Thursday, January 31, 2013

Preschool Week Day 4: Bag of Tricks!

Ok everyone...get excited!  This post is going to be a little lengthy but AMAZING!  I've got some fabulous bloggers ready to share their favorite toys, games, or activities that they have found useful when working with preschoolers.  Today we'll be hearing from Carrie's Speech Corner, Speech Room News, Communication Station, Let's Talk SLP, and [simply speech]!  Can't wait to take a peek into their bag of tricks! 

Carrie Manchester, Carrie's Speech Corner

Hi all!  Lauren recently told me about her preschool series and asked me to share with you one of my favorite preschool products.  I wanted to share this series of interactive books created by Beth E. Breakstone, a licensed SLP, and made with Picture Communication Symbols from Mayer Johnson.  I have seven of these books:

I wish I could tell you which one is my favorite, but they are all great!  Today I'll show you a little more of "Old McDonald."  All of the books come with interactive pieces, a board to place the pieces on, Velcro Dots to attach the pieces, and a communication board:

I like to start with the pieces in the book.  We remove them as we read the story and place them on the story board.  The first time through the story, we focus on imitating the vocabulary words/animal sounds.  After I finish this story with the kids, we go through it again ("to clean up").  This time, I target receptive vocabulary identification, asking the students to find a specified image and return it to the book.

These books have simple text and clear illustrations.  The interactive pieces are awesome for sustaining the attention of the little guys!  I think they are a must have for any SLP working in a preschool setting!
You can find more information on the books HERE.
Facebook link
TPT link


Jenna Rayburn, Speech Room News

Preschool is my favorite area of speech-language pathology. I love to see the impact from early intervention! My absolute 'go-to' for therapy are the Peek-A-Blocks. I love them for my lower functioning students. If you're looking for a new activities for early intervention for speech therapy, you don't want to miss these Peek-A-Blocks!

There are lots of different sets. I found the alphabet, instrument, and animal sets at Goodwill last summer. There are lots of different goals to target. This little friend and I were working on expressing single words paired with signs (for animals and colors). Of course we built towers and crashed them down! Perfect for 1, 2, 3, go! If you hold the bag of items, you can have the students requesting for each block. The kids just don't get tired of building towers! 
Jenna Rayburn, MA, CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist. Follow her at


When Busy Bee Speech asked me to guest blog about one of the things I have in my "bag of tricks" to work with PKers, one of my very favorite games came to mind. OFTEN in speech therapy for PK kiddos (and even some early elementary age kiddos), I use the game Twister and add my own...well twists!    I can work on color identification, left vs. right, following directions, taking turns, learning how to be a good sport, etc....ALL while working on speech and language goals.  

I have used the entire Twister board, or folded it in half.  I have had it on the floor or on the walls.  I have put stimulus cards, "points" cards, or even pieces of a craft activity the famous colored "dots".  It doesn't matter how I use it, I just matters that the kids have fun!  They get to jump, hop, twirl, roll, or even crab walk from one dot to the next to complete the task at hand.  

The movement keeps it fun and motivating and the Twister mat adds the structure necessary to pull off any game and focus on any goals you want.


Kristin Cummings, [simply speech]

I love using Ned’s Head in therapy! Ned is always a hit with my preschool kids. You don’t know Ned? You should get to know him!

To play Ned’s Head the way it was meant to be played, a bunch of disgusting plastic objects (bird poop on a worm, a dirty diaper, a melted lollipop) are put inside Ned. Students draw a card and take turns finding the object based on touch. Ned has been used in my classroom over 100 times but I have only played it the way it is meant to be played less than 5 times. Here are some of my favorite ways to use Ned:

  1. Put articulation cards inside Ned. Let students take turns pulling out a card. Then they practice the word or make up a sentence for the word.
  2. Put your own objects in Ned’s Head. Have the student reach in and grab one object. Without taking it out, he/she has to describe the object (it’s bumpy, it have 4 corners, it is soft, etc) and the other students have to guess what the object is! Great for expressive language and adjectives!
  3. Working on letter names and sounds? Place plastic letters in Ned's Head and have your kids draw out letters one at a time. They can find the match on a separate sheet, tell you the letter name and sound, or find an object that goes with the letter.
  4. Working on vocabulary? Put laminated pictures of target words inside Ned’s Head. Have the students name the picture when they pull it out.
  5. I created a sentence template to use with articulation cards. My sentence says "I found a ______ in Ned's Head." The students draw out an object or word card (depending on the target goal) and fill in the blank. This is good for working on complete sentences and articulation.
The possibilities are endless with Ned. You can find Ned’s Head on Amazon for less than $15.00. However, I know personally that when working in the school system, money is tight. Here is how you can make your own!

Use a shoebox and fill it with items. The one above is filled with old items from around my house, classroom, or from the dollar store. Use a bandana or pillowcase to cover the box so the students can’t see what’s inside! Have fun!

Kristin Cummings is a school based and private SLP from St. Petersburg, FL. She is also the author of the [simply speech.] blog. You can contact Kristin by:
Twitter: @simply_speech


One of my favorite preschool activities is the Animal Buddies game. This game features four animals: monkey, dog, rabbit, and elephant. Included in the game are four food items for each animal to eat – a banana for the monkey, a carrot for the rabbit, a peanut for the elephant, and a bone for the dog. The purpose of the game is to feed the animal the correct food item.

This game is so versatile that you can use it with any group. My articulation kids like to say their word/sound 5 times and then “earn” a food item (I pick it randomly out of the bag). Then the student can feed the correct animal the food. My language kids like to also “earn” a food item by using pronouns correctly, identifying prepositions, using word endings appropriately, etc.

I also have pictures printed of each food item. Sometimes I will bring the pictures out, and then instead of earning a random food item, the student will flip over one of the pictures and get that food item. To work on sight words, I will put the words (“bone” and “carrot”, etc.) on a spinner and have the student spin the spinner. If he or she can read the correct word, then he/she wins that food item!

My students also love to be silly and have the animal eat the wrong food. I allow this if we have played the game before and they know what the correct food is for each animal. They think it is HILARIOUS to see the rabbit eat a bone and a monkey eat a carrot. I’ve even taught them to make little “nom nom nom” noises when the animal eats the food. There are SO many things you can do with this game, and that is why it’s one of my favorite games to play!

Written by: Brea from Let’s Talk Speech-Language Pathology

Thanks so much for sharing, ladies!!  Be sure to visit their pages and give them a like!  

What do y'all think?  What kinds of things are in YOUR bag of tricks??  :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Preschool Week Day 3: Research & A Freebie!

Today is for all you SLPs.  We're going to look at some evidence based practices on treating speech and language delays in preschoolers.  Be on the look out for a freebie at the end of this post as well!

As you probably know, evidence based practice (EBP) is a requirement for all SLPs.  In other words, we all gotta make sure our therapy techniques are backed up by research!  Let's look at 2 research based therapy activities that should help your preschoolers - one for speech and one for language.

1.  Using tactile/touch cues with kids who exhibit articulation deficits

Touch cue techniques such as PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) have been proven successful in those that exhibit phonological disorders, motor speech disorders, and even childhood apraxia of speech.  PROMPT is a multi-dimensional approach that focuses on the use of touch cues to a child's articulators that help them through the production of a word.

When I was in grad school, I completed a practicum in Early Steps, which is Louisiana's birth-3 program.  My supervisor, Joy, was amazing!  I remember learning SO much from her as we rode around from house to house servicing the "little bitties."  I had a couple of severe artic/apraxic kids on that caseload, and at first I wondered how in the world we were going to get a 2 year old to sit and drill.  :/

Well, Joy showed me how to incorporate tactile cuing during play.  We touched the places where their little articulators would go for that extra measure of cuing.  For example, if they were to produce "mat," we pushed their lips together for the /m/ (like in the pic) and then touched right above the upper lip for the /t/.  I found this very effective for these types of kids.

The PROMPT website has an entire research page to back up their cuing technique.  You can find it HERE.  Their research projects are pretty specific to the PROMPT program.

More generalized research for simply using tactile cues can be found here and here.

I've also heard that Speech Buddies provide great tactile cues as well.  I haven't had the opportunity to use these, but maybe some of you have!  Here are some stats for using these in therapy.  :)

2.  Play-based language therapy

I'll bet the majority of you that work with preschoolers utilize some form of play-based therapy.  It's a technique I learned in school, and I'm sure many of you did as well.  I guess I never really paid attention to whether or not it was research based, but guess what?  It definitely is!  AND it has proven to be effective across a variety of disorders such as language delays, autism, cleft palate, and more.

An article by the Washington Post says that play is crucial to a child's social and emotional development.  We as therapists know the importance play has on a child's communication skills as well. So grab your favorite toys and PLAY away!  :)

I thought I'd share a few ways I incorporate play into my language therapy:

  • Vocabulary building - Toys are a great way to increase those vocabulary skills.  Some of my favorite vocab toys are potato heads (body parts and clothing), play doh (colors and shapes), puzzles, and memory matching. 
  • Pretend play - This is another great way to build vocabulary, verbal routines, requesting, action words, descriptive words, and the list goes on and on.  A few of my favorite toys for this are plastic animals and farm sets, plastic food, doll houses, and car sets.  Seriously, you can get SO much out of a kid when you speak their language - playing!
  • Gross motor toys - Some kids just need to get up and move.  I have some little boys now that can barely sit still long enough to play with "table" toys.  Gross motor toys are great for requesting, prepositions, action words, and descriptive words.  I love balls, bubbles, and balloons for this.  
  • Fishing - Pretty much the only way I can engage my preschoolers in cards is through fishing.  It's pretty simple to attach paper clips to the cards and a magnet to a stick with a string.  This way I can target whatever card decks or TPT activity I printed.  
And in case you need that research to back up your EBP, here are a few articles for you to check out! 

Don't forget when implementing EPB, you do take into account research findings, but you also have to look at your own clinical experiences as well as the specific needs of the client.  All 3 play a role in EBP.  :)

And last but certainly not least, here is a fun FREEBIE for you!  It's just in time for Valentine's Day.  :)

It's a cute little love bug Valentine game that targets bilabials and alveolars.  Maybe you can put those tactile cues to practice.  ;)  It even includes some blank cards in case you want to add your own spin to it!  Hope you enjoy!  Download it here.   

Graphics by MareeTrueLove

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Preschool Week Day 2: Tips for Parents & Teachers

Two is for Tips!  Day 2 of preschool week is for all you mommies and teachers and aunties and babysitters and anyone else who wants to know some (hopefully) helpful tips for increasing language skills in preschoolers.  {Take home some freebies at the end of this post as well!!}

We are going to look at 3 ways that you can help increase your child's communication skills: through reading, through language expansion techniques, and through songs and games.

1.  Reading

You might have heard just how important it is to read to your preschooler.  In fact, the earlier you start the better!  Here are a few things you can do to get your child excited about books!

  • Take them to the library.  Most libraries have story time or activities geared toward kids.  
  • Make sure the books you buy are appropriate for your child's age and interests.  
  • Listen to audiobooks.  This is great for in the car or quiet times.  You can even record yourself reading the books.  They love hearing a familiar voice.  
  • Make reading exciting!  Point to the pictures and talk about them.  Use silly voices and show excitement as you read.
  • Let your child tell the story back to you after you read it.  Flip back through the pages and let them talk about the pictures.  Act it out or use story props to make it more fun!

2.  Language Expansion

You can expand children's language by adding to what they say and talking to them about their surroundings.  Here are some things you can do to help increase your child's vocabulary and understanding of language:

  • Model what you want your child to say using correct grammar and new vocabulary. (i.e. Child: "Her can have it."  Parent: "Yes, she can have the toy.")
  • Avoid using "Say this or that" to get your child to talk.  Instead, encourage imitation by modeling and expanding on what they do say. (i.e. Child: "Car." Parent: "Car goes fast!  Vroom vroom!")
  • When out in the community, point out objects and pictures and talk about them.  Use descriptive words like big, small, hot, red, wet, etc.  This will help them to develop an understanding of basic concepts.
  • Give your child simple tasks that include one and two step directions.  Use visuals if you need to.  Include simple prepositions when you can.  (i.e. Put the book on the table, under the bed, etc.).
  • Combine words with gestures or signs to help with comprehension.  Some examples can include waving, pointing, hand movements, or facial expressions.  This will also teach them to use gestures or signs if they are having difficulty getting their message across.
  • Encourage oral awareness by making silly faces and sounds.  Wiggle your tongue, blow kisses, smile and frown...anything to get their mouth moving.  Exposing them to foods with a variety of textures and temperatures is also good for oral awareness.

3.  Songs & Games

Playing games and singing interactive songs are fantastic ways to sneak those language skills into their play.  Games encourage turn taking, listening, problem solving, and vocabulary building.  Songs and music focus on rhythm and beat of speech as well as syllables and sounds.  Here are a few tips and suggestions to remember when you're playing:

  • Play I Spy - You can take turns spying different objects by their color, function, or attribute.  This  encourages listening and increases vocabulary.
  • Play matching games and talk about how things are the same and different.  Help them describe ways that the items are similar and different.
  • Sing songs that have a lot of repetition, rhymes, or songs that tell stories.
  • Sing songs with lots of hand motions to encourage coordination, listening, following directions, and identifying body parts.
  • Do finger plays and chant nursery rhymes together.

I've also included some handouts to give to parents and teachers.  They are filled with a few helpful ideas that are geared toward preschoolers.  :)

You can grab them for free HERE!

*I should note that these are just meant to be helpful tips from my own experiences and readings.  If you have concerns about your child's speech or language skills, please contact an SLP in your area.  :)
Some of the information listed may come from the following sources ProEd, The Speech Bin, and Talking on the Go.

What are your thoughts?  Do you have any other tips to help your kiddos?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Preschool Week Day 1: Websites & Apps

Welcome to Preschool Week!  A whole week all about the little guys right here at Busy Bee Speech!  Everyday we'll be diving into tips, tricks, research, and materials to help our little ones become better communicators.  Whether you work with them or have your own children who are preschoolers, I hope you'll find some helpful new info.

Today is all things techie!  I'll be sharing my favorite websites and apps for PK.  We recently had a speech therapy in-service in our district, and my amazing coworkers shared some fun new apps with me.  I'm super excited!

First, let's check out some useful websites for SLPs and parents of preschoolers. 
playing with words 365

Hands down this is one of the best blogs for parents on early speech and language development.  There are plenty of resources for SLPs as well.  Katie is an SLP and mommy who loves to share information on early speech and language skills as well as intervention strategies to expand children's communication.  You can read more on what her blog is about here on the "about" page.

To understand if a child has speech or language delays, it's a good idea to have a sense of typical development.  On this site you can find definitions of what is meant by "speech" and "language" as well as other areas of communication.  There are also development charts from ages birth-5 that you can find here as well as what to expect if a child is learning more than one language.

This is another awesome site geared toward parents and SLPs.  Heidi is an SLP/mom and shares lots of resources and worksheets, especially in the area of articulation.  You can find free sound development charts and articulation screening tools.  She even designed the app Articulation Station... one of my favorite artic apps!

Play on Words is a great site if you're looking for good reviews of toys, games, and books that build language in kids.  I especially like her book picks broken down by age.  Sherry focuses on how to build language through play and gives out PAL (Play Advances Language) Awards to toys and games that do just that!

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a conference by Laura Mize a couple of years ago.  It ended up being one of the best, most practical lectures on early childhood I'd ever heard.  She has books and DVDs that are available for purchase but also has lots of tips and information on her site.  She even does a "Therapy Tip of the Week" which usually includes a video clip.  Highly recommend!

