Saturday, March 7, 2015

Yipp Yapp Yay Apps!

If you use a lot of apps in therapy, you've GOT to check out Yapp Guru if you haven't already.

I use my iPad regularly in therapy, so I'm always on the lookout for quality and engaging apps to use for my students.  Back in November at ASHA Convention, I was able to connect with so many amazing people and companies.  After meeting with the folks over at Yapp, I was so excited to come on board as an expert reviewer.  :)
 A little about the site:

  • It was created to provide a credible and easy-to-use resource for people using apps in therapy and education.
  • Reviews are completed by "experts" who have tried out the app and can give you meaningful pros and cons about them.
  • Yapp Guru has a large database of speech therapy apps that have been reviewed and voted on.  
  • YOU can even vote for your favorite apps by clicking on the "vote" button under each app.
  • It's super easy to use and navigate the site.  You can search by an app name, keyword, or browse by therapy category.
It should really be a go-to place for you before you spend your hard on $$ purchasing any app.

I'm happy to say that I'm now an App Guru Expert!  You can check out my reviews HERE.  

We're even having a little fun of our own and challenging each other to create and link up lots of fabulous reviews for you!  Let's see who can write the most reviews during the month of March!  :)

I love a good contest!  What do you think?  Are you a Yapp fan?  What apps would you like to see reviews on?  :)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Story in a Can!

Many of my poor language disordered students have such difficulty telling stories.  I'm sure that's no surprise to you.  Narrative skills are not usually the strong suit of someone with language learning problems.  They often lack structure, vocabulary, and understanding of overall language.  Needless to say, we work a lot with stories and books in our speech room.

My newest product targets just that - narratives.  It's a fun way to get kids excited about telling stories.  In fact, my little ones actually ask for the story cans!  (I love it when they don't realize they're learning something while playing).

Disclaimer: This post contains amazon-affiliate links.

Now, this product involves a little bit of craftiness on your part to set everything up.  Don't worry, it's nothing complicated.  You can make it as cutesy or as easy as you'd like.

You'll need about 6 small cans or containers, modge podge or glue, and scrapbook paper.

You can just print the labels and affix them onto any small container if you don't have time to mess with making it cutesy.  OR you can decorate the cans with scrapbook paper, stickers, or even have the students help you!  I used scrapbook paper and printed the labels onto full sheet sticker/label paper.  This made it easy to attach.  

This download also contains sheets to make your own story chips to place inside the cans.  I print these on full sheet label paper as well, so that I don't have to bother with sticky glue. 

Just cut out the circles (or use a 1.5" punch) and attach to poker chips.  I used these:

They turned out super cute.  :)  I put the different types of pictures onto different color chips to make it easier to separate.

There are pictures that target characters, setting, kick-off/problem, feelings, attempts/events, and extras/open-ended.  

It also includes story maps, graphic organizers, and illustrating/writing worksheets to use with the cans and chips.  

We use Braidy the StoryBraid in our speech room.  I LOVE Story Grammar Marker.  Find out more about it here.  Some of the worksheets and maps contain SGM terminology as options, since that's what we use.  There are blank versions as well for those of you who don't.  

There are lots of ways you could use these story cans.  I'd encourage you to get creative and find what works best for your kids!  There are several ideas for use in the download as well.

What do you think??  Could your kids use this in your speech rooms?  

Monday, February 23, 2015

What's in My Cart Linky!

Did you hear?  It's party time over at TeachersPayTeachers this Wednesday!  They're throwing another site wide sale to celebrate the heroes that all educators are.  Save up to 28% off your purchase using the code HEROES at checkout!

Today I'm linking up with SRN to tell you a few things that are in my cart as well as some recommendations I have from my own store!  Click on the image below to check out what everyone is stocking up on.  :)

I've got a couple of new goodies that I think you might want to check out for 28% off!

1.  Interactive Fluency Binder!  This huge packet is everything you need to get your fluency therapy up and running.  

2.  Story in a Can: A DIY for Narratives - My kids have been having a blast with this creating their own fun stories and working on language at the same time. 

3.  Jump Frog Jump Book Companion for your littles - This pack is jammed with speech and language activities for your preschool and kinders.  

Now, take a peak at what's in my cart for the sale!

1.  Articulation Strips for /r/ by Sublime Speech - I have SO many kids working on /r/ this year.  Can't wait to give these a try.

2.  Old Lady Story Sequencing Necklaces by [simply speech].  - We love the old lady in my speech room.  These will be a great addition to my books and companion packs!

3.  March Book Club by WhitneySLP -  I've been really wanting to try Whitney's book clubs, since grabbing a couple other of her book companions.  They go great with Story Grammar Marker, so I'm excited to try it.

4.  Interactive Grammar Organizers by Gay Miller - I came across this the other day and it seems amazing and a great price!

5.  Listening Skills Resource Pack by Jenn Alcorn - I mean what language disordered kid doesn't need help with listening?  In bag. 

A few others that I already own but would highly recommend include:
Leveled Grammar Intervention by Nicole Allison
Spring Print N Go by The Dabbling Speechie
No Prep Articulation by The Speech Bubble SLP

Happy shopping!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Sticky Words Freebie

You know that feeling when you are giving the CELF to a student and you get to the formulating sentences subtest?  It's a mixture of dread and curiosity for me.  That subtest is not my favorite because sometimes scoring can be subjective, plus it takes forever.  But I'm always curious at how my student will perform.  It gives a great picture of how well he/she grasps language and its complexity.  Part of the reason, I'm thinking, is the word choices.  Targeting transition words and conjunctions forces them to have to think about how words and phrases link or stick together to create a certain flow and meaning.

So I'm trying to incorporate a little of these skills into my daily therapy.  We call them sticky words.  They help link or glue our different thoughts together.  I want my students to be able to speak and write cohesively.  I'm hoping that utilizing these will be a step in that direction.  This is why I made a sticky words board.

When we are creating sentences, retelling stories, writing, reading, etc., we talk about these words on the board and use them!  I love it when my kids find one while we are reading.  I have them pull it off the board and we talk about it and create sentences with it.

To make them I printed the words on bright orange paper and laminated.  Then I cut squares of magnet from this tape and affixed it to the back of the word.

Want some sticky words of your own?  Download them HERE!!

I've been going a little magnet crazy, lol.  I did the same thing with testing and classroom vocabulary.  I added visuals to give them something concrete to see, since these can be very difficult words.  We made it into a game, where different words are worth different amounts of skittles/m&ms/stickers.  We try to talk about them and define them.

Unfortunately, I can't share those with you because I don't have the rights to a lot of the images.  I just wanted to give you an idea of something you can do in your speech rooms!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Junganew: A Herd of Sounds ~ App Review!

I've got a new and very unique app to share with you today!  Let's check out Junganew's A Herd of Sounds app for /s/.  Disclaimer: Though this app was provided to me, the thoughts and opinions are my own.

This game is different from other articulation apps in that it has a story format.  You follow the adventures of Theo the tree frog and help him work on his /s/ sound.  It's great for auditory bombardment and discrimination as well as practice for all positions of words.  Below you'll find the home screen.

The Play button starts the story from the beginning.  Starting there sets the stage for the story and gives you some great auditory bombardment.

Mirror models are a great feature for students to learn to critique themselves and see what they can do.  Follow along with Ms. Snake and she'll help you practice.  It allows students to see themselves like a mirror and even records them saying the sound.

The Map allows you to go immediately to any of the 5 places that Theo travels to in the story.

The For Adults tab gives you information about the app and directions for each section of the game.

Now for the game.  The story takes you to different places that allow you to practice /s/ in different positions.
Sand Central Station: You start by doing some auditory discrimination/isolation tasks.  It actually can be a little tricky distinguishing between /th/ and /s/.

There are 4 icons in the corners.  The leaves let you go to the next and previous pages.  The house brings you back home and the compass brings you to the map.

Here you also work on initial /s/ with a hide-and-seek game.  Sal A Mander gives you clues to where he is hiding - all places that begin with /s/.

For medial /s/, you play an associations game with the butterfly.  Find the item that goes with her outfit.

The other medial /s/ game is fun and hands-on.  Trace the different shapes with both hands at the same time! The shape reveals a medial /s/ word.

Next, you travel to the fun house where you work on final /s/.  The final /s/ games are cute carnival ones.  The first is Balloon Pops.  Find the balloon that rhymes with the word given.  Great for practicing rhyming skills as well!

The other is Guess the Goose.  You have to pick the correct goose based on Theo's clues.

There's also a voicing game where you practice turning your /s/ into /z/.  Tap on the characters to hear them say their /z/ sounds.

Moving on to the last adventure: s-blends.  Just add consonants to the blender and make some s-blend cookies for Theo.

Practice s-blends/plurals at the ends of words by putting toppings on the cupcakes.

At the end of the game, the characters have a little party to celebrate Theo learning to say his /s/ for show and tell.

Grab this app from iTunes for only $4.99!

What I love about this app:

  • It's very unique and story-based, making it engaging for young students.
  • There are a variety of activities to provide lots of opportunity for practice.
  • The characters and graphics are super cute!
  • The mirror model activity is prompted after each game, allowing for lots of self-check.
  • The price is very reasonable at only $4.99.
What could make it better:
  • The game is not super straightforward.  It took me a little while to figure it all out.
  • You can't take data in the app.  Some activities are drill-oriented but not all.  You just have to tell your students when they need to repeat words.  
  • Young students would not be able to use this on their own.  They would need specific instructions from you on when they need to speak at the different activities.
  • It provides targets at the word level.  However, you could easily adapt some activities for sentences.
I'd love to see more stories for the different sounds, since this one only targets /s/, /z/, and s-blends.  Overall, I think it's super cute and motivating for lots of the kids on my caseload!  What do you think?

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Chicken Soup for the Soul Blog Hop!

I hope you have been filling up on sweet stories that are sure to make you laugh or cry.  Everyone needs a little inspirational posts once in a while, especially in our field.  I'm so thankful for all these amazing bloggers that are willing to give you a peek into their wonderful terrible speechie experiences.

Here's another story that I'm hoping warms your heart a little.

A few years ago, our growing school split and a new school was opened.  I was placed at the new school.  It was my first time to be full time at one place, and I was a little nervous.  Being itinerant has a way of letting you fly under the radar a little...maybe get away with not taking many of the tough cases or not having much focus on you.  I was about to get a lot more students with complicated situations and difficulties.

One of the students I inherited was a sweet, beautiful little boy that we'll call JJ.  He was autistic and nonverbal at six years old.  He loved swings and electronics and laughing at everything.  JJ's teachers and parents really wanted him to speak.  I just wanted him to be motivated to communicate.  

At first I tried everything I could to get him to produce words.  I tried ABA techniques, whole language techniques, building his receptive language, and everything else I researched.  It wasn't happening.  He didn't want it.  JJ just wanted to stare at youtube videos and google images.  Yes, this kid was a computer genius.  That's when I decided to use his computer skills to my advantage.  

Scratch all the effort of getting him to speak.  I wanted to see if I could motivate him to communicate at all.  While watching him on the computer, I discovered that JJ could recognize words.  I began to put words of his favorite cartoons and videos on strips of paper for him to request what he wanted to watch.  He did great with it.  He'd even grab the word and take my hand and put it on the keyboard.  I always pushed for him to type the words himself, though he'd get frustrated at times.  

We kept at it.  He started to match words to pictures and built his vocabulary.  He would even write words or finish a written sentence on a dry-erase board.    

I really feel like this opened the door to communication for him.  Eventually, his parents and teachers got on board with alternative communication techniques, and he now does amazing things on his iPad.  He still has a ways to go, but he continues to learn and grow every day.  I'm so proud of him.

This experience really taught me that sometimes you have to think outside the box.  Think about what interests the child and go from there.  Also, it's ok to give things a try if what you're doing isn't working.  It might even give you great data to show parents on what their child is able to do.  

I love sharing happy stories!  Keep pushing through the blog hop and enjoy.  At the end of the hop, you'll have the chance to win some fabulous prizes!  Check out what we've got for you!

In order to enter, you'll have to add up all the numbers along the hop and put the total in the rafflecopter at the last stop.  Here's my number!

Head on over to the next blog by clicking the image below. 

If you need to start at the beginning, click on the following image to go back to the beginning.  Have fun and good luck!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Therapy Fun Find: Simon's Cat

I'm one of those people who hates digging for things.  I'd rather go into a small boutique and glance around instead of digging through the clearance racks at TJMAX (though I do make myself do it to get good deals from time to time).  I'll admit that I get mildly annoyed when I have to google something and scour through website after website when I can't find what I'm looking for.  It's less of an impatience issue and more of a I-have-a-million-other-things-to-do-right-now issue. Or maybe that's the same thing.  Lol.

So, I always get a little flutter of excitement when I stumble across something cool accidentally.  I feel like I won the gift of time AND cool new idea.  Such is the case with this new fun find.

I came across a super cute series on youtube called Simon's Cat.  Maybe you've heard of it before, since it seems to have been around a while (like a few years!).  It was new to me, so I thought I'd share just in case you wanted to check it out.

The videos are short 2-3 minute episodes of stories from the perspective of Simon the cat.  Two things I love about them: they are short and WORDLESS...perfect for facilitating language and narrative discourse.  I use the Story Grammar Marker tools with them, since most of the videos make a "complete episode" for narratives in SGM language.  

They are also great for working on social language skills, such as emotions, facial expressions, problem solving, unexpected behaviors, and more.  The possibilities with wordless books and videos really are endless.

There are like over 30 videos, so head on over and use away in therapy.  Be sure and subscribe to the youtube channel, so you can stay updated when they post new episodes.  

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