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.



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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!






Eat Sea Biscuits and Walk the Plank for “Talk Like a Pirate Day!”

Pirate Day graphic

 GoldCountrySLP is having a pirate-themed linky party in honor of “Talk like a Pirate Day” on September 19th and I’m sharing a pirate product from my TpT store!  Be sure to check out all the links at the bottom of her post….you’ll find lots of great ideas to help you celebrate this fun day!  (And this year, it falls on a Saturday, so you can celebrate this theme during the whole week leading up to the 19th!!)

It may not be the best known holiday, however  it seems to have caught on in many parts of the United States and around of the world….September 19 th is known as “International Talk Like A Pirate Day.”  There is quite a story behind the origins of this fun day so after you have swabbed the deck,  weighed anchor, and hoisted the mizzentake a look at the story here!

In honor of ”Talk Like a Pirate Day”, I am sharing a very simple to prepare pirate food called Hardtack or Sea Biscuits (and yes, this was actually eaten by pirates who sailed the seas a long time ago) and could easily be made at home or in the classroom.  If the school cafeteria will let you use their oven, it would be easy enough to make with the kiddos and bake  in school!!  This recipe contains gluten!!

I’ve created  Talk the Plank! Walk the Plank!  (appropriate for elementary level)  and Pirate Language Loot (for middle and high school level.)  You can find both Talk the Plank and Pirate Language Loot in my TpT store!!!!


 cover pirate


  • Ask the physical education teachers at school if they will loan you a few gym mats and you will have instant planks!! All students will begin the game by standing at the end of their gym mat (or a designated starting point)
  • Have the students take turns drawing  pirate themed vocabulary cards. 

pirate 3

  • Ask student to  describe the word or use the word in a sentence.  (Cue them to think of three words/phrases/sentences that describe the picture/word.  If they choose to use the word in a sentence, be sure they use it in proper context and in a complete sentence)  
  • After completing the language task, they can then spin the spinner.  If the spinner lands on “Walk the Plank” they must take one step forward (use the gym mat as a plank or have a designated start and finish line for the plank).  If the spinner  lands on “X Marks the Spot!” they are safe and do not need to advance forward! 
  •  The student to reach the end of the plank first is Shark Bait!!!!   
  • You will need to use a brass brad to assemble the spinner.  I recommend that you laminate all game cards and the spinner for better durability and smoother spinning.

And I haven’t forgotten about the big kids!!   Check out Pirate Language Loot— a vocabulary rich game that targets words related to a pirate theme!  Many of the words are Tier 2 vocabulary and will be beneficial for use in student’s every day written and spoken language!!  36 vocabulary words are included!



pirate rating scale


pirate 2

I made the spinner out of a sword and treasure map!  Even the big kids like a game that’s cute, fun and entertaining!


You can use the graphic organizer as a reinforcer to the game format.

pirate 1

In addition, put your pirate vocabulary knowledge to practice! 10 questions are included that require students to apply their knowledge of different target words to a question.

And I’ve included one of my signature recipe cards in my product, inspired by the pirate theme!  If you teach life skills and have access to a kitchen/oven set up or are allowed to bring in food to share with your students, this recipe is for you!!



Sea Biscuits—aka “Hardtack”

Hardtack biscuits, also called sea biscuits, were a pirate staple on the open seas. These hard biscuits lasted  for weeks when no other food was available. Hardtack was eaten with stews and soups.  To soften, sea biscuits were usually dunked in water, brine, coffee, broth (or some other liquid) ; floated on top of soup so it could soak up the liquid of the soup, or placed on top of food cooking in a skillet meal.  Pirates sailed the sea for months so Sea Biscuits became a food staple.


2 cups of flour
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
6 pinches of salt
1 tablespoon of shortening—I prefer butter

Mix all the ingredients.  It will form a dough-like ball.

Let the kiddos pour and mix the ingredients….kneading the dough is a great sensory-motor activity!!! 

