Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Simple BTS Games-No Materials Needed!

So it's that time again.  August has rolled around and here we are, ready to face another school year.  First off, where did the summer go?  I always wonder.  If you are like me, some years the beginning of school seems to come upon me much faster than I every expect and before I'm even prepared, it's time for my first day of therapy.  Some years in the past my caseload was so high, I didn't have enough time to fully unpack and get organized before the first day.  So I've had to improvise.  If you too are one who needs to improvise this year, and looking for a little help, here are a few quick easy therapy activities/games you can do with your kiddos the first week of therapy with minimal or not materials.

1.  Getting to Know You: 
Materials:  None are necessary, but paper/chalkboard/dry erase board are optional.
Purpose:  Simple game to use as an ice breaker returning from the summer time.  You can use this game also as a means of dynamic assessment for your students communication skills.
How to play:  Ask your students 10 simple questions about themselves. Examples, "What is your favorite color/food/song?", "What did you do over the summer?", "Do you have pet(s)? If so, names, types of animals?, "Tell me about your favorite book"., etc.  You can write their answers on the board if you have one. Have your students begin on one end of your tx room/hallway, and with each question answered correctly they can take a step forward (as big as they can).  The goal being they need to reach you/the other side of the room/end of hallway by the time they answer the 10th question.  Easy peasy!

2.  Summer Artwork:
Materials:  One piece of paper for each child, crayons/markers/colored pencils, file folder.
Purpose:  Simple directions game with goal to determine your students' ability to give adequate directions and follow directions.  Students will be directing other students on how to draw a picture that represents their summer fun.
How to play:  Each student receives a blank piece of paper.  Place file folders between students so they cannot see each other's papers. Have students take turns giving another student directions of items to draw.  Have them include the object name, color of object, and location on the paper to draw item.  By the end of the exercise, students should have drawn a picture that represented other student's summer fun!  Perfecto!

3.  "I'm thinking of...":
Materials: None are necessary, if you have objects/pictures present you can use those for support.
Purpose:  This is a type of 20 questions game.  The goal is for the students to accurately describe objects and other students to give logical suggestions based on those descriptions.  You can assess your students ability to define objects based on their function, size, color, material, location, etc. (assessing use of attributes).  You can also assess auditory comprehension skills of other students by listening to descriptions and making logical guesses.
How to play:  It's played exactly the way you are thinking.  Each student thinks of an object and describes it.  The other student(s) take turns guessing the item being described.  You can add to this game by choosing a category from which the students much choose their object or giving a limit to the number of guesses or the number of descriptions provided.  Just have fun with it!

4.  Sing it!:
Materials:  None are necessary
Purpose:  Language fun in music.  You can also assess some articulation skills dynamically.
How to Play:  Give the students a word or (if working on articulation, an initial or final sound) and let them take turns signing songs with that word (or a word with that chosen sound stated first) in it.  The student who can come up with the most songs wins.  

Ok so these are simple basic games you can do quickly and with minimal or no materials.  It's an easy way to get back into the swing of things, get come great dynamic assessment information regarding your students' skills after a summer off from therapy, and just have fun!

Have a great new year!

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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

"How to get my infant to talk" Series Posts

In case you missed any, here are the links to all the posts in this series:

If you are looking for more parent friendly language facilitation techniques, please check out Language Facilitation Strategies: Parent Handouts. 

Enjoy and happy talking!

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How to get my infant to talk: Tip #8!

It's Tip Tuesday and since I receive questions about facilitating and eliciting language in very young children often from parents all over the world I thought I'd do a series offering tips and techniques I have done (and still do) with my own kiddos to get them talking!  You will notice there will be very few speech pathology terms used here as the goal of this series is to speak directly to parents.  However this information can be used by SLPs, early interventionists, or early childhood educators as well.  These tips are targeted for children 0-3 yrs (or cognitive equivalent).

Here is my final tip in this series!  If you missed any previous tips, you can find them all posted here!

Tip #8:

Use pictures or baby signs.  I know, you have been wondering when I was going to bring this up weren't you?  Well there are a number of studies that have been done which support the use of basic early signs to facilitate language development in young children.  

I will tell you that my oldest was very adept at making gross motor approximations to a number of basic common signs ("more, done, help", etc.) which supported his speech productions for these basic words.  My second child is not interested in looking at, imitating or attending to my models of signs. The reason I share this with you is because as SLPs, we advocate early use of sign often, but as a mother, I also understand that some children will benefit from the use of sign and some babies are just "not that into it" or do not have the motor skills for sign use.  You know your child best and sign may or may not be the way to go.

Pictures:  Another option is the use of pictures to support communication.  Simply take real pictures of objects, foods, etc. your child enjoys and provide him/her with two choices.  First, introduce the pictures with the real items.  Verbally label the objects as you match up the object with its picture.  Present the pictures with real objects several times until you feel your baby understands that the object is represented by the picture.

I know what you are thinking.  Can a baby understand that a picture represents an object? Of course they can.  Think about the simple words books you have have at home full of photographs of common objects you read to your baby.  This is how your baby learns what words mean (we SLPs like to be fancy and call words "object labels").

Once you feel your baby associates the photo with the object you can begin to use these pictures as a means to have your baby make requests.  If your child has use of both the left and right hands you can place one picture to the left and one to the right and see which picture your child chooses.  I have seen very young children make their preferences known via eye gaze (looking at the picture of the object they want), reaching, slapping on the side of the table that holds the picture of his/her choice and also taking pictures of choice out of parents hands.  I'm sure there are other ways a child could make his/her preferences known.  Follow your baby's lead and respond to whatever means of communication (verbal or nonverbal) your baby uses.  Remember to immediately respond with rewarding your child with the chosen object.

How does it work?  How will signs or pictures encourage my baby's speech production?  You always pair the word with the sign/picture.  Over time when your child is making requests you will expect them to pair a vocalization with sign/picture.  This way you are encouraging vocabulary development as well as speech production.

Well this concludes our "How to get my infant to talk" series.  If you are looking for more parent friendly language facilitation techniques, please check out Language Facilitation Strategies: Parent Handouts.  

Thank you for sticking with this summer series.  

Enjoy your babies and remember to just have fun!  Happy talking!!!!

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