Tips For Preschool Speech Evaluation for Hypernasality

Duke's noseI recently had a preschool child referred to me for articulation and possible hypernasality issues. Mom was actually spot on in our initial phone conversation, telling me what sounds were misarticulated and of those, which ones were compromised by nasal emission. I was preparing for the evaluation and came upon a very helpful outline for my testing, “Resonance Disorders and Nasal Emissions, Evaluation and Treatment Using ‘Low Tech’ and ‘No Tech’ Treatments,” in ASHA LEADER magazine. I printed out the content on evaluation and used it to record the child’s responses.

I quickly learned that his hypernasality was not due to velopharyngeal incompetence (VPI) or insufficiency (since he produced high pressure consonants and vowels with no nasality) but was rather “velopharyngeal mislearning when there is hypernasality or nasal emission due to faulty articulation. This can occur due to pharyngeal or nasal articulation of certain sounds. Abnormal articulation can cause phoneme-specific nasal emission, usually on sibilant sounds.” He matched that as he made his /s, f, th/ with nasal emission. I had brought straws and a mirror to detect any nasal emission but they weren’t needed as he repeated an /s/ in isolation, closed his lips tight and blew air out his nose.

The article for ASHA LEADER is also good for taking quotes to give to parents to explain their child’s resonance pattern and the why behind it.

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In My Heart, A Book of Feelings for Language Lessons

Thijpegs lovely book celebrates all shapes and sizes of feelings–full of giggles and wiggles like a magical hat, bright and shiny like a big yellow star or lazy and slow like a floating balloon. Each page opens to a smaller cut-out heart inside the clever illustration demonstrating silly, happy or calm. What a wonderful reference for kids and parents to use to explain feelings associated with the day’s experiences. “On harder days, mean words hurt my feelings,and my heart feels hurt too. It’s fragile and delicate…” When kids are upset, they have trouble expressing themselves at the language level they are capable of. A book like this will help bridge that gap and get an important conversation started. For kids with language delay, this book can help give them the visual tools to describe and talk about situations and their corresponding feelings of the heart. Yesterday I was with a terrific first grade teacher who uses great picture books like this to read to her class and then she pulls out a topic from the story–bullying, should you be a friend with someone that isn’t liked by another friend? and pairs off the kids to “debate” the subject. I love that concept. You can do the same with a lively discussion with your child at home.


Available at Amazon: Click here

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Kids Love a Counter in Articulation Speech Therapy

lego booksI have enjoyed  using the free counting app, TxTools, in articulation therapy this week. It is especially effective with 5-8 year-old boys, HA! A little competitive I guess. We are at the reading level with a second grader working on /s/ so I got out my lego books and he started to read. I would tap the “right” and “wrong” buttons for each /s/ he produced. He would read a few lines and then check to see if his percentage went up or down. It
TxTools counterwas very motivating and he enjoyed it for almost an hour. Whenever we can get an activity that kids love to do, while working on their goals, we have a hit.

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

Thanksgiving Homework that Works

Turkey foxAs an itinerant therapist, I work in homes and often arrive after school so I see what comes home in the backpack. I’m amazed at the amount of homework young kids are expected to do–math, writing, reading, whew! That’s why I was excited to hear about this “assignment” for a first grader.

Kids were asked to “disguise a turkey.” My little friend and her dad discussed what she wanted to do and went off to Michaels to get some foam board in three colors. He stepped back (as parents should do) and she went to work at her art table. She was having so much fun covering up her turkey with a fox’s coat, pointy ears and a speech bubble that when her brother said, “Sister is doing her homework” she replied, “No, this is fun.” Her teacher got it right.

Posted in 6-8 year-olds | Leave a comment Announces Top 10 PAL Award Picks for 2014

Here’s our Top 10 PAL Award Picks for 2014,Holiday Gift Guide:

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 8.38.15 AM

Posted in Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Build and Imagine Combines Engineering and Language Learning with Tons of Fun

Build and Imagine Malia's beachI’m getting lots of inquiries lately about what to get kids and grandkids for the holidays. After this week’s interview on NBC CT, I am getting calls about where to get those products too. I wanted to share a brand new product that I am really excited about, Build and Imagine’s magnetic building sets that inspire storytelling. They just came out with three sets that can be combined or played with individually, “Malia’s Beach House,” “Marine Rescue Center” and “Day at the Beach.” Yesterday I played for a full hour with a 4 year-old designing and modifying her house and story while adding the 40 magnetic accessories to the two dolls and 16 StoryWall panels.

Build and Imagine Malia's alone

Malia’s Beach House always evolving

Kids can easily snap the panels together and quickly learned to brace the panel as they pressed the accessories onto them. Our story took the two figures, Malia and Skyler, to the beach, pool, school, garden and bed as we adorned many of the StoryWalls. We loaded up the dolls with the camera, cell phone, and backpack to go off to school and then grabbed the beach bag, sunglasses, hat and dog to visit the beach. The story continued to evolve and change as the house and accessories did. What fun to watch a child’s imagination and creativity be displayed through construction. “This is where my school things go,” my friend declared as she attached the magnetic backpack, flowers (I guess they were for the teacher), microphone and cell phone to a panel. Sounds like a lively class!

This toy does just what we want it to–be flexible enough to generate different directions of play and storytelling but let the child lead the play to gain the most learning. A perfect intersection of engineering and language learning, Build and Imagine builds skills while constructing.

For my full review click here.

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

PAL Award Top Ten Picks To Be Announced on NBC CT TV Today!

I’m excited to share some of my  2014 “Top 10 PAL Award Picks” today on a segment on NBC CT TV with Keri-Lee Mayland. I wanted to get my list up so those who watch will imgres-1have all the details of these outstanding language learning products. Click on the company to read my reviews and see where to purchase the product:

Disney Palace Pets Royal Pet Salon by Wonder Forge (3 and up, $20.00)

  • Little girls love choosing their pets
  • Spin to move through the 7 rooms, sudsy spa, tiara fitting, hair styling and collect cards
  • Find where that object is located, hair brush, kleenex or nail polish
  • Learn vocabulary within categories, great pretend play

839499295282eCook’n Serve Kitchen by Hape (3 and up, $150) accessories are sold separately.

  • Little chefs can pull this kitchen on wheels to any spot and start cooking
  • Reminds me of popular food trucks
  • Backside has 2 blackboards to announce changing menu, specials of the day
  • Pretend play has several  options to start a story, practice in oral and written language

imgres-4Ostrich Puppet by Folkmanis 

  • Kids are drawn out using puppets, take on a persona, here an animal
  • Facts of interest–3 pounds of rocks in his gut to grind her food–imagination going, start for story, twist and turn in the story builds language skills
  • set up show and sell tickets

PrintuKloo Riddle Edition Treasure Hunt Game (7-9 years old, $18)

  • Newest addition to uKloo family of fun treasure hunt games that promote reading
  • Agonizing time for some parents as their kids are learning to read
  • Fun “If there is rain or snow or sleet, put these on to protect your feet,” (boots)
  • Kids compose their own riddles, problem-solving and thinking

imgresPaint a Tea Set by Galt ( 5 years and up, $13)

  • Make-and -play toy provides a double opportunity for creativity as kids design the toy that becomes central to pretend play.
  • After the paint dries, let the storytelling begin, preparing little ones for later reading and writing
  • Invite dolls and teddy bears to the party
  • Add paper and pencil and now it’s a store, adding pre-reading skills to the pretend play 

imgres-4-1Mon Premier Bebe Calin Maria by Corolle (18 months and up, $42) with Stroller and Diaper backpack sold separately

  • First hispanic baby doll for mommies 18 months and older
  • Cuddly soft bean bag body fits into a child’s arms so realistically
  • Burping, hugging, changing and walking
  • Kids learn from imitating their world

imgres-7Fort Magic by Fort Magic LLC(51/2 and up, $200)

  • Perfect name, durable
  • Seen kids build castle, airplane, rocket
  • Critical thinking, group collaboration, problem solving
  • 165 straight and curved rods, tools to follow their imagination
  • Great prop for pretend play
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Learn the Language of Math in new Tiggly Cardtoons App for Preschoolers

