October 04, 2014

WH-Questions Therapy To Go!

introducing a grab-and-go tool for the busy SLP

This year I work with 3rd through 8th graders. My classroom is on one end of the school, and my students are on the very opposite end of the school. Let me tell you, I am logging lots of miles throughout my day just by picking up and dropping off students. In fact, I put the Map My Run app on my phone and was very surprised by how far I walked just in one day!

It can take five minutes for us to walk to and from my therapy room. We all know SLP schedules are tight, and I did not like wasting those precious minutes. So I needed some way to utilize that time in the hallway.

Viola! Grab-and-go therapy materials! This first version targets WH-Questions (who, what, when, where, why, how) and changing statements into questions.

The booklet is sized to be handheld (5 1/2" x 4") and fit easily into your therapy bag or purse.

Perfect for the busy SLP on the go! See it here on Teachers Pay Teachers. Additional booklets in this series are in the works, so stay tuned!

Abby averages 14 miles walking per week just walking around school with students.

September 29, 2014

Speech Therapy Reward Board

an alternative way of reinforcing good behavior in the speech room

Whew! September is almost over and I'm finally getting back into blogging again! I ended up taking a much-needed break from writing blog posts this summer because I was busy packing up my apartment and moving a few states away. My husband and I are now residents of North Dakota (The Peace Garden State), and I have a new job working with 3rd through 8th grade.

It was a busy summer, and while this blog was nearly abandoned I did use social media frequently including giveaways, so be sure to follow along! You never know when some fun might pop up ;)


Things are finally starting to feel normal at my new job, and I'm ready to get back into blogging more regularly. I'll start today with my reward system for this year: my Reward Board!

Thanks to The Speech Bubble for this idea! The school I'm in this year has a building-wide superhero theme, so I had each student personalize their own superhero which I then laminated and cut out. Each time they come to a session, they have the chance to advance their superhero, but only if they are good workers, great listeners, and super friends. There are a couple spots on the board labeled "PRIZE" and when they land on those squares, they get to pick their prize:

I wanted to get away from a prize box this year since I'm working with older students (3rd through 8th grade). So I created QR codes with their rewards. Each time a student lands on a prize space, they can pick a code out of the envelope, scan it, and find out what their reward is.

Rewards range from 15 minutes free time, to listen to music, to game day in speech. Of course, the illustrious prize box is still in there, but only one code leads to it!

This reward board system is working well so far for me this year. Hopefully it will help my students learn that toys and trinkets aren't the only thing that can be rewarding for their hard work.

You can try them out for yourself here with this freebie!


Abby was going to have a "piece of candy" prize code, but nixed that idea because she knew she would eat it all.

September 26, 2014

Friday Funny

Oh no! Hahaha! *tear* I'm not quite sure how to react to this video!

Have a fantastic weekend everybody!

June 22, 2014

My Summer Reading List

here's what I'll be reading while lounging at the pool or on the patio this summer

Summer! It's here! And it's hoooot! Perfect excuse to lounge by the pool, get a little vitamin D, and immerse yourself in a good book. Here's what I'm hoping to read this summer. (Note: Descriptions borrowed from Goodreads.)

1. The Forgotten Garden - by Kate Morton
Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra's life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

2. Bright Not Broken: Gifted Kids, ADHD, and Autism - by Diane M. Kennedy and Rebecca S. Banks, with Temple Grandin (A work-related read for the summer.)

3. Hollow City - by Ransom Riggs (The first book, Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children was so unique. Unlike any other book I have read. I have high hopes for this one.)
The extraordinary journey that began in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children continues as Jacob Portman and his newfound friends journey to London the peculiar capital of the world. But in this war-torn city, hideous surprises lurk around every corner.

4. This is Where I Leave You - by Jonathan Tropper
Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

5. Dad is Fat - by Jim Gaffigan (I laughed until I cried watching his Mr. Universe comedy special on Netflix. Hopefully this book is just as funny.)
In Dad is Fat, stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan expresses all the joys and horrors of life with five young children—everything from cousins ("celebrities for little kids") to toddlers’ communication skills (“they always sound like they have traveled by horseback for hours to deliver important news”), to the eating habits of four year olds (“there is no difference between a four year old eating a taco and throwing a taco on the floor”).

6. Until I Say Goodbye - by Susan Spencer-Wendel
Diagnosed with Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) and no longer able to walk or even to lift her arms, Susan wrote this book letter by letter on her iPhone using only her right thumb, the last finger still working. Until I Say Good-Bye is not only Susan Spencer-Wendel's unforgettable gift to her loved ones--a heartfelt record of their final experiences together--but an offering to all of us: a reminder that "every day is better when it is lived with joy."

7. East of Eden - by John Steinbeck
Set in the rich farmland of California’s Salinas Valley, this sprawling and often brutal novel follows the intertwined destinies of two families—the Trasks and the Hamiltons—whose generations helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the poisonous rivalry of Cain and Abel.

8. The Light Between Oceans - by M.L. Stedman
Tom Sherbourne is a lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, a tiny island a half-day's boat journey from the coast of Western Australia. When a baby washes up in a rowboat, he and his young wife, Isabel, decide to raise the child as their own. The baby seems like a gift from God, and the couple's reasoning for keeping her seduces the reader into entering the waters of treacherous morality even as Tom--whose moral code withstood the horrors of World War I--begins to waver.

9. The Death Cure - by James Dashner (The first two books in The Maze Runner series were so great, easy to read, and hard to put down. I hope this one is just as good as it wraps up the trilogy.)
Thomas knows that Wicked can't be trusted, but they say the time for lies is over, that they've collected all they can from the Trials and now must rely on the Gladers, with full memories restored, to help them with their ultimate mission. It's up to the Gladers to complete the blueprint for the cure to the Flare with a final voluntary test. What Wicked doesn't know is that something's happened that no Trial or Variable could have foreseen. Thomas has remembered far more than they think. And he knows that he can't believe a word of what Wicked says. The time for lies is over. But the truth is more dangerous than Thomas could ever imagine.

10. Unbroken: A WWII Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption - by Laura Hillenbrand (I don't read many books based on true stories. This one came highly recommended by my Dad, and sounds thrilling.)
On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

Have you read any of these? What's on your summer reading list?

June 17, 2014

Guest Blog Post: Building Blocks in Speech

Note: This post originally appeared on the Twin Sisters Speech and Language Therapy blog on May 29th, 2014. Thanks for reading!


Big props to Shanda and Manda for allowing me to guest post for them today! Those two girls have wonderfully creative ideas, so I am thrilled to add to the mix.

With our hectic school schedules, sometimes we have to provide therapy "on the fly". I was thinking last week about my therapy sessions, and I found myself going back to Lego/Duplo blocks again and again as my go-to "grab and go" therapy item. My current assignment is working with early intervention (birth to 3) as well as preschool-aged children, and these little blocks of joy are perfect for bringing communication opportunities and fun to our time together.

What can I target with Lego/Duplo blocks?

You can target so, so much with building blocks! Here's a sampling of what I've done with them:

*Basic Concepts: talk about the colors of the blocks; the number of "bumps" they have; discuss the attributes of the blocks (long, short, skinny, large, etc.); build different shapes or letters out of the blocks; talk about which blocks they need first, next, and last
*Emerging Language Skills: Legos provide the perfect opportunity for students to practice requests: more, block please, my turn, more blue, I'm all done, etc.

*Turn-Taking and Pronouns: Some of my preschoolers have a behavior goal for turn-taking. Building blocks are also perfect practice for this as you work together to build a masterpiece. We also get tons of opportunities to practice pronouns: my turn, your turn, we go at the same time, his turn, you do it, I need help, etc.

*Prepositions: up, down, around, bottom, top, inside, through, first, last - they're all covered here!

*Following Directions: You can instruct your kiddos how to build something with the blocks, or have them practice telling each other directions. Since the building pieces are different colors and shapes, it's perfect for adding describing words to your sentences: "Put the long red piece on top of the short purple piece." You can also download building plans such as this one online. Instead of printing them off, I just display them on my laptop or iPad for students to reference.

*Articulation: I have my articulation students practice their target sounds a designated number of times before they can earn more blocks to use. I've also attached their target pictures to the blocks and had them practice as they build. (By the way, this adhesive is such a time and money saver for temporarily attaching pictures! So much better than Velcro!)

Another favorite Lego activity of mine is the Lego Read & Build kits. These neat little activities come with a book and all the Legos you need for building the characters inside the book.

I have this farm set, but there are also caterpillar, fairy tale, jungle, and vehicles sets that I've seen. They are great for little ones and the pages show them exactly how to assemble each item. These are great for traveling SLPs because they are compact and contain only the specific blocks you need for that book.

Finally, if I don't want to lug around a set of Lego blocks as I travel from site to site, I always can count on the Lego Juniors Create & Cruise app to help me out. It is a wonderful and FREE app that I recommend to all the parents and teachers I work with. Students get to build their own Lego car (great for targeting language goals as they describe the car they want to build!), and then drive it while they earn additional game pieces! This one is a must-have app and it is definitely a favorite of all my students :)

Thanks so much for reading! I hope I've inspired you to "build" some fun into your therapy sessions!

May 21, 2014

Summer Speech Activity Calendars

use these calendars to help your students with their communication skills over summer break

Summer is almost here! I'm just so tickled to have more time to work on more activities and blog posts soon. I feel like Schoolhouse Talk has been so neglected lately! :( Just 5 more days with students plus 2 paperwork days before I'm done!

A couple of the preschools I work with are finishing up this week, so I've been putting together my activity packets to send home with students. I wanted to repost this post from last year highlighting what is included in these FREE packets:

(Note: This post originally appeared on June 14, 2013)

There are two sets: Articulation Calendars and Language Calendars. Each set comes with a color version and a black-and-white version to make printing easier. The calendars contain free, fun, and quick activities that your students can complete with their parents to work on improving their communication skills during June, July, and August.

Instead of activities for parents to have to do every single day, each month contains 20 activities that parents can complete as their schedule permits. They can choose to do something daily, or do a few activities on the same day. They can even have weekends off if they want! Activities are brief, and can be completed in 20 minutes or less.

Articulation Calendar Activity Examples:
*I Spy! Find 10 foods with your sound and say them 3 times each.
*Arts & Crafts! Cut out letters from magazines to create words that have your sounds. Say them 3 times each.
*Play Time! Say a word with your sound 4 times before you take a turn blowing bubbles.
*Book Worm! Read and book and listen for your sounds, then say the word 4 times.
*All Ears! Listen for your speech sounds while riding in the car.
*Action! Use your good speech sounds while eating a meal with your family.

Language Calendar Activity Examples:
*Answer category/describing wh-questions about pictures.
*I Spy! Find 10 things that go outside and make a sentence about each one.
*Arts & Crafts! Cut out pictures from a magazine and think of a word to describe each one.
*Book Worm! Read a book with a friend and then retell the story in your own words.
*Tell what the word BAT means and use it in a sentence.
...and MORE!

Each calendar also includes:
*Parent Letter
*Online Resources
*List of Favorite iPad/Smartphone Apps

You can download these {FREE} resources here:
Summer Speech Homework Calendars for Articulation
Summer Speech Homework Calendars for Language


I've added these activities to Bright Ideas' post today. Click on over to see other summer activity packets that are available. :)

Abby is trying to find part-time work for the summer. Does lounging by the pool count?

May 19, 2014

"S...Peachy" Feedback Time!

rewarding people for leaving great feedback on Teachers Pay Teachers

Each month, this feedback party is hosted by Nicole at Allison's Speech Peeps as a way to reward YOU for leaving encouraging comments on Teachers Pay Teachers. Click on over her way to see who else is giving away freebies. (Note: This will be the last feedback party until school starts again in the fall.)

There were so many wonderful and helpful comments left in my shop during the TpT sale at the beginning of the month, so I'm choosing TWO winners! One for feedback left on a paid product, and one for great feedback left on a free product.

Samantha, thank you so much for your kind words on the Summer Homework Calendars for Articulation. I'm so glad you are finding them useful for your students! (FYI, be sure to also check out the language calendars!)

Jessica, I am thrilled that this packet is versatile for all your students. Thank you for your thoughtful feedback!

Samantha and Jessica, thank you so much for your wonderful comments! Please email me at schoolhousetalkslp@gmail.com with your choice of a product from my Teachers Pay Teachers shop. Congratulations!

If you didn't win here, you may be the lucky one at a different blog. But you must leave helpful feedback on your TpT purchases to be considered. BONUS: Did you know you earn credits towards discounts on future purchases on TpT if you leave feedback on the items you buy? Do it!

Abby is almost caught up on Community. #6seasonsandamovie

May 12, 2014

Pep Talk for The End of the School Year

the end of the school year is a stressful time. i think you need a pep talk

It's May. May! Speech-language pathologists who work in the school setting are getting frazzled, running around like chickens with their heads cut off, caffeine-fueled, and just trying to catch up on their ever-growing to-do lists, end of the year progress reports, meetings, annual IEP meetings, fitting in evaluations before the school year ends, more meetings. State reports are due. Medicaid billing is due. IEPs are due. It can certainly be an overwhelming time, and we all could use some motivation to get us through the last few weeks of school.


Music always helps me through any tough situation. Here's my playlist for the end of the year:

When you need some motivation to write all those pending reports:

When you're feeling overwhelmed by all the work you have left to do (on top of seeing your students for therapy):

When you have numerous meetings to attend and no time to finish all your paperwork:

As you submit those IEPs and check another item off your to-do list:

On the first day of summer break:


It can be a challenge to focus on the positive this time of year. I get it. It's difficult to think about much else when there are 3 evaluations due, a last-minute IEP meeting gets scheduled without notice, there are 5 annual IEP reports sitting unsubmitted on your desk, and you just received 2 new referrals in May. I get it! That's when I need to stop, remind myself it will all get done, and think about how blessed we are as SLPs working in the school setting.

*We get 2+ months off in the summer to refuel, enjoy the beautiful weather, and take a break from our hectic work schedules.

*We get to have the same school breaks as our children, and can enjoy that extra time with them.

*We get to work closely with children during their formative years and watch them change from dependent little slobber-machines into lovely young adults ready to take on the world.

*We get to help prepare those same children for the future and lead them to the skills they need to function successfully in this world. Pretty amazing.

Top 3 Reasons to Get. Sh*#. Done.
1) You will have more time for pleasurable stuff...whatever that may mean for you ;)
2) You will feel proud and accomplished as items are checked off your to-do list.
3) Your nerves will decrease as you have fewer and fewer tasks to complete.

Now get out there and finish the school year with a smile!!

Abby is going to just keep swimming through 15 more days of work until the end of the school year.