Happy Holidays!

Celebrations at this time of year warm our souls and help us get through the darkness and the cold weather. Just think about what the holidays at this time of year have in common- candles, lights, love and family.

In a world that is sadly becoming more divisive, it is more important than ever that we, as educators, emphasize the commonalities that all people share, and the goodness that we are capable of displaying. 

Wishing you peace, happiness and the love of near and dear ones at this holiday season, whatever you celebrate!

A Little FREE Christmas Help!

A little FREE homework help from Looks-Like-Language!
Want a little help with homework at this busy time of year?  Then be sure to catch this little freebie for comparing and contrasting over at my store!

A free, fun game to practice saying "Thank you!" from Looks-Like-Language
Or maybe you are looking for a free, fun way to work on social skills? Then try this one!

Hope your holiday preparations are going well!

4 Tips to Make the MOST of your Group Interactions

So much goes on in mixed group sessions that sometimes it can feel like a juggling act, especially for new SLPs. The activity, the materials, the behavior, modeling and eliciting the skills, taking data, and watching the clock to get it all completed! How do we get it done?

Part of what helps me out is the organization I set up at the beginning of the year, which provides a firm foundation. Don’t worry if you are already into the school year as the ideas will still help you out! Check out this post.

Once you have a master sheet of the goals you need to address during the year, think about how they can be worked on together to form your groups. While homogenous groups sound great, it is rare to have them, in my experience, and over time I have come to believe that students benefit from interactions with peers at different levels. It takes a bit of brainstorming to figure out specific activities and goal combinations at first, but soon it will be easier to do!

Pair earlier and later skills to provide models
For example, figuring out what happens when (predicting) is an early cause-effect type of skill that students need to make the connection and answer ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. When you ask your first student, “What happened when I …?” you are providing a model for the student who will be asked ‘Why?” or “How?’ next.

SLP: What did I do?
Student 1: You moved it.
SLP: What happened when I moved the wand?
Student 2: You made a bubble.
SLP: Yes! I moved the wand and made a bubble. Student 3, how did I get the bubble to come out?
Student 3: You moved it.

Using group interactions to make your job easier! Looks-Like-Language
Pair goals that work together to form a complete skill

With older students, you can elicit information in turns the same way. Take the example of remembering story details combined with sequencing and telling the main idea. After a short story or video clip, the first student could use story elements to remember different details. The second student could tell the important story attempts in sequence, while the third could sum it all up with the main idea. This way, the students are interacting and providing some of the information needed, freeing you up to take data.

Pair articulation needs with language needs
Students who have good language skills but need to work on carryover of their articulation goals can make great partners for students with language problems. The variety of activities you are using, especially books, for language needs can provide many chances for the artic student to use their speech sounds.

Make a set of the WH question words that your language student needs to answer and let your artic student ask a question that has one of the target sound words in it as well. Sometimes students respond well to the creative questions their peers ask! Once the students have started interacting with each other, they are both practicing their skills in a more naturalistic way, which is great for carryover.

Pair receptive needs with expressive needs
Students can be involved together in an activity when one needs to provide pieces of information that demonstrate comprehension while the other one needs to pull all of the information together to express it. Some examples of these pairings could be:
answering questions-> telling information in a grammatically correct sentence
remembering details-> summarizing information
naming items in a category-> choosing the correct category
describing an object -> making an inference

The basic idea behind of all these tips are to have some of the students supply a piece of the information that will provide models or help out the next student, limiting the amount of separate directions and models you have to provide. Using this strategy gets students interacting and using their skills in a more natural way while freeing up a little of your concentration to take data and manage the activity.

When it works, it can be awesome! Good luck!

It's That Time of Year! A Gift for You! #4

Gifts are so much fun! I have updated Santa's Stocking Game. It is an open ended color  game, so you can use it to work on any goal with students who like matching games.

Just to make your life a little easier, I also have some matching worksheets. This week's freebie can be downloaded by clicking here

Whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you a happy one!

5 Tips- Get the MOST out of Your Mixed Group Sessions

Games! Yes, SLPs love to play games with their students, but there is a good reason for this.  Students who come to speech/language therapy walk in the door with a very mixed set of skill strengths and weaknesses, learning problems and strengths,  and IEP goals, all of which need to be remediated in a minimal amount of time each week.
Get the Most Out of Your Mixed Group Sessions! Looks-Like-Language
There is no curriculum to be taught that ties the group together, unlike their classroom, so a variety of activities are needed that lets each student be part of a group and get enough practice to learn at their own rate. Games, crafts and other activities fit the bill perfectly.

Beyond the planning needs of the SLPs is the need to have the students use their newly attained  speech and language skills  in as natural an environment as possible.  

When students are able to use their skills in a structured activity with lots of feedback, an SLP checks to see if they can continue to use the skill when they aren’t focusing specifically on their speech and language. If they maintain it during a fun activity, chances are the teacher and parents may see the skill being used as well.

How to do this? For a new SLP, this often feels like juggling practice. It helps at first to have a group data sheet so you aren’t juggling paperwork while modeling and eliciting speech/language skills, as well as monitoring behaviors in the group.  If you haven’t found a group data sheet that works well for you, check out this blog post. There’s a freebie download as well as links to other free data sheets on TpT. If you'd like some ideas for monitoring the bigger picture, check out this blog post.

Lots of games to make mixed groups cohesive! Looks-Like-Language
Board  games aren’t the only way to bring a group together, achieving all of these goals. Kids love games of all types! Some of my most successful games have been ones that I have put together from varied household items and junk that was lying around.

Plastic egg cartons make great open ended tic-tac-toe tossing games! Pick up some themed erasers, puff balls, or any type of light weight item to throw. After each response, students get to toss one in, trying to get three in a row!

Go to a yard sale to find some inexpensive building toys. Pictured is a monster set I found. Students get another piece to add on after each correct response. This motivates and keeps little hands busy while waiting for a turn!

Tossing Games!
Packing peanuts are fun to toss because they are surprisingly unpredictable yet won’t hurt anyone. I combined them with a toy hoop and a box to contain the game. Kids love it!

Look around your house and see what you can turn into a game! While these ideas can be great for drills, a little more creativity is needed to get students interacting with each other and using their skills to communicate.  Check in next week for more ideas!

It's That Time of Year! A Gift for You! #3

Are your holiday preparations and celebrations going well? It seems like there is never enough time for everything you'd like to do this time of year.

I accomplished one thing I wanted to do! A year's worth of freebies! You can get the updated version here.

Wish I could provide a time turner for all of us this month! Happy holidays!

Fun and Simple Holiday Games to Make Therapy So Easy!

Life can be complicated, but therapy doesn’t always have to be that way! As a matter of fact, it is just when your life is getting complicated that you really need those quick and easy therapy ideas! Last year, I posted some ideas for decorating a tree as a quick, fun therapy activity. If you missed that post, check it out here!

Fun and easy open ended, re-usable therapy ideas! Looks-Like-Language
Here’s another way to use simple shapes for open ended holiday fun. Cut out shapes in different colors, like I did in the picture, but use as many different  items as you have available. 

Mix and match holidays and add core vocabulary items, too. I always combined holiday items (for fun!) with teaching toy labels and associated vocabulary, taking data on that rather than the fun stuff I added in. 

Kids have their minds on presents and toys this month, so the topic is self motivating and great for home carryover!

To play, the students can request the color item that they like. If you need to elicit longer utterances, try adding the same shapes in different sizes.  

Or, instead of placing them in a pile, lay them out like a memory game and have your students request the orange ornament that is below the blue dreidel!  Tape pictures of their target words on the back and have them say it correctly to keep the shape, or put pictures of holiday activities on the back to elicit grammatical structures.

Besides the simplicity, one of the things that I like best about these activities is that it lets you incorporate seasonal vocabulary with your students, yet not make it the main focus of your therapy session. Teachers, moms and dads will be using those seasonal words with them, too, so don’t lose track of the special skills we have to offer and what we can work on that the students aren’t getting help with anywhere else!

The versatility of these open ended games makes it easy to use  from year to year as well. So, last year you worked on beginning sounds and this year you have a lot of final consonant deletions? No problem! Just pull off the pictures from last year and tape a new picture on!

Try some free Christmas language fun from Looks Like Language!
Having a super busy year? Are you looking for a versatile game where someone else did the work for you? I’ve got that covered, too! Check this out!

Easy peasy! Perfect fun, adaptable ideas for this time of year!

Freebie Fun and A Truth Revealed!

This week has been so much fun! Although the work week is almost done and we can say, "TGIF!" you still have chances today and tomorrow to win a freebie of your choice (no bundles, please) from my store.  To earn your chance today, be sure to comment below with what kind of product you most wish for, if you could have one personally designed for you.

Who knows, maybe you will see it sometime in the future!

One of the reasons this week has been so much fun for me is the chance I have gotten to interact with you, either here, on Fb or on IG. My truth revealed? Well, you know from my bio that I have been an SLP for quite a while, which means that many of the skills I'm using now to publish were ones that required a lot of hard work (and advice from my kids) to learn.

The first time I learned about blogging was when I watched that movie about the woman who cooked Julia Child's recipes and blogged about it for a year. I left that movie saying that I would never write a blog. You know, the things you say that come back to haunt you later?

My husband is the reason I changed my mind and stepped out of my comfort zone. He has always been a staunch supporter of my SLP skills, even when supervisors thought that I was stepping beyond the boundaries of our field. He encouraged me to share my experiences with SLPs so that kids could benefit, instead of keeping my experiences to myself.

So, here I am! I hope that you will find something helpful to you in my posts. I am so very grateful to have gotten to interact with you this week, taking the edge off of wondering who was out there reading this! I'm glad you joined me!

Comment away with your perfect item to solve an SLP problem and good luck winning the contest today!

It's That Time of Year- A Gift for You! #2

A little something extra from Looks-Like-Language!
This season manages to be the busiest, as well as the darkest, time of year, so there's nothing like a little freebie to make your life a little brighter! I gave you the complete set of game cards last week so you would have plenty of time to use it.

If you missed that post, click here!

This week's free download is a matching worksheet. Enjoy!
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