Now for some fun apps that I love to use with my preschoolers!  For this list I'm going to try and stick with apps that are free or under $5, so it won't break the bank if you wanted to purchase them yourself.  :)

This is a great free app and a favorite among my kiddos.  They love to help the bunny and giraffe find the lion.  It provides lots of opportunities for language skills including executive functioning, concepts, prepositions, following directions, and more.  It's really cute too!  

Another fun free one.  When I was younger, Nickelodeon had this face that would come on between shows and make funny noises.  This app totally reminds me of that!  Haha.  It targets 8 different areas: feelings, verbalizations, colors, silly faces, looking in directions (eye gaze), songs, letters, and numbers.  

I love this app!  It's from Boing and focuses on vocabulary, sentence formation, and listening comprehension.  The vocabulary section is free, but the full version is $2.99.  The listening section is great for prepositions and following directions, and the other 2 sections are great for building both receptive and expressive language.

This is a fun app for teaching concepts and opposites as well as cause and effect.  It focuses on up/down, but I'm able to teach lots of other concepts as well.  It's good for young kids who are just beginning to use an iPad because a trail follows your finger when you touch the screen.  Plus, you don't have to touch in the exact place for the objects to move.

We love interactive books in my speech room.  I use them just like I would a regular children's book in therapy, asking questions, expanding utterances, talking about the actions and vocabulary, etc.  The fun part about it being interactive is that the kids seem more engaged and eager to participate.  :)

This one definitely wins the cutest app award in my book!  I love it!  It's awesome for print awareness and emergent literacy skills.  Grover is hilarious and tries to tie down pages and build walls to keep you from turning the pages.  It's very interactive!

Well, hope some of these help you!  What are your favorite sites and apps to use in therapy??
**Be sure to check back the rest of the week for more preschool fun!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Preschool Week Sneak Peek!

In case some of you haven't heard, next week is "Preschool Week" on my blog!  Get excited!  Hopefully, whether you work with preschoolers or are a parent of a preschooler, you'll find something interesting you can take away.  :)  

I thought I'd give y'all a little peek at what to expect.  There will be 5 posts - Monday through Friday.  Check 'em out!

I'm looking forward to it, and I hope you are too!  :)  Be sure to pop over next week!  

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Hide-A-Card Speech

Ok...I admit it.  I feel kinda stupid blogging about this.  I've been debating whether or not to share this because it's so simple.  I'm sure most of you do this in therapy already!  But, what the heck?  Lol.

Want to know the game my speechie kids ask to play the most in therapy?  Nope, not Candyland.  Not Fish and Say.  Not even all the pretty TPT materials.  They probably ask to play "Hide the cards" every week (although the Speech Cave comes in a close 2nd)!

That's right, they actually want to play with card decks!  Why they get the biggest kick out of hiding speech cards, I have no idea.  Check out how we play!

All the kids have to put their heads down on the peeking (yeah, right!).  I go around the room and hide the artic cards (you could also use language cards).  I usually do about 10 cards at a time for each kid.  Fortunately, all the Super Duper artic decks come in a different color for each sound.  The kids know the color of the cards they are looking for (i.e. if they work on /r/, they look for the blue cards).

I hide them in random places, but visible enough that the kids can spot them without digging through my room.  Once they find a card, they have to say it 5 times or in a sentence, depending on what level they are on.  The first person to collect all 10 of their cards is the winner!  This gives them some sort of urgency to find them...which = more drills for me.  :)

If the group is small, I may let them take a turn at hiding the cards for me to find.  Then when I find their card, they have to say it.

Anyway, just a fun way to use those card decks!  Do y'all do this in your speech rooms too?  ;)

Monday, January 21, 2013

Lucky Articulation Bingo

Don't pinch me, this game is green!  I'm rolling out another Bingo game for you!  This time it's all about St. Patty's Day.  Like I've said before, my kids love playing Bingo.  I'll bet your kids do too!  I like it because I can do lots of different things with it to make it work for me.  Check it out...  :)

This articulation packet is geared toward those later developing sounds.  It covers /r, s, sh, ch, dz, th, s-blends, r-blends/.

There are 4 game boards and 24 target cards for each sound.  There are also 24 blank cards.

To play, give each player a Bingo game board and the set of target cards that they are working on.  On their turn, they choose a card and put a token on the corresponding picture.  

You can have students say their word X number of times, make a sentence with the word, or describe the word.  Sometimes I like to have them describe it, and the other kids guess.  You could also EET the words as well.

Instead of focusing on the articulation words, you could also use the blank cards to describe and guess the St. Patrick's Day pictures.

What do y'all think?  You can grab this at my TPT store HERE!  I'll also give a free copy to a random blog follower to comment with their email!  To follow just click the "join this site" button on the right side bar.  Or if you follow by email, just let me know.  

I'll choose a random winner tomorrow!   

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Mardi Gras Mambo Freebie!

Down here in the deep South, people love them some Mardi Gras!  Despite its bad rap, there are several fun, family-friendly parades everywhere.  My kiddos get really excited when the holiday comes around, especially because we get 2 or 3 days off school for it!  Even though I may not be thrilled about everything that goes on during Mardi Gras, it's a significant part of my culture.  So, I always like to incorporate the theme into my therapy sessions.

This year, "Fat Tuesday" falls really early...February 12 actually!  I'm rolling out a fun Mardi Gras-themed freebie for you today.  I genuinely appreciate all of your support and sweet comments, so this is a big THANK YOU from me to you!  :)

Check it out!  This mini-packet comes with an open ended game board that can be used with the enclosed cards or any card deck.
The doubloon cards have various words and phrases associated with Mardi Gras.  You can use them to practice articulation, describing, defining, etc.  There is also a sheet of blank cards to address any skills you wish.

I've also included a reading passage that gives fun facts about Mardi Gras.  This can be used for comprehension, to find the main idea, using context clues, etc.  

Lastly, there are 2 fun craftivities using masks!  They can decorate and make their own masks.

OR they can mark the dots on the Do-a-Dot mask worksheet.  :)

You can grab this at my TPT store HERE!  Hope you and your kids enjoy!  Please leave feedback if you download!  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Winter Articulation Review

Today, I'm teaming up with Kristine over at LiveLoveSpeech to review one of her fabulous TPT products!  She has lots of fun items that target different skills, so be sure to pop over to her store and her blog to check them out!  While you're at her blog, you'll also be able to see her review of my Sock Monkey Articulation game.  :)


When Kristine asked me to review one of her activities, I was excited for the chance to grab her Winter Articulation game.  These cute little penguins are a perfect addition to my winter-themed activities!  The packet includes target cards for /r/, /s/, and /l/ in one, two, and three syllable words.  There are 96 cards for each sound - that's 288 cards in all!

I really like how the cards are leveled into the different syllables and vocabulary.  The longer words are great for my older kids.  It gave us a chance to discuss the vocabulary they didn't understand and use some decoding strategies to sound out unfamiliar words.

Of course, every game needs some wild cards!  Watch out for the freezing penguins who lost their hat.  If you pick one, you have to put all your cards back!

Here is how my kiddos and I used this game:

P.S. They kept trying to get their faces in this picture,
so I told them they could put their hands in.  LOL
They each took turns drawing a card and saying the words, since they were both working on the same sound.  I sometimes had them say the words in a sentence or with a rhyming word.  If they drew a "freezing penguin" card, I had them give a card to a friend.  The kids would draw the cards from the deck really slowly because they were scared of getting a freezing card.  Haha.  :)

At the end, I had them count all of their cards.  Whoever had the most won the game!

Some other things she suggests you can do with the decks are printing 2 copies of the cards and playing memory or go fish.  So fun!

You can check out Kristine at Live Love Speech HERE, and her TPT store HERE.  You can also like her on facebook via her blog.

Happy Friday Eve, everyone!  ;)
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