Archive for the ‘Featured’ Category

Teaching Good Table Manners for Better Social Skills during the Holidays…and a Social App Gift Giveaway!

good table manners 3

The holidays are a time for giving, receiving and being thankful.

This holiday season I am THANKFUL for this blog, which is my creative outlet and has helped me become a better speech therapist.  I am happy to RECEIVE  feedback, comments and (especially) facebook “likes” from my blog followers and I am excited to GIVE away an incredible, new app thanks to the generous people at Smarty Ears—Social Quest!!!   (see Rafflecopter Giveaway at the end of this post)

During this time of giving and receiving, it is important to be mindful of our own social skills and manners by remembering to use words like  “please” and “thank you” with sincerity and frequency!  As the author of a food-themed speech/language weblog, I found it fitting to address social skills related to eating (a.k.a  good table manners!)  I decided that a post on proper table etiquette while dining at a guests home would be a great way to review these important social skills with our children and our students. ( and not a bad idea for us grown ups to be reminded of as well!)  And if you want another great way to address other social situations that are related to the holidays, checkout the great post (and free downloads) from Speech2Me.  You will find 16 cards with problem solving tasks appropriate for kids of all ages.

I created a  freebie table manners matching game, using my Custom Boards app, as a way to discuss table manners in an interactive and fun way.   Make copies of this visual and have your kiddos hang it on their refrigerators at home–or cut apart, mix up and then match up the pictures and phrases that go together.


Why are Table Manner so Important?

Table manners teach some life lessons like being kind and considerate of others.  Remember that ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS and social skills can be expressed verbally as well as non-verbally through our mannerisms and gestures.  Here are a few rules to review with your children regarding table manners.  The following pointers coincide with the printable I have included.

 Good Table Manners TEMPLATE #1


Teach your child to eat with a fork unless the food is meant to be eaten with fingers….and eating with a fork is good to teach kids at a very young age because it helps them build dexterity in the hands and fingers.


Teach your kids how to to ask for food rather than just blurting out what they want. The proper way to ask for food to be passed is “May I have some bread, please”?


I am sure you can will agree that no one likes to look over at someone and see that person chewing their food with their mouth open (aka. chewing like a cow!)  Remind kids to also not talk with their mouth full.  (I  can guarantee that plenty of adults breaking both of these table manners!)   If you are going to break this rule—make sure to cover your mouth so no one can see the food inside.

Teach your child to breath through their nose and chew with their mouth closed. And remind them to wait and speak only when their mouth is not full of food.


Remember to wipe your mouth only—-don’t wipe your face or blow your nose with a napkin.  Excuse yourself from the table and go the restroom to do that!


Good Table Manners TEMPLATE #2


Always say thank you when served something—it shows appreciation.

When eating at someone’s home or a guest of someone at a restaurant, always thank the host and tell them how much you enjoyed it.  Mention a specific item that was particularly tasty, (i.e. the dessert was great.)   Remember, someone took time, energy, and expense to prepare the food, so show your appreciation.


Do not pick anything out of your teeth— excuse yourself and go to the restroom to pick.


Someone took a long time to prepare the food so enjoy it slowly.  Wait several seconds after swallowing before getting another forkful.

Don’t stuff your mouth full of food—not only does it look unappealing,  you could choke!!!


Someone took time and financial expense to create a meal for you to share with them.  If you don’t like the way it tastes, don’t express your negative feelings in front of them.  You can politely say “no thank you” if they offer you something you don’t like or, give it a try—you just may discover that you actually like it!


Good Table Manners TEMPLATE #3









Don’t reach over someone’s plate for something.  Politely ask that the item to be passed to you.  Show consideration.

Ask to be excused when you are done eating instead of leaving the table without saying anything.   You can say: “I’m done eating.  Can I be excused?”


Sit up—don’t  hunch over your plate.  Good posture is good for digestion!


Teach your child to place the napkin on their lap right after being seated. The napkin should be used to wipe the mouth. Teach your child to wipe their mouth before drinking from a glass. No one want to see spaghetti sauce on the rim of their glass—my son is guilty of this one, I admit!!

Kids (mine included!) have a habit of wiping their hands on their pants. By keeping a napkin on the lap, they wipe the napkin instead of their pants—and it keeps any stains off their pants.


I have this one listed with different wording in template #1, but it can’t hurt to repeat it again in a different way!   Use a fork and knife to cut and eat solid foods, and a spoon to sip soup—no slurping!!     When you are done eating at a guests house, offer to pick up your plate, utensils and glass and put them in the sink.


…and now for the giveaway!!!!

My gift to one of my lucky readers this holiday season is a copy of  Social Quest—-the recently release app by Smarty Ears (currently $19.99 in the itunes store).  Yet again they have found a way to address  communication skills in an exciting, effective way that will captivate your kiddos while enhancing their ability to practice good social language.   This app specifically targets the social skills of older student on your caseload (upper elementary,  middle and high school age).  In this app, students are taken to various real-life locations and asked to finish sentences or asked questions about what they would do or say in various social situations.  Social Quest is presented as a sci-fi meets medieval adventure… let’s explore this awesome app!


SETTINGS—- Settings can be customized.  When wrong you can remove items, sound a buzzer, or simply keep going.  You can also have audio on or off for reading questions.




SELECT STUDENTS—-Select a photo, an avatar or a blank space (the kids love the knight/gladiator themed avatar!)  Then decide if you will address expressive or receptive language tasks.

RECEPTIVE MODE—-In this setting, you can decide to have students pick one or two correct choices from the three choices given.  They will have to pick two correct choices to get credit, if you choose that mode.  I like that they give this option since we all know that there is never just one right answer when it comes to making choices and solving problems.  It also makes the student have to read through all the choices and not impulsively choose the first one they think is correct without reading on .

EXPRESSIVE MODE—This level is much more open ended.  Students must respond without any choices or cues other than the picture and scenario presented.  This level requires the therapist/user to be subjective in deciding whether the answer was on target.  The player is presented with three bowls and the therapist must drop a “coin” in the “missed”,” almost” or “got it” bowl depending on the response given.  (page down to view a screen shot of this feature)



LOCATIONS—-This app addresses social situations that take place in the following locations:  home (kitchen, bedroom, living room, bathroom, garage/yard); School (classroom, auditorium/library, cafeteria, hallway/office, yard/gymnasium; Community (grocery store, mall, restaurant, neighborhood, movies, doctor/dentist office).  Drag your individual player or multiple players into as many locations as you would like.  Then slide the transporter machine lever to the right and let the fun begin!!!!!!!   The kiddos loved the cool sci-fi sound effects of their player being zapped into the next dimension….ok maybe not quite that extreme, but they were taken to a new location based on their choices.









I  was so impressed by the real life situations and images used to make this app so visually appealing.  And the scenarios were so true to what many tweens and teens are likely to be confronted with on a daily basis!!   Keep in mind that the scenarios can also be used as a platform for eliciting/expanding  additional conversational exchanges.



SCREEN SHOT OF EXPRESSIVE MODE SAMPLE SCENARIO: (take note of the bowls/coins used for judging appropriateness of responses)









REWARDS—–This is my favorite feature of this app!!!  Students earn various rewards in each location.  (There are approximately 70 possible rewards that can be earned throughout the game)  The rewards are automatically collected in the “Hall of Rewards” for later viewing.  Each reward has an icon which symbolically represents a social strategy. (i.e.  the “gift” symbol represents “Will help you give to others in reciprocating conversation, interest and complements”.   I love these strategies and the great messages they contain.  The Hall of Rewards could serve as a lesson in itself for reviewing coping strategies kids should use in different problem solving situations.  Many good lessons can be learned here—- and collecting rewards is very motivating for students!!











REPORT CARDS—In addition to the Hall of Rewards, you can view your students performance by tapping on the report card.  Since there is no specific end point to this app,  you can click “done” at any point that you choose.   You will then be directed to student profiles.  Here you can click to view “Hall of Rewards” or Report cards to access scores.

The report card displays the date, locations played, activity level (receptive/expressive), number of items completed and accuracy (percentage).


You can email results and  print them out.









I was very pleased with the content and features of this app.  It contains a great representation of real-life situations and provides opportunities for students to practice strategies that will help them become better social communicators!!  I found it motivating, easy to use and navigate and had a great data collection page (reports).  The Hall of Rewards gave great strategies for improving social/pragmatic skills.

 If you haven’t done so already, put this app on your wish list to Santa this holiday season!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
















Chocolate Covered Christmas Mice!



 ”….Not a creature was stirring, not even a (chocolate) mouse.”

This week, I’ve taken a line from one of the most recognizable holiday poems of all time, and turned it into a “speechsnack!”  

We are all familiar with this famous holiday poem and now here is a way to use it to address language targets (including grammar, categorization, direction following/sequencing, tier-2 vocabulary development and sentence building) with your older students!
You will need a copy of the poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore for this activity.

night b4 xmasYou can find this activity in my TpT Store:

This activity includes:
•One grammar review sheet with definitions/examples of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs.
•12 categorization cards for brainstorming lists of nouns, verbs, adjectives and other categories. Help your students create a list of words for each category. Write answers in the spaces provided.
•2-page fill-in the blank ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas worksheets. Insert words into the blanks from your categorization cards. Then, read the silly version of the famous poem aloud .
•Vocabulary building worksheets for 14 tier-2 words taken from the poem. Each word exercise contains the definition, multiple choice questions, and WH questions for applying knowledge of newly learned words.
•Sentence building worksheets that include context clues to help develop sentences.
•One full-color step-by-step photo page of Chocolate Covered Mice food-tivity . Blank boxes are provided to fill in the steps in the sequence. As an option, photo boxes can be cut apart and then reassembled together in the correct sequence.
•One written recipe page
•One comprehension page for recalling the recipe and answering other questions related to the food-tivity
•Answer key for multiple choice questions provided



***all the pictures below can be printed out and used for sequencing the steps of this activity.  Simply right click and print!


1 jar maraschino cherries with stems
1 bag Hershey’s kisses
sliced almonds
white decorating icing for eyes



Cover a cookie sheet with wax paper.
Rinse and drain cherries. Pat dry with paper towels. Check for pits and remove if found.









Let your kiddos unwrap 2 Hershey Kisses for every mouse  you plan to make. Place 1/2 in bowl, and reserve the other 1/2. This is a great FINE MOTOR activity for little fingers and  hands! 

Microwave for 45 seconds or melt the kisses in a double boiler.









Holding the cherry by the stem, roll into chocolate, fully coating. This will become the body.  Look out….this could get FUN and MESSY !!

















Let kiddos push a Hershey kiss from the reserve pile onto the front of the cherry to make the head.









Place on cookie sheet. The melted chocolate should hold the kiss onto the body. Continue until all cherries are coated and have heads.









Place 2 almond slices onto the mouse between the Hershey kiss and the cherry to make the ears.









Make eyes with the icing.    Place in fridge until chocolate hardens.  Enjoy your sweet creation!












A Cornucopia of Turkey Day leftovers {and SpeechSnacks for “BUTTERBALL BINGO!” }




If you have picky pilgrims in your house, then this may be the solution to getting them to try some of those delicious trimming they have been avoiding during the holidays!   I’ve simply rolled a flour (or wheat) tortilla into a cone shape and inserted a toothpick to hold it together…with a little imagination, you can see how quickly it resembles a cornucopia or horn of plenty!!  Fill your cornucopia with all the wonderful edibles from your Turkey Day feast—I have included cubed turkey pieces, dried cranberries, shredded carrots, chopped celery, red onion and sliced almonds.  You can add whatever delectables you would like, but I thought this combination was a good representation of foods that we might eat for Thanksgiving.  Let your kids take an active role in deciding what new foods they will add and try. Give them the spoon and let them fill their horn of plenty on their own. EXPLAIN the MEANING of the word CORNUCOPIA to your kiddo.  TELL them how a horn of plenty is a symbol of all the good and wonderful foods that the farmer has harvested and all that we are thankful for!  After filling it, let your kiddo have fun exploring their creation and hopefully taking a taste of all the foods that are in it.  ****Remember to use caution with toothpicks and be present while little ones are eating their cornucopias!!








