Best Year Ever TpT Bonus Sale—and a “foodie” tip to keep you organized!


bts promo 2016

Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Best Year Ever Bonus Sale on Monday, August 22.  By using the code OneDay at checkout, you can save 28% off of everything in my store, SpeechSnacks.

The Frenzied SLPs are hosting a linky party to share some great materials and tips for starting the year out right. So here’s my tip–GET ORGANIZED!  That means YOU as well as your students—and I have something that fits the bill for both!

 The adjustment back to the old school routine requires me to reorganize my thoughts, my daily pace, my overall mindset. I always put myself in the shoes of my students when the new school year begins. If I  find it a little tricky to readjust, I can only image how challenging it must be for many of my students! So many of them need to strengthen those all important EXECUTIVE FUNCTIONING skills—and back to school transitions definitely present a true challenge!

Applying executive function skills like organizing materials and setting up a time management system will contribute to a positive attitude toward school.   Sometimes a little helpful guidance is needed in getting this accomplished!  This is where the speech-language pathologist can help make a difference.  As SLPs, we are aware of various tips and strategies that will help students improve time management, organization of space and materials, planning and setting goals.

I have made those strategies into a fun board game that can be used in the beginning of the school year (or any time you need to address executive functioning strategies with your students): “Back to the Books!

cover page bts

To play: SLP reads the 36 Executive Functioning strategy cards to the students as they take turns answering questions/listening to tips related to preparation, time management, organization and good listening strategies.


bts collage



To accompany the game, I created an  organizational tool meant for home use and as a communication tool between student, parent and educator.

cover page student planner
Unlike the school homework planner that many students receive from their school district, this planner breaks down and organizes a student’s after school routine by the hour, day, week and month. A cover page, project planner, homework chart , reward coupons, daily reminder checklist and subject labels are included.

Included in this packet:

bts blog pix



  • Letter to the parents (explains the purpose of the planner and how to use it at home with their child.
  • Three different versions of a cover page were created so students can decide which theme best suites their personality.
  • Monday –Friday home organization pages to keep track of homework/activities and the time needed for each. These pages address time management to help students become more aware of how much time they realistically need to complete tasks. Spaces are provided for estimated vs actual times needed for tasks.
  • Fill in this chart with tasks that need to occur in your morning routine. You can fill it in the NIGHT BEFORE to get an idea of what your morning should LOOK LIKE in advance! Did you lay out your clothes? Make your lunch? Check your book bag? Consider doing THESE things BEFORE bed!
  • What does my WEEK look like? Fill in the Key graphics: Fill in the tests, projects and other tasks that need to get done during the week.
  • What does my MONTH look like? Fill in at the beginning of each month. Color code each task Fill in at the beginning of each month or on a weekly basis as you gather more information about your month. Color code each task using the key provided.
  • Sample calendar provided as a visual example of how you might set up your calendar.
  • Project organizer—Although students generally receive a rubric when assigned a class project, this organizer addresses some practical areas that a class rubric may not include (estimated time needed to complete, steps required to start and complete project)
  • Homework completion chart .Color in one star for every homework assignment completed each day. Decide how many stars will earn a reward at the end of the week.
  • Homework coupons for home use. Two pages of original reward ideas and one page of blank coupons to fill in with reward ideas created by student. Students can cut out and submit coupons (after working out a reward system agreed upon by their parents.
  • Home organization reminders. This graphic is a check list that students should review after school and before bed time to help prepare for the next day.
  • 6 Subject black/white labels (math, spelling, writing, social studies, science, reading) that can be color-coded according to student’s needs and used for organizing home folders, dividers, containers or for use on school notebooks, folders, book covers.
  • Blank labels also included.

I’ve bundled this product, so if you’re interested in buying them together for an even greater value, you can find it here!



