It’s definitely that time of year! Hallways are filled with the hustle and bustle of end-of-the-school year excitement. In between closing sessions with students, team meetings, wrapping up special projects, prepping for summer private therapy and more, I have also been busy putting together summer speech-language packets for my public school students and their families.
The packets cover a variety of speech-language skills, incorporating theme-related content and activities that can be adapted for individual students. I included many of the popular activities found in my previous Summer Fun post. In addition, I also included information and tips/tricks for parents found in these handouts and in my previous Communication Temptations post. These speech-language Summer Fun packets are for both kids andtheir parents.
I have received a number of requests to post additional summer-themed activities. As always, I am happy to spread a little speech-language love and share resources I have developed. So, here you go! Additional activities straight from my Summer Fun Speech-Language Activity Packet…free for you to download for educational and/or personal use. Let me know if you are using them; I would love to hear your feedback!
Summer Speech/Language Activity Pages:
Stay tuned for more posts this summer including book, product and iPad app reviews. More free downloads for your summer themes in store as well. Thank you for visiting Live Speak Love, LLC…have a wonderful summer!
I’ve recently discovered a new tech tool for speech-language therapy…Word Clouds. Using word clouds is a fun way to incorporate text into your speech-language lessons, perfect for increasing the speech-to-text connections. If you are utilizing Universal Design for Learning Standards (and you should be,) word clouds are also a powerful tool to customize the display of information, highlight critical features of a subject matter and incorporate media in learning activities. They are also just plain fun. Kids seem to really enjoy seeing their words and ideas instantly transformed into art.
Below are a few word cloud activities I have used recently. I’ve been exploring different features of the available word cloud sites, and I’ve included examples of my favorites:
Tagul.com – Below is a word cloud I made with a group using the Tagul Word Cloud Generator. Tagul allows you to customize the shape, colors and fonts, and quickly produce word clouds that can be saved as images, emailed or embedded into web pages. I used this word cloud site with a group of students as we generated categorical vocabulary given the topic “Things We See Outside in the Summer.” Students verbally produced categorical lists and then we reviewed the words, discussing similarities and differences between related word pairs.
ABCYa! – ABCYa! is a simple word cloud generator that is quick and user-friendly. There are limited layout, font and color scheme choices, but the word clouds are created instantly without fuss or worry over too many parameters. Below is a word cloud we created in a group co-treatment lesson with the social worker. As a follow-up to a story lesson, we generated positive attributes and descriptive words. We instantly created the word cloud, and the students then used the word cloud words to identify five attributes to describe themselves. We ended with a group discussion in which students offered positive attributes about their peers. The activity was engaging, powerful and memorable, as students used their speech-language skills to reinforce themes of self-concept, friendship and giving compliments.
Wordle – Wordle is another fun word cloud generator that allows custom colors, fonts and layouts (not in shapes, though) to produce a visual vocabulary display. With Wordle, you do need to capture screenshots of your word clouds in order to save them as images; otherwise they are stored online in a public gallery. Below is a brainstorm word cloud I created with a group as we identified relevant summer vocabulary words in response to the questions, “What do you like about summer?” Students eagerly participated in this group discussion, formulating sentences to describe their favorite summer pastimes and memorable events. A variety of language skills were targeted using this simple visual tool.
Tagxedo – Tagxedo is one of my favorite word cloud generators, allowing text to be displayed in a shape using customizable color themes and fonts. You can even have your word cloud in the shape of an actual word or phrase. I have been experimenting with the options that Tagxedo offers, and came up with this LiveSpeakLove Word Cloud:
There are many other word cloud generators available on the Internet. You can find a generous list of word cloud sites with a simple internet search. I would love to hear if you are using word cloud tools in your classroom and/or therapy rooms…feel free to post your ideas in the comments section. Thank you for visiting Live Speak Love, LLC!
It’s that time of year! Time to start making plans for summer, if you have not done so already. Live Speak Love, LLC is happy to announce that we are now scheduling appointments for summer speech-language services in the Hampton Roads, Virginia area. Do you want your child to continue speech-language therapy, but they did not qualify for Extended School Year services? Or maybe you are concerned with your child’s speech-language skills and do not want to wait an additional 60-90 days for an assessment after school starts in September. Why not schedule a comprehensive speech-language assessment this summer? Are you looking for a second opinion or consultation? Whatever your speech-language needs, Live Speak Love, LLC is happy to work with you to create an arrangement that suits you, your child and your family. Call today for information and/or to schedule an appointment!
With summer just around the corner, many parents and teachers are already making plans for summer fun. Do you need ideas for speech-language activities during the summer break? Read on! Here are my top suggestions for fun, language-based activities that target communication skills in memorable ways.
Take a walk– A walk that incorporates language skills can be as simple as a stroll around the block, or as complex as an afternoon hike to a scenic destination. As you walk, encourage conversation by asking open-ended questions or observations like, “I wonder what this is!” Take note (out loud) of things that you see, hear, discover and enjoy, encouraging your child to do the same. You could also create a game or scavenger hunt for your walk, prompting your child to search for and label objects using a picture checklist:
Plan Day Trips – Take trips to local beaches, parks, museums or amusement parks. These excursions are not only fun, but they give your child the gift of developing background knowledge, or schema– an important database of personal experiences that become essential for reading comprehension. Providing your child with a variety of life experiences gives them a broader vocabulary base and fosters personal connections to text and stories. These connections will prepare children for higher level skills as they are introduced to new reading material and participate in group discussions. Day trips are also good practice for language formulation, planning and organization skills, and they offer many opportunities to reinforce conversational behaviors, language use and comprehension. Here are some select visuals that target these skills:
Take a Road Trip– If you are planning a vacation this summer, take advantage of the many built-in opportunities to develop communication skills. Trapped in the car for hours? Resist the urge to “autoplay” your ride with DVDs or handheld electronic devices. Why not target speech-language skills with games that kids love and will very likely remember for years? “I Spy,” license plate games or find-the-alphabet contests all target verbal skills and a variety of language concepts. You could also create a Seek-and-Find activity for your trip, like this downloadable version:
Make a Treat– What activity is more rewarding than one that ends in a fun treat to eat? Simple recipes can target a variety of language skills and are a favorite with kids. Practice following directions, using descriptive concepts, sequential vocabulary and more with real tools and materials. Here is a super easy treat I’ve made with my own children and students, with visual directions that allow for review after you are done:Go to the Movies– ‘The movies’ are not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about fostering communication skills. How can sitting passively in a dark theater target speech-language goals? But let’s face it – many parents can become desperate to find an enjoyable activity for the kids on those stifling hot, lazy days of summer. Enjoying an air-conditioned theater for a two hour respite can be just what you and your child need. (For children with sensory issues that make trips to movie theaters a challenge, look for sensory-friendly movie times, like those offered in AMC theaters.) In addition to creating motivating content for future discussions and activities, movies also generate opportunities for language before and after your excursion. Decide with your child what you will see; where and when you will see it. After the show, review with your child the movie plot, characters and sequential events. Ask questions like, “What was your favorite part? Why?” to help your child formulate and support their opinions. Offer your own opinion, too! Encourage critical thinking skills by asking “why” “how” and “what if” questions. Some families I know even keep a log of movies they see throughout the year, giving each movie a rating after a family movie discussion.
Schedule Playdates– Effective speech-language therapy often includes group sessions to promote socials skills and to create opportunities that reinforce generalization of skills. Foster peer interaction, interactive play, functional communication and other skills by arranging a short playdate. Around two hours is a good length of time for a get-together, allowing ample opportunities for play, exploration and a small snack. Offer a few summer activities (bubbles, balls, sand toys, etc) and encourage conversation/interaction, but do resist the urge to organize their activities. Children need time to develop play with each other and discover what is motivating or fun in the moment.
Read, Read, Read – Reading with your child is one of the best activities you can do to promote language and literacy skills. Studies show that time spent reading with your child is the best predictor of overall academic success. The AmericanAssociation of School Librarians reported a study, (Wells, 1988) where researchers found that “the amount of experience that five-year-old children had with books was directly related to their reading comprehension at seven and eleven years old. Wells stated that of all the activities considered possibly helpful for the acquisition of literacy, only one—listening to stories—was significantly associated with later test scores.” Read more.
Not sure how to incorporate language into reading? The U.S. Department of Education outlines things you can do to help your child develop language and literacy skills. Read more.
Whatever your plans this summer, do take time to engage with your child in real ways using everyday activities. For more ideas/activities that target communication skills, please visit my speech-language blog at LiveSpeakLove.
I was very excited to come home and find this package on my doorstep today!
I will be reviewing this product from Super Duper Inc, one of my favorite speech therapy supply companies. I am really looking forward to trying this program with students that have auditory processing difficulties. The processing program (at first glance) appears to be based on research stemming from investigations of altered auditory signal presentation to remediate intermittent/delayed auditory perception in children. I find research like this –glimpses into variations of how the brain processes auditory signals as explanations for disordered comprehension– to be completely fascinating. I am very excited to learn more about the Altered Auditory Input technique proposed in this program, and will be posting my impressions very soon, So, look for my review in an upcoming blog feature ~stay tuned!
Are you new to the Speech-Language Pathology profession? Or are you perhaps a soon-to be SLP in search of a graduate program, clinical fellowship or fully licensed position? Or maybe you are an experienced SLP in search of affirmation and renewed energy. Whatever your reason for stumbling onto this article, you will want to read my list of MUST-Dos for SLPs. As an SLP who has worked in a variety of clinical settings and who now must check the “forty-ish-something” box on questionnaires, applications, and telemarketer surveys, I feel that I have learned a thing or two about what is necessary in this profession. Not that I profess to know it all, by any means…in fact, with all of my…let’s just call it ” life experience,” I seem to keep learning how much there is to keep on learning. But I do have some advice for SLPs that is presented to you in my TOP TEN LIST. (Who doesn’t love a top ten list?) Many of the items on my list are things that I have, in fact, learned the hard way…it is what it is. Life is about learning the hard way, right? Except when we can learn from each other! So, please feel free to share this list with others, and also share additional MUSTS that you have learned; we all know there are more than ten MUST DOs in this profession!
Top 10 Must-Dos for SLPs
Keep on Learning– yes, I just told you in my introduction that there are always lessons to be learned; definitely true. It is also true that graduate classes, textbooks, journal studies and seminars do not fully prepare you for real-world clinical situations. Expect to learn on the job. Your clinical style and professional skills will develop as you learn more about different populations, and as you gain individual experience with the people you meet. Also, take advantage of CEU opportunities — ongoing education is critical to developing skills that draw from the most current literature and best practices.
Establish a Network of Support – some clinical settings in this field involve therapists traveling/working by themselves or in a building full of professionals that do not have the same background or knowledge-base that they do. It is critical that you establish a person or group of people to consult as you make clinical decisions and navigate your professional world. Your CFY Supervisor, Team Leader, or other colleagues will prove very useful during those times when you need to ask a question, relate an idea, confirm a decision, or just feel moral support.
Build Online Connections– in these modern times, most professionals are turning to the internet and its veritable abundance of online resources. Beyond blogs, therapy supply companies and professional organizations, there are also many ways to connect with other professionals and resources. A few of my favorites? Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Speech-Language Forums. Yes, the advent of social media brought us new ways to form relationships and acquire knowledge! Start by checking out #SLPeeps on Twitter, or my Pinterest board for a glimpse at some of the online possibilities.
Embrace Technology– You may know that I am a fan and proponent of using technology in speech-language therapy. Check out some of my posts for ideas and resources. I believe that interactive technology is the key to reaching clients in a motivating, meaningful way. You may want to save money or negotiate with your employer to purchase an iPad or similar device. Even if you can’t purchase an iPad, tablet or other interactive device, you will still want to learn about these types of resources. Every day, there appear to be more and more tech options and apps for speech-language therapy. You will want to learn how to discern appropriate clinical tools from the hype and hogwash. Check out Geek SLP, SpeechTechie, Speech Language Neighborhood, and ASHASphere for ideas, thoughtful reviews and recommendations about tech tools and apps to use in speech-language therapy.
Stay Organized – Success as a clinician is critically balanced on the ability to remain organized in the busy world of documentation and caseload management. You will want to develop a system for maintaining pertinent information for each client, and for managing your schedule. I prefer to use online documentation and scheduling, available to me wherever I go via computer or mobile device. I use DropBox filesharing to securely and instantly transfer my documents between all of my devices. Whatever system you use, be vigilant about sticking with it…organization is more than half the secret to success!
Be Confident (or Fake It!) –As an SLP, you will likely be responsible for making clinical decisions and eligibility or service-level determinations, and reporting therapy progress to a variety of other professionals. Family members and people from other disciplines or clinical settings (including those who do not know anything about speech-language therapy) may question you, pressure you or confront you as you make clinical decisions. You will need to develop confidence as a professional to deal with these situations. Rely on your supervisors or mentors for support when you need to, but otherwise remember that YOU are the trained service provider responsible for making the clinical decisions. Have faith in yourself, smile, breathe deeply, and learn from each experience. Developing confidence takes time…until you develop true confidence, you can Fake It Till You Make It!
Create Professional Goals – Where do you see yourself in a year? Five years? Ten years? Think about it, and put those goals in writing. Committing to the goals in writing will create a mindset that can drive your day-to-day actionsand decisions. Even if you are in your CF year and feel overwhelmed just understanding the sometimes chaotic demands of your current position, you should have goals about where you want to go. If you don’t know where you want to go, you may be surprised to wake up one day and find that the ride continued while you weren’t paying attention…and you have arrived at the destination! Make sure YOU are in charge of your destination.
Keep a Record of Your Accomplishments – Start a file for yourself that will hold any and all things that show accomplishment. Did you receive an email from a colleague thanking you for the resource you shared? Print it out and file it. Did you receive a positive letter from a client, family member or team member? FILE it; file it all. Keeping a record of your successes is not trivial or considered bragging — you should acknowledge your every success and embrace it. Bring your “Accomplishments” file to performance reviews and evaluations, or submit any letters of commendation when you apply for a new position or potential recognition. Keeping a file of your professional accomplishments is not silly; it’s smart and savvy. Do It Now.
Find Your Passion – ManyPretty much all clinicians feel frustrated or discouraged by the demands of paperwork, meetings and large caseloads at some point in their early careers. How do you combat the frustration and weariness that can develop? Find your passion; focus on what you love. Ask yourself, “What types of duties do I most enjoy about my job?” Working with students who have autism? Performing modified barium swallow studies? Writing reports? Using those crafty-creative-DIY skills to plan innovative therapy activities? Think about your passions, and when you know what you like — make it happen on purpose. Focus on those preferred aspects of your job, developing your expertise and skill in the areas you most love. Seek out opportunities that will allow for more of what you love. You may still find it hard to balance what you enjoy with things about which you feel less-than-passionate, but the struggle is necessary for discovering who you are as a clinician. Soon you may have an idea of what you really want to do in life, and you can commit yourself to that idea (in writing! See #7.)
Keep a Sense of Humor – What’s the saying…”Laughter is the best medicine?” Yes, that goes nicely with the saying, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” 🙂 Do try to keep a sense of humor about challenges you face. You WILL make mistakes. You WILL second-guess yourself. You WILL NOT please everybody. You may not always love your job, even if you love what you do. Through all of the ups and downs, maintaining a sense of humor will serve you well and help you through some stressful times. Need a little help? Take a peek at the video in this post…it works every time.
Well there you have it; my experience in a nutshell…the secret to becoming a fabulous, successful clinician. Basically I recommend that you believe in yourself; go after your dreams — remember to learn voraciously, laugh deliberately, and LiveSpeakLove in all you do.
I am once again very pleased and honored to be featured on ASHASphere, the American Speech-Language Hearing Association’s official online publication! Maggie McGary, ASHA’s Community and Socia Media Manager, wrote an article highlighting some resources available for spreading the word about Communication Disorders. The article features resources I posted on LiveSpeakLove, along with some other fabulous SLP ideas, tips and resources. Check them out and spread the word to “Connect People Through Communication!” Just click on the image below to view the article:
May is Better Hearing and Speech Month! In the LiveSpeakLove spirit of sharing resources, I have created some FREE printable information pages for you to distribute to parents, teachers and other educators. Please feel free to share with others for educational and/or personal use. Enjoy!
Find out more about Speech-Language Therapy and Better Speech and Hearing Month with the following resources: