March 24, 2014

Using Marble Runs in Speech Therapy

Marble runs are versatile, super fun, and can be used to target multiple communication goals.

When I was working in a private pediatric setting in Texas, we had a giant marble maze in one corner of the common therapy area. And the kids went bonkers over it! It was a great reward at the end of our sessions, and almost every kiddo asked to use it each day. As time went on, I began incorporating it into my therapy, because marble runs have plenty of opportunities for speech and language practice!

Since leaving that clinic, I have missed having a marble run in my bag of tricks. Luckily, I acquired a small table-top sized one over spring break, and let me tell you, EVERY student I worked with today wanted to use it! Here's a rundown of the many ways you can use marble runs in your speech therapy sessions.

*Basic Concepts: talk about the colors of the marbles and the maze pieces; the number of marbles being used; count the marbles at the bottom of the maze; discuss the shape of the marbles; construct different shapes out of the maze; talk about which marbles were first and last; are the marbles going fast or slow?

*Emerging Language Skills: Marble mazes are excellent because there is a definite start and a definite end, and it doesn't take long for the marbles to reach the bottom. You will have lots of chances to elicit "ready...set..." and wait for your student to yell "GO!". Marble runs are also the perfect opportunity for students to practice requests: more, please, my turn, more marbles, all gone

*Turn-Taking and Pronouns: Some of my preschoolers have a behavior goal for turn-taking. Marble runs are perfect practice for this. We also get tons of opportunities to practice pronouns: my turn, your turn, we go at the same time, his turn, you do it, 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 the marble maze, or have them practice telling each other directions. Since the maze pieces are different colors and shapes (curved, straight, wheeled, etc), it's perfect for adding describing words to your sentences: "Put the curved red piece on top of the short purple piece."

*Articulation: I have my articulation students practice their target sounds a designated number of times before they can shoot a marble down the run. Or they earn the marbles as we practice and enjoy sending them all down at once :)

Marble runs are a versatile and FUN addition to my speech therapy supplies. I hope you get great use out of them too!

(Note: The small size I have is perfect for me to carry with as I travel between buildings, but the bigger sets include additional exciting pieces such as rotating wheels. If you have the budget and the space, I'd spring for a larger set.)

Abby assembled her marble maze as soon as she got home from the store, and played with it by herself :)

March 22, 2014

Love It & List It - Fave Technology

my top 4 favorite forms of technology for use in speech therapy

I'm linking up with Speech Room News again this month for her Love It & List It link-up. This month's topic is favorite technology. Here's what I use and love in my speech room.

1) iPad

I feel like I'm preaching to the choir here, because the iPad and apps are EVERYWHERE, but it is truly the number one piece of technology I use every day. Obviously there are tons of apps out there which are great for use in the speech room, but the iPad goes way beyond apps too.

It's a timer.
It's a search engine.
It's a tv.
It's a library.
It's a fun game.
It's a writing tool.
It's a flash drive.
It's a scanner.

It's all that and more. I am so fortunate that my employer also sees its value and is willing to provide me with one. Now, if only I could triple the amount of memory available :)

BTW, I was supplied a case with attached bluetooth keyboard by my employer, which is great for writing reports on the go, but I'm looking for something less clunky sans keyboard for everyday use. What's your favorite iPad case? Let me know in the comments please.

2) Boardmaker Plus

Need a visual schedule for a student? Boardmaker. Need a token board to keep a student on task? Boardmaker. Need pages for a communication device? Boardmaker. Need a sheet of words containing target speech sounds for progress monitoring? Boardmaker. Need to write a social story? Boardmaker. It's such a versatile tool, and I use it all the time. Be sure to check out Boardmaker Share and Boardmaker Achieve to download ready-made activities from other users! Again, I am so very grateful to have this provided to me by my employer.

3) Voice Recorders

The top two I use are Quick Voice (on the iPad) and Audacity (on my laptop). They are both free to download, and perfect for taking language samples, screening a student, and recording story retell trials. I like Audacity on my MacBook Pro because I can turn it on and then tilt the screen down until almost closed so the student isn't distracted by the recording. However, I'm almost always working with students in their classroom or in the hallway and don't drag my laptop along, so I use Quick Voice on the iPad the most. Check it out!

4) Social Media

This isn't really something I use directly in therapy, but social media is definitely something that affects the activities I'm doing in therapy! Pinterest is overflowing with amazing therapy ideas! I have connected with a whole bunch of SLPs on Twitter and love using it to find information about current research and upcoming events. But my favorite right now is Instagram. It's such a great tool for connecting and interacting with other SLPs and I find a ton of great ideas from the creative people I interact with. I don't know what I'd do without these tools!

Schoolhouse Talk on Instagram
Schoolhouse Talk on Pinterest
Schoolhouse Talk on Twitter
Schoolhouse Talk on Facebook

So there you have it! My favorite technology tools for speech. What do you like to use? Go check out what other tools SLPs are using!

Abby wishes there were 30 hours in a day so she could catch up on everything.

Basketball Bonanza! {freebies + activity roundup}

a round-up of basketball-themed activities, apps, books, and games for your speech room

It's tournament time! The NCAA men's basketball tournament is here (and the women's tournament is just around the corner)! Now, I don't follow basketball. At all. But I still filled out a bracket. I have just as good a chance as anybody, right? Who's going to win it all?! No idea. I picked Florida, but my husband says that won't happen. All I know is that the team I root for didn't even make the tournament. There's always next year! You can have some basketball fun in your speech room with my newest freebie!
Basketball Bonanza

This year I have a versatile activity with a basketball theme - Basketball Bonanza! This one has eight cards for each of the following phonemes: CH/SH (together), R, S, L, K/G (together), F (48 cards total).

There are also bonus and penalty cards included to make things more interesting. All the target words are basketball-themed, so besides great articulation practice, you can also use them to target vocabulary, expanding expressive language, or creating sentences.

Activity Ideas:
Spread the cards out on the floor, then toss beanbags onto the cards. Whichever one it lands on is the target students practice. Look out for the bonus points or missed shot cards! You can also play it on the table top, shuffle in the foil cards, and have students draw a card to practice. They can keep their card if they answer correctly, but have to put it back if their production isn't accurate. Whatever you do, have fun!

Download Basketball Bonanza for free here.

Speech Sound Word Brackets

I also have another basketball-themed activity! I made these speech phoneme word brackets last year, and they are a hit! The full packet targets 21 different speech sounds, but you can download the P, B, M, H brackets for FREE! Please leave feedback and follow my shop if you download :)

Now, onto the basketball apps, books, and games roundup!

Basketball Activity Roundup

Free Apple Apps:
Arcade Hoops Basketball (by Skyworks) - Just like the arcade games; make as many baskets as you can before the clock runs out.

 US Basketball HD (by YOMEN, Inc.) - Choose American landmarks to play at. Try to make as many baskets as you can before time runs out. Bonus points for hitting airplanes, blimps, and birds.

 Slam Dunk Basketball (by VisualDreams) - Score as many points as you can; earn bonus points for various tricks. I'm terrible at this game, but I can't stop trying to beat my score.

 Slam Dunk King (by PikPok) - Earn points for as many slam dunks as you can get in the given time, while swatting away the bombs. Unlock new tricks to score more points.

Free Android Apps:
Basketball Shot (by Top Casual Games) - just like the arcade games

Basketball Shots 3D (by Creative Mobile Games) - pretty realistic looking; try to make baskets from designated spots on the court.

Books (ages 3-5):

Books (ages 5+):
The Best of Everything Basketball Book - learn facts and history about the sport through the years

Salt in His Shoes - written by Michael Jordan's mom and sister; the story tells how Michael Jordan dreamed of becoming a basketball star and overcame obstacles to do so. The illustrations are also great.

Jimmy's Boa and the Bungee Jump Slam Dunk - Jimmy's pet boa is at it again, this time on the basketball court.

J is for Jump Shot: A Basketball Alphabet - learn history, vocabulary, and facts about basketball as you read your way through the alphabet
Games and Toys:
Over-the-Door Hoop - great for a quick reward at the end of a session. Or incorporate goal practice in before they can take a shot.

Table-Top Basketball - this mini version is perfect for therapy on-the-go.


I'm linking up with Speechie Freebies this week! Click on over to their blog and grab a whole lot of other free downloads. Enjoy!

Abby learned that basketball was not the sport for her in 4th grade when she stole the ball from her own teammate without realizing it.

March 21, 2014

Friday Funny

This gif is from an amazingly entertaining tumblr called "What Should We Call SLP". If you haven't seen it before, I highly suggest you do. You can check out the original post here.

When you cue a child with a frontal lisp to "hide your tongue".

March 17, 2014

"S...Peachy" Feedback {linky party}

rewarding people for leaving great feedback on Teachers Pay Teachers

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Someone is going to get LUCKY today if they left great feedback in my Teachers Pay Teachers shop! This feedback linky party is hosted by Nicole at Allison's Speech Peeps. Click on over her way to see who else is giving away freebies.

I really enjoy reading each and every bit of feedback that is left on product pages. Truly great feedback helps me learn what my buyers like, which activities are useful, and even ideas to help me improve the activities I make. So make sure you leave detailed feedback, even on free items.

This month, I'm thanking two people for their kind feedback: one on a paid product, and one on a free product.

#1: Story Grammar Prompts - I'm so grateful for all the kind words Speech Universe had to say about the usefulness of my Story Grammar Prompts.


#2: Progress Report Templates - I'm so thrilled Vickye L. is getting great use from my Progress Report Templates for Speech Therapy.

Speech Universe and Vickye L, thank you so much for your wonderful feedback! Please email me at 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 HAVE TO leave helpful feedback on TpT to be considered. Now enjoy your St. Patrick's Day!

Abby is feeling lucky to be on Spring Break today!

March 14, 2014

March 12, 2014

Leprechaun Mask Adapted Craftivity

 instructions for creating and adapting Leprechaun masks in the speech room

Last week it was Cat in the Hat Masks, and this week we've moved on to Leprechaun Masks! We've had a blast with these :) Read on to learn how to make your own in six easy steps.

You will need:
*paper plates (precut the centers out of your plates)
*yellow construction paper (precut into 2" x 2" squares)
*black construction paper (precut into 1 1/2" x 9" strips)
*orange markers, crayons, or paint
*green construction paper (9" x 12")
*glue stick

Step 1: Have your students color the entire plate ring orange. I had them color on the back of the plate.

Step 2: Fold your green construction paper in half. Cut the paper into an L shape over the fold. Note: it's very important to pay attention to how you are cutting your L. Make sure you're cutting off the edges, NOT the fold (see below)!

Step 3: Glue the black strip onto the hat. Instead of cutting the black strip to fit each hat, I just had my students fold over the extra and glue it down onto the back.

Step 4: Cut out the middle of the gold square. An easy way to do this is to fold the paper into fourths, then cut out the corner halfway down each folded side:

Then glue the buckle over the black strip:

Step 5: Attach the hat to the paper plate beard. I think the easiest way to do this was with good ol' scotch tape.

Step 6: Cut strips every half inch or so along the edge of the paper plate to make it look like a beard. Voila! You are finished!

I made some visuals to go along with this craftivity. Some of my students benefit from using picture symbols to make requests and expand their utterance length. This download has picture symbols, sentence strip, and sequencing activities. You can download it for free here.

This was a great activity for all my students. My little ones worked on increasing their length of utterance by making requests and adding in descriptive words (colors). Others were perfecting sequencing and following direction skills. My articulation students wrote words with their target sounds on the hats. I just adore how they turned out!

Don't forget to download your visuals for these marvelous masks here. Please leave a comment or follow my Teachers Pay Teachers store if you download the freebie. Thanks! May the luck o' the Irish be with you!

Abby would pay off all her student loans if she found the leprechaun's pot o' gold.

March 07, 2014

Friday Funny

By the way, you can find Schoolhouse Talk on many of these social networks:
(Right now, my absolute fave is Instagram! I post frequently, including special treats just for Instagram followers, so be sure to follow me @schoolhousetalk!) 

March 05, 2014

DIY Token Reinforcement Towers

instructions to create your own token tower reinforcement system

Token Towers reinforcement system from Super Duper, Inc has been on my wish list since I was in grad school. It is really motivating for students to try to fill up the whole tower! However, I just couldn't bring myself to pay the $30 price tag. So I set out to make my own version, DIY style. Here's what I came up with!

The tube is a PVC plastic I got from Craft's Direct. I like it because it is a strong plastic so the tube won't cave in or dent easily. Plus, it has a cover to easily contain and store the tokens. You could also use leftover tubes from ornaments or might be able to find something at the hardware store. (Normally $1.99, I got mine on sale 2/$1)

I had a heck of a time finding tokens that where thick, filled the tube without using a million tokens, and slid easily in and out of the tube. I ended up using these chocolate candy coins from Party City. The wrappers are difficult to get off, so I should be able to use them for a while before needing to replace any. I needed 45 coins to fill my tube. (15 coins for $1)

Then I cut a piece of contact paper to fit the tube and made marks with a permanent marker for every 5 tokens.

Total price: about $4.00! I can make a whole bunch of these for the price of the commercial set :)

I started wrapping a hair band around the tube to mark where my students need to reach. A rubber band would also work. Enjoy! If you create your own, let me know in the comments below, or tag @schoolhousetalk on Instagram!

Abby is giving up candy and is struggling not to eat her token tower.