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

March Madness is Yappening

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on March 6, 2015
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This is not only the month for basketball but also for a March Madness contest for Yapp Guru.


What is Yapp Guru? It is a group of “experts” who review apps to help others get a better idea if an app is a good fit for your needs. So this month as we will be adding more app reviews to help you all out and bonus some of us “experts” might even win a prize.

What is Yapp Guru? It’s an online site that we’d like you to join for free. Once you have signed up you have access to many app reviews and the ability to vote for your favorite apps.

I choose apps to review that I use in therapy sessions and meet the needs of my students. I love finding some non-traditional apps that lets me add a twist. You may not see a lot of negative reviews from me as I tend to contact the developer first about any concerns. I found this to be much more beneficial than posting an issue about on app on iTunes. I will be honest about the apps I do review on Yapp Guru. But I often tell others to read reviews on Yapp Guru, look at description of the app and view a video about the app in use. This is the best way to gather information to help you decide if the app is a fit for you and your wallet. You can find my reviews here: Cindy Meester’s App Reviews.

So come join the March Madness fun at Yapp Guru. Be sure to check out all the app experts reviews. There are 25 SLPs and 1 OT as of today trying to be the best resource we can for you!

So line up your shot mouse and dribble click on Yapp Guru and join for free. It’s a win win and you won’t even break a sweat.


I’d love to hear about the twists you add to apps we have reviewed.




Glitter Bomb Therapy

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on January 16, 2015


Have you ever had your room decorated for you? Have there been banners, glitter, crowns, horns etc.? Then you too may have experienced a surprise Glitter Bomb Therapy Room. I was a lucky recipient of this as it was a milestone birthday and my co-workers spread the love all over my therapy room.  Don’t you just love days when the focus is all about you in a good way AND you are having a good hair day on top of it. It was wonderful!

So the story begins… Meester turns 60….  the special ed team decorates her therapy room with every single item with the number 60. Oh and bonus there was cake too!


Forward to 9:30 when my first therapy group enters my room- first they need to figure out how to get into the room as the doorway has a hanging curtain of shiny 60’s covering the doorway (think 70’s and beads hanging in the doorways).


Then they had to overcome all the visual distractions taped all over my room. There were many 60’s taped on every surface (here are a few).

banner horn hat 60 big cabniet

bulletin FullSizeRender desk

Plus my appearance had changed… slightly… with a lovely new “60 and Fabulous” T Shirt and glitz!


So what does any creative flexible SLP do? Well I thanked my team for planning my therapy for the day. Here’s what we did with all the new “therapy materials” that had exploded in my room.

1. compared/contrasted the different 60’s

2. followed directions to find a shiny 60, a 60 next to… a 60 over…

3. talked about “why” all this glitter was on the therapy table

4. talked about what would happen if we pushed all the glitter and 60’s off the table onto the floor

5. Why was my room decorated? How did it get in here?  Who may have done this?

6. Discussions about who celebrate birthdays and how/where we might celebrate .

7. Discussions about gifts and placing items into a box (present) and giving clues for others to guess

8. and more and more

Do you know what happens if I wear my glasses upside down? … Which is maybe why I received some kid like gifts from my family.

9  bike

Now we have some permanent new therapy glitz to use during our sessions. How can you do therapy without a crown? And now I have two!


ASHA packrat is styling!


“Frankenstyle” has upped his presence. Don’t you love his belly dancer skirt!


We are creating princess stories using storymaker apps.


We can even celebrate a 6 year old’s birthday!

So that’s how I added some “twists” after having my room glitter bombed. How about you? What have you “twisted” into a therapy activity?



PS. A napkin cannot lie…


Appy New Year – Yapp Guru Expert Linky!


(Click on this icon to view other bloggers 10 favorite apps)

This is only 10 of my go to apps in 2014. Believe me it was hard to choose only 10. I’m sharing the apps that I turned to the most to fit the needs of my present caseloads at school and the speech clinic.Plus these are ones  that are not necessarily “speechie” apps and I can add a twist to make it fit many of my therapy goals.

So drum roll … and in no particular order… Here goes.

