A Brand New Challenge!
I love a challenge! Challenges help us strive to be better, reach higher, do more with the gifts we have already been given. I have accepted many challenges over the years–athletic, academic, professional and personal. Challenges (especially the long-term ones) can often result in great reward. Probably the greatest challenge I ever accepted was becoming a mother—one that I look forward to each and every day! My job as a speech pathologist is definitely a challenge–one that helps me continue to develop and grow. I love what I do and hope to continue to better myself professionally with each new student I meet.
So here is my latest challenge—I decided to try my hand at blogging! Although I feel confident in my creativity and ability to convey a message in writing, my familiarity with technology is limited. To start a blog, a little skill in this area would be helpful! I have already been challenged by widgets, codes, plug-ins and tags—words that weren’t in my lexicon a week ago! So here I go. Hopefully I will find the patience and time to figure it all out. I have a plan and a purpose, so at least that’s a good start! Here’s to my brand new challenge….and my first ever blog post!
A New School Year is Here—Time to Make the Lunches!
I asked my son today if he was excited to start the new school year. His response was a half-hearted, “I guess.” I reassured him that third grade is going to be an exciting, new adventure, and that he is going to have a great year! I think the pep talk was more for me than for him. It seems just as hard for many of us parents to get back in that old school routine as is it is for our children. One part of that routine, for many of us, is the ritual of making the school lunches. It was so nice to forget about packing that daily sandwich, drink and snack during the summer months. (Some parents opt out of the brown bag lunch and choose to let their kids buy the school lunch. While some of the choices provided are decent, I find myself cringing at the sight of the off-grey colored chicken nuggets and mushy, overcooked broccoli pieces that are sometimes served.)
Today I want to share a different alternative to the run-of- the-mill pbj or ham and cheese. Our kids need nutrient-dense, whole foods that will provide them with energy, focus and brain power to get them through the long school days ahead. And while many parents tell me that their kid is a” picky eater” and “would never try that for lunch,” I say, give them another chance. Get them involved in the lunch making process. Inform them and educate them about the foods they are eating. And most importantly—set the example!! Let your kids see YOU making healthy food choices. Teach them to eat “the rainbow” (orange, red green and yellow fruits and veggies). Don’t give up on them after one trial of a food. Present it to them again and again. Experts say it could take 15-20 trials of a food before a child decides if he truly likes or dislikes it. Taste is influenced by the foods we were exposed to in our formative years. If your child never ate peas as a toddler, then he is going to probably be resistant as a seven year old. You are going to have to “retrain” his palate, so to speak, to accept this new taste. By age two, my son ate broccoli rabe like it was chocolate cake! I exposed him early and he acquired a taste for it quickly.
So here is a great back to school favorite in our house. The Turkey-Tortilla Wrap. I make this often and you can make many variations on this idea. You can find all the ingredients for this wrap at one of my favorite supermarkets, Trader Joe’s. Substitute a different meat, veggie or spread, but keep it healthy–low in sodium, low in fat and high in nutritional value, so their young minds and bodies can grow strong!! Let me know if the wrap was a hit with your kids—feedback is always welcome and appreciated!
Turkey Tortilla Wrap
1. Start with a whole wheat tortilla. Wraps are high in fiber and can be found in almost every grocery store. They are also priced very reasonably.
2. You can always use mustard or mayo, but get the biggest nutritional bang for your buck by spreading on some delicious store bought or home-made hummus. Hummus is made with chick peas, tahini (sesame seeds) garlic and canola oil. **Stay tuned for “how to make hummus” in a future blog.
Here’s your “SPEECH SNACKS”:
“Speech Snacks” are suggested ways to work on articulation and language incorporating food or food-themed activities.
Today we are focusing on the /t/ sound:
- According to developmental speech and language charts, most boys can produce the /t/ by age 3.6 (three years, six months) and most girls by age four. The /t/ is produced by placing the tip of the tongue behind the upper teeth on the alveolar ridge (the bumpy part on the roof of the mouth). Pull the tongue tip down quickly while releasing a little burst of air through the teeth.
- When making your wrap with a child who is learning to acquire this sound, model the following key words and phrases: TURKEY, TORTILLA, TOOTHPICK, TOGETHER, TASTE, TOMATOES, TRY IT, TWO PIECES.
- Have your child watch you as you model the sound, the words, the phrases. This is called Auditory Bombardment or Stimulation and it plays an important part in sound acquisition. The task of repeating the target sound over and over again helps their brains create the necessary associations in the motor planning area that will eventually be responsible for producing the sound. So bombard away with all the /t/ words you can think of while making your Turkey Tortilla !!
…and the /r/ sound:
- I find the /r/ sound to be the most challenging of all sounds to teach and correct. There are several variations of the /r/ depending on where it is in a word (beginning, middle or ending).
Every SLP has their own “bag of tricks” for eliciting an /r/. Here are a few of the ways I have found success, however what might work for one child, doesn’t always work for another, depending on which way of producing /r/ is most natural for the child.
- One technique I like to use to teach placement/positioning for this sound is ”the gargle.” If your kiddo can gargle, this little trick can helps place the tongue in the correct position for an /r/.
- Another technique is to cue the child to “bite down, smile and say ‘r’”.
- Another trick–Telling students to put their tongues “up, back, and fat” to elicit “er”. The tip of the tongue goes up and back and the sides of the tongue become fat, that is, they touch the top teeth on each side ( the molars) . I tell them to rub or bite their molars with the sides of their tongue. Using a lollipop to stimulate this area first is often helpful. I liken the positioning to a butterfly’s wings. This is called the Butterfly technique—it’s is a great strategy that the amazing Pamela Marshalla teaches.
- Teach your student to growl! Place a /g/ in front of the /r/and have child say “grrrrr”, then words ending in /er/ such as “teachgrrr” “teacherrrr”. Talking like a pirate (“aahhhhrrrrg!) is another way of explaining it. For both examples, I tell them to feel the sound in the back of their throat.
- Practice “eureka”, “you’re-right”, “you’re-reading”, etc. “eureka” I love this approach, which I found in an old article from Advance Magazine for Speech-Language Pathologists. this method sets the tongue up for a good retroflexed /r/ by starting with a /y/ sound. This can evolve into /y/ words (you’re) and then /y/ plus /r/ words. (you’re right, you’re ready). Eventually “you’re can be dropped as the /r/ begins to develop.
- Use a dumdum lollipop to push tongue up and back and round tip of tongue around it. Dum-Dums are great for teaching placement and awareness!
When making your turkey wrap, practice the following /r/ words at the word level, in phrases and sentences: TURKEY, TORTILLA, WRAP, ROLL, FLOUR, SPREAD, LAYER.
Recipes, especially simple ones, are a great way to work on language skills like sequencing steps and direction following.
- Ask your child what you did first, next, last.
- Print out the pictures above and use them to sequence the steps.
Now take the pictures away and see what they can remember on their own, without the visual cues.
- Talk about ”half” and “whole” after you cut the wrap.
- Use verbs like “spread”, “roll”, ”cut” to build vocabulary and sentences as you prepare the wrap together.
As a follow-up to this recipe, read stories together that contain the target sound you have addressed. Here are some of my favorites:
Stories that contain the /t/ sound:
The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss
Frog and Toad Together by Arnold Lobel
Stories to practice that contain the /r/ sound:
Michael Recycle by Ellie Bethel
Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn
Arthur’s Reading Race by Marc Brown