Monday, February 8, 2016

Bloglovin and Other Ways to Follow Me!

Hi Friends!

I just wanted to take a quick minute to 1) thank you all so, so much for all of the love and support you give to my little blog, and 2) to highlight a few quick ways you can follow me!

First, you can get notifications of my new blog posts by following my blog through Bloglovin: Follow my blog with Bloglovin

You can also get an email of each new post by following my by email. Just type in your email address over on the right side of my blog!

You can follow me on Facebook by clicking HERE or the Facebook logo below:

You can follow me on Instagram by clicking HERE or the Instagram logo below:

You can follow me on Twitter by clicking HERE or the Twitter logo below:

You can follow me on Pinterest by clicking HERE on clicking on the Pinterest logo below:

You can also pin pictures directly from my blog by hovering over the picture with your cursor, and clicking on the Sun picture, shown below:

You can follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking HERE or clicking on the TPT logo below:

And, you can follow me on Periscope by clicking HERE, or clicking on the Periscope logo below:

If you did all that, you'll be totally up-to-date on everything new in my world, including when new products are added, products are updated, new blog posts with reviews and therapy ideas are up, and when I'm doing giveaways for FREE stuff!'ll be my best friend!

Hope you guys have an amazing Monday!

Friday, January 8, 2016

EZPZ Happy Mats {A Product Review}

Hey Ya'll!

I hope you guys had a wonderful holiday season! Ours was amazing....holidays with a 2 year-old are seriously a blast. But also completely exhausting! She was blessed with way too many gifts, so we're having fun playing with and learning about new things. (Look for a post coming soon on my favorite things for an SLP Mommy!)

Today I'm back with a product review of my MOST favorite thing right now for SLPs and Mommies: Happy Mats and Bowls from EZPZ!

I had the privilege of meeting the creator, Lindsey, and Dawn, the SLP, as well as other members of the EZPZ team at the ASHA Convention in Denver this past November. Lindsey explained to me that as a mom of young boys, she was experiencing lots of craziness (and mess) during mealtimes at her house. So she created the Happy Mat and Happy Bowl, made of silicone, where the plate and bowl are literally built in to a placemat. Because they are made of silicone, they don't slide or lift off of the table (unless you pull up under the sides, which isn't easy for the kids to do). As a mom of a 2 year old, this instantly had my attention!

Many of you have seen Halle Jane grow up on my blog and Instagram, but I haven't talked much yet about the fact that literally overnight, I had a problem eater. She went from eating everything and always wanting more, to eating 2 bites and wanting to be done. It was driving me insane. I'm an SLP! I do feeding therapy! This isn't supposed to be an issue with my own child! It wasn't that she was necessarily a picky eater. In fact, we still, to this day, haven't found anything she won't eat. (Including olives, which I find utterly disgusting!) She'll eat anything we ask. She just doesn't want to take the time to stop playing (or talking!) to eat. She'd rather drink all her calories throughout the day. So we cut way back on the milk. Switched to skim milk. (Side note...other than an occasional sip of sweet tea (thanks, Daddy!) she's never had anything to drink other than milk and juice, no soda, etc.) We stopped allowing her to walk around the house with a sippy cup of milk. We got rid of the sippy cups altogether. We constantly offered healthy snack options. Even still, she had very little interest in eating at the table. And I refused to start the bad habit of shoveling a bite of food in her mouth as she ran by pushing a baby stroller. We were still very intentional about making her stay seated with us during mealtimes until we were finished, so she'd learn that mealtimes are for sitting together as a family. We didn't force food down her throat, but we didn't let up on our encouragement for her to eat, either.

And then, after I came back from Denver with a "present" (the happy mat and bowl), eating was suddenly interesting again! She LOVED the "big pink smiley face plate" and loved even more that I introduced some food art into our meals. (It helped that it was holiday time and Pinterest is swarming with cute food ideas for the holidays). Suddenly, I was no longer nagging her to keep eating. I was asking her to finish her happy plate. I was no longer asking her to finish her strawberries and little hot dogs, I was asking her to eat all her Santas and Baby Jesus's! And just like that...our mealtime issues were pretty much solved.

For Christmas, Santa brought the newly introduced Mini Mat (that fits perfectly in most high chairs for your little ones, and is great for taking on the road). As you can see below, Halle Jane, insisted the smaller Mini Mat was for her babies. But Lindsey fixed that problem by sending lots of even smaller Micro Mats....which now means Mom and Dad were booted to the bar, and Halle Jane and her multitude of babies got the table. I'm also using the Micro Mats to introduce new foods (one cherry, one piece of artichoke, etc.) She even asked me to let her try a piece of onion last night...and she ate it without complaining!

