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 promoting 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.


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". 


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.


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.


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!

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

14 Great Ideas for Shark Week in Preschool Speech Therapy

14 great speech and language ideas and activities for Shark Week in preschool speech therapy including a fun, no-prep shark craftivity freebie! www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Chomp! Download this free craftivity for your shark week and ocean themes.

Dive headfirst into shark week for awesome speech therapy sessions. 

It's coming...dun dun dun! Shark week is July 22nd in 2018. It's a perfect theme for summer speech therapy.

However, if you're like me, and therapy sessions are on pause because school's out in July, grab these ideas for the next time you're feeling sharky in speech. Anytime works for your shark week. I do my week in May and make it last for several sessions. Plan some shark week fun and watch your student's engagement soar.

 So, true confession...

I can't watch Jaws. Or any of those movies where people get eaten. I hide my eyes and cover my ears with scary movies. But I love shark week! Sharks and the ocean equal tons of language opportunities for your speech therapy room.

Children are fascinated with the ocean, especially sharks. 

Well really, who isn't? Most of my kiddos have never actually been to the shore, but love talking about mysterious creatures of the deep. Scary things. With big teeth. Huge whales, ferocious sharks, and colorful fish too.  It's okay though, we keep it not-so-scary for my preschoolers and kindergarteners. Still plenty of fun.

1. Music and movement
If you want like to kick it off with a fun sound-loaded song for littles, show the video and sing along with Baby Shark by Super Simple Songs. There's Baby Shark, Papa Shark, Mama Shark, even Grandma and Grandpa Shark. We stand up and pretend to swim (and chomp); it really helps to get the wiggles out before sitting down to read!

Warning: Baby Shark is one of those tunes that gets stuck in your head. Know what I mean? When you wake up at 2 am and the tune is still on automatic loop in your brain. Over and over and...how do you make that stop? But that's another topic, so...

Read one of these fun storybooks for Shark Week. 

Read Smiley Shark in Speech therapy during your shark week or ocean themes. Plus 13 more great shark activity ideas that go Chomp! www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechtherapy

2. Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway is a favorite of mine.
If you haven't read this delightful book, you should! Smiley Shark is a friendly guy who just wants someone to play with. All the other sea creatures are frightened of him and run away, which makes poor Smiley very lonely and sad. But things change when the other fish are in danger, and Smiley Shark saves the day.

This book is sound-loaded with /sm/, Initial sh and final /k/ because it repeats "Smiley" and 'shark." The children really relate to Smiley when he feels lonely with no-one to play with, and we got lots of discussion going. It's full of fun ocean creatures, a shark hero and a lovely message about not judging a book by its cover.

3. Shark in the Park by Nick Sharrat.
A little boy, Timothy Pope, goes to the park with his telescope and thinks he sees a shark through it. He yells "There's a shark in the park!" But it turns out to be something else.  False alarm. This happens several times until he realizes there are no sharks in the park. Or are there?

This simple story has rhyme and repetitive text which is great for retelling, and we make a telescope with our hands to look through as we tell it! You can listen to Shark in the Park read online.

4. Clark the Shark by Bruce Hale.
Clark goes to school, but Clark is too loud, too wild, and just too much shark. Until he learns to stay cool... It's a great story for talking about social skills. Listen to Clark the Shark read online by actor Chris Pine.

Clark the Shark is one of the great storytime videos by Storyline Online. If you haven't checked out this YouTube channel, you should, it has wonderful videos of books that are read by actors, so the readings are beautifully done. It features storybook readings by Lily Tomlin, Sarah Silverman, and Ernest Borgnine reading Rainbow Fish to name a few.

5. The Three Little Fish and The Big Bad Shark by Ken Geist
This book is a fun takeoff on The Three Little Pigs and repeats "Little fish, little fish, let me come in!"
It has plenty of repetition of the words shark, fish and "crunch" for articulation practice and the familiar format is great for participation.

Shark and Ocean Arts and Crafts

When we do crafts, we make sure to get lots of repetitions of our articulation words by having the children repeat their words in blocks of 5 or 10. (Do you want the yellow fish or blue fish? Tell me "fish" 10 times. Here you go.) We also work on requesting, sentence structure and MLU (sentence length) because the children request each item needed and describe what they're doing.

Make a shiny shark in speech therapy during your shark week. 14 great ideas that go Chomp! www.speechsproutstherapy.com Paint tin foil  to make this shiny shark for your ocean theme! Read this post for 14 terrific speech and language shark week ideas for preschool and kindergarten #speechtherapy #preschool #kindergarten www.speechsproutstherapy.com

6. Shiny Sharks Paint tin foil with tempera and swirl the paint while wet. When dry, top it with blue construction paper with a shark cutout- so cool! (We pre-cut those ourselves with a template but it might just make a great project for your upper elementary kiddos to do for you. Kids love to help out little ones.) We added a "Shiny Shark" label to ours.

Great "sh" practice as we talked all about sharks. Where do they live? What do they eat?  How do they move? What animals are smaller? Larger?

Make thumbprint fish in speech therapy. Read this post for 14 terrific shark week ideas www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechtherapy #preschool #kindergarten

7. Thumbprint Fish We made practiced /f/ and "sh" while making thumbprint fish. Do you think we need to add a shark under the boat?

8. Puppets Make a Shark Puppet or

9. Shark Cootie Catcher with free printables by Easy Peasy and Fun.

10. Shark Craft Make this Cupcake Liner Shark by I Heart Crafty Things.

Add some sharp teeth to this scary-looking shark! Read this post for 14 terrific shark week speech and language activities www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechtherapy #preschool #kindergarten
Draw this shark and add  his teeth

11. Shark Teeth Craft We drew the shark above on a white paper template and then printed it on blue construction paper. Next, we glued on the teeth- which had initial "sh" words of course! If you're not sure you want to try your hand at drawing one, I created a free printable shark for you (pictured below.) that you can grab in my Teachers pay Teachers store.

14 terrific speech and language activities for Shark Week in preschool speech therapy including this free no-prep shark craftivity  www.speechsproutstherapy.com #speechtherapy #preschool #kindergarten
FREE Printable with articulation words!

Sensory Bin Activities

12. Give your sharks a bath! I think a little soap in the water is not only fun and bubbly but keeps those little hands sanitary too. If you want to find more waterplay ideas, check out this post and linky: April Showers! Why You Should Include Waterplay in Speech and Language Therapy.

Give your sharks a soapy bath in speech therapy or your preschool centers for shark week. Read this post for more fun ideas for pre-k and kindergarten shark and ocean themes. www.speechsproutstherapy.com

13. Water Beads These are always fun.  I love the slippery texture and so do the kids. Use blue beads and have your sharks swim through them. Which shark is below the beads? Is he diving, chomping or swimming?

Play a Game

14. Baby Shark Play this like London Bridge if you have a larger group of children  (5 or more would work) Two people hold hands and raise their hands up to be the "jaws." The other children are the fish. They make a circle and walk under the jaws while you sing to the London Bridge tune:

Baby shark is hungry now
Hungry now
Hungry now
Baby shark is hungry now
Snap, he got me!

Of course, you lower your hands and catch a child when you sing "snap!" And guess what? you've just practiced /sn/, /k/ , /h/ and "sh". I love repetitive activities!

There are plenty more great activities in this Smiley Shark Book Companion:

If you'd like more activities for shark week,  you may want to check out my Smiley Shark Book Companion. It has activities for littles and some for older students too, so you can easily use it with PK- 2nd grade. 

 All my kids love the Fishbowl Frenzy game. Older kids roll the dice to fill their fishbowl, little ones just get to pick a card for each response. This game is open-ended, so it works with any goal you are targeting.