Looking for a fun way to teach new Thanksgiving Vocabulary?  I created a game called “BUTTERBALL BINGO”  .  Download this printable freebie of three bingo sheets.  Each sheet contains nine different vocabulary words for a total of 27 terms to learn.  Then download and print out the bingo answer key.  Cut cards apart, shuffle and place in a pile or put all cards in a basket.  Have students take turns picking a card.  After reading the definition to them, they must determine if they have the correct picture/word on their card that fits the definition.  The first to fill all nine of the spaces on their card is the winner!! (Use colored chips, pennies or other tokens to cover spaces).

**special thanks to Smarty Ears for their great app CUSTOM BOARDS.  ”BUTTERALL BINGO” was created using the turkey template from this program.  Have you purchased Custom Boards yet??  If you are an SLP, teacher or parent who likes creating your own educational materials, this app is a “must have!”  Many new updates just released—voice over capabilities and new templates just added.  Check it out at the itunes store!



 ”Turkey Leftovers” Cornucopia








Combine left over turkey with shredded carrots, chopped celery, red onion, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds. 









Let your kids have fun stirring and combining the ingredients in a bowl.  Add a tablespoon of mayo, a squeeze of fresh lemon and salt/ pepper.










Roll a medium sized tortilla into a cone shape and insert (weave ) a toothpick into the pointed end of the tortilla.  Ask your kids to name other objects that are shaped like a cone to build vocabulary! 









Let your kiddo spoon ingredients into cone as you hold it upright for them.  Then lay it down and finish spooning in the rest of the filling.  

Using a fork, your kids can enjoy exploring the delicious variety of healthy foods in their very own horn of plenty—-and don’t forget to tell them to be thankful for the bountiful abundance they are fortunate enough to receive!  Happy  Thanksgiving (Leftovers) Day to All!








Election Day Apple Pie—{with SpeechSnacks for APPLE ELECTIONS—cast your vote!}

apple electins

It’s Election season AND apple season—-what a perfect combination!  Both are so symbolic of what defines us as Americans—we love our freedom to vote and we love our apple pie!  This week’s post features a rustic all-American apple pie just like the kind our forefathers would have enjoyed four score and seven years ago!   The kiddos will have fun kneeding, pressing and rolling the dough and then filling the pie crust with delicious, sweet, crunchy, tart apples!!  And because it’s a rustic pie, those little imperfections in the shape, size and folded edges make each one uniquely special.   Enjoy your slice of America as you watch the results roll in on Election Day!  

And I’ve created a simple ballot and voting activity to help teach our young American citizens a little about the election process.  Check out my APPLE ELECTIONS printable freebie.  You will need a sampling of several different apples for this activity.   Cut up a variety of apples (see  the printable ballot for the types used for this activity) and place each type in a separate bowl and label with the proper name.  Give students a  sample of each apple to taste.  Using the ballot provided, each student should check off ONE box as they vote for the apple they liked best.  I have also included a blank write-in ballot so that you may “nominate” your own candidates (this is for those of you who are using different types of apples, in addition to or in place of the ones I have provided)   Tally the results and declare a winner. 
































For this activity, the following comparisons/analogies can be made when discussing the election process and teaching  ELECTION VOCABULARY: 



“apple elections” ballot=VOTING BALLOT

blank ballot sheet=WRITE-IN’S, NOMINATE



discussion about the different apples (taste, size, color)=DEBATE

counting the most votes/least votes for apples=TALLY, MAJORITY, MINORITY

winning apple=PRESIDENT ELECT 






Combine 1 1/4 cups flour, 1 stick of COLD butter (8tblsp.), 1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1-3 tbsp ice water.


Mix together flour, butter, salt and sugar with your hands, a fork or pastry blender. Mix until it starts to form small pea-size pieces. Add in ice water.


Lightly knead, handling the dough as little as possible until the dough forms a ball. Add a little more ice water if necessary. Wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for one hour.



To make apple filling, peel and slice 3-4 medium sized apples—granny smith are best, but other varieties can be added as well.


DESCRIBE the apples using words like: round, shiny, green, red, crunchy, sweet, tart, hard.  Model the descriptive word+apple to help build sentences.

