Work hard; play hard!

Work hard; play hard!
Consulting in Maui!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Flip The Chip

FLIP THE CHIP....I don't actually have them flip the chip...although they could if they chose. I just liked the sound of Flip the Chip versus Toss the Chip. I guess I am into rhyming. 

As stated in previous posts, this year I bought a case of poker chips and created targets for many of my speech/language students. I have different sounds for my articulation kids and for my language students I have irregular plurals, irregular past tense, multiple meaning words, antonyms, synonyms, etc. This way I can use these chips for MANY of my games and it quickly gives me access to a variety of different goals areas. PLUS THE STUDENTS LOVE PLAYING WITH POKER CHIPS! They do not love that I won't allow Texas Hold 'Em of any other form of poker in my classroom. I know....I AM SO MEAN!

This is another game we play with those infamous poker chips. I am lucky enough to have a "secret" back hall close to my office. I take advantage of many opportunities in my school, and this is one of them! I am also in cahoots with my custodians! IT PAYS TO LEAVE THEM CHOCOLATE!

I "borrowed" (antonym= "stole") some floor tape from the phy-ed dept. I like to use the word "borrow" because it just sounds better and I am putting it into writing. I don't give my PE Dept. chocolate as often as my custodians so drastic times....drastic measures!

Then I made up this grid and I get to keep it on the carpet in my "secret" hallway. Now you could make it up on tag board or big sheets of cardboard if you are not as fortunate as I am to have the connections with the custodians. That being said, I now have another workspace to use when I get claustrophobic in the MN winters. My office has NO windows! I NEED MY VITAMIN D! This "secret" hallway is surrounded by huge windows; it is like having a solarium to work in during the winter months! I spoil myself.

I hand out poker chips to each student that address each of their goal areas. Then they take turns either producing the words, asking questions, making statements or whatever other speech/language task I might ask of them. Then they get to throw the chip onto the grid. The one with the most points at the end obviously wins! There are positive points, and there are negative points. You will notice I have one of the 10's in green. If they land on this square they not only get to take ten points away from someone, but they also get to add ten points onto their own score! They LOVE this spot! I guess they are into punishing their friends in speech! I also added the yellow 25 and 50 point squares at the top. This was added because of feedback from the students.

When I asked for thumbs up or down on the game, they have all given me a thumbs up on it so it looks like it is a winner and a keeper.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Four on the Floor

Another trip to Target and we have another speech game! I bought a mini muffin pan and used some of my discs from another game. Each of the students takes a different colored bag of discs. Then we took turns producing our targets sentences or words with the poker chips (see below). After the produced the sentence correctly, they got to throw one of their discs into the muffin pan to try and get four in a row. If another student throws one in an already occupied muffin tin they get to take over that space and hand the previous disc back to the unlucky player who just lost a space. The winner is the first one to achieve four in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally. We played the game on the floor because it allowed the students to space themselves a little more fairly. My competitive boys seemed to enjoy it more than some of my girls, but all in all it was a hit!

Side Note: This year I bought poker chips from Target and made different objective targets with each color depending upon the student's area of need. So on some of them I have (r) words or (s) words or (sh) words, etc. Then I have another tray of poker chips that have language targets on them such as irregular past tense, irregular plurals, antonyms, synonyms, multiple meaning words. This way I just pull out my poker case and use these chips for many of my games! All of the kids seem to LOVE to play with the poker chips.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


I needed some simple category cards and was too lazy (okay...impatient) to find some on the internet so I made my own. They are SIMPLE but functional! I have a few levels of vocabulary cards. I have also used cards from memory games for my younger students. Then I just either hand the students the cards, hand them a stack of cards and their own category cards, or have them take turns from the pile and sort them according to categories. This is a GREAT pre-vocabulary skill for all students.

 Click here for a GREAT site for leveled vocabulary cards with pictures!! Kudos to this site!!!
Click here for Category One Sheet.
Click here for Category Two Sheet.

Effort Meter

One of my students today reminded me just why I had developed this Effort Meter a few years ago. :-)  This became a tool that was used throughout most of my middle school building a few years back. Some of the teachers even brought it home to use with their children and guessed it...their spouses! I, of course, found that to be hilarious!

This can be used with all students. Sometimes it is an even more effective tool to use with those students who are classified as "gifted" to try to get them to see that there might be something they can do to even make their "okay" project even better!

Click here for a copy of the sheet.
Click here for little Effort Meters that I have cut out and used as visual reminders for individual students.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Pieces of the Puzzle- Problem Solving

Pieces of the Puzzle in Problem Solving- You need to understand what the problem is before you can come up with a solution. I use these foam puzzle pieces (Target dollar bins) to break down the who, what, where, when, and why questions of a problem. I tell my students that they need to understand each WH-? of the problem before they can begin to solve it.

Click here for the main worksheet.
Click here for the "when" visual.
Click here for the "where" visual.
Click here for the "what" visual.
Click here for the "why" visual.
Click here for the "who" visual.

Puzzle Pieces of Conversation

Puzzle Pieces of Conversation- I found these wonderful foam puzzle pieces in the dollar bin at my favorite store (TARGET) and immediately added them to my cart! I talk about conversation as a puzzle with my students all of the time. I tell them their piece of the puzzle (statement) needs to fit into the puzzle (conversation) we are working with. So here I give the kids a certain number of puzzle pieces (depending upon the level of their language skills) and have them add it to the puzzle when they make a statement or ask a question that is related to the conversation at hand. If their statement is off target I tell them that they must be working on a different puzzle than the rest of them and have them correct it before they can add to our puzzle.

Click here for a sheet you can use as a poster or visual for this lesson.
Click here for another example.
Click here for yet another example....I know...overkill! :-)

Roadblocks to Listening

Roadblocks to listening- In Minnesota, all students are used to our summer months being filled with signs and roadblocks due to construction. I found this adorable construction cone at a convenience store one day and knew that my therapy room was calling for it! Most of the time I use it as a visual for roadblocks students are having in listening. It can also be a visual for students who are maybe having roadblocks in learning or behavior choices.
The point that I emphasize with students is that, although they may be experiencing a ROADBLOCK now, it is important that they move to the construction phase of the project and eventually be able to reopen the road so that they can get through. They seem to be able to grasp these concepts.

I label the three phases as:
  • ROADBLOCK (unable to move forward), 
  • CONSTRUCTION (willing to do the work), and 
  • ROAD OPEN (able to move past and get to their destination). 

On the other side the cone says, "Back Away From My Desk". Of course, I find that HILARIOUS and useful also.....mostly for staff though! :-)

Click here for worksheet on common roadblocks to good listening.
Click here for brainstorming sheet on roadblocks to good listening.
Click here for worksheet on personal roadblocks to good listening.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Brother Erik

My Brother a quick, educational video about autism. (
Click here for link.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Teaching Overreacting, Underreacting and Okay Reacting- Social Skills

You Make The Call! 
I connected with our fabulous activities' director and got some used referee shirts and some whistles for the kids in my social skills class. We all became refs and practiced making the call....on Over-reacting, Okay-reacting, and Under-reacting in a social situation.
The kids loved that they got to wear the referee shirts and make the calls. We made up hand signals for the three calls so that they could do it quietly. Soon we got to just use the hand signals to indicate to the students if they needed to pay attention to the way they were responding. 

Click here for explanation worksheet.
Click here for classroom posting.
Click here for practice making the calls worksheet.

Click here for another format on overreaction/underreaction.
Click here for a Reaction Meter you can have the kids use.