Sunday, December 9, 2018

15 Last-Minute Speech Therapy Games and Ideas for a No-Prep Christmas

Make a Santa cup stacking game. Just one of the fun last-minute games and ideas for stress-free, no-prep speech therapy sessions this Christmas! #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Christmas #speechandlanguage

No-prep speech therapy Christmas games and ideas that will put a twinkle in your eye!

Christmas is jolly. It's also hectic and exhausting. There are schedule changes, special holiday programs, progress reports, and evaluations to wrap up... you get the picture. So how to stay merry? I say keep it simple and go no-prep. (Or at least low-prep!)

No-prep activities can include printables, but also books, games, simple crafts, digital activities, you-tube videos and more.

Leave me a comment if you try some of these ideas, and tell me your favorite activities too!


Christmas Story Books for Speech Therapy

Head to the library or your bookshelf for your favorite Christmas stories.  If you can't find a copy, search to see if there is a good read-aloud on YouTube. You'll want to preview the YouTube videos because some are great, and well..others are pretty bad!

Find a video where you can see the book. One without camera shake and one where the narrator reads well, but not too fast. Tip: Sometimes I turn off the volume and read them myself.

 Here are a few books that are fun for your PK through elementary students. Read the book, practice articulation words as you find them, talk about the story and characters, answer wh question... you know what to do! Books are a goldmine of opportunities for speech and language practice.

These YouTube links are good as of Christmas 2018. If you find one is not working in the future, do your own search, you're sure to find more. 

Stack-em and Knock-em Down Santa Cups. Okay, I realize that adding the belt and buckle to the cups above (The red ones above were painted) is a bit of prep, but it's not required. Your kids will have just as much fun stacking red and green cups in a pattern. Use styrofoam balls to toss or bowl, or even wadded up paper will work. Answer a question, get a cup, when they're all stacked you knock 'em down.

Snowball Toss. Turn the cups open-side up, get out some cotton balls and toss. For more fun, mark the cups with point values. Students earn cotton balls for answers. Or... if you don't mind a bit of noise, use jingle bells to toss instead!

Jingle Bell or (Pom-pom) Tic-Tac-Toe Grab two colors of jingle bells, draw a quick tic tac toe grid and you are set.

Play Bingo Riddles

Solve the rhyming riddles to play this Christmas speech therapy bingo game! Fun inference, vocabulary and listening practice. Just one of the easy no-prep ideas for no-stress last-minute Christmas speech therapy sessions! #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Christmas #speechandlanguage
Christmas Bingo Riddles

Christmas Bingo Riddles: This is my holiday must-have! Always a hit, children love it because this bingo game is kicked up a notch with rhyming riddles to solve. We target vocabulary, listening, inference and rhyme, plus we practice articulation as the words come up. You can print out and laminate (prep) or simply print the BW version for no-prep play.

I love that I can gather up large groups to do make-up therapy with Bingo Riddles or do I can do in-class therapy too. (There are 28 boards) And it's just plain fun!

If you love Bingo Riddles and want to check out my other games, you can find all my Bingo Riddles HERE


Christmas Crafts for Speech Therapy


Easy Candy Cane Craft using a pipe cleaner and pony beads: Perfect no-prep Christmas activity in speech therapy #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Christmas #speechandlanguage


If you want to send home a tree ornament, try this Pony Bead Candy Cane. You'll need a pipe cleaner and red and white beads.  Each response gets a bead or two to add to their pipe cleaner. You can also work on requesting: "I need a red bead, please."

If you've pulled out the pony beads, grab a can of green play dough and a Christmas tree cookie cutter. Now you're ready to make Pony Bead Christmas Trees. Cut out a tree and give your students beads to decorate with after each response... it's just that quick and easy!

How about a two-item craft? Try this Ripped Paper Christmas Tree Craft from Totsfamily.com You just need construction paper and glue. Label each strip with a prompt if you like, or just practice, then add a strip.

Try Paper Onion Christmas Ornaments for your older students. Paper, scissors, a ruler, binder clip and a stapler and you're ready to go. They are so pretty and you can have your students write artic words, irregular verbs or antonyms/synonyms on the paper strips.

Make an Articulation Word Candy Cane with red and white paper. So cute and fun. You could pre-make the word strips to go on the canes, but I say no-prep, please! Just write the word as the student says it, then give the paper strip to the student to glue.




 

Christmas No-Prep Resources

I have many resources in my store that are ready for your no-prep speech therapy sessions. Watch the video above for a quick peek!

Following directions activities for Christmas speech therapy! Interactive, no-print fun for tablet, whiteboard or computer, or you can print it out as cards. Leveled activities with 1-3 elements: size, color and Christmas objects. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Christmas #speechandlanguage #followingdirections #sped
No-Print Christmas Following Directions

Christmas Following Directions  This is a great interactive activity for your tablet, computer or interactive whiteboard. You can also print it as cards. Follow directions with color, size, and object to find the Christmas item named. Choose 1, 2, or 3 elements to modify the difficulty as children advance. It also includes a fun motivational trim the tree activity every few slides to keep your students engaged.


