Reading “The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School” to Grandkids on Facetime

Pout-Pout Fish FacetimeI’ve shared how much fun it is to read to our grandkids on Facetime and we had yet a new experience the other night!

The 3 boys ages 3, 6 and 8 lie on the bottom bunk and put the iPad in the slats under the upper mattress so we can chat. After some typical brother wrestling, they settled in and asked us to read a book. They requested the “new” Pout-Pout Fish book, “The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School.” Mr. Fish is sent off to his first day of school with a smooch from his parents as he swam into S.S Rock Bottom Elementary School trying out various classrooms in search of just the right fit. He landed in classrooms doing a writing lesson,  drawing shapes and completing math problems, feeling quite out of place as he struggled to write, draw and divide. He recited his four-part troubles: “I’m not smart…I’ll never get it…I don’t belong…so forget it!” Just when he decided that school was say too tough, he was rescued by “a soft, kind voice who said, ‘Don’t you fret! You don’t have to know things you haven’t learned yet!'” Miss Hewitt escorted him to just the right classroom for Brand-New Fish where he joined the octopus, jelly fish, and swordfish with toys, blocks and crayons just his size. His new mantra, “We are smart…We can get it…We belong…we don’t forget it!”

After we finished, Ben said, “Hey his friends are all younger animals from the first book!” He disappeared and brought back the “Pout-Pout Fish ” book that introduced us to our beloved Mr. Fish. Then 3 year-old Sam appeared with the “Pout-Pout Fish in the Big Big Dark” and asked us to read it next. He held up the book, flipping the pages slowly! Unfortunately, we couldn’t read the pages very well, so older brother, Will stepped right in and read the whole book.

I guess you could say we are Pout Pout Fish fans!

“The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School” was provided for review from author, Debra Diesen. 

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

Word-Finding Strategies For Kids in Speech Therapy

joke-coffeeI find that one of the areas lacking in practical therapy ideas for SLP’s is word-finding. I usually have at least one child on my caseload with word-finding difficulties so I am always looking for new and effective ideas.

I blogged about spending some time this summer with Jan Schwanke who has presented at ASHA on word-finding and is full of great, practical therapy ideas to help kids with word-retrieval. She spends a lot of time teaching her kids strategies to retrieve words and has some clever ways to remember what they are:

“Do Yourself a Favor and See” these word-finding strategies in your mind, reminds kids of the acronym, FAVOR-C which stands for:

Fill in the blank: this cloze activity involves giving the child a phrase (then move to sentences) where he has to use the information in the previous words to come up with the word to fill the blank. “I sat down to read and opened my____” Use this strategy with curriculum vocabulary provided by the teacher.

Association: Name words that are associated with a give word. “Bath: tub, washcloth, soap, towel, clean, etc

Visualize: visualize the word by “seeing” it in your mind as it is written

Opposites: Name opposites of a given word: up/down, high/low, sad/happy

Reflective Pause: pause for a few seconds to take time to retrieve the word

Categories: Name words in a category: multiplication, ocean, writing a story etc.

I will be sharing apps and other sites that I am finding valuable for practical therapy ideas

Here’s one, Speech Therapy on Video,  that also covers phonemic and semantic cues, that seems to be geared toward adults but has activities for many of these strategies that can be used with children.


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Goodbye Summer, Back to School!

Duke sunsetIt has been a unique and fun summer as I took an extra few weeks off for the first time. The break was refreshing but I am excited to see my little kids and start working this week!

Highlights of our stay at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin were Duke’s 15th birthday celebrated with his friend, Murphy and Dairy Queen cups, many bike rides through the Kettle Moraine hills, special times with friends and family and a visit from our twin grandchildren.

One of the biggest challenges I had when working in the schools was scheduling and I can’t say it is any easier in private practice. I had everyone in a slot, confirmed it with parents and now someone wants to change times. I just have to remember that “flexible” word!

10612878_10152233695746786_3761129741593550508_nI enjoyed a visit from my fellow SLP friend, Jan Schwanke and her husband, Scott. Between eating out, going to the farmer’s market and biking we had a chance to talk shop. She is an expert in word-finding, having worked with and presented with Diane Germain so I could pick her brain about practical activities to help kids with word-finding. I will be blogging about those ideas over the next few weeks. And, by the way, Jan is going to be presenting at the Poster Sessions at the ASHA Convention in November so be sure to stop by if you are going to the convention.

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New Spot it! Games by Blue Orange Games Teach Numbers and Shapes

spotitdoc_sideWant to help your preschooler become quick with the vocabulary of preschool? Grab one of Blue Orange Games new Spot it! games that feature images of the characters in Doc McStuffins as well as Jake and the Neverland Pirates, alongside shapes and numbers. True to the Spot it! format, three game options involve flipping over your card and being the first to name the matching symbol on a second card. There is only one match and believe me at times you think they forgot to have a matched card! Kids have no problem earning cards while I am still looking for a match. The themed vocabulary added to the fun as kids called out clinic, bandage, scissors or syringe, while learning circle, rectangle or 8 and 9 or harmonica, telescope or guitar related to pirate adventures. Learning vocabulary within a category like going to the doctor, builds language. Tips for advanced play after a match is made, take the learning deeper as kids are asked to count forward or backward from a number, say the shape’s number of sides or find an object that contains the shape.

Available at Blue Orange Games: Click here

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Cooking With Kids With Special Needs

Screen Shot 2014-08-04 at 10.56.02 AMWhen I visited extended family in Wisconsin this summer, my cousin showed me a video of her 4 year-old, assisting in a cooking lesson with his neighbor, Sarah, who has Downs Syndrome. Charlie is such a cute addition to the video lesson on making Garlic Cheese Bread on “Sarah’s Great Day.” Sarah’s mom prompts the conversation between Sarah and her neighbor buddy, Charlie, as they make the bread.

Have a great day watching this video!

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Making Easy Readers to Communicate with Grandchildren

Roeck's BakeryAfter visits from two of my clans of grandchildren, and listening to them “practice” their new reading skills over the summer, I decided to email them short one page Easy Readers about what I was doing many miles away. I made sure I had lots of pictures and made the type font large and kept the note short.

The first one was about the birthday party I threw for Duke, our golden retriever who turned 15. I shared pictures of our boat ride with his friend, Murphy, and the Dairy Queen cups that the dogs shared. The next one was about my favorite bakery and Thursday’s “cruller” day, a little frog that

Frog at Elkhart

was attached to the house when we returned at night and the big thunderstorms we get in Wisconsin in the summer.

Parents are trying to find fun ways to get their kids to practice reading over the summer so why not include a note from “Sheshe” or “Pop pop?”

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Happy Birthday, Duke!

Duke's 15 birthdayToday is a special day as Duke is 15! We celebrated by inviting his friend, Murphy over for a party. Our first activity was Dairy Queen treats. Duke crushed the plastic cup trying to get at all the ice cream and never mind that Murphy was completely unimpressed. On to our boat ride which they both enjoyed with plenty to sniff as we toured Elkhart Lake, situated in the middle of Wisconsin farm lands with plenty of good smells, if you get what I mean! He finished off the day with a Johnsonville bratwurst for dinner which he inhaled.

Duke on channel 12Duke’s not only a best friend but a trusted helper in my speech therapy. Over the years he has calmed kids, been a communication partner, and a walking companion as I worked with kids in my home. He has also been a favorite when the camera crew has come to film a segment on language learning and toys from News12 CT.

Happy Birthday, Duke!

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

Summer Speech Practice, Let’s Make a Calendar

Practice calendarIt’s always tricky finding a way to get kids to practice between speech therapy sessions. In summer it can be especially challenging as kids take a vacation or maybe even their speech therapist takes a few weeks off! I find if my students design the calendar, they are more apt to use it and put it in a prominent place in the kitchen where Mom or Dad can help prompt them to practice.

Last week a 7 year-old boy working on /s/ decided to use my “Tape a Doodles” to make the lines between days. He was so motivated and enjoyed designing his calendar. He Practice calendar filled inmissed a session because of being sick so when I arrived there today and asked, “Did you practice?” he said, “Yes, do you want to see my calendar?” He was so proud of his work and I was thrilled that he had followed through on practice.

In the summer, speech schedules have to be flexible as families and therapists take a break and go on vacation or just take a break. Getting kids to consistently practice really contributes to continued progress.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Articulation | 1 Comment

Coloring Pages for Articulation Activities from Lego to Frozen

Kids love to color and I am always looking for new activities for articulation reinforcement. Of all the therapies, it can get a little tedious, having kids repeat words and sentences without a fun treat after their response. I usually use games and let them take a turn on the game board after a response (and my response too! Sometimes they catch on and ask me why they have to talk on my turn). Lately I have been using coloring pages from a wonderful site I wanted to share for free printable pages from kids favorite movies from The Lego Movie to Monsters Inc. or Planes.

Here’s the link for pictures of Metal Beard, Vitruvius, Bad Cop or Unikitty to name a few or scenes from Frozen including Anna, Kristoff, Elsa and Olaf. These pictures can be used for language therapy too as kids describe the picture or what happened in that scene in the movie.


Posted in 3-6 year-olds | Leave a comment

Play-Based Back to School Prep

Hape dollhouseWow! Summer is speeding by and parents are getting a little worried about “summer slide,” asking me for fun toys and activities to keep kids’ language and reading skills sharp. First of all, toys and games have to be fabulously fun and second have some great learning potential embedded in them. We want to keep kids talking, reading and writing over the summer. Spending a little time each day playing a game or adding a prop to pretend play can reinforce skills for an easier transition back to school.

