Saturday, May 30, 2015

Social Language Skills- Is It Our Job?

I am delighted to share a guest post today from Linda from Looks Like Language.

She's a awesome SLP who has done a lot of  great work in the area of social pragmatic language.Welcome Linda!

Hi! I'm Linda from Looks-Like-Language and I am so excited that Lisette invited me to guest post on her fantastic blog about innovative practices in speech/language pathology. Today's post is part of the terrific blog hop organized by Jen Preschern from Speech Language Literacy Lab. This is my very first ever blog post, so I hope you find it interesting! Lisette, thanks so much.

I don't know what SLPs say in your neck of the woods, but I've heard, ”But isn't that the social worker's/counselor's job?” when I've talked about older students' social language needs. Calling the skills “social language” is innovative, but SLPs have always worked with the use of language, or pragmatics.

When I returned to middle school a few years ago, I realized that my traditional training in pragmatics did not extend far enough. As children grow older, most develop the ability to use language in subtle ways that grease the wheels of social interaction, such as using euphemisms, making indirect requests, offering suggestions politely, and acknowledging other's feelings and opinions. Often our students only know how to be blunt!

Many of these social language skills involve using complicated sentence structures or understanding situations by reading between the lines.  How can the other wonderful support services help students practice and utilize skills when they don't have the receptive and expressive language base needed? Isn't it our job to help students acquire missing language and communication skills? In my experience, students get more so much more benefit from counseling sessions when they already have the language skills in place when they walk in the door!

For example, take H., a student of mine with anger management issues. After learning vocabulary for emotions, such as irritated, annoyed, and bothered, as well as the language and strategies for thinking about the size of the problem, he utilized the services of his wonderful social worker at the beginning of a problem. He was able to discuss alternatives with her, and eventually got back on a diploma track.

Or take C., a student on the spectrum who insisted he didn't need to have any friends. After he had practiced having conversations in the safety of my speech room,he began to interact with peers in short conversations.  After learning language associated with friendships and practicing what to say in response, C. proudly came to me and told me had a friend!

Get started with this Freebie!

To help you on your path, or to encourage you to take the plunge, I'm offering a sneak peek freebie from an upcoming product in my store. It is a rubric and informal assessment questionnaire to see if your students have some of the language needed to negotiate interactions with their peers. To get this freebie, just click on the cover to go to my store:  Looks Like Language.

 Social Skills Freebie from Looks Like Language

It's no too late to check out the rest of the posts in this great blog hop! See the whole list at Speech Language Literacy Lab. Just click HERE.

Hope you had a great BHSM!

Thanks Linda for an awesome post! Learning pragmatic language skills is so important for our students, and Linda is my go-to SLP for social skills tips and resources.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

An Intensive Service Delivery Model for Preschool Speech Therapy

Literature and Theme-based Intervention is a natural for Preschool Speech Therapy

Today I would like to share my experience providing speech therapy to preschoolers with a larger group, intensive service delivery model. 
I am happy to be joining in a terrific blog hop organized by Jen Preschern from Speech Language Literacy Lab. It's 30 days of great blog posts to celebrate Better Speech and Hearing Month.  If you are just getting started in the hop, be sure to check the link at the bottom to find more great posts with freebies and tips from over 30 bloggers.

I have lots of preschoolers on my caseload. 

Over the years, I have learned a bunch from these adorable, huggable, wiggly, sniffly, and enthusiastic little ones.
  1. Most three and four-year-olds are not ready to sit for extended periods of time and drill on skills. They need movement.
  2. Play is the natural way for little ones to learn.
  3. Be sure you keep plenty of tissues and hand sanitizer on hand!
  4. Thematic activities are powerful ways to teach vocabulary. Themes build a meaningful framework for new vocabulary and help link new words to existing experiences and knowledge.
  5.  Little ones are multi-sensory learners. They need to experience see, feel, listen, taste and manipulate materials for maximum learning and progress.
  6.  Be prepared to give and get lots of hugs. And a few tears.
  7.  Children with phonological disorders often need intervention for delays in a range of language and phonological skills. They are at risk for reading struggles.
  8. It is difficult, and often inefficient, to target each need one by one. Storybook reading and play activities provide rich opportunities to target multiple skills at once.
  9. Skills learned in context, integrated into natural communication, have the best chance of carryover outside of therapy.

A few years ago, my district was challenged to develop new programs for preschool speech students. 

A colleague and I became interested in programs that served children in a more natural communication environment than the traditional 30 minute, walk-in session. We visited two pilot programs in our area which offered longer sessions in a preschool-like setting with larger groups of children (up to 10). We thought “Ten kids in a session, are you kidding?” But it worked, the therapist had an assistant, and the kids rotated through centers. More about that in a minute.

 We really liked the format, because it was literature and theme-based. There is much evidence in the literature about the benefits of adult-child storybook reading. This program provided opportunities to efficiently build alphabet knowledge, print awareness, phonological awareness, and oral language skills.  It provided intensive articulation practice.

We decided to start a similar program in our district, got the green light from admin, and were assigned a paraprofessional to assist.  We called our program LEAP: Language and Early Articulation for Preschoolers.

We quickly realized that while we could pattern our program after the framework of other districts, we were going to have to develop the lessons ourselves from scratch! We used the book, Once Upon a Sound by Linda Smith-Kewel and Tracey Molenaar Claeys as a starting point. We added, adapted and substituted books and activities to suit our children’s needs. Together, we spent many long hours that first year developing lesson plans. Now we are wrapping up year four, it has gotten so much easier, and I am still loving it!

Here’s our therapy model:

  1. We serve 3, 4, and 5-year-old preschool children in our LEAP program with mild-moderate language delays or any level of articulation delay.
  2. Each group is seen for two hours, twice a week. Children with more severe articulation disorders may be seen for additional sessions.
  3. We have a paraprofessional assistant. (You don’t want to try this by yourself!) Our assistant is intuitive and amazing, and has learned to prompt the children throughout the session. The kids are receiving modeling, scaffolding and correction many times per session from both of us. 
  4. We use a cycles approach for articulation: all activities reinforce a chosen phoneme/ phonological process target each week.The targets are changed weekly. Language skills are integrated throughout each session as well.

What do sessions look like using this model?

Circle Time

  • Sponge Activity: I show a YouTube video or two, while the kids are getting settled and using the restroom. I am fortunate to have an interactive whiteboard. Literacy skills are important for our speech-delayed kids, so I always show an alphabet video, then one on the weeks’ theme and targets.
  • Movement Activity: This helps to get the kids ready to attend. Patty Shukla has some awesome videos for this on YouTube, like this one:  JUMP!    We sing, we dance, and we do fingerplays. It’s a blast!
  • Introduce the Weekly Target: We write the letter or letters that make the sounds on the board and I model the sound for them while demonstrating placement.  I have a feely bag with small toys in it beginning with our sound.  Kids adore reaching in to see what’s inside and name it.

  • Sound-Loaded Storybook: Literature-based therapy provides the opportunity to work on so many targets at once. We read the story, use puppets, objects, and magnet board pictures to illustrate, retell and act out the story.

There are so many opportunities to scaffold and expand utterances during storybook discussions and narrative re-telling. We work on print awareness, phonemic and phonological awareness: We identify words with our sound, discuss rhyme, and clap out syllables. We answer WH questions, predict, discuss basic concepts, new vocabulary, and categorize whenever the opportunities arise during the story. All with one efficient activity!

I have developed an extensive list of sound-loaded books to target each phoneme. Read more about this on my blog: Sound-Loaded Storybooks For Articulation.  I offer the list as a freebie, so be sure to check it out.

Centers: Children rotate through each center for 5-10 minutes each.

  • Kitchen Center: Play food and dishes for imaginative play.

  • Activity Center: Toys are chosen for the weeks’ target. It may be a farm set for initial /f/, cars with a street scene carpet for velars, or stacking cups for final /ps/ blends.
  •  Puzzle Table: puzzles, file folder games, cookie sheet activities featuring the chosen targets. We have a Humpty Dumpty puzzle for initial /h/, or colorful printed fish to make an “ocean” for final sh. We also put sensory bin activities here.

  •  Computers: I have three student computers in my room. We created a PowerPoint auditory bombardment for each target. The children listen and watch the bombardment activity on the first computer, then move to the next one and use language and phonological awareness software. I like the Buddy Bear software (Autism and PDD series) from Linguisystems and my old copy of Earobics.

  • Art Table: My assistant works with 2-3 children at a time doing hands-on activities designed to elicit plenty of artic repetitions. She gets to have all the fun! There is painting, play doh activities, making booklets, stringing, gluing, washing, tasting, digging, matching, fishing, game-playing, you name it. The kids get practice making requests as they ask for materials. My assistant corrects and models for the kids, reinforcing vocabulary, syntax and sentence structure skills. 

  •  Ipad: The kids engage with apps chosen for language or thematic content.
  • Library Center: We stock a bookshelf with a different selection each week of books that reinforce our target.  Add a beanbag for a comfy reading spot.
  • Speech Time: This is one-on-one time at the table with the SLP. We work on each child’s specific needs, articulation words and language targets. I use a variety of super-quick motivational activities to make it fun.

