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!


 Enjoy!



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!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Red Ribbon Week and Why It's Important

Hi friends,

This week kicks off National Red Ribbon Week, a week designated to teaching children about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Last Wednesday, I picked up a red flier in my teacher box detailing all of the activities for Red Ribbon Week. I placed it on my desk with 40 other papers, and it quickly got lost in the shuffle. I didn't think about it again that day as I packed my bags to head out for Fall Break. Truth be told, I probably wouldn't have thought about it again the entire break. But then something happened to bring it back to the forefront of my mind.



My younger brother is a drug addict. A week ago, I wouldn't have said that. I probably would have told you that he had spent the last 8 years in rebellion. That he had gotten into some trouble right after high school, started hanging out with the wrong crowd, and that he had admittedly tried drugs occasionally. If pressed, I would have told you that, yes, he had spent 7 months in an inpatient drug rehab facility, but I truly believed he was there more so to keep himself from going to jail, and less about an actual drug dependence.

I was wrong.

As a family member of an addict, it is sometimes harder to have a clear picture of what is truly going on. You get tired of the daily drama. Tired of the lies. Tired of things being stolen. Tired of worrying. Tired of the anger and aggression and mood swings. But because you love them so very much, you hang on to a shred of hope for dear life. Just to be heartbroken all over again.

Until this past weekend, I would have told you my brother was just on a bad path. That he could help himself and do things differently if he wanted to, but he just didn't want to. Again, I was wrong. I didn't truly understand the battle he was fighting until after a weekend of totaling his truck and numerous confrontations with family members, he tried to commit suicide.

After he was safely transported to a crisis center, I did a little research. Turns out, suicide is the 10th cause of death in the United States each year. 33,000 people end their life each year, and someone is 6 times more likely to take their own life while under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Even more enlightening: The suicide rate for people with untreated substance abuse disorders is as high as 45%. 

I almost lost my brother more than once this weekend.

After the sobering weekend I had, Red Ribbon Week seemed a lot more important than before. As SLPs, teachers, and other educators, we care deeply about each child on our caseload. We pour hours of energy and sweat and sometimes actual tears into teaching them academics, speech sounds, sports, and more. We love them like they are our own, and we want nothing more than to see them grow up to be successful adults. Going forward, I'm going to challenge myself to have hard conversations with my students. Conversations about the importance of staying drug-free...the importance of never even trying it just one time...the importance of their life. And I'm going to participate in every single activity during Red Ribbon Week.

Academics and speech sounds are important. But nothing is more important than life. Each and every life. 

Join me in talking with your students about Red Ribbon Week. If our efforts keep just one family from going through what my family is going through, it will be worth it.

Please click the picture below to find out more about Red Ribbon Week and join the campaign.


**Statistics in this post were found on psychologytoday.com. 




Saturday, October 24, 2015

Hanen Preschool Language & Literacy Calendar {Product Review & Giveaway}

Happy Saturday, Friends!

We're off to the pumpkin patch and zoo shortly, but I wanted to share a great resource with you before we head out! As SLPs/teachers, we know the importance of language and literacy development, and we spend our careers trying to facilitate it. Sometimes it is easier than others. We're all busy, and planning for therapy each day can be difficult. Not to mention that keeping therapy exciting and fresh can be a challenge. Add in the budget cuts, and new toys and therapy materials are pretty much out the window. But every once in a while, you come across a great resource that is effective and budget-friendly, and you want to shout about it to the world! The Hanen Centre's Preschool Language & Literacy Calendar is one of those great resources!

The Hanen Centre is a wonderful resource for both early interventionists AND parents! They provide interventions and materials that are research based and host trainings to teach the implementation of their strategies. They graciously gave me a copy of their calendar to review, as well as extras for a giveaway for you! Disclaimer: Copies of the calendar were provided to me to review; however, no other compensation was provided. The opinions below are all mine. 

The calendar is a 16 month-long calendar that provides a tip to focus on each month, as well as tips for parents and educators.


The inside cover discusses critical thinking and the importance of critical thinking in language and literacy development. I LOVE that this calendar focuses on critical thinking. If you spend much time in the schools these days, it doesn't take you long to figure out that the curriculum is requiring a lot of critical thinking, and many children lack this ability. It is a crucial skill from day one, and it requires time and attention to foster critical thinking skills in a child.


Each month in the calendar looks something like this. It gives you something to focus on, like keeping conversations going. Then, it gives suggestions for how both teachers and parents can facilitate this in everyday life with children. I really appreciate how it shows that you can use objects and activities in daily life in order to work on communication-this doesn't have to be something that is done sitting behind a desk or at the kitchen table only while doing homework. Critical thinking skills should be addressed everywhere. In all environments. During all tasks! Click here to read an awesome article on critical thinking from the Hanen Centre! 


Being a mommy to a 2-year old I've been using my copy of the calendar at home. It has been such a great guide for focusing on critical thinking, and has helped to facilitate some great play times and conversations with my own little one. Below, over some late-night pretend cake, Halle Jane and I had a great conversation about pre-school that day, including her telling me which kids went to time-out and why! (Disclