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

It’s a little nuts and bolts around here…

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 11, 2014
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It’s that time of the year where hair is being pulled as deadlines are looming. So you may feel like you’ve lost a few nuts and bolts. I have a solution… just collect them and make a robot or two. I posted about robots a few years ago. Check it out: Robots

My robot parts were safely stored away and sadly forgotten until this week. As I was bringing two kindergarteners to my room one put his hood over his head- we said he looked like a robot. And ding ding ding I remembered by box of nuts and bolts.! So I pulled it out and we had a lot of fun this week.

We made short robots.            We made TALL robots.

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And generally had fun following directions and sharing. We put parts on top, in the middle, on the side, behind and at the bottom. We even  gave our robots names and special powers.

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Check out my earlier posting to get more information on how to create your own box of nuts and bolts: Robots

So now after you gather your nuts and bolts add your own twist to the fun!

Have fun and let me know what twists you add!


PS- Please if you have even one dollar you can pay it forward and help support a great project from Mobile Education Store: Crack the Books



Pay it forward….

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 8, 2014
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You’ve probably heard about someone paying for the person’s order in a fast food drive thru.  It’s a random act of kindness and often gets passed on in the drive thru line. So today I am passing on a way we can pay it forward to a great app developer.

Kyle Tomas created many apps for Mobile Education Store. He has always been generous with gifting app codes. Now he has a new kickstarter project. This project is something that I believe in and would hope it reaches it goal. Check out it out: Kyle’s kickstarter project.

There have been many bloggers who have reviewed the Crack the Book series so I am going to direct you to one of the reviews by Activity Tailor: Crack the books review.



This series is amazing. It can adjust to each readers level. Crack the Books fosters a lifelong desire for reading by featuring rich, audio-visual elements and interactive activities to help students understand difficult concepts. The series is designed to help students of all reading capabilities, from those with special needs to those with academic gifts, become better and more confident readers.

Please visit Mobile Education Store’s Kickstarter campaign and view its goals to fund the next generation of digital books. There is a short video right at the top of the campaign page that I encourage you to watch. It will give you a great sense of what these e-books are all about. Your support will ensure “Crack the Books” will be available to reach and inspire all students.

Once again you can view the video and learn more about the project here: Crack the books

Thanks for following my blog and considering this opportuntiy to pay it forward!


I’m a guest blogger… Check. It. Out.

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on February 19, 2014
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If you haven’t been on The Dabbling Speechie blog you are missing a lot of great ideas and information. Check out my guest blogging stint on her site: Guest Blog on the dabbling speechie!

A sneak peek at what I wrote about:


And of course add your own twist!


Polar bear twist

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on February 4, 2014
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I think polar bears are beautiful animals. I love to help kid learn facts about them. But I’m really tired of the same thing and was looking for a twist. One of my students and I checked out some books about polar bears  from our media center.  We gathered the usual books with cute pictures and fun polar bear facts. I refused to even look for the Polar Bear Polar Bear What Do You Hear book.  As we looked through the books one really caught my attention it is called Irving and Muktuk- Two Bad Bears by Daniel Pinkwater. There is a series of books with these characters.  The story follows the two bears who crash the blueberry muffin festival year after year. They are trying to steal as many muffins as they can. They disguise themselves in their vain attempts to get muffins.

So then my twisted brain came up with the following plan.


1. Read the book with the students- work on comprehension, wh questions, vocabulary, inferencing, articulation, compare/contrast, predicting, sequencing, expected/unexpected behaviors, problem solving, cause/effect, perspective taking (what were those bears thinking!) etc.

2. I found how to draw polar bear directions on line and printed some of them off.  I gave each student a marker and a recyled paper (reduce, reuse recycle!). They chose which polar bear they wanted to draw. This worked on sequencing as they needed to follow each step. You can find the site I used HERE.

3. The next time we reviewed the main idea of the story and talked about how the bears disguised themselves. Then they came up with how they would disguise their bears. I did not let anyone see the other students bears. And only one student came up with the same idea (Batman). I encouaged him to think of a new one and he did.

4. We used microsoft word clip art and a google image search to find  pictures that would work with their costume/disguise ideas. Lots of problem solving and thinking about what pieces they would need for the disguise. The disguises were taped on so they could be lifted and show that it really was a polar bear. I think this one is my favorite.

baby 1 baby 2

5. I created a banner for our  blueberry muffin festival wall with materials from the supply room. I also printed out pictures of the ways the people traveled to the event- snowmobile, snow shoes, skis, small plane and dog sled.  I cut some blue tag board to create the ground and sprayed it with fake snow. Of couse I printed out muffins! Here are my signs Blueberry Muffin Festival    what do you see     small muffins     vocabulary pics


6.  I used post it notes to write the vocabulary words we learned: snow mobile, snowshoes, cross country skiing, small plane, dog sled, festival, muffin, captured and disguise. These were placed on our blueberry festival wall and the kids could match the words with the pictures.

7. I took pictures of all the disguised polar bears and created a book uisng Custom Boards app. You can see our book here- be sure to check out our surprise ending found in part 2: Muffin Book part 1    Muffin Book part 2

And yes we did learn some polar bear facts along the way but that wasn’t really the plan. I guess some kids are just curious!

So now it’s your turn to add your own 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.

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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.

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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.

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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!)

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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.


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