“Too Much Glue” by Lefebvre Provides Language Lessons in Speech Therapy

TMGcover4h-264x264As a speech therapist I find that just about any activity involving glue is fun for kids! The same apparently holds true for a book about “Too Much Glue.” Matty gets instructions from his art teacher to hold back on the glue–stick to “Glue raindrops, not puddles!” But that bottle of gloppy gloop is just too tempting. After emptying two bottles on his art project he adds the perfect decoration, belly flopping into his creation. The rest of the story revolves around extracting him from the “blucky stucky mess.” Each new attempt to free Matty involving lassoes, tow trucks and fans is described with an additional phrase as he becomes a “melted mummy, clicky bricky, clingy stringy, blucky stucky mess!” Luckily Matty’s dad is carpooling that day and rescues his son, to take him home in his suit of glue. The last page is a favorite with kids as Matty moves on to his next art experiment. This story has so much to offer for a language lesson, predicting, describing the cartoon illustrations and very animated faces, telling how different characters feel on each page, and inferring from the story. Kids loved this book, probably because they have gotten stuck, so to speak, at different times in their world of experience.

 

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Books, Elementary School Age, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

My Friend Huggles Dolls Start the Conversation About Values

Huggles group shotOne of the best parts about going to the Toy Fair in New York City is finding fun surprises–by which I mean new companies with a story to tell.

My Friend Huggles are life-size rag dolls each assigned and wearing a tag with one of eight core social values: fairness, gratefulness, honesty, cheerfulness, generosity, courage, kindness and confidence. Their label explains the trait for those who don’t know what it means. I found that kids loved talking about what it means to be generous or kind and how that looked in their everyday experiences of sharing a snack, letting someone go first in a game or appreciating your toy even if you like someone else’s better. I found this to be a great social language lesson every time I introduced a doll and kids had to apply the value to their daily experiences. These dolls are a great tool for therapists and teachers to get the conversation going and build character. Here is my full review of this latest PAL Award winner:

When I was first introduced to Huggles, I think I had the same reaction as a little girl did today–she gasped in excitement and then giggled, “She’s so big,” she said. I also couldn’t help but sneak a hug with these life size dolls as they reminded me of a large rag doll I had growing up with elastic loops on the bottom of her feet so we could dance together! Classically timeless, these dolls have a relevant message. Each doll serves as a character building tool, representing one of eight core values. As an educator who works with children in their homes, I can say that we can all benefit from a discussion about fairness, gratefulness, honesty, cheerfulness, generosity, courage, kindness and confidence. These pretend dress-up dolls can spark a conversation more easily than parents. My little friend was fascinated by Rubi’s characteristic of  being “grateful.” When I asked her if she knew what that meant she said, “Even if somebody’s thing is better, you should at least be grateful you even have one.” She went on to teach me about being “fresh” and “that’s not nice!” Our mini-lesson spilled over into our game time as she was visibly trying to show more generosity in letting me go first. Thanks, Rubi, for leading us in a wonderful social language lesson today as we applied admirable values to our activities.

Available at My Friend Huggles

 

 

 

 

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Crack the Books “Seashores to Sea Floors” Review and Free Giveaway

Crack Books photoMobile Education Store has been a treasure chest of great apps for learning language from Conversation Builder and Rainbow Sentences to Tense Builder and Story Builder, that engage kids with clever cartoons and break down language learning into kid-sized bites.

When they sent me their new app, “Crack The Books Seashores to Sea Floors” I was excited to enter this new world of ebooks and see how I might use them in speech therapy. Adaptable to 5 reading levels (first to eighth grade), these books provide the flexibility to be used with several children of different reading abilities simultaneously as they learn core science curriculum. Since I work with kids one-on-one, I will be seeing this new learning venue from the perspective Crack books periscopeof working with one child at a time but having the flexibility to put my iPad in my therapy bag and customize this book for different language levels. These interactive science books “are the first standards based, core curriculum aligned digital book series that includes both interactive enhancements and universal design accessibility features.” according to Mobile Education Store’s website. They are designed with all students in mind, including those with special needs.

