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

I used to be Snow White, but I drifted. ~ Mae West

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 25, 2013
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Here are a few quick clips from my twisted speech sessions. I hope you can find something you can try too!

1. Snowflakes – I bought several packs of  foam snowflakes in the dollar section at Target. Lucky me they were on clearance for .30 cents per pack. I pulled them out on one of our lovely below zero days. My articulation students thought of winter words that contained their sounds. It was their idea to decorate them with their speech sound!


2. My first graders read some winter books about snow and snowballs. Our entire school uses Thinking Maps so we created bubble maps and then decorated our snowflakes.  I have used this app to create Thinking Maps- Popplet  This session also led to an unplanned lesson on evaporation. So we put a little snow in a cup and when the kids returned the next week they asked to check the cup. Well twisted me I threw it in their faces! But guess what…the snow had melted and evaporated! All that remained was our green marker line to show how high the snow had been in the cup.

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3.  I sent my students on a scavenger hunt. We used my iPod Touch to take pictures. Some groups looked for  things that had their speech sounds.  Some looked for items that targeted their language goals- finding items in categories (animals, soft things, round items, etc.).  We talked about expected and unexpected behaviors before we left on our adventures. Expected- walk in halls, quiet voices, etc. Unexpected- walking into classrooms, yelling to get the camera, etc. We used the pictures to practice target sounds in words and sentences. We gave clues and had others guess. We thought of other items that would fit into the categories.


5.  Snowman baskets- I bought several ok a lot of these felt snowman baskets. I found these too on clearance in the Target dollar section for .30 cents each.  Here is one way I used these in therapy. I set out 3 baskets and we worked on throwing styrofoam snowballs into them.  Concepts used: 1st, 2nd, 3rd;  front, middle, back;  right, left, center;  near, nearest, furthest/farthest; few, many; my turn, your turn; most, least, some, none



6. We made it snow inside the school!  It snowed on us, under tables, over our heads,  and anywhere we pointed the iPad! We even caught some on our tongues. You too can make it snow with  this app: Virtual Snow

Snow that’s what we’ve been shoveling out. How about you?


“MacGyver” your speech therapy

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 23, 2013
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If you ever watched the MacGyver series that ran from 1985-1992 you know that “MacGyver” was a genius with duct tape and other odds and ends. He managed to save the day with his scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items. Plus Richard Dean Anderson who played the character MacGyver is from Minnesota just like me!  So when I had some left over styrofoam packing from a crock pot gift I knew I could not just toss them out.


What can you do with duct tape? Well that is appropriate in a school setting? Here is what I did. First I bought duct tape with a design and not very MacGyver like. There are a lot of options and lots of brands. I chose one that I thought my K-3rd grade population would like whether they were girls or boys.


The duct tape is the top roll.  The bottom roll was ribbon on clearance at 75% off. You can find duct tape with a similar pattern but a deal is what I went with this time.

I presented the styrofoam pieces to one of my groups. They chose to use the tape. I told them they were on their own but had to make a plan and work together. I love activities that are kid lead and I sit back observing while providing minimal guidance. They did a great job covering the front of the styrofoam and decided the back did not need it. They think it will make a great TV screen for pretend shows that they create. I can’t wait!

The second group used the ribbon and I was able to hear a lot of conversational speech. Great way to see how articulation errors are improving …. or not. They named this one Wild!

Now what to do with these creations you ask? Well as an SLP I am sure your brain has been storming already.  Here are a few things we have done ….so far!

1.  Take all those articulation cards and toss them…literally toss them through the opening. If the target sound was said correctly we tossed it through the opening and let it land on the floor. After we finished tossing each student had to collect the cards that were face up and say it again. If the card was face down they just set them on the table. Others had to say a sentence before tossing. And my favorite was creating a story- the first student said “Once upon a time there was a  boy/girl who went on a journey. He/She took a (insert articulation card)”  The next student added onto the story with their card and so on and so on. After the initial introduction they came up with their own start to each story. I had a group of 3 try this and each had 5-10 cards for each story.

2. In a kindergarten group we worked on basic concepts- over, around, on, under, through and middle. They called the MacGyver creation a “window.” I brought a bag of small toys (rubber chicken, wind-ups, dinosaur, etc.) and they used these to act out the concepts. The chicken flew “through” the window. The dinosaur went “under”. Each student also took turns giving directions. I created this sheet for the students to use and take home. concepts for home

3. Students can take turns using the “window” as a monitor and give a report, share about their weekend, tell a story…. or ask them to come up with ideas.

4.  I used it as a frame on my wall and in the middle I put a category card.  For some groups this is a warm-up activity and they each need to think of 2-3  items that fit the category before we start our work. For other groups this is their activity and I keep changing the cards as we work.

5. We placed cards on the table face up and put the “window” over them. We put a dropped a small ball inside as it settled on a card the student would choose it and complete the task. You can use any type of cards. We used articulation and lots of cards from the materials I found on Teachers Pay Teachers site. There are many many SLPs who have wonderful materials for sale.

6.  One of my groups came up with this game- They used both “windows” and placed them on table. They used articulation cards to say a word to their partner. If the partner heard correct sounds he said “right on target” and the card was placed in the middle of the “window.” If it was not said correctly he said “missed” and the card was placed outside of the target.  They named the game “Right on Target.”

If you do not have any packing from a box then you could cut out a shape from cardboard and “MacGyver” it!

Any other ideas? I’d love to hear them!


My ABC’s Favorites from 2012

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 1, 2013
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2012 may not have been my best year but I’m keeping positive and hoping for only the best in 2013 for all!  Reflecting back I do have a number of  things that helped me in my therapy sessions this past year.

a is for APPS: This is a hard one to narrow down to only a few-So in no particular order and not necessarily new in 2012 here we go…

Custom Boards– my go to app to create materials. I like the flexibility to use the symbols within the app, adding your own pictures or finding pictures on google. I can even make materials within a therapy session with the students, save it and print it for them to take home immediately.

Rainbow Sentences  – an app that helped my students on so many levels: syntax, following directions and for a couple it motivated them to verbalize.

Articulation Scenes – yes I use many traditional articulation apps but this one is different- my students begged to play this one! They loved earning trophies and wanted to do all the sound scenes even though those that were not their sound errors.

Social Quest– an app that helps work through a variety of social scenarios – I like that there is not one correct answer and allows for flexibility

Conversationbuilder Teen – this is an app geared for older students and I used this more with clients I see in the speech clinic. I loved how the conversations looked like text messages and were in teen language. The version I used for the students at my school is called Conversation Builder.

Story Pals – is a reading comprehension app for short stories and follows with a quiz. You can even create your own stories and quizzes.

Question Sleuth– this app can be used to work on categories or asking questions to decide what item was hiding the star. You can add your own images and create your own categories.

Talking Train is a new app from all4mychild. I use it for sequencing, vocabulary and storytelling. You can draw  a picture or add an image on 3 train cars. Record a story or words for each train car and tap go to send the train on its way.

Syntax City – an app to work on pronouns, plurals and more. I like how you can have a group of students working on different skills and levels at the same time. My students were so diligent and proud to see their report cards improve after each session. For my less verbal kiddos I used apps by Hamaguchi.

b is for Books and Blogs:

I love my Kindle app. I have downloaded many free books for my reading pleasure. But also free ones to use with kids in therapy.  One source (more for me than therapy) that shows free apps is- BookBub on Facebook. Another source I use is Amazon and search for free kindle books for kids- lots of choices! I also get free book option from the blog  No Twiddle Twaddle

There is a plethora of  SLP blogs and SLP Facebook pages this past year. I had listed some on the side of my blog but have not been able to keep up with all of them. What a wonderful way to get new ideas and connect with SLPs!

 c is for Connections:

I work with a wonderful group of SLPs, special educators and regular educators in my school district. This is a shout out to only two of them for making conncections and helping me make it through 2012.

