Motivation, humor, and ideas that every school-based
speech-language pathologist will love!
Is it snowing outside? If so, I'm one of the first people to dash out of the house to play a wacky game in the cold where I toss snowballs everywhere. Is there a huge pile of leaves in your backyard? You better believe I'll jump straight into those leaves and create a game where I throw leaves all over the place. Good times! Good times, indeed.
So, why do I adore such silly little games?
It's because I like to have fun. Period.
If you're a speech-language pathologist that works with school-aged children, you better like to have fun because fun is a must. That's exactly why I create all of my speech therapy activities by tapping into my inner child. I often think back to my younger years and say to myself, "Erik, think of some of the most fun times you ever experienced as a kiddo. Now, try to sprinkle some aspects of those fun times on top of your next speech therapy activity." Visions of me playing fun games as a child always come to mind and that is essentially how my latest app, Listen Close Articulation, came to be.
Oh yeah, I just made a new app and I want to tell you all about it.
Remember that classic electronic memory game from the 1980s called Simon? (Google it if you don't remember it.) Simon was one of my most favorite games to play while growing up. In fact, I have the best memories of my grandmother and I eating pizza together and challenging each other to Simon competitions where we would attempt to repeat those flashing lights and sounds. Trying to memorize the hypnotic lights and sound sequences was such a blast. So, I wanted to create an app for my speech therapy students that had similar fun components to Simon, but was grounded in a solid speech therapy foundation. Well, guess what? I succeeded!
Say hello to Listen Close Articulation.
Listen Close Articulation is a unique speech therapy game (app) that challenges players to memorize and repeat an ever-increasing string of articulation word sequences. It 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. The game is intended to aid in the remediation of articulation impairments, as well as auditory memory difficulties because clients often need practice in more than one area of communication.
The best of both worlds.
Just like the old-school Simon game, Listen Close Articulation is both challenging and exciting. Traditional speech therapy that focuses on improving articulation abilities can usually get stale and boring, but through this game, speech therapy can easily become an enjoyable competition that strengthens students' listening ears, talking mouths, and thinking brains. A round of Listen Close Articulation consists of buttons (faces) saying articulation words in a random order, after which the student must reproduce that order by pressing the faces in the correct sequence. As the game progresses, the number of faces to be pressed increases.
Listen Close Articulation is fun. Period.
In an attempt to get a bit more organized, I decided it was time for me to rearrange, reorganize, and essentially clean out my speech therapy filing cabinet. As I was going through the gigantic, paper filled metal container, I came across a medium-size, sealed envelope. One that I had never seen before. There was something about that mysterious envelope; I could almost hear it call out to me in a magical voice, "Open me, Mr. Raj. Do it!"
Well, I did as I was told (because who wouldn't listen to a coaxing envelope?! Haha!) and to my surprise, it was filled to the brim with little googly eyes! Hundreds and hundreds of googly eyes! I hit the googly eyes jackpot and now, all I needed was an idea - what should I do with all these googly eyes? Then, I came up with a plan:
I can use them to make my boring flashcards more exciting!
Over the past few years, I have accumulated dozens and dozens of miscellaneous flashcard decks. From sight words to geography facts, and everything in between. Upon the initial purchase, these flashcards got used once or twice, but then they'd usually be forgotten and thrown into one of my desk drawers. I'm not sure what triggered me to grab my random animals flashcard deck, but I'm happy that I did because what I did next was pretty awesome.
I glued googly eyes to one of the flashcards!
The flashcard was a cow and as I was glueing the new peepers onto it, I chuckled so hard. "Boy, that cow looks hilarious!" I whispered to myself.
Something old was now something new!
What was once just a tired, old cow flashcard, now was something new; a flashcard that had pop and pizzaz, thanks to the addition of the new googly eyes!
I knew my students would dig this!
Over the next few sessions, I enlisted a few 2nd and 3rd grades to help me glue googly eyes on all 56 of those particular animal flashcards. Here are some of my favorites. While we were glueing, loads of spontaneous conversation occurred that revolved around the animals and their newly created silly faces. Together, we categorized the animals (farm animals, ocean animals, flying animals, etc.), we described the animals (big animals, small animals, animals with wings, etc.), and we even spoke like the animals (the cow went moo, the rooster went cock-a-doodle-doo, the monkey went ooo ooo ahh ahh, etc.).
It didn't stop there! We kept going!
My 6th graders came up with the fantastic idea to actually stick the googly eyes on other things, besides the flashcards. Together, we walked around the speech therapy room and found items that we thought would look so much better sporting googly eyes. For example, a water bottle, a random ball, and even a staple remover. In addition, since these specific students were working on verbally telling and retelling stories with rich details, they used their newly created googly eyed items as the main characters of their stories. You should have heard the one about the googly eyed box that threw up paperclips and how it needed to take medicine to feel better. It was a marvelous tale and I believe that having the physical character right in front of that student helped him to better think up and describe the details of his original story. SCORE!
In closing . . .
Googly eyes are so simple, yet so powerful. These little plastic pieces do wonders for the imagination and they are ideal for all ages ranges. I was pumped to randomly find that envelope filled with 'em. The possibilities are truly endless if you have a pile of googly eyes and virtually all goals and objectives can be targeted. Do you think your students would have a blast sticking googly eyes on stuff? I bet cha they would because we sure did! If you end up giving this speech therapy idea a try, please let me know how it goes because I always enjoy hearing from you.
I'm sure you've heard the saying before. Something along the lines of "Kids say the darndest things." Oh, how true that is! As a speech-language pathologist that works with school-aged children, my ears have had the pleasure of hearing some of the most hilarious quotes from my fantastic speech therapy students. In fact, because I have heard so many good ones, 2 years ago I decided to keep track of all the amazing quotes by writing them down in a notebook.
You guys, I just hit a major milestone . . .
As of a few days ago, I have added the 100th quote to my notebook and I couldn't be happier. As my notebook grows with oodles of quotes from speech therapy kiddos, I can't stop thinking about why some quotes make it into the notebook, and why some don't. I haven't set a specific criteria that defines what it takes to make it into my notebook, but I suppose the quote in question has to throw me for a loop in some way and cause me to chuckle. That's a pretty good starting point, don't cha think?
My favorite quote so far?
Almost every single one of my friends have asked me, "So Erik, what is your favorite quote so far?" Yikes, that's tough to answer because I believe that it's impossible to choose a single quote. I mean, each one has its own unique quality to it that makes it shine and makes it special.
But I can tell you about the first quote.
This is the quote that started it all and inspired me to begin collecting these verbal gems in my notebook. It was said by a charismatic 2nd grader while we were doing an ocean themed articulation activity. The boy expressed to me, "Mr. Raj, when I'm old like you, I'm gonna invent medicine that can turn me into an octopus because that would be fun."
Wow! Love it! Where do I even begin?!
Well, firstly, did he just call me old?! Haha! But seriously, in my opinion, this quote is beautiful because it perfectly communicates the wondrous imagination of that child. Also, I view this quote as a possible expression of this student's potential future. He mentioned making medicine, so maybe he will grow up to be a pharmacist? He mentioned an octopus, so maybe he will grow up to be a marine biologist? Who knows, but one thing is certain - he absolutely will grow up to be something great and it brings me pure joy to know that I was able to provide speech therapy services to him.
In closing . . .
Are you keeping track of quotes said by the children on your caseload? I hope you are because, for lack of a better way of putting it, it rocks! And hey, you never know, maybe the next spectacular quote to change your life just might come out of the mouth of one of your speech therapy students. With that being said, it's a wise idea to have a pen and notebook handy for that occasion!
I don't think there's a single person alive who could honestly say that they've never experienced a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. As practicing speech-language pathologists, we know that some days are incredible, everything goes just as planned and the skies are sunny and crystal clear. But then, other days are not as picture perfect. I wanted to write this blog post today for anyone who might not have had the best day at work today. I want you to know that I feel your pain and it's my hope that these digital words that I've typed bring you a bit of comfort because you deserve it, friend.
Sometimes you'll have one of those days where a student will hide and cry under your speech therapy table during the whole assessment, for what seems like no reason at all. You'll feel defeated because you tried everything to cheer that student up and nothing worked. Trust me, we've all been there before. Just keep your head up because you're amazing.
Sometimes you'll have one of those days where you discover that your school building has 5 new students, all with speech IEPs. You'll feel frustrated because you already have 60 students on your caseload and you just don't know how it's possible to provide any more services. Trust me, we've all been there before. Just keep your head up because you're amazing.
Sometimes you'll have one of those days where you look into your SLP bag for your perfect, go to speech therapy material, but it just isn't there. Then, you realize that you mistakenly left it at home on your kitchen table. You feel down on yourself because you can't help but feel like you've let this particular student down. Trust me, we've all been there before. Just keep your head up because you're amazing.
Sometimes you'll have one of those days where you realize that it seems like every single piece of paperwork is due tomorrow. You'll feel overwhelmed because you just don't know how all of it could get done in time. You franticly scramble and feel exhausted in the process. Trust me, we've all been there before. Just keep your head up because you're amazing.
In closing . . .
Let this blog post be just a small reminder that you were put on this Earth to move mountains. Glorious and huge speech therapy mountains. Any hectic situations you might have encountered today were simply just little hiccups that helped you to grow and get stronger. Tomorrow is a new day and I know that it'll be better. So, keep on shinning like the bright and sparkly SLP diamond that you are because you are seriously the best SLP around.