So now for YOUR organizational/ executive functioning “foodie” tip.    I have a tip to help us busy SLPs keep our morning routines a little less stressful and lot healthier!  I absolutely LOVE using mason jars for so many purposes.  I found this idea floating around Pinterest quite a bit this summer, so it may look familiar—prepare your breakfasts and lunches in advance and have them ready to go in the morning!  Give this idea a try and you will be an executive functioning queen!!!


Oats aren’t just meant to be eaten hot!  Cold oats have been all the rage lately!  I enjoyed consuming these creations all summer long.  They are a great warm-weather food and can certainly be eaten any time of year!    Not only are they delicious, good for you and filling, they are quick and easy to make and the instant grab and go breakfast!  Make these the night before and you’ll have creamy oats and fruit for breakfast in the morning.   There are so many combinations you can create.  The ones above include layers of bananas, strawberries, peaches and blueberries.

To make overnight oats:

  • Pour one cup of old fashion oats (not quick oats or steel-cut) into a clean pint size mason jar.
  • Add an equal amount of liquid (skim milk, whole milk, almond, coconut or any other form of milk that you prefer.
  • Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon and a splash of pure vanilla extract on top and stir.
  • Layer the remaining jar with sliced fruit of your choice.
  • Top with a drizzle of honey (optional.)
  • Secure lid and let sit overnight in the fridge.
  • Enjoy in the morning!!!!

For more mason jar overnight oats ideas, check out some ideas here and here!!



I carried the mason jar theme into lunch time and prepare salads for several days in advance!  The key to a fresh salad is to pour your dressing on the bottom first!  I keep it simple and make a dressing from freshly squeezed lemon, olive oil and salt/pepper.   Thinner dressings will mix more easily than a thicker dressing such as Ranch or Blue Cheese.   I add my protein source next (usually cubed chicken or cheese).  Next add in your firm veggies (shredded carrots, pepper slices, tomatoes).   For some crunch, I like to add slivered almonds or walnut pieces.  I also love to add a little sweetness, so dried fruit like cranberries and cherries are a favorite of mine. Finally, add your lettuce greens (romaine, arugula, spinach, etc.)   Seal the lid and you have a healthy, great tasting lunch to look forward to.   When ready to eat, turn your jar upside down to allow the dressing to evenly distribute and mix throughout the jar.  When I have a great lunch to look forward to, it helps get me through the second half of my day!    Looking for more mason jar salad ideas?  Check these out!

Check out some more great products and quick tips in The Frenzied SLP Blogger Linky below!!!

Blogger link for linky:

Turning the “Summer Slide” into the “Summer Climb!”

summer slide

Although I still have the entire month of August to look forward to before returning to school, I know many parts of the country are quickly gearing up for their return in the next week or two.   Honestly, I’m still trying to get my bearings on my summer routine.  I worked in my school’s summer program from the end of June (when the regular school year finished) until the end of July!  The program was four days per week and our day started very early (8 a.m.) and finish early (1 p.m.).  I took off my “speech therapist” hat (although we really never do take that hat off, do we?) and put on my “writing teacher” hat!  That’s right, this speechie functioned as a full-fledged writing teacher this summer!   I saw small groups of students back to back, for 80 minute sessions.  At the end of many days I was tired, exhausted,   energized (actually all of the above).  The students rotated to three different sessions during their day—writing, reading, and science/recess.  Once these sessions were finished, many of the students went home, while others stayed for an hour of tutoring in math.   Although this program may sound pretty intense, it is exactly what so many children could benefit from during their summer break in order to avoid the “summer slide” and help them achieve a “summer climb!”

Research shows that while students make similar progress during the school year, regardless of economic status, the better-off kids held steady or continued to make progress during the summer–but disadvantaged students fell back. By the end of grammar school, low-income students fall nearly three grade levels behind, and summer was the biggest culprit.  Summer vacation is among the most damaging (and least acknowledged) causes of achievement gaps in America’s schools. While many economically advantaged children have experiences that keep their minds and bodies actively learning (camps, vacations, museums, libraries and enrichment classes),  children without resources find themselves bored, getting into compromising situations, sitting in front of glowing screens. By the time the new school year begins, the poorer kids have fallen weeks, if not months, behind. Even well-off American students may be falling behind their peers around the world after a summer away from the classroom.

This summer, one of the books on my own personal reading list was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.  I’m not sure what took me so long to check  this book off my list, but I’m glad I finally found some time to read it.  Chapter nine,  entitled  Marita’s Bargain, is an example of what happens when the “summer slide” is avoided.  The chapter  discusses an experimental school that was started in 1994, in the South Bronx (one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City) called the KIPP Academy (KIPP stands for Knowledge Is Power Program).    Students have a school day that begins at 7:45 a.m. and ends at 5 p.m.  Saturday’s they come to school from 9-1 pm and in the summer, they attend three extra weeks of school and their day goes from 8-2 pm.  They receive 90 minutes of English, 90 minutes of math, one hour each of science and social students, an hour of music twice per week and 75 minutes of orchestra in addition.  80% of these students have gone on to attend college!  There are now over 50 KIPP programs throughout the country making a difference in the lives and futures of many children!  This is a brief summary of the chapter, but I think you get the gist of it.

Last month, I was contacted by a local ad agency that asked if I would share the info graphic below on my blog and/or Facebook page.  Each month they discuss areas that would  appeal to their  client base when deciding what type of graphic to create. They agreed that summer education would be a worthwhile topic.  The ad agency works for a car dealership in my area, where many families shop for new cars in the summer.   What a great way to build greater awareness and conversation about the “summer slide”—posting visuals such as the one below serves as a reminder to parents and children regarding the importance of reading and continuing the learning process even when school is not in session.    Notice the statistics regarding summer learning vs. summer loss.  On the summer learning side of the graphic, it appears that parents and teachers are in agreement when it comes to the need to continue the learning process over the summer.  On the summer loss side of the graphic, the percentages reflect an overwhelming number of teachers spending a significant amount of time  re-teaching and reviewing  previously learned skills.


Summer Education Tips Infographic


 Back to my personal summer reading assignment, Outliers.  Chapter 9  also highlights the length of the school year in other countries in comparison to the United States.  In the U.S., the average school  year is 180 days. The South Korean school year is 220 days long and the Japanese school year is 243 days long.  So how does the  longer school year translate into greater academic success?   Answer: You have time to learn everything that needs to be learned, and less time to unlearn it!   When Japanese 12th graders were given a math test, they reported that they had learned 92% of the information previously in their classroom.  American 12th graders took the same test and reported learning only 54% of the information in school.   So the question posed is, Does America have a school problem or do we have a summer vacation problem?     

For our most challenged learners—the disadvantaged and the learning disabled,  imagine how much further behind they are than the average student!   As an SLP who has worked in a summer program, I hope I helped make a small difference to a few students.  Hopefully the organizational strategies,  writing prompt assignments and  grammar review exercises all helped maintain and/or advance their skill level.  Hopefully,  for some,  the “summer slide” was replaced by the” summer climb!”

Looking for ideas to help avoid the summer slide?  These suggestions span all ages/ability levels: 

  • Read EVERY day!  Read non-fiction, fiction, ebooks, poetry, newspapers and read out loud! For most children, twenty minutes is an appropriate amount of time to read for a child who is an independent reader. Most libraries have a wonderful summer reading program with incentives and rewards for books read over the summer.
  • Cook with your children.  This is one of the best ways to integrate math, reading and following directions.  Let your child design the menu too!  Help your child put together their favorite recipes in a cookbook.
  • Plant a garden.  Your child will gain responsibility and pride as they watch their plants grow and thrive.
  • Take a field trip to a museum, zoo or local park with walking trails.  Keep a journal about your travels.
  • Learn a new word each week!  Hang it on the fridge and see who can use it the most times throughout the week.
  • Enroll in a quality summer program that will provide your child with opportunities to build their critical thinking skills.
  • Play quick games with flashcards like Math War or Concentration to keep math skills sharp.
  • Listen to Audio Books during your road trip.
  • Take pictures and make a summer scrapbook.
  • Did I mention READ?!  If your child does nothing else this summer make sure he/she is reading!  (source:

