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

Are you going buggy this time of year?

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 30, 2012
Tags: , , , , ,

This time of the year is always busy with evaluations, IEPS, progress reports and with the end of the school year deadline to complete it all.  So what a better time to bring in things that can “bug” us. I have had a nature unit that was “bugging” to get into my room. So we have been reading, talking and playing with all things nature-like including bugs, camping, creepy crawlers and more. We have been playing games, reading, and learning new concepts related to nature, bugs and camping.

Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Jigsaw puzzles- I picked put the Bug Picnic puzzle at Goodwill for .99 cents. I used it with several groups. The first group were kindergarteners so we worked on “flat, smooth and corner.” They tried to find the pieces that fit these concepts and even found some that “fit together.”  The next groups worked on “matching” colors and team work to find pieces. I figured there was probably some missing pieces and that became a “problem solving” activity for the last group when they finished the puzzle.

2. I love the Magna Puzzles– the one we used had bugs. I bought it at my Autism Shop quite a long time ago. I believe you can find these puzzles on Amazon. They are complicated so I made a photocopy of the finished puzzle as a guide. The groups work together and I sit back and interject as little as possible. This was the first time I used this with younger kids (1st & 2nd grades) and they really did amazing! I also used the Busy Beetles never-ending puzzle as another collaboration activity.

3. The game the kids literally screamed when playing and begged to play each time was Picnic Panic. This game is from 1992 and I bought it on e-bay a few years ago. I always hate to show you items that might not be available anymore but this one is just so much fun!  Here is an old video from the 90’s. 

4. The bug masks were picked up in the dollar section at Target. We wore them on bug hunts in my tiny speech room (I taped bug pictures and plastic bugs around the room). Sometimes we wore them just because!

5. Other games we played: Ants in the Pants, Can ‘o Worms (like monkeys in a barrel), and the Ladybug Game (another thrift store find).

6. We even had bug races down my cabinets. I found mine in the dollar section at Target. We raced to articulation and vocabulary cards at the bottom of the cabinet.

7. Camping out- we threw a sheet over the speech table and used our mini flashlights to do some of our therapy sessions. We even moved the campfire and marshmallows into our tent (see picture of my cabinet). To make this I used a wooden bowl I got at a garage sale and cut red & orange construction paper into flames. I wanted to use tissue paper but there was not the right colors left in our art supplies. I used long wooden sticks and glued cotton balls on the ends. When we were “roasting” our marshmellows I put one of the mini lights into the “fire.”  (I found these at Michael’s)

8.  A few years ago myself and another SLP received a grant to create story bags. One that we made fit perfectly with this theme- PJ Funnybunny Camps Out. We created the activities to be used with students and their families to use at home but now I use them mostly within my therapy sessions. I am sharing this one with all of you!

Pages 1-6 were laminated and placed into a binder: pg_1_Parent_letter PJ campingpg_2_Inventory_List_for PJ campingpg_3_Suggestions_for PJ campingpg_4_activities_PJ campingpg_5_vocabulary_PJ campingpg_6_artic_ideas_for_home PJ camping

The labels were taped onto plastic bags that hold the cards. labels for PJ Camps Out, Backpack page to color/outline, cut a slit to slide cards into and laminate: Backpack with slit, Cards to use for sequencing story:PJ Camping sequencing cards

The game board template- color or outline, laminate and tape two sides together: Game board 1Game Board 2     Ideas for camping snacks: Snack recipes

Vocabulary picture cards and definitions- cut apart and laminate for matching games: vocab matching 1 definitions; vocab matching 1 pictures – We used two sets of the picture cards for a matching activitiy and one set of the picture cards and definintion cards for another activity.

We tried out some apps and found a few that we liked the best:

Chipper apps: Let’s Go Chipper, Chipper Matching Game, Sally the Salmon, Chipper in the Parks, Bruce the Slug

Books: When the lights go out,  Dandelions e-book,  Backyard at Twilight,   Milly and Molly Go Camping, Buffy and the Butterfly

Exploring: Fotopedia National Parks, Project Noah

Games: Bugs and Buttons, Bug Builder, Bugfest, Boogie Bugs Mobile, Bye Bugs, Butterflies iBlower

Just fun!! Butterflying

Do you need a four slice toaster?

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 15, 2012
Tags: , , , , ,

As I’ve mentioned in past posts we are in the process of  getting our house ready to sell. This has meant lots of purging, packing and painting. We really don’t need a three-story 5 bedroom home with 4 bathrooms anymore. What we want is a cottage on some warm island but…..

So in this on going progress of painting, purging, packing and pulled muscles my husband states that he wants a two slice toaster. Huh? We have a toaster. It can toast four slices at once. And the slots are even made for bagels with pictures on how to load them correctly. So why do we need a new toaster?  In our quest to downsize I guess you start looking at everything differently.  Although we probably will not be running out to replace our toaster anytime soon it did get me thinking about wants and needs.

