The 2017-18 school year is coming to a close. I hope that you can say that your child has improved their speech and language skills, and that they are leaving as more confident communicators. I would say that about my students, and I would also say that they are a joy to work with. Your kids make me laugh, think, and enjoy coming to work. Thank you for sharing them with me!
We wrapped the school year up by celebrating summertime. We read And Then Comes Summer, talked about our own summertime adventures, ate snacks, listened to Olaf sing In Summer, and ended the school year playing some of our favorite games as we practiced our speech and language skills. There is a button text at the bottom of this blog post linking you to a document to discuss elements of the book at home with your child.
In personal news, I wanted to share with you all that I will not be returning as the Speech-Language Pathologist at McAuliffe next year. I have been given an opportunity to work part time and be with my family more, so after 14 years of practicing speech therapy in the school setting I am saying goodbye (for now). This decision was very difficult and I am sad to not be apart of the wonderful McA staff, but I am excited for a change and to spend more time with my children, Drew (7), Jace (3), and Lauren (2). My oldest son will be in 2nd grade at McAuliffe, so I will still see my students at school events and when I visit from time to time. I have left lots of notes on how fabulous your kids are and any information the new SLP may need as she takes over the McA speech caseload, so your child's speech services should pick up right where I left off.
I know that you all will be enjoying a slower pace, water activities, vacations, late nights, and many other things that summer brings, but please still keep in mind that practicing your child's communication skills is important. I have shared below some different ideas to help your child practice speech and language over the summer.
Articulation (you can use the artic word lists on my website or the documents I have shared on my blog throughout the school year):
Thanks again for raising fabulous kids, and I am excited to hear of their adventures and accomplishments as they grow!
With Love, Mrs. Rabalais
A few weeks ago we had a really cute bear theme in speech where we spent time discussing all things bears, reading bear books, playing bear basketball, and making a bear face snack. The goal is always to update the blog when we do themes so that you know how to talk to your child about the things they did during therapy. However, spring is the busiest time of year with evaluations, ARDs, etc. so the blog never was posted. Sorry!
I am happy to get some time to share with you all about our Ice Cream theme that we did the last two weeks of therapy. We have squeezed an Ice Cream squishy, made an ice cream snack, played an ice cream game, colored an ice cream picture, and read an ice cream book. At the same time they practiced all of their communication skills as they explored the world of delicious ice cream!!
Some of your children may have brought home ice cream worksheets this week, others will be sent home next week. I do ask that you would please use the attachment (click the button text box below), the picture above, the book, or the materials sent home to practice your child's communication skills.
Soon we will all be enjoying our own Ice Cream Summer!!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Life picked up it's pace, and I went from blogging a couple times per month to skipping 2 months. I wanted to let you all know what your child has been up to in the speech room over the last few weeks. We have had a week of a snow theme where we read Snowmen at Night, The Snowman, Frosty the Snowman, and/or Snowie Rolie. We had fun imagining the things our Snowman may do at night or what we would want to do with a snowman if he came to life. It would have been great if winter would have provided snow in order for the kids to have more concept of making a snowman, but we had fun making a snowman with cotton balls and making/eating a snowman made from marshmallows. Your kids hopefully made it home with a snowball activity sheet and/or things to practice at home.
Today and tomorrow we are talking about love and the different meanings of the word by using two books Dragons Love Tacos and Froggy's First Kiss. The students will compare and contrast the word love in different contexts by asking the question, do we love tacos the same way we love our moms? In Froggy's First Kiss we have been able to pull a lot of pragmatic language from the book regarding paying attention in class, why it's impolite to stare, how Froggy felt throughout the book, and why it is rude to tease someone. Your kids should come home (some won't be sent home until tomorrow) with a small treat from me and a heart sheet with activities for them to use as carryover practice at home.
When we haven't had a theme, we have used games and activities in my room to work on everything from describing (using Apples to Apples, Bubble Talk, or Don't Say it), to articulation repetition (Go Fish, Memory, Basketball), and semantics (Buzz Word and Magic Wand game).
As always, I am grateful for you all and how you love your kids. Thanks for sharing them with us, and keep working on their communication skills at home. This time I don't have a link attached at the bottom of this blog with a sheet of things you can use to facilitate language at home, but hopefully the take home sheets provided will be helpful.
Next year we may spend two weeks on Halloween because we had such a good time practicing our communication skills through all things spooky. We practiced words like skeleton and monster, sequenced steps to making spider snacks, and read fun books about Creepy Carrots and 10 Timid Ghosts. Thank you to those of you that sent me pictures of your students dressed in their costumes. I wish you could have seen their faces as I surprised them with pictures of their own costume, and asked them to share their Halloween events. I have attached the PDF with lots of different skills you can practice with your child at home.
Have a great weekend!
We had a fun time in speech last week exploring apples. If you didn't know that you could facilitate speech and language through fruit, ask your kids about all we discussed about apples!! I have attached the PDF of questions/activities we used as a launchpad to facilitate speech and language regarding apples. In addition, your child should have come home with a sheet of words to practice or questions to work on for extra practice.
Books we read:
Ten Apples Up On Top
Apples to Apples
Hi Ho "Apple" Oh
Following Directions to Coloring Apple Pictures
Making Apple Tree Snacks
Comparing/Contrasting different apples
Next week will be filled with all things Halloween.
I hope your sweet kiddos came home talking about our Pirate Theme this week. We created pirate names, and the kids laughed at names like Captain Squidlips and Jones McStinky. We ate pirate snacks of Pirates Booty and Golden Coins (Gold Oreos) and described what they taste like as well as compare/contrast the two snacks. The students colored pictures of pirates, listened to a story about pirates and worked on language concepts from the story, and practiced pirate phrases like "Me Hearties" and "Scurvy Dog".
Here is a link to a YouTube video of the book if you want to review it with your child while using the attached PDF. The PDF contains all the information you need for carryover ideas. In addition, your child will come home with a coin sheet that has practice words or questions, a pirate coloring sheet to describe, and a treasure chest coloring sheet to cut out coins and glue on as they practice their words.
Pirates say arrr!
As I said in my last post, I am going to try to write here more often so that parents can be updated on what their child is working on during speech therapy. Last week we talked all things football, and hopefully you received your child's materials to do some carryover activities at home. Refer to my last blog for additional football ideas.
This week we went back to some of our old school games and activities that the kids often request. Here is a glimpse into what your child worked on in therapy (this is only a loose description because we target your child's individual IEP goals):
I am trying something new in therapy this year. A few weeks out of each month will have a theme to the week, and all activities and target skills will be based on that theme. The themes will range from outer space to football to pirates. Sometimes materials will come home as carry over practice. I will post here 1-2 times per month regarding the theme and what you can expect to come home. If I don't post or if nothing comes home, you can assume that we did not have a theme that particular week (which doesn't mean your child didn't work super hard in a super fun way!!).
Our first theme of the 2017-18 school year is FOOTBALL! Why? Well, because it's fall in Texas and football is on the brain. Materials to practice will be sent home at the end of this week or beginning of next week.
Please comment here or send me an email regarding your thoughts of having a theme and extra practice at home.
I have been a speech therapist for almost 10 years, and for those 10 years I have lugged around the same gigantic book that contains lists of sounds in all positions of words, phrases, and sentences. My book is now falling apart and my arms are tired from carrying this book around. A few weeks ago I came across an iPad application called Word Vault.
Word Vault is exactly what it sounds like....a speech therapist's dream of 30,000 words, sentences, stories, and more! The creators over at Home Speech Home were generous enough to let me try the app, and I am now convinced that they have created a brilliant and convenient way to eliminate carrying around those large manuals of words.
The articulation vault brings up a list of sounds, and from there you can choose the number of words on the screen, the word position of the target sound, and number of syllables.
The therapist can have up to 8 word lists open in order to save time in group therapy. The app creator provides this list of ways to use the app for articulation therapy.
Syllable Level - use the “Non-sense Syllables” list for quick practice.
Imitated Word Level - no pictures makes the younger child have to imitate.
Spontaneous Word Level - increases productions in the reading child.
Sentence Level - client can create a sentence using the word on the screen or read from the “Sentences” list.
Reading Level - “Shorter Stories”, “Longer Narratives”, “Problem Solving Scenarios”, “Social Scenarios”, and “Inferencing” provide quick reading material.
Conversation Level - client can use all the words on the screen to tell a story or use “Conversation Starters”, “Story Starters”, or “Social Scenarios” as a prompt.
In addition to articulation, the app also contains a language vault, phonology vault, an a social skills vault. The language vault contains a huge amount of skills that students can work on.
The phonology vault has useful things such as difficult blends, minimal pairs, and multisyllabic words. Last year I spent sometime creating a list of r/w minimal pairs, but this app does all of that for you so that you would never be caught in the middle of a session trying to think of minimal pairs for words.
Last, the social vault contains a lot of skills that are abstract and can be difficult for some kids. The conversation starters alone contains 43 different topics!
I can think of so many ways to use this app. I have already paired it with basketball, and next week will use it alongside a game of Uno. So, for example on basketball day I have the students roll a dice and then work on the coordinating number of skills. Once they have worked on their words or language skills, they are allowed that same number of shots in basketball. I no longer have to have multiple materials, books, or sets of cards out for therapy. I can just use this app and work on all types of goals. Did I mention that there is an icon on the screen to email straight from the app the exact things you are working on in therapy? I love any convenient way to have parent's involvement in reinforcing learned skills.
The only thing I would like to add in this app is the ability to record students production of the sounds and/or keep data. I have access to two iPads at work, so last week I used one iPad for the list of sounds and recorded the students with the other iPad using QuickVoice. You could also use an iPhone to record the students.
Overall, I think this app will provide years of usefulness. It's a little higher priced than I pay for most speech and language apps, but to me it is worth every penny when you think of how much one therapy manual costs. Thank you Luke, for letting me try out this wonderful app and I look forward to using it for many therapy sessions ahead!
I love my iPad!
Using the iPad in therapy is one of my students favorite things to do. From my preschoolers to my 5th graders, they all request "the hair salon game". So, typically after directly targeting their speech goals I will give them each 2-3 minutes in the Toca Boca Hair Salon. At home, you too can allow your children to use this app, but I encourage you to do so intentionally. Rather than leaving your child alone with the iPad so that they're quiet and isolated, use it as an opportunity to enhance their speech and language skills.
As they are changing their client's hair you can ask them questions to work on present progressive verbs, past tense verbs, speaking in complete sentences, naming colors, pronouns and more. For example, while the child is playing I may say, "What are you doing to your person right now?" I am looking for the student to respond with something like, "I am dying (or painting) his hair green." In that one sentence I can get an idea of their understanding of using present progressive verbs, their ability to speak in complete sentences, their use of pronouns, and their knowledge of colors. If the child responds with an incorrect statement about their person, such as "her hair blue." I can gently correct and provide a model of correct sentence structure. I may go back a few steps and reteach colors or present progressive verbs.
This app can also be used to enhance student's receptive language skills. If they are currently working on following multi-step directions, I may provide them with 2-3 step directions and see if they can follow them. For example, in the beginning I may say, "When you open the app I want you to choose the bear, dye her hair green, and put two bows near her ears." Hopefully the child will be able to utilize the strategies they've previously been taught in order to recall all 3 directions, but if they can only remember one maybe take a break and reteach how to recall multistep directions.
Other ideas, have the student answer wh- questions about their picture or work on their ability to describe the picture. Who is your person, where are they going after the hair salon, what are two things you did you do to your person, and when was their appointment. Sometimes I allow the child to play with the app for 1-2 minutes uninterrupted and then ask the wh-questions. I may get a response such as, "My person's name is Bella and she is going to the prom, so I washed her hair and dyed it green. Her appointment was on Monday." Again, if the child's goals are centered around using past tense verbs, describing, answering wh-questions, or speaking in complete sentences this is great practice.
Articulation therapy can be incorporated into any activity. After reviewing your child's speech sounds, you could challenge them to use 5 words that contain their sound in describing their picture. So if the child is working on the /r/ sound. They may say their client's name is Harry the Wolf, his hair is sticking straight up, and he is going to a rock concert. If the child is too young to answer in complete sentences I may just give them the words containing their target sounds that I want them to practice.
Sometimes I use it as a reinforcement activity. After the child has practiced 10 words, they earn 1 minute in the hair salon. At home you can work on 10 words, take a 1 minute break using the app, and then practice the 10 words again.
You can use this app to talk about basic concepts (the hair is sticking up, now brush it down), feelings (how is this person feeling about their hair?), and to allow them to speak or write creatively. Give them the writing or speaking prompt regarding their hair salon client and then let them be creative and elaborate the story.
Speech and language skills have to be incorporated into kid's daily lives. We work hard in therapy to improve the student's communication skills, but when things are reinforced at home they learn that speech and language skills are just not things they work on at school, but actual concepts that can be fun and are important to their everyday life. Technology is a wonderful thing when it's used as a fun learning tool. I will soon be posting other ideas on using the iPad at home!