This Gingerbread Dot marker activity is just one of 58 No-prep Christmas speech therapy activities perfect for mixed groups. Print and go open-ended fun with puzzles, color by number, mystery squares and more for PK-4th grade. Includes Christmas questions Quick Lists. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Christmas #speechandlanguage #whquestions
No-Prep Christmas Speech Therapy Activities

Mixed Group Magic: No-Prep Christmas Speech Therapy Activities  Use any activity (and there are 58 different activities in this pack, for a range of ages!) with any goal, making it perfect for managing your mixed groups. These can be open-ended activities or customize for each student by adding a short list of prompts to the page. No more shuffling cards and pages.

Activities include puzzles, color by number, dot marker,  mystery squares and more plus Christmas themed WH and Yes/No question Quick Lists are included. (additional Quick Lists are also available) Or... just write in your own prompts.


Teach the basic concepts of same and different with these fun Reindeer task cards in speech therapy this Christmas. It's interactive fun as a clothespin task, dot marker activity or hole punch the reindeer's nose! Includes a BW mini-book. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Christmas #speechandlanguage #sped #preschool
Same and Different Reindeer Shapes 

Same and Different: Reindeer Shapes
Teach the concepts of same and different. Its print and go with the BW version when you make the mini-book, or print in color and laminate to make cards. There are 3 ways use to use this resource: A clothespin task card, dot markers or use a hole punch for some fun fine fine-motor practice.


Teach the basic size concepts of small, medium and large with these fun Santa task cards in speech therapy this Christmas. Interactive fun as a clothespin task, dot marker activity or hole punch activity. Includes a BW mini-book. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #Christmas #speechandlanguage #sped #preschool
Santa Shapes: Teach size concepts small-medium and large

Size Concepts: Santa Shapes Clip, dot or punch while learning size concepts of small, medium and large. Like Reindeer shapes, it comes with color cards, a BW mini-book with parent letter and printables too.


Need more ideas? Find all my Christmas activities and freebies available in my store HERE

I hope you have a very merry, no-stress December and Christmas!

If you try any of these activities, please tag me on social media, I would love to see!

Cheers,


Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Best-Ever Books for Social Skills: You Get What You Get

Ever have a child that whines if he didn't get to be first?

Or she pouts when she didn't get the color crayon she wanted or didn't win the game? Yup, you know the one I'm talking about. You need this adorable book by Julie Gassman, You Get What You Get. (and you don't throw a fit).

Best-Ever Books for Speech Therapy! This adorable story is terrific for teaching social skills in speech therapy. Melvin doesn't always deal with disappointment well. Until he learns about this terrible rule... read this blog post to learn more!  #speechsprouts #socialskills #speechtherapy #storybooks

This is one the best-ever books for teaching acceptance that we can't always get exactly what we want.

Melvin is a young squirrel who doesn't deal well with disappointment. If he doesn't get enough chocolate chips in his cookie or loses his turn in a game, watch out! It's full-on meltdown time. 

When Melvin starts school, he finds out he really hates his teacher's favorite rule: You get what you get and you don't throw a fit!

Because of this terrible rule, Melvin can't throw a fit at school if he's last in line, or has to use crayons instead of markers.

But at least his family doesn't know about this awful rule. Until...he accidentally lets it slip!

Much to Melvin's dismay, his astounded family is delighted when they learn about the rule. And there is no going back. 

Now the rule applies at home too. He can't stomp his feet, shout or flail around. Nope. Not even when his sister wants to watch a show he doesn't. Because, well...you know. You get what you get and you don't throw a fit. 

You Get What You Get and You Don't Throw a Fit is the start of a great social skills lesson.

We read the book and I ask my students, have you ever seen someone who acts like that when they didn't get what they wanted? They always nod yes, and tell tales of other students. (Even if they've been known to throw fits themselves!) 

Of course, just like Melvin, some children struggle with handling disappointment more than others.  

The result can be lots of negative consequences and sometimes even social isolation as peers lose patience or become annoyed with crying and whining. 

Talking about Melvin's squirrelly behavior make it non-threatening to discuss, rather than talking about the student's own behavior.

So we dive in a bit deeper. Can everyone be first in line? Win the game? Sit in a certain spot? Play with that favorite toy? No, it's just not possible, is it?

So we make lists.
  1. We list situations where a child might feel disappointed. 
  2. We list inappropriate ways to react. Oh, no! We would never behave that way. Why not? 
  3. We talk about and list social consequences. Teachers get mad when you are interrupting the class and you get in trouble. Maybe you lose a privilege. Friends won't want to play a game with you if they know you'll throw a fit. 
  4. What should we do instead?
A great way to wrap up the lesson is to have the children draw a child (or a squirrel!) throwing a fit over something, then have them draw what they might have done instead. 

I am always looking for great speech therapy books, so leave a comment if you have a favorite!

I hope you get a chance to read You Get What You Get with your students. I think you'll love it.

Until next time my friends, 




Saturday, October 6, 2018

14 Songs and Fingerplays for Fall in Preschool Speech Therapy

Songs and fingerplays are your best friend for teaching language in preschool speech therapy this fall.


A round-up of fabulous fall songs and fingerplays for preschool speech therapy plus where to find the best youtube videos to teach them. Speech and language targets and more autumn speech and language activities are listed for your fall themes. #speechsprouts #speechandlanguage #preschool #fallpreschoolactivities #fingerplays
Five Little Pumpkins storytelling set


Do you sing with your pre-k students? You should! Children really don't care if you sing like a bird or are a little off-key. They just love the experience. Little ones don't judge, so if you're not already singing with your young students in speech therapy, you need to give it a try.

I'm going to share some of my favorite songs and fingerplays for Autumn, and resources you can use to create a whole themed unit around many of them.

Why should you do fingerplays and songs with preschoolers? 

Music, rhythm, and rhyme are all powerful tools for learning and for getting verbal with your littles. Here are just a few of their magical, language-boosting powers:

1. Catchy but simple music gives children the opportunity to hear and practice the rhythm of language.

What a great way to work on prosody! Repeated practice with pitch, rhythm, and tempo are built right in.

2. Songs and fingerplays that feature repetitive lines give children repeated exposure and practice with vocabulary and sentence structure. 

The repetition makes it easier to learn the lines and for children to participate.

I find my minimally verbal students who rarely speak or those who are at the 1-2 word phrase level will often sing a few lines along with their favorite songs. It's a great beginning to practice sentence structure, vocabulary, and turn-taking. I sing the first part "The itsy bitsy spider went...." and my students will fill in the blank with a multi-word phrase!

3.  Songs with motions and fingerplays are a great vehicle to combine fine and gross motor movements with language practice. 

It's multi-modal learning in such a fun and natural way. Who didn't love Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes as a child? We sing, we touch and we move- all the while learning to name body parts. Plus, you're burning a little energy and providing movement so the children are ready to attend to the next activity.

4. Practice with rhyme builds phonological awareness. 

Many of our favorite songs and fingerplays rhyme. Rhyme is an important building block for early literacy skills. Sing the song, point out the rhymes, and generate a few more rhymes, all the while having great fun.

5.  Build auditory memory and sequencing skills with cumulative songs and rhymes.

Songs like The Farmer in the Dell or Going on a Lion Hunt require the singer to remember and sequence the previous lines. I love to use pictures, toys or finger puppets as visual aids to help children sequence as they sing.


6. Songs and fingerplays for the preschool crowd often fit in beautifully with theme-based learning. 

Using themes in therapy helps build associations, vocabulary and a rich vocabulary. There are so many great songs and fingerplays that will fit right in.


How do you find those fabulous fall fingerplays and songs?

Many of the classic songs and fingerplays are have been done as music videos and are on Youtube.

Watch the videos to hear the melody and learn the lyrics.  Keep in mind that for children who have speech or language disorders, many available renditions are too fast to allow those who need extra processing time to participate. Look for those that have a slower pace, especially when your students are first learning the rhyme or song.

Check out the numerous websites that have lists of songs and rhymes for preschool.

A quick search will yield tons sites with fingerplay and song collections for the preschool set. 

Here's a great one: Take a peek at the Preschool Express This is a free site owned and operated by the wonderful Dr. Jean Warren. This site has a music and rhyme station plus games, art and themes galore.

Michigan State University Extension also has a Fingerplays and Songs for Childcare Database you can search if you're looking for the words or just something new.

Write down the lyrics of your favorite songs and fingerplays for quick reference when you're ready to use them. 

An index card or page per song will make them easy to organize and find if you alphabetize them.  You might want to keep cards of each season or theme together on a ring for easy reference when you are ready to go during your session.


How to teach the songs and fingerplays to children who have speech and language challenges.

Pre-teach the lyrics and motions at a slower pace.

Learn the song or fingerplay before you watch the video or listen to the music. Your children will have more confidence and success with repeated practice modified for your students. You'll model, cue and scaffold just as you do with sentences and conversational speech.

When learning a new song or fingerplay, sing or recite at a slower pace, and learn the lyrics and motions one step at a time as needed. Once your children learn the fingerplay or song, it's fun to play a slightly faster video and they'll be more ready to follow along.

Use visuals and story-telling pieces

Visuals can include objects, stick puppets, magnet board pieces or the Youtube videos I'll share with you, or all of the above. Visuals help children with sequencing and memory for the lyrics, and re-telling too. 


Favorite fall fingerplays and songs round-up!

 I've gathered some of my favorites for you and I'm including links to many videos and sites where you can learn them and enjoy following along with the videos. 

I love following up the songs and rhymes with themed activities. Take a peek at Speech Sprouts Fall Speech Therapy Activities Pinterest Board for inspiration on activities and crafts.  Save your favorites to your own boards so you can easily find them later.

You may want to save time and have coordinating activities ready to go, so I'll give you a peek at my favorite fall preschool speech and language activity packs too. They always cover a variety of targets so you'll have several sessions full of speech and language activities ready to go for each theme.

Do you see any of your favorites here?


1. Autumn Leaves are Falling Down

This fingerplay teaches fall vocabulary: leaves, falling, rake, pile, jump.

Autumn Leaves by The Kiboomers is a nice slower rendition of the song, good for children with slow processing or apraxia.

Autumn Leaves by The Learning Station The pace is a little faster and has fun harmonies. The cartoon character demonstrates the fingerplay as they sing.

Find more leaf songs and rhymes plus many more themes at Preschool Express

2. The Farmer in the Dell

Fall is harvest time on the farm and Farmer in the Dell is fantastic for sequencing and auditory memory as children recite each animal sound.

The Farmer in the Dell by Mother Goose Club Playhouse is a cartoon video with the traditional lyrics. It has some slight pauses between verses, which I really like.

Another adorable The Farmer in the Dell video is by Super Simple Songs. This version features a cute redheaded girl farmer and has lyrics about farm activities like milking the cow and planting the seeds.

3. Five Little Pumpkins

Enjoy this slightly spooky fingerplay and talk about ordinal vocabulary (first, second, third....) with your students, then follow up with bright orange pumpkin-related activities.

The Five Little Pumpkins by the Kiboomers is a colorful video done at a slightly slow pace which is terrific for teaching the fingerplay.

For a super pack with oodles of speech therapy materials to go with this rhyme, check out my Five Little Pumpkins Speech and Language Activities pack.


Five Little Pumpkins is just one of the fabulous fall songs and fingerplays for preschool speech therapy in this post. Lisette shares links to the best Youtube videos to teach them, speech and language targets and more autumn speech and language activities for your fall themes. #speechsprouts #speechandlanguage #preschool #fallpreschoolactivities #pumpkintheme #fingerplays
Five Little Pumpkins Speech and Language Activities

4. Way Up High in the Apple Tree

Way up High in the Apple Tree by The Learning Station I love this simple rhyme and fingerplay for teaching the concept of "up high." It's sound-loaded like so many of these rhymes and songs making it great for articulation practice of /w/ (way), /h/(high), and /sm/ (smiling).

For more apple speech and language activities see Apple Apple Reader and Speech Therapy Activities which includes a cute printable cut and paste reader targeting "where?" questions: Apple, Apple where can you be?


Way up High in the Apple Tree is just one of the fabulous fall songs and fingerplays for preschool speech therapy in this post. Lisette shares links to the best Youtube videos to teach them, speech and language targets and more autumn speech and language activities like this apple size sort from Apple Apple Where Can You Be?  #speechsprouts #fingerplays #speechandlanguage #preschool #fallpreschoolactivities #appletheme
Apple, Apple Speech and Language Activities


5. The Owl

I really love The Owl fingerplay from A to Z Kids Stuff. So cute! It has the actions written out for you.

6. The Owl Song

The Owl Song video by The Kiboomers has lots of fun action verbs: open, fly, hop, flap, turn

7. Five Little Turkeys

Five Little Turkeys is the perfect song for your Thanksgiving theme.

The Learning Station's Five Little Turkeys starts out slow and then increases in speed as it repeats.  

My Five Little Turkeys Speech Therapy Activities includes this interactive flipbook so your children can make those turkeys "waddle off" as they count down. This pack has activities for the concepts of same and different, matching, prepositions, associations and Where? questions too.

8. I'm a Little Acorn

I'm a Little Acorn This is a lovely video by DanceandBeatsLab that combines the music and motions into gentle dancing movements.

9. Grey Squirrel

Grey Squirrel Sung by the Learning Station will have your little ones swishing their bushy tail as they repeat the song with mama squirrel, daddy squirrel, baby squirrel, grandpa squirrel, and grandma squirrel. Great for the /sw/ blend and "sh" practice (swish, bushy).

10. We're Going on a Bear Hunt

One of my all-time favorites, Bear Hunt has plenty of fun actions, works on sequencing memory and yep- prepositions too. The hunters go through, over around and more. Plus its got a dark cave with a scary bear! 

Try this fun video by The Kiboomers We're Going on a Bear Hunt

11. Itsy Bitsy Spider

No list is complete without the Itsy Bitsy Spider. Or Eensie Weencie Spider if you prefer. Target sequencing and the prepositions up and down in this gentle little song about a not-so-scary spider.

Itsy Bitsy Spider by Twinkle Little Songs is a pretty rendition of the rhyme. It has a just-right slightly slow pace too.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider by Patty Shukla is a bit faster. It combines the rhyme with body parts vocabulary as that little spider wanders off!

You'll find plenty of spidery speech and language activities to go with the song in this pack: Itsy Bitsy Spider Speech and Language Therapy Unit.


The Itsy Bitsy Spider is just one of the fabulous fall songs and fingerplays for preschool speech therapy in this post. Lisette shares links to the best Youtube videos to teach them, speech and language targets and more autumn speech and language activities for your fall themes. #speechsprouts #fingerplays #speechandlanguage #preschool #fallpreschoolactivities #spidertheme #theitsybitsyspider #nurseryrhymes
Itsy Bitsy Spider Speech and Language Activities


12. Scarecrow, Scarecrow


Scarecrow, Scarecrow by the Learning Station  Turn around, reach up high, bend down low...this is another version that increases in speed each time the verse is repeated.

This fun little build a scarecrow activity can be found in my SK Articulation and Language Activities Pack:


Scarecrow, Scarecrow is just one of the fabulous fall songs and fingerplays for preschool speech therapy in this post. Lisette shares links to the best Youtube videos to teach them, speech and language targets and more autumn speech and language activities like this build a scarecrow game. #speechsprouts #fingerplays #speechandlanguage #preschool #fallpreschoolactivities #spidertheme #scarecrow #nurseryrhymes
Articulation and Language Activities for SK


13. Two Little Blackbirds

This cute little fingerplay targets fast and slow.
Watch Dr. Jean demonstrate Two Little Blackbirds in a video sponsored by ESC Region 13.

 14. The Wheels on the Bus

This classic song and fingerplay targets part-whole by talking about the parts of the bus, repeats "wheels" and "go" for /w/ and /g/ articulation practice and opposites (up and down, open and shut).

Wheels on the Bus by Cocomelon (ABCkidTV) I like the slower pace of this video and love that the bus is a school bus filled with a family and animals too. The cute realistic characters demonstrate the fingerplay motions for you as they go for a bouncy ride.

The Wheels on the Bus by DanceandBeatsLab is a faster and more energetic rendition of the popular fingerplay sure to get those wiggles out for children who can follow the faster pace. It combines the song with fun dance moves your children will love.


I have two resources for you full of speech and language activities for Wheels on the Bus.

Wheels on the Bus Speech and Language Activities includes printables plus an interactive no-print story for your tablet or interactive whiteboard.


Wheels on the Bus is just one of the fabulous fall songs and fingerplays for preschool speech therapy in this post. Lisette shares links to the best Youtube videos to teach them, speech and language targets and more autumn speech and language activities like this bus-themed speech activities pack. #speechsprouts #fingerplays #speechandlanguage #preschool #fallpreschoolactivities #spidertheme #wheelsonthebus #nurseryrhymes #backtoschool #bustheme
Wheels on the Bus Speech and Language Activities

This CVC Articulation Smash Mats with Wheels on the Bus lets children enjoy smashing the play dough to make wheels as they practice articulation in initial or final word positions. A BW version works great for dot markers and this activity is no-prep easy peasy.


Wheels on the Bus is just one of the fabulous fall songs and fingerplays for preschool speech therapy in this post. Lisette shares links to the best Youtube videos to teach them, speech and language targets and more autumn speech and language activities like this bus-themed speech activities pack. #speechsprouts #fingerplays #speechandlanguage #preschool #fallpreschoolactivities #spidertheme #wheelsonthebus #nurseryrhymes #backtoschool #bustheme #articulation
Wheels on the Bus Articulation Smash Mats
Read this post for more great ideas to go with this rhyme: Wheels on the Bus: Transportation Week!

I hope you've enjoyed this autumn round-up of songs and fingerplays!


Leave a comment with your favorite songs, rhymes and fingerplays for fall. I'd love to find some great new ones.

Until next time my friends, happy fall!

Monday, September 10, 2018

Speech Therapy Activities Your Kids will Beg For: Smash It!


How you can use hands-on speech and language activities like this fun ice cream scoop smash mat for SK blends to keep wiggly children engaged in your speech therapy groups.  www.speechsproutstherapy.com
From Speech Sprouts' Articulation and Language Activities for SK


Group speech and language sessions can be a challenge.

Sometimes sessions can get a little craaazy for sure when kids are bored waiting their turn to talk or play a game. The problem multiplies when you have several children in a group. Billy interrupts constantly, Sarah is talking to Myah and Cole is pinching and poking everyone at the table.

You spend so much time redirecting behavior, that you can only manage to get a few repetitions for each student and by the end of the session you're frustrated and exhausted. Sound familiar?  Here's the secret:

Use hands-on, high-interest speech therapy activities that keep little hands engaged!


Add an action verb to the task, and the kids are all for it. I'm going to share my favorite hands-on activities to keep those wiggly, antsy little ones engaged and focused during sessions. Activities that are low to no-prep and don't interrupt the flow of your sessions. 

This week, let's talk about a favorite way to use play dough...

Keep children engaged with play dough and smash mats.

Using play dough in speech and language therapy is a great fine motor and sensory activity- it's really very satisfying. Kids love the feel of the dough as they roll, pinch, and poke the dough. (Instead of each other!) 

There are lots of ways to use play dough. Sometimes I simply hand each child some playdough and let them get creative with it. We also love smash mats.


How to use smash mats in speech therapy.


    1. Grab your favorite smash mat, or make a simple one yourself. Just draw circles (or silly smiley faces) on a page and laminate it. You can also pop it into a page protector if you don't have lamination.

    2. Give each child some dough and have them roll small balls to put on top of each circle. I like to give my kiddos extra so they don't have wait time after rolling the balls. They can continue rolling and squishing their extra dough while waiting their turn.

    3. Practice your target goal. Ready-made smash mats may have questions or words to practice on each circle. Open-ended ones are great too.

    4. My favorite part... Smash it! After your students give you a response. they take a fist or palm and squash that ball of dough flat. 

    5. Add an extra element of practice each time they smash a ball of dough. If you're working on:
  • final "sh" or verbs: Have your student say "squish, squash" as they smash their dough.
  • the pronoun "I" or verb tenses:  Prompt students to say "I will smash it. Smash!  or "I smashed it."
  • Expanding sentences or using descriptive words: "I smashed the green one. I smashed the red one."

How to keep children busy and engaged with hands-on speech therapy activities like this fun wheels on the bus smash mat. Smash balls of play dough to make the wheels as you name the CVC articulation pictures. www.speechsproutstherapy.com
From Speech Sprouts' CVC Articulation Smash Mats


There are so many ways to use play dough in speech therapy. What's your favorite?

I also keep cookie cutters and tiny rolling pins in a bucket for more dough-filled sessions. We talk about sizes, shapes, verbs, and textures as we play. Add an element to increase the fun: wiggle eyes for monsters, birthday candles, hand them a butter knife and a toy plate... the possibilities are endless.  Incorporate language and play with a purpose!


