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

Category Archives: Speech Therapy Idea

Injecting Positivity into Your Speech Therapy Session with the Help of Kid President

Injecting Positivity into Your Speech Therapy Session with the Help of Kid President

About a year ago, I came across a tweet on Twitter that moved me in the best possible way. It was beautiful. It was genuine. It was, dare I say, the best Twitter tweet in the history of all Twitter tweets ever tweeted on Twitter (nice tongue twister, huh?). The magical tweet that I’m speaking about came from Kid President and it read, “Treat everybody like it’s their birthday.”

Such wise words from such a young soul.

Before I go into detail about how great that tweet is, I wanted to take a second to tell you about Kid President, just in case you’ve never heard of him before. Kid President (real name Robby Novak, a school-aged kiddo) is an amazingly positive and creative child. Together with his adult-aged brother-in-law Brad Montague, Robby and Brad started in 2012 when Robby was only 8 years old. Their website features a humongous collection of motivational videos that show Robby as Kid President. In each video, Robby, usually decked out in a snazzy suit and tie, confidently jumps in front of the video camera to insightfully chat about life and what it all means to him (THIS is an example of what you can come to expect from Kid President).

Love. Nothing but love.

If I could pick one word to sum up each and every Kid President tweet or video I’ve seen, it would be ‘love.’ Robby loves life, and through his motivational Kid President messages, he reminds everyone that life is lovely and how everyone should be nice to one another. Since Kid President hit the Internet a few years back, I’ve been a huge fan.

“Treat everybody like it’s their birthday.”

One of the biggest (and best) changes that I’ve noticed over the last decade in K-12 education is the obvious school-wide emphasis on bullying prevention that often exists across American school districts. When I was a school-aged student in the 90s, bullying wasn’t really discussed too much because I think that back then bullying was just considered another childhood rite of passage. But in my opinion, it’s not a rite of passage and it shouldn’t be tolerated. So in an effort to do my part with setting the stage for a safe and respectful learning environment, I’ve shared that Kid President tweet with a number of my middle school-aged students and it’s a joy to hear them attempt to describe what “Treat everybody like it’s their birthday” means to them and why they believe it to be a spectacular way to live.

Unwritten goals and objectives.

I’ve said this before but with each child I work with, there’s a list of unwritten goals and objectives that I want him/her to be able to achieve that aren’t written in his/her individualized education program or treatment plan. Unwritten goals and objectives are the kind and caring lessons that live inside of my mind that I want all of my students to learn. These unwritten goals and objectives emphasize the importance of being a kind and caring person. I feel that unwritten goals and objectives are arguably some of the most important things that we could work on with our students while increasing their articulation and/or language abilities.

Sharing some Kid President tweets and videos with YOUR students.

If you’re also committed to consistently injecting kind and caring thoughts and ideas into each of your speech therapy sessions, I recommend you explore the tweets and videos by Kid President.

Here are a few Kid President tweets YOU could share with your kiddos:

And here are a few Kid President videos YOU could share with your kiddos:

So much can come from talking about Kid President tweets and videos.

Use the messages by Kid President to get the kind and caring conversations going. Limit the amount of talking you do and encourage your students to do the talking. If you’re providing speech therapy services to a small group, encourage the children to talk with one another about the given video or tweet. Did they like what they saw? Why or why not? How did it make them feel? So on and so forth.

In closing . . .

There’s a lot that we can learn from Kid President. And notice how I said WE? Sure, the children we work with could learn a lot, but us ADULTS could learn JUST AS MUCH. After reading that Kid President birthday tweet in 2015, I immediately adopted it as my mantra. “Treat everybody like it’s their birthday” is a sentence that I haven’t been able to erase from my brain and I’m not complaining. It taught me to be a bit more kind and a bit more caring, for sure. So, do me a favor – check out all that Kid President has to offer to see if you might be able to discover a mantra that you think works for you. One that helps you to grow as a human being. Because remember, all of us, we’re all works in progress and there’s always room for growth. Always!

Talking to Your Speech Therapy Students About People Who Turn into Dogs

Talking to Your Speech Therapy Students About People Who Turn into Dogs

Anyone who knows me, they know I’m a huge fan of dogs. Big dogs, little dogs, skinny dogs, chubby dogs – if you’re a dog, I’ll love ya to bits! My friend Summer is well aware of my dog obsession so she recently told me that I should look at the Twitter account called YouAreDogNow. She thought I’d like it. And you know what? She was doggone right!

Hilariously creative in every single way!

The person behind YouAreDogNow has an amazing eye for spotting peoples’ doggy doppelgängers. All you need to do is follow @YouAreDogNow on Twitter and tweet a photo of yourself to the account. Then, if you’re really REALLY lucky, you just might get dogified by YouAreDogNow.

Dogified?! What on Earth does dogified mean?!

Instead of trying to tell you what dogified means, why don’t I just show ya?

See THIS GIRL eating some vanilla ice cream? She got dogified by YouAreDogNow.

See THIS GUY with the cool beard? He got dogified by YouAreDogNow.

See THESE FRIENDS dressed up as characters from Toy Story? They got dogified by YouAreDogNow.

Oh, and while we’re at it, there are even a couple of celebrities who have been dogified by YouAreDogNow. Will Ferrel, Justin Timberlake, and even Pope Francis have been lucky enough to be dogified. So now I’m sure you know what dogified means. And now I’m sure you understand just how awesome paw-some YouAreDogNow is. (Get it? Paw? As in, a dog’s paw? HAHA! I couldn’t stop myself from doing that. That was a paw-some play on words, indeed!)

Can we use YouAreDogNow in speech-language therapy?

Yes, you positively paw-sitively can! (Get it? Paw? As in, a dog’s paw? HAHA! That was even better than the first time around. I paw-sitively enjoyed that play on words! ) Right off the bat, you will see that each YouAreDogNow post features a pair of photos where the one on the left is usually of a human and the one on the right is always a dog. So with that in mind, my first instinct was to use YouAreDogNow while working with an elementary school-aged student who was working towards improving his ability to compare and contrast. One of his goals is something along the lines of the student will demonstrate improved verbal expression by comparing and contrasting people, places, and things with 80% accuracy, with minimal prompts and cues. And from that, you can see just how easily YouAreDogNow can be used for talking about all things related to same and different.

For example:

In THIS terrific post, the kiddo was able to verbally describe numerous similarities such as both pictures have water in the background, both pictures feature sand, and both pictures have a living thing standing on a surfboard. And when it came to differences, with a couple of small prompts and cues from myself, the youngster was able to communicate a number of differences, such as one picture has people swimming in the water and the other doesn’t, one picture seems to have four surfboards in the photo and the other only has one surfboard, and the most obvious – one picture has a baby human on a surfboard and the other picture has a baby dog on a surfboard.

Other ideas:

Don’t just stop at working on comparing and contrasting. I believe that we can use YouAreDogNow to target a myriad of goals and objectives. Maybe you can use the photos as story starters? How about you use the photos to target articulation? What about using the photos to answer various WH questions? And the list goes on and on so let your imagination run wild.

In closing . . .

I truly believe that YouAreDogNow is perfect paw-fect for all ages. (Get it? Paw? As in, a dog’s paw? . . . Hmm . . . is it just me or is it not that funny the third time around? But hey, I still deserve some props for at least giving it a try, right?) So do me a favor, take a minute or two at either the beginning or at the end of your next speech-language therapy sessions to show your students YouAreDogNow so you can gauge if it’s something that resonates with your students. I’m pretty sure it will. I bet ya that the pictures will generate a ton of giggles and where there’s giggles, there’s usually learning. Happy learnin’ to you, my wonderful SLP buddy.

Thoughts About Saying Sorry and Thank You in Speech Therapy

Thoughts About Saying Sorry and Thank You in Speech Therapy

As a speech-language pathologist who has the privilege to work with school-aged students, I’m consistently thinking about the words that my students use. Are the words that they are choosing to use effectively communicating what they want to communicate? Or are there any other words that they could be using that might be more effective than their current word choices? Questions like these are the internal bits of dialogue that fill my “speechie” brain on a daily basis.

Thoughts on using the word ‘sorry.’

It’s not too uncommon for students of mine to apologize to me and tell me that they’re sorry about something. One boy might say, “I’m sorry I was late for speech today.” Or another girl might say, “I’m sorry what I’m saying right now makes no sense.” While I appreciate their politeness, I can’t help but wonder if we, as a society, have conditioned our youth to say the word ‘sorry’ way more than they actually should? What if there was an alternative that could be explored?

‘Sorry’ vs. ‘thank you’

Every now and again, I’ll come across a blog post on the Internet that resonates with me in a big way. It’ll be just SO good that I automatically keep on reading it a second, third, or maybe even a forth time. In the instances that this has happened to me, it always feels as if I’ve hit the lottery because in my heart I believe I’ve stumbled upon a priceless gem. The most recent piece of literary treasure that I’ve fallen in love with is the post titled “Stop Saying “Sorry” And Say “Thank You” Instead” which appeared on not too long ago. It highlights a recent work of art by the New York City-based illustrator Yao Xiao. The artist created a thought-provoking comic that features side-by-side tiled examples on how to spin your negative “I’m sorry”communication to more positive “thank you” communication.

‘Thank you’ in place of ‘I’m sorry’

After studying and thinking about Yao Xiao’s comic for the last few weeks, I’ve come to the realization that not only do some of my students say “I’m sorry” too much, but that I’m also just as guilty. So I’ve made the personal decision to think about how I can change some of my own “sorrys” to “thank yous.” Making this small change in my expressive communication has been one heck of a positive experience.

For example:

A couple of days ago, I had to write an important email to a colleague. With email, I always try to make the messages as short as possible because I know that we’re all quite busy. But with this particular email, it was impossible to keep short. I needed to write a lot of details because all of those details were vital to the message. And here’s the interesting part, once I got to the end of the message, I caught myself typing out,“I’m so sorry that this email was this long.” Then it hit me like a bag of bowling balls – why was I apologizing?! For that particular communication intent to be effective, it had to be long. If I kept it short, the email would have not communicated what it was intended to communicate. Thus, I would have executed ineffective communication, which is a huge no-no for an SLP.

Tweaking my sentence, ever so slightly.

Instead of belittling myself with saying, “I’m so sorry that this email was this long,” I tweaked the sentence to say, “I really appreciate your willingness to read this email.” I chose to appreciate the reader’s positive behavior instead of saying sorry for my own self-perceived shortcoming. That was big. And that’s something I think we, as SLPs, could (and should) teach students on our caseloads, whether it be through indirect means, or more direct ones.

Encouraging students to analyze.

In no way am I shouting from the rooftops that our students should never say, “I’m sorry” at any point throughout their day. No way. Not even close. There’s tons and tons of legitimate situations that our students will find themselves in where a sincere apology is absolutely appropriate. The kiddo on your caseload who made the choice to throw his slice of pizza at the substitute teacher; yup, he BETTER apologize for that. And it better be a sincere apology because pizza is for eating, NOT for throwing. But when a student says to me, “I’m sorry I was late for speech today.” Or, “I’m sorry what I’m saying right now makes no sense.” I’m not so sure those are situations where an apology is truly necessary.

For example:

In the “I’m sorry I was late for speech today” example (he’s a private client where I come to his house for speech therapy once a week for an hour), it wasn’t his fault he was late. There was construction going on around town and that caused his mom to have to take a detour home while I was waiting in my car for them. So he would have been better suited to say, “Thanks so much for waiting for me, Mr. Raj!” And for the “I’m sorry what I’m saying right now makes no sense” example, she was actually wrong because what she was saying DID make perfect sense to me. So she would have been better suited to say,“Thanks for listening to my story and if you need any clarification, please just ask.”

In closing . . .

There are many situations where all of us apologize for situations that are either beyond our control or just not true. When we allow ourselves to do that over and over again, we are inadvertently planting little seeds of negativity in our minds. So the next time you and/or your student says, “I’m sorry” about something, try to analyze it to see if maybe it makes more sense to turn it into a more positive, “thank you” comment. The more we do this, the better our communication can become. Wouldn’t you agree?

The Origins of Jenga and How We Could Help Inspire Our Speech Therapy Students

The Origins of Jenga and How We Could Help Inspire Our Speech Therapy Students

I don’t know of any surveys out there that have asked school-based speech-language pathologists to list off what materials they use most often with the kiddos on their caseload. If there was such a survey (and I’m sure there is, I just don’t know of it), I’d assume that the game Jenga would be at the top of the survey’s final results. And if Jenga isn’t in the first slot, it certainly would have to be somewhere in the top five. It’s wildly popular and almost every single elementary and middle-school aged student of mine LOVES playing it. In short, Jenga is quick to learn (carefully take one block out of the tower and don’t let the tower tumble down), easy to play (use your physical and mental skills to remove a block juuuuuust right), and always triggers a wave of happy hoots and hollers from my kiddos. Big thanks to Leslie Scott for inventing it.

Wait. Leslie Scott?!

Yup. Here’s the crazy thing about Jenga, from a clinician’s point of view. Most of us use this game on an almost weekly basis. Most of us have cheered sweet cheers of victory when our opponent knocked the tower down by mistake. Most of us have cried tears of defeat when WE were the ones that caused the tower of 54 blocks to come crashing down. If ever there was a game so intertwined with the world of speech therapy, it’s this one. But yet, I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of the name Leslie Scott before.

Don’t worry, I didn’t either.

Leslie Scott is the inventor of Jenga and let me tell you, her latest video interview on YouTube is quite interesting. During the interview you’ll learn how Jenga was invented by her in the 1970s, the origins of the name, and some examples of early Jenga marketing that’s beyond fascinating. You’ll also learn how down-to-Earth the inventor is and how hard work and dedication always pays off.

Inspiration. Pure inspiration.

I plan on showing most of my students the Leslie Scott interview video over the next few weeks. Why? Well, for the obvious reason that we play the game often and the information within the interview opens up a whole new appreciation and respect for the game, but also because I have a feeling that it will change the way that my students look at everyday items.

Everything was invented by someone.

Jenga, that was invented by someone. The shoelaces on my sneakers, that was invented by someone. The eraser at the top of my pencil, that was invented by someone. Heck, the pencil itself, that was invented by someone. I want to remind my students this simple but powerful fact because I believe that MY STUDENTS are some of the most creative youngsters on the planet. When we, as clinicians, have conversations with our students about the humble beginnings of everyday items, we are giving them permission to dream. To dream about something they might want to invent. To dream about something they’d like to try to do. To dream about making their mark in this wonderful world we live in.

In closing . . .

You and I, we are SLPs who have the great honor to be working with some of the next BEST creators and innovators of tomorrow. And I really do believe that in my heart. Right now, as they sit in front of you at your speech therapy table, they might have some communication difficulties. They might be struggling to express themselves. But ya know what? There’s no one more qualified than you to help your students succeed. Sure, increasing communication doesn’t happen over night. It takes time and commitment. And you know what else takes time and commitment? Making your mark in this world. Leslie Scott never gave up. It took time and commitment to get to where she is today. So do me a favor, talk to your students about all of this whenever you can. Inspire them and give them permission to dream big.

P.S. In regards to Jenga, has THIS ever happened to you before? HAHA!

I like to share things on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. Sweet!