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Building Connections by Sharing Traditions during the Holidays {FREEBIE included}

This past week I used several holiday themed reading passages with my middle and high school students to highlight tier-2 vocabulary as well as reading comprehension and identifying main ideas and supporting details.   I use these sites as some of my best go-to resources for finding great age-appropriate text:

One of the words we came across in a passage was “traditions.”  I proceeded to ask some of my middle schoolers if they could provide examples of traditions that their families celebrate during the holidays.  Their answers included , ” I don’t know of any,” “We don’t have any,”  “I’m not sure,” and “What are those?”   Our lessons became a great teachable moment as we began a discussion of traditions.  I shared many of my own family’s traditions that I experienced growing up and found that many of my students became very engaged and interested in hearing more.  They were also motivated to put more thought into their own traditions .   By the time our lesson was over, my students could name at least one tradition  their family celebrated.   For example, “We always go to my aunts house on Christmas Eve.”  “We open gifts only after Christmas morning mass. ”   “We have lasagna for dinner on Christmas Day.”   ”We fry all of our Hanukkah food with olive oil.”

I went home that evening and began searching for family photos and other pictures that represented  holiday traditions in my own upbringing.  I shared a few of these visuals with my students:

During the holidays, my family has always celebrated an Italian-American tradition known as La Vigilia (The Feast of Seven Fishes).  This celebration commemorates the wait, the Vigilia di Natale, for the midnight birth of the baby Jesus. My mom cooks this Christmas Eve feast every year. It includes at least 7 different fish dishes as well as other side dishes.   It is the most anticipated night of the year in my family!  Our table looks something a little like the picture below:


My Polish-American background is also big on traditions during the holidays.   We break oplatki or “Christmas wafer” prior to our feast.  Everyone gets a piece of oplatki on their plate and we all take turns breaking off a piece of each others wafer. This Christmas Eve observance symbolizes unity and solidarity with all members of the family.


Growing up, it was a tradition for me and my three sisters to get a new pair of pj’s from our grandmother on Christmas Eve.  Very often we received identical pj’s so that we all matched!   It was a very cute tradition and I adore looking back at the photos of me and my siblings in our matching outfits! I am the oldest of the siblings—the first one on the right in the picture.   (I think my students found this one pretty amusing!)


Another holiday tradition in our household was the baking of the cookies.  My mother made at least 7-8 different types of cookies for the holidays.   Today, the tradition has been past down to me!  I make many of the same cookies as my mom and have added a few new additions of my own.  I bring them to our La Vigilia feast every year. (And yes, I like to take pictures of my Christmas cookies as shown below!!)

xmas cookies

cookies 4

I enjoyed sharing these memories with my students.  It was fun walking down memory lane and it gave them a better understanding of this concept.

(My list is too long, but I  have many other traditions that I celebrate with my own family, some old ones as well as some new ones that we have established over the years.   For starters, my son received his first Hess Truck from Santa on his first Christmas and will be guaranteed a new Hess collectable as long as they keep making them!   I’m sure he will find it very amusing to receive toy trucks when he starts entering his adult years!)

hess truck

I was inspired to put together a packet that would be a great follow up to our discussion about traditions.  I will be using this activity in the days leading up to our holiday break.  I think it will be a great way to tie in vocabulary building, written language and conversational skills.   You can grab this FREEBIE in my TpT store here!

traditions freebie

During this holiday season I hope my students can take away the following messages about traditions:

  • Traditions can be unique to our own individual family units and yet they also help us connect with others  since many of us share similar traditions.
  • Holiday traditions apply to all religions, ethnic groups  and races.  Even the smallest of gestures that you participate in annually can be considered a tradition.
  • Although our students might not quite realize it yet, the memories we build and the people with whom we celebrate our traditions is far more valuable than any material gift we  receive!

What are your holiday traditions?   I’d love to hear how you celebrate!   Wishing you all the best during this festive season. Health and happiness in 2015!

What’s In Your Cart? Linky Party!

linky pict 2014

It’s time for the TpT site wide cyber sale and I’m getting ready to do some serious shopping and saving on Cyber Monday!   Jenna at Speech Room News is hosting another linky party so that you can easily browse and shop for new therapy products by visiting all the SLP’s that have linked up with their recommendations.  Check out my list below.  It includes some great suggestions from my own store as well as some gems that other talented SLP’s have created.  I can’t wait to add new materials to my therapy lessons.  It’s always so rewarding to find just the right product to help motivate my older students!

From my store, here’s the latest:

night b4 xmas

The Night Before Christmas Companion Packet:  I can’t wait to start using this  poem companion with my older students. There are so many great tier-2 vocabulary words in this classic poem.  I know my students will have a whole new appreciation for it once we take a good look at word meanings.  And I have a super-fun food-tivity to share as well.   If you are permitted to use food in therapy, you’ll love this project included in the packet!

calendar pic 2015

Newly updated for 2015:  My Recipe Keepsake Calendar would make a very special gift, a fun craftivity, a cookbook and a great way to address temporal concepts all rolled up into one!    If you would like a project that your students can give a family member in time for the holidays, look no further.  Oh, and it makes a great calendar to hang in your speech room as well.  Use the recipe pages as inspiration for food-tivities to use in your speech and language sessions all year long.

I’ve also added two bundles to my store.

A holiday-themed language bundle……

Holiday Bundle Preview 2014 1


…as well as a winter-themed language bundle.   Check these out for some great savings during the sale!

winter bundle preview

And now for some great products that I will be adding to my cart during the sale…..

Safebook–Perspective Taking   by Slprunner.  This product is so relevant for today’s kids.   I like that I will be able to use it as an opportunity to discuss internet safety and keep them interested in a current trend.  I can never have enough social skills/perspective taking materials.


Selfies and Social Skills  (by Mia McDaniel) Selfies?! Say no more—I think my middle school social skills kiddos are going to give this two thumbs up!



8th Grade Vocabulary Activities by Big Hair Speech Therapy.   This product appears to have lots of great tier-2 words appropriate for my high school students.   I’m always looking for ways to address vocabulary development and it’s not easy to find products for older students so I am looking forward to checking out what this product has to offer.


Social Problem Solving by Speechasaurus presents social problem solving using real-life scenarios.   I love products with practical application so I think this will be a meaningful product for many of the students I teach.

social pict


I’m looking forward to kicking off the month of December and the holiday season by taking advantage of these great finds.   Check out all the amazing product ideas at the link up!   Happy shopping!!

The Last Hurrah! How (Bitter) Sweet It Is!

Well this is it folks!   Facebook is putting the “kibosh” on us!   As of November 5th,  Facebook is changing its policy and anyone with a Facebook page will no longer be able to ask those who visit  to ”like” you for a freebie/giveaway.   Naturally we found it fitting to dub this last giveaway ”The Last Hurrah!”

So why is it so (bitter)sweet?

1–The obvious reason (it sure has been nice getting all those likes, comments, followers, etc.)

2–Our theme is a “sweet” one.  The freebies will all  have a candy theme.  Our frenzy includes 22 freebies. We have each created a set of game cards addressing various speech/language targets.  The candy theme can be used throughout the entire year since there is no one holiday candy used for the freebies.  Plus, to go with all your game cards, one SLP created an amazing candy-themed  game board.

3–Now for the “bittersweet” part.  I was invited to join this group of talented SLP’s when they originally formed over a year ago.  This will be the  7th frenzy/giveaway  that I participate in.   I’m so glad I said “yes!”  when I was asked to join.  It has enabled me to not only gain more exposure for my blog, TpT store, etc., it has also inspired me to keep creating new materials and ideas.   I am proud to be among this group of SLP’s.  We represent various parts of the country, various ages, years of experience and areas of expertise, however we all have one thing in common, a love for our profession and a passion for creating  new and exciting ways to inspire those we teach!  So thanks ladies, it’s been a blast!