So what are your thoughts on this topic?    Should the American public school system revamp the school day?  Should the school day become longer?  The school year extended?  Weekends added?  Should we instead include several short breaks distributed over the course of twelve months? How would it impact our daily routines (parents work schedules/students extracurricular /sports schedules?)  How would it benefit our speech/language caseloads?  Could we, as SLPs, become more effective therapists by having more time to address speech and language goals?  Could we dismiss students sooner?   Would an extended day/year create overload and burnout among teachers, parents and students?  I’d love to hear your comments!

What’s In Your Cart? TPT Back-to-School Linky Party!

I hope this post finds you all well rested and ready to get back into the swing of things. Personally, I have the entire month of August to gear up before returning, but I know many of you are ready to start back much sooner! TPT will be having a site-wide sale August 1-2 and the TPT SLPs are showing off their best therapy ideas. I’m joining a linky party hosted by Speech Room News to share my favorite back to school products for your middle and high school crowd (I know they are a tough audience but I think they will be happy with these fun and effective products from my store.) Don’t forget to use the promo code: BestYear to get up to 28% off all the products during the sale….and head back to Speech Room News to check out what other SLP TPT sellers are buying!
Here are my two favorite products for older students that address organization skills and problem solving with a back to school theme. I’ve received some great feedback from buyers as well as my own students.









And here are a few goodies that I need to add to my middle/high school“toolkit” for the upcoming school year.



Cariboo Comprehension Cards

Of course I love Cariboo (for older kids) I made a Cariboo-themed (vocabulary) product a few months ago just for them so they wouldn’t feel left out of the Cariboo craze! Then I recently stumbled upon another TpT seller (Speech Time Fun) who made a great comprehension game with Cariboo and knew I just had to have it!  Definitely a must-purchase item for your older students!!

Social Emotional Problem Solving



SLP Runner is one of my “favs” when it comes to products for middle/high school products. This is a newer product in her store and I know it will come in handy when addressing emotional regulation with older students.
Investigating Tier 2 Vocabulary




I’m always in need of materials for addressing Tier 2 Vocabulary and The Speech Owl has something that has caught my eye. Perfect for the middle school kiddos!
Have fun window shopping back at the linky home page hosted by Speech Room News and I hope you find many things to add to your cart and purchase!!! Have a great new school year!

Taking Therapy Outside! {The Frenzied SLPs}

frenzy outdoor pict

According to Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods,” students in the United States are suffering from “Nature Deficit Disorder.” This disorder stems from the long hours students spend in the classroom and home, which limits their exposure and experience with nature. Traditionally, sitting behind a desk was thought to be the most efficient way to learn, but new research is showing that spending time outdoors improves student behavior, attendance, and attitudes! Nature Deficit Disorder can lead to problems such as obesity, inattentiveness, and low academic performance. Being outdoors reduces student stress and fosters a deeper connection with the environment that is missing in the classroom. It also takes students away from the fatigue of sitting in a classroom and allows an alternative way for students to learn. This is especially important for students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, as studies have found spending time outdoors improves their ability to concentrate in school.

As an SLP who works primarily with middle and high school students, I find myself gravitating toward outdoor lessons as soon as the first warm days of spring start to find their way to my part of the country.  If you want to put a smile on your student’s faces, tell them you plan on holding the lesson outside! Often times, my students will start requesting that we take our lesson outside before I can even suggest it!   Most of my caseload is made up of boys. “Outdoors” is their middle name, in many cases. However, before I consider moving our therapy session to the great outdoors, I set some ground rules: #1- “We can hold our lesson outside if you agree to stick to the lesson”. Remind them that while it is enjoyable to have speech class outside, there is still a lesson to be taught. # 2-  If we can’t follow #1,then we can’t hold future lessons outside.  #3- If there are too many distractions (environmental sounds, bugs flying in the air, people walking by, etc.) and the lesson becomes ineffective, I remind them that we may need to reconsider having future lessons outside.

I am lucky enough to have access to  basketball hoops, picnic tables and walking paths around my school grounds so the following outdoors activities requires these accommodations.  I hope you find the ideas inspiring now that  warm spring days have finally arrived.


1—Play some hoops!


My student-athletes LOVE when I tell them we are going to play a game of “Horse” or “Around the World.”   For correct responses (related to any language skill or speech sound) I let them take shots at the net.  Here’s the rules for playing H-O-R-S-E  in case you are not familiar:  If the first person’s shot is missed, the second shooter may attempt any shot. If his/her shot is made, the opponent is obligated to duplicate it. Each time a shooter misses a shot that he/she attempted to duplicate, a letter is “awarded”. The game continues until one person accumulates 5 letters or H-O-R-S-E.  My competitive kiddos are motivated to take those free throw shots and we usually have a very productive lesson while working on those all important basketball skills.


Around the World is a similar basketball game.  Here are the rules:   Play typically starts at the edge of the key on one side of the basket. If the shot is made, the player advances to the next position mark on the key. When a player has made shots on every position mark (if a player misses a shot they may chance it and shoot again, and if they miss, they go back to the previous spot, or they may elect to stay where they are currently at), they then advance back in the opposite direction just like the way they came, and the player who does that first wins the game. After the player has moved around the key, the player must make a shot from the center of the three point line.  If at any point a shot is missed, a player may ‘chance’, meaning he gets to take a second shot. If the second shot is made, the player advances as normal. If the player misses the second shot, then the player must go back to the beginning. If player has made it to the other side of the three point line then he must make it twice. If the player chances then he may go back to the opposite side he started on game.  Once a player completes the entire sequence of shots, that player is deemed the winner of the basketball game.

2–Walk and talk

My school is surrounded by plenty of trees and open fields.  Take advantage of the scenery with your students and go on a little “field trip” around your school campus. Walking around the perimeter of the school grounds is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise and play a game of “I Spy.”   There are so many things to spy outdoors!   Use the game to address descriptive language and asking good questions with your language students.  For your articulation students, make the “I Spy” game center around finding outdoor objects that contain their target sound(s). Bring tangible positive reinforcement on your walk so they can keep track of how many items they guessed/described (paper flowers, suns, rocks found during your walk.)


3–”Photo Op”


Take your students on a walk around the school grounds, but this time, focus on the details in nature.  Ask your students to find interesting things to photograph.  If you are permitted and comfortable with the idea, allow them to snap pictures with your phone.   Once you have collected a sampling of various trees, leaves, birds, bugs, grass and rocks you will have your next lesson prepped and ready to go!  Use the photos to work on descriptive sentences, as story starters, articulation practice, asking WH questions, critical thinking…the possibilities are endless!  I have a student who has an amazing eye for photography and he enjoys this hobby in his free time.  We have recently started using some of his photos, as well as ones we have taken around the school grounds, to address his language goals. He is motivated, engaged and enjoys his speech sessions.  That’s saying a lot when you are working with middle schoolers!

4– Picnic table therapy


If you have an outdoor seating area at your school, you have an instant outdoor classroom.  A change of scenery, especially as we approach the end of the school year, may help keep you and your students happy and focused —and you can, and should, still stay true to your original therapy game plan.  Sitting in the grass can get uncomfortable.  The ground may be too wet if it rained the previous day.  Bugs in the grass can also be an annoying distraction.  A picnic table provides a great work space for playing a board game, writing on a hard surface, rolling dice, and placing books and papers.

Looking for more ways to work on speech and language in the great outdoors?   Check out some amazing SLP friends who have lots of inspirational ideas to share in the linky below!  Happy Spring!

