Who else LOVES therapy and classroom activities with a seasonal flair?! Seasonal themes add such a fun, celebratory element to speech-language therapy. Festive games and activities appear to be my “specialty” — or so I have been told. Looking back, I have created a LOT of seasonal resources! And because I feel like celebrating, I decided to bundle some of my top Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving resources into a discounted mega-bundle! This mega-bundle of activities will last through the ENTIRE Fall Season. Fall, Halloween, and Thanksgiving activities galore to target receptive language, expressive language, pragmatics, articulation, and phonology as well as vocabulary and literacy! In this bundle you get 129 pages of printable games, lessons, stimulus cards, crafts, recipes, and more. Tried and true fun for your students, from my therapy room to yours. Check it out if you love minimal prep, easy to differentiate, printable activities with a seasonal flair!
One of my favorite activities to use in therapy, especially group therapy, is BINGO! I love how such a fun, engaging, game that feels like a party can target so many skills – object identification/labeling, visual discrimination, auditory processing at the word/phrase/sentence levels, comprehension of wh questions, review of seasonal vocabulary, language formulation, use of vocabulary and related descriptive concepts, as well as speech sound production. These open-ended boards are perfect for differentiated instruction of students in small or large groups, as well as push-in lessons in the classroom. I’ve created a wide variety of theme-based Bingo boards over the years, and they are always a hit. I also use the calling cards from the Bingo sets to use as a memory games, vocabulary pages, card games, pictures for word walls, adapted books, and more. This particular activity set was created to target /k/ and /g/ velar sounds, but its versatility makes it also perfect for any student. I created color pages as well as black and white pages for the Bingo boards and the calling cards. Take a peek if you want!
P.S. I love using the PCS symbols from Boardmaker and Tobii Dynavox. I recently purchased a Maker License from the company (now required for copyright permissions) so I can create all sorts of visual materials and pass them on to other people! Anything you’d like to see? Just let me know!
It’s been a long while since I’ve posted an update here! As many of you know, my career branched out into a Clinical Assistant Professor position at a university, a job I truly loved! After about seven years of university teaching and clinical supervision, I relocated to my hometown in Virginia and began working in the corporate world as an SLP/Learning Consultant. When the world shifted in our post-covid era, I started to really long for personal connection again and dreamed of re-opening my private practice and serving children and families in my community. At the same time, my wonderful, hard-working husband was working to expand his dental practice and purchase the entire building that houses Geary Family and Cosmetic Dentistry. This larger practice and bigger space meant that there would be room for me to share his space (and his love for helping people) and open my speech-language therapy practice right in the same building! I am so excited to have begun this next adventure, serving families in my very own hometown. So, introducing Yorktown Therapy Services! Don’t worry; I plan on continuing to blog here to serve devoted supporters of Live Speak Love! I have lots of information and therapy goodies to share! But feel free to head over to my new practice Facebook page and give Yorktown Therapy Services some love!
Thanks everyone for continuing to support me and my dreams! Check out pictures of my new practice:
Love and thanks,
Here is a resource I have for you to help put you in the LiveSpeakLove holiday spirit! Target /s/ in all positions of words with this cute printable activity I created. Santa’s hat contains practice words with /s/ in the initial position of CV and CVCV words. His beard contains /s/ in the initial, medial and final positions of one and two syllable words. This worksheet is perfect for speech therapy homework, practice folders, data collection probes, RTI and more.
Enjoy this freebie from LiveSpeakLove!
Live Speak Love is beginning a new venture! In addition to seeing private clients, I am thrilled to announce that I have been offered the position of Clinical Assistant Professor at Towson University in their department of Audiology, Speech Language Pathology and Deaf Studies. I have been supervising Towson graduate students during their internships in the public school setting for several years now, and am so excited to be taking on this new challenge as Clinical Faculty member. I will be teaching some classes, and also supervising undergraduate and graduate students in the University Speech Language and Hearing clinic. I will also have the opportunity to collaborate with other faculty members in some research endeavors, and possibly collaborate with other department’s faculty as well. I plan on exploring options regarding the application of technology in the therapy and educational settings, and will collaborate with Baltimore County Public Schools to continue some of the technology projects that I began this year. This is an amazing opportunity for me, and I am thoroughly excited about prospects ahead of me. Thank you to all for the encouragement and support you have shown me, and for embracing the work I have completed as part of Live Speak Love, LLC. I am honored to be serving children, families, educators, students and clinicians with my thoughts, inspirations and creations. I plan to continue my work online and in my community, in addition to working in my new role. Thank you for your support and 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.
Most teachers, SLPs and parents know that the internet is packed with creative ideas for turning regular, ordinary items into useful tools and treasures. If you have spent any time on Pinterest, you may have a sense for just how crafty people can be in their DIY endeavors. Something I recently discovered. more than just clever or cute in its purpose–with aesthetically pleasing qualities, combining with elements of function and organization to create an invaluable visual aid– paint chips. The power of paint chips is pretty exciting to a visually programmed SLP like myself, with a love for all things crafty and colorful.
Using paint chips to create treasures is apparently as basic as scribing a single character with a magic marker, or as complex as combining mixed-media techniques to fashion an abstract expressionistic design. Etsy is filled with ideas for creating home decor, gifts and other designs using…yes, paint chips. Here are some of one crafter‘s clever projects:
PediaStaff explains the word family game that can be used in a variety of educational or therapeutic activities. Extending the idea they describe,articulation therapy tools could be created by changing the “word family” unit to target sounds in the initial or final positions of words (e.g., words that end in /k/ or words that start with /b/.)
Inspired by finds like these and others I’ve come across on the Internet, I decided to adapt helloliteracy‘s idea of using paint chips to increase vocabulary and word knowledge skills:
Teachers in my school have been reading and discussing a book, Donavan’s Word Jar, with students daily as part of a school-wide initiative to increase vocabulary use and comprehension. I have been working with many of the teachers by recommending developmentally appropriate words on which to focus, as they expose and incorporate higher-level synonyms into everyday classroom vocabulary. The paint chip idea clearly became the perfect tool to jump in on this initiative and reinforce word knowledge, word relationships, and synonym usage. I soon trekked eagerly to my nearest hardware store and made a slow, casual approach down their paint chip aisle. Seeing the spread before me, I wanted to grab handfuls of every luscious, vivid color. Unfortunately, frequent glances from the staff member at the paint counter, combined with the guilt I felt at the idea of taking items meant for customers actually buying paint…I chose only twelve strips and silently vowed to shop at that very store the next time I found myself in the market for paint.
Using the coveted, colorful strips and PECS symbols created with Boardmaker software, I created a visual display, a Synonym Word Wall which I titled, “Color Your Words With Shades of Meaning.” I hung the display outside my therapy room where students frequently pass while traveling through the building. I’ve seen and heard many students already reading the word wall and commenting on how the colors and words “match” as they “change a little.” Students who come to me for therapy are excited to arrive and label the pictures they see, identify colors, or list synonyms for basic words.
Reflections on paint chips and their many applications randomly appear in my mind throughout the day and, admittedly, the night (isn’t that what all busy moms do — lie awake at night and make mental lists of everything that deserves more attention?) I envisioned paint chips used as pacing board activities, phoneme segmentation , multi-syllabic word production, formulation of 3-4 word utterances, topic boards, visual process charts, graphic organizers for sequencing and story retell….can you SEE why I am so excited about rows of gradient, colored squares??? I also wondered (possibly out loud) if there are ways to obtain paint chips without feeling like a shoplifter. Obviously, asking the stores for old paint chip samples could work, or possibly scouring yard sales and second-hand stores in hopes of finding old paint chip books. With neither option really fulfilling my desire to use these paint chips -RIGHT NOW- I decided to make my own. You could easily make your own too, in whatever shades you desire using one of the many graphic programs available. I quickly made a sample using Boardmaker software tools, and converted the file to a PDF. You may download the sample for free and enjoy the technological advantage of digital paint chips. Add your own text, clipart, visual prompts, etc. to create the exact activity or tool you need:
Here it is…the NUMBER ONE question I get asked as a speech-language pathologist….
“What can I do at home to help my child learn to communicate?”
A perfect question to ask! Speech-language therapy is important, but often people underestimate the importance of what occurs after little ones have left my room, when the speech supplies are packed away and I am at home resting (righhhhtt!) What occurs outside of the speech room that can help kids learn to communicate? TEMPTATION.
Temptation is a pretty incredible motivator. Have you ever been tempted by a piece of chocolate cake? Or another few minutes of snoozing after the alarm yanks you out of a perfect, deep sleep? Maybe a more-than-accidental look at that reality t.v. show that adds nothing to your intellect but is so mindlessly enjoyable? Ok, clearly I am bringing my own background experience into play to illustrate a point, but nonetheless…temptation causes you to think. To act…to react. Temptation is motivating and at times pretty powerful (I admit, visions of that chocolate cake are lurking in my brain as I highlight this concept.)
For a child, communication temptations often bridge the gap between “I’m getting by ok with things the way they are” and “I need to let someone know I really mean business here!” Parents are often surprised and a bit embarrassed when they realize how many opportunities they miss to “tempt” their language-delayed youngster to communicate. As a mom, I recognize how easy it is to let these opportunities slip by us. We know our children better than any other people on the planet. We are in tune to their every need, mood, curiosity and disappointment. It’s only natural to anticipate what our child wants or needs, and help them get it. But communication temptations can provide gentle motivators to express those wants and needs, and have a huge impact on a child’s functional communication.
As an SLP, I regularly build communication temptations into therapy sessions, starting right at the door to my therapy room. The door stays locked, and “opens the door,” if you will, to allow some natural communication to occur. Requests for “open” and “help” can be elicited, or for higher-level students, answers to questions like, “What do we need to unlock the door?” or “Look through the window, at the table…what do you see inside?”
Once inside, I often employ a few favorite “tools” to tempt students to communicate. I love presenting therapy activities encased in a closed bag or box (I’ve even been dubbed, “Bag Lady” before, due to the bags I often use in therapy…usually accompanied by piggy-backed tunes with lyrics I “write” as we discover items and reinforce language concepts. Music, by the way, is also a great therapy tool and does not need to be sung well to be effective…I will save that topic for a different blog entry!)
Anyway, hidden materials invite children to make guesses, to make requests, to watch closely as items are revealed. My favorite items to create further temptations include containers with tight lids, wind-up toys, building-block toys and cause-effect toys.
Wind up toys are a great way of getting students to direct action and make requests. More, stop, go, my turn, and help are functional words that go hand-in-hand with wind up toys (that can be difficult for a child to wind on their own.) I even have a broken wind-up toy that is great for eliciting language in developing communicators (Uh oh! What’s wrong?? Oh no! It’s broken. The toy is broken! Need help!) If we get the toy working, we can excitedly shout things like, “Yay! Go, Go, Go! Here we go! The toy can go!”) Simple? Yes. Effective? Definitely.
Containers are another great therapy tool. Clear, acrylic containers filled with colorful objects are very motivating when presented to a curious child. They can’t wait to reach inside and…oh, wait — the lid is stuck. They need help. They want you to open. They want the lid off. Containers are very motivating when students can see what is inside but they have a hard time accessing it. Here is a fun container I recently discovered. It’s a Michael Graves container from Target that opens by squeezing a butterfly clip on the top of the canister (read: difficult for kids to do on their own!):
Other favorite therapy tools are things like bubbles (with lids tightly closed,) toys that produce sound or light when activated, and toys that have pieces that build/go together (e.g., train tracks, housed in tightly-sealed containers!) Throughout a play session, students get repetitive practice making verbal requests (help, more, turn,etc.,) directing other people’s actions, labeling actions (stop, go, pop, open, etc.) and communicating their ideas as they explore and play. Language modeling, expansion and stimulation is built into the play, with instant reinforcers for any communication attempts.
To support verbal language or for use with nonverbal students, I often use communication boards (made with Boardmaker) using core vocabulary words that convey a variety of language functions. These same words are a focus when used on a voice-output device. The word combinations that can be modeled using these few words are quite numerous:
Helping students acquire functional communication skills is very rewarding. Progress can be made quite quickly with the right set of motivators and expectations. I may be the “Bag Lady” who plays with toys for a large part of my day 🙂 but what is more tempting or motivating than a bag of fun? And what is more fulfilling than helping a child learn to communicate their basic wants, needs and desires? Not even a piece of chocolate cake can top that experience!