Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Speech Buddies to the Rescue! {Product Review and GIVEAWAY!!}

PicMonkey Collage sp buddies

 

And the winner is….

With over 2100 entries, the winner of the Speech Buddies giveaway, via Rafflecopter’s random selection, is Natalie B. from Houston, Texas!!!!!

Thank you so much to everyone who participated in this giveaway!  Natalie has been an SLP since 2008 and  currently works in the public schools with elementary and middle school students, ages 3-15 years. Her caseload consists of a mix of language and articulation students.   Natalie also happens to be the author of the blog and face book page, Just Wright Speech, which she started in January 2013. If you want to visit her blog and say “congrats” you can visit her at : www.justwrightspeech.blogspot.com

So many of your stories tugged at my heart strings as you expressed how and why you could use Speech Buddies.  Many of you were parents and even more of you were speech-language pathologists.   Some of you said school budgets (or your own wallets) wouldn’t permit the purchase of these tools and others were just plain frustrated with slow progress, no progress or in search of another method of addressing speech sound placement.  Believe me, if I could, I would send a set of Speech Buddies to each and every one of you.  I thank you all for participating in this great giveaway!  I will be planning other giveaways and freebies in the future so please keep checking your face book page for updates!  Until next time, “Speak Well and Eat Well!”

 

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A few months ago, I had the opportunity to review Speech Buddies while working with one of my private therapy clients.  Today, thanks to the generosity of Articulate Technologies Inc., I have the pleasure to share with you a chance to receive your very own FULL SET of Speech Buddies tools (valued at $299!!)  Please be sure to follow the link to the review I  wrote (including a video demonstration from one of my therapy sessions.)

After reading the review, I hope you too will find this product to be a valuable addition to your bag of therapy tricks!

You can enter the rafflecopter  giveaway from Tuesday, March 12th through Tuesday, March 19th.

One winner will be notified and announced on my facebook page, website and via email.

Entrants must live in the United States—this includes Hawaii, Alaska, APO/AE, and Territories—- and be willing to share their mailing address.

I found it fitting to run this giveaway around St. Patty’s Day in hopes of giving everyone the “Luck of the Irish” —–GOOD LUCK!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Magic Squares…”They’re Magically Delicious!”

PicMonkey Collage lucky charms

This week I am using Lucky Charms cereal to create Magic Squares.  Although I don’t advocate indulging in sugary breakfast cereals, I do believe in “everything in moderation.”  This kid-centered , simple to make sweet treat is perfect for a St. Patty’s or Spring-themed party, home project or classroom activity.
Lucky Charms cereal has been around a long time (51 years to be exact)!  The cereal  has evolved over the years and the contents have changed with the times. The first boxes of Lucky Charms cereal contained marshmallows in the shapes of pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers.  Today you will find that several of the original marshmallow shapes no longer exist and have been replaced with new marshmallow charms such as hats, rainbows, balloons, pots of gold and horseshoes. The marshmallows are meant to represent Lucky’s (the leprechaun character on the cover of the box) magical charms, each of which having their own special meaning or “powers.”

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Hearts – power to bring things to life       Shooting Stars – power to fly   Horseshoes – power to speed things up    Clovers – luck, but you will never know what kind of luck you’ll get

Blue Moons – power of invisibility    Rainbows – instantaneous travel from place to place    Balloons – power to make things float      Hourglass – power to control time

Here’s how I’m using the marshmallow charms in my therapy sessions:  After telling the students what the various shapes represent, they will get to pick a shape from a bowl and tell me how they would use that power.  For example, if they pick a heart, (the power to bring things to life), I will ask them what they would bring to life if they had the power.  This is a great way to work on higher level thinking tasks, problem solving, WH questions and story building!

Scroll down for the complete recipe and detailed step-by step pictures for Magic Squares and ways to build language as you create this treat!

And yet again, the food was the  inspiration behind the therapy idea.   I’ve created Magic Squares— fun and interactive vocabulary!    This game is intended for upper elementary/middle school and high school age students on your caseload.

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Magic Squares is a mathematical game that began in China several thousands of years ago.  Squares are assigned numbers which, when added across, down or diagonally always equal the same sum.  I’ve taken this game and incorporated vocabulary words into the squares—making a fun, challenging and interactive way to work on learning new vocabulary.

 

I’ve create 6 magic square activities–each with 9 vocabulary words.   You can purchase the complete download of all 6 games including the following themes:  weather words, March Madness Basketball terms, Flower Power vocabulary,  color words, spring changes terms.  While the treat is suitable for kids of any age, the language activity is most appropriate for middle school and high school age students. Most of my caseload is made up of older students who could benefit from vocabulary building activities–and this seemed like an interesting way to keep them motivated!

For practicality, slide the grid sheet and vocabulary sheet into clear plastic sleeves and use a dry erase marker to fill in the grid and to match up vocabulary.  Wipe clean when finished and it is ready to use again.

Also included is a graphic organizer—use it to expand on the word meanings by asking your students to create sentences for each word, give an antonym or synonym (if there is one), and draw a picture demonstrating the word meaning.

 

 Magic Squares

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You will need:  5 cups Lucky Charms cereal, 3 1/2 cups marshmallows, 3 tablespoons butter

***Have a hotplate????  This activity is easy enough to make in the classroom/therapy room.  Please check for food allergies before completing a food-related activity at school!!!

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I found this graphing chart freebie at www.teachingheart.net.  It looks like a fun way to work on sorting skills and the concepts “more,” “most”, “least” and “how many?”

 

 

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This activity is a great way to work on sequencing, measuring and reinforcing action words like POUR, MIX, MEASURE, STIR, MELT, PRESS, CUT.

 

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Add marshmallows and butter to a large pan.  Melt over low heat—stirring constantly until smooth and fully melted. (adult supervision required!!)

Observe the appearance of the marshmallows and butter BEFORE they melt……

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………compare it to the mixture AFTER it has melted and discuss what happened and how it’s appearance has changed.

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Pour marshmallow mixture over the cereal.

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Mix well until all of the marshmallow mixture is evenly coating the cereal. (let the kids do this!)

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Press mixture into a well-greased 8X8 inch pan.  Butter your fingertips to help keep the cereal from sticking to your hands. (let the kids take care of this step too!)

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Let pan set until cool—place in refrigerator for a few minutes to help it set.

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Cut into squares and enjoy!!

…and I couldn’t resist taking a walk down memory lane–here’s a  Lucky Charms commercial circa 1980!! 

 

It’s March! Need some GREEN-spiration?

PicMonkey Collage kale

Well it’s March folks—and the following “green” thoughts come to mind—shamrocks, nature coming back to life, and resolutions.  That’s right, how about those promises you made back in January?  How many of you made resolutions to eat healthier (or get your family eating healthier)  this year? Have you kept your resolutions so far?   Although we always start off with the best of intentions,  many of us find ourselves gradually falling back into some of our old habits and unknowingly breaking those promises we vowed we would keep all year.
I believe that one of the best ways to keep our resolution is to substitute junk foods with healthier (but still tasty) options.   This way, we are replacing, not depriving!  One of the pitfalls that leads to weight gain and other poor health conditions is unhealthy snacking choices.  But what if we were to reach for a snack that tasted good and was packed with nutrients?    Wouldn’t it be great if potato chips were on that list!!  Unfortunately, no such luck.  But there are other snacks that are crunchy, light and taste great that could satisfy our cravings. 

Today I have a recipe for one that fits the bill—Kale Chips!!  They are the latest craze to hit the snack aisle of grocery stores and health food markets.  The prepackaged ones are often made using  a dehydrator and can also be quite pricey!  Here is a version of that snack that you can make at home for a fraction of the cost of store bought.  You can experiment with different flavors and still get all the health benefits of the ones you could otherwise purchase—and best of all they are easy to make.  

Make this treat with your kids.  Get them helping you in the kitchen and you will be amazed by how receptive they might be to this green superfood that tastes super good!!  

And all this GREEN  inspired me to create my latest language building activity, available in my TpT store.  I call it” O.M.G. ” (Oh My Green-ness)  I know, it sounds too goofy, but the kids are going to love saying this funny phrase over and over as they play!   

 

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This fun language game contains a collection of “green things” that can be used in several different ways to address categorizing/classifying and describing skills:

1–for RECEPTIVE LANGUAGE: Give your student THREE clues or THREE adjectives describing an object and ask them to guess the object. (played similar to “I Spy”)

2–for EXPRESSIVE LANGUAGE: Have students form teams (depending on how many are in your group) and require them to give THREE clues or THREE adjectives describing an object.

After making a guess, draw an “OMG” game card from the pile. The player with the most “OMG” cards left at the end of the game is the winner.

3—CATEGORIZATION/CLASSIFICATION: Cut apart the green items and sort them into the correct category on the 12 category mats and one page of blank category mats provided. Use blank mat to come up with your own categories OR ask your students to sort out the cards and decide what categories the items should belong in without using the category mats (more challenging!!)

