Sunday, November 5, 2017

2 Quick and Easy Turkey Day Games for Free: Just Don't Eat Tom!

Thanksgiving Speech Therapy Games Freebie: Don't Eat Tom!

Turkey Day is around the corner and you need a tantalizing therapy plan. 

What have you got cooking? Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday tailor-made to get your students talking about food, feelings, friends and family. And fun. Whew! Lots of /f/ there. But here's the thing:

It's November. You're tired. Your students are wired. It's the reality of the season. 

If you're like me, you've been going full steam ahead on referrals, assessments, and meetings. Hunched over your computer or driving to your next school while you wolf down lunch. Do this, finish that, and oh! Don't miss any therapy sessions. Yeah, that's tired me talking. Time-starved fall can be tough!

On the other hand, our students have had Halloween, a week of dress-up Red Ribbon days, fall fun events and so, soooo many assemblies. Wiggle city and chasing squirrels. Sound about right?

So how do you lasso your student's attention for the next couple of weeks? 

Time to make the most of quick, simple and highly engaging activities around the holiday and season. Make 'em low-prep. Because you don't... have...time.  Don't stress, I've got you covered!

I am so very grateful for you, my sweet and supportive followers, so I have created a couple yummy freebies for you.

2  Quick, Easy (and Delicious!) Thanksgiving Game Freebies

Thanksgiving Speech Therapy Games Freebie: Don't Eat Tom!

Don't Eat Tom!

Start by choosing a goal and six words or prompts for each student. You can write those in the box, or pop a Quick List in the box. (I've included 5 different Quick Lists for you!)

Here's how to play:

  1. While one student isn't looking or out of the room, the remaining students choose a character to be "Tom".
  2. Put a small treat on each character. This could be candy, popcorn, cereal or even bingo chips or tokens if food is a no-no.
  3. The first student then names the picture, answers a question, or says their word the number of times shown in that square. 
  4. The student eats or collects the treat on the square, moves on to the next square, and repeats. 
  5. When the student gets to the treat on "Tom", everyone shouts Don't eat Tom!" and their turn is over. 
Of course, the object is to avoid Tom and collect or eat as many treats as you can!

Thanksgiving Speech Therapy Games Freebie: Don't Eat Tom! and Dinnertime!

Dinner Time!

The graphics were so cute, I made a matching game too for my little ones. This is great for teaching Thanksgiving food vocabulary, colors (find one that's green), categories or following directions. (Find a yellow vegetable.)

Print an extra set or two of cards and play Memory or Go Fish! too.


What are Quick Lists?

These are handy little 2-inch square lists that I have made for several packs now. Read more about my Quick Lists here: 3 Sure-Fire Ways to Conquer Mixed Group Madness.

I've included Quick Lists to target these skills:

• Name a food that is___. (roasted, crunchy)
• Describe the food.
• Name the category members (desserts, dairy)
• Which do you ___? (Name a food that matches the verb...bake, slice)
• Use the words in a sentence. (She likes, he cuts) (verb and s-blend practice)

Quick Lists and No-Prep BW sheets for stress-free holiday sessions!
Quick Lists & No-Prep BW activities for stress-free sessions!

No Color Ink?

I know many of you don't have access to color printing, so I always try to make a BW version for you. You can also use the BW version as a coloring activity or home practice sheet. See? You've just covered a whole lot of bases with just one little set. So go download HERE!

Please leave feedback in my store if you do, I appreciate that so much!


Want more great Fall Speech Therapy Activities?

Here are fall activities in my store you'll love:

Any age:

Thanksgiving Mixed Group Magic Quick List Activities A whole pack of no-prep BW activities: color by number, mystery squares, puzzles and more.
Thanksgiving Bingo Riddles Perfect for any size groups, children solve the rhyming riddles to play.
Autumn Vocabulary Games: Open-ended games for each fall month. Spell Autumn to win!

For littles K-1st grade:

Pumpkin, Pumpkin Where Can You Be? A fun send-home reader and plenty of therapy activities for concepts.
Fall Picture Story Sequencing


I'm wishing you all a stress-free November and a very Happy Thanksgiving! 

Thanksgiving Speech Therapy Games Freebie: Don't Eat Tom! and Dinnertime!
Download these FREE games here.
Holiday hugs for all. (Yes, I am a hugger. But mostly with my peeps, and that's you!)

Don't forget to download your freebie. Can't wait to hear from you!

Until next time my sweet friends!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Monkeyshines in the Speech Room: Adorable Five Little Monkeys Craft and Language Activities

 Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree...the story.

We made this this adorable Five Little Monkeys Craft after reading the storybook. My preschoolers absolutely loved it! Add a tie for boys, a boy for girls. Too. Cute!

My preschoolers love those naughty little monkeys who boast: "You can't catch me!" So do you think you can capture the attention of a group of preschoolers for the second day of Five Little Monkeys Pre-K speech therapy? Oh yeah. You bet.

We talked about Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed in my last post and I shared a cute FREE little monkey dot marker activity. (free download for subscribers!) Be sure to take a peek. We had lots of fun, and my sweeties were definitely up for more.


