We've all been there: after 280173 iterations of your therapy schedule, you still have a lot of mixed groups. What to do when you have little Johnny working on prepositions, little Suzy working on past tense verbs, and little Kimmy working on /r/? Enter my secret weapon: interactive books! Here's how I use them to target every goal on my caseload:
Research has shown that incorporating movement into learning is the best way to engage children and encourage generalization of skills. I love a good worksheet now and then, but when you are first teaching a concept, using manipulatives (SLP-speak for "items you can move around") and the children themselves is the best way to get them learning. We also know that literacy instruction is important. My favorite way to combine the two to target every goal on my caseload is through using interactive books.
What is an interactive book, you ask? It's a book that "requires participation and interaction by the reader". In the case of most interactive books for speech, this involves pieces that the student can attach to various parts of the book to answer questions or interact with the story. Below is an example of one you can find in my TPT store, "Leo's Lunch for /L/ and /L/ blends".
There are many different interactive books to choose from- for younger students, you can use board books. I like to buy mine from TPT in order to support other SLP's and to find books that already target a specific goal (it gives me one less thing to plan for!). Here are some of my favorites:
The great thing about interactive books is that you can keep each child engaged while you read by giving them a specific picture and having them listen for when they need to add it to the book. Little hands love having something to fidget with while you read! You can also use the removable pictures as a cue to help students who need visual supports while answering questions, without having to use a separate visual aid.
Another way I love to make interactive books work for my entire caseload is to print out a master copy in color that I laminate and add Velcro to, then print half-page-sized sheets in black-and-white that students can glue the pictures onto. If you have students who need more tactile input while you read, you can have them follow along and glue their pictures in. If you want them to practice more of the concept at home, send it home with them. Parents have always enjoyed those books because they can re-use them by reading to their kids after they are finished gluing the items in the book.
Those are my tips for using interactive books for every student on your caseload! Be sure to check out the interactive books from my store: "Where Is the Frog?" FREEBIE, "Where is the Snowflake?" FREEBIE, and "Going Poop on the Potty" social story FREEBIE, and "Leo's Lunch: An Interactive Book for /L/ and /L/ blends", and let me know what you think!
Pop Quiz: At which of these locations do Speech-Language Pathologists provide therapy?
B) Outpatient Rehab Centers
E) All of the above
The answer is E, although I know many SLP's who have a preference for a particular location- and it usually isn't daycares. I've provided therapy in daycares for many years, and I used to dread those days too. Generally, daycares are more crowded and have more teachers who rotate throughout the day and the week. The day is not as structured as a school day, and children are often there for longer- or, just there for the most challenging parts of the day: early morning and after school. I often felt like I was just throwing paper away when I would leave notes at daycares because none of my suggestions seemed to have any effect. But fear not! With a little preparation, you no longer have to dread Daycare Days! Here are my tips for creating successful, cooperative visits to the daycares on your caseload.
1. Rethink your visit
We're all busy. One year as a preschool therapist, I was assigned to 14 different schools and daycares each week. I barely had enough time to see my students at each site, let alone work with the teachers/daycare providers to help with carryover! I rushed in, worked with my students, then left some handouts as I rushed out. No wonder I wasn't seeing carryover! Unfortunately, handouts alone are not what daycare workers need, and they are not going to remember what you've said 10 minutes after you leave. Clear, concise, WRITTEN information about the student's goals and needs is key. I created a Services Info page (available in my SLP Basic Paperwork Bundle) that has all pertinent information at a glance- child's name, IEP date, goals, service providers WITH their schedule and contact info, and a Strategies/Cues That Work section. I write down any important information for each session after I talk with the daycare worker in the Cues section, and ask them to write down anything they think of during the time I'm not there. I know that I can't remember anything if it's not written down!
2. Leave your contact information in multiple places
I got some inexpensive business cards on Vistaprint (they have sales almost daily) with my name, school employer (since some students receive services from multiple agencies), cell phone number, and email (just in case). To keep your personal cell phone number private, you have a few options:
I also got some plain address labels (affiliate link here) and printed "Have questions? You can reach me at:_______) on them. I keep a few sheets of labels in my Speech Binder and stick them on handouts. Then, anyone reading it can email or call me with questions without having to search around for my contact information.
3. Have a central location
I know it's hard to find a central location in most daycares, where space is at a premium and you might have students in different classes. In those cases, I like to leave a pocket folder in each child's classroom, and leave my business card with the receptionist. In the folder (picture below), I have my Service Info page and my business card. I make a few of these folders at the beginning of the year so they are ready to go, and add other information as needed. Some handouts I love to include are:
4. Follow up
Chances are, when you try to talk with any teacher or daycare worker, they're going to be in the middle of something. We all know that you don't retain information well if you're occupied with something else. To circumvent that, I jot down a quick note in my data collection page about what I talked about with the daycare worker, and then make sure to ask them about it on the next visit. "How did those visuals work for you? Is there anything that would make them easier to use?" That's been a game changer for me! Don't forget that we SLP's went to school for years to learn the terms we now use daily. Anne from Beautiful Speech Life has an excellent blog post on how to help parents understand what we do and how we can help their child in plain language, and her tips apply to working with anyone. Norm-referenced? Expressive/receptive? Phonological? That sounds like Greek to most people!
5. Be humble!
This might be the hardest one of all for me, but so necessary! I might feel like I did a great job with all of the other tips, and then come back the next week and still find the visuals in a drawer or the same complex directions being used despite my attempts to have them simplified for students. It happens, and the best way to respond is to respectfully ask how you can be more helpful. Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't. All we can do is our best!
I hope these tips helped you! Leave a comment or email me if you have any questions or tips that have worked for you! Happy learning!
I know what you're thinking: "How does making some resources for TeachersPayTeachers make someone a better speech therapist?" It does sound a little grandiose, but I can honestly say that it really has made my professional life better in many ways that I never expected when I jumped in to it at 38 weeks pregnant (timing has never been my strong suit! ). Here are 5 that were the most surprising to me:
1. It's given me the ability to make my own products for therapy- and like them! Before I started creating products for my TPT store, I made the occasional therapy resource for my own personal use. These resources were usually made in Microsoft Word, with mismatched clip art and no design knowledge (see below). They filled a need, but they weren't pretty to look at. I was almost a little ashamed to pull them out in therapy, they were so, um, "aesthetically challenged." Now, I'm proud to use my own products in therapy, and get excited to design fun and exciting covers and content!
2. It's improved my time management skills. It goes without saying that most of us SLP's are good at time management- we have to be! Scheduling students or clients from multiple classes, schools, backgrounds, and ethnicities with myriad disabilities while also finding time to evaluate, write reports, attend/set up IEP meetings, talk with parents, eat lunch, and occasionally use the restroom is a full-time job in itself, let alone planning engaging, curriculum- and evidence-based therapy sessions. In much the same way that I thought "What did I DO with myself before I had kids?" after my daughter was born, I found myself thinking the same after I started creating materials for TPT. Adjusting to a flexible job like creating TPT resources was new for me- it's difficult to set boundaries when your computer is so close, ready to help you create resources at 10 pm or 10 am! After a few late nights made even later by a crying newborn, I learned to turn my laptop off at 9 pm and start fresh the next day.
I also didn't realize the time commitment that product creation required before I started. My first product took upwards of 10 hours to create, design, upload, and tweak- and it is a 6 page FREEBIE! But like any good therapist, I took stock of the situation and modified my approach to be the most successful with accommodations (like turning off Facebook and foregoing a lot of TV)... I'm not a time management guru by any means, but I get a lot more done now than I used to!
3. I've learned how to use social media more intentionally. I've been on Facebook and Instagram for years, but when I started getting serious about my TPT store, I learned how to use them- and my blog- to intentionally share information about my products. "Marketing" always seemed like a dirty word to my introverted self before, but in reality, it's simply a way to intentionally share information with others in a visually appealing way- and what SLP doesn't love visuals?! I've still got a lot to learn about Pinterest especially, but I have a lot more information under my belt now. I really love Tabitha Carro's FREE Smartphone Marketing School Couch Hustler course for design beginners like myself! Hallie Sherman from Speech Time Fun also has some excellent free and paid courses through her Teacher Seller School: Teacher Blogging School and TPT Like A Boss, and a new one that I can't wait to check out: Pinterest Like A Boss!
4. I've made some great TPT seller friends! The SLP TPT seller community is not huge, and I've found everyone to be very helpful and supportive of newbies like me! I've "met" a lot of wonderfully creative SLP's through Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and TPT itself, and they have inspired me to continue to create my best products (as well as introduced me to their own amazing products with which to fill up my own TPT cart!)
And lastly, but perhaps most importantly,
5. I've become more confident in my own abilities as a therapist. There is something about creating materials for yourself and others that makes you focus on being the best you can be. Going out on a limb, setting up your own store, and creating products to sell is nerve-wracking and can be exhausting, but once you get the hang of it, it's exhilarating! Now, I can proudly use the resources that I have carefully researched and designed, not shame at their lackluster presentation. When parents ask me about a resource, I can articulate how and why I am using it without floundering. And a confident therapist is a better therapist all around!
Do you have questions about starting your SLP on TPT Seller journey? Leave a comment or send an email using the link above (or to the left, if you're on mobile). Happy Learning!
The setting: your speech room.
The characters: you and the articulation student/client you've been working with for a few months now.
The scene: Aforementioned student/client walks into the room, takes one look at the activity you have set out for them, and groans, "Not this again!"
Despite our best intentions, therapy can sometimes get monotonous. There are only so many ways to elicit speech and language goals, and combined with the added requirements of seeing mixed groups, implementing RtI, providing curriculum-based therapy, and just plain settling all of the kids down, sometimes you just have to use a tried-and-true standby like Candy Land or Webber Artic Cards! I was in that position, until I watched Felice Clark (The Dabbling Speechie) talk about her awesome sensory bins during her SLP Summit talk. She mentioned these toys called "TOOBS" that seemed so interesting, so I just had to check them out!
For anyone wondering, TOOBS are, well, tubes filled with tiny soft-plastic toys of varying categories. **DISCLAIMER: these are appropriate for students 3 and up, due to being so tiny**. They offer nearly any category you can think of: Coral Reef Creatures, Flowers, Fruits and Vegetables, and even Space! The number of toys varies based on the category, but is usually between 7-12 per TOOB. I love that they all fit in the tube for ease of transport (I'm an itinerant SLP and space is at a premium!), and that the toys themselves are small enough to not overload those sensitive students who are overwhelmed by too many choices.
I chose to use my TOOB to target articulation at the sentence level, but one of the great things about these TOOBS are that you can use them to target any articulation level (word, phrase, sentence, carryover) as well as a plethora of language goals (see below).
And there you have it: articulation with TOOBS!
You can use them to target different speech goals, including:
I hope you found this interesting and can add it to your arsenal of Speech Tricks and Tips! If you found this helpful or have any of your own tips or tricks for TOOBS, let me know in the comments!
If you've been an SLP for any amount of time, or if you have a child in speech therapy, chances are that you've heard about minimal pairs. You might think, "What makes them minimal?" or "How could something called 'minimal' help with speech?" I happen to love using minimal pairs in therapy, and I'll show you why.
The basics: minimal pairs are words that differ in only one phonological element (sound). Some examples are seat/sheet (initial sound) or back/bat (final sound). Now, on to some reasons that I love them.
1. They're evidence-based
According to the venerable SLP gurus Barbara Hodson and Elaine Paden (1), "the use of auditory bobardment, minimal pairs for semantic understanding of speech errors, and gradual multisensory cue fading improved children's overall speech intelligiblity. " In simple terms, that means that using a lot of sound repetitions for the student to listen to, along with minimal pairs and different cues (pointing to your own lips to show shape and use, verbally cuing where to place the articulators to make the sound, drawing pictures, tracing the sound as you say it, etc) help students sound more intelligible.
2. They sneak in some rhyming practice
By definition, minimal pairs are words that differ in only one phonological element. So unless you're working on final consonants or final sounds, the words generally rhyme (torn/corn, tape/cape, seat/sheet, etc). I like to point this out when I'm working with kiddos to help them tune in to the sounds of the word. Sometimes I give older students multiple words and have them figure out which ones are the minimal pairs. We work on speech sounds AND phonological awareness, all at once!
3. They're fun
There are a ton of fun activities targeting minimal pairs out there! You can also make your own using flash cards, although you need a lot of them. Some of my favorite activities are:
These are my favorite activities to target minimal pairs. Do you have any favorites to add? Tell me in the comments!
Do you love file folder activities? I do- I love their portability, effectiveness, and re-useability! However, I made the mistake of buying a 9-inch laminator instead of a 13-inch laminator, so until this one breaks, I can't laminate my file folder activities. And an unlaminated file-folder activity is basically just some disorganized worksheets.
But wait! I recently discovered a hack to get use out of my file folder activities without having to laminate the folders themselves!
The secret is... plastic file folders! I got mine from Amazon for less than $12 (affiliate link provided for your convenience)
Smead Poly File Folder, 1/3 cut tab letter size, assorted colors, 24 per box (Click picture above to go to Amazon)
Step 1: Laminate the items to go into your folder (this allows you to adhere the Velcro).
Step 2: Place the loop (soft side) Velcro dot onto the folder. I went with all 4 corners, but do as you feel led.
Step 3: Place the hook (hard/scratchy) side Velcro on the
back of your laminated papers.
Step 4: Attach laminated- and Velcroed- sheet to the Velcroed file folder.
Voila! You have yourself a re-positionable and reuseable file folder activity!
I've found that this works great for AAC books (I LOVE The Dabbling Speechie's AAC Starter Kit, especially the portions with the interchangeable vocabulary.) For the example above, I used Sublime Speech's Articulation Battle Boats, which work great with interchangeable pieces! Instead of making file folders for each sound, I just laminated the pages and can switch them out for the desired target sound as needed. I used washi tape on the folder tabs so I could easily change out the label as well.
And there you have it- a file folder hack to make your life easier! Do you love this, hate it, or have any other thoughts? Tell me in the comments!
The gifts are opened, the food is eaten, and the decorations are waiting to be put away. Many people are back to work or preparing to go back soon. It's official- the holidays are over! I used some amazing holiday resources from TPT before the break, but now it's time for winter activities. Up here in PA, I can use winter activities from December through February, or March on a bad year. I've made a list of my favorite go-to activities to help you get through the post-break slump!
These are some of my favorite winter activities. What are yours? Tell me in the comments!
Do you work with kindergarten through middle school? Are you looking for evidence-based therapy activities that will work for language, articulation, fluency, and social skills goals? What if I told you that such activities exist, and better yet, that they are FREE? The Florida Center for Reading Research (FCRR) has developed activities geared for students in kindergarten through 5th grade, although I have successfully modified them to work with preschoolers through 8th graders.
In 2004, The Florida Center for Reading Research staff began to create materials that teachers could implement as center activities. The team reviewed research and created materials that could be used in kindergarten through 5th grade classrooms.
Each grade set (K-1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, and 4th-5th grade) includes 2 books (Phonological Awareness/ Phonics and Fluency/Vocabulary/ Comprehension) that contain activity plans and activity master sheets some of which are ready for immediate use, as well as a Teacher Resource Guide which is accompanied by a DVD. The Resource Guide offers insights on differentiated instruction and how to use the Student Center materials. The DVD explains how to prepare and implement the centers and gives specific details about the activities.
The grade levels are all organized along a similar line, with the following sections:
Each section within Phonological Awareness, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension has between 30 and 60 activities that go along with it. As you can see, these activities are comprehensive! I love to use the K-1 Phonological Awareness activities for my articulation kiddos. From any of the activities, you can choose words based on your student's needs. For example, I use the Phonological Awareness activity PA.003, "Rhyming A Lot Oh" bingo activity for my articulation students all the time.
I simply choose the bingo board that has words with their target sound/s. Below is one I use for /r/, with words like king/ring; rug/bug; grass/gas, etc. I choose to write the words on the cards and board to add a little extra reading practice.
I also love "Morpheme Structures: Compound Words" , activity PA.097 in the K-1 Phonological Awareness book for the same reason- pick a target sound/s and choose those cards to work on.
For the above cards, I was targeting /l/ blends and /r/.
For the older students, I really love the Prefix-O game, V.001 in the K-1 Vocabulary book, and my kiddos loved it too. I used it with my confident readers, which is generally middle school and above. My secret weapon was to use small candies (such as M&M's or a small wrapped candy) as bingo chips. Amazingly, my kiddos asked to play this again and again, while working on morhphological skills.
You can visit the FCRR site here; simply choose the age range you want on the right side menu and it will take you to the page where you can choose which book to download.
I will caution that because they contain so much information, these are LARGE files! When I first started using them, I thought it would help to print each book out at once...bad idea. Now I have 6, 3-inch binders FULL of materials taking up a lot of shelf space. If you're short on space and/or don't have half a dozen enormous binders, you can print each activity as you need it. I like to laminate them for repeated use.
As you can see, this is an amazing resource that I've barely scratched the surface of here! Let me know what you think in the comments!
I can't believe it's almost time for Back to School again! Many of your favorite teacher- and SLP-authors have been working hard to get you some wonderful BTS2016 materials, and I've compiled a list of some of them here.
If you're like me, you might love the *idea* of continuing education, but finding the time and money for it is the hard part! In my state (PA), SLP's have historically been required to have a Teaching Certificate, which mandates 180 hours of continuing education every 5 years (that's 36 hours per year), along with the hours we need for ASHA and our state licenses. It can be a headache trying to figure out what counts for which license! Thankfully, I have found some great sites that offer online webinars and courses for free.
*Disclaimer: The sites presented in this post provide ASHA-accepted CE hours as far as I understand them; however, it is your professional responsibility to ascertain which hours will be accepted before beginning a course. Information on what counts for ASHA hours can be found here. *
Sarah Wu at Speech is Beautiful wrote a great article on the Top 10 FREE CEU's for Speech Pathologists, so I won't list all of those here. I've found some additional sites that may help you as you try to improve your mind and keep up those CE hours at the same time!
Remember, 1 Continuing Education (CE) hour= .1 ASHA Certificate Maintenance Hour (CMH).
If you follow me on social media, you may have seen that I have earned nearly 29 hours in the past 2 months, all for FREE! To make keeping track of the hours easier, I used my CE Tracker, available FREE from my TPT store. It automatically tallies my hours, including those that do or do not count for each type of license (ASHA, CE registry, PA State license, etc.)
I hope these are helpful! Do you know of any other free CEU providers I should add? If so, post to the comments or send me an email (link above)!
Hi y'all! I'm Jill. I create and blog about fun, evidence-based resources that can make your busy life as a school-based or private practice SLP easier!