Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

S’mores Crispies Campfire Treats—{with “SpeechSnacks” for a camping auditory memory game}

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There truly is a day/month for celebrating EVERYTHING!  Did you know June is National Great Outdoors Month! (The President of the United States even made an official proclamation!)… and August 10th is National S’mores Day!! 

So in celebration of  the event, I have a “speechsnack” to share with you that clearly represents the outdoorsy spirit!   One of my family’s favorite summertime foods is a treat we’ve enjoyed at the beach, around a campfire and simply while grilling in our own backyard—-S’MORES!!!  But I also know that it is not the healthiest of treats on the planet either, so I’ve tweaked the traditional recipe just a bit to make myself feel a little better about devouring this sweet indulgence.

I’ve included a quick and simple two -page print out for an auditory memory/listening game that is fun and challenging !  It’s also a great way to learn what important items you would need to bring on  a camping trip.  Did I leave any out?????   It’s a great way to pass the time while driving to your favorite vacation destination too.  

Special thanks to the folks at Smarty Ears—I used their awesome Custom Boards app to create this set of game cards!  Don’t forget to check them out—-an app well worth the price that you will use time and time again!!

Download your set of 24 Camping Cards for Memory Game here!!

 

 

I’m bringing a ________________when I go camping!!!!  

  • Cut the cards apart and put them into a pile.  Choose the top card and use it in the sentence above.  The next player takes a card and must remember what you are bringing and add the item on their card.  Play continues until someone forgets what item go bring camping.
  • Players earn mini marshmallows for remembering the camping items when its their turn.  They can thread them onto the uncooked spaghetti strand and it will look like a roasting skewer.  The winner is the player with the most marshmallows on their stick!!

 

S’MORES CRISPIES

This recipe is extremely kid-friendly, which means that the kiddos can make most of the recipe themselves (with your supervision of course—and you will definitely have to do the first step for them which requires use of the stove to melt the butter)

When the recipe is completed, ask your kids to repeat the steps, recall the ingredients and describe all the tastes and textures they experienced while helping prepare this treat!!

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-natural graham crackers, (be sure to check ingredients for crackers free of partially hydrogenated oils) broken into small pieces—definitely a job for the young chefs!!!
  • 2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
  • 1 cup Ricemellow Crème—I love, love , love this stuff!!  (available in Whole Foods and other natural foods stores)
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate) of your choice: semi-sweet,
    dark, milk, white, grain-sweetened

 

  • Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in the butter and heat until just melted.
  • Spoon in the marshmallow cream, and stir until melted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remove from the heat and quickly stir in the cereal and graham crackers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for the fun part the kiddos can handle…….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Fold in the chocolate with a spoon.—-or if you prefer, USE YOUR HANDS!   What kid doesn’t love playing with their food!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture into an 8-inch square pan
    coated with cooking spray or butter, pressing down to create an even top—OR, again, USE YOUR HANDS!  Let the kids press and pat down the mixture with their hands and fingers..
  • Refrigerate until firm before cutting into bars.
  • Dig in and enjoy your very own campfire treat without the need for an open fire—-and a little less mess!

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Summertime Sorting and Tropical Salsa!

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Happy Summer!!!  This week, I’m revisiting a popular summer recipe that I posted last year—-but this time, I’ve added a great sorting/vocabulary building FREEBIE–”Summertime Sorting with Tropical  Vocabulary.”   You can download the activity by visiting my TpT store here.      This warm-weather recipe is a fun way to get the kiddos to work on following directions, sequencing steps and learning about a variety of green herbs and all things tropical.     I’ve  posted a video of me and the cutest five-year-old ever making the salsa together!  Watch the video for ways you can incorporate “teachable moments” while preparing this summer snack at home with your own children!!      

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I used my Custom Boards app (by Smarty Ears) to create this activity.  Cut out and laminate all pieces for durability.

Using the sorting template provided by this app, I customized two “mats” with the labels TROPICAL and NOT TROPICAL.   Beneath the mats are several pictures of objects which fall into one of the two categories.  .  Students must label the object and then place it on the correct space.    Then, use the sample sentence at the top of the page to have the student put the word into a good sentence.   There are two pages of this type included.  Page one includes the question: “Which ones are tropical?” along with the sentence: “A ______ is a tropical _______.” Page two uses the question: “Which ones are NOT tropical?” as well as an accompanying sentence: “A _____ is a cold-climate _______.”

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Pages three and four are higher-leveled sorting tasks which use words (adjectives) instead of pictures.  The student must sort the synonyms and antonyms for “tropical” and “not tropical.”  Additionally, ask your students to use the adjectives to form complete sentences. 
 
Tropical Pineapple-Cilantro Salsa
 

Prepare the following ingredients:

1/2 chopped sweet red pepper,

1/2 minced/chopped red onion,

1/2 freshly squeezed lime,

1 handful of fresh, chopped cilantro,

1 half pineapple, cored and chopped in bite-size pieces,

1/2 jalapeno pepper (optional),

one dash of salt

 

Combine all ingredients. Mix well. Serve chilled with tortilla chips.

Don’t forget to check out the video for ways to teach language skills while preparing the salsa with your kiddos:

  • What does “tropical” mean?
  • Can you name some tropical countries? tropical fruits?
  • What are herbs? Can you name some herbs? (The summertime is a great opportunity to grow an herb garden with your children—if you are short on space, you can grow a small indoor herb garden and keep near a window)
  • Name some citrus fruits.
  • Have your children recall the sequence of steps and ingredients used for this recipe once you have  finished making it.  Remember to use key words to help them organize their thoughts: FIRST ,NEXT, THEN ,LAST

 

 

 

 

How to use SPOT IT! and FLAPZ! in speech therapy—A Review and Summer Giveaway!!

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I hope you will soon find yourself relaxing by a pool, beach, or some place refreshing and enjoyable as we begin the summer season!  And while many of us educators find ourselves “decompressing” after the long school year, we also have future therapy plans and ideas brewing in the back of our minds. After all , you can take the SLP (or teacher) out of the school, but you can’t take the school out of the SLP!  So here are a couple of fun games from the awesome toy and game company, Blue Orange Games to add to your repertoire in the new school year! (which we all know comes back around all too quickly!)  These games would also make great icebreaker activities for the start of the school year or quick and meaningful activities to fill the last few minutes of a session.  And I’ve come up with a few ways to change the rules and tailor the games to meet various speech/language goals.

 

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First up—-Spot it! by Blue Orange Games.  (retails for $12.99)

This very generous company sent me a copy of the games to review and will award a second copy of each to one lucky give away winner!!!)

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This game features 55 travel-sized circle shaped cards.  The game is appropriate for 2-8 players, age 7 to adult.  The game comes packaged in a nifty, compact metal container. There are five possible ways to play. Games include “The Tower,” “The Well,” “Hot Potato,”  “The Poisoned Gift and “Triplet.”   There is only one matching symbol between ANY 2 CARDS in this game. If you “Spot it”, you win! There are only 8 symbols on each card, but 2 matching symbols may be different sizes. This challenge increases as new cards are quickly revealed. The main objective of the game is to be the first player to find the one symbol that matches the other card. This game is great for developing visual-perceptual and matching skills and quick mental processing! Spot it! was a Toy of the Year (TOTY) NomineeParents’ Choice Gold Award winner and Dr. Toy 10 Best Games winner.

 

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But that’s not all…..I’ve found several ways to address speech/language goals while playing this game.  Place cards in a pile and have each students draw one card.  After responding to the targeted goal, the student gets to keep the card.

1–For articulation goals: Find the picture(s) on your card that contain your speech sound– practice at the word level or use in a sentence.

2–For auditory memory and recall: Therapist names 3,4,5, etc. pictures.  Student must remember and repeat the names of the pictures in correct order (let student see rhe card for visual support or take the card away and have them recall words without visual cues).

3–For reasoning, creative thinking and identifying common attributes:  Find two pictures on your card or between two different cards that have something in common and explain what is similar about them?  My students really impressed me with some of their responses for this task. ie: ”A cactus and pencil have something in common–they are both pointy”  and “A person and clock both have hands and a face.”   I loved how they were thinking creatively and in both concrete and abstract terms!

4–For describing skills:  Ask student to give three clues about a picture—the other player must guess the correct picture/symbol.

5–For sentence building/story building: Pick 2,3,4 objects and use them to create a coherent, cohesive sentence or story.  It could present quite a challenge to find a common connection or creative way to connect the different pictures so that your story makes sense!!

Can you think of other ways to use this game in your sessions???

 

 

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Next up…FLAPZ by Blue Orange Games (this game retails for $8.99)

Flapz is a great travel game (hint, hint–for those of you needing something fun–and non-electronic–to keep the kiddos busy on the long car ride to your summer destinations!) The game contains 96 “challenges” including storytelling, rhyming and memory tasks.  I LOVE that this game is made from eco-friendly, recycled material AND it soooo brings back my childhood memories of making my very own homemade  ”cootie catchers!”  Flapz is appropriate for ages 7 and up and for 2 or more players.

 

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Game rules are simple—Student/player #1 asks player/student #2 to choose a number from one to twelve.  Let’s say player #2 chooses 5. Player #1 will fold/unfold the Flapz five times. Then player #2 must choose a color from the four colors. Let’s say player #2 chooses blue.   Open the Flapz fold to expose the colored dots.  Then, count out the number they have chosen again.  If the number was 5, for example, count five dots.  For the colored dot you land on, open the flap to reveal the “challenge.”    Each colored flap contains 12 challenges.   Read the challenge and have the student execute it.  That’s it—simple, fun fast-paced and entertaining!

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Here’s how I would use this game in my speech/language sessions:  There are several challenges for each color.  Students can carry out one challenge if it is detailed and lengthy OR  have  your student carry out more than one challenge.  This would be a great way to address auditory memory/listening and comprehension skills.   Give the appropriate number of challenges depending on student’s level of functioning.   Have them repeat the information back and then execute the steps. Additionally, this is a great game for  your articulation and fluency students since many of the tasks require creative, thoughtful and lengthy responses.

Here’s an example of a few challenges:

1–Think of a four-syllable word and say it out loud.   (great for vocabulary building and phonological awareness skills)

2–Imitate an animal of your choice until the others guess it. (great for word finding and categorization) 

3–Describe, in detail, a party you would like to be invited to. (great for articulation/fluency and describing skills)

4–Close your eyes, stand on one food and touch your nose. (great for direction following and sequencing)

 

I hope these fun games have won you over—I have certainly found them to be valuable and versatile activities!    Now you have a chance to own BOTH of them yourself!! You’ll be all set with some fun games to use in your summer therapy sessions or as a great icebreaker to start off the school year and beyond!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win BOTH!

(The opinions expressed in this review were solely mine.  Blue Orange Games provided me with a copy of each game as well as a copy to give away—no other compensation was provided.)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Is it time to “move your cheese?” Reflections on a School Year.

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I love cheese—all types!  From Cheddar to Swiss and Brie to Pecorino-Romano!  I’m a foodie so I experiment with a variety of cheeses  in my cooking and  I’m an Italian-American so I can’t resist the urge to add mozzarella and Parmesan to many of my dishes!  And although I am a speech therapist, whose blog incorporates food with therapy ideas, today I’m not really writing about cheese, per se. Instead I am going to share a book about “cheese”— Who Moved My Cheese?that is.  A simple, short and metaphorical story written by author Spencer Johnson, M.D.  Have you read this book?  If not, I would highly recommend that you add it to your summer reading list.  I read it last year and found that the message was inspirational and life-changing in regards to my career path.  And with the school year coming to a close,  you may find yourself reassessing where you will be working in September, unsure of where you will be placed or maybe just unhappy with your current placement and in search of change—this is where I found myself last year, until I “moved my cheese!”

