Work hard; play hard!

Work hard; play hard!
Consulting in Maui!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Artik Stick

Easy grab activity for the day....I bought a few of these sticks from my favorite teacher store. Then I used my handy dandy label maker to create words for them. I made them especially for my (r) and (s) groups so I put an (r) word on the one side and an (s) word on the other side. The apples one came in later because a (th) kid infiltrated the group. I used one shape for initial sounds, one for medial and one for final sounds. To make it interesting I choose a word for each game that is the MAGIC word and write it down on a small white board. The student who pulls this stick wins a COOKIE CARD! Now frequently I don't have purist groups so for my language students they have to define it, or I create an analogy for that stick they pulled, or they have to figure our 3 adjectives for the word and use two of them in a sentence or they have to use it in a sentence and add a conjunction to increase the complexity of their sentence. Sometimes I will just have them compete for MLU points.

Now you could use tongue depressor sticks too, which sometimes my school nurse allows me to "steal".

Sometimes you just need a quick activity...this is a good bucket to keep around for those days. It is a great way to warm up the group!

I just got PINNED!!!

Thanks to all of you for checking out my blog! I am excited to report that I will be reaching 6000 views this week and over 25 countries checking in! I don't know what is happening with my Norway though! Come on...I am 3/4 Norwegian! Norway, Sweden and Finland have not checked in! I would expect that of Greenland, but I still have relatives in Norway! Thanks again! What started out as a way to keep my ideas available for my memory, so I don't wonder every year what I did with the students the year before, has taken off!

Musical Chairs (cards) Activity

Over the holidays I made (I am kind of the ALPHA female in my family...go figure!)...anyway...I made all of my family play musical chairs with holiday music. Of course, I had gift cards as prizes so the motivation was already built in. We had so much fun watching nephews take down their girlfriends for a $5 gift card that this may become an annual tradition.

Well this reminded me that I used to LOVE playing musical cards with my therapy session when I worked in the elementary school. My principal would go by and just shake his head as he heard OPERA, CLASSICAL, JAZZ, playing from my office. I figure I may as well expose them to a variety of musical genres as I was doing therapy also!

Here is how I would do it....I printed up rather large cards of either pictures or words (depending upon the level and skill we were working on) and laminated them. So if I was working on the present progressive sentence pattern I printed up pictures of people DOING (verbing). We started off with many cards! Sometimes we would have them weave in and out around the entire room! Back then I had a LARGE therapy room. Today I would have to take them out in the back hallway. Then I would start the music. When I stopped the music each of the students would make a sentence with their card that they landed on. Now these cards would be pulled away from the game. Then eventually only students who were lucky enough to land on a card and not an empty space would win the game. Now you can play it the traditional way also, but you get less stimulus cards for sentence production. I have also done this with social skills where they have to tell how the person is feeling in the picture and predict why they might be feeling that way. For articulation students you just use cards with their sounds in them.

Back to the basics....grab yourself some music and let the kids move during these long winter months. You people in CA or HI might not understand the need for movement due to WINTER BLAHS! This is what my friends in CA and HI remind me of frequently!

PS....the kids love to run the music also and have you participate!

Time to "Let Go of My Legos"!

I first started my career in a therapeutic preschool (Courage Center). Then I went into elementary level therapy. From there I went to high school and I have finally ended up in the middle school setting. One thing remains constant, " learn more if they are having fun doing so."

Wrapping up February in Minnesota is not for the faint of heart! The teachers are restless, the kids are restless and the therapy needs a little bit of fun. So out come the Legos.

Today we used the Lego's for giving and receiving directions. After the activity was done and the data was tallied, the students got to build their own Lego platforms or whatever they chose. I am lucky to have an entire BIN of Legos thanks to a generous donation from another teacher. Just in case you are wondering....yes, my middle school students do still enjoy a good session of Legos once in awhile. My OT will be SO THRILLED I am incorporating fine motor into my therapy sessions also! This direction-giving activity will be geared more towards my students in my developmentally cognitive delayed programs. However, I will leave the tempting bin out and see if any of my other groups bite on the activity.

My articulation groups can earn a Lego for each sentence they produce correctly. My language groups can work on directions, conjunctions, prepositional phrases...while earning Legos. The trick is to allow them to have fun and be kids again while working on their skills. THIS is why I LOVE my job! I always say, "I get to TALK with kids for my job!" What could be more fun than interacting and conversing with kids!!? You can also put up a screen and hand them the same Legos and the green platforms. Then they take turns describing what they would like each other to do. In the end, their platforms have to look identical!

I love "old school" fun and getting students to unplug from electronics for awhile.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Question- Variety is the spice of language!

I have a couple of students who keep asking me, "How was your weekend?" because that is what they SUCCESSFULLY learned! They ask this on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. We do love overgeneralization because that indicates learned behavior. So now we are trying to move past that and ask a few different questions.  Now we have categorized a few questions by colors. Today you have to ask me a GREEN QUESTION or a PURPLE QUESTION or a BLUE QUESTION. Then we posted these up on our wall for a visual. They love the smiley faces the best because that is when I overreact with JOY by their question! They also have to ask the students who come in after them. I have brought these girls in on it so now they prompt them to do so by requesting them to ask them a green question or whatever the day indicates. We shall see! Here is hoping that variety becomes a habit too!

Okay, a few of you have asked if I had made this into a sheet or not. Here it is for you!

Click here to access the sheet that you could blow up to make a poster for your classroom or have them available for students to see.

Here is the new "non-makeshift" poster I had made!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Social Skills Awareness Cards

Social Skill Cards
Social Skills Cards File

 I have two large recipe boxes filled with social skills cards like these. I change them according to the group I am working with. We sometimes will work on a chosen skill by having the "Interrupting" card out for the session. Then students receive either the "You waited your turn" or the "Interrupting" card. I have used these cards in a number of ways:
- graph their own number of cards
- attempt to more plus card than negative cards
- start with three interrupting cards to begin with and have to put their card in the middle if they do "interrupt" or whatever the chosen card is
- use the cards as a way of collecting data during social skills

Cards have ranged from You Dug Your Heels In (With a pretty pair of bright pink heels on them!), Mouse Voice (With a picture of a rat trap on it.), Socially Awkward, Space Bubble, On Topic, Pulled Someone Into the Conversation, Great Attitude, Took Feedback Well, etc.... One of their favorite ones that just clicked with them is the TOOTHPASTE card. This is when you tell me way too much information when I ask, including even how and when you brushed your teeth. I had several parents ask me, "What is this TOOTHPASTE thing my child keeps talking about!" You KNOW this cracks me up because I can just hear the students calling out the toothpaste card in the home setting. Now THAT is carryover of skills! :-)

You have to use the cards carefully and with a little bit of humor. I always have the students give some cards to me too allowing me to demonstrate a LOT of INAPPROPRIATE social skills! This is my favorite part of my job! The kids love this too! I will have them name it and claim it!

I have used these cards in Developmentally Cognitive Delayed Programs to my middle school social skills (EBD and/or ASD) groups. Kids with the ASD label tend to like to point the skills out in me rather than claim it in themselves. So this is where I usually start with them.

Click Here to get an example of some of the cards.

I Feel...I Need...Then I Will....

This is an easy sheet to get students to start working on what they feel, what they need because they feel this way and what we can expect from them once those needs are met.

Click Here for a link to that sheet.

Purpose of the Statements

I find that most of the times my students in my social skills classes do not even realize that everything they say has a purpose. We brainstormed on some of the purposes and then printed them up to post in the classroom. Actually, I pointed them out while they gave me typical examples of their statements. Then we started identifying in others and ourselves what our purpose was in making statements. They ranged from sarcasm, giving sympathy, requesting something, praising someone, hear myself talk, lying, show off knowledge...etc. I tried to find as many "positive" ones as "negative". From there we started to graph our own statements to increase our awareness. From then I could tell them, "Today I would like you to be aware of the number of times you talk just to hear yourself talk," or any other personal goal a student might have or shall I say YOU MIGHT HAVE FOR YOUR STUDENT. :-)

Click here if you would like to link to the purpose of the statement sheets we used. As you can tell, I cut them out, laminated them and had the students post them up on the wall for an easy visual reference.

On and Off Topic Visual

I have used the stop light visual to teach students about being ON TOPIC and OFF TOPIC. This is a clear visual for them to understand. Sometimes I have them create their own traffic light and then cut out green, yellow and red circles to hand them when they are conversing so that they get the immediate feedback from someone. 
Click here if you would like to get the visual to print for your classroom.

Teaching Fitting In and Standing Out

One of my favorite lessons to teach my students is the important life lessons that come along with fitting in and standing out. I developed this compare and contrast set of FITTING IN and STANDING OUT cards for one of my social skills classes. This is a 64 page document that covers three main areas: fitting in and standing out academically, fitting in and standing out socially, and fitting in and standing out physically. In the end there is another method of teaching this lesson that I have used with my group that serves more of the developmentally cognitive delayed students in the middle school. This would also work well in elementary social skills classes.
I printed them in color, cut them apart and laminated them so I can use them year after year. Sometimes we just start our social skills class with one or two students picking a random card and having a discussion on why this would make a person stand out or fit in. 

Click here if you would like to see a sampling of this packet. Please leave a comment or a request if you would like to see the entire document.

Click here if you would like the entire document. It is a HUGE document though. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Ping Pong- Conversation

I had a student who was struggling with keeping a conversation going. It happened that they were in their ping-pong unit in phy ed so I told him conversation was like a ping-pong game. So we went down and played a game of ping-pong, and I began to illustrate how conversation was just like ping-pong. You have to both be playing the same game. You have to participate by giving and receiving. The game wouldn't be any fun if one person kept letting the ball roll or bounce off of the table. get the drift. Then I had him pick a topic. After he picked a topic I started the conversation off (by serving him the topic ball). When he hit the ball he had to stay on topic, respond to my statement, etc.
Well now I just "borrowed" two of the ping-pong paddles and keep them in the therapy room. I also created a couple of these worksheets (works in feel free to add, delete or change anything on them).

To access a worksheet on Ping-Pong click here.
One more worksheet on Verbal Ping-Pong click here.

Sentence Strip Language!

 Again...the dollar bins at Target (My favorite store!) are my friends! I found these sentence strip white boards, which I use for a PLETHORA (My favorite vocabulary word for my students!) of purposes!
Here we came up with Clue Questions (HORIZONTAL ((vocab)) BOARDS) for the secret item (written on the bottom side of the white board that is VERTICAL (vocab) to the horizontal sentence strip white boards. With my lower language group they are each assigned one of the Clue Questions to ask me. Then I say and write the answers in another color underneath the Clue Questions. They cannot guess until all of the clues have been re-read to them in the end. With my higher functioning language groups they have to come up with the SECRET ITEM and answer/write the answers to the Clue Questions. With this group the others in the group get to pick which question they want to ask according to what they think will allow them to guess the word with the least amount of questions. Sometimes the leader will even have to write up the clue questions.
Another version we play with these is to have just the clues written and they have to come up with what the Clue Question would have been. Sometimes they just have the clues written on the back of the sentence strip boards and they reveal them one at a time. So they would turn up "Prickly", then "Living", next "Mammal"....etc. The other students guess on their secret white board what they think is the answer and what clue number they guessed it on or scream out the answer as quickly think they have it (but then they are out if they guessed wrong!). The final board has the answer written on the back of it. My more competitive groups like this one!
Another way to play this is to give each student a sentence strip white board and have them come up with their own SECRET word. Then they have to verbalize the clues one by one to the others in the group. For instance...this is something that you use in the winter, it has a handle, it is made out of metal and word, it would come in handy for the East Coast right about now, and you keep it in the garage. 
So, as you can see, this game can be changed to match the level of language and competitiveness of the group!
Of course this can be done with regular white boards or slips of paper, but you know I do love to promote those dollar bins at Target! What can I is a MINNESOTA company that I am proud of! They give a lot back to schools and their community! GO TARGET!

For the expressive language component of this activity, I have the students tell me a sentence with 1-3 of these descriptive sentences.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Bored Therapist= New Games!

Okay, I have blown my entire check on new games this month! I figure if I am bored I will make the students play games with me! Besides, there is a plethora of brain research about games and dendrites! See how I excuse my spending habits so quickly!
Anyway, I bought this game and have had fun playing it with the students this week. You play it one way, but I have changed it to the Peachy Speechie way. It has a deck full of phrases that are great for describing. You set the timer and they have two minutes to describe as many phrases as possible to others in the group. The person gets the numbers of points that are guessed.

Compare and Contrast

We ended our Compare and Contrast Unit today by starting off with a plate of YUMMY Cuties! Then we went around in a circle and each student had to compare and contrast this delicious, little fruit with a fruit given to them by another student. So they had to compare between a kiwi and a tangerine, a banana and a tangerine, an orange and a tangerine, a raspberry and a tangerine, etc. The final compare and contrast was to compare and contrast an orange and a tangerine.
When we finished, and everyone was successful in their attempts to give one way they are the same and one way they are different, each student got to specifically describe (contrasting at a higher level) which tangerine they would like to eat. Of course, we ended with the tangy taste of citrus in our mouths! A TASTY LESSON!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Bubble Talk

Thanks to another colleague, Steph, I also ordered Bubble Talk! This is a fun game to work on perspective taking, social skills reasoning, understanding and using humor and overall receptive and expressive language skills. You are given a variety of caption cards, and then the dealer gives everyone seven caption cards. Then everyone, except the dealer/judge, look at their captions and pick the best one out for the picture in front of them. They hand their caption to the dealer without showing anyone. Then the dealer mixes them up and reads them out loud. The dealer then picks the best caption for the picture. That person gets the point. You could also use these pictures as writing prompts and pick out a caption that you have to include in your story.

You've Been Sentenced!

Thanks to my colleague Kelly for finding this game! You've Been Sentenced is a great game for speechies! This game allows students to build sentences from their cards. Each of the pentagon-shaped cards have five versions of the word. The students compete to get the most points with their sentence formations. The sentences have to be grammatically correct and make sense. If called upon to justify, the students have to explain their sentences and justify why it makes sense. Now, of course, the students can make funny sentences too, but they need to make sense syntactically and semantically. Check it out! I found it at Amazon! Thanks KELLY!!! The winter doldrums were screaming for new games!