Sherry, thanks for giving us back our son. We are so grateful for everything you did for Ben and our family. Not seeing you every week makes me feel that something is missing… but we look forward to a summertime walk! We miss you,Nicole, mother of 2 year-old boy who was dismissed from therapyWestport, CT
Sherry, thank you so much for working with my girls for so long. Your kindness, thoughtfulness, insight and professionalism made our experience so meaningful. My husband and I appreciate all you have done for them. Let’s keep in touch. Thanks again.Mother of 3 and 5 year-old girlsGreenwich, CT
Thank you Sherry! You are a BIG help and Max adores you.Maria, mother of a 5 year-old boyFairfield, CT
I’ve started up my video reviews, giving language boosting tips to parents, using favorite PAL Award winning toys, books and games. I couldn’t resist sharing this gem of a book, “Two Speckled Eggs” by author/illustrator Jennifer Mann.
As a parent, you can up the language level of your book time with a few tips such as
Talk about the book. Don’t feel bad about pausing on a page to talk about what is happening. I call it “hanging out on a page.” Research actually shows that children show greater gains in language skills when an adult talks about the story as well as reads it. It is called Dialogic Reading.
Check out facts about the author and illustrator. Kids love to hear about where they live, if they have a pet that might have inspired the story, or in this case the fact that the author and illustrator are the same person. Jennifer Mann was an architect before she wrote children’s books.
Thinking, reasoning, questioning. How is an architect related to an illustrator? One little boy told me, “An architect makes things and an illustrator colors them.” He was close! As I began to read the story and he saw Lyla Browning off by herself with a magnifying glass he said, “She’s like an architect, discovering things!” Relate the author’s inspiration from life experiences to the story. How does it connect?
Relate the book to life. Kids were making fun of Lyla Browning because she brought in a curly hair tarantula for show ‘n tell. “Blecchh! Disgusting, gross.” What could we say that would encourage Lyla? What can we do when kids are mean?
Name their feelings. How does Ginger feel when the kids are wrecking her games? When they don’t like her cake? When Lyla offers a ladybug? Mad, sad, disappointed or frustrated?
Comparisons. How was Lyla’s present different than the others? One child compared the wrappings, “Lyla’s was in a plain box with the top open and the other ones were brought in a special way, gift bags, bows and ribbons.”
Go beyond the story. My little friend launched into telling me about his friend, Lane, who ruined his 5th birthday party because he broke all the presents and made him sad. And, Lane’s dad didn’t do anything about it which he didn’t understand. Wow, there was a lot to talk about after he shared his experience related to the story. He also started talking about being different and said he was the only different one in his class. As I probed a little more, as to why he was different, he said, “because I’m the smartest and I read the best.” He clearly gets the concept that “different” can be a good thing.
Blue Orange (they brought us the fun Spot It! game series) has a big surprise for you…
They tell us,” We will release our first “heavy” board game this year. We have long sought after a gem of this quality to enter this genre, we hope you have as much fun discovering this game as we had developing it.”
In New York 1901, relive the historic years of the founding of New York that led to what the city is today. Build bigger and higher skyscrapers on some of Lower Manhattan’s most iconic streets (Wall Street, Broadway, Nassau, Cedar and Pine). Raise one of 4 legendary skyscrapers, the Park Row, the Singer, the Metropolitan Life or the mythical Woolworth and make one of them the crown jewel of your real estate empire!
I’m a fan of Rory’s Story Cubes and their language learning and creative story telling potential. Rory tells us to look out for their new licensed Rory’s Story Cubes sets – Batman and Moomin, sets designed to bring new members into the Story Cubes family and appeal across generations.
Peaceable Kingdom makes fantastic cooperative games for preschoolers and early elementary aged kids. They’ve given us a preview of their new Cauldron Quest, where you can help save the kingdom from an evil wizard! Cauldron Quest has players working together to get the three correct ingredients into the Cauldron before all six of the paths are blocked.The game is for kids ages 6 and up, and is fun for 2-4 players. If you know anyone who loves spells and potions, Cauldron Quest is for them! Check it out: http://peaceablekingdom.com/Products/Cauldron-Quest-Cooperative-Board-Gamebrbr__GMC6.aspx
The hype is growing as we lead up to the Toy Fair. Stay tuned…
When I’m working with preschoolers, I often mention to the parents that after their child gets “settled” in therapy, it would be helpful for me to see him in his preschool setting. I wait a few weeks until he is making significant progress and I can share what he is capable of with his teacher.
I find it best for the mother to email the teacher and copy me on the note, asking permission for me to come and observe and share how to best help my student from both sides, the therapy session and the school setting. It can be a bit delicate, because I want teachers to know that I am not coming to evaluate them or their program but to collaborate for the benefit of our shared student. Several schools are now familiar with my visits and welcome them because I offer some fun suggestions for them to better help the student too.
Last week I made such a visit and again it was so helpful for the teacher, parent and me. I wouldn’t expect a classroom teacher to get the same responses from a speech and language delayed or disordered child that I can get in a 0ne-on-one situation so I like to share what he is capable of–whether it is using certain sounds, grammatical forms, following directions, or using pragmatic language skills. And it is so valuable for me to see the set-up of the room, schedule of activities and how my little client responds to open play time, structured activities, circle time and outdoor play. Collaborating with other professionals teaching my little guy is essential to get the most progress.
This newest PAL Award winner for 2015, provides so many opportunities for language learning. A tale about friendship and acceptance, the story teaches us that we can be friends with those who don’t necessarily do thinbgs the way we do. Annoyance turns to acceptance.
Ella, Maddy and their little cat, Marmalade, are best friends busily carrying out several creative projects, building a playhouse in the sandbox and creating a sandcastle city, when they are interrupted by Toby. Walls, towers, rivers and moats were constructed only to be destroyed as the little boy from across the street came flying through with his cape and scooter.In his attempt to help the girls, Toby offered to fill the moat as “the lawn erupted into fountains of water.” Marmalade seems to be the only one who appreciates Toby’s exuberance. Reynolds’ use of descriptive words packs some punch in this brief story as Marmalade “slunk” farther out on a tree branch, “chasing the last rays of sun,” as the branch “trembled” in the breeze. Who is going to save Marmalade? Toby offered his cape as a safety net to catch Marmalade and gain the appreciation and acceptance by the girls. Now guess who is wearing capes? This book can offer a classroom teacher or parent a starting point for a fun discussion about friendships, acceptance and tolerating others with different preferences. What do you like to do when your friend comes over? What does your friend like to do? What if you don’t like playing with super heroes? Or take a look at all the descriptive verbs: scowled, frowned, stroking, twisted, leaped, or erupted. Pointing our these words in a picture book can help kids be more intentional in including descriptive words in their writing.
When I was looking over a recent Pinterest post on great storage ideas, I saw this cute, portable costume holder for the playroom. I’ve been in playrooms that also had a series of pegs on the wall to hold the alligator, fireman and spaceman outfits. Costumes and props should be kid-friendly so they can concoct the character they want AND they can easily slip over their pajamas!
Kidding aside, a dress-up corner is a playroom and preschool room must so kids can take on a persona and act out their story, creating dialogue as they use the voices of their character. They build their language skills as they think of what comes next in the story and use objects in an abstract, pretend fashion such as a banana for a telephone. I love when kids spontaneously dress up and come around the corner in their pretend world, almost surprised to see me!
Several companies make nice preschool costumes that are reasonably priced such as Melissa and Doug and Aeromax. Some kind of hooks or hangers lets the kids see the outfits rather than a pile in a bin. After Halloween clearance costumes are great to add to the pile too.
Sometimes kids magically take that last step to carrying over their articulation sounds into conversation and they are ready for dismissal. Other times it seems they can be very accurate during their weekly speech therapy session but can’t jump to the step of using their new production most of the time outside of therapy.
Well, I am working with a second grader who falls into that second category. We play all kinds of games, talk about many subjects, read and explain “how to’s” but he STILL doesn’t carry over this /s/ outside of therapy. I have repeatedly given home practice ideas so finally resorted to a chart (made by him) which seems to motivate him. We put 3 circles for each day for him to fill in the three times he practices throughout his day–before and after school and before bed. I talked to mom about an inexpensive but rewarding prize for him. Of course when I told him to write “prize” at the end of the chart, he said, “It would be really good if it could be a dog!” Oops, wasn’t thinking quite that big. We’ll let mom deal with that.
Then we brainstormed activities he could do for practice and he came up with 9 ideas: play I spy for /s/ words, describe a picture, tell about his day, play a game, tell about a school activity, call out things in the room beginning with /s/, read out loud, practice lines from a play he is in, and then he added singing.
I asked him to sing a song from the play he is in and he completely forgot to use his /s. I was shocked because he is Mr. Perfect in all the activities we do in the session and he completely forgot his /s/. What a perfect place to practice! Certainly it’s hard to remember the words and tune to a song as well as your /s/ production so now we have some effective homework!
After spending 2 days with my twin 20-month old grandchildren, I am stuffed with soup, cheese topped cheerios, blueberries, and apples. They spend so much time at their new Hape kitchen that I thought we should add some pretend food. “Learning Resources New Sprouts Munch It Food Set” makes an excellent set of toddler food–just what they eat–blueberries, cheerios, cheese, donut, orange, apple, banana, cookie juice box, muffin, carrot, hot dog, yogurt, mac and cheese and bread. The cookie, cereal and mac and cheese were the favorites to munch on with the two little spoons provided.
Pretend play offers so much language learning opportunity as kids prepare, eat and offer up their treats to others. Our kids were pointing to each food item and attempting to label them or simply saying an easier “Da” and waiting for us to say the correct word. Kids have to hear a word many times before they can attempt to say it, even when they already understand it. You can use the food items to teach following directions as you ask them to give you the cheese, or get the cheese that is next to the truck, etc. Listening skills are so important for learning, especially as they enter preschool and are required to listen to directions and at circle time.
Things are heating up as I get several emails a day, inviting me to visit companies’ booth at the Toy Fair coming in February. I get excited just filling out my minute to minute schedule for the 4 days at the Javitts Center. (a little weary thinking of my feet, though!!) Here are a few of the sneak peeks I have received:
Playmobil will be introducing their “Modern Luxury Mansion” with a functioning doorbell, fully automatic coffee machine, and lockable safe behind a picture. Add-on options include a guest suite, swimming pool and lighting set. Can I just move in? We all know that Playmobil sets are perfect for expanding language through pretend play because of all their well-selected props to extend the story in many directions. I’ve seen a trend in modern dollhouses with the swedish company and PAL Award winner, Lundby, bringing their ultra modern, lit doll houses to the US recently, and Hape premiering their PAL winner DIY Dream House in 2014.
Folkmanis makes incredible puppets that are so lifelike in the hands of kids and grown-ups. This past year I had such fun with the PAL Award winner, “Ostrich,” that my husband asked me not to give it away but keep it on the sofa! Folkmanis is giving sneak peeks of their newest puppets on their Facebook page so take a look. I love “Baby Lop Rabbit.” Just slip your hand in and animate the mouth and front paws of this cuddle bunny as you stroke and soothe its super soft coat. Their puppeteers are so good that they make the puppets look real at the Toy Fair–a booth you can’t miss.
Little Kids, Inc, the company that has brought us all sorts of bubble machines, is debuting a new line of “living emoticon” characters – Moji Mi.I have been invited to come see how these playful new guys interact with each other – and get my picture taken with them! I’ll keep you posted. They sound like a potentially helpful language tool if they talk about emotions.
Thank you to Kidmunicate, for naming playonwords.com #12 in their “Top 75 Speech Pathology Websites / Blogs for 2015” based on nominations “and then evaluated based on design, UX (user experience), content, frequency / longevity and social influence.” we followed some big names like ASHA, ASHASphere, and Autism Speaks along with highly popular SLP blogs that offer so many therapy ideas and lessons (some for sale) to help out therapists.
So glad I can help others. Inspires me to keep on blogging!
Since I am an itinerant speech therapist, I really have be be sure to have plenty of props and exciting activities to bring along for a session. Preschoolers require more changes in scenery as well as toys to fill up my bag. (This could be why my brother looked at my biceps and asked if I was working out!!) Anyway, the other day I forgot a favorite accessory to the Fisher Price Happy Family camping set when I didn’t have the swimming pool. My little 4 year-old friend wasn’t to be denied play with a little water so we went hunting in the kitchen for a replacement pool. She opened a drawer and got out a small bowl and then ran to find all her little figures who wanted to go for a swim, including Olaf.
When kids are in on the planning, they get engaged and creative, planning the story. AND I am relieved to have the next activity set up, to fill out the session.