Research sources:

  • Ditch the Desks: Action Plan for Taking the Classroom Outside By Ashley Schopieray
  • DC Schoolyard Greening. Why Use Your Schoolyard? Retrieved March 4, 2009 from
  •  Earth Day Network. Greening the Curriculum Retrieved March 4, 2009 from ~earthday/node/42.
  •  Tara Parker Pope (2009) Give Recess its Due. The New York Times. Retrieved March 4, 2009 from


Things SLPs Should Never Say {The Frenzied SLPs}


 The Frenzied SLPs never1

As SLPs,  we strive to be supportive and positive with our students while addressing their communication goals, so reflecting on not-so-positive words that may come up during our daily interactions took some thought.   What I concluded is that sometimes even positive words need to be used selectively, therefore, at the top of my list of “Things SLPs Should Never Say” I would list  the phrase, “Good Job!”  It  does seem contradictory to view a positive message as a negative one as well, however there are several reasons why.  I think it would be safe to say that “Good Job  is one of the most overused phrases in education (and in parenting as well.)  I’m guilty of using this phrase way too much myself (at home and at school) but I’m working on using more effective ways of  acknowledging my student’s and my own child’s behaviors and responses.  The phrase seems to naturally and automatically flow from our stream of thought and onto our lips, however there are several reasons we should reconsider using these two seemingly well-intentioned words.

1.  Students will come to expect it.    Mary Budd Rowe, a researcher at the University of Florida, discovered that students who were praised lavishly by their teachers were more tentative in their responses and more apt to answer in a questioning tone of voice.  They tended to back off from an idea they had proposed as soon as an adult disagreed with them, and they were less likely to persist with difficult tasks or share their ideas with other students.    “Good job!” doesn’t reassure children; ultimately, it makes them feel less secure. It may even create a vicious cycle such that the more we pile on the praise, the more kids seem to need it, so we praise them some more. By creating so-called “praise junkies” some kids will grow into adults who continue to need someone else to pat them on the back and tell them whether what they did was okay.

2.  It can interfere with how good a job children actually do. Researchers keep finding that kids who are praised for doing well at a creative task tend to stumble at the next task – and they don’t do as well as children who weren’t praised to begin with.  What kids do need is unconditional support with no strings attached, which is the opposite of praise. “Good job!” is conditional. It means we’re offering attention, acknowledgement and approval for doing things that please us.

3. There are better options:

  • Say nothing.  We often assume that a response must be “reinforced”  with an immediate verbal reward.   It is often the case that we want to praiseour kids don’t really need to hear it. Students do not (should not) expect to be praised all the time, so the next time you feel the urge to say “good job,” simply say nothing at all.  Observe if your students continues to provide responses and interactions despite the lack of praise.
  • Say what you saw. A simple praise-free statement  such as “You made that sound with your tongue in the right place.”  ”You put all those steps in the correct order” or even just  “You did it”  shows that your recognize their effort and success. It also lets your student take pride in what she did.  By doing this, you are providing  feedback, not judgment, about their response.
  • Talk less, ask more. Instead of offering the instant gratification of “Good Job” when a student provides a response, ask him further questions about his response and address higher level thinking.  Delving into follow up questions such as “who”, “what” , “when”, “where”, “why” and “how” will elicit further interest in their responses and grow a students interest and understanding of a topic.  Saying “Good job!”  may have exactly the opposite effect since it does not encourage further conversation.

4. Substitute other phrases for “Good job!”    My friend and fellow-SLP, Erik Raj,  wrote a post a while back entitled “25 Ways to Praise Students in Speech Therapy.”     He feels that the phrase “Good Job” is overused, becomes a bit monotonous, predictable and boring.  I agree with Erik! He created this FREE poster which includes 25 ways to praise your students. Download his freebie and keep it tucked away  in your planner or hung up in clear site.  The next time you offer positive verbal feedback to your students, remember to change it up and try out a few new praise-worthy words!

Are you curious what other SLPs are blogging about?  What other things should SLPs never say?   Check out their thoughts in the linky below!

Designed by Free Wordpress Themes and Sponsored by Curry and Spice

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: