Live Speak Love, LLC

Lisa M. Geary, MS CCC-SLP lisa@livespeaklove.com

Earth Day Activities April 10, 2012

Spring is definitely in full swing! Our Spring Break is now over, but there is certainly no shortage of seasonal fun for the speech-language therapy room. I have been asked by Heidi Kay of PediaStaff to write a post highlighting activities that could be used for Earth Day. Heidi has pinned many of my activities on Pediastaff’s incredible collection of Pinterest Pinboards, and she also recently wrote an article for ASHASphere highlighting this Live Speak Love blog as one of the “Best Speech-Language Blogs A-Z.  Wow! I am both honored and excited to present to you this Earth Day post that is featured on the PediaStaff blog.

Earth Day, in my opinion, is a wonderful opportunity to educate children of all ability levels about the importance of taking care of our world. As children develop an understanding of the vocabulary, themes and issues, there are many teachable moments and life-changing conversations that can develop as a result. Earth Day is a universal cause, and it often sparks something in the minds of young learners. My own children have shown particular interest in the Earth Day theme, causing me to make changes in our family’s recycling habits. Children of all ages and ability levels can begin learning what it means to “Go Green” and care for the world in which we live.

These fun activities can be used to target almost any speech-language goal or objective. In the past, I have used Earth Day activities during individual and small group sessions, and also during co-treatment sessions with classroom teachers, the occupational therapist and/or the school social worker.

Here is a printable social story mini-book (four pages total to be cut into quadrants) you can use to introduce what it means to “Go Green.” Students will learn how they can conserve energy and protect the environment. You can even print an Earth Day Certificate for each student who pledges to do their part. Just click on the images to download:

Earth Day Bingo Boards are another great way to introduce the Earth Day theme and relevant vocabulary.  During your Bingo Game, you can target myriad speech-language objectives like answering wh questions, formulating sentences using target vocabulary, labeling objects or using descriptive words in phrases and/or sentences. I often give “Mystery Clues” about a Bingo Picture, and students individually locate the target words from the given verbal descriptions. There are six different boards I made for you to download:

To teach about Recycling, I have used a few different sorting activities. These activities can be used to target word class, categorization, picture identification or labeling, answering simple wh questions, expressive language and more. Probably the most popular activity I have tried is actually taking a group of students outside for a “walk” where we discover an area littered with trash (pre-planted by me, of course.) After some discussion, students pick up the trash and decide what to do with it. Put it in the trash can? Recycle? Or (perfect critical thinking opportunity here) could it be saved to use again or perhaps re-purposed? This real-world, action-oriented activity really hits home with my students, causing many of them to search for trash (or treasures) on the school grounds or in their neighborhoods. Students love to come and tell me what they have found, and the action that they took. To do this activity with any sized-group, all you need is a pile of carefully selected “litter.”

If you do not have the opportunity to conduct this real-word exercise (or if you want to send a follow-up activity home for students to complete) I made this cut-and-paste version you could use:

For those of you with smartboards, you can use this virtual litter sorting game. Students will love dragging each item to its proper destination. If you have ActivInspire or a compatible program, just click on the link below to download the interactive flipchart I created:

Another great activity to use on a smartboard is this Going Green interactive game board. Just pair this game with any stimulus cards or questions that you wish to target. Students are always very enthusiastic about “rolling” the virtual dice and moving their game piece around the board. I have used similar game boards with both small and large groups. For larger groups, I place students on teams to increase interaction and decrease any wait time.

If you do not have a smartboard, or if you wish to insert the gameboard image to create your own file, here is a version you can import or print:

 

Working on those tricky /r/ sounds? Here are stimulus cards to target -er in all positions of words. Just print and cut to use with any open-ended activity (like the game boards above!) Or, print double copies to use in matching/memory games with the Earth Day theme:I’ve also used craft activities to incorporate fine motor skills, often in  co-treatment sessions with the occupational therapist. Here is an activity in which students can follow sequential directions to create an “Earth.” Descriptive words, sequential and ordinal concepts, following directions and other language skills can be targeted in this “Go Green” project: 

Whatever activities you choose, students will almost certainly appreciate learning how they can personally make a difference in our world.  Doesn’t everyone want to feel that their actions have impact and meaning?  So, Go Green this Earth Day, and enjoy teaching your students how to make our world a better place.

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More St. Patty’s Day Fun March 6, 2012

Are you getting ready for St. Patrick’s Day yet? I’ve been working on introducing seasonal vocabulary as we target speech-language objectives. So far, my students are all loving the Animoto video I made to preview theme vocabulary, previously posted here.  The bingo boards and four-leaf clover templates I posted previously seem to be a popular download, and people have asked if I have any more St. Patrick’s Day resources to share. Of course! Here are a few more goodies:

Here is a template to make your own cards — you can print the number of needed copies onto cardstock and add your own clip art and/or text to the back. The cards can be used for minimal pair articulation practice, or customized to target any grammatical structure or language content goals you need. The shamrocks can be used as token reinforcement coins as a motivator — kids love to collect the coins for each successful trial. Just click to download and print!

Here are a couple of open-ended game boards to use with any speech-language objective. The game can be paired with articulation cards, pragmatic question cards, pictures, or any stimuli you wish to use. Digital images of the boards can be used with interactive smartboards to incorporate technology into your game (see this post for an example of how I used another game board on my ActivPanel smartboard.)

 

For those people who liked the four-leaf clover templates I posted previously, here is another version that can be used to target story recall and sequential vocabulary. Students can have their own template to use as an individual storyboard, and a smartboard or enlarged template can be used as a follow-up during whole group review. Students can compare their individual versions to the whole-group storyboard to see if they match. The template can also simply be used as a graphic organizer for planning and organization assistance with students who struggle with the executive function component.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all — enjoy the downloads!

~Lisa

 

Valentine’s Day Activities February 11, 2012

I stopped at the store today to buy goodies and cards for my own kids to give their friends on Valentine’s Day. Our home is now equipped with pre-made cards and card-making supplies (for one child with a bit of artistic ambition,) treat bags and several kinds of candy doused with liberal amounts of pink and red. We are just days away from the holiday, and almost all of my kids are getting pretty excited. (Did you know that middle schoolers are now “too cool” for Valentine exchanges, even casual ones under the pretense of spontaneous candy-sharing?? Hmmmph.)

I am not necessarily a huge Valentine’s Day fan, but I do enjoy the chance to mark the swiftly passing days with entertaining, theme-related activities and the chance to celebrate with the people around me. I have a few favorite Valentine’s Day activities to share.

Valentine Bingo Boards - The term “Bingo” is used loosely, due to the fact that I use games like this to target almost every speech or language skill possible before we actually get to any of the “Bingo.” During a typical game, each student’s goals are addressed through differentiated activities involving speech production, identifying vocabulary given verbal descriptions, sentence formulation to respond to wh questions about vocabulary, or following simple and multi-step directions using unique ways to mark the square (no Bingo chips or dotters in my groups…we usually mark our squares by following directions like, “Draw a blue square next to the valentine card.”) We also use related vocabulary to highlight critical attributes and identify similarities and differences. Children often spontaneously share background experiences with the theme-related vocabulary and we take a few minutes to “turn and talk” to relate a past event or experience to a peer or peer group. What might look like a simple “game” to the casual observer is unquestionably a language-rich, engaging experience with opportunities for differentiated instruction tailored to meet multiple learning styles. Made with Boardmaker software, Bingo Boards are cinch to replicate for multiple versions using the “shuffle button” tool. Enjoy these free downloads, and feel free to let me know how you used them.

Valentine Bingo Boards, created using Boardmaker software
 
Free Download Links:
 
Low-Tech Picture Boards: Another activity I’ve used with success is this simple language activity targeting WHO questions using low-tech picture boards as stimuli. Descriptive words (heart shape, color words) are highlighted at the sentence level, while categorical labeling skills are also featured. Extension activities can be created to target related skills such as comprehension of embedded clauses, asking wh questions, using color words in sentences to describe pictures, etc. I use this document (created in Boardmaker) on my ActivPanel smartboard with the “annotate desktop” feature that will allow students to circle, draw lines, manipulate objects and add text to supplement the pictures. Animal sounds inserted as mulit-media files next to each animal (easy to do if you have smartboard software like ActivInpire )complete this fun, engaging activity that my students love!

Another Valentine’s Day activity that could be adapted to meet any therapy objective — this open-ended Valentine’s Day game board. I pair boards like this with picture stimuli, articulation cards, pragmatic question cards, sequence cards…ANYTHING than can be used to elicit a response as students take turns to make their way to the “mailbox” in time to deliver their Valentine’s Day card. This game board was created in Boardmaker on a legal size grid and then converted to PDF. Enjoy!

Thank you for visiting, and Happy Valentine’s Day to you from LiveSpeakLove. <3

 

 
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