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SpeechSnacks Blogiversary Celebration Guest Post and GIVEAWAY: DAY 2 {“Edible Learning” from Smart Speech Therapy}


Multisensory stimulation: using edibles to enhance learning

There are times when we (speech-language pathologists) encounter certain barriers when working with language impaired children. These may include low motivation, inconsistent knowledge retention, as well as halting or labored progress in therapy. Consequently, we spend countless hours on attempting to enhance the service delivery for our clients. One method that I have found to be highly effective for greater knowledge retention as well as for increasing the kids’ motivation is incorporating multisensory stimulation in speech and language activities.

To date, a number of studies have described the advantages of multisensory stimulation for various populations. For example, in 2003 a study published in Journal of Research in Nursing and Health described the advantages of multisensory stimulation for 2 week old Korean orphans who received auditory, tactile, and visual stimulation twice a day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. This resulted in significantly fewer illnesses as well as significant gains in weight, length and head circumference, after the 4-week intervention period and at 6 months of age. Another 2009 study by White Traut and colleagues published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing, found that multi sensory stimulation consisting of auditory, tactile, visual, and vestibular intervention contributed to a reduction of infant stress reactivity (steady decline in cortisol levels). Moreover, multisensory stimulation is not just beneficial for young children. Other studies found benefits of multisensory stimulation for dementia (Milev et al, 2008) and coma patients (Doman & Wilkinson, 1993), indicating the usefulness of multisensory stimulation for a variety of at risk populations of different age groups.

After reviewing some studies and successfully implementing a number of strategies I wanted to share with you some of my favorite multisensory activities for different age-groups. Since Speech Snacks is a blog with a focus on incorporating food in therapy sessions, in this post I’d like to focus on how to creatively utilize edibles to enhance learning.

Before initiating any activities please remember to obtain parental permissions as well as a clearance from the occupational therapist (if the child is receiving related services), particularly if the child presents with significant sensory issues. It is also very important to ensure that there are no food allergies, or nutritional restrictions, especially when it comes to working with new and unfamiliar clients on your caseload.

One of my favorite speech language therapy session activities for preschool and early elementary aged children was inspired by Janell Cannon’s ‘Crickwing’. The child and I begin by constructing and gluing together a large paper flower and dabbing it’s petals with various food extracts (almond, vanilla, raspberry, lemon, root beer, banana, cherry, coconut, etc). Then, using the paper flower as a model, we make an edible flower using various foods. Pretzel sticks serve as stems, snap peas become leaves, while mango, tomato, apple, peach and orange slices can serve as petals. After our food craft is finished the child (and all other therapy participants) are encouraged to take it apart and eat it. The edible flower is not just useful to stimulate the visual, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory senses but it also encourages picky eaters to trial new foods with a variety of textures and tastes, as well as serves to develop symbolic play and early abstract thinking skills.

But multisensory activities are not just for younger children; they can be useful for school-age children as well (including middle school and high school aged kids). In the past, I have incorporated multisensory activities into thematic language and vocabulary units for older children (see resources below) while working on the topics such as the senses (e.g., edible tasting plate), nutrition (e.g., edible food pyramid) or even biology (building plant and animal cell structures out of jello and candy). From my personal clinical experience I have noticed that when I utilized the multisensory approach to learning vs. auditory and visual approaches alone (such as paper based or computer based tasks only), the children evidenced greater task participation, were able to understand the material much faster and were still able to recall learned information appropriately several therapy sessions later.

I find multisensory stimulation to be a fun and interactive way to increase the child’s learning potential, decrease stress levels, as well as increase retention of relevant concepts. Try it and let me know how it works for you!


  1. Doman, G & Wilkinson, R (1993) The effects of intense multi-sensory stimulation on coma arousal and recovery. Neuropsychological Rehabilitation. 3 (2): 203-212.
  2. Ti, K, Shin YH, & White-Traut, RC (2003), Multisensory intervention improves physical growth and illness rates in Korean orphaned newborn infants. Research in Nursing Health. 26 (6): 424-33.
  3. Milev et al (2008) Multisensory Stimulation for Elderly With Dementia: A 24-Week Single-Blind Randomized Controlled Pilot Study. American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias. 23 (4): 372-376.
  4. Tarullo, A & Gunnar, M (2006). Child Maltreatment and Developing HPA Axis. Hormones and Behavior 50, 632-639.
  5. White Traut (1999) Developmental Intervention for Preterm Infants Diagnosed with Periventricular Leukomalacia. Research in Nursing Health. 22: 131-143.
  6. White Traut et al (2009) Salivary Cortisol and Behavioral State Responses of Healthy Newborn Infants to Tactile-Only and Multisensory Interventions. Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing. 38(1): 22–34


Bio: Tatyana Elleseff MA CCC-SLP is a bilingual SLP with a full time hospital affiliation as well as private practice in Central, NJ. She specializes in working with multicultural, internationally and domestically adopted as well as at-risk children with complex communication disorders. For more information visit her BLOG, STORE, or follow her Facebook page.


And now for today’s giveaways…..Enter to win Baking Up Good Speech! from Speech Time Fun and What am I?  from Just Wright Speech.  Click on the links to check out their awesome prizes and other items in their TpT stores!!  This giveaway will stay open until September 8 at midnight!

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SpeechSnacks Blogiversary Celebration Guest Post and GIVEAWAY: Day 1 { “The WHY’s and HOW’s of Using Food in Therapy” from Home Sweet Speech Room }



Thank you so much to Rose for this opportunity to do a guest post for all of you today!  I have a love for food and a love for therapy, so how fun to combine them, right?? Today, I’m going to tell you why I use food in therapy and also a few examples of how we’ve used it.   Quick, simple, and hopefully helpful for you!


1. Food is fun for most kids (provided they don’t have sensory issues).
It can be very motivating.

2. You can target a lot with it.  You can use it as a motivator to target anything, but you can specifically target articulation (with the names of the food), language (describing the food), and social skills (talking around the table, turn-taking ,etc). among others!
3. It’s different than traditional therapy with flashcards.
4. It allows kids to be creative, depending on the activity.
5. It allows sensory kids to work on different textures and tastes.
6. Snack time can give the kids a little bit of a break.  Of course, we as therapists are targeting something, but to them it’s a break.
7. It’s easy to relate it to a theme!
8. It works for all age groups!


Holidays are the easiest for me to do this with.  Make sugar cookies that go along with that whatever holiday and have the kids decorate them.

Cupcakes are another easy one.  Decorate the cupcakes to be any animal.

For the Three Little Pigs, we bought stick pretzels, licorice bites, and veggie sticks to represent the three different materials used to build the houses.

For a palm tree, we cut up bananas for the trunk, green grapes for the leaves, and oranges for the sand at the bottom.

We made dirt cups one day with chocolate pudding, crushed Oreos, and gummy worms.  Not only did they eat them, they helped mix up the pudding and crush the oreos.

For the Fourth of July, we made flags out of blueberries, strawberries, whipped cream, and graham crackers.  They used the cracker as the base, spread the whipped cream over it, the blueberries on for the stars and the strawberries on for the stripes.

WHERE to find these ideas:
Pinterest.  Honestly, I think all of our ideas came from there this summer.  They do not necessarily turn out looking like the picture, but it is at least a starting point for you!

Have fun and be creative.  If you’re excited about it, the kids will be, too!!

Thank you again to Rose for this great opportunity.  I hope you got some ideas!  If you liked this post, I would love to have you follow me on Facebook, Pinterest, or Teachers
Pay Teachers

Carissa is a current graduate student and  blogs over at Home Sweet Speech Room. She is doing her thesis on thickened liquids with infants and children with dysphagia and hopes to one day work in a children’s hospital. She absolutely loves photography, shopping, and shoes.  

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And now for today’s giveaways…..Enter to win Gingerbread Synonyms and Antonyms from Carrie’s Speech Corner and Food Category Sorting from Megan Moyer.  Click on the links to check out their awesome prizes and other items in their TpT stores!!  This giveaway will stay open until September 8 at midnight!

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SpeechSnacks Two-Year Blogiversary Celebration {A Week of Guest Posts and Giveaways!!}


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I can’t believe two years have passed since I started my adventures in blogging!  (Here is my first ever blog post, published on September 2, 2011. )  I say “adventure” because that is truly what blogging has been for me!   Like a good adventure novel that one might read, I have experienced excitement,  surprise, suspense, highs and lows, and met so many ”characters” along the way.  Unlike a good adventure novel, my story doesn’t have an ending yet.  That’s because after two years,  I continue to enjoy sharing my thoughts, ideas, recipes and inspirations.

My blog has transformed somewhat over the past two years.  I started out sharing healthy recipe ideas and incorporated ways to address speech and language into the process.  I  geared most of my posts toward families and hoped to inspire them to teach their children to speak and eat well.   As time went on,  I focused my ideas on ways that  therapists could incorporate edible learning into their sessions, although I realize that food allergies and school-related  restrictions could present an issue.  So I decided to start a TeachersPayTeachers store as a supplement to my blog posts in hopes of making my ideas more usable in the school setting.

If you follow my blog, I thank you.  It is because of you that I continue to write.  It is because of my students that I continue to be inspired.  And it is because of my passion for my profession (and food, of course) that I look forward to what I do everyday!!   I hope that I have helped make a difference to a child, parent or fellow-educator in some small way, because that is what makes it all worth while!!

I am sharing a  FREEBIE that I created .  It is a favorite  poem of mine. (I have included three different styles). Feel free to download it and display it as an inspirational reminder of why we do what we do in this profession everyday!  


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Now for the GUEST POSTS and GIVEAWAYS!!!!   I have some amazingly generous and talented  ”speechie”  friends who will be guest posting each day this week.  Several have also donated their food-themed TpT products to help me celebrate my blogiversary!  There will be FOUR giveaways–so feel free to enter ALL of them.   Each giveaway will be for TWO products.  I will begin posting giveaways tomorrow (9/2/13).  All giveaways ends at midnight on September 8th!


Love It and List It Linky…Organization: SpeechSnacks Style {and a FREEBIE!}

It’s time for another Linky Party!  Speech Room News is hosting— and this month’s topic is ORGANIZATION!!  I must admit, I am one of those “a place for everything and everything in its place” kind of people,  so anything related to organization is right up my alley!!  You’ve probably seen a million amazing organization ideas from other bloggers.  They’ve all been very inspiring.  I decided to put a fun and functional spin on this topic by adding a food/kitchen theme to my organizational ideas.

So here are three ways to organize your supplies, SpeechSnacks style!   PS…read on to the bottom of the post for a TpT product I created, inspired by this organization-themed post!!


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No I’m not going to cook anything in this post, but your speech room might be looking a little bit like a kitchen with a cutlery tray (from the dollar store),  coupon organizer (also a dollar store find) and muffin tin (I didn’t get this one from the dollar store, but I bet you could find them there as well!)




 1.   Coupon Holders:

These little gems are the perfect size for storing all the great game cards I’ve been busy printing and laminating from the TpT Back to School Sale.  They are sturdy and compact and a great alternative to the zip lock bag.  Shop around because you can often find these for under a dollar in many discount stores.



I used the coupon holder for organizing all the various color-coded category cards from “Don’t Say It” Describing Dash (created by Teach Speech 365).   The various sections in the  holders are also perfect for organizing articulation cards into initial, medial, final positions as well as phonological processing activities and any language activities that have multiple parts that need to be kept sorted and separated for easier access.     



2. Muffin Tins:

If your desk at work has a long top drawer, this is a great space to store this compartment organizer.   I love how so many different items are right at my fingertips at a glance.  Great for all those little items that would otherwise get lost, find their way to the back of a drawer, only to be recovered when cleaning out your desk at the end of the school year.  I used the muffin spaces to store game pieces, tokens, dice, rubber bands, paper clips, push pins, erasers and of course little treats—I love chewy caramels and keep a stash available in my desk at all times!!!!



3. Cutlery Holder:

These trays come in various colors and sizes with lots of  long spaces for pens, pencils, glue sticks, markers, scissors and other items.  Sure, you could get your run-of-the-mill black desk tray from an office supply store, but they are more expensive and not as pretty as this hot pink one.  You could even buy a couple and stack them on top of each other if you have a deep drawer for double layered storage.




Here’s my kitchen organizer-inspired TpT product.  For a dollar a piece at your local discount store, you can feel good about splurging on a few more of these trays to accompany this fun organization game.

This game is great for addressing good organization, executive functioning and categorization skills.


fork cover pages

Collect the cutlery in your tray according to the point value on the cards.  After the player provides the response(s), they can draw the number of utensils indicated on the card. The player to collect the most utensils in their tray is the winner!



36 game cards and 12 blank cards to add your own categories included.  The SLP/teacher should decide HOW MANY items the student will name, depending on the difficulty level they wish to address.

Make 3-4 extra copies of each of the cutlery pages to have enough for the game.



And if you want MORE ways to get ORGANIZED, check out my STUDENT ORGANIZATIONAL HOME PLANNER.   I created it with my older students in mind.  It’s a great way to help your kids get just as organized as you so that they too have a smooth-sailing, successful school year!   Check out the blog post on Student Organization HERE! and the Student Organizer HERE!



My Top 10 TpT Back-to-School Purchases

If there’s one thing I love almost as much as cooking (up good speech),  it’s shopping—and boy did  I have fun shopping for back to school items at the huge TpT Back to School Sale!


Unlike some of the personal purchases I’ve made in the past– like those really pretty etched wine glasses that I just had to have even though I already had perfectly good wine glasses at home…or the cute but pricey little black party dress that I only wore once but couldn’t resist buying for a special function I was attending,  this is one shopping spree I don’t feel one bit guilty about!   I know I will put these items to great use in my therapy room—they will enhance my student’s learning and be great additions to my bag of tricks.  I work primarily with middle/high school students and a small caseload of preschoolers. Since I have tons of stuff for the little ones, I made purchases that would benefit my big kids. So here’s what I splurged on during the TpT Back to School Sale (in no particular order):


1. “Don’t Say It” Describing Dash from Teach Speech 365.  I can tell this is  going to be fun and challenging for many of my big kids.  Students draw cards and describe the given item, but they can’t use the word(s) on the card!  A great variety of categories and playing cards are included.











2.  Activities for Older Students Bundle by Speech Time Fun. so many activities in this one bundle.  It was my most expensive purchase, but I will get plenty of use from it so it was well worth it! The bundle includes 136 pages of the following activities:
Building Vocabulary For Older Students
Character Traits Fun
Glasses Building Vocabulary Fun
Go Together Pack for Older Students
Sequencing & Recall for Older Students
Summarizing Fun
Synonyms & Antonyms for Older Students
Tricky Comprehension Questions Card Game
Wild Word Fun: Prefixes











3.   Social Problem Solving Scenarios for Adolescents:  Jeopardy Style  by Splashy Speech Stuff.  This print or no print game includes social problems related to Dating, Graduation, Employment, Utilities, and Schedules.    I spend some of my time in the “Careers” class with the high school kids.  This is going to be the perfect reinforcer to use when I work with them!










4. Graphic Organizers for SLP’s from Speech Time Fun.  I loved the variety!  I use graphic organizers a lot so these will definitely be used all year long.










5. Articulation Menus by Speechy Musings.  I currently have a very language-based case load and I’m not sure I will be using this with too many kids for articulation right now, but it was too amazing to pass up!  I think I will try using it for working on social skills related to ordering in a restaurant or auditory memory for remember the foods ordered.  There are lots of practical uses for this one outside of the articulation realm!



6. Idiom of the Week by Speech with Sharon. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  The graphics that go with these idioms are great!  I address idioms constantly with my older kids—so many of them need to strengthen their figurative language.  Now I can feature one per week– will make for a great warm-up activity!



7.  Universal Newspaper Activities by Jenna Rayburn.  I love practical, real-world activities that are also great for language building.  This newspaper themed packet addresses so many skills:  Opinions, Cause/effect, Problem Solving, Synonyms/Antonyms, Multiple Meaning Words, Fact/Opinion…the list goes on and on!  This one is going to be a lot of fun!


8.  Sandwich Writing by Figuratively Speeching.  I have a hard time passing up a food-themed item, especially when it addresses writing skills and the higher grades.  This one fit the bill on all counts!   Writing a story just got a lot more appetizing!



9. Reading Comprehension Tic Tac Toe by Speech in Secondary.  I like her products for the older students!  This item turns all those comprehension skills like fact/opinion, problem/solution, main idea, and author’s purpose into a fun tic tac toe game.  My students will definitely be motivated by a little friendly competition!











10. Practical Problem  Solving by Carly Fowler.  This one is so perfect for my middle/high schoolers who need work on perspective taking and problem solving. It’s full of everyday scenarios related to school, time management, and working with others.








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