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14Aug2017

School SLPs by the nature of our job often have to be a jack of all trades. One day you may be working with high school fluency students and the next day you may be working with non-verbal three year olds! I have worked with preschool through middle school in my 12 years as a school SLP and I feel like prepping for preschoolers is by far the hardest! In my first year as a school SLP, I was thrown into working with preschool students with severe autism with relatively little experience with kids that young and no materials! It was awful and so stressful for my first few years until I started to figure out what worked through trial and error.

Here are my top 5 tips for surviving your first year as a preschool speech-language pathologist.

  1. Use What You Have: Don’t feel like you have to run out and buy a million toys. While preschool SLPs do have it tougher in that printing out worksheets often is just not going to cut it with maintaining attention with little guys, that doesn’t mean you need to spend a ton of money. One good option if you have preschool classes on campus is to borrow toys and manipulatives from the classes. Most preschool teachers I have worked with have been incredibly willing to share toys with me once they know I can be trusted to protect and return toys intact. Another great resource is garage sales. I still have and use many of the toys that I first bought on a shoestring budget as a beginning SLP from garage stales. I love big church or neighborhood garage sales to get some great toys and games without having to travel all over town.
  2. Use Repetition to Your Advantage: One of my biggest mistakes in my first years as a preschool SLP was thinking I should be bringing in new activities each week for my groups. I killed myself trying to figure out new engaging activities each week because I was afraid teachers would think I was lazy bringing in the same things a few weeks in a row. Not only was that a silly thing to worry about but it turns out that preschoolers actually need tons of repetition to really learn and grasp concepts. Sometimes it has taken hearing a song or seeing an activity dozens of dozens of times before some of my little guys suddenly start showing progress and then we celebrate like crazy! Most books I read in my preschool groups I read at least 2 weeks in a row, sometimes 3 or 4! If you run preschool circle time groups, stick to the same routine each week (i.e., opening song, read a book, do an activity related to book, closing song) and just switch up the books or songs you do every few weeks with a seasonal theme or other type of theme. I use a book from my Interactive What Do You See Books Bundle each month so that I don’t have to think at all when it’s a new month, I just grab that month’s theme book and go! This will save you tons of stress and brain power from trying to think of novel activities each week!
  3. Music, Music, Music: Using music in my preschool groups is truly the savior of my sanity. There is something magical about using music to really grab preschoolers interest and help them learn language concepts. I have a post about the Top 10 Songs for Preschool Speech and Language Development that is a good starting point for songs to use in preschool speech.
  4. Be Interactive: Forget the worksheeets with the 3 to 5 year old set. Whether I am working with a group of preschoolers with autism and low language skills or a group of preschoolers with articulation days you will never see me without interactive activities. For my preschool articulation groups I don’t do many crafts but we are constantly coloring, dot painting, and glueing artic words to keep their little busy bodies in their seats. Interactive Adapted Books are a staple with my in class groups because they are so engaging and versatile. Even students who are just starting to show emerging communication skills can be engaged with matching pictures when using interactive or adapted books.
  5. Have Fun: You will make a ton of mistakes your first year as a preschool SLP, it’s inevitable. Preschoolers are unpredictable, have short attention spans, limitless energy, and are still figuring out all about this crazy world. This will likely lead to many speech sessions that leave you feeling like you have no idea what you are doing! But I truly love working with preschoolers because they can show incredible progress and are often so much fun! I feel so lucky to be able to “play” everyday as part of my job. So while some days working with preschoolers may leave you exhausted and frustrated, remember to relax and enjoy your time with the little ones!

If you are looking for some ready to go activities to get a jump on your preschool caseload I have put together what I consider my Preschool SLP Survival Kit. I hope it will help preschool SLPs feel prepared and ready for the fun of preschool speech therapy!

