the group.

pool noodle picture

 

 

My inspiration often comes from my closet.  This is a picture of what I found.   I decided to make a badminton type activity.  They used the pool noodles to hit balloons through the hulu hoop and then over the jump rope stretched across two chairs.  We encouraged two students to hit it back and forth to complete turn taking.  I  reinforced  the prepositions of over, through, below, under, and above.  My early language learners  practiced  phrases such as “Give it to me”, “Hit it”, “I want it”.

One of my students kept saying “there it is”. He was a student who we usually had trouble engaging and he blossomed with this activity.  For a student with Downs he had amazing eye hand coordination.  I hope he does badminton for Special Olympics.

I liked the pool noodles because they didn’t hurt if students hit each other and the balloons slowed down the process enough that all the students were able to hit them. I recommend having spare balloons.  We had one student who couldn’t resist squeezing and popping them.

 

 

Whirly Therapy Fun

1 Apr

20150331_154939I am not sure what they are called, but as a child I called it a Whirly.  They were a great find this last weekend in the Easter basket toys at Walmart.  It would be a good time to look for them.   I  was trying to find new mechanical toys for my early language learners who get engaged by anything that spins and pops.  For $2 you couldn’t go too wrong.  I did wonder how long it would last but it was sturdy enough to make it through a morning of therapy with the younger K through -2nd grade Life skills class.   There is a precaution for aiming it at people and there is the string to watch out for.

 I used it this week and it was a big hit.  It was great for learning  communication intents and making requests.  It gave opportunities to review the concepts  of  around and over.  If the string was pulled strong enough the spinner would stay on the ceiling a few minutes spinning over our heads. The students would give me the Whirly and make requests for fast pulls.  We also practiced a few more prepositions when  finding  the location of that spinner after it came down.   A few of my students needed a person to hold the device while they pulled the string.  This encouraged joint attention to a task. I like it when a toy can offer so much opportunity for natural communication with very little effort.

Here is the communication board I used for the activity.

twirly board

Adaptive Don’t Spill the Beans

5 Mar

20150305_074758_resized       Don’t Spill the Beans is another game that I have used with my language learners. It has always been good for general reinforcement.  Many of you probably have the game already.

I often became annoyed by the spilled beans.  They were difficult for my students with poor fine motor concerns  to pick up and took precious therapy time collecting them.  I thought there had to be a better way.  Then I remembered my Chipper Chat therapy materials.  It is a product from Super Duper which many of you may also have. You can breathe new life into your  “Don’t spill the Beans”  game by switching out the beans with the magnetic chips. The students are always enthused about using the magnets and it makes it easy to pick up the spilled chips.  I usually have the students pick up the chips with the magnets and place them in individual saucers to compare the amounts.  You can also vary the game by having students collect specific colors that spill. The magnets have really helped with quick clean up.   I added a communication board to practice sentence frames and turn taking..

Dontspillbeancb2

Free Spinners for Game Adaptations

4 Dec

You may have noticed that I like to use spinners to expand the therapy value of some of my games and teach concept vocabulary.  I have some of them as part of my downloads in the vocabulary section.  The spinners in my previous downloads are  black and white and  not very colorful.  I decided to update them with pictures and color to make them more friendly for my non-readers. You can access them on TPT for FREE.  Just click the button.TPT button

 

The spinners are made from the clear plastic lids you find on products  such as  whipped cream  or oatmeal containers.  A pony  bead, paper fastener and spinner from heavy cardboard or plastic are added. The lids are clear so that the paper form  can be placed underneath and still be seen.  The paper can be replaced from one activity to the next and the same spinner stays intact. Look below to see my showcase of spinners and the games I use with them.

Left and Right Spinner.

