I am always searching for activities that can address a number of speech therapy objectives in groups. Clothing accessories are a good tool for this. Most of these items are readily available in our closets, yard sales or thrift stores and cost very little if anything. It doesn’t matter if they seem silly or out of the norm. That just opens up possibilities for descriptive language, social conversation skills and clear conversational speech.
So should we see what I can find in my drawers and closet? I found hats, scarves, beaded necklaces, sun glasses, knee pads, and gloves.
This is how I used them.
To address the social skills of conversational speech; complimenting, asking questions, and noticing the perspective of another person.
Have two or three students go out of the room and put a number of items on. When they come back in, students have a few minutes to observe them. The students then go back out and switch the items among each other. They then come back in. When they come back into the room, students who remained behind report the differences. This encourages students to be more observant of others. I often use this as a lead in to a discussion about body language.
Another skill to address is starting a conversation. Students ask relevant questions or make a compliment according to what someone is wearing. For example, “I love that red scarf. Where did you get it?” “Are you getting dressed for a special occasion?”
In another activity, students conduct a talk show. One student can put an item on and be interviewed by another according to the character they become with the items they are wearing. This activity is great for determining if students have conquered those articulation skills conversational speech.
I hope you have fun with these open ended activities and they help you to get away from the grind of drills, provide an engaging activity and allow for speech and language samples for the end of the year progress reports.
It is a year ago that I made the switch to a self hosted web site. I do not know why I waited so long. I have enjoyed having the freedom of decorating as I wish. There was definitely a learning curve, especially when I found it was hijacked at one point. Over all It has been worth it. I decided a free download was needed to celebrate. Continue on to find it.
For some reason containers hold a certain fascination for me. It seems like I am always collecting them and thinking about how I can use them for speech therapy. While drinking my morning orange juice, I got to thinking about the cover to the juice container. It would make a good tile for a hiding game. It is at least 2 inches in diameter, can hold a reasonable size card on top, and a small object underneath. I also drink enough juice to get a number of them in a reasonable amount of time. This led me to thinking about the game of Secret Square and Cariboo. It seemed like it could be made into a game adaptation for either game. The covers just need velcro dots to fasten pictures on top.
Do you remember the old therapy game called Secret Square? It was a game that had tiles with pictures on top. A chip is placed under one of the tiles. Students find it by asking questions about the pictured items and eliminating the pictures that do not correspond to the answers. Eventually the chip is found. Cariboo is similar in that it has pictures on doors that can be chosen to find a hidden balls that is used to open a treasure box. Both games are very versatile when addressing goals for describing, questioning, and synthesis of information to get the main idea. It can also address articulation and specific speech vocabulary such as prepositions with a switch of the cards. Students love the idea of finding the secret object and it keeps them motivated. Unfortunately Secret Square and Cariboo are no longer in production. They can be hard to find and a bit pricey if bought second hand on e-bay.
Which brings me back to my orange juice container lids. I could see potential for making a game of “Secret Circle” and possibly even a Cariboo type game with items hidden under the lids. This could include pieces of a puzzles hidden under some of the lids. All I needed to do was drink 10 containers of juice to get 10 covers and place velcro dots on top. Pictures for the tops can range from articulation cards such as found on Mommy Speech Therapy to preposition cards such as found as a free product at my TPT store. I updated and revised my Preposition Penguins especially for this post. There are a number of Cariboo cards on Teachers Pay Teachers that would also work.
I thought I would add a post for those people looking for the 7th Circle of Friends Session and not finding it. Friday was a training day in my school district so we were unable to meet. We will resume next Friday and I will make some updates then.
I did go to an interesting training session given by Kathy Thiemann-Borque, PHD, CCC-SLP on Addressing Social Communication Challenges of Children with Autism, Peer-Mediated Interventions in Preschool and Elementary School. It was based on her studies with Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, University of Kansas. The study validated that training peers to interact with students who have communication delays, and then arranging interactions during an activity using the trained students with disabled students who also received training resulted in the most progress. Adults may initially need to be present to facilitate the interaction but could eventually step back. This allowed for natural communication interactions with peers even if PECs or voice output devices were used. During the baseline, the students, some using PECS or Voice Output, attempted to communicate mainly with adults in the room and minimally with peers.
The “Circle of Friends” is set up with this same premise. However it is geared more to middle and high school students. This study demonstrated how peers could be used in preschool and elementary environments by training them to use specific prompts. Peers were trained to stay, play , and talk. Peers often had more influence than adults in directing behaviors.
Although this model is being validated it is often hard to implement. As the academic demands increase for students and teachers there is less time left to arrange social interactions. General education peers are not as available for training if it takes away from academic time. Permission needs to be obtained from the parents of the peer group because they are usually joining what is considered a special education environment.
It often takes the experience of an initial group to make people realize that it can reflect positively to the whole elementary environment. It allows students to interact appropriately with disabled peers rather than taking on a caretaker role. The disabled students are seen as communicators with increased expectations. It tends to decrease bullying as students are more impowered to step up and help if a student is getting singled out.
I would recommend going to this training if Kathy Thiemann-Bourque, PhD, CCC-SLP comes to your part of the country. I would be interested in hearing from any of you who have attempted to form a similar group.
The 4th session of Circle of Friends met today with 5 of the 6 group members. This session is the last preparation session before we invite D to join the circle. We had the students put themselves in D’s shoes and predict how he might feel and react to the group. They decided D’s reactions may be, not wanting to enter the room and hanging out at the door. When he becomes overwhelm he often says he wants to go home. We then brainstormed how we could make it easier for him. They decided to prepare a video he could see the week before he came. We just happened to have a flip camera available to us for just an event. They decided a video of the group eating lunch together and saying their names and a greeting would make him feel welcome and know who is part of the group. The students will also make a point of talking to him about their lunch group and how they would like him to join them on Friday.
We then video taped an activity they could do with D during the next session, called conversational scaffolding. He is using this activity in his speech therapy sessions to build his conversation skills, so it should be something he is familiar with. It’s basically placing slips of paper down on the table to represent questions, comments, and topic changes. When the students look back on their conversation they can see who participated and in what way. We used the same activity with the circle of friends group to give them practice and some understanding of how they can help D. First we talked about activities D was likely to be interested in and found some of them were similar to their interests like books and movies. We then gave it a try. It wasn’t long before it was going at a pretty fast rate. We had a couple of students that needed more thinking time. The paper trail showed a couple of students asking all the questions, frequent topic changes, and some interruptions before questions were answered. We talked about being responsible listeners during a conversation, and how to include people who didn’t get a chance to enter the conversation. We pointed out that some people need more thinking time and may not feel comfortable talking if the topic changed too often. We then talked about how D may particularly needed more time to respond and would get lost with too many topic changes. They agreed it would have to go at a slower rate. Before they left, they said the activity was a lot of fun. This always amazes me. Sometimes there is a lot of value in just paper.
This is the last week before our winter break. The sugar plums dancing in the children’s heads make it a bit more difficult for them to focus. We worked on the easier concepts of half, whole, top, front, end, and match. Our reading program has large letter cards of the alphabet letters made into animal and common object characters. These are called alfa- friends. I cut a set of these cards in half so that there was a bottom and top section. The children formed a circle and sat down on the carpet. Each child was given a top half of a card which they placed on the floor infront of them. The bottom sections were placed in a container for grabbing. Each child was given the chance to pull a bottom section out and join it with their top. This made for some silly looking characters. The children then decide if it is a match or not and where it should go to make the whole character.
I am adding an update to this entry I added a source and link to a place to get free alphabet animal cards. Look under the vocabulary section for half/whole.
Sometimes setting up language groups in a classroom setting can be a bit intimidating. Many speech therapists aren’t given funds to buy commercial programs and therefore need to develop a program on their own. This is a rather daunting task when there are so many tasks to complete at the beginning of a school year. I began collecting and developing activities using materials you typically find in a school environment, games I found at thrift stores, and games I made. I’ve posted most of the activities in the vocabulary section. I thought you might enjoy hearing how they are actually carried out during the school year.
Today we started our first session of “Concept Groups”. This is only day 6 for most of our Kindergarten students. There were 3 adults available; the counselor, speech therapist, and classroom teacher. That made a ratio of 1 adult to 10 children. In the future we will need to get that down to a smaller rate, but for today it worked.
As most of you know it’s better to start simple with new Kindergarten students. We decided to put the emphasis on introduction. This was as much for the adults as it was for the kids, because we were all still learning names. We started with a story about the first day of school and making friends. We talked about how everyone is nervous when they don’t know people and it’s nice to know their names. We modeled how you can ask someone their name and they can become your friend.
The activity was a ball circle activity that I’ve used before as an icebreaker for groups of kids. Each adult took 10 kids to form a circle. The adult started it out by looking at a child in the circle and asking “What is your name?” . When that child responded the ball was tossed to them. They then continued by asking another child “What is your name?”. When all the children have had a chance the activity was changed to calling out another child’s name and then tossing the ball to them. This is where you find out who remembers the names. We then rotated half the kids from each circle so that the mix would change and we would get a chance to meet everyone.
This activity can tell you a lot about the children in the groups. It can tell you who may have trouble following the instructions or Continue reading