Category sorting and syllable counting under the sea! Read about this Smiley Shark Book Companion plus 14 terrific ideas for shark week in preschool speech therapy www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Ocean-themed category sort activity and syllable counting

We sorted ocean animals and jungle animals with the sorting mats. They really enjoyed using dot markers to dab the number of syllables in all those fishy words!

Yes-No and WH question comprehension cards. Read about this Smiley Shark Book Companion plus 14 terrific ideas for shark week in preschool speech therapy www.speechsproutstherapy.com

 I created WH questions and Yes/No question cards to work on listening comprehension. Other activities included for this adorable storybook are sequencing, articulation for /l/, sh, plurals, rhyming, inference, and prediction.

Have fun with your shark week!

If you have any favorite sharky activities or if you try some of the ones I've shared, I would love to hear about it! Leave a comment here or tag me on social media. 

Don't forget to pin this post to your boards if you see ideas you'd like to try, to make it easy to find later. You can find even more ocean-themed ideas on my Ocean, Shark and Fish Pinterest board

If you love using themes in therapy like I do, be sure to follow Speech Sprouts on Pinterest. I'm always adding more themed ideas.

Until next time my friends, 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Summer School Speech Therapy- Let's Go Camping!

Camping is a perfect summer theme for speech therapy.

15 Summer Speech Therapy Activities with a camping theme www.speechsproutstherapy.com

The school year has ended but many children will still be attending speech therapy in summer school or in private therapy. How do you keep children engaged when those warm breezes beckon outside?

I love using summer-time themes in speech therapy, and camping is a favorite. There are plenty of easy activities you can do for super speech sessions. Most of all, it's fun! Here are a few ideas for you:

Set up camp

You'll need a campfire. (What's camping without a campfire to sit around?) Make your campfire from orange, red and yellow tissue paper. Stuff the "flames" in a metal bucket or in the middle of paper towel tubes for "logs." An electric tea light in the center would make it even better.

Grab a couple of bag chairs and put them next to the fire. Put a cooler in between them. You can make a "tent" by draping a sheet over a small table or over a rope. If you have a small pop-up tent, use it. Your children will be thrilled!

If you'll be working at a table, try throwing a red, checkered tablecloth over it to set the mood.

Read Books about Camping

You'll have plenty of opportunities for wh questions and story retell with these fun books:

Story Books:
Boris Goes Camping by Carrie Weston
Curious George Goes Camping by Margaret and H.A. Rey ( I still adore Curious George!)
PJ Funnybunny Camps Out by Marilyn Sadler
Amelia Bedelia Goes Camping by Peggy Parish
A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen a funny, rhyming misadventure!
Henry and Mudge and The Starry Night by Cynthia Rylant

Toasting Marshmallows: Camping Poems by Kristine O'Connel George These are lovely poems. Explore this book with your older students for vocabulary development.

More Speech Camp Activities

Go on a Bear Hunt to Practice Positional Concepts
Check out The Bear Hunt by the Learning Station for some fun music and movement. It's terrific for positional concepts and verbs.

Camping-themed summer speech therapy ideas! Going on a Bear Hunt  by the Learning Station for our camping theme in summer speech therapy www.speechsproutstherapy.com

Guess the forest animals: Name to a description
Tell the children you'll give them clues, and they need to they need to guess which forest animal it is. For instance: This animal is black with a white stripe on it's back. It can smell quite stinky. What is it?
Skunks have just the right amount of "ewww" to fascinate my children. This little cut and paste reader features a funny skunk, targets /sk/ blends and has a funny ending. From my Articulation and Language Activities for SK pack.

Camping themed Speech Therapy ideas! Have fun with this adorable S-blend practice cut and paste reader by Speech Sprouts Read the post for 15 ideas and freebies too! www.speechsproutstherapy.com

Owl-themed multiple meaning practice freebie
Whoo's my Homophone is feathery free download for you in my store.. Please leave me some love when you grab it (feedback in my store), it's appreciated!

