The Best Thing I Learned this Summer

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hi friends!

This week I'm thrilled to be teaming up with the Frenzied SLP's for my very first linky party - #SLP Strong! 

The best thing I learned this summer was that working with older students was not nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be and actually ended up being pretty fun. 

Working exclusively with preschoolers during the school year, I was a little anxious to learn I would be working with middle and (gulp) high school students this summer. 

It's been a long time since I've worked with students that age. Could I help them meet their goals? What materials was I going to use? I mean they're just so  . . . big! This definitely required me to step outside my comfort zone. But I'm always up for a challenge and in the end I'm grateful I embraced it.

I've grown to expect ESY (Extended School Year, aka "summer school") to be chaotic the first few days with learning students' names, getting familiar with their goals, and just finding a time to fit everyone in. Add to that an unfamiliar population of students with an extremely wide range of needs and I was starting to feel in over my head. 

As educators we're often perfectionists by nature and can have a tendency to be too hard on ourselves. I recall one session in particular in which I attempted to play the game "Scattegories." As I watched the sand in the little plastic hourglass drain, my students sitting motionless, pencils poised, expressions perplexed, I realized it was a complete flop. Even I was having difficulty coming up with a U.S. city that started with the letter "K."   

Instead of pushing it I admitted defeat, but as I dejectedly began putting the dice and blank pads of paper back in the box, the topic of the Gold Cup Soccer play-offs came up. Intrigued I inquired further and listened as my students excitedly retold details of the match the night before, expressing opinions of their favorite players, and which team they hoped would win it all. They were developing arguments and backing them up! Comparing and contrasting teams! Listening, responding, and practicing interpersonal communication skills! Most importantly they were having fun. Hey maybe this session wasn't such a disaster after all.  

This was a great lesson for me that with any population, from preschool to high school, it pays to be flexible, interested, and engaged.


And yes maybe I did luck out with an incredibly kind, courageous, not to mention hilarious group of young people this summer, but as ESY drew to a close I was definitely feeling a little more confident working with older students, a feeling I'm hoping to carry with me as I transition from early intervention to a K-8 school this fall. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure it's still going to be a huge learning curve, but naturally I'm up for the challenge. Because after all we're #SLP Strong right? ;)


Secret Word ***FLICKER***


Rediscovering an Old Favorite

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Some stories are just timeless. The Three Billy Goats Gruff, a Norwegian fairy tale, dates all the way back to the 1840's! And we're still enjoying it today. I mean how cool is that?! 

The inspiration to try a Billy Goat theme with my speech students came after hearing this song/story by Heather Forest. My kids have been enthralled by it and love participating by making the fun sound effects along with the music. 


I was even more inspired when I stumbled on this adorable clip art from Susana at Whimsy Workshop Teaching. These have been the perfect visuals to support the story and song. 

Now there are so many versions of The Three Billy Goats Gruff that choosing which book to go with was a little overwhelming  After pouring over several copies, I settled on Stephen Carpenter's adaptation for it's simple language and appealing illustrations. It's also the ideal length to hold the attention of preschoolers. 

As a Speech Language Pathologist I always have an eye towards how I can use a book to address the goals of my students. This story's been great for building understanding of size, sequence, and feelings/motivations. To address even more speech and language goals, I created a book companion designed to naturally target:

   -Third person singular  
   -Conjunctions (but, and)
   -Contractions (I'm, he's, don't)
   -Sequence (first, second, third)
   -Comparative (bigger)
   -Adjectives (mean, ugly)
   -Future tense (going to)
   -Vocabulary (bridge, troll, gobble, horns)
   -Narrative skills


My students have been picking up quickly on the repetitive language of this simplified story. After listening to it a few times they begin to finish the sentences themselves, building grammar, sentence structure, articulation, and narrative skills. (And it's been so much more fun than drills and flashcards!) 

If you've never read The Three Billy Goats Gruff with your students I encourage you to give it a shot. If you have, I'd love to hear what you liked about it. Any other classics you're looking forward to reinvigorating this year? 

Thanks for checking out my blog:)

Stay fired up!


Moving Beyond the Hungry Caterpillar

Saturday, July 18, 2015

As I look ahead to my 7th year as a preschool speech language pathologist I've been feeling the need to reinvigorate some of my themes. After all if I'm not excited about my materials, how can I expect my students to be? 

I love incorporating literature into my sessions and am always on the lookout for fun new books which I can use to target speech language objectives. 

Possibly one of my favorite discoveries has been Eric Carle's 10 Little Rubber Ducks

This children's book was inspired by the true story of 28,000 bath toys washed overboard during a storm in the Pacific in 1992. In Carle's story, each rubber duck drifts in a different direction, encountering a variety of sea animals along the way, each of which performs a distinct action. The visuals are engaging, and the language simple & repetitive, while still introducing new vocabulary. And the best part is each student gets a chance to press a button at the end to make the duck squeak! 

My students have been loving 10 Little Rubber Ducks this summer and I'm loving that I get to target a TON of speech & language objectives including: 

   Prepositions (especially over & under to describe each animal's position)
   Adjectives (Aren't animals are so great for teaching attributes?)
   Past tense (including irregular past such as fell & sang) 
   Final Consonants (especially the final /k/ in duck, quack, & squeak)
   Consonant Blends (e.g., flamingo, drifted, stared, screeched)
   Ocean vocabulary (e.g., pelican, seal, octopus, seagull)
   Action words (e.g., glided, blinked, chattered)

To ignite even more language development I've created a book companion designed to specifically target narrative skills (e.g., correct grammar use, increased sentence length, articulation), concept understanding (e.g., size, attribute, quantity, negation), and comprehension of Wh-questions (e.g., How did the rubber ducks fall off the boat?)  

There is certainly a time and place for picture books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear, but the beauty of stories with a simple plot like 10 Little Rubber Ducks is they lend themselves to discussion of the problem, characters' feelings and motivations, inferencing, sequencing, and making predictions. If you're not familiar with 10 Little Rubber Ducks, or have never considered incorporating it into a speech therapy session, I encourage you to give it a try! 

And for a fun summer (grown-up) read check out Donovan Hohn's Moby Duck:

Thanks for checking out my blog! Any new books or themes you're looking forward to trying this year? Love to hear from you! 

Stay fired up! 



Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Hello and welcome to my blog! I'm thrilled to be up and running and look forward to sharing strategies for increasing communication skills in therapy, school, and at home. I believe in creating fun and meaningful experiences for children, incorporating books, music, play, and parent involvement as much as I can.  

Thanks so much for checking me out! Stay tuned for much more to come!

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