Speech Therapy Ideas

Five Reasons You Should be Using Sudoku with Your Students

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

Have you ever tried solving a sudoku puzzle? I often try, but I am not usually successful without cheating…haha. But I truly love solving puzzles and going through the process of trying to solve them.

Many of my students also enjoy solving puzzles, but often find standard number sudoku puzzles too difficult. That’s why I began creating picture sudoku puzzles to use with my students. I have sudoku puzzles for articulation, language, and book companions. My sudoku pages are great for all levels and I have even used them with students as young as 5 years old. Today, I am sharing 5 reasons why I absolutely LOVE using sudoku with my students.

1. They are highly engaging. Every time I pull out my sudoku pages, I instantly have my students’ full attention. They think the puzzles are so fun, which keeps them engaged. It doesn’t feel like work. Many of my students often ask for more…just for fun!

2. I can easily differentiate. I never have students who are on the exact same level academically. Sudoku puzzles come in a variety of difficulty levels. When I use my sudoku pages with my students, we can all be working on the same activity, but each student has a level appropriate for their ability.

3. They require no prep! Sudoku worksheets can be printed and used with absolutely no prep required. I have even have friends who have used them on the smart board as a group activity. Need to save paper? Print once and use them in sheet protectors with dry erase markers.

4. They are great for executive functioning skills. Completing a sudoku puzzle requires the ability to pay attention, self-monitor, organize and plan. When I use sudoku with my students, we are always working on these skills. It’s not just about solving the puzzle, but also learning how to focus on certain sections, use the information on the page, and think through possible solutions. The harder these pages get, the more focus and persistence is required. It’s a great way to help students learn how to work through a challenge.

5. They are so versatile. You can use sudoku pages as large group activities, with small groups, individuals, or even as homework. The opportunities are endless!

If you want to try using sudoku with your students, I have several FREE options for you to try. Click on the titles to download from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Don’t know how to do sudoku? Just start out with one of my level 1 pages and go from there. You’ll get it in no time!

FREE Articulation Sampler

FREE There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly book companion

FREE Earth Day vocabulary

If you’re looking for more sudoku options, click the following titles:

Articulation Sudoku Mega Bundle

Langauge Sudoku

Old Lady Sudoku Bundle

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Water Fun in Speech!

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

Water in the speech room?  Crazy…no!  I’m linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to share some speech therapy water fun!

Incorporating water into speech therapy can either result in great fun, a great mess, or both!  I have one favorite water activity that I save for days in which I’m feeling extra adventurous.  It involves water and…cars!

These are not just any cars…are “magic” cars (as my students call them). They change color with hot and cold water.  

My students love watching the cars change color and playing in the water.  I love that we get a TON of language practice.  The basic set up includes a cup of ice water, a cup of hot water (not too hot, though), the cars, and I also have paintbrushes available.  Students change the color of the cars by dipping them into the cups of water, or by painting them with the paintbrush dipped in either hot or cold water.  
As they play, we work on requesting (they request hot/cold water, a particular car, a paper towel, etc.), adjectives and opposites (wet/dry, hot/cold, full/empty, etc.), colors, basic sentence structure, vocabulary, and even some articulation!  
For students who need extra visual support, I use communication boards with pictures of cars, colors, and visuals for hot/cold, etc.  
These cars are so much fun, but it does require a little bit planning/prep.  Here are my suggestions for a successful color changing car water session:
*Allow for time to prepare cups of hot/cold water.  I like to include my students in this process, but you could also have it ready to go when the session begins. 
*Clear the table because spills are difficult to avoid. 
*Have paper towels handy for quick clean up.
*Plan your language targets and model correct forms while the students play. 
*The water temperatures don’t stay hot/cold for very long, so don’t expect it to last an entire session unless you have additional ice and a way to heat the water in your room.  
*Have visuals ready for students who may need them.  
*Be ready for fun and excitement!
This is such a fun way to incorporate water play into therapy.  For more great water play ideas, head over to Speech2Me and check out the other blogs that have linked up with The Frenzied SLPs.  

Dollar Store Speech Ideas {Linky}

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

We all know therapy materials can be expensive, while our budgets tend to be limited. I rarely purchase materials from the big companies because they are so expensive.  Much of my therapy stash comes from Teachers Pay Teachers, my daughter’s old toys, and…dollar stores!  I love wandering the aisles of 99 cent stores, Dollar Tree, and the Dollar Spot at Target.  There are so many great things we can use in our speech sessions.  Today, I’m sharing some of my favorite dollar store finds and how I use them during speech sessions.

My favorite speech room purchase from the dollar store is my cookie sheet collection.  I love using cookie sheets with my students and getting them for $1 each is a great deal.

I use cookie sheets in so many ways.  They work great as individual work stations for my students.  The ridge around the edge of the sheet helps keep their cards and materials from scattering all over.  I also love to add magnets to flashcards and other materials, so they stick to the cookie sheet.  Kids love playing with magnets, so they always enjoy using the magnetic cards.  I usually just get the sticky magnetic tape and attach a small square to my cards.  Cookie sheets are also great when you want to use play dough, shaving cream, finger paint, etc. and keep the mess somewhat contained.

Some of my other great dollar store finds include containers and blocks for sorting.  I found these little containers and blocks for 50 cents at my local 99 cent store!  I use them to work on sorting colors, big and little, comparative and superlative adjectives, and following directions.  Dollar stores are great places to get all kinds of colored containers. 

I also recently found these cute hand puppets at Dollar Tree.  They are actually bath puppets, but we use them in speech to practice conversational skills, role playing, language skills, and even articulation practice!  I also like to put our target cards inside of them and have students draw from a puppet to practice.  For my students working on sentences, I will fill each puppet with action words and have them make a sentence about the puppet animal using the verb card they pull from it. There are so many ways to use these in speech and my pre-k students just love them.

 I’m also growing my bug/critter collection…all purchased at dollar stores.  These little critters are fun for sorting.  We sort by type of creature and/or color.  We also use these to work on describing.

These are just a few of my favorite dollar store speech finds.  My collection grows every time I visit one of these stores.  I’m a little addicted, but at least it’s affordable!

For more great dollar store speech ideas, be sure to check out the links below.  Have a great dollar store idea you want to share?  Link up below or share it in the comments.

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5 Ways to Bring Holiday Fun Into the Speech Room

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

I just love this time of year.  Holiday decorations are up, people are (generally) cheerful, kids (and teachers) are getting excited about the upcoming winter break, and we get to have fun with holiday activities.  I’m always looking for ways to bring the fun into my speech room.  This year, I decided to share some of my favorite activities for bringing the holiday fun into the speech room […]

1. Speech Room Elf on a Shelf – We have an elf at our house (Jingles) and I have several friends who are SLPs and/or teachers who have brought the fun of the elf into their classrooms.  I have not been able to “adopt” a speech room elf yet myself, but I think some of my students would absolutely LOVE to have one in the room.  Just think of all the great language you could work on each day while they look for the elf.  I’m thinking pronouns, prepositions, etc. A Google search for speech or classroom elf will yield TONS of great ideas for using an elf in your speech room.  Click HERE to see an older post from Jenna at Speech Room News about how she used her elf in speech. 

2. Use winter/holiday themed apps – I love the Articulate It app from Smarty Ears and it has themes you can change throughout the year.  The theme I am using now is the Christmas theme.  My students love that I can change the theme and get more into the holiday spirit. I also love Toca Hair Salon Christmas (free).  We use it to elicit language and also for reinforcement.  So fun!

3. Hide the present – this is another fun way to get students into the holiday spirit.  Place your activity for the day (artic cards, game, worksheets, etc.) into a wrapped box (with a lid for easy opening) and hide it before each session.  Have the students look for the present at the start of each session.  This will give them some excitement and curiosity as they open the gift to see what activity they will doing that day.

4. Craftivities!  I love doing craftivities in speech.  It breaks up the typical routine and gives students a finished product that they can show off to their class, teachers, and family…and gives them something to use for practice at home!  There are so many Christmas/winter/holiday themed craftivities out there.  An easy one to do is just a large piece of green construction paper cut into a triangle (tree) with circles of different color construction paper for ornaments.  I print out small pictures that go with my students goals (target phonemes, verbs, pronouns, vocab, etc.) and they just glue them onto the ornaments and then onto the tree. Another great craftivity can be found over at Allison’s Speech Peeps (pic below is from her blog).

5. Christmas/Holiday books – There are so many great holiday books for children and so many book companions on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I love to bring at least one holiday book into speech and base the lesson around the story.  One of my favorite Christmas stories is Oh, What a Christmas! I’ve been working on a book companion for this story, but it won’t be ready this Christmas…be sure to check back!

Happy Holidays!

Summer Speech Fun {Linky}

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

I. LOVE. SUMMER. I absolutely love it.  Even here, in the heat of Texas, I just love summer.  The other seasons don’t even come close for me.  In honor of my love for summer, I am linking up with Simply Speech to share some of my favorite summer themed games and activities that can be used in speech therapy.  Read on to see what I have to share, then click back to see what favorite activities Simply Speech has for summer and check out the others that have linked up, too.

(I’ve included Amazon affiliate links on each picture, but there are many different places you can find these games/activities. )

Playing in the sand is the perfect summer activity.  I especially like it because here in Central Texas, not every child has the opportunity to visit a beach and experience the fun of making a sand castle.  I love kinetic sand because it’s not as messy as real sand and you can use it in so many different ways.  I like to bury target cards or items in the sand and have my kiddos search for them.  I also like to work on following directions while playing in the sand.  It’s also great for describing and exploring new textures.  There are so many different types of sand you can find at different prices.  There are also recipes online that show you how to make your own.  It’s the best!

Sidewalk chalk is fun for days when you just need to get out of the speech room and enjoy some fresh air.  I use it to write target words on the ground for my kiddos to practice their sounds.  You can also draw a series of shapes on the ground and have the kids follow directions using the shapes (stand in the circle and clap your hands, sit in the square and close your eyes, etc.).  You can also work on basic concepts such as big/little, in/out, and so much more.  The options are endless!

I love cooperative games.  Some kids just aren’t ready for competitive games and I can’t always lose valuable therapy time dealing with a child who is upset over not winning.  Cooperative games allow the kids to work together to complete the game and then they all “win.”  This Birds of Summer game allows the kids to work together to save the baby birds from predators.  It involves so many skills including memory and problem solving.  Your kiddos will love it!

Summer is about being with family, barbecues, and eating pie!  I love this game because it reminds me of delicious apple pie served at a family picnic.  You can use it to work on carryover of articulation skills, turn taking, conversational skills, and so much more.

Those are just a few of my summer fun games and activities.  What are your favorite summer fun favorites?  You can write a blog about it and link up over at Simply Speech, or tell me in the comments.

Happy summer!!!


What Do You Do?

By | Speech Therapy Ideas

Ah…the loaded question…what is it that you do?  If only the answer was as simple as the question.

Before becoming an SLP, I was a teacher.  So when people asked me what I did for a living I had a very simple, straightforward answer.  They sometimes would ask me what I taught and that was that.  Everyone knows what a teacher does.

Now that I’m an SLP (almost), I find this question more complicated.  I have found that I respond differently depending on who I am speaking with.  In some cases, I can actually say that I am an SLP (assistant/grad student) and I know that the other person will know what I am talking about.  This is usually the case if they know another SLP or have had experience with one.  But I don’t always use “SLP” as my answer.  In most cases, I stick with “speech therapist.”

Using the term “speech therapist” provides enough information that the person I am speaking to can infer what I do.  Most people know what a therapist does. so attaching that to “speech” enables them to figure out that I probably help people with their speech.  What they don’t know is that it is so much more than they really think. 

I think it’s safe to say that most people think of working on /r/ and /s/ when they think of a speech therapist.  “Oh, you help kids who can’t say their sounds right.”  Yes, that is part of what we do.  But that is only a part.  There are so many things we do that the average person would never even guess.  Here are just a few of the things SLPs do:

  • Articulation – yes, we work on /r/ and /s/ and all the other sounds that people might need help with.  But it’s not just for kids.  We also work with patients who have dysarthria (perhaps after a stroke) or apraxia of speech (this involves much more than just practicing a sound or two). 
  • Voice – someone might need voice therapy if they have had some kind of damage or disease with their vocal folds, cleft palate, stroke, traumatic brain damage, or a disease (like Parkinson’s) that may affect their voice.  
  • Fluency (stuttering) – we might work with kids or adults in this area
  • Language – with younger children we might work on vocabulary or sentence production.  With older children we might work on language skills that will help them in the classroom.  We also work with children who have not started talking at all, sometimes on using alternative modes of communication (such as a speech output device of some kind).  We might also work with children with autism on social skills.  This is also an area we might work on with a patient after a stroke or traumatic brain damage.  This area involves a lot and is more than I can describe here.  Anything related to vocabulary, grammar, sentence formation, and/or social use of language would fit here. 
  • Cognition – this area includes things like sequencing, attention, and memory that can affect a person’s day-to-day functioning.  
  • Feeding/swallowing – this is one of the areas that very few people know we work with.  Being able to swallow is something that we take for granted until we can’t do it.  SLPs can work with patients who are having trouble feeding/swallowing using a variety of techniques that they receive special training in. 

SLPs work in a variety of settings including schools, hospitals, nursing homes, rehab clinics, private therapy clinics, and home health to name a few.  Every setting is different, and every SLP has their area of expertise. 

One of the great things about this career is that it has a lot of variety.  No two settings are the same and every day is different.  It’s not always easy to sum up what we do, and SLPs are really the only people who fully understand what the career is all about.  We teach, inspire, motivate, encourage, support, counsel, and train.  We make a difference. 

The next time someone asks me what I do, I will probably run through responses in my head like I usually do.  Then I will tell them that I am a speech-language pathologist, and I change lives.