Earth Day

Having a “theme” in the speech room is an easy way to keep your lessons fun and different. It also creates a link between “speech” activities and the outside world. About a week ago, Super Duper sent out an email promoting these Earth Day Language Cards, which prompted me to take a look back at some of my favorite materials related to Earth Day.

April 22 is Earth Day. There are a whole host of materials that allow you to incorporate ideas associated with Earth Day into your speech sessions. A good place to start when you begin planning themed units is News-2-You. News-2-You is a great resource to use with a wide range of kiddos. You can find current events articles as well as holiday specific articles. They offer the “holiday” articles on two levels and the current events articles on four levels. The current events articles are nice because they offer a communication board with related symbols and a supplementary power point. These articles are useful to introduce the topic. You can also easily pull vocabulary and articulation words from the text. Because making comparisons is sometimes an area that is targeted in speech, you could also use a newspaper article or an online article like this one to practice comparing and contrasting. Additional areas that could be targeted using this article and other non-fiction texts include identifying the main idea and key details, retelling information, and answering inferential and recall questions. News-2-You also offers an IPad app which is convenient and saves paper if you have an IPad or if you have a kiddo who uses one for communication. This free video on natural resources from BrainPOP junior may be a useful resource as well. A subscription is required to view most of the brainPOP topics, but this one happens to be free! It includes a matching game, a science activity, a vocabulary word wall, lesson ideas, conversation starters, two quizzes, a joke, and a short comic strip.

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is is another great resource to use during an Earth Day unit. With this book, you can practice many language skills including identifying the main idea, comparing and contrasting, answering inferential and recall questions, sequencing (If you print this front and back on cardstock you can cut them out and use them as cards to sequence), describing, retelling information and vocabulary. Dr. Seuss books can also be used to practice context clues. Because many of the words in Dr. Seuss books are made up, students are forced to use the context to derive meaning. This is an example of a worksheet that could be used to practice using context clues.

The Lorax Project is an initiative inspired by The Lorax that is aimed at engaging “individuals of all ages to do their part to conserve the places and species that are critical to the future of our planet.” The website includes an interactive matching game, information about various endangered animals and at risk forests, and a “Lorax Locator.” These resources could be used as an incentive or you could allow students to access the site for research purposes. When introducing the book, it could also be useful to include either the trailer or a short clip from the movie version of The Lorax. There is an older movie version here and a book based video here as well. Sometimes presenting information in a different format is engaging for students. This also allows you to incorporate more comparing and contrasting. If you have middle schoolers who participate in the alternate assessment, you may be able to work with the teacher to allow the students to watch the entire movie, as one of their standards relates to comparing and contrasting two formats of the same story.

This simple book could be used in a variety of ways. It can be used for practice with answering wh recall questions (by either asking the question after each page or asking questions at the end of the book for a longer time delay), answering inferential questions (for example: Why would we talk about recycling related to Earth Day?), and basic vocabulary practice. This social problem solving activity can be used as a conversation starter for articulation and fluency practice in addition to the intended purpose of targeting social problem solving skills. The creator of these cards has a great TPT store and a fantastic blog as well.

There are also several activities available within this freebie packet. It includes materials for practice with vocabulary, conjunctions, word associations, and comparing and contrasting.

Do you have themes or units in your speech room? What are some of your favorites? How are you celebrating Earth Day?

 

Monster Mania!

Having a “theme” in the speech room is an easy way to keep your lessons fun and different. It also creates a link between “speech” activities and the outside world. With Halloween quickly approaching, the MONSTERS are excited to come out and play! This topic can be used with kiddos of all ages! A go-to book during this time of year is “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak. It is a classic children’s book with rich vocabulary, ample opportunity to use inferential skills, and a multitude of pictures to describe. A good place to start (after reading the book, of course) would be with this summary and book review sheet or this more basic version. Picture supports for the basic version can be found on boardmaker share. (the picture choices and questions on the basic version should align) You could also access this sequencing activity via boardmaker share. Just print and cut the pictures apart to have kiddos sequence. If you have kiddos that are working on answering listening comprehension questions or inferential reasoning, this is a jeopardy style game that could incorporate a little competition into your sessions. You could also ask comprehension questions related to this biography of Maurice Sendak, the author. It would also be very simple to identify words or phrases within the book and biography to target specific speech sounds.

In addition, there are many monster themed activities beyond “Where the Wild Things Are.” Another set of characters that are particularly engaging for kiddos are the monsters from Monsters Inc. and Monsters University. Although you cannot assume that all your students are familiar with these characters, it would be a safe bet that most of them are. If you do have kiddos who are unfamiliar, you could show them the trailer at the beginning of the session. For kiddos working on inferential reasoning, you could use this activity that features the characters from Monsters University. Here is a fun online activity to target following directions. You could also have students describe the monster once it is built. (There are similar activities here and here)This is a link to a similar activity that doesn’t require use of the computer. This book mark craft activity could also be used to target listening comprehension/following directions. A tissue box monster would be good to use as a motivator for kiddos practicing articulation. As you can see, there are a multitude of ways you can use “monsters” during your therapy sessions. What spooky things are happening in your speech room this month?

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Gobble Gobble

Thanksgiving is almost here!! I can barely contain my excitement!

Several years ago I stumbled upon this virtual field trip. You can choose from four video tours that explain The Mayflower, the pilgrim village, the Wampanoag homesite, and Plymouth Plantation. They range from 17 minutes to 30 minutes, but you could easily watch it in sections and/or split it up among multiple sessions. These “field trips” are a good way to target answering comprehension and inferential questions. You could also use this vocabulary list to introduce new vocabulary related to Thanksgiving. To the right of the videos, there are lessons that are common core aligned for grades K-8. These activities bridge the gap between the speech room and the classroom by incorporating not only ELA standards, but social studies content as well.

In addition to taking a virtual field trip, you could have a party! Kiddos are beginning to get excited about the upcoming holiday season. Why not plan a party in the speech room. To get started, you could either have students brainstorm what you would need to do to plan a party or you could use this party planning checklist. If there are too many or too few details, feel free to alter it to best fit your students’ needs. This activity could be used to target sequencing, inferential reasoning, following directions, and pragmatic skills. Once you and your students have worked together to plan the party, HAVE A PARTY! This activity would, most likely, need to be broken down into several sessions, but you could plan and execute a party from start to finish! Invitations with various themes can be downloaded free here. If you choose to serve food at your party, students could be involved in preparation. When it comes to the guest list for your party, the options are endless! You could throw a party for just your speech group or you could invite the whole school! It might even be fun to collaborate with the classroom teacher to plan the party for the whole class! As a follow up to the party, you could ask students to compare and contrast the party you planned to their Thanksgiving festivities at home. When planning the decorations and food, you could use this worksheet where students will use basic inferential reasoning skills and categorization skills to decide which items would be appropriate décor for your party. You could also use these picture prompts as a sequencing activity. If your students choose to do a craft as one of their party activities, the options are endless, from a simple woven placemat to a paper bag turkey.

How are you celebrating Thanksgiving in your speech room?

…But Social Media is Supposed to be Recreational!

I have found that if I am not careful, social media can be a black hole where my free time disappears. One minute I tap open the Pinterest app on my phone and before I know it, hours have passed and I have accomplished nothing! I know I’m not the only one who sometimes loses hours of time while browsing social media sites. However, there are ways to make our “idle” time more productive. The following is a quick overview of some ways that social media outlets can be used to improve your practice as an SLP.

Blog
A blog (short for “web log”) can be used to write about basically anything! There are all sorts of blog topics, including *you guessed it* speech therapy. ASHA has a blog called ASHAsphere. ASHAsphere covers a wide range of topics written by a variety of bloggers. One post in particular gives a fairly comprehensive list of other blogs that cover topics related to speech pathology. PediaStaff is a staffing company, but they publish a blog that is geared toward SLPs, OTs, PTs and School Psychologists.

YouTube
YouTube can be used to supplement your practice in a couple different ways. You can use it to find information and you can also use it to find videos to use in therapy. ASHA is also on the bandwagon with YouTube. You can find their channel by typing ASHAWeb into the YouTube search bar. This channel spotlights things like patient success stories, SIGs, and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Other channels include Autism Speaks, autismtreatment, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Akron Children’s Hospital, SpeechLanguageBeyond, and sayitrightspeech just to list a few. EduTube is a resource that is similar to YouTube but geared toward education.

Pinterest
Pintrest is a great way to find resources that are available via the web. For those of you who aren’t “pinners” yet, Pinterest is a virtual cork board. You can follow other people and they can follow you. When you see pins from the people you are following that you like, you pin it to a board. You can also pin other things that you see online or even take a picture of something you have done and pin it to a specific board. Pintrest it’s self is really just a tool for collecting ideas, but following other speech therapists/speech therapy practices allows you to see what others are doing. You can follow people you know or perfect strangers.

Twitter
I have to admit, I have been slow in joining the Twitter revolution. In fact, I just started my Twitter account in preparation for this post. However, I know that it is a good way to stay connected with colleagues at the school level. Many principals tweet as a way of providing information to parents and staff alike. Even our own superintendent of schools tweets. How do you use twitter?

Facebook
This is where social media started, right? Facebook can also be a useful tool to stay in contact with other therapists. KSHA and ASHA both have Facebook pages. Both post links to articles, calls for action, photos and reminders. You can become “friends” with other therapists and join groups that are related to speech therapy. You can also link your Pinterest to your Facebook account.

What types of social media do you use? What are the benefits and draw backs to this type of communication? Are there things I have forgotten? Comment to share what you think!

*I/we do not represent any of the groups/individuals listed in this post. They are simply resources that are available to check out! As always, nothing can replace your professional judgment!