Let's Go Camping! Grab this free Multiple meanings Owl freebie plus lots more ideas for speech and language in summer speech therapy www.speechsproutstherapy.com
FREE Multiple meanings vocabulary fun with owls

Stamp some Stars for S-Blends practice. 
Grab dark blue construction paper, a star-shaped cookie cutter and a bit of yellow tempera paint. Dip the cookie cutter in the yellow tempera and stamp it on the paper. Have your articulation students say "star" or "stamp a star" each time.

Go on a scavenger hunt outdoors.
Find something that is:

Have a camping themed scavenger hunt! Practice describing as you find things that are bumpy, fuzzy or tiny. 15 more great summer speech and language activities with a camping theme. www.speechsproutstherapy.com
that smells
that grows

Make Microwave S'mores for sequencing, describing, requesting and categories
Have your children predict what they'll need to make s'mores.

You'll need:
graham crackers
chocolate bars
paper plates

Language Goals to target:
Making requests/ formulating complete sentences: Have your children ask you for each ingredient 

Describing: Feel, taste a bit of each ingredient. Is it crunchy or soft? Smooth or rough? Sweet or sour? 
Categories: Name more foods that are crunchy, soft, or sweet. What else can you make with chocolate?

You may want to "roast" the marshmallows over your "campfire" on a stick before putting your s'more together.. What does "roast" mean? what else can you roast? What other food can you cook over the campfire on a stick?

Build your s'mores
Put half a piece of graham cracker on a paper plate. Add a piece of chocolate, then a marshmallow and top with another half graham cracker. Now it's ready to cook. 15 seconds in the microwave should do it. Be careful they're not too hot in the center. Squish and eat! 

When you are finished, talk about how the ingredients changed. Describe the s'mores using "senses" words. How did it feel, taste, smell, look? Did they feel hot? Sticky? Gooey?

Have a good old-fashioned flashlight hunt for any target.
Turn off the lights and give the children flashlights. Have them find or illuminate articulation or language cards.

Find more great camping theme ideas 

on my Pinterest board: Camping Theme Speech Therapy

Happy Summer Friends!  

!5 great summer speech therapy activities with a camping theme. Includes storybooks, crafts, a scavenger hunt freebies and more for speech and language fun! www. speechsproutstherapy.com

Friday, June 8, 2018

10 Sizzling Summer Freebies for Speech and Language You'll Love!

Ready for summer into your speech therapy room?

10 Sizzling Summer Freebies for Speech and Language www.speechsproutstherapy.com

Whether you are wrapping up the school year or planning your summer speech therapy sessions, I've gathered some terrific recommendations for summertime speech therapy activities for you.

How about exploring the blue ocean, camping out, catching a few bugs, heading to the beach, grabbing a cold ice cream cone or going on vacation in speech therapy?

Note: This post first appeared on Speech Spotlight. It swam over here to make it easy to share with my peeps on Speech Sprouts.

No need to search for terrific summer materials, I've got you covered!

Be ready for summer speech therapy with this fun round-up of summer speech and language freebies and product recommendations from a few of my favorite SLP blogger/ authors. So grab a lemonade and enjoy the warm breezes, you're all set.

1. From Speech Sprouts
The Freebie: That's Fishy! Which Does Not Belong?  Get out the fishing pole and work on negatives, categories, and associations with this colorful game. Then have your children match the fish to the same color fishbowl. Pre-K to1st grade.
Recommended: Summer Picture Story Sequencing Sequence and retell these bright, fun 2, 3, and 4-step picture stories with puzzles, sequencing cards, mats and cut and paste pages. Pre-K to 2nd grade.

2. From Susan Berkowitz
The Freebie: Free AAC at The Beach- Summer Communicating Fun. Implement AAC at the beach this summer! Includes vocabulary suggestions, directions of Aided Input, general AAC information, and a topic-based picture communication board.
Recommended: My Summer Journal: Writing about Vacation Activities. Send this writing project home with students over the summer. Students write where they went and what they did using pages that provide visual themed picture cues and wh statement prompts. 

3. From Ashley Rossi
The Freebie: Free Speech Therapy Summer Dice and Dot Grab the bingo daubers and dice- your children will color and roll as they target articulation of /k/ and /g/ in all word positions.
Recommended: Speech Therapy Summer Dice and Dot This full product will have your children dotting vocalic r, r, s, l, blends, ch, sh, z, th and language targets too. Pronouns, verbs, antonyms, categories, describing, compare and contrast and more. Kindergarten to 5th grade.

4. From Sarah Wu- Speech is Beautiful
The Freebie: Gift Bag Dog Tags for Camp Counselors Say thank you to summer staff by attaching these cute dog tags to inexpensive goodie bags. Great suggestions to fill your bags with essentials. 
Recommended: No-Prep Summer Speech Therapy- Receptive and Expressive Language Print and go language means more time for you! Pronouns, spatial concepts, wh questions, describing, compare and contrast, describing, and listening too. Pre-K to 1st grade.

5. From Looks Like Language
The Freebie: Summer Rhyme Time Fun  Sign up for Linda's newsletter to grab this freebie. Find the rhyming pairs of picture cards. 
Recommended: Sentence Builders and WH Questions - Summer Picture Activities Make, say and write noun-verb-object sentences to talk about summer fun! 3 game ideas, WH question activities, sorting mats, writing pages. Pre-K to 1st grade.

6. From Alberta Speechie
The Freebie: Summer Speech and Language Activities Newsletter Send home a newsletter that has a new speech and language activity every day and get parents involved for great carryover. 
Recommended: Ice Cream Animal Categories Build some sweet ice cream cones as you categorize animals by where they live or distinctive features. Pre-K to Kindergarten.

7. From TLC Talkshop
The Freebie: S'More Open-Ended Fun  Build S;Mores with a twist! Spicy, Smelly, Sweet or Strawberry, children race to complete their recipe. 1st grade to 5th grade.
Recommended: Language is a Ball: Beach Ball Craft  Create beach balls for Function, Part-Whole, Categories, Descriptions, Homonyms, Prepositions, Pronouns, Plural Nouns, and Verbs! Pre-K to 5th grade.

8. From Ms Gardenia's Speech Room
The Freebie: No-Prep Summer WH Questions Print and go for following directions and those tricky WH questions. Color your answers in the picture, or predict and draw what will happen next. PK to 2nd grade.
Recommended: Regular Plurals: I Have, Who Has for Summer Cards and super easy no-prep worksheets to teach plural endings and answering who and what questions. I have a shell, who has shells? PK to 2nd grade

9. From  Jennifer Bradley SLP
The Freebie: Summer Articulation & Language Homework Calendars Send home these calendars for daily suggestions for quick, fun activities. Keep track with the 'I Did My Work' chart!
Recommended: Articulation Homework Flipbook Bundle  11 Flipbooks (K, G, F, V, R, L, S, Z, TH, SH, CH) that you can send home to help your students with articulation! Each page of the flipbook gives parents detailed directions on how to help their children improve. Kindergarten to 3rd grade.

10. From  AGB Speech Therapy
The Freebie: Preposition Playground- "Behind" Have fun as you head to the playground and practice answering "where" questions with the concept of "behind". 
Recommended: Camping is Fun! Level 1 Read this simple story with repetitive text. Build vocabulary and associations as you talk about the items you need on a camping trip.

10 Sizzling Summer Freebies for Speech and Language www.speechsproutstherapy.com

Happy, happy summer!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

You Need to Make This Adorable Easy Ladybug Craft

This cute ladybug craft is made with one black construction paper circle, and one red circle cut in half for the wings. The wings are punched with a hole punch for the spots. It's adorable with wiggle eyes and pasted on a green paper background. Read the post for ladybug storybook and song ideas too! www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Easy to make ladybug craft for your bug week theme!

