Cindy L. Meester's Blog- Speech Therapy with a Twist

Rolling, Rolling in the speech room (psst a giveaway post)

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 15, 2014
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I recently won a game called Tenzi from Millions of Fingerprints Blog.  It has become a huge hit in my speech sessions.


The set I received came in a long tube with four different colored dice in sets of 10. As stated on the tube it is a easy fast paced game in which everyone rolls until someone gets all their dice on the same number.  One of my students told me this was the “funnest day” ever in speech!

This is how I introduced it to my students with a speech therapy twist.

Vocabulary: die, dice, dots, square, cube, roll, shake, high/low, count, match,  same, different, matches, rules, more, most, less, least, slow, fast paced, demo/practice, set aside, strategy, eyeballing, invent, create (inventor/creator), original

Logical thinking: I showed the dice and then removed them from their vision. I asked them how many dice they thought the game had. I gave them the clue that the game was called “TENzi.”  It was interesting to see how the different brains processed this information.

Team players/Social skills: They each chose a set of dice. If they wanted the same color then they had to come up with a plan on how to decide who got that color. Some chose rock, paper, scissors; some asked me to put one die behind my back and they picked a hand; some willingly let the other player have that color, etc.

Playing the game: My rule for any dice game is when rolling it has to remain on the table or you lose your turn. With this many dice I gave each player a plastic container or the cover of the container to use for rolling their dice (worked great).

  • We played a demo or practice game first which helped everyone become familiar with the rules. We talked about if this was a slow game or fast paced game.
  • We talked about strategies: setting aside the dice (outside of the container) we were matching, picking, eyeballing the dice quickly when first choosing what number had the most showing; should you hold the dice high or low when rolling/shaking.
  • I told them that the game inventors/creators encouraged us to invent new ways to play. So we did. Disclaimer: The game comes with other ideas on how to play but I never looked at them so we may have created similar “new” ways to play.

Our inventions for new ways to play Tenzi (the groups also had to come up with a name that fit the game)

1. Castle:  Each player uses 10 dice- the object is to build a castle (pyramid) with 4 dice on the bottom, then 3, then 2 and then 1 on top. Each player rolls and tries to get 4 fours on the bottom then moves on to 3 threes, 2 twos and 1 on the top. The first one to finish their castle is the queen or king. You could make a smaller castle by using only 6 dice (threes on the bottom, then twos and one on top)


2. Silent Tenzi: Play in pairs and each player has 3 dice. The object is to get numbers 1-6. One team member rolls their dice and tries to get 1-2-3 (in order) when they have that the partner rolls their dice and tries to get 4-5-6 (in order). This is all done without talking. You could also play this as a single player against others.

3. Tower: Each player has 6 dice- the object is to stack each die on top of each other. The bottom die would be 6 and then 5 etc. until the top reaches 1. Or play it with 1 at the bottom and stack up to 6. You can add a challenge by stating if the tower falls before it is finished those dice must be rolled over.

photo 4

4. Dice-O:  Play in partners- each person has equal number of dice (you could play this with 2-10 dice)- Each team member rolls one die at a time and when they both have rolled the same number they set them aside and continue until all their dice match.

5. Pig:  Each player has 6 dice- you are trying to create a pig face.  You need to roll ones for eyes, 4 for the nose, 6 for the mouth and threes for the ears. The first person who finishes their pig face makes a pig noise.  You could call this another animal but pig is what my students wanted.

photo 2

6.  I Got It:  Each person has one die- One player calls out a number. Everyone rolls at the same time and the first person to roll the called out number yells “I got it!”

7. School:  Each person has 6 dice.  Each number represents a grade- 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th. Everyone rolls at the same time. You need to roll a 1 before you can move on to the next “grade.” Once a player rolls a 6 (for  6th grade) they yell “I graduated.”

8. Match Dash or Double Trouble: Each player has all 10 dice. Everyone rolls once and whoever has two matching dice is the winner OR  you could play until all a player gets 5 matches.

photo 3

9. It’s Not Adding Up:   Each person needs 1 die. All players roll at the same time in the same location or container. Whoever adds up the total shown on the dice is the winner. You can also play this for subtraction but we only used two dice.

10. Make a Tail: Each player uses all 10 dice. The object is to create a snake-like creature. Roll a six for the head, eight ones for the body and a 3 for the tail. You cannot make a tail (3) until you have finished the rest of the snake. The first one who puts a tail on their snake hisses.

photo 1

So now it’s you turn to add your own twist!

Check out the free app Tenzi app for iPad (it is also available for Android)

Oh yes and now for the GIVEAWAY!!! 

Just sign up through the Rafflecopter link below for a chance to win your own Tenzi game!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

S’now what’s up?

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 9, 2014
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MN as many other states has been in a deep freeze. We even had two days of school cancelled due to the negative temperatures. But now we are back and it is a balmy 10 today and heading for the 30’s later in the week.  And yes our students do go out for recess even when it is -10. So I plan to continue embracing this cold by doing snow activities with my students. Here is one idea that we have used.


The print outs for this activity can be found at this site:

Be sure to check out the other fun things there too.

Here are some ways to use these cute snowmen.

1.  Following  directions

2. Describe how they are the same or different

3. I have a window full of these and the students give clues for us to guess which one they are thinking about.

4. Add talking or thinking bubbles – and see what the snowmen are talking about

5.  There are lots of different faces to make so maybe create different emotions on each one. This could lead to a good discussion about what they are feeling and why.

6. Work on concepts: on, under, top, bottom, over, next to, right, left, around etc.

7. Give the snowman a name and write a story about him. My students used letter stickers to add the name.

8. Read one of the many snow or snowman books- check your school library.

9. Embellish your snowman with glitter, a pet, an animal friend etc.

10. Write articulation words on the page

11. Write words about winter on the page

12. Ask the kids what else they could do- they always have fun ideas!

As always add your own twist!


Making Connections….thank you 2013

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on December 20, 2013
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We are heading into the holiday week and a new year will soon be creeping in. I look back on my professional life of 2013 and want to thank all of you who have followed my blog and left comments. When I started posting on-line many years ago it was through backflip- a web site that allowed you to bookmark and access from any computer. I used this often and spent many hours finding resources and putting them into appropriate folders. But then the site crashed and never did recover. So I turned to WordPress and started this blog in the fall of 2009. It has evolved and so have I and so has the social medial network. Now there are hundreds of SLPs blogging, on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, Teachers Pay Teachers and more. The world has shrunk and now it is so easy to post questions and recieve advice from other professionals around the world. When I began as an SLP 36 years ago we only had interschool envelopes and ditto paper. There was no skyping or facetime. I didn’t have a phone in my speech room – there was only one or two for my entire school. Life has changed for making connections and that was what 2013 was for me. Making connections… in 2013.

Here are a few connections from ASHA 2013. I only wish I had taken more pictures. Thank you for sharing time with me even if it was a quick hug and hello. It was special. If I try to mention those not pictured I know I will forget someone.

photo 1    photo

So head into this new year with plans for making connections.  It doesn’t need to be at ASHA. It can be within your own work setting. Reach out and ask for ideas or advice. Reach out and share an idea or a laugh. It really does make a difference. Sometimes I feel like an island, the only SLP in my work place. Sometimes it can be wonderful and other times depressing. Being an island isn’t always fun but hop on your jet ski and head over to those other islands.  It may be as close as your next door workmate or across the social media links. Just do it and you will be thankful too.

Here’s to “reining” in the new year and to making new connections! (Bun I mean pun intended!)

photo 2

As always go add your own twist!


PS. I bought the packrat puppet at ASHA and she has made many connections with my students. Her name is…Asha.

Snow much fun!

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on December 12, 2013
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We have a freeze wave happening. The temperature has been hovering in the negatives. When you add in the windchill (-20 or more) we get lots of indoor recess days. We have our frozen fingers and frost-bitten toes crossed that it will warm up enough to let the kids out soon! It’s looking like it may be 18 degrees soon and here in MN that’s outdoor fun time!

In the mean time I have been trying to keep the energy focused in the speech room. This has led me to pull out more hands on and movement activities.  Here is one activity I tried this week…

Take two second graders working on social skills, comprehension, perspective taking, inferencing and add one Grow a Snowman.


First we looked at the front of the packaging. What  do you think grow a snowman means? How can we find out what to do? We checked out the back and looked at the pictures to make our guesses before we read the instructions. There was new vocabulary  and concepts to discuss: room temperature, full size, 72 hours,  near original size, grow over and over again.  Hunting for a container was an adventure and we discussed why the cover on our container was a good idea or not.


We walked and talked about where we could find the best placed to get room temperature water.  We found hot water in the teachers lounge (another learning experience on why they should wait by the door).  Now we had hot water- was it too hot? The boys said I should add a little cold water.  Returning to the speech room we noticed the cover was steamed over… hmmm why?  Finally we measured the snowman so we could compare his changes and plopped him the water. Now we looked for a good spot to keep him safe.


The instructions stated that we would see growth after 2 hours so the boys came back to check it before going home.  After the first check we noticed it was a little fatter but not really taller. I guess we’ll see what happens next… just like our weather!

Now how will you add your own twist? Leave a comment and I’ll pick one idea and send you your own Grow a Snowman! (I will choose on 12/20.)


Social Dough

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on December 9, 2013
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“E” is a first grader in one of our Autism classrooms. She has a lot of great skills but of course social peer relationships can be difficult. I paired her with “J” from her mainstream classroom. It has led to many interesting sessions. I want to share the one from today. This was a spur of the moment idea that worked ….. today. 😊

I brought out two cookie cutters. We talked about what they were and their uses. The girls decided that we could use play dough since no cookie dough makings could be found.

Here’s how the play dough turned into social dough.

1. First the girls took turns and gave directions to “squish” the dough.


2. They gave directions to “roll” the dough.


3. They worked together to remove their creations.


4. They asked me to take a picture of their creations.


5. They asked if they could make more and who could refuse!


This was one of our socially successful sessions. The girls took turns, gave each other directions, shared ideas, used each other’s names and thought about each other with their eyes. The best part was when the girls took over and no longer needed my “coaching.”

What is your “twist” on this activity?  Share your ideas in the comment section.


Nana nana nana nana nana nana nana nana …. Batman!

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on November 7, 2013
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I bet you sang the title of this post didn’t you? I know I did as I typed it. This is a quick post about an unexpected hero that rescued me in a therapy session today.  And yes it was Batman along with his trusted sidekick Robin with a Ninja Turtle in a supporting role.


“C” is a kindergartener in one of the autism classrooms in my school. He is speaks Spanish and English with an autism dialect.  He loves Ironman.  He hates getting his picture taken, well maybe it’s just hard for us to take a picture of a constant moving mini superhero who guards his identity.  I see him with the occupational therapist and 2 sidekicks in our motor room once a week.  It’s a great place to practice our superhero moves.  Due to the demands put on a superhero it was easier for me to transition to his superhero hideout for a second meeting.

Recently we have rendezvoused in the hallway after he has been returning from one of his many crime fighting adventures. So his main partner thought we should try meeting in my room to conduct our continued alliance.  The first meeting went well and progress was made on our plan. But at our next meeting this mini superhero thought there might be villains in our designated meeting room.  We reassured him that Batman and Robin were already in place and had cleared out all evil nemeses.  Feeling that the area was secure our mini superhero moved into our meeting room.


We moved to the table to plot out our next adventure along with Batman, Robin and a Ninja Turtle. The case was daunting and our mini superhero was reluctant to discuss it. Batman and Robin convinced “C”  that he had the powers to complete the mission.  Our mini superhero agreed to collaborate and the results were successful.

1.  Robin laid out the plan and one of the Ninja Turtles agreed that it was one of the “biggest” ones they had tackled.


2. Our mini superhero was ready to discuss the “full” plan on his own:


3. Our mini superhero cleaned up all the “littlest” details.


Now it’s your turn to share your own twist on how an unexpected superhero rescued one of your therapy sessions.


“Sticking” to pumpkins …

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on October 24, 2013
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We have many cultures represented in my school population. Many of my students do not celebrate Halloween so I tend to be low key around this holiday. But it is still fun to get some crafting in. This is one I am doing this week. You can find the “real” directions at this site: Popsicle Stick Craft

I gathered all the materials from the school supply room except for the googly eyes.  Here is what I used:

1. Green, purple, orange and black markers

2. White tempera paint and a brush

3. popsicle or craft sticks – we had the small/skinny ones but the tongue depressor size would work too

4. glue

5. table covering – I used craft paper from the supply room that someone had already torn off and left.

Mistake #1 – I first grabbed permanent markers. Just say we had a lot of interesting colored fingers. So I switched them out for the regular washable markers which worked just fine.

Mistake #2 – don’t try to glue the supports on the back while the paint is drying- I’m a little impatient but I’m working on it. At least white tempera paint washes off ok.

Mistake #3- (all good things come in threes right?) don’t try to write the student name on the back right after it has been painted. I found if I wrote their name on one stick it worked better.

The first group helped to cover my table. Here come the therapy twists:

  • Me: What is this ?  Where are we putting it? Why do you think we are covering the table?   As you know the answers were very very interesting!  (The paper also worked for students to practice drawing their face before they drew it on their creations.)
  • Me: (for the first group) You will get to be my guinea pigs!  We had to look up what a guinea pig was (they did not know). I tried to explain what the saying meant. Sometimes my humor is lost on first graders.
  • I showed them this  picture that I copied from the original site: craft stick art  We talked about what we saw, what they were made from, etc. then they chose which one they wanted to make.
  • We counted how many sticks were used in the pictures and decided if we wanted the same, more or less.
  • We talked about the materials they needed and how to use them.
  • We talked about what was easier to color: sticks separated/apart or together

marker painting

  • When they had finished coloring we talked about what came next (gluing sticks on the back).
  • We talked about turning all our sticks over.
  • I glued the sticks with “guidance and instructions” from the students.  We talked about using a whole stick and broken/half sticks.
  • We talked about the reason we needed to glue sticks on the back (why) and what would happen if we didn’t.


  • Then we washed our hands…. another lesson with lots of language.
  • The next session they were able to complete their project by drawing the face and glueing googly eyes (I only used these for the monster/Frankenstein/zombie)
  • During the project we had some fun discussions and not always related to what we were creating. And that’s real life!

I have many more t creations to add to our “Patch” but here is the start….


Now go add your own twists!


Cloudy with a Chance of fun…

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on October 15, 2013
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I started a unit based on a News 2 You edition about the new movie Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2.  We looked at the book that the first movie was based on. I mainly skimmed the pages and summarized about an island where it rained food and what happened when the food grew. It led to watching the video trailers for both movies which led to worksheets I found here: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatball sheets.

You can see the sheets on my window wall:


We created game boards together. You can start anywhere on the game and the object was to get all the way around. Each group has different goals so some were working on using the word in a sentence or providing a description or a category, etc. We rolled a die to see how many spaces to move for each turn. I used magnetic chips and each student had a different color to place on each space.

photo 5 photo 4  photo 3photo 2 photo 1

I found these cute lunch bags from the Target Dollar Spot. I used them for following directions (color the mouth red etc.) I also cut out the mouth of a couple so we could use it for categories (food and not food etc.) synonyms and antonyms and more. They were nick named our Food Monsters.

bags bag

But the most fun was creating our food wall about the Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs book and movie.  The students chose the food and their body postitions.


Since I quickly ran out of room for all my students we then created the second movie on my wall.


We drew sequence stories.

photo 1

We had an APPitite for these:

More Toast, Sandwich Maker, Cookie Maker, Cloudy, Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs, Let’s Eat!, Grillmeister  and others for pizza, pie, donuts, potato head, icee, and more.

We popped words, colors and other goal areas with ice cream cone shooters.

ice cream

And of course we played lots of food games: Picnic Panic, Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head, Shake Shake Shake, Alfredo’s Food Fight, Ice Cream Scoops of fun and more.


We had a food frenzy without gaining a pound all the while targeting each students dietary needs- oops I mean IEP goals.

Now go add your own twist!


You’re Unbelievable

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on October 4, 2013
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A quick idea coming your way…

I received a Mother’s day card from my oldest son. It was huge and he felt the bigger the card the better the son… ha ha. It was also a musical card. I saved it and knew I would use it at school one day. The day has arrived.  The card plays some of the lyrics from the song You’re Unbelievable by EMF. Luckily it only plays the words You’re Unbelievable and not the rest of the lyrics.

The  card started out looking like this…

card 4 card

This is where I initally had the card in my room.


This is what  happens when you get an idea…..

card 3  card g

But then it changes to this….

otto 2 otto

I bought two of these ottomans at Target on clearance for 5.98 each.

I taped the front of the card and the music guts under the seat. Now when I am sitting on it I can reach under the seat, push and the music plays.  So when one of my students does something wonderfully fantastic I can just push and play…You’re Unbelievalbe. Voila!

Now go add your own twist and leave a comment on what you did!


A Goal Mind!!!

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on September 30, 2013
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So September is here and almost gone. I have started my scheduled, tweaked it and swallowed a few aspirin but generally it is working out. I just wish I had more time to work with my 41 boys and 9 girls.  As some of you may remember I work with  K-3rd grades with a very diverse population (98%). So many of the students are coming to school with limited English, limited vocabulary base etc. but they all come with big smiles, energy and an eagerness to learn.  The wonderment has not vanished from their eyes and I hope to keep the spark there. And that’s why I come back each day.

This month we learned about each other and fought off pirates. Who knows what next month will bring?!!


You can find the All About Me sheet here.

pirate w  p boat

Check out an earlier post on pirates here.

Now to the Goal Mind!


At my school the teachers  work on Hopes and Dreams with their students. Our principal also had staff think about our own Hopes and Dreams for the year. I decided I wanted to work on helping students understand the reasons they come to speech. All staff had to create an apple with their own Hopes and Dreams- these will be placed on a tree in the school hallway.

Mine looked like this: I used the site Tagxedo to create the apple with goal words and used the Skitch app to add my hope and dream statement.

apple 2

So now that I have my Hopes and Dreams I needed to do something about it.  I knew most of my students needed pictures or visuals rather than words. I used Custom Boards.  I created these with the students so they could help decide on the symbols.  I printed these and put them in clear sheet protectors and use as “place mats” for each student to use in their sessions.

Here are some examples:

I only have 3 articulation only students-  this is what we decided to use for goals. I kept it simple. I want them to know their target sounds. We will talk about levels in therapy sessions ( words, sentences, etc.).


These are examples of what we used for some of our language and social goals.

image image

My hope and dream for you is a schedule that works and allows time to dream up some fun ideas to share.

Now go put your own twist on these ideas!


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