So here are my Pro's:

-They are super colorful and fun, so kids love them
-They don't allow cereal bowls to be dumped, plates to be thrown, etc., so the mess is contained
-They are perfectly portioned (bowl is 8oz, Happy Mat is 4oz, 4oz, and 10 oz, Mini Mat is 2oz, 2oz, and  
       4oz and the Snack Mat is 8oz), so you know exactly how much they are eating
-The play mat is great for food (adding toppings to ice cream), small toys (legos), or arts and crafts
       (stringing beads, etc.)
-They're dishwasher safe (although I mostly just rinse with water and dish soap)
-They are easily stackable in my cabinet
-They are BPA and PVC free, so super safe
-They're hypoallergenic
-They don't harbor bacteria
-They are easily transportable (I take the Mini mat everywhere)
-They have worked wonders with my feeding clients as well, who either have no interest in foods, have
       sensory issues, or are really picky eaters
-They are super affordable

In addition to using them at home, I'm also using them at school with my 3 year old self-contained classroom. I'm in the room during breakfast and lunch, and use them for feeding therapy with several clients.

Seriously, friends. They will change your life. Order one. Order more than one. If I've made a believer out of you, use the link below:

Also, BIG NEWS! If you're home tonight, watch my EZPZ friends on SHARK TANK at 8 PM Eastern Time...I can't wait to see Lindsey blow the Sharks' minds with this amazing tool! (And also, if you're planning on ordering, you may want to go ahead today before the show...I'm expecting they'll sell out after the show tonight...the Mini Mats are already currently out of stock, but more are coming in February!)

You can find more about EZPZ on their website by clicking HERE. You can also follow them on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Youtube!

Finally, EZPZ's own SLP has a great blog with tons of great ideas for using the Mats in therapy and at home. You can see it HERE.

Have YOU used an EZPZ mat yet? I'd love to hear what you think!

Happy Friday!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Turkey Prepositions {A Forever Freebie!}

Happy Almost-Thanksgiving, Friends!

I don't say it enough, but I am so very thankful for you, and for a profession that allows me to interact with others all over the world!

If you're like me, you have students on your caseload working on prepositions! A few years back, I made these Turkey Preposition cards, and they have been a big hit! My students love using seasonal therapy materials to change thing up a bit, and I hope your's will too!

With this activity, your students can practice preposition flash cards, as well as practice putting the turkey places on their own!

You can download this FREEBIE in my TPT store HERE. (And if you do, I'd love it if you would leave some feedback love!)

Have a great week-before-Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Story Grammar Marker Cohesive Tie Jargon {A Product Review}

Hi Friends!

I'm about to check out of here and head to the ASHA Convention in Denver, CO! I can't wait to get there and see my #slpeeps!

But before I hit the road, I wanted to show you guys something that I've been using for several months now that I simply can't live without!

My love affair with Story Grammar Marker continues. Seriously, people. For my kiddos, it just works. And for me, it works because I have 50+ kids of all ages and abilities levels. And I use Story Grammar Marker with them all. Every. Last. One.

While I've done several posts in the past on how I introduce SGM and how I use it with my younger babies, this post is primarily about how I've been using it with my older kiddos. You can find several posts on SGM by searching "Story Grammar Marker" on my blog homepage.

Many of my older students are working on writing. More specifically, they are working on expanding sentence length and complexity throughout their written responses. A lot of my students have trouble with this. As 3rd-5th grades, their simple sentences make their writing below what is expected at their grade level. "This weekend I stayed at home. I watched tv. I played with my brother. It was fun."

We've been talking a lot about using conjunctions and "cohesive ties" to tie their sentences together to make them more complex. My friends at Mindwing Concepts have a product that fits these lessons perfectly: their SGM Cohesive Tie JARgon kit!

The kit comes with a Jar (pun intended!), 5 clothes pins, a silky clip-tie, and durable cohesive tie word cards. The easier word is on one side of the card (like 'but'), and the harder word is on the other side (like 'however').

I started off having my students tell me about what they did for Halloween using words that I specifically chose for them. As they said them, they clipped them on their tie.

After they got the hang of it (it didn't take long because it just "clicked" with the tangibles to play with!), we used them with the story book From Seed to Pumpkin. They sequenced the steps in the pumpkin life cycle and retold the sequence orally first with the words, and then I had them write it!

After we used the easier words with the sequence retell, I then showed them how they could "take it up a notch" with the more difficult words:

Overall, it has been a HUGE hit! I have been using the JARgon kit for several months now in many different ways, and the students ADORE it! It's easy to implement, and at only $19.95, it's easy on the poor teacher's pocket too! You can purchase the Cohesive Tie JARgon kit from Mindwind's Website by clicking HERE. 

