Kids Inventing A Halloween Cat From Hape’s Packaging

Caroline with halloween cat

Halloween Cat from Hape boxes

“Do you know what happens when you make a toy? It helps the world!” That’s what 6 year-old Caroline told me as she worked on her Halloween Cat toy, made from Hape’s “Minimals” toy packaging. It was fun to watch her creative mind work as she began after dinner to start cutting apart 2 boxes and the plastic covers to make the body, found a large roll of clear packaging tape and cut it apart to make the legs decorated with halloween stickers.  She finished up the cat this morning while it was still dark outside.

We had a nice discussion about being an “inventor” and what that means. I loved that I was not involved one bit in this project. Caroline has a craft drawer in the kitchen (One of the biggest drawers) that holds paper, markers, tape, duct tape, and scissors. She was self-sufficient in her creative Caroline's halloween catprocess. Isn’t that what we want our kids to be? Have great materials and toys available so they can take off and lead the play. That’s how they learn the most.

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

I’m Mystery Reader In The Classroom This Week

Reading to Sam's classI love reading to my grandchildren and watching them learn how to read. This week I have had the opportunity to read to two of their classrooms with the kids “helping” me. Sam’s 3 year-old preschool class was so helpful as I read “Skeleton Hiccups” and they joined in on “hic, hic, hic,” as the skeleton hiccuped his way through many activities, trying to rid himself of those pesky jolts. Nothing seems to work–holding his breath, pouring sugar down his throat, or holding his nose. Ghost has a better idea as he searches through the attic trunk for just the right solution. Each page has “hic, hic, hic” repeated until the last page when the hic’s jump away for a final “hic, hic, hooray!” Perfect for a preschool read-aloud. In our followup discussion about halloween, the teacher asked the kids what is inside the pumpkin and a little girls said, “Guts!” Don’t you just love this age?

Today I was the Mystery Reader in Caroline’s 1st grade so I chose some Halloween Caroline's mystery readerfavorites. They have been working on a unit about bullying so I thought “Hallo-Weiner” would be a good choice. Poor guy, Oscar was made fun of by his friends for his homemade lovingly made by his mom–“Weiner Dog” they yelled and had a good laugh. Well, when he came to their rescue from a giant monster, the dogs changed their tune and re-named him their “Hero Sandwich.” The kids were such good listeners that we read 2 more books including “Skeleton Hiccups” and “T. Rex Tick or Treats” After we finished, we asked the kids how the last 2 books were alike (book to book, text to text comparisons–a great language building exercise) and they came up with 8! Such a special class.

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

Getting Creative with Faber-Castell Connector Pens

Connector pens dino

Faber-Castell Connector Pens Elephant

All I had to do was dump out the can of 50 Faber-Castell Connector Pens and the kids started building a flute, dinosaur and robot arm. This is the kind of toy that I love. Do you want to draw? or build? My little friend said, “Let’s be creative!” She could be part of the marketing team. The markers came in handy as the kids drew faces for their creations. Just cut them out and tape them on.

Before breakfast the can came out again. Cooper made a boat with a mast and oar–actually more like a raft. The construction is pretty linear but that makes the kids think harder about what they can make.

The elephant in the picture was made by the inventor and displayed at the Toy Fair this year.

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A Precious Week With My Grandchildren, Take A Look at Home Schooling

Sheshe with Ben and SamThis is such a special week as we get to spend time in the lives of some of our grandchildren. So far we have participated in home-schooling, surfing, reading to the preschool class, conducting science experiments, playing math games, catching fish and going to the book store.

This is the first year that one of the families is home schooling. It is amazing to watch as learning goes on all day in many formats, starting early as they review verb forms on the bed, learn their history timeline, Home schoolingsing in latin while making legos and learn their state capitals. We went along to their morning of Classical Conversations which I had heard about but didn’t understand  until we joined the home schooling families as they reviewed and learned new dates and events in history, added hand signs and songs and then recited it in latin! My husband came out of one the classrooms where he had been observing 1st grade and said, “I just had a whole day of school!” The fast-paced, fun delivery of organs of the body, grammar, state capitals and latin vocabulary gave us a packed morning. As a speech-language pathologist, I appreciated all the rich vocabulary that was introduced. As they first used their tin whistles in music time, they learned “cacophony” (which was applicable to their first notes!), harmony, melody, symphony and fipple (the hole in the mouthpiece)–who knew?

Short presentations to the class are started at an early age to teach kids to be confident in public speaking. Later when they have a foundation of historical events and the classics they will be equipped to discuss and debate ideas.

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

Dress Your Dolls for Speech Therapy

Galt Fairy Princess DollsComing from a house of boys, I’m always fascinated entering the land of pink. A six-year-old girl that I work with is one of three girls so the playroom is full of glitter, tiaras and all things baby doll. This week I got out my Fairy Dressing Up Set by Galt, and we started by choosing outfits for sleeping, swimming, party time and play. Working on/sh/ we took turns saying, “She should get the green party dress” and so on. The pretend play, lead by my little friend,  moved to nighttime as we took off to get her doll’s bunk bed, and acted out the “little sister” getting scared and joining her older sister in her bunk! I wonder where she got that idea??? Then it was time to get up in the morning and get dressed for our party, being transported by that cool Fisher Price Happy Family sports car. Kids love it because you can hide many accessories in the working trunk like a take along dog, blanket or beach bag.

All in all it was a successful day in the life of the fairies and just one more day of articulation therapy.

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Grab the Mail for Speech Therapy

mail for speech therapyMy mail delivery is getting smaller and smaller these days, comprised mostly of brochures and advertisements but even those can have a second use as materials for speech therapy.

I am working with a student on conversational skills– commenting more and asking fewer perseverative questions. So when this colorful brochure arrived, advertising a community offering and picturing boating, horseback riding, eating, biking, swimming and more, I decided to use it to spark some conversation and even brainstorming in categories like what we would like the chefs to make for us (steak, pasta…) or when did we go horseback riding (Hole in the Wall Camp) and so on. Because my student is in middle school but is more limited cognitively, it is hard to get appropriate materials some times so the mail delivered just what I needed and he enjoyed it!

Posted in 10 and up, Strategies to Encourange Language Development | Leave a comment

Halloween Word-Finding and Articulation Speech Therapy Activities

halloween lotto game

Kids added “spider,” “ghost” and “vampire”

Everybody loves halloween so a pumpkin, ghost or candy activity sure perks up a speech therapy session. ASHAsphere just posted an article , “BOO, Halloween Treats” listing lots of activities shared by SLP’s, where I found these cute Halloween pictures for vocabulary, language, word-finding and articulation activities (at Speaking of Speech).

halloween lotto homemade

Handmade “cauldron” and “witch”

I made 2 copies of the pictures for a memory match game and made some blank cards for kids to add their halloween words that I had missed. I find that the kids I work with individually are always interested in the other kids I work with that are their age. Often they will enjoy the pictures I collect with other children for Speech Bin, especially if they are both working on the same sounds. It happened again with the memory game. I went to 3 houses to work with kids in succession and they each added their own illustrated halloween words–ghost, spider, cauldron, vampire and skeleton! They loved the drawings from other kids.

Word-finding: First I brainstormed with my student to come up with as many words we could that had to do with halloween. When he named one that matched my pictures, I gave it to him. If he named one that I didn’t have a picture of, he drew it. For some reason, I particularly like the spider!! Then we started our memory game. As he turned over 2 cards, he named them and had to give me a descriptive sentence using one of the words. One little friend said, “The skeleton is sitting on my front porch. He is very careful.” I said that is such an interesting word, what do you mean by that? to which he replied after pausing to retrieve the correct word, “He is delicate!” It was a great opportunity to increase his awareness of having some difficulty retrieving words. We both smiled at the recognition that he had a little trouble finding his word but paused and then got it.

As my students made up their sentences, we worked on recognizing a vague sentence versus a descriptive one. I used one hand to repeat their phrase, “scary stuff” and the other hand to say their revision which was “scary spooky ghosts.” Which one is better language? They practiced identifying the difference in my sentences as well as theirs.

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Word-finding For Kids, A New Speech Therapy Blog

paper artRemember when I told you that my friend and fellow SLP, Jan Schwanke, was going to start a blog on Word-Finding for kids? Well it’s up and I am so excited that she is going to share her expertise in an area that is much needed! Her first two posts deal with “Getting started in Word-finding therapy” and “Awareness of vague words.” Already she has challenged me to go back a bit with some of my students to further work on awareness.

Jan has presented at ISHA, has worked with Diane German, collaborating on research and is an adjunct instructor in Special Education (language development classes, of course!) at National-Louis University in Wheeling, Illinois.

Her desire is to use her blog to inform therapists and parents and serve as a meeting place where we can all share therapy ideas that work with kids with word-finding difficulties.

This week I consulted with a first grade teacher and her aide regarding a child I work with who has word-retrieval issues. In explaining how it impacts the child’s language, I read a re-tell of a story book that I had transcribed as the student told me the story. “He went to the first one”/ first classroom, “and couldn’t do it”/ Do what? The teacher nodded and saw what I was trying to demonstrate and said, “It’s so subtle!” She’s right but she got it.

I am reminded how important it is to confer with the teachers so they can make accommodations in the classroom and help their student do his best.

Check it out:

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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