4—BARRIER GAME: Use the “green things” cards to play a barrier game—using the background provided, place some of the objects in the scene and then describe the location of the items to the other player. Compare your scene to the other player’s and see if they look the same! **use a folder or book to divide your area from the other player’s.

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TO MAKE KALE CHIPS

One bunch kale, washed and dried well.  It is always best to choose organically-grown kale to avoid or reduce the presence of pesticides

 

Tear the leaves off the center rib of the kale and tear into large pieces. Drizzle with olive oil and toss until completely coated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let your kids help wash, dry and tear the kale off the stem.  This is an easy, hands-on task and it will make them feel good to be a part of the preparation.   It will also make them more inclined to try a food that may be new to them if it doesn’t seem so foreign and unfamiliar.

Discard the remaining stems, which are tough and fibrous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WORKING ON THE /K/ or /G/ sounds??????

Practice these words that contain the target sounds /k/ and /g/ while preparing the kale chips together:

GARLIC, GRATE, DEGREES, GREEN, GOOD, KALE, CRISP, BAKE, CLEAN, SNACK, SPRINKLE

 

Arrange kale in a single layer on a baking sheet that has also been drizzled with olive oil.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids can also help choose the “toppings” or “flavorings” that you add.   Give them a few choices and ask them to help “design” the chips!

 

Sprinkle kale with store-bought parmesan cheese or hand grated pecorino-romano cheese. I have also sprinkled on garlic powder. The options are endless! You can simply salt and pepper your kale, season with red pepper flakes, opt for onion powder or add a dash of Italian seasoning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Come up with a list of GREEN foods with your kiddos.  Ask them to name as many as they can before you step in and try to help them.  Then come up with other GREEN THINGS that are not foods.

Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes at 300 degrees, or until crisp. Be sure to place the kale in one layer on the sheet tray. Overcrowding will steam the kale rather than crisp it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enjoy this simple and vitamin filled treat in place salty, high fat snacks and feel good about what you are eating!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Print and cut out the pictures of the recipe above.  Ask your kids to put them in the correct sequence and retell the steps in the recipe in their own words.
  • Always remember to discuss the importance of eating healthy with your children.  Be a good role model for good health and lead by example!  You are their first teachers and they will emulate what you say and do–remember they are “taking it all in” . 
  • Don’t be discouraged if they reject the kale chips the first time they try them—remember, they say it can take up to 20 trials of a new food for a child to accept it.  Keep trying!  Make the recipe again in a month or two.  See how much they remember about the process of preparing the kale chips and try offering them the finished product again—they might just surprise you and eat the whole tray of chips!!

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Health Benefits of Kale

There are many nutrients in kale. Cancer-fighting properties and other health benefits have been linked to members of the cruciferous vegetable family. The health benefits of kale are similar to the many health benefits of broccoli and cabbage. Here are some specific kale nutrients and how they affect your wellness:

Vitamins-  Kale is rich in vitamins A, C and K and contains some vitamin B6 and E. Kale, being a rich source of vitamin K, gives it anti-inflammatory properties. Foods rich in vitamin C rich are known to help with some joint inflammations.

Minerals- Notable minerals in kale include manganese, calcium and copper. These minerals have been already broken down by the kale plant and can be directly absorbed into the cells of the body.

Antioxidants- The antioxidants in kale seem to be anti-cancer, too. Specifically, the antioxidants in kale is its carotenoids including lutein and beta-carotene, which are significant in the realm of cancer prevention and perhaps even treatment. Lutein and beta-carotene are two specific antioxidants that helps to protect the human body from oxidative stress, specifically against such diseases as cataracts, atherosclerosis and COPD and, of course, cancer.

Cancer Preventative- The phytonutrients in kale helps to reduce the risk of several cancers including, but possibly not limited to, breast, bladder, colon, lung and ovarian. The actions of these phytonutrients not only reduce cancer, but in general, help to strengthen the entire immune system.

Lung Health- The presence of vitamin A in kale helps protect the lungs. This is especially important to smokers and those who are exposed to secondhand smoke.

Anti-Inflammatory- The abundance of vitamin K makes kale an anti-inflammatory vegetable.

Heart Health- A phytonutrient called Indole-3-carbinol in kale helps to reduce harmful cholesterol levels in the blood and protect the cardiovascular system.

Diabetes- Kale helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. This makes kale an excellent food for diabetics.

Omega 3- Omega 3 is another kale nutrient as kale is a rich vegetable source of Omega 3.

