Friday, November 30, 2012

"Why kids should play with dolls!" featured blog post

baby dolls

Check out this GREAT blog post collaboratively created by an OT, SLP and child psychologoist on the importance of pretend play with baby dolls FOR ALL CHILDREN!!!!  It is so well written and what a great way to use pretend play to improve all areas of development!!!!  Check out  Why Kids Should Play With Baby Dolls

Enjoy, happy playing and happy talking!!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Articulation Tip: Achieving the T!

I was in a conversation recently where I was asked what are my tricks of the trade so to speak to get a child to make the "T" sound when they have the tendency to back that sound to a "K".  So I thought I'd share them here for any other parents that might be working on this as well.

First let me give a brief description, for all the parents and non-speech educators reading, the term backing refers to when a child produces a sound in the back of their mouths when the sound should be produced in the front.  The most typical examples of backing are when a child produces "K" for "T" (eg. "top" is produced "cop") or "G" for "D" (eg. "dog" is produced "gog").

So what do I do?

1) Explain the difference between the current sound and the sound you want:

The first thing I do is explain the difference between the sound the child is currently saying verses the sound I want him or her to say.  So if they are producing "K" for "T" I will explain that the sound the child is producing is coming from the back of their tongue touching the roof of their mouth and I will place their hands on my throat to feel how the sound comes from the "back of the mouth" and the "throat" region.  But the sound we want to make comes from the "front" of our mouth using our tongue tip.  Then I place their hand in front of my lips (not touching my mouth) to have the child feel the air flow coming out of the front of my mouth when producing "T".  So before we even try to produce "T" together we need to make sure the child has some understanding and control over their tongue tip (Tip: during this time I make sure the child can stick out, point and lift tongue tip up and down to make sure the child has control and knowledge of what the tongue tip actually only takes a few seconds and a mirror for children to understand where their tongue tip is and how to move it).

2)  Explain how to use one's articulators to make the target sound:

So for the "T" sound I usually explain that it is made by having the tongue tip make contact with the upper front teeth.  I show this by opening my teeth a bit just to show the movement of my tongue.  Most times with the explanation, combined with one's ability to control their tongue tip and the use of a mirror, the child can begin to model this sound in isolation with ease. 

However, there is the more rare occasion when the child has been backing so long that he/she does not know how to control his/her tongue tip to make contact at the front of their mouth. So we move to step 3.

3) Straw Practice:

By placing a straw between the child's teeth (without having them bite it) the child can use the straw as sensory feedback to produce the "T".  This typically works very, very quickly because it is natural for our tongues to migrate toward foreign objects in our mouths.  The problem becomes translating that action to producing the "T" sound without the straw. 

So after the child can produce a distorted, but definitely a "T" sound with the open straw, then have the child bit on the straw, so the straw is flattened in their mouths (just in between the front two teeth) and have them produce the "T" several times over (I like the 10xs/row rule:  10xs/row for at least 3 trials before moving to the next step).  With the flattened straw you want your child to pay particular attention to how it feels to touch his/her teeth when making this sound as well.

Finally, take the straw out and have your child make the sound by having their tongue tip make contact with their front teeth (again I use the 10xs/row rule).  If they can't translate that movement, put the straw back in a try it again until they can really feel their tongue tip making contact with their front teeth.

And that's it!  Once they can make the sound in isolation, you can practice in VC (vowel-consonant syllables), (I like working on final consonants 1st as it is usually easier for children to add their target at then end without reverting to old habits) and then in CV (consonant-vowel syllables). 

Remember: you may have to segment the target sound (break the target sound off from rest of word) initially before your child can produce it fluently without adding their substituted sound.

Most Importantly:  Be patient, celebrate the small achievements (b/c NO achievement or improvement is small), and have FUN!!!!  The sillier you are the more fun your child will have!

Happy Talking!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Another Christmas Giveaway!!!

In celebration of our 200+ page likes on facebook and the wonderful followers we have already on this blog, I thought a fun Christmas giveaway was in order!

So what am I giving away this time? 

