Motivation, humor, and ideas that every speech-language pathologist who works with children will love!

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Sequencing Rotting Foods in Speech Therapy [Free Download]

Sequencing Rotting Foods in Speech Therapy [Free Download]

I’ve recently fallen in love with watching time-lapse videos on YouTube. These are the types of videos where, in the given clip, time appears to be moving much MUCH faster than usual, and thus, there seems to be a lapse in time. An example of one of my most favorite time-lapse videos is THIS ONE that features a handful of sunflower seeds growing over a span of 10 days. So wild! Seriously though, isn’t that just one of the coolest videos you’ve ever seen?!

The darkening of a banana.

A few months ago right before the winter break started, I left a banana on my desk at work. I meant to bring that lovely banana home but I forgot to. So there it stayed, on my desk at work the whole time while I was away celebrating Christmas and New Years. Fast forward a week and a half later, I went back to work after winter break was done and, to my surprise, I saw a yucky brown thing on my desk. I immediately remembered it was my banana and I heartbrokenly whispered to myself, “Oh, my once sunshine yellow banana is no more.” I picked up the rotten banana and respectfully placed it in the garbage. With a single tear slowly rolling down my face, I said, “I’m so sorry I forgot to take you home when I left for winter break, Mr. Banana. You deserved better, my friend.”

A time-lapse video of a banana?

Because I’ve had time-lapse videos on my mind during my impromptu banana funeral, I started to wonder if anyone has ever shot a time-lapse video of a banana going rotten. I thought it would be fun to see a banana changing colors, right in front of my eyes. I decided to jump on YouTube to check and wouldn’t ya know it? Many people have filmed time-lapse videos of a banana from its humble yellow beginning to its fatal brown ending. Whoa!

Temponaut Timelapse’s YouTube Channel.

The first banana time-lapse video I saw was THIS ONE that appeared on Temponaut Timelapse’s YouTube Channel. The time-lapse video condensed 26 days worth of footage to only 1:32 and it clearly showed a yellow banana eventually turning brown, in a matter of seconds. It was so exciting to watch! I don’t know about you, but seeing super fast footage like that, it BLEW my mind and I knew I just had to introduce it to some of my speech-language therapy students.

Lots of potential for sequencing activities.

I work with a few students who are working on sequencing tasks and describing picture sequences using complete sentences. So I took the opportunity to introduce some of the time-lapse videos on Temponaut Timelapse’s YouTube Channel to a couple of 4th and 5th grade students who needed practice with sequencing and describing. For example, before I saw the students, I watched a couple of the time-lapse videos and screenshot 5 different scenes from the particular time-lapse video I thought was cool (if you don’t know how to do a screenshot on your computer, simply Google “How do I screen shot on a PC” or “How do I do a screenshot on my Mac”). After that, I attached the JPEG screenshots to a Microsoft Word document, printed out the pictures, and cut them out. Then, I asked my students to first try and describe to me what the sequencing scene was and then I would challenge them to put the pictures in the correct order. Once they showed me that they tried their hardest, I rewarded them by letting them watch the corresponding time-lapse video of the scene they just described and sequenced.

Who knew rotting food would be THIS motivating?!

Just as I predicted, the time-lapse videos that my students couldn’t get enough of were the rotting food ones. From a rotting banana to a rotting watermelon, the kiddos were SO into it all (I guess boys will be boys!). In fact, this speech-language therapy activity was such a hit that I figured I would share the rotting foods sequencing materials that I created with you (because sharing is caring!). Feel free to download each PDF sheet and use ’em with your students, too!

In closing . . .

I hope that this yucky speech-language therapy idea motivates your students as much as it did mine. Take this idea, expand upon it, and add your own style to it. How could this time-lapse video idea be improved? Besides sequencing, what other aspects of speech and language could be targeted from these time-lapse videos? As always, I’d love to hear from ya!

We Need to Start Talking About Emojis in Speech Therapy [Free Download]

We Need to Start Talking About Emojis in Speech Therapy [Free Download]

Not too long ago, one of my 8th graders came to speech therapy visibly upset. I asked her what was wrong and she replied, “My friend hates me and I have proof! Here! Look!”

It all started with a text message.

She showed me her iPhone and pointed to a recent text message that she received from her friend. It was a happy birthday message that simply read HAPPY BDAY but there was something that came after the “word” BDAY that caused my student to think that her friend hated her. It was an emoji.

Emoji? Huh? What’s an emoji?

As stated on Emojipedia.org, an emoji is a type of emoticon (emotion + icon) used on iPhones, iPads, Androids, Macs and Windows devices. The term emoji originated in Japan and means “picture letter” in Japanese. So in short, an emoji is a symbol or a picture that’s used to communicate something to someone. For example, you know how when you text message a friend and then at the end of the text message you sometimes type characters that, when combined, look like a happy face (a colon, a dash, and then a closed parenthesis)? Well, that’s sort of an emoji. Through those combined characters, you were able to positively communicate your friendship to that person in the form of a picture.

Back to the text message in question.

The emoji that her friend added at the end of HAPPY BDAY text message was a sad face and NOT a happy face. One would’ve thought that a happy face should’ve been added to the end of that message but that wasn’t the case. So you can see why this 8th grader thought that her friend hated her. My student couldn’t help but think that her friend was sad or even mad about the “BDAY.”

A possible miscommunication?

I asked my student if she thought that maybe, JUST MAYBE, her friend might have mistakenly put a sad face at the end of the text message? MAYBE she actually meant to put a happy face? She looked at me with the most genuine eyes and said, “Hmm, well, maybe that’s a possibility. I guess I should ask her about it later.”

Fast forward a few days.

The next time I saw this student, I asked her about her text message debacle and she happily informed me that it was IN FACT a mistake and the sad face was supposed to be a happy face. Phew! Crisis averted!

This situation got me thinking about text messages and emojis.

We, as a society, are quickly adopting text messaging with emojis as a valid form of quick communication. And because more than half of my caseload consists of middle school-aged students (and I even have a private client starting soon who is in high school), it really isn’t too crazy to think that they’re engaging in that type of expressive communication with their friends and family. So with that being said, I’ve recently made a conscious decision to explore a few lessons and ideas that touch on the subject of understanding emojis because I believe that it’s a functional thing to discuss with students who have communication difficulties. Imagine how many incorrect text messages might have been sent by students who have communication disorders! Or imagine how many text messages could have been misinterpreted by students with communication disorders! These are the problems that I’m hoping to solve by bringing up and discussing emojis to some of my students.

Pairing pictures with emojis is a good start.

One of the ways that I’ve been working to educate my students about emojis is by pairing realistic pictures with emojis. The emojis that I’ve been using throughout my sessions come from GetEmoji.com. This is a fantastic location that allows you to copy and paste emojis from a massive library of emojis. Here is a FREE pdf file that I created by copying and pasting a bunch of emojis into a a Microsoft Word document. I printed out the PDF file and then cut out all the emojis so I could spread them all over my table like THIS.

Next, I would show my students random realistic pictures that I had. These pictures could be anything from story starter cards you might have sitting in your speech therapy room to miscellaneous pages you might have ripped out from an age-appropriate magazine. Anything that realistically shows people doing something would work just fine. All you have to do is encourage your students to try to pick out which emoji they feel best describes the chosen picture.

Check out these examples:

After some minimal prompts and cues, my one group of students were able to verbalize how THESE PICTURES were better suited for negative emojis. The girl on the left was crying because she broke her doll, therefore, the emoji that best fit with her was the one that showed a tear drop coming from the sad face’s eye. Whereas, the picture on the right showed a girl who was covered with mud, therefore, the emoji that looked like it was nervous and sweaty best fit her situation because they thought the girl was nervous that she might get yelled at by her mother for getting so dirty.

Other examples can be found in THESE PICTURES. The girls on the left were washing someone’s car. This kind deed communicates that they are nice children, therefore, the group attached the emoji that had a halo over its head. And the picture on the right shows a girl in a bathing suit having summertime fun, so my students made the connection that the happy emoji wearing the sunglasses was most appropriate because they felt like the sunglasses represented the warmth of summer.

In closing . . .

What do you think? Do you think your older kiddos would connect with Emojis? Have you been doing something similar to this? If so, please do let me know because I seriously love enjoying hearing from awesome clinicians just like you!

Speech Therapy Warning Signs are Exactly What You Need on Your Door [Free Download]

Speech Therapy Warning Signs are Exactly What You Need on Your Door [Free Download]

o me, it’s all about first impressions and startin’ off the whole speech therapy experience on the right foot. That’s why whenever I have a brand new student on my caseload, I always make it a point to give ’em a warning. But not just ANY warning, a speech therapy room warning.

A SPEECH THERPY ROOM WARNING?! HUH?!

The warning is simple. Before the kiddo even enters my speech therapy room, I point to my warning sign and say, “Warning, this room contains a large amount of speech therapy magic floating in the air. Do not enter unless you are ready to have a great time.” The warning is always met with giggles and I’ve found it to be one heck of an ice breaker. All in all, it’s the perfect way to set the stage for what I believe the child should expect when he/she comes to speech. Always expect MAGIC!

So, how do the kiddos react to the warning?

It’s a blast to see the different reactions that I get from different children. In fact, one of my favorite speech therapy room warning memories involved a 1st grader who looked me straight in the eyes after I said the warning. He smirked and very seriously replied, “I know about the magic. I see the magic flakes floating around.” Then, he proceeded to push me aside and used his hands to grab the invisible “magic flakes” (his words, not mine) and put them in his pocket. In the weeks that followed, whenever that child was tired or a bit distracted, I would always grab some “magic flakes” from the air and sprinkle them on his head. Within seconds, he would laugh and then his focus was back on the activity at hand.

(Oh, and I have to mention that this one time, we had a “magic flakes snowball fight” and yes, it was as fun as you’d imagine it to be!)

In closing . . .

Do you think your kiddos might get a kick out of seeing a speech therapy room warning sign at the entrance of your speech therapy area? If so, please do click HERE to download the full color one, or you can click HERE to download a black and white version. If you love my warning sign, please share it with your colleagues. Thanks for checkin’ it out and enjoy!

Have You Ever Thrown a Surprise Test in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Have You Ever Thrown a Surprise Test in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Sometimes, I hear my older students talking in the hallways between classes. They often speak about how an upcoming test is making them feel nervous, anxious, or just plain scared. Tests and quizzes are necessary evils, but I try to do my part to show my students that tests are not as bad as they think they are. Heck, some tests can even be enjoyable! To prove this point, I like to sometimes shoot them a surprise test when they come to speech therapy, but not just any test. This receptive language test is one that I created that truly demonstrates the importance of paying attention to instructions in a nice, lighthearted manner. I call it the Following Instructions in Speech Therapy Test.

Yes, I know that the name is not all that exciting . . .

But let me tell you, this test is everything but boring. It’s loads and loads of fun to give and take!

How much fun is it, you ask?

Well, it’s just so much fun that everyone in the speech therapy room usually laughs his or her head off! (Please note: I’m not responsible for any medical bills you might have to pay because excessive laughter caused your noggin to fall off.)

Wanna learn more about my test? (Of course you do!)

First, you have to go HERE to download it. Then, print it out, give it to your students, and say something along the lines of, “Today, each of you will be taking a surprise test in speech therapy. It’s a test that helps me see just how good you are at following instructions. There will be no talking for the next 5 minutes and I’m not able to answer any questions. Just please read and complete the test. Once the time is up, we will all talk about the test together. Now, let’s begin.”

During the 5-minute countdown, I usually start to hear them clapping, barking, and pretending to sneeze. This obviously means that they have failed the test because, as number 14 clearly states, all of those questions were to be ignored, but yet, they still did them.

Why is that?!

Simple. It’s because they didn’t read the instructions carefully (if at all!). They saw the format of the test and automatically started going from one question to the next. It’s a mindless routine where most students rush to get done first, but I want my students to be better than that. I want to get them sharp. I want them to be aware of my tricks because if they can start to spot my tricks, chances are they will start to become more observant while completing their other school assignments, too. This is just one example of how this specific test sets the stage for future successes in learning!

It also sets the stage for insightful dialogue.

After my students realize that they didn’t follow the instructions on the test correctly, we begin to talk about other scenarios where not paying attention to instructions could get them into a bit of a pickle. Some situations that have been mentioned before are not paying attention to written instructions while doing a science experiment or not paying attention to instructions when learning how to drive a car for the first time.

In addition . . .

We often get into a rather eye-opening conversation as to WHY tests make us feel so nervous, anxious, or scared. The back-and-forth discussion between everyone usually results in some “ah-ha moments” where the students realize, “Well, I guess the only tests I’m really scared of are the ones that I don’t study for.”

Hallelujah!

We, as educators, can nag our students to “remember to study!” or “remember to read all the instructions!” until our faces turn blue, but it isn’t until they actually realize it, for themselves, that our suggestions actually start to stick. I believe this silly, little test can begin to help start the “sticking process” because I have seen it, happen in my own speech therapy room.

In closing . . .

This receptive language test totally shines light onto the subject of using your careful looking eyes to take in any and all information that pertains to the task at hand. Once you do that, the surprise test doesn’t really seem all that scary. So, do you think you could somehow incorporate my Following Instructions in Speech Therapy Test into an upcoming session? Do you think your older speech therapy students would fall for this trap? As always, I would love to hear from you. Please let me know how speech therapy idea goes over with your kiddos.

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