My present therapy room at school is a barely a two slice toaster begging to be a four slicer. It’s packed and crowded. I am constantly trying to reduce materials. There are many things I want to keep but do I NEED them.  It’s complicated. In the world of a Speech Language Pathologist we work with many different disabilities. We need lots of materials to meet the variety of student needs we see every day. Some days “my” plan doesn’t sync with the student’s plan so I need to be able to quickly reach into my bag of tricks and pull out a different rabbit. It’s difficult to do this while trying not to step on feet or fingers or whatever body part may be on the floor. But I make due and my iPad does help a lot. So enough about the room maybe (fingers crossed) next fall I will get to move into a larger space that has elbow room. Maybe it will even have a window…. dream on….

In the meantime I have been having fun using themes to target IEP goals. Fairies, goblins and gnomes just left to return to the forest where they have better views and elbow room. I’ve heard pirates plotting, cowboys/cowgirls galloping around, jungle creatures growling and nature budding all outside my almost two slice toaster speech room. I’m wondering how they will all fit!

So back to wants and needs. Here are a few apps that I are on my need list

I have around 2000 apps and I use them in many ways. Book apps are wonderful for comprehension, vocabulary, joint attention, etc.  There are game apps that I use for turn taking, following directions, vocabulary and problem solving. So to narrow my App NEED list down to just a few is difficult.

But first just my observation about apps and their cost. I know I have gotten very comfortable buying apps for .99 or 1.99. But when it gets more expensive then I may skip it or really weigh if I need or just want the app. Now think about looking through a catalog for therapy materials. I don’t skip earmarking a page just because something is over 1.99. The same eye should be used when looking at apps. Yes, the  iTunes “catalog” has thousands of apps ranging from free to several hundred dollars so we may skip some of the more “expensive”  apps in favor of others. Now compare a 39.99 app and  all it offers to something similar from a catalog that may cost more… then make your decision to buy or not.

1.  Custom Boards Premium  by Smatry Ears- this is my number one go to app. I use it to create lots of therapy materials, visual schedules,  game boards, books, pictures for kids to cut out and paste onto a project and so much more. To get inspired check out the cute book that Deb Tomarakos alias Speech Gadget made- Easter Freebie

2. Articulation apps- I have 3 main ones that I use. I like to rotate them with the kids and sometimes in the same session. They can keep data which saves me time.  They are: Articulate it!,   ArtikPix  and  Articulation Station.

3. Rainbow Sentences– I use this app to work on syntax/grammar. I also have been using it with some of my kids are less verbal and have had some amazing success. They are matching the colored words to the colored lines. I’m finding that they are saying longer strings of words when they record the sentence in the app.  I also use the other apps from Moblie Education Store.

4.  Apps from work great for vocabulary and working on grammar/syntax. I recently used this app to work on he/she along with has and is. I used magnetic dishes along with magnetic chips (from super duper). You can see the set up below that I used for one group. They touched the he or she picture and moved up: HE has puzzle beads. They repeated it for she and received a chip to put into their dish for each correct sentence. It made a drill type exercise a little more fun. The dishes were bought at the Northern Tool and they came 4 to a package. They can be found at auto-parts  stores or amazon.

5.  My newest apps I am use for language skills are Language Adventures,  Go Togethers, and Hamaguchi apps.

That’s just a few of the apps that are on my what I need list. It can change to match the needs of the kids I work with at school and in the clinic. I often get asked to show someone my favorite or the “best” but it really is dependent on what you NEED them for and how YOU use an app.  What’s on your need list?

P.S. Our house is now on the market and after all the painting and scrubbing I NEED a massage and a manicure! Ok ok I want them.

App Code Winner

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 10, 2012

The winner of the app code for So Much 2 Say is….Connie.


The winner was picked using the app Random #

Stay tuned for a new blog post in the near future … or sometime soon… or when I have time… or between all the evaluations at school…  or selling our home (fingers crossed)….  or working at the clinic…. or due process paperwork…. or writing therapy corner for Smarty Ears  (yikes-way behind on that too!)…. or visiting my mom (way behind on that too)… or just shut up Cindy and get back to work!

GIVEAWAY!!! for So Much 2 Say…. and an update on our fairy

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on April 4, 2012

I just wanted to share what happened when I got back to school.  I was able to make it work! I used fabric flower parts to hide the fairy. I can pull it out to turn the light on or off.  I only used one of the lights- it lasted all week. Our fairy even took a bite out of the sugar cube one night!

The kids were thrilled and want to know if the “fairy” is real.  Gotta love primary ages!  We collected a lot of name options so we combined two and the winner is…. Our fairy has a name  She will be flying away this weekend and the kids will return to a jar with fairy dust prints. The recipe for this is: glue stick rubbed on the jar + a sprinkling of glitter= fairy wing rubbings as she leaves.

Now for the GIVEAWAY!!!

If you missed the sale on the app So Much 2 Say don’t worry I have one code to share. The developers Kirsten & Eric were kind enough to give me a code to share with my readers. I wrote about this app in an earlier post that you can read here.

Here’s how you could win this great app- just leave a comment below about fairies or the app or your spring break or anything cheerful! Good luck!!!

 I will do a random draw on Tuesday 4/10.

Be sure I have an e-mail address to contact the lucky winner.