HERE’S A LOOK AT WHAT’S HAPPENING IN OCTOBER

October is one of my favorite months in speech. It also happens to be my birthday month (and yes, I do like when it’s acknowledged and no, I don’t care if people know how old I am). Anyway, we will squeezing in as much as we can this month. Here’s a glimpse at some of those things…

Of course we will be reading books, mostly with a Halloween theme. Here’s a look at some of the ones we’ll be reading:

ten timid ghosts

The students love reading this fun book about 10 ghosts who are scared out of their own house. This book can be used to target vocabulary, rhyming and /g/. I use 10 ghosts on a flannel board that the students take turns removing while we read the story. Always a hit.
spooky riddles

We will be reading some spooky jokes and riddles from this book during our Joke Club. More on our Joke Club coming very soon.

old lady who wasn't afraid

This Old Lady will have us moving as we pair movements to the repetitive text. This book will help us to meet targets for concepts, vocabulary, predicting and sequencing.

old lady bat

Of course we will be reading about this old lady too! The students never seem to grow tired of feeding the old lady all kids of crazy items. We will be developing concepts, vocabulary and sequencing when we read this book.

We will also be hitting some of our language targets using these fun Halloween themed activities from Teaching Talking.

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In our class meetings, co-taught with Miss Kat, we have been focusing on activities that help us to recognize that we are part of the group and how working together is important and beneficial. As part of some of our groups, we have been watching some fun videos that highlight teamwork. Here are a few…

Crabs and the seagull
Penguins

We will be using a favorite game Witches Brew.witches brew

This game is simple enough, be the first one to find and match eight correctly colored mushrooms, yet it appeals to most all students, regardless of ability. I use this as  reinforcement during articulation practice, for turn-taking, accepting disappointment when losing and expanding the repertoire for leisure activities. I don’t think the students like when I try to keep this game reserved only for October. Some might perceive that as a lack of flexibility, I like to think of it as organization.

There are many students working on articulation this year so I am trying to keep all of our work organized in speech notebooks. We are using some activities from Teaching Talking Articulation Notebooks, as well as other worksheets for drill practice. I am also keeping returned homework in the notebooks to keep track of what was given and what has been returned. Students still have folders that go between home and school but the speech notebooks stay with me. They will go home at the end of the year.

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I am planning on doing one post each month, spotlighting one book and its related activities so that parents can have a better, more detailed look at how these books and materials are being used during speech. That should be coming in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for that!

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What’s Yours Like?

Recently, during a class meeting with second grade students, we introduced a spin-off game of What’s Yours Like?.
We played a child friendly version available here on TpT (shameless plug). what's yours like?We played with a second grade class, who was able to play successfully but I wouldn’t recommend playing with students any younger. During the game, there is a “Guess Word” which can be anything from a backpack, to a bike to hair. One student asks the others students “what’s yours like?” in an effort to try to guess the “Guess Word”. Students are to answer truthfully but cleverly. The object of the game is to try to guess the “Guess Word” with the fewest clues possible. For example, if the “Guess Word” was closet, students might describe their closet as “messy”, “cluttered”, “organized”, “empty”, etc. If one were to answer “where I hang my clothes”, the clue would be too obvious and the guesser would be able to easily guess the guess word. The game seems simple enough, but it was definitely a shift for some of the students. Students were used to giving clues so others could make a guess, not offer clues so others wouldn’t be able to guess.

You might think it would be the children with the language difficulties who had the most trouble with this game, but not so. It really was the children with social language challenges. We had been playing several games such as reverse charades and spring taboo (shameless plug number 2), where the students were to give clues so that others could make a guess as to what they were describing. This game requires students give truthful clues while hoping the guesser doesn’t guess correctly. Students with social language difficulties had a hard time demonstrating this flexibility in thinking.

To give an example, one of the target words was shoes. Several of the students described theirs as “worn out”, “broken”, “glittery”, etc. One very bright boy, with social language challenges, described his as “white on the bottom”. He then sat with his feet sticking out (children were in a circle on the carpet) towards the guesser waving his feet at her, hoping that he would provide the clue that elicited the correct answer. Why is this important?

This is important for several reasons. One for those students, who are perceived as bright and achieving well academically, performing in such a manner during this game can look like behavior. It may look a little like a student trying to be the class clown, when in fact, he/she doesn’t understand the game expectations. Two, the other students can become frustrated. As a whole, the class doesn’t want the “guesser” to guess the “guess word” so when it appears that someone is trying to give it away or deliberately provide a clue, the others in the group become annoyed with that student. This can result in the student who is giving the deliberate clue to be hurt and confused. So, what can you do?

For those students who have social language difficulties and may have trouble understanding the concept of giving clues but not wanting someone to guess correctly, you can pre-teach the game and practice in a smaller group setting, time permitting. You may also want to provide a sheet of descriptive words for students to use (included in my What’s Yours Like? game -shameless plug number 3) to help students make accurate yet not obvious descriptions.

So much emphasis is placed on academics and number of instructional minutes in the classroom these days. There seems to be less and less time to “play games” and “have fun” when in fact these types of games (Taboo and What’s Yours LIke? – last shameless plug)  promote problem solving, inferencing, descriptive language, social language, team building and a sense of class community. I think it is important to try and build time into the day, even if only for a few minutes per week to target some of these important skills.

Games, games and more games

Recently, more and more parents have asked me about the apps I recommend for home. While I use apps with students and find many of them helpful, I don’t really recommend them for home. I have let parents know the apps I have found to be successful, but in general, my recommendations for carryover of speech, language and communication skills are not apps.

What do I recommend for home carryover? Games, games and more games. Games target so many of the skills our children are working on: following directions, giving information, providing explanations, concept development, social interactions, turn taking, problem solving, opportunities for articulation carryover and the list goes on…Depending on the game, math skills and reading fluency could also be targeted. It’s also good quality time for the family. We have many game nights in my family. Ages range from my youngest niece, who is 9 to my mother who probably doesn’t appreciate her age being revealed. We also bring a new board game to almost every holiday. In the summer time we have “game nights” by my brother’s pool. The teenaged boys actually request these nights with the family. Here is a great list of games by the artful parent. I also strongly recommend cranium games. Some favorites in my family also include Last Word which can be scaffolded for different playing levels, Catch Phrase and What’s Yours Like? There are so many games that are great for carryover practice, it would be impossible to list them all. You probably have some in your closet right now. Go take a look.

I know not everyone loves to sit and play board games, but not all games need to be sedentary.  This Easter we launched our first Easter Games (I took first in yo-yo and jump rope, thank you very much). The games we played required establishing teams, negotiating events, keeping score and demonstrating sportsmanship (more on that later). We only had one episode of tears. You can find a list of some old fashioned games for outdoors here. It should finally be nice out this weekend so get out there and play!

Now, a little about sportsmanship. I think (my opinion), that children should participate in games to learn how to win and lose gracefully. In this day and age when everyone “earns” a trophy for participating, it seems that children have a harder time losing. I don’t have any data on hand to back that up, but if I start to track it I’m sure I could. Many children ask me if a game is a winning game or losing game, because they don’t want to play a game that they might lose. While I understand that, being a little competitive myself, I think it’s important for children to learn how to lose. How is that related to speech and language? Social communication. We have observed many a student have a very difficult time losing, to the point that they require adult assistance to pull themselves back together. This does not put one in the best light with peers, socially. The same holds true for the student who is not the most gracious winner. No one loves a ‘sore winner”. In the speech room, you are only allowed to announce “I won!” two times and the winner usually gets to clean up, all in good fun.

I’m not suggesting that games are the only way to carryover speech, language and communication but I do find them to be a powerful and motivating context to practice some of the skills we are targeting. Try setting some time aside this weekend for some family game time if you aren’t  already. I think you’ll be glad you did.

What’s Happening in April

I’ve been wanting to share some of the daily happenings that occur in the speech room. I love that fellow blogger ChelseaSLP posts her weekly lesson plans. I thought I might try to post a general preview at the beginning of each month. These are general ideas and not all children will participate in each.

WHAT WE ARE READINGThere Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog, Leap Back Home to Me, Growing Vegetable Soup and Three Stretchy Frogs

april books

Language therapy in my speech room is almost always literacy based.  I would like to devote more time to that in another post so I will leave it at that for now.

WHAT WE ARE PLAYING: We are using lots of games during articulation sessions. Let’s face it, drill work can be a little dry ( I might liken it to learning to conjugate verbs when first learning a foreign language). This is where we use a little trickery. We mask the dryness of drills with fun games, crafts and activities. This month we are playing Fill the Farm Stand Game. We are also using Roll and Cover Game boards found here on TpT. Students also like using the spring themed boards for Seasonal Chipper Chat. 

farmstand game

During class meetings in some first and second grade classes we have been playing a Spring Themed Taboo Game. Why are we playing? It targets describing, explaining, listening, drawing conclusions and participating in social interactions.  Oh, and it’s fun. We are hoping to play a What’s Yours Like Game, in an adapted, child friendly version. This is still in the works.

To target some structural goals we are using Pronouns and Prepositions for Spring. The students love acquiring new seasonally related items for their boards and describing what they have. Many of the students can identify spatial concepts and follow directions involving them, but when asked to describe a location the response is often “it’s right here”. Not in my speech room! We will also be using spring themed barrier games (still in development). I am a huge fan of barrier games and I will probably devote a post specifically to that at another time.

WHAT WE ARE DOING: Hopefully we’ll get to some fun crafts like this cute garden picture.  (Notice some similar themes between some books, games and crafts??)

bunny craft

Why are we doing crafts? Crafts provide a fun and meaningful context to target sequencing, following directions, concepts, vocabulary, and it’s just fun to do. It also provides students with a hands on experience that can be talked about at a later time (relaying past events).

Hopefully, we will get a chance to re-pot some of our plants. Why are we doing this? Three reasons. One, the re-potting provides the same opportunities as when doing a craft. Two, we use the plants as a daily “job” for some students. Three, they’re not going to make it much longer if they’re not re-potted. Can’t have a watering job with no plants.

JUST FOR FUN: The second grade boys who come for articulation therapy have really been into sticker charts. I decided to try to make my own and take their requests. I’ve only done a few and they’re nothing fancy but the kids don’t seem to mind. Help yourself here.

Spring vacation is the week of April 19th. Every year we think it will be the last year with a break in February and a break in April. Best to enjoy, in case it’s our last April break.

 

Hopefully these are just some of the activities we get to this month.

Renee