Our frenzy will start this Sunday, October 26th at 9 am EST and continue until Monday, October 27th at 10 pm EST.

Click on the picture below to download a clickable doc frenzy map.  Open the map up in Google docs and click on any of the squares.  It will take you to that specific Facebook page.  My freebie is last (but not least) on the map. 

oct frenzy


Here is the cover page for my freebie—Candy-Coated Questions {for higher level thinking}  There’s enough content in this little freebie to last an entire lesson, and then some!  And I’ve included my signature “SpeechSnacks” recipe card for a yummy chocolate/pumpkin fall treat!    Enjoy your  ”sugar rush” as you collect these sweet freebies!

candy freebie cover


A Spooky, Toothy Halloween Treat {and a speech and language food-tivity}}

Oh how I wish it could stay October forever!!  I love this time of year for so many reasons.  The beautiful fall weather, the festive harvest decorations and spooky Halloween décor,  fall festivals and delicious fall foods!!  October always seemed, to me, to be a calm and relaxing time of year.  The school year has settled into place and the craziness and stress of the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons has not yet hit (although it is not far behind!)    In the spirit of this fun season, I have a “food-tivity” to share.  It includes a very popular harvest-time fall fruit (apples!) and a few other simple ingredients.   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 cover


This 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:

Pages 3-5 address the question: How do you produce speech?  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.

Pages 6-8 include 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.

Looking for more Halloween activities to use this month?

Check out my Vocabulary Building activities for your older students here and here:

apple 2


Delight, De-stress, Deliver–with 3D SLP {Product Review and Giveaway!!}

Last month I was contacted by Amy Kunstle, the creator of 3DSLP (   Don’t you just LOVE the clever name!?  3D stands for DE-light, DE- stress and DE-liver and boy does this company accomplish all three!  Amy is a registered dietician and speech-language pathologist (what an amazing combination of professions!)  in private practice in Southern Colorado. She is also the CEO and owner of 3DSLP.   Amy has been a pleasure to collaborate and correspond with over the past few weeks and has put her heart and soul  into launching this exciting new product and website. Today I am so ecstatic to tell you about her fun, high-quality, thoughtfully assembled, literacy-based “product box.”    You will be smiling  from ear to ear when you’re finished reading all about it—not to mention, it will make your busy SLP life a whole lot easier!

3dslp pic

I was greeted by this package on my front door after returning home from a long day of work and was giddy with excitement to get in the house and open it up!!

3d1The contents inside had me cheering out loud at my dining room table!   After an exhausting day,  I realized just how valuable and appreciated these materials would be in the upcoming weeks and months.   And please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE purchasing and creating  TpT materials and will continue to do so—but this product took all the downloading, copying, laminating and cutting out of the picture for me.  Plus I won’t need to stop by the dollar store, library or supermarket to pick up a few extra items to supplement my lesson—it’s all included in the package!  This product definitely got the “de-stress” part right!

3D SLP’s mission is simple.  On their website they state:  “We want to delight you, de-stress you and deliver to you educational resources that will make your job more fun and your life easier. Our literacy-based box and website of rich resources are designed just for you.”

I couldn’t agree more!   Their dynamic subscription box contains a carefully chosen book, suggested target goals, complementary apps, manipulatives, coordinated craft projects, custom worksheets and extension-learning ideas as well as a very thoughtful thank you gift.

Wondering who could benefit from this product?

The box is designed for professionals engaging with school-aged children in the realms of speech-language pathology, education, special education, Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Education (CLDE), Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) and home-school environments. It is also appropriate for families interested in promoting literacy-based activities with their children. These materials can be used individually or with a group and provide multiple learning opportunities across a range of literacy, language and social-interaction goals.

So here is exactly what I found inside my box of goodies:


Upon opening this professionally curated box, I was greeted by items wrapped with “3dslp” logo tissue paper and glossy finished colored pamphlets, folders and activities!   I felt like a kid at Christmas time as I reached into the sturdy, beautifully designed  box to view my treasures.  Inside I found a Scholastic book: “One Cool Friend” by Toni Buzzeo and several other materials that address the theme “Fall is for Friendship.”  I love this message for the back to school months.   This is when so many kids initialize new friendships and re-connect with old friends.   The penguin theme is another plus!  I can pull out these materials again when the cold winter months hit here in the Northeast as well.

3d3Along with the book, I received:

  • a pre-reading activity page with questions and vocabulary to address prior to reading the story
  • a full-color glossy print, penguin-themed ”Chillin’ and Spillin’ ” game board printed on sturdy paper , for use with the book,
  • a penguin craftivity template with a materials list and directions for using the craftivity conjunction with the book
  • a six-page pamphlet to accompany the materials that includes game rules for the game board, leveled vocabulary lists (easy, medium, hard), leveled reading comprehension questions (i.e.:  How does the problem in the story get resolved? Who had a secret in the house? What is the setting of the story?) , ideas related to articulation goals and “thinking outside the box,” and leveled questions geared toward social/emotional goals (i.e.: Have you ever made a friend feel happy? sad? What did you do to make that friendship better?)

3d4Also contained in the box:

  • A package of Pepperidge Farm Gold Fish crackers.   I was famished and almost ripped into them before realizing they were needed for the craftivity game!!
  • A set of adorable plastic penguin manipulatives (momma and three baby penguins included) to be used with the game board provided.


3d5The box seemed bottomless as I pulled out  more surprises…..

A $10 iTunes gift card for use with the suggested animal-themed apps (a set of questions is included as an activity to use along with the recommended apps)

And finally a special gift just for you!  I opened my lovely wildflower seed paper (which can also be recycled by planting in soil) to be greeted by the perfumed fragrance of Dead Sea Salt and Pacific Sea Salt blend.   The beads can added to your bath or placed in your dresser drawer to leave it smelling like a field of flowers! Such a thoughtful little addition to this box of therapy treasures  and so relevant to the “de-stress” portion of the company’s motto!!!


3d6So by now your face must be hurting from smiling so wide!   Are you loving this wonderful service and interested in how to obtain your own box of therapy materials that will Delight, Destress and  Deliver?

Here’s how it works:

When you sign up for a subscription,  you will be mailed a themed literacy-based box (appropriate for children ages 5-11.)  These materials can be used individually or with a group and provide multiple learning opportunities across a range of literacy, language and social interaction goals.   Each box is $45.00 (including shipping).   The box is shipped on the 20th of the month with 3-5 days expected shipping time .  You will received a new shipment every month (auto-renewal) unless you decide to cancel your subscription.  You can find all the ordering-related details on the company’s website.

Additionally, your monthly subscription will include access to their website (officially launching in October 2014),  detailed information on use of the box including Common Core information, and three feature articles. There is also a community-based members forum where you can engage with other members about various practice topics.

Their resources gallery is another feature of the website and showcases apps, blogs, books, products and course announcements.  This is sure to be a valuable source of information, with   so much to see and make reference to all in one central location!

November’s theme will be  “A Recipe for Adventure” with the book “How to Make and Apple Pie and See the World.”  I will be a guest blogger as part of their “Delight” column in November with some fun ways to use apples in the home or therapy setting while addressing speech and language development.

Interested in checking out  the product for yourself?

Amy was extremely generous and is offering this product box as a giveaway on my blog!  There will be one lucky winner!!  The giveaway is open to anyone living within the Continental United States.  Contest ends at midnight on Sunday September 28th!

If you would like to receive a high quality, professional and thoughtful product to use in your speech and language sessions,  then enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below.  You are in for a special speechie treat that is sure to  Delight, De-stress and Deliver!

(Click below to enter!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclosure Statement: The opinions expressed in this review are solely my own.  3D SLP provided me with a product box to review.

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