R Sound Therapy Fun with “Roar of a Snore”

imgres-2Often I happen upon a fun activity while working with a book or game for some other purpose. I was reading  Roar of a Snore by Martha Arnold with a boy to work on comprehension and answering questions related to a story. Part way through, I realized it was a fun book to work on the R sound as strings of RRRRRRR were throughout the story representing some loud and annoying snoring! Ironically we are also working on initial R so this was a perfect way to encourage his sound.

Everyone is asleep in the Huffle household except Jack, who is awake from some very loud and persistent snoring. He wakes one suspected culprit at a time as they join the hunt for the source of the nocturnal noise. He rouses Old Hound Blue, Mama Gwyn, Sweet Baby Sue, Papa Ben, twins Josie Jo and Jennie Lynn, the sheep, goat, cows and hen. Kids love to guess who is the source of the trouble. It ends with everyone cuddling up with the one who starts it all.


Posted in 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up | Leave a comment

Take the “Disney Palace Pets Royal Pet Salon” to Articulation Therapy

imgres-1Wonder Forge makes such creative and engaging games for preschoolers, loaded with language learning! Their latest PAL Award winner, “Disney Palace Pets Royal Pet Salon” is loads of fun for little girls and encourages some language learning as players have to identify what room (or category) their objects belong to.

Set up is fun as the board unfolds to hold 8 divided stand-up 3-D rooms. Spin the spinner to find out if you collect some object cards and/or move a number of spaces through the doors to individual rooms: Nail or Hair Styling, Sudsy Spa, or Ribbon, Collar or Tiara Fitting. Try to match the posh pet products with those pictured on your cards and win the card to add up at the end of the game. The towel, perfume atomizer, body brush and soap reside in the Sudsy Spa. Ribbons, collars and combs are more obvious as to what room they belong in while the candelabra, apples, tea and candy are in the Royal Lounge. It takes some discussion to figure out where to look for some of the items.

I used this game for lively reinforcement for articulation therapy, taking turns after saying several responses using the target sound. It easily moves to pretend play as girls get lost in the fun of the room they landed in. Often I heard, “Where am I again?” as their palace pet went on an extra trip between turns!

It would also be a valuable game for working on description since the items are illustrated beautifully and one could use the item cards to guess what is being described.

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

Paint a Tea Set To Start Pretend Play

Galt Paint a Tea SetParents are always asking me for the “best” toys for a certain age that encourage great play and learning. I recently heard a term I liked, “playful learning” which is learning through the fun in my opinion!

Today my little friend and I got out Galt Toy’s “Paint a Tea Set,” opened the paints and got to work. She loved the bright colors and easy to open containers as she painted polka dots, stripes and solid plates. In order to have some pieces that were dry for immediate play, we took a break from painting and started our tea party. She looked at me and said, “I have a doll” and disappeared to gather up her princess doll and place her in front of a cup and plate. “Here’s some tea,” she said as she poured from the tea pot. “Who wants some sugar in their tea?” I was offered some hilarious pretend food, and believe me, it wasn’t cookies and cakes.

As a parent or caregiver, it is important to set out a great toy or activity embedded with play potential and sit back and let your child lead the play. You are the Producer, not the Director of play. Kids learn more when they are driving the play, not the toy and not the adult. We can step in occasionally and ask a question or offer a suggestion to raise the level of play or take it to a new related theme but that should be minimal. Besides, what could be more fun than a DIY tea set that becomes an essential tool for pretend play and story telling?

“Paint A Tea Set” is a 2014 PAL Award winner by Galt Toys


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

Speech Therapy Extra Credit

R drawingHow many times do you arrive at the home of one of your little clients and they have done EXTRA work on their goals during the week without you asking? Not that often, right? Well today I had such a nice surprise when I got to my little friend’s house and she had made a picture for me and said, “Where are the R’s?” Whew! Even that sentence had three R’s to practice. She pointed out the red rainbow and door–we have been working on final /or/ words. We had been drawing /r/ words in many medias so she just extended the activity that she found fun and presented me with her piece of art. What a great start to our session.

