The Royal Game of UR

1 Apr

Recently, I discovered the Royal Game of UR. It is an ancient game that gives us a look into the common lives of past civilizations. It would be a good lead in for students studying Ancient History and researching how we have discovered information about past lives. It is generally good for students that are middle school age and above. They will likely be intrigued by it’s history and the game looks age appropriate.
The game has a bonus of originating in the Middle East. We have many students who have Middle Eastern ancestry. We often lack materials representing this ethnic group so it is nice to include things when we can. We can validate this culture and show the positive contributions rather than the negative that seems to be in our mainstream.

Just to give you a little background, the first recognizable game boards were excavated at the Royal Cemetery of UR between 1922 and 1934 in an archaeologist dig by an English archeologist, Sir Charles Leonard Woolley. Most people base their replications on one found at this excavation and housed in the British Museum. They are dated to the First Dynasty of UR around 2600 BC. Other versions have been found throughout the Middle East but were generally not in very good condition.

Game of UR board kept at the British Museum.

I know some of you are wondering how this ended up on a speech blog so here is my reasoning. I like to discover new games and discover how they can be used to teach social communication and general language skills. This one could be used for encouraging participating in an activity with a partner for a length of time, focusing on a topic, handling disappointment, (there are frequent set backs), anticipating consequences for actions, following directions and developing strategy. The rules are fairly simple so students can grasp them in 5 to 10 minutes.

It is generally a race game with conflict. It is a two player game in which each player is required to get 7 tokens across the board before the other player. Set backs occur when a player lands on the opponents token sending it off the board to start over. Luck and strategy both play a part in success so one student may not necessarily over power another student because of cognitive ability. The games last an average of 20 to 30 minutes depending on how much you think it through.

It is not entirely clear what the original game rules were and several sets of rules have been published. A tablet was discovered in Iraq in 1880 outlining rules for a game using pawns, dice, and throws prior to Wooley’s excavation of his game. This tablet was later linked to being the possible rules for the UR game board. The original game used triangular rocks with painted tips for dice and variations on safe places and getting another turn in specific places.

You can see how it is played by watching this youtube video. Irving Finkel is a curator at the British Museum and has produced a number of youtube videos on artifacts that are housed there. He is a unique individual who really plays the part. His videos are entertaining as well as informative.

If you are interested in locating the game that is pictured on my heading, they are being sold on Etsy by True Laser Cutting. I like this particular version because it comes in a wooden box with room to store all the pieces. I can carry it to various schools and not lose any. There is also a 10% off coupon for teachers at checkout so don’t forget to use that. Type in 10FORTEACHERS near the final checkout button.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/TrueLaserCutting?ref=l2-shopheader-name


Carryover Activities for Speech Therapy

5 Nov

No matter what goals you are working on with a student, there comes a time to move those newly developed skills outside your therapy setting. This is referred to as carry over.  For some students we know it can be a real struggle.  We all have experience with the student who does a perfect /s/ during therapy and then you see them  in the hallway and they turn to you to ask “Is it my peech day?”  All of  that work does little good if it does not  transfer to the real world.  Therefore carryover skills are important to address. It is important to have this in mind from the very beginning.   

There are things to keep in mind when planning tasks for carry over.  It is important that the student is able to do the required task correctly in a controlled setting and hear the difference between his correct and incorrect productions before doing homework assignments on his own.  If he doesn’t self correct errors he is likely to practice homework wrong which only reinforces errors.  Homework  should be given at the level where student is successful.

It is important to reinforce the correct behavior to get it established but after that don’t give immediate feedback every time.  Instead, teach self monitoring by asking the student what they think about their production and then give feedback.  This makes them responsible for their behavior and not as dependent on your approval.  Children often work for approval and do not see the big picture.  We want them to be self-disciplined and responsible for their actions.  I often tell them they need to become their own therapist because they certainly don’t want me following them around all day correcting them.

As soon as students are at a spontaneous sentence level I encourage them to self monitor by using  a  hand counter  or tally counter. They self monitor by  making a click each time they observe themselves doing an assigned task correctly during therapy.  This could be monitoring a correct speech sound, using correct grammatical structures, or using fluency techniques. All those things we tend to work on. 

Hand counter

It is easiest to do this in an hierarchy.  Train the student how to use the clicker when reading a word list or reading sentences that have the words they are working on. Then bring it up to the next level by working on  more spontaneous productions.   The Silly Sentences in the  “Expressive”  section are great for a reading task.  It goes to the next level of spontaneous speech when student explain what is wrong with the sentence that was read.  The Association cards in the “Vocabulary” section are also a way of getting more spontaneous output as the student explains how words are similar  in meaning. I often have students working on vocabulary skills as well as sound production in the same group.  With the clicker almost any task that requires a spontaneous response can work and meet a variety of needs. 

There are a few bonuses for having the student use the tally counters.   You can keep track with a second counter or paper and pencil, and compare accuracy of the self monitoring as well number of attempts with the student’s tally.  The students finds it motivating to hit a target number of correct productions and you have data for your records.

The clicker can add natural controls at the  level of conversational speech.
 Often students get carried away with a conversation, and forget to monitor or allow others to talk.  The flow is stopped if you need to remind them.  The tally counter in their hand is a good reminder there is a goal in mind. When working with multiple students you can give an assigned number to tally before passing it to another student.   The group can earn a chosen activity when they reach a certain number.  For some reason the clicker by itself can be motivating to some students.

The “Social”  section at the top has quite a few activities to encourage spontaneous speech in social situations.  There are ideas for role playing in this section.  Role playing is a good activity for practicing   real life situations.  Ideally you will be providing tasks that reflect real life speaking  situations so students practice what they will actually be saying and then carry it over.

