Shooting for Good Speech!

This activity is one I pull out from time to time as a special treat and is a particular hit with the boys.  A year or so ago, my son and his grandfather put together a fabulous catapult.  The lid/target combos are the perfect ammo for launching.  (See my post, “Lots of Pros” from April 10, 2012 for instructions on making articulation target lids).

We run through our first set of words which I’ve inserted into the lids.  Then, I have them say the target a couple more times before we launch it from the catapult.  Sometimes we see which word goes the furthest, sometimes we set up a basket and see if we can get any in it.

Click to Play

The building instructions for my catapult came from “The Art of the Catapult” by Gurstelle.  I did a quick search online and there are several kits for catapults that would probably work, as well as instructions for a plastic spoon/popsicle stick version that goes together fairly easily (I’ve seen these put together….many times!).

Give it a try and launch something new!

(This post originally appeared on Activity Tailor)

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

Turning Pinterest Boards Into A Therapy Activity!

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might notice I use it A LOT. A few weeks ago PediaStaff started creating boards with pictures to be used in therapy. They made boards with action pictures, pronouns, problem solving, inferencing and concepts. As soon as Heidi emailed me and told me about them, I knew I could adapt them for speech therapy on the iPad. I figured it would be way more entertaining than printing them all out! About the same time, I won an app called TapikeoHD. After playing with it for a while I realized it was perfect for the PediaStaff Pinterest boards. Let me show you what I came up with!

The app I used is called Tapikeo and available at this time for $2.99 in the app store. Tapikeo allows you create your own audio-enabled picture books, storyboards, audio flashcards, and more using a versatile grid style layout. Check it out for yourself in the itunes store here.

First I opened Pinterest on my iPad and decided I would make an activity working on labeling verbs. I opened their board for actions words.

Then I saved the pictures to my ipad by holding down on them to save.

Next you will head on over to the app and start a new grid. When you click on the empty grid square you will get a screen like this. If you want text to accompany your photo/audio (and I did because I want to support literacy skills!)  you can type that in at the top. I type ” The boy is ___.” Then select ‘browse’ to add the photos you just saved to the iPad. Then select record. For my grid I saved my voice reading “The boy is.” When I use it with younger students, all they need to do is name the verb. For older students working on full sentence generation – I can turn the sound off and they are responsible for developing the whole sentence.

Once I finished adding all my cards (it took me about 5 or 10 minutes) the board looks like this.

When the student clicks on one of the pictures, it expands to fill the screen and the audio/visual joins the picture. This is when my students identified the verb or created a new sentence!

There is also an ‘e-book’ setting where the app transfers your pictures into more of a slideshow like setting. I kept mine on the grid formation so I could work on receptive language skills at the same time. I had the students pick their picture a few different ways: by following directions with spatial concepts, by answering WH questions, or by listening to clues and making basic inferences.

These boards are easy to make in the app and PediaStaff has done most of the work finding all these great images. What other topic boards would you like to see PediaStaff create?

(This post originally appeared on Speech Room News)

 

Jenna Rayburn, M.A., CCC-SLP is a school based speech language pathologist from central Ohio. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University. Jenna is the blogger at SpeechRoomNews.blogspot.com, sharing fun treatment ideas and technology tips. Visit SpeechRoomNews on Facebook.

Figuring Out Speech


Do you ever feel like you’re slogging through another therapy session?  Especially if you are working with a long-term child who has been with you awhile and is likely to stay with you a good deal longer?  Sometimes adding a new person to your group with the identical deficits can be just what the party needs.

And what if this new client required no paperwork?  Does it sound too good to be true or have you figured it out? What I’m suggesting is the inclusion of an action figure to the circle.  I have one kiddo that really improves his articulation productions when he’s speaking for the action figure.  The fact that he slows his speech rate certainly helps, but the authoritative tone that superheroes apparently require is a big part of it too.

I’m kind of partial to Thor myself, but you could have a variety of action figures for the kids to choose from or have them bring one from home (or have them check their pockets, the male version of Mary Poppin’s bag).  Using action figures is also a great way to break the ice with a quiet child who might be more willing to speak for someone other than himself.  And while eye contact is ideal, the honest truth is that eye contact can be sensory overload for some kids.  Providing an object for joint attention, can be a happy compromise.

(This post originally appeared on Activity Tailor)

 

Kim Lewis M.Ed, CCC-SLP has a private practice for pediatrics in Greensboro, NC. She is the blogger at www.activitytailor.com, providing creative ideas for speech therapy, and the author of the Artic Attack workbook series.

Is the Toy Industry Listening to Kids With Special Needs?

Enchanted Cupcake Party by Wonder Forge

Earning bling for my princess tiara, landing at the secret rangers headquarters, shooting mini-marshmallows, cuddling up in a wearable puppet, guessing, rhyming, plinking and popping, I was captivated by every minute of the 2012 New York International Toy Fair. The air was alive with excitement as I talked to inventors, tried out products, and listened to manufacturers about the play potential of the best new products to benefit our kids with special needs. For the first time in my 6 years of attending the show, I saw an increased interest from the toy industry in learning how their products can be helpful. Companies were hearing from retailers that parents had successfully used their products to strengthen specific skills related to disabilities.

More than one-fifth of US households with children have at least one child with special needs. About 5.8 million of the nation’s schoolchildren, ages 6 to 21,  are receiving special education services (about 61 percent percent of those students have specific learning disabilities or speech or language impairments) and that doesn’t include preschoolers who are targeted for early intervention.  Several national organizations and popular blogs are getting the word out about effective diagnosis, treatment and recommended techniques and products to build delayed skills.  People are getting it–this is a population that wants, needs and deserves to be taught with the best, most innovative and most importantly, FUN toys to advance their development. Parents of children with special needs want their kids to enjoy the same play experience as their peers and siblings. Their child’s days are often filled with hours of specialized therapy that can and should be augmented with great play using mainstream toys.

Here are some of the companies that are interested, listening, learning and responding:

Roll & Play by ThinkFun

Charlotte Fixler, Communication Manager and Education Specialist at ThinkFun, said “I’ve heard from more speech therapists this year than ever before about how they effectively use our games for speech therapy. Speech therapists are an incredibly creative group.” Once again, ThinkFun has several new games that would adapt well to speech therapy including their first toddler game, “Roll & Play” which includes a large soft block with primary colors on each side. Toss the plush cube and match the color to a card and perform that activity, “Make a happy face” or “Moo like a cow.” Check out ThinkFun’s blog, SmartPlay for inspiration on how games can help those struggling to learn due to disabilities or accidents. Recently a woman wrote, “I want to thank you for creating a game that children love, and one that helps heal a brain that has been so badly damaged.”

Rory O’Connor, inventor Rory’s Story Cubes

Rory O’Connor, the inventor of Gamewright’s “Rory’s Story Cubes,” has heard from so many parents and education professionals working with children and adults to develop language and communication skills, confidence and self-expression and he is still listening. ”When we designed the original Rory’s Story Cubes®, we made them compact enough to fit in a bag or pocket. This was so that your set of Rory’s Story Cubes® would always be to hand when needed. Since launching in 2009, we have been regularly asked by parents and professionals working in the area of special needs, if we would consider making a version of Rory’s Story Cubes® using bigger dice. The main reasons why they want this larger set are:

  • Supporting reduced motor skills. For some players with reduced motor skills it is difficult to pick up small objects.
  • Supporting reduced vision acuity. Some players find small images difficult to read.
  • Avoiding accidental choking hazards. We have learned that for some players it is important that the dice are made bigger to avoid choking.
  • Group Training. Trainers and facilitators working in larger groups would also like bigger cubes to aid group storytelling.

It is important to us that Rory’s Story Cubes can be enjoyed by as many people as possible. One of the most rewarding things for us is hearing feedback from parents and teachers who tell us how Rory’s Story Cubes is allowing self-expression among children and adults who would normally find it difficult to do so.” The result of their feedback is the design of “Rory’s Story Cubes: MAX,”  larger cubes for easier manipulation and recognition. You can weigh in on the subject on Rory’s website here.

Annika Harper introduces new games at Blue Orange

Blue Orange Games contacted me to assess the therapeutic value of their games from a speech and language perspective. I have been blogging about their great games for years with specific tips on how to use them in speech therapy. This year I found an even greater array of games loaded with language learning potential: “Shrimp Cocktail,” “Chef Cuckoo” and “On the Road,” all round card games in a take-along tin (great for the itinerant therapist) which involve vocabulary, description, selling your dish concocted by the chef, and calling out what you see on a road trip! Again, my observations from 15,000 hours of kid work have been born out–great language flows from excellent toys and games. It can’t be contained.

Infantino Right Angle Tummy Triangle

Step2/Infantino has launched the initiative “Everybody Plays,” according to Colette Cosky, Senior Brand Manager at Infantino. “We are committed to diversity in our brand communications. The Everybody Plays campaign encourages all kids together, including children with special needs, because everybody plays. As a company we feel it is our responsibility to show diversity on all levels of our visual communications.  The more we do our part, the greater potential that society as a whole will see inclusiveness as the norm.” At the Toy Fair, I was introduced to specific products that are great for typically developing children but have also served kids with special needs in advancing their development such as “Right Angle Tummy Triangle”, developed with pediatric occupational therapists, to build upper body strength and balance, which contributes to early speech development.

Hape’s language nutrition

Hape Toys knows that language is an important ingredient in learning. Their bright, durable wooden toys are rich in open-ended language play. The recent re-branding of the Educo line reflects their emphasis on educating kids through creative play– “Learning is at the Heart of Our Toys.” In talking to Robin Lehnert, Hape’s Marketing Manager of Hape North America, it is obvious that they look closely at their products that are designed to grow all kids but might have the criteria to help build specific skills for kids with disabilities. Their “Eggspressions,” a set of wooden eggs with different facial expressions on them, is a helpful tool to get kids talking about and naming their emotions while building social language.

The Wonder Forge consistently produces fun preschool board games embedded with language learning and preschool skills. I am in touch with their inventors, president and marketing team, pointing out the developmental learning in their games. Their games cultivate language from “Richard Scarry’s  Busytown Eye Found It! Game” which is a great vocabulary builder to their new products, “Enchanted Cupcake Party” and “Dazzling Princess’ which encourage sequencing, while baking princess cupcakes, earning jewels for answering princess questions, or role play. Kimberley Pierce, WonderForge’s VP of Marketing Communications, shared, “We’ve heard from a number of parents over the years who tell us that our Wonder Forge games have helped their children with special needs develop important skills. We intentionally build in age-appropriate learning in our games. We try to engage kids physically, socially, and creatively, so there are many different ways for children to connect with the content and enjoy the fun.”

Jumbo Bananagrams

Judee Cohen, Public Relations Consultant at Bananagrams, was very interested in hearing about any success stories I had in using their games with kids with special needs. We discussed how many kids on the autism spectrum are hyperlexic,  exhibiting an intense interest in letters, so Bananagrams’ letter games would capitalize on that for learning. This year, their introduction of a larger “Jumbo Bananagrams” and “Zip-It” allows for more active play outside and certainly easier manipulation for kids with special needs.

HABA’s Henri Haba Knight Costume

HABA USA‘s president, Lea Culliton hit on why their products are effective with kids with special needs–durability, multi-levels of play, and the fun factor that joins them with their siblings. “HABA is continuing to learn just how much our products are being embraced by the community of parents with children of special needs.  I’ve been told that the durability of our wooden blocks, game boards, boxes and game pieces and the various levels of play that the HABA assortment offers these families is very strong.  Families comment on how their children with no challenges can easily interact and not get ‘bored’ playing our games with their siblings with special needs.   What may seem as a simple color sorting or stacking game can provide hours of fun just interacting with the pieces of the products themselves.  HABA USA will continue to take that feedback back to Germany to our designers to continue to provide the extended value of play within our assortment.” Some of HABA’s new products that I liked for language learning were their pirate and knight costumes, “Henry Haba” and “Captain Charlie,” as well as their preschool playsets with just enough direction for play but open-ended for the child to lead–”Large Playset on the Farm,” and “Out and About With Tom,” which includes a train and add-on road or track. Several “First Games” for 18 months and up promote early learning too.

I see a powerful synergy growing in the toy industry–between manufacturers and retailers who value specific learning features in their products, parents of kids with special needs pursuing skill-building products and creative educators and therapists sharing what toys work best to advance skills.

As therapists, educators and parents we should collaborate with and support these companies, not only by using their products but providing them with feedback on how their toys and games have been helpful to our kids, so more children can benefit. Send a detailed lesson plan, a success story or a picture to encourage manufacturers to keep our kids in mind when developing and marketing their products to help all kids. After all, isn’t that one of the first concepts we learned as educators, to reinforce behavior we want to continue?

(This post originally appeared on Play on Words)

 

Sherry Artemenko M.S.CCC-SLP, a speech language pathologist for over 35 years, has  a private practice, Play on Words LLC, popular blog, www.playonwords.com, and is the founder of the PAL Awards (Play Advances Language) which distinguish the best new toys, games and books that have the DNA to build language skills in children.

Low-Tech Speech Therapy

Here are some of my go-to (super cheap) activities (when I’m not feeling all creative, Speech Lady Liz- like).

Bags
paper bag activity

I get white, paper lunch sacks and the kids decorate their own.  I put cards in the bag that target each child’s articulation goal.  The student rolls the dice and they have to say the word that many times.  Such an easy game that often gets requested by the kids.

I also use this for my language kids.  I put in verb cards and they have to put the word in a sentence, tell me the past, present, future tense or whatever their particular goal is.

Wh-dice
dice activity

This is a good activity to use after a holiday or weekend.  The student draws a picture of what they want to talk about and then depending on level they:

  1. Tell me all about the picture and then we roll the dice and their classmates have to answer the who, what, where, when questions or…
  2. I roll the dice and the student answers the who, what, where, when questions.  I write the answers on the board and then we figure out how to put all the information in 1-2 sentences so it’s cohesive and listeners can understand what they are talking about.

 

Dobbers
dobber activity

Each child gets a dobber and a month themed page.  We practice sounds and depending on how many they get, they get to either color in or use the dobber to mark off how many they produced correctly.

Beans
beans activity

That’s right, beans.  For this activity you need two cups and a bag of dried beans.  One cup is for “good” sounds and the other is for “not quite there” sounds.  It’s a good activity for those visual learners.

I hope this post goes to show that one does not need all the fancy, expensive products to facilitate appropriate and successful speech therapy strategies.  That being said, anyone want to donate an IPad to this speech lady?

(This post originally appeared on Speech Lady Liz)

Elizabeth Gretz, M.S. CCC-SLP is currently working as a school-based SLP, clinical SLP and an avid SLP blogger in Austin, TX. She is the creator of www.speechladyliz.blogspot.com , a blog dedicated to providing other SLPs and parents easy, adaptable, fun and functional therapy ideas to use in any setting.

Best New Games for Speech Therapy

I have always used toys and games in my speech therapy sessions that are designed for all kids, meaning the fun factor comes first. It has been my passion to find outstanding products marketed for the general population, that have the DNA to build speech and language skills. I want to share some of my Best New Games for Speech Therapy:

1. Buzz Blast by Discovery Bay Games

I knew “Buzz Blast” was a favorite when kids begged to go first to share their answers as soon as a new challenge card was presented. Kids delighted in the timed task of coming up with original answers to four challenges: describing the differences between two pictures in “Check and Double Check,” filling in the blanks on “Silly Sentences,” answering abstract questions in “Brain Play” or blurting out their “Tongue Twisters.” Kids fed on each other’s creativity as they gave an answer, passed the Buzz Blast timer to the next player, and continued generating original answers until the buzzer went off—oops, you have to talk fast so you’re not left holding that buzzing buzzer! “My perfect picnic would include____ but no____, called up favorite foods, games and people, and even “making a new friend” to be perfect. Kids need to think in categories, describe, “How is a window different than a mirror?” use abstract reasoning, “Name a way you are like a pencil” and compare. You get the most for your money with this set of 4 games. Buzz Blast gets the conversation moving while building critical language skills:

  • categories
  • association
  • similarities and differences
  • abstract thinking
  • can be used in later stages of carryover for articulation therapy

Recommended age: 7 and up

2. Chuggington’s Traintastic Cargo Game by I Can Do That! Games

Hang on to your conductor’s hat for a clever, multi-leveled, game of fun, strategy and learning. Drive your favorite Chuggington train into the depot to load up your boxcars, making sure your cargo is in the proper order. Spin to determine what boxcar to open and select tiny cargo pieces based on their color, shape or number. Faced with several options, players must decide what category to pursue to sequence their cargo pieces, matching a chosen Vee card. Ensuring that different ages can play together, the Vee cards are as simple as a sequence of five colors, or as difficult as ordering a combination of 5 numbers, shapes and colors. Kids loved opening the game board boxcars to retrieve their cargo, requiring an element of memory as players try to remember what car holds which cargo. All bets are off when a player spins “Move the Train,” and the circular board rotates to mix up the boxcars and their loot. Language is strengthened while kids learn early categories of color, shapes and numbers, as well as use the words to sequence their cargo–first, second, third, last–and pick up some emergent literacy skills while matching and ordering game pieces.  This high quality game is enhanced by the packaging, providing a detailed town around the inside of the box to create more opportunities for talk. Language learning:

  • vocabulary: colors, shapes, numbers, first/next/last
  • learning sequences
  • can be used as a reinforcing game for articulation therapy

Suggested Age: 3 years and up

3. I Built It! Memory Match+Tic Tac Toe by I Built It! Games

The possibilities are endless with Memory Match+Tic Tac Toe as kids create and customize their game before playing. Continually under construction, this set of games is flexible for endless fun and learning. Unscrew the 18 game pieces and insert your personalized pictures, drawings or stickers to set up for play. If you want to play Memory, be sure to draw in duplicate! A sample sheet is provided to jump-start your play. Extra free drawings–including 3-D Shapes and Numbers– are easily downloaded from their website or simply create your own. My kids started out coloring the pictures provided but wanted to customize the second round along their favorite theme. I used this game to teach what insects do to prepare for winter by having a child draw the insects in duplicate and giving facts about their survival when they made a match. The language learning potential is unlimited:

  • vocabulary
  • concepts
  • emotions, facial expressions
  • opposites
  • sounds for specific articulation practice
  • word-finding

Age 3 and up

Who Am I? by HABA Toys

Who am I? An astronaut? Rain boots? Or a fried egg? Ask the right questions and you’ll discover the answer. The “Guesser” straps on the headband, while the rest of the players select a picture card and attach it to his forehead with a cute question magnet. Through a series of yes and no questions, the child determines what picture is on his forehead. Guess your picture card before you use up your 10 tokens from “no” answers.  All the pieces fit into a small cartooned tin which makes this game ideal for travelling in a speech therapist’s bag!  This game is a great language building experience which is a load of fun:

  • Asking and answering questions
  • Thinking in categories
  • Deductive reasoning

Recommended Age: 5 years and up

Mermaid Beach By Gamewright

Intrigued that a girl their age actually created this game, kids jump right into “Mermaid Beach” and love this beachy-Go Fish card game. There is no lying around on Mermaid Beach because you have to be on your toes to craftily play the right cards to empty your hand and possess the most high scoring shell cards at the end of the game. The colorful cast of undersea characters include Priscilla Pearls,  Swirly Shirley, and Mussels Mark–a speech tongue twister in itself! Play your cards to win some shells, but watch out for Sneaker Waves who laps up an opponent’s shell card, or the yucky Seaweed that adds another card to your hand. Don’t be left with The Sea Monster or your tally will diminish. I’ve seen parents pick right up on teaching their child vocabulary of who has “more” or “less” shell points. Language lessons:

  • beach vocabulary
  • math vocabulary of more and less, 2 more than you, etc
  • if/then discussing options and strategy
  • articulation practice

Ages: 6 and up

What’s In the Cat’s Hat? by I Can Do That Games

Wait a minute, The cat  just left his hat behind with a little surprise inside. It’s our job to guess what it is. Kids love being the Hat Master who selects an item from around the room, hides it in the hat and waits for you to guess. Each turn you choose two cards to ask questions of the Master –Is it round? Does it come apart? or carry out a clue–Lift the hat by the brim, or Feel the hat with your elbows. Little flaps open on the hat to give a smell, a peek (you only see shadows), or a feel of the object hidden inside. A language building game of deduction, “What’s In the Cat’s Hat?” gives kids lots of practice combining information, asking questions and describing the hidden object. After the clue to “Jiggle the hat,” my little friend said, “That gave me a clue, it’s heavy!” or after poking his finger in the hole he said, “It’s definitely hard.” Your therapy room provides all the variety for many rounds of this game. Kids selected a train car, remote control, cotton ball and scotch tape dispenser. Children had so much fun with this game, after an hour of play, one said, “Do we have enough time for another round? Of course! Language learning:

  • Asking questions (kids are given some help with picture cards depicting the question
  • Answering questions
  • Descriptive vocabulary by category (how it feels, looks smells)
  • Deductive reasoning
  • Auditory memory

Recommended age: 3 years and up

Disclosure: The above products were provided for review by their companies

(This post originally appeared on Play on Words)

 

Sherry Artemenko M.S.CCC-SLP, a speech language pathologist for over 35 years, has  a private practice, Play on Words LLC, popular blog, www.playonwords.com, and is the founder of the PAL Awards (Play Advances Language) which distinguish the best new toys, games and books that have the DNA to build language skills in children.

Boo! Halloween Idea Treats

Halloween Tree


Photo by H_Elise.

Since it’s almost Halloween I thought I’d “treat” ASHAsphere readers to a roundup of some Halloween-themed blog posts and resources, as shared with @ASHAweb on Twitter:

Know of other posts, activities, or apps for Halloween? Please share in the comments.