During the month of December, I like to keep things festive, yet simple. And I like to use the same theme/book with as many groups as I can. The Gingerbread Man is a theme I use every year with my younger students. We can work on story retelling, vocabulary and perspective taking skills. Check out these activities I did last year to work on improving perspective taking using gingerbread man cookies. I find that the holiday season opens up opportunities for teaching perspective-taking and thinking about others. Today, I wanted to share a Body in the Group lesson I did with my 3-5th Special Day Classroom students using a gingerbread man hunt.
What Is Body In The Group?
Body in the Group is a vocabulary term used from the Social Thinking Curriculum to explain how people demonstrate that they are part of a group conversation or social situation when they physically keep their body in a proximity of the group. When students work on group projects, or talk together on the playground, they show that they are thinking about group members by positioning their bodies nearby.
By teaching our students the concept of having their bodies in the group, we build their social awareness. They can better understand how to show others that they are thinking about them just by where they position their bodies.
What Is Brain In The Group?
Have you ever been in a place where your body is physically sitting in a group, but your brain is far, far away. Not sure why I just thought about my last department meeting? Hmmmmm……
We can teach our students the importance of having both their bodies and their brains in the group in order to show others that they are thinking about them. We show others that our brains are in the group by contributing relevant questions and comments that are on topic with what the speaker is talking about. This concept impacts our students in academic and social situations a LOT! If our students do not have their brains in the group, they miss a lot of information in the conversation. Typically, when my student’s brains aren’t in the group, they make off-topic comments. They will also talk only about their interests. When our brain is out of the group, this makes people feel like we aren’t listening to them. Which translates as rude behavior.
How You Can Work On Body In The Group On A Gingerbread Man Hunt
Has your school ever done a gingerbread man hunt during December? The teacher usually tells the students that there is a gingerbread man on the loose around the school. Students have to read the clues left by the gingerbread man to figure out where he went. It is a pretty fun activity that pairs well with the book!
I decided that I wanted to do this activity with my K-2 and 3-5 SDC classrooms. The teachers and staff helped with the activity. I printed up a FREE gingerbread man hunt and bought candy canes as the end of the hunt class surprise.
Before we went, I went over the hidden social rules that when we go somewhere as a group, we have to keep our bodies close by, so we stay as a group. We role played standing and walking as a group (no lines with with this activity).
Body in the Group Lesson Plan During The Gingerbread Man Hunt
As we looked for the clues and walked to the new locations to find the next clue, students had to practice staying in the group. You would be amazed how hard this was for some of my students. During the activity, I had to pause as we walked to remind students who had their body in the group and who didn’t. We talked about how others could be feeling when people walked away from the group. Some perspectives you could share with your students are as follows:
The teachers worry that you will leave the group.
When your body is out of the group, other students will be annoyed that the class has to stop the hunt until your body is back in the group.
Teachers and students will think you aren’t interested in doing the hunt if your body leaves the group.
Students who walk ahead of the group might make others feel like you aren’t thinking about them. You are only worried about getting to the next location and not waiting for friends.
Students may be thinking, “Where is he/she going?”
What other perspectives/skills can you teach your students during this activity?
Work With Older Students and Need Holiday Therapy Resources?
I know a lot of times SLPs working with middle school and high school students struggle with finding themed resources that appeal to their students. The gingerbread man hunt, for example, is a great idea for the younger crowd. I was thinking you could try this same activity, but go on a hunt for a stash of snowballs. Not sure how your students would like it, but I know my middle school students in the mod-severe classrooms would probably get into that type of hunt. With my older students, I use YouTube videos from the Elf movie and Simon’s cat holiday/winter videos. These video clips are great for working on vocabulary, summarizing, perspective taking and predicting! And they are free, low prep and funny (this is the SLP’s dream). Check out those blog posts for how I use them and to find links to some of the videos. Planning activities for your life skill classrooms? You can make sugar cookies with gingerbread cookie cutters to give to family or friends. Or, pick a gingerbread recipe and prepare the treat for school staff members.
What Holiday Activities Do You Use To Target Social Pragmatics And Body In The Group?
I would love to know what activities and lessons you plan using a winter or holiday theme to work on social pragmatic skills. Share in the comments or email me at email@example.com
If you work as a school based SLP, getting speech therapy referrals for the R sound is pretty common. The /r/ distortions are pretty noticeable by teachers, parents and staff. Have you ever gotten that referral from a preschooler or kindergarten teacher and think, “I should probably get that teacher a developmental norms chart ASAP.”
A couple of years ago, our SLP Professional Learning Community discussed how to handle speech therapy referrals for /r/. Guess what happened…..there were a lot of varying answers and viewpoints. It stirred up a hot debate (all friendly discussion). And we left the PLC without a clear direction with how to handle /r/ speech therapy referrals.
What I learned after the Professional Learning Community Discussion
The perspectives of the /r/ referral varied from SLP to SLP. Some felt that you should take them younger (6-7 years of age) if they are stimuable. Other SLPs felt that the student wouldn’t meet eligibility for an articulation disorder based on educational code, but the student would receive support via Response To Intervention (RTI) with speech improvement. There were some SLPs that didn’t feel comfortable with providing RTI because of potential legal ramifications for seeing gen ed students without an IEP.
I decided to send out a survey on Speech Therapy Referrals
The discussion with other SLPs in the room was helpful in learning about different perspectives regarding an /r/ referral. However, I didn’t leave the discussion with a clearer understanding of what our district was supporting SLPs to do. Everyone had valid points and reasons for how they handled /r/ referrals, but we lacked a cohesive game plan for /r/.
My biggest question to the SLPs in the group was “when do you consider an /r/ error outside normal development?” I also wanted to know when SLPs took students with /r/ distortions on their IEP caseload or if they treated it through RTI.
Again, answers varied from SLPs. This prompted me to wonder what other SLPs thought across the United States. I figured I could get a bigger perspective by surveying a larger group.
Here is the situation I shared with SLPs
You have a 7 year old in second grade with a distorted /r/ in all positions. The teacher shares that at times it is difficult to understand the student. The parent also has concerns about his articulation. The parent signed a screening form for you to do a quick observation of his speech. You noticed that the /r/ is pretty distorted and he is not stimuable for /r/ when given prompts.
These were the results from the survey on how SLPs would handle /r/ referral:
Speech Therapy Referrals – Considerations about /r/
Many SLP’s commented that they would do an RTI model for this student; however, their district does not allow them to see students without an IEP.
Some SLP’s shared that they would not get an assessment plan signed until after age 8 because their district eligibility guidelines would not allow them to take a student for /r/ at age 7. Interestingly, some SLP’s shared that their district would not deem a single sound error of /r/ to meet eligibility for speech services. (There is an argument that /r/ is not a single sound error among some SLPs).
Many SLP’s also shared that because the teacher and SLP are observing reduced intelligibility, this may warrant a full assessment of articulation.
What I learned from being in the school setting & doing this survey
In certain districts where I have worked, I would not be able to get a signed assessment plan until the student turned 8. I was also told that I could not serve students in an RTI model because this would impact legalities with my job.
When looking at an /r/ referral, I have to determine if the articulation disorder is adversely impacting the student’s academic progress. This is where we ask ourselves if the student’s /r/ distortion is adversely impacting the student’s ability to meet the speaking and listening standards. We would also want to determine if the student’s intelligibility is below 80% intelligible. If it isn’t affecting academics or intelligibility, it is highly likely that the student will not meet eligibility for an IEP under an articulation disorder. That being said, if you feel that the /r/ distortion is adversely impacting those two areas, it is very important to make distinct mention of that in your report findings.
A few SLP’s shared that the classroom teacher must do 6-8 weeks of general education intervention before moving towards an assessment.
Many SLP’s shared that when the student’s /r/ is addressed earlier than 7.5-8 years in a “speech improvement model”, the /r/ improves. Furthermore, many have found when they monitor the student’s growth just by checking in with the gen ed teacher, that most develop the /r/ in third grade without intervention.
We must also consider our professional judgment with dealing with these referrals. We use the developmental norms as a guideline and really need to look at educational impact when looking at a student with articulation errors.
How I handled /r/ referrals in my previous job
Based on some reading that I did on ASHA’s website, federal law may impact an SLP’s ability to take students with /r/ on an IEP. Serving students in an RTI model may also lead use to legal implications. ASHA recommends SLPs not label intervention as RTI, but rather call it a “speech club.” I call my intervention “speech improvement class.”
