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!


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Doc Is In!

It's almost November, guys.

My little girl's birthday was in August. And I'm just now finally getting a chance to blog about her birthday party. Better late than never, right?!?!

Anyway, Halle Jane has been really into doctoring for a while now. I mean really into it. Like she walks up to strangers in Walmart and gives them pretend shots and sends them on their way. What can I say? She spends a lot of time at my father-in-love's doctor office, and she thinks she owns the place! Here's a picture of them in their matching lab coats:

Anyway, she's also an avid fan of Doc McStuffins. And I love the show too. I love how educational it is, but I especially love how sweet and kind and respectful all of the characters are. I love the life lessons it teaches, including kindness, responsibility, hard work, teamwork, and so much more. So when we asked her what kind of birthday party she wanted, it was no surprise when she said "a doctor party!"

I'll go ahead and admit it now: I perhaps get into party planning a little too much. If I could make a career out of it in South GA, I would probably try! So planning this party was a blast for me. You can check out the highlights below:


My sister-in-love makes these for us every year. To save money, we buy the black poster board and she uses paint markers that look like chalk to make the sign. 

We set up a coloring table for the kids with Doc McStuffins coloring pages, as well as a check-up check-list for their patients!

Each child got a doctor's badge and a hospital bracelet for their "patients" when they arrived at the party. These were super easy to make. I made the design on Powerpoint, and used Velcro dots to clasp them together. 

We set up a patient care area, complete with exam table paper and stuffed animals for their patients. We also had several doctor kits out for the doctors to use while doing their check-ups!

Halle Jane had her own doctor name badge as well, and her "real" stethoscope was one of her birthday presents. (Yes, she actually requested that!) I ordered the birthday hat from Etsy. I ordered the plastic sleeves for the name badges and the lanyards for them from Amazon. My mom found the cute Doc McStuffins mason jar at TJ Maxx.


 These cups were super easy to make, and were perfect for each child to take home! I ordered the cups from Amazon, the straws from Etsy, and a local vender make the vinyl bandaids for me to stick on!

I made the food labels on Powerpoint and printed them on cardstock so they would stand up.

 The kids *adored* the gummies in these little cups, which also came from Amazon!

Ok, this was perhaps the best part of the entire party: Yogurt Shots! They were SO easy to do (I ordered the jumbo "jello shot" syringes from Amazon, and literally sucked up the yogurt from a large container.) They come with little tops so the yogurt doesn't spill out. And the best part is the kids can suck the yogurt right out, without even having to push the syringe in, so there is NO mess! We have washed out the extra syringes and continued to refill them with yogurt since the party, because it is the best way to get Halle Jane to eat a healthy snack without a mess! She asks for a "yogurt shot" at least twice a day!

My mom made the sugar cookies. They are to die for and the only thing we request to eat for every single holiday. But they are so time-consuming, so it is really a labor of love!

The only thing I didn't get a picture of was the apple slices. We labeled those "an apple a day!"

And here's the cake. It was made locally, and it was delicious! The decorations are made from fondant, but everything else is "real" icing.

To say she was a little bit excited about her presents would be an understatement! I had her dress made by a wonderful SLP friend, Dean Trout. You can find her Etsy store HERE, but she's wonderful with custom orders as well! She also has a blog called Your SLP Momma Says. 

Finally, each kiddo got a party favor bag to take home. Besides the cup, doctor name badge, and hospital bracelets from the party, each bag had Doc gummies, bubbles, a water bottle (with purple duct tape and a band-aid sticker), a Doc certificate, and a pink pill bottle filled with M&Ms (ordered from Ebay).

It was a wonderful day for our little doctor! And now I'm speechless that I already have a 2 year old!

Happy Birthday, Halle Jane! We love you so very much!