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

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.




Tell grandma he REALLY is saying “truck”

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on May 3, 2014
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Many times as a speech language pathologist I have worked with children who are very difficult to understand.  I have even acted as an interpreter for testing with one kiddo so I could help his teacher understand his responses. When they are little some of the sound errors are cute and we may smile and know that they will outgrow it just as fast as their clothes size changes. Maybe you have worked with a child who had difficulty with consonant clusters for /r/ or /s/ and the substitutions can be interesting at times. Hence the title of this blog posting. I have had a few who used /f/ for /tr/ which caused a few gasps from grandparents or other relatives. Those are times I counsel parents and teachers on how to “interpret” and react. It is also a time to remind parents to let grandma know that he/she really is saying “truck.”

I do not know of many books that are written from a child’s perspective who has difficulty with articulation. I have used Hooway For Wodney Wat but that’s the only one I have on my bookshelf.  Now I can add a new book “The Mouth With a Mind of Its Own.”


This is book was written by Pat Mervine . The name may be familiar as she also created the website Speaking of Speech.

Here is a little synopsis:

Matthew is a little boy and his family thinks the way he talks is cute. He is excited to start school and then the difficulties begin.  Matthew can’t say his name correctly so his teacher ends up calling him Mah Yoo.  The story continues with Matthew meeting and working with the speech language pathologist. And not to give the ending away but if you too are an SLP I think you can imagine it.

This 32 page book is one you will want to add to your bookshelf.  There are not many books about speech difficulties geared for kids. Matthew let’s us experience life with a speech disorder through his perspective. It’s a wonderful resource for adults and kids. It could be used to introduce a child beginning speech therapy. I believe it would be a great book for a classroom lesson on differences and acceptance. It’s also here just in time for Better Hearing & Speech Month.

You can order it in print or kindle editions on Amazon  or get an autographed print copy with free shipping from Pat’s website: Pat Mervine’s books.

How will you add your own twist? Let me know.



Disclosure: I was provided a preview digital copy of this book but the review is my honest opinion.

Summer lovin’

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on July 16, 2013
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I am so lovin’ my summer!

I have enough of a schedule working at the speech clinic twice a week from 4ish to 8ish to keep my brain active (and income).  Plus enough time to play and work on the house we moved into 8 months ago. Yes I did get those basement boxes unpacked and “treasures” put up. But Mondays are all about Brooke.

Brooke is my 7-year-old granddaughter and I get her from Sunday nights and all day on Mondays. Having grown up with only boys (2 brothers and 3 sons) it is really fun to have a girl around. This is what we did recently. We were talking about what we wanted to do and realized many ideas started with the same letter. So we decided we could only do activities that fit the pattern.

So here is what we did on our F-ing day.

F-irst we visited  F-amily– my mom

F-ueled the car

F– awn-doe-rosa visit and F-ed the animals

F-ireworks F-orever to get ready F-or the F-ourth

F-ood (lunch) at the Bison F-arm

F-un shopping F-or a F-riend’s baby gift

F-inally home and ate different F-lavors of ice cream

We had fun thinking of ways to make ‘F’ F-it into our day. I think we will try this again.  I wonder what letter we will tackle next?  What sounds will you try in your days?


Now how about a therapy twist or some parent summer activities:

1. Take the sound a kiddo is working on in speech and do activities that fit-  Working on /s/- tell stories, speak in whispers, sneak around on your tiptoes while finding /s/ words or cards or do a scavenger hunt for /s/

2. Create a pretend meal using drawings, or pictures cut from grocery ads but all the food must contain a target letter/sound in it’s name and glue all of these on a paper plate to share. Ex: gummy bears, graham crackers, doggie treats, grapes, arugula

3.  Work on phonemic awareness or letter  identification: Choose a letter sound and put out objects or pictures- Then ask which one begins with ___.  For phonemic awareness say the sound the letter makes such as “TTT”  if a toad in one of your objects. For letter identification say the letter that the object starts with such as “T”  if a toad is one of your objects.  Be careful with some sounds like /G/ as it can make two different sounds as heard in /go/ and /giraffe/.

4. Use an app like Doodle Buddy (free), Interactive Whiteboard (free) or Showme  (free) to create a scene with a target letter or sound. Brooke and I used  ShowMe to recreate our day. She drew pictures and narrated the story so she could show her mom and dad.

5. Use a print out of a newspaper comic strip, short story, poem, etc. and grab your highlighter then ready set go and highlight all target sounds or letters. How many did you find? How many did you miss? How many can you say?

6. Take the first letter of your name or the sound a kiddo is working on and make an outline of it on a sheet of paper or card stock. Then paste as many pictures as you can find that start with that letter/sound.

So now go put your own twist on these ideas!


PS- I’d love to hear what you did so please leave a comment.

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.

image image

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!


Juggling Plates… /r/ Intensive and can be a TenseBuilder (p.s. there is a giveaway here)

Posted in Uncategorized by Cindy on October 2, 2012
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I’ve always thought that I was more productive when I had more on my plate and deadlines closing in…. Or so I thought.   But these last few weeks have been too much and I have found myself literally juggling plates when our house sold. I didn’t break any but I did pack them, toss some and set some aside to eat on.  With the number of craziness hitting me all at once I decided the only one putting demands and deadlines on my plate was ME.  So I gave myself permission to do nothing but try to survive the stress of moving, house hunting, temporary housing, living out of boxes, car repairs, family stuff, school starting etc. etc. So that is the main reason I have not posted for quite some time.  Plus having my computer packed away….somewhere makes it difficult!

So giving myself permission has relieved some of the stress.  But I do want to share a few things I have been enjoying.


This summer I won a game from Thinkfun called Mini Mouth. The object is to draw 2-5 letters and be the first one to shout out a word that contains those letters. Yes I did play it this way with my family but realized it might need modifying with my speech/language caseload. It is easy to keep in my purse or therapy bag and take with me. I played it following the game rules but have also changed it for some students. We pick a category (food, animal etc) and we flip a tile and try to name as many items that start with that letter. The kids also like to each have their own tile and think of an item that starts with that letter and give clues and see if we can guess it. Great toy to work on vocabulary, problem solving, spelling, turn taking and more!!!

I was then contacted by Thinkfun and asked if I would be interested in trying another product. Oh yes!!! This one is called PathWords Jr.  This game builds vocabulary, spelling, and spatial reasoning skills. The object is to fit the correct Tetris-style puzzle pieces over letters to spell words. I used this with a two boys who were working on cooperative play. I gave them the basic game instructions and then they were on their own. It was great to see them dividing the puzzle pieces, taking  turns and giving advice. I noticed that some of the “advice” was moving the puzzle piece for the other student. I reminded them that if they did not want “finger help” they needed to tell their partner. This was a really fun activity and helped to work on social skills too.


/r/ intensive from Smarty Ears-

I don’t know about you but /r/ sound errors are not my favorite. If I am successful and have a child imitate my /r/ in one of our first trials I am thrilled!  Sometimes that doesn’t work so we work on tongue placement and that might work..hurray!  If that doesn’t work then I might teach a “g” and move it into an /r/ often with the word tiger . Oh boy if that doesn’t work I might try using “l” and have them slide their tongue across the roof of their mouth and cross my fingers. Ok maybe move from “ah”  to /r/.  (Big sigh) Now if nothing works then we come back the next session and start all over again and again.  I have not found “the one” trick that always works. Each case is different and some move quickly into words and sentences. The ones that try and try but still can’t reach consistency can be frustrating for everyone.  But as an SLP we are known to never give up. We try different techniques and tools. We research for other ideas. We collaborate with co-workers and other SLPs through social media.  And some days we even get to dismiss a student from /r/ therapy!!

Smarty Ears had a recent update for /r/ intensive and  has added new flashcards, a matching game and a guessing game. Not only is this a great way to target those pesky /r/ errors but it is very engaging for my students.  I always use apps in multiple ways so my twist for this app is using it with all students on my caseload. I can play guessing games to expand describing skills. I can use it with my fluency students to practice techniques at the word, sentence and storytelling levels.

TenseBuilder from Mobile Education Store-   is designed to help students learn how to identify and use correct tense forms by playing movie quality animated videos to demonstrate past, present and future tense. I have been using this with my students in group activities. It makes a great cooperation activity. My youngest students need to focus on using present regular tense in complete sentences (He is calling). So we have concentrated on using the videos to learn about this and record our “big sentences” within the app. The kids love to hear themselves and are even starting to self correct their errors after listening! My older students are working on irregular tenses and love to see if they can get their answer correct  before the movie ends. It has become a contest among the group of boys on who can shout it out first.


I have 2 codes for /r/ intensive and 1 code for TenseBuilder so here is what you need to do….

1. Leave a separate blog comment for each app you would like to win.

2. Like the Facebook pages for Smarty Ears and Mobile Education Store and leave a another blog comment that you did this or already are a fan.

3. I will do a random drawing for the app codes on Sunday 10/7/12 after 7:00 pm Central time.

The codes are for US iTunes.

(WordPress blogs are no longer able to use Rafflecopter for giveaways so sorry!!!)