IY7GRbIwNG2hBs0RDhnsk2CxzLMTj_AjfEGqrG3bx4gYou need to get to know Tiggly, as they are developing fun learning apps for preschool and up. Two PAL Award winners, “Tiggly Cardtoons” and “Tiggly Shapes” which interact with the toy counting rods and shapes, “Tiggly Counts” and “Tiggly Shapes” respectively are full of language learning fun. Their latest app, Tiggly Cardtoons, has 25 mini -stories related to the number of dots counted out from 1-5 in each activity.

imgres-2 “Tiggly Counts” is an incredibly creative, yet simple beginning counting game that rewards counting 1-5 with the corresponding number of digital cardboard scraps that band together to form the characters and props for a story. Kids have the option to use the cool “Tiggly Counts”–rubberized counting rods, representing digits 1-5, to place on the iPad for interaction, or their fingers to drag and drop dots that count out and display the number. No prizes needed here. The reward is in the learning as the colored cardboard scraps move to form a dinosaur eating 4 leaves, 5 cute kittens rescued by a firetruck from the top of a building, or 4 flies atop a garbage truck that help the stuck load to dump–”Home smelly home,” as they disappear into a hole in the pile. Kids couldn’t get enough of this app and Tiggly has integrated the hands-on builds as well as a cute story to encourage fun learning. As kids get older they are increasingly required to tell the “how” and “why” of how they got their math answers so why not add the language learning starting at the preschool level? Best yet, the app is free or buy the counting toys to solidify number concepts. Note that Tiggly Cardtoons is the youngest in a series of 3 apps whose siblings,Tiggly Chef and Tiggly Addventure, combine numbers while cooking recipes and crossing bridges!

Available on iTunes. Click here

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

Happy Halloween to all Blakcats and Gostes!

caroline's ghost pictureHappy Halloween to everyone! Hope you have fun trick-or-treating and have as safe holiday.

Here was one of my treats that I found after our trip to Michaels for Halloween stickers that the kids requested. Caroline loves to make books so I found several of these pages taped together and couldn’t resist sharing it. We did get into a big discussion with little brother about if ghosts have legs. Good question.

I love to see her invented spelling and watch her sound out her words. Learning to read and write are an exceptionally exciting stage for parents and Caroline's black cat picturegrandparents to watch.

Here’s hoping you see some ghosts and black cats tomorrow night!


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5 Ways To Build Language Skills, Playing With A Puzzle

Galt farm puzzleParents don’t typically consider a puzzle to be a language learning toy. Sure, it’s great to build fine motor, and spacial relationship skills but how does language fit in? When parents join the play, it ups the level of learning as long as we stay in the passenger’s seat and let our child drive the play.

My 4-year old friend brought out his favorite Galt giant floor puzzles, “The Farm” and “Dinosaurs.” Let’s look at the farm. I sat down on the floor next to him and started the conversation. Soon he was leading and asking me the questions. So how can we strengthen language skills while playing with a puzzle?

  1. Asking questions. I started out with, “Where is the rest of the roof of the chicken coop?” or “Where are the purple stripes?” He joined in with “Can I have the tractor?” when we had  assembled the pieces around the shape of the missing tractor. “Where are the rest of the bales of hay?” as we looked to see what might be continued on the missing puzzle piece.
  2. Building vocabulary. After we finished our farm puzzle, my friend started to take out the animals one by one, “Wanna see this one?” and had me name them. Then he chimed in with the associated sound the animal makes, “bak bak bak” for the chicken and “neigh” for the horse. While assembling, I am talking about the  pasture, silo, chicken coop or clay flower pot.
  3. Describing. I like to describe what I am looking for. I need the front part of the pig, an animal with orange spots, the scarecrow’s body or the wooden doors of the barn. Kids start to follow that model and describe what piece they are searching for too so there is some nice chatter as they assemble their puzzle.
  4. Relating the objects and theme to life experiences. Start by talking about how the pictures related to your recent experience or something you might have done together like visiting a petting farm, seeing a cow, or maybe just growing a plant. As kids enter school they are asked to relate “books to life,” meaning tell what they have seen or experienced that matches a character, object or event in the story. These connections build language skills as children start weaving their world together and explaining the connections.
Posted in 3-6 year-olds, Language, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment