Using Bowling Blocks in Speech Therapy

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GUYS… I bought two sets of Halloween themed bowling blocks at Target Dollar Spot (they were $3.00. (???)) and they have allowed for SO many fun therapy sessions. I am always looking to not only spruce up the “sit-at-a-table” sessions, but also to incorporate some activity into the learning. Well, this has done just that. The kids are insanely loving it. I will probably hear, “can we bowl today?” until May, but hey, whatever works, amiright?

Here’s how I transformed these cute blocks into speech, language, and fluency therapy:

 

First, I cut strips of laminated card stock into rectangles (roughly 1″x2″ but honestly, I eyeballed them). I then attached hook and loop fasteners to the backs of those rectangles and to the backs of the bowling blocks. Next, I attached the two parts together and trimmed excess paper  that was showing  from the front as needed.

 

Finally, I used a fine tip dry erase marker to write my target skills on the laminated rectangles. SO SIMPLE! These are easily reusable- just wipe off and write on new targets! I saved a few extra rectangles with the hook and loop on the backs to quickly change out targets while we are working. I’ve used synonyms, antonyms, categories, verbs, adjectives, describing, themed vocabulary, articulation targets, fluency techniques, multiple meaning words, and more with this game; the possibilities are endless. These are also great to target social skills like turn taking and teamwork (setting up the blocks for the other person) .

 

Here’s how I set up the session:

The kids come in and I explain the rules of bowling (if they haven’t played before) and their targeted skill focus for the day. We talk a bit about their skill and then we begin playing. Each child takes an individual turn rolling the (eye)ball down the “lane” (floor) toward the bowling pins. When they knock a pin over, they have to practice their skill with the word on the back of how ever many blocks they knocked down. They move those blocks out of the way and hand them to the next person in line to start setting up their bowling lane a few feet away. The student gets one more turn to try to knock down any remaining blocks and repeat the process. We use the same set of scoring rules for regular bowling (except, obviously, there are only 6 pins).

Look for these adorable sets at your nearest Target Dollar ($3) Spot and try them for yourself! What’s your favorite dollar spot find? Any other ideas for ways to use these in sessions? Let me know in the comments!

Speech, Teach, & Love,

Lacy

Using Relaxation in Fluency Therapy

Hi everyone!

I’m excited to begin the first of many blog posts helping walk you through fluency therapy! If you feel like you don’t have the background you need to help your fluency students, you are not alone. I know fluency is a dreaded part of our job for good number of my colleagues, and there’s a good reason why! Most of us just don’t get the hands on experience in school that would make us confident in using treatment techniques. I am going to give an overview of what works for me, and hopefully it will make you more confident in working with these students/clients.

Guided Relaxation for Fluency Therapy

Fluency Lesson #1- Relaxation

Why is relaxation an important part of fluency therapy?

  1. Relaxation can help with anxiety

Our students are coming from their busy lives into a fluency treatment session. It doesn’t matter if they are a child, an adolescent, or an adult, it helps to come into the room and relax, leaving the worries of the day behind before beginning treatment.  When a student is feeling anxious, we can teach them to use relaxation to calm down and consider the emotional aspects of stuttering. We can help them to think of why they are feeling anxious, and learn to relax their bodies to help their minds prepare for a new activity.

  1. Relaxation can help with proprioceptive awareness

Proprioceptive awareness, or awareness of the body in space, is shown to be an area of weakness for some people who stutter. Guided relaxation brings attention to the tension and relaxation of individual muscle groups, improving overall body awareness. By thinking of our various muscle groups and how they work, we are focusing attention to our body in space and how we are moving, as well as the basic feelings of tension and relaxation. This will be helpful as you move forward in discussing tension and relaxation as it pertains to fluency. It is good to have a general understanding of these terms, and practice in a non-communication context before moving on to practicing fluency shaping techniques.

  1. Relaxation can help with mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment. The practice of mindfulness has been found to help some people who stutter to become more fluent. When we help clients/students relax and become present in the moment, it helps set the stage for a productive fluency treatment session. You can help your students to focus on there here and now, instead of getting wrapped up in all of the “what ifs” of what is to come.

  1. Relaxation can help with muscle tension

Muscle tension can occur anywhere in the body during a moment of dysfluency. Being aware of the muscle groups of the body, the feelings of tension and relaxation, and how to achieve muscle relaxation can be useful in managing this physical component of dysfluency.

 

So how can I work on relaxation?

There are many ways to approach relaxation with your students. Some of these include, exercise, meditation, listening to music, stretching, yoga, and guided relaxation.

My personal favorite is guided relaxation because unlike listening to music and other techniques, the therapist can lead the activity. It is also less intimidating and less physical than yoga or other exercises, which I think makes it more accessible to the average person. It can also be used in mixed groups, since it can be a good way to start any session, regardless of student goals.

In guided relaxation, the speech pathologist reads a script, and the students close their eyes and follow along. The script will typically work through major muscle groups from head to toe, and the SLP can choose whether to read the whole script, or focus on a specific muscle group in any given session.

You can purchase and download my personal script for guided relaxation by clicking the link below:

Guided Relaxation Script For Kids- $3.25

 

Speech, Teach, & Love,

Ana

“Bye, old speech homework!”

Peace out to hw

Let’s face it- when kids are getting hours worth of homework sent home daily, speech and language homework just isn’t going to get done. Should it? Of course. Home practice of skills learned in the speech room is crucial to increasing carryover and generalization in every day life. But does this happen? Not always. That’s why I’m DONE. Because, honestly, if I waste another minute preparing homework sheets for every student on my caseload and not getting a single one back, I. Will. Cry.

Here’s why I’m ditching tradition homework this year:

  1. I’m tired. I am so tired. We have a lot to do everyday- therapy sessions, planning, creating materials and activities, data collection, IEP prep, IEP meetings, RTI, duties, and medicaid billing (UGH). With a to do list a mile long, I can’t waste any more time hunting for, prepping, printing, and handing out speech homework. Especially when there is no return on my investment. Which brings me to me next point…
  2. My students are tired. These kids go to school for 6+ hours a day, take the bus trip (or walk or ride), home, some have extracurricular activities, and some don’t get picked up from school or their daycare program until after 5:00pm. Why would I pile worksheets on them on top of all of the other homework they have to complete? I have a 6-year-old and between the trip home, after school snack, regular homework, reading, dinner, bath time, and bed time routine, I just can’t, or don’t want to, do anything else. If I got a worksheet sent home that didn’t count as a grade, I wouldn’t do it either.
  3. I waste SO MUCH PAPER. And INK. Lets do some simple math: an average (and I know some of us have more than this) of 50 students, twice a week, for roughly 40 weeks is 400 worksheets to print.

and for that reason

I’ve decided to try something different this year; a homework calendar that allows for quick and easy practice without paper and a pencil.

HW calendars 3

These homework calendars are so easy to use. I just print one off for the month, write in the days of the month (they are reusable year by year), and make copies for the kids on my caseload. They can be easily kept on the fridge so they don’t get lost and the activities are made to take less than 10 minutes a day. I could totally do 10 minutes during bath time or dinner. A variety of language tasks are included such as categories, describing, wh questions, sequencing, etc. There’s even a parent resource section on the left to give parents reading strategies, online resources for books, a guide for describing, and more to ensure my kids have accurate practice (because what’s the point otherwise?!).

So far, I’ve had great responses and a majority of my students are telling me that they DID do their homework, Can I know for sure that they are practicing? No. But it sure beats all the prep work I did before.

Grab a FREE version of the September Language Homework Calendar HERE and try it for yourself. Maybe this is the start of a revolution?

Speech, Teach, and Love,

Lacy

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Speech Homework

Best Treasure “Box” Ever

Treasure boxes are somewhat of a hot topic in the education world. Should you have one? Should you not? Shouldn’t kids just be expected to follow the rules without reward? Well, yeah, they should, but does that always happen? Nope. At least, not at my school. We are in a very low socioeconomic area and while that doesn’t always mean that there will be behavior problems to deal with,  they do happen. My school also has what we call an EBD program for children who have behavioral disabilities. The treasure box in my room has saved me countless times and is a quick and easy way to get kids back on track without giving them the negative attention they are craving. Plus, some of these kids rarely get gifts or rewards so why not let them bask in the glory that is the treasure box?

It’s a simple concept for me: Good behavior=progress, therefore, good behaviors=reward.

That’s not to say I just dole out trips to the treasure box like Oprah doles out cars, oh no. It takes 10 sessions of good behavior to make that coveted trip, which is documented by a punch card system. If you’re not behaving, you don’t get a hole punch, which means an even longer wait for the treasure.

hole punch

I bought these reward cards from an online printing website a few years ago. A box of 500 was ~$20.00 and I still have a fourth of a box left. I just store them by group in this handy little box I found at Walmart around back-to-school time.

