Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Touchdown Taco Dip–and speechsnacks for Phonological Awareness Football!

fball cover page

Football season is still going strong!  The new year brings college bowl games, playoffs and the Super Bowl!  So in keeping with the sport of choice that entertains many of us during the winter months, I am sharing Touchdown Taco Dip to bring to your next football party.  To accompany it,  I have created a game—Phonological Awareness Football –appropriate for your young sports enthusiasts.  Stop by my Teachers Pay Teachers store for a fun game worth cheering about—GO TEAM!

Phonological Awareness Football—Play TWO ways!

This download includes 21 pages:



2 pages of five color-coded helmet categories including: syllable segmentation……


…identifying if word pairs rhyme



… identifying how many syllables are in each word, and sounds that begin and end words.



Blank cards for each category are also included to add your own words to cards.

Game 1 is played similarly to Candy Land—Cut and laminate cards for durability.  Shuffle cards well and place in a pile.  Pick a football card and move to the colored helmet that corresponds with the one on the card.  Use the Game Key as a guide for asking your students to carry out the task.  i.e.—if you pick a yellow helmet=“how many syllables are in the word football?” , pick a green helmet= “listen to all the parts of the word and tell me the word:  g/a/me”

 Game 2 is called “Complete the Pass”  Cut out the hand templates (or trace your student’s hands and use them instead!)  Tape the paper hands to a wall.  Respond to the cards using the Game Key (as in Game 1), but have your student close their eyes and try to place the football between the hands—no peeking! (put a piece of tape on the back of the card before they place it).  Whoever gets closest to putting the footballs directly between the hands scores a point!  Be sure to have them stand a couple feet away to start, then spin them around once or twice and have them walk to the wall (think Pin the Tail on the Donkey)


**keep in mind that ALL the words in this game are related to football vocabulary—use the game cards to create your own version of the game for targeting language goals

A collectible “speechsnacks” recipe card is included in the download for Touchdown Taco Dip—-the perfect dish for your football playoffs or Super Bowl party!!  This recipe is easy to make and can be use for practicing sequencing and direction following with your kiddos!  Let your kids SPREAD, SPRINKLE, POUR and STIR.  Have your child use these key words when DESCRIBING the recipe process. An adult should heat the mixture on the stove top  and chop the scallions, however the majority of this recipe is very child-centered!!   Print out the pictures and use them to RECALL and SEQUENCE the steps.

You can find the complete activity at  my TpT store!


Ingredients: this simple recipe contains 1 can refried beans, (refried beans are vegetarian and fat free!!!) 1 teaspoon taco seasoning, 1 16 oz jar salsa–I prefer mild, 3/4 cup Greek strained yogurt (but sour cream can be used as well) , 1 cup shredded cheddar/jack cheese, 3 chopped green onions


I love to use Greek  strained yogurt.  Notice the thick, rich consistency of this yogurt.


I use taco seasoning often. I prefer a jar of seasoning instead of the seasoning packets. It lasts longer, is more economical  and contains much less sodium than the packaged brand name Mexican seasonings


Over low heat, mix the content of one can of refried beans, a small amount of salsa and the taco seasoning. Mix well until heated.


Spread mixture into an 8X8 inch glass pan.


Pour and spread one 16 oz jar of salsa onto the bean layer


Next, spoon on the yogurt. Due to it’s thickness, it may not spread evenly. I like to place small spoonfuls over the salsa layer and then spread gently. If it mixes in with the salsa, no worries–no one will ever notice!


Sprinkle cheese layer evenly over the yogurt.


Finally, chop green onions and evenly sprinkle over cheese. You can also add red and/or green peppers, black olives or any other toppings you think would work with these flavors.  Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips and a refreshing drink of choice!










