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Why Should I Use Baby Pictures in Speech Therapy?

Why Should I Use Baby Pictures in Speech Therapy?

As a proud speech-language pathologist, I fully understand the importance of words and how they summarize everything we need to effectively express ourselves. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, I’m absolutely IN LOVE with words, so it goes without saying, I’m also IN LOVE with pictures. I feel it’s important for our speech students to reflect on their own communication humble beginnings so they can see how far they’ve come (because trust me, they have come a LONG way!). A perfect way to do this is to use baby photos of yourself and your students as a speech therapy material.

A super important homework assignment

One key question that I enjoy asking my elementary school-aged clients is, “Do you remember what your very first word was?” The most typical response I get is a very puzzled face. Most of my students don’t have a clue, so I take that opportunity to assign a super simple (but super important) homework assignment: “When you go home, you have to ask your parents what your first word was and also ask if you can borrow a couple of baby pictures to bring to speech class.”

I used to be little, too! Cool, huh?

After the homework has been assigned, I then whip out a picture of a young curly-haired boy holding onto a Curious George stuffed monkey. “Who is that a picture of?” my students inquire. I proudly announce to them that it’s a photo of ME as a preschool student! Every time I do this, the speech room usually starts to fill with tons of skepticism, but I assure them that Mr. Raj never tells a lie. I tell them about how much I adored that stuffed monkey, how I would carry him everywhere I went, and that my very first word EVER was, “monkey.”

Questions to ask your students

You can use the following questions to get your speech students chattin’ and thinkin’ about THEIR first words.

  • What do you think was the first word you ever said? (Make sure to write it down to see if they were correct when they actually bring in their answer.)
  • How do you think your parents felt when they heard that you were able to talk? Why do you think they felt that way?
  • Why do you think it’s important for children to learn how to talk?
  • What do you think was the first word you said this morning? Who did you say it to?
  • What is the one word that you can’t live without? Why do you like that word so much?

In closing . . .

Just as we can visually see in a picture how tall a child grows with age, it’s equally amazing to hear a child’s vocabulary grow with age, too. Words, both written and spoken, are the building blocks of language and it’s crucial that our students understand the beautiful gift that they have. Give this speech therapy activity a try and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing from you!

Zits + Speech Therapy = Perfect!

Zits + Speech Therapy = Perfect!

Sometimes I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and notice a huge zit on my face (GROSS!!!). Let me tell ya, I used to get all bent out of shape about it, but not anymore. Do you know why I no longer detest the occasional zit? It’s because I see the little zit as an opportunity to introduce some wonderful “real life” conversation in my speech therapy room! I know it might sound crazy, but trust me – it’s fun!

Below you will find some great questions I like to ask my speech students on my random zit days. Expanding your students’ language has never been this easy.

Super fun zit questions!

  • What is this “thing” on my face called?
  • How do you think I would feel if today was Picture Day at school? Why?
  • Have you ever had a zit on your face? What did you do?
  • Have you ever seen someone on TV with a zit? Tell us about it.
  • Can you think of some ways that I could cover up my zit?
  • What would you rather have on your face – a zit or a booger? Why?
  • What are some nice things you can say to a friend who is upset because he has a zit on his face?
  • Where would you rather have a zit – on your face or on your arm? Why?
  • Why do you think people get zits on their face from time to time?

In closing . . . 

I hope that the next time the Zit Fairy pays you a visit, you remember this blog post. I know your speech therapy kiddos will get a kick out of the questions. In fact, just a few days ago, one of my students said, “Mr. Raj, let’s draw a picture of a monster with zits all over his face and then we can name him a silly name that has our articulation sound in it.”Now, if that isn’t a fantastic speech therapy suggestion, I don’t know what is!

4 Steps to Fly High with Speech Therapy Paper Airplanes

4 Steps to Fly High with Speech Therapy Paper Airplanes

I have always been a strong believer that it’s very important for elementary school children to get exercise during each school day. However, it’s obvious that children don’t get enough physical activity at school because most (dare I say ALL) districts all over the U.S. continue to cut back on physical activity due to budget cuts. This is a shame because obesity is thought to affect one out of every six children in the United States. That. Is. Freakin’. SCARY!

Budget pressures threaten schools’ ability to provide opportunities for children’s physical activity but there is a way that we, as speech-language pathologists, can help. We can do our part to make sure our students are getting a few minutes of physical activity by consistently creating physically active speech therapy sessions. Here is one physical activity that my students love – speech therapy paper airplanes! All you need are a few pieces of paper, some markers, and a bit of knowledge on how to create a simple paper airplane.

Step 1 – Get ’em hooked!

I show my articulation students an example of a paper airplane that I created. Like clockwork, this always gets their attention. Then I stand up and throw my paper creation across the room. Almost instantaneously I’m bombarded with, “My turn! My turn! Can I try?!” I then inform my students that they are going to build their very own and we will have a contest to see who’s plane can fly the farthest.

Step 2 – Get ’em to write their words!

My students then pick out a marker and proceed to decorate their paper with as many words as they can think of that have their target sound in it. Together, we practice and drill the words at the word and sentence level. Once my ears are satisfied that they have produced a large percentage of their sounds correctly, let the folding begin!

Step 3 – Get your build on!

This is where the students get to exercise their awesome listening ears and their ability to follow multi-step directions. Follow the folding steps right, and within a few minutes, that boring sheet of paper covered with 15+ articulation specific words will now turn into a lean and mean flying machine!

Step 4 – Get ’em movin’ and flyin’!

I take the last 5 minutes of therapy to walk to the gym room (or an empty hallway) where one by one, we throw our airplanes. We then jog over to pick them up, do a few jumping jacks to make sure our arms are ready to try again. We throw the planes a few more times and mix in some more jogging and jumping jacks. It’s honestly such a blast!

In closing . . .

Have you ever done something like this before in therapy? Do you think that physical activities are valuable for our speech students? Have you ever secretly dreamed about being an airplane pilot (like me, haha!)? Give my speech therapy paper airplanes activity a try, and let me know how it goes. I look forward to hearing from you.

4 Steps to Use Broken Cell Phones in Speech Therapy

4 Steps to Use Broken Cell Phones in Speech Therapy

I’ll be the first to admit it: I’m addicted to my cell phone just as much as the next person. Those pocket sized machines help us to talk with family, text message friends, surf the web, and so much more; but what do we do when our beloved cell phone bites the dust? Most people simply throw the broken device away in the trash. Well, I’m here to tell you to save that lifeless cell phone because I guarantee it can bring some liveliness into your next speech therapy session. Don’t believe me?! Well, all you have to do is use your imagination and call someone famous!

Step 1 – Bring in your magic cell phone!

Inform your student that the broken cell phone you have is actually a MAGIC cell phone that can call ANYONE in the entire world! Ask them to call one of their favorite movie stars, rock stars, or anyone on television. Remind them to use appropriate social language (introduce yourself, be polite, etc.). This is a great activity that encourages verbalization from all students in a very natural and non-intrusive way (yippie!).

Step 2 – Don’t forget to give details!

Ask your student to name who their chosen famous person is. What does the person look like? Where is the person from? What movies is the person in? What songs does the person sing? All of these questions help the child to practice describing a person who is not immediately in the classroom. At times, this can be really tricky for children enrolled in speech therapy. Feel free to jump on the Internet to look up the biography of the famous person if your student gets stuck (thank goodness for Google!).

Step 3 – Why not practice some sounds?

If your student is working on articulation, it’s amazingly easy to incorporate this activity to meet his/her pronunciation goals and objectives. Push your students to use as many target sound-specific words as possible while conversing with the famous person on the other line. Let the student know that you spoke with the famous person before hand and he/she will be listening very closely for any misarticulations (better bring that “A” game!).

Step 4 – Keep going with it because there are lots more!

There are SO many different directions that one can take using this specific speech therapy idea:

  • Are you trying to promote turn-taking skills? You can with this activity!
  • Are you trying to work on pronouns such as you, I, me, and yours? This activity has you covered!
  • How about working on proper volume and increasing your student’s loudness? Oh, this is the perfect activity for you because if the person on the other end of the phone can’t hear you, he/she just might hang up!

In closing . . .

So who do you think your students are going to want to call? Who would you want to call? How on Earth did we ever survive without cell phones before? It would be fantastic to hear from you. Please let me know if you gave this broken cell phone idea a go. Have a great speech therapy session and I look forward to reading your email!

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