A Little Kindness


Carla at Comprehension Connection is hosting a linky on such an important topic! Thematic Thursday is all about the true gifts we give each other! Thank you, Carla, for the chance to join you!


Kindness (and the other positive qualities we try to instill in children) are such a necessary part of getting along with others. As educators, we can teach no matter how quickly or slowly our students learn, but we feel blessed in the years when most of our students are kind.

I think we all realize how important it is to have good qualities, but did you know that children as young as 2 1/2 may act mean and threaten to withdraw friendship? (Wall Street JournalThe good news is that we can teach children to be kind. A study done at the University of British Columbia and at University of California, Riverside showed that students who were asked by their teachers to perform acts of kindness not only felt more connected to their classmates, but reported being happier!


So, keep on asking your students to be kind and perform kind acts! But, what about the kids who need a little more help? Some students seem to be very self focused and others may not even realize the impact that their words have on others. Other students just need more practice in thinking of others’ points of view. They may not even know that there are multiple ways to verbally offer kindness.

Conversational Follow-Ups gives students practice in thinking about what was said and then responding to others using these skills:
* ask for clarification
* share a similar feeling or event
* empathize and show the other person you understand how they feel
* find out more information
* offer help, support or a suggestion
* make a positive, enthusiastic or complimentary comment

The game includes a card template for you to personalize so that students can get practice with the problems your students are having!  

Bring a little kindness to your room for the New Year!

Simple Therapy Ideas for Last Minute Planning!

As much as we love the holidays, this can be a stressful time of year, especially for overworked moms and dads. Don’t you agree? It’s not like we already didn’t have too much to do. Enjoying the holidays can be easier if we try not to overdo in the name of the holiday spirit. A few family traditions and a happy family are all we really need to make the season bright!


Quick, free and easy holiday ideas from Looks Like Language!



Sometimes simple is better in therapy, too! Young children really like playing easy games, without winners. Variations on a theme, or the exact same thing, suit them just fine. Do you have a book that you’ve read so many bedtimes that you feel you could do it in your sleep?


Simplicity is why I loved being in a school with Ellison cutters and have saved the shapes for years, even though I am not currently working with preschoolers.  If your school doesn’t have an Ellison cutter, don’t worry. You can use this idea by finding simple shapes online and cutting them out with scissors and construction paper. 

Quick, free and easy holiday ideas from Looks Like Language!


Once you have your shapes cut out, laminate them and then you can attach any pictures to them using tape or fun tac. (Make sure your students don’t mouth items if using fun-tac, and don’t let them think that it is gum, either!)
For the pictured activity, your students need a blank tree to decorate. After saying their target sound or language goal, they pick a tree shape, turn it over, take off the decoration that is on the back of the small tree and put it on their larger tree to decorate it. 


Need a little movement?  Place the large tree on your wall or cabinet. After saying the work and picking a shape, the students get to stand up and take the decoration to put on the shared tree. Kids love this activity!

When it is time to clean up, students can follow directions to find the decoration you labeled or described and go get it off the tree!

Quick, fun and easy ideas for last minute therapy!
If you’d like a game for decorating the tree that has most of the work already done for you, check out my Christmas Category Activities.

Now that we have solved your therapy problems this week, you’ll have more time for all of your holiday preparations!

Whatever holiday you celebrate,  I hope it will be a happy one this year! 

The Sunday Scoop! 12-6-15

Busy, busy, busy, but a visual says it all, so quickly! They look... like language! I'm happy to join up with Teaching Trio!

I hope your to-do lists are getting done! Enjoy Sunday!

Speechless SLP Moments that Keep Us Going!

My friend  Kim, at Activity Tailor, has the most wonderful ideas! This week she is reflecting on moments that make an SLP speechless, and I thought I'd join in. 

It is easy for any of us to concentrate on all the difficulties we have in our jobs, and I am so grateful to Kim for her idea that got me thinking about the wonderful moments in my (long) career.

People in education and healthcare fields go into this work because they want to make a positive impact on people's lives. For all of the frustration that I feel, at times, when I can't help this student make progress a little faster, or I can't get that student to focus at all one day, or I just can't stand all the paperwork one more minute!!, I also have those moments over the years when I know that I have had an impact. These warm feelings are what keep me coping when I wish I had just stayed home that day!

My sweet memories include:
*the mom who was so grateful that my Elmo book helped her 12 year old to finally start using the toilet at night 
* the four year old who could  say her name understandably and whose grandparent could understand her for the first time ever
* the 18 month nonverbal toddlers who got in a pushing contest
 to be able to come to speech with me first
*the teacher who said that many SLPs had helped her kids, but I was the one who helped her learn how to make her students understand

We may not get bonuses, or conferences in interesting places, and we barely get lunch some days, but we have the knowledge that we helped someone's loved one. Maybe yours!

Staying warm with speechless moments~

Saying Thank You! Shoebox Therapy for Autism!


Can you envision your student opening a present at the holidays and saying, “But this isn’t what I wanted!” If so, this activity is for you!

Shoebox Play for Autism- A fun way to learn to say thank you from Looks Like Language!
Shoeboxes can be a fun, functional way to teach play and language skills. What better activity this time of year than to work on language for opening presents and saying “thank you?”  Children need to practice language in routines a lot before it becomes routine for them to use. They will love to keep practicing with this!

All you need is:

* An old shoebox
* Some small toys that will fit inside- start with only toys that your student will like. Later, add some disliked toys to practice saying ‘thank you’ when you really want something different! 
* 4 pictures of gifts to fit the size of the openings.
* Paper to decorate the shoebox, if you wish. I used this without ever decorating it and my students couldn’t care less. They had a great time anyway!






To make the play box:

1. Cut a file folder in strips that are as wide as the box is tall to use as a separator.
2. Cut one strip to the length of the box. Tape it on both sides inside the center of the box.
3. Fold the additional strips in half, place them inside the box and tape them together like crazy until you have dividers that will stay stiff and make the inside of the box in 4 sections.

I promise you, the kids won’t care what it looks like inside as long as you have something fun for them to play with! You just need four compartments with a divider that is sturdy.

Shoebox Play for Autism- A fun way to learn to say thank you from Looks Like Language!

To make the box top:

1. Draw 4 squares on the top of the box. Leave enough space in between that the top has some support while the little ones are opening and closing the presents. I  left about 1.5-2 inches between mine. 
2. Decide which way is the top, then cut out three sides of each square, being consistent. Razor cutters are great for this, but you can use scissors. Just punch a hole with one of the blades first to get you started.
3. Glue a different gift picture on each flap.
4. Glue on symbols for the language you will be modeling. Make the ‘thank you’ symbol removable if you have nonverbal children using picture exchange.

Have fun!

Students can request to open the color present, respond with ‘thank you’ after receiving the toy inside, and have fun playing! This was such a fun activity for my students, we played it almost every session all December long!

You can use this activity for the holidays and for your students’ birthdays, too! They just love the excitement of opening up the box and seeing what is inside.

I taught it as a language activity at the beginning of the month, then kept it available for requesting to play for the rest of December, changing the toys inside every week to keep it fresh. Then, pull it out for a quick review on someone's birthday!

If you have students in your group who already say thank you, just find small holiday figures or toys to work on labeling, requesting or play skills.

Do you want even more ways to reinforce this functional language? Check out this interactive book!

I say, "Thank you for stopping by!"

It's Sale Time!

I usually try to bring you information and ideas that you can immediately put to use. (I hope I’m succeeding!)  However, 4 times a year TpT offers a site wide sale. My whole store is on sale, so you can get 28% off every item, including already reduced bundles, when you use the code- SMILE.  The great deals certainly make me smile!

I want to thank Jenna Rayburn from Speech Room News for hosting this linky party and inviting me! Go to her blog to access more product reviews and make your sale shopping easier!

So, for this special post I wanted to share with you some of the new bundles I have in my store, and a few items that are in my shopping cart. Feel free to comment with anything that you’ve found- maybe there is something I missed that I really need!

With the holidays coming, I thought that a Christmas Bundle might come in handy.
The skills are varied, so you can build a lot of language with this bundle. Your students will be having so much fun, they won’t even realize that they are working while they  make noun-verb-object sentences, work on categorizing skills, and to tell how holiday items are the same or different.


If it is holiday time, you know that winter is not far behind! Make your life easier by using my Winter Bundle to build your students’ language skills for noun-verb-object sentences, matching colors and left-right concepts, answering WH questions while naming winter clothing, or try an early reader with Fry 100 words and winter actions.

Now, for what’s in my cart! I am so excited to purchase these!

The TLC Talk Shop has all of your winter articulation needs covered with this winter bundle: data sheets, games, spinners, cut and glue worksheets, homework and interactive fun! Her products have cute graphics and are beautifully laid out as well.




I love that Activity Tailor  made an activity for figurative language using jokes! My students struggle with all types of nonliteral language, and jokes are so much fun! Students need to have fun in speech!

Quite a few of my students don’t have appropriate intonation patterns when they speak. I can’t wait to try this great set from SLPrunner. I love the graphics, the variety, and that it includes a game board!


I hope that I’ve given you some good ideas to help you with your caseload! Thanks again to Jenna for the invitation to link up!  Don’t forget to check out Speech Room News to get more information on the great products for SLPs at TpT! What’s in your cart?

How to Use Ellison Cutter Shapes in Therapy- A Quick and Easy Tip!

Ellison cutters for speech therapy- Looks-Like-Language
Thanksgiving is definitely one of my favorite times of year! I love that the weather isn’t freezing cold yet and that it is still light outside for a while after school. I love the smells of good food cooking and loved ones to share it with. Pumpkin pie tastes so good, yet I never make it any other time of year!

It’s fun to incorporate Thanksgiving themes into therapy this month. I love to do this without making the Thanksgiving vocabulary the main focus of my activities, but still have some Thanksgiving fun! 

One great way of doing this is to make use of Ellison cutters, if your school has them. If not, you can use simple outline shapes from an online search. Choose the seasonal vocabulary you want to reinforce for your shapes. In the picture, you can see that I used Pilgrim boys and girls to co-ordinate with the book I was using then.

Cut out the shapes in varied colors and laminate them without anything on them. Yes, just plain shapes! This lets me individualize based on what my students’ speech/language goals are each year. 

Photocopy and tape the pictures you need onto the laminated shapes, whether they are speech sounds, food vocabulary or action pictures! Now you are ready to play simple games, with or without a board. One of my favorites is to turn all of the shapes over in a pile. Students get told what they are working on (collecting) that session and request a shape using descriptive vocabulary. My lower students might ask for the orange Pilgrim girl, while my higher students might have to request the red Pilgrim boy in the bottom row. The first student to collect the stated number of shapes (with their goal pictures) and use them all correctly becomes the winner.

The tape and pictures will hold for the month. Next year, if you need different pictures, just pull off the tape for an easy change! Although if you store your materials in very hot conditions over the summer, you may want to take off this year's pictures before storing!


Presto! Change-o!  A quick and easy therapy tip that saves you time in the years to come!

Older Kids and Presents- What to Do?


Kids who are in upper elementary school have definite ideas of what they want for the holidays, and  it can be tough to convince them they’d like anything that they haven’t thought of first. It is also hard to get them away from their devices!

While they often act like they they want nothing to do with you, tweens and early teens actually still need to have your support and the boundaries you provide during these up and down, on and off years.

I believe that the best thing you can do, as a parent, during these years is to stay engaged in some stress free activities that will keep the lines of communication open between you and your tween/teen. I am an SLP, so you will notice that the games I have chosen are mostly language based, but any game that your family can enjoy will be good! Conversations, and sometimes problems that are being encountered, can happen during games that all the questioning in the world won’t get your child to talk about! At that age, my son actually told me that I was asking too many private questions one day, when all I said was, “Hi! How was your day today?” We all survive!

I would suggest any of these games if you think your child might play them, with a warning- unless your child really likes playing games, don’t expect excitement when opening them! One alternative is to wrap it as a family present and see who wants to open it for everyone.
Card games, like Uno, and building games, like Jenga, are good for keeping everyone together, talking and just having fun! Another option is putting a jigsaw puzzle together.  If you get one with a picture of your child’s favorite thing, you can glue it and use it as a room decoration afterwards!
These games are fun group games that keep your child using their language skills, like describing and making associations between words. If your child is working on articulation skills, you can have them concentrate on saying their sound correctly during their turn in any word they say.
Scrabble and boggle are old classics that have your child expanding their vocabulary and spelling skills while playing. Quiddler is a newer fun game that works on these skills, too!
So, now, a question for you! As I was looking for pictures of games for this post, I came across these 2 games. I have never played them, but I thought they looked interesting. Do you know anything about them? Would you recommend them? I’m always on the look out for good language games for older kids! Thanks for your help!

Thanks to Ashley at Sweet Southern Speech for the invitation to link up on this timely topic! Stop by her blog to get the links for more great toy recommendations that will make your holiday preparations easier!

Thanksgiving Then and Now- Felt Board Activities


The smell of delicious food cooking, warm and cozy inside with people I love around me- these are some of the things that make Thanksgiving one of my favorite holidays. No matter what your religion or politics, it is a celebration that is shared by everyone all across the United States, and there is comfort in that thought.

Family gatherings encourage sharing recipes and stories, welcoming new family members to the family’s way of celebrating, remembering those who are no longer with us on that day, and sharing their stories, too! Life is full of change and traditions help us have some stability amidst the constant changes.

However, traditions also change with time. While the way we celebrate Thanksgiving today is based on our history, it is certainly not the same!  This opens up worlds of possibility for eliciting language at this time of year! 

Using felt boards is one of my favorite kinds of activities for little ones, since they learn best when able to move around. (Actually, I understand since I am happy that my job has me up and walking around the school every half hour!)

 You don’t need to buy an expensive felt board to use felt activities. Just go to your local fabric store and buy a large piece of felt in your favorite color! If you have a cork board on your wall, tack it there.

Making your own felt board is easy! Tips from Looks-Like-Language
If you don’t, you can get a dowel at any craft or hardware store, roll the edge of the felt piece over it and glue the ends together. Make sure that the ends of the dowel stick out far enough past the edges of the felt that you can tie the ends of a cord on each side. Yarn and string will also work.

Attach it to your wall with a nail, to a magnetic board using a strong magnetic clip that can grip the cord, to the hooks that are above the old fashioned blackboards… You get the idea- you can make it work! But, since I am a firm believer in providing visuals, here is a photo of a really funny wall hanging that my future daughter-in-law gave to me. I just threaded the dowel through the seam, tied a cord and presto- instant wall hanging!

While those felt sets they sell are adorable, don’t despair if you can’t afford them! You can take any unlaminated pictures you want to use and just glue them to pieces of felt with regular school glue. Spread it thin, let it dry and you have an instant felt set!

There are so many ways to use these!

*Have the students label the pictures they want to place. Use additional pictures, like my old and new houses in the photo, and you have a sorting or categorizing task.

*Ask a question about the vocabulary and let a student go find the answer. Give some clues about a one of the pictures and see if the student can find what you are talking about- an instant activity for building inference skills! Leave extra room around vocabulary pictures, make doubles, and you have a movement memory game.

*Turn one set of pictures over so that the photo doesn’t show, let the students take turns throwing a beanbag at the felt wall so that a picture falls down, or maybe more than one. The students only get to keep it if they use their target skill correctly. Bring the game back in the winter with a  soft fabric snowball and you have indoor snowball play!

Don’t have time to look for your own photos at this busy time of year? Check out Thanksgiving Fun- Then and Now or Thanksgiving Actions- A Then and Now Sentence Game.

Possibilities abound! How have you used felt boards in your therapy activities?

The Rocky Road to "R"


Do you groan inside when you get a student with an ‘R’ problem on your caseload? Don’t worry, there’s help to be had!  It is a difficult sound to correct, but the more ‘tricks’ you have under your belt, the better your chances are that you will find something that works.
There are quite a few blog posts by SLP’s about how to achieve placement for the /r/ sound. One that I have found to be extremely helpful is from Katie at Playing with Words 365. I would definitely check it out!

Another link to check out: Judy Kuster has compiled an amazing list of techniques that have been used to elicit the /r/ sound. Something in this variety may be helpful to you!

Although we all give a big cheer (or a sigh of relief!) when our student has finally achieved a tongue placement for the /r/ that produces an acceptable sound, our job has really just begun. Although that is true for any articulation error, I think that, as SLPs, we feel it more strongly with the /r/.
This is my theory. The “R” sound is one of the most difficult sounds to make in terms of motor skills. The students at older ages who are still having great difficulty with this placement often had some mild degree of motor speech problems when they were younger, in my opinion. You may still catch hints of it when you hear them mixing up the syllables of new multisyllabic words, or if their speech clarity diminishes slightly when they speak quickly (possibly due to weak contacts for consonant placement due to the increased speed.)

When I suspect that there may be some motor planning or jaw stability issues at play, I am careful to use jaw support techniques when working on placement for the /r/ sound. My favorite way for older students is to have them prop their jaw on their hands, with elbows placed on the table. I've tried using bite blocks as well, but often this just confuses the issue even more as there is something new in their mouth for their tongues to move around. When the jaw is stabilized, however, this lets the student move their tongue more freely to try to find the correct placement.  I've had the most success by starting with production of the 'L', 'T' or 'D' sounds and having the student draw their tongue backward along the roof of the mouth until an approximation of 'R' is achieved, but try any of the methods suggested in the links above until you find one that works for your student. I don't worry about lip rounding, the most common substitution, until after a consistent tongue placement has been achieved.


If there are mild jaw stability or motor planning issues, it makes sense that we use extra caution in the steps we take to get that “R” sound from isolation to conversational speech.  At times, I’ve been afraid to vary the production that helped the student learn to produce the sound for fear of not being able to establish it again! I have learned that slow and steady wins the race. 

This is how I've done it.

Pair the R + vowel or vowel + R  that the student has achieved (the success sound) with the new production you are trying, but do it in alternation. Returning to the initial success sound on every other production helps to maintain successful tongue placement. After the sound production stays stable, you can check to see how many trials of the new sound can be made before the student loses the placement. Immediately, go back to the success sound. Then set the trial # for the new sound where he was successful.

Pay attention to the vowel placement chart when you are making your selection of what to try next. Remember those charts? For example, the “R” is generally made high in a closed mouth position, so it makes sense to try it out with “ee” or “ah” as those sounds are not far away from the place of success. The ‘ee’ sound has the benefit of a smiling mouth position, which tends to reduce the likelihood that the ‘w’ sound will be substituted. Each child is different, so try until you get success.


So, if “er” was the success sound, the drill might look like this:


 er  ree  er  ree” ”er  ree  
Repeat using drills of 10 trials multiple times throughout the session, with breaks in between, until the student can say it correctly and fluently.
Then, try to see how many times the student can say the new sound before it breaks down. You are keeping productions successful- always drop back if needed.
ree   ree  ree”   “wee”
This error tells you that you can have your student practice up to 3 productions of “ree” before adding in the success sound “er” to maintain stable, correct productions.
So, the practice would look like this.
ree” “ree” “ree” “er” “ree” “ree” “ree” “er” “ree

Continue building the number of repetitions the student can produce correctly in a row without losing the placement, and soon you will have a stable /r/ sound. Got it?
I hope I was able to make this clear! Once you are able to get past the syllable production stage, I’ve used this same co-articulation strategy at the word to sentence level in my “R” Rainy Day Game.  I loved finding words that moved from the “er” sound to the initial “R” sound that could be used in sequence together to make phrases and sentences. I even included “R” vocabulary words at the upper elementary level to help work on language skills at the same time. I just love being able to address multiple goals with one set of materials! Do you like that, too?
Don't forget to check my Rainy Day 'R' post with a craftivity and a FREEBIE!
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