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

Lights, Camera, Action… no let’s not be quiet on the set

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 31, 2012

I have been having fun with an app call Action Movie FX. This is a free app (with in app purchases). It comes with a Missile Attack, Demolition Rock and Car Smash. I purchased (.99) the Action Pack which included Chopper Down and Tornado Action.

First a caution: The Missile Attach is very cool but…. even though blowing up our lockers was a great scene I decided this probably did not follow our no weapons policy. So now I do not give this as an option when letting the students choose which “disaster” movie they wish to create. It has not stopped me from blowing up the dirty dishes or garbage can at home though!

The expression on the faces and laughter of my students when they see the FX effect is… ok I’m gonna say it… Priceless!

This is how the app works. You first pick the action scene. You film/record for at least 5 seconds and then let the magic begin. The movie processes for a few seconds and then it is ready to view. The scene is whatever you recorded with the bonus FX factor added.

In therapy sessions this has been a big hit (pun intended). Initially I just record the group and then show them the movie I made. They get very excited and want to watch it over and over. So then I set the scene- The kids pick the effect and then I lead them into a problem solving lesson and script writing.

“Set up or Scene” What could you be doing? Or where will you be?  Ideas have been taking a walk, playing ball, etc.

“Your Lines” What could you be talking about?  Each student has a sentence to say which they create or I help if necessary.  We also talk about the effect and how that can be talked about in their script.

Here is an example from one of my groups: (This group is from one of the autism classrooms)

Scene- sitting in a circle tossing a ball to each other

Student 1: I hear something.

Student 2: (Points up) Oh no! I see it.

Student 3: Oh no! Look!

Student 4: Watch out! Run! Hurry!

And then the helicopter crashes!

I like this app for these reasons:

  • it allows for creativity
  •  you can work on sequencing skills
  • students need to think of a logical scene or activity to be in
  • they need to listen to each other, know when it is their turn and remember their line
  • You can work on nonverbal language skills- facial expressions, where do you look when you say look
  • you can work on what would happen next, how did this happen, etc.
  • of course there is always lots of new vocabulary to learn too
  • I plan on having a student become the “director” and another one could be the “camera operator or videographer” or how about an “editor”
  • the laughter is wonderful!
  • You can also share the movies via e-mail, Facebook or in your camera roll.
  • I e-mailed the movies to their special education teacher who was able to show it to class.
  • I have e-mailed it to parents. The student’s assignment was to watch it with his family and talk about it.

So what if you don’t have an iPad. Look into a familiar storybook to act out as you read it. Look for books that have simple scripts. Below are some sites that might work. Or better yet have the kids write their own play! Just have fun!

Disclaimer I have not looked over these sites fully:

Lazy Bee Scripts

Reader’s Theater Scripts

Role Plays

Winter has finally arrived!

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 22, 2012


It has been a relatively mild winter in MN. The tempatures have been mild and we even hit a high temp record in December of 52 degrees!  The 2010 Winter was a record breaker for snow when it was all over, 86.6″ of snow came crashing down on the metro.  This winter there has been very little snow so far… It looks like the freezing temps are finding us this week along with a few flurries.  The weather forecasters starting to use words like bitter and frigid. And we hearty Minnesotans  might even start wearing mittens and hats! So I decided it was time to make our own snow flakes inside and play with “snow” inside.

So first come the clouds:

One blog I follow is written by Laura at  Come Together Kids. She posted a fun recipe to make cloud dough. I did this activiy with one of my self contained classrooms. There were  five students and four adults and we all ended up with lots of  white on us but hey it was all about snow and clouds!  This recipe can be a little messy but it smells wonderful due to the baby oil and is pretty easy to clean up. I used a larger tin foil pan that came with a clear lid  (see example below) which I left with the class to keep. The teacher is thinking about using it in their sand table (minus the sand). The picture of the cloud dough is not from our lesson- we were too busy having fun that I forgot to take pictures.


The lesson was fun and we were able to focus on labeling the ingredients, what we might be making (ice cream- one boy hoped).  I divided the dough into two tubs and the kids worked on cooperative play. Not always an easy task! I had brought an ice cream scoop, mini ice cube tray, spoons, and the juice cups I talked about on an earlier post.  Of course the kids saw something they liked better in their neighbors tub – it was a perfect time to work on asking and sharing. This project cost me one small bag of flour and a cup of baby oil- not bad for all the fun and language practice! But after leaving the class in a “cloud” I decided to do a different project for the next two classrooms.

Then came the snow flakes:

I follow a blog written by Kim Lewis M.Ed., CCC-SLP called Activity Tailor. She has posted this week a fun way to make snowflakes. Since I had a bag full of beads that someone had given me and free pipe cleaners from school this project cost me nothing!  I created  two visuals using Custom Boards from Smarty Ears. (FYI there is a free version with 6 templates).  I ended up using the 5 picture visual. Funny story about this visual- I was taking the picture with my iPad but have you ever tried to take a picture of your own hands holding something? Well after twisting this way and that I finally looked out in the hallway and asked a student to help me. I think he wondered what really happens in my room!  I did this lesson in the two autism classrooms and the kids range from close to non-verbal to close to non-stop chatter. They were all able to complete this task. It did help to have the extra hands of the special education teacher and paraprofessionals. The adults know the kids well and know when to prompt, help or wait. It was a fun fun time by all.  If you are looking for inexpensive beads check the dollar stores.

Beading- 5 pictures

Beading – 4 pictures

By the way we did get colder weather but not much snow. There is just enough to cover the grass right now. It looks a lot different from last year when the snowbanks were over my head along the driveway.

Now are there any apps that might fit this theme?  I do believe snow…


Virtual Snow

Let's Bead Friends

Winter is

Into The Snow

Into the Snow

One Snowy Day

Snow Globe Maker

Drum roll please…. and the winners are……plus a surprise!!

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 14, 2012

My favorite little drummer!

It’s not the Golden Globes, the Oscars or a football playoff game. It’s the winners of the giveaway for the Articulate it! App by Smarty Ears.

I picked the winners using an app called Random.  Congratulations! I have sent e-mails out with your codes!

  1. Eileen Gioin Fredrick
  2. Beth
  3. Ruth
  4. Debra Kerner
  5. Kellie

I loved reading all your comments. Thanks for the birthday wishes too. Now if you did not win don’t be too disappointed as I have an added surprise!  Rob Mitchell of PaperClip Robot is gifting alternate winners some bubcaps! I wrote about these in a earlier post that you can check out here. I love this product!

The Bubcap winners are: I will e-mail you the directions to receive this wonderful product!

  1. Micala Andreassen
  2. Melissa
  3. Carol
  4. Cindy Brandon
  5. Tricia


That’s all for now! I’m off to enjoy a long weekend and celebrate my birthday with family.  Remember all that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood for and pass it along!

So who likes giveaways??!!

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 12, 2012

Does this even need to be a question? Of course we like giveaways… the thrill of typing your name in and the possibility of getting something free is well breathless!  Well I say we need to celebrate this new year and my birthday with a giveaway! My birthday is the same day as the distinguished Dr Martin Luther King Jr. so I always get a day off. I tell the kids at school it is because it is my birthday and aren’t they lucky they know me. Well this usually doesn’t work but this year I’m at a school with K-3rd graders so I think my chance of having believers is much better. No disrespect to Dr. King- I do always clue in the kiddos…eventually.  Oh and never mind how old I am because I look much much younger and you would be very surprised at my true age. Actually I always forget how old I am and ask my husband because having to do math is so not an SLP thing but now science…. ok ok so I digress. I did start working in the field as an SLP before you needed your masters and I worked for 7 years before deciding to go back to college and get it. Did I tell you I had a toddler and an infant at home then and drove over an hour one way to get to graduate classes? I won’t even tell you what I carried in my back pack! Oh what, you want to know about the giveaway?  Why am I doing this? Well…(sorry we are almost there) I have been very lucky winning things in contests like a big wooden cube that is now in our motor room at school, iTune cards, an iTouch, and some other stuff. And  I just won an iPad from Tj & Pals facebook giveaway (sorry Genie I know how hard you have been trying!) Finding a dollar in the parking lot after a long night of conferenes and then a quarter in the hallway, being an EdBlog finalist and having it talked about in Points of Pride at the school board meeting and more! I want to pass along some of my luck to you. No I’m not giving away my iPad! How about some app codes instead!

Here’s the deal- I have 5 codes for the Articulate it! app from Smarty Ears. Look back on my posting here for some information on the app. You can also read more about the app in action on the Smarty Ears website. There was just an update this week too! All you need to do is leave a comment about anything or nothing. I will do a random drawing on Saturday 1/14/12.

Oh there is one catch…you know the fine print…. all I ask is you do something nice for someone else. Hold a door, carry someone’s bag, smile, wish them happy birthday, pick up the gum wrapper that missed the trash can, pay my taxes (ok I tried to slip that in but nevermind!) or any small gesture to make someone smile.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 5, 2012

In my last post I talked about starting to clean up my clutter. Well I wasn’t planning on making a New Year resolution but it looks like one found me.

Reducing… Not the weight even though it could be an option! I’m trying to reduce the amount of therapy materials I have accumulated over the past 34 years as an SLP. I’m great at finding deals and have scooped up a lot. But I think it is time share my treasures. I started with my game cabinet at school and counted over 50 that I had bought with my own money. I was able to make a pile of at least 30 to send on to new homes…I hope. Now I need to go through my home office (insert shiver).

Reusing… I’m looking at the games that I kept with a theme eye. I can use Don’t Wake the Giant with a Fairy or Castle unit. I can use Alfredo’s Food Fight with a Food unit. In fact the News 2 You was about “My Plate” and eating healthy so we used Alfredo’s Food Fight as part of our Food unit this week! This was how I have organized my apps into folders on my iPad.

Recycling… In a way this is a twin to reusing. The items below are what the orange juice is served in at my school. Of course being an SLP I always see things through a “how can I use that in therapy” eyes. So I collected a few of the cardboard trays and cups to fill each one.


I used some die cut circles to add some color to the bottom of the cups.   I used this opportunity as a problem solving activity for many of my students. So the first group we worked on gluing the circles in by following directions for big, bigger, biggest etc.


Another student used chips to toss into the cups. First he used a picture card to create a sentence and work on using fluent speech patterns. He made up the “rules” as we played. I think we were going for four in a row. Notice the blue chips (which were mine) but he “changed” the rules after I won… I think… I’m not sure but we had fun and he was able to practice his easy speech in a variety of ways during the game. The extra cups were used to hold our chips during the games.


The next group decided to try using cotton balls and called the game “Snowball Fight.”  We found for this game it was easier to put the cups in a vertical position. We had to think of a winter word before we could throw our snowballs. They decided that each person aim for one row and try to get all four cups filled with snowballs. I used colored pompoms (dollar store find) with a different group. This group decided that since the pompoms happened to match (lucky coincidence) that they would aim for a matching cup. They also decided to mix up the cups so the colors were not in a row.

This idea came from 3 second graders brainstorming ideas- they called it Color Sudoku! The object was to get one of each color in a vertical and horizontal row. They were “supposed” to work together and “discuss” the options but it appeared to be a lot of hands moving cups simultaneously. After I observed this strategy for a few minutes I intervened with a few comments and they were able to coordinate their individual efforts into a group mind.

Using the same layout above another group invented a game they called “No Peeking.”  One person closed their eyes and held a pompom while another person gave directions. The object was to get the pompom into the matching color cup. The direction words they tried were: up, down, right, left, other right , other left, over there, and drop it. We were able to learn a lot about how words work when you can’t see something!

We found that the cups could be place upside down in the tray too. The one above have the corner cups up and the rest upside down. This could be used to work on basic concepts like…well corner.  We can also target these concepts: top, middle bottom, side, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, last, over, under, right, left, up down, big circle, little circle, medium circle, etc.

Here are some other ideas I may try with this “recycled” game.

  • I have enough cups and holders so each student could have their own.  I can make each holder a different category (animals, food, seasons, etc.) and use small objects or stickers that fit the category. These would be put into a container. We could describe each and guess what it is and where it belongs. Or the kids could choose one and place it in their holder if it fit the category.
  • Use vocabulary words &/or pictures in each cup. The definition is read and the student places a chip in the correct cup.

How about you? What have you reduced or reused or recycled?

Share your ideas in the comment section.

UPDATE: I have listed some items for sale on this site listed under meeslp: Materials for sale  If you are looking for anything just ask I may have it!