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


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
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,
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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Favorite Board Games for Speech and Language Therapy

Favorite Board Games for Speech and Language Therapy

Favorite Board Games for Speech Language and TherapyKristen Cummings of  the wonderful Simply Speech Blog, is hosting a linky party about board games for speech and language therapy. Click on the picture below to be sent to the linky party. For those of you who are new to blogging, this is a great way to learn about new blogs and for SLPs to share ideas.


Board games are great for so many things and most kids love them! I like to use them for my groups. Great for teaching and reinforcing sportsmanship/social skills, board games keep therapy feeling like play. Students can work on their goals and keep it fun.
Here are a few of my favorites:
Always a crowd pleaser for the little ones, it is a great introduction to board games, turntaking, following directions, color matching and learning to deal with disappointment (when they have to go backwords).
Kids love to push the dice bubble and hear the noise it makes. Usually, I play it with just  two of the four game pieces for each player(because of time constraints). It’s great for artic practice, the student’s repetition of target corresponds with the number on the dice.  Awsome for all ages.
Sorry is another favorite. Like Trouble, it is fun for all ages. It’s good to teach sportsmanship and critical thinking skills.
Don't Wake Daddy
My kids go crazy for this game! I use it as a reward game to keep the novelty going. They get so excited with the anticipation of the “Dad” waking up. The noise can be too scary for some primary students and some kids that are on the Autism Spectrum. I always demonstrate the first time and if they are scared, we move on to something else.
Jumping Monkeys
Here’s another one kids love! This is technically not a board game, but it’s great fun for those days when the kids are having trouble sitting still (like during pre-holiday weeks). It’s great for drill.  Here’s a tip to help with focusing skills: don’t hand out the Jumping Monkeys all at once.  Taking turns, give two monkeys to a player after he has completed his speech target, then he can shoot.  Otherwise, the kids don’t pay attention, they are so busy playing with the monkeys while they are waiting for their turn.
Beware of Dog
This is another fun anticipatory game along the lines of Don’t Wake Daddy. Players have to try to sneak the plastic bones out of the dog dish while he is “sleeping”. The dog snores while he sleeps, if you press down too hard while grabbing a bone, he jumps forward and barks. Again, this is usually too scary for the little ones. I don’t like the cat claw tweezers, we just use our fingers.
Charlie Brown Christmas Game
Such a fun game for the holidays. I had the original version which has little Charlie Brown, Lucy, Linus and Snoopy figures to use for pawns. It also had a little battery operated Christmas tree that the winner gets to light (unfortunately broken now). Kids have to collect ornaments, candy canes and presents.
Beautiful Speech Life is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to I put the links in for your convenience.
Board games are definitely our friends!  I bought the more expensive ones on sale. GoodWill can be a great source for board games too, you just have to make sure all the pieces are there. What are your favorites? I am always looking for a new classic!

Christmas Vocabulary Fun

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This is one of my groups from this morning. I got these Christmas word cards on Teachers Pay Teachers from Mrs. W for FREE! I laminated them in long strips and laid them out on the table . The kids took turns tossing red or green poker chips and naming the word that their chip landed on. Later in the day I had one group make sentences with the words, another group gave definitions. They thought it was great fun!

Using iPad Drawing Apps with Therapy Materials

Using iPad Drawing apps with therapy materials

It’s all about novelty. Kids love to be excited by something new. So I like to have a lot of different choices in my therapy bag of tricks.  Here is a great way to use some of your TeachersPayTeachers materials in conjunction with your iPad.

Let me show you how I recently used the Doodle Buddy app with some antonyms and synonyms worksheets from Nicole Allison’s awesome new product, Leveled Vocabulary Intervention.   Click here for a link to this incredible product. I have been using it for the last few weeks and it has quickly become a go-to vocabulary resource. Thanks Nicole!

After you make your purchase, open it on your iPad in Ibooks. Take screen shots (hold down main button and on/off button until you hear a click) of the worksheets you want to use.

Open the Doodle Buddy app.


Click on the tic-tac-toe icon.

C Choose photos. Go into your photos and choose the first worksheet you took a screenshot of.

D Now the fun begins. Tap the chalk icon and choose your drawing tool and color. For the example I chose glitter in red. Students use their finger to complete the worksheets. They love it! EH

Then when it is completed just shake the iPad to clear the screen. Magic!  Just click on the tic-tac-toe icon again to get another worksheet. Another really fun feature of Doodle Buddy is the stamp feature.  Click on that and a menu of stamps will appear. I chose the snowman for this example.


Students use their finger as a stamp to make the line. AND each stamp has fun audio, the holly jingles, the lips make a kissy noise. It’s really great fun! My students have been having a great time with it.


Doodly Buddy is FREE, yay, how great is that?! The Tic-Tac-Toe feature is really fun too.  I have been using it as a way to match pairs of opposites. I just write in the words quickly and let the kids use the stamping feature to match them.



Fun, motivating and easy! I hope you give it a try!

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