Liz is an Occupational Therapist who allows me to do groups with her. We have worked together long enough what if you were observing a session it might be difficult to tell who is the OT and who is the SLP.  We combine motor and language using obstacle courses, theme units, letter of the week and more.

Laura is a special education teacher who has a one of our site based autism classrooms. She is someone who is such a gentle teacher even in the midst of tantrums. We can collaborate about student needs and come up with ideas to work on together. I never worry if I need to change my schedule with her students. I enjoy working within her room and learning from each other.

The other connections that have brought smiles, knowledge and new experiences all came from social media. I have “met” so many SLPs on Speaking of Speech, Perkilou Therapy Group, Facebook and twitter. Meeting many of these SLPeeps and others  in person at the ASHA convention was energizing! So shout outs to Mary H. (speech adventures), Sean S (speech techie), Jonathan F, Dean T, Barbara F, Kyle T, Rosie S, Lucy N, Tiffany W, Ramya K, Eric & Kelly S, Jeremy L (speech guy), Shareka B, Kim L (Activity Tailor), Heidi, Meghan, Karen, Jill, Megan S, Milo and more!

One thing I try to remember is you never know how big a small connection can be.  A smile, a thank you, holding a door, a “I like your shirt” or stopping by to say hello just might bring a rainbow to someone’s rainy cloudy mood.

Allow me to be a little nostalgic- When I first entered the SLP field I was fresh out if college with my bachelors degree as MN had not yet change the requirement for needed Masters degree.  We did not have phones in our rooms, Internet, social media, blogs or TPT sites.  If I wanted to consult with another SLP I had to try to get on the one phone in our school and hope I could reach the SLP at her school (almost impossible). OR I could hand write a note and send it out through inter-school mail and wait for a week or so for a response. Now we can connect via many channels: cell phones, texting, Facebook, face time, twitter, email, blogs, etc. So how lucky are we!

tin can

s is for all the other Speechie Stuff I liked: (nope not listing something for every letter of the alphabet!)

Of all my posts about therapy ideas my favorite was my Reduce, Reuse, Recyle. I think I liked this because it was so spontaneous and the kids really took charge of the sessions. It also made me smile as they tried to figure out directions for right and left as they sat across from each other!  Looking at my blogs stats for the past year it looks like the one with the most hits was my Can You Sea Me Now.

TPT– Teachers Pay Teachers is a site where I can purchased great therapy materials for a few dollars or less.  Now you can find many SLPs selling creative therapy games, flash cards and more. Many  SLPs also sell products on Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) site. Check out the resource list that Jenna Rayburn of Speech Room News has put together:  SLPs on TPT Resource List

Ok more nostalgia – “back in the day” when I first started working in the schools we either had to wait for a catalog to arrive and hope there was a budget to order materials. The process of submitting a request on NCR forms and hope you could press hard enough to be legible through all three sheets and then wait for a few weeks until the item(s) arrived was often frustrating. The other option was creating your own materials without cute clip art.  It might involve hand drawings, creating hand written dittos or if lucky using a typewriter and hope you did not make a typo! The copy machine was rare and it only used this really slippery paper that you could not were really write on.

The other option was a huge projector that would project a page onto the wall. You would trap paper on the wall and trace the picture then color it later. Anyone remember what this was called? I couldn’t find a picture. It was not an overhead projector. It was a huge clunky machine.

I have not been able to post to my blog as I had intended or as often as  I had in the past. It doesn’t really matter why but what should be the direction I take now. As I look at all the new blogs it makes me feel comfortable keeping mine to what I feel I do best- provide therapy with a twist. That to me is taking something and turning it into a therapy tool or lesson. So in this widening world of bloggers I will continue to add my own twist.

Happy 2013 everyone! Keep on connecting! I’m off to buy some duct tape to go with a therapy twist I have stuck in my mind!