Have you used this kit? What about other SGM products? I'd love to know what you're using and how!

And now I'm off to the airport! Hope to see you in Denver!

Makin Faces!

Hey Peeps!

I don't have to tell you guys again how much I love Story Grammar Marker, but if you're new to the blog, see my most popular blog post on how I do SGM HERE.

I tend to teach the story elements one at a time until they have mastered each one. For some of my kiddos who are just starting, we're working on character. Character is such a fun one to teach! I also teach an overview of emotions when I'm teaching Character, because they go together nicely. Then, I'll spend more in-depth time on emotions later on (how emotions change, differing perspectives, etc.)

Story Grammar Marker teaches that every character has "eyes, a face, and a head." Especially for younger kiddos, teaching characters, emotions, and facial expressions can be so fun! You can talk about what different emotions look like, and it's also a great opportunity to learn about different facial/body parts, their functions, and what they look like on different people/animals (for instance, a pig's snout looks different than a little girl's nose, but they have similar functions!)

There are TONS of fun ways to practice facial expressions, and I'm always looking for new ways! Fall is the PERFECT time to work on characters and facial expressions. Following are a few different things we've been using to practice:

Last year at Michaels, I found these awesome face stickers. You can use them on circles throughout the year for characters, or you can use them on pumpkins for Halloween. For some of my classes, we cut out pumpkins from orange paper. For other classes, I had them color the pumpkins and then put the stickers on. We talked about body parts, but we also talked about which stickers gave the pumpkins different feelings (i.e. happy, sad, mad). The students LOVED making their own pumpkin faces (and it was so much more simple and clean than carving pumpkins)

I often use the bunny and puppy dog parts for Braidy this time a year to teach about how characters can be just about anything, and how we often dress up as different things for Halloween. The students practice changing out Braidy's facial expressions to demonstrate different feelings, and then they practice making those faces themselves! We also read Five Little Pumpkins with some of my younger groups, and used the Braidy flash cards to talk about feelings as well.

I also happened upon these Melissa and Doug sticker sets a while back too. They work the same way as the pumpkin stickers do. I emphasized that it doesn't matter if a character is a person, a horse, a pig, or a rock...As long as they have eyes, a face, and a head, they can be a character.

Here are some of my Pre-K students in an Autism classroom working on their pumpkins. They did amazingly well!

Mr. Potato Head is awesome for working on body parts, facial expressions, characters, and feelings. I found a Halloween character set a few years back, and we've used the Goblin and Ghost (as well as a pirate, Santa Claus, etc.) to discuss different characters and costumes!

Having the students practice making different facial expressions in front of the class or in front of a mirror is also a great way to learn facial expressions, feelings, and how to read body language and facial expressions to know how someone is feeling. We practiced with me giving them a feeling to show, and then we practiced guessing how they feel by their facial expressions. Below are pictures of my little one, Halle Jane, doing the same thing!






Scared: (hahahaha this one always makes me laugh :) )

Finally, we used two songs from Super Simple Learning to reinforce our discussions about facial expressions and feelings:

Can You Make a Happy Face goes through several different facial expressions/feelings, including happy, angry, scared, and sad.

Five Little Pumpkins also goes through different facial expressions and feelings (smiling/happy, pouting/grumpy, yawning/sleepy, crying/sad, laughing/playing).

Super Simple Learning also has these great flash cards to go along with their 5 Little Pumpkins song. They can be downloaded *for free* from their website! (Click the link or the picture below)!

How do you work on characters and facial expressions/feelings? I'd love to hear!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Ghost Toast!

Happy Halloween Eve!

Today has been a super busy and super fun (but also super educational) Friday! Pre-K came to school dressed in their costumes and went trick-or-treating throughout the school, and everyone is excited about the upcoming weekend festivities!

My Pre-K and Kindergarten Autism classes have been working on Halloween vocabulary, and it just so happened their letter of the week is "G." So we've been talking a lot about GHOSTS! Today, we read Ten Timid Ghosts, by Jennifer O'Connell, and made Ghost Toast to go along with the story. We described ghosts by what they look like (white with black eyes), what they sound like (ooooohhhh and BOO), and what they taste, smell, and feel like as toast!

Making Ghost Toast is really easy, and the kids loved it. Best of all, it's yummy!

Just get bread, marshmallow fluff, chocolate chips (or raisins), plastic knives, and a pair of scissors. Cut the ghost shape out with clean scissors before you toast the bread. (Note, I just cut out a shape with scissors instead of using a cookie cutter-it's easier, and you waste less bread.) Then lightly toast the bread in a toaster or toaster oven.

Then have the students spread the marshmallow fluff on top of the bread.

Add chocolate chips (or raisins) for the face!

Viola! You have adorable (and yummy) ghost toast!