Press onto a cookie sheet to a thickness of ½ inch. ( I rolled it out on a floured board first and then finished by pressing it out on the cookie sheet)
Using a fork, poke holes lightly and randomly over the dough.   

Another great opportunity for the kids—-let them roll out the dough and then help them compare the differences between the round ball they started with and the flattened dough they are rolling and stretching

Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for about 20 minutes.   Keep checking to be sure it doesn’t burn! 

Remove from oven and cut into 3-inch squares

Serve crackers with cheese cubes and grapes!!  (or a bowl of soup if you’re eating this at home)


Looking for some pirate lingo to use on September 19th????

Pirate Phrases

Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! – exhortation of discontent or disgust

Ahoy! – Hello!

Ahoy, Matey – Hello, my friend!

Ahoy, me Hearties! – the same as saying “Hello, my friends!”

All hand hoay! – comparable to all hands on deck

- stop and check this out or pay attention

Aye – yes

Batten down the hatches – put everything away on the ship and tie
everything down because a storm is brewing

Bilge-sucking – insult

Blimey! – exhortation of surprise

Blow me down! – expression of shock of disbelief akin to “Holy

Blow the man down – command to kill someone

Booty – treasure

Buccaneer – a pirate

Bucko – a buccaneer

Cat O’Nine Tails – a whip with nine strands

Corsair – pirates in the Mediterranean Sea

Crow’s nest – small platform atop the mast where the lookout

Cutlass – short heavy curved bladed sword used by pirates

Davy Jones’ Locker – fabled, mythical place at the bottom of the ocean
where the evil spirit of Davy Jones brings sailor and pirates to die

Dead men tell no tales – phrase indicating to leave no survivors

Doubloons – other coins or found in pirate hoards and stashes

Feed the fish – will soon die

Hang ‘im from the yardarm – punishment of those captured in battle

Head – the pirate ship’s toilet

Heave Ho – give it some muscle and push it

Hempen Halter – a noose for hanging

Hornswaggle – to defraud or cheat out of money or belongings

Jacob’s Ladder – the rope ladder one uses to climb aboard a sloop

Jolly Roger – pirate’s flag including white skull and crossbones over
a black field

Keelhaul – punishment in which a person where dragged underneath the
pirate ship from side to side and was lacerated by the barnacles on the

Lad, lass, lassie – a younger person

Landlubber – big, slow clumsy person who doesn’t know how to sail

Letters of Marque – letters issue from governments during wartime to
privateers endorsing the piracy of another vessel

Man-O-War – pirate’s ship outfitted for battle

Me – my

Mizzen – third mast from the bow of the ship on ships that have three
or more masts

Old Salt – an experienced sailor

Pieces of eight – coins or found in pirate stashes

Pillage – rob, sack or plunder

Poop deck – the part of the ship farthest to the back, which is
usually above the captain’s quarters. This is not the bathroom.

Privateer – government-sponsored pirates

Rum – pirate’s traditional alcoholic beverage

Run a shot across the bow – warning shot to another vessel’s

Savvy? – do you understand and do you agree?

Scallywag – mild insult akin to rapscallion or rogue

Scurvy dog – the pirate is talking directly to you with mild

Scuttle – to sink a ship

Seadog – old pirate or sailor

Shark bait – will soon join Davy Jones’ Locker

Shipshape – cleaned up and under control

Shiver me timbers! – comparable to “Holy Crap!”

Son of a Biscuit Eater – insult directed towards someone you don’t

Thar she blows! – Whale sighting

Three sheets to the wind – someone who is very drunk. One sheet is
mildly drunk and four sheets is passed out.

Walk the plank – punishment in which person walks off a board jutting
over the side of the ship while at sea. The consequence is drowning and a visit
to Davy Jones’ Locker.

Weigh anchor and hoist the mizzen! – pull up the anchor and the sail
and let’s get going

Ye – you

Yo Ho Ho – cheerful exhortation to demand attention





Summer Vacation Inspiration for the New School Year (and a Back to School FREEBIE!)

One of the most frequently asked questions you will hear upon returning to school is “How was your summer?”   It’s the perfect icebreaker for initiating a conversation and often elicits lengthy responses.   I know I will personally repeat this questions many times during the first few days with my students.  Not only do I want to hear what my students have to say, but I will also enjoy sharing with them my own summer experiences.  And let’s face it, the real reason SLPs ask a question such as this is so that we can do a quick, informal  analysis of areas such as sequencing skills,  topic maintenance, eye contact, vocabulary  choices, articulation errors, rate of speech, etc, etc ….  This year, I plan on showing them (or maybe boring them with) the DVD I created of my wonderful summer adventure!   We spent several days in breathtaking Acadia National Park in Maine .  We hiked up mountains, biked through carriage roads and walked along the ocean path.  By the time our trip was over, I was ready to look for some Maine real estate and never return home!  ( Wishful thinking! )  Every picture I took could pass for a post card and I hope to use the photos to inspire lots of descriptive language from my students!  {{{If you make it to the end of this post, you can grab the Back to School Icebreaker FREEBIE}}} 

acadia pic

Me with my son and husband after a 2+ hour hike to the peak of Cadillac Mountain–at 1,530 feet, it is the highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard and the first place to view the sunrise in the United States from October through March.
(Some of us were still smiling at least!)

In fact I was so inspired by our trip, that I came home and immediately went to work creating a new product for my TpT store that would commemorate Acadia as well as several other national parks in our great country!    I am so excited to share  Language Advisor: A Trip Through Our National Parks with my students!

cover page park


You’ve heard of Trip Advisor® , a tool that helps you plan your perfect trip. Well now there’s Language Advisor—a tool to help you practice better language skills while you navigate through far off places!

What you’ll find in this very comprehensive packet:


DAY 1: Synonyms in Sequoia: Read the passage page and then determine which word is the correct synonym from the accompanying exercise. 17 words are highlighted from the passage. Bonus activity: Use your knowledge of the words to create sentences from the pairs provided.

DAY 2: Antonyms in Acadia: Read the passage page and then determine which word is the correct antonym from the accompanying exercise. 16 words are highlighted from the passage. Bonus activity: Use your knowledge of the words to create sentences from the pairs provided.

DAY 3: Vocabulary Building in The Virgin Islands: Read the passage then use the “Language Advisor Rating Scale” to determine your understanding of the 14 highlighted vocabulary words. Vocabulary building exercises are included to address application of vocabulary in WH ?’s and a multiple choice format. Word pairs for creating original sentences is also provided.

DAY 4: Compare and Contrast in Yosemite and Yellowstone: Read through the passages on Yellowstone and Yosemite, then determine the similarities and differences between the two parks. Insert the information into one of the diagrams (Venn diagram or optional organizational chart provided.) Use the open-ended page to write a paragraph summarizing the similarities and differences between the two parks and then chose which park is your favorite. Support your reasoning using the information from the text.

DAY 5: Good Listening in The Grand Canyon: Read the passage and carefully listen to the details. Then answer the 12 comprehension cards. Some of the responses will be concrete in nature, however others will require inferential reasoning based on the contents of the passage.

DAY 6: Building Sentences in The Badlands: Highlight/underline the subjects, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and conjunctions in the passage. Use the accompanying page as a review of the parts of speech and the activity page to add words to each category. If there are any remaining spaces, add your OWN words. Then use the following page to create your own sentences based on the lists you have filled in.

DAY 7: Paraphrasing in The Petrified Forest: Read the passage, then use the paraphrasing tips provided to rewrite each of the paragraphs within the passage in your own words.

National Parks Language Album:
Use the following pages to create your own guide to the U.S. National Parks.
Cut or fold the pages along the dotted lines and staple your booklet together. Use the non-fiction, informational passages to assist you in adding details and descriptions to your booklet.
Take your guide home and share the new information you have learned with your family. When you are finished with the activity, you will feel as though you have actually visited all 8 parks! Be creative and have fun!

National Park Data Collection Sheet:
Keep track of student responses for the antonym/synonym and vocabulary portions of this product.