Preschool Survival Kit Cover Large

16Sep2016

I am so excited to teach tier two vocabulary to my speech kids this year and it’s all because of two words: Interactive Notebooks! I have always struggled on how to integrate teaching vocabulary in a systematic way into our weekly speech therapy groups. This year my caseload contains a large group of upper elementary students who have language disorders and most are English Language Learners so effectively teaching vocabulary is a major necessity! I am so grateful that I have my Tier Two Vocabulary Curriculum and Interactive Notebooks to lead the way!Tier Two Long Pin

There is a unit with tier two academic vocabulary that corresponds to grade appropriate vocabulary for 2nd through 5th grade. The units are great for using in a general education classroom or with special education students. At each grade level, 30 words are taught which are divided up into 5 subunits (6 words taught in each subunit). In the graphic below, you can see how my students set up their Interactive Vocabulary Notebooks. My students love creating their notebooks and are so much more engaged in learning the vocabulary words because of the interactive nature of the activities.Interactive Notebook ExamplesThere are also worksheets included for practicing the vocabulary words and checking for comprehension. Data sheets are also included to track your student’s progress. There are also game cards for use with any turn-taking game and “apples to apples” style game cards for extra practice. Finally, there are word wall cards in a variety of styles included so you can make a bulletin board display with the vocabulary words.

If you would like to use the interactive vocabulary page templates from the packs with your own vocabulary, I have made those available for FREE here:

Free Interactive Vocabulary Notebook Templates

The Tier Two Vocabulary Curriculum and Interactive Notebook Combo Pack is available on Teachers Pay Teachers! You can click the image below to scoop it up!

Combo Pack Cover

29May2016

 

I am a huge proponent of using music with preschoolers during speech therapy. I run weekly circle time speech groups in my preschool classrooms and I have seen how music can increase engagement and help children with many different speech and language skills. Some of the goals that I work on through music are verbal imitation, gross motor imitation, following directions, prepositions, body parts, vocabulary, and more! Here are my top 10 songs for preschool speech therapy with links whenever possible!

  1. Clap Your Hands by Wee Sing: My absolute top pick for getting gross motor imitation and shared attention, also great for working on the concept of fast and slow
  2. What are You Wearing? by Hap Palmer: I use this song as my “circle opener” every week to cue my students in that speech circle time is starting. It is a grew song for learning clothing vocabulary and working on gross motor imitation as well as “what” questions.
  3. One Little Finger by Super Simple Songs: All the Super Simple Songs music is fantastic for language skills but this particular song is one of my favorites. It is great for learning body parts, following directions, and learning to point. The youtube video is great too and has helped some of my students learn to isolate their pointer finger.
  4. Can An Elephant Jump? by ELF Learning: This super fun song is great for lots of goals! Learning action words, yes/no questions, gross motor imitation and more! Kids think it is super funny and I never get sick of it!
  5. Octopus by Charlotte Diamond: Cute song is great for gross motor imitation, verbal imitation (kids can’t resist saying Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!), and gestures (I always do a big “Oh no!” with my hands on my cheeks)
  6. Animal Boogie by Barefoot Books: This is actually a book with accompanying CD but it’s something I always keep in my circle time bag. It gets requested frequently by my students and it is great for working on action words, gross motor imitation, and commenting (I always ask student’s what animal they liked best while we look at the last page that shows all the animals.
  7. We All Go Traveling By by Barefoot Books: Another book with CD by Barefoot Books! This is definitely my most requested book/song by my preschoolers. I love it because I pair a gross motor action with each of the vehicles (stomping for the rumbly truck, etc) and it gets lots of gross motor and verbal imitation from my students. It also grabs the attention of many kids who are tough to engage!
  8. The Body Rock by Greg and Steve: There are several good songs on the Kids in Motion CD by Greg and Steve (Freeze Dance is another favorite) but The Body Rock gets the most play with my kids. It is great for learning body parts and getting gross motor imitation.
  9. Spider on the Floor by Raffi: Pair this song with some cheap dollar store spiders and you have a winner for teaching body parts and following directions.
  10. Puppy, Puppy, Puppy by Kids Express Train: My favorite song on the Imitation Station CD. I have a cheap set of puppies from Oriental Trading Company that I use with this song. It is great for action words, following directions, and getting kids to imitate “woof”!

I hope you find this list helpful for adding in some great songs for working on preschool speech and language skills!

8Mar2016

Funny Directions by Speecharoo is one of my very favorite iPad apps to use with preschoolers and early elementary age students! It is fantastic to use to work on following 1/2/3 step directions, but it also great for eliciting language and comments. The funny animations in the app really draw out language (and laughs!) from my kids!

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It’s super simple to jump in and start using the app. From the home screen you can see above, you tap a balloon to choose which setting you want (beach, classroom, park, or bedroom) and what level of directions you want (1, 2, or 3 step).

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In the picture above, I have chosen the beach scene and 2 step directions. The app reads the direction and then the child moves the pieces to follow the direction. When the direction is completed correctly, a cute animation and super funny audio is played. This is what makes the app really fantastic! It is very engaging for kids keeps them wanting to listen closely and get the direction correct so they get the reward of the silly animation.

Each scene has 10 directions so it is very easy to take data. The app keeps track for you as well! One minor complaint is that you can’t switch back and forth between different players who may be working on different levels of following directions. The app is so engaging for the kids though, my students loved watching other play and were super excited when it was their turn.

The app is terrific for following directions, auditory memory, and prepositions. I also use it with my students with autism to elicit comments and conversation. It is also great as a reinforcement activity because kids love to play it! It is available in the iTunes store for $2.99 which I think is a steal for such a fun and useful app.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this app for review and no further compensation. All opinions expressed are my own.

8Mar2016

I have always found monitoring progress and writing goals for preschoolers with language delays a tricky proposition. How do I get good baseline data with these squirmy little ones? How do I show progress? How do I pick and prioritize goals in children who may be behind in a wide variety of language areas? After struggling with those questions each year especially at progress report time, I decided to come up with a tool to make screening, progress monitoring, and writing goals for my preschoolers easier! The result of that is the Preschool Language – Screening, Progress Monitoring, and Goal Setting Kit.

Preschool Language Screening Main Image

The kit is designed to easily gather information about the language skills of preschool age children or older children with language delays. This information is extremely useful in establishing baseline skills, monitoring progress, and determining areas that may need to be targeted for intervention.

Using the screening pages and stimuli pictures, 26 common language skills that are frequently addressed by speech-language pathologists who work with preschool children can be screened.

Preschool Screening Preview Page 1 Smallest

The screening sheets are very clearly organized and simple to record on. You can also easily pick and choose areas to screen if you only have certain areas of concern. You can see the first page of the screening sheets below.

Preschool Progress Monitoring Recording Sheet SampleAfter you have recorded a child’s performance on the screening sheets, you can quickly transfer that information onto the Screening Summary Form and the Progress Monitoring Form. There is also a goal bank that corresponds to all the language areas screened so you can instantly convert the information you gathered to IEP goals!

Preschool Screening Preview Page 2 Smallest

Using the screening kit to quickly gather baseline and progress data saves so much time when I am drowning in a large caseload or scrambling to get progress reports done! I am thrilled with how well it has been received by the SLP community and the amazing feedback the kit gets!

On Teachers Pay Teachers the kit has over 160 4.0 star ratings! Here is some of the feedback:

“I can’t believe I’m just now coming across this AMAZING kit! I needed something quick to reassess one of my preschool students and found this! You have saved me so much time. I love that you included IEP goals to go along with it. Thank you so much!”

“This is an awesome product! It is such a life saver and has been so helpful during the crazy busy IEP season. I use it every week! Thank you for putting in so much time and effort and creating such a great product.”

“I can’t say enough good things about this product! The screening has saved me so much time and effort. I work with 40 preschoolers this year and I can pull this out and be ready to screen in a minute’s notice. Love the goals in the kit also.”

To get the Preschool Language – Screening, Monitoring, and Goal Setting Kit click here!

2Mar2016

March really snuck up on me but luckily I have a great stash of spring-themed activities to use with my preschoolers! I do both a whole group language lesson (circle time) and small group centers language lessons with my preschoolers with autism. Here are my lesson plans for 4 weeks of spring-themed preschool group speech activities! They include books and activities from my TPT store, commercially available books, and FREEBIES!

Week 1:Butterfly Butterfly Cover Small

Circle Time Preschool Group Speech

Interactive Book: Butterfly, Butterfly What Do You See? Interactive Book – interactive book in the style of “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” – targets spring vocabulary, picture matching, answering questions

Song: Eensy Weensy Spider from Super Simple Learning

Small Group Centers

Interactive Cut and Glue Book: Butterfly, Butterfly What Do You See? Interactive Book : students create their own black and white version of the book we read during circle time

Interactive Sentence Flips Bugs and Birds: interactive activity for practicing prepositions (in, on, and under), answering “where” questions, and sentence expansion

Week 2:Bunnys Basket Title Page Small

Circle Time Preschool Group Speech

Interactive Book: What’s in Bunny’s Basket Interactive Book – interactive book that targets answering “what” questions related to spring vocabulary and simple inferencing

Commenting Board: What is your favorite spring thing? (included in the What’s in Bunny’s Basket Interactive Book pack) – practices answering questions, asking questions, and making comments

Song: Eensy Weensy Spider from Super Simple Learning

Small Group Centers

Interactive Cut and Glue Book: What’s in Bunny’s Basket Cut and Glue Book (black and white version of the book we read during circle time

Free Spring Categories Cut Color and Glue Pages: freebie for sorting items into categories!

Week 3Bunny Bath Title Page small

Circle Time Preschool Group Speech

Interactive Book: Freebie! Bunny Needs a Bath Interactive Book – targets answering questions, labeling colors, and lengthening utterances

Commenting Board: What Color is Your Favorite? (from Communication Boards – Visuals for Commenting, Questions, and Increased Language)

Song – The Way the Bunny Hops by The Kiboomers

Small Group Centers

Interactive Sentence Flips Bugs and Birds: interactive activity for practicing prepositions (in, on, and under), answering “where” questions, and sentence expansion

FREE Spring Prepositions Cut and Glue Book: extra practice for prepositions that student’s can take home

Week 4

Circle Time Preschool Group Speech

Book – “Bear Wants More” by Karma Wilson – fun book with the repetitive line “Bear wants more” which is great for practicing imitation and eliciting “more” by signing or using AAC devices

Song – The Way the Bunny Hops by The Kiboomers

Small Group Centers

FREE Spring Sequencing Cut and Glue Worksheets – choose from 3, 4, or 5 step sequences based on the skill level of the student

Spring Sequencing

Those are my spring preschool group speech therapy lesson plans! I hope you find them useful! Happy Spring!

2Mar2016

Spring is here! Here are some great FREE speech and language activities with a spring theme!

First up, FIVE spring freebies from the Communication Window Teachers Pay Teachers shop!

Free Spring Sequencing Cut and Glue Worksheets

Free Spring Sequencing Worksheets

Free Spring Categories Cut Color and Glue:

Spring Categories FreebieFree Spring Prepositions Interactive Cut and Glue Book

Free Spring Prepositions

Free Bunny Needs a Bath! Interactive Book

Bunny Needs a BathSpring Roll-A-Dice Freebies: Open-Ended, Synonyms, and Compare/Contrast

Spring Roll a Dice

Here are some other great spring freebies from other TPT sellers:

Butterfly Associations: 42 cards for identified associated items

Easter Pronouns: cute picture cards for working on pronouns

Spring Showers Following Directions: following directions game for 1, 2, and 3 step directions

Spring Ordinal Numbers and Positional Words: love these cute cut and glue worksheets for following directions!

Spring Build Your Own Bingo: great for spring vocabulary, I also like to use for following directions (i.e. glue the chick under the egg)

Categories in Springtime: adorable spring categories activities, includes pictures for non-readers!

Would You Rather Spring and Easter: great for conversation starters or artic carryover!

Spring Garden Following Directions: cute coloring page for following directions

25Feb2016

I was so excited to get to review the Sunny Articulation Phonology Test Kit App from Smarty Ears Apps because I have multiple preschoolers on my caseload with phonological disorders. Assessing them quickly and monitoring their progress is vital and this app will definitely help with that!

Getting started with the app is very easy. Simply enter in a child’s name, gender, and birth date and you are ready to go!

The Sunny Articulation Phonology Test Kit is unique in that you can choose to do a quick consonant screener, a full evaluation (you can choose whether or not to include vowels here, love that option!), or just an R screener (also love this option so I don’t have to waste a bunch of time for kids with just “r” problems!) You can see your choices in the image below.

