Is The Tooth Mouse Coming to Your House for Christmas?

1450961_614283631965088_1495387947_nOne of my favorite books to give as a gift and read to children is The Tooth Mouse by Susan Hood, illustrated by  Janice Nadeau. I just read it again yesterday to a first grade boy and was reminded of all the conversation it generates with the beautiful story and elegant illustrations.

It’s the perfect Christmas gift for a child 4 and up or even a grandparent as I gave it to my brother for his birthday this week–he has 4 grand daughters:) In many countries, other than the United States, children hide their baby teeth under the pillow, awaiting a coin from the Tooth Mouse, no fairies around.

I recently found this little Tooth Mouse on Susan Hood’s website to add to the fun of the story. Acting out the story with props deepens the language experience as kids recall the story and embellish!

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Language, Reading, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Tips For Parents on How to Read Aloud to Their Children

imgresI aways enjoy hearing from former colleagues and got a note this week from Patti, a fellow speech pathologist with whom I shared a room when I worked in the preschool special education program in our town. We really enjoyed working together, collaborating at times but also supporting each other with a good laugh throughout the day. At one point, I was talking to one of my 3 year-old students, (apparently too loudly) and one of her students answered me! That was one of our favorite memories. Anyway, Patti emailed me this week asking for permission to share this list of tips I compiled on how to build emergent reading skills as you read to your child. I thought it was worth repeating. I used the book “The Pout Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark” by Deborah Diesen to demonstrate the following strategies:

  • Point out the title and ask your child what she thinks the story will be about? A fish? A fish in the dark? Will he like it or not? How would you feel?
  • Talk about what we call the person who wrote the book, the “author.” After reading this book to Will and his brother, Ben, we went around in a circle and added on to a made up story. When we finished I said, “Who was the author of that story?” They proudly said, “We were!” Talk about who the illustrator is.
  • Read with the rhythm of the book. This book has a delightful bounce to it. Read slow enough to emphasize great words and new vocabulary–”a doozy of a drowsy”–someone was tired!
  • Talk about the illustrations; ask what and where things are.
  • Look at Ms Pearl’s mouth. How does she feel? Talk about emotions, name them and explain why. “She is sad because she lost her pearl.”
  • Have fun reading words that are fun to say, “swooped through the water,” and “swishing close to land.”
  • Read with intonation and different voices. Whisper for Ms Shimmer and try to find her hiding in the ocean. Use a quivery voice for, “I’m scared of the dark.”
  • Point to and emphasize words in large bold print. “I’m FAST as a sailfish, I’m STRONG as a shark…” Kids will start to associate a spoken word with a printed word.
  • Pause on a page for your child to point anything out or comment.
  • Emphasize repeated stanzas and as your child gets familiar with the book, leave off the last word or phrase until they can recite the whole thing! Follow the words with your finger as they “read” back to you.
  • Make connections between the book and your child’s life. The whole gang gathered and swam in a circle at the end to celebrate finding Ms Clam’s pearl–just like your circle time at school.
  • Say, “The end,” at the end of the story. Children will start to learn that there is a beginning, middle and end to a story, preparing them to eventually create and write their own stories with a beginning, middle and end.
Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Preschool, Reading, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

FREE uKloo app Gives the Gift of Reading

uKloo-AppWho doesn’t like a free gift? Grandparents, parents, teachers and therapists listen up for a free app that will put the thrill in learning to read, “Early Reader Treasure Hunt App” by uKloo.

Take the uKloo fun on the road with their new FREE app, an extension of their popular Early Reader Treasure Hunt game that exercises emergent reading skills while on the hunt through the house. Their new app takes kids into the digital world of new environments like the farm and market, expanding reading vocabulary in familiar experiences outside the home. Begin by choosing the farm or farmer’s market, select 1-10 clues, and level 1-10 according to your child’s reading ability.

As with the board game, kids read the short clues to look for the uKloo card whether under the mouse, on the white cheese or beside the bird.  The same clear, helpful chart is available for kids to independently figure out words by matching captioned pictures to the word in the clue. When kids correctly read the clue and follow the directions, they are rewarded with fun actions like a snake slithering out of the log, a dinosaur hatching out of an egg and flying away or juggling cupcakes. After several correctly read clues, the child is reinforced with “Way to Go! You did a great job!” I really like the pure learning in uKloo’s app, driven by the child’s motivation to learn and reinforced with a verbal high five, not a lot of fancy reinforcers. Amazingly, just being able to read was enough of a prize for the kids I played this app with. Isn’t that what we want–to instill the joy of learning?

Available here



Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Reading | Leave a comment

Activities for Learning to Read

Reading book Caroline I seeIt’s been a fun vacation visiting our grandchildren over Thanksgiving and watching the two 5 year-olds beginning to read. Somehow I don’t remember my boys “embracing” the beginning to read process and enjoying it so much.

I found little Caroline filling many spare minutes “making a book.” I was invited to make one with her so I joined her on the floor, at the kitchen table or in the playroom. She had already torn off several sheets of paper from a small pad, bound the book in patterned duct tape and gathered her glitter markers to begin. Her first book was “I see….” as she added a different animal on each page and illustrated it. Next I found her Reading book-tauthoring. “I like…” as she asked how to spell the animal that she selected. Then I noticed she drew a deer with antlers and wanted to advance to a question, “Do I have antlers?”

Kindergartener, Ben, read several of his practice books to me that he had obviously memorized but also sounded out some words for me. He shared his “T”  book with me, reading the repetitive script, revolving around “toothbrush” “tiger” and “two.”

Reading t-book pageI had brought along the Zingo Sight Words game by Thinkfun to play with my emergent readers and it was the usual hit! Caroline and I played 3 rounds until I asked for a break. This game cleverly matches an illustration to each sight word, sometimes giving a clue to its meaning such as “in” has an arrow pointing into a box, or “me” is a little person while other tiles just provide an associated drawing like red stripes, colored concentric circles or a checkerboard pattern. Often she could read the sight words, but when she couldn’t, she’s ask me what drawing went with it to see if it was on both of our cards so she could snatch it first–smart kid!

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Reading, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving centerpieceHappy Thanksgiving to all! I hope you enjoy time with family and friends. We have the joy of sharing turkey with the kids and grandkids. Don’t tell anyone but we are cheating and ordering the dinner from Whole Foods! I would much rather spend my time playing with the kids:)

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Using Art Sets in Preschool Speech Therapy

Artzooka tapeMost kids love art and creating their own masterpiece. I often use art kits in preschool therapy because I can easily engage a child and offer her another sticker, piece of tape or a marker as a reward for repeating my articulation or language models.

Today we played with Artzooka’s new set,  ”Sketcher-Tape” which includes 6 different background cards from mountains to a big cat and dog as well 160 stickers and 5 rolls of tape.

Great for creating a story, this set inspired my 5 year-old friend to construct a bush from tape and declare, “It’s a magic bush on the mountain. It goes up to the clouds!” Then he made a “grown up nest, just for the Mommy and Daddy,” before placing the large bird stickers in it. The tape was easy to tear independently, so ladders, mountains, roads and paths could be constructed for the story. My little friend was thrilled to present his picture to mom after our session.

Posted in Articulation, Preschool, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Tips on How To Find A Good Speech Therapist

snow speech therapy

Walking to a client’s house

I had such a response to my “6 Tips For Navigating Early Intervention Screening to Receive Speech Therapy,” that I thought I would do a follow-up blog based on some inquiries I got from parents. Some children did not qualify for early intervention services but parents are still concerned and want to pursue private speech therapy. “How do I find a good therapist in my area? I’m kind of lost,” wrote one parent and “I feel a bit relieved that someone could ‘hear’ me and understand the complexity of the process.” “It’s a daunting task, just to find a good reliable, professional therapist that we feel connected to.”

Here are some tips to finding a good speech therapist in your area.

  • Ask your pediatrician. They should have a list of certified speech language pathologists in your area that they are comfortable referring you to. I have several pediatricians that I have a relationship with who refer patients to me. I send them a report after an evaluation so they are aware of my recommendations. Some ask me for advice on a patients or have asked for articulation and language norms so they can more accurately refer their patients for further testing.
  •  Check ASHA’s registry. The American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) keeps a registry of certified speech therapists by area of the country.
  • Contact local school speech therapist or district Special Education Coordinator’s  office. Based on your child’s age (elementary, middle school, high school) contact the SLP at your neighborhood school and ask for recommendations for private therapists they have worked with.
  • Ask nursery school teachers. I get referrals from nursery school teachers who often have a list of therapists their families have used and liked.
  • Listen to parents, word of mouth. Many of the parents who call me have gotten my name from a family with whom I have worked. Other parents of children of similar ages are a great resource for finding a good therapist.




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Articulation Therapy Carryover Activities

Bubbles celesteI have a number of boys, ages 5-8,  currently on my caseload, who are working on improving their articulation. They have made great gains in learning to correctly produce their target sounds in words, sentences and conversation within our therapy sessions, but are having trouble making that leap to carryover.

I read with interest Pam Marshalla’s “Speech Therapy Answers and Advice” which I always find incredibly practical and helpful. She heard from a parent whose 5 year-old girl is right in the spot I described above–accomplished in her target sound(s) but not moving to the next step for carryover to produce her correct sounds in everyday activities. Pam makes an excellent point that carryover needs a plan just as each other stage of therapy does. I think we often feel like we are “finished” with therapy when we get a child to the carryover stage and he should just start using his wonderful new sound. Some kids actually do make that jump easily but I find it is more common for young children to need several activities to integrate their new production into everyday activities.

I agree with Pam that we never want to tell parents to “correct” their child all day. This goes for all kinds of speech-language therapy. I am sharing that piece of advice with parents often. Pam shares 3 activities from her book,  Carryover Techniques in Articulation and Phonological Therapyappropriate for encouraging carryover for a 5 year-old child:

“Free Talk

Have the child sit in a certain chair at home. Talk to him for 5-10 minutes about any subject that gets him to talk freely— e.g., what he would like to do for his next birthday or his preferences for his lunches at school. Or tell knock-knock jokes to one another, etc.  Tell him that you will correct him while he is sitting in the chair but that you will NOT correct him any other time. Have a good time while he is in that chair.  Make it a place of special fun and special attention. Tell him how much you love him when he in on it.  DO NOT CORRECT HIM ANY OTHER TIME OF DAY. This is a basic Van Riper technique he called “Nucleus Situations.”

Key Words

A second excellent way to begin work on carryover at home is to use what we call “key words.” Chose one, two, or maybe three words you will correct.  For example, if the child is working on “S” use the word “Please.”  Key words are words that have your child’s target sound and that come up often in your home– please, yes, no, okay, maybe, pretty soon, mommy, daddy, upstairs, can I…, car, eat, drink, juice, breakfast, lunch, dinner, homework, chore, etc. Tell your child you will correct him on those words only. Let all other errors go uncorrected. After a week, add another few words, then more another week later, etc.

Word Tag

Try a game of “word tag.” Sit together on the couch for 5-10 minutes and strike up a general conversation about anything. Lightly and playfully slap the child’s hand or knee every time he says a word with his sound, and he will do the same for you. Make a game of it by crying out “I heard one!” when a tag is made.  The idea is simply to make these words stand out. After a few minutes, change the game so that you only tap each other when a word is spoken correctly (or incorrectly).  Do not correct him outside of the game unless he likes it and wants to. Once it is learned, the game can be played for a minute here-and-there throughout the week”

I also like to engage the classroom teacher in a similar way. Let the teacher know what sound or sounds your little client is trying to carry over and suggest a certain time  during his day or activity when you will be listening for his /l/ or /s/ sound, giving him an encouraging word of praise or thumbs up. It may be when he reads a portion of his book to the teacher or shows her his work. Never correct but catch him using his sound correctly. I have found when a child is more aware of using his sound during his school day, carryover comes faster!

Posted in Articulation, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment Announced Top 10 PAL Picks 2013 Today On NBC CT TV

Today I shared 8 of our Top 10 PAL Picks for 2013, Holiday Gift Guide. Here are some favorites we featured on our segment today but be sure to check out all of our Top Picks below for easy holiday shopping!

Play On Words LLC, led by highly respected speech therapist Sherry Artemenko, announces Top 10 PAL (Play Advances Language) Award Picks for 2013. This recognition is the toy industry’s only program directed by a credentialed speech-language expert recognizing the language learning edge in exceptional toys, games and books. Distinguished by unique design, quality and character, these PAL winners can generate rich play that advances language. Sherry’s 35 years of child development experience with over 15,000 hours working with kids empower her PAL selections, popular blog, private practice and media appearances.

The word for My Top 10 PAL Award Picks for 2013 is flexible play. These winners can provide hours of fun and learning as kids reconfigure the toy, play with it in a new way and construct new scenarios.  Parents and grandparents have told me they put the list on their phone for shopping!

Fairy Tale Blocks by PLAN Toys (3 and up, $30 ) Click here

  • kids set up scenario for happily ever after–create castle, turret, carriage pulled by horses, moat, and towers.
  • blocks have a hint of their purpose but are open-ended for creative play and changeable stories: 1 piece  became a bathtub, top of turret, and swimming pool in a child’s story
  • prince and princess add element of people and dialogue, ever changing story

Walk-A-Long Snail by Hape ( 1 and up, $30) Click here

  • Goofy, buggy eyed- snail tags along behind a toddler, while his shell rotates and comes off for some shape sorting play.
  • Good baby and toddler toy should provide a lot for parents to talk about, modeling the language of colors, shapes, position words, and action

HABA Puppet Theater (3 and up, $130) Click here

  • invited 3 sisters over, an explosion of talking when I unveiled this–they grabbed their own puppet and started the dialogue
  • Easy set up  transforms into a shop with 2 boxes to hold fruits and vegetables, cupcakes or money…flip the sign to say you are open for business!

New York City Christmas Puzzle by Ravensburger (14 and up, $19) Click here

  • puzzle is multigenerational activity
  • great way to invite conversation with teenagers

Smartmax Tommy Train by Smart Toys and Games  (3 and up, $23) Click here

  • Trains so popular with kids and take on language learning with face, animated
  • Kids were constructing and changing their train so fast, experimenting
  • magnetic bars and balls attract and repel,
  • compatible with other sets

That’s It! by Gamewright (10 and up, $10) Click here

  • Great party game or learning tool for teachers
  • 200 topic cards, players shout out answers until they get the one named on card
  • “What gets backed up?” sewer, plumbing….traffic
  • rapid naming of words within a category

Wonder Whale Kicks and Giggles Gym by Infantino (infant, $60) Click here

  • discovery, cause-effect, as baby kicks the whale, the sea animals wiggle
  • right in reaching area for babies to grab and explore and vocalize
  • parents describe sounds, textures, patterns and colors
  • tummy time with whale pillow and underwater filled cushion with sea animals

Smaland Doll’s House by Lundby (3 and up, $99) Click here

  • Kids rushed in the room, started re-arranging furniture and assigning roles–lights up
  • Floors and walls decorated in patterns with more options on their website to download wallpaper, newspapers, or learn how to make your own picture frame
  • Modern design of this Swedish dollhouse, takes the family through it’s day of pretend

Here is our complete Top 10 PAL Pick for 2013 list:


- Elf Grenadine’s Heart by Corolle

- Grow-With-Me Activity Gym and Ball Pit by Infantino

- Mighty Mini Band by Hape

- NogginStik by SmartNoggin Toys

- 1.2.3 Take Along Fire Station by Playmobil

- See ‘n Spin Alphabet Rack by B kids

- Stack ‘n Squirt Pals by B kids

- Trampili Elephant Music by Steiff

- Walk-Along-Snail by Hape

- Wonder Whale Kicks and Giggles Activity Gym by Infantino


- Bebe Bath and Accessories By Corolle

- Easy Turn Coupe by Step2

- Fairy Tale Blocks by Plan Toys

- Fire Station by Hape

- Puppet Theater by HABA

- Little Hedgehog Puppet by Folkmanis

- Racing Round Stacking Pyramid by Janod

- SmartMax Tommy Train by Smart Toys and Games

- Story Circus Baby Train by Janod

- Take Along Modern Doll House by Playmobil


- Alpaca Puppet by Folkmanis

- Artzooka! Recycle Sticker Creations by Wooky Entertainment

- Artzooka! Surprise Match Boxes by Wooky Entertainment

- Base Kit by littleBits

- Friends Heartlake City Pool by Lego

- Nancy B’s Science Club Microscope and Activity Journal by Educational Insights

- NYC Christmas Puzzle by Ravensburger

- Western Fort by Playmobil

- Smaland Doll’s House by Lundby

- Super Sized Floor Puzzle USA Map by Ravensburger


- Animal Soup The Mixed-Up Animal Board Game! by The Haywire Group

- Bugs In The Kitchen by Ravensburger

- Disney Jake and the Neverland Pirates Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt Game by Wonder Forge

- Disney Sofia the First Magical Tea Time Game by Wonder Forge

- Disney Sofia the First Royal Prep Academy Game by Wonder Forge

- Hello Sunshine! by ThinkFun

- Loco Lingo Kindergarten by HABA

- On The Farm Who’s In The Barnyard? by Ravensburger

- Skunk Bingo by Gamewright

- The Great Cheese Chase by Peaceable Kingdom


- Doodle Jump by Ravensburger

- Justice League Axis of Villains Strategy Game by Wonder Forge

- Ooga Booga by Blue Orange Games

- Qualities by SimplyFun

- Rhyme Out: The Triple Rhyming Game by Educational Insights

- Rory’s Story Cubes Voyages by Gamewright

- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Clash Alley Strategy Game by Wonder Forge

- That’s It! by Gamewright

- What’s It? by Peaceable Kingdom

- WordARound by ThinkFun


- A Home For Bird by Philip C. Stead

- Alphabet Anatomy: Meet The Capital Letters by Linda Ann Jones

- Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger

- Little Red Writing by Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet

- Magic Forest Friends by HABA

- Penguin And Pinecone by Salina Yoon

- Pig Has a Plan by Ethan Long

- Red Cat Blue Cat by Jenni Desmond

- The Ant and the Grasshopper by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley

- Up! Tall! And High! by Ethan Long










Posted in 10 and up, 12 years and up, 14 years and up, 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Games, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toys | Leave a comment

NogginStik by Smartnoggin Toys Specializes in Learning

793573104830_2.jpgIf you are involved in early intervention therapy, a parent of a typically developing child or one with special needs I want to recommend our newest PAL Award winner, “Nogginstik” by Smartnoggin Toys. Speech therapists love toys with a face because babies are naturally drawn to a face and talk more to them. Now add that the face changes color every time you or baby move it! Designed by early intervention therapist, Marcia Haut, Nogginstik engages kids and can be used to build speech, physical, cognitive and sensory skills. Her instructional learning  booklet for parents is excellent, making this toy perfect for carryover at home.

Here is my full review:

Aware of an increased emphasis on the learning potential of infants in the first 3 years of life, new parents are looking more closely at toys that can encourage interaction and development. NogginStik is just that–a smart toy for baby that entertains but is also filled with features to encourage language development (as well as sensory, physical and cognitive skills). His smiley faced head lights up in green, red, and blue, activated by baby’s batting or shake of the hand,  capitalizing on the fact that all babies are naturally drawn to faces and vocalize more to a face. As a parent or caregiver moves NogginStik from side to side, a baby practices visual tracking which is a critical pre-literacy skill. Listening to the rattling encourages babies to locate sounds, building listening skills important for preparing for first words. Lift up NogginStix and peek in the mirror with baby to have a chat or play peek-a-boo. Rarely do I see such an outstanding parent learning guide associated with a toy to maximize learning through play. Parents won’t run out of activities with this little friend!

Available at Smartnoggin: Click here

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