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Who Moved My Cheese? is a parable about four “beings” that live in a maze.  Two are mice named Sniff and Scurry and two are little people who are the size of mice named Hem and Haw.  ”Cheese” is a metaphor for what you want to have in life—whether it is a good job, money, health, relationship or peace of mind.   The “Maze” is where you look for what you want–whether it be at your place of work, in your family or community.  In the story the characters are faced with unexpected change.  One of them deals with it successfully and writes what he has learned on the maze walls.  The “writing on the wall”  teaches you to deal with change and enjoy less stress and more success in your life. The point of the story is that we have to be alert to changes in the “cheese,” and be prepared to go running off in search of new sources of cheese when the cheese we have runs out.

 

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I have worked part time for the past several years in a clinic setting with preschoolers (a decision I made so that I could spend time raising a family and being actively involved in my son’s school). But I found myself at a crossroads a year ago.  I had finished my tenure as PTA President, my “baby” was getting ready to turn 10 years old, and I was ready to work more hours. I also wanted a manageable caseload, manageable paperwork and a job close to home that would allow me to still drop off and pick up my son before and after school.  Sound a bit selective and maybe impossible to find??  Well, guess again…

Prior to having my son, I worked as a full time SLP in a public school setting for many years.  I worked with middle and high school students and traveled to several school within the course of the week.  My highest caseload consisted of almost 120 students!!  (No, I am not exaggerating!!)  Most students were classified with language impairments.  Many had to be placed into groups of 3, 4 and 5 in order to fit them all into my schedule.  The paperwork was beyond suffocating. In one school, I worked in a supply closet—it had no ventilation, no windows and was isolated from any other part of the building. In another school I was given a room to work in that was truly unfit for conducting therapy.  It was a small room off the kitchen. The heat of the kitchen poured into my small space.  The clanging of pots and pans constantly echoed into my “room.”  The cafeteria was connected to this space.  I had to work with students during various lunch times—the noise was unbearable.  I was seven months pregnant at the time.  My hormones were out of whack and most days I just wanted to cry and run away from the chaotic space where I struggled to provide effective therapy.

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Fast forward several years later.  I was ready to find something new.  I didn’t want to be back in the hot “sweat box” room!   I reminded myself that this scenario could not be repeated!!   So instead of settling for the first thing that came along, this time, I was selective—I decided it was time to “move my cheese.”  Although I think a little luck and good timing were definitely on my side, I found my cheese!  It’s a small private school.  The case load is extremely manageable.  I am delivering quality services to my students.  I am truly making a difference—not just providing a band aid!  The hours are conducive to drop off and pick up times for my own child and the location is a short distance from my home.  And the staff and students are the best, they have been a blessing to work with and I enjoy getting to know them!  And while I still work with the preschoolers at the clinic on a limited basis, my new position has been the highlight of this past year.

After reading this book I realized that sometimes there is no compromise for a quality work environment and the peace of mind that you are doing the job you were trained to do.   If you are considering a change but afraid to take that initial step, unhappy with your current work conditions, questioning whether you are able to deliver the best possible services to the children you are seeing, then it may be time for you to “move your cheese” too!   Be true to yourself and you won’t regret it!   Oh, and you might just wind up with a room that has windows as an added bonus!

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Disclaimer:  This post is not intended to speak negatively about the public school setting!  Public schools are a great place to learn and work—my son attends public school and my husband is the principal of one!  I am sharing a specific experience and a personal opinion.  I also realize that the job market is sometimes a difficult one and when offered a job, we must think about the needs of our families and financial necessity.   ”Moving your cheese” means different things to different people–this is just my interpretation and personal experience.

