Motivation, humor, and ideas that every school-based
speech-language pathologist will love!
As adults, we have a massive amount of important things we need to remember, and passwords are right at the top of the infamous must remember list. A password for the email address, a password for the bank account, a password for the go-to social networking website -- YIKES! If I have to memorize one more password, I swear that my brain just might explode!
I wish passwords were fun.
Wait. Guess what? Passwords CAN be fun! For example, one time while vacationing in Orlando, Florida, I ate at a yummy restaurant that required each customer to say a secret password in order to be allowed entrance into the restaurant. It was a cute spin on the whole dining experience and I couldn't help but think that some sort of variation of using a password to get into MY speech therapy room might go over well with my students. So I gave it a go and I have been happily doing it for quite some time now.
Give your students a secret password!
About once a month or so, I choose a completely random word as a password (pancakes, spider, smelly sneaker, etc.). I go on to tell only one student on my caseload. After I reveal the random word to him/her, I urge that student to share the password with as many speech friends as possible. In addition, he/she must encourage all who are told the password to also pass it on to as many speech friends, too. I usually play it up by informing them that they will not be allowed to enter the speech room next time unless they whisper the correct password in my ear. The kiddos really get a kick out of that.
Word of mouth is amazing.
It really does knock my socks off when sometimes within 24 hours, literally ever single youngster on my caseload knows the password. The password goes viral! Even the students who were absent the day that it was shared STILL usually know the password (I'm often told that they got a text message from one of their speech friends, LOL!).
Why do we need a password to enter the speech room? Good question!
I enjoy telling my students that passwords, here and there, are necessary for me to ensure that they really are who they say they are. Because . . . well . . . sometimes . . . SPACE ALIENS take over the bodies of school-aged kiddos and I can't have any space aliens in my room because I'm allergic to them (HAHA!). It's simple, if you're human, you probably know the password. If you're a space alien, you probably don't know the password.
A simple app can make it make it even more exciting.
To drive this point home further, I bust out my iPad, which contains an app called Alien Scanner. This silly app allows speech-language pathologists to "detect" if any of your speech therapy students are space aliens. All you have to do is have your student press his/her finger on the app screen in order to begin the scan. Then, the app starts scanning the fingerprint and once complete, it shows a final percentage number as to how likely the fingerprint is or isn't attached to a space alien. Also, the cool thing about this app is that the final percentage number is set to random by default, but by pressing the Settings button, you can change the result to your liking, so it's up to you if your students have a high or a low space alien percentage. (FYI - this is a free app, however, I upgraded to the paid version for .99 because I just love the app that much!)
What I love about the idea of having a password in speech therapy is that it could work perfectly with articulation kiddos. Let's say you have a student who is working on that tricky /R/ sound. Well, how about making the random passwords contact lots of /R/ sounds? We all know that there's no shortage of /R/ words in the English language, so why not turn those words into passwords? Genius!
In closing . . .
So, what cha think? Do you think your kiddos would be into the idea of having a random password here and there? Do you think your kiddos would enjoy placing their finger on the Alien Scanner in order to see if they are or are not a space alien? Please do give these little speech therapy ideas a shot and let me know how it goes. I would love to hear from you. Oh, and if you're craving another app that has to do with passwords, please check out the app that I created called Secret Mission Articulation. It is, hands down, one of the coolest apps out there! ;-)
One of my favorite games to play in speech therapy with my older articulation kiddos is hangman. Now, I don't know the origins of that game (a man hanging?! weird!), but I can tell you that despite its creepiness (again, a man hanging?!), it still is a great activity that consistently increases my students' vocabulary, spelling, word recognition, and overall understanding of their target sound(s).
But don't you wish there was a non-creepy version of hangman?
I know I sure did. So I looked high and low, but I wasn't able to find one that fit my needs as a speech-language pathologist. So then it hit me, why don't I just make one myself? Necessity is the mother of invention, right?
A new app is born and it rocks!
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm pleased to present to you my latest app called Secret Mission Articulation. This unique (and non-creepy) hangman-ish game is very cool and my students love it bits. It challenges players to guess a hidden word by choosing from different letters on an alphabet board. The app features a comprehensive collection of over 600 sound-specific articulation words designed for SLPs to use with individuals who exhibit difficulty producing the following speech sounds: S, Z, R, L, S/R/L Blends, SH, CH, and TH. In addition, it contains over 100 hilarious secret missions for players to pretend to partake in. Secret missions?! Yup! Secret missions, indeed!
The evil robot must be stopped!
Secret Mission Articulation is set up in a way that turns each player into a secret government agent who is courageously trying to foil the sinister plans of an evil robot. This super villain will stop at nothing wreak havoc. Thankfully, each player in your speech therapy room possesses the power to stop the evil robot by successfully guessing his secret password (which would be your student's articulation word, NICE!). Once the password is uncovered and entered into the system, the evil robot instantly shuts down. Therefore, he is unable to complete the naughty plans that he was preparing for. Hooray!
So, are you ready to save the world from the evil robot?
The planet is counting on you! I invite you to use Secret Mission Articulation to spice up your speech therapy sessions. Click HERE to see a quick video demonstration of it. Then, click HERE to download it from the Apple App Store. Enjoy (and please let me know what you think)!
Back when I was a youngster, I used to help my grandmother in the kitchen whenever I got the chance. Let me tell you, she was a champ when it came to baking. From cookies to pies and everything in between, my sweet tooth would sing joyful songs each time my grandmother and I were together.
I discovered food coloring thanks to her.
My grandmother was like a Pablo Picasso when it came to mixing food coloring together. I have fond memories of her famous fluffy vanilla cupcakes and how she was able to effortlessly whip up the most perfect shade of sky blue frosting for the tops. Biting into those bad boys was like snacking on pure sunshine. And God bless her for allowing me to experiment with mixing colors for her (I remembered gettin' the kitchen quite dirty, haha!).
Speaking of food coloring, my students and I actually used food coloring in speech therapy not too long ago and it was . . . AWESOME!
Food coloring, or as I have heard some people call it -- color additive, is any dye, pigment, or substance that adds color to a food or drink. It comes in many different forms like liquid, powder, or paste. The type of food coloring my students and I used was the liquid kind and I'm going to go through the steps that I took to introduce this simple but WAY fun material into my speech therapy room.
- STEP 1 - Grab some water, a few plastic cups (the clear kind), and some paperclips.
- STEP 2 - Pour water into your plastic cups. Then, allow your students to pick their favorite color and direct them to squeeze a small droplet of food coloring into the cup of water. Watch their eyes light up as they start to see their water turn from crystal clear to whatever color they chose within a few seconds (so cool!).
- STEP 3 - Now that there are a few cups filled with colored liquid, tell them to use their imaginations and pretend that the liquid is actually a magic potion. Go on to explain that upon touching the magic potion, it will give them a unique superpower, but they have to decide what the superpower is going to be.
- STEP 4 - As you can see from this picture, my students thought up some terrific superpowers that actually coincided with their chosen color (and that was their idea, NOT MINE!). Do you want to shoot fire out of your finger? The red potion is for you. How about to grow as tall as a tree whenever you want? You are going to want the green potion. Etc.
- STEP 5 - Give them a handful of paperclips and tell them to throw 'em into their magic potion. The first person to get 3 paperclips in wins the superpower. (The superpower kicks in once their fingers go into the water to retrieve the paperclips, so encourage them to make some sound effects once the magic potion comes in contact with their skin!)
The language goals are endless!
I asked my students to DESCRIBE to me what they would do with their newly acquired superpower. Together, we came up with stories of us fighting bad guys that included using our fire powers to destroy all of their weapons of mass destruction and growing as tall as a tree to grab the criminals out of their getaway helicopter while it was flying in the air.
You could win fantastic prizes, too!
Another group I had came up with the idea to win imaginary prizes upon throwing 3 paperclips into their plastic cups. Check out this picture to see what prizes they thought up. Win a talking green frog?! Now THAT would rock!
In closing . . .
What I love most about this speech therapy idea is that it was fun for 2nd graders AND 6th graders. It isn't very often that my 6th graders enjoy the same thing that I did with my younger kiddos, but this idea got their gold seal of approval! So, do you think this food coloring activity could be something worth giving a shot with your caseload? Do you think they would get a kick out of mixing different colors in water to create their very own magic potion? As always, I would love to hear from you, so please let me know how it goes.
It all started with a student telling me about what he did over the weekend. "My grandma from Dumb Fries, Virginia came to visit us." he said with a smile. "Have you ever heard of a town called Dumb Fries before?" chuckled the 2nd grader.
Dumb Fries?! Hmm . . .
I told him that I actually have heard of it before because I have family/friends in Virginia. Though I went on to explain that I believed the town was called Dumfries, which was pronounced dumb frees and not dumb fries. He confessed that he knew how to say it correctly, but he enjoyed saying it wrong because it sounded more silly.
And then I got an idea . . .
After our speech therapy session was over, I jumped onto the Internet to see if I could discover any other town names that might sound a bit odd or funny. I figured that since he got a real kick out of the name Dumfries, maybe I could search Google and collect a few other odd/funny town names to share next time. Heck, maybe I could even grab some names that contained his specific articulation sound.
Boy, I hit the jackpot!
I didn't have to look very hard at all because a simple Google search introduced me to numerous websites that have already created detailed lists of silly town names for the world to see. They already did all the heavy lifting! Phew, thank goodness for that. Haha!
This link right here was, hands down, my favorite collection. It contains a crazy long list of unusual names of towns in the United States. Have you ever heard of Bacon, Texas? Or how about Cheddar, South Carolina? Or maybe Pancake, Pennsylvania? (Can you hear my tummy rumbling? Yum!)
Lots and hilarious towns with the /S/ sound, too!
This particular student was working on perfecting his /S/ sound, so I took the opportunity to collect the following town names for he and I to practice:
- Squirrel Town, Ohio
- Shoofly, North Carolina
- Spider, Kentucky
- Spiderweb, South Carolina
- Santa Claus, Arizona
- Snowball, Arkansas
- Soda Bay, California
- Spoonville, Connecticut
- Sandwich, Illinois
- Skunk River, Iowa
Improve language abilities, too!
Not only did we work on using all of our /S/ techniques while saying these town names, I also asked this thought-provoking WH question with each new name . . .
How do you think this town got its name?
You can imagine the terrific responses I got from him. He told many adventurous tales WHILE remembering his great /S/ sound. Now if that isn't a successful artic session, I just don't know what is! He loved hearing the town names that I collected and that made me cheer with joy.
In closing . . .
I invite you to somehow introduce odd town names into an upcoming speech therapy session. I'm sure that the massive list I used will inspire you to create some sort of speech therapy idea that revolves around chattin' about town names. Give it some thought, and as always, please let me know what you come up with. There's nothing I like more than hearing from amazing speech-language pathologists like you!