Make this easy and oh so cute ladybug craft for your bug theme!

Do you use themes in speech therapy? I love them, especially for my preschoolers. This week we were talking about bugs. It's a perfect spring or summer theme and fits right in with most preschool and kindergarten science lessons this time of year.

This paper hole punch ladybug craft was a hit with my preschoolers and my older children wanted to try it too. Just adorable and each one turned out a bit different.

We targeted articulation of final /g/ and initial /l/ and categorized those creepy, crawly insects. 

Which ones hop? Crawl? Have wings? We didn't forget question comprehension either. How many legs do insects have? Are ladybugs insects? Where do you find ladybugs?

Some crafts take too much time away from articulation practice, but not this one. We got plenty of repetitions as we practiced our /l/ words while we punched each hole: "light, light, light, lamb, lamb, lamb." Of course, you can do that with any phoneme.

Construction paper, glue. a marker and a hole punch are all that's needed to make an adorable ladybug craft in preschool speech therapy. Read the post for ladybug storybook and song ideas too! www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Add two wiggle eyes to these supplies to make your ladybug. 

Here's what you need for this easy ladybug craft

The supplies were what I already had in my speech room, so that was perfect. Yes, I do keep wiggle eyes!  I think I love them as much as much as the kids. They're so much fun! 


  • green construction paper
  • red construction paper
  • black construction paper
  • two wiggle eyes per child. I used 12 mm ones. 
  • glue
  • a marker
  • a hole punch

This ladybug craft is easy enough for preschoolers with a bit of help. Here's how:

A hole punch makes the spots in the red ladybug wings in this construction paper ladybug craft. Read the post for ladybug storybook and song ideas too! www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Punch holes in the ladybug wings for the spots.

  1. Cut out two circles of the same size for each ladybug. One red, one black. For my preschoolers, I used die-cut circles. Older children can trace and cut their own.
  2. Cut the red circle in half to make the wings.
  3. Glue the black circle on first.
  4. Punch holes in both wings. (Some of my preschoolers need me to hold the wings for them, or give the nose of the hole punch a  helping squeeze.

  5. Glue the red ladybug wings on a black circle in this adorable construction paper ladybug craft. Read the post for ladybug storybook and song ideas too! www.speechsproutstherapy.com
    Glue the red ladybug wings flared out like a "V".

  6. Glue the wings on leaving a little black showing at the top. (The eyes will go there) Make one end of each wing meet in the middle ( an upside down "v").
  7. Glue on the wiggle eyes.
  8. Use a black marker to make six legs.

Glue wiggle eyes on this construction paper ladybug to make this adorable spring preschool craft. Read the post for ladybug storybook and song ideas too! www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Add wiggle eyes to your ladybug.

Draw legs with a marker to finish this adorable construction paper ladybug craft. Read the post for ladybug storybook and song ideas too! www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Use a marker to give your ladybug 6 legs.

Read some great ladybug storybooks to go along with your craft!

You know me, I'm all about storybooks and themed learning. So I needed a ladybug storybook to read and captivate my kiddos before we made our ladybugs.

 There are lots of books for children out there that are great for science lessons, giving ladybug facts. Those are fine, but for speech and language opportunities, I prefer a storybook with:
  • characters and a plot that children can relate to.
  • repetitive text to help them participate and retell the story.
  • sound-loaded text for articulation practice.

Of course, I have a couple of great suggestions for you!

The Very Lazy Ladybug by Isobel Finn and illustrated by Jack Tickle

Don't you love those names? Finn and Tickle...with names like that you know it's going to be fantastically fun! The authors are from England and you'll find there are two versions of the story... one which calls the little red bug a ladybird, and one where it's a ladybug.

The very lazy ladybug in this tale liked to sleep all day and all night on a flower.  

One day she decided it would be nice to sleep somewhere else. Since she had never bothered to learn to fly, she decided to hop into the pouch of a kangaroo who was passing by. When that didn't go well, she tries to hitch a ride with a series of other animals.. all ending badly!

Here's why this story is great for speech therapy:

  • repetitive text. "I can't sleep here, cries the lazy ladybug!" 
  • a recurring series of events
  • sound-loaded: initial /l/, initial /k/ , final /g/ and /sl/ for articulation practice
  • chock-full of verbs to talk about and practice past-tense when retelling: hopped, jumped, padded, ambled, trundled,  sneezed, swung, swish, roar, scratch, snooze
  • animal characters to name: kangaroo, tiger, crocodile, monkey, bear, tortoise, elephant
  • begs for answering where questions.  Where did the ladybug hop? head, tail, pouch...

The Very Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle.

This classic story is about a ladybug who is very grouchy and does not like to share. He meets several animals and shouts "Wanna fight?" He doesn't really want to fight though and repeats "You're not big enough!" before he flies off. 

Here's why this book is great in speech therapy:
  • repetitive text 
  • a recurring series of events
  • sound-loaded: initial /l/, final /g//, initial /b/,  initial and final /f/
  • animal characters to name
  • social skills discussions: sharing

We finished up by learning bodyparts with the Ladybug Ladybug Song.

I like to use YouTube videos that coordinate with a target in my sessions, and am lucky enough to have a smartboard to super-size the viewing! Frank Leto's Ladybug, Ladybug song is perfect for your ladybug unit. The ladybug lands on the little boy in various places so you can practice bodyparts as you sing.

It's fun going buggy! I have a plastic ladybug that I "land" on my preschoolers as we sing. Boy, do they giggle and squirm when the ladybug lands on them. It's so cute. 

You can find a link to this video plus more videos for learning body parts on Frank Leto's website. Click here:  Ladybug Lady Song by Frank Leto. Be warned, however, the song gets stuck in your head. Yep, it's one of those. 

Gluing wiggle eyes above hole-punched red ladybug wings makes this easy preschool ladybug craft adorable for speech therapy  www.speechsproutstherapy.com
Easy Ladybug craft for preschool

Do you like to save speech therapy ideas for later?

Pin this post so you can easily find it again. I love Pinterest, it helps keep me organized!  You can also find more ladybug activities on my Spring Speech Therapy Activities board. I pin lots more themed ideas and storybooks on my boards. You can follow me on Pinterest here: Speech Sprouts on Pinterest. 

Until next time my friends,

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

How to Improve Narrative Skills in Young Children

Young children with language delays often have limited ability to tell a narrative. 

Using storybooks in speech therapy to improve story-telling skills

Understanding and being able to tell a story are essential skills for academic success. Yet many of our students have difficulty with sentence structure and providing pertinent details. Their narratives are often disorganized and incomplete, without the correct introduction, sequence and conclusion. So how can you improve oral narrative skills?

Boost narrative skills with these easy-to-implement strategies

1. Read simple picture books to your students. 

The more familiar the tale, the better. In fact, be sure you read the same story for several sessions to improve your student's ability to comprehend and re-tell the tale.

When reading, use an excited, dramatic voice with lots of inflection to capture the children's attention. Emphasize main points. Point to the pictures and comment. Let the children point out things they notice too. Talk about how the characters feel.

Predict what will happen next. Use the word "because" as you tell the story to illustrate cause and effect. (The house blew down because it wasn't very strong). After you are finished, have your students retell the story as you turn the pages.

2. Act out familiar tales. 

Have the children direct! Have them tell you what characters you need, where the story takes place, what the problem is, and what to do first, next and so on. Encourage them to use a dramatic voice themselves as they act it out. Then have the children switch roles and act it out again.

3. Practice sequencing the pages as children re-tell the story.

Run a copy of each picture or take apart an old tattered copy and give a page to each child. Have the children put each page in order as they tell the story. You can do this in so many fun and memorable ways:

  • Make a storyboard from a piece of posterboard and glue the pictures.
  • Give one page to each child in the group and have them hold it in front of them as they arrange themselves in order, then have each tell about their page.
  • Use your whiteboard and tape each picture on the board in the correct order. 
  • Put up a clothesline, and have the children clip the page to the line with a clothespin.

4. Use storytelling puppets, magnet board pictures or flannel board pieces.  

These are terrific for engaging my students. I use them all the time and the children love them. The visuals add extra support for young story-tellers.

Puppets instantly ignite a child's imagination and they will be begging to participate. Talk to the puppet as if it's real. If you both have a puppet, have your puppet give the prompts in a conversational voice,  rather than you as the instructor. For instance, your puppet may say "Oooh, I am wondering where we are!" to elicit the location of the story setting.

Five Little Ducks Speech and Language Activities with book and storytelling pieces.

Magnet board story-telling pieces are great manipulatives.You can find many to print  I have a magnetic board at school. The side of a file cabinet can work great too if you don't have a magnet board. These are from my Five Little Ducks Unit.

Flannel board pieces. I have inherited flannel board pieces that I still love. I purchased a flannel board with a magnetic backing so it can stick to my magnetic whiteboard for an easy, large vertical surface.

Go Away Big Green Monster Story-telling pieces
Click for More Activities for Go Away Big Green Monster

A cookie sheet makes a great surface for smaller magnetic pieces. The pieces to make the monster's face is a free printable from Kizclub. They have many free printable patterns for other stories as well.

What if storybooks are too complex for your young learners to re-tell?

5.  Start with sequencing pictures

Sometimes, we need to start with pictures that illustrate a simple sequence. This encourages children to notice how the details change in each step and help children express what's happening. It also encourages the development of sequence vocabulary of first, then, next, last.

Some children may be only ready for two-part, first-then sequencing and retelling. Others may be able to sequence and retell several steps in the story.

Modify the sequencing task for learners at various levels. 

I need a variety of picture stories to keep interest high. My students also need various levels of support so I created my 4-Season Sequencing Activities Bundle. I included activities for 2, 3, and 4-step story sequences.

1. With my beginning story-tellers, I like to start with picture story puzzles. 

I tell the story first and demonstrate the sequence for my beginners. Then I mix up the puzzle and have them put it together and describe each picture. The puzzles provide extra visual support and are self-checking for the sequence. I start with 3-step, then 4-step puzzles. These 4-step picture puzzles are from my Spring Picture Story Sequencing Activities Pack.

Sequencing picture puzzles for spring speech therapy

2. Next, we sequence and re-tell with picture cards.

I begin with 2-step stories, then progress to 3 and 4-step stories. I designed sequencing mats to provide a visual structure for the cards.
This is from my Summer Picture Story Sequencing Activities Pack.

Sequencing picture cards and mat for summer speech therapy

3. We combine story re-tell with written narratives for older students.

  Of course, we know that written language skills are essential for academic success. Students with language and articulation delays,  or even a history of delays that are now resolved, are at a higher risk than their peers for difficulty in reading and writing. It's so important not to simply target oral language, but to support written language in our intervention as well. 

Many older children still benefit from picture support when writing narratives. 
I included cut and paste writing activities from 1-4 steps. These activities progress from writing a single sentence to writing a multiple sentence narrative. 

A fall writing activity with sequencing pictures for speech therapyA winter writing activity with sequencing pictures for speech therapy

What are your favorite strategies for boosting narrative skills?

Literacy-based therapy is a passion of mine for so many reasons. I am currently doing a bit of research for a presentation I'll be giving this summer. I'm getting lots of ideas, strategies, and tips that I hope to share as I learn more. (This is also why I have been out of pocket for a while, I hope you forgive me.)

How to Improve Narrative Skills in Young Children

What are your best tips?  I love hearing from SLPs what works for them. Tell us in a comment!

Until next time my friends,