Archive for the ‘“Speech Snacks” target sounds’ Category

Virtual Christmas Cookie Exchange Linky!


Annie Doyle (Doyle’s Speech Works) is having a virtual cookie exchange!  I was so excited when Annie brought up the idea and knew I would be linking up!  This fantastic SLP and I also happen to share some things in common.  She used to live in my home state of New Jersey, she is of Italian heritage and she loves to cook and bake!   I love how blogging has allowed so many of us get to know each other!  Hopefully I will get to meet Annie in person someday soon!

I was brought up with the influences of two cultures, Italian and Polish.  My very Polish mother cooked great Polish as well as Italian meals.  And when the holidays approach, cookie baking was always a main event in our home!  Me and my three sisters helped my mother make eight to ten different types of cookies for the holidays.   Today, the tradition has been passed down to me!  I make many of the same cookies that my mom did and have added a few new additions of my own.  I bring them to our La Vigilia (Feast of the Seven Fishes) every Christmas Eve.

xmas cookies(A sampling of some of the cookies made by me during the holidays!)

One of the cookies that has always been the first to disappear from the cookie tray is the Polish lekvar cookie.  It just isn’t  Christmas at our table without the lekvar cookie present!  It is one of the most labor-intensive of the cookies I bake and I have learned to gain great appreciation for all that  hard work my mom put into these wonderful creations. We savor these cookies since Christmas is the only time of year that they are  made.  Not only are they time consuming to prepare, but it just seems out of place to enjoy them at any other time of year!   (NOTE: This cookie is also known as  Hungarian Kiffles or Hungarian Lekvar and as Hamantaschen by the Jewish).

Today I am sharing this wonderful cookie tradition with all of you.  I hope you enjoy them as much as my family does.

So here is the secret ingredient—prune butter.  Prune butter? Yup!  It really is wonderful.  Believe me, even the little kids love this!!  It’s made from sweet, dried plums and really is a fantastic filling for these cookies.  I also made these cookies with apricot filling although the lekvar filling seems to be the more popular of the two.

prune butter

Check out the recipe card below.  There are only a few simple ingredients that go into this recipe so it doesn’t appear very complicated, however the tedious part lies in the rolling, cutting, filling and folding.   But don’t let that intimidate you! Once you have made a few batches, you will be an old pro, and the finished product will be well worth it!   Enjoy the process.  If you have kids at home, get them involved and make it a teachable moment in measuring, sequencing and direction following. Most importantly, make some memories as you spend time together during this holiday season!

lekvar recipe


lekvar 1


Looking for more cookie recipes to add your to holiday collection?  Don’t forget to check out Doyle’s Speech Works to find more sweet creations!  Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!



The Frenzied SLPs—Gobble Up the Holiday Goodies {Linky Party}

Frenzied SLPs Gobble Up Holiday Goodies Square (1)

The Frenzied SLPs have a Thanksgiving themed linky with some holiday goodies for you. Thanksgiving is only a few days away, which means a short school week for many of us!   I’m sharing some holiday-relevant ways to fill your instructional time while  keeping your students excited about learning.  And keep reading to the end of the post for a creative way to use up all that delicious left over turkey!


#1:   A Cornucopia of Tier Two Vocabulary— from my TpT store.   I created this with the middle to high school set in mind. It includes some key Tier-2 vocabulary, strategy and game dice and a 3-D “Cornucopia Cup,” (as I call it), for collecting all the game pieces earned in this activity.  Themes include Black Friday, The First Thanksgiving, The Mayflower….and more!  It’s ON SALE this week only so hurry and gobble up the savings!!!!

tg preview


cornucopia preview


#2   Use this food-tivity  in place of the paper cornucopia (above) . Your students will LOVE getting edible reinforcer to incorporate into my  Thanksgiving vocabulary game —or use this creation as a positive reinforcer with any activity of your choosing for a fun and festive diversion from the usual game tokens!!  (Make the cornucopias in advance at home. Use candy corn, candy pumpkins, marshmallows, gum drops or healthy fruit snacks, yogurt drops, etc as reinforcement tokens to fill the cone.)

cornucopia cone


#3.  I’m paying homage to  Tom Turkey with  a food-tivity  that is fun to make, healthy to eat, will teach sequencing and direction following and is sure to be the juiciest turkey you have ever eaten!!   NOTE:  NO TURKEYS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS FOOD-TIVITY!!

I like to accompany this activity with the story “Twas the Night Before Thanksgiving”  by Dav Pilkey.  It’s an adorable story with a humorous twist and it ties in perfectly with the fowl-free sequencing food-tivity .  The story is filled with many great tier-2 vocabulary words to address with your younger students.

 You can download your copy of my SEQUENCING TURKEY FREEBIE here!!!

Each step contains ways to build language through DESCRIBING, COMPARING, CATEGORIZING, SEQUENCING, DEFINING, and DIRECTION FOLLOWING.  Incorporate the pictures into your language lesson.  If permitted, make this task truly MULTI SENSORY by using the actual ingredients in the classroom.  If this is not possible, send home the printouts so parent can create the project at home with their child.turkey pict 1
turkey pict 2


#4 .   Looking for a way to use those leftovers?  Having company after the big turkey day?  Check this out!  Turn your turkey leftovers into a cornucopia wrap.  Plus, your picky eaters at home will love filling their own healthy snack tortilla!  (Yup, I will take full credit for this brilliant creation!)

  • Combine left over turkey with shredded carrots, chopped celery, red onion, dried cranberries, and sliced almonds.
  • 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.
  • Spoon ingredients into cone as you hold it upright., then lay it down and finish spooning in the rest of the filling.

cornucopia leftovers photo


#5.  I love posting a Picture of the Week/Joke of the Week in my therapy room.  This is what my students will get to laugh about/think about this week. Perfect for addressing inferencing and critical thinking.   I  hope the vegetarians among us aren’t too offended!

turkey pict


Are you already thinking ahead about the next BIG HOLIDAY???     You can find lots of activities for your older students all in one place—my store!!  Click HERE and HERE for my FREE Holiday activities and HERE  and HERE for MORE Products that target language goals with your older students.

christmas free

traditions freebie


night b4 xmas

You can link up or check out more speech goodies from some tremendously talented SLPs below!  Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving filled with the comforts of family, friends, good food and plenty to be thankful for!

Thankful & Grateful Blog Hop {The Frenzied SLPs}

graphics for thankful blog hop

The Frenzied SLPs have a special treat for you this month— a scavenger hunt style blog hop where we will share our thankful and grateful stories while inviting you to participate in our giveaway. Three lucky winners will be chosen to each receive a $10 Teachers Pay Teachers gift card and a $10 Starbucks gift card.  I think that is something to definitely feel thankful and grateful for!!

I am thankful and grateful for so many things, however when I  reflected on what I am most thankful for,  I realized  that the simple things in life were at the top of my list!  I decided to create an acrostic poem to sum up my reasons to be thankful and grateful.  Not only was it a fun and meaningful exercise for me, but I think it will make a great lesson for my students.  I plan on sharing my acrostic with them as inspiration for their own ideas. I work with middle and high school students, but this could be used with younger  children as well.

Want to make your own “I am thankful”acrostic poem with your students?   Click on the link for the brainstorming page and template that I created.  It’s my  small gesture of thanks to you this holiday season.  I hope you find it useful in helping your students become aware of all the things—especially the simple things in life—that there are to be thankful and grateful for!

I am also so thankful to those of you who visit my blog and take the time to read my  about my thoughts and ideas.  Special thanks to The Frenzied SLPs (and especially  those Frenzied SLPS who put together the details of this month’s blog hop!) I love being a part of this fantastic collection of talented SLPs.   Please scroll to the bottom of the post and write down my letter.   I am the second to last on your blog hop.  Once you have figured out  the completed phrase, enter the giveaway at the end of this post!

acrostic blog hop

Here is how you can participate in the blog hop:

 1. Read each Thankful and Grateful post from The Frenzied SLPs!

2. Collect the character at the bottom of each post. Don’t forget to write down the characters in order to reveal the secret phrase.

3. Enter the Rafflecopter at the end of any post by entering the phrase.

4. Visit The Frenzied SLPs Facebook Page for an extra entry.

5. Three winners will be chosen after the Rafflecopter closes on 11/13/2015.



next blog



first blog

 blog hop letter s


a Rafflecopter giveaway



The Frenzied SLPs Halloween Language Linky

Halloween linky frenzied slps

The Frenzied SLPs have some fantastically frightful Halloween-themed language ideas for you—just in time for Halloween!  Be sure to check out the great ideas in this linky and you’ll have all your lessons planned for Halloween Week–and then some! I’m sharing a few of my most popular activities.  They’ve already been kid-approved since I’ve been using most of them for many years.  And these activities can certainly be used with the big kids too!!  While many of our older students may look like they are on the verge of adulthood,  keep in mind that they are still just kids in “big people” bodies.




Dollar Store Ideas:

The Bloody Hand Game!

              One bag of skeleton plastic rings= $1.00                   

One severed, bloody plastic hand= $1.00.   

My middle-school kiddos love this fun and gory-looking activity–especially the boys!!  You can use this activity for keeping track of correct responses for any goal you are targeting—vocabulary building,  comprehension questions, etc.  Each student in the group claims rights to one finger.  When a correct response is given, the player gets to slip a ring onto the finger.   Whoever has the most rings piled onto their finger first is the winner!   (I cut  the rings at the back to make them easier to slip onto the fingers if necessary).




Foam Pumpkin Head Direction Following

             One foam pumpkin=$1.00                

One bag of scary face pieces= $1.00

I love foam carving pumpkins—no slimy seeds to deal with!     The scary face pieces easily press right into the foam pumpkin and stay put.  I would use them to address direction following, spatial concepts, If/then statements, as positive reinforcement for any targeted goal.  For example:  ”Put the left ear next to the stem and the eyes below the stem.”   OR “If bats sleep in caves, then put the nose on the pumpkin, if they don’t, add the left ear.”   You can make the task as easy or complex as needed to meet the ability levels of your students.



Pick Up Your Eyeball! 

One bag of plastic bloody eyeballs=$1.00

Gotta love these bloodshot eyeballs!  Twelve plastic pieces came in a pack.  They are about the size of ping pong balls and bounce pretty well so I know my  kiddos are going to try and bounce them around the room, but I have different plans.   Number your eyeballs with a permanent marker.  For my purposes, I used numbers 1-4 on eight of the balls, but on the back of three them I put an “x” (you could also use a scary Halloween sticker).  Students get to reach into a container and pick out an eyeball after responding to a questions for the language area you are targeting.  Keep a tally of the points earned, however if they pick the X or scary sticker, they must put all eyeballs back in the box!!    Lots of suspenseful ups and downs in this eye-popping game idea!!






(From my TpT store:)

If food is permitted in your school/therapy setting here are some activities that you MUST check out!

Spooky, Toothy Apple Treats

The project was inspired by a popular food activity found on Pinterest, however I have modified it to make it meaningful for our speech and language students.  It will be a big hit regardless of the age, grade, ability level of your students and the materials target both your speech and language needs.  You can find my spooky, toothy creation in my TpT store. 

apple coverThis project serves several purposes:

  • It is a fun and quick Halloween themed treat that is relatively healthy and  simple to make.
  • It addresses various language areas.
  • It teaches your students an underlying lesson regarding the parts of the mouth that help us form speech sounds!

What you will find in this activity:

Includes a simplified informational page about the articulators, an open-ended questions regarding alternate ways to communicate and a page to list words that are made using various parts of the speech mechanism.  This activity is a great way to build greater awareness in students working on articulation and speech sound awareness.