Warm Up Your Winter with Snowman Soup..and speechsnacks for “Oxymoron Match-Up!”

snowsoup cover

The holidays may be over, but you can enjoy a warm cup of  Snowman Soup all winter long!   This week’s recipe post is a simple one, but a great way to address direction following and sequencing.   While you are sipping your soup, head over to my Teachers pay Teachers store—I just opened for business!!!  It includes a 22 page download for a fun figurative language game—-Oxymoron Match-Up!  And you can earn marshmallows, candy canes and chocolate kisses to add to your mug of Snowman Soup while you play!  Hope you have as much fun playing this game as I had creating it!

Snowman Soup:

1 pkg hot chocolate mix
3  chocolate kisses for the eyes and nose
10-12 mini marshmallows for the snowballs
1 peppermint candy cane


Kids: Pour cocoa package into cup

Adult: Add hot water

Kids:  Add  chocolate kisses and mini marshmallows.  Use peppermint candy cane to stir mixture until well blended.

***  Ask kiddo to repeat all the steps in the proper sequence.    Ask them to name as many chocolate foods as they can to address CATEGORIZING.  Name different things you drink that are HOT vs COLD.    


If giving Snowman Soup as a gift, place hot cocoa package, chocolate kisses and mini marshmallows in a plastic bag or cellophane wrap and put in the bottom of a mug. Add the candy cane stick or tape it to the outside of the mug. Then add one of the Snowman Soup poems (found in this download). You can either tie it to the candy cane or stuff it inside the cup —makes a great winter surprise anytime, not just during the holidays!  

snmn soup 2

Oxymorons are a figure of speech that combines two contradictory words—kind of like SNOWMAN and SOUP!  Use the game cards below to learn more oxymorons.  EXPLAIN IT, DRAW IT……..

…and MATCH IT!  Pair together the snowflake with the sun that belong together to form oxymoron terms.

…OR use the Fill-in-the blank cards and complete the sentences with the proper oxymoron.

Each player chooses a mug, then answer a card (explain,match or draw the oxymoron), next pick from the pile of candy canes, marshmallows and chocolate kisses.  The first to collect one of each item is the winner!  (just don’t pick the “put one back” or “pass one” card!)

You can find this game at my TpT store!


Ring in the New Year with Cowboy Caviar—and Speechsnacks for New Year vocabulary!!

In celebration of 365 brand new days, I would like to share a dish that not only has symbolic value but is also a very healthful way to start off the New Year!  Every culture has their own foods that are eaten on New Year’s Day as a symbol of good health, good luck and prosperity.  One such food is black-eyed peas, eaten in the Southern U.S. and symbolic of monetary luck (due to the roundness of their shape–like coins) I would also like to think they are  a symbol of good health due to their high protein and fiber content.  Not only is this a great side dish to serve at your New Year’s feast, but it is great any time of year–and would be especially good at a summer barbecue.  What a simple and nutritious combination of flavors!  Good Health and Good Eating!!

And if you’re looking for a way to incorporate vocabulary and expressive language development into the New Year….I created a game and game cards perfect for the occasion.   You can find it in my TpT store!  

new year cover

You will find a game board, 18 cards to address vocabulary, WH questions and fill-in-the-blanks, a graphic organizer for use with the vocabulary and a recipe card for Cowboy Caviar to print out.

Hole punch and add to a 3-ring binder to collect all the great “speechsnacks” on large recipe cards!!


Cowboy Caviar—also known as Texas Caviar depending on who you talk to– is a simple dish with an interesting history. Some believe that consumption of black-eyed peas will bring luck and prosperity in the coming year. Cowboy, or Texas, caviar is an offshoot of that tradition. The dish was developed by Helen Corbitt, a Yankee, who did not like black-eyed peas. She was the head chef at Neiman Marcus and was asked to create an all-Texas menu that would include black-eyed peas. Athens, Texas is, after all, the black-eyed pea capital of the world. Hard pressed to find an existing recipe that met her high standards, she decided to pickle them, and created a dish that could be eaten with a fork or scooped up on a tortilla chip.  While researching this recipe, I found many different versions.  I have taken bits and pieces of the recipes I have reviewed to create my own take on this delicious side dish.


