3 Easy End of the School Year Tips- Plus a FREE Summer Homework Calendar for Autism!


The end of the school year is upon us! 
Great tips and freebies for the end of the year and summer carryover!


Whether you are finishing up next week or in June, you are probably noticing that your students are getting a bit antsy with the change in weather. Nice weather makes us all want to be outside!

Recently I read somewhere that nowadays, with teachers getting antsy themselves and starting end of the year countdowns, we are just magnifying the problem. Could that be the case in your school? I’ve been part of the education system for a very long time, and I must say that countdowns didn’t use to happen at one time.

Tips and freebies for the end of the school year and summer carryover!
Tip 1: Minimize showing your own desire for summer to your students.

We all look forward to the summer! But instead of counting down, when testing is over, try to consider this an opportunity! (I know, it is hard!)

Tip 2: Use this time of year to do all of the functional, fun application activities that you used to have more time to do!
Pick a theme and brainstorm how many different skills you can work into activities related to that theme. These are great for summer homework, too!

Literacy activities are basics! Have your students retell the story to check for comprehension  or see how well they are independently using the  sentence structures and speech sounds you have worked on. Have them ask each other questions for a change of pace with WH questions.

Cooking activities are great for following directions, eliciting verbs and spatial concepts, turn taking skills and just plain fun!

Play activities with toys related to the theme are a great way to get language samples and articulation use to check for generalization of skills learned this year.

Word games can be incorporated to elicit category, vocabulary, describing and phonemic or articulation skills. Play I Spy with My Little Eye using a busy picture related to your theme, or play I’m going to __ and I need something that starts with (sound).

Movie or song based activities are great for older students, especially if you let them choose their favorites! Just about any skill you can elicit with literacy activities will also work when using movie clips or song lyrics.

Tips and freebies for the end of the school year and summer carryover!
Tip 3: Change it up!

Whatever your usual working style, step out of your comfort zone and try a change of pace! The end of the school year is a great time for you to explore new ways of working with your students. Not only will it add to your skill base, but your students may like doing something different, especially if you are including activities that require computer technology skills. 

Did you see this post which has links to great websites to explore?

If you are concerned about how to take data with less structured activities think about these ideas:

• The real world is not as structured as a therapy session, so you need to find out if your students can use any of the skills independently. Compare how many times the student used the skill independently during the session now versus what they were able to do at the beginning of the year. Use a rubric to let you ball park the data.
• Many students with a limited skill base are able to produce the desired response largely because of the environmental cues you have unknowingly structured for them. Try going to a different location or even just change how you are sitting in your room. Are they still able to use the skills?
• Think about using the overall information you’ve gained about each each student as baseline data for decision making about next year’s IEP goals.

Whatever you try, have some fun with it! Your students will thank you!

SUMMER TIME HELP!
Tips and freebies for the end of the school year and summer carryover from The Frenzied SLPs!
We don't want our kids to backslide over the summer, and neither do parents. 
Thanks to The Frenzied SLPS for organizing this Summer Speech Carryover to give a variety of great tips to help us all out!

I know that while I was working, I could find plenty of help for my students working closer to grade level, but 
what about our students who are on the autism spectrum and communicating minimally

We certainly don't want them to backslide! The added difficulty for coming up with a summer plan for these students is the uniqueness of their skills and needs.

My free download for maintaining communication and keeping routines at home over the summer can be downloaded here. I hope it is a helpful guideline for parents this summer. It certainly is something I wanted to have but never had the time to create!

Be sure to click here to get more useful tips to help you out this summer from The Frenzied SLPS!

5 Important Reasons to Combine Books & Play in Therapy


Books and play are my two favorite therapy methods, so what could be better than combining the two? Sometimes people think that all SLPs do is play, so how hard could that be? They’d be surprised if they tried to accomplish specific goals in maybe an hour or so a week!

5 benefits to combining books and play in speech/language therapy.

5 benefits of combining books and play in therapy:


1. Kids who are engaged are more willing to learn.

2.  Using play and the language for play also helps improve their symbolic thinking skills.

3. Using adapted books helps them understand and engage with books, improving their literacy skills.

4. Using therapy methods and materials that are part of their environment helps to promote generalization or carry-over.

5. They are both so much fun!

Have fun with Spilt Milk at Looks Like Language! Freebie, too!
Spring is a fun time for incorporating a cloud/rain theme to go along with the saying, “April showers bring May flowers.” My favorite book to use for that theme?  It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles G. Shaw.

Adapting the book
Did you know that there is a great website from the Baltimore City School system that has Boardmaker symbols for books all ready to download? For FREE! What a huge timesaver if you have Boardmaker already installed!

Get the list of all of the adapted books here
Or you can start with the downloadable zip files, starting with the letter A here.

Unfortunately, It looked like Spilt Milk used to be available, but no longer is. Maybe I should make that freebie for my newsletter members- what do you think?

Have fun with Spilt Milk at Looks Like Language! Freebie, too!

Games & Skills



Since VISUAL DISCRIMINATION SKILLS are a must for any students using a symbol system to communicate, the shape matching nature of this book makes it a great choice to use with students who are developing literacy skills. Additional shape matching activities can be found in the book companion at my store.

You know that I loved using Ellison cutters when I was in the schools (free), and now many people are buying home versions like Sizzix or Cricut machines (expensive.)

No worries, though, as you can just download the free cloud shapes here and do some old fashioned tracing and cutting on construction paper instead.

Cloud faces with basic EMOTIONS are always cute to use!

Make a pile face down, elicit a target from your student and then let them choose from the pile. If you have 4 emotions, you can have 4 winners!
Instead of picking randomly from a pile, stack each emotion in a deck and students can take turns requesting the emotion card they want.

Clouds with different colors, sizes, and shapes add DESCRIPTIVE WORDS to their language!

MIXED GROUPS- Try using tape or fun-tack to attach other pictures to the back of the cloud shapes. In the picture, I have pieces to a Sesame Street puzzle attached to use as a puzzle token board. The student knew that when the puzzle was completed, the task was done.
Give each student a set of their own clouds with their specific targets. Place the free cloud page that you downloaded in a page protector so students have to cover all of the shapes.

SPEECH SKILLS- Tape pictures with the target sounds on the back or write the word using a dry erase marker on the clouds if they are laminated. Easy!

LANGUAGE SKILLS- It doesn’t have to be fancy. Just cut out the pictures from a worksheet that you can give for homework and tape them on the back to practice first!

Have fun with Spilt Milk at Looks Like Language! Freebie, too!
There are so many more fun activities in my book companion. Besides giving little ones an easy way to start using the strategy of looking back in the text to recall story details, there are a cute open-ended game board, and rhyming and phonology activities, too. 

But I think my favorite is the cloud shape matching boards! Check it out here!

Enjoy!

9 Great Tips for Adapting Materials You Already Own!


Therapy doesn’t always have to be expensive, if you use materials you already have around the house creatively! It also helps if you have garage sales in your neighborhood or if you know people that have kids. Don’t be afraid to ask them to let you go through their kids’ toys and books before they get rid of them!

9 Tips: Adapt Materials for Therapy that You Already Own!
Adapting items you have takes a little time, but building up a supply of activities around a theme makes working with mixed-level groups much easier! Being able to mix and match the materials for different groups’ needs also keeps you from having to do the exact same activity all day long. 


These examples have a pet theme, so fun to do at any time of the year.
Garage sales are great for getting together a theme.


Tip 1: ORGANIZE AND KEEP COLLECTING!

Buy some inexpensive boxes to keep the toys and books you’ve found for each theme all in one place. Add to the theme as you find more inexpensive items.


Puzzles with separate pieces are worth spending some money on.
Tip 2: GET SOME PUZZLES!

If you have students with low-level skills or minimal language, puzzles that have separate pieces of whole items are worth spending some money on.

Students can:
• Request the pet they want to place. (labeling)
• Find the pet that makes the sound. (auditory skills)
• Find the pet who swims, flies, etc.  (action vocabulary)
• Find the pet who eats carrots, wears a collar, etc.  (word association skills)
• Request a black pet, a flying pet, etc. (describing)


Adapt your books and collect containers for play.
Tip 3: BOOKS! MUST HAVE BOOKS!

Find varied books on that theme with different levels and great pictures. This will let you build literacy skills while choosing the book that is easiest to elicit the specific language each group is working on.

Tip 4: ADAPT

Taping symbols over the book text to adapt it to be a simple repetitive book is simple to do. Just adapt the size of the symbols so that the original text is covered and use a wide roll of clear tape that extends past the paper to hold it firmly in place. The book in the photo is still in good shape after 20+ years. Don’t use school tape, though, as it will yellow and peel.

Tip 5: USE BOOKS TO BUILD SYMBOLIC PLAY!
Playing 'feed the animals' is fun!

The book in the photo has repetitive text for what the pets eat. Use craft glue to put small pieces of the foods in the bottom of empty, clean plastic fruit cups. It dried clear, keeping the pieces from falling out and kids from trying to eat them. 

After each page, students put the toy animal in the matching food cup to ‘feed’ them. It makes reading fun and brings the language to life!


Tip 6: MIX & MATCH
Having many items in the same theme to mix and match is so useful!

       • Therapy stays interesting.
       • There’s lots of opportunities to label and use or expand language skills.
       • Combining items in different ways aids generalization.
        • Building skills with different play combinations helps students to develop symbolic play.

A shoebox makes a great pet house for play!
Tip 7: SAVE YOUR SHOEBOXES

(Honestly, I am not a shoe shopaholic but 
little kids grow into new sizes quickly!)
Admittedly, it can be a pain to cut through shoeboxes, but they offer such inexpensive ways to incorporate hands-on fun with lots of language!

After warming up by labeling the pets with 
the puzzle, you can have some pretend play!
"The animals are inside, but they are hungry. Let’s take them out."
 "Who wants to eat first?"
"I think I hear “meow.” What is it? 
Let's open the door!"

You can emphasize concepts, sentence structure, question words, auditory skills, you name it!
Students who are minimally verbal can respond using the pet symbols you made by taking photos of the puzzle pieces, or the puzzle pieces themselves.


Turn worksheets into interactive fun!
Tip 8: TURN WORKSHEETS INTO PLAY!

Worksheets with pictures are great to turn into hands-on activities.

In the photo, you can see examples of:

     • Sticker activities that are laminated and turned into a pet shop game. One set is an enlarged version so that the students had to specify the big/little pet.

     • Shape matching pages turned into a game.

     • Hidden picture pages put into a page protector to make a matching activity using pet symbols. The pictures of the hidden animal were colored in this set for a student who was just beginning to visually discriminate.

• A trading card plastic page that was adapted with symbols for students to match the associated pet and say the sentence.

Construction paper is a basic school supplied material- use it!
Tip 9: USE ANY SUPPLIES 
YOUR SCHOOL OFFERS!

My school had Ellison cutters and construction paper available. Adding pet photos on the back before laminating made a simple game. Students requested the color cat or dog and then turned it over. 

The visual support helped the minimally verbal students form a sentence while the more verbal students used correct grammar in 
their productions.


Thematic materials are great for building speech/language skills!
As always, TpT can save you so much time with high-quality materials! 

Check out my Adapted Books: PETS Themed Activities and add your own toys for some interactive fun!


Enjoy!

3 Tips to Help Children Handle 'NO'


How in the world do you teach children to accept ‘no’? While this is not always an easy task, these tips will surely help if you use them!

no, temper, tantrum, meltdown, choice boards
My friend, Lisette, over at Speech Sprouts, asked what I did to help kids understand and accept 'no'. It takes a lot of work and very few 2-3 year-olds will easily accept 'no' for something they truly want! But there are some strategies you can use to help kids start moving along the path to accepting ‘no.’

Don’t ask a yes/no question! Give choices instead.


Be careful how you word your questions! Asking a child, “Do you want A ?” implies that you are asking them for their wishes. This leaves it open for them to say, “No, I want B.” when B is not an option. Then you have to say “No.”

Instead, try “Today we have A or B. Which one do you want?” While some kids will then reply, “I want C!” this leaves it open for you to say, “I like C, too, but today we get to pick from A or B.”  You notice that this response did not include the ‘N’ word! Sometimes just hearing that word sets some kids off!


Choice Boards

To do this visually, use a choice board! Visuals are important to help kids see the choices, even for verbal kids. They don't have to be fancy, just a 'no' item and 2 choices on plain paper.

* While they see the 'no’ symbol, they also see that there will be other choices available. 


* Without the visual, they will hear the 'no' and can have a meltdown before processing the other choices.


Carefully Sequence the Options

First, help your students understand 'no' (whether visually or verbally) in the context of structured activities where it doesn't have an emotional impact. Then build up to hearing ‘no’ when it actually is something that the child wants, after they have seen that there will be other options that are good, even if not their #1 choice.

Note: Some students may just not be able to handle ‘no’ for various reasons, but don’t make the mistake of giving in to tantrums or outbursts by giving them what they want! As painful as it can be to out wait a sobbing or screaming child, you will only be making it more likely that it will continue if you give in!

Work a deliberate sequence of choices into your daily routines, but don't start with your kids' most favorite choices. Here is one way it could be done.

Make the ‘NO’ choice a 'no' for someone else.


See this picture? I  never had a kid get upset when they couldn't feed a make-believe chocolate cookie in shoebox play. It is great practice for realizing that sometimes there is another choice that is okay. To read more about this, click here

Try out this step by step way, saving saying 'no' to their favorite choice being used only after your child is realizing that 'no' is not necessarily the end of the world. If they react with a meltdown, divert their attention if possible and go back to the last successful step the next day.


Note that the pictures are about cookies, but you can try this with toys, activities, or other favorites, too!


1. Make the ‘NO’ choice something that the child doesn’t like.

1. Make the ‘NO’ choice something that the child doesn’t like.

This is a great place to start for kids who just react to the word. Hearing ’no’ gets a bit of desensitization when it is used for something unwanted.

2. Make the ‘NO’ one of 3 equally liked choices.

2. Make the ‘NO’ one of 3 equally liked choices.

Switch them around from day to day just to help your child see that sometimes we run out of their favorites, or to learn that variety can be fine. Try these variations.


3. Make the ‘NO’ be the 2nd favorite.

3. Make the ‘NO’ be the 2nd favorite.
     
Have the favorite available, along with another choice your child likes.

4. Make the ‘NO’  be their favorite choice.


4. Make the ‘NO’  be their favorite choice.
Have the 2nd favorite available.
It also helps to have an empty chocolate chip cookie bag available for the child to see that there are no cookies in it. This can make settling for 2nd choice easier.

5. Build sabotage into your daily routines!

One day the crayon box can be empty, so kids have to choose from markers or colored pencils instead.

One day, the Lego basket is empty, so they have to choose a different building toy instead.

One day, the box of their favorite cereal is empty, so they have to eat something different.

You get the idea! Learning that there are changes and new choices to be made in life is tough learning for little ones, especially anxious little ones! But by presenting it in a way where there are positive outcomes as well as negative ones, many children can start to take it in better stride.  No miracles, just slow, hard work.

Good luck! How did this work for you?
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