The Forms and Letters section has a “Home Work Rating Scale” I have used to get feedback from parents, teachers, and caregivers. The student becomes aware he is being listened to by others and parents know what can be expected from the student.  I often use this sheet as an exit requirement.   When parents have been part of the process, they are more likely to know and agree when it is time for the student to discontinue speech services.

I hope you find something you can use in this blog post.  I enjoy hearing what works for you or any other feedback.  You are always welcome to leave comments.   In addition, let me know if you run into links that do not work.  I found some recently and deleted or fixed them.  It is a hard thing to keep track of some of these things.  

For those of you interested in buying Teachers Pay Teachers products there is a sale you might want to  take advantage of.








 

 

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.

 

 

The Virtues of a Grab Bag and Grab Bag Hack

1 Nov

Have you ever wished for extra arms while conducting speech therapy?  Who can forget those early days of  SLP training and starting of clinical hours.   At the time, it seemed impossible to manage everything. I wished for more hands to manage materials, data taking tools, and especially the young clients.   If you turned  your back, your clients had control of the materials and you became an octopus trying to get them back.  This was not a good start to the session.

I got  to thinking about the hacks I discovered along the way that made a difference.  A grab bag was one of my real life savers. If you haven’t discovered the virtues of a grab bag  you have really missed out.

There are lots of advantages to using a grab bag.  A bag allows for control of the materials and prevents students from helping themselves to  items before you are ready to use them.  It allows for controlled  turn taking.  Only the person with the bag has access to the items. They  take items one by one before handing it on to the next person.

It creates  intrigue for some  students who would not otherwise be interested. Who doesn’t like discovering what is hidden in the mystery bag?   And finally, when you find yourself switching locations and working from room to room, you can keep better tabs of those small pieces if they are contained in a  bag that is portable.

I used grab bags frequently with my  early language learners, especially in small groups.  It creates a natural context for communication boards when training core vocabulary such as “I have, I see, I want,” and that mportant question for vocabulary development,  “What is it?”.   I have used grab bags with a activities such as potato head, the car races, and windup toys.  You can use a clear freezer for students who need  to see the parts and request them.

Here is an example of a communication board I used with  mechanical toys and a grab bag. The board is made from Picto-Selector graph which is a free download.  It can be found at https://www.pictoselector.eu/  

A bag can also be used with older students seated around a large table.  The bag can be passed so items can always be reached.  You have one less thing in your hands which really helps when taking data.  You can even have different  bags and different cards in each so students can work on different objectives by pulling from their bag. I have a lot less trouble with a stack of cards being scattered across the table and floor.

I imagine you are saying, “I want one of those. Give me the directions for that grab bag already.”   Well here they are:

Find an old sweater or sweatshirt that has long sleeves and cuffs.  Simply cut the sleeve off, turn it inside out and sew across the flat bottom.  You can glue the bottom opening closed with a glue gun if you can’t sew or don’t have a sewing machine.  Turn it back to the right side and you should have a bag with a cuff opening for the top. Now tell me that isn’t simple.

 

 

Halloween Trial and Error Activity for Social Skill Building

5 Oct

 


It has been a while since I posted but I am back. I had a great summer visiting family and am refreshed.  Recently, I was looking at old posts.  Back in  April 2013, I posted about an activity called Trial and Error Pass.  I have always felt this activity had a lot of value. I was surprised to find the post is now 4 years old.  Some of you may not even remember seeing it the first time.  Sometimes when an activity is packaged a little differently It allows for multiple presentations without students disengaging because they have seen it before.  I decided to rework it  with a Halloween theme.

Halloween is often a time when students are allowed a group celebration.  Students may think it is time off from work but little do they know.  It is an opportunity to build social skills.   Trial and Error Pass is a good activity to use with small groups or a class.  For those  who are working on social skills, it provides an opportunity for students to generalize skills into a classroom setting.

You can make this activity easily enough on your own with  clip art.  If you want to save some time and effort you can down load it from my TPT store for a  minimal cost. Just click on the button for a direct link.

The activity requires students to use a trial and error method of problem solving.  It reinforces the idea that mistakes are not necessarily bad and can be used for learning.  It also teaches students to work together toward a common goal.  The solution is found by observing the mistakes of everyone and it would be very difficult to succeed individually.  It also requires students to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict the pattern.

This activity can be used with small groups of students, two competing teams, or with one or two students.  The object of the game is to cross a grid in 6 moves stepping on the correct sequence of objects.  They determine the path by trial and error.

 

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Cards are laid out on a carpet in a grid pattern.  If you do not have room to lay them out you can print off a grid to make a game board and use a game marker to represent the person crossing  the grid.  I think using large motor movements makes it more interesting for some students.

A judge, who could be a student or teacher, is selected.  The judge takes one of the  pattern cards that will be the solution to the stepping pattern.

A student begins the challenge by stepping on one of the objects in the first row and moves one row ahead for each step.    As the move is made the judge indicates if it is the correct one by saying right or wrong move.   There are  buzzer sounds available on apps for electronic devices that make it even more engaging for some students.

The  student continues to move forward as long as he steps on the right object.   If  it is the wrong step the person returns to the start or the end of the line and watches the attempts of others until they get to the front of the line again.  The students may notice that a pattern is developing as students discover the correct moves.  This will speed up the progress until someone finally makes it across.  The students should be reinforced for working as a team and not make it an individual competition to make it to the finish.

If you prefer not to have a Halloween them to the activity there is the generic version. Just click on the button and it will take you there.

This fall I am enjoying my retirement status and doing things I didn’t have time for the last few years. It was nice not to have the stress that comes with the beginning of the year.  I have been thinking about all of you SLPs in the trenches.

I hope your year is going well.

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