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!)

Prizes:

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!

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!

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!"

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!

5 Facts About Me!

One of the wonderful aspects of being on TpT is the lovely people you get to meet. We are all over the world, working hard to help make children's lives a little better, one skill at a time. I want to thank Nikki, from Teaching Autism in the UK, for inviting me to share in this fun linky. I really enjoyed finding out more about her and thought that maybe you would like to get to know me a little more, too! 



I'm so much better at writing about therapy ideas than I am about myself! These facts seem pretty self-explanatory as well. But, feel free to ask me questions if any of this interests you! I'd love to chat!

Thanks to Krista Wallden at Creative Clips for the font and graphics.

Would you ever want to see photos of my quilts? What's your hobby?
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