Monday, September 24, 2018

I Have a Website - For Just a Few More Weeks

In 2004, I was asked to show computer resources to parents of preschoolers. I wanted to easily present free websites to 25+ parents so decided to create a one-page website with a large number of links. After several snow days, the site was created. Using Computer Activities to Enhance Language Learning contained over 250 links leading to hundreds of activities designed for young children.

The presentation to the parents went well, but I was amazed how news of the site spread and how often it was used. One of my colleagues remarked that my site and Pat Mervine's Speaking of Speech were the only websites by SLPs she found when she began working in 2005.

I faithfully updated the site at least once yearly, adding links and fixing or removing broken links. A second page, Six Weeks of Summer - Interactive Speech and Language Practice Activities, was added in 2013. 

Last December, the company running the site removed it along with thousands of others due to security issues. Before the site went down, hundreds of thousands had viewed the page. A few weeks ago, it surprisingly reappeared. 

At first, I thought I would revive it. However, both pages need to be updated and should probably be moved from the genealogy site. After spending time on the site, I realized it is no longer relevant.  Google can easily find websites and activities by topic. The explosion of SLPs on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Teachers Pay Teachers, and those with blogs far exceed what I can add to my tired old site. 

If you haven't visited my website, you will find it, for a few more weeks, at this link


© 2018

Friday, September 21, 2018

FREE Voice-Output For your Core Vocabulary Board

This core vocabulary initiative began as we saw a need for
students to have a language system from the first day they
entered the classroom. This does not take the place of the
several hundred dynamic and static display systems
used by students. 
In 2016, we* began a core vocabulary initiative in my school division. We compiled a core vocabulary board (60 words based on solid research) and distributed it in a variety of sizes. We provided training for SLPs, teachers, teacher assistants, parents, administrators, OTs, PTs, and anyone who asked. We worked and continue to work very hard. 

However, one component was missing . . . voice-output.

Static display devices were too expensive and most not large enough for our 60-word board. As all of our targeted students had access to iPads, we needed to find an app. 

TalkBoard Free by Mark Ashley
Talkboard Free was the best fit for our needs. It was FREE, we could add up to 100 cells, and voice-output was a feature. 

Our board was created with Boardmaker symbols so we contacted Boardmaker to ensure we were not violating any copyrights. 

Once we had the go-ahead from Boardmaker, the first board was made and then transferred to other iPads via Bluetooth. 

The first board took quite some time to create. Each symbol needed to be added as a JPEG. Recording is much like recording on a static display device so timing is important and takes practice. The 9-year-old son of one of our SLPs made the recording of each word and his recordings transfer to each iPad along with the symbols. 

* "We" refers to the fabulous SLPs in our school division's assistive technology department. 


© 2018

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Back Again, Making Time for Me, AND a New Blog Recommendation

Well, I am going to try this again. I enjoyed blogging. I felt I was contributing to my profession, but life and work seemed to get in the way these last two years. 

So, why blog if time is an issue? I like to blog, it's a creative outlet for me, and I want it to be part of a "new me" - someone who takes time for herself to do what she wants to do. Here is my first 2018 post. 

After my first summer off in seven years, balancing my home life and work is something often on my mind. I have been working for my local school division for many, many years (this will be my 40th). I love my job and know I have accomplished much in my career, but have I gone overboard? How much has the stress of my job affected my health and resulted in missed family time?  My son once told me he would never work in a school. He said, "You never go to work. You always go to school. And, you always have homework!"

He was right. I always had homework - reports, lesson plans, and IEPs. I rarely came home without a bag or two. For 30 years, I spent almost every Sunday night finishing lesson plans and creating materials. 

For the last 10 years, I have worked in the Assistive Technology Department. Sunday nights are usually my own and I only bring home something to do one or two nights a week. Nonetheless, I continue to put in very long hours. During the last two weeks, I worked at least three hours beyond dismissal time on 7 of the 10 work days. Home late and too tired to cook made food choices less than healthy and physical exercise was not an option.  

When does this stop? Is it too late for me? I certainly hope not! My short-term goal is to leave at dismissal for four of the next five workdays. That's a start. Let's see what happens. 

My inspiration for this post is Worth the Wage, a new blog written by an SLP in my school division. Meredith's posts are short and insightful. She makes some very good points about having a definitive end to the workday and includes the resources she uses to help achieve her goal. The post, Perfect vs. Perfectly Adequate, had my needs written all over it. Read Racing the Clock to find out how she quickly and easily sets up her speech schedule. 

For more thoughts and tips to help SLPs balance work and life, check out the following links.  

I am Not Superpowered! at Doyle Speech Works, Musings on blending speech-language pathology and life


10 Terrific Time-Saving Tips and Tricks for Busy SLPs at Sublime Speech

SLPs, Save time. 10 tips for fast reports at The SLP Burnout Coach


© 2018

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Start Your Year With Core!

I haven’t posted in over a year and I blame core vocabulary along with aided language stimulation. The big push for using core vocabulary began several years ago in my school division and in the last year, it exploded. More teacher / SLP training, more student evaluations, and much fun working with those students with limited or no expressive language. No time to write blog posts!

I began my 39th year as a speech-language pathologist TODAY and core vocabulary along with aided language stimulation is the #1 tool I wish I could have incorporated into my therapy earlier in my career.   

If you are on the fence, here are some common sense reasons to consider using core vocabulary and aided language stimulation.  
  • Most of our students with limited or no expressive language skills need visual supports.
  • Our students hear thousands of words each day. Most of those words heard (core vocabulary) are repeated throughout the day with no visual supports.
  • Using a core vocabulary board or AAC device containing core vocabulary (along with aided language stimulation) gives a student visual supports, in context, for those words heard repeatedly.

For more information about Core Vocabulary and aided language stimulation watch these short videos.

Aided Language Stimulation Explained 

Core Words in the Classroom 

Longer, more comprehensive, videos can be found at AAC in the Cloud. In June, I watched almost all of the videos at AAC in the Cloud. Most are still available to view on the site or on YouTube. Below are at two of at least ten videos incorporating core vocabulary and aided language stimulation. 

Download core vocabulary boards and much more at Project Core, Boardmaker Community, and The AssistiveWare Core Word Classroom

Check out my February 2016 post - 35+ Simple (and FREE) Ideas for Beginning Core Word Users 

Want to learn more? Sign up for AAC After Work - 10 ASHA approved courses provided by YappGuru! Click here to sign up for the FREE Webinars scheduled from September 18 to September 22, 2017. 


© 2017

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Do You Use Mini-Schedules?

Use core words on your mini-schedule to increase the use of functional language. My student
is going to "talk" about the calendar, "see" a YouTube clip, "find" matching pictures, "read"
 books and "play" games on the iPad. 

Do you have a mini-schedule within each therapy session? And, are your students privy to that schedule?  

Think about those professional learning activities that you attend. Isn't it nice to have a schedule provided so that you will know when each speaker will be ending presenting, how long you will have to complete that team building exercise, and when you will be able to stretch or take a bathroom break?

Your students will appreciate the schedule and it may just make your sessions run a little smoother. 

Introduce the session's activities with a picture schedule. 
  • Make a PowerPoint and present the schedule on your whiteboard or print it as a handout to create small visual schedule pictures. 
  • For those with transition issues, a pull-off schedule would benefit. See how Kristin at Simply Speech tamed some behaviors with her visual schedule. 
  • Make a FREE picture schedule at Use the provided photos and Boardmaker pictures or upload your own. 

For your readers and older students, try a written agenda  or schedule. 
  • Use a dry erase board or something like the To Do List at Can Do Kinders. 
  • Who wouldn't like schedules made with comic strips? There are several FREE websites and apps. I made the one on the right at Bitstrips.  Or, try the kid friendly, ReadWriteThink Comic Creator.  

Don't have visual support software? Check out my post No Software Needed - Free Visual Supports. 

Find more about mini-schedules at PrAACtical AAC, The Autism Helper, and Autism Classroom Resources.  


© 2016

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

35+ Simple (and FREE) Ideas for Beginning Core Word Users

This post began as a search for new core word activities. As I searched, I was amazed at some of the fabulous resources found.  Core words wasn't such a great search term.  I found many ideas by searching for core vocabulary,  core word books, sight word activities, and life skills activities

The PrAACtical AAC is my #1 source for core word strategies and activities. If you work with AAC users, consider subscribing to the blog. Two recent posts PrAACtically January: Resources for A Year of Core Vocabulary Words and PrAACtically February: Resources for A Year of Core Vocabulary Words have suggested children's literature selections along with the core words to teach with each book. AND, if you are just beginning to teach core words in your therapy sessions, Carole Zangari's post, Thoughts on Teaching Core Vocabulary is a must read! 

Susan Berkowitz has some very good ideas for incorporating AAC into your learners' day on her YouTube video, AAC Basics Video #9: Integrating Core Words into Interactions

Visit Gail Van Tatenhove's site to find Script Cards containing ideas for teaching 10 core words and many other resources. 

Core Word Books

Use core word books to model and teach core word vocabulary. Make them with PowerPoint or with your favorite story making app. OR use these resources to download FREE core word books. 

  • For core word lessons and over 70 ready to download core word books, register for a free account at My TobiiDynavox Community.
  • The core word starter lesson plans at PRC's Language Lab uses their 20 core starter words in FREE core word books and lesson plans. 
  • Tar Heel Reader has over 40,000 FREE books that can be read online or downloaded as a PDF or PowerPoint.  These books were made by readers of all ages. Download them as PowerPoints to change text, add core words, etc. I searched for core and found both core word books and books containing the word core. A search for AAC yielded two core word books. Search by topic, by core word, or phrase.
  • Pat Mervine at Speaking of Speech just posted two core word books and added them her new category Core Language Materials. She created them in PowerPoint so that they could be modified as needed. I will be using Hungry Dog while teaching not next week! 

FREE Story Making Apps for your core word books. 

This simple core word book was made to introduce the phrase "want different" prior to playing with a variety of windup toys. Click on the picture to enlarge. 

Use Apps and Toys to Elicit Core Words

Put it away - help, go in, put in, where go

Toca Kitchen Monsters - like, don't like, turn on, my turn, eat, make, put on 

 Toca Tea Party - eat, drink, want more drink, want more eat, you help  

My Playhome Lite - turn on, get, want, can, sit, go, in 

View Master - I see, my turn, what you see, I see it

The Parking Lot Game (download my free template as a PowerPoint to make your own) - go, where, what, on, fast, slow, turn

Put interesting objects in boxes. Students can request open it and use other words to talk about the items in the box. 

Use matching games to teach not that, same, or different.

Puzzles or toys with parts elicit want or want more. 

Simple board games will lead to utterances such as my turn, I go, you go, help me, and much more.  Check out Teaching core Words with Games at Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs. Scroll down to the bottom to find Adapting Commercial Games AND check out her other great ideas.  


These five-minute activities help students become more familiar with words on their device or board.

  •  Write core words (or attach the word and symbol) on Legos and give the student the Lego each time that he finds the words. 
  • Write words on ping pong balls and let students throw them in baskets as they find the words. 

Try one of these short videos to give students a little breather during the session and give you another chance to model the core word or phrase. 
  • Introduce the concept more with Baby Bean, also by Pelican Talk. 

Make your own movie using iMovie (FREE if you have a device activated after September 2013) or a similar video editor for Android users

Want more? Join the Core Words Forum at Speaking of Speech to add your ideas, questions, and materials. Thanks to Pat for doing this!



© 2016

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Best Story Props for Winter's Literature Activities

I am an Amazon Affiliate. 

Last week, as I was cleaning up the links on some of my older posts, I noticed that's newest Story Patterns are for The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. This is my favorite winter literature selection for speech/language groups and the story patterns by Kizclub illustrate some of the more unfamiliar vocabulary words found in the book.  Use beautifully drawn pictures as story props to retell the story, define vocabulary, or create a PowerPoint book or game.  And, check out my earlier post The Snowy Day for Speech and Language Therapy.

Here are more story patterns suitable for winter's literature activities. 

Under My Hood I Have a Hat 

The Jacket I Wear in the Snow

Three Little Kittens 

Froggy Gets Dressed

Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

The Mitten 

The Hat


© 2016