Thursday, May 31, 2012

Plinko & Hot Dots Reviews!

One of my favorite education stores in Lakeshore Learning. I have one of these stores just down the road from me in Columbus and I could spend all day in there! They create  materials for teachers, but you know we can adapt things for an SLP slant! Lakeshore let me review some of their materials for you!

The first activity is a Plinko Game for Nonfiction Reading Comprehension, that leaves you feeling like you're a game show host! The game comes in a few versions, but I selected grades 1-2 since that meets my current caseload needs the best! The students watch their chips bounce down the giant-sized game board—then answer challenging comprehension questions in 4 skill-building categories (main idea, diagrams, details, cause/effect.) The game includes 80 question cards in a compartmentalized storage tray, plus 4 plastic chips and 40 game pieces. 

Now - if you know me at all! You know I'm going to set this up and use it for every group all day long! I pulled out the post it notes out so that I could modify the game as the day went on! All that fun and I didn't get an amazing picture but here's a quick picture of the post it notes I used to adapt the game. 

You can adapt the game for ANY goal - but I just made an articulation, grammar and language version. 

The articulation version was made up of the following areas: rhyme (so great for vocalic /r/ - bear, chair, dare, scare, etc!), say 3, say 5, and sentence.

The grammar version included, plurals, verbs, conjunctions and negation.

The language version included synonyms, antonyms, definition and compare/contrast.

I think you get the idea here - you could make a post it for ANY goal. I love flexible games like this! If I could make any changes to the Plinko game - it would be with the comprehension cards. I think the skills are mostly at a first grade readability level. I ordered the game with my second/third graders (who are mostly reading one year behind) in mind. The cards were really quite easy for them, likely because the passages are so short. 

This game currently retails for $49.95

  • The next product that I tried out is the Hot Dots Vocabulary Quiz Cards - Complete Set.

    I knew that my students would love this because of the quiz cards come with awesome pens that provide feedback every time they answer! The  complete set comes with 6 boxes. 
    Each pack includes 100 different questions that focus on a specific skill. The packs include identifying synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, prefix/suffix, context cues and using multiple-meaning words.

    Children just touch an answer with the talking Hot Dots pen and it instantly tells them if they’re right or wrong!

    • I was pleasantly surprised at the humor in these decks! Each card is set up as a riddle or joke. It was a really great for my kids who don't understand non-literal humor!

      The set of six retails for $55.00. Each pen is sold separately for $10.95

    The items in this review were provided by Lakeshore, the opinions and review are strictly mine. No other compensation was provided.

     Enjoy up to $15 off your purchase from Lakeshore:

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


It's the end of the year! One of the perks for my students at the end of the year is getting to finally pick their own game choice.  Last week a few little guys chose Twister. After I thought for a second this is what we came up with! Twister for artic/phonology students!

We only used the colors on the spinner board for the first part.

Each student chose a color and they needed to cover each of their dots. We spun our spinner board and each said the word multiple trials, before we covered the appropriate dot!

It was 'super fun' as my little guys said.

Our board was big so it gave us a lot of chances to say our good sounds!

We needed to work on some following directions in this group too. So we removed our cards and used our 'jumping feet' to listen for directions. We spun for colors and listened for extra directions like "Jump to blue and clap." My friends were getting very excited, making listening for both directions really difficult!

Any ideas on how you can use Twister in your speech rooms?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Articulation Cariboo

Adapting games for therapy is something therapist do all the time! My friend Megan and I have the same favorite game which is Cariboo! Enjoy this guest post by Megan Exner, MA, CCC-SLP, on using the game for articulation therapy.

Cariboo is one of my favorite games to use in therapy sessions. I've had the most stubborn of kids participate in therapy, thanks to this game! However, I rarely use the cards that come with the game. I create insert cards (usually made with Boardmaker) to use, instead! This allows me to change the game depending on the goals my client is working on. 

I use the old Cariboo version, with the bouncy balls. I ordered one online back in grad school, and recently I found one at Salvation Army for a mere $2. It was missing the balls, but a quick trip to Target fixed that. [If you find one that is missing a key, you can use a pencil, end of a paintbrush, etc.]

One easy way to edit the game for use in therapy is to make your own insert cards. Here are a few examples of articulation/phonology cards I've made:

I recommend laminating the cards. It makes it much easier to slide them in quickly before a kid comes for therapy. If you laminate the cards they do get a bit slippery. You might want to just put them on cardstock! Or tape the ones that slip!

I see kids individually in a clinic setting, but you can also adapt the game when working with a group of children with different goals by inserting a mixture selected cards.

I've also created cards to address language goals, including verbs/actions, categories, descriptions, and prepositions. The possibilities are endless! I plan on sharing cards for those targets in the near future, as well. 

Grab your free download here

Thanks Megan! Please note that they don't make this exact version of Cariboo anymore, but you can still find it out there! It's simply the best! I bought 3 this year at Goodwill and the parts added up to two full sets!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Coloring Therapy!

Do you guys color in speech? I found this great giant coloring book for free in a garage sale pile last year.

I've used it a few times this year. It's perfect in case you are needing something new for May days when your schedule gets crazy and you might only get 10 minutes with your group so you can run to a meeting!

This little one was coloring  and naming synonyms.

This child was coloring TH words in each section. In the past I have used regular sized coloring books. Then you can run them through the copier with your learning objectives written in, and send them for homework!

Have you used coloring books for therapy?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Conversation Builder App Review

One of the most challenging domains of language therapy to address effectively and efficiently is pragmatic language. It’s difficult to treat the nuisances of social language in a natural format. Social groups spend a lot of time practicing and using modeling for conversational situations, but there’s a wonderful app called Conversation Builder, which lets the therapist and student work on conversations even when not in a group setting! The Mobile Education Store provided me with a code in order to complete the review, but the opinions in this review are mine.

ConversationBuilder is a Conversation Simulator designed to help elementary aged children learn how to have multi-exchange conversations with their peers in a variety of social settings.The auditory pattern of conversation is presented in a visual format to help students recognize and master the flow of conversation. For my students, initiating conversation is one particular area that is hard to practice without a verbal prompt from the clinician. That’s where I have found Conversation Builder to be a great help! It makes eliciting opportunities for initiation a breeze!

One of the best choices made by the developer of this app is the answers vary just slightly. Many times our students who have difficulty with social conversation, say something that is close to the topic but not quite right, leaving their listener confused. Therapists will be happy that the differences between answers are subtle, requiring students to weigh possible choices to select the most appropriate response. This gave us a chance to talk about why an answer might be a possible/on topic but not the best choice.

Students learn when it is appropriate to introduce themselves, ask questions, make observations and change the subject of the conversation. Let’s move to the nitty gritty of what you actually get for your $9.99. The settings allow the SLP to decide how many conversational exchanges will take place (4 or 8). The SLP decides if the student will initiate, respond or a variety of both. As a student (or group if you choose that setting) play they see a visual interface which shows a picture. The students then see 3 sentences. They chose the best answer to either respond or initiate in the conversation. The next step is recording their side of the conversation. At this point in my group we paused and talked about intonation for questions versus comments. It also gives you a chance to talk about prosody of speech and how that impacts a listener. If you say “Hey what are you doing.” in a flat monotone voice – that sends a message to your listener. Next the student hears a pre-recorded audio response to their answer to create a complete conversation.

A few more bonus items in the app are that the student’s name, age, primary interest and city of residence are used in conversations to personalize play. The conversations may be archived and emailed to the SLP or parents.

Check out this video to get an even better idea before you buy:

Negatives: Many of the children I completed this app with use a lot of scripted or echolalic speech in general.
If you just stick with the conversations available you will want to be careful about repeating scenarious multiple times. While we want our students to practice conversations we don’t want them to just memorize scripts. That’s a major component of conversational exhanges! You need to listen to the speaker and decide what comment is appropriate. I found that once my students had cycled through they were just memorizing, instead of evaluating and adjusting to the conversation. The app offers in-app purchases to expand the conversation scenarios.

ConversationBuilder sells for $9.99 in itunes at this time.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Artic Jack in the Box!

Sometimes fun ideas are born out of less than awesome times. This spring, my (amazingly patient) office mate Elaine and I have had a string of colds mixed with some serious allergy issues. That has left us with lots of tissue boxes laying around. Which led me to making an articulation activity out of it! Some kiddos thought it looked like an Artic Jack in the Box and some thought it was more like a magic show gag! Either way we said a ton of words for practice! 

We made these Jack in the Box activities using the Jumbo Webber Articulation book. We taped sheets together in order to get a strand that keeps on going and going! 

I pre cut these sheets into strips of three words with their target sounds. Then the kids taped them end for end as they made of sentences using the 3 words.

Next we folded them accordion style. We repeated the words again to ourselves as we folded the strips!

After we got the strips completed, we put the strip into the tissue box. We tried to say each word, super fast, as we pulled out the strips! It was hard to keep up!

Our strips started getting REALLY long, so we just ran with it! How fun is it to make a strip as tall as my wall!? Of course we had to recite all our words again on the wall!

Who knew we could make some speech fashion! They were long enough to make scarves!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pronoun Ice Cream Cones

Occasionally some of my lovely blog readers send me their ideas. I love that! And I loved this one from Kellie so much that I had to share it with you! 

Kellie made these cute cones with characters on them. The ice cream pieces have items. You can have students request items to make a giant cone! They can say  "Can I have her ladybug" for possessive pronouns. Have them label items for subjective pronouns, "He has a football." 

Kellie also included some items for working on categories! You can tell from my picture above. I added magnets to the back of them so my students can work standing up! 


Kellie Mielner is an SLP in the Three Lakes School District. Artwork credits are to Phillip Martin.

Grab your freebie HERE!!! Thanks Kellie!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Multiple Meaning Library App Review

Multiple Meanings Library is an app released this May through The Virtual Speech Company.

When I explain learning vocabulary concepts to parents, I often equate it to the filing cabinet of our brain. We have to understand that words can fall into multiple categories, ie: a banana could be in the ‘yellow items’ file, or the ‘fruit’ file. Students must understand the multiple characteristics of vocabulary and understand the multiple relationships between words. The Multiple Meanings Library targets your clients’ semantic skills through multiple activities:

                Auditory bombardment
                Picture identification
                Make up sentences (with audio recording feature)

The app can be used with multiple students during a session. At the beginning of each session the clinician can determine which vocabulary to target for each student. Students can also complete different tasks in the same session. For example, one student might be working on receptive identification of a sentence, while another is working on expressively developing a sentence. This specificity to each student allows the app to be used with students working at a variety of skill levels within the same group. The app contains 122 words. When you select certain vocabulary words, they are saved for the next time you use the app with that student. 

 The app features real pictures and contains vocabulary appropriate for children in elementary and middle school. The app has a few features that you can customize. For example, I turned off the automatic paging feature. That gave me the opportunity to review answers that my students answered incorrectly. I think sometimes app developers forget we have to be able to slow down and work on TEACHING our kiddos, not just quizzing them with the app – and this feature allowed me to slow them down to reflect on wrong answers.

I really love the data collection on this app. When you finish a group of students, the data page lists each student and their percentages. This is perfect for how I collect data, because I can add the results to each data sheet at the end of the group. The other way to look at data is to use the Report button on the home page. That allows you to look at a single students progress over time.

While the app targets multiple meaning words, it could also incorporate a host of other goals. Identifying missing words for sentences, developing grammatically correct sentences are a few of the goals I simultaneously targeted this week.

If I could make a change to this app, I'd love it if the vocabulary was grouped by difficulty level. It takes a bit of time to scroll through and pick out words from the 122 listed. I'd love them to be grouped by level, so that I could select an entire level and just add/remove a few from that grouping if needed. 

Check out this video to get a better idea before you buy!

 The app is currently available for $14.99 in itunes. A copy of this app was gifted to me by The Virtual Speech Company in order to complete a review. The opinions in this review are explicitly mine. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Angry Birds Conversation Starters

Hey friends. Need a end of the year pick me up? Or - oh dang I have to work all summer - pick me up?

I made some Angry Bird Conversation Starters! These were super easy so I think you can make them with just a few minutes of prep!

The cube is a free download available here. I printed them in color and just used a marker to write some conversation starters on the cube. If you plan to re-use them, laminate them.

Just cut them out, and use them as a quick convo starter at the beginning of your social groups! I think it goes without saying that you could use this for any goal!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lids N Lizards

I love it when that red box shows up in the front office! You know the one I mean! That box full of Super Duper Therapy Materials! Here's my nerdy excited SLP iphone pic!   Today I'm sharing a review for Lids N Lizards. Super Duper provided the materials, but the opinions in this review are mine. I think you'll flip your lid for this one (sorry I couldn't resist.)

Lids N Lizards is a game made of up metal lids, picture magnets, and small plastic lizards. Place a magnet under each lid  and flip them over to hide the picture! Now for the fun part! Hide the lizards under some of the lids and let your students uncover them! As they work on vocabulary, describing and categorization they accumulate lizards. The student who uncovers the most lizards is the winner of this one!  The photo magnets are for the categories: food, clothing, animals, transportation, and home items.

First of all, the students are just a tiny bit obsessed with these lizards! They are fun to search for!

Okay so if you've been hanging around Speech Room News very long, you know I'm going to give you some ideas about how to use this activity, that weren't on the side of the box! In my first week with it in my therapy closet here are few ways I have used Lids N Lizards!

Categories: The game comes intended for categories. I started by having the kids sort the pictures they found into groups by category. The next round we used only one category of photos and we played a guessing game trying to predict the pictures we would uncover. It was great for naming category members. 

Vocabulary: This game is perfect for reviewing common vocabulary. I did it receptively at first by laying out items by and having them identify the correct picture and placing it in the lid. Then we expressively named the vocabulary as we turned the lids.

Functions: Lay out the vocabulary pictures. Name the function (ie: what you use to wash clothes) of an item and let your student name the correct picture. 

Inferencing: Lay out the vocabulary cards and give verbal clues about an item for students to make an 
inference! ie: a piece of clothing that keeps your head warm!

Articulation: Use a carrier phrase for each lid you turn over that includes your target sound: ex: I see/I found/Look a/I spy a. If your students are still at the word level, grab your Webber Jumbo Artic Book, make a copy of a page with your target sounds. Tape those pictures to the inside instead of the magnets! If you happen to have any MagneTalks those will also work and already have magnets! 

Pronouns: Grab two post-it notes. Draw a boy on one and a girl on the other. As you flip the lids decide which person you want to give the lid to! For subjective pronouns say "She has __/He has __." For possessive pronouns say "This is his __/This is her __."

HAVE/HAS: Draw a post it note with two people and another with one person. Sort and create a sentence as your flip your lids! ie: They have a banana, He has a shirt.

Irregular Verbs: I used this to work on common irregular past tense verbs with some kindergarten friends. I picked saw/said/ate to make sentences with each picture. The kids thought that the round we played saying 'Ms. Jenna ate ___.' was the funniest thing ever.

Plurals: We made sentences after each lid we flipped using the carrier phrase, "I have one ___, but I wish I had two ____."

WH Questions: After your students have flipped all the lids, make up questions to match the pictures, ie: What do monkey's eat? for the banana picture. 

Concepts: under/over, empty/full, same/different!

Descriptions:  Grab those lizards and describe them! smooth/bumpy, colors, size, etc.

Associations: Can you find photo magnets that go together? milk/cereal and milk/cow

Compare/Contrast: After your students have flipped all of their lids and while you are putting the game away, take the chance to work on identifying similarities and differences in the items. Let them pick two items to compare/contrast. Typically they pick easy things first! ie: apple and banana, but once it's down to the last two items it might be a banana and a hat! See if they can finish it all the way to the end! 

My overall opinion is that this therapy tool is one of the most flexible I've ordered lately! If I was able to change something about the program it would be the vocabulary magnets. I wish they included a wider range of items, because even my ESL and low level students new most of these vocabulary words! It would be wonderful if SD offered some supplemental packs of magnets that I could use to challenge the vocabulary development for my students. Lids N Lizards is available for $39.95. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

StoryLines for Figurative Language

Did you see the great post from The Speech Guy about the app Story Lines? Go over and visit his blog now. After you read his post this one will make more sense! 

He says: "Story Lines is the old fashion game of ‘telephone’ that has been appified with a pictionary twist to it. I have found that its a great tool for teaching that abstract figurative language.  The student has to interpret what the phrase means by analyzing the literal and figuartive interpretation and then has to represent that by drawing it." Sounds amazing right? 

I wanted to use this app and create some idiom cards that my students could pull from. If you had a pack of Idiom cards from Super Duper Inc, those would work perfectly here too (especially because they're illustrated!) I didn't have any so I made these quick ones! I tried to pick idioms that would be manageable to illustrate! You'll want to make sure your students are exposed to the idioms before hand! 

Grab the free download HERE.
Check out the app HERE.


Monday, May 14, 2012

More Apps from Super Duper Inc

It was a manic Monday! The weeks are busy, but flying by! I just wanted to swing by and share another round of reviews for the Super Duper Inc apps. Super Duper gave me codes in order to complete the reviews! The opinions on these are all mine. 

What Doesn’t Belong? This is a new one from Super Duper. Like all of their apps to date, it contains the images in the fun deck with the option of data collection. Of the apps I'm reviewing today, this is the one I've used the most! The app has cards with sets of either 3 or 4 items. The clinician can choose which cards will be targeted. I used the app the way it was intended for several students, letting them identify which card did not belong in the set. I love this one because I used it a lot of other ways too! Start by turning off the volume so that no question probes will be said. I used the same app to work on receptively identifying objects from a field of 3 and 4. I worked on expressively naming vocabulary on each card. I worked on identifying objects by function (ie: what do you use to protect your feet.) As you can see this is a flexible app! 

Homophones    Here's an app for your readers. Select the cards you want students to see, and have your students fill in the blank to practice word pairs that sound the same but have different spellings and different meanings. The prompts include statements like, “___ is my favorite color” and “Yesterday, Karla ___ Ben a story.” The best part of this app, is that you can set up automatic scoring, unlike many of the Super Duper Apps! It makes it much easier to get accurate data in case you forget to mark each response! 

Compare and Contrast   the student looks at two items on the screen and touches the screen to listen to the prompts. Ask the student to compare or contrast the items. The student then gives a verbal response. After each answer, tap the green (correct) or red (incorrect) button to score the student’s verbal response. Move to the next card by swiping the card currently on the display screen to the side, and the next image appears. Most of my kids needed help to express this relationship. I used a little white board with the carrier phrases, "___ & ___ are both ___." and "__ is __, but ___ is ___." 

Name That Category  The Name That Category App is a perfect way to check understanding of the semantic relationships between vocabulary. Have your students fill in the blank to practice describing, categorizing, and organizational skills. The prompts include fill-in-the-blank statements like, “A car, bike, and train are ___.” and “A sandwich, pizza, and French fries are ___.” 

Practicing Pragmatics  The practicing pragmatics apps is appropriate for younger students on your caseload. Slide the questions and have the students answer social skills questions about Politeness, Solving Problems, Feelings, Giving Information, Requesting, Telephone Skills, and Staying on Topic. The 52 color cards can be answered immediately or  used to set up possible topics for modeling social situations. 

What Are They Thinking   This app was developed  to improve your students' inferencing, reasoning, and conversational skills. All the people and animals in these fun cards have thought bubbles above their heads. Touch the screen to hear all of the thoughts or touch one thought bubble to hear just that character's thought. Hit the refresh button to hear a new thought for each bubble. Slide your finger to move to the next page when you're done answering this prompt! As I have noted in the past. This is one of the most open ended apps from SD! I used this one for a re-eval with a student this week! It was great for eliciting sentence samples! 

Listening for Absurdities This one is sure to elicit the giggles! Select the cards you want students to see, and have them practice their listening, reasoning, and problem solving skills as they tell you what makes each card absurd. Prompts include statements such as “The mother hen took good care of her baby octopus” and “Becky cut the paper with a fork.” I'm always surprised that my students can identify that something isn't quite right, but sometimes they have a lot of difficulty verbalizing the reason it doesn't make sense. This is a good language app to have in your tool box!

If you've read my other Super Duper app reviews you might remember that I consider them the type of apps that lighten the load you carry from building to building or room to room. The apps are limited with their interactivity, but certainly provide the opportunity for SLP's to reduce the amount of materials they need to carry to and from!