Have your child name as many fruits as they can to work on CATEGORIZATION, do the same with the concept of round and have them name as many round objects as they can think of.

Print and cut out the pictures used in this post and have your child put them in the correct order and try to RECALL as many STEP or DETAILS of the recipe as they can.

Have your older children identify the fractions used for measuring the ingredients in this recipe.  Let them use the measuring cup and spoon to practice this math skill.


After apples are peeled and sliced, squeeze the juice of a 1/2 lemon on the apples to add some mild tartness.  Don’t throw out those apple peels!! They make a great snack—full of fiber and vitamins.  Be sure to use organic apples only , especially if you are eating the skins—avoid ingesting pesticides by doing so!


In addition, you can add roughly chopped walnuts, dried fruit such as cranberries, cherries, raisins, apricots, crystallized ginger.  To your apple mixture also add 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar.  Mix well.


Roll out your pie crust until 1/2 inch in thickness. Place crust on a buttered cookie sheet. Add apple filling to the center of the rolled out dough. Carefully fold up the sides of the dough toward the center, leaving a small opening at the center. Lightly brush the top of the pie crust with egg wash (one beaten egg with a tablespoon of added water). Sprinkle granulated sugar over the top.



Bake pie in the oven at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


Remove pie from oven and place onto a plate to cool. Cut and serve while still warm. Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!





Witches Brew!! {with SpeechSnacks for “I have…who has” Halloween game}

There’s nothing like a good bowl of witches brew to LIFT THE SPIRITS!   So stay for a SPELL and check out the video below for a fun song that your little ghosts and goblins will go BATTY for!     Then head to your own CAULDRON and conjure up some witches brew with the ingredients I have listed below.  Enjoy this spooky snack at your own risk!  Witches brew is known to turn kids into creepy creatures, parents into paranormal spirits and teachers into Transylvania blood suckers!



Get creative with your choice of ingredients….I’ve mixed up some salty and sweet treats for our brew, but you can certainly create other “gross” ingredients from the items in your pantry or by visiting the grocery store snack aisle.  It’s a great opportunity for your kids to “think outside the box” !!!

For this recipe I used:

blue corn chips=bat’s wings

red licorice=bloody worms

cheese curls=rotten bones

popcorn=bat brains

gum drops=spider’s eggs

chocolate chips=witches warts

mini marshmallows=ghost’s guts

yogurt covered raisins=pigeon poop

raisins=bloated ants

sliced almonds=witches nails

kale chips=dried frog skin


Kale is one of the most nutrient dense vegetable you can consume!  Dried kale chips are flavored, crunchy and a great substitute for salty, greasy potato chips!  And these looked perfect for our witches brew.  The color and texture makes great “dried frog skin” !!!!!!!!!!


Have your kiddos add the ingredients to a plastic cauldron.  Ask them to add them in an ordered sequence and see how many they can remember!


Gently toss and stir your witches brew and serve it up!

Download this FREE printable for “I have…who has.” HERE!!!!! 


brew 3












Each card has an ingredient used in this week’s recipe.   Cut out and laminate the cards for durability. Distribute cards evenly among all student in the group.  Ask student to read the card, using proper grammar tense for HAVE and HAS.  For non-readers, model the correct tense and have them use the pictures as cues.  This activity also reinforces good “WH” question formation and LISTENING SKILLS.   



Cut a slit at the top of the pot and adhere it to a piece of construction paper.  Be sure to leave a space at the top to remove all the cards.   Students pick a picture from the pile and  say.: “I put spider eggs in my witches brew.”  The picture is then added to the slit at the top of the pot.  The next student picks a picture and must remember the previous item plus their own.  “I put spider eggs and bat wings in my witches brew.” Play continues as long as students can keep remembering all the items being added to the pot. 


brew 1


So I found this very cute and kid-friendly app in the iTunes store and thought it would be fun to give a few away….It’s called Witches Brew—Halloween Potion making Fun! which was so fitting for this week’s post!!  Sign in to the rafflecopter giveaway below for your chance to win one of four codes!!  Contest ends October 25th at the “witching hour” of Midnight!! 






a Rafflecopter giveaway

Designed by Free Wordpress Themes and Sponsored by Curry and Spice

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: