December Bulletin Board, Paper Wreath

25 Nov

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

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.

bulletin board wreath

Angry Turkeys

4 Nov


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.

Are we there yet?

22 May

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.

Flip cameras are great for speech therapy!

8 Apr

This week I explored ways to use a flip camera.  This isn’t an expensive model.  It’s a Vivitar 410 which you can get for about $25.    The ability to plug it into my computer and have  immediate viewing  has made it valuable for feedback.  I’m still learning how to use all the functions, but for the most part it has been record and play.  I’ve been able to download files to both my home PC and the Mac I use at school.  It also records sound.   I have a program on my home computer that I’m able to segment, cut out portions, and add captions if I want.   I’ve done that with the ‘Circle” video clips. The therapy clips I have played  directly on my computer after taping them. They come up as a full screen, so the students get the impression they are on TV.  It’s amazing what this does for motivation.

I started using it with the “Circle of Friends ” in the previous post to give my student with autism a preview of coming events.  It has allowed him to join the group with less anxiety and has helped to give him visual instructions on the activity.  Anyone that has worked with students with Autism know the visual representation is very important for instruction.  It has also been a key motivator for the general education students in the group.  It  gives them a chance to do some rehearsal and feel that it is a special group.

I also tried using it with a  student working with fluency.  He came to that point where he needs  to practice his speech in a less structured activity.   I video taped him giving  instructions on folding an origami animal.   We then played  it on the computer and judged his fluency.  He enjoyed watching himself and I think it gave more feedback and confidence than the usual tape recording.

Finally I tried using it with two students with attention deficits that have difficulty keeping focused on any one activity for more than 10 minutes.  I’m always struggling to keep their interest.  They are always trying to get me to allow them to fold paper airplanes.  Using the  flip camera allowed me  to combine both productively.  I taped them giving directions on folding an airplane of their choice.   We then watched the tape and discovered that key directional words or prepositions were missing.  Next session can involve adding captions and using more directional words.  I see there is also the potential for future storytelling.  I think it is a worthwhile purchase  for those considering it.

For those of you keeping up with the “Circle of Friends”, we did not meet this week.  Friday was a teacher grading day and students were not present.

Storytelling Helpers

23 Mar

We are on Spring Break here in Oregon.   Spring Break is always a reminder to me that the school year will soon be coming to a close.  At this time of year, I find that quite a few of the children I have been working are at a sentence level and I need to find something more difficult so that  they are working with connected speech.

I thought  storytelling would meet my needs.  Storytelling  is a good way to see language development on many levels to include, fluency, sentence development, story sequence, and ability to formulate a beginning, middle, and end.  A lot of these skills correspond directly to what is being taught in writing.

A few things magically fell into place. I discovered my new white board is magnetic, The secretary asked if I would try out a new box of multiple color white board markers for possible ordering next year (at this time of year this is a real find) and I found a stash of old refrigerator magnets.  I have some old felt backed storytelling materials for Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Three Pigs, and Billy Goat Gruff.  Although I’ve used these in the past, I’ve found the children tell the stories very routinely and  it doesn’t lead to much variation.  I’m not always sure they have developed the skills I’m looking at.

I’ve found that by adding props and  structure the students get a better start I decided to print off characters and objects typically found in fairy tales but enough of a variety that the story plot could develop differently than the stories  they already knew. I cut the refrigerator magnets into strips that were then taped to the back of the characters and objects.  I started them out by adding some back ground with the markers;  a beach, mountain trail, some trees.  I told them they weren’t limited to the pictured objects because they could draw more if they needed it.

Children love to hear and make their own stories.   However many children  are quite daunted with the task of making a story because they have very little experience with it. Students end up with a tale that has very little detail or reasoning in it.  The story becomes a process of  labeling of objects or the characters do actions without explanation.  You may need to model how to make a narrative, add detail, and make a sequence of events.  You may need to model telling what the characters are doing as well as what they say.  You can suggest they use a story they are already familiar with and change the plot.  When working with a group, it becomes a running story as each student takes a turn.

I added   Storytelling characters: for download on the expressive sentences page.

Flip Book for Sentence Development

9 Mar

I just a wanted  to let you  know there is a new download in the Expressive Language session.  This week I’ve been making  flip books  with quite a few of my students.  I have a flip book I made quite a few years ago and students wanted to make their own.  I thought this would be a great  homework activity  and wouldn’t take much effort once it was set up.  It emphasizes  having a subject verb and object in a sentence.  Students like flipping the pages to make a variety of sentences.  Sometimes the sentences make sense and other times they can come out quite crazy.  I’ve used quite a few irregular past tense verb forms.  It also allows for practice  of subject and objective pronouns.  I have access to a binder although there are other ways to use it in the directions.  I found that lining up index cards and punching the holes for the spiral proved less time-consuming then trying to cut them later.  I used an uncut tag board piece to support the back. The students used glue sticks to glue pictures on the flip pages.   They practiced starting their sentences with yesterday to practice the past tense forms.  I broke the downloads into two booklets to make the download easier.

flipbook 1 flipbbok 2

Sequencing Directions with Glitter Hearts

2 Feb

I always try to get the most benefits from any activity I do and I can usually find several ways to use it for therapy.   I found the antonym glitter  hearts that were placed on the bulletin board  in a previous post were also a good activity to use for children who have difficulty telling  a sequence of a project.  The actual heart activity only took a few minutes to produce and provided a definite sequence of events that provided motor and visual activity that would help them to remember the information.  After making the glitter heart, I had them divide a white board into 4 sections.  You could use paper as well.  They then numbered the 4 sections and thought of what steps we used to make the heart.  The 1st block represented getting the materials which were the glue,  marker and paper heart.  The 2nd block was writing the antonym on the heart.  The 3rd step was placing glue  on the edge, and the last step was placing the heart in the glitter coffee can and shaking it.  They drew pictures or wrote words to represent the 4 steps.  The students then used these directions to tape record directions.  We then listened to the directions to see if they included enough information and were in the right order.  We also talked about using sequence words such as before and after in their recording.

What do you say?

2 Nov

This is just a note to let you know I’ve added another set of role playing cards that I’ve named “What do you Say“.  I’m using them with the fluency cards to give a student the chance to practice using  fluent speech during school interactions.  They can actually be used for a variety of   therapy activities.  The student is younger so I added pictures to make them more child friendly.  The cards are located on the social pragmatic  page and fluency page.  Just click on the title for a short cut.

Descriptive Animal Activity

7 Oct

Some of you may remember when Beanie Babies were the fad and many fast food places were giving them out with the kid meals.  My daughter was at the right age for the fad and managed to accumulate a lot of them.  Eventually she got tired of them and I inherited them.  She had kept them in a shoe rack with the plastic pockets that hang over a door.  I took the whole thing and hung it up in my speech room.   People have noticed it hanging there and have brought me even more animals.  I now have quite a variety of small stuffed animals, dinosaurs, and cartoon characters.  I bet if you keep your eyes open you may find some at garage sales or as donations.  It seems people are eager to move those collections along now.

These stuffed animal characters have become quite useful for playing descriptive games centered around animals.  I have a gift box that I bought at the dollar store.  It is decorated with a bow and has a removable lid.  I call it the mystery box.  The students put a mystery animal in the box and the other students take turns asking a question and then guessing the animal or cartoon character.  Some of the students have difficulty generating questions and I use communication board to help them.  Not only does this activity promote asking questions, it requires using memory and consolidation of the details to determine the correct animal.  An example of the cue card is posted in the vocabulary section and can be printed out.

New Card Game

1 Aug

I’ve been looking for new games to review  3rd and 4th grade vocabulary.  The reading and social sciences curriculum covers exploration and new frontiers.  It has vocabulary associated with space, pioneers, and science.  I’ve found that old card games can sometimes be adapted to review or introduce words.  The card game “Pig with a Stockpile”  looked like it could be used.  It’s very similar to a card game called “Spoons” I played when I was a kid.  I am hoping the repetition of the vocabulary and pictured items will help my language kids be familiar with vocabulary when it is introduced in class.  The game will hopefully provide some motivation.   I won’t have a chance to try it out until school starts again.  I thought others might like to get a head start with printing activities out.  If anyone gets a chance to try it out, would you please write a comment? I’ve named my version ” The Mission“.