Combine the following ingredients in a large mixing bowl: 1 can black-eyed peas (rinsed and drained), 2 cups corn ( I prefer thawed, frozen corn to canned corn) 2 cubed avocados, 3-4 diced Roma tomatoes, 3-4 chopped green onions (scallions), 1 can chopped black pitted olives, 1 diced red pepper, 1 bunch chopped fresh cilantro















Mix the following dressing ingredients: 1 freshly squeezed lime, 2-3 cloves garlic finely minced, 2-3 tsp Tabasco sauce, 1 tsp cumin, 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, salt/pepper to taste












Mix dressing ingredients well and add to chopped ingredients.  Let sit overnight in refrigerator to allow dressing to infuse into all ingredients and enhance flavors.  Serve with tortilla chips or crackers.










“SPEECH SNACKS ” for the /k/ sound:

black olives, black-eyed peas, corn, garlic, cumin, tobasco, avocado, cowboy, caviar, good luck, crackers

  • There are so many beautiful colors used in this recipe—practice naming all the colors with your younger helpers:  ASK THEM:  “WHAT COLOR IS THE AVOCADO?”  HAVE THEM RESPOND: “AN AVOCADO IS GREEN“     Name all the foods and their colors.  
  • Discuss the vegetable category and reinforce the fact that the ingredients used are vegetables.  Have your little ones try to name the vegetables used in this recipe without cuing first.  Provide the label for them if they do not know it.  Have them name other vegetables to build their knowledge base in this category.
  •  Let your children help mix the vegetables together after they have been cut up by an adult.  Allow them to help measure, mix and pour the dressing ingredients. 
  • Talk to your children about the traditions of other cultures in celebrating the New Year.  Use the reference list above to tell them how different foods symbolize good luck, health, fortune and prosperity.  Discuss the traditions and customs of your own family with your children.
  • Talk to your children about the word RESOLUTION.  Explain the meaning in simple, age-appropriate terms.  Have your children make resolutions for the New Year and share the resolutions together as a family. 


Here are some kid-specific New Year’s resolutions, courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics, that can improve the lives of children while teaching them a lesson or two along the way.


- I will clean up my toys  and put them where they belong.

- I will brush my teeth twice a day and wash my hands after going to the bathroom and before eating.

- I will be nice and loving toward pets and all animals. I will avoid being bitten by keeping my fingers and face away from their mouths.

Kids, ages 5 to 12

- I will drink milk and water three times each day and limit soda and fruit drinks to once each day.

- I will apply sunscreen before I go outdoors on bright sunny days. I will try to stay in the shade whenever possible and wear a hat and sunglasses, especially when I’m playing sports.

- I will try to find a sport (like basketball or soccer) or an activity that I like and do it at least three times a week.

- I will always wear a helmet when riding my bicycle.

- I will wear my seat belt every time I get in a car.

- I will be nice to other kids. I will be friendly to kids who need friends — like someone who is shy or is new to my school.

- I will never give out personal information, including my name, home address, school name, or telephone number on the Internet.

- I will never send a picture of myself to someone I chat with on the computer without my parents’ permission.

Kids, ages 13 and older

- I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable every day, and I will limit the amount of soda I drink, if any at all, to one glass daily.

- I will take care of my body through physical activity and nutrition.

- I will choose nonviolent television shows and video games, and I will spend no more than two hours each day on these activities.

- I will help out in my community by volunteering, working with community groups or joining a group that helps the less fortunate.

- I will take a break when I feel angry or stressed out and find constructive ways to deal with the stress, such as exercising, reading, writing in a journal or discussing my problem with a parent or friend.

- I will talk about my choices with an adult whom I can trust when faced with a difficult decision.

- I will talk with a trusted adult and attempt to find a way that I can help friends if I notice they are struggling or engaging in risky behaviors.

- I will be careful about whom I choose to date and always treat the other person with respect and without coercion or violence. I will expect the same good behavior in return.

- I will resist peer pressure to try drugs and alcohol.

- I will not use a cell phone or text message while driving, and I will always wear a seat belt.



