Thursday, May 30, 2013

Helloooo Summer!

My summer vacay has officially begun.  We school system workers love our summers.  It's so nice to take a much-needed break from the busy life and relax a little.  Well, scratch that.  Maybe I'll be taking a break from work but absolutely NOT taking a break from being busy.  Do your summers stay as packed and crazy as mine??  Seriously, I don't know how people work through the summer.  Lol  

This is what I wish I was doing right now...

Yes, those are my feet.  Sorry if feet gross you out.  Ha.  This WILL be me in a couple of weeks.  Can't wait!

This is what I've actually been doing this week.  Project organize!  #1 = craft closet overhaul

I was so excited to grab the white cubes from Michaels for 40% off!  This project has been a long-time coming.  Because I like to craft and plan so many showers, I needed something simple that helped me find things quickly and easily. 

It didn't turn out half bad, if I may say so.  :)

I've got several more projects up my sleeve for this summer.  ;)  I might share them with you, if I don't hear too much protest over the non-speechie posts.  lol

Don't worry, though, I also have some fun new speech-related projects on the horizon as well!  Stay tuned!

How are you planning to spend your summer?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Biscuit's First Beach Day

I don't know about you, but I ready for some R & R this summer!  Between weddings, showers, babies being born, and planning for next year, I'm hoping to squeeze in a beach trip or 2.  The beach is one of my favorite parts of summer!  I try to go at least once or twice every year.  :)

In light of some sunny summer beach trips, I've got another Biscuit freebie for you!  Biscuit's First Beach Day is a cute little story to read with your kiddos around this time.  It'd also be great to save for therapy in August, especially since we have to go back August 5th!!  It keeps getting earlier and earlier. Lol.

If you aren't familiar with how I like to use Biscuit books, be sure and check out my previous posts like THIS one.

Included in this mini companion pack, I've got some vocab picture cards for you.  Of course, I velcro them inside the book for interactive fun!

There are also starfish comprehension cards, that include basic WH questions about the story.  These are perfect for my kindergarteners!

Nearly all of my preschoolers are working on basic concepts or understanding adjectives.  I made a few "find something" cards just for them.  They pick a card and have to find something in the book with that concept.

This sequencing sheet allows kids to draw the events of the story in the squares.  I usually help them talk about each one while we draw pictures.

And of course an open-ended coloring sheet that can be used with any target!

You can download these freebies HERE or just add it to your dropbox for later!  Yay beach!  Please leave a comment below if you download! :)  Happy summer!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Articulate It! App Review

I've got another oh-so-fabulous app from Smarty Ears for you to check out!  It'll be your new go-to artic app.  This one is perfect to put my kiddos on during artic centers!  Here's a new version of Articulate It! 

Here is a view of the home screen.  You can jump to "Quick Play," if you just want to practice without tracking data.  Choose "Select Player" to import students into the program for data tracking.

You can choose your target based on 4 different areas: phonemes, phonological processes, manner of articulation, or number of syllables.

The phoneme option will prompt you to select specific phonemes as well as the position of the word.

The phonological processes option will allow you select specific phonological processes.

You are also able to select manner of articulation...

Or select by number of syllables.

After choosing your targets, you can further modify the sessions by selecting or deselecting specific words.  I love this option!  If a word is unfamiliar or too difficulty, you can opt to deselect it.

All of these options allow you to really customize for your students' specific needs.  Now let's look at the drill screens.

This app house thousands of real pictures to target every phoneme in the English language.  Tap the picture for a audio prompt.  The screen can also be rotated depending on where the student is sitting.

There is also a "Notes" option to add personal information on a target.

The words can be targeted in words, phrases, or sentences...and you don't even have to reset the game to change between them!  Just click on the tabs.

Change the settings by tapping the icon on the left side of the screen.

Clicking the "Home" button will prompt you to terminate the session.  You can view student reports at this time or you can choose the "Reports" icon on the home screen.

The data you are given is very specific to each student.  Tap "Share" to print, email the results to yourself, or save in TRC.

What I dig about this app:

  • I love that you can choose targets in so many different ways.  I can use the same app to practice lots of different goals.
  • You can easily switch between words, phrases, and sentences without having to reset.
  • It's highly customizable.
  • The data gathered is specific and voice recordings are saved.
  • I like that it's pretty easy for kids to use themselves.  I can put them on it during a center and have them record themselves.  I can then listen and go back and tally.
What could make it better:
  • There really is not many cons to this app.  One thing that might help would be to have a matching game option to make it more fun for the kiddos.  
This app is reasonably priced at $38.99.  Grab it in iTunes HERE!  The opinions in this app review were all my own.