So far my students and I have spent the most time on chapters 1 through 3 of the five chapters: Marine Ecosystems, Open Ocean, The Deep Sea, Coastal Waters and Threats. Kids are tech saavy with tablets so they alternate between reading the text on the left side of the screen and scrolling down to change the corresponding image on the right side of the screen. Tap on a red highlighted word, phytoplankton or scavenger, and you hear the correct pronunciation, see it broken into syllables and get a quick definition. Kids loved Crack books testthis feature, especially hearing how to pronounce multisyllabic words. Tap on “Fun Fact” and learn about the deepest fish ever found in the Puerto Rico Trench. Videos, animations, globes and charts are found on the right side of the screen to support the text. When a new concept is introduced the students love to tap on “argonauta” (type of octopus), learn some fun facts about it and view a photograph alongside.

I used this e-book for my students working on language goals, word-finding and articulation carryover. Since kids were fascinated with the content, we would learn a few facts together about a fish, animal or parts of the ocean and then I would ask them to re-tell with their goals in mind.  In the Open Ocean chapter we watched the video of the majestic albatross soaring through the air, and then used the content to work on producing grammatically correct sentences, elaborating adding detail and extending the length of our sentences. Polar bears and beluga whales were also favorite subjects in this chapter.

At the end of each chapter is the opportunity to take a test on the content of that chapter. Each question is complemented by an associated image. I never got to take such visually beautiful tests when I was in elementary and middle school! Educators can track progress to assess mastery of concepts and reading comprehension skills.

Chapter 3 was a favorite as kids loved looking through and operating the periscope. Hold the joystick down and slowly explore the ocean depth to 10,000 meters. Of course you have to switch on the light as you get deeper toward the ocean floor. Different sea animals are pictured according to the depth gauge. Kids liked learning about the turtle, swordfish and bluefin tuna but were most engaged with the more exotic fish like the anglerfish and fangtooth fish whose teeth are so large that when its jaw is closed the teeth slide into special pockets near its brain. One little boy chose that fish to describe for his mom at the end of our session, following his language goals. Did I say these were boys I was working with??

There are many more features to these multi-sensory e-books, listed on their website. I highly recommend “Sea Shores to Sea Floors” for its beautiful imagery, multi-sensory delivery and fascinating content. Since speech language pathologists are a clever and creative bunch, let me know how you use these ebooks with your kids!

Mobile Education Store has provided me with a free copy of “Seashores to Sea Floors” for one lucky reader!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The opinions expressesd above are solely those of the author. “Seashores to Sea Floors” was provided for review by Mobile Education Store.

 

Posted in 10 and up, 12 years and up, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Apps, Books, Language, Speech and Language Delay | Leave a comment

Articulation Carryover Techniques

Articulation carryover chipsI wanted to report on another articulation carryover technique I mentioned in an earlier blog. I have some favorite little foam shapes that I use as chips when kids are working on sounds. One of Pam Marshalla’s games for carryover was to give each child a pile of chips and when they use their sound correctly they get another chip and if they don’t you take a chip away.

At first I was squeamish about the negative part of that game, taking away a chip if they forget to use their sound but I found this to be very effective. Most of the kids I work with are innately competitive and really don’t like to lose a chip. It was quite motivating. It caused them to listen to themselves more closely and I think I got a better outcome!

I find that few kids can talk very long about their day. Something happens between the end of school and walking in the door at home that causes their memory to fade! So I ask them about what they are reading. This little boy loves his books and used it as a prop to give me a recap of the plot. By the way this sounds like a great series for kids, The Genius Files.

Let me know what you find effective to get kids to carryover their articulation goals.

Posted in Articulation, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | 1 Comment

Speech Therapy Using Parents Magazine

Parents Mag picturesIdeas for speech therapy come to me at the funniest times, including in the middle of the night. Can any of my fellow SLP’s relate? Anyway, I was having a therapy session with one of my students who was working on commenting in conversation and diminishing perseverative questions. We have used picture books, cartoons, apps and walks down the street to work on this goal but it wasn’t until I was sitting down and looked at Parents Magazine on my coffee table that I got an idea.

I opened it up and found some great pictures to invite conversation, some were advertisements and some were associated with kid related articles. A girl was flying a pretend airplane, a little boy was banging on a pan with wooden spoons, sporting a colander on his head, a giant dog was sitting in a girl’s lap, an ice cream truck was replaced with a “Veggie Truck” where the cook was handing out a cone of broccoli (okay that was the craziest one), and a little girl’s hair was blowing in all directions. I think my friend’s best comment was related to the last picture when he said, “That’s a disaster!”

Sometimes the best ideas are right under your nose.

Posted in 3-6 year-olds, 6-8 year-olds, Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Miss Manners Knows How to Respond to a Stutterer

This week, nationally-syndicated advice column  “Miss Manners” was asked how to respond to a person who stutters. “Is it rude to assist him in completing a sentence or question?” Miss Manners wisely answered “Yes,” and added that it is considered rude to finish what someone says, including a spouse! The Stuttering Foundation has reminded us as to how we should speak to a stutterer.

Here are the 6 tips for speaking with someone who stutters, available at www.StutteringHelp.org.

1. Don’t make remarks like: ‘Slow down,’ ‘Take a breath,’ or ‘Relax.’ Such simplistic advice can come across as demeaning rather than helpful.

2. Let the person know by your manner that you are listening to what he or she says — not how they say it.

3. Maintain natural eye contact and wait patiently and naturally until the person is finished.

4. Refrain from finishing sentences or filling in words.

5. Be aware that those who stutter usually have more trouble controlling their speech on the telephone or in stressful situations, such as a presentation before an audience or job interview. Please be extra patient in these situations and give them some additional time to communicate their thoughts.

6. Speak in an unhurried way — but not so slowly as to sound unnatural. This promotes good communication with everyone.”

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New Toy Fair Toys Rock in Speech Therapy

Lego Ice mamoth stomperI had some fun sharing my pictures and a few new toys from Toy Fair 2014 in therapy this week. The little boys I work with who love legos added my pictures to their “Speech Boxes” in the SpeechBox app and repeated any phrase, just to get a sneak peak at the new Chima “Ice Mammoth Stomper” or “Flying Phoenix Fire Temple!” Somehow they managed to think of a phrase using their sounds that described the new toys.

Playmobil is celebrating its 40th birthday with some commemorative sets like “Princess Island Compact Set and Romantic Gondola. They gave out free figures of a villainous viking playmobil princess on stegasaurusand a princess carrying her birthday sign. One of my especially creative play partners immediately sat her upon a stegasaurus to give her a stately ride to her castle. He hid her “special birthday surprise” in a cupboard in the castle. I love to see what kids do with a toy!

I guess the point is that it’s just plain fun for my students as well as me to have some new toys to work/play with. One little princess and photographs perked up my sessions all week. Thanks to all the great companies that think like kids and make some amazing products for creative play.

Posted in Speech and Language Delay, Strategies to Encourange Language Development, Toys | Leave a comment

More Articulation Carryover Activities

iphone3Okay, here I am trying out some more ideas and modifying some from Pam Marshalla’s book, “Carryover Techniques in Articulation and Phonological Therapy.” I have several boys from 5-8 years old who are in the last stage of therapy and need a big nudge (some more than others) to use their newly acquired sound out in the real world. I am faithfully giving the kids and parents homework and am constantly saying this will help us finish up speech. I am reminded of a very successful technique for moving a student from proficiency in the therapy setting to carryover at school and home–the parents offered him a dirt bike if he finished up speech! That happened only one time but does illustrate the power of a parental bribe:)

Here are three suggestions from Pam’s chapter, “Games and Activities to Promote Carryover.” I have added the apps and at times prefer to lean more heavily on reinforcing the positive, rather than pointing out the negative. Here’s what I tried out today:

  1. Collages: make a collage of pictures containing your child’s sound(s) or take pictures of objects around the house and outside that contain your child’s sound(s). The app, PicCollage is fun for this activity too.
  1. Chips: give a few plastic poker chips to your child and yourself. Talk about your day or describe something in the room. They earn a chip if they make a correct sound and lose one if they make an incorrect sound. You can earn chips the same way and they will have to listen for your errors too! One mom said, “They never ask about my day!” to which I responded, tell them anyway and have them listen closely to your sounds.
  1. Clicker: Use a counting device (Here is a free app for the iPhone: http://www.pediastaff.com/blog/txtools-is-here-download-our-very-first-and-free-app-for-idevices-8534) You can listen and click when you hear your child’s correct sound and eventually transfer the clicking responsibility to them so they are tuned into their sounds. I give double clicks if they correct themselves without it being pointed out to them, because that makes me especially happy! I will say that competitive little boys LOVED this tallier by Pediastaff and parents loved that the app is free.
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Storytelling at Toy Fair 2014, Learning Language Through Play

Barbie on Sports Illustrated cover

Competing with Barbie for Sports Illustrated cover:)

Phew! I made it through all four days of the International Toy Fair, talking with over 100 companies and seeing hundreds of great new toys and games. Now that I’ve got my feet up and can digest some of the images–remote controlled floating sharks, a 12″ tall laser peg Pegasaur, life-size lego Dora and Friends, and my encounter with Barbie on the Sports Illustrated cover, I can share some of my highlights and takeaways from the show.

Monday I blogged about the trends that I saw at the show. The following day, the Toy Industry Association (TIA) held a press conference to share their top 6 toy trends of 2014. I can’t help but share the language learning and storytelling within each category:

  • Larger than Life: from plush to play sets and building toys, these toys engage kids in imaginative role-play activities which generate lots of language and fun! One of my favorite new companies I found was “My Friend Huggles” who make life size rag dolls “to teach beauty from the inside out!” It warms my heart just to talk about them, and it doesn’t hurt that I had a life size rag doll with the same yellow yarn hair when I was little (mine had elastic on the feet so I could slip it under my feet and dance with her). Let’s tell the story about being kind, forgiving, fair and grateful.

    Huggle dolls for teaching character

    Huggles

  • RC Rampage: playtime shifts into high gear with an influx of innovative remote-controlled vehicles. I was constantly buzzed overhead while at the show with mini helicopters and inflatables. Not my usual go-to toy to encourage language but I bet a therapist or two have used remote-controlled vehicles to engage kids:)
  • Full STEAM ahead: You can’t miss this trend with science kits, math games and engineering toys everywhere! TIA added the “A” (Arts) in STEM saying, “Toymakers are increasingly incorporating storytelling and other artistic components into science, engineering and building toys to get more kids than ever on board with STEAM.” Manufacturers known for craft Roominatekits even added science kits to their product line. One of my favorite STEM companies is “Roominate,” the original wired dollhouse building kit. I had fun talking with engineer founders, Bettina Chen and Alice Brooks about childhood play experiences centered around early engineering skills (since I was surrounded by electrical engineers in my family). From sewing to constructing, girls should be encouraged to pursue activities that build STEM skills in a fun creative way. Make a dollhouse, the Golden Gate Bridge or an airplane and then start a second stage of pretend play with your newly engineered project! Let’s tell the story about empowered girls inventing, creating and using their new projects.
  • Frightfully fun, zombies, monsters and more: Okay I’ll admit this isn’t my Lyla Tov Monstersfavorite trend. I don’t get it but I know kids are attracted to the dark side. I saw a monster head for tweens to decorate with several sets of ghoulish eyelashes and hair chalk but quietly passed by. One of the only products I liked that might loosely fit in this category was “Lyla Tov Monsters” in the Launchpad area of the Toy Fair which features new start-ups. I couldn’t help but stop to visit these engaging characters hanging on a display as I rounded the corner. Designed by a 3 year-old to be protectors of a good nights sleep, they come with a book about how they can calm sleep fears.  Let’s tell the story about overcoming our fears at bedtime.
  • Retro/Back to Basics: parents and grandparents love to play old-time favorites Pomgtree journalwith their kids and grandkids. I found myself being reminded of my childhood play many times whether it was sewing my own doll clothes like those provided with Kathie Kruse dolls or journalling and scrapbooking to chronicle a little girl’s experiences, trips and friendships at PomTree. Let’s tell the story about our day.
  • Custom built: the trend adds to the construction rage, now encouraging kids to Lille Husetmake their own jewelry, action figures or cars, customizing with personalized detail. A new company I found this year at the show, “Lille Huset,” Norwegian for “little house,” was started by designer Alyson Beaton. Each house has its own story, and kids are encouraged to write their own story about their house after constructing it, decorating and making accessories.  These “green” houses, made in the USA fold flat for take-along play and are fully customizable by little decorators. Let’s tell the story about our home.

As usual, I had fun seeing what others don’t as I took my language lens and explored the show. It’s a joy to see all the innovative and creative people following their passion to produce great toys for kids to engage in completely fun play while learning, solving problems, creating and collaborating.

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

2014 International Toy Fair Trends

Laser pegs PegasaurWe had a fantastic first day at the 2014 International Toy Fair in New York City. We started outside the show with Laser Peg’s “Pegasaur” and met the designer whose team took 4 weeks to assemble this dinosaur. It’s prettier than the picture–dare I say a dino is pretty? The countdown began with a parade led by the Power Rangers and capped off with Alicia Keys cutting the opening ribbon to the show. Here’s what the buzz is as I see it:

  • STEAM is the hot word this year. The Toy Industry has added the “A” for arts to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) as we ramp up learning in these areas to improve overall proficiency and test scores. I saw many Faber Castell creativity cancompanies adding science kits, and science companies adding art kits to their product lines. Ravensburger added to its new series of science kits that were introduced last year including “Fueling Future Cars” which teaches about alternative fuel and includes a solar panel. Faber Castell’s Creativity for Kids expanded its line of Creativity Cans, containing objects for open ended play, discovery and projects. Now let’s just add the “L” to STEAM to highlight the importance of language skills which are integral to learning all those disciplines.
  • Licensed products continue to be Wonder Forge Disney Prin Petspopular from Disney princesses and pets to Doc McStuffins and Cars. One of my favorites is Wonder Forge’s Royal Pet Salon Game with is a matching, pretend play game where players look for items associated with the different rooms in a Disney pet’s home. Look for the mirror, ring, or perfume. Little girls will love the cute pet figures and these girls did.
  • Play schemes are popular. Smart Toys and Games introduced three new SmartMax sets that incorporate a play scheme with more features and detail to round out the sets. They added shutters to the house in “Home Sweet Home” and chutes to the factory in “Factory with Car.” More detail and features spark a child’s imagination and take their story in new directions for language learning.
  • HABA matching housesMulti-function toys contain depth of learning and more play potential. HABA makes excellent learning toys that require some exploration and inquiry by the child. Their new “Matching Game, Who Lives Where?” contains several stand up chunky wooden animals with different sized cardboard houses to match. Children can nest or stack the homes by number and house the animals according to clues drawn on the outside of their homes. Hape introduced a darling kitchen on wheels that is portable and collapses to a smaller size for tiny play spaces. What I like is they included chalkboard surfaces to write menus or even allow the kitchen to become a restaurant announcing specials of the day and prices.
  • Make and play is still popular, especially with the new promotion of the arts faber castell connector pensin toys. From Käthe Kruse dolls with their own set of clothes to make (the stitching is done for you, just cut them out of the cloth) to Faber Castell’s “Connector Pens” that cleverly use markers with an added connecting piece, turning an art tool into a construction piece. One of the highlights today was chatting with the artist who created a dinosaur out of the pens and some paper (see on the left of his desk)!

Stay tuned…that was just my first day!

 

 

 

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