DIY Essential Oil Spray!

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Today I am featuring the recipe for my homemade essential oil spray! I LOVE using natural cleaning products both at home and in my speech room.  This cleanser can be used for small messes like paint or glue, or to refresh your room at the end of the day. It smells great, and can provide a calming sensory experience for students and teachers alike! Click the link below for a free printable recipe.

DIY Essential Oil Spray

It probably goes without saying, but this will not cut it if you are cleaning up the three B’s (barf, blood and boogers). When dealing with bodily fluids, follow your school-wide protocol which is typically shared at the beginning of the  year. In addition, be sure to check with your administration before using this, as some schools require approval prior to bringing in your own products.

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Expanded Sentences Freebie!

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Happy Summer! I am soaking up my last two weeks of summer vacation before it’s time to go back to school. As much as I love summer, I am always happy to get back into a routine.

I’ve been using some of my free time this summer to create some new materials for this school year. Here is a game to target expanded sentences. It is designed to target the following 2nd and 3rd grade common core standards:

L 1f. Produce, expand, and rearrange complete simple and compound sentences

L 1i. Produce simple, compound, and complex sentences.

Click the link below to download the PDF version of this activity.

Summer Expanded Sentences (1)

Enjoy!

 

The Gingerbread Man Goes to Speech

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What is better than making cookies at school? Answer: nothing.

This December, we read “The Gingerbread Man” in speech. Keep reading to find out more about the awesomeness that followed.

Story Telling

I love, love, love to bring my stories to life. The Gingerbread Man has minimal characters, making it very easy to gather some story props.

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I printed and laminated a Gingerbread Man, but I think next year I am going to look for a plastic or wooden one instead. The animals and block house were gathered from sets I already had. Here is how I used these props during the story.

-While I read, the props helped students answer comprehension questions. Having visual and tactile cues is important for students who cannot yet answer questions about stories on their own.

-After the story, students took turns acting out main events. My older students wrote down the information on a story telling chart. Again, the props were really helpful in facilitating recall.

Cookie Decorating

After we read the story, the students decorated gingerbread cookies with frosting and chocolate chips. Ordinarily I am not a huge fan of sweets in school, but I do think that teaching kids that treats are okay once in a while is important. Before we made the cookies, I reminded my kids that sometimes on special occasions we can have a treat. We talked about what can happen if we have too many sweets, and what healthy foods we should be eating most of the time.

So how did we target speech and language?

-The students practiced following simple directions. For example “Tommy, please get two plates and place them on the table.”

-I asked students to describe the flavors to me. For example, the frosting was sweet, the cookie was spicy, the chocolate chips were…chocolatey?

-Some students were able to “earn” supplies for their cookie by saying articulation words.

Dramatic Play

Last but not least, we made a dramatic play center in one of our classrooms to let the students practice “baking.” Here are some of the items we included in the center:

  • Baking Sheet
  • Muffin Tins
  • Cupcake Liners
  • Cookie Cutters
  • Rolling Pin
  • Play Dough
  • Whisk/Spatula

I also made an oven out of cardboard, but sadly, it did not survive several days of play and I wasn’t able to get a picture.

As the sweet smell of gingerbread cookies lingered in my office at the end of the week, I realized that I may have been having just as much fun as my students. It is easy to get caught up in the pressure to constantly do awesome, beautiful, pintrest-inspired activities. Although there is nothing wrong with these activities (and I have certainly done many), it is also important to remember that sometimes keeping things simple and natural just seems to work. I often rely heavily on realistic, low-maintenance activities that allow me to focus on observing and teaching my students, rather than on planning and preparing. I hope to continue to document these activities so that others can emulate them with their own students.

Cheers to a very happy new year!

Katie

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Good Morning!

This Sunday I am beginning a new series of posts that will cover a range of topics related to children, teaching and healthy living.

Today’s Topic: Moving! 

In a few short weeks I will be packing up my belongings (including one small, gray cat) and moving up to Boston. I am feeling equal parts thrilled and anxious about this new adventure. Here is why:

Moving is fun.

Moving is exciting.

Moving is stressful.

Moving is a HUGE pain in the butt.

The good news is that, as an adult,  I am in control of the situation and can anticipate what is coming. On the contrary, for children, moving can be a bewildering and anxiety inducing experience.

Here are a few tips to prepare your child for a move.

1. Talk and show.

-Talk about your move! Describe where you will be living. Show your child pictures of the new house/apartment if you can. Don’t forget to describe simple things, like where your child will keep his or her toys or where you will wait for the bus.

2. Visit your child’s new school. 

-If you can, visit the new school  with your child before he or she begins attending. This can help alleviate anxiety about being “the new kid.”

3. Don’t abandon routines!

-Children thrive on routines. Routines maintain a sense of familiarity and comfort when everything else may feel new and scary. Try to keep simple routines (think: bed time, meal time, bath time) consistent throughout the moving process.

4. Listen.

-Your child may want to talk about moving. Listen! Encourage your child to talk about what is making him or her feel nervous or excited.

5. Get excited!

-Is there a neat park near your new dwelling? Will you have a cool tree to climb in the front yard? Get your child pumped up about the move!

 

Whether we are 6 or 26, moving can be scary. The important thing to remember is that eventually the “newness” subsides. You won’t always feel like the “new kid” or notice that the 3rd step creaks when you walk up the stairs. By preparing our children (and ourselves) we can help make the transition a little more comfortable for everyone.

Cheers to new adventures!

-Katie

Happy Earth Day!

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In honor of Earth Day, I decided to share some of my “greenest” speech activities!

1. Planting

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We planted some “magic beans” to practice sequencing, following directions and descriptive vocabulary. Prior to planting, we read the story “Flower Garden” by Eve Bunting. This story is about a little girl who lives in a big city and goes with her Dad to buy supplies to plant flowers in a window box. This is a great story to target predicting and sequencing. 

2. Green Building Competition 

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After learning about Earth Day, some of my students had a building contest using recycled materials! (We are currently seeking LEED certification for the best ones).

This was great for targeting sequencing (students had to recall each step they took to make their creation), expressive vocabulary (students had to explain what each part of their creation was),  and executive functioning (students had to plan their design before creating it).

3. Toilet Paper Roll Car!

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After reading about Earth Day, I let a student pick something to make using recycled materials. This was an easy one!   We put it together with an old toilet paper roll, brass fasteners and construction paper. While we made it, I targeted descriptive vocabulary by asking him to describe each part of the car and it’s function.

I like to think that every day is Earth Day in speech, however, the reality is that sometimes paper winds up in the trash can, weird food remnants go un-composted, and old ink cartridges pile up in my desk drawer. We’re still trying to decide if boogery tissues are biodegradable, but until then, we will all just keep doing our best to be kind to Mama Earth!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

You know you work with young children when you associate changing seasons with certain Eric Carle books. For me, spring means “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

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Remember when Beanie Babies were a thing? As it turns out, I had not one, but two Beanie Baby caterpillars (one large, one small). Last time I was home for Christmas I rescued them from my basement, knowing they would come in extremely handy when retelling the story of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”

Kids LOVE this book.Here is my theory on why they love it:

-It is colorful

-It is repetitive

-It is tactile (you can touch the little holes in the book)

-It is familiar (most of my students had heard this story before they read it with me)

Here are some things we did with the story this week:

1. We retold the story using story props. I made another”story retelling bag” to keep all of the items together for next year.

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Here is what is in the bag:

-A coffee filter butterfly

-A plastic egg

-Cut out pictures of the food from the story

-A paper leaf

-2 caterpillars

-A toilet paper roll (for the “cocoon”)

2. We targeted language concepts  while “feeding” the caterpillar.

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Some targets included:

-Pronouns (e.g., “He ate 3 plums.”)

-Irregular Past Tense (e.g., “He ate four strawberries,” “He felt sick.”)

-Quantitative Concepts (There is so much to count in this book! The kids can also touch the holes in each fruit, which adds a nice tactile element)

-Qualitative Concepts (big;small; colorful; beautiful etc.)

3. We sorted fruits and vegetables.

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These little buckets are great,and I use them all the time. Since the space was too small to fit the word “vegetables,” it was a great time to talk about abbreviating words and using “nicknames.” I told my kids about how my real name is Katherine but people call me Katie. Then we made up funny nicknames for the fruits and vegetables (e.g., “naners” for bananas, “cukies” for cumbers).

4. We made egg carton caterpillars!

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I will admit…they were not that cute, however, this was a great time to talk about the word “antennae!” We talked about which insects have them and which do not.

Some students practiced following directions while they made their caterpillars. For example, I might say “put purple polka dots on the first segment of his body.” As it turns out, egg cartons are not that easy to color on with markers. Next time I will use paints.

All in all, we had lots of fun with our friend the caterpillar. The child in me loved dramatically retelling the story with my students, however, the adult in me felt slightly envious as the caterpillar ate delicious treats and then took a long nap in his cocoon.

We only have one more week until spring break. Just like the caterpillar, I think we are all ready for a little time to recharge. When we come back we will be vibrant and energized butterflies ready to tackle the end of the school year!

Happy spring!

 

 

Pancakes, Pancakes!

I am now offering private speech therapy and evaluations to children in the Boston area! Visit www.growstretchspeak.com to learn more!

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Last week in speech we read “Pancakes, Pancakes,” by Eric Carle. If you are not familiar with this story, it is about a little boy who wants to make pancakes for breakfast. Before he can make the pancakes, he must gather all of the ingredients and materials he will need to make them (including wheat , eggs, milk, butter and firewood). This is another GREAT story to target sequencing and retelling, which is a skill I am working on with many of my students.

I gathered some items from my box of pretend food to use as story telling props. Items included:

-A metal pail of “milk”

-A bag of “flour” (this bag was empty, much to the disappointment of my students)

-A toy egg

-A toy bowl, pan and ladle

-A pretend container of “strawberry jam”

I also created a few other items using materials I found around my room. To make the “fire” I cut a few pieces of cardboard and crumpled up some tissue paper. The pancake is made from felt (with a piece of yellow paper for the “butter”). Students used the props to retell the story. We also worked on describing similarities and differences between items. For example, “What is the same about a spoon and a ladle?…What makes them different?”).

Students LOVED gathering firewood and cooking their “pancakes.”

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I have started putting all of the story retelling props in labeled baggies to go along with each book. I think this will save me a lot of time and energy next year!

I encourage you to check out this wonderful story. Bonus points if you make real pancakes after you read it! (Oh and if you do…here is a great recipe for healthy,kid friendly pancakes).

Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes (Healthy Breakfast for Kids)

Enjoy 🙂

If you give a Speech Therapist a cardboard box…

Chances are, she’s going to make it into a pretend bakery.

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Recently, we read “If You Give a Cat a Cupcake,” by Laura Numeroff. This story is very similar to her classic “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” I love these stories because they are great for targeting story retelling. If you are feeling particularly ambitious after reading this, and you have a spare cardboard box, a DIY cupcake stand is a guaranteed hit among the 3-6 year old population.

Here is how we used this activity in speech…

Student made “cupcakes” (i.e., rolled play-doh into balls and placed them in cupcake liners).Image

Some goals that we targeted during this included:

-Verbal requests (“I need more blue/red play doh.”)

-Following directions (“Please make 2 blue cupcakes and 1 red one.”)

After we finished making the “cupcakes,” we brought them to the bakery! Students took turns being the “baker” and being the “customer.” The week before this we did a mini “community helpers” unit, so I even had a picture of a “baker” which I made into a necklace for the students to wear when it was their turn.

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I used some extra cardboard to make a “cash register” and one of my students helped me make some paper “money.” While students bought and sold the cupcakes, we targeted:

-Conversational turn-taking

-Verbal requests

-Quantitative concepts (e.g., “He needs two cupcakes, if they are each $1, how much money does he need to give you?”)

-Color identification 

-Conversational repair 

  • I have several students working on conversation skills. I find that conversational repair is particularly tricky. To target this skill, I would pretend to be a very”silly” customer. For example, when a student told me I owed him $2, I might hand him two erasers. The student then had to politely repair the conversational breakdown.

This activity can easily be recreated in a classroom or home. Here are some materials you might need:

  • Cardboard box
  • Cupcake liners
  • Play-doh
  • Green paper (for money)
  • Markers/Scissors

This can also be turned into a pretend grocery store/fruit stand etc. Use your imagination and have fun!

Saturday Morning Inspiration Featuring ….Cardboard Boxes!

We had two snow days this week!

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Ordinarily I would have worked on a few recycled projects for my students, however, I left my big box o’ junk in my classroom. Yesterday, I glumly realized that I had no cool ideas to share this week. So, I decided to share a fantastic link from Apartment Therapy instead! It contains not one….not two….but 15 ideas for things you can make with cardboard boxes.

Coincidentally, a large cardboard box arrived at my apartment yesterday (thanks, Mom!), so the possibilities are endless! I am going to experiment this weekend and will post pictures when I am done.

Happy crafting!