Motivation, humor, and more!

Playing With Boogers and Dog Food in Speech Therapy

Playing With Boogers and Dog Food in Speech Therapy

Remember when you used to have numerous magazine subscriptions and every single month, the good ol’ mail carrier would bring you a brand spankin’ new magazine to read? Well, if you’re like me, you cancelled all of your old subscriptions because you finally realized that you can obtain all of your favorite current events, news, and celebrity gossip from various internet sources (blogs, podcasts, etc.) for a fraction of the cost. So, what can we do with the hundreds of old magazines that we have sitting in our closet? Is there a way to incorporate those random magazines into our speech therapy sessions? Pshh, OF COURSE THERE IS and I’m going to tell you all about it. Get ready to have a fun (and yucky) time!

Break out the yucky sticks!

All you need to do is bring in a bunch of old magazines and grab a handful of green and brown markers (no other colors, just green and brown). For this session, I call those markers YUCKY STICKS. What is so special about yucky sticks, you ask? Well, they have the ability to instantly add boogers and dog food to any magazine page you want! Now if that doesn’t sound exciting, I don’t know what does!

Boogers and dog food on pizza?

Let’s say that you and your students come across an advertisement in your magazine for a pizza brand that features a happy family smiling and enjoying what seems to be a pizza with extra cheese on it . . . that’s until YOU use your yucky sticks to yuck up the scene! Encourage your students to scribble their hearts out by adding green lines (boogers) and brown dots (dog food) all over the slices (and the faces)!

Are you having fun yet?!

Let’s say that you guys stumble upon a cereal advertisement that’s promoting the fact that it now has over 50% more raisins in each box. Funny up that advertisement by adding 100% more bits of boogers and chunks of dog food into the bowl! Man, when we all use our imagination, those yucky sticks sure are powerful, huh?

Perfect for anyone!

This hilarious speech therapy idea could easily be manipulated to fit into any student’s communication goals and objectives. Here are the two most recent ones that I have tried.


I used this activity for a client who was working on perfecting his final R sound. He loved to say the word boogers – and we were able to move from the word level to sentence level effortlessly by practicing sentences like, “The family was eating a pizza with boogers on top of it.”

Auditory memory

I used this activity to work with a client who needed practice with remembering and repeating sentences that gradually got longer and longer. Here are some we created together.

  • The boy was eating cereal. (5 words)
  • The boy had dog food in his cereal. (8 words)
  • The boy with the red shirt had dog food in his cereal. (12 words)
  • The boy with the red shirt had brown bits of dog food floating in his cereal. (16 words)

In closing . . .

I know it might sound wacky, but you’d be surprised how excited and motivated my students get when I let them squiggle in magazines with green and brown markers. Do you think that this activity could bring some great giggles into YOUR next speech therapy session? Can you think of some other ways that we can tweak this activity to make it even more fun? As always, I would LOVE to hear from you.

2 Simple Things Every Speech-Language Pathologist Should Do

2 Simple Things Every Speech-Language Pathologist Should Do

“Erik, in your opinion what is one thing that I can do to become a better speech-language pathologist?”

That’s a question that I often get from people during my various workshops (and it’s really is a spectacular question). Welp, today is your lucky day because I’m going to give you not ONE, but TWO suggestions that just might change the atmosphere and overall culture of your speech therapy room for the better.

1. Know your kiddos

In my humble opinion, all amazing SLPs know their students on a personal level. Remember to talk to them during the speech therapy sessions. Do they have any pets? What is their favorite cartoon? What is their favorite breakfast food? Not only do you ask them, but also make it a point to specifically bring up the information you know about them. For example, if your student didn’t complete his speech homework and you know that he has a dog named “Princess” – why not say something like, “Oh no, let me guess, Princess ate your speech homework, huh?” Trust me, when a student sees that you remember things like that, the connection that the two of you will make will be fantastic!

2. Show up for your kiddos

Are you looking to be just an okay SLP? Or, are you looking to be an A+ and top notch SLP? (Actually, you don’t even have to answer because I know you want to be the best!) Well, in my humble opinion, the best SLPs attend school events here and there. Does your school have a holiday chorus concert coming up (and you know that a bunch of your speech students are also in the show)? That’s the perfect opportunity to make a strong connection with your students. When you are seen by the students and parents at these types of performances, it helps them to know that you care and support them!

In closing . . .

I have made a very conscious decision to practice these suggestions and it has helped me and my students a great deal. I hope you give them a try, too! Please shoot me an email and let me know how it goes. Stay awesome and I look forward to hearing from you.

What Motivates You as an SLP?

What Motivates You as an SLP?

Not too long ago, I had dinner with a few of my close friends who are all involved in the field of speech-language pathology. We got on the subject of motivation and more specifically, “What motivates us, as speech-language pathologists, to do great work?”

In this profession . . .

  • You don’t make millions of dollars (you make enough to live of course, but no one I know is pulling in a lawyer’s salary).
  • There is no such thing as year-end bonuses (at least not to my immediate knowledge!).
  • You don’t ever really get a promotion or a title change (you pretty much enter as an SLP and retire as an SLP).

So . . . what motivates us?

It’s obvious to me that it clearly is not any type of external motivator.

After doing some digging online, I ordered a book called Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink, where the author actually debunks the power of external motivators, and expands on the intrinsic motivators that inspire us to do great work. He mentions three key points that drive creative thinkers: autonomy (self-directed work), mastery (getting better at stuff), and purpose (serving a greater vision). Super interesting information and I recommend you purchase his book.

Ah-ha moments!

There is nothing that gets me more pumped than when I notice a student’s “ah-ha” moment — when that child finally produces that sound perfectly. He looks at me and says, “Wow, I never knew I could say it that good.” Then I look at him and I say, “Pshh. I ALWAYS knew you could.” I used my creativity to put together an individualized approach to specifically target that child’s communication difficulty — and it worked. The child is smiling, I’m smiling, and for that brief moment in time, all the stars are aligned. That, in a nutshell, is what drives me. It’s a combination of the three intrinsic motivators that Daniel Pink speaks about. The work that a speech-language pathologist does is extremely purposeful and as cliche as this might sound, we truly make a huge difference.

What about you?

So with all that being said, what motivates you to be an awesome SLP? What gets YOU pumped? Why do you love this job so much?

In closing . . .

I believe it’s important for us to step back and truly think about these questions. Reflecting on these thoughts can make us even better service providers. In the end, we all want to be the best for our students because they are depending on us, and that’s what truly matters.

Why Should I Teach Handshaking in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Why Should I Teach Handshaking in Speech Therapy? [Free Download]

Here is one thing that I absolutely can’t stand: bad handshakes. Have you ever gotten a crummy handshake that felt like a limp, dead fish? Have you ever received a bone-crushing handshake that made you want to scream “OUCH! YOU’RE KILLING ME!”? Honestly, it’s embarrassing when an adult doesn’t know how to give a proper handshake, but here’s an interesting question to ponder:

When the heck does one even learn about handshakes?

I sure can’t remember when I was first introduced to the art of handshaking, but I owe whoever taught me BIG TIME!

We need to teach it!

So here is what I’m proposing: we speech-language pathologists need to take a few seconds out of our speech therapy session to teach all of our students (regardless of their goals and objectives) how to give a great handshake. The reason why is simple, a handshake is the most common and important form of communication on this planet! The act is used to say hello, goodbye, we agree, and as a mutual sign of goodwill and peace. A handshake can establish a first impression with someone and if a child is not able to give a well-constructed and executed handshake, he or she is not producing an effective communicative intent (and is ultimately not establishing a good first impression).

How do I add handshakes into my speech therapy?

My students know that they’re not allowed to enter my speech room until they stand at my door and give me a loud and clear greeting. In addition, directly after their greeting is complete, the students and I engage in a handshake. Sometimes I squeeze too tightly, sometimes I don’t squeeze at all, it’s up to the child to tell me what I did wrong. This action alone will turn your client into a champion handshaker in no time!

Let’s ask some questions about handshakes!

Here are some fun questions to ask your students in regards to handshakes:

  • What would happen if you tried to shake a lobster’s hand? Why?
  • What would happen if you had glue all over your hand and you tried to shake your teacher’s hand? Why?
  • What would happen if you had honey all over your hand and you tried to shake a hungry bear’s hand? Why?

In addition, I created a FREE coloring sheet for you and your students to work on while engaging in a conversation about handshakes. Click HERE to download it.

Remember, age doesn’t matter!

From preschoolers through 5th graders and beyond, it’s NEVER too early to talk about handshakes.

In closing . . .

I hope you will think of this blog post the next time someone shakes your hand. Please do me a favor and teach your speech students the importance of becoming a wonderful handshaker. Let me know how it goes and I look forward to shaking YOUR hand sometime soon (unless you are a lobster, of course, haha!).

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