Here is a link to RTI information on ASHA. This could be a great discussion piece to have with your districts and speech departments. I also found the Speech Sound Disorders page on the ASHA website helpful.
At the time of this survey, my speech department was having a lot of discussions about implementing a “speech improvement program” or seeing students on an IEP for /r/. There was not a final discussion. So, I did see a couple of students in speech improvement class that have noticeable /r/ distortions. The students were in second grade and between 7 or 7 1/2 years of age. Parent permission was obtained and the speech improvement class was for 6-8 weeks.
What are your thoughts about the /r/ referral or single sound error referrals?
How does your SLP department and district handle speech therapy referrals for /r/? What are your thoughts on taking an /r/ student in the school setting? I would love to hear your expertise. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share in the comments below.
Do you have students that are at the generalization level with their articulation? I have some articulation carryover therapy resources that will help you plan therapy that also go well with mixed groups!
Need some free visuals to support self awareness and functional practice of your student’s articulation sounds? This blog post has FREE printables and ideas for how to organize your articulation therapy.
Will you be walking the plank this week in your speech sessions? SLPs out there that love themed therapy, let me just tell that pirates are a BIG hit with the kids. Our younger students love the idea of pirates and all the silly lingo that pirates say. If you need ideas for Pirate speech therapy activities, this blog post has all the inspiration to help you plan engaging speech and language lessons!
Pirate Speech Therapy Activities Using Crafts
When I do push-in speech therapy lessons in my Special Day Classroom for K-2, I try to incorporate as many hands on learning activities as possible. The kids find the lessons more fun, they can take the craft home to spark conversations with parents, and it allows an opportunity for naturalistic conversations or pretend play!
Crafts can be a lot to prep, so to make things easier, find easy to prep crafts such as this pirate paper bag craft. I typically do a 20-30 minute carpet circle time lesson including a pirate book, anchor chart or movement activity. Then, the students break up into three stations. I run a station, and the teachers/instructional aids run stations. We do those for about 10 minutes each and then rotate the students to the next station. Because I didn’t run the paper bag craft station, I didn’t get to see the kids puppets. At the end of the stations, over half the class initiated conversation with me because they wanted ME to see their pirate puppet. It was amazing to hearing all the spontaneous conversation. Some students even requested to take them out at recess to play with them.
Who Stole The Treasure Activity?
I found some plastic gold coins at the Dollar Spot during the St. Patrick’s holiday. After I read a pirate book, we play the “Who Stole The Treasure?” activity. It works on object permanence, being able to have impulse control to NOT reveal if they stole the treasure, ask/answer questions with peers, and using the body language necessary for talking with peers. You can also give students the treasure and work on answering simple wh-questions. Who has the treasure? Who has the gold coins? If you have more pirate props, you can give every student an item and work on “who” questions.
Have all the students close their eyes. Explain that if the student gets a treasure chest or gold coin, that they have to keep it a secret. When all the items are hidden, pick a student or students to ask his/her peers if they have the item? Continue this activity until all the treasure is found. The printables and lesson plan are part of my Pirate Push-In Language Lesson Plan Guide.
Make Your Own Treasure Sensory Bin In Speech Therapy
To make a Treasure Sensory bin, you need a filler, fake gold coins and items to hide in the bin. I liked using kinetic sand that I got at Lakeshore Learning, but there are some good deals on amazon for kinetic sand (affiliate)
I got my container from Lakeshore, but you can use any bin. I actually prefer bins that have clasps (amazon affiliate) on the lid in case you drop the bin in transit. I hid dinkydoodad trinkets that I found on etsy in the bin. Then, students got to go hunt for treasure.
Ways To Use The Treasure Hunt Sensory Bin
Once, students went hunting for treasure, we discussed the items they found by category group, noun function, parts, etc. You can go on a categories treasure hunt using my FREE printable that you can access on this blog post.
Another way that I used this bin was to work on the verbs “bury” and “hide”. After the kids went on the treasure hunt, they got to bury the treasure so that other pirates couldn’t find their loot. Your students can work on building grammatically correct sentences and answering “who” questions. “I buried _______.” And then I asked peers, “who buried the shoe?”
Pirate Books For Speech Therapy
A quick search on pinterest will help you select a pirate themed book for therapy. YouTube also has pirate read aloud books in the event that you don’t have pirate books in your own therapy materials library. Here are a few of my favorite books that I like to use:
The Pirate Who Couldn’t Say Arrr by Angie Neal M.S. CCC-SLP is a great book written by a speech pathologist! It is a great book for teaching /r/ and uses a lot of pirate vocabulary.
YouTube Videos To Use With A Pirate Theme
This pirate YouTube video is good for following directions and a great reinforcer or movement break.
Pirate Party Preschool Song is great for getting some movement, learning pirate vocabulary & doing verb actions.
The Go Noodle crew has a Pirate Prep video that is fun for a movement break and to keep the kids engaged in the lesson.
This video can be used to work on the /ar/ sound in therapy!
What Pirate Speech Therapy Activities Do You Plan?
What pirate speech therapy activities do you plan? Did you know that September 19th is Talk Like A Pirate Day? This is the best time to plan pirate activities. But, honestly, you can do pirates any old time you want to in speech. I think this theme is highly motivating for our younger students. I would love to know what middle school and high school SLPs do for pirates week! Share in the comments your ideas for older students.
Most SLPs know that May is Better Speech & Hearing Month. This is the month when SLPs can draw awareness to the field of speech pathology. By the time May rolls around, SLPs are tired. It is hard to come up with inspiring SLP ideas for BSHM. I totally get it….. Which is why I’m on a mission to demystify our role during this important time of the year and offer up some SLP ideas for BSHM.
What I Won’t Be Doing This Year For BSHM
I am going to be honest with you all. IEP craziness has drained much of my creativity for BSHM. This year, I won’t be doing bulletin boards, cute souvenirs in the lunch room for teachers about vocal hygiene, or facts about communication disorders. I won’t be doing a presentation to staff about statistics or ways they can increase language in the classroom. If you do want to tackle these things, I applaud you! Here are a few ideas that I have done over the years (some are super easy).
If you are in my boat, don’t worry — I have a fun and EASY idea for how you can help demystify the job of the SLP during BSHM. For all you fabulous SLPs feeling creative and excited to do something this month, here are some blog posts and resources that I have found to help you spread the word about speech and hearing!
SLP Ideas for BSHM Round Up
I did this blog post a few years about with ways to Celebrate Better Speech & Hearing Month at your schools! On the blog post, there are ways to celebrate SLPs, sport some of your favorite SLP themed t-shirts and an idea for a bulletin board and/or craft!
SLP Thank You Poster from Speech Room News is a great way to say thank you to the SLP working with your child, your CF supervisor or an SLP that has helped you get through the year.
Host an SLP trivia event at your next staff meeting or set it up for people to do this in the staff lounge. This is a FREE trivia game from Teach Speech 365.
The lunch room is the best place to bring awareness about what SLPs do! Print these free SLP poems from Creative Speech Lab and put them in $1 store picture frames. Place them on the lunch tables for teachers and staff to read while they are eating lunch.
Better Hearing and Speech Month FREEBIE: Speech & Language Teacher Handout By Speech Language Pirates is perfect for giving to teachers and families to explain an SLPs role in speech and language development.
Candy speaks to every teacher’s heart! Use this FREE SLP facts sheet from Let’s Talk Speech Therapy and add a chewy candy treat.
Teachers talk all day (so do SLPs lol). It is great to draw awareness about voice disorder and vocal hygiene to teachers. Print these free vocal hygiene cards and place them in the teachers boxes from A Tempo Voice Center.
What better way to demystify the job of the SLP than putting your staff up to a little weekly challenge? Of course, you’ll likely have to entice them with some Starbuck’s gift cards, candy, or snacks for the winners. Each week, I am going to email my staff a little challenge to help the staff understand a little bit more about my job.
So often, teachers and educators assume we must be just playing games or perusing Pinterest when we aren’t seeing students. If they only knew that we bill medicaid, plan lessons for 55 + students (some of which have 4+ goals), collaborate with over 30 teachers (think about how many teachers are at your sites), assess students, set up the IEP meetings, run the IEP meetings, do research for best practices, take data, write progress reports and the list goes on. I totally know that we should not compare job roles and teachers have their work cut out for them. This is not what this activity is about. However, it is to:
Foster a better understanding and valuing the SLPs skills. Second, SLPs can start building community on campus around their job role.
Let people know that we are kicking some booty when it comes to AAC, social pragmatics, phonology, articulation, fluency, language, speech intelligibility, and bilingual language development. It is time for SLPs to start sharing about the skill set they have around the speaking and listening standards on common core.
If your staff doesn’t do too hot on the challenges, this is your cue for “I better start teaching my staff about my job.”
As for me, I am going to go big with the Starbuck’s $5 giftcard for the winner because I want good participation. We all know that coffee makes people move!
Here are some ideas for email challenges each week:
-First person to email what SLP stands for will with a $5 starbucks card
-First person to visit me in my speech nook will win a $5 Starbuck’s card. (For those of you lovely SLPs that are in some ridiculous spaces like bathrooms, band rooms, etc. this will be a chance for them to see your working environment. That way when you advocate for a new room, they might just chime in to help ya get something better!
-Guess how many IEPs I attended this year (closest guess wins a $5 giftcard)
-Name at least three disorders that I treat in my therapy program (This is a test to see if your staff knows you treat more than articulation and fluency.)
-Share three ways you can use a game to teach language skills (Once you get all the submissions, you can be a rockstar SLP and share all the ways you adapt your favorite game in therapy. Throw in some common core standards to really make an impression.)
-Guess how many students are on my caseload (closest guess wins a $5 giftcard).
-Write a message in IPA and the first staff member to tell you what it says wins a $5 giftcard.
What other funny challenges could you do to help your staff understand your role a little more on campus? I would love to know what you have up your sleeve! If you share, I will add them to the post.
Raise your hand if you’re an SLP who plans their lessons by theme! I plan themed lessons because it’s easier to align with the teacher’s curriculum and/or find resources to adapt for my whole caseload. One of my very favorite themed lesson ideas is to use bee activities for elementary speech therapy, especially during the spring.
If you love the idea of using bugs as a theme, these activities can be easily adapted for your upper elementary caseload. There are tons of bee activities for elementary speech therapy out there, but these are a few of my personal favorites. (Bonus: bee themed activities are a great opportunity for SLPs to educate students on the environmental importance of bees!)
Bee Activities For Elementary Speech Therapy
Elementary teachers often cover life cycles in their classrooms. SLPs can align their language lessons with these life cycles using bees. Here is a FREE bee life cycle activity that SLPs can use from TPT. Need more life cycle activities with bees? Pinterest and TPT are an absolute treasure trove for life cycle themed activities and crafts.
Elementary teachers also frequently cover insect units. This includes lessons on pollination, in which bees play a significant role. Mystery Science has some great science lessons on pollination (side note: this is one of my new favorite resources). They show videos and walk students through the step by step process for completing the science mystery. Students with language delays benefit from visuals, so this is extra amazing!
DIY Bee Activity Reinforcer Game
When I saw this DIY bee game that Jenn from Crazy Speech World shared about, I knew I had to make one for my bee activities lesson plan. I didn’t have time to paint my hive, but my egg crate still looks like a beehive. I adapted my beehive to have a “stuck in honey” section.
Here’s how it works. If the student bounces the “bee” into the egg crate, they get points according to where they land. When the bee lands in the “honey,” the student loses a turn (alternatively, you can deduct five points.)
This was super fun and I used it across all my elementary grade levels (TK -5th). Crazy Speech World offers even more fun ideas and resources for using bees in speech therapy that you can read all about HERE.
Bee Videos For Elementary Speech Therapy
The best place to look for bee activities for elementary speech therapy is on YouTube! You can find so many great non-fiction videos to teach vocabulary, main idea, compare/contrast, summarizing, and so much more.
Bee Resources & Activities For Elementary Speech Therapy
Scholastic has a whole lesson plan unit on bee activities for elementary students to use for English Language Arts.
Create a bee craft to work on describing the bee’s body parts! This is an amazing craft idea from The Classroom Creative.
Read Works also has free reading passages with “bees” as the focus of the non-fiction informative texts. This is perfect for mixed groups because you can target grammar, main idea, and listening comprehension, and you can work on articulation carryover for /s, z, r, th/.
Finding resources that can be used to target a lot of speech goals is super helpful for the busy SLP. Using Simon’s Cat videos in speech therapy can help with planning a mixed group lesson.
What Are Simon’s Cat Videos?
Simon’s Cat are a series of comic strip animated short videos that you can find on YouTube. The videos are primarily without words, and are in black and white. You can watch these videos on your iphone, ipad, laptop or computer to target so many different skills! If you are worried about ads and unwanted images popping up during your lesson, I recommend watching Simon’s Cat videos with safetube. Safetube is free and allows parents and educators to watch videos without the ads. If you don’t have internet at your school site, there is now a Simon’s Cat comic book!! You can get it on amazon HERE. This is an amazon affiliate link.
Why I Love Simon’s Cat Videos For Speech Therapy
These videos are free. Less money to spend on Therapy materials.
There are a ton of videos. Seasonal themed and generic, so I can use them in speech therapy all year long.
Simon’s Cat videos can be adapted across a variety of ages. I have used them with 1st-8th grade. I am pretty sure they would be accepted among the high school ages too.
I like watching them. If I enjoy the resource, therapy always seems to be more exciting because I am excited to talk about the videos.
Simon’s Cat Videos can be used with mixed groups. Sometimes planning for each student in my mixed groups can be hard because I have to find separate activities and then manage the group to stay on task. By having one resource to cover everyone’s goals, on task behavior is higher.
The setting in the video is usually a Simon’s house and the characters are a man and a cat. I know that many of the videos my students have been exposed to the vocabulary, so I don’t have to spend a ton of time around scheme and background knowledge. Some of my students haven’t been certain places, so picking therapy materials that take that into consideration is helpful.
These videos are short! They are only 2-3 minutes in length, so you can get through them in a 30 minute session.
How To Simon’s Cat Videos In Speech Therapy
There are a lot of ways to use Simon’s Cat videos in speech therapy. I will either use the videos the entire session or we will do some work on individual goals for 15 minutes and then do a video as a group lesson for the next 10-15 minutes.
Articulation Speech Therapy Ideas
During the video, you can have the students write down or tell you words they saw or heard with their speech sound. After the video, they can say each word five times or use in a sentence. You can also write a cheat sheet of target words from the video.
The SLP can have the student answer comprehension questions from the video with their target speech sounds.
Summarize the video using the target words from the video with their best speech sounds.
Language Speech Therapy Ideas
Work on narrative comprehension and oral narration using these videos. Jot down some comprehension questions from the video prior to the students arriving to use to discuss the video. Have students work on story telling by adding on details to what would happen next if the video didn’t end. If you need some graphic organizers to help with this, grab this free set from KiwiSpeech HERE or Speech Time Fun’s summarizing graphic organizer HERE.
Teach and show vocabulary with these videos. The SLP can pick target vocabulary words to teach from the video. During the speech therapy session, target antonyms, synonyms, word associations, attributes and adjectives to describe items in the video.
Discuss the main idea of the video and work on making a new video title for the video.
Teach specific grammar concepts such as third person singular, pronouns, plurals, verb tense, and noun-verb agreement.
Social Skills Speech Therapy Ideas
What are they thinking about? Work on teaching that our eyes give people clues about what they are thinking about. Have your students identify what the character’s are thinking based on where their eyes are looking.
identifying emotions and non-verbal body language. Have your students explain how the characters are feeling and what clues they noticed such as eyes widening, smiling face, or body hunched over.
Perspective taking- work on students explaining what people could be feeling or thinking in the video.
Social inferences & predictions is a way for use to figure out what someone may do next, so we can figure out what to say or do in a social situation.
Conversation – have your students watch the video and then have them discuss what they liked/didn’t like about the video.
Thinking/Talking bubble – because these videos are wordless they are perfect for working on what people are thinking and what could be in their talking bubble. Make your own speech and thinking bubble on a dry erase board, or grab a dry erase think bubble from the dollar store or on amazon HERE. (amazon affiliate link provided).
Humor – these videos are very funny and are perfect to discuss why they are funny!
How would you use Simon’s Cat videos in speech therapy? I would love to hear your therapy ideas.
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