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


You can find the smash mats pictured above in my store:


CVC Articulation Smash Mats with Wheels on the Bus  This is an entire pack of smash mats (or dot marker pack with the included BW) There are pictures on the wheels of each bus for CVC words. Mats for initial and final phonemes are included.

Go Away Big Green Monster Book Companion  I included sentence construction and describing smash mats pictured above in this fun pack of speech and language activities. If you haven't read this book, it's so much fun for little ones. Read more in my Green Monster blog post HERE.

Articulation and Language Activities for SK This pack includes the fun ice cream scoop smash mat pictured in this post, plus a fun articulation story and more activities for the /sk/ blend.  

I'll be writing more posts soon with my favorite hands-on speech therapy activities.


To get notice of new posts filled with ideas, sign up for my newsletter. Just fill in the form in the column at the right and I'll pop into your inbox with all the latest news... and send you a great activity too!

Thanks for visiting!  Until next time, my friends,

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A Back to School Speech Therapy Backpack Craft Freebie

Free! A bright orange paper backpack craft to welcome your speech therapy students back to school and teach them about their therapy goals. #speechsprouts #backtoschool #speechtherapy #backtoschoolcraft
Teach students about their therapy goals with this back to school craft.


Back to school is a great time to review speech therapy goals with your students.

It's so helpful when students have a clear understanding of what they're working on in speech therapy. When someone asks my student "What do you do in speech?" I hope they can say "I work on___ ." That's so much better than the typical answer, "We play games."

Don't get me wrong, I love using motivational games, but students need to know why they're coming to see me each week! Knowing what they're working towards helps students get more focused, more invested and gives them a greater sense of accomplishment when they make progress.


Welcome your students back to school in style with this fun speech therapy backpack craft.

You'll need two colors of paper, I used construction paper for the backpack and a bright fluorescent paper to add some punch to the backpack straps. 



A fun and engaging FREE back to school backpack craft for speech therapy #speechtherapy #backtoschoolcraft


Here are the steps to make your backpack. Pretty simple!

  1. Download the free templates for this activity in my store HERE 
  2. Print the Welcome Back to Speech label on white paper
  3. Print the Name label in a fun color if you like, to match the straps.
  4. Cut out 2 straps per student of the brightly colored paper. I made mine about 1 1/2 inches wide and the length of the paper. (I've included a printable template page for the straps, or you can just cut your own.)
  5. Cut out a skinny strap about 6" long and 3/4 of an inch wide.
  6. Round the top two corners of your construction paper with your scissors.


OK, Now it's time to put your backpack together!



Simple directions for a FREE back to school backpack speech therapy craftivity with a purpose! #speechtherapy #backtoschoolcraft


  1. Glue the Welcome Back and Name Labels as shown.
  2. Fill in your labels as you discuss each student's goals. Have them verbalize what they are working on, and write it if they are able.
  3. Glue one end of the long strap to the back of the backpack as shown. give it a twist (see the completed backpack below) and glue the end to the back of the backpack. 
  4. Glue the top loop on, give this one a twist also.
Tip: If you are using white glue you may need to let the strap dry at the top before you twist it. (I used a glue stick and didn't need to wait.)


There are two versions of the Welcome Back to School Label


The download includes a choice of two labels: A "My Speech Goals" label and a "My Favorite Things about School" label.  This makes the craft terrific for your teacher friends to enjoy too. If you have a friend who would enjoy this craft, please don't share the file, just send them to this post or my store to download the file for themselves. Thanks!

TIP: Be sure to pin this post to Pinterest so you can easily find it again next year when you are ready for a back to school activity!



FREE! A colorful backpack paper craft to welcome your speech therapy students back to school and teach them about their speech and language therapy goals. #speechsprouts #backtoschool #speechtherapy #backtoschoolcraft
Download this Back to School activity in my store HERE.

If you enjoy this craft, I'd love to hear from you. Please leave feedback in my store when you download. I read each and every comment, and appreciate it greatly.

Happy Back to School! 


Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Starting Kindergarten with Childhood Apraxia of Speech: 15 Tips for Parents

When your child has childhood apraxia of speech (or another speech and language disorder) and it's time for kindergarten. 15 tips for a smooth transition to school-based speech therapy services. www.speechsproutstherapy.com

I recently received a few questions from a parent of a little boy who has childhood apraxia of speech (CAS).


This wonderful mom was feeling a bit nervous about her son starting kindergarten, as many parents are. It can be bittersweet for any parent who is readying their child to begin school, but if you're a parent of a child with a communication disorder, you have even more to think about.

In this post, I'm going to talk to the parents of prospective kindergartners who have been diagnosed with childhood apraxia of speech or other communication disorders.


Mom wondered what questions she should ask about in regards to setting up services for her child, how to navigate and advocate in the school environment, and what she should share with teachers and students.

Ah, I understand how it is to be nervous for your child! Butterflies about the unknown ahead. Is this you too? If your child has CAS or another type of communication disorder, you may worry and wonder if you are doing everything you can to help your child be ready for their big new adventure.

It'll be ok. Let yourself feel the excitement for your child as well as the butterflies.

You've already taken the steps to have your child assessed and start speech therapy before school. 