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For this review, I chose to do a full assessment. Once you click to start the assessment, you will be taken through a series of pictures. The word being tested is written phonetically at the top of the screen. The phonemes being evaluated are highlighted. If a child makes an error, you simply tap on the phoneme in error and a menu will come up where you can select the type of error made. In the picture below, you can see that the child I was testing exhibited cluster reduction on the /sn/ in “snake”. Entering substitutions/omissions/etc. is so quick and easy! I love it! Another great feature is that you can record the child’s productions which is very helpful for later reference.

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The full assessment (without vowels) is 46 pictures long. A little long for my preschoolers attention span, but the iPad helped with the attention aspect! I found the pictures to all be very appropriate for even preschool age students with only a few exceptions (olive was tough!). After you complete the assessment you can also choose whether to also assess at the sentence level which is a fantastic option. You also enter in a subjective judgement of overall intelligibility rate at the single word and conversational level.

After your assessment is complete, you can then generate a very in-depth report that analyzes the child’s errors by phoneme position, manner of articulation, voicing feature, the specific word errors, place of articulation, and phonological process. It gives an incredible amount of information with no extra work from you! Awesome! You can also add your own recommendations into the report.

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Another nice feature is that you can turn on or off whether you want articulation sound norms to show up in the report. My district has specific norms we use so I appreciate the option to take this out. You can see this option and the other setting you can change in the image below.
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I found the app very user friendly. It provided me with a wealth of information about my articulation and phonology students. It will be a terrific resource for progress monitoring, quick screenings, and full evaluations!

The Sunny Articulation Phonology Test Kit is available in the iTunes store for $49.99.

Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of this app for review and no further compensation. All opinions expressed are my own.

24Feb2016

Even if you don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day it is a fun theme to use in speech therapy! Here is a list of fantastic FREE speech and language activities to help with your planning!

First up, a freebie from the Communication Window TPT store!

Spring Roll a Dice

Spring Roll a Dice Freebies – Open Ended, Synonyms, and Compare/Contrast

Here are some other freebies I have found:

Pot of Gold Go Togethers: cute associations game with pictures for non-readers

Lucky Leprachaun’s Listening Comprehension: 14 short stories with comprehension questions, works well as a no-print activity!

St. Patrick’s Day Following Directions Before/After Concepts: fun seasonal activity for before/after concepts

St. Patty’s Directions: avoid the leprachaun and practice 1, 2, and 3 step directions!

St. Patrick’s Day Categories: low-prep activity for practicing categories

Logical Leprechauns Problem Solving: cute scenarios for students to practice problem solving and “what should you do?” type questions

Idioms: Worth Their Weight in Gold Task Cards: 10 task cards and a recording sheet for practicing idioms

Follow the Clues: St. Patrick’s Day Edition: fun game for practicing descriptive language and inferencing

St. Patrick’s Day Build Your Own Bingo: love these for vocabulary, describing, inferencing, and following directions

St. Patrick’s Day Comprehension and Bubble Map Sheets: great for reading comprehension and using graphic organizers to describe

23Feb2016

I use interactive books almost everyday with my preschoolers so I am constantly making and putting together new ones! I use two styles of interactive books with my students. One style has the interactive picture symbols along the bottom of the page like the book below. The other style has the pictures along the right side of the book. This how to focuses on how to assemble a book in the style with the pictures along the bottom of the page.Where Questions Vehicle Book Actual Picture smallMaterials needed: printer, laminate, adhesive velcro, scissors, book rings or binding coils

Step 1: Print out all the pages of the book. Cut along the dotted lines near the bottom of the pages. Cut out the picture symbols. Do NOT cut the page that has blank squares along the bottom.

Do Not CutStep 2: Laminate all pages. Place rough-sided velcro on the picture symbols and soft-sided velcro on the blank squares throughout the book.

2013-12-09 08.31.35Step 3: Decide whether you would like to assemble the book with book rings or with binding spines. If you are using book rings, either use a two-hole punch or a hole puncher to punch two holes in the upper 2/3rds of the book. Then use book rings to assemble the book. The full-size page with the blank squares along the bottom is the last page of the book.

2013-12-09 08.41.14Step 4: Place the picture symbols on the blank squares on the last page of the book. Your book is ready to go! Have fun reading it and seeing how engaged your students can be with interactive pieces!

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I have interactive books that cover dozens of themes and language concepts! To see all the interactive book sets available click here!

Communication Window Books