January Freebies- Snowman Color Match 4

Wow! This month has flown by! Today's freebie is the final worksheet set to complete this fun packet. Winter will be around for a while yet, so the good news is that you will have plenty of time left to use these little cuties!

You love snow? Winter is your favorite season? Well, then, I certainly hope you got all of the free downloads: the open ended game, worksheet 1, and worksheet 2.

There are so many cute snowman books, you can use this month's freebie to follow up so easily! Catch it here.

5 Tips for a Tough Caseload

Tips for working with tough kids! Looks-Like-Language

Or, ways to cope when you aren't having fun!

After years of working with students who can’t make it in a regular school setting, I’ve accrued a variety of hints for working with more difficult students. Here's some ideas for older students that have worked for me.

1. Include your students' interests!
Incorporating your students’ interests into therapy is always helpful for getting them to engage. Currently, for older students, this involves using YouTube links and video clips. Since my students have much more time to spend surfing the net than I do, I’ve found it helpful to let them choose a video clip to watch at the end of the session. As you become familiar with the types your students like, you can figure out ways to incorporate them to meet your IEP goals. In a pinch, if I can’t get students to respond in any other way during the session, I can count on being able to work on answering WH questions, having a conversation, retelling or summarizing  the video’s story, sequencing the events, and eliciting specific grammar or speech sounds when a surprise video is completed. This week's mailing includes a FREE worksheet to use with one of the standby YouTube links that my students love. Be sure to open it! If you aren't on my mailing list and want to receive my follower freebies, just add your email on the top!

2. Make a connection!
Many students with significant difficulties in their lives won’t really respond to you at all until they feel like they have a connection with you.  Getting to this spot often involves playing games, doing what they are interested in, and being open to listen to them before ever approaching your therapy goals.  This can be very difficult to do, as we have to be addressing our goals every session, but it can pay off in the long run.

3. Use many different formats to work on a skill!
My students often need a significant amount of practice, using specific strategies, in order to make any gains. However, they don’t have long attention spans and don’t like to do the same activities every day (unless they are on the spectrum, and that’s another post!) This is the reason why most of my products include multiple activities for the same skills, as well as ways to vary the difficulty levels.  Giving students choices about their work, even if it is as simple as offering a conversation spinner, conversation cards or a conversation game, can get students working since they have made the choice.

4. Provide choices!
Choices are a big option, and this includes the student’s behavior. I often tell my students that I can’t make them work, but I hope that they will think about their choices and make a good decision. While the students are contemplating taking off their hoods and looking like they might interact with me, I keep busy with doing my attendance sheet and getting out some easy, hopefully more engaging work choices than the one I had hoped to do that day.  I make it a point to have varied options for each IEP goal, and lots of games, available at all times for just this reason.

5. Use Incentives!
Incentives to work are so important! Negative consequences, such as notifying the teacher or parents, may work in the short term but are not ideal for helping students to make better choices for themselves.  Games, contests, something fun to do at the end of the session and point systems all can help. Prizes for older students can include no homework passes, extra game or computer time passes, items from the dollar store that interest them, something special from the cafeteria or school fundraising events or an end of year speech pizza party.

What has worked for you?

January Freebies- Snowman Color Match 3

To get a snowman, you need a little snow! Are you a "GO! Snow!" person? Even if you are like me and would rather watch the snow falling from inside with a hot cup of cocoa, you will love this game and matching worksheets!

My posts are short to give me more time to create, but the deal is easy: Just stop by on Thursdays to get your new freebie for a fun Friday!  

Anyone who has been following me knows that I'm experienced in therapy, but learning lots of new technology! So, give me a hand! I haven't figured out how to find out how many downloads of my freebies are happening, so how about a shout-out to encourage me to keep on working? Just give a quick comment below, put my site on your favorite social media, or sign up as my follower!

Stay warm!

What's New in Your Store? SLP Linky Party

Hi friends! If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a TpT sale tomorrow, Wednesday, January 20 and Thursday, January 21. My whole store will be 20% off. When you use the code START16, you get an additional 8% off. How great is that?
Stop by to pick up my new freebie and check out what’s new! Be sure to visit SLPRunner to see what else is new on TpT!