1. News-O-Matic This is a subscription based app that I happened to get on sale. The news changes daily and is made for kids. It has short articles, videos, slide show, maps and fact links for each article. The articles can be read to you. Targeted vocabulary words have links to definitions. Cost: free app with in-app purchases




2. Custom Boards This is an app that I use to create materials. Often I use it during therapy sessions and we can create a new vocabulary game or list together. It has many different templates. You can use your own pictures, ones in the app or from google. Cost: 49.99

custom board


3. Sago Mini Doodlecast   This app is like a white board with at twist. There are 30 drawing prompts but you get to finish them. As you draw you also record your story. When you are finished it will play back each stroke you drew and what you said as you were drawing. Lots of therapy twists here. Be sure to check out the other apps from Sago Sago too. Cost:2.99



4. Describe it to me There are over 160 pictures to use to work on improving describing skills. There are six different questions that target category, function, parts, location, visuals, and extras. You can work on this app in the receptive mode and chose a correct answer or in the expressive mode and create your own responses. Cost: 9.99


5. Spot it HD This is just like the popular Spot card games. In the app you can play solo games or up to 4 players. You can also set the game to easy (6 symbols), normal (8) or hard (10).  There are options for timed or untimed play. Cost: 2.99



6, 7 and 8. Between the lines level 1Between the lines level 2 and Between the lines advanced These apps are ones that I used to work on inferences, body language, facial expressions, perspective taking and slang. The videos and real photographs helped my caseload a lot. These apps also can be found in lite versions. Cost: 15.99 or .99 for lite versions

Between-the-Lines      Between-the-Lines      between-the-lines-level-1-e1355113526607

9. Articulate it! This app has recently been updated and now includes fun backgrounds you can switch up. You can also add you own pictures, words and sentences. My twist with this app is to use it with my fluency students and my language students. I can create my own sets of words/pictures for specific needs. Watch for more updates that will contain stories for even more practice…coming soon! Cost: 39.99



10. FingerPaint Duel  This app is made to encourage “playing together creatively.”  In the app two players try to finger paint a shape and get the most points. My twist we talk about strategies- which size pencil would work the best and why, should you use the eraser or not, etc.  Cost:  Free and Full app 2.99


Now it’s your turn to share your favorite apps and the twists you use with them.



12 perks and knee jerks of 2014 in the life of an SLP (me)

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on December 22, 2014
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Another year has once again moved past me. It continues to move with lightning speed on some days and at a slow motion pace on others. I guess you might call this an end of the year reminiscing blog but maybe I’ll add a few twists.

The twelve whoas and fist pumps of this past year. (in no particular order as my brain functions on random organized chaos)

12. My caseload is somewhat manageable at 49 with ebbs and flow.

11. My finds at thrift stores and on TPT have created bulging cabinets once again. Yes I will keep looking for a Cariboo game for you too.

10. I’m honored to have my blog listed as one of the Top 75 Speech Pathology Websites for 2015. Oh the pressure! Be sure to check out the list and some fun sites.

9. This has been a year of procrastination (sometimes this works in my favor..wink wink). I’m not one for making a New Year’s resolution but if I was this should be one but I’ll wait and just think about it.

8. Missing ASHA this year was a definite whoa or better yet woe is me. I missed reconnecting with SLPs and getting my brain regenerated. Fingers crossed for next year in Denver.

7. I have a great team of teachers and special education staff that I work with at my school plus a speech room with a window.

6. Summer was a way to unwind, relax and still work at the speech clinic to keep my skills growing.

5.  Having my first /r/ in therapy to work on improving since moving to this school 4 years ago. I know it’s like how could you avoid it! Well my school was K-3rd so in MN if you have only one sound error like /r/ you won’t qualify until you are 9.  But now my school is K-4 and will be K-5 so guess what… 9 year olds with /r/ errors. Oh lucky me!

4. Mindfulness has been a skill our whole school has been learning and working on. (I’ve got a ways to go yet.)  It’s a great asset when a whole school has common vocabulary. Check out SpeechTechie and his posts about Calming.

3. Being a part of Smarty Ears advisory board and Yapp Guru app experts (oh yeah I’ve been procrastinating on my app reviews too).

2.  A blog started in 2009 that was born from a defunct Backflip bookmark site with a list of resources to my ramblings and twisted ideas for therapy (is that a perk or a jerk??).

1. Thinking back to my start in 1977 (with only my BS degree) with no internet it’s amazing how easy it to locate great resources from the explosion of slp bloggers, TPT sellers, website resources and apps.

So how was your year? What twists do you have to share? 








PS- Of course family is a perk (most of the time) but this post was about the year in an SLPs life

PSS- Just a few videos for a fun way to close out the year.

 Working on Waiting

Diesel speed (these two pups are mine- kinda how I felt on some of my hectic days at work)

The highs and lows of the Elf on the Shelf

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on December 17, 2014
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I won an Elf on the Shelf kit. I debated about using it at my school. My students are in K-4th grade and 98% are from different cultures. But since I won this kit I thought we could add our own twists to it.

I told each group that we had visitors move into the speech room. We skimmed* through the Elf on the Shelf book and talked about who celebrates Santa and who didn’t. I shared that our elf was a girl so my first group (1st graders) were the lucky ones to name her. Meet Lucy who now hangs out in the speech room.

*(I often just use a books pictures and make it fit my students needs vs. reading it word for word.)



We learned that she has two rules.

  1. She can’t talk to us.
  2. Only adults can touch her otherwise she would lose some of her magic.

She keeps an eye on us to be sure we are all doing our jobs during speech. Yes even me.  If we are not following a direction or getting a little too silly someone often states “Lucy” and surprisingly it works!

I understand the whole Elf on the Shelf can do some really crazy things herself. But not ours she is very well behaved and just likes to keep tabs on what we do in speech.  So here is how we use her. When each group comes in they look for her and need to say “I found her. She is under the desk (or wherever)”  Making a statement that “She is right there” won’t fly in the speech room. The students then get to decide where she should be next. This leads to a lot of practice for prepositions and even a fun game of “hot or cold”.  If you haven’t played hot or cold it’s what you say when you are close (hot) to  Lucy or far away (cold). The best terms we have used are “hot chocolate, icicle, North Pole”  I’m sure you could think of others.

Remember I said we had 2 visitors move in… well meet Steve the Dwarf in the Drawer. And yes the students named him too.  I’m thinking his name came from a character in minecraft.


“Steve” introduced himself this past summer in a clearance section and he begged me to take him home. So being a good SLP I knew I would find a way to use him in therapy. He also comes with a book. I again just skimmed through it with my students and told them that he really doesn’t like Lucy. He doesn’t think these Elves should be watching and reporting to Santa about us, let alone moving in! He lives all year at the house/speech room and hates having his routine interrupted.  

He doesn’t like rules so anyone can touch him but he’s not much of a talker. The students do the same thing spotting and moving him each day too.  He just doesn’t want to be too close to Lucy. He can hide in more places too as he doesn’t need to keep an eye on us. He’s making sure Lucy isn’t too much of a busy body or taking down wrong information about us.


Having two visitors has made this month a fun way to target different IEP goals.

  1. compare/contrast
  2. prepositional concepts
  3. descriptive language
  4. vocabulary
  5. idioms/metaphors
  6. social skills: cooperation/team work

Oh and one more twist – my kit came with the birthday kit also. So students who have birthdays this month were thrilled to see that Lucy dressed up for them. Who knows maybe she will hang around and celebrate more birthdays.


So have you used the Elf in your setting? What twists have you added?




Do you Cariboo?

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on November 20, 2014
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There has been lots of posts on social media about the Cariboo game. Many SLPs are searching for one as the game is out of print. You may be one of the lucky ones to find on on e-bay, garage sale, thrift store, from a neighbor, Amazon (for a ridiculous price) or packed away in your garage. Me? I was one of the lucky ones who paid 3.00 at a thrift store.

It sat in my cabinet at school for some time as I had (gasp) forgotten about it. I added some new balls and it was good to go. But wait! With all the buzz about the game there were ideas on how to use this game. A search on TPT brings up free and inexpensive cards to replace the original cards found in the game. The new cards can target a holiday, books, synonyms, antonyms…. Endless options. I added Halloween cards and all my students (K-4th) loved it and begged to play it again and again.  So we did but with a “twist.”  I stopped reading the clue cards and let them makeup their own clues. And so began my students’ Cariboo obsession and our growing collection of new cimageards.


I added a twist on how I place the new cards on the game. Sliding the cards in and out was taking too much time so I turned to one of my favorite tools- Alene’s tack it over and over glue. I often use this in place of Velcro.



Step one: Remove original cards and place a drop of the glue on each window and wait

Step two: Add new cards on each window and play

Step three: Disvover that the glue works BUT pulls off the doors- oops! The plastic doors + glue were not meant to be permanent friends. So…..

Step one: Place original cards back on each window and then place a drop of glue on the card and wait- I put the glue on the picture side but it might be better to turn the cards over and use the blank sides

Step two: Add new cards and play-  Success!! (The new game cards were laminated- the original cards were not.)

My 4th graders couldn’t wait to practice Multiply Meaning words. My “twist” was having each student choose a word and they could open the door if they knew both meanings. I removed the word only if they knew both meanings. If they could not think of a second meaning they could ask for a clue. One 4th grader asked for a clue for “change” after providing the meaning “change your clothes.” So I put my hand in my pocket and said “I’m jingling something in my pocket.” He guessed a mouse! Yeah we have some work to do yet. 😊



My 4th graders noticed the box cover stated the game was for 3-6 year olds. This made them laugh every time we played. It was like they had an inside joke.

While playing this game with two boys I had to tell them to “stop smelling their balls.” Yeah… it was one of those kind of days. 😁😳🙆

I predict Cariboo will be a go to therapy tool this year with lots of new twists!

Don’t be discouraged if you can’t find a Cariboo. Check out Activity Tailor’s ideas for Cariboo Alternatives:  Cariboo Alternatives


BONUS: Here are some cards to use when working on body parts. body parts    There are two pages one with the words and one without. I used the Custom Boards app to create these. Check out all Smarty Ears apps which are on sale during the ASHA convention right now!


Now it’s your turn to leave comments about your twists to Cariboo or another game.








If you have missing parts to a sought after Cariboo game here are some ideas. I can’t take credit as many of these were posted by others at some point in social media.

Missing the KEY then try: golf tee, paper clip, pipe cleaner, pen tip

Missing the BALLS then try: Party areas at discount stores, Party America, dollar stores

UPDATE: I did redo the cards and put the glue dots on the backs of the oruignal cards and like this more. Also a inexpensive subscription to LessonPix is another way to make cards.

App review… ArtikPix Levels+

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on November 10, 2014
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I use a lot of apps in therapy. I mean a a lot! I just traded in my iPad 2 64 gb for an iPad Air 2 128 gb. But I am still choosey about which apps I put on to use daily with my caseload at school and at the speech clinic. So this one of my “twists” in my blog this year is to post reviews of new or not so new apps that I use. Here is the first one as I climb off my procrastination wagon.


ArtikPix Levels+ is the newest app from Expressive Solutions created by Eric Sailers. I was lucky enough to receive a free copy to review for you (my disclosure). Note: This app requires an iPad running  iOS 7.0 or higher.

I would recommend watching the videos on the link above or below.Watching the video can help you fully appreciate and understand all this app has to offer. embed][/embed]

This  includes 1477 photographs that target 24 decks of sound cards. I was able to move from words to phrases to sentences and to paragraphs with a simple touch on the screen. The different options to practice make the app engaging and extend it’s use over multiple sessions. You may chose to use the word cards as flashcards, matching pairs (word level only) or pick and spin. Data is collected and saved for each session. You are also able to add your own content to personalize sessions.

The initial set up allows you to chose exactly what sounds and levels you want each student/client to work on. This can easily be changed in the edit mode.

Flashcards: This option is what is found on most articutlation apps. The photos change by touching the arrows. The choices of what level to work on is on the bottom- words to paragraphs.


Pick or Spin: This option can be used at the word, phrase, sentence and paragraph level. It is is similar to the flashcard level but with a “twist” or I guess I should say “spin.” The photos appear on a computer screen. You can choose to spin (for a new image) or speak (it speaks the words on the screen).



Matching: This is only available at the word level. When you initially set up your students/clients you can choose to have this at different levels of difficulty- easy, medium or hard. The picture below is set to the medium level with 3 rows of 4 cards. Easy is 2 rows of 3 cards and hard is 4 rows of 5 cards.



Create: This feature allows you to add your own cards. You can add an image from your own photo library or through a link to bing.

This app currently is in the app store for free with the TH deck and in app purchases for other sound decks: Free TH deck.

Here are a couple of  my “twists” for this app.

1. I always use my articulation apps with my fluency and language students/clients. They can practice fluency techniques and vocabulary skills.

2. I plan to make new decks specific to my students for social skills- in the group/ out of the group- think Super Flex ideas.




It’s another school year…. and some new ideas…. hopefully!

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on November 10, 2014

I’m back!

I don’t post much over the summer months. It’s a time for me to relax, unwind and enjoy the weather. In MN most schools start school after Labor Day. This year I was determined not to get worried about how many days until I had to go back. So I posted many pictures on Facebook with my feet up and enjoying my lunches and stating that I was still NOT counting the days.  It was a wonderful summer with friends, family a new puppy (Diesel). Even though we downsized two years ago we now have more people and animals (5 dogs, a turtle and a bearded dragon) staying with us.


Now I’m back with my school family and a routine. I miss my deck afternoons but am enjoying reconnecting with students and staff. And now that I’ve waited until November to finish this post we now have snow covering my deck, yard, and everything else!

I promised myself I’d get off this procrastination wagon and pay attention to my blog. So stay tuned for some new twists!





There Was a Speech Teacher Who Swallowed Some Dice

Pat Mervine creator of the web site Speaking of Speech has written another book. This one is titled “There was a speech teacher who swallowed some dice.”


You may be familiar with books like “I know an old lady who swallowed a fly.” There are many different books with this same premise that I utilize in my therapy sessions a lot. Now I have a new one to add to my collection and hopefully you will too!

The book follows the same story line as many of the “I know an old lady who…” books.  But the twist I love is the items are all eaten by a speech therapist!  She eats dice and a variety of other therapy materials.  I don’t want to spoil your dinner the ending but your students will eat it up! The book includes an activity for a speech scavenger hunt and descriptions of what an SLP may use in therapy sessions.

You can gobble up purchase the book on Amazon or from Pat’s website.

I plan on adding my own twists by creating pictures to match the items “swallowed” in the book using my Custom Boards app. The pictures can then be used to retell the story, sequence, play matching  or a go fish game. I’m sure my students will be eating out of my hand when we use this book!


Now it is your turn to add your own twists to this new fun book!


Disclosure: I was provided a digital download to proof and review. The comments are all mine.




S’More fun in our speech room…

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on June 4, 2014
Tags: ,

I posted earlier about combining three of my theme units to end the school year. We have been enjoying visiting the Meester Resort.

I shared what we did for our Beach Theme and Bug Theme. Now on to part 3…. it’s time to do a little camping!


I have added a few more items to our scene. I put real paddles, binoculars, fishing poles, tackle box and a toy lantern.

If you read one of my past posts you can see some of things we did HERE.  Now for the twists I added this year….

1.  We made binoculars out of TP tubes and dollar store duct tape. We wrapped the duct tape once around the tubes. Concepts worked on: next to, middle, around, etc. You could add a yarn loop to hang it around your neck. We explored our camping area and our vocabulary pictures using our binoculars. We compared our binoculars to a real set. This is the sheet I sent home: binocular letter home

      image       image

 2. I taped pictures of a canoe and a kayak to the coolers. Now we could “paddle” around and get a different view of the resort and look for wildlife. It was so fun spotting loons, bears, fish jumping, deer, moose and more from our boats! We compared the how the paddles or oars were different.  This was a fun way to work on joint attention and imaginative play.

3. We learned a lot of camping/nature vocabulary.  We used our binoculars to spot pictures after taking turns giving clues.  I used the vocabulary pictures to do a pretest and post test. These are the vocabulary pictures I used: camping 1     camping 2

4. I taped pictures of hikers on the wall. We used sticks, long rulers, walking sticks (mine from home) to go on hikes.

5. I  had pictures of  kids in sleeping bags in the tent. We pretended it was night and “crawled” into our sleeping bags (real ones and we also used a blanket). We listened to night sounds (a CD and our imagination).

6. You can find a lot of lessons and ideas at :  We used the apps and a Chipper book.


7. Making S’mores… if you want to make real ones at school you can microwave your marshmallows for a few seconds. It’s fun to watch them expand. Or you could use marshmallow fluff. Or if you can only have healthy snacks then you can make pretend ones. Check out the picture (at top of page) of the campfire… notice our marshmallow (cotton balls).

8. We used a fishing game that I created you can find it here: and a fishing guide sheet: fishing vocab page.

9. We used magnetic fishing poles to catch articulation word cards (just add a paper clip) and other items. There are a number of fishing games from Super Duper that we used too.

9. I used all the activities to target student goals in both articulation and language. You can do the same skill practice but just add a camping twist.  For example: I used camping words that contained the target sound(s) for students. If they were working on sentences we paired their target word with a camping word. If the student was working on /r/ and the target word was red we used it in a sentence about a red sleeping bag.

Now it’s your turn to add your own twists to these ideas!


I know many of you are done with school. This is my last week before summer vacation!

 I’m ending the year at school by helping pass out free RIF books to students! Always a good way to end the year in a costume!

The Paper Bag Princess and Ms Frizzle are ending the year with big smiles!


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