Auditory Halloween- Sentences, Stories, and Riddles!


I am always looking for fun auditory activities for my students.  I love it when a theme can be fit into it too.  Halloween is a perfect theme to target auditory activities!  My students love anything Halloween related.
I created this packet well over two years ago but never wrote about it.  I want to share more about it with you now.  This has been a hit with my language students and I hope yours will love the activities too!

There are five activities included in this packet:

Auditory Memory for Sentences:  In this activity, students are asked to repeat a sentence exactly as it is read to them.  Sentences are 10-14 syllables long.  If the students get the sentence correct, they can move a game piece on the game board provided.


Haunted House Riddles: In this activity, you read the clues out loud, and the students guess what the Halloween item is.  If they get it correct, they can put their card in their "haunted house."  My students love guessing the items and then getting to hold onto the cards.


Auditory Memory for Halloween Stories:  There are 12 stories included in this packet.  Each story is 2-3 sentences in length.  There are three comprehension questions following each story.  There is also a simple picture for each story.



Halloween Story Retelling:  In this activity, a short story is read to students and they are asked to retell the story.  There are no picture cues for these stories, they are purely auditory.  There is a rubric provided for scoring the story retell.






Organizing Materials in a School Speech and Language Room


So, now you have found your new room at your new school.  It may look like this:


Ok, so maybe you won't have 20 boxes of items sitting around, but you may have 20 boxes of things to go through in your cupboards!  Depending on who was in your room before you, there may be a treasure trove of items to find.  I inherited my first speech room from an SLP who was there for over 30 years.  At the same school.  30 years!  Needless to say, she had a LOT of materials that she didn't take with her when she retired.  Some of these items were great, while some left something to be desired.  I didn't really need a set of dittos (you know, the purple looking mimeographed papers) from 1975.  I'm not saying that something from that time frame might not be useable, but the pictures are sometimes really hard to decipher for my students, and sometimes inappropriate too.

So, what do you do?

1) Sort materials.  Go through your cabinets, bookshelves, boxes, etc. and make piles of items.  I like to organize by topic.  Put all of your articulation items in a pile.  WH question materials in another pile.  Vocabulary items in another pile.  You get the picture.  It will take some time, but trust me, you will appreciate it later.  This will not only organize you, but you will get a better picture of what is actually in your new speech room.

2) Purge. (a bit) What I mean by this is go through and throw away those old dittos that you know you will never use.  As a new SLP, I wouldn't throw away all materials though.  Just because it is old doesn't mean it may not be of use to you.  If you question whether you may use something.  Keep it.  Next year you can do this again and get rid of anything you truly never touched.

3) Make a donate box.  Sometimes when I am going through my items I find duplicates of things that I either already have or things that there are just duplicates of.  I put these items in a box to share with my fellow SLPs in my department.  You could also try to share with any SLP groups you are a part of.  Make sure you have permission from your district if you are trying to sell any materials.  If you sell the items you could use the money to purchase new therapy materials.  Again, just make sure you have permission to do this, it may be district property.

4) Organize materials on your shelves.  Now you are at a place where you can take all of those lovely piles of therapy materials and place them on your shelves, in cabinets, drawers, or pretty much wherever you can find a spot.  I like to label my cabinets with my trusty label maker when I move to a new place just so I can find everything easily.


I organize my shelves by topic.  Now that I have organized my items on the tables, all I have to do is place them on the shelves and label the category.




I like to keep all of my games handy.  This year I used the top of a file cabinet next to my kidney shaped table to house all of my games.  This makes them easy to reach when I am pulling materials.


I also like to keep all of my articulation cards close at hand.  Unfortunately, when I moved in, I wasn't really left with a lot of those.  I left all of my old cards at my last office because they were purchased for that particular school.  I loved those cards, and I'll have to replace them soon.

Now you should have all of your materials in place, and you can move on to figuring out your caseload.  I'll help you navigate that next week.





Navigating a New School as an SLP- What to do First



I am embarking on a new journey.  At least it feels like that!  I am leaving the comfort of a school that I have been a part of for ten years and going to another school in my same district.  With this change comes some anxiety.  I have to meet a new staff and get to know all new students.  I also have to figure out the culture of the school.  But first, I have to find my room!



This is the first of a series that I am going to do that will chronicle my navigation to a new school and caseload.  This will be helpful for new grads venturing into their first job as well as seasoned veterans that may be switching things up a bit.

I found out on the last day of the school year (June) that I was going to be moved this year.  This left me with little time to say any goodbyes.  I feel like there is a lot still unsaid to both students and staff.  I have decided to write a little note to my previous students wishing them well for the new year, and letting them know that I think they will love the next person coming in- I did mentor her after all! :)
I was invited to the principal's house at my old school after our first official day back for a bbq to be able to say goodbye to everyone.  I think it is good to get some closure and to maintain contact with all of the staff that I had great relationships with for the last ten years.

So, what to do now, you ask?  Here is a list of things to do before you even see your new room.
1.  Make Contact- This summer I made contact with my new principal to introduce myself by email.  I left my cell phone number in the email, and let her know I would be excited to talk with her before the school year starts.  She called me over the summer, and we had a good chat.  I told her that I was excited about my new adventure.

2.  Find the New School- This may seem like a no-brainer, but figure out where your new school is so that you know where you are going!  Best to not be late when you set up a time to meet.

3.  Set Up a Time to Meet- It is two weeks before my official first day back (three weeks until students start) and I contacted my new principal to set up a time to meet her and get a tour of the school.  I was able to meet the secretary and principal and get a glimpse of my new room.  While I was there, we even met about a new student I am receiving from out of state.

4.  Shop For Supplies- Ok, so this one isn't really necessary at this point, but who can resist the great sales right now? 50 cents for a 24 pack of Crayolas?  That's awesome!  I like to grab all of my basic speech room supplies now before they get too picked over.  So far I have my crayons, markers, glue sticks, pencils, pens, sharpies, and these really cute crayon boxes that I'm not quite sure what I am going to do with yet, but were too cute to pass up!

Next week I will be moving my things into my new room.  I'll get a picture to share with you, and also let you know what I do when I move into new digs.




6 Ways to use Paper Bags in Speech and Language Therapy


Looking for a cheap, easy to use therapy material?  How about paper bags?  I love using paper bags for a variety of activities.  Here are some simple ways I have incorporated paper bags into my therapy sessions.

1.  Puppets
My students love to use puppets to "eat" their articulation cards or other target cards.  They also love to use them to tell stories.  Making puppets from paper bags is a great, inexpensive way to engage your students in a variety of activities!  You can easily make a puppet to match any book or story that you are using.  Be creative- your kids will love it!

I made these monster puppets with my son this week.  They were so easy to make!  We used a little paint, glue, and card stock with our paper bags.



I found the idea for these cute monsters from this pin:
Paper Bag Monster Puppets

2. Describe It To Me
This activity is also super easy.  I throw a bunch of items into a bag.  My students reach in and grab something (no peeking!) to describe.  The students remove the object and then describe it using a variety of descriptors.  This is a great way to incorporate your Expanding Expression Tool (EET) with describing real objects.  Sometimes I will even get really small, cheap objects that the students can keep if they give me a description using all of the beads on the EET.


3. What is in the bag?
This is a great activity to work on a student's deductive reasoning skills.  I put an object into the bag (students do not see- again, no peeking).  Students need to ask questions about my object.  This is similar to the game Headbanz.


4. Categories
Place pictures of categories on the bag and collect items or pictures to place in each category.  I used pictures from my Category Sorting activity.  I like to put a piece of Velcro on each bag so that I can interchange the categories without having to get a new bag each time.


5. Collect in a bag
Put any kind of card into the bag.  My students love to decorate a bag and then collect their cards.


6. Paper bag books
You can use two paper bags to make a book that will have two pockets.  Simply fold two bags in half and then put the two openings touching each other to make two pockets for a book.  Staple together, and done!  You have a paper bag book that you can use to target a variety of goals.  I used this one to put some of my new sequencing cards in for a student to take home.


I have also made these Articulation Paper Bag Books.  These are so fun to make with students and send home!


Here is a link to a freebie that contains blank frames to use on your paper bags, as well as labels for What is in the bag? and Describe It To Me.

Have fun using your paper bags!

Social Detective: Intermediate {App Review}



I was approached to review The Social Detective Intermediate app which was created by Social Skill Builder in collaboration with Pamela Crooke and Michelle Garcia Winner. This app is a follow up to the Social Detective: Beginner app, and is geared toward ages 7+.  It is meant to be a companion to the You are a Social Detective book by Michelle Garcia Winner and Pamela Crooke.  The creators describe the app by stating that it "focuses on decoding the thoughts and emotions of people students interact with day to day.  Using this information, students will make smart guesses to predict what those people might do or say next."   I had two students who were working on better understanding and reading of others thoughts and emotions, so it was perfect timing!  

This app begins with choosing an avatar for your student.  Then, the app guides you to a page with "detective equipment."  

The notebook allows students to practice being a social decoder using video clips.  They make smart guesses on the thoughts, emotions, and guesses that the characters in each video are experiencing.  There is a pretest of 42 questions.  These questions ask about the characters:
  • thoughts

  • feelings

  • making "smart guesses" 

There is then a snapshot of all of the thoughts and feelings of the character after the questions have been answered.  


The flashlight allows students to practice being a social detective by identifying what is seen or heard by a character.  


They help the character make a smart guess ad figure out what others are thinking.  
It also allows students to predict what the character will do next.
This portion of the app also has videos that students will watch to answer the same types of questions as the pretest above.  After the student correctly answers three questions, the video will continue, to show what happens next.

What did I think about the app:
I thought this was a great way to practice social understanding.  The videos provide nice opportunities for students to utilize their social thinking skills.  My students were engaged in the videos which encouraged them to really think about their answers.  I like that there are a large amount of videos to provide practice for my students.  I would love to see some more added that could include more school situations with older elementary to middle school students.

You can purchase this app at the app store (iPad only) here: Social Detective Intermediate for $24.99.  
You can also purchase this app as part of a bundle which includes Social Detective Beginner here: Social Detective Bundle for $39.99.

Disclaimer: A copy of this app was provided to me for my review. No other compensation was provided and the opinions are mine.




A letter to...ME as a new SLP


Dear Jen,
I am writing this letter from 17 years in the future!  I want to let you know about the great experiences you will have, and how you will learn and grow along the way.

Just starting out, you will be so eager!  Fresh out of grad school, you will be both excited and scared about what is to come.  Having just moved from the super relaxed town of Flagstaff, Arizona, you will be a little shell shocked with moving back to a faster paced town.  Life won't be that laid back for a while for you.
So young and eager to learn.
Look at that hair!!!!
Looking for a job will be tough, but with your skills, you will quickly be hired by a skilled nursing facility.  This may not be exactly what you thought you wanted to do, but it will be a great place to practice and hone your skills.  You will get great opportunities to work with people with dysphagia, as well as aphasia and cognitive disorders.    You will learn how to build relationships with patients, families, and staff.  These are skills that you will be able to take with you wherever you are.  After working in the skilled nursing home for almost two years, you will realize that this is not truly the population you wish to work with anymore.  You will have given so much of yourself, and seen too many of your patients pass on.  This will be a little too much for you to bear.  You will decide that working in the schools may be more for you.  Luckily right around that time, some laws in your state will change, making it possible for you to work in the schools without a teaching certificate.  Because of the professional relationships you have built, an opportunity will fly open for you in the public school system.

Starting out in the schools will be a little scary!  You will be at an elementary school, taking over for an SLP who was there for over 30 years!  That's a little intimidating, no?  Don't worry, your skills you have learned by working with patients, families, and staff will definitely carry over to this new setting.  You will have to be open to learn and grow working with this new population.  Good thing you held onto all of those language acquisition books!  You will use them!  You will work in a really small district and school.  This will be a great opportunity for you to learn how to schedule, work with teachers and other staff, as well as learn more about the variety of disorders that you will come across in the schools.

After two years in your first district, you will move over to a much larger district and start working with the students who will make the biggest impact on your career.  These are students with Austism Spectrum Disorders.  For the next 13 years, you will be working in schools that have self-contained ASD rooms.  The learning curve will be huge, but you will go to some great in-services, and have a lot of support from your colleagues.  You will gain a passion for creating activities, and then will start sharing all of your resources with other SLPs around the country (and world)!

I guess my biggest advice for you is to keep building relationships.  This is one of the biggest keys in making progress with your students. Build strong relationships with your students first.  They need to trust you and know that you have their best interest at heart.  Next, you need to build strong relationships with families.  These parents are trusting you to help.  Make sure you are updating them and letting them know how their child is doing.  The more communication you have with family members, the more they are willing to carryover activities at home.  This helps so much in your students making progress.  Last, you need to build relationships with staff.  The people you work with closely can become great friends.  They will support you when things are tough.  Your work friends totally get you.  They will know what is going on and completely understand and support you.

Now, you might be wondering what you look like now.  Well, here it is:

Gotta love school pictures!

It's been 17 years (yikes), but you will still be as eager to learn and help people as ever.  Enjoy the ride!

If you would like to hear more of the Frenzied SLPs stories, check out the links below!
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Surviving a "Pinterest Fail" Speech Therapy Activity


I love to look at Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest and get ideas of fun activities to try in therapy sessions.  Most of the time, I find something that I can make work well by adapting it.  One day I saw a video of little boys looking through a glass in a pan of water to see different stickers.  I thought that would be a huge mess, so I changed the activity by using beans instead to work on I See. It worked great.  I thought, "Wow! Pinterest Win!"  Well, for every win, there must be a loss.

This week I saw a really cute video on a post by Playtivities.com.  They played a game they called the "Yank Me" game.

The video shows a really cute little girl pulling out these papers with such ease! (I now realize they had a LOT of practice.) I thought, "I can do that in therapy!"  Instead of the pieces of paper, I used articulation cards.  I found some old coffee cups in the teacher lounge, and thought, "this will be great!"  I set everything up on my desk before my students came in to try it out.  I was able to pull the cards out and make the cups fall onto each other.  So I figured I was good to go for using this in a session with some second grade articulation students.  I would have the student pull the card and then make a sentence using the word.  Great, right?

I set it all up on my therapy table and was ready to go.



My first student tried to pull out a card.  Instant fail.  The cups fell everywhere.
We re-stacked the cups and tried again.  Instant fail.  My students and I persisted though, and kept re-stacking the cups again and again.  All fails.  


The only non-fail of the activity was that my students thought it was pretty hilarious that we couldn't get it to work.  And, they didn't believe me that I actually did it at my desk!  During our tries, my students were still making their sentences, so there was still a lot of practice going on.  After several multiple dozens of attempts at this new game, they finally asked, "Can we just do that new bunny game?"

See below for link to this cute game!
Yes, yes you can!

What I learned today, is that every idea that looks great on paper doesn't always work out in practice, and that is ok!  There are going to be a lot of fails when we try new things, but that shouldn't stop us from trying.  I know that my students persisted and had fun with it, but the activity just wasn't "in the cards" for us today.

** A lot of you have asked where I got this game.  Here is an amazon affiliate link for this Jumping Jack game: