Take a Peek at My Cart Companion

I have seen many rolling carts as SLP’s are quite crafty in traveling around a school building. Today, I will be showing you my therapy cart that stays right by my side. I realized after several years that I really needed my materials more organized are accessible during my therapy sessions. I seemed to have a shelf or cute decorative container that I pilled things in/on so that I could keep our table space simple and clean.

But no more!

Listen, we all know those rolling carts that were once used to carry big clunky t.v.’s from classroom to classroom are special. But now they can be used for all types of purposes. Here is how I’ve re purposed my t.v. cart – how about you?

 

 

This is the front. At some point in my career I inherited an old metal stand pictured here. It’s been incredibly useful as you can see. I have my speech therapy expectations easily visible for my students. That way throughout the session I can continue to refer back to them as needed. I also have my mini white boards, erasers, and mirrors (yay magnets!) readily accessible at all times. Oh! And the little notebook (thanks, dollar store) is where I scribble in lesson plans.

This is the back of the stand. I have an extra mirror, folders that contain very strong magnets so that I can place completed data sheets until they are ready to be entered into a database, and a random quiet prompt. I also have my blue pointer hidden back here because all the people want to play with it – all of ’em.

This is the shelf right under my metal stand. By the end of the week it’s a disaster and I have to give myself 15ish minutes to get it back into a functional state.  I always have crayons, a clipboard, and my binder of datasheets. You will also find it full of games and other materials when I am performing back to back therapy. And yes, there is also a clip chart. I don’t use it much, but when I do it’s more of a positive reinforcer than a negative. That’s probably another blog post at some point.

The very bottom shelf contains paper that I am using through out the day from craft directions to parent notes and the like. You will also see a mini binder stand that I just found at a thrift store (haven’t used it yet!), a second clipboard I use when I am going into the classroom, and plastic sleeves to write on.

Lastly, my little nook inside the metal stand. All my tiny items go here such as dot markers, scissors, glue, a counter, floss, a flashlight, and yet another mirror.

And that’s it! Maybe at some point I should post the disaster picture just for fun. How do you organize your therapy materials during your back to back sessions?

My 5 Favorite Food Activities to use in Speech Therapy

I love using food in therapy. There are SO many skills you can address including social skills, life skills, sequencing vocabulary, directional concepts, descriptive language, answering/asking questions etc., etc. And to top it off, it’s highly motivating and memorable.

So here we go! Let me share with you my top 5 faves that are simple to execute, have only a few ingredients, and are kid friendly.

*It is extremely important that you know of ANY feeding issues, allergies, or diet restrictions from parent, teacher, and/or nurse before preceding with any food related activities!!*

Pudding

So simple. So cheap. My students love mixing up the TWO ingredients and seeing it change before their eyes.  It’s completely optional, but I occasionally add sprinkles to the finished product just because I always seem to have some on hand.

 

 

S’mores

Yes! Campfire, burnt marshmallows, fall weather….. making s’mores in a classroom, office, or clinic doesn’t quite have the same ambiance, but there is a simple way to get that s’more taste without starting a fire. Now, you could technically use a microwave, but I really prefer the method I share below because it’s less of a mess and there are no worries about anything getting too hot.

Here is the plan:

  • Talk about campfires, burnt marshmallows, and fall weather
  • Read books or show videos/pictures about s’mores and/or camping
  • Break a graham cracker in half
  • Spread the chocolate on one cracker
  • Spread the marshmallow cream on the other cracker
  • Put the two pieces of graham cracker together like a sandwich
  • Eat
  • Talk about the similarities/differences between s’more made over a campfire and the ones you just ate

 

Fish in the Ocean

You may have seen this one floating around (I kill me) on pinterest looking ah-mazing. I nailed it by super simplifying it to three easy-to-find ingredients. There are a lot of great ocean themed books out there but most recently I have been reading Way Down Deep in the Deep Blue Sea by Jan Peck. It’s really cute with great pictures to discuss.

And listen – you can buy the white icing and the blue food dye if you want, but if you need a cheaper/quicker way to crank out this activity to multiple groups you can purchase blue icing that includes sprinkles that LOOK LIKE FISH. I’m in love.

 

 

Cookie Decorating

I don’t think this needs much explanation but it can take two seconds to complete and two seconds to eat.  I usually break out this activity during a holiday such as Christmas or Valentines Day.  Which means I could surround this activity with holiday themed books and discussions. This is also a great time to prompt your students to give the directions to YOU. Then you must do it exactly as they say which can become a pretty hilarious exercise for everyone involved.

 

Popcorn

My FAVORITE activity is the hot. air. popper.  Around 9 or 10 years ago I purchased the hot air popper pictured below for around $15. I save it for the last week of speech therapy of the school year. It is a hit EVERY time. For some, they have never even seen one before – understandable in the age of microwave popcorn. My students who have been with me for multiple years, are still excited to see those kernels pop every May!

 

 

Ta Daaa!  There ya go. You now have 5 ideas to get your student/child engaged and ready to talk! What simple food ideas to you use in speech therapy?

7 Ways to Start Your Speech Therapy Sessions

There are ALL kinds of ways to get your speech therapy started. It can really set the tone for the next 30 minutes. Here are some of my favorites!

1. Speech Expectations – This is my most common activity. I review it every. single. session. What’s great about this? My speech therapy expectations are clear from the beginning and it’s a great visual cue to keep students on track.  I also LOVE that after awhile most of my students can review the expectations with NO assistance.  I show them my file folder and let them lead the way.

 

Check out this product here.

2. Social Stories – Many of us use social stories for all types of behaviors in many settings. You may want to to put your speech expectations  in a social story format if that is most motivating for a particular student or group. The most common social story I use in speech therapy is to address  game playing behavior. There are quite a few free social stories I use on Speakingofspeech.com and I have used this one from Teaching Trove.

3. Folders – I only do this with a few of my students as it can be somewhat difficult to manage for a caseload of 50+, but I love having materials ready to go  As soon as my students enter the room they find their designated folder. We open it up and choose to pull out practice materials from the ‘Let’s practice this again’ side or ‘New Materials’ side. It’s that simple! And…if I am having one of those days that I don’t get my new materials in folders – no problem – we’ll be sure and use the “Let’s practice this again’ side for that speech therapy session.

4. Movement breaks – Y’all. Breaks. We all need them. Your student(s) may have been sitting at their desks for awhile and they NEED to move.  My students will do a few quick exercises such as jumping jacks, running in place, or touching their toes.  I will have therapy on a carpet in my room and allow them to sit in a way that is most comfortable. There are also great websites out there like: Go Noodle or Cosmic Kids. Whatever you choose, it can be quick and effective.

5. Mini centers – These are quick activities that I have chosen to review as soon as students walk through the door.  It must be something that can be completed in less than 5 minutes and that the students can use or set up independently or with minimal assistance. Once it is completed, we review the activity quickly, and the mini center is presented again in following sessions as needed. I have created some mini centers here and here for the /R/, /L/, and /S/.

6. Schedules and Work Systems: Some students really benefit from a very clear, visual system that says, ‘This what we are going to do, this how long we are going to do it, and this is what happens when we are done!’.  The most common systems I like to use are the faithful ‘First/Then’ and the ‘5 Point’ pictured below.  A student chooses a picture of a reward and then ‘points’ are awarded as they work through a particular activity.  Use clinical expertise and students’ values (hello, evidenced based practice) to assess how those point are given.

Hume, K., & Odom, S. (2007). Effects of an individual work system on the independent functioning of students with autism. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 37,1166-1180.

7. Let them talk! –  Just because you have a communication delay/disorder doesn’t mean you don’t have a lot to say! As professionals we can get so much out of this activity. We can observe their conversational speech, clarify their language (i.e. When you said ___, did you mean____), give turn taking cues, and ask questions. It really is satisfying to sit back and take the time to listen, engage, and learn more about what is important in their life.

How do you start your therapy sessions?