Students with limited verbal skills, as well as nonverbal students, can expand their functional vocabulary with my new symbol supported book.  Verbs can be much more difficult to teach than labeling, but are so needed to be able to communicate. Try out WH Questions and Functional Verbs- PLAY!

I have to add in the cover. Glitter Meets Glue Designs was so very kind and shared some of her clipart for free last summer in Las Vegas. It's a different look for me. I hope you like it!

Students who are just beginning to be able to make inferences can benefit from the help that pictures provide. Listen to the comments that students say in the classroom and see if you can figure out what they are doing in the School Activities Inference Game.

Older students often have problem understanding the texts they are required to read since they have difficulty making inferences from what they have read.  My two new describing and inferring packets give students  the opportunity to expand their describing skills and practice making inferences based on descriptions. Also included are many examples for inferring who said it and where it is occurring. Help your students advance their skills with Describing and Inferring- Occupations (pictured) and Describing and Inferring- Places. Don't forget to download the free strategy organizers that go with these!

I'm sure that my shopping cart will grow, but after a quick peek, I already have one item! Social language products for older students can be hard to find, and this Social Skills Topic Game: Don't Open a Can of Worms! by Smartmouth SLP looks great for my caseload! From the title on, it gives lots of opportunities for discussions that my students need.

If none of these are right for you, just check out the other links at SLPRunner and i'm sure that you will find something to meet your needs! Thanks again, Jen, for the invite to link up and share what is new from the SLPs on TpT!

5 Dollar Store Must-Haves for SLPs!

Shopping at the dollar store has made my SLP life so much easier! Thanks to Talkin’ With Twang for this linky idea!
I’ve made so many purchases from the Dollar Store to organize my therapy room, provide student prizes and find fun, inexpensive materials for therapy. I really had to think about what to include so this post wouldn’t be too long. Here's what I decided on:

Organizing: Materials

I posted here about how much I like using page protectors. While I buy them online, I really the pretty colors of the $1 binders and I love how easily they fit on a shelf or in a filing cabinet. Pop your TpT product pages in a page protector with the game and spinners in a separate one. Store the game cards in a plastic zip bag and stick them in with the game. Put all of this in a binder, along with similar materials, and you are ready to grab it and go! See how easy? Pictured is the game board from my Talk About SH- Spring packet.

Organizing: For My Students

I love having basic supplies that I need for every session within easy reach. A cute basket can hold whatever you need on your table and make it easy for students to pass around. My go-to items include a small dry erase board, varied colors of dry erase markers so students have choices, small make-up sponges for erasers, and of course, the basic pens, pencils, erasers and scissors in a cup.  All of the containers came from the Dollar Store. 
TIP: Be sure to keep your permanent markers stored somewhere else! If a student uses the wrong marker, just write over the permanent marker and erase while wet. After few tries, the permanent marker will erase.

Organizing: Just for Me!

Don’t we deserve a treat, too?  I couldn’t resist this cute little colored cork board to keep my To Do items on. It is small, so I can hang it up right near me while I work. That way, at the end of the day, my notes of what I need to get out, copy or prepare before the next session will be in one spot. The binder clips are cute for hanging small items that get lost easily, too!

Fun and Inexpensive:

I was so excited to find this 100 day poster! My students love big board games and this fits the bill! Just change ‘days’ to ‘sounds’ and your students can race their way to 100 productions! I’d play to let them keep moving their cute little vehicles (Dollar Store erasers!) on space for every correct sound production at whatever level they are working on. When they make a mistake, they have to stop there for the next student to take a turn. Can anyone make it to 100 before time is out?

Check out the erasers in this picture. They make great game pieces! (They are lousy erasers, though!)


While I have tried many prizes from the Dollar Store, these are the all time favorite with my older kids. They come in varied colors, with some even having their own carrying case. I only give out prizes about once a quarter, and with my caseload, it is very much worth the money I’ve spent to have a daily point system that lets them work toward a prize!

I’m sure you’ve shopped there, too! Do you agree that it should be named the Ten Dollar Store? Maybe more? What is your favorite purchase? 

For more ideas, remember to stop back in to Talkin’ With Twang!