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

Using Highlights Magazine for Articulation Therapy

HIghlight magazineSometimes when you have a child who is a little resistive to therapy, it’s best to come along side him, see what he’s playing with and incorporate it in your lesson.

I arrived at my little friend’s house after breakfast and he was fast at work in finding the hidden pictures in Highlight Magazine. It brought back memories of one of my favorite things about going to the dentist when I was young (is there such a thing??). Anyway, I loved finding hidden pictures and have been known to play that game with the neighbor kids who discovered it online.

My friend asked me to work on the page next to him so I started finding my pictures while giving him models to repeat with his sound. Luckily he was working on /sh/ so I could interject, “Show me the _____”. He seemed very happy to repeat my models related to the pictures we were coloring. We both had a great time and the session flew by!

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Storytelling Game for Word-Finding Language Lessons

Peaceable kingdom Say the WordI hope you all saw Jan Schwanke’s comment on my recent blog about great games for Word-finding sessions:

“The blog (she is working on a blog devoted to practical word-finding tips) isn’t operational yet, but I can’t wait to share some word finding ideas with your loyal audience, Sherry! For preschoolers, I love Richard Scarry’s Busy, Busy Town. PlayOnWords led me to this excellent game a couple of years ago. It can be adapted for a number of speech or language goals, but my favorite is for word finding. When the kids spin a “goldbug,” I have them name the article for which they are searching (kites, balloons, buckets), then count aloud “1 kite, 2 kites, 3 kites,” etc. For early elementary, I like to use Linguisystems’ Rocky’s Mountain or Plunk’s Pond. I modify the rules to optimize vocab output. I have even used the game boards with riddles eliciting their classroom vocabulary. Thank you for bringing attention to the need for more practical ideas to promote word finding skills.”

Here’s another game I have found to be fun and beneficial for building vocabulary, Peaceable Kingdom’s Say the Word, that came out this year. In this Repeat-After-Me Silly Story Memory Game, players cooperate to tell a group story, using  word cards they are dealt. The designated Story Master chooses a character card (we chose “My Fairy Godmother,” “Quintuplets,” and “The Zombie”), deals 3 word cards to each player (ranges from wiggle, donkey, or bumpy to bunny slippers, tarantula or afro) and gives each player a Clue Token. Players take turns repeating the story thus far and adding one of their word cards next to the previous ones to extend the story with a related sentence.  The ideas is to add on to the story, repeating the previous parts and see if you can reach 10-12 cards. I modify the game for younger kids ( the game is designed for 10 and up) with shorter memories but kids need to associate ideas to add on to the story in some logical (yet often zany) way! It’s fun to look at different possibilities as players share optional word card that they are holding.





Posted in 10 and up, 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Word Finding | 2 Comments

Read a Book, Leave a Book at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

Book exchange-ElkhartWhen we were vacationing at Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin this summer, we came upon this clever “Wendy’s Free Library” at the train depot in the center of town. It was the smallest library I have ever come upon but how effective to put a favorite paperback in the door and take one out to read.

I may be old fashioned but I still like to hold a book in my hands and be able to go back to pages easily for reference. I know I’m not alone on this as several friends have shared the same opinion.

Anyway, thanks to Wendy for a great idea that gives back to the community!

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Drawing Your Articulation Lesson

Crayola doodle mat-ArticulationI like to draw and kids like to draw too, so we are a perfect match! Actually, I find that a fun drawing activity is perfect for articulation therapy as kids can draw objects with their sound in them.

One of my favorite new therapy tools (because kids love it) is Crayola’s Doodle Magic Color Mat which comes with 4 colored markers and a special wet erase wand. Today we  were working on /r/ in all positions of the word in sentences. My little friend asked to draw on the mat and started to make a house. I had her describe what she was drawing as she got into great detail with the garage. Soon she was thinking of all the things in the garage that had /r/: grass seed, deer spray, watering can, ladder, cars, recycling bin, and gardening gloves as she illustrated her items. Thank goodness she was there to identify her illustrations but she was very proud of her drawing while getting in great practice on her sound.

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

Best Games to Enhance Word-Finding Speech Therapy Sessions

Word-finding Last Word gameWe all know that the more fun a speech therapy session is, the more engaged our little clients are. Some times we have to just plain work hard but the trick is to have the kids forget that they are working because they are having so much fun.

You know I love to use great board games for language and articulation therapy. This week one of my students (second grader) finally figured out that I required him to say 3 words with his sound for his turn as well as MY turn. Usually I don’t get questioned on this procedure but he called me on it, “How come I have to say words on YOUR turn??” If you want the truth…you get to say twice as many words and learn your sound faster.

Well, as I’ve said, I will be blogging more about word-finding this fall, as I think there is less information that is practical and fun out there than for some other speech and language diagnoses.

Yesterday I introduced FAVOR-C, the acronym for “Do yourself a FAVOR and SEE these strategies in your mind.” We worked on the first strategy of Filling in the blank as we brainstormed words that were appropriate in short phrases about what we “wash,” “climb,” “drink” or “I stand in_____” using the app, “Word Retrieval” by Virtual Speech Center, Inc.

On to the board games. My little client loved “Last Word” by Buffalo Games. Designed for 8 years and up, this game is easily adaptable for younger kids, just select easier category cards. Choose a Subject Card (ranging from musical instruments, things in the garden, things that scare people, to things that are loud or snack foods.) A timer is provided but that puts added pressure on some kids, especially those with word-retrieval problems. Ironically, my little friend enjoyed the timer. Snap down a Subject Card and all players start calling out things in that category. The person who names something last before the buzzer, advances his marker on the game board. It’s a wonderful way to expand vocabulary within a category and build word association.

What games have you found fun while working on word-finding?

Posted in 6-8 year-olds, 8 years and up, Word Finding | 2 Comments

The Pout-Pout Fish and a Sunflower Can Ease Back to School Challenges

imgres-11So many picture books are aimed at first school experiences like “Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten,” “Kindergarten Rocks,” or “Countdown to Kindergarten.” But two recent PAL Award winners offer some depth to the story of starting school or maybe just meeting the challenges of the next grade:

“The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School” by Deborah Diesen with pictures by Dan Hanna has Mr. Fish swimming off to his first day with a backpack looped around his front fins as he searches for his classroom. After three false starts, he is plenty frustrated with his flub-flub frowns making “blub-blub bubbles” as he tries to keep up with classmates writing their name, drawing shapes, and figuring math problems. After each attempt he repeats his mantra, “I’m not smart…I’ll never get it…I don’t belong…Forget it!” Attempting tasks over his head can be tough on a little guy until the soft voice of Miss Hewitt led him to her classroom for “Brand-New Fish.” Kids and parents can relate to the anxiety provoked by lessons over your head. Getting in the right reading group or even receiving some special help can help build self-esteem and make school fun. A more positive message resounds in his new classroom for Brand New Kids, “We are smart…We can get it…We belong…We won’t forget it!”

Ironically, I received this book for review when I was in the middle of working with a 5 year-old who was struggling with reading. In the process, he moved out of kindergarten back to a private setting where he was diagnosed with dyslexia and began to thrive with the additional specialized help that he needed. I watched his attitude change from “I don’t get it” to “I am smart” as he slowly began to identify letters in his favorite Pout-Pout Fish book.

imgres-12“Rooting For You” by Susan Hood, illustrated by Matthew Cordell sends a special message to break out, grow up, sprout, go toward the light and bloom. This delightful flap book is multi-layered with meaning as a little sunflower seed declares he’s not coming out of his dark, soil of comfort.  With the help of his cast of new friends–worms, ants, beetles and spiders–this seed is making progress toward the light. So with some encouragement and self-talk, “I can do it,” he kept “whirling…unfurling…going…and growing” into a beautiful flower. This book is full of prompts to start the dialogue about how it feels to start something new or difficult, who encourages us and maybe even what WE can do to help someone who is challenged. This insightful book can be used to  encourage a child who has bumped up against his first “rock” on the ascent to new learning.


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