Monday, June 22, 2015

Summer Sensory Bin: Kinetic Sand

Is it just me or did summer show up all of a sudden?! Unlike my school SLP friends, I will be working through the summer. That is, until I pop out this baby (see last post)! One of my favorite activities to use with my preschoolers is a good ol' sensory bin (as you can see from my previous post on the Spring Garden Sensory Bin). There are many types of sensory play you can explore (gel, water, ice, shaving cream, etc). I have been having fun with kinetic sand.

For those of you who aren't familiar with kinetic sand, it is material that looks like sand but doesn't have the same grittiness. It's mold-able, easy to clean up (grains tend to clump together), soft, and doesn't dry up (I've had my sand for over a year and it feels the same way it did the day I purchased it).

I love how kinetic sand keeps its shape!
Kinetic sand isn't the cheapest thing in the world (about $13 for 1.5 lbs) but I figured it was worth the splurge. It totally is!

For the sensory bin, I placed a few pounds of sand into a shoe box sized plastic container that I got from Michael's. The sand alone would have been enough to make my preschoolers happy, but I decided to add some extra goodies. Additional accessories included mold's that I also purchased from Target. It included a turtle, fish, seahorse, and sandcastle mold. I also added a shovel I got from the dollar store as well as seashells.

My preschoolers had so much fun digging, building, burying, making, etc. We were also able to work on sentence expansion, following directions, comprehension of 'wh' and yes/no questions, you name it!

I paired the sensory bin with one of my favorite books, "Miranda's Beach Day". It's a simple story about the sights and sounds a little girl and her mom encounter while at the beach. After reading this, my kids were so excited to get to play in the sand like Miranda did!

For those of you who have used kinetic sand, how do you incorporate it into your sessions? What would you add to your sensory bin?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Spring Garden Sensory Bin

I don't know about you but I have a bit of spring fever and have gotten into the gardening and planting mood. Oh wait, you thought I was referring to my own personal garden?! No way! I'm talking about my educational play garden. Not only are sensory bins a fun tactile way for kids to play and learn, they can be used with any kind of toys/manipulatives you have laying around.

I filled a plastic shoe box sized bin with dried black beans (about 4 bags). I then added plastic fruits and veggies from Target (see below). I felt like I hit the jackpot with this purchase! It came with 2 cutting boards and 2 knives. Win!

My children had a BLAST with this one! We worked on verbs (digging, finding, hiding, cutting, etc), labeling, following directions ("Give me the __"), 'wh' question comprehension ("What is the orange, crunchy vegetables bunnies eat?"), yes/no questions, and categorizing.

I paired this activity with "The Fruits We Eat" to provide additional reinforcement to work on vocabulary. We used one of the last pages as a reference the help identify whether or not a selected item was a fruit.

**Edit: I found a great book that targets vegetables called "Our Community Garden". My kids loved learning about all the different veggies that can be grown in their own garden.

What else can I do with the bin you ask? How does planting flowers sound!? I couldn't really find any cool plastic flowers in the store, so I decided to make my own out of pipe cleaners (thank you YouTube!)

My "bouquet" 
I made the flowers in an assortment of colors (pink, red, blue, and orange). Add a toy shovel and planters and you're all set for some gardening!

Kids have so much fun using the shovel to dig the "dirt" into the planters.

 With this activity, skills such as requesting ("I want the red flower"), sentence expansion, 'wh' question comprehension, following directions, yes/no questions, can all be targeted.

Do you use sensory bins in your sessions? What materials do you use?

I didn't want to make a separate post, so I'll just let you in on a secret I've been hiding. I'm pregnant! Hubby and I are so excited to be expecting a sweet baby girl this August. If I end up MIA again, you'll know why :) Please find the obligatory bump pic below:

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Learning to Read is a Ball {Review and Giveaway}

"What can I do to help my child improve their language skills?" This is a common question I hear regularly, especially now that I'm working with preschoolers. Although it may not be a mystery to us in the field, many parents (and other professionals) do not know how or what to do with their little ones when it comes to literacy.

Kimberly Scanlon's book, "Learning to Read is a Ball" is just the type of resource for those who are looking to work on important language skills but are unsure of how to do so.

In this simply illustrated book, you will find a 28-page picture book accompanied by a 17-page parent guide that covers techniques to develop oral language, strategies to improve vocabulary using synonyms and antonyms, methods of increasing print awareness and much more!

One of my favorite illustrations from the book.

Undoubtedly, children will find the illustrations and story line of "Learning to Read is a Ball" captivating. However, I believe the parent guide is the most valuable portion of this book. Not only will it provide strategies and tips to use with "Learning to Read is a Ball", but it also serves as a great jumping-off point for a host of other books!

The parent guide is a handy resource for parents and professional alike

Bottom line, I will definitely be recommending this book to the preschool families I work with. "Learning to Read is a Ball", can also serve as a lovely parting gift for many of my students who are transitioning to kindergarten.

So now that I've gushed over this wonderful book, you're probably interested in getting your hands on it! Lucky for you Kimberly was kind enough to provide a copy for me to giveaway. Enter below with Rafflecopter.

Please note that comments will ONLY appear once I've reviewed and approved them (prevents postings from spam-bots). If your comment doesn't appear immediately, wait a few hours. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure Statement: I was provided a copy of this app by the developer. No other compensation was provided. This review includes solely my opinions.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Phonological Awareness Lab {App Review & Giveaway}

Have you heard about the recent release by Smarty Ears? It's an interactive app meant to target phonological awareness and it's called Phonological Awareness Lab ($14.99).

Users can work on 4 different skills in each "lab" (see below)

Skills such as syllable blending, sound blending, rhyming identification and matching can all be targeted.

The Sentence Experiment Lab
This lab requires users to identify the amount of words in an orally presented sentence. Users tap the dropper for each word they hear. The beaker will turn green once the correct amount of words have been identified.

The Decoding Room Lab
This lab requires users to listen to syllables or words (both an option in this lab) and identify the image that was heard from Frankenstein.

The Rhyming Compound Lab
This lab offers three (3) tasks. Users can identify, select, and/or match rhymes.

1. Rhyming Identification
Users listen to words and determine if they rhyme.The words are presented orally and visually.
Select the green button for a rhyme and red if words don't rhym
2. Rhyming Selection
Users select a word that rhymes with the provided target . Once again, all items are presented orally and visually.

3. Rhyming Match
Users select four (4) rhyming words out of a field of seven (7).

Syllable X-Ray Lab
This activity requires users to identify words containing target syllables. For example, the image below requires the user to identify the word that contains two (2) syllables as indicated by the two (2) dots on the left portion of the images.

What I Liked:
  • Data can be monitored and user performance can be shared with various parties. 
  • Many opportunities to practice each skill.
  • The laboratory theme makes this app appear light, fun and "game-like"

What I Would Like:
  • A little less clicking. It would be great if the main menu could be accessed more easily.
  • Improved image quality. Some of the images were difficult to make out due to sizing, pixelation, and abstractness. 

To see Phonological Awareness Lab in action take a look at the video below:

App Compatibility:
Phonological Awareness Lab is compatible with iOS 6.0 or later and is compatible with the iPad.

Want to try it out for yourself?! Please enter below for a chance to win a free download of this app. The giveaway ends Thursday, November 13th at 12:01 AM. Good luck!

Please note that comments will ONLY appear once I've reviewed and approved them (prevents postings from spam-bots). If your comment doesn't appear immediately, wait a few hours. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure Statement: I was provided a copy of this app by the developer. No other compensation was provided. This review includes solely my opinions.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Trick or Treating With Children Who Have Expressive Language Needs

Halloween is rapidly approaching! It got me thinking about my preschoolers with apraxia and other expressive language deficits. What can be done for the children who are unable to say "Trick or Treat?" A brief chat with one of my favorite #SLPEEPS on Twitter inspired me to compile a list of signs that our children can use on Halloween. These can be handed out or affixed to a costume. It also will help to bring awareness to apraxia and other speech disorders. Don't you just LOVE the internet?! So many great resources floating around!

1. Editable Halloween card children can hand out the night of Halloween.

From: The Facebook group - Apraxia Kids - Every Child Deserves A Voice 

2. Thank you so much for your kindness! Like above, these can be handed out the night of Halloween.

From: The Facebook group - Apraxia Kids - Every Child Deserves A Voice

3. I am unable to speak so...Trick or Treat...and thank you!

 I am unable to speak so...

4. Hello! My name is ______......

5. Trick or Treat?!

Halloween is a time for children to let their imaginations run wild, ALL children. During this time I like to be reminded of this with a quote that has been floating around the web for some time. I'm not sure of it's origination, but it certainly captures the a sentiment we should all keep in mind. 

What will you be doing for your children with limited expressive language this Halloween?

********HAPPY HALLOWEEN!********

Sunday, September 14, 2014

OverDrive - {App Review}

I love infusing literacy into my therapy sessions. When I don't have the ability to access a desired book I use the OverDrive app. This application allows you to read eBooks, listen to audio-books, and watch videos from your library. And because it's through your library, it's absolutely FREE!

Use the barcode located on your library card to access digital materials
To get started, add your local library to the OverDrive app. Afterwards sign into your library account using your account number and password. Once logged in, users are able to browse books by title, reading levels, subject, etc. 

Searches can be filtered by publisher, reading levels, subject, etc.

Prior to borrowing my book, I was able to view sample pages in my browser

After deciding on a book, users usually have the option of viewing it in a browser or downloading it. I chose to download and view it with my kindle app (I have an iPad). Users will not need a wifi connection to read it after it has been downloaded.

Download your book to Kindle (device or app) or to Adobe e-book reader

My library allows users to borrow up to 10 titles. Materials are usually available for digital loan anywhere between 7 to 14 days. If you need more time with your selections you can also renew them. Below you will find 2 images of an e-book I borrowed and downloaded with the kindle app.

Image 1

Image 2
The app is available for every major desktop and mobile platform, including Windows, Mac, iPad, iPhone, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, NOOK, Windows 8 PC and tablet, and Windows Phone.

Although nothing can replace the experience an actual book can provide, I love that I don't have to deal with the added clutter they cause in my car and work bag (If you read my previous post, you will recall that I travel throughout the day). 

Do any of you use electronic books in your sessions?

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Freebie - Parent Welcome Letter for the Traveling Pediatric SLP

If you have been following me on Twitter and Instagram, you probably know that I now work with preschoolers as a traveling SLP. Since I commute to a variety of sites, I do not always have the ability to discuss the policies of my employer to parents. This welcome letter is meant to do just that. Fun topics like make-up sessions and inclement weather are all addressed :)

Front view
Back view

Feel free to download the form and edit as you please!

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