Shante Keys and the New Year’s Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport

Squirrels New Year’s Resolution by Pat Miller

The Night Before New Year’s by Natasha Wing


Here’s a list of some symbolic foods and the places where they’re eaten for the New Year.

Round Food (Like Coins for Monetary Luck)

Italy, Brazil & Germany (Lentils) Germany (Pancakes) Philippines (Round Fruit) Southern US (Black-eyed Peas)

Green Leafy Vegetables (Like Paper Money for Monetary Luck)

Southern USA (Collard Greens & Turnips) Denmark (Kale) Germany (Sauerkraut)

Golden Food (Like Gold for Monetary Luck)

Southern USA (Corn Bread)

Pig (Symbol of Plentiful Food in the New Year)

Hungary (Roast suckling pig with a 4 leaf clover in its mouth) Italy (Cotechino con lenticchie – pork sausage with lentils) Germany (Kassler mit Sauerkraut – financial luck) Pennsylvania Dutch (USA – Pork with Sauerkraut) Austria China

Food on the Table or Plate at Midnight (Symbol of Plentiful Food in the New Year)

Germany Philippines

Sweets (Symbolic of a Sweet Year or Good Luck)

Hungary (Doughnuts) Greece (Round cake called Vasilopita – made with a coin baked inside – whoever gets the coin is lucky throughout the year) Israel (Jewish New Year – Apple dipped in honey & grapes) India Egypt (Candy for kids) Korea (Sweet Fruits) Norway (Rice Pudding with an almond inside – good luck to the one who gets the almond)

12 Grapes at Midnight (Symbolizing 12 Sweet Months)

Spain Portugal Mexico Cuba Ecuador Peru

Ring Shaped Food (Good Luck)

Mexico (Rosca de Reyes – Luck) Netherlands (Olie Bollen – Doughnut)

Fish (Symbol of Good Luck)

Germany (Herring & Carp) Poland (Pickled Herring) Denmark (Boiled Cod) Italy (Dried Salted Cod) Japan (Red Snapper – Pink is a lucky color) Vietnam (Carp) China Sweden (Seafood Salad)

A Happy, Lucky and Prosperous New Year to All of You!



Using Gingerbread Man Cookies to Teach Language Skills

gingerbread activity

I’m not sure how your students behave during the week before a big holiday, but in the places I work, they are usually “in rare form” as we prepare for a long vacation break!!   So to keep them motivated, interested and focused on the task at hand, I like to get in the holiday spirit with a fun, hands-on activity that will also address important language goals.  I  discovered that this activity was just as appealing and appropriate to use with my middle/high school age students as it was with my preschoolers—and if that’s not a Christmas miracle, then I don’t know what is!  I adjusted the level of difficulty and task expectations according to age/grade/ability level.

You can purchase undecorated gingerbread cookies in the bakery section of many supermarkets at this time of year.  Just be sure to check with your school administrator regarding the policy for bringing in treats and sweets.  Also check with the school nurse regarding food allergies before partaking in any food-themed activity!  Luckily, I got the green-light to go ahead with this project !

Using Gingerbread Cookies for DIRECTION FOLLOWING:

We used several “embellishments” to decorate our cookie and address direction following—mini M&M’s, mini marshmallows, dried cranberries, Hershey’s kisses,  chocolate sprinkles.  I asked students to follow simple one and two-step directions, as well as more complex and lengthier directions, depending on the individual student.  Here are some examples of direction following tasks I used with my  upper elementary and middle-school students:

1–Put one green M&M on each foot and then add three mini marshmallows for buttons. 

2–Before you add dried cranberries for eyes, put a Hershey’s kiss on each hand. 

3–First put some sprinkles on the head, then an orange M&M for a nose and finally three red M&M’s for the mouth.










Using Gingerbread Cookies for Sequencing, Describing and Writing an Organized Paragraph:

I let the kids decorate their Gingerbread cookie with buttercream icing (yum!!!) and then choose three toppings to decorate it with.  Once they completed their masterpiece, I asked them to tell me what they did First, Next, Then and Last.  I created a printable graphic organizer/worksheet to help them write down their thoughts.  Get your freebie here!!



























