Here are some picture sets for the /k/ sound, in all word positions, available in either black and white or colour.
Some of the best money I have ever spent on Speech-Language therapy materials was on plastic Easter eggs! I bought my eggs at least four years ago and I have never had a child who didn't enjoy going for an egg hunt. In fact, some children like the egg hunts so much that they request this activity long after Easter is over.
In years past I have usually hidden folded up pictures of their targets inside the eggs; while it might not seem exciting, it is usually a hit. I have also sometimes used the animals from Discovery Toys - Busy Farm.
This year I decided to use the animals from my "Who Lives Where?" game (currently available on Amazon). I bought this game several months ago at a toy store in Napa (I can't recall the name, but it was a great store). I only just opened it a couple of weeks ago, as I was worried the kids wouldn't like how plain it is (because of the wood) or that they would feel it is for little kids. I couldn't have been more wrong. The kids have loved this game!
Before the child arrives I put the animals inside the eggs. Since I have 12 eggs, and there are 20 animals, many of the animals have to double up (except of course the whale and the elephant, because they are too big). Then I hide the eggs around the room. As you can see from the pictures the hiding spots can range from quite obvious to a little bit tricky, in order to keep it moving fast while still being interesting.
When the child is there I tell them that each time after they [fill in the blank with whatever they are working on], they can go find one egg and bring it back to the table to open it. I have found I can get a lot of "work" out of them for one egg. Once all the eggs have been found, we use the same animals to play the "Who Lives Where?" game.
The premise for this game is simple: divide up the animals between the number of players (10 animals each for 2 players, 6 animals each for 3 players, or 5 animals each for 4 players). There are wooden blocks with animal shapes cut out. Each block fits a pair of animals. There is a triangular piece of wood that goes on top of each block to cover the animal shapes and to form the roof. Each player takes turns lifting up a roof to see if they have an animal that fits inside and everyone must try to remember who lives where. The first person to find the homes for all of their animals is the winner. Of course before someone gets to take their turn, they need to say their target.
Some of the children I saw this week were also working on vocabulary or word retrieval skills. For those children I created some playing cards with pictures corresponding to the animals from the game using LessonPix (a website that may be tied with my plastic eggs for best money spent on SLP materials - review to come). I printed the cards on card-stock and sent them home for practice. You can access the cards via the link below.
All of the children I saw this week loved these Easter themed activities and it was very quick to put together between appointments. Maybe next year I will try something new from Pinterest (as long as I can use my eggs!).
Did you do anything special for Easter?
This week I opened my "Naughty or Nice Board Game", part of the Elf on the Shelf product line. I purchased this, and several other games, while I was on vacation in October. I think I picked this one up from a Calendar Club store, but since I've been home I have seen it at Cole's (Indigo) bookstore in the Bay Centre mall and I just did a quick search and it looks like it is also available at Bolen Books, a locally owned bookstore in Victoria.
I must admit, I don't really know much about the Elf on the Shelf story, other than what I've seen my parent-friends post on Facebook and Pinterest. I bought this game because Elf on the Shelf seems to be pretty popular these days, it is for children 3-and up (it can be tricky to find games for younger children), and it is a nice change (for me and the kids) to have a seasonally appropriate and different game to use at work.
This game requires minimal assembly: assemble the spinner and put the Elf in the stand. On a side note, the spinner is very fast - by far the fastest spinner of all the games I've owned or used as a speech-language pathologist!
The premise of the game is that the Elf is hiding in different parts of the house. The players need to race (by spinning for a number and then moving the corresponding number of spaces) to be the first person to find the Elf, in order to get one of seven "gift" cards (these cards are how you accumulate points). Once a player has reached the Elf, and taken a "gift" card, they get to draw a card that will determine where in the house the Elf moves next. This continues until all seven gifts have been given and the player with the most points wins.
This past week, I played this game with five different children between the ages of 3 and 4. They were all very keen to play, however, I quickly realized that the game is too long. In order to shorten it, I played with just a few gifts and I found that this worked well to keep them engaged until the end of the game. Another alternative for really shortening game play would be to let the child draw the card for where to place the Elf and then have the first person to reach the Elf be the winner.
Another issue I had with the game is that the "gift" cards don't really represent gifts at all: the back is plain white and on the front there is a picture of the Elf with the number of points in a circle. I plan to add gift stickers to the backs of my "gift" cards so that they are more representative of gifts, as I felt that several of the children did not make the connection easily. I think a way to make it more fun would be to have "Santa's Sack" (you'll have to provide this yourself, but I have a lovely shiny red draw-string bag at my work that would be perfect for this). Once a player reaches the Elf, they could reach into "Santa's Sack" to get their gift.
Despite the issues that I mentioned, I would still recommend this game. In addition to this being a new game, the children were very excited to have a special game for Christmas. I think the game is probably too long for most 3 to 4 year-old children, however, with the modifications I suggested I think it will be more age-appropriate for that age group. I haven't had a chance to try it with older children yet, or with "Santa's Sack"; I will be sure to post a quick update once I have.
Here are some of my initial ideas for how to use this game to address speech-language targets:
- Word final /f/ (Elf, shelf)
- Word initial /f/ (find, follow)
- Word initial /g/ (gift)
- Word initial /sp-/ (spin)
- Word initial /n/ (naughty, nice)
- Vocabulary (around the house, Christmas)
- Counting and numbers
- Fluency (provide Lidcombe feedback during game play)
- Use game turn as a reinforcement for other speech targets
Download a printer-friendly version of the ideas and modifications here.
Have you heard of the Elf on the Shelf or used the Elf on the Shelf board game? What other speech-language targets could be addressed using this game?
Earlier this month I did a post on how I plan to update the Speech Department bulletin board in the reception area at work. Last week, after creating a poster and accompanying blog post to increase public awareness of potential speech/language difficulties at Hallowe'en, I decided it would be a good time to to take down the 20 year old poster and put up something new. So far the feedback has been really great - both for the poster (several people have commented that they never would have considered that before) and simply for having something different to look at.
I haven't had a chance to go out yet and buy the background paper as I had planned, so I made do with what was already available at work. I figure the good thing about doing a bulletin board with a Hallowe'en theme is that I can't leave it up there indefinitely.
Now the only tricky thing is that tomorrow is Hallowe'en, I have a pretty full day, and then I am off until Wednesday. I have been printing and laminating the BCASLPA Did You Know... ? posters, so I have planned to put one or two of them up at the end of the day tomorrow to get me to next week, when I will have more time to really give the bulletin board a complete makeover.
Last year I remember seeing a post circulating on Facebook or Pinterest that explained how children with speech or language difficulties, Autism in particular, may have difficulties during Hallowe'en. The aim was to raise public awareness so that people do not immediately think these children are being rude.
Shortly after Hallowe'en last year I remember talking to my Dad and he complained that several of the children in his neighbourhood did not say anything, but just opened their bags for candy, and his impression was that they were being rude. Being a speechie, I immediately launched in with an explanation of how there may be other reasons to explain why those children did not speak. I remember thinking at the time that I needed to recirculate that post at future Hallowe'ens.
Fast forward to this year - I have searched high and low and I have not been able to find that post to send it out again this Hallowe'en. Since I think this is such an important message to get out to the public, I have created my own version. I would love to give credit to the original for my inspiration, so if you think you know how to find it please let me know in the comments.
Trick or Treat?
This Hallowe'en there is a very good chance that a child that knocks on your door may be experiencing some form of communication difficulty, that can impact their speech, language or social-language skills.
These difficulties can result in children being mistaken for being rude. Help them by treating them as you would any other child and by NOT drawing attention to these potential communication difficulties.
On behalf of the children who cannot communicate for themselves, thank you for your patience this Hallowe'en.
Click here for a printable pdf poster that you can display to help increase public awareness. [Please note: the preview on Google Docs reduces the image quality, but the downloaded pdf shows the image properly]
Edited to add: I have modified the wording slightly and highlighted some text. The version pictured to the left has a link to this new version (the link above will take you to the original version). Since this was my first time using InDesign and also since I wanted to get this done quickly for use this year, I have had to make these modifications. I hope to improve on it further for next year. Stay tuned. :-)
I recently purchased the "Stamp & Sort Mailbox" by Melissa & Doug. I saw this at a colleagues office. She highly recommended it and I thought it looked like a fun toy to add to my clinic, so I stopped at the teacher store on the way home and picked it up. It retails for approximately $30 Canadian and, like all Melissa & Doug products, it is very good quality, constructed out of wood and velcro. I see on their website that you can have it personalized with your (child's) name, unfortunately I don't see an option that allows you to change the colour to make it red like our mailboxes in Canada.
Skills that can be targeted using this toy are listed below. Keep in mind that these are just the ideas I have come up with before even trying it - this list will likely expand after I've used it for a while. If you have any additional suggestions, please add them in the comments below.
Printer friendly version (to keep with your toy)
- Pretend to send mail to different people for specific reasons using the mail included with the toy or make up your own.
- Pretend to be the mail-carrier and deliver the mail.
- Talk about the different kinds of mail, what is postage/stamps, who delivers the mail, how does mail travel around the world, why might we send something in the mail, the difference between "snail-mail" and e-mail.
- Vocabulary: letter, postcard, mail, mailbox, stamp, card, key, open, close, in, out, big/thick, small/thin, on, off, and turn.
- Child can practice utterances of varying length from single word responses to questions (e.g., "what are you mailing?" or "who are you mailing that to?"), to longer, fill-in-the blank sentences (e.g., "Put a stamp on the __" or "This is for __"), to spontaneously generated sentences.
- Practice /st-/ in "stamp"
- Use cards containing the sound(s) that the child is practicing and have the child mail the pictured items; child can practice at various levels from single words to spontaneous sentences.
Ideas for Adding to this Toy
- Use paper, crayons/makers, stamps/stickers so the child can make their own mail.
- Reusable option: laminate cards and add velcro for stamps (make your own laminated stamps or use those from the toy - just make sure that the velcro matches) so that the child can draw on the cards with a dry-erase maker.