September 30, 2013

Appy Hour: Story Wheel

an app review of one of my all-time favorites: Story Wheel

Do you ever watch The Price is Right? Wouldn't you just love the chance to spin that huge wheel and try to earn a spot in the Showcase Showdown?! Well, there's an app that lets me get a little taste of that big spin, and it's one of my all-time favorite apps to use in speech therapy. I'm talking about Story Wheel!

The Basics:
Story Wheel is a great way to help students build their understanding of how a story comes together, foster creativity, and improve overall oral language skills!

You can add 1-4 students to your story. During each turn, students spin the wheel and are given a random picture. Then they get to record themselves developing and adding to the story with each new picture that is spun. Each story uses 12 pictures. The full app has various themes, including Pirates, Knights and Princesses, and Outer Space!

How I Use It:
Language Goals - excellent for increasing MLU, forming complete sentences, picture descriptions, using describing or action words

Narrative Language - obviously, Story Wheel is an excellent app for building a complete story, including story grammar elements (characters, setting, cohesive beginning/middle/ending events, problem, resolution, etc.)

Articulation -  great for seeing how students can carryover their awesome speech sounds into structured sentences or storytelling/conversation contexts

Fluency - students can practice their fluency-building strategies at the sentence level or storytelling/conversation levels

* I love being able to save stories and share them with teachers/parents via email.
* I love the fun themes that are available (I think the Pirates theme has the best pictures!)
* I'm so glad you have the option of re-recording each picture. Sometimes with my students we discuss their first recording, then go back and try to improve upon it the second time.
* I love how versatile this app is! I use it with almost all my students at some point.
* However, I wish I could select the number of photos in each story. For some sessions/students, 12 pictures can take a long time to complete.

I'm a huge fan of Story Wheel! It's versatile and can be used with many ages and goal areas. And it's fun - my students love it too!

Story Wheel is created by EverAge Apps and is available in the App Store (full version currently $2.99 at the time of this posting; theme packs available for $0.99; free 'lite' version also available).

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for this app review. I simply think it's an awesome, useful, and versatile app that should be in the hands of every speech-language pathologist.

Leave a Comment: If you could be on any game show, which one would it be?
I would dominate at Wheel of Fortune!

September 27, 2013

Friday Funny

It's the freakin' weekend! I don't know about you, but I could definitely use a laugh after this week. Oofta!


September 24, 2013

Children's Books with Repetitive Lines

roundup of my fave children's books featuring repetitive wording

Books with repetitive lines are a great way to engage children with limited language skills. Kids begin to pick up on when the repetitive lines are coming and, especially with some prompting, will start saying them along with you. These special kinds of books are also great to teach children with apraxia, or for programming a switch or basic communication device for children using AAC. Here's a list of my favorite children's books that utilize repetitive lines. (I am not an Amazon affiliate, so don't hesitate to click on the links.)

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin, Jr. and Eric Carle

But Not the Hippopotomus by Sandra Boynton

Blue Hat, Green Hat by Sandra Boynton

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd

Today is Monday by Eric Carle
There's also a cute song that goes along with this book.
Warning: It will get stuck in your head for many days.

We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

There are many versions of this book. I'm kind of partial to the version I linked to.
There are also tons of other seasonal versions of this story.

Jump, Frog, Jump by Robert Kalan

Now it's your turn! Shout out your favorite books with repetitive lines and I'll add them to the list!

September 21, 2013

Love It and List It Linky: Vocabulary Tips and Tricks

 my top 3 ways to teach vocabulary skills for preschool/elementary ages

I am linking up with Speech Room News' Love It and List It party this month. The theme is "Vocabulary". With my caseload, I focus on vocabulary for early childhood/preschool/kindergarten ages. Here are three of my favorite tools for addressing this difficult and sometimes abstract concept.


*Plain old children's books are a gold mine for addressing vocabulary skills! Especially if you choose books with detailed and interesting pictures or topics that are high-interest and engaging for your students.

*DOT Language (from Speech Corner) - My elementary students adore using daubers, and this book provides fun dauber pages to work on:
  • Categories
  • Descriptions
  • Synonyms/Antonyms
  • Definitions
  • Similarities/Differences
  • Answering Questions
Blank pages for each activity are also included so you can add your own targets. Love it!

2) Activities and Craftivities:
*Make your vocabulary teaching fun and multi-modal: write words, say definitions, color pictures, act out or role play words and their definitions, sing songs about words or categories, etc. Get up and get moving! Remember, early childhood babes learn best through PLAY! Puzzles, toys, games, songs, crafts, etc. are all wonderful resources for helping our little ones sort out the world around them and increase their expressive and receptive vocabulary.

*Crafts: I love making craftivities with kiddos! For one, they are more fun than completing a worksheet. And two, now they have something to take home and complete more practice in other settings! Some great craftivities targeting vocabulary I have seen include:

Synonym Flowers from Hello Literacy.

Synonym Rolls from Life is Better Messy Anyway.

Foldable Vocab from A Teacher's Treasure.

Anchor charts are always being used in the preschool classrooms I work in. They don't need to be this fancy, but First Grade Parade has some amazing examples. (I don't know about you, but my artistic skills are nowhere near this level!)

3) Technology:
Even changing things up and addressing vocabulary lessons on computers or tablets instead of worksheets can be motivating for students.

*Software: Two of my favorites are:

No-Glamour Category/Definition (by LinguiSystems) - great for basic categories, and you can individualize it for each student

Spotlight on Vocabulary Interactive Software Level 1 (by LinguiSystems) - great for categories, synonyms, antonyms, attributes, associations, etc. You can also create student profiles and save their scores. This one is great!

...and more!

*Apps: 'nuf said

Bluster (free; from McGraw-Hill) - Perfect for addressing rhyming words, prefixes and suffixes, synonyms, homophones, adjectives, and students can compete head-to-head. Great app for older elementary.

Vocabulary Catcher 3 (free; from Innovative Net Learning) - I love using this app with my early intervention and preschool kiddos. It introduces them to basic categories, identifying pictures, and basic picture selection using the iPad. There are versions 1, 2, and 3.

Word Mess (free; from Masala Games) - I recently reviewed this fun, fun app, which you can read about here. So fun! Apps ($1.99) - I especially love Which Does Not Belong and Which Go Together for teaching basic vocabulary skills with my Littles.

So there you have it! My top three favorite resources for teaching vocabulary are Books, Craftivities, and Technology! What do you like to use?

For more information about tips for teaching vocabulary aligned with the Common Core State Standards check out this article.

The following vocabulary resources are also available in my TpT store:
Pocket Categories
Green Eggs Vocab Match

Now, go check out what other SLPs are using to address vocabulary goals!

September 18, 2013

Ahoy Matey! Pirate-Themed Speech and Language Activities

speech and language activities for International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Shiver me timbers mateys!! Tomorrow (September 19th) is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Have some fun celebrating with your students with these pirate-themed activities:

There's a Pirate Pronouns activity:

To target receptive skills, cut apart the pictures and put one on the circle. Tell your students where to place other pictures (on the squares) to see how well they understand various pronoun words. Expressively, you can place pictures on the squares and have your students use pronoun words to describe where the picture has been placed.

There's also a Pirate Speak-tionary included! Find a list of must-use words and phrases to help you sound like a real pirate. There are also flash cards to match the words to their definition. And a worksheet to define words and use them in sentences.

Despite their gruff voices, it's important for pirates to speak clearly! So have your pirates-in-training use these articulation drill sheets to practice their target words.

Little Pirates can also use these open-ended point cards alongside any speech or language activity to make things more exciting. Cards range in value from 1 to 3 points, and there are also bonus cards and foil cards included.

Two just-for-fun activities are also included. Three different roll-and-color sheets as well as large and small versions of an open-ended board game. You can pick up the roll-and-color sheets for {FREE} here in my TpT store.

There you have it me hearties!! I hope you have a super wild and fun International Talk Like a Pirate Day tomorrow! You can find the full activity packet here. Enjoy 15% off through September 19th! Yo-ho-ho!

September 11, 2013

SLPs Blogging About Research - September

I took a break from reviewing a research article last month, but this feature is back again! Once a month, SLP Bloggers are blogging about research related to the field of speech pathology. You can learn more here.

Infants Use Shared Experience to Interpret Pointing Gestures
by Kristin Liebal, Tanya Behne, Malinda Carpenter, and Michael Tomasello

The nonverbal communication gesture of pointing is in and of itself an ambiguous action. It could mean almost anything. To understand the intent behind someone pointing, you need to understand WHAT they are pointing to as well as WHY that object is being pointed to. In previous research, children as young as 14 months of age were found to follow pointing gestures and understand their meaning, but it is unclear if children were acting upon their own desires or if they were relying on previously shared experiences with the adult to interpret the pointing.

The authors had two main questions:
1) Can infants use shared experiences to infer an adult's social intention about what she wants them to do with that object?
2) Will infants act on the object based on their own desires/goals, or will they interpret and respond to the adult's intent depending on previously shared experiences with that adult?

There were two parts to this research study:

Study 1: Do children interpret pointing based on previously shared experiences?
- Twenty-four 18-month-old children and twenty-four 14-month-old children
- Two activites: a puzzle activity and a clean-up activity. 
- An orange triangle was introduced which could be seen as a part of either activity
- Procedure: Children played with each game separately with different adults. Immediately after the second activity concluded, Adult 1 came back into the room, either Adult 1 or Adult 2 pointed to the orange triangle, said "Oh, there!", and alternated gaze between infant's face and the orange triangle.
- Each child received one trial to respond to the adult's pointing.

Study 1 Results:
For the 18-month old children, there was a significant difference in the child's responses to the pointing gesture depending on which adult pointed. There was no significant difference in responses of the 14-month-old children. This was likely due to the memory demands of keeping track of two different people and two different games. These results indicate that only older children are able to keep track of different shared experiences and interpret the meanings of a pointing gesture.

Study 2: Do shared experiences matter, or do children act according to their own goals/desires?
- Thirty 18-month-old children and thirty 14-month-old children
- Children were familiarized with both adults by participating in unrelated play for 15 minutes.
- After play period was over, child and Adult 1 shared the clean-up game together. When game ended, Adult 2 entered the room again and either Adult 1 or Adult 2 pointed to the target object.

Study 2 Results:
Both age groups demonstrated significant differences in their responses. Overall, few children cleaned up the target object when Adult 2 pointed compared to when Adult 1 pointed. Even the 14-month-old children responded differently depending on their previously shared experiences.

Based on the above results, the authors of the study concluded that children can interpret pointing gestures toward objects differently depending on their shared experiences with the person pointing. Also, these interpretations are not done based on the child's own desires, but based on previous interactions with the pointer. These skills are greatly helpful as communication and language skills develop.

My Thoughts:
I loved reading this research. It amazes me what can be done to interpret skills and behaviors of such young children! It's great to know they can interpret pointing gestures early on. Pointing is such a natural way we begin to interact with infants even before they are talking. It seems to me that using pointing with very young babies as they are able to demonstrate joint attention would lead to their ability to interpret pointing gestures appropriately.

This ability to interpret pointing gestures has a direct link to children interpreting ambiguous communicative statements. In the article, they give the example of a librarian saying, "This is a library!" Typically, this would be interpreted as the librarian telling you to be quiet, not informing you about what building you are in. The ability to understand a statement such as this really begins at a very young age, and pointing gestures can be a part of learning such a skill.

Liebal, K., Behne, T., Carpenter, M., Tomasello, M. (2009). Infants Use Shared Experience to Interpret Pointing Gestures. Developmental Science, 12 (2), 264-271. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-7687.2008.00758.x

What do you think? Did this research intrigue you? Does this influence your own therapy methods and procedures? What research topics would you like to read about in the coming months? Head over to Talks Just Fine to see all the other participants and read their research reviews.

September 06, 2013

Friday Funny

It's been a while since I posted a Friday Funny my friends. Now that most of us are back at school again, here's something to make you chuckle :)

Enjoy your weekend!

September 04, 2013

September SLP Link-Up

It's a new month! Time to check in and see what all the SLP Bloggers have been up to! Click here to see everyone's entries, and find out how you can participate!

This month I am...

Schooling...myself in Spanish! I recently found out about the Duolingo app, and I am loving it! Duolingo is FREE for Apple or Android products, and has been a great way to brush up on all the Spanish skills I've lost since high school. Try it out!

Excited...for our patio garden! We have two tomato plants, a green chile pepper plant, and a pot of herbs with parsley, oregano, and basil. Our peppers are growing like mad, and we've already harvested a few for soup and we even canned our own salsa! Can't wait for our little tomatoes to ripen :)

Prepping...preschool themes! This year I am providing services for children ages birth - Kindergarten, but the large majority of my caseload is 3-4 years old. I am going to attempt having weekly therapy themes this year, and have been super busy planning! What are your favorite themes to use with preschoolers? (I'm mega excited for ROBOTS!) blog in advance. These last few weeks have been SUPER motivating for me to blog. I just have ideas flying out the wazoo! I think it's because I've been at work for three weeks now and just keep getting more and more inspired by my kiddos. But of course, time is really valuable now that school is back up and running. I just don't have the time to blog like I had this summer. I finally created a blogging calendar, and I have a tentative schedule of what posts I'd like to write between now and December. Hopefully this calendar will keep me on task and updating regularly. I can't wait!!

Click on over to All Y'All Need to read what other SLP Bloggers are up to this month. If you're not a blogger, let me know in the comments what you are Schooling, Excited, Prepping, and Trying this September!