Christmas Ornament Activity for Middle School Life Skills Students

Happy Monday, y’all! Woo-hoo! Only four days left until Winter Break.

I think I mentioned in my last post that I seem to have very little time to plan in December. Probably like you, though, I have some groups that just require more thorough planning. My middle school intellectual disabilities/autism class is one of those groups. These guys require age- and ability-appropriate materials, hands-on activities, visual aids, step-by-step instructions, numerous communication opportunities, etc. I spend a good percentage of my planning time coming up with lessons for groups like this. Sometimes, it is a little overwhelming.

To make it easier, I try to follow the same format in each session:
  1.  Read a book or watch a video related to our topic.
  2. Retell the story or video using AAC and/or visual supports.
  3. Complete a related activity-game, craft, etc. targeting additional communication goals.
  4. Complete a summarizing worksheet that can be used for home practice as well.
This format works pretty well for us, and I pair it with a simple visual schedule to keep us all on track.

Last week, I wanted to focus on Christmas (luckily, we are allowed to use holiday-themed materials). I thought making an ornament to hang on the tree at home would provide a fun activity that could be taken home and (hopefully!) discussed there. Of course, I turned right to Pinterest for decoration inspiration.  I found this cute-as-a-bug (also EASY) Yarn-Wrapped Ornament from The Inspired Treehouse (I did make a few changes for my boys):

 After I found the activity I wanted, I needed a book or video to go with it. I needed something simple with age-appropriate pictures and graphics. For you middle school people out there, you know how difficult it is to find this! It seems like all simple stories are geared toward early elementary aged children. I scoured Teachers Pay Teachers, but could not find what I needed, so I made one on Powerpoint of course. Simple text targeting several Christmas traditions and real photos are perfect for this group. I also used the Powerpoint to target yes/no questions by asking if the students participated in the pictured traditions. 

Following the story, I pulled up the slide about Christmas trees, and introduced the ornament craft.

Using pictures and modeling, I showed them how to make the ornament. We then used the pictures to sequence the process onto a take home sheet. I sent both the ornament made at school and materials to make another home with the boys with instructions to complete another at home. (Hopefully!) the families will carry over some of the language skills targeted in speech at home.

As a Christmas gift to you, I am providing a link to the nonfiction story and take home sheet here: Let's Celebrate Christmas Story and Lesson
 Let's Celebrate Christmas Lesson

If you like this activity, you may find other useful materials in my TPT store. I’d love to hear any comments or ideas you have for your tough-to-plan-for groups as well!

Hoping you have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!


TPT Cyber Monday Sale: What's in Your Cart? {Linky}

Well, y’all, it is time for another TPT sale! I feel like it is perfect timing, too, since it coincides with Cyber Monday. Jenna from Speech Room News is hosting her “What’s in Your Cart?” linky again, so if you need some great therapy or classroom ideas, we’ve got you covered! Here are just a few things I have on my Wishlist:
Christmas Yes and No Questions by Speech Time Fun

Christmas Fun Facts: Listening for Details by Dean Trout
Speech in a Bag by Peachie Speechie

Now, I also have a few things in my store you may like (or love)!
I have recently updated all of my Pass the Prize games and bundled them to save you money! I am not exaggerating when I say EVERY SINGLE student on my caseload (currently PK-8, but sometimes includes 9-12) LOVES to play this!

For me, the next few weeks are going to be super-hectic, so I am going to lean pretty heavily on on-prep activities. My Print and Go Language Worksheets: Christmas are great because they target multiple language objectives.

I also recently updated my Story Companion: The Gingerbread Man. It’s great for those of you who are unable to do holiday activities in your settings, and my PK-2 littles love this story!

Thanks for checking out my post, and happy shopping! Be sure to use the code: SMILE when checking out to save an extra 10%! That's a total of 28% savings in my store for November 30-December 1! 


5 Things You Didn't Know About This SLP {Linky}

Hey, y’all! I am so excited about this linky! I happen to be a very curious (nosy) person, so I love finding out about others. I feel as though I am friends with many of these SLPs, and learning more about them will be so interesting. Just in case you are as curious (nosy) about other people as me, here are five fun facts about yours truly:

1. I am a VERY young grandmother. I will not say exactly how young, but let’s just leave it at I’m not quite 40-yet. My sweetie pie grandson is pictured below because I know you will appreciate how stinkin’ cute he is!

2. I am happily married to my high school sweetheart and we have two awesome children (also pictured below).

3. Speech pathology was not my first career choice. I changed my major at least six times! Nursing, psychology, pre-med, and engineering were a few others I considered. I finally went with speech pathology at the suggestion of my mom (a special ed. teacher), and because I wanted to help people like my sister who is hearing impaired.

4. I am super short-only 5’0”!

5. I really, really, really hate talking about myself.

Those are my fun facts. Visit Jessica Cassity at The Speech Space to find some other info about bloggy SLPs! In the spirit of giving, I am also giving away my new Pass the Prize BUNDLE. Good luck and happy Thanksgiving!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Trick or Treat Blog Hop

Hey, y’all! I have been missing in action for a while (again-thanks to a mountain of work-related stuff), but I love linky parties, so I had to join Rachael from The Classroom Game Nook for this one! Are you ready for some tricks AND treats? I know I am.

My school system has really focused on integrating technology (specifically Google) into the classroom this year. It seems like anything and everything can be done with a laptop, interactive whiteboard and/or a tablet. I think new technology is awesome, and I understand the need to use it in the classroom, but sometimes kids just need to have access to good, old-fashioned books. The kind that have actual pages to turn. Often my students are much more intrigued by things with screens than paper books, though, so it is a challenge to motivate them to listen to a story or look at a book. Luckily, I have found a way to help with that. Curious? Ok, here is my trick: I have been using many interactive books lately. 

By adding elements to books to make them interactive, I am providing a way to keep kids engaged and hands-on while using actual paper books. Most of my interactive books consist of velcro and pictures added to the pages, but sometimes I just give the kids picture cards to help sequence the story while I’m reading it. I have also used props like stick puppets and small toys. They love these activities, and I love that they are learning without “screen time.”

Many sellers on Teachers Pay Teachers offer interactive books for a wide range of ages and themes. I use those and make my own. To get you started, or add to your collection, I am offering a treat for you. My Language Mini-Pack: “Where is Little Monster?” will be FREE through November 1st on Teachers Pay Teachers.

I am also having a giveaway for my Story Companion: “The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything.” The story was written by Linda Williams and lends itself to interaction without extra materials, but I have made some fun activities to go with it. Good luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more tricks and treats, click on the picture below. Have fun!


Talk Like a Pirate Linky

Ahoy, mateys! In case you were not aware, SLPs love “Talk Like a Pirate Day,” which happens to be September 19. I don’t know if it is because pirates are known to say “arrrrr” and we work on that r phoneme so stinking much or what, but all of the SLPs I know are celebrating the scurvy dogs (also known as pirates) this week! I am linking up with Tracy Morlan of Gold Country SLP to bring you some swashbuckling ideas in honor of this legendary day.

First up, I only have one pirate resource in my TPT store. The good news is it is FREE and you can find it here: Print and Go Speech Seeks and Language Looks: Pirate-themed Reinforcers

I also have a Pinterest board dedicated to those buccaneers and you can find that here: .

Now for other treasures you can find on TPT:

This comprehensive Speech and Language Therapy Pack: Pirates from Sounds Like Fun:
I have seen all of these activities in action and they are ARRR-Mazing!

The Speech Attic’s Pirates Practice for Vocalic R:
Erin provides plenty of practice for that pesky vocalic r with adorable pirate friends. Also, it is FREE!

Pirate QuickDrill from Mia McDaniel:
Mia also includes pirate-themed targets for articulation practice. Shiver-me-timbers!

I hope this treasure map leads you straight to some helpful materials! If you are still looking for some plunder, take a look at Tracy's Pirate Linky for additional ideas!


Quick Tip: Make it Visual!

Hello again, y’all! I have been MIA from blogging due to back to school chaos, but am hoping to get back in the swing now. My plan is to post at least a couple of times per month, but we will see how it goes.

The quick tip for today is Make It Visual! I was inspired for this particular post by a new student at our school. Mari (not her real name of course) began pre-K at our elementary school on our first day. Mari’s grandmother, who she is currently living with, completed her language questionnaire by indicating Mari has been in a Spanish-speaking only environment until very recently. Shortly before school began, Mari moved from her home in Mexico to her English-speaking only grandmother’s house without her parents. Bless her heart, she is now without any Spanish speakers AT ALL in both her home and school. Not to mention, she is away from home and family. Her teachers wanted to know how best to help her.

In our school system, we very rarely have ESOL students. I think we have only had three in the last ten years. We do have a certified ESOL teacher who provides services as needed, but Mari’s regular pre-K teacher wanted some suggestions and help for providing Mari with continued support throughout her school day. Luckily for all involved, our pre-k program is very language-rich. We often see children blossom in several areas just from attending school, so that is one plus for Mari. After consulting with other language experts and the ESOL teacher, I talked with the pre-K teacher about also making language visible whenever possible.

By using pictures and symbols along with verbal language, another source of information is being provided. Mari can look AND listen and is more likely to understand the content being presented. Like some of my other students who are struggling with language, peer modeling and gesturing have also been effective for Mari. She is soaking up everything like a sponge and it amazes me how fast she is learning our language. While she is not a “special education” student, some of our special education “tricks” have been extremely helpful for her. This situation reminds me how ALL students can benefit from multiple modality teaching. The pictures above are some examples of items that have helped Mari. I hope they give you some ideas as well. Please comment with any additional suggestions you might have for students who have ANY kind of language weakness. Until next time!


Speachy Feedback Linky-BTS 2015

After every Teachers Pay Teachers sale, Nicole Allison from hosts the fantastic Speachy Feedback Linky Party. This is a chance for speechy TPT sellers to say thank you for great feedback. Not great feed back as in four stars across the board and something like "great product" (although that is fabulous to get as well), but great feedback as in detailed information that helps a seller understand what she is doing well or that can help her improve her product. Each seller chooses one example of great feedback and offers the buyer a FREE product from her shop. Sounds fun, right? 

So...drum roll please...

Terri left this sweet feedback on my Where Is Little Frog? Book for Positional Concepts. It was a freebie, so it was especially nice to get feedback, even though she did not earn any credits for it. So, Terri, if you will comment with your email and your choice of product from my store ($5 or less), I would love to send it to you! Thanks so much for your kind words!

To any of my other buyers and/or downloaders, THANK YOU also! I appreciate ALL of your purchases and ALL of your feedback!

For the rest of you, if you are wondering if you might have won something too, head over to Nicole's blog and see! Good luck!


What's in Your Cart? BTS Linky Party

School is starting for me on Monday. My summer seems to have been unbelievably short, and I was a little sad about going back. Lucky for me, TPT decided to throw a sale! I have cheered up considerably. Who doesn’t like shopping? 

I love the “What’s In Your Cart?” Linky hosted by Jenna Rayburn of Speech Room News. Before I became a blogger, I would check Jenna’s links before every sale to find great new products. I am thrilled to finally be able to link up myself!

First, I’d like to show you what is in my cart. In addition to several sets of clip art, I am excited to try these products:

Sounds Like Fun’s Back to School Therapy Pack

Jenna Rayburn’s AAC Core Word of the Week

The Dabbling Speechie’s AAC Starter Kit

I hope I have given you some good ideas for your own cart, but before I let you go, I’d like to tell you about a few of my products I think you’ll like. Feel free to add them as wellJ.

Since we are celebrating “Back to School,” how about this fun game for all ages and all skills: 
Pass the Prize: Back to School

For those of you who are feeling like you might need some year-round materials, I would suggest this, which covers both articulation and language:
Print and Go Speech Seeks: Year-Round

And finally, one of my top five products:
Football Speech and Language Pack

It is great for introducing the topic of Football, and both boys and girls love it!

Thanks for stopping by. To see what others have in their carts for the big sale click hereSave 28% off everything in my store and many others with the code BTS15!


The Best Thing I Learned This Summer

Hey, y’all!

It’s time for another blog post, and this time I’m linking up with The Frenzied SLPs to share the best thing I learned this summer.

Like most people, I love my mom. A lot. I have always thought she was a good mom, and I have always appreciated her. This summer, however, I learned that my mom is much more amazing than I have given her credit for.

Currently, Mom has custody of my six-year-old niece, A. This is her:

Can you tell she’s a bit of a stinker?

Also, this is her:

Can you tell she’s also a sweetie?

Mom would not want me to say how old she is, so I’ll just let you know she is two years away from retirement from teaching in special education. She has her hands full. Even so, this summer, she decided we should go visit my sister in San Diego. With A. On a plane.

I was a little reluctant to go at first. No worries, though. Mom talked me into it by buying my ticket for me. How could I say no then? So we went.

I suspected A had ADHD before the trip. Now I am fairly certain she does. She has not been diagnosed by a doctor, but I think that will probably come soon. So far, Mom has been trying to manage it with firm routines and diet. This has helped some, but A still has a ways to go.

I’m sure you can imagine what the plane ride to and from California (from Georgia) was like with A. It wasn’t the worst thing I've ever done, but it wasn’t pleasant, either. It also rained two of the three days we were there which meant we were cooped up inside a small apartment a good bit of the time. With A bouncing off the walls (literally). Still, Mom was determined to enjoy our trip. So we did. Because of my amazing, awesome, fantastic, fabulous mom, I got to see these spectacular things:
My baby sister!

The Pacific Ocean

 Thank you, Mom. You are the best and I am so glad I learned that this summer!

To see what others are sharing, click here.

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