April is here and time to switch out the bulletin board again. We seem to be getting our fair share of rain and the fruit trees are in full bloom. I know some places are still getting snow so I don’t really have a right to complain about the rain. When looking for this month’s bulletin board project, I saw several variations of paper flowers on Pinterest. I happen to have a supply of colored computer paper that would make colorful flowers for the traditional saying “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” I was able to adapt one of the flowers to a version that used the materials I have on hand; paper and tape. The flowers are simple enough that my older students in the Lifeskills program were able to complete them along with my younger general education students. My only problem is that the students want to bring them home for their mothers so I had trouble getting them to leave them for the bulletin board. This is what the board is looking like so far. We made the directions and shared them on Storykit. It is still a good exercise to have the students record the directions. Their voices were removed here before posting because of our school privacy requirements. Directions for flowers on the bulletin board.
March is here again and it is time to find a new project for the bulletin board. I looked into the supply closet and found coffee filters left from someone elses project. This looked like a possibility for inexpensive fun. I started looking for a shamrock pattern. I was disappointed to find the die cut pattern was too big for my needs. Then the kindergarten teacher came to my rescue. She pointed out it was easy to make a shamrock from hearts. Even though I couldn’t find a shamrock, I found 3 sizes of die cut hearts. The plan was coming together. It would be easy to get this project ready because I already have all the materials.
I saw a project that used water based markers and a spray bottle of water. The water made the markers run into interesting designs. I thought the students would enjoy experimenting with that. They could glue the hearts on top of the colored coffee filters and it would look like stained glass. It would add some color to the board. I found a simile that worked well with the shamrocks; A best friends is like a four leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have. This gave an opportunity to talk about Similes with my older students. The younger students worked on following directions and talking about St. Patrick’s Day. This is what it is looks like so far. More Shamrocks will be added as they get completed.
Directions on StoryKit here.
Have fun and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
This is our first week back from the holiday break. Some of us are in the grips of winter. Baby its cold out there! It seemed appropriate to go with a winter theme and cold things. I dug into my archives and brought out my version of “Don’t Fall Through the Ice”. This activity has been in the vocabulary section and there are written instructions that can be printed out under the link. I didn’t include pictures so some of you may have missed it. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. The activity is really very simple and made from recycled materials. I get a lot of use from my coffee cans. All you need is a wide mouthed container like a coffee container, a large rubber band, paper towels, marbles, and a spinner made from a plastic lid. The spinner has the words, one, couple, few, and several. The marbles are placed in a container of water. The paper towel is stretched across the mouth of the container and held by the rubber band. Students take turns spinning the spinner, taking the corresponding amount of marbles from the water, and placing them on top of the paper towel. Eventually the water will weaken the paper towel and the marbles will fall through. I used this activity as a reinforcement for students during therapy or as a group activity to work on the concepts of amount. I have table groups play and then compare the number of marbles they put on top before they fall through. In addition to the spinner words you can talk about the concepts of wet/dry, weak/strong, and most/ least.
Last year at about this time I made turkey bean bags and used them in a toss game. I brought them out again for another round of Angry Turkeys. This game is made from toilet paper rolls and coffee can lids. I simply covered the toilet paper rolls to give them color. I improved it a bit by making the green pigs from paper rolls cut in half. I just printed clip art of a pig and taped it to the paper roll. This is what it looked like.
For the activity at school, I used Sounding board. It is a free app by Ablenet that allows you to make a communication board with pictures. I wasn’t able to share it so used the same pictures and converted it to Storykit. Here is the Storykit version. http://iphone.childrenslibrary.org/cgi-bin/view.py?b=nma32raqfbftw6v5g23r
The directions for the Turkey Bean bags are here.
The students placed the pigs in the proper spots while reading the story. They then all tossed a turkey on the count of 3. They always want to do it again. I love activities that are self reinforcing.
I am finally on Summer break. Those last few weeks are always such a whirlwind trying to get everything completed. I am sorry if I seemed to disappear from here, but I am sure most of you can relate to the time crunch.
It seems that every school district I have worked for over the years has difficulty providing relevant training for the SLP staff. However, this last year the district SLPs took control over the situation and it was one of our better years. One of my fellow SLPs had sent for the Six DVD Series from The Stuttering Foundation entitled Stuttering Therapy: Practical Ideas for the School Clinician. We were allowed to use our in service funds for the materials and form a study group on our early release days. Considering my stuttering classes were taken over 20 years ago it was a welcome chance for review and updating my methods. For some unknown reason I have a record number of 3 students with stuttering difficulties on my caseload. Anyone else noticing this trend?
I highly recommend this DVD series if you need a refresher for Stuttering Therapy. It addressed therapy with preschoolers all the way to adulthood. It lived up to its title and provided a lot of practical therapy activities. They presented video clips of real therapy sessions which was very helpful. Most of the speakers identified themselves as stutterers which made it even more credible to me.
One of my students was a third grader who appeared to take his therapy sessions quite seriously. I wanted to get him to lighten up a bit. One of the suggestions for identification and voluntary stuttering was to use spray bottles and spray each other when stuttered words were heard. The words could be a real stutter or a voluntary stutter it didn’t matter. I thought this sounded like the perfect activity for the last therapy session. I just happened to have mini water sprayers given as party favors about 10 years ago. Did I mention I never throw anything out because you just don’t know when it will become useful. Well they turned out to be the perfect thing. The picture makes them look bigger than they are. They held about 3 tablespoons of water so we couldn’t get too soaked. You may be able to find something similar where you purchase party favors for children’s parties.
My student couldn’t believe he could spray me. After a few good squirts from my bottle he didn’t hold back. To see his eyes light up and have fun with stuttering made my day. I am sure he will remember it when we start again next school year.
I have been getting a lot of mileage out of match box cars. (pun intended) The enthusiasm still seems strong and with limited materials for my concrete thinkers, I go as long as possible. I blogged a long time ago about a cars and maps activity I used in my Kindergarten Concept Groups. If you want to look it up it was written in Sept 2009 for concept group #2. I have updated this map over the last few years so that it now looks like this.
I have students select match box cars. We run through the course a couple of times using prepositions; start, across the tracks, turn the corner, over the bridge, through the tunnel, between the grass and at the finish. I then bring out a spinner that doesn’t go above the number 4. We work on turn taking, number concepts, and telling where their car is using a preposition. Depending on the positions of the cars you may also elicit 1st, beside, before, after and behind. For some reason, they always want to run the track backwards so they get a 2nd repetition on the return.
I have continued to make some updates and add resources when I found them. There are free animal alphabet cards on TPT from Jason’s Online Classroom. (Update: sorry they are no longer free but they are still there) In my concept activity number 12 you needed alphabet cards to cut in half. I think these would work great. Look in the Vocabulary section of this site under Half/Whole for the direct link.
Winter break is finally here. December went by pretty quickly and I didn’t have time to post. Now that I have extra time I will try to catch up and tell about some of the things I have been doing. If you have a chance, pick up a package of match box cars in the after Christmas sales. It would be well worth it. They are great for therapy sessions with some of your harder more concrete thinkers.
It was our last week before winter break and I needed an activity that would keep my students focused as the sugar plums danced in their heads. You may remember that last May I had a post on using match box cars. They were a very popular item especially for the boys. Just like before, I started out with descriptive work on identifying features of the vehicles and identifying a vehicle from the description. This was expanded to asking questions to get clues and drawing a conclusion in the Mystery Vehicle activity. I used communication boards to help the process. These help my lower grades as well as my more challenged learners.
There is a communication board “What Vehicle is it?” in the vocabulary section. I have access to Boardmaker, but I know others do not. The boards make a big difference keeping this activity moving and on topic. It also helps to expand the sentences of students who are trying to get past one and two word utterances.
After the initial describing sessions, I decided the students could really benefit from one more round with the cars to reinforce the descriptive vocabulary. I often find the novelty is worn off by the 2nd or 3rd presentation of the same activity so I really needed to find a way to expand it. I dove into my recycle box. I found a nice long flat box. A race track seemed like a pretty good option and would be easy to put together. The race track was made by gluing black tag board on to the flat box. A piece of cardboard could be another option. I marked 3 starting positions on the top,1st, 2nd, 3rd. I could now use positional vocabulary when directing the car placement. Students placed the cars behind a paper roll. We have been working on variations of the meaning for the word “behind.” We predicted which vehicle was faster and would be first. Students took turns holding the paper roll and lifting only after “ready, set, go” was said by another student. This would also be a great opportunity to use a speech button so a nonverbal student could be included. It is a good way to practice impulse control and waiting for a verbal cue.
I have found that the proper container can make a huge difference on how an activity works. A gift box from the dollar store is great for the mystery vehicle activity. Everyone likes to open presents. For the race activity, I put the vehicles in a large clear freezer bag. Some of my students have difficulty with impulse control and would be continually grabbing a vehicle if they weren’t contained in something. This way the students can see through the plastic, but are unable to grab vehicles until they have completed the work of describing and asking.
The picture shows the setup. The communication board on the left was used for making descriptions and asking questions about the “Mystery Vehicle.” The communication board on the right was used to choose cars for the race and the race itself. Students gave descriptions of the vehicles they chose for the race so I was able to review those descriptions one more time.
There isn’t much time before winter break and the turkeys will need to come off my bulletin board. The students really enjoyed the paper ornament last year so I decided to look for something similar. I found this paper wreath on www.activityvillage.co.uk/index.htm
The good thing about paper folding is it provides plenty of opportunities for following directions and a lot of paper cutting is not involved. I’ve found that paper cutting is really tough for some of my students and we spend more time with it than I want to.
In preparation, I have cut the 3 inch by 5 inch papers using some of my scrap wrapping paper and colored printer paper. I knew that would come in handy for something. I have put the directions on Story Kit. I really like that app. I will have some of my students record on the directions so I have left the audio off for now. I will post the bulletin board when I get it up. For now I’ve put some of my samples up in the header so you can get an idea of what they look like. You can see the directions by going here. It is in story board form on here, but on the app it reads like a book. paper wreath direction on Story Kit app
Here is an update and picture of the bulletin board. I am getting compliments on it so I am happy with the way it turned out. It turned out to be a longer project than I anticipated. It took about 30 minutes for most of the students. Most of them ended up starting it one session and we finished it up on a 2nd session. I ended up helping with some of the paper folding to supplement the slower students. It was good training on developing perseverance. Everyone really improved their paper folding by the 12th triangle. Some were convinced they couldn’t do it and wanted to give up. They were really proud of their accomplishment. It was good project to illustrate how completing little parts can eventually make a complete project.
When I am working with students in the life skills programs I like to use activities which provide motor movements along with developing language skills. The motor skills are often a skill area that is stronger than the language skills and will motivate students to work within a natural context. I also like to utilize interests that would be common to their peer groups. Angry Birds is popular among the elementary students and November makes us think of Turkey. This began my idea of Angry Turkeys to work on prepositions. I looked at what materials I had on hand and decided it wouldn’t take much to make turkey bean bags. I also had an abundance of toilet paper rolls and coffee can lids that would make a good tower.
I find if I provide the structure of a sequence and visual cues to the activity I am more likely to elicit the responses I want. I used the free app “Storykit” to take pictures of building the towers and the placement of the turkey bean bags. The students used this as a visual for directions. At the end the student threw a bean bag at the tower. This was so motivating the students were willing to go through the sequence several times. If you would like to see what it looked like click on the following link.; Angry Turkey Sequence story. In the app it actually is presented in a book form instead story board form. I will post the pattern for the bean bags in the classroom activities.
I know some of you have finished your school year, but we are still plugging along here. With all those end of the year meetings its hard to plan for the actual therapy sessions. I’ve been grabbing into some old but goodies.
In a previous post I talked about using beanie babies in a mystery box to elicit questions, identify attributes, and categorize. I’m doing something similar to this using match box cars and vehicles. It helps to put the vehicles out first and identify parts, use, and descriptions. I have a student put one of them in a mystery box and the others ask questions until it can be identified. You can also have a student make a riddle describing 3 attributes and then have the students guess. I use a vehicle communication board to help students to formulate their questions and descriptions. This board is now in the vocabulary section. The boys always like to see the cars, so this activity keeps their attention.
I’ve also used the map I made for the concept group labeled Cars and Map. I added two taped papers to make walls on either set of the track and added a paper cone to make a mountain to go under. I have the students drive the cars on the track telling me where they are in the process. On the way they identify across the tracks, under the mountain, over the bridge, through the tunnel and between the walls. Some of my lowest students love this activity and can identify those prepositions. Who would believe that poster board with recycled junk taped on top could be so motivating.