Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Literacy and Language

As the summer is sadly coming to an end, I already know I'm going to miss letting the kids stay up late, sleep in, and enjoy the lazy summer days.  When school starts next week, we will have to get back to some sort of bedtime routine; and as much as I'll miss our late nights and relaxed schedules, it will be nice to have some time set aside each night to read together.

I use children's books during my speech therapy sessions all the time, and encourage parents to use them at home as well.  Picture books and story books provide so many opportunities to encourage and enrich children's language skills. 

Here are some ways to do this while reading with your children:

  • To help your child learn new words, name objects and actions in the pictures.  Ask your child simple questions about the pictures.
  • Describe the pictures using phrases and complete sentences.  Your child will learn new words and new sentence structures.
  • Use descriptions, tell about the pictures.  Then ask your child to describe the pictures to you.
  • Help enhance your child's sequencing skills.  Talk about what happened in the beginning of the story, the middle, and the end.
  • Make predictions.  Ask your child what he/she thinks will happen next.
  • Story books provide many opportunities to ask and answer WH questions (who, what, where, when, why).
  • Work on problem-solving skills.  Talk about the problem in the story, and think of logical ways to solve the problem.
  • Children's books are filled with early language concepts (location, time, quantity).  Talk about where objects are (the moon is in the sky), when events happen (we see the moon at night), and how much or how many things there are (one apple, too much food).

Keep in mind, these tips are only suggestions.  Share stories in a way that is enjoyable for both you and your child.  Most importantly, have fun reading together!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Shark Week

While watching Shark Week the other night with my kids (is that bad?), I remembered coming across this cool shark envelope online a little while ago, and thought it would be the perfect time to use it in therapy.

After making the shark, each child glued their target word pictures onto colorful construction paper fish.

Next came the fun part - "feeding" their fish to the shark!

After that, we played a game with the fish pictures.  I put all the fish out on the table "into the sea", and added a few fish with shark teeth.

Just  a few simple rules:

1. Flip over all the fish so you can't see the pictures.  Take turns "catching" a fish.  Turn over the fish and say the name of the picture.  If the word is pronounced correctly, you can keep the fish.  If not, it goes back in the "sea".

2. If you catch a fish with shark teeth, all of your fish have to go back in the "sea".

3.  Whoever has the most fish at the end of the game is the winner. 

Besides providing an opportunity to practice target words, this game is also good for turn-taking, naming colors, sorting, counting, and learning concepts more and less.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Super Mario and Angry Birds Pixel Art

This activity was inspired by these awesome cupcakes that my oldest daughter made for my son's birthday this year.

The link for the cupcakes can be found here.

I wasn't exactly sure of the best way to recreate this on paper, so my kids and I had a lot of fun trying out a couple different techniques at home.

We used washable paints and a mini round sponge for this one...

...then tried painting with pencil erasers...

...and then some Angry Birds done with Q-tips...

After trying all three, I decided that Q-tips were the easiest; and they're disposable so there's not too much to clean up.

I'm excited to try this during therapy sessions, and thought of a few different ways to use it with my clients:

1.  As a reinforcer - after five trials of a sound, word, or sentence, the child can add five dots
2.  Following Directions/Sequencing - "Make three brown dots, then two blue dots" etc.
3.  Location Concepts/Prepositions - under, above, next to, left, right, top, bottom, "put brown under blue, blue goes next to yellow"

I know there are tons of ways to incorporate this into speech and language sessions.  Let me know how you use it!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sea Creature Fun

Over the past couple weeks, we've been talking a lot about sea creatures during our sessions, so I put together this easy sea creature bin.

I used crinkle cut paper shreds for the "sea", added some of these Marvel Education Co. Sea Animals  that I bought years ago at US Toy, along with some other sea creatures that I picked up at the dollar store. 

We first read the book Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck, then took turns "catching" animals out of the bin.  We talked about each animal, and then matched them with the pictures in the book.

Some of the speech and language goals targeted:
  • articulation for f and k sounds (When "catching" each creature, we used the target phrase "I found..." or "I caught...")
  • Articulation for s, sh, ch, and s blends (starfish, swordfish, shark, seahorse, sea turtle, octopus, sea, ocean)
  • sorting and categorizing
  • telling how objects are alike and different
  • describing objects and guessing objects based on description
  • expanding sentences using color attributes

Please leave me a comment below and let me know how you use this activity during speech sessions or at home with your own kids!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Magic Butterfly

For my first post, I'll tell you about the very first preschool classroom language activity I did when I was just out of grad school.  This was over eleven years ago, before the days of unlimited online resources (Pinterest!) and I think I found this in a Ranger Rick magazine.

I'm not super-crafty, and a bit of a minimalist so this activity is perfect for me.  All you need is paper, scissors, and crayons or markers.  (And maybe The Very Hungry Caterpillar book to read first.)  There is zero prep time; and even though it's such a simple craft, the kids always love it when I open my caterpillar to reveal the "beautiful butterfly" inside.  It's like magic!

1.  Fold a piece of paper in half.  Cut into the shape of a caterpillar.

2.  When you open it up, you should have a butterfly shape.

3.  Have fun coloring!  I usually show them mine first to use as a model.

With some of my older kids, I've done this by gluing scraps of tissue paper instead of coloring.  It requires a little more prep time and it's a little messier, but turns out pretty cute!

Here are just a few of the speech and language goals that can be targeted:
  • requesting materials
  • pronoun use (I want red, She has purple, etc.)
  • sequencing
  • story re-telling
  • color naming
  • location concepts: top, middle, bottom, right, left (blue stripe on top, etc.)
I'd love to hear how you use this activity at home, in your classroom, or during therapy sessions, so please leave a comment below to let me know!  Thanks for reading and have fun!