Reading and Writing Essential to Play Scenarios:

XL Graffiti Black White Board by Janod


Get out the pad and pencil or black/white board and introduce it to your playroom and watch kids integrate some reading and writing into their play. On Janod’s easel, an author and illustrator can work on either side as they write and illustrate a story, write out the menu for a restaurant or make a sign of items for sale at a store. A pad of paper and pencil can serve as a doctor’s prescription pad or homemade tickets for the puppet show. Integrating reading and writing into play in a meaningful way encourages learning.

Available at Janod. Click here

Letter Slide by Simply Fun imgres-2Learning to read is loads of fun as kids dip into the “Letter Lagoon” and draw their Word Card showing 2 letters missing as they race to complete as many words as possible with their letters. With successful words, players fill their inner tubes on the game board. What a fun way to learn spelling, reading, letter-sound association and sound sequencing as kids race to be the first down their water slide!

Available at SimplyFun. Click here


“Shadow FX Color Projector” by Crayola

Crayola FX projector

Add a child’s creativity to the simple contents in this box–a clear drawing panel with gel FX markers, a shadow shapes sheet of props like an astronaut, alien and a lightning rod and the colored light projector–and the light show stories are limitless. Kids loved to draw on the clear panel to set the scene for their action story, add characters, objects or toys, dim the lights and switch on the LED lights for the show. How exciting to turn out the lights and project your story onto the wall in red, green and blue moveable LED lights. All the essential pieces of a story were integrated with the setting, characters, solving a problem and the action plan–while kids were enthralled with the medium in which it was presented.

Available at Crayola. Click here

“Doorway Puppet Theatre” by HABA USA


Set up couldn’t be easier as you adjust the top tension rod to your doorway and hang HABA’s new puppet theatre just the right height for your little puppeteers. Kids start right into a story, assuming the identity of their puppet as they slip through the parted curtains or out the peep hole on top to announce their show. Kids learn to develop a story with other characters, negotiate how the plot proceeds and add on events until the conclusion. All this language learning fun comes with a little writing practice too as kids can title their story and slip it into the plastic sleeve to advertise their show.

Available at HABA USA: Click here

Pretend Play: Fort Magic by Fort Magic LLC

Fort Magic,jpg “Fort Magic” has the perfect name as kids felt the magic, standing inside and outside of their castle, airplane and rocket as they solved design questions, negotiated how to build and created new spaces! With 165 straight and curved rods in 7 different sizes, and 5 varieties of connector pieces at their disposal, kids have the tools to follow their imagination. Our friends got right to work twisting the rods into the connecting pieces while calling out ideas and orders as to where to put the next piece. Critical thinking, group collaboration and problem solving are all higher level language skills that are tapped as kids created customized space for a bed and entry way. Kids finished their castle and slipped away to return fully outfitted in a knight’s costume, ready to defend their fort.

Available at Fort Magic. Click here


“Counting Animals” by Ravensburger

Ravensburger counting Animals

Let’s not forget our preschoolers who have been learning colors, shapes and numbers through the year. A beautifully illustrated puzzle with amusing content for the 3-4 year-old is perfect for encouraging describing and asking questions. “Where is the hippo playing tennis?” Our little friend caught on to the counting theme as he put the 24- piece super-sized puzzle together randomly calling out the next number he wanted to assemble–7 ballooning cows, 9 owls skating, 4 happy hippos playing tennis and then on to 10 flapping flamingos! This puzzle generates a lot of buzz as kids enjoy the silly scenes,  count out the animals and describe the piece they are looking for.

Available at Ravensburger. Click here

Learning Concepts:

Disney Junior Super Stretchy Game by Wonder Forge

DJ_SuperStretchy_Beautyshot 2 “Twister” with a Disney preschool spin, this super stretchy game has kids following directions to match shapes, colors and Disney characters with their body parts–elbow, foot, hand, knee and head (the hardest by far). Part of the fun was spontaneous talk about the different Disney characters and what show they were from, “Hey, there’s Clover and Amber from Sofia the First, and Izzy from Jake and the Neverland Pirates!”   Get moving in this active, fun, learning as kids are reinforcing their knowledge of preschool vocabulary and following directions, all the things teachers appreciate when kids enter school.

Available at Wonder Forge: click here

“The Multiples Early Years Set” by Realtimes Products LLC


Kids get ready to meet the Multiples and have a chat about math as they sip their milk, down their cereal or have a sandwich! Professor One Hoot, Madame Two Moos, Porky Five Bellies and Goatee Ten Beards are at the eating table to make multiplication fun. Each character has a back story relating to their number to spark conversation , while the dinnerware counts by one, two, five and ten with corresponding multiplication facts in the middle of the dishes.

Available at The Multiples: Click here


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