Day two was all about Five Little Monkeys Swinging in the Tree.

Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree: Fun preschool speech and language activity ideas

Of course, we started off by reading the adorable story by Eileen Christelow. Repetitive stories like this are perfect to encourage children to participate. Do the fingerplay actions as you turn the pages, and your preschoolers will enthusiastically chant the rhyme along with you.

Each time the crocodile sneaks up another monkey we make "jaws" with our two hands, open wide and ...SNAP! One more little monkey missing.  Oh no! On the upside, it's terrific practice for the /sn/ blend!

Here are the fingerplay motions:

1.  Five little monkeys swinging in a tree. 
 (Hold up your hand with all five fingers hanging down, and make the monkeys swing!)

2.  Teasing Mr. Crocodile, You can't catch me! (point to your shoulder with your thumb)

3.  Along came Mr. Crocodile swimming quietly...... (put your palms together and make him swim through the water.)

4.  SNAP! (Move your hands apart like jaws, then clap your hands together.)

5.  Repeat with four fingers and so on, until there are no monkeys left!

This puppet gives me story-telling super powers!

Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree: Fun preschool speech and language activity ideas

When I saw him on a trip to New Orleans, I knew I had to have him. Did I buy jewelry or a cute dress while there? Nope. I was drooling over the puppets in a little toy store.

I'm pretty much always in the preschool frame of mind. Love, love my littles!

While reading the story, this guy helps me turn pages, then gets ready to snap up some monkeys for dinner.


Five Little Monkeys activities my kids totally loved.

We didn't stop there. We had to do a cute little craft, a fun game, and some send-home pages too!

Five Little Monkeys Craft

We made this this adorable Five Little Monkeys Craft after reading the storybook. My preschoolers absolutely loved it! Add a tie for boys, a boy for girls. Too. Cute!
Make this easy Five Little Monkeys craft- simple and oh-so-cute!

We made these adorable monkeys, and of course embedded plenty of language and articulation practice along the way: body parts, requesting, /st/ (We love to say "stick in on!" as we glue a piece.) We decorated with bows. bow-ties and business ties too. I love seeing how each child makes it their own.

How do I fit in all these activities?

I have centers set up in my preschool therapy program, and our "art" center is one stop. You may not use my delivery model, but if you do in-class therapy you could do each activity as a center, or simply use the activities over several sessions in a traditional pull-out setting. Boy, does that make planning easy! Plus the repetition is fantastic for comprehension, vocabulary acquisition, and story retelling.


The Perfect Five Little Monkeys Game

In our "activity" center, we played this fun game. Say your words and you get a monkey to put in the tree! Be careful though, because the "tree top" is attached with a magnet and will fall if you don't balance those monkeys. And down below? There is a hungry crocodile of course!

The perfect game to go with Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree. Many more preschool speech and language activity ideas in this post from
The perfect game to go with Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree.

This game is called the "Monkeying Around Game", and I see it online available from several sources if you are looking for it. (I am not affiliated in any way with this game, and get no compensation for the recommendation- I just think it's way fun!)

FREE Home Practice Activities

I always like sending something home for carryover practice, so I created these activities. It's a freebie available in my Teachers pay teacher's store. This fun little collection of 6 activities (color by number, mystery squares, friendly faces and more) coordinates with my Mixed Group Magic and Quick List sets.

What that means is that there is a box on each activity where you can paste a custom list for each child, whether it's s-blends, initial /m/, wh questions or other goals. Head over and download this Freebie for yourself and pretty please leave me feedback in my store when you do. I really appreciate it!

Find this freebie here: Five Little Monkeys Quick List Activities.
Five Little Monkeys Quick List Activities for Speech & Language
If you haven't grabbed my Five Little Monkeys Dot Marker Activity in my last post, you will want to head there too. It's free when you sign up as a subscriber! Click here to read the post:  Best-Ever Books for Preschool Speech Therapy: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

Themed therapy rocks! 

Don't you agree? I think this unit will keep your littles busy and learning for quite a while. What are some of your favorite themes and storybooks? I'm always looking for new favorites, so leave a comment and share yours!

Until next time my friends,

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Best-Ever Books for Preschool Speech Therapy: Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree Speech Therapy Language Activities

We just finished up our Five Little Monkeys week with my preschoolers. So much speech and language covered and oodles of enthusiasm!

I pulled out this unit for my Pre-K program, but my Kinders saw some of the activities and begged to do them. (I have never met a child who doesn't love monkeys.) It was perfect for them. My second through fourth graders saw our game and wanted to play too. I love it when that happens, easy planning for me, and engagement galore.

My Favorite Five Little Monkeys Books

Eileen Christelow has written adorable books to illustrate the traditional rhymes and fingerplays, and added more adventures too! You could easily spend two weeks this unit, and there are plenty of speech and language goals to target.

My favorite titles are Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed and Five Little Monkeys Sitting in a Tree. These books are perfect for speech therapy because they have repetitive text, simple storylines, and adorable illustrations the children love.

First,  we read Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Speech Therapy Language Activities

The story starts out with the little monkeys getting ready for bed. They brush their teeth, Mama tucks them in and says goodnight. The little monkeys are supposed to be going to sleep, but as you probably have heard, these mischevious little monkeys start jumping on the bed as soon as Mama leaves the room.

One by one the little monkeys fall off and bump their heads in this countdown song. Five little monkeys jumping on the bed. One fell off and bumped his head. Mama makes a call to the doctor each time who admonishes, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed!" My children just love that the monkeys are naughty.

We use finger puppets for the monkeys. 

A felt board set or printables will work. But I have this cute little set of finger puppet monkeys that match the illustrations. It's By Merrymakers. You can find it at many stores online including Target and Walmart. (I'm not an affiliate, and get no compensation... just want to help you locate it if you like!)

 I also have a little "bed" for the monkeys. may say stay away from the teacher giveaway table at school. ("You don't need more stuff!") But I scored this! Just saying.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed Speech Therapy Language Activities

If you haven't acquired a little bed, you can easily make one for your monkeys. 

To make a simple bed, just put together a cardboard box, a small soft cushion, and a few dish towels. We take turns making the monkeys jump on our bed. They fall off and get a huge bump on their head of course. Ouch!

Goals you can target with Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.

1. Articulation: this rhyme is sound-loaded with initial /m/ (monkeys, Mama, more) and "J" (jumping) for articulation practice.
2. Position concepts on/off. How many monkeys are "on" the bed? Who is off?
3. Verb + ing: jumping. What is she doing?
4. Regular past tense verbs: jumped, bumped, called
5. Irregular past tense verbs: fell
6. Regular plural: monkeys
7. Answering Where? Questions. Use finger puppets or printables to place monkeys in various places and positions. Ask "Where is the monkey?"

More Five Little Monkeys Activities

After reading our story, we went to the table for some drill on our skills. We used our dot markers to complete this home-made motivational page. You do NOT need anything fancy to engage young children. They totally loved this activity that was hand-sketched from a picture we found.

Maybe you're thinking you can't draw. (Neither can I, this was sketched by my talented assistant, Susan.) So if you prefer a ready-made activity, I went ahead and made one for you! He's fun to use with dot markers, crayons, bingo chips or even pompoms and over-sized tweezers to give him a fuzzy belly!

Get this free download by clicking HERE.

Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed - Get this free dot marker activity

If you have read my blog post- Intensive Service Delivery Model for Preschool Speech Therapy, you know that I have two-hour sessions with my littles. We had several activities during our one long session, but you can absolutely target any theme across several shorter sessions.

Review and Story Re-telling

 I love being able to review and ask the children to "re-tell" what we did the last session (or at the beginning of our long session.) Bonus: You get to read the story again. Repeated storybook readings are fabulous for reinforcing vocabulary, setting up children for success in answering questions and giving them plenty of opportunities for story re-tell.

We wrapped up our session by watching This adorable video from Super Simple Songs:

If you think this was more fun than a barrel of monkeys, you will want to read about Day 2 

We couldn't neglect The Five Little Monkeys Swinging in a Tree. Check out my next post: Monkeyshines in the Speech Room: Adorable Five  Little Monkeys Craft and Language Activities.
You'll find a fun craft, and a link to another freebie that's full of monkey business. Sorry, couldn't help myself, but I think that's all the "monkey sayings" I can muster for right now.  (Insert chuckle and a grin.

If you have some great 5 Little Monkeys ideas, please comment and share. I would love to hear them!

Until next time my friends,

Sunday, September 10, 2017

3 Sure-Fire Secrets to Solving Mixed-Group Madness

Mixed groups are challenging in speech therapy. I won't lie.

The secrets to mixed groups in speech therapy

If feel like you need octopus arms and an extra set or two of eyes to shuffle cards and papers and take data all the while you are trying to keep wiggly children engaged in speech therapy(whew!), you are not alone. Don't worry, I am going to share some of my best secrets to end the madness. Keep reading, I've got you!

The reality for most school-based speech-language pathologists is that mixed groups are inevitable. 

Class schedules, specials schedules, and principal or district mandates on where we can and can't pull a child for speech therapy factor into grouping. Then there's our own juggling act of serving multiple campuses and having limited time at each campus. It pretty much makes mixed groups a certainty in a school setting.

Mixed groups can include children of varying ages and grade levels, varying developmental levels and certainly varying IEP goals. Small homogeneous groups are often just not possible.

In addition to the diverse needs of these groups, the groups usually end up being bigger than we would like because caseloads for most SLPs are unreasonably large. No-one can serve 70-90 children individually or in small groups. Not. Humanly. Possible. Clone me, please!

I talked about the pain of scheduling in my last post 10 Tips for Conquering The Dreaded Speech Schedule. (Yes the pain is real friends!) So now you have your groups scheduled, and you may be wondering, "How on earth do I do this?" So...

Let's talk about how to conquer mixed groups!

Why are mixed groups so difficult, and what can we do to make these groups effective, fun and less stressful for you? Here are the biggest challenges and the secrets to solving them.


The Challenge: Off-task behaviors that happen as children wait for their "turn."

Kids get easily bored waiting. I don't think children are learning the skill of waiting patiently because of all the "instant gratification" activities that are so popular. (Video games, apps.) But that is another soapbox...

When children are bored, they start acting silly or misbehaving. You end up repeatedly correcting inappropriate behaviors that waste precious therapy time.

The Fix: Reduce wait time and keep children busy between turns.

How? There are my best strategies:

The Secrets to Mixed groups in Speech Therapy
Read, retell and act out stories in mixed groups

Use whole-group activities.

1. Read a storybook:  Have students retell and act it out. Pick out the vocabulary and words for articulation as you go. Students working on fluency can practice pacing and light contact.  You can put a sticky note on the page ahead of time with the articulation or vocabulary targets to remind yourself.  If you need a few great book suggestions, check out my Best-Ever Books for Speech Therapy posts. 

2. Storybook companions: There are many of these on Teachers pay Teachers. I have created several for you and make sure to pack a ton of targets in each one, so you can pull one pack and done for your caseload. Find these goodies here: Speech Sprouts Book Companions.

3. Cooperative games: The Balloon Bop game as described by Teach Hub is great for keeping everyone engaged. Balloon Bop is played by forming a circle holding hands. Keep holding hands and drop a balloon in the middle. The children must keep the balloon in the air, using their feet, knees or bodies. While they are doing this, you go around the circle and prompt each child's goals. How many turns can the whole group complete before the balloon falls to the floor?

Other cooperative ideas are having your students interview each other and then report to the group about what they learned. Terrific for describing, sentence formulation and pronouns. Find more cooperative games that you can adapt to your groups like Zoom or If You Build It at TeachThought 

4. Games that require children to attend to every turn. 
  • Memory. (No need for a specific set of cards. Grab any set and prompt each student with their individual goals before they flip over two cards and try to make a match.)
  • Go Fish
  • Headbanz
  • Bingo Riddles (Available in my store for holidays and seasons!)

Use motivational activities that keep student's brains and hands occupied during wait-time.

Choose games that are quick-play. 

1. Games: Be sure they are quick-play and don't take much time between turns. 
2. Art activities: Try play dough, painting, coloring, dot markers, bendable wax sticks.
3. Construction activities: Give a few legos, pop-together links or other building toys per turn.
4. Puzzles: Give a piece or two of the puzzle per turn.

Music and Movement Breaks for speech therapy mixed groups
S.T.O.P song. Take movement breaks in mixed groups

Get children up and moving during the session to burn some energy.

1. Movement Breaks
  • Have a 90-second dance party.
  • Yell switch! and everyone has to take a different chair. 
  • Turn on one of many music and movement videos on YouTube for a minute or two. I love Patty Shukla's videos such as Jump! for littles. It will give you a workout too!
2. Beanbag Games Toss a bean bag at any target- cards, baskets or even the trash can. Play for points and kids will love it.

3. Go on a Hunt. See how I do an articulation hunt with Wheels on the Bus. You can hide all sorts of things... eggs, stuffed animals, Christmas bows, spider rings, any set of category cards, clues to a hidden treasure. Start by prompting your student with their individual goals, then let them hunt. Put points on each bus or other objects to be hidden. Who can collect the most points?

Use a center-based strategy if you have room.

Work individually with each child a few minutes and then switch. 
  1.  Put out activities that encourage independent practice at each center.  
  • Written practice for older students.
  • Listening tubes and word or sentence lists for self- practice. (Teaches them how to practice at home)
  • Tally counter- how many repetitions of that articulation word can I do?
  • Category sorts
  • Matching: match association cards, beginning sound cards and more.
  • A tablet with apps and games for vocabulary, phonological awareness, socials skills and more.

The Challenge: Addressing multiple goals at once. 

How to address multiple goals in speech therapy mixed groups.
Addressing multiple goals is a challenge!

One student has articulation goals, one is working on antonyms, one on syntax, another student stutters and is working on easy starts. You need prompts for each child ready to go and easy to find, because generating those on the fly for each student will twist your brain up into a knot.

The Fix: Keep a list of prompts for each student in front of you as you work.

Don't try shuffling papers or flipping through multiple sets of cards or through pages of a book to locate the next prompt for each student. That will drive you crazy! 
  1. Cards: Many commercial card sets have a summary list or key on a card. Use those in front of you instead of shuffling through each picture card. With just 3 or 4 cards in front of you, you can have a synonym list, an articulation list, etc at your fingertips.
  2. Lists: Make a list for each target. Keep the master lists in front of you or place individual lists in front of the student who is working on that skill, so you don't need to visually hunt for the right prompt. 

If list-making is too time-consuming, try Quick Lists!

Targeting multiple goals in speech therapy mixed groups is easy with these handy Quick Lists
Mixed Group Magic Quick Lists and Activities

I am excited to tell you about these! These handy little gems are magic for mixed groups and are no-prep, other than print and cut the lists you need. I designed quick lists specifically to simplify your mixed groups, but they are also terrific for progress monitoring. 

Just under 2" square, you can easily add the perfect individualized list to any activity. Each list has 6 prompts. Pop one on an interactive paper activity such as my School-themed Mixed Group Magic Activities, on a master prompt sheet for your group, or simply place it in front of the student as they work on an activity or game. 

With receptive language, expressive language, and articulation Quick Lists, they will be your no-prep go-to resource all year long. Save now by grabbing the bundle (over 500 lists), and if I add any future Quick Lists, you will get those free!


The Challenge: Data Taking

With several students working on different goals in a single session, trying to take data can be difficult, confusing and make your brain hurt.

The Fix: 

1. Take data on only one or two students per session. Then rotate and take data on another student or two the next time.

2. Have older students take their own data, then show you at the end of the session, so you can record it. This can be motivating and help them slow down and attend as well.

3. Record the data on one group sheet, then transfer later. Quick Lists have you covered again with this one! Check out this group sheet. Paste a quick list for each student on it, and you are ready to be a data-taking ninja.The group sheets are included in all Quick List sets.

Simplify data-taking in speech therapy mixed groups
Take data on one sheet in mixed groups


The secrets to mixed groups in speech therapy

I'll bet you have more great ideas. What works for you? Please leave a comment, I would love to hear

I hope you are feeling better now about your mixed groups. You can do this!

Until next time my friends,

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

10 Tips for Conquering the Dreaded Speech Therapy Schedule

Making your beginning of the year speech therapy schedule?

10 Tips for making a speech therapy schedule

 Did I hear a deep collective SLP sigh on that one? It’s a task many of us dread. I cringe a bit thinking about getting started on it. Ok, a lot. I would rather find a million other things to do.  

Scheduling can feel like a frustrating game of Tetris.

Trying to fit all those students of different sizes and configurations in just the right place to suit their needs, their teacher’s needs, and your availability can drive you nutty.

You may need a lot of caffeine and will probably get plenty of steps in while you are running around campus trying to work out all the kinks. It can be a crazy process. How can you make it a little easier? 

 Here are 10 tips on how to conquer that crazy schedule:

1.  Check with your principal (or principals) before you get started.

Let them know how many children you will be scheduling, and any restrictions on your availability. Ask if they have any parameters you need to work with. For instance, for pull-out services, are there certain times or classes they don’t want you pulling from? For in-class services, are they good with you going in during language arts or social studies?

It really helps to have your principal’s support as you discuss scheduling with teachers. Then, if you find a teacher reluctant to let you schedule her student at a particular time, you can say…. “The principal said…”

2.  Make a spreadsheet with all your speech students.

This is definitely a must! I list them alphabetically. I have columns for grade, teacher, disability codes, IEP speech time, goals (A (artic), F (fluency), etc, IEP due, Re-eval due, and anything else I need to keep up with. You can easily sort a spreadsheet to see when IEPs or evals are due or group children by grade.

Once you know who you have, you are ready to start scheduling! 

3.  Get a copy of your school’s master schedule.

Fill in grade-level specials (if you are pulling from there), any other pertinent building information.

4. Don’t forget to include time for your other duties.

You will need to schedule time for assessments, Medicaid billing, writing IEPs and any other duties you have. Block off any time you are not available.

10 Tips for making a speech therapy schedule

5.  Color-code your students.

Many SLP’s like using self-stick notes, and write each student’s name on a note. These can go up on a wall or board as you work on the schedule, or draw a blank schedule on a file folder so you can carry it with you.

You can color code your students by grade or by goals if that is how you are grouping. It’s much easier to see how to group the children this way and easy to swap them around.

6. Use a spreadsheet to make your schedule.

I often start with notes, but then I like having a printed schedule I can carry around or even carry my laptop as I go talk to teachers and work out the kinks. I use a spreadsheet to list my time slots and then enter each student’s name (color-coded with a highlight). It’s easy to move these around in a spreadsheet. 

7.  Schedule students with the most conflicts first.

These may be the students with multiple services, or those in inclusion, or who leave for outside therapies. Consult with their special education teachers and other providers. It’s no fun when you finally think you have the perfect spot for a student a student and then find out OT or PT also scheduled that time.

8.  Schedule with your least flexible teachers next.

Many SLPs give teachers a list of their students and ask for 2 best times and one worst time. 

Personally, I find it mind boggling to sort that out for 60 or 70 children. I don't ask for preferences ahead of time. I think it is simpler to go ahead and schedule students during their grade level specials or subjects I am allowed to pull from, hand out the “provisional” schedule to teachers, and then make adjustments as needed. 

9.  Try something new… a scheduling party!

I haven’t personally tried this myself, but it is an intriguing idea that is a different method altogether. Make a blank schedule on large paper, and then fill in any non-negotiable items. (Yes, you DO deserve lunch!)

Set whatever “rules” you need… only so many per time slot, perhaps all articulation students on one day, language students on another, no students in a group more than 2 grades apart, etc. I would definitely let them know that you will likely have to make a few changes if a group doesn’t work out.

Put out a few snacks or water bottles with vocal hygiene tips for teachers in the workroom. Hang your big schedule and a pencil. Post the rules. You may want to let teachers sign up for two possible slots for each student so you can revise as necessary. Now invite your teachers to come down, first come, first serve!

10.  Run your new schedule for a week or so before finalizing it.

This will give you time to make those inevitable changes when things come up.  I put a “revised” date on the top of my schedule so I can tell at a glance if I’m looking at the latest version.  

SLPs can dread making that first speech therapy schedule of the year. Read these read these 10 tips for making it go smoothly!

I would love to hear what works for you! 

Just leave me a comment with your tips, or leave your links to blog posts about scheduling.

Wishing you a stress-free back to school!

Until next time, 

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Preschool SLP? This is the Materials List You Need- Plus How to Get Them Cheap!

Are you setting up for preschoolers in your speech therapy?

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool #backtoschool #speechtherapymaterials

When I visit Facebook groups, I see posts all the time from SLPs who are asking for advice on how to get started with preschool-aged children. Maybe you have served older children before, or maybe you are a new CFY and are starting out fresh. (By the way, pre-k speech therapy is awesome, you will have so much fun. I promise. Pinky swear.)

You have a limited budget, right? 

Let's face it, setting up a speech therapy room from scratch can be expensive. If you are a CFY, haven't been practicing long, or have changed settings, you need to gather some essentials.

Unfortunately, many school-based SLPs are on their own reaching deep into their pocket for supplies and materials. If you are lucky, you may get a small allowance for supplies.

You need the most bang for your buck and are wondering what are the most recommended, just can't live without it basics you will need? You might have some ideas for your older students, but what about preschoolers?

So what materials do you really need?

You would be surprised that you can do with just a few items, some imagination, and willingness to sing, act crazy, silly, goofy and get down and play! Still, it’s very helpful to have a supply of age-appropriate toys, games and craft materials.  Here are my recommendations, along with how to get supplied without breaking the bank, if your district does not give you a generous budget. Or no budget (sad face).


1. Basic Supplies:

In addition to basic office supplies, you will need tissues, antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer, and lots of it! Preschool means plenty of runny noses. It's a fact.

SLPs are always creating activities to meet their student's goals, and need some basic supplies. Here's what I keep in my speech room.

My must-haves:
  • Cardstock
  • Baggies- several sizes. I love the ones that zip.
  • Hook and loop tape or dots. Or both!
  • Plastic shoeboxes or tubs for water and sensory play-  fill with water, rice, beans, packing noodles, etc.
  • A cookie sheet to contain messes and provide a backdrop for activities
  • Hot glue gun
  • Page protectors
  • Permanent markers

My wishlist:
  • Large magnetic whiteboard. (Alternately, the side of a file cabinet works great!)
  • Magnetic tape or dots
  • Package tape
  • Lamination pouches if you do not have access to a school laminator.

Thrifty TIP 1: Check and see exactly what supplies are already available to you before making any purchases. In my school, I am welcome to use the supply of construction paper, tempera paint, the laminator and a few other items.

Thrifty TIP 2: Ask your district for hook and loop tape or dots.
You may need it for making visual schedules and not just games and activities. I like the dots, but you can buy a roll a bit cheaper, and cut it. Use pieces large enough to get the job done, but be conservative, and it will last longer. 

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap. #speechsprouts #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool #backtoschool #speechtherapymaterials
These last a long time, my kids get to do one dot for each response.

2.  Arts and Crafts supplies: 

Even if you are not artsy-craftsy, I encourage you to do hands-on activities with your littles. They offer so many language opportunities and keeps little hands busy too. Resist diving in and doing too much of the project to "help."  Give your preschoolers the opportunity to do the work themselves and let them really create and explore.

Need arts and crafts ideas? Pinterest is chock full of them. Head over and check out Speech Sprouts on Pinterest here.

My must-haves:

  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Washable markers
  • Gluesticks and white glue
  • Dot markers
  • Paint- tempera and or watercolors
  • Brushes
  • Play dough
  • Paper plates
  • Paper bags
  • A hole punch
  • Craft sticks
  • A large adult-sized button down shirt, for a painting smock.

My wishlist:

  • Glitter
  • Cotton balls
  • Colored tissue paper
  • Wiggle eyes
  • Ink pads and stamps
  • Shaving cream (Great for sensory play!)
  • Clothespins
  • Sponges
  • Yarn
  • Toothbrushes (for painting, sanitized old ones work fine)
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Pom poms
  • Cookie cutters

Thrifty TIP 3: See if your Pre-K and Kinder teachers are willing to share.
 Classrooms are usually stocked with supplies like paintbrushes and scissors, and teachers may not mind you borrowing. This usually works especially well if you do in-class therapy.

Thrifty TIP 4: Send your parents a "wishlist."
If you are in a school where parents can afford to send supplies, send home a "wishlist" at the beginning of the year asking for consumables. Send one home before the holidays too. Or post it on your school web page. I ask parents to send one or two items if they can.

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool #speechtherapymaterials #preschoollanguage
Be sure the doll can survive a bath!

3: Toys:

My must-haves:

  • A doll, preferably one that can stand a bath!
  • Plastic animals- pets, zoo animals, dinosaurs, ocean animals, farm animals
  • Toy food
  • Toy pots, pans, cups, and dishes
  • Cars and trucks
  • Blocks
  • A ball (Yay for eliciting verbs! "Throw it, roll it, catch it")
  • Magnetic bingo chips and a magnetic wand. (A million and one uses)
  • Foam dice
  • Bubbles

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool #speechtherapymaterials
A have a million ways to use bingo chips. 

My Wishlist:

  • Miniature toys for a "feely bag" or to bury in a sensory bin. (Little ones get so excited 'finding" surprises. Just be careful your students are old enough/ mature enough so they are not mouthing these, they can be a choking hazard.)
  • Themed play sets: a farm or a play house are my favorites.
  • Puppets for storytelling and imaginative play. 
  • Puzzles- I like to give a piece at a time as a reinforcer during drills.
  • Bean bags
  • Mr. Potato Head
  • A doctor kit
  • Ball popper toys- you squeeze them to "shoot" a ball. Fun!

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap. #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool  #speechtherapymaterials #speechtherapytoys
Use Mr. Potato Head to target body parts and pronouns.

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap.  #speechtherapy #preschool  #speechtherapymaterials #speechtherapytoys
Use toy animals for position concepts, verbs and more!

Thrifty TIP 5: Ask for donations of used items.
Put some of these toys on your wishlist, and share it with your staff and parent organization too. If you are a member of a church, let them know you are accepting donations of preschool books, toys, and games. Parents with older children are often glad to donate used toys when they clean out their children's toy boxes.  If you receive something you can't use, just donate to a classroom or charity.

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap.  #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool  #speechtherapymaterials #speechtherapytoys
Collect toys for imaginative play.

Thrifty TIP 6: Shop yard sales and garage sales. 
You will be amazed at what you can find on the cheap. Dolls, miniatures, buckets, and bins are usually easy to find. I only pick up games when they are simple, quick play and do not require batteries!  Enlist your bargain-hunting friends and family to keep their eye out for your wishlist items when they shop yard sales too.

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap.  #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool  #speechtherapymaterials #speechtherapytoys
Saved this from when my boys were little! 

Thrifty TIP 7: Buy consumables with your school budget.
Do you have a budget from your school to spend, but plan to spend some of your own money too? Use your school budget first for consumable supplies (like paper, paint, baggies, and cotton balls) and buy therapy materials with your money. That way, your materials are yours to keep and take with you if you change settings or schools.

Thrifty TIP 8: Shop thrift stores for games, puzzles, books, and toys.
I stop by our local thrift store often, as the merchandise changes all the time.

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus 10 thrifty tips on how to get them for cheap.  #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #preschool  #speechtherapymaterials

3: Story Books

Engaging story books that help you target specific goals are definitely a must-have item and fortunately, most schools and communities will have a selection in the library you can borrow. Free is good! Just be sure to check out the books you need well in advance, so they're not out when you need them. But how do you find the right ones?

My favorite books for preschool language are those that have a simple storyline, repetitive text, and wonderful pictures. 

You can spend a ton of time sorting through them in the library, or let me introduce you to my favorites!

Check out this list of   Speech Sprouts posts that review my very favorite story books.

Follow me on Pinterest. I have boards dedicated to repetitive storybooks, storybooks read online and I am always pinning more storybooks and storybook activities.

For articulation

Be sure to head over and read my post on Sound-Loaded Books for Articulation. Next, grab the FREE list in my store HERE. Please remember to leave a sweet comment in feedback when you do, I truly appreciate it, and read every one.

The materials List you need for preschool speech therapy including this FREE list of Sound-loaded story books for articulation sorted by phoneme  #speechsprouts #speechtherapy #speechtherapybooks  #speechtherapymaterials #articulationtherapyactvities #soundloadedbooks
This huge list is FREE! Click  HERE.

Thrifty TIP 9: Check with your school librarian to see if books are sorted for discards, and when. 
See if some of the less circulated or worn books may be given away at some point. My school does this a couple times a year. Let them know you need specific books. See if you can make your selections as soon as this happens (before the books are too picked over), to build your therapy library. I call dibs!

4. Articulation Materials

My must-haves:

  • A good comprehensive collection of words and pictures for early developing phonemes and phonological processes. There are many books available commercially, such as the Webber Articulation Drill Book. (I receive no compensation for this recommendation, I have just personally used this one.)

My wishlist: 

  • Articulation cards and activities- there are plenty available commercially. Buy cards ready made, or purchase from SLPs on Teachers pay Teachers and print them out yourself. 

  • Remember those miniatures? I have baggies of them sorted by phoneme. For instance, a star, a stamp, a stick, a stop sign, "storybook", a stocking, and a guy I named Steve for initial /st/. I pop these in a Christmas stocking in December, and we practice as we pull each item out of the stocking. Works great for sentence level articulation too "I found a stop sign in my stocking." 

Thrifty TIP 10: If you don't mind spending some time printing and laminating, you will save money and you find a bigger variety of resources by SLP authors on Teachers pay teachers. You will find packs with cards that are often packaged with fun printable activities to keep preschoolers engaged and busy. There are also many resources for free.

Having versatile therapy materials that are ready to go makes planning your sessions easy.

I love materials that I can use with a variety of children and goals, such as this build a scarecrow game /sk/ articulation fun) from my Articulation and Language Activities for SK.

You can also find this pack available in my S-Blend Speech and Language Articulation Bundle:

The materials list you need for preschool speech therapy including this Build a Scarecrow Game #speechsprouts  #speechtherapy #preschool  #speechtherapymaterials #speechtherapyarticulation #speechtherapylanguage #fallspeechtherapyactivities

I'm all set, now what?

Read About My Favorite Service Delivery Model for Preschool

There are many service delivery models that work well for our littles, depending on their needs. The traditional pull out, in-class services, and co-teaching all work well for many students. I have dabbled in all of these, and love my current literacy-based large group model.

Read about it here:  An Intensive Service Delivery For Preschool Speech Therapy  Questions? Ask me any questions you like, because I really love sharing about it!

What are your favorite tips and materials for preschool speech therapy?

Calling all you experienced SLPs to share your must-haves and know-how with those just getting started. Leave me a comment, I would love to hear from you!

Oh, and before I go, if you haven't gotten your free download of "Where's Froggy", you really need to to grab this great preschool prepositions activity now.  It is only available to my newsletter subscribers, so sign up in the sidebar or in the pop-up and I will send you the link pronto!

Until next time my friends, 

The materials SLPs need for preschool speech therapy plus how to get them for cheap!  #speechsprouts  #speechtherapy #preschool  #speechtherapymaterials #speechtherapytoys

Friday, June 9, 2017

Social Skills APP Review: Social Detective Intermediate App

Learning Social Skills Can Be Challenging for Some Children

Social Detective Intermediate App Review by Speech Sprouts

I usually have several students who need work on social skills. I am always on the lookout for resources, so when Social Skill Builders offered me the opportunity to review their new social skills app, Social Detective Intermediate for iPad, I said yes!

The Social Detective Intermediate app is a collaborative project of Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner and Social Skill Builder.

It is based on the book You are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke. I have had the privilege of seeing Michelle speak, she is an engaging and talented therapist who has developed many great resources for teaching social skills. Needless to say, I am very interested in any project she is involved in. 

First, the legal stuff: Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the Social Detective App app in order to review it from Social Skill Builders. However, this review is completely based on my experience using the app, and the opinions are mine alone. I receive no additional compensation of any kind. Whew! That should do it!

Using the Social Detective Intermediate App

Social Detective Intermediate App Review by Speech Sprouts

When you first open the app, you can choose an avatar and enter your name. 

The cartoon character avatars in their bright yellow detective coats are cute and appealing, but not too juvenile. The intro explains that everyone has "social smarts" and that we can grow our social smarts by using our tools.

Social Detective Intermediate App Review by Speech Sprouts

Students take the pre-test by clicking the Social Detective Notebook

When you click the notebook, the app shows 14 video clips. I found it a little difficult to hear the video clips, but you get the idea of the scene if you watch carefully.

 The job of the student is to determine what the people are thinking, what they are feeling and to make a "smart guess" about the scene based on what they know.

There are three questions per video clip, with four written multiple choice answers for each question. The questions are also read aloud.  After watching the video, the student is to drag and drop the correct answer choice onto a thought bubble (thinking) or a heart bubble (feeling). Finally, the student makes a "smart guess" about the scene.

I found the sound effect you hear when the answer is correct to be a bit jarring and annoying, rather than reinforcing. I imagine my students with auditory sensitivities might dislike hearing it. Fortunately, you can turn the sound effects off.

Social Detective Intermediate App Review by Speech Sprouts

Next, the student clicks on the flashlight for more social thinking practice. 

This time the student clicks on one of three answer choices.  The student is asked to think about what the character sees, hears and is thinking to make a smart guess about the scene. The student then makes a prediction about what will happen next. After answering the questions, the student is shown a short clip of what happens.

As the exercise progress, up to five answer choices are given, and the student chooses multiple correct answers with the prompt "Keep looking, there is more." The student is asked to tell what tools they used to make their guess: eyes, ears or brain.



  • I like the use of real video clips
  • The various ages of children in the clips make it appropriate for a range of ages
  • Pleasant narrator's voice
  • Students must analyze each scene for both thoughts and emotions.
  • I like that students are lead to use their knowledge about feelings and thoughts to make a "smart guess" or inference. 


  • The voices in the video clips were sometimes difficult to hear on my iPad, even at full volume.
  • Glitchy: It sometimes took several tries to get an answer to "stick" on the thought bubble unless you "held" the answer on the bubble for a couple seconds. The arrows to advance also sometimes took a couple of taps.
  • Annoying sound for correct guesses. I suggest turning it off in the beginning. 


Overall, I give the Social Detective Intermediate App a thumbs up

The use of real videos is valuable in teaching children about social skills. I like the emphasis on using all your "tools" to analyze a scene. The app has sufficient clips for several sessions worth of practice and plenty of repetition to teach the method of using "all of our tools (remembering, seeing, hearing, knowing and feeling)" to make guesses about the social world.

What do you think? Is this a tool that you would use?

Watch this Youtube preview by Socialskillbuilder to see this app in action.

Find it HERE

Until next time my friends, 
Social Detective Intermediate App Review by Speech Sprouts