Obviously, by the time kids get to go to the treasure box they are beyond excited and at the beginning of last year, trip to the treasure were TERRIBLE. It took roughly 5-7 minutes for each kid to sort through the mess of items in my Rubbermaid container and, in speech time, that’s FOREVER. I came up with a simple idea to make trips to the treasure box a lot more organized and a LOT quicker.

Introducing…treasure box

The TREASURE BAG. It’s not necessarily ground breaking but it saves SO. MUCH. TIME. It’s easy to look at and see what choices the kids have and it’s a space saver. Win-Win.

I bought the on the door shoe organizer at Walmart for $10 and with a couple of Command Hooks, this puppy was up and ready in a flash. As you can see, I don’t have high dollar items in here; some candy, Target Dollar Spot items, crayons, bubbles, stickers, wipe off tattoos, erasers, pencils etc. This has cut the treasure box time in half. Actually, in 3/4ths. It’s on the way out the door so as the kids are lining up, they walk by and make their choice.

Pretty nifty, huh? Do you have a reward system? How do you organize your treasure box? Let us know in the comments!

Speech, Teach, & Love,

Lacy

Welcome!

Hey there! Well, it has happened- we have a blog. To be quite honest, I never thought we would end up having a blog; what could we possibly have to say to other educators and SLPs that they don’t already know? Why would anyone care what is happening in our lives? Then I realized, we don’t have to tell you anything you don’t already know, and maybe you don’t care about what happens in our daily lives. BUT, maybe WE WILL and maybe YOU DO. We made this blog so we can connect with YOU. We want to know more about you and we hope you want to know more about us.

US? WE? What? Yep, we are a duo. Speech N’ Teach is comprised of me, Lacy, and my best friend Ana. I’ll tell you a little about each of us first and then how our little store/blog/duo came to be. lacy ana 2

Professionally, I am a Speech and Language Pathologist in sunny Daytona Beach, Florida. I am currently working in a Title One elementary school with grades PK-5 with varying exceptionalities (Mild/Moderate ESE, Emotional/Behavioral Disabilities, etc.). I work in a low SES area where kids occasionally come to school  after some extremely emotional happenings the night before. Just last week one of mine told me his father had gotten arrested after dinner the night before. It’s heartbreaking and enlightening and humbling, but it is so. much. fun. The kids are hilarious, they are crazy, they are edgy, sometimes they are difficult, but they are SMART. They teach me things all the time, whether it’s a new dance (Juju on that beat???) a joke, a life lesson, whatever it may be, I’m learning right along with them.

Personally, I am a wife, a step-mom to a silly, energetic, smart 5-year-old (D), and a new mom to a beautiful 4-month-old perfect baby boy (B). I spend my days…. running around is probably the best way to put it. Between daycare, work, D’s school, the grocery store, Target (always target), dinner, bathtime, bedtime, hubby time (which is basically both of us falling asleep on the couch until the baby cries) and waking up to do it all over again, there isn’t a lot of “hobbies” happening. When I do get the chance to sit and work on some things, I love creating products for Teachers Pay Teachers. It’s my zen time, my “Lacy” time. I’m sure some of you can relate.

I hope Ana doesn’t mind my introducing her, but I think I give her more accolades than she gives herself anyway. Ana is a Speech and Language Pathologist in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She also works in an elementary school setting with a situation similar to mine. Let me tell you guys something she would never tell you (haha Ana!): This girl KNOWS. HER. STUFF. She is known around her county for her amazing  fluency therapy and parents and teachers alike LOVE her. It’s hard not to, honestly. She is great with the kids, always planning fun, interactive therapy sessions, and ready to give tips, strategies, and advice to anyone who may need them.

Ana moved from Florida to Oklahoma about three years ago because her husband is stationed there in the military.  She is also a new mom to a beautiful, wide, blue-eyed 5-month-old baby girl (No, we didn’t plan that-crazy right?!) so her life is just as hectic, if not, more hectic than mine right now.

We met in graduate school at the University of South Florida (GO BULLS) in Tampa and an instant friendship formed. We were roommates for some of our time there and we continue our friendship through frequent visits and 2-hour phone calls. I had just started my little store when Ana mentioned starting her own TpT store and things just kind of came together. Both of our moms are teachers and we are frequently asked to make things for them so, with a lot of planning, thinking, collaborating, and brainstorming, Speech N’ Teach was formed.

We hope you enjoy our blog. We want this to be fun- jokes, funny happenings, real-life events, pictures, daily thoughts or inspiration, and our ideas, tips, tricks, products, and thoughts that make life a little easier.

I never thought we’d have a blog…

Speech, Teach, and Love,

Lacy