First of all, kudos to you mom or dad! I wholeheartedly believe in the power of early intervention, and you were able to begin addressing your child's communication needs early. You are amazing.

Sadly, I see so many children start preschool or kindergarten with severe communication disorders that have never before been assessed or received treatment. There are many reasons that may happen, so if you know a parent who has concerns about their child's development, please, please let them know there are services available for children who are not yet school-aged. Many services are free or low cost. Have them talk with their pediatrician, or call their school district. 

So now it's time to prepare for kindergarten. You wonder, what do I need to know? Do?


Every child's needs are different as they start school. I can’t make specific recommendations as I haven't assessed your child. If you have specific questions about your child, please consult with your child's SLP. 

What I can do is give some general tips for parents of children with childhood apraxia of speech or other communication disorders as they prepare for their children to begin school. These recommendations are not meant as medical or educational advice and are informational only. 

Here are a few steps you may take to help make a smooth transition to school-based speech therapy services if your child qualifies. (Or to add school-based therapy if you are continuing private services). 

  1. Call your school and ask to speak to the department that handles speech therapy referrals.  The name of the department varies by area and may be called the special education department, pupil services, exceptional students program or something similar. Call and explain that your child is diagnosed with an articulation disorder and you would like to set up school services for him or her. Tell them if you have a specific diagnosis such as Childhood Apraxia of Speech. 
  2. Obtain records of your child’s most recent assessment and therapy notes from your current speech-language pathologist. Give a copy to the school.
  3. Ask what documents you need to provide. You may need to get a current hearing and vision check or a script from your child’s doctor.
  4. Talk to your current speech-language pathologist (SLP). Ask if there are any specific recommendations for your child. Have her write them out so your school SLP can review them.
  5. Be aware that the criteria for eligibility for services differ in medical settings and school settings. In schools, eligibility and services are based on educational need.  Ask questions about the criteria used if you don't understand.
  6. The school may want to do a new assessment, to update the picture of your child’s current skill level and help determine eligibility in the schools. Some schools may look at a previous assessment and accept it if current. Others are required to do their own assessment.  It depends on the rules in your state and locale.
  7. Contact the school speech-language pathologist if you have questions. Be honest and open.  The SLPs I know truly care about their students and are ready and willing to talk to parents and help guide them through the process. They want to partner with you!
  8. If your child has CAS, ask about the SLP’s experience and training in Childhood Apraxia of Speech. CAS is relatively rare, and many therapists haven’t had the opportunity to gain expertise in this area. This is true both in schools and medical settings.  If your SLP has little experience or a limited comfort level in diagnosing and treating CAS, ask if they would be willing to go for additional training. If there is another SLP with more experience in your district who can help, that can be an option too. In my state, you can request additional training at the IEP meeting. Procedures may vary where you are.
  9. You will be invited to a meeting held to review any assessments, determine eligibility for services and discuss your child's educational needs. Parents are an integral part of this process!
  10. You should receive a copy of any new assessments before the meeting, and a copy of recommendations for goals if the district is proposing any. Read these, and ask any questions you have. If acronyms or terms are used in the discussion that you are not familiar with, ask! The team wants you to understand. 
  11. If your child is eligible for speech therapy services, you can ask for practice work to be sent home. This is especially important for children with CAS. If you can, meet with your SLP to learn how she is prompting and instructing your child so you can follow through at home with the same methods. This way you can help provide frequent, specific practice which is so helpful.
  12. I think a terrific resource for explaining Childhood Apraxia of Speech is Dr. Edythe Strand’s Videos on YouTube. You may want to share the links with teachers and staff. You can find Dr. Strand's videos here: Childhood Apraxia of Speech, information for Parents.
  13. The Apraxia Kids website has many handouts and brochures for parents, including an easy to read explanation of childhood apraxia of speech and letters you can share with your child's teachers. Find Apraxia Kids resources here. 
  14. If your child his not able to make himself understood to express basic needs like "I need to use the bathroom, I need a drink, or I’m feeling sick" talk to the school SLP about setting up a system with his or her teacher to express basic needs on day one.  As your new SLP gets to know your child, she'll be able to determine what kind of support (if any!) your child may need in the classroom, lunchroom, gym etc, and can work with his or her teachers.
  15. I find most kindergarten students are very sweet and accepting of each other's differences. Many want to help, sometimes too much! For instance, if the other children tend to talk for your child, and not give him a chance to try, you can ask the teacher to be sure the rule is no interrupting each other and everyone gets lots of time to talk!
SLP's, if you would like more information about CAS, read my series on Childhood Apraxia of speech. The first post is Childhood Apraxia of Speech: What SLPs Need to Know.


I hope this helps as you prepare for your child to begin his or her new adventures at school. 

One more tip: Pin this image to your Pinterest boards to so you can easily find this post to refer to later. 

When your child has childhood apraxia of speech (or another speech and language disorder) and it's time for kindergarten. 15 tips for a smooth transition to school-based speech therapy services. www.speechsproutstherapy.com

Congrats on reaching this milestone in your child's life. I bet kindergarten will be wonderful. Hugs! 


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Best Articulation Tricks to Try for Those Super Stubborn R's!

If you are a pediatric SLP,  you have undoubtedly spent time in articulation therapy trying to shape that most stubborn of phonemes.

Articulation Tips and Tricks for SLPs: Eliciting the stubborn R sound when nothing else has worked www.speechsproutstherapy.com



The obstinate, ornery R. You know what I am talking about.  Do you feel like you have exhausted every trick you know with your students? Maybe your student has been working on R in therapy for what seems like forever.  Let me tell you, sometimes I just can't stand to hear another "uh" instead or "er"! It can be so frustrating not to see progress.

Maybe it's time to change it up a bit and try a few new tricks!

I was in a speech pathology Facebook group recently and the discussion turned to (as it frequently does) working on that "R". SLPs were asking each other what tips and tricks they had to share because they were desperate for something new to try! I thought it would be great to compile a list of those suggestions and throw in a few tips of my own. So here goes,

Some of these tips are for the retroflex R, some for the "bunched" R, some are worth trying for both.  Are there any you haven't heard of? I saw some new ones, and I have been working on R for all my 17 years as an SLP. Will these be helpful? I will let you decide.

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Tips for shaping the "er" from another phoneme: 

1. Have your students say "shhhh", then freeze their tongue, curl the tongue tip up and say "er".
2.  Say "Carlos". Point out how the back of the tongue is elevated for the "r".
3. If your student can say an initial /r/, have them start with a final "er" word, keep voicing and add the initial /r/ word. (ex: mother-red) I use this one a lot. After it is becoming established, I fade the "red" by having the student whisper, then mouth then finally eliminate it.
4. Say " Kala" Say it once with the tongue tip toward the front of the mouth, then in the middle, then the back.
5. Say Karla". Karrrrla, then karrrrrra, then karrrrrr. Then arla. You can do this with other vocalic R combinations too. 
6. Linda from Looks Like Language says: I have had the most success starting with a tongue tip sound: t, d, n or even shhh. Have the student drag their tongue backward along the roof of their mouth until they are approximating the 'r' position.  Then shape it from "ter, ner, ler. This has worked for quite a few older students who could never get the 'er' before.
7. Ashley R. from Sweet Southern Speech says "After getting tongue tip awareness and mobility, I like to shape the 'r' from "sure." I also like the visual of a party horn to show the tongue curling back.
8. Ashley B. from AGB Speech Therapy says she concentrates on the lateral tension of the tongue and has her students push their tongues against the insides of the molars to get the "r" sound. She loves the Speech Tutor App. It has a video for both retracted and retroflexed r. (Only $3.99 in the App store, I need to check this one out!)
9. In my therapy room, I like to shape the 'r' from the /i/ vowel, because the back of the tongue is wide. Once they have awareness of the sides of their tongue touching their molars with /i/, I have them curl the tongue tip and move it back to "ear". 


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Then there were the strategies that used sensory feedback:

1. Have your students gently nibble the sides of their tongue to increase awareness, then slide it up between the molar teeth, before curling the tip and attempting "r".
2. Have your student push up with both hands while sitting in a chair, and say "er". Point out the extra muscle tension in the tongue when they do.


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Tips focusing on placement of the articulators.

1. Tell them jaw down, tongue up.
2. Use a dental flosser horizontally in the front of the mouth. Have the student grab the floss with his tongue while curling the tongue tip up. 
3. Make "square" lips. Watch in the mirror- when the lips are square you can see the bottom front teeth.


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Some tips even sounded tasty!

1. Try Skittle Pops. Place a Skittle between the back molars and the posterior margins of the tongue. (With the tongue up in back) Have the student hold them there and stabilize them, then use their tongue to pop the Skittles out of their teeth by pushing laterally (I think, I haven't tried this one yet. ) 
2. Shape your tongue like a bowl. Pull it back a bit in your mouth. Take a sip of water or hold some mini M&M's in the "bowl" Don't let the sides of the tongue drop.
3. Use a Dum-Dum Pop to push the tongue back in the bunched position, and have the child close their teeth on the stick and hold it. Tell them to keep their tongue behind the pop. and say "er". You can use a dental swab also, but candy is more fun!

Check out these videos and posts for more ideas:

1. Pam Marshalla  taught us the butterfly position for 'r' therapy: 
2. Meredith Avren from The Peachie Speechie shows the use of flossers and more tips. 
3. Katie at Playing with Words 365 makes play dough tongues and uses the word "eureka" to shape that r.
4. Dean Trout shares 8 of her best R tricks. 
5. Natalie Snyders demonstrates how she uses flossers. 
6. 2 Gals Talk has some great strategies for r. I like her tip to tell your student to put the back of your tongue ABOVE your molars (so the elevate it higher). The trick is to get them to understand what you are trying to do!
7. The Speech Mama likes to use the "Taffy Cue" to give her students a visual of widening the tongue. Put your hands at midline, then pull apart toward your shoulders and pretend you are pulling taffy. 

What are Your Favorite Articulation Tricks for that Stubborn R?

Articulation tips and tricks to try for eliciting the R sound when all else has failed! www.speechsproutstherapy.com


I hope you have success with these techniques!  If you have a great tip or trick, please share in comments for the rest of us! No one trick works for every student so we can use as many as we can get.

I would also love to know which new tips you try work for your student. Maybe we'll even establishsome of those R's before school is out this year. Wouldn't that be awesome?

Have a wonderful week!