I found that many of my students could write simple sentences or a few thoughts about what they did, but most of them had trouble actually DESCRIBING the process with accurate, detailed language.  I helped them correct and elaborate on their thoughts by using phrases such as  “spread” and “squeeze” the icing instead of just “put the icing”.  We talked about using words such as mini and colorful for the M&M’s and white and buttercream to describe the icing.









In the last few lines of the template (where the feet of the gingerbread are located), are six lines to write ADJECTIVES that will describe the final product.  I asked the students to think about how it TASTED, LOOKED, SMELLED and FELT.  Use the visual I created to help them build their list of adjectives..  Download this freebie here!!  (made with Custom Boards by Smarty Ears).  They required some assistance, but we came up with a nice list of adjectives including hard, crunchy, sweet, tasty, edible, delicious, colorful, sugary.








With my older students, we started to write a Gingerbread Adventure Story.  I made this printable using my Custom Boards app to help them get their story started.  It includes WHO, WHAT and WHERE pictures.

Gingerbread  Adventures Sentences template.











Then I made this template of Gingerbread Adventures pictures—download here!    The blank Gingerbread is their main character.  I asked them to draw the details of the character and setting in this area.  After creating their topic sentence, we worked on adding supporting sentences to their adventure  (quite a challenge for even my older students!).


Cut out the images and place them in the who, what and where piles in the larger squares.  Have them randomly pick one card from each pile.









After picking the WHO, WHAT and WHERE of their adventure, students were required to fill in the details of the sentence by adding in the WHEN, WHY and HOW components of their sentence.  Here is an example that one of my older kids came up with:  “The Gingerbread boy explored slowly through the jungle at night to find a way out.”   This was his introduction sentence.  He drew a picture of his main character (the gingerbread boy) and the setting (the jungle).  We started to build upon this with some supporting sentences but ran out of time….there’s always next week to continue the adventure!













Do you Have Custom Boards yet?? An app review and GIVEAWAY—”Appy” Holidays!

custom boards collage








In the spirit of giving this holiday season, SpeechSnacks has yet another amazing app to giveaway!!  If you missed out on the last one for Social Quest, here’s another chance to check off something from your wish list!  The generous people at Smarty Ears have given me a code to give away for their newly updated app, Custom Boards ( valued at $39.99)

I have been a fan of this app for quite some time (as you will see in the examples below).  Not only can you create  your own materials from thousands of images and over 100 templates, but now you can SHARE your masterpieces between other owners of this app (their newest update).  Although this app is a bit on the pricier side, it’s well worth the cost!  Consider it one-stop shopping for everything you need to quickly conjure up an unlimited number of games and activities.

If the app doesn’t win you over after checking out the basics in this review, read on and take a look at how I have been using it to address so many speech and language goals including articulation, sequencing, sorting and spatial relations just to name a few!!

Now for an overview of Custom Boards fabulous features:

The is the home page of the app where you can create a  new board, access saved boards in your archive,  or contact Smarty  Ears for support, questions, suggestions.  Custom Boards (like so many of Smarty Ears apps) includes a video tutorial which explain and demonstrates how to use the app.



Custom Boards offers 6 different formats of board layouts:


Activities and Games offers cute holiday themed graphics, bingo boards and other board game layouts.

Devices and Switches (which I haven’t had an opportunity to use yet due to the make up of my caseload) provides incredible possibilities for augmentative communication devices!


Signs and Labels takes recognizable signs in our environment and allows you to add your own images as well as create labels and speech bubbles (I love this one for social skills use!!–If you’ve seen Sara Ward’s workshop, you’ll know what I’m talking about)

Grids and Boards is great for making flashcards or other card games.  The grids are very generic and the uses are limitless.


Schedules and Calendars are great organization tools!  It includes hourly, monthly and weekly grids, clocks, and sequencing graphics.

Worksheets also have cute themed graphics such as animals, kids and flowers.  There are also a couple of great templates for creating your own mini books and greeting cards!


Once you’ve decided on a grid style, (here I’ve chosen the Santa grid from Games and Activities)………


……you can begin inserting your images based on the goals you are targeting.  Below is a sample of the holiday themed images you might choose if addressing holiday vocabulary.  You also have options for changing the background color, font style, text wording, and placement of text above or below image.  In addition, you can add mulitple pages to your projects by tapping the “add new page” feature in the lower right corner.

Can’t find the image you are looking for??  There is an option to Google the image and add it to your board.

I’ve inserted my images and now have several options for saving and sharing.  The NEWEST (and most exciting) UPDATE offered for this app is to SHARE an EDITABLE FILE that you have created, with another Custom Boards user!! In other words, you can create a board and then send it to a friend/ fellow SLP who owns this app so she can edit it or  use it as is!!!  How cool is that?!



What I also find quite practical is the ability to LOCK the screen so that when you touch an image, it will not be altered or deleted.  This lock feature will allow you to use your Custom Board as your game board or activity without having to print it out!  Play can occur right from the ipad screen.  So if you SHARE with other users, they are immediately able to utilize the board as a game once they lock it!  Love it!


You can save your creations to the app and refer back to them for use at a later time.  Here are some of the boards I’ve created in My Archive.



Still  not sure how to use this app effectively for therapy purposes? No problem—-I’ve got some great boards to share with you!!  Below are some of the materials I have been creating over the past several months.  I like to make materials that coincide with my food-themed therapy posts.  You will find a screenshot of my therapy game/activity and a link to the post it came from.  I have converted these boards into pdf format so that you can download them and print them out. (In case you were wondering, Smarty Ears is okay with you doing this if you own a blog).  Interested in SHARING a board??? I can do that too if you have this app!   Send me your email in the comments section at the bottom of the post and let me know which one you’d like me to send you!    Then feel free to use it in your speech sessions (don’t forget to lock the screen first!)  or edit it to tailor it to your own purposes.

LADYBUG SALAD and /l/ sentence game:

This was the first board I created with Custom Boards.  It was a ladybug theme for the spring/summer.  Each card contains an /l/ sentence or phrase with facts about ladybugs!  I used the Grids and Boards template for this one.


Here’s another articulation game from my post on Chocolate-Cherry Pumpkin Bark with /ch/ practice. This “articulation sheet” is found in Games and Activities.  Notice all the great “chocolate” pictures in the images library!!


…and  I used /ch/ words that were food-related (in beginning, middle and final position) in this same post.  I addressed other language goals with these cards as well, so check out the post!  And coming soon to Custom Boards—a feature that will organize their symbols by phonemes, so if you need /k/ or /g/ sound images, you will be able to access them in one place!!!


I created a summer themed post for Tropical Pineapple-Cilantro Salsa and made a sorting task for things tropical and not tropical.  For this, I used the “sorting” grid found in Worksheets.


Want more ideas???  How about this booklet–made with the “My book” template from Worksheets.  It went with the Strawberry Tortilla Pizza post I created.   The book is called “Where’s the Strawberry?” and is a simple spatial concept activity—but there are so many possible uses for this booklet format so create away!!





…and one final Custom Board creation I wanted to share—a matching task for multiple meaning words.  I used “matching cards”  from Activities and Games to accompany a baseball themed post that was featured at “Playing With Words 365″  The recipe portion of the post was called “Strike Out Salad” and the game involved baseball related words that had more than one meaning.


I hope you enjoy these ideas and it helps get the creative juices flowing!  Want more “Speechsnacks” using Custom Boards??  You can find them here and here and here!!!

….and now for the CUSTOM BOARDS GIVEAWAY!!!!!

enter the Rafflecopter giveaway anytime between Monday, December 10th and Thursday,  December 13th—Contest ends at midnight

Win it for yourself or give it to a special speechie friend this holiday season!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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