What do you think?  What are your favorite artic apps?? 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Product Review: Language Difference vs. Disorder

As some of you may know, I deal with bilingual kids in my district on a regular basis.  I'm the "resident spanish therapist" for the parish and am involved in most, if not all, Spanish speech therapy cases.  Because I am frequently assessing bilingual kids, I jumped at the chance to grab Tatyana's Language Difference vs. Language Disorder when she asked me to review one of her products.

This 113 page packet is jammed packed with content on how to assess and intervene with bilingual children.   The focus of the material is to provide evidence for your EBP when dealing with ELL kiddos.  It will also give you some recommendations on how to intervene.

This packet is a great way to learn some good research-based information on bilingual language development and language differences and disorders.  You can also teach yourself assessment and therapy strategies.

Some of the objectives include:

  • Describe the sequence of typical bilingual development
  • Explain the process of second language acquisition in children
  • Contrast communication differences vs. disorders in bilingual children
  • Discuss research driven evidence based practices in assessment of bilingual children
  • Demonstrate potential limitations of standardized testing
  • Explain concerns about reporting standard scores
  • Illustrate how to use alternative methods of assessment to avoid bias
  • Describe research driven practices in treatment of bilingual kids with confirmed language disorders.
Tatyana thoroughly explains normal bilingual language development and acquisition.

She also gives evidence based intervention approaches.

I saved this pdf power point on my iPad in iBooks.  That way I can refer to it whenever I need.  It's a great resource to have on hand, especially when prepping for team meetings involving bilingual cases.

Tatyana blogs over at Smart Speech Therapy.  Check out her information:

Today, Tatyana is actually reviewing my Common Core RtI Pack for K-2.  You can check out her review here!

We decided to do a Rafflecopter giveaway of each of our products on our blogs!  So enter below to win a copy of my Common Core RtI Assessment Pack and head over to her blog to enter for a chance to win Language Difference vs. Language Disorder: Assessment and Intervention Strategies for SLPs Working with Bilingual Children.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, May 13, 2013

App Review: Expressive by Smarty Ears

It's product review week here at Busy Bee Speech!  I'll be reviewing several apps and products here this week, so be sure and check back if you're needing some new ideas or info on apps!

Today we're looking at Expressive by Smarty Ears!  I have a non-verbal client that has been needing a new communication app.  This one definitely fits the bill.

Expressive uses Smarty Symbols, which is a library of pictures and symbols that represent words and phrases.  There are over 13,000 symbols in the Smarty Symbols repertoire.  Students and patients can use this app to express their needs/wants by making phrases in the strip at the top.

When you first open Expressive, it will prompt you to watch the video tutorial.  I always like doing this.  It gives me a good overview on what I can do with the app, without having to trial and error my way through.

The settings tab allows you to "lock" the screen in place, use capital or lowercase letters, speak the folder name when you open it, and automatically erase the messages after they're read.  It also lets you change the voice and control the voice speed.

The "i" tab gives you the options of backing up your data and boards you create to iTunes or restoring it from iTunes.  It also gives you information about the app and contact to Smarty Ears.  You can watch the video tutorial over again if you need.

The red "x" button will highlight all of the folders and buttons to give you the option of deleting them to customize the home page.  The "plus" button at the bottom will create a new folder or icon.

The icons with the color strips at the top left are the folders.  Clicking on the "basics" folder (left) will bring you to a page of icons (see right).

To create your own folder, just click the plus sign at the bottom and select add folder.

You can choose the color of the folder, the name of the folder, and the front image of the folder.

You can add an image from any of the Smarty Symbols library or from your own camera roll.  Once it's created, your folder will be empty.  Add images (or symbols) by clicking on the plus sign and selecting "add image."

Add single images the same way by selecting the color, picture, and typing in the name.

This is a great feature.  I can easily create folders specific to my client, such as meal time, center time, or things he often requests.  He loves the computer and going to PBS kids or Nick Jr.  I even took some screen shots of several of these sites and created icons, so that he can request or tell us what he wants to find on the computer.

To communicate using this app, just press the icon and the symbols shows up at the top of the screen inside the sentence strip.  A voice will produce the completed phrase or sentence.

What I dig about this app:

  • The ability to customize based on the needs of your clients.
  • How easy it is to navigate and figure out.  My 6-year-old client with autism was able to find his way through the folders in a matter of minutes.
  • Because it's simple and straightforward, you can use this app with a variety of clients of different disabilities.
  • Smarty symbols!  I honestly like these symbols much better than other picture exchange systems.  To me they capture the message and are more detailed.
  • The price is great at $25.99, compared to over a hundred dollars for many comparable apps.  You are able to get a lot of use and variety from this app for a reasonable price.
What could make it better:

  • It would be great if there was a record option, so that I could record my own voice saying the symbols.  The voices that they use are sometimes unclear.
  • I would like to be able to manipulate the symbols on the sentence strip.  You have to erase the board and start over in order to change it.  Being able to manipulate them would just make it easier to scaffold clients to expand their sentences.
  • I'd also like the ability to drag and move pictures across folders.  The way it is now, you have to create a whole new image inside folders to add buttons.

Overall, a fantastic app.  It's perfect for a variety of clients with disabilities.  You can check it out in iTunes HERE.

What do you think?  What AAC apps do you like?

Friday, May 10, 2013

FAQ Friday: Phonological Awareness

Hip hip hooray for Friday!  I hope you've had a good week.  Mine has been pretty stressful, trying to get everything done in the home stretch.  Only 2 more weeks to go!  :)

Friday means FAQ time, so don't forget to send me your questions.

Today's question has to do with reading.  It seems like kids are learning to read at an earlier age these days with the new Common Core standards and student expectations.  That's not to say they can't do it because the average child definitely can.  It's important for parents to start working with their kids at home, even before they are enrolled in school.

 Research has shown that kids who have a good grasp of phonological awareness skills are more likely to have an easier time reading.
When we say phonological awareness, it includes some of the following skills:

  • Rhyming
  • Word awareness in texts
  • Break words into syllables
  • Beginning sounds
  • Ending sounds
Here are a few ways you can help teach your child these critical skills.

  1. Read stories that have rhyming words - Dr. Seuss books are GREAT for this! 
  2. Rhyme using songs - Sing songs together and find the words that "match"
  3. Play rhyming games - Help the child produce rhyming words by taking turns finding as many words that sound the same (i.e. cat, bat, hat, mat).
Word Awareness
  1. Read aloud and interact with the text as you read.  Point to the words as you say them or have the child point to the words.
  2. Sing songs that accentuate single words (i.e. Pop! Goes the weasel).
  3. Count the number of words in sentences.
  1. Divide compound words (starfish, cowboy) into the 2 parts
  2. I spy syllables - Have the kids find things in the room with a certain number of syllables ("I spy something with 2 syllables")
  3. Use blocks or counters to label the syllables in words.
Phonemes (sounds)
  1. Point out alliterations in books (i.e. Sally sat so sadly in her seat) - Again Dr. Seuss books!
  2. Play word games to find the beginning or ending sound (i.e. See who can find the most things that begin with /t/).
  3. Practice tongue twisters
These are just a few things you can do to help.  The more exposure kids have in thinking about words and sounds, the better they will be when learning to read.  

Much of this information came from this article from the VA dept. of education.  Be sure and check it out for more detailed info. 

What do you think?  Any other ideas?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

BHSM is Here with a FREEBIE!!

Sorry I've been a little MIA lately.  It's spring...which means SHOWER planning time!  One thing you should know about me is that I have become the QUEEN of showers and parties.  I usually plan at least 5 a year, and of course all around the same time.  I actually have 3 scheduled for this May.  What can I say?  All my friends love to get married and have babies haha.

Of course, May is also Better Hearing and Speech Month!  I thought I'd share a few activities that I'm doing at my school.  Have a looksy!

ASHA logo - used w/ permission

First, I created a little "Did you know" wall in the main entryway at school, since I didn't have much bulletin board space to work with.  I just printed out some interesting stats and cutesied them up, then attached them to the wall with teacher tape.

Next, I made several bookmarks that include tips for teachers on articulation, language, fluency, and hearing loss.  I plopped these in the teacher's lounge free for the taking!

You can make some of your own too!  Just download this printable freebie HERE, punch a hole in the top, and attach ribbon or yarn.  I had a lot of yarn on hand, so I just used that.

Lastly, I found some oh-so-fabulous free printables from Heather's Speech Therapy.  You should totally head over to her blog and check them out.  So fun!

I attached her vocal hygiene printables to tiny water bottles and will put them in the teacher's boxes for a little treat.

I also printed the noise-induced hearing loss printable to little baggies of ear-plugs to put in the their boxes for next week.

I hope my teachers like some of these fun tips!  Anyway, what do you think?  How are y'all celebrating Better Hearing and Speech Month??

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