My middle and high school students were given summer reading assignments from their teachers.  I know one of the other big questions I will be asking them is “What did you read over your summer vacation?”  I sure hope they did some reading over the break!   It is so important to keep the mind active and stimulate continued vocabulary and comprehension development through reading!!    My son is a middle schooler and of course I was keeping tabs on the amount of reading he was doing this summer. (I admit I needed to  hound  remind him repeatedly to read the books on his list.)   I  encourage him (and my students) to read non-fiction text as much as possible.  Although I love seeing this age group reading a good science fiction/science fantasy novel,  non-fiction stories have such great substance and help students make connections to real events and people.     Here are some of the books that I personally chose to enjoy this summer—a mix a romance/comedy/melodrama and a big dose of non-fiction:

The Vacationers and The Rosie Project were both very amusing (and definitely NOT books to recommend to middle/high school students).   The Vacationers was a great beach book filled with plenty of family conflicts and humor—the epitome of a very dysfunctional family trying to make the best of their unfolding inner and outer conflicts while on vacation together in Mallorca, Spain.  I was entertained and stressed out at the same time while reading this one!

The Rosie Project was extremely amusing and caught my attention due to the fact that the main character is a brilliant genetics professor with Asperger’s Syndrome (although he doesn’t identify himself as such).  He is in search of a wife and creates a survey as a means of finding Mrs. Right.  Although most women who takes his survey fail to qualify for a number of reasons, (many of which only a “socially  challenged” individual would find unacceptable), he manages to strike up a friendship with one of the women and it begins to develop into something more serious.   It was interesting to learn about the social quirks demonstrated by the main character and see how others reacted to his oddities!

The rest of the books on my list were all very inspirational non-fiction stories about some pretty remarkable people and events!  I would highly recommend I Am Malala and Following Atticus to middle and high school students.  My 12 year old son read the story of Malala this summer as part of his summer reading assignments (take note of the orange post-it’s sticking out of the book in the picture below—-a reading comprehension strategy!  I had him take notes every few pages of 2-3 important details from the story . This is an effective way to review key information later and helpful when writing a summary of the book.)  Malala is an incredible young lady and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  She was shot by the Talaban because of her beliefs in fighting for an education for girls.  A must-read for every American and especially for American adolescents.  We should never take for granted our right to a free education in this country!

My son also read Following Atticus after I completed the book.   After hiking in Maine this summer, I was inspired to read this story about a man and his dog.  They hiked the 4,000 foot peaks of the White Mountains in New Hampshire while raising money for those who died from cancer.  Their real life tale has so many ups and downs and lessons to learn.   I am now following their blog and Facebook page and continue to enjoy learning where this pair will hike next.   If you are a dog lover, this is a must- read!

I also enjoyed Rousey: My Fight/Your Fight. If you don’t know who Ronda Rousey is, then I suggest you turn on ESPN, any sports news stations or visit your local book store because her name is popping up everywhere!  I connected with this story on so many levels.  Ronda Rousey is the UFC’s undefeated champion in her weight class as well as a former Olympic medalist in judo.  She overcame so many obstacles to get to where she is today, including Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS).  In her book she discusses her communication issues as a child and attending speech therapy .   I truly admire this incredible athlete, and although I was a kickboxing instructor for several years, I would never want to find myself in the octagon with her.  She is a force to be reckoned with and has her opponents tapping out in a matter of seconds!   Although I loved reading this story, you will find lots of profanities and inappropriate language so I wouldn’t recommend this one to the kiddos just yet!




You’ve made it to the end of this post!   Thanks for letting me share my summer adventure with you!  I hope you get a chance to visit my TpT store and check out my National Parks product (I really loved creating this and have a new appreciation for nature and our National Park system)  Plus, I have several other Back to School products for your older students.   You can find them all HERE.

Pick up my Back to School free product too…..I hope it helps you start the year off smoothly  and gets your students talking!!   Back to School Icebreaker FREEBIE


 cover page summer freebie


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