January Freebies- Snowman Color Match 2

It is freebie time again! If you didn't download last week's freebie, click here. It is an open ended matching game, so you can use it with any work, but it is really easy to elicit the possessive 's ending in this activity.

The free worksheets this week are for matching the snowman with the right color snow.  It's a quick and easy color review to send for homework. What could be better? 

See you next Thursday for another set of worksheets to accompany the game!

The Best Laid Plans of .... SLPs?

One of those days...

Yes, I meant to get out to the dollar store and buy cute little colored cars that fit perfectly on the game board. But, you know perfectly well that speech/language therapy is a make-it-work field and real life gets in the way of beautifully organized plans! For me, anyway. Maybe you are able to organize everything on Sunday night and have everything go as expected. If so, please, please let me in on the secret! There are lots of comments sections below- just fill one up! You’d make me sooooo happy! :)

Back on track (ha-ha!) my car idea didn’t exactly work when I grabbed the larger sized cars I had around. The students had to keep the front of the cars lined up with the space they were on, but the cars kept getting knocked into because they were too big. Then, there were arguments about where each student’s car actually belonged.

I did get my students to start some conversations with each other, but the best part really was when I had them brainstorm ways they could politely express their opinions about which spot was where the car actually belonged. We assigned an emotion to how each of the different choices would make the other person feel and practiced saying the best choice with an appropriate tone of voice and facial expression.

So, what do you think I should do next time I play this game? Use the tokens that come with the game or pull out the too big cars again? Maybe actually make that trip to the dollar store for tiny cars? If you tried this game with the right sized cars, let me know if it is actually worth running another errand!

Would you share a story about a time when your plan failed but the therapy worked? I can't be alone!

How to Organize and Save Time- 3 SLP Tips

Organized? Yes, please!

Why? It saves you time in the long run and reduces frustration, at least for me! Thanks to the Frenzied SLPS for another great topic and invite to link up! Here's 3 quick and easy tips!

Organization is crucial for me, since I absolutely hate wasting time trying to find things I need. Whether you are at home planning for the next day, with kids, dinner and laundry waiting for you, or at school with a ton of paperwork to do, who wants to spend time thinking of all those things feeling frustrated while trying to find what you need?

Add to that the fact that I have worked in many schools over many years, accumulating materials for students from 13 months to 19 years old, moving my stuff from school to home to school almost yearly…. Well, you can see that I have had a lot of reasons and a lot of practice getting organized!

First Tip

It is oh-so-easy to do and has saved me many times. When you print your first, beautiful clean copy of a worksheet, take a yellow highlighter and write your initials in the top right corner.  It won’t show up when you photocopy. Resist the temptation to ever use it- that mark lets you know that it is the original and, possibly, your last copy.

My second tip?

Page protectors! For many years, I stored all of my photocopies in file folders in filing cabinets.  Then, I started to change jobs and move everything home regularly. I found that I could store more in the same space if I got rid of all of the file folders and recycled the extra copies. Take a page protector and place all of your highlighted beautiful worksheets for the same skill in that page protector.

Then, take all of these page protectors, for example plurals, possessives, verb tenses, etc. and put them in a binder marked Syntax. Easy to do, right?  A thin binder will fit in a filing cabinet as easily as a file folder and when you have a syntax goal heavy caseload one year, all you have to do is pull out that binder and see what you want to photocopy.

Third tip? 

What about when you find out that you have only that last, beautiful yellow highlighted copy left and no time to get  to the photocopy machine?  Reusable pockets and dry erase markers to the rescue!  I use these often since it saves on photocopying and my students like being able to choose the color they want to use for the work. They manage to get a little free drawing time in, too, while I am helping the other student in the group or recording data.

Did you find any of these tips helpful?  
How about a FREE, editable system for labeling those binders? Get it at my store for free!

Freebie Alert! Snowman Color Match

Who can resist free materials? I certainly can't and
I hope you have been enjoying my surprises for you! Can you believe that it is 2016 already? This open ended quick and easy matching game is my New Year's gift to you. Have a happy and healthy New Year!

These posts are be short and sweet, but I hope that you will think the freebies are awesome! Just be sure to check in for my newest additions on Thursdays, since everyone needs a break on Friday! Maybe my freebie will provide that for you! 

Share the love- thank me by pinning or posting the links. When it comes to freebies, the more the merrier!

Just click on the cover to get to this week's freebie! Happy New Year!

In 2016, I'll Try...

Thanks to The Frenzied SLPs  for hosting this fun  New Year linky! I just posted earlier this week about the importance of making sure our students learn to think ahead and form goals. New Year’s resolutions are the perfect time to talk about this!

I’ve made a resolution, too! This year, I am trying to incorporate more YouTube clips into my therapy with older students. They respond so well when they get to go online in therapy and I love having a change of pace!

Many of my students need to work on organizing their thoughts to summarize information. Although they are older, some need to work on narrative skills as well. I have found that using Story Grammar Marker symbols in a graphic organizer format works well for my poor readers as a strategy to work on these goals. It helps them determine the important information and sequentially organize it in sentences. Since the story grammar symbols are familiar and visual, the processing load of reading and thinking about the information is reduced.

Using video clips is a perfect way to practice these skills! Sometimes I let my students show me their favorite clips, as long as they show they can choose ones that are school appropriate.  My favorites include wordless shorts, as you can work on WH questions, telling narratives, sequencing skills and more using these. I have found that the links can expire, but as of this posting date, you can watch “For the Birds” at this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M_OqprX7148. There are also independent productions made for school projects that can be fun. One of these is “Partly Cloudy” at this link:

I hope you like these ideas! What tips are you trying for 2016? For more great ideas, be sure to link back to The Frenzied SLPs!

New Year's Resolutions!

Setting Goals

I’ve had a lot of fun sharing some therapy ideas and activities I’ve used when working with younger students, but many of us work with students of varied ages and skill levels. So, my New Year’s resolution for this blog was to start incorporating some ideas that could be used with older students, too.  But, if you were loving my posts for younger kids, don't worry! We work with all age levels, so enjoy the variety here!
Talking about your New Year’s resolution (and laughing later about how quickly you failed to meet the goal you set!) is such a common occurrence. Have you ever checked to see if your students could set goals for themselves?

We provide goals for them yearly, if not more frequently, but as students grow they are expected to be part of the IEP process and give input. Being able to make plans and self-advocate are such important life skills. Do our students have the language to be able to do this?

New Year’s is a great opportunity to see what skills your students currently have and get the ball rolling to develop language to talk about what they might like to see happening in the near future. For our language impaired students, this kind of activity offers opportunities to elicit language for:
* future tense
* critical thinking skills, problem solving and decision making
* thinking about consequences of actions
* practicing sentence structures “I would like”, “I want to be able to”, “I wish I could”, etc.”
* using negatives “I wish I didn’t”, “I don’t want to”, etc.

One material that I like to use to help teach these skills is a freebie by Lynn Hubbell, an experienced special education teacher at TpT. Her free social narrative, Sometimes I Feel Green, is a great way to get kids thinking about their feelings and how they can have an impact on whether or not the emotions and behaviors escalate. At New Years, it is a perfect lead in to talking about what actions help them succeed and what actions make their problems worsen. From there, you can discuss that resolution means trying to change to make things better, and elicit something that they think they can try to do more often.

Another free material material that I use is the New Year’s Resolution and Goals Mobile from Created by Mr. Hughes.  This craft activity has simple language with enough built in guidelines that it is easy to have discussions with your students with your students while working on the craft. I really like the phrase on the mobile, “New Year, New Me!” for explaining what a New Year’s resolution is all about.

For slightly higher students, I like to use Best Foot Forward from Classroom in the Middle. The sneakers make the craftivity cool for older kids and the language is less direct, requiring more thinking skills.  I also love that the idiom ‘putting your best foot forward” can be tied in to the resolution theme.

If, by any chance, you are one of the people who don’t visit TpT regularly, you really should think about it! There are many wonderful, creative teachers out there who are sharing their skills, often for free! I love the selection of ideas that I am using, but if these don’t work quite right for your caseload, the material for you is just a search away!

So, what do you think of my New Year’s resolution?  I hope that this has gotten you thinking about how to help your students start learning to set goals! Wishing you a healthy, happy New Year!
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