FREE Speech App for Speech Language Pathologists

FREE Speech App for Speech Language Pathologists

Looking for a fun, engaging, interactive, FREE speech app for your toddlers, preschoolers, and young students with special needs?

I found an awesome one called Speech Blubs

This subscription-based app is free for SLPs for use on one device. Children mimic sounds and words while looking at videos of engaging kids. My primary functional skills classroom loved it when I used it as a reward activity during therapy. A couple of my students that generally won’t try to imitate words, actually tried this. I was sold right then and there.

The kids really enjoy seeing the kids in the app. It’s just so natural for them to imitate other kids.The colorful images are clean, super-fun and engaging. When you activate the camera the kids can see themselves on screen, which they love (it’s like looking in the mirror). In the Early Sounds section, the kids imitate an animal noise. When they do this, fun things happen. Donkey ears appear on their head or maybe even a duck.

You have to see for yourself in this short little video I made.

Isn’t that great?

If you feel you can use this with your students, go to the App Store and download Speech Blubs. Follow the prompts and make sure you indicate that you’re an SLP so you can get your free copy.

Guess what? For a limited time, I’m giving away 10 free codes for you to share with the parents of a student. I think this would be so great for practice and interaction at home. The code is good for a 6 month subscription. If you’re interested, just comment below with your favourite animal from the app. I’ll choose ten winners on Monday, September 18, 2017.

A Quick, Inexpensive Way to Get Started with Core Vocabulary in the Classroom

A Quick, Inexpensive Way to Get Started with Core Vocabulary in the Classroom

Do you struggle with planning functional communication therapy?

Do you leave those sessions feeling frustrated and like it nothing is working?

I sure used to.  And then I discovered the power of Core Vocabulary.

You can add structure, consistency and fun to your sessions by using Core Vocabulary. You’ll be amazed at how you can do more with less!

 It’s not just for labeling. These words are used to comment, request and command.

Of course, you want students to learn many other words, these are fringe vocabulary. But by focusing on core words you are teaching them a vocabulary that is used most often throughout the day and that they can use throughout their daily lives from classroom to playground to cafeteria to home.

So what exactly is core vocabulary?

Core vocabulary is a small set of simple words, in any language, that are used frequently and across contexts (Cross, Baker, Klotz & Badman, 1997).  These words make up 75-80% of the words we use every day.

I love to use big core vocabulary boards with my students. You can choose your core words from many sources and create your own board using symbols.

I just created this core vocabulary board. I spent months tweaking the size, the positioning of the symbols and using it with my students. Here’s what I love about it:

  • Big squares are easy for little hands to grasp and large enough to see clearly.
  • Made for classroom and/or speech room use
  • Uses DLM Core Vocabulary words which are evidence based

 

It’s available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store now.  Included with the board are two different choices of backgrounds, one vibrant and one more subdued. There is also a smaller poster to put on the classroom door to help with carryover. And smaller squares to use for lanyards to encourage use of the core vocabulary words throughout the day.

If you’re sold on Core Vocabulary but wondering how to get started, I also included enough ideas to get you through a few sessions incorporating wind-up toys and movement.

Click on this link to see the Big Core Vocabulary Board.

Psssssst…April 7th only….This is at an Introductory Price of just $5.00 (I know are you kidding me? That’s  a whole lotta resource, that will last a lifetime) 

I hope this gives you a good start. I don’t teach core vocabulary for the whole session, but consistently work it in for 10 to 15 minutes of each 30 minute session.

Keep coming back, because I’ll be sharing more ideas on how to use core vocabulary to make communication gains. Also join me on Instagram, where I share lots of ideas in my Instastories.

I’d love to hear from you once you’ve tried this. How did it work for you? What new ideas did it generate?

Hugs and high-fives,

How I Used Core Vocabulary to Get Results: A True Story

How I Used Core Vocabulary to Get Results: A True Story

Last week I shared 3 tips on how to AAC Like a Boss.  They were: 
  1. You don’t have to know everything
  2. Be Resourceful
  3. You don’t have to start high-tech.
Good stuff, right?!
To continue along this line, today I want to talk a little bit about how I used all three of these tips to make a breakthrough for one of my students.
I’ve been doing group therapy with students who are working on functional communication for the past nine years. I don’t know about you, but I get really discouraged when my students don’t make progress. However, I think I was setting the bar too high too soon.  Of course I want them to be able to communicate their wants and needs. There are just so many little steps to getting there; it can take a really long time! 
This year I started using The Dynamic Learning Map Core Vocabulary; a list of 40 words that have been proven to be most effective socially and academically for students with significant cognitive disabilities. Developed at the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, these 40 words are based on AAC research. 
My Core Vocabulary Board

My Core Vocabulary Board

This is both low tech and resourceful. Plus I really didn’t know everything about  it, but I did do my research and know that it’s backed by evidence. I made a core vocabulary board for my room and decided to see what happened.
Let me tell you a little story to illustrate my point.  I’ve been working with a little guy, let’s say his name is Benjamin (it’s not) for the last four years. Benjamin came to our school as a kindergartener with a diagnosis of Autism.  He was nonverbal.  His IEP from preschool had a following one step directions goal and an expressive language goal to “communicate his wants and needs using total communication”.
For the first two years, Benjamin had to learn to follow classroom routines and follow directions. His sensory integration needs were high and we were trying to figure out how to meet them.  I felt like a total failure as an SLP. He didn’t say words, he didn’t use signs, and he didn’t have joint attention. He stayed in his own little world. But, he did learn to follow simple directions with visual and verbal prompts.
We have a little farm at our school and Benjamin was really interested in the animals. It was motivating and calming to him to be able to watch them. Soon he started labeling them. His parents bought him little plastic animals and taught him the names of over 100 animals. Progress, sort of. He still didn’t greet, comment, request or command. There was no joint engagement or joint attention. No pointing. He was just naming the animals for his own benefit. Not looking to see if we were listening, not wanting to share his discovery. If he couldn’t physically go get what he wanted, he would guide an adult’s hand to the item. Benjamin demonstrated echolalia and a lot of screaming.
Then we he was in second grade we taught him to request by labeling. We used beads, which he loves to roll and toy animals, which he loved to line up. I was able to get some eye contact by holding the item he wanted by my eyes. He had to look at me and say what he wanted. After a while, we (me, the paraprofessionals, the teacher and his parents) got him to add “I want” but he needed a verbal prompt each time.
Benjamin got an iPad with TouchChat that he was able to use but he hasn’t been too interested in it.
This past school year, he changed classrooms and it took a good four months for him to settle into the new routine.  His communication progress was at a standstill.  Actually, he even regressed.
I was so sad. I had just told his mom that I wasn’t making any progress with him in group therapy sessions. He was falling asleep, or hanging off of his chair or screaming; sometimes all three in one session.  The other kids were so distracted.  I made arrangements to see him for individual therapy for a while.
The next day, Benjamin’s teacher forget to tell the aides about the new schedule and they brought him to my room with the group. I said, okay let’s just try one more time.
I was introducing the new core vocabulary board I made and planned to teach the command “go’ through the use of  the picture symbol.  I set up a little miniature bowling game on the table. I noticed I had Benjamin’s attention, so I let him go first. Big Therapy Win!  He participated with minimal prompts for the first time ever. He loved the Core Vocabulary Board with the bowling. In this picture, he’s waiting, holding the ball until we (his classmates and I) say “go”.  We had joint attention, joint engagement with PEERS, and smiling. I wish I would’ve filmed it.
Therapy Win!

Therapy Win!

That was in January.  Ever since then, he’s been participating.  I keep the sessions really active with pop-up toys, wind-up toys and balls.  So far he’s learned “go”, “stop”, “want”, “more”, and “I”.  In April, he was able to put together this sentence “I want more go” using the picture cards and verbalizing.  So exciting!
Core Vocabulary

Core Vocabulary

What is it that worked? I believe it was a combination of timing, high interest activity and the Core Vocabulary visuals.
I am really looking forward to seeing what is the next step for my friend Benjamin.
So my point is…Patience Grasshopper.
We have to keep trying new approaches. I knew Benjamin was really visual and had tried some pictures before with little success. The Core Vocabulary words are immediately applicable and they can be used for fun, functional communication. 
I really encourage you to try using DLM Core Vocabulary Words. As I learn more about this, I will definitely share the information with you all. I made a little cheat sheet and resource guide for you to help you get started. I know it can be a little overwhelming when you start out, so I streamlined it for you.
Until next time…SLP Like a Boss,
Anne
Click on the green box to get your FREE copy. 

Meta Speech Therapy: Thinking About Thinking About Therapy

Meta Speech Therapy: Thinking About Thinking About Therapy

Speech therapy metatherapy

(This photo is very tongue in cheek btw, just in case you don’t know me very well yet) I learn new skills in layers. I bet you do too.
First, I figure out the new vocabulary and jargon. Next, I figure out the general structure and maybe how other people have done it. Then I look at what the basic expectations are.
I spend some time practicing and with time build the skill. This applies to how I practice speech therapy, too.
My SLP journey was first get a bachelor’s degree, then work as an SLPA and SLT to get hands-on experience. I really thought I knew a lot (I did but not as much as I thought I did).
Then many years later I got my master’s degree. That was the layer of theory, clinical practicums, and clinical fellowship. This came with a whole lot of stress and  a really HUMONGOUS learning curve. That was just three years ago.
Now I find myself moving to another deeper layer.
I’m calling it metatherapy. Thinking about thinking about therapy.
Instead of doing therapy and evaluations just to get them done, I’m asking myself a lot of big picture questions. 
Questions like: I know my students need to build their vocabulary but what is the one skill that is going to help them the most? Yes, they need to know synonyms, antonyms, and categorization. But they also need to be able to transfer these skills to all the new vocabulary they will be exposed to throughout their school years.  Of course, I look at best practices. And I’m thinking beyond that too.
How can I make them fall in love with words?
How can I make them love descriptive terms and all the beautiful nuances?
How can I make them excited that there are 16,000 different species of trees?
How can I make sure that when I ask them to tell me about a tree, they won’t just say it’s green and it grows.
I want them to be able to tell me a tree gives us shade in the summer, that we can climb it, that it can be a home for squirrels. It can have pecans or peaches or pine cones. It can be covered in pink blossoms in the springtime or flaming red leaves in the fall. That the leaves make music when they rustle in the wind. That trees shelter us and give us wood for fires. That some trees can tower to over 360 feet. That trees can have a multitude of different leaf shapes and shades of delicious green. That their bark can be smooth and cool or rough and scratchy. That trees can gather together to create a sacred space.
I want to open that world for them, to help them see and form beautiful word pools in their little brains. Such a beautiful, sparkling goal.
But of course, reality dictates that we have to write measurable, curriculum based goals. (And I do).
But is that our ultimate therapy goal? 
Is it to have a student learn “x” number of new vocabulary words or is it to help him build a rich lexicon by inspiring him to read, ask questions and get excited about learning?
When I read Donalyn Miller’s book “The Book Whisperer” and understood how she thought outside the box with her approach to reading, I wanted to take that approach to language and language therapy. (I’ll put a link at the end of this post if you want to know more about this book).
I will keep digging, experimenting and exploring this juicy approach to therapy because it feels so right.
And of course I will share everything with you.
I do know that a good start is to share our love of words and language with our students.
We can find what really fascinates them and help them expand the subject and learn more. We can do that by walking them through our thought process, so they can start building those neuronal pathways for themselves.
This just makes me fall in love with speech language therapy all over again.  I’m so meta (meta’s in the Urban Dictionary, check it out).
Meta Speech Language Therapy: it’s mindful, it’s looking at each child as an individual. It’s giving students a valuable gift not just applying a “speech band-aid”.
So what do you think? Are you with me?
Leave a comment below.
Go think deep thoughts and SLP like a boss,
 School SLP
Here’s the link to more about reading and The Book Whisperer
6 Ways an SLP can use TPT to be Super Organized and Resourceful

6 Ways an SLP can use TPT to be Super Organized and Resourceful

6WaysanSLPcanuseTPT

School is back in full swing for me.
Are you like me and tell yourself that you’re going to be more organized this year? (And say it every year?)
This year I’m actually doing it-not perfectly of course.  But I have to say Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) has made my life sooo much easier. When I first discovered TPT, I was just downloading freebies left and right and buying products that were cheap.
Now, I’m a little more discriminating.  Just because something is free or inexpensive doesn’t mean it’s the right product for me.
Here are  6 ways that I use TPT to make me more organized and the therapy materials I need at my fingertips.

 

1. Buy staple items that you know you can use every year.
 
Here is my list for K-3 (yours may look different, you’ll customize to fit your needs)
Articulation rings, flipbooks
Vocabulary Development: Categorizing, Opposites, Synonyms, Compare and Contrast
Grammar: pronouns, verbs, plurals, possessives, adjective and adverbs
Following Directions
Middle School:
Articulation (s, l, r)
Vocabulary: grade level antonyms, synonyms, homonyms, context clues
Inferencing
Grammar: verbs, adjectives
Book Companions
 
Watch for items that are Core Curriculum Aligned.
2. Consider your teaching/therapy style.
 
Do you like worksheets and paper/pencil activities or do you motivate students through cards and games?
Get products that you can easily picture yourself using. Do you need activities with no or low preparation time? Or do you love having colorful,laminated materials and don’t mind cutting laminated items while you watch the latest episode of The Bachelor?
Purchase items that will fit into your way of doing things.
3. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
 
You can get planners, data sheets, forms, posters, homework sheets, brag tags, and punch cards on TPT.  Get SUPER organized by using them.
4. Find your favorite sellers
 
Once you start purchasing items you’ll find sellers that seem like they are making products just for you.  These sellers are gems! Follow them and show them some love by giving feedback on their products. (Especially the freebies)
When I need something I save myself time by searching their stores first (less to scroll through than when I do a site-wide search).
5. Buy seasonal and holiday items as little treats to keep your sessions fresh and fun. (for your students and for you)
Kids get so excited about holidays (so do I). Fun seasonal materials can breathe new life into concepts you’ve been working on.
 
6. Give some thought to how you store your TPT products
You want them to be easily accessible.  I use Globe-Weiss clear plastic envelopes with colored ziptops (from Amazon). I print the product cover page and place inside to use it as a label. These are really sturdy and can stand on a shelf.
So there you have it, 6 easy ways to help you be organized, effective and fun by using TPT.   Which tip will help you the most? Leave a note in the comments below.
Happy Organizing,
Signature
Did you like this post? If you did please share with your friends! And head on over to my TPT store to find some fun organizational and game-base products.
 
6 Ways an SLP Can Help with Preliteracy Skills

6 Ways an SLP Can Help with Preliteracy Skills

6WaysanSlpCanHelpwithPreliteracySkillsSo what exactly is  preliteracy?

 

This term covers all the areas a child needs to get ready to read.  It includes important skills like oral language and phonological and phonemic awareness (the awareness of sounds), as well as knowledge of the alphabet and an understanding of common print concepts (print goes from left to right and from up to down on a page, how to hold a book).
A child that has been identified with a speech and/or language impairment (SLI) can be at a higher risk for having reading difficulties.  Studies have indicated that as many as 40-75% of children with SLI will have problems learning to read.
A speech language pathologist (SLP) can help not only in the development of oral language but in the following areas as well:
1. Print Motivation
Get excited about what you are reading to a child, enthusiasm is contagious.  Talk about why you like the book and what you like about it. Be animated. Let  him know that it was your favorite when you were a child or that you read it to your little girl.  Help them to make an emotional connection.
2. Print Awareness
When using books in therapy to help develop vocabulary and sequencing skills, take this time to point out the title and the author. Let the child turn the pages. Track with your finger under the words as you read them.
3.Phonological Awareness
Help kids play with sounds to help them understand that words are made up of smaller sounds. Sing songs, read books with rhymes. Play a funny rhyming game with their names.
4. Vocabulary
Need I say more? As SLP’s we are all about expanding vocabulary. Label the pictures. Talk about some words that you think might be unfamiliar.  When you come across those words in the text, ask if they know what it means.  If not, talk about the words and place them in a familiar context.
5. Narrative skills
Ask questions about the story that can’t be answered with yes or no. Ask him to retell the story; if this is too hard provide a scaffold by asking questions or giving choices.
6. Letter Knowledge
Learning about letters and know what sounds they make is so much fun. Help kids get excited about recognizing the first letter in their name and make a game of looking for letters in their environment.  Make playing with letters fun and multi-sensory.
Learning the letters of the alphabet is a big part of Kindergarten.  It can be challenging to incorporate the repetition kids need and to keep them interested.
I created this Letter Recognition and Sound game to do just that. It’s an engaging, colorful activity with two levels of play.  Students can apply their knowledge of letters and letter sounds as they play games and interact with letters by flipping over the cards and building a smores.
Smores Letter and Sound Recognition Activity
Smores are available  by clicking on this link to my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.
So there you have it…6 Ways an SLP can help with preliteracy skills and have fun doing it!
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