Friday, August 31, 2012

Toys or Technology?

I love technology.  I spend so much time on the computer that my daughter is worried that when I retire, I will never leave my office chair. My current job involves much technology training and when at home, I like to research my family history. I have websites - both personal and professional and run three blogs. 

However, in therapy, I question maximizing the use of technology when working with young children.   As an SLP who worked primarily with the early childhood population, I know there are so many good reasons not to use technology. 

When working in the early childhood classrooms, I often used technology to introduce a lesson; usually a PowerPoint book using simple language and targeting specific concepts. If I had an iPad or an interactive whiteboard at the time, I am sure that I would have used those. My student's were usually engaged and participating; however, they were no less engaged when I pulled the toys and other items out of my bags.

When planning therapy and want to use that new app, pair it with a toy or hands-on activity.  If you use your Promethean or SmartBoard daily, make sure that you introduce the concepts using real objects as well.

Toys can be inexpensive or free. Garage sales are great places to find toys and  friends with children are often more than happy to loan toys. Before I had children, I would write a request to borrow specific toys on the board in the teacher's lounge - puzzles, a farm toy, etc. The next day, I always had more than I needed.

If you need some toy ideas, visit this great blog, Playing With Words 365 for her four part series Top Toys & How They Can Support Speech & Language Development - Part One 

               Part Two    Part Three   Part Four


© 2012

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Therapy in the Classroom - Part II

I failed to mention in the last post that not only did I provide therapy in the self-contained special education classrooms, but that for four years my "speech room" was in self-contained classrooms.  For two years, I roomed with one of my best friends in her early childhood classroom. The walls to my "speech room" were made of cabinets and I could see all that was going on from my desk.  During another two year period, I had a desk in one of several self-contained special education classrooms in my school. Those two years, I moved from room to room conducting therapy in each student's special education classroom.  

When working in these classrooms, the teacher's understanding of the SLP's role is very important. Most liked having the extra help in the room; however, some wanted me to tutor and others considered my time in their classroom break-time.  The majority were easy to work with and were willing to collaborate. Therapy in the classroom worked when I spent some planning time with the teachers and the goals, procedures, and materials were discussed. 

One year, I co-taught Everyday Math at the kindergarten level which was great for my students with severe articulation disorders. I have taught several aspects of language arts and social studies, but my favorite years were when I conducted three whole classroom sessions weekly while teaching science concepts. 

Not only can science be fun, but it is very interactive and perfect for speech and language activities.   For students with very limited language skills, there are a lot of opportunities for language learning and active participation. AND, activities and materials are age appropriate. 

States of Matter - one of many science activities
found at

When learning about matter, students can tell the sequence of events that occur when matter changes state, predict outcomes, respond to questions about the changes, describe attributes, and sort and classify. Download my PowerPoint book, The ABC Matter Book, that was used as a describing activity and to reinforce vocabulary as part of a science sorting activity. 

Plant a bean seed and students can tell about the growth sequence, make predictions, label parts of a plant and tell the functions of each part, describe a variety of plants and make comparisons.  
Download My Bean Diary at SparkleboxShare

There are many websites with great visual supports and science activities. Find wonderful activities at Science Online, BBC's Bitesize,  Edheads, and Dragonfly TV. Many videos and resources can be found at Discovery Edcuation - most schools have subscriptions to this site. If you have Boardmaker, make sure that you look for science activities at the BoardmakerShare site. 


© 2012

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapy in the Classroom: Part I

A few days ago, a new SLP asked me if I’d ever worked in a self-contained special education classroom. She was looking for ideas about how to work with this population on a limited budget. Here is my response:

Before I left my therapy room to work in the AT office, my classroom groups were the best part of my day. When working in self-contained special education classrooms, I typically conducted two whole class lessons twice weekly. All classroom students participated in the lessons and teachers and teacher assistants helped with behavior issues and data collection. I learned a lot from the teachers and it was really nice to see the teachers and teacher assistants implementing the language lessons throughout the school day.

Today, I will write about my speech/language groups in the early childhood classrooms and in my next post, I will write about therapy in other self-contained classrooms.

In the early childhood classrooms, I almost always used literature selections centered on the classroom's current lessons/theme. I focused on vocabulary and concepts that matched SLP supported language objectives. The same theme was used throughout my therapy in that classroom for at least three weeks. This theme extended into the small group and individual therapy sessions often conducted in the classroom.

Books can be cost free. Use the school or public library or borrow book sets from the reading specialist’s inventory.  You can also find books on-line.  I looked for books that I could read such as those at We Give Books.  Books read by the computer or others on YouTube don’t give the opportunities to comment, ask questions, or talk about the pictures.  

I always made visual supports to go with the books and other activities. Search for free graphics on the Internet or better yet, use Microsoft Office or your own pictures.  I did use a lot of story props and toys in my lessons; usually bringing household items and my children’s toys from home. Before children, I visited garage sales for my toys.

Below are some activities that I used in a classroom to go along with lessons about community workers and fire safety. I only used a few activities during each session and repeated activities as needed.  

    Introduce the vocabulary by showing the PowerPoint book – Fire Fighters (click to download) or print the slides as a handout of six and cut out the slides for instant visual supports and pictures to discuss. Read Fire Truck by Peter Sis – a great book to emphasize plurals.

     Down load this PowerPoint, Fire Truck Plurals, to make plural cards that go along with the book. Print the slides as a handout with six slides on each page. Cut out the slides to make the cards. 

     Use cold packs to demonstrate cold and a heating pad for hot (not too hot).  Show the Hot and Cold PowerPoint book as a slideshow or let the students sort the printed cards. Again, print the slides as handouts of six and cut out the slides to make cards.           

     Using a collection of fire trucks and/or other vehicles, give each child a vehicle to move on the table. Allow the students to give directions; telling all when to go fast, go slow, or stop.   

Show understanding or express prepositions while playing Where’s the Fire Truck?, a preposition activity posted at You can make a similar activity by taking pictures of a fire truck at various locations in the room.

Using –ing (riding, climbing, driving, eating) during pretend play.

Matt had pancakes for breakfast.  Have pancakes for a snack, talk about and introduce other breakfast foods.

Make a cardboard ladder and a paper fire fighter figure to climb up and down the ladder. 

Many of these activities can be incorporated into articulation therapy; initial /f/ (fast, fire, fire truck), initial /h/ (hot), initial /k/ cold, final consonant deletion and much more. 

Read the interactive on-line book It’s Time to Fight a Fire at and help Fran, the fire fighter, decide what to wear.

To find more literature ideas with suggested goals for speech and language therapy visit books4all at  And, visit the blog, Constantly Speaking, for great book lists that correlate with articulation objectives, social skills, and specific language skills. 

Do you conduct therapy in classrooms? If so, what suggestions do you have? 


© 2012

The Picture Communication Symbols ©1981–2011 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.
Boardmaker® is a trademark of Mayer-Johnson LLC.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Backpack, Backpack

Here are some more school related activities for your younger students:

Recite "Backpack, backpack, what is in the backpack?" as you pull items out of a backpack. Students can name the items and answer questions about the functions of the objects.  I created a simple PowerPoint book to go along with the activity. You can download Backpack, Backpack here. 

One year, I read Backpack Puppy from Scholastic and modified the above PowerPoint book to place an emphasis on yes/no responses. Download the PowerPoint book here. 

Take pictures of student's backpacks and students can tell possession in response to the question, "Whose backpack is this?" Responses might include mine, my, pointing to self or others, or possessive nouns such Mary's backpack.

Have fun describing school supplies.  Use magnifying glasses or a document camera inspect a variety of school supplies. 
Match colored backpacks with books and bears at Kizsparkz.  Put articulation pictures on the cards and have students say the words as they match the the items to the appropriate backpack. 

2 Teaching Mommies offers a free printable "school supply unit." The pictures can be printed and used for numerous speech and language activities. I especially like Which is different? and the Back to School Scavenger Hunt

Look at these free books at Carl'sCorner (scroll past the paid activities). They can be used during articulation therapy or to teach a variety of language concepts.  
  • A Dog Can Go to School
  • Ask Us About School
  • Come Here Cat
  • Crayon Crazy
  • Four Little Penguins
  • I Can Read
  • Red School, Red School, What do you see?
  • Things We do at School
  • We Love Recess
Another free book, In My Backpack can be found at 4GASLPs


The backpack clip art is free from

© 2012

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Who Rode the Bus?

I liked school bus activities in September.  My favorite book The Bus Stop by Nancy Hellen may only be available on ebay or Amazon, but the simple language was just perfect for the early childhood classes. My Tupperware School Bus is another item to look for on ebay or at garage sales.  It came completely apart to form a classroom and students loved putting it together.  

See Who Rode the Bus? at 4GASLPs. This cute story is sung to the tune of "Who Took the Cookie from the Cookie Jar?" has story props, a position word activity, an emergent reader and a sign language reader to go along with The Seals on the Bus by Lenny Hort. 

Watch The School Run, a school bus story, at  

Make an Egg Cartoon School Bus at DLTK. And, for those of you with Boardmaker, visual suppports for this activity have been posted at also has many bus activities; overlays and visuals for Wheels on the Bus, school bus social stories, and printable and interactive books. 


© 2012

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to School . . .

Today a good friend and former "speech room roommate," told me that she was moving to a new room in her school. I don't envy her.  Moving a room and getting ready for school is hard work. Our school custodian knew me well as during my first 12 years as a school SLP, we moved all of my speech stuff seven times. I remember spending many summer vacation weeks setting up my room. 

Now, "back to school" isn't such a big deal for me as I work much of the summer and my office space stays the same throughout the school year. However, for those of you who are coming back to school this month, below are some resources for  "back to school" organizing and other items to help you get ready for your students. 

The Speech Room

  • For elementary students and older checkout Education Worlds IceBreaker's Archive where you will find twelve volumes of activities to introduce students to you, their peers, and your routines and procedures.  Great activities for beginning of the year inclusion groups. 
  • For younger students visit KinderKorner's What's in a Name? page chock full of name games and activities. 
  • Friend Bingo, at, is another great activity for the younger set. 
  • For your readers, look at Teaching Heart's FREE, printable, Class Treasure Hunt.
  • BoardmakerShare has several Getting to Know You Boards
Scheduling, Forms, Data, and More


© 2012

The Picture Communication Symbols ©1981–2011 by Mayer-Johnson LLC. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Used with permission.
Boardmaker® is a trademark of Mayer-Johnson LLC.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Finding Apps

Sorting through the large number of apps available for education can be a daunting task. There are many resources to help you find apps for speech and language therapy.  Blogs, websites, Pinterest and Facebook are some of the places that I have searched for information about apps.  Judith Kuster wrote Internet: In Search of the Perfect Speech - Language App? for the April 3, 2012 issue of the ASHA Leader.  This article lists a huge amount of resources for finding apps. However, sometimes, I just want to search the App Store. So, in this post I am going to review the mechanics of searching for apps in Apple's App Store.  

Below is a search for the term preschool. This is a very broad search.  You can see that the results are over 3,000 apps for both the iPad and the iPhone. I chose iPad Apps and See All.  

Note that many of the more than 3,000 iPhone apps are the same as those under the iPad category.  And, many apps made for the iPhone will work on an iPad.  I will write more about this at the end of the post. 

Notice the filters across the top of the screen; CategoryPrice, and Device.  Using filters will reduce the number of apps that you will have to sort through during your search.

For Device I chose iPad

Under Price, I chose Free. That's entirely up too you. 

Keep the Category as All.  I seldom choose Education as there are often great apps in the Books and Games categories. 

You can sort by Relevance, Most Popular, Release Date, and Customer Rating.  Sorting by Customer Rating shows you the most highly rated apps first.  Sorting by Release Date shows you the most recent apps; some not yet rated. Relevance will show apps that match your search term and Most Popular are those that have the highest number of installs. 

The plus sign on the price marker (these all are Free) indicates that the app was designed for both the iPad and the iPhone. 

I usually search for iPad apps, but if I can't find what I want, I check iPhone apps.  However, some open with a small screen.  To enlarge it, tap on the 2x at the bottom right corner of your screen. 

Happy Searching!!!


© 2012

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

How Large are Your Apps?

Apple’s App Store has over  650,000  apps. An iPad 2 can hold 11 pages of Apps and/or folders including the built-in apps. If you have a 16GB iPad, some space will be taken up by the built-in apps and the operating system.  You will actually have slightly less than 14 GB for app, photo, and video storage. 

To see how much memory each app (and other content) are using, go to
Settings > General 

Tap on Usage and go to Storage
It may take a few seconds for the list to appear.

Tap on Show all Apps to see all of your apps and the amount of storage that each uses. The the amount of storage used by the videos or music will appear above the apps. 

If you need space to download apps or other items, delete the apps (movies, music, etc.) that you don't currently need (e.g., Halloween apps are only used in October). You may delete them from your iPad, but won't be deleting them from your account.  When needed, you can always go to the App Store, tap on Purchased, and put that app back on your iPad. 


© 2012