A recipe for A Spooky Toothy Treat, a fill- in- the- blank page for recalling and sequencing the steps in the activity, and full- color step by step  photos to print out and use for a sequencing task in place of, or along with, the actual food activity. Each photo contains a blank box to write in the step in the process and blank sentence strips to write in the steps describing each picture.


(ALSO from my store:)

Mummy Muffins 

1—Split English muffin apart and lay flat.

2–Spread on a thin layer of tomato sauce.

3–Cut a slice of cheese into thin strips.

4–Randomly criss-cross cheese strips onto muffin.

5–Arrange black olive slices and red pepper pieces onto muffin to form the mummy’s eyes and mouth.

6– This snack can be eaten as is, or placed into a microwave for 30 seconds to melt the cheese and enjoy warm!

  • Use this activity to target sequencing and direction following.
  • Address categorization by naming types of cheese, foods that are round, black foods, salty foods, foods made from tomatoes, and red foods.
  • Ask students to think of crazy combinations for pizza toppings or make up agrotesque Halloween pizza with all sorts of ghoulish toppings!

mummy muffin 1


mummy muffin pict
My Mummy Muffins food-tivitiy  inspired me to create this TpT product —lots of great Halloween themed vocabulary for your older students!!!!

mums the word

Witches Brew!


If you are permitted to use food in your schools, here’s a delicious way to incorporate a treat into your sessions this week.  Have your students add the ingredients to a plastic cauldron.  Ask them to add them in an ordered sequence and see how many they can remember!  Then download my FREEBIE that goes with this food-tivity!!!!  Each card has an ingredient used in this 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.

0031-300x225 brew

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

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” !!!

i have who has thumb



For those who use an integrated model (working in the classroom or with a larger speech group):

Do you partake in a push-in therapy model in your school?   In addition to pull-out therapy, I provide this service on a weekly  basis as part of  my student’s IEP’s.   Several of my speech/language students are in each of the three classes that I spend time in.   I love the functionality of the push-in model.  Seeing students in the classroom setting and observing how they respond and interact in a class full of peers provides one more opportunity to address their IEP goals in a meaningful and practical way.

spider web activity


If you work in a classroom with a teacher who is open to suggestions and  likes when you share creative ideas, then I have an activity for you!  You will be addressing language goals for categorizing and naming tasks with your language students while engaging the entire class in a fun and functional activity.  The only thing they will be focusing on is all the fun they are having weaving their spider web, while you get to observe and make note of their language skills.

To weave your web of words, you will need a group of students sitting in a circle and one ball of white yarn.   If you have more than 15-20  students in the class, divide them into two equal groups and each group can create their own web.

The first student loosely wraps the yarn once around their waist so that the yarn stays in place.

Pick a category or topic that you would like students to generate answers for.  The student with the ball of yarn must give a response to the category.  Then they need to call out another student’s name and toss the ball of yarn to them.  That student wraps the yarn once around their back, gives an answer and then tosses it to someone else.  Continue until you wish to change topics/categories.  Your yarn should start to take on the resemblance of a ”spider web.”

You can also play this activity as a memory game.  For example, play “I went trick or treating…..  and I got—-name a candy   The next player must remember all the previous responses and then add one of their own before tossing the yarn ball to the next person.

Need some Halloween themed ideas for playing this game as a categorization task?  Here are just a few.  Name…..

  • things that are orange
  • things that are black
  • synonyms for “scary”
  • Halloween costumes
  • things you do at a Halloween party
  • fall activities
  • things you eat made from apples

Wondering how to get  out of the tangled web after they have had fun creating it?  They can lift the section of web that formed around them over their head or an adult can cut them free by snipping their section with a pair of scissors. (Please use caution.  It would be a good idea for them remain seated while doing this part!)

Do you use a push-in model in your speech/language therapy program?    This might be a fun way to work on some language skills while equally including everyone!



The Frenzied SLPs Linky Party: Middle School Materials and Motivators

middle school motivators

If you have middle school students on your caseload, then you’re in for a big treat today.  The Frenzied SLPs are holding a linky party and the theme is : Middle School Materials and Motivators so get ready to wow your tweens and teens with some great ways to keep them focused, motivated and feeling a little more positive about attending their speech sessions!

I live in the world of the middle school student right now–literally!   Not only do I teach this age group all day long, I have a seventh grade son of my own, so middle school madness is a daily occurrence in my household.  I know how the mind of the middle schooler operates.  Can you say prefrontal cortex” ten times fast?   Well I sure can— and I repeat it every time my seventh grade boy makes a silly decision, acts in a less-than-mature manner or says something goofy/inappropriate/confusing/unrelated/humorous.  Yup, that about sums up a middle school boy (and girl too in many cases.)  And although my son is a bright, high achieving student, he is also very disorganized and lacks focus—-again, classic traits of many  middle school kids.   Here is a recently published article “Inside the tweener’s brain—The middle schoolers brain”  from GreatSchool’ . It contains some great insight into the role of the prefrontal cortex and how it is responsible for some of the behaviors of adolescents and teens.    Rest assured, many of these behaviors are only temporary, and as the young adult mind matures, their reasoning, organization and decision making skills also mature and develop. ( In many cases, this may not happen until boys are well into their 20′s, so I have to tell myself to just hang in there!! )    In the meantime, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the adolescent brain will help both therapist and student have more productive, well-directed therapy sessions.

middle school factsHere are a few of the ways I have successfully connected with my students.   But first remember: a little patience, humor and compassion goes a long way as our tweens and teens experience some of the biggest changes and challenges during this tricky time in their young lives!

1.  Know your students!  Of course knowing their IEP goals and present level of functioning is essential, however I’m talking about really knowing their likes and interests.   If you can connect with an interest, hobby or event that they are interested in, then you have won half the battle.  For example, I have a middle school girl who loves anything related to clothing fashion. I searched the internet and found several interesting articles about current fashion trends for the fall.   We used the passages to address new tier two vocabulary as well as conversation skills and just like that, painlessly targeted two IEP goals.    As another example, a boy on my caseload is a huge fan of Johnny Cash.  Well no sooner than I could say the magic words “Ring of Fire” (a popular Cash song) I had his full attention.  He shared his book on the biography of Johnny Cash with me and we went to work searching for main ideas and supporting details with no complaints or resistance.

2.  Have your students get to know you! I keep a picture of my family on my desk, (including our family pet).  I will often share stories about the mischievous antics of my crazy dog as well as how my son spent the weekend and what he is learning in his middle school.  My students are genuinely interested in hearing about my life, just as I am interested in knowing about theirs.   The will often ask me how “crazy dog” and “middle school boy” are doing and what they are up to lately.  I recently wrote a blog post about our summer vacation and discuss how I shared my vacation memories with my students at the beginning of this school year.   I have also blogged about my holiday traditions and making connections with students by sharing the ways they celebrate the holidays with their families.  These conversations are definitely not a waste of a therapy session!   They are great ways to address a variety of goals while  showing your students your human side.

And if you are looking for some great TpT products that were inspired by my summer vacation and holiday traditions posts,  you can find them in my store: here and here.

cover page park

3.  Food–the great equalizer!!  I don’t like to use food to bribe but a few fruit chews, pumpkin cookies or yogurt drops goes a long way with this crowd!   I am fortunate to work in a school which allows food in the classroom. I always check with my school nurse first for the students who have allergies.  I keep a student allergy list in my planner as reference.  I am also a very health-conscious person in my own life so I only give to my students what I would feed to my own family as well.  I keep a stash of snacks that are free of artificial dyes, colors or hydrogenated oils.  It’s generally pretty easy to find snacks that fit the bill at my favorite store of all time, Trader Joe’s.   I stock up on a few of these treats and keep them in my desk drawer.   When do I pull out my secret stash?    1–When we are having a particularly successful session and I want to reward students for working hard and staying focused.  2–When I am working with a student who is struggling to get motivated and I’ve tried to verbally encourage and redirect with little success.  3-  When it’s a special occasion like a student’s birthday,  or when a holiday is approaching.    I let my students know that the treats are occasional, not a regular occurrence.  I also remind them of the importance of saying thank you.  Occasional treats have been a successful way of giving praise, breaking down the invisible wall with the challenging student or just taking a break from the usual verbal positive reinforcement in therapy sessions.  And I must admit, I enjoy partaking in the treat with my students as well.

4.  Keeping it current!  Middle school students should be aware of what is going on in the world around them.  Not just the world of Instagram, Snap chat and friends, but the real world and real issues!  After all, they will soon be heading out into the great big world as adults.  Issues about health, politics, the environment, and money are timely, relevant ways to discuss non-fiction content while also addressing speech and language goals!  I keep the following sites saved to the favorites bar on my computer.  Whenever I want to find a current event, I have several excellent sites to pull from.  I use these articles to address vocabulary, comprehension, written language skills, auditory memory, articulation and many other goals.   Here are some of my recommendations:

5.  You Tube!    I love using quick video clips (usually no longer than 2 minutes in length) to work on sequencing, WH questions, inferencing, problem solving and social skills.  Some of my favorite video clips are from America’s Funniest Home Videos. I also like using commercial clips and video clips of animals and babies being  funny, silly and cute .  Although the animal and baby clip usually contain very little verbal language, there are tons of non verbal cues which make for good inferencing and problem solving exercises.   I have never had a middle school student complain about having to watch a video during our speech sessions.  Most students ask if they can stay longer or watch more videos when they come back next session.  Definitely add You Tube/video clips to your list of motivators!

6.  Jokes!  This year, I have been starting off my sessions with a “Joke of the Week.”  I had a few joke books lying around at home that belong to my son who is a big jokster!!  I started writing jokes on my white board at the beginning of the day and now my students come into my room and expect to see a new joke when they enter!  Here’s an example of last week’s joke:  What do you call an everyday  potato?”  A commentator!   (LOLOLOLOLOL!!)  I think it was pretty clever and funny–and so did most of my students.  A few understood it right away, a couple laughed but I could tell they didn’t really get it and a few just rolled their eyes at me!   I asked students to explain the joke to the rest of the group as well as define the word commentator and then use it in a good sentence.  I got a lot of mileage out of such a simple, silly little joke!  If I can get middle school kids to smile and laugh, then I’d say we have had a successful session!  You can find lots of jokes online. Do a search for “jokes for kids.”  Just make sure they are all “clean” and age- appropriate of course!

7.  Play games!  There are a myriad of speech/language games on the market and I use many of them, however sometimes keeping it simple is best. I keep a collection of colorful dice,  a container of magnetic chips and a magnet wand and a few dry erase markers and  small white boards handy at all times.  You would be amazed by the level of motivation and interest you will get when you tell your students they can roll the dice to earn chips and keep track of their own scores.   I always play along too and tell them that I will earn their points if they can’t provide the answer!  They hate the fact that I might possibly win so it motivates many of them to work even harder.   (By the way, I always make sure they know the games are purely for fun and if I have a student who  gets upset by the friendly competitive nature of a game involving points, then I avoid that type of reinforcement!)

8.  My TpT store!   Creating materials for the big kids can be a challenge, however I’ve tested out my products on my own caseload and receive the seal of approval for the activities in my TpT store.  There are other SLPs who make great TpT materials too so be sure to search the TpT site for products that will motivate this age group.  Here is the link to the products in my store made especially for older students along with a visual preview of some of the products I offer for the older crowd.  I hope you find something that will benefit this fun and challenging age group!






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