Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What's In Your Cart? Linky: 3 Million Strong!

Hi Everyone!

I'm (finally) getting my post up about the TPT sale which starts....TOMORROW!!! TPT is celebrating 3 million teachers currently selling their materials on the site! Most sellers will have their stores on sale. Everything in my store will be 20% off! On top of the seller's sale, TPT will give you an extra 10% off if you use the code TPT3 at checkout. That's a total of 28% off! 

Advertisement by Speech Room News
I'm linking up with Jenna from Speech Room News to show you what's in my cart for the TPT site-wide sale!

First, here are a few items of mine you might be interested in:

Holiday History Bundle

The History of HolidaysDiscounted BUNDLE

March Book Club Bundle

The History of Saint Patrick's Day Comprehension Packet

Verbalicious Verbs and Sentences-with NO Print options!

Ok...and now for what's in MY cart:

Bubble Letter Artic by Jenn at Crazy Speech World

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Clover book companion by Kristin at Simply Speech

 Articulation Notebooks Bundle by Speech Therapy Games

And more clip art that you could possibly imagine!

Be sure to check out what's In the other bloggers' carts, too!

Happy Shopping, and as always, thank you so much for your support!


Monday, February 24, 2014

The Weekly Wrap-Up: President's Day, Language Trainer, & Jamberry!

Hi Everyone!

Once again, I'm late getting my weekly wrap-up post finished. I actually took some time off this weekend to relax: We went on a walk, went out to eat, went to see the Lego movie (Loved it!), and slept in. It was very much needed! But because of all the relaxing, I'm in over-drive this week to get everything done!

Here's what we were up to in therapy last week:

We celebrated President's Day!

We learned about different Presidents, answered comprehension questions about the history of President's Day, and learned about important American symbols.

 We learned about the life of President Abraham Lincoln

We learned about the life of George Washington

You can find my History of President's Day packet here:

We used Smarty Ears' new app Language Trainer to work on expressive naming. I was so pumped when one of my non-verbal students with Autism called the penguin below "Happy" (Anyone seen Happy Feet? That's an association if you ask me!) You can read my review of Language Trainer HERE.

Also-this week (2/24-2/28) I'm hosting a Jamberry Party with my friend and fellow speech blogger, Jenn Alcorn. I'm in love with this product! You can learn more about Jamberry and order from her website by clicking the link below. Just be sure to choose my name at checkout!

Stay Cool, Friends!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Smarty Ears' Language Trainer {An App Review}

Hi Everyone!

I'm back with a review for another great app by Smarty Ears! Johnathan at Smarty Ears was gracious enough to provide me with a copy of the app for review, but no other compensation was provided. The opinions below are all mine!

Language Trainer is an app to target receptive and expressive language skills. It has four different activities: Picture Identification, Picture Naming, Divergent Naming, and Sentence Completion.

As with all Smarty Ears apps, they offer excellent video tutorials and technological support as needed.

You can add your students manually, or import them from TRC (Therapy Report Center). You can add avatar photos or real photos as well!

On this screen, you can easily modify the app settings. Choose how many items are given on the screen, the date format, how many items the student must name on the Divergent Naming activity, and whether or not the difficulty level increases with correct responses. I love these features because it makes differentiating learning so much easier!

You can choose between the four different activities. Picture Identification is a receptive task where the app names a picture and the student touches the picture named. On Picture Naming, a picture is shown, and the student expressively identifies the picture by name. In the Divergent Naming activity, the student names specific items in a category (i.e. name two things that are hot.). And in Sentence Completion, the student completes sentences with appropriate words. Data is easily kept for each section! 

This is an example of the Picture Identification: Identify the alligator.

If the student chooses an incorrect picture, that picture goes away. This definitely makes it easier for students to narrow down the correct choice.

This is an example of the Picture Naming activity. You can keep data on the right by clicking correct, incorrect, or cued. I love that you can choose "cued" because keeping data for cued items can be difficult, especially with a group of several students at once!

This is an example of the Divergent Naming activity. There are boxes for how ever many items the student is supposed to name. The amount of items required can be changed in the app Settings. I love how data is kept on this section too. I have lots of students who can give me one example of something, but not a second. In this activity, you can show how a student gave one correct response, but was unable to give more than one. 

This is an example of the Sentence Completion activity. Once again, you can note whether the student provided a correct answer, an incorrect answer, or required a cue.

When you're finished with the session, you can always go back and look at the student data in the Report section. You can compare data across sessions, compare the four different activities, and add notes as needed.

As with all Smarty Ears apps, I love that you can share the data by opening in TRC, iBooks, or email. You an also print to put in the student's folder.

Overall, I love this app. It's simpl and right to the point. I am using it successfully for screenings as well as in therapy to target student goals. I love that the app can be used to improve both expressive and receptive language. And I love that it targets vocabulary in a variety of different activities. The simplicity of the app makes it perfect to work with patients of all ages. I'll use it with my students at school, but I can also easily use it to work with adults in private settings. I love that it doesn't seem too child-like, which makes it perfect to use with older kids or adults as well. Even more, Language Trainer has an audio recording feature so you can record the student's responses. I've even used this feature with some of my students working on fluency!

You can read Smarty Ears' description of Language Trainer here:

Language Trainer sells for $14.99 in iTunes. You can find it here:

Have you used Language Trainer yet? What did you think? 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Grip Case {A Product Review}

Hi Everyone!

I'm so excited about this product review. When you find something that you love, you want to share it with everyone! If you're like me, you can't live without your iPad. I literally use it everywhere, for everything. The iPad has definitely changed therapy for me. Not only do I have amazing apps for therapy and reinforcers, but I no longer have to haul around a huge bag of therapy materials all over the school!

We all know, though, that when you're using your iPad with students, protection for the iPad is a must! We have tons of iPads in our school. Some of them are for teachers only, some are used for reinforcement and earned breaks, and some are even used as AAC devices for specific students. Many of the student iPads for our Autism classes have thick, shock-absorbent covers on them. While they keep the iPad from getting broken when dropped (or thrown), they are very cumbersome and difficult for the children to hold on to and carry with them in their backpacks (especially the students with fine motor difficulties).

Enter the Gripcase! I found out about Gripcase from a fellow blogger. When I researched the company, I not only fell in the love with the product, but I loved Gripcase as a company and their desire to help provide Gripcases to schools everywhere!

The Gripcase Company was gracious enough to provide me with a Gripcase for review. However, no other compensation was provided, and the opinions below are all mine. 

The Gripcase is a protective case built specifically for the iPad Mini, iPad 2, iPad 3, and iPad 4. It is made of a thick foam, which makes it durable, shock-resistant, and flexible. It ships in a cute box with "Get a Grip" printed on the side.

The iPad slides into the Gripcase with a little maneuvering, but it is held securely around the edges, so as to not fall out easily. The handles surrounding the Gripcase are raised above the iPad's screen, so even when dropped face-down, it is unlikely damage will occur. The Gripcase has holes for the speaker, wake button, volume, headphones, and docking connector, so you don't have to remove the iPad from the Gripcase to access any of these holes.

I adore that the Gripcase comes in different colors: Black, Red, Purple, Green, and Blue. The colors are bright and fun, and the students love them. While the Gripcase does add length and thickness to the iPad, it is not near as thick as some of the foam cases I've seen. The Gripcase still fits easily in my purse or computer bag for travel. Best of all, it has great handles around all edges, which are perfect for little fingers to grab onto and hold tightly.

My favorite color is purple, so I just had to have the purple one! When I brought the iPad in the Gripcase to therapy for the first time, my students went crazy! They loved the look of the Gripcase and how easy it was for them to hold and pass around. To them, it felt like a brand new tablet altogether!

Here, you can see how when turned face-down, the iPad screen is protected by the raised edges of the Gripcase. here's the BEST part of the Gripcase: They are so committed to putting Gripcases in every school, they have a BOGO program going on. If you buy a Gripcase, you can send a second Gripcase to a school of your choice FOR FREE! You just simply select any school of your choice (your child's school, your neighborhood school, your previous elementary school, etc.) at checkout and enter the information as prompted. My school is currently looking at purchasing new protective cases for the iPads in our Autism classes, and they have fallen in love with my Gripcase!

In addition to the case, Gripcase also offers several accessories including charging carts, the Gripbase stand, shoulder straps, the touch-screen stylus, headphones, and iVisors for screen protection.

In my opinion, if you go with the Gripcase as a cover, you need to make sure you have a screen-protector on the iPad screen (which honestly, I'd do anyway.) This is not so much as to protect your iPad from drops (and throws!), but more-so from scratches when you're transporting it (i.e. putting it down in your computer bag, etc.)

I am absolutely LOVING my Gripcase. Not only is it wonderful for protecting my iPad from Sammy slippy-fingers, but it's soooo cute too! I can't tell you how many people have stopped me to ask me where I got it!

You can learn more about Gripcase and see all of the products at their company website by clicking the link below:

Do any of you use the Gripcase? If so, I'd love to hear what you think!


Monday, February 17, 2014

The Weekly Wrap-Up: Valentine's Day with Little Critter & Mr. Hatch!

Happy Monday!

I took the weekend off to go to GA with my husband and little girl to see our families. I couldn't imagine a better Valentine's Day present for me! So needless to say, I didn't work this weekend.

Anyway, take a look below at what we were up to last week in therapy...

 For my younger students (Pre-K and Kindergarten), we used my Happy Valentine's Day, Little Critter book companion packet to practice sequencing and comprehension questions! We also "planned" their classroom Valentine's Day parties and compared what they would do with what Little Critter did for his party. You can find this download here.

In my fluency group, we used Carrisa Ten Hoeve from Home Sweet Speech Room's Snow and Steady turtle fluency cards. Instead of printing them, I opened the download in iBooks on my iPad! You can find this download here.

 Then, we used Jenn from Crazy Speech World's Old Lady Swallowed a Rose companion to practice sequencing! You can find her download here. 

Finally, we spent a lot of time on the book Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch this week:

We used my book companion pack to work on comprehension questions and sequencing. You can find my book companion here:

We talked about adjectives, compliments, and random acts of kindness as well. I had the students make a list of adjectives they could use to compliment someone, and they made these cards for all of the school employees. I put them in the employee mailboxes on Friday, but I told the students not to tell anyone who made them. That way, they would be a surprise for the employees, just like Mr. Hatch got a surprise in the story. The students LOVED being in on a secret and doing something nice for the teachers! (The one that says "You remind me to be good." is my favorite...and if you knew the student, you'd know why....He needs LOTS of reminders!)

The Kindergarten and 1st grade ASD teacher at my school uses my monthly Book Club bundles to supplement her curriculum. This has been so wonderful because the students are getting the lessons with me in therapy, and all week with her as well. I have been popping in during their writing block too, to co-teach a writing lesson about the book of the week. She found an audio/video book reading of Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch, read by actor Hector Elizondo. You can find it here:

The students listened to the story and as they were listening, we paused several times to identify and write in the story elements. 

After this, the students answered comprehension questions, and then did a writing activity as a follow-up. 

This super cute writing activity fit perfectly with the story! It is by TPT Seller, Bloomabilities, and can be found here:

We had an awesome Valentine's Week in Therapy. What were you up to? 

Now, we're moving on to President's Day! 

Have a wonderful week!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Let's Talk Baby Talk!

Happy Saturday, friends!

My grandfather-in-law frequently saves articles he finds for all of the grand-kids in their particular area of interest. Back in October, he gave me an article from the Tampa Bay Times entitled, "Baby Talk Bonanza." has taken me this long to read it through in full and write about it. But hey, at least I get to things eventually!

Anyway, the article is one of the best articles I've read in a while in relation to speech and language development. It centers around research by Dr. Dana Suskind, a cochlear implant surgeon at the University of Chicago Medicine. Dr. Suskind knows that the implantation of a cochlear implant (or two) is just the beginning of a long process. The ultimate goal is not only for the child to hear, but for the child to talk. Dr. Suskind began to notice that the children who came from families of lower socioeconomic status weren't making as much progress as those children from families of higher socioeconomic status. She wanted to educate the families on the importance of talking to their children and the best ways to facilitate conversations with their kids. Dr. Suskind studied research from child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley. Their research indicated that children born into poverty hear 30 million words less by the age of 3 than children born to parents of higher socioeconomic status. The 30 million words less creates a gap in literacy preparation that follow these children for a lifetime. Dr. Suskind wanted to teach these families how to talk with their children, so she started a program called "Thirty Million Words." For the families participating in the study, Dr. Suskind and her team would visit them and train them in a parent-talk curriculum they had developed. The child participating in the study would wear an electronic device during the day to record the number of words spoken, the number of words heard, and the number of turns back and forth in a conversation. They did not count television as conversation. The data would then be analyzed, and the parents would be taught based on the data.

Now, Dr. Suskind dreams of starting a sister program to Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign, called "Let's Talk." (I LOVE THE NAME! haha) She hopes the campaign and developed curriculum will help teach all families the importance of communicating frequently with your children in terms of teaching them to talk, and preparing them for a lifetime of learning.

You can see the entire article here:

You can visit Dr. Suskind's Website here:

As an SLP, I see every day the importance of back-and-forth communication with children. Not only to they crave communication and attention, but they gain invaluable information from each and every conversation. They learn new vocabulary words, they learn factual information, they learn to respond and ask questions, and even more so, they learn the "art" of communication: the eye-contact, facial expressions, body language, etc. that are so important for social development. 

As a new parent myself who works a full-time job (more than one actually, if you count blogging/making materials), I know how difficult it is to carve out time to interact with your children. There is so much to do every day when I get home: laundry, cleaning, cooking, exercise, etc., etc., etc. It's so easy to give them a few toys, turn the TV on, and in my case, put them in the walker. And there is nothing wrong with moderation. With all of the educational shows, iPad apps, and toys these days, children can learn on their own. But nothing replaces old-fashioned back-and-forth talking. I have students who cannot tell me the names of different food or clothing items, but they can tell me anything I want to know about the latest video game.

I run the risk of offending when I tell this, but I had a professor in college tell me one time that two different children go to the grocery store with their parents and pass by the produce section. The different children point to an eggplant and say "What's that?"  One mother says, "Oh! It's an eggplant. See how smooth and purple it is? It is a fruit. Let's buy one and taste it at home." The other mother says, "Get back in the cart." Now, I am in no way implying that the second mother did not care about her child. She meant no harm in what she said (or didn't say). But it goes without saying here that the first child learned what an eggplant is that day, and the second one simply did not. 

I tell parents all the time that you can do "language therapy" anywhere. In the car, on the bus, at the store, in the bathroom, etc. And you don't have to have fancy expensive materials to do it. The best thing you can do for your child is talk to them

Please understand, I'm speaking to myself here, too. My little girl is 5 1/2 months. She is sitting up by herself, watching everything, smiling, laughing, and babbling. Her "talking" is stringing together syllables intertwined with (really loud) squeals. She furrows her eyebrows and looks right at you and "talks." I look right back at her and say "Then what happened? Tell me more!" She is quiet when I'm talking, and when I stop, she begins babbling again. Even at 5 1/2 months, she is learning the art of turn-taking. But I'm not always this engaged in her talking. Even as an SLP who knows the importance of continuous interaction, I found myself "Facebooking" when I was feeding her a bottle, or talking on my phone when I was holding her, or turning on Sesame Street while I was working around the house. I realized a few months ago that when I was scrolling through Facebook while she was eating a bottle, I was robbing her of a perfect opportunity for her to observe and hear me talking to her. She was still and content during that time, and I wasn't taking advantage of the opportunity.

So I made a few changes. I no longer touch my phone when I'm feeding her. The TV is not on when we are eating.  And I carve out 30 minutes each and every day to give my undivided attention to introducing her to something new. It doesn't have to be anything big. We don't usually go anywhere. I just pick a new experience to introduce her to, and we do it. I talk to her about what we're doing, what she's seeing, and what she's hearing, even though I know that at her age, she doesn't understand what I'm saying. While I'm showing her these things, I'm also training myself to be a constant communicator. Because in a few months when she is able to understand, I'll be in the habit of communicating with her continuously. 

If you're a parent, no matter the age of your children, I challenge you to carve out specific time to spend with your kids doing something. It doesn't have to be 30 minutes. It could be 10. Bake cookies with them, but talk about each step as you're doing it (sequencing), read a book and ask questions every few pages (comprehension), play guessing games and see if they can guess what you're thinking of (inferencing), play Simon Says (following directions), or show them something they've never seen before (vocabulary). Not only will you enjoy the time, but your children will learn invaluable information that will prepare them for learning.

There will be times where it just doesn't happen. And that's ok. But the point here is you don't have to be sitting down at the kitchen table working on math homework for you to be teaching them something. Kids are learning constantly, no matter where they are. As parents, let's challenge ourselves to take advantage of these learning opportunities when they arise! 

Below, you can see what we did yesterday for our 30 minutes of learning. We went to the pond and fed the birds. (Ok, I fed the birds and talked about it while Halle Jane watched with her mouth wide open!) It was fun for me, and she got to see something up close that she's never seen before!

What are some of your favorite things to do with your children? I'd love to hear!!!