Saturday, March 30, 2013

Out of This World! Context Clues

I just posted my newest packet to Teachers Pay Teachers.  I'm kind of excited about this one because it's new-ish territory for me!  I hope you guys like it!

Out of This World! Context Clues is designed to help kids figure out unfamiliar vocabulary based on the context of the passage.  They get to play the role of an astronaut on a newly discovered planet.  Their mission?

          On the planet you have encountered a group of aliens.  
          They seem friendly.  They speak a language that is similar
          to English, but some of the words they use are VERY different. 
          Use context clues to figure out what the alien words mean. 

Here's a sample of the short stories:

Once the students have figured out the alien words, they can name the alien language and create a dictionary:

There are some other fun activities for the students to do once they've figured out the meaning of the words.

1.  Silly Sentences:  Use the alien words (or words) to formulate a sentence:

2.  Alien Categories:  Sort the alien words into categories:

3.  When you're done, find your alien name and the alien name of some of your friends!

What do you think?  You can find the packet HERE in my TPT store.  You can also enter to win a copy (I'll give away 2) using the rafflecopter below!

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Book(s) of the Week: Little Red Riding Hood & Honestly Red Riding Hood Was Rotten

This week's first Book of the Week is "Little Red Riding Hood."

I found this adorable doll at a local craft fair in the fall.  Basically you start with Little Red, then you flip her dress over her head and you get Grandma.  Turn grandma's hat over her face and you have the wolf.  How cute is it?!?  Most of my kids were impressed and thought the doll was magic! The lady who makes them makes dolls for other stories too (click HERE for her website).

After reading the story, I used the comprehension questions and category sorting activities from Jenna's (Speech Room News) Little Red Riding Hood Preschool-Kindergarten Speech/Language Companion from TPT.

For the older kiddos, try this version (Book of the Week #2):

Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!; The Story of Little Red Riding Hood as Told by the Wolf is a clever variation.  In this story, the wolf is a "vegetarian" who prefers apples.  However, the apples are all gone and Red Riding Hood happens to run into the wolf when he hasn't eaten in weeks.  (Spoiler/Warning:  The wolf does eat Red and Granny in this version, so you may not want to read it with kids who would be upset by that).

There are some higher level language expressions that you may want to pre-teach (examples "the apple didn't fall far from the tree," "she looked as plump and juicy as an apple, etc."  If you didn't notice, there are a whole lot of apple references in this story...Crispin, Red Delicious, Granny Smith, etc.  Red Riding Hood and Granny are drawn to resemble red and green apples as well!

Here's a free download to work on some of the expressions used in the story:

You can download this activity HERE.  Let me know what you think!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Don't Throw it Away! (Magazines)

I have a confession to make....

I'm a pack rat!  

I have a hard time throwing things away.  I very often think, "I can use that!"  I'm guessing that some of you might be the same way.  So, here's what I'm thinking.  Once every-so-often (I'd like to say once per week, but I'm not sure I'd be able to stick to it!) I'm going to post a way to re-use/recycle things you already have into therapy activities!  Here's the first - 


You've probably seen posts about re-using your magazines for the pictures and stories.  I save them for the Ads!  

Why?  Well magazine ads are LOADED with higher level language concepts!  What you're likely to find in the ads:
  • figurative language
  • idioms
  • similes
  • metaphors
  • multiple meanings
  • humor
  • and language that requires the reader to take a different perspective/point of view and/or use inferencing skills!

In case you can't read the captions, here's what some of the ads say:

The first picture:
  • Jelly Belly Jelly Beans:  Music to your mouth.
  • Aussie Hairspray:  Don't be hard headed.
  • Excedrin:  Migraines so bad I want to take my head off.
  • Juice:  A full serving of vegetables inside
  • Chewing Gum:  Survive a snack attack

The second picture:
  • Mr. Peanut:  He's famous for two things - Planter's nuts and winning staring contests (Go ahead, try him!)
  • Fresh Step:  It works so well, your cat will need help finding the litterbox.
  • Chips Ahoy:  They go fast!
  • Meow Mix:  Yes, it tastes that fresh!

Do you use magazine ads in your therapy sessions?  What do you use them to target?

PS, Have a great idea for re-using/recycling what you already have for therapy? If you're interested in writing a guest post to tell us about it, send me an email to

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Service Delivery and the Common Core

On Friday I attended a conference put on by Health Ed: "Service Delivery and the Common Core Standards  - Connections for the Speech-Language Pathologist" presented by Perry Flynn, M.Ed, CCC-SLP.  He is an Associate Professor at UNC Greensboro, Member of the ASHA Board of Directors, and if I listed the rest of his C.V., I wouldn't have time to actually tell you about the conference!  This will be a brief summary.  I highly recommend attending if you want more information - as of right now, there are two more scheduled dates (Colorado and New York).

Did you know that 45 states have already adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)?  To see which ones are still holding out, click here.  By the way, I'd say that the workshop touched on the CCSS, but was geared a little more toward service delivery.  So, here's what I took from it...

Key Points I Took From This Workshop:

  • CCSS came about partly because some states were actually lowering their standards to increase the number of students who were performing according to standard!
  • It was suggested that future educational funding/grants will be tied to the CCSS, so those states that have been holding out on adopting the common core will probably jump on board sooner or later. 
  • The ELA CCSS are not drastically different from the things we work on already, so aligning therapy to the common core shouldn't be a stretch for us!
  • CCSS should NOT be IEP goals or objectives!  (I was just discussing this with some other SLPeeps recently). If a child is on an IEP, chances are, you are not expecting them to perform at grade level!  You can and should use goals and objectives that will help a child to achieve standards, but not the standards themselves.
  • North Carolina has downward extension of the CCSS for children with special needs. Other states are likely to follow suit (if they don't have the downward extensions already).
  • The clinical and education models for service delivery are supposed to be different.  I know, this isn't earth shattering information!  However, I think many of us lose track of this.  We want to help kids.  We want them to make amazing progress.  We want them to excel!  According to the educational model (i.e., the law), the goal of Speech/Language services in schools is to support educational performance (i.e., to allow the child to fully access the curriculum) in the LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT. Which brings me to...
  • Our speech rooms are RESTRICTIVE!  They take kids away from the general education setting.  I typically provide a combination of inclusion and pull-out services and that's great.  But, it's not "least restrictive" for all of my students.  I know that parents typically see pull-out service as "better," and that type of service really is needed for some kids.  However, there are many benefits to inclusion services as well.
  • Most of us write IEPs for X amount of service per week.  My favorite quote from the workshop "For those of you who write IEPs for 2x30 minutes/week, you are flat-out lying to parents. Unless you and the kid never get sick, you never attend TEAM meetings, and you never take a day to attend a conference like this one, it's not going to happen!"  My district recently asked us to consider writing monthly service delivery rather than weekly to take this into account.  It's so hard for us to change our mindsets and some SLPs in my district continue to write weekly minutes for service delivery, but I'm trying the monthly and finding it makes it a little easier!

Perry also gave us a bunch of CCSS resources.  Here they are:

Did you know there's an app for that?
Mastery Connect's Common Core App is available on the App Store, Google Play, and Windows Store.  Find out more here:

Mastery Connect even has a widget that can be embedded into blogs!  Here it is:

And that about sums it up!  Check out the resources, especially on Perry's page.  If you get the chance, he's definitely worth catching on the seminar circuit!

PS, I'd love to hear your experiences with the common core and/or service delivery!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Book(s) of the Week: Goldilocks and the Three Bears & Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks!

During the month of March, I've been using familiar fairy tales in my speech and language sessions.  A few weeks ago, I posted about "The Three Little Pigs" (you can read that post HERE).  This week we used "Goldilocks and the Three Bears."  I have, oh I don't know, maybe 10 different versions of this story!  This time around, I used an app version by XIMAD:

FREE in iTunes

I forgot to charge the battery though, so one day I did use this version by Alex toys:

I love the finger puppets for retelling the story!  I also have a "Play a Story" version with the dolls from Soft Play.  The book opens up to a "stage" of sorts for the kids to retell the story:

After reading the story, we used the comprehension questions from Jenna's (Speech Room News) Goldilocks and the Three Bears PK-K Speech/Language Companion on TPT.

Here's a more modern version for the older kiddos:

In "Believe Me, Goldilocks Rocks!; The Story of the Three Bears as Told by Baby Bear," Goldilocks is dared by Little Red Riding Hood to enter the home of the bears and take pictures (with her cell phone!) to prove that she was there.  Meanwhile Baby Bear, aka Sam, has been busy trying to get his parents to stop treating him as a baby.  The two develop a plan and become best buddies!

This is one of the four books "Other Side of the Story" series I posted about on Consonantly Speaking (see the original post featuring "Seriously, Cinderella Is SO Annoying!; The Story of Cinderella as Told by the Wicked StepmotherHERE).

I've developed a couple of activities to accompany this book.  First is a set of Tier 2 Vocabulary Cards.  You can have students match the vocabulary word to the definition:

When I used these cards, I printed the vocabulary words and definitions on different color paper so that the students had more of a visual.  You could deal out definitions, call out the words, and ask who has the match.  You could also have the kids play as a memory game.

The second activity is a Venn diagram for comparing this story with the original:

You can download the Vocabulary Cards HERE and the Venn Diagram HERE.

Please leave me a comment if you do! :)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

March 2013 SLP Link Up

I was scrolling through Google Reader, still in denial that it won't exist in the not-too-distant future, when I saw this post from Laura at Oh, How Pintearesting!  Laura is hosting a SLP Link Up.  This is the graphic she created:

Notice the SLP acronym? :)  Graphics are by Scrappin Doodles and Teaching in a Small Town. Font is by Cara Carroll of the First Grade Parade.

Here are the directions:

If you have a Mac, take a screen shot by pressing Command-Shift-4. This will bring up a circle with lines, and you can use that to take the screen shot. It will sound like a camera.  The image will go to the desktop, and you can open it up. Laura's screen shot image now looks like this:
From the top toolbar, select Tools-Annotate-Add Text:

This will bring up a plus sign. Place the plus sign where you want to add the text, and a vertical line will appear.

You will need to repeat these steps for each line of type. Then, either take a screen shot or save as an image, and add it to your blog post!

For PCs, right-click the image, import in PowerPoint, and add text boxes to add text.  If this is all too complicated, just copy the image and put the answers below. You don't have to put text into the image.
Here is my response:

  • This March, my State of Mind is Frantic!  IEPs, State Achievement Testing, Progress Reports, and providing therapy!
  • What I'm Loving - Spending time with my family.  Ok, I love that all the time, not just in March!
  • What I'm Prepping?  I'm getting my Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow Verbs ready to go and also Blooming Preschool Language from Lauren at Busy Bee Speech.

There's one more step, joining the linky party. Click on the Add Your Link button at the bottom of Laura's post. Share the URL for your blog. Then, comment on four blogs total - the two before your entry and the two after.

Here are the rules:

1) Keep it clean and friendly.
2) You can mention your own items, as I did with Yesterday/Today/Tomorrow Verbs , but if you do that, please put in an items from someone else, as I did with Blooming Preschool Language. The purpose is networking.
3) Give credit where credit is due - fonts, link to original ideas, TPT/Teachers Notebook stores, Pinterest, etc.
4) After submitting your blog, visit four more blogs and make comments.

Head on over to Laura's page (
Oh, How Pintearesting!) and Link Up!!!  Thank you Laura for starting this Linky party!

Scented Play Dough Recipes with Visuals

Hi Everyone!  I have to apologize for being a bit absent lately.  I have been absurdly busy since the middle of February.  I'm hitting a little break in the craziness, but things are going to pick up again come April.  Until then, I'm going to try to get in a few posts for you.

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that my current school district does not allow teachers/therapists to use food products (other than those that come from the cafeteria).  Well, I was going through some of my files recently and found some recipes for scented play dough that I used a few years back (in another school district) and I thought I'd share them with you!

Because I used this activity as a whole-class language lesson in a preschool classroom, I used visuals in the recipe:

The recipe above is the large quantity version.  There is also a smaller quantity version to be used with one or just a few students.  I used the smaller quantity recipe with my son after work today:

I only had one packet of red Kool-Aid (watermelon), so our play dough turned pink rather than red.  He didn't mind though!  I think we played with the dough for about an hour and a half!  We made snowmen, pancakes, birthday cakes, hot dogs, snakes, Easter eggs, and an Easter basket!

I really do miss being able to use recipes (play dough and food) in my therapy sessions.  They really are a great way to target so many different language objectives.  With this recipe, you can target:

  • Vocabulary (ingredients, recipe, flour, measuring cup, squishy, scented, etc.)
  • Sequencing (First, next, then)
  • Verb tense (I am pouring the water, I poured the salt)
  • Following directions ("find the salt and pour it in this cup," "make a play dough snowman")
  • Executive functioning/pragmatic language (use with a group of students. Have them make a plan, give each other instructions)
  • Expressive language (have students describe the procedure after you are finished; students describe what they make)
  • And so many more!
If you'd like a copy of the recipes, you can find them HERE.  Do you use recipes in your therapy session? If so, what's your favorite thing to make?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

App Review: Reading Comprehension Camp

Recently I was contacted by Jonathan at Smarty Ears about reviewing two of their apps to target reading skills.  Since the majority of my caseload is preschool, I asked Jonathan if he would agree to let one of my co-workers use the apps and write the reviews.  He was kind enough to agree.  

This review is written by Jennifer Malloy, MS, CCC-SLP.  (To see her review of Reading Rehabilitation Toolkit, click HERE).  Jenn splits her time between an elementary and middle school in my district.  Take it away Jenn!

Hi everyone!  Today I am reviewing another amazing app from Smarty Ears. This app is called Reading Comprehension Camp ($19.99 in iTunes). I have been using this app non-stop since receiving the code from Carrie. (Thanks again, Carrie!) This app is very user friendly and the students’ activity level and participation during therapy sessions has been fantastic.

The app opens to the home screen and the user has the ability to select “Student Lounge” or “Read.”
When “Read” is selected, the user is prompted to create and/or select the number of readers that will be participating in the activity. The app allows for up to four student’s data to be tracked at once.  The app allows the user to use student’s photos above their names or select an avatar.  My kids love seeing themselves!  The  “Student Lounge” allows the user to select a student and data from across all sessions for that specific user will be displayed. Perfect for quick data collection!

Now for the good stuff!  After selecting up to four readers, the app will allow the user to choose a story. The stories are rated from 1-5, increasing in length and complexity.   Under each rating, there are ten stories to choose from! 

A single picture related to the story is displayed on majority of the screen with the written print on the bottom of the screen.  This set up can be changed under settings. The font can be made larger and the picture on the screen can be made smaller.

The student has the option to listen to the story as well, by pressing the arrow button on the lower left side of the picture. 

When the student has finished reading and/or listening the story, the clinician can select the quiz button on the left hand side of the screen. This was my favorite part of the app. The quiz utilizes so many types of questions and assesses an array of speech and language concepts.

  1. Who
  2. What
  3. When
  4. Where
  5. Why
  6. How
  7. Inferences
  8. Cause and Effect
  9. Compare and Contrast
  10. Sequencing
  11. Vocabulary/Context Clues

The quiz allows the student to read the question independently or have the question read to him/her by pressing the speaker button to the left of the question.  Four answers are displayed for the student to choose from. The student has the text displayed while answering questions to go back and look for the correct answer, if he/she is unable to remember independently.

There is a hint button that highlights the sentence in the short story that contains the answer for the student to review and then try to answer the question.

The app is very customizable to the student’s current performance level.  There are options to “Hide Image” and “Hide Text.”  “Finish quiz” can be selected at any point during the quiz, even if the student has not completed it in its entirety.  The clinician can then go to the student lounge, click on the child’s name, and view how the student answered the various questions.

How I Used the App:

  • I do not have many students that are fluent readers, however I used this app daily after receiving it.
  • ASSESSMENT:  It was progress report time and I had over 20 students with goals related to answering mixed “wh” questions to assess comprehension.  I chose the level appropriate for each student and read the story aloud to him/her. After the story I asked the posed questions and tracked the student’s answers. I did not give the students a multiple-choice option at that time. I had to see what they could do independently! During therapy sessions, however, I will give the students cues and prompts while using multiple-choice options to the posed questions. This was a great tool not only for the students, but for me as well! With ten stories in each of the levels, I did not have to read the same story 9 times in a single day!!!
  • ARTICULATION I used this app with a pair of students I currently treat for articulation. The students are beginning to read paragraphs while keeping their accuracy with target  speech sounds.  A bright red RECORD button is located on the upper right hand corner on the story display page. I had the students record their speech while reading the short story.  After they listened and assessed their own speech. One student was surprised how well he did. He said, “Miss Malloy I’m almost perfect with /r/!” 


I enjoyed this app very much. It helped while collecting data for progress reports! The students enjoyed the stories and the pictures. The students were engaged and participating during the entire session!! The app is very flexible, it lends itself to target many goals, not only reading comprehension.  The data collection is key when you have a caseload over 50!

Changes I would like to see in an update:

1. There are some typos in the stories and this really confused some of the students that did use the app for reading.  One story opens and the Zebra’s name is Zack and then changes to Zach. Not a huge change for fluent readers, but the students had difficulty with this change.  Other errors included adding words that did not belong. “Asked Zach as he they sat down to eat the cake in the kitchen.” I understand typos happen but it throws kids for a loop!
2. This one is just a quirky personal thing. On the data collection page, the month and date are transposed so instead of: Month/Day/Year it is Day/Month/Year.

Overall I thoroughly enjoy this app and I look forward to using it for many of my upcoming sessions!


PS, To watch a video tutorial and see Reading Comprehension Camp in action, scroll down to the bottom of this page.

Disclaimer:  Smarty Ears provided a copy of Reading Comprehension Camp for the purposes of this review and giveaway.  However, opinions expressed are those of the SLP who provided the review.

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Monday, March 18, 2013

App Review: Phonological Processes

Hey everyone!  I had the opportunity to review a FANTASTIC new app from the Virtual Speech Center!  This app is simply called "Phonological Processes" and it targets (you guessed it!) phonological processes! Click HERE for more information and to view a video of the app in action.  Phonological Processes sells for $16.99 in iTunes and targets the following phonological processes:  
  • Affrication
  • Deaffrication
  • Cluster reduction L
  • Cluster reduction R
  • Cluster reduction S
  • Cluster reduction mixed
  • Final consonant deletion
  • Fronting
  • Gliding of L
  • Gliding of R
  • Gliding mixed
  • Prevocalic voicing
  • Stopping of fricatives
  • Stopping of affricates
  • Stopping mixed.

The description on their website states that "The Phonological Processes app was created by a certified speech and language pathologist for children ages 4 and up who exhibit phonological disorders or delays. This research-based app implements a linguistic approach for treatment of phonological disorders by engaging users in minimal pair contrast therapy."  

One of the things I love the most about the Virtual Speech Center's apps is that they cite the evidence behind their products (in this case, Minimal Pair Contrast Therapy) right on the product page - Very handy if you work in a setting that requires you to state your evidence!  

Getting Started

Now let's take a look at Phonological Processes.  As you can see in the screenshot above, there are three areas, plus the start button.  On the "Info" screen, you will see a description of the app and a run-down of how to use it.  In addition, there are links to Virtual Speech Center's other apps, a link to sign up to receive their email newsletter, and links to VSC's Facebook and Twitter pages:  

Info Screen

In the "Reports" Section, you can view data collected during your sessions:


From the settings screen, you can customize the options of the app. These include User Alternate Count, Audio, Auto Paging, Random Paging, and Show Instructions.


Using the App

 Once you've entered your students and selected the settings you wish to use, you're ready to begin!

As you can see from the screen above, there are four ways to target the phonological processes:

1.  Auditory Bombardment:  In this mode, the app names the two pictures.  You can record a child's productions by tapping the red circle button on the left and play back using the green arrow under it.  You can also repeat both recordings by tapping the repeat button or hear individual words by tapping the speaker icon under the image.

2.  Auditory Discrimination:  In this mode, the narrator asks the student to "Show me the ___."  You can record/play back student productions in this mode as well.  In this mode, data is automatically collected.

 3.  Minimal Pair Production:  In this mode, the student is asked to name both pictures.  You can record the student's productions and compare to the model.  In this mode, you can mark a student's productions as correct or incorrect.  There's a "plink" type of sound associated with correct responses and another sound (not harsh or unpleasant) for incorrect.

 4.  Single Word Production:  In this mode, the student is asked to name the picture containing the target process.  As in "Minimal Pair Production," you can record/play back child productions, compare to the model, and mark productions as correct/incorrect.

The screenshots above are from the "Flashcard" function.  There is also a "Board Game" option.  Like in "Flashcards," you select the phonological process you wish to target for each student.  To play the board game, the student also selects a game token (a piece of fruit):

The student(s) work their way along the jungle river to the dock at the other end.  Notice the animals stationed along the way?  If you land on one of these, the animal will do something and make its way to the dock as well (e.g., the parrot flies, the hippo roars and splashes).  The exception is the snake, which will make you go back one space.

You get the same type of pop-up in the game as you would in flashcards, so you can target the same objectives, but in a more reinforcing manner:

I worked on /s/ cluster reduction when I took the screenshots above, but here are some examples of other phonological processes...

Final Consonant Deletion

Gliding /l/

Prevocalic Voicing

What I liked:

  • I haven't tried an app that targets phonological processes before this one.  If I wanted to work on final consonant deletion using an app, I had to pick multiple phonemes in word final position.  This is a much faster way to work on phonology!
  • The jungle/safari theme is adorable!  The kids loved the board game and all wanted to land on the hippo and the snake (even though it sent them back a space).
  • The multiple ways to target the processes - Auditory Bombardment, Auditory Discrimination, Minimal Pair Production, and Single Word Production
  • The number of phonological processes included.  I used this app for over a week with my articulation and phonology groups and didn't have a need for a target that was not included!

Things that could be improved:

  • I did notice a couple of minor bugs that I'm assuming will be corrected in an update.  For example, after using "Single Word Production" mode for a while, the instructions started asking students to "Name these two pictures" when only one picture was there.
  • This app uses real-life photos.  This is generally a strength for most apps.  However, when you're targeting articulation/phonology, some words are difficult to depict in a picture.  Because of this, some of the images for target words are a bit of a stretch (e.g., a fully made bed for "sheet"or a needle and thread for "cheap").  
  • When you reach the end of the board game, you are immediately brought back to the beginning.  I'd love to see some sort of "ending" and option to start over or finish your session.
  • If you turn of audio in the settings, you do not hear the narrator.  However, you do still hear the noises associated with a correct/incorrect response.  I'd love to see an option to turn off these sounds.
The bottom line:

If you have students working on articulation/phonology this is a great app!  Minimal pairs are a great way to work on processes and it's so convenient to have that option in app form!  My kids enjoyed it (especially the board game function).  One of my students figured it out quickly enough that he started scoring his own productions after about 4-5 minutes!  The developer states that the app is for students 4-years-old and above.  I used it with some of my three-year-olds as well.  This app is fairly reasonably priced for an app of its caliber as well.  

I definitely think Phonological Processes is a great app with lots of therapeutic potential!  Check it out in iTunes HERE.

Also, Virtual Speech Center was kind enough to provide me with a code to give away to one lucky winner! Enter to win using the rafflecopter below.

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