Fiber- Kale is a high fiber food. Of the many kale nutrients, its high fiber characteristic may be the most practical than a lettuce-based salad

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SPEECH SNACKS FOR /k/ and /g/ :

Typically most children have mastered the /k/ and /g/ sounds by about 3 1/2 years of age.

I have posted information on placement and production of the /k/ in previous posts, including  Keen About Quinoa  Cowboy Caviar and Cookies For Santa.  Please visit these links to review this helpful information.  In addition, here are a few other tips that will help produce these sounds, also called a consonant pair.  Consonant pair sounds are made in a similar way.  Placement of the articulators is the same for both sounds, however production is slightly different–one is voiced, and one is not.  Place your hand on your throat and feel the vibration when producing the /g/ sound, yet when making the /k/, the voice is “turned off” or uses no vibration.  I will ask students to “turn on their voice” for a /g/ or “turn it off” for a /k/ to help them understand this concept.

Tricks to help improve lingual (tongue) posture for producing the /k/ and /g/:

1. Use a tongue depressor This should be done by a certified Speech-Language Pathologist only!  A tongue depressor can be used to push the tongue into the correct position for a /k/ or /g/ sound by holding the tongue in the correct position and  having the child try to say the /k/ sound.  The tongue depressor will hold the tongue tip down and the child will end up producing the /k/ sound instead of a /t/—which is a common substitution for /k/.  This method is also useful for producing the /g/ sound.  Once this has been established, you can gradually remove the tongue depressor and , with time and practice, the child will be able to produce the sounds without the use of this aid.

2. Practice gargling water  When you gargle water, the back of your tongue is positioned correctly for the /k/ and /g/ sound.

3. Lay on your back on the floor.  By doing so, your tongue typically falls into the back of your mouth.  Try producing a /k/ or /g/ while lying on the floor.

 

 

 

Truffula Trees Food Craftivity for Dr. Seuss Week—and language building ideas!

PicMonkey Collage truffula

Dr. Seuss’ birthday (and Read Across America Day)  is celebrated on March 2nd and Earth Day is April 22nd.  If you are permitted to use food in your therapy sessions, this fun food craftivity will be a big hit with students of all ages in your therapy sessions.   Use this activity to address sequencing, direction following, conversational turn taking, comprehension skills and articulation.  I’ve included some ideas throughout this post for addressing all of these goals including a set of questions that you can download to accompany “The Lorax,” by Dr. Seuss which is where truffula trees originated!

Truffula Trees are super easy to make in the classroom or at home.  Get creative with the tree trunks and experiment with different fruits.   And please send me your feedback and pictures too!!!….I’d love to know how your trees turned  out!

 

TRUFFULA TREES!!!!

**always check for food allergies before making any hands-on projects  involving food (yes, even fruit!)

 

I am using blackberries and green grapes to construct the trunks of my trees. I think the textures of each and varied tastes of each fruit make the trees more interesting and fun to eat!

 

 

You can find cotton candy in many of your local dollar stores and supermarkets. It looks a lot like the wispy tufts of the Truffula trees. Use sparingly–remember this is pure sugar—and some artificial coloring!

Questions to help elicit conversation while creating your trees in the classroom—-

What else does cotton candy remind you of in nature? 

Describe how cotton candy feels. 

What happens when you put it in your mouth (how does it change?)

What events is cotton candy sold at?

FOR STORY COMPREHENSION: After reading the story with your students, check out these questions   (most appropriate for upper elementary/middle school)

Search the book for words that contain speech sounds that your students are working on.  Have them repeat the words, phrases and sentences containing their speech sounds.

i.e.: for /l/ sound practice I came up with these words:

LORAX— TRUFFULA— BARBALOOTS— ONCE-LER— GRICKLE GRASS— UNLESS!

I used long cocktail stirrers to thread on my fruit. You can also use wooden skewers but don’t let your tree get too tall or it might not stand up for long!

Cocktail stirrers are rounded at the ends and safe for little hands to use!  Toothpicks are sharp so be careful if  you use them! 

No need to make them exactly as shown in the picture—Kids can determine how to pattern the “tree trunks.” 

Take a vote prior to purchasing your materials–ask your students to help you brainstorm a list of possibilities—-the two most popular items can be the ones you purchase–this will keep things simple and cost-effective for you! 

Some “tree trunk” possibilities: red grapes, strawberry chunks, raspberries, marshmallows…use your imagination!!  