The first gift you could win is your very own copy of In A Pickle  game.  Its a great game for auditory comprehension, attention, auditory memory, receptive language skills, math concepts (size comparisons), and many more skills! (picture courtesty of; click on picture to link to amazon)
Description from official website: 
"Can a giraffe fit in a phone booth? Does a sofa fit in a shopping cart? It all depends on how you size it up in this game of creative thinking and outrageous scenarios. Try to win a set of cards by fitting smaller things into bigger things - There's some juice in a pickle, in a supermarket, in a parking lot. Play the fourth word card to claim the set, unless one of your opponents can trump with a larger word. The player with the most sets at the end is the BIG winner"
Game details:

  • Ages 10 and up

  • 2 to 6 players

  • Playing time: 20 to 30 minutes (perfect for therapy sessions)

  • 300 cards

  • The second item in our giveaway: 

    Apples to Apples Dice game
    Great for targeting categories, adjectives, vocabulary development, phonemic awareness, attention, memory, word retrieval and so much more! (picture courtesy of; click on picture to link to amazon)

    Description:"The newest way to play Apples to Apples lets you create your own hilarious comparisons with a roll of the dice. A judge rolls the green die first to declare an adjective that starts with the resulting letter. Then, the judge rolls the red dice and players race to choose 1 and say a noun that starts with the letter on the selected die. A chip is awarded by the judge to the noun he or she deems the best comparison. First player to earn 5 chips wins." 
    Game Details:

    • Ages 7 and up
    • 3-6 players
    • 1, 20-sided green dice 
    • 6, 6-sided red dice
    25 green apple chips

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    A Thankful Thanksgiving!


    On this day of thanks, I wanted to send out my own "thank you" to all of my followers, friends, and collaborative SLPs and AuDs who have helped me with this blog, given me ideas, feedback, and suggestions. 

    I also want to send out a very special "Thank You" to the families of my clients who have taken a chance on me.  After spending 7 years in the school system while moving around the country with my active duty military husband, I finally decided to make the dream of my own private practice a reality.  So after we moved to AZ last May, without any established friendships, or professional relationships, I ventured out and decided to make a go of my own practice.  I have no regrets!!!  The families I am working with are taking their child's speech and langauge development seriously, doing homework (something I couldn't get parents to do in the school system if I paid them...just my personal experience...not implying that all schools or parents are like that), and becoming their child's best communication partner.  I'm seeing progress so much quicker ONLY because of parental participation!  So for all of your hard work and dedication to your child's communication skills, I am sending you a very warm heart-felt thank you!  I celebrate with you in your child's successes up to this date and I look forward to all the progress and growth that is awaiting us in the future!

    May you all have a blessed Thanksgiving weekend!  As always, happy talking!

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Feed the Pilgrim!

    Its Thanksgiving time and my little Pilgrims are HUNGRY!!!! So its the perfect time to play...Feed the Pilgrim!

    Do you have an empty tissue box and some fake food?  Then you join in on the fun too! 

    Parents, this is a super fun activity for you to do at home while practicing your child's speech homework.

    I printed out the above pilgrim template by simply typing in Pilgrim into an internet server and choosing one of the many online images available for personal use.  I stuck it onto the top of the tissue box with poster putty for easy movement!

    I usually have my kiddos practice a couple stimulus cards (usually 3-5 depending on the age and attention span) then take a turn using the tongs to pick up some food and "feed the hungry pilgrim".

    For foods that are too big for our Pilgrim's mouth, I simply moved the face over and we dropped the food into the tissue box whole. 

    It was fun to see how MUCH food we could fit in that little tissue box.  You'd be surprised!

    Its a simple fun activity that will keep children engaged and motivated during speech trials.  And great use of tongs for fine motor skills practice!

    Did you try this at home or make up your own version?  Let me know in the comments below!

    Enjoy and Happy Talking!

    Tuesday, November 20, 2012

    "Give Thanks" Turkeys!

    Carrie's Speech Corner offered this super cute turkey template for articulation practice as well as a BLANK template to use any way you want to.  I have a client with whom I am focusing on tongue thrust remediation (click here for assessment, prevention, and remediation information) and I saw the blank template and thought it was a perfect way to create a reinforcement activity while we practiced her oral motor exercises. 

    We created a "Give Thanks" Turkey!  Yep you guessed it...we hid the feathers around the therapy area and when my client needed to rest her facial musculature between exercies, we would find one of the feathers and write something thing we were thankful for.  (I added the nerf gun as a fun way to "find" our turkey feathers, just because I had it in my therapy bag...but it's not a must have.)

    Tip:  I laminated the turkey and feathers and used dry erase markers so they could be recycled and used multiple times.  Don't have a lamainator?  No big deal get some contact paper and voila' a reuseable therapy activity for ANY speech and language goal. 

    Also:  Adding the writting piece to therapy lends itself to working on some phonological awareness and encoding skills which are grea for the younger elementary school kiddos as well. 

    Check out the cute "Give Thanks" Turkeys we made. 

    Want your own template?  Then, head on over to Carrie's Speech Corner.

    Have a Blessed Thanksgiving and Happy Talking!!!

    Sunday, November 18, 2012

    Let's Go on a Turkey Hunt!

    What to do with a 3 year old boy working on articulation a few days before Thanksgiving?  I say...Let's go on a Turkey Hunt!

    Let's Talk Speech-Language Pathology has this super cute articulation turkey FREEBIE download on her blog.  (Click link above to download your copy)

    And luckily for me, my client and I were working on some of the same sounds.  So I downloaded, printed, cut, bought a Nerf gun (or as I like to call it a "dart slinger") and...the Turkey Hunt was born!

    The goal:  my client had to find and successfully "hunt" an articulation turkey, label it (with correct use of target sounds of course) and match it up to it's "brother/sister" turkey. 

    At the end of our activity we, of course being the animal lovers we are, let our turkeys go back "into the wild" (aka back into my ziplock bag)!

    It was really a super fun activity!  If you want to keep your PK boys or girls interested in practicing their words/sounds...this is a good activity for them!  And you can use it with any stimulus cards for any goal any time of the year.

    Enjoy!  Happy Talking!

    Thursday, November 15, 2012

    Winner: Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital Giveaway

    Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital: The Adventures of Baby JaimieAnnouncing the winner of our book giveaway, Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital!!!!

    Jennifer Warrick Davis you are the lucky winner of your own copy of Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital.  PLEASE email me your address privately at so your book can be mailed out to you. 

    A special thank you to all who have particpated in this giveaway!  Hint:  Keep your eyes peeled.  After I get 200+ page likes on my facebook page I'll be hosting another special Christmas giveaway.  Only 7 page likes tell your friends to find Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC on FB and click like!

    Until then....happy talking!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2012

    "Sick" of Inferencing FREEBIE!

    In honor of this weeks giveaway Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital (you still have until midnight Thursday to enter), I thought an inferencing activity about medicine might be in order!

    "Sick" of Inferencing is a game packet that consists of 6 pages of inferencing questions:
    * 2 pages about medical personnel
    * 2 pages devoted to medical supplies
    * 2 pages of higher level inferencing and prediction ?s

    Full PDF version at bottom of this blog.  Just download, print and play!

    I also added in this fun little gameboard "Hazardous for Your Health" for your kiddos to play with as they use of the above cards or seperately.

    Graphics from Microsoft PowerPoint.

    **For personal use only.  NOT for redistribution purposes. Reminder:  Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC reserves the creative rights to all materials created and distributed on**

    For PDF version in Google Docs Click link below:
    Sick of Inferencing

    Click below for full PDF version in Scribd:

    Sick of Inferencing Game

    Enjoy!  Don't forget to enter this week's giveaway and of course Happy Talking!

    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Christmas Giveaway at Let's Talk SLP!

    Below is an AWESOME Christmas giveaway opportunity!  Brea over at Let's Talk Speech-Language Pathology is hosting a very generous giveaway for ANYONE who may need something for Christmas.  You may be one of the lucky few who do not need to win this giveaway but maybe you know a student, client, cousin, nephew, neice, grandparent, friend, etc. who will be struggling this Christmas season and could benefit from a special gift.  Please please read the terms and rules of her giveaway below and head on over to her blog to enter to win!  Share the Christmas spirit and spread the love!   

    Special thanks to Brea for her generous heart and loving kindness!


    Christmas Giveaway!

    I am starting to get into the Christmas spirit already! I am so excited about this Christmas season that I just can't wait any longer. The Christmas music is playing on the radio, and I have started some Christmas shopping. Yes, I am one of those people who starts getting in the Christmas spirit before Thanksgiving. Don't worry, I still take time to celebrate Thanksgiving and give thanks for what I have. I'm just too excited to wait any longer!

    Therefore, I am writing my post today to announce a Christmas giveaway that I have decided to do. I have been going back and forth in my mind about whether I want to do this, and I have decided to just do it. I hope you all will love it.

    First things first, and I really want to stress this, the giveaway winner will be chosen randomly. I am using Rafflecopter for this (so it might be a tad confusing), but I think that's the best way to remove bias in a giveaway.

    I also want to say, before I get into the nitty gritty of the giveaway, that everyone and anyone is welcome to enter!

    The purpose of the giveaway is simply this: I would like to play "Santa" and give one child or one adult a wrapped gift of an item/a few items that he/she truly NEEDS for Christmas. The item(s) that I give will be dependent on what you need! Do you (or your spouse, mother, grandfather, etc.) need socks, underwear, a pair of pants, or a book? Does your child need a new book, a pair of PJs, a blanket, a teddy bear, or a bottle? What is the one or two item(s) that you or your child (or nephew, grandchild, neighbor, etc.) truly needs? Also, FYI, books are a necessity in my opinion. I am more than happy to give a child a new book or two. Books are one of the BEST Christmas gifts you can give your child.

    Here are the rules:

    1. I really cannot spend more than $25 on the item(s) combined. Unfortunately I don't have a lot of extra money to spend this holiday, and if it's truly a NEED, then it shouldn't be $50+. Please try and limit your item(s) to $25 or less combined (because I will be paying for gift wrap and shipping as well). If you list a variety of items, I may just pick and choose from your list that you provide and purchase a few. I will let you know exactly what I decide to buy in an email (unless you don't want me to and you want to be surprised!).

    2. You MUST leave a comment on this blog, send me an email at, or send me a private Facebook message in order to enter the giveaway. In this comment/email/message, you must tell me the item(s) that you or your child needs (you can feel free to provide a link if there is something specific). If you need clothing, please be sure to give me the sizes/age of the child, and whether it's for a boy/girl. Also feel free to tell me what the child likes - cats, pink, yellow, spongebob, etc. if it's clothing. I don't want to buy a girl a pink shirt if she refuses to wear pink. Remember, the more detailed your comment/email/message is the better I can get an item that the child/individual will truly enjoy!

    3. I prefer to give an actual gift rather than a gift card. And no, I will not send cash. :) If you absolutely need a gift card, I would prefer it to be to a grocery store or a child's clothing store or something like that. Also keep in mind that I live in Michigan, and I may not have access to a specific store that you have access to in a different state.

    4. In order to get this item to you, I will need to have your name and address. If you're not comfortable providing me with this, then it will be extremely difficult for me to get you your gift. If you're the winner, I will contact you by email to obtain your address. I will also need the name of the individual who will be receiving the gift as I want to label the gift with their name.

    5. It is my aim to have your gift to you by Christmas. I would LOVE if you could put it under your Christmas tree and had the individual open it on Christmas. It will be labeled from Santa so that your child/family member can truly enjoy it.


    Please follow the rules carefully! If I select a winner but see that the person has not made contact with me in some way (comment on this blog, email me, or send me a Facebook message), then I will pick a new winner.

    The giveaway will close at 12:01 AM on Wednesday, November 21. Please spread the word! I want to make someone's Christmas special this year, and this is one of the only ways I know how to help. :)

    Want to enter?  Please head on over to Let's Talk Speech-Language Pathology to enter to win!  FOLLOW the directions so your entry will be valid!  You can't win unless you enter!  Good luck and Have yourself a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!
    Happy Talking!!!!

    Sunday, November 11, 2012

    Giveway and Review: Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital!!!

    Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital by Jaimie Hope is the lastest installment in The Adventures of Baby Jaimie book series.

    This story is about a little girl, Baby Jaimie, who is facing the fun of summer when she finds out she has to go to the hospital to have a tonsilectomy. 

    With Christmas quickly approaching, what better way to review a new book than having a giveaway?  Read my review and enter via the raffelcopter widget at the bottom of this blog. 

    Keep your eyes peeled for a FREE speech and language activity to go along with this book's theme later this week!!!!

    Book Review:

    What I like about this book:
    • The main chracter is disabled, which is a great way to talk about how children with disablities are just like other children.
    • This book lends itself to a GREAT social story about going to the doctor and hospital.
    • You can talk about how feelings of the characters change throughout the book (excitment, fear, worry, concern, sadness, relief, etc.)
    • Figurative language is used in this book and is a great way to introduce and talk about meanings of idioms and mutltiple meaning words, etc.
    • The illustrations are child friendly, but realistic (eg. doctors and nurses have masks on in the operating room)
    • Realistic but child friendly descriptions of hosptial procedure and recovery (eg. discussion of getting oxygen mask, coldness of the OR, etc.)
    • There are several opportunities for problem solving and making predictions during this story
    • During the story there is a discussion about a lemonade stand that Baby Jaimie and her sister want to do over the summer.  What a great way to talk about ways to raise/make money and wrap math and money concepts within a language activity!
    Just 2 drawbacks:
    • This book is a bit long for a single session (however I can see this book being easily adapted over the course of several sessions or streamlined to fit within one session depending on your goals and your student's needs).
    • The nickname "Baby Jaimie" tends to go against the feelings of independence and maturation we as SLPs try to encourage and facilitate within our students; however I think its a GREAT way to discuss what a nickname is and that just because your mom or dad might call you the baby of the family doesn't mean you shouldn't act like the big girl/boy when you are in school, at home, etc.
    All in all I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading the other adventures of Baby Jaimie!

    For your chance to win enter below.  The winner will be announced on Friday.  Good luck!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    If you are not the lucky winner of this giveaway, don't worry.  You can still order the book online. It is available in print or  e-book formats.  You can also get an autographed copy via Kindlegraph.  Looking for more merchandise to make a full lesson, go to Jaimie Hope's online store for other merchandise!  Want more info on Jaimie Hope and her other books?  Head on over to her blog and to check her out!

    Saturday, November 10, 2012

    Announcment: It's Giveaway time! Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital

    Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hospital: The Adventures of Baby JaimieAs a thank you to all of my followers and newest fans, I felt is was about time for another giveaway!  Join us next week (Nov 12-16th) and enter to win a free copy of Jaimie Hope's newest book:  Baby Jaimie Goes to the Hosptial.

    Check out my book review and enter to win on Monday's (Nov 12th) blog!  The winner will be chosen at random (via use of and announced on Friday (Nov 16th).

    Also...look out for a FREE book related inferencing activity later in the week for everyone to enjoy!

    Good LUCK!  And Happy Talking!!!

    Friday, November 9, 2012

    Pretend Play: Keeping Track of Progress!

    This post has been relocated!  Click here to find it!

    Wednesday, November 7, 2012

    Pretend Play: Choosing Materials to Target Speech & Language Goals!

    Pretend play is crucial for a child's cognitive, communication and social  development.  But how can we as SLPs and parents use this activity to target specific language goals?

    There are a few rules to follow when using pretend play to target specific goals:

    1.  Choose interesting materials:  If your child is not interested in the materials you are presenting for play than they will not want to participate in the play.  So simple to understand, yet sometimes we get caught up in our own ideas and what we think would be fun for our kids, that we miss their signs of disinterest.  So keep your child's likes and dislikes in mind and choose specific materials, dress up clothing and toys that are of interest to your child. (My rule of thumb:  If a child's eyes don't light up when I pull out my materials, I change it up!  I give the child/children a few choices and they tell me what they want to play with).

    2.  Choose materials that lend itself to targeting your goals:  For example, if your goal is to increase a child's vocabulary or understanding of categories and you have noticed that he/she does not know the names of many pictured foods or the differences between fruits and vegetables, then playing with fake food would be a great way to target those skills. 
    • If your goal is to improve social skills by taking turns, joining in play, sharing, etc. than you want to make sure you DON'T have enough materials for everyone.  This way you create an artificial environment where a child will have to request objects, wait for his turn, take turns with others and learn how to share. 
    • If your goal is to improve articulation skills, and your child is working on specific sounds, try to pick several (if not all) toys and materials that have the child's particular sounds in them.  Its a GREAT way to model these sounds in play and possibly encourage generalization of speech production to play (if you child is at that stage). 
    • If your child has sensory issues, try to incorporate some of the materials he/she has trouble processing on a TOLERABLE level (low music-if noise is an issue, tactile issues-how about shaving cream, rice, flower, various homemade play doughs, etc. in the sensory table, play with REAL food-if textures are an issue). 
    • If your child is working on specific grammatical structures (complete sentences, understanding prepositions, etc.) make sure you create an environment where he/she has the opportunity to use those skills or if he/she cannot do that yet, provide several opportunities where you will model these skills.  E.g.  Your child is working on understanding concept of "where".  You bring out a few play materials and then after some time, misplace one, then "remember" where you misplaced it by giving your child simple directions to "get the (toy) under, in, behind, the...".  E.g. Your child uses only names of objects and you want him/her to create phrases and sentences.  You can put down a few toys and have a clear box/bin out of reach but visual so your child can ask for the toys he/she wants in a sentence (I want the ___) or question (Can I have the ___?) format. 
    • If you want different types of sentences using self-talk and parallel talk (see this blog for more details on these skills) is a GREAT way to give your child stimulation and modeling of these skills. 
    Just keep your child's strengths and weaknesses in mind and you'll be able to provide just the right about of assistance to make play fun while he/she learns.

    3.  Keep track of progress:  This is the MOST difficult thing sometimes for parents and therapists to do.  How do you keep track of all the things a child is saying and doing while playing?  We are going to learn that in the next blog.  Stay tuned!!!

    In the meantime...keep playing...and happy talking!!!!

    Monday, November 5, 2012

    Pretend Play: Why it's Important!

     I was at the Dollar Tree in early September and look at what I found?!!  Some great Halloween/ dress up goodies for...well you guessed it, $1 a piece!
    Look at the wonderful pretend play outfits I found for a total of $6 (plus tax)!  Pretend play is sometimes overlooked in the Speech Pathology world because we are trained to "make the most" out of every speech session, have the most possible trials, teach the skill, practice the skill, and ABOVE ALL take LOTS and LOTS of data!!!! 

    So one can imagine how hard it is for SLPs to have evidenced-based therapy sessions with tons of data IF we do not have control over the context the entire time!  The truth is, I struggled with this for a long time and it wasn't until I worked with some amazing early childhood teachers that I realized how important pretend play is for language development, social skills, and cognitive development. 

    According to the article titled. Pretend Play: The Magical Benefits of Role Play, by One Step Ahead  the benefits of pretend play are numerous as it faciliates:
    • Imaginative thinking and exploration
    • Abstract thinking
    • Problem Solving
    • Life skills
    • Leadership skills
    • Communication development
    • Social Skills development
    • Use of "Theory of Mind" (understanding/taking another's perspective)
    • Understanding of safety
    • Self-confidence and a high self-esteem
    **There is a theory some researchers believe that pretend play actually creates synaptic connections!  This has yet to be proven but if so, participation in pretend play could positively impact IQ!**

    There are SEVERAL different kinds of pretend play:
    • Dress Up:  probably the one most of us think of when we talk about pretend play.  Do you remember the box of mom and dad's old clothes and shoes you used to play dress up?  Dress up teaches children about jobs and roles within the community as well as creates social situations they can work on using language to successfully navigate. 
    • Imitation of Adults:  If you have a child, you will surely remember the phase where they wanted to help you with the housework and vaccuum, dust, dry the dishes, etc.  They wanted to imitate mom and dad.  What you might not have known was that they were learning while having fun.  Even if they don't "do it right" or "take too long", let your child participate in these activites!  You can always have a clean house AFTER they've grown! :)
    • Imitate Real-life:  this includes when your kids play "grocery store", "library", "doctor", "restaurant", etc.  They learn social skills and appropriate language for these situations simply by playing.
    • Acting out Stories:  children love to become their favorite characters, which is another reason reading to your child is so important.  When acting as a character, your child is learning "theory of mind" (how to take on that character's perspective), which is one of the most important social skills a child can learn!
    • Perform "On-Stage":  Your child or children will eventually begin to want to take center stage and perform for you (the audience).  In performances there are characters, with various feelings, a setting (various situations), sometimes a problem and resolution, the characters have "lines" (scripting), and there is a beginning, middle and end (a true narrative) to the story.  Your child will learn how to navigate these situations cooperatively with his/her peers to put on a successful performance!
    • Create pretend play space:  This occurs when your child turns a box into a rocket, or hands you a "cup of coffee" (which is really a piece of tupperware with blocks in it), or puts his shoe to his ear and talks into it as if on the telephone.  Your child is pretending that objects are actually other objects.  This is not the time to say "NO, you don't drink blocks!".  This is the time to encourage this type of imagination.  Maybe your child has NOTHING in his hands but he will swear that he "hit that monster with his frisbee".  No your child hasn't lost his mind, in fact, he/she is using his/her mind more than ever before!  So what you do say?  "Wow, thanks for getting that monster and keeping me safe!" 
    As an SLP, we can rationally understand the benefits of pretend play but still struggle to incorporate it into our therapy sessions.  But here are a few lessons I have learned that will hopefully make you want to put on a mask and cape and play superheros with your students/clients:

    1.  I learned that IT REALLY IS OK to let go and follow the child's lead, then use our wonderful evidence-based techniques (modeling, echoing, expanding, feigning confusion, etc., click here for a complete list) to achieve these goals. 
    2.  And IT IS OK to use qualitative data for these things as well (the key is really knowing what qualitative data you are looking for; once you figure that out you'll be just fine).  
    3.  IT IS OK to encourage a healthy self-esteem and cooperative play with a group of students/clients!  
    4.  When a parent comes to you and ask why you just play in speech therapy, IT IS OK to educate parents on the positive effects pretend play has on cognitive development and future academic skills!  
    5.  IT IS OK, ethical, and clinicially appropriate to provide age-appropriate therapy activties (and this does include pretend play)! 

    So what does this mean for parents and SLPs out there?!! When working with the little guys...we need to play with our kids!  We need to follow their lead!  We need to present amazing, interesting materials (whether it be dress up clothes, a doll house, sensory table full of goodies, etc.) that will target the child's goals (vocabulary, expressive and receptive language skills, and yes...even articulation).  And then...we need to sit back, and be quiet for a bit (hard for us SLPs).  See what they do!  Watch how they problem solve, how they use and play with these new materials.  THEN...we give them the language for it!  You won't get a ton of pluses or minuses on your data sheets, but by the end of the session, you'll know if little Johnny was able to ask his friend for a toy he wanted using appropriate language, and you'll know if Susie was able to use socially appropriate language to "order" lunch from the "restaurant" in your room!

    Later this week we will discuss specifics on how to choose appropriate materials, effectively target goals, and collect data during pretend play sessions!

    Enjoy playing...and as always...Happy Talking!!!!

    Friday, November 2, 2012

    Mini Series on Pretend Play and Speech Thearpy!

    Join me next week in disussing how we can effectively use pretend play in speech thearpy, why it is important, how to effectively choose materials and how to record progress!

    Thursday, November 1, 2012

    Fall Fun!

    Need something to do for the fall now that the Halloween fun is over?  Well here are a few fun fall activities you can do at school or at home.  Enjoy!
     Fall Sensory Bin-I had some extra macaroni noodles that I colored with food coloring a long time ago, some old rotini and some ziti noodles.  I decided to add the pasta with some plastic acorns and gourds I bought from Target's $ bins to my sensory table.  Threw in old butter and sour cream containers along with spoons and...voila'!  We had lots of fun "cooking" up soup, ice cream, cereal and so many other concoctions!

    Pumpkin Painting:  Pumpkins are NOT necessarily just for Halloween.  We love our pumpkin spices in the fall and our pumpkin pies at Thanksgiving!  So, I bought a few small white pumpkins (probably technically gourds), put some acryllic paint (I had in the house) in a bowl and gave the kids a paintbrush.  Oh the language this activity produces!  We talked about what we are making, what colors we were using and mixing together to make other colors.  Great science experiment as well!!!  Or you can cut the pumpkins in half and place face down in paint and use it as a stamper to paint pumpkin shapes!
    (Tip:  You don't have time or money to buy pumpkins for every child you see?  Just cut out pumpkins from construction paper and paint that!  You can still stimulate the same language and perform your science experiements without breaking the bank!)

    Autumn Treasture Hunt:  Use toliet paper rolls and make some binoculars.  Use your binoculars to explore the outside world and find some fall items such as acorns, pinecones, red/yellow/green/brown leaves, leaves with smooth edges vs. pointy edges, sticks, tree bark and maybe even some fall flowers!  I did this with my son and he has a GREAT time exploring.  I like this activity because its a great following directions activity with the use of multiple modifiers (colors, textures, sizes, shapes, etc.).  You can focus on listening or reading compehension skills as well! And how fun is it to wear homemade binoculars around our necks while we search for our tall items!

    Fall Collage:  After you go on your Autumn Treasure Hunt, you can take some of those wonderful items home and make a fall collage!  We like to do this on contact paper becuase its fun to make our leaves stick but you can use paper and glue too!  Whatever works for you.  You can make this a fun directions task as well (e.g. "Place the red leaf above/below/next to the brown leaf." etc.)  Or have your child use some self talk to describe what he/she is doing when making their collage.  Keep it light and remember to just have fun!

    Fall is such a great time to explore and experiment!  Do you have another fall activity you love to do with your children?  Comment below!

    Happy Talking!
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