Sunday, January 12, 2020

SLP's: 5 Ways to Say NO at Work and Reclaim Your Time

Do you have a hard time saying no at work? 



If you made it through grad school and became an SLP, you were probably trained to reach for excellence in all that you do. You might even be an over-achiever by nature. 

You want to do it all: be super helpful, shine in your job, provide tip-top services, be a super team player. Then reality hits. 

There is just not enough time for all the things.

You can't be an SLP 24/7. You are enough. The workload is just too much. You're increasingly stressed out. Working late and taking work home every night just to keep afloat is the fast track to burnout city. Something has got to give. 

Am I right?

High caseloads, mountains of assessments and reports, billing, therapy notes, parent communication, data-keeping, goal-writing, meetings, traveling between locations or patients, progress reports... the list goes on and if you're an SLP you know it well. 

If you're a school-based SLP there may also be duties, special projects, special events, requests to cover a class and more. So how do you get your job done and save your sanity?

Learn to say no!

Start by prioritizing tasks and requests.

Which tasks are essential to your job? As a school-based SLP, my top priorities are:
  • providing effective therapy for my students
  • meeting IEP therapy times
  • meeting legal timelines for evaluations and meetings 

Five ways to say no to non-essential tasks.

Need a little inspiration? 


This can be your anthem!  Na to the ah to the no, no, no!

 


1. You may need to say no to yourself.  

Over-achiever? Learn to let some things go. Simplify.

  • Make report templates. Provide the meat of the results, don't write a book. 
  • Batch your work by focusing on one type of task at a time- do all your billing at once, prepare for all IEP meetings this month, test several kiddos in a row if you have time.
  • Go no-prep. Notice I said effective therapy, not uber-creative, Pinterest-worthy therapy. I do love a fun craft or creating a fresh activity, but when you're in a time crunch, go simple, no-prep and basic. How?
    1. Grab an open-ended game, a storybook or super simple activity and use it all day with every group. Modify it on the fly as needed to suit each group's goals. An example of this would be my open-ended seasonal Speech Therapy Vocabulary Games, or no-prep activities like my mixed group Speech Therapy Activities and WH Questions, a board game, play dough or slime.
    2. Push-in. Try in-class therapy when there are several students in the same class. This works great for me with preschoolers and self-contained classes. You can see larger groups at once and model for the teachers as well.
    3. Pull out larger groups and do a story activity or a group game. My Bingo Riddles Games are fabulous for larger groups and handling doubled-up make-up sessions.

2. Say no to chatty colleagues who can't take the hint.

There's that teacher or colleague who shows up and wants to chew your ear off about the latest gossip or gripe. Do you know her? Or him?

These people don't take the subtle hints that you're busy and they eat up your precious free minutes. How do you handle that?
  • Smile and tell them straight out you have a ton of work to get done.
  • Turn away as they talk and keep typing, working, etc. 
  • If they don't take the cue, stand up and leave... say you need to head to the office, run an errand, check something, ect. Head out the door and say see ya later. 

3. Say no to special requests and events.

Schools are notorious for having extra events throughout the year. If you are asked to bake cookies, decorate the stage, help with a special event, help plan a party and you really don't have the time, just say noooo!

You may need to practice this one ahead of time. In the mirror, or out loud if needed until it feels natural.

Don't over-explain, or give a long list of excuses. I'm sorry, I won't be able to right now. Done. Exit left. Finito.


No-Sorry I Can't. 5 ways for SLPs to say no at work and reclaim their time. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #SLP

4. Say no to extra campus duties. 

This happens a lot in the schools and it's tricky because you're usually saying no to a principal or supervisor. You may be asked to cover a class when there is no sub, proctor a test, do a regular duty, participate in an extra event.

Set some boundaries, and have a response ready.

Be cautious and use your judgment here. Sometimes you may want or need to say yes due to circumstances. If you are ready to say no:

  • Prepare ahead of time so you can have a reasonable and respectful response ready. Get the support of your special education supervisor, lead SLP, or whoever is responsible for seeing that therapy services are provided appropriately. Talk about your workload and explain that you have no time for makeup therapy and meeting paperwork timelines if asked to do extra duties- (if that's the case). Ask for their support in opting out of extra duties.
Saying NO: Stick to the facts. Offer another solution if you can. I'm sorry but...
  1.  I currently have ___ (Insert your gigantic to-do list here) on my schedule. If I'm not able to do ___ today, the school will be out of legal compliance. Would ___ be able to help?
  2.  Duties: My schedule is currently full, if I do ___ duty,  I won't be able to provide required therapy services and meet legal timelines.
  3.  Let me check my schedule, I'll get back to you by___.
  4.  If you can provide an SLP to cover my required duties, I would be happy to help.
Be sure to add: "Thank you for understanding."  This can end the conversation (or email) without leaving wiggle room for your boss to misinterpret or talk you into accepting the duty.

5. Say no to extra SLP duties. 

I think this one is the hardest of all. When you simply don't have the time to take on an extra campus, caseload, classroom, or evaluations, it's time to discuss your existing workload with your supervisor.

Be professional and direct. Be empathic, give them a valid reason you are saying no and offer alternative solutions if you can. Show them a little gratitude for their faith in you, but...

"I know you need___ handled. I appreciate you thinking of me"

"If I take that on, I won't be able to___." (meet therapy time, complete evaluations, IEP meetings within timelines, complete billing, documentation.)  Thank you for understanding.

"Please break down the most essential part of this, and how we will handle the tasks that will not fit in my schedule?

"I'll need help, so will you be assigning/contracting another SLP to handle___?"


So you have a hard time saying no?

Watch this for some great advice How to say No.


How about 50 MORE ways? Love this guy!

Here's my take when "No" just doesn't work:

Ultimately, it's the school's duty to meet timelines by providing the personnel to meet requirements.

You're pedaling as fast as you can, doing your best to keep up.

If you're required to take on tasks that limit your ability to meet requirements, it's not your fault, as long as your supervisors are fully aware of your workload and you have communicated what the consequences will be to your ability to provide therapy and meet timelines.

When that's the case, do document your concerns respectfully in an email and keep a copy. (If it's not in writing it didn't happen!) You may need this later, to show you communicated your concerns and workload.

For example:
Thank you for meeting with me about ___. I understand that ___ is important. Unfortunately, as we discussed, by adding these additional duties to my current workload, I may not be able to ___(meet therapy times, meet timelines, complete documentation or billing in a timely fashion). With this in mind, it is my understanding that you are assigning me to ____ at this time.  Is that correct? Thank you.

When I asked a group of SLPs in the trenches how they manage to say "no" they said:


  • An interventionist ordered me to cover a teacher's class during the day so the teacher could attend her child's function. I said no, got into quite a spat with the campus admins, and ended up changing from that campus. It's been great! I love my new schools and principals.
  • Pam said: We always joke we need to give new SLPs a Big Mac that is pre-programmed to say "No, I am unable to do that." No "sorry" and no excuses, just say no.
  • Breanna said: When I'm told, "I scheduled (name)'s IEP before/after school." I say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I'm not available that day. We can either reschedule or you can hold the IEP without me." Only one person has ever asked me why.
  • The best excuse I ever heard was "Oh, I have to go home after school and keep my cat company, he gets really lonely." (Well...not sure I'd use that one!)
  • Nijji said: Last year I said no to proctoring state tests. My AP was new to our school and she said, "The speech therapist at my old school did it." I politely made eye contact and said, "I still have to meet IEP time for all the kids on my caseload." Be polite but firm. I don't think she'll ask me this year.
  • Susan said: I've always been sooo bad at saying no. I mostly say "I don't have time on my calendar to ___. My next opening isn't until ___."
  • Linda said: "I realized over time that it was okay to say no to extra responsibilities that took away from student hours or took up my personal time. I make sure I do one school-wide activity that doesn't take up too much time. That way I can say, "I'm sorry, I'm already signed up for ___ and I can't fit anything else in now."

5-Ways time-starved SLPs can say NO at work, when you just can't fit in one more thing. #speechsprouts #slporganization


Don't forget to say "yes" sometimes too.

It's good to pitch in sometimes. You want to be valued, appreciated and respected. It might even be fun to participate. Say "yes" when it fits in with your schedule. Just be sure to pick and choose based on your workload. 

 I'd love to hear how you've said "No" to the overload when you needed to. Leave a comment and let's cheer each other on.

Hang in there!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

5 Best-Ever Thanksgiving Books for Preschool Speech Therapy

 5 Best Books and activities or preschool and kindergarten speech therapy #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #thanksgiving #storybooks #sped #preschool

Storybooks are a huge part of my no-stress turkey week plan.

Storybooks are no-prep, rich with language and articulation opportunities, and just plain fun. They are versatile and can address a ton of goals. They're free if you borrow from the library or inexpensive if you purchase them, and are so easy to tote around from school to school if you travel. 

All of this makes them my go-to when I need a simple but effective plan for therapy.  


So how do you get the most out of your picture books in your therapy sessions?

Choose great books and read with intentional strategies! 

Story-book reading strategies to maximize speech and language opportunities:

  • Be expressive and use different voices as you read to engage the children.
  • Read the book multiple times over several sessions. Focus on different story elements each time. This increases understanding of vocabulary and content, helps boost story-retelling skills and allows you to hit numerous different targets with just one activity. 
  • Stop often during your reading to point out things in the pictures or text and discuss. 
  • Comment and ask open-ended questions to get the most language from children. Don't rely mainly on yes-no or What is it? questions. "Is he "scared?" will get you a one-word response. "Tell me about this picture." or "I wonder what he's thinking about?" will get you longer, more complex sentences. 
  • Connect new vocabulary to pre-existing knowledge A badger is a forest animal. What other animals live in the forest? Who do you think is bigger, a fox or a badger?
  • Be silly and "get it wrong" sometimes so the children can correct you. My preschoolers love that, and we get lots of giggles. 
  • Follow up each reading with hands-on or movement activities. For Thanksgiving, you can talk about dinner food and relatives or name and describe farm animals: Show me how a turkey waddles. How does a horse move? How are they the same? Different? Does a sheep say moo? What do you think they eat? (You'll probably get some interesting responses from your littles with that one). 

5 favorite picture books for the week before Thanksgiving

Turkey Trouble by Wendy Silvano 

Turkey is trying to hide before Thanksgiving by disguising himself. Plenty of farm animals and plenty of /k/ and /g/ practice (gobble, turkey)  

Bear Gives Thanks by Karma Wilson 

I love the rhyming text and forest animal vocabulary such as hare, lair and badger. Lots to talk about!

Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving by Dav Pilky

The children are on a field trip to the farm and decide they must save the turkeys and they smuggle the turkeys onto the bus. So fun!

A Plump and Perky Turkey by Teresa Bateman

Will the people find a turkey for Thanksgiving? Lots of rhyming text and fun.

There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey by Lucille Colandro

If you're a fan of the "Old Lady" books, you'll love this one too. This book repeats "There was an old lady who swallowed a ____."  It's terrific for repetitive articulation practice at the reading level: Plenty of voiced th, final /z/, initial /l/ and the /sw/ blend practice. 


Tip: I'm all about buying the book, but if you just can't lay your hands on one, you can check the read-alouds on YouTube. 

Try some hands-on activities after reading your favorite Thanksgiving picture book


See how to use a farm set like this one in speech therapy to extend your preschool Thanksgiving picture-book readings. 5 Best-Ever Thanksgiving Picture Books  and activities for Preschool Speech Therapy #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool #Thanksgiving #speechandlanguage
Play with a farm set to boost language skills in speech therapy. 

Make play dough pies, play with a farm set (The one above has been well-loved by numerous preschoolers), draw the character or events, or act out the story. SLPs know how to sneak language opportunities in nearly any activity!  

Here's a fun build-a-turkey game You can download in my store- and it's free!  Please leave a comment in my store after downloading, I love hearing from you!
Click HERE to go download.

Picture Books and activities for Thanksgiving speech therapy .FREE Build-a-Turkey Thanksgiving game for kids. Open-ended fun in speech therapy or small groups.Collect all the turkey parts to win! Includes Thanksgiving language quick lists.#speechsprouts #speechtherapy #thanksgiving #preschool #kindergarten #thanksgiving game
Build-a-Turkey Thanksgiving speech therapy game


Follow up with songs and fingerplays. This post has you covered with plenty of suggestions: 


14 Songs and Fingerplays for Fall in Preschool Speech Therapy. 


Ready for some simple print and go activities to cover your entire PK and elementary caseload? 


These are my favorite 3 activities for turkey week, after the storybooks of course! Click the links to see more about them.


Thanksgiving  picture books and activities for preschool and elementary-Thanksgiving Bingo Riddles game! Practice inferencing and learn Thanksgiving vocabulary with this favorite activity. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Thanksgiving #Thanksgivinggame
 Thanksgiving Bingo Riddles Game


Thanksgiving Bingo Riddles has 28 boards, so it's terrific for doing small or large groups. In those activity-filled days leading up to the holiday. There are lots of ways to target your goals with this one activity. It's awesome for doubling up groups and getting in some make-up therapy too.

Go no-prep with this versatile Thanksgiving pack:


Thanksgiving preschool picture books and great ideas for turkey week! Go no-prep with activities like this color by number page. Thanksgiving speech therapy activities for those tricky mixed groups. Includes Thanksgiving wh question and Yes-No question Quick Lists.  #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #slp  #sped #preschool #kindergarten #Thanksgiving
Try these open-ended activities with quick lists for an easy-breezy turkey week!

No Prep Thanksgiving Speech Therapy Mixed Group Magic. This no-prep pack is stuffed full of a huge selection of open-ended, print and go Thanksgiving activities. Also included are Thanksgiving-themed yes-no and WH question quick lists. What are Quick lists? Click to go check 'em out!

Finally, while this set does require some prep, it's always a huge hit with my littles!

5 Best Thanksgiving storybooks plus activities for preschool and elementary speech therapy. Read the books, then grab an activity like this Five Little Turkeys interactive book. It comes with plenty of language activities for an entire no-stress turkey week! #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #slp  #sped #preschool #kindergarten #Thanksgiving
Five Little Turkeys Thanksgiving Activities.


Five Little Turkeys Thanksgiving Speech Therapy Activities.
I use the printed interactive book one day, then show on the smartboard or tablet the next session.  There are plenty of activities to last you a week or more with your wiggly preschoolers.


For more Thanksgiving speech therapy ideas, visit this Pinterest Board: Thanksgiving Speech Therapy Activities. 

I am thankful this week

 For family and friends. It's been a special week for my family with the birth of my first grandchild! 

 

I'm also so grateful and humbled to have been blessed with the opportunity to share my passion for helping children build their communication skills with you, my friends. And to help SLPs and parents make our crazy life a little less stressed, and a little more joyful.


Blessing to you and yours my friends. Have a great week!

Sunday, November 3, 2019

3 Time-saving Hacks for SLPs I'll Bet You Don't Know.




3 Time-saving hacks for SLPs I'll bet you didn't know  #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #slporganization  #productivity
Discover hidden features of  Microsoft Office- hacks that will help SLPs get work done faster!


I was so excited when I figured out these time-saving hacks!

Of course, the first thing I wanted to do was share it with you.  If you use Microsoft Word and Office at work, you'll love this.


Do you find yourself typing certain things over and over each time you do an email notice or write a report?

I'm responsible for sending out annual IEP meeting notices (we call them ARDS in Texas) to parents and staff. Today I was looking over my list and emailed six parents their notices. 
I typed the same text in each email... 
"Dear Parent, 
Enclosed is an invitation to your child's ARD meeting. Please reply and let us know if you will be attending or if you need a change in date or time. You'll need the password XYZ to open the invitation. We look forward to seeing you."

Repetitive tasks are such a time-waster. And boring.

 I've tried keeping a Word document on my desktop with blurbs that I can copy and paste from, but that's a fairly awkward system. I have to open the document, copy, navigate back to my email, paste. I'm thinking... there must be a better way.

Eureka! I found these fast and easy hacks to speed up those repetitive tasks.

I did a happy dance when I figured this one out. Woohoo, uh, huh, alright!

Maybe you're emailing meeting notices, reminders, or any other repetitive type message. 

1. Do you know you can create an email template in Microsoft Outlook?

If your email doesn't change much each time you send it, this is for you. If you're using Office 2010 or newer, here's how:

  1. Go to your Home tab. 
  2. Find New group and click New E-mail. OR try the keyboard shortcut CTRL+SHIFT+M
  3. Type the message you want. 
  4. Click File, then Save As
  5. In the Save as Type list, click Outlook Template
  6. Type a name for your template in the File Name box and Save.
You now have a template you can pull up that's pre-filled with your specified text. Don't worry, you can tweak it a bit or add anything to it you need to, such as editing or adding names, dates or times.

Here's how to use your email template:

  1. Click New Items-More Items-Choose Form
  2. Click Look In- click User Templates in File System. This opens the default template location. If you saved to another location, just browse for it by your template name.
  3. Find your template and open it.
Now just make any needed tweaks and send.

2. AutoCorrect


Want to automatically use a snippet without having to click and find it? Set it up in auto-correct. This can be particularly useful for snippets you use all the time. You'll be able to just type a keyword/name and your snippet will automatically replace it. Love this. Really.


Here's how:
  1. Go to File-Options-Proofing
  2. Click AutoCorrect Options
  3. A box will pop up. Check the box that says Replace Text as you type
  4. Under Replace, type the text you want to trigger the autocorrect feature. (You may want to make this something that you wouldn't ordinarily type for other reasons such as "Hello Parent" or DNQ1, so it doesn't autocorrect when you don't need it to.)
  5. In the box that says With, type the text that you want to appear in your document when the autocorrect is triggered.
  6. Select Add, OK and OK again.

What can you use autocorrect for?

There are tons of ways to use this feature. 

How about if you start typing your title, Speech-Lan and the text Speech-Language Pathologist pops up automatically? Awesome!  Other ideas for items you'll never fully have to type out in Microsoft Office again:

  1. Your official title
  2. Your school name
  3. Your email address
  4. Your signature
  5. Notices
  6. Blurbs in Reports
  7. Repetitive instructions
  8. Format of IEP goals (For instance, I start my goals with "Within 36 instructional weeks." I'm going to autocorrect the text "Within 36" to type out the whole blurb super fast!
  9. And how about those typos/ misspellings that you are frequently guilty of? Add 'em to autocorrect!

3. Autotext

This feature is super-handy too. Automatically insert a text snippet you define in documents or emails. This feature goes beyond Autocorrect because you can store your formatting, line breaks, and even graphics. It's autocorrect supercharged!

This works for Word for Office 365, and Microsoft Word versions 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, and 2019.

Here's how:

  1. Type out the text you want to re-use for your snippet (or you can even insert a graphic)
  2. Press Alt+F3 and a Create New Building Block dialogue box will open. (Who knew this was there? Not me.)
  3. You can use the defaults, but you may want to add a name and description to make it easier for you to find. (I'd keep the name short but meaningful to you.)
  4. To use your new auto-text snippet, Go to Insert-Quick Parts-Autotext and choose your snippet 
  5. OR even faster:  Put your cursor where you want your autotext, then type the name of your autotext. Press F3.  

This is seriously amazing. You might want to keep a list of your autotext names handy if you create a lot of them, so you don't forget them.

What can SLPs use Auto text for? 

  1. Notices
  2. Blurbs in reports
  3. Repetitive instructions
  4. Email reminders: meetings, paperwork due, items needed from staff for evals, parent updates.
  5. Including your photo or school mascot in signatures

Note: Don't use these features to store confidential information

Once established, autocorrect, autotext and email templates are available to anyone using your computer, or that you share the document with. So be sure you don't store anything confidential that you wouldn't want to share. 


Give it a Whirl! 

I think you'll love saving time with these hacks. Leave me a comment if you give it a try. I'd love to hear how these hacks make your SLP easier! Know any other great shortcuts? Share those too.

3 Time-saving hacks for SLPs I'll bet you didn't know  #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #slporganization  #productivity


Until next time,

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

5 Pumpkin Books That Will Delight Your Preschoolers in Speech Therapy

October means pumpkins, and I've rounded up some great ideas for your pumpkin theme in speech therapy.

5 terrific pumpkin-themed books and activities for preschool speech therapy this fall. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #speechandlanguage #fall #pumpkins #preschool


You'll score points with your preschoolers with this popular theme, so be sure to try a few language-boosting, seasonal activities featuring pumpkins!

Pumpkins abound in October. Our kids see them at the grocery store, the local pumpkin patch and maybe even greeting visitors at their front door.

What preschooler doesn't want to take home a bright orange pumpkin? That makes them a fabulous theme for activating and expanding on a child's background knowledge while building vocabulary and having a whole lot of fun. Plus, it's not shabby for practicing initial /p/ and either!

Perfect Pumpkin Books for Preschool

1. It's Pumpkin Time!

5 terrific pumpkin-themed books and activities for preschool speech therapy this fall. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #speechandlanguage #fall #pumpkins #preschool
It's Pumpkin Time by Zoe Hall


This sweet book by Zoe Hall talks about a brother and sister getting ready for Halloween by planting their own pumpkin patch and growing their own pumpkins. It's great for garden vocabulary and sequencing.

See It's Pumpkin Time! read aloud here.

We made these paper jack-o-lanterns after reading the book. 


Step by Step directions to make a paper Jack-o-Lantern- plus more terrific pumpkin-themed books and activities for preschool speech therapy this fall. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #speechandlanguage #fall #pumpkincraft, #preschool
Make a paper Jack-o-Lantern and learn body part vocabulary and shapes


All you need is construction paper, scissors, markers and glue for this easy craft. Give each child a pumpkin and have them add one part of the face each time you practice their goals.

For very young students, you may want to pre-cut the pumpkins and some of the parts. It doesn't take very long if you cut several sheets of construction paper at once. Drawing the "ribs" with the orange marker made them look even better! If you do this with older children, they'll have fun cutting out the mouth, eyes, nose, and teeth themselves.


2. The Legend of Spookly the Square Pumpkin

by Joe Troiano

Spookly isn't so sure he's happy being a square pumpkin until there was a big storm that tossed the round pumpkins everywhere! It turns out being square can be really great and Spookly saves the day.

Why it's fabulous for speech therapy:


  •  The words "Spookly and "square" are repeated throughout the book for plenty of s-blends practice.
  • There's a ton of opportunities for regular past-tense practice: "He teetered, he tottered, he tripped, he tried. He flipped, he tipped, flopped, stopped, rolled, piled and picked, 
  • The book has plenty of shape vocabulary practice too: round and square, rectangular, triangular.
  • The sweet message that it's okay and actually cool to be different!

See The Legend of Spookly the Square Pumpkin read aloud here.

To go with the book, try this simple Spookly the Square Pumpkin Craft from Things to Remember. All you need is construction paper, glue and wiggle eyes. It's colorful, fun and easy enough for your youngest children if you pre-cut the squares. Older children will have fun cutting their own.


3. The Bumpy Little Pumpkin

By Marjorie Cuyler

A little girl picks a small bumpy pumpkin to take home. But is it too bumpy and ugly for a jack-o-lantern? Not with the help of her forest friends!

Why it's great for speech therapy:


  • This story repeats the word "big" over and over, giving you plenty of opportunities to practice final /g/.  
  • It's full of describing words, round, fat, tall, skinny, bumpy, smooth, lumpy.

See The Bumpy Little Pumpkin read aloud here.

Follow up by making your own "bumpy" little pumpkins from play dough, wiggle eyes, pipe cleaners, and pony beads. Visit I Heart Crafty Things to see how cute they can turn out!


4. The Runaway Pumpkin

by Kevin Lewis

A giant pumpkin on the hill gets loose and rolls down the hillside with a thumpity bumpity sound! It rolls over the pigs, the chickens, and even Grandpa Baxter creating a disaster! Until...Papa Baxter knows what to do to stop it. And you can be sure Granny knows what to do with that giant pumpkin too.

Here's why I love it:

This book has lots of thumpin, bumpin rhyming words! I also like this book for sequencing and prediction. What will happen when it rolls down the hill? What will Granny make with it?

See the Runaway Pumpkin read aloud here.

After reading, play with pumpkin slime that smells just like pumpkin pie! 

You can describe how it looks, feels and moves. What can you make with pumpkins? You can ooze some slime into mini muffin tins and pretend to "bake" them for extra fun!

See the Pumpkin slime recipe here at Growing a Jeweled Rose.


5. Pumpkin Trouble

By Jan Thomas

Duck finds the perfect pumpkin and starts to carve it into a jack-o-lantern. Oops! He falls in and gets stuck. Pig and mouse are too scared to help him, they think he's a pumpkin monster! How will he get out?

Make this easy feed the pumpkin activity and your preschoolers will be delighted to practice and feed him their cards this fall. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #speechandlanguage #fall #pumpkins #preschool
Make this feed-the-pumpkin activity and preschoolers will love to practice!

See Pumpkin Trouble read aloud HERE.

Why not Feed the Jack-o-Lantern after reading this story?

This guy was easy to make.
  1. Design your pumpkin from construction paper.
  2. Hot glue the pumpkin the bottom of an empty tissue box  (standing on its side). 
  3. Be sure the mouth is centered on the tissue box.
  4. Use a craft knife to cut a slit through the mouth and box behind it to slide your cards through.
Your kiddos can now feed the pumpkin as they practice their goals! The tissue box will make him stand up, and you can retrieve the cards through the tissue opening in the back of the box.

Want more pumpkin activities?

I have two resources chock full of pumpkin activities that target multiple goals so you can plan out at least 2 weeks of therapy!


This resource is perfect for a fall harvest theme- there are no Halloween references in this set! It includes an interactive story for your tablet, plus plenty of pumpkin activities for Where? questions, position, size and quantity concepts, following directions, matching, vocabulary and more. Send home the mini-book for extra practice!




Five Little Pumpkins are ready for some Halloween fun! This favorite rhyme unit has oodles of pumpkin activities to practice WH questions, story-retelling, sequencing, naming to a description, rhyming, size concepts, matching, phonological awareness and of course plenty of lip-popping /p/ sounds.

Repeated practice makes a huge difference in some children's ability to participate or re-tell the story, so this unit offers multiple formats and opportunities to engage with the story: a paperless no-prep PowerPoint story, story-telling magnet board pieces, an interactive book, BW send-home mini-books.

5 Pumpkin Theme Books and activities for preschool speech therapy including this Five Little Pumpkins story-telling pieces activity. #speechsprouts #preschool #speechtherapy #fall
Five Little Pumpkins magnet board story-telling pieces

I love introducing this rhyme and fingerplay with the no-print PowerPoint story shown on my interactive whiteboard or on my laptop.

Next,, we follow up with the hands-on interactive book and my little ones love moving the detachable pumpkins as we repeat the rhyme together. With 15 more activities included, you can easily have 4-6 sessions of therapy planned out with this unit.

This Five Little Pumpkins speech and language activities dough mat is one activity in this pumpkin-filled  speech and language resource for preschoolers. Click to find more great activities and pumpkin books for October. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #speechandlanguage #Halloween #preschool
Five Little Pumpkins dough mat

Find Five Little Pumpkins Speech and Language Activities in my shop HERE


I hope you enjoy some pumpkin fun with your preschoolers!


If you haven't already, you definitely should check out at this post for more great autumn-themed ideas for preschool: 14 Fall Songs and Fingerplays for Fall in Preschool Speech Therapy.

An easy way to remember the ideas you love is to pin the pics to your Pinterest boards. 

Happy October, friends!


Sunday, September 22, 2019

3 Easy Ways to Take Articulation Data at the Conversational Level

3 easy ways to take articulation data in speech therapy at the conversational level. Great tips for speech-language pathogists .#speechsprouts  #speechandlanguage #speechtherapy  #articulation

Taking articulation data at the conversational level in speech therapy sessions can be a challenge.

Let's get real... the flow of conversation doesn't pause after each word or sentence to let you document. Taking data at the word and sentence levels is easy because each attempt is a discrete trial and you have time to record each response before you move on. But that's not how conversation works.


So how can you take data in conversation?

First of all, you'll make yourself crazy if you try to track too many things at once especially if you have a group speech therapy session.

Pick just one phoneme to take data on per session (if everyone is working on the same phoneme) or pick one student to track at a time. Otherwise, it's too confusing trying to shift your focus. 

You can track one student for a whole session or each student for five minutes before moving to the next student.


Try these data-taking methods, and see which one works best for you in conversation.


1. Use tallies instead of pluses and minuses

There's the tried and true method of recording pluses and minuses, but writing 10 pluses and minuses actually takes more time than marking a tally and more room on your datasheet.  

Instead, make a plus column and a minus column, then tally each time you hear the target sound. I stop when we hit 10 or 20 tallies per sound.  The trick here is to record in just two columns at a time. Do not take data separately for each word position. By the time a student has progressed to the conversational level, you can track the phoneme, no matter what word position. 


2. Count correct/incorrect sentences instead of each word. 


You'll need to write your goals that way for this one. Something like:  In conversation, the student will correctly pronounce 80% of sentences that contain the ___ phoneme.


3. The bingo chip method- this one is my favorite!

I lay 10 or 20 bingo chips out in a row in front of the student. I tell the student that every time I hear a sound in conversation that needs to be fixed, I get one chip. Let's see who has the most chips at the end of the session.

As we talk, when I hear an error, I silently pull one chip towards me. It doesn't interrupt the flow of conversation and doesn't require verbal cueing. Plus, it's amazing how highly motivated students get because they want to keep as many chips as possible. They almost always perk right up when I snag the first chip and they start self-monitoring!


3 easy ways to take articulation data in speech therapy at the conversational level. Great tips for speech-language pathogists .#speechsprouts  #speechandlanguage #speechtherapy  #articulation

Bonus- at the end of the session, it's easy to count how many chips your student has left and get a percentage.

Taking data is really not my favorite thing to do, but with a few smart tricks, it can be less intrusive and distracting during your session.


What's your favorite data-taking method in your speech therapy sessions?


If you have a good one, share in a comment! We'd love to hear it. 

Until next time, 





Friday, August 16, 2019

How to Swap Crazy for Zen in Speech Therapy

Mixed groups can get a bit crazy sometimes in speech therapy

Zen coloring articulation activities for r, l, s and th sounds in mixed group speech therapy sessions that are calm and engaged. Elementary and middle school kids love coloring the beautiful patterns on these printables, and they are no-prep for you! #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #articulation #noprep
No-prep printables perfect for mixed articulation groups in speech therapy.

We've all had 'em if you are a school-based speech-language pathologist. The challenges are real, especially as groups grow larger. And they are, with so many school settings tossing crazy high caseloads at SLPs. (But that's another topic I could spend a day on. Grrr.)

 Does this sound familiar? You have three or four or...gulp!.. five or more kiddos head your way for a session of working on articulation with maybe one or two of the kids with language goals as well. These children are antsy after doing work for the better part of the day. Quietly. With no talking.

So now you're asking them to drill, then quietly wait as you take a turn with each of the other students in the group?


Yeah... not going to happen without a plan. Nope! So what do you do? I shared a bunch of great ideas in this post, Three Sure-Fire Secrets to Solving Mixed Group Madness.

I talked about three rules:
1. Reduce wait time and keep kids busy between turns.
2. Don't make kids wait as you shuffle a pile of prompts trying to find the right list for the next student.
3. Have a data-taking method that's quick and simple to.... you guessed it...reduce wait time.

Sensing a theme here? Wait time is your enemy.


You need an activity that keeps kids actively engaged, but won't eat up speech therapy time.

I love quick-play games, playdough, slime, and puzzles. Something to keep hands busy as others in the group take a turn practicing. Ordinary coloring sheets are fun for little ones, but my older students get bored with those.

 So how about kicking it up a notch for your older students in elementary or middle school? 

My second through fourth graders love coloring intricate patterns...even the boys.


Zen coloring articulation activities for s and th sounds in mixed group speech therapy sessions that are calm and engaged. Elementary and middle school kids love coloring the beautiful patterns on these printables, and they are no-prep for you! #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #articulation #noprep
No-prep Zen articulation activities for S and Th sounds

So when I saw these amazing Zen letters, I knew I had to create Zen articulation activities for you. There are three gorgeous patterns: paisley, flowers and hearts. I sprinkled all 3 in each pack, so kids would have a choice of patterns. Or choose a different one each session.

They are so fun to color, and kids absolutely love them.  A quiet, highly engaging, calm activity? Check!

  A few more reasons these work really well in mixed groups...

You need all your prompts handy and easy to find so there's no hunting and shuffling around for the right one.


Here's the challenge in speech therapy groups...You may have one student working on medial /l/ at the word level, another one on sentence-level vocalic r and a third on final voiced 'th' at the phrase level. Everybody's working on something different!

When you start digging for the right prompt, you run the risk of losing the kids as they wait... and that's when those off-task behaviors kick in. Reduce idle wait time! (Yep, that's my mantra for mixed groups.)

These no-prep pages make that super simple for you. Just pull a page with the right phoneme for each student's goals.

Stay organized with word, phrase and sentence level prompts all on each page.


Zen coloring articulation activity for vocalic R practice in speech therapy. These no-prep printables are perfect in mixed groups. Click to see more!  #speechsprouts #articulation #speechtherapy #noprep
Vocalic R Articulation Zen coloring

Super convenient, because you can address any level with a single page.

I like to have my sentence-level kiddos warm up on the word and phrase levels, before taking data on the sentence level prompts.

For kiddos that have mastered sentence level, there are also sound-loaded challenge pages with 4-5 target words per sentence.

Sound-loaded printable articulation activities for vocalic r sounds.  Swap the crazy in mixed group speech therapy sessions for calm and Zen. Elementary and middle school kids love coloring the beautiful patterns and they are no-prep for you! Click to check it out. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #articulation #noprep
Sound-loaded practice provides extra challenge.

Tip:  I find when you use coloring pages printed on an inkjet printer,  the black lines sometimes smear a bit when using markers. Pages off the office copier don't seem to as much. If you find they smear, just use colored pencils instead.

What about working on language goals with this activity?


Will that work? Absolutely. Here are a few ways to work in language practice when you have a mixed group with both articulation and language goals.
  1. Define the word. 
  2. What category?  (If it's a noun)
  3. Use the word in a sentence.
  4. Tell an adjective/ adverb to describe the word, and use it in a sentence. (Prompt: ran. Answer: ran quickly)
  5. Provide a synonym/antonym for the word.
  6. Does the word have any other meanings?

Have fun with this Zen coloring bundle! Articulation practice of r, l, s and th sounds that's perfect for mixed group speech therapy activities.. Elementary and middle school kids love coloring the fun patterns on these no-prep printables. Click to see more. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #articulation #noprep
No-Prep Zen Articulation Bundle

To make tackling those mixed groups easier, I bundled my Zen Articulation sets together for these phonemes:
  • L
  • L-Blends
  • S
  • S-Blends
  • Initial R
  • R-Blends
  • Vocalic R
  • Voiced Th and Voiceless Th coloring pages.


You might even find yourself coloring the beautiful patterns too. 


Can you resist? I couldn't. So grab the colored pencils. It's fun. And relaxing.

I hope you give it a try! You can check out the bundle HERE.  Have fun.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

17 Genius Ideas to Organize Your Speech Therapy Room


Speech Therapy Room Organization Can be Challenging!


Many SLP's are given small spaces to work in, sometimes practically minuscule, especially in schools. Combine that with the fact that you need storage for a  huge variety of materials... because we see a myriad of students at different levels and different needs.

If you're like me, you want to be able to offer hands-on activities to engage children as you work on those speech therapy goals. Games, crafts, sensory bins, toys all need a place. Then there's your cards, books, worksheets and... if you're lucky a tablet or two. Plus, don't forget all those office supplies that are essential to cranking out the required paperwork.

So, because we all need a little speech room inspiration, I've gathered up 17 genius ideas from SLPs and teachers to make your organization quest a bit easier! Here you go:

Note: I've provided suggested links to where you can purchase some of these items for your convenience, so you can see what the items look like. They are not affiliate links, and I'm not receiving any compensation for providing them- just hope it's helpful!

Organizing your office space:


Organize your computer cords. Great idea for organizing your office space. from www.landeeseelandeedo.com

1. Cords: Label your cords with Washi tape and manage that tangle of computer cables with this pretty and practical solution from Landeelu. When I leave for the summer, I'm required to unplug all the cords and cables to my computer and other devices. That usually results in a tangled nightmare when I get back! "Where does this cord go?" is a frustrating game I'll no longer need to play with this tip.

2. Forms: Store frequently needed forms in a letter-sized pocket wall organizer like this one at Walmart. I have this filled with papers I frequently need to grab: therapy logs (if you keep yours on paper), baseline forms, screeners to send to teachers, parent handouts, welcome letters and supply lists for new students.

3. Files: Use color-coded dividers in your file cabinet to organize your workflow. You can purchase pretty ones, or simply label and laminate construction paper.


Organize your speech therapy files with colored and labeled dividers by your workflow. This way you can see what needs to be done at a glance. Read more speech room organization tips at www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #organization #speechroom
Organize your workflow with colored file dividers

4. Clean keyboards: Here's a neat trick- before you toss out those old sticky notes, run them between your keys on your keyboard to clean out the dust and... crumbs.  Yeah, unfortunately, it's true, I do eat over my computer at lunch.

Do you know this sticky note hack?  Read more speech room organization tips at www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #organization #speechroom
Use a sticky note to clean  between your keyboard keys


5. Office supplies: Organize office and therapy supplies in a toolbox, especially if you have no room for a desk in your small space. Label each drawer yourself or find plenty of cute pre-made labels that are editable on TpT.

Organizing Your Therapy Materials:


Organize your speech therapy articulation activities, cards and worksheets for each phoneme in a bin. Easy to grab and go! Read more speech room organization tips at www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #organization #speechroom
Articulation bins organized by phoneme

6. Printable Materials can be stored by theme or skills. Store them in clear plastic bins so you can easily see what you have. I use large bins for themed packs. I love the bins above for organizing my articulation materials.


How to store and organize your Teachers pay Teachers products plus more speech room organization tips at www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #organization #speechroom #teacherspayteachers
Use poly envelopes and binder clips to organize Teachers pay Teachers materials

7. My TpT Materials live in these in poly envelopes (above). TpT materials may include cards and manipulatives combined with page-size printables. Poly envelopes can handle cards, dice, booklets and more, plus they're clear so you can easily see the contents and find what you need. I love binder clips to keep card packs together. Keep the filled envelopes in your file cabinet or in bins.

8. Sensory Bins: Sand, beads, pompoms, noodles, oh my! Separate your materials into clear plastic tubs or recloseable bags. Collect materials that can be used for multiple themes to cut down on how much you need to store.

9. Games: Keep these in a cabinet or behind a curtain. This cuts down on begging for a specific game when you have another activity in mind! Put open-ended games together, and games that address specific skills together. Note: If you are really space-challenged, keep just the basics in your room, and bring games from home as you need them.

Ways to store card decks:



Store your speech therapy articulation and language card sets in labeled photo storage boxes. Read more speech room organization tips at www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #organization #speechroom
Photo boxes are great for storing cards in speech therapy


10. Store cards in a photo storage case like the one above from Michael's or Walmart. These also come in clear if you want to easily see the contents. These will often fit two packs of cards per box. Clip each pack with binder clips to keep them together.  Add labels so you can find what you need.

11.  Store cards in a hanging shoe organizer.

12. Hole punch frequently used cards and prompts and store them on a binder ring. If you have a metal bookcase or file cabinets near your therapy table, hang 'em there on magnetic utility hooks.

Organizing Books:

 13. Use ice cube bins like this one at Target as a cheaper alternative to book bins. I like to organize many of my books by theme, so it's easy to grab and go. Add a cute label to the front of the bin and you are good to go!

14. Organize storybooks alphabetically on a shelf. I do this for the books I use for multiple goals or themes. This way, they're easy to find by the title. Use paint sticks or simply laminated paper like this.

Organize your storybooks alphabetically in your speech therapy room and use dividers to easily find the titles. Read more speech room organization tips at www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #organization #speechroom
Alphabetize your storybooks so you can find them by title

Organizing Arts and Crafts Materials:


15. GlueMake a couple of glue sponges. Click the link to see how Lucky Little Learners does it.  Ditch the bottles of white glue and all those glue sticks that your preschoolers mash into their papers and keep these instead. Way less mess, and will last you for months.


Great idea for storing tempera paint! Read more speech room organization tips at www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #organization #speechroom
Store paint in ketchup bottles

16. Paint: If you use tempera paint with your kiddos, you'll only want to store small amounts to work with. Empty ketchup bottles make great containers for this.

17. Construction Paper: Store construction paper and card stock in hanging file folders in your file cabinet or a bin. A paper organizer on your shelf (if you have room) or hanging pocket chart also works well.

A few more great organizational tips:


  • Keep things you use the most within reach.
  • Keep only the most needed folders and papers on your desk.
  • Use your wall space to your advantage: hang supplies and materials.
  • File things weekly or better yet daily so your desk doesn't get piled up.
  • Purge old files!  If you don't need it forever, mark on files when it can be tossed or shredded. 

I hope you found a few ideas you love to help you feel organized in your speech room.

Here are a couple more posts you may enjoy while you're in an "organizing" frame of mind!



If you have great ideas, leave them in the comments, I'd love to hear them!


Follow my Organize Your Speech Room Pinterest Board for more organization and inspiration ideas, and pin the ones you like for later, so you can find them.

Until next time my friends,