This spinner  is used when playing Blockhead or some other block stacking game. It  targets the concepts of left and right.  The spinner has the directions of Left or Right  with a handprint for cuing. Students take turns spinning the spinner and use the hand that is indicated to pick up a block and stack to make a tower.  Point out to the students that when their hands are flattened on the table their left hand will form an L shape with the pointer and thumb. This is another cue they can use to distinguish their left hand from their right hand. I have used this as a table or center activity with table groups of 6 students in a Kindergarten class.

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 Size and Shape Spinner:

You need bean bags or soft balls that can be tossed, plastic pails and boxes of various sizes and shapes, and  spinners  with the vocabulary words printed on it.   Have the students  make a big circle with the containers placed in the center.  Instruct the children on how to toss the ball or bean bag safely so no one gets injured.

The spinners travel around the circle.  Students  spin the spinner and toss the bean bag or ball as required  trying to get the bean bag in the appropriate container that matches the word on the spinner.

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For the Amount Spinner, I use  a game I made up called “Don’t Fall Through the Ice ”       IMG326

amount spinner

Use the amount spinner, one 2 lb plastic coffee container.  A rubber band that fits around the mouth of the container, tissue paper, marbles, cup to place marbles in water, spinner with vocabulary words.  Instructions:  Put one sheet of tissue paper across the opening of the  2 lb container.  Fasten it down by stretching the rubber band around the top of the opening. You may need an extra set of hands to accomplish this.   It should look like a drum.  Put marbles in the cup and fill with water.  Children take turns spinning the spinner and taking the number of wet marbles indicated.

The students place the marbles on top of the tissue paper top.  The wet marbles will weaken the tissue paper and eventually fall through.  The wetter the marbles the faster they will fall th rough.  If you are using this activity with table groups they can count the marbles and compare who has the most or least marbles.

Don’t Spill the Beans is an other game that can be used with the spinner.


 

The conversation spinner can be used with any board game that uses a typical number spinner.  It works well with games such as Snakes and Slides or Chutes and Ladders. Students try to follow the prompts on the spinner and give an example.conversation spinner

Adaptive Don’t Break the Ice

10 Oct

 

 

Don't Break 1

During my career there have been certain students who have made a lasting  impression on me and aided in my growth as a speech language pathologist. It seemed that fate  crossed our paths so that we could learn from each other.  I am thinking in particular of a  student who I met in her Kindergarten year.  Her disability prevented her from speaking or using her arms and legs effectively although eventually she learned how to use her head to control a motorized wheel chair and a laser to activate an Alpha Talker and then a Delta Talker. This is when the field of  augmentation communication was beginning to blossom with more advanced electronic devices.  This child did not have the outward appearance of much ability other than a beautiful smile.  However with her devices her true personality could shine.

I will never forget the time I worked  with her at her home during extended summer services. She would be going into first grade when school resumed.  Her mother reported she had something to tell me.  She proceeded to tell me she had seen the movie Pocahontas.   That doesn’t seem that unusual except she used her Delta Talker  to do it and she had programmed the name Pocahontas into it  herself.  Those of you who have worked with min speak realize this involves not only getting into the programming mode but also selecting a symbol sequence to represent the name.  She did all of this using a laser attached to a head band.    She had learned the programming  by watching me during other sessions.  I learned not to underestimate her abilities when motivated.

She would be in her twenties now.   I lost track of her after her elementary years but I think of her often.  She reminds me that our first impressions of a student’s capabilities are not always correct.

break ice colors

How does this get us to Don’t Break the Ice  you ask?   Well it was difficult for her to play with her peers and have  normal interactions.  I was always searching for games I could adapt.  Don’t Break the Ice was one of the games I adapted so she could play too.  I basically took the orignal game and put masking tape along two sides.  I then color coded the rows. This allowed her to tell another student what block of ice she wanted to be hit out by saying two colors.   Where the colors intersect is the block chosen.  She used her voice output  system  to communicate.  The set up was also useful for other students  using a communication board.  You can color code  a dice or spinner.  Students roll a dice and then say what color they have or will hit out.   It is good for I want, I have, I need statements.

 

Don't break board