 

 

Answering a Call to Help Others—and a teachable moment.

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On May 20th, an EF5 tornado left behind total devastation and destruction in the town of Moore, Oklahoma.   It also destroyed two elementary schools and severely damaged a junior high school in the Moore Public School District. Many businesses and homes were also destroyed or sustained damaged.

Fortunately, the human spirit is strong and resilient.  The human spirit is also generous, giving and ready to assist when others are in need.   That spirit is definitely alive and well in the hearts of many speech-language pathologists!  When fellow blogger Amy Minor, a speech therapist in the Moore Public Schools told her  “speech friends” that four SLP’s lost all of their precious speech materials, we answered loud and clear!  You can view Amy’s speech blog (Major Speech Pathology Fun by a Minor Girl) and her post on the tornado relief effort here.

SLP’s across the country have donated materials from their TpT stores to raise money to replace speech materials.   The campaign,  “Two ‘Moore’ Ways to Support SLPs” contains  two ”bundles” of  amazing therapy materials available for purchase.  Each bundle is priced at $15 (however the actual value of each bundle is over $100).  ALL proceeds will go into an account to help replace materials and classroom items for those speech pathologists affected. Please consider purchasing one of these fantastic bundles of materials—you will be getting a great head start on the new school year and helping other educators in need!  (I donated two items from my TpT store to this relief effort, found in “Bundle #2).   This fundraiser starts June 1st and will run until the end of the month.

The SLPsCare group has also set up a FB page that you can find HERE.

Additionally, many SLP’s are sending “care packages” containing their  TpT products to the SLP’s in Moore.  I was more than happy to participate in this effort.  I also thought it would be a great teachable moment for my students—-a lesson in giving and helping those in need.

My students are no strangers to community service projects and helping others.  When our beloved New Jersey shoreline was devastated by Hurricane Sandy last October, our school came to the rescue of another school that received serious damage.  You can check out the blog post I wrote about that experience here!  

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My middle school and high school students helped me laminate, cut and package four copies of an item in my TpT store.  (My school principal even donated several math curriculum manuals developed by our staff!!)  I chose to send them a product I named “Ladybug Picnic.”   Ladybugs, in case you didn’t know, are a symbol of good luck!  I couldn’t think of a more appropriate message to send to our friends in Oklahoma!   “JERSEY STRONG!”  has become a popular motto in the Great Garden State (NJ) in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. We have rebuilt our shoreline and bounced back despite the forces of Mother Nature.  May the Oklahoma Sooners become “SOONER STRONG!”  and be filled with the hope that they too will have brighter days ahead!

 

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I also incorporate vocabulary and factual information about tornadoes into our speech/language therapy sessions this past week.

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First, we used a fact-filled game created by Mallory Mahon called “Tornado Alley.”   The game comes with some suggestions for use, however I tailored it to the goals of my students. I used the fact cards to target auditory memory and listening skills —we addressed strategies for good listening (rehearsal, reauditorization, visualization) for the sentence fact  cards.  For other cards, I asked the student to paraphrase/summarize the information in their own words.  We used the game board and a dice cube to move around the board and get to the tornado shelter.    This game is absolutely FREE in her store, so go and get your copy! 

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I also used one of my favorite “go-to” sites for finding leveled reading passages.

Readworks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Readworks.com offers a FREE membership and access to tons of reading passages for many grade levels and various topics of interest. The passages also include story comprehension questions and answer keys!  What a great resource!

I found several passages on tornadoes.  We read one entitled “Twister Touchdown” and another shorter passage entitled “Earth Science-Tornadoes.”   We used Mallory’s tornado game board while answering questions from these stories.

If you are an SLP or teacher, did you address this past’s weeks newsworthy and weather-related story in your lessons?   Please consider donating to this wonderful cause.  It will make the difference to so many!

 

 

 

 

 

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