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The Kissing Hand.

23 Sep

Wow. So, long blog hiatus, eh?

I enjoyed my summer break (hello, Sweden & France and quite a few friends’ weddings!) and then started a new job. Life has been busy! I’m not claiming I’ll blog as regularly as I used to, but wanted to at least share a few things from the units we’ve done so far. Up first: The Kissing Hand.

What a nice story to kick off the year. Quite a few of our students have some difficulty separating from their parents, especially at the beginning of the year, so it’s a good pick. A few ideas:

-For following directions, I made a visual with a photo of a mother raccoon and a baby raccoon. I laminated/velcroed hearts and applied velcro to the raccoons’ hands, heads, tails, etc. The students were asked to give Chester a kiss on his hand, put a kiss on his mom’s tail, etc. They also got to put the hearts wherever they wanted, and tell us what they chose.

Question of the week: at the end of our unit, I copied three scenes from the story (Mom kissing Chester, Chester kissing Mom, Chester going to school) and—with laminated/magnet photos of each child—had them cast their vote for their favorite scene. Especially with a citizenship unit coming up, we want to get used to voting! Good for introducing concepts like most/least.

Parent communication: I sent home all the visuals from the story (which we used during quite a few readings of the book to listen/match/label) and visuals for questions the students answered from the story. Boardmakershare has more visuals for questions made by other users.

-iPad: I used “PeekaBoo Forest”, which has a lot of the animals from The Kissing Hand. Good for labeling forest animals and the changing seasons.

Also coming up: a review of Speaking of Apraxia: A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Apraxia of Speech by Leslie Lindsay. I was thrilled to receive a copy!

I’ve had some requests via email to share some of my Google Docs. I believe all of them are open to anyone who follows a link from here or sees one elsewhere, so this shouldn’t be necessary. Please let me know if you’re having issues accessing anything!

A couple of projects from the arts/crafts center:

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Scattergories, Jr.

11 Apr

Today I was all about Scattergories, Jr. with my older kids. My mom, an occupational therapist, recently retired, and I’ve been scooping up her games and materials (score!). I was perhaps the most excited about Scattergories. I used it with two of my language groups today (4th and 6th grade), both of which contain students working on both word finding and vocabulary building. With one of my 5th grade artic groups we just took away the rolling-of-the-letters component and said you got 2 points if you wrote down a word with the /r/ (in any position), their target sound. My last group of the day is composed of 1st/2nd graders, and our sounds of the day were /s/ and /z/. For them I just turned it into a bit of a round-table game show, presenting the items verbally (Your category is “THINGS I’D TAKE ON A PICNIC”. What’s something that has your /s/ or /z/ sound?). They were actually really great at coming up with appropriate responses, and it just made targeting their sounds a little more fun. Here’s the (very simple) worksheet I sent home with some of my kids.

From around the web:

-I liked this quote from an SLP on Scattergories.

-Now I want to try Scattergories Categories

Great take-home worksheet from Heard in Speech. Would definitely work with this activity!

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Free downloads I’m loving today?

Sheets to send home to parents: information on “sh”, “ch”, “th”, /s/, etc. Nice descriptions of strategies to try at home/what is being targeted at school.

Pronouns activity. Many printable sheets with a camping theme targeting he/she/they. Nice visuals—I’m so used to Boardmaker ones!

Step by step drawing visuals. Nice for following directions!

Sending It Home.

22 Mar

I’ve loved seeing how other school SLPs communicate with parents (see Speech Room News, Speech Lady Liz’s take-home programs) . I work with a few different groups of students. For my itinerant speech PreK students, their parents bring them to all sessions. We typically get to chat at least briefly after each session, so—along with word list/activities from sessions that get sent home in their “speech folders”—I think they’re kept pretty informed of what’s going on in our sessions. For my students in our preK classrooms, I’ve at least committed to sending home a handout weekly after our large speech/language group. I typically take a visual we used together in the group and add a little written summary of what we’ve been working on/how they could reinforce this at home. This takes only a few minutes to write/print/xerox, and I distribute it at the end of our group along with a rhyming activity (“If your name sounds like Melena, come get your paper!”). Students I work with in small groups/individually throughout the week will also occasionally have artic/language worksheets to put in their backpacks.

At my K-8 school, I don’t always have access to printing. Sometimes the take-home will just be a xeroxed cover of the book we read, along with a quick note on which words were our targets. Other times I make a quick handout regarding the “book of the day” (if applicable) and which sounds we targeted. Some days I send home a note on an iPad app we used in speech therapy. It all varies a bit, but, sure, the overall key is: keep the door to communication open and let parents know what’s happening in speech! Give them word lists/ language activities so that they at least have easy access to continuing practice at home. Does every family utilize these? No. But I still think it’s worth it to try and encourage carryover!

Here are some Word documents and photos of things I’ve sent home, in case you need inspiration. How do you promote carryover?

Does Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? (medial “th”); “Articulation Station”; Pigs Make Me Sneeze (s-blends); Turkey Day (medial /k/); Toby and the Snowflakes (s-blends)

IEPs & Parents.

20 Mar

At this time of year, the IEP meetings (which, for many of my kids, are also transitioning-into-kindergarten meetings) just keep on comin’. Now, I’m only in my second year as a speech-language pathologist. I would never claim to be an expert on communicating with parents, in and outside of IEP meetings. I do, however, believe in describing a student’s strengths and positive qualities. I’m not saying to sugarcoat things. If a student isn’t producing /k/ & /g/ after a whole lot of instruction or is unable to answer questions, even given visual cues/verbal prompts…I’m going to have to tell a parent that, and tell them what my strategy is for moving forward. But I’m also going to come armed with the progress their child has made. The AWESOME 5-word utterance I scribbled down from playing at the sensory table the other day. The way they always greet peers. That, even if an activity is challenging for them, they put in their best effort and stay on-task. That I’ve consistently seen them share items with peers and make eye contact when doing so. That they’re starting to self-monitor speech errors and that this is a wonderful step in the right direction. That they’ve been asking questions and this is a huge deal!

Being in preK, sometimes we are the first people to express to a parent that we have concerns regarding their child’s speech/language development; that, no, we don’t feel comfortable saying that they will just “catch up” on their own. That we would recommend additional support, and this would come in the form of an “Individualized Education Plan.” I’m absolutely still learning, but I do feel a lot of responsibility with this, both in terms of my relationship with parents and their children.

One of my co-workers, who is also mom to three great kids, has said something along these lines that always resonates with me: We are their first experience with school. They are going to be in school for a long time, and it might be a challenging place for them. We want their first experience to be as positive as possible.

Do I care about students making significant progress on their speech/language goals? Absolutely. But I also care about kids (and their parents!) developing positive associations with school and speech therapy early on in life. And, while I could blabber on forever, I started this post with the intent of sharing the perspectives of others. Here are a few posts from parent perspectives or written with parents in mind that I loved reading. Any others you’d recommend? I know that I’d especially like to read more from parents!

“IEPs and Expectations: There’s No Box for the Good Stuff” by Laura D. (parent, SLP, & my former professor/boss)

From The Bearded Iris (who I find to be hilarious): “And that’s why Speech Pathologists are bad mofos”, a post written when her son was referred for a speech screening, & a little IEP hilarity.

“I don’t like my child’s speech therapist” (+what to do!) & “My Mantras as an Early Interventionist” by Kim Rowe, MA CCC-SLP

“Giving the News” by Sharon Gretz, M.Ed.

Therapy vs. Intervention by Cari Ebert, M.S. CCC-SLP