Closing Circle

Back on the carpet, we discuss our activities for the day, providing practice on past-tense verbs. If time allows, we read a second story. I love sending the student’s work home to provide more opportunities for parents to discuss/practice with their children.

How on earth do I keep all the lessons and materials organized? Read about organizing for Grab-and-Go Articulation Therapy HERE.  

Whew! It’s a jam-packed two hours.

 Parents, principals and kids love it. I love it because it provides me the opportunity to work with each child individually, to incorporate pre-literacy skills, and provides tons of opportunities for language and artic practice. I get to develop a deeper understanding of each child and see how their skills carry over into genuine, functional communication during our busy, activity-filled sessions.

We have found that we are seeing fewer of our children retained in kindergarten, better progress in language skills and often faster progress in articulation skills as compared to a traditional therapy model.

If you love the idea of literature and theme-based therapy, stop by Speech Sprouts and see what else I have for you!

Here's a fun activity to get you started:

Freebie for You

Download this fishing game from Speech Sprouts to create your own active language center:

Come visit on May 30th when my friend Linda from Looks Like Language will guest post here at Speech Sprouts with some great ideas about The Importance of Social Language Skills.

You should definitely check out the rest of the posts in this great blog hop! See the whole list here at SpeechLanguage Literacy Lab

Happy BSHM!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Speech Therapy Can Be a Picnic.

A Teddy Bear Picnic that is!

My littles each got to bring a "plus one" to the event. They brought bears of all shapes and sizes.

Teddy Bear Picnic

We read Corduroy then hunted for his missing button.

Each child had to follow the clues with prepositions to find a button.
Look inside something that keeps food cold (play refrigerator). Look behind something we sit in. Look  below the window. Are the buttons the same? Different? We found several buttons that didn't match, until finally the right one was found!
Corduroy's Buttons

I have also taken the children on a walk around campus hunting for the button. I give a button to each staff member we will visit. The children ask, "Do you have Corduroy's button? The correct one is not found until we get back to the room, and find a clue. It was there all along!

Find the buttons that are the same.

We made bear ears.

We matched buttons. We played "musical bears" to the tune of Teddy Bear's Picnic on YouTube, sung by Anne Murray.

Tip for pre-schoolers: Some little ones don't get the "competition" aspect of being short a chair. We end up with some tears if someone doesn't get a chair when the music stops, so we are sure to have a chair for each child. It's still fun to race around and find a seat!

We measured and described our bears, then had a beary delicious snack of teddy grahams, gummy bears and chocolate milk. Yum.
So much fun with our furry-eared friends!

Of course lots of language was happening! 

The kids were eager to talk about our picnic! Plenty of questions naturally arise: Have you ever had a picnic before? Who was there? What do you bring to a picnic? Where can you have one?

We talked about our bears as they proudly showed them off. Whose bear is largest? Smallest? Line them up in order of size. Talk about pronouns: He has a brown bear, She has a pink bear. Possessives: The white one is Joey's bear.

What about real bears? Where do bears live? What other animals live there? I wonder what bears eat. How are gummy bears and Teddy Grahams the same? Different?

A Freebie For You.

We had so much fun I wanted to share with you! Here are pages for you, so can print and create your own file folder matching game and go hunting for Corduroy's buttons. Click HERE to download Corduroy's Button

I would love to hear what activities you have planned to wrap up the school year. I hope you enjoy this little freebie.
Add Velcro to Corduroy's overalls to hold the buttons.
Use these buttons for Corduroy and the matching game.
Corduroy's Buttons- file folder game. Just add Velcro!

Have fun!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Win With Speachy Feedback!

Today I am featuring some of my favorite feedback from some very wonderful buyers at Speech Sprouts. I'm linking up with Allison's Speech Peeps to say thank you for some truly awesome Speachy Feedback!

If your feedback is featured, please contact me because you have won a free product from Speech Sprouts!

It is just too hard to pick just one comment, because SLPs and teachers are some of the most supportive and wonderful people. That's what the best educators do, isn't it? Encourage each other?

I love feedback that tells me the kids really enjoyed a learning activity I created. It's so exciting to hear, and keeps me so motivated to make more!

I know what works in my therapy room, but I want to be sure it works in yours too! I love hearing what aspects of a product you enjoy. This really helps me as I plan out future resources.

Is is soooo important to me that you feel you got a great value and a quality resource when purchasing a product from Speech Sprouts, so I was doing a happy dance, when I read this!

If I have featured your feedback, please contact me at, for your pick of a  free resource, excluding bundles. Congrats!

Thanks to all for leaving me your kind and encouraging words. It means more than you know.

Don't forget to head over to Allison's Speech Peeps and see who else has chosen their speachy feedback favs, HERE.. Maybe it's yours! 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

SLP Grad Great Gifts for a "Starter Kit"

Do you need a great gift for a soon-to-be speech language pathology graduate?

 I am linking up with All  Y'all Need to help you brainstorm some super ideas! Be sure to check out her linky.

How about a  great"Starter Pack"? So what are the essentials? I am a school-based SLP. Let me tell you, there are some of items I can't do without.

First the Basics:

Sticky notes in cool shapes and several sizes. Essential for tabbing absolutely everything and sending notes to teachers too!
Highlighters in several bright colors
A cool mouse pad
File folders in multiple colors
A pretty clipboard- must-have for all those assessments
A penlight of course for those oral mech exams
A package of cardstock. Trust me, this will come in handy after those forays to Teachers pay Teachers.

Now Some Fun Stuff:

Bingo chips and a magnetic wand.  Most-used item ever in my room. I got mine at Walmart, cheap.  I use 'em for rewards, game pieces, bingo, motivational activities, you name it. The wand has also makes a great magnet on the end of a "fishing pole".


Hooway for Wodney Wat by Helen Lester Every SLP in the schools needs this adorable book!

Anything with "SLP" on it, because your grad will be very proud to show off their new credentials. Find some great t-shirts and bags from the Peachie Speechie HERE:

New SLPs are heading to Teachers pay Teachers for printable speech language pathology resources. I suggest one or two printable resources, and a TpT gift certificate too, so your grad can choose a couple more.

Here are some essentials from Speech Sprouts they are sure to love if they will be working with elementary-aged students:

Autumn Vocabulary Games. This pack will get them started with three open-ended games to use for any goal. The games are Back-to School, Halloween and Thanksgiving- themed, so they are handy all the way through fall! Vocabulary and language questions are also included for a quick-play grab and go motivational activity.

Associations and Describing in the Doghouse:
Great for a variety of ages, little ones choose pictures that "go-together", older students describe associations with the included prompts. Everyone loves the naughty little dog in the board game!

Every pediatric SLP needs articulation materials too! I recommend this bundle for a ton of S-blend activities:

 S-Blends Stetchable Articulation Bundle:

Head over to All Y'all Need for more great ideas HERE. 

My congratulations to your favorite grad on their new adventure! I would love to hear what other great ideas you have. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

What's in Your Cart? Speech Sprouts Links Up

What's in Your Cart?

Cure those year-end blues with some shiny new activities! 

I know I am, because it's time for the Teacher's (and SLP's too!) Appreciation Sale over at TPT. Last call this year to save up to 28% off when I use the coupon Code: ThankYou. I can't pass that up.

 I am linking up with Jenna Rayburn of Speech Room News for the last What's in Your Cart linky of the year. It's a great first stop to see links to  SLP resources all in one place.

My students and I are tired, and need something fresh to wake up therapy sessions in the next few weeks. Look at these awesome resources I found:

My kids will love peeking through the "windows" of  The Animal Book Bundle from Christy Jones. I am blessed with lots of littles. Super cute.

The Speech Summit has Preposition Language Rings. My kids will love using the round cards, and we always need plenty of practice with prepositions.

Tracey over at GoldCountrySLP has made a packet of Mystery Pictures for Speech and Language-Summer. Tons of fun coloring the squares and trying to guess what it as the kids practice their articulation. Got to get something for my older kids, this will keep their attention.

Of course there is plenty goodness for you over at Speech Sprouts too! 

Check out my latest resource: Synonym Bugs. Plenty of activities in the packet to take you all the way to the finish-line.

 Use your hole-puncher to keep score in the "Synonym Crunch" Game by punching holes in the leaves after you spin. Find the matches to create bugs in the "Synonym Bugs Game". Be sure to find the leaves hidden underneath to feed your bugs and collect points. Make a cootie catcher and name synonyms with your friend. Grab your dot marker and color the matching ladybugs in "Spot-On" synonyms. Cut out bugs and fill a bug jar, or get out your flyswatters for the "Synonym Swat Game."Your kids will go buggy over this one!

Stop by and check out this bundle, Speech Therapy Oceans of Fun.  It includes a great book companion for Smiley Shark by Ruth Galloway, and an interactive reader to target Who? questions. A huge variety of fun in the ocean speech and language activities, you may be able to cover your entire caseload with this one.

Happy May everyone, and don't forget to head over to the What's in Your Cart Linky at Speech Room News.