 

I used a thick piece of Styrofoam and inserted my sticks into it to display my forest of  Truffula Trees!  Enjoy this naturally sweet treat with your kiddos while you read and answer questions about the story—and (of course), save the speech sound practice for before or after you eat your tree treat!!!

Can you come up with a list of different types of trees with your students?  

Go online and search for images of various trees.  Print them out and label them. 

Put your print outs into a binder or staple together to make a book of trees.  If your school is located on property that has surrounding trees, take a nature walk with your students (weather and season permitting!)and see how many you can identify from your book of trees.

If you spot a Truffula tree, please be sure to take a picture and send it to me!!!   

 

Welcoming March with Green Eggs and Ham Casserole–and March Rhyme Time!

PicMonkey Collage lion lamb

March is quickly roaring in….and bringing along with it, several holidays, including Dr. Seuss’ Birthday, celebrated on March 2nd, St. Patrick’s Day on March 17th and this year, Easter, which falls on the last day of the month, March 31st.  With so many fun and delicious holidays, I was inspired to kick things off with a tribute to the great Dr. Seuss.  Today I am sharing my recipe for GREEN EGGS AND HAM BREAKFAST CASSEROLE—I have made it a million times, for  a million different reasons–and every time, it gets rave reviews!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do!  And to keep things super-healthy for you and your family, you won’t find any green food coloring or anything artificial–I promise it won’t disappoint!  And in keeping with the theme,  I’ve created a rhyme inspired activity that is available in my TpT store.  Check out Swing into Spring Rhyme Time with Brian the Lion and Pam the Lamb! 

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Help Brian and Pam welcome in March with an activity that will help improve rhyming skills, phonological awareness and listening skills. Many of the words are “March” and “Spring” themed.

12 Brian the Lion and Pam the Lamb rhyming task cards (i.e. Name 3 words that rhyme with Spring)

12 Brian the Lion and Pam the Lamb rhyming/clue cards (i.e., You’ll find this in a Bird’s nest, I rhyme with LEG)

12 Brian the Lion and Pam the Lamb auditory memory/rhyming task—pick out the word that does not rhyme—level 1  &level 2

 

12 Brian the Lion and Pam the Lamb direction cards to be used with board game.

12 Brian the Lion and Pam the Lamb Fun Facts (use these cards with the board game included—cards contain interesting fun facts about lions and lambs.)

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March Comes in Like a lion and Goes Out Like a Lamb game board

You can use cards separately or play game using game board provided. Cut, laminate and shuffle all cards well. Keep FUN FACTS cards separate and read one if a player lands on that space. Use a playing die and game markers to move around the board. The first to reach the end is the winner.

Descriptive word list–Which words describe Brian the Lion? Which describePam the Lamb? DRAW A LINE FROM THE WORD TO THE ANIMAL IT DESCRIBES. COME UP WITH ONE WORD THAT RHYMES WITH EACH AND WRITE IT ON THE LINE

BONUS:

Also included: “I Have, Who Has” rhyming game (used separately from Brian the Lion and Pam the Lamb game board and cards)

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GREEN EGGS AND HAM  BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

5 cups cubed sourdough or white bread ( I buy a loaf of stick bread and cut it into one inch cubes)

1/2 lb loose breakfast sausage, cooked—your can substitute turkey sausage for pork sausage OR for this recipe I have used sliced turkey ham that I cut into bite-sized pieces.

1 cup spinach leaves (washed and dried)

8 eggs

 LET YOUR KIDS HELP WASH/DRY SPINACH, MEASURE AND POUR MILK AND CRACK EGGS—IF YOU DARE!

 

2 cups milk

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon dried sage

1 cup grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 F.

 

Layer bread, sausage and spinach in a large glass baking dish (preferably 15x10x2).  AN EASY TASK FOR KIDS TO HELP WITH!

In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, milk, garlic, salt, pepper and sage. Pour over contents in baking dish.  Sprinkle with cheese, cover and chill for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.   WHISKING, POURING AND SPRINKLING CAN ALL BE DONE BY KIDS!

Uncover dish and bake until cooked through and golden brown—45-50 minutes.  Set aside to let rest for 10 minutes then serve. Serves 6-8.

ASK YOUR KIDDOS TO RECALL THE INGREDIENTS USED, SEQUENCE THE STEPS IN BUILDING THE CASSEROLE, NAME MORE GREEN LEAFY VEGETABLES,  NAME OTHER WAYS YOU CAN PREPARE EGGS OR THINGS THAT ARE MADE WITH EGGS.

 

 

 

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