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

New Homes for Me and My Gnomes

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on July 26, 2011

First… My new home: I am changing schools this fall. I will be at one school with pre-3rd grade four days a week and one day at a junior high school.  I know this will help get my spark reignited. I enjoyed the kids (4th-6th grades) and staff at the school I’m leaving but it was time to make a change. So I will be making a new home starting this fall. In the mean time I have been trying to organize my materials into theme units and it is a mess in my home office right now. Plus most of my materials at my old school were boxed and moved to my new school awaiting my arrival at the end of August.  I purchased some boxes from Ikea and Target that were large enough to hold a variety of items but yet easy to carry between home and school. (I know I won’t have the space to store it all in my speech room.)  I am finding that some themes will need two boxes but I’m trying to hold it that (yeah Meester good luck with that)! Here are some of the boxed themes I have chosen as I went through my stuff:

  • Cowboys/Cowgirls/Western
  • Transportation
  • Fairy/Gnome
  • Castle
  • Farm
  • Zoo/Jungle
  • Animals
  • Pirate
  • Food (still working on how this will turn out)- Right now I have play food, books.puzzles…
  • Camping/Nature
  • A good resource for theme ideas Perkilou Products.  This is also a great inexpensive site to buy items- many of these are part of my theme boxes.
  • Another great resource  for ideas can be found on the blog Counting Coconuts – Mari- Ann was original from MN (just like me) but now live in Bermuda (so not like me)
  • I would like to buy items from Oriental Trading to fit with my themes once I get back to use my therapy budget instead of my own!
I’m waiting until I get to school to make more theme boxes as I know I have folders of items for each month, seasons etc. This is one reason I have not put permanent labels on the boxes yet. I’m anticipating some adjustment once I unbox all my stuff at school.
  • What is in my boxes? The best way I can describe it is a plethora whatever I had that fit a theme went into the box. This included stickers, books, games, toys, stuffed animals, picture cards, die cuts, cowboy shower curtain, cowboy toothbrush holder etc. I have already shared about this on my two of my earlier posts about  Gnomes, Fairies and Goblins … oh my! Part 1  Part 2 I will post more about each theme as I get closer to using them.
Second… Creating a Gnome home: So enough about my new school home and on to the Gnome home. I mentioned in Part 1  Part 2 posts that I had an idea to have my speech/language students create homes for gnomes as part of this unit. So with Brooke’s help we decided to try one and see if this would actually work out to use at school. I am happy to say YES!! We had a fun time creating the Gnome home and it turned out so cute!
  • Materials:
  • Box- mine was from Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts
  • Nature items- mine were collected from my yard and a trip to a friend’s cabin- You could also use artificial leaves, etc
  • Glue or ModPodge or Glue gun
  • newspaper or covering for your work surface
  • Optional- Clips to hold some items flat- I used these to help with some of the birch bark


nature items


  • Steps
  • 1. Place your nature items in your box (dry fit) and arrange any way it would please a gnome (or you)
  • 2. Glue them and clip if necessary
  • 3.  Finish gluing items on the outside of the box (mine has a lid that I did not cover and will use as a stand)

  • 4. There’s Gnome Place Like Gnome
  • I hope you enjoy the rest of your summer whether you are working or not.  Please leave comments, ideas or suggestions.  

Gnomes, Fairies, Goblins … oh my!… Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on July 25, 2011

If you haven’t visited the blog or Facebook page for ImaginationDoors you are missing out on a magical experience. Just like the Gniffer’s Gnomes I posted in Part 1 I have no idea how I discovered these wonderful fairy doors. But… I am so happy I did and have been able to think of another excuse idea on how to use a fairy door in my speech therapy room. The blue door below is going to my speech room and the yellow one is now located in Brooke’s bedroom along with the fairy wand.

First here is some information on Fairy Doors by Imagination Doors:

Stephen McEwen is the creator of these magical doors. He lives in New Zealand with his family.
1. How long have you made these and how did you get started? He started about 16 months ago. At first he made a little tea party in the back garden and it kinda grew from there. Made a couple for our daughters and then for friends and then more and more….

2. Is this your full time job? Steve’s fulltime job is as a builder and he is based in Titahi Bay, just north of Wellington (New Zealand).

3. What should we know about Fairies and your doors? Fairies will abandon a door if they feel neglected. The best way to look after fairies is to bring them small gifts. If a fairy feels neglected and leaves their home, a Goblin may move in instead. Goblins are known to create mischief (like stealing socks and turning gloves inside out) but are kinda cute as well. There are lots of different types of fairies. There are also pixies which are much smaller than Fairies.

4. Anything else you would like to share with my readers? Our goal is to help stimulate the development of imagination. There are many ways children can interact with Fairy doors.

As you can see by the answers above Stephen has his own lovely fairy (Karin) who helps him often!

Fairies and Fairy Doors in Speech Therapy:
As I mentioned in Part 1 I am on summer vacation. The ideas listed are my summer brainstorms and will be tested once school begins this fall. I am changing schools and will be working with pre-3rd grade. My plan is to create a variety of theme units and use these as a way to work on my students’ needs. I have started going through my materials, looking at apps, on-line ideas and of course the dollar store for items that will work. I am using storage boxes to keep everything together. Here are some of my ideas for fairies… I know once I start working with the kids they will inspire more!

1. Check out this wonderful blog site which has lots of ideas- The Magic Onions

2. Web sites: Disney ; Find out your fairy name ; Coloring Pages ; Fairy Activities ; Crafts ;

3. A great source for fairy ideas can be found at Fairy Houses by Tracy Kane

4. Types of fairies

5.  I plan on having my students write notes and leave them in the fairy door. I will either write back or have co-workers do this. I plan on typing up the fairy notes using a small fairy like font and cutting the note down to fairy size. I think using a magnifying glass might add some fun to reading these notes.

A note about the following apps– I searched for free apps and most of these were free at the time. I did a limited test run and these are the ones I kept.

6. Gnome Apps for iPad/iTouch:  Touch ‘n Learn with Garden Gnome;   Gnome Stack- free;  Gnome with me Free;  Gnonstop Gnomes- free;  Gnome it;  Gnome RushTontii HD-Book;  Smurfs

7. Fairy Apps for iPad/iTouch: Disney Fairies Fly-lite;  Fairy Princess Dress Up-Lite;  Talking Tinker bell;  The Fairies;  A Quest for Good Manners;  A Fairy Forest Pad;  Fairy Match;  Faerie Switch;  Fairy Princess Dress Up-HD;  Thumbelina for iPhone;  Fairy Tales Puzzles for kids;  Freakatars Creature Creator;  Elves and Shoemaker;  Happy Reading;  Peter Pan;  Tinker Bell and Friends;  Thumbelina- Hans Christian AndersenThumbelina Interactive;  Finger Fairy 3D HD Free

I hope you have been inspired by these fairy ideas. Please post comments and other ideas to expand on this theme. My next post will be about a gnome home that I made with Brooke’s help. It turned out so cute. I should be able to make them with the kids in school too!

Other Materials: No matter where I am I have always shopped with my SLP therapy eye these are some things I have found:

Gnome Bowling- on clearance at Jo-Ann's

Tiny Clay Flowers found at an art fair

Musical Card

Tree found at Creative Kidstuff store

Stone sign found on clearance at Jo-Ann's

Books dollar store and my home

Books from Books R for kids and clearance at book store

Dollar store finds

More clearance books

Fun clearance finds

Ad from newspaper- cut out the gnome for a fun room decoration etc.

Gnomes, Fairies and Goblins… oh my!…Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on July 7, 2011

When I am shopping online, in stores, garage sales, thrift shops, my kids’ closets, etc. I am always looking with my therapy eyes. “Can I use this in speech therapy sessions?” “How can I use this in therapy?” My mind was busy thinking of ways to merge fairy doors and gnomes I found during online clicking (who knows half the time how I get where I get). The items were so cute I just couldn’t resist so I needed a good excuse reason to buy them.

In this post will address Gnomes and how I plan to use them in therapy.

First a bit about the Gnomes:
Gniffer's Gnomes are created by Jennifer in Boulder,CO. I found them on Facebook and entered a Gnome giveaway and lucky me my idea of a Crab Apple Gnome was picked. And so it began!

So now a little information about Jennifer and her Gnomes.
1. My friends nick-named me Niffer. I call myself Niffer and the things that make me most happy have become perfect Niffer things. My husband is a perfect Niffer boy. Picnics are perfect Niffer adventures. My daughters are Niffer 2.0. So when I started making gnomes because they made me so happy, it just seemed to make sense to call them Gniffer Gnomes.

2. I started making these in January 2011. How did I get started? The truth is that I bought a couple of gnomes I loved on Etsy. I asked the seller if she took custom orders but she did not. I sent her lots of ideas for gnomes I’d love to buy for my friends and family but she did not make them. So I figured that if she wouldn’t give me what I want, I would go out and learn how to do it myself. I believe my gnomes are different from hers because I try to make most of them with a specific person in mind. If I were to turn that person into a gnome, what would she be like? Each of my gnomes comes with a special story too. I think it’s a great way to tell a loved one what you appreciate about them. I started making them for all my friends and family and when I ran out of friends to give them to, I started selling them.

3. Is this my full-time job? Ha! I wish! No… actually, I’m an electrical engineer. I got both my bachelors and masters degrees in engineering and am currently working for a company that makes medical products to help surgeons in the operating room. I have also worked on amazing projects like a prosthetic limb that looks and acts like a real arm! The patient just thinks “I need to move my thumb” and BAM! His thumb moves! Impressive! I have always valued education and love that I can work in a field that literally changes the world. I help people through the products I’m involved in and that’s very rewarding. A side bonus is that I make enough money to be able to afford to do the things I love to do… like gnoming. So, no it’s not my full-time job. Aside from my “real” job, I have two young children to play with so I really only get to work on my gnomes a couple of hours a day, if that.

4. I’m located in beautiful Boulder Colorado. I love it here! The sunny days can’t be beat and I love that it’s not humid. The mountains are gorgeous and there are hot air balloons that lift off from my neighborhood almost daily.

5. What should you know about gnomes? Hehehe… That’s a good question. I see gnomes being simple creatures. Simple in the sense that they know one thing for sure: Life is good. Whatever makes them happy is a good thing. They can appreciate the simple things in life-like dew drops on a leaf looking like diamonds and the smell of dirt after a good rainfall. They love to do little things to just make their loved ones smile. I think they might have even invented the idea of “simple acts of kindness.” They also love to bring smiles to someone’s face while remaining anonymous. Those are the fun ones.

6. Anything else I want to share with the readers? Yeah… I’m always looking for new ideas. Please feel free to give me suggestions regardless of whether or not you want me to make a gnome for you. Since I’m not in it for the money, I try to do everything I can to make sure I continue to enjoy making gnomes for the world. It is important for me to make many gnomes for free just to make other people smile. It makes me happy. But I guess the point is that I am always open to suggestions! Gniffers Gnomes Blog

Jennifer writes wonderful stories that come with each Gnome. Below are the stories for the two Gnomes I received.

CRAB APPLE: Oh wormy apples! This sour little fella seems to be as crabby as can be! Why, I am not sure. Perhaps he did not get enough snooze time? Maybe he just needs to fill his tummy with more berries? Or perhaps he’s just tired of tripping over his feet! They are gnomatic, aren’t they? Whatever the reason may be, this crab apple needs your help and quick! What can you do to cheer him up? Sing a happy song? Tell him a gnometastic joke? Give both him and his pet worm a tasty treat? Compliment him on his nose? Do something nice for him like help tie his shoes? Think fast! The quicker we can lift his spirits, the faster the garden will return to a sunny cheerful place!

LOUD MOUTH: It’s not uncommon for most gnomes to assume that being a Loud Mouth is not a good trait. After all, when somegnome gets interrupted during a fun spirited chatty conversation, or woken from a late afternoon nap on a sunny rock, there is almost always a Loud Mouth to blame. And no gnome likes it when another speaks so loud they can not hear their own thoughts. However, this cutie is a well-known Loud Mouth, but for all the right reasons. She knows there are times when somegnome needs to speak-up, like when you know the right (or even wrong) answer to a question, or when you’re encouraging another gnome to be as tall as he can be, or when you’re singing a joyous song as you frolic through the woods. Before she speaks, she wonders if her thought is something that should stay inside her thinking bubble, and if not… then how loud (or quietly as the case may be) should she share it? Go ahead, be the best and loudest mouth you can be, but remember that your actions will ALWAYS be louder than your words.

Gnomes in speech therapy ideas:
Now since it is summer vacation I am brainstorming and hunting for ideas to use in therapy. Here are a few I have thought of so far.
1. Review my two Gnome stories with the kids. Targeted skills: vocabulary and prior knowledge
2. Discuss the attributes and personality for each Gnome. Targeted skills: adjectives, emotions, compare/contrast
3. Advice for the Gnomes- How can we help Crab Apple be less crabby? How can we help Loud Mouth know when to use her thinking bubble and when to speak up? I think I’ll have the kids write notes, draw pictures, record advice and use The Incredible 5-Point Scale.
4. Create a Gnome home. I’m looking at using items from nature pine cones, bark, leaves, acorns, sticks, etc. and glue these onto small boxes. Targeted skills: sequencing, turn taking, problem-solving
6. Gnome books here are some I found listed on Amazon. Gnome Books
7. Gnome Coloring Pages More coloring pages
8. Gnome Game on-line
9. Apps- Gnome Stack- free; Gnome with me- free; Gnonstop Gnomes- free; Find the Gnome- 1.99; GnomeIt! – free; Touch\'n Learn with Garden Gnome; Tontii HD-Book
10. Gnome story
11. Gnomeo and Juliet
12. Gnome Information
13. Make a Rock Gnome
14. More ideas to create a Gnome and more
15. Make a Stick Gnome
16. Gnome, Elf or Goblin?

I’m sure I’ll find other ideas as I work with the kids. That’s gnall for gnow!

If you have any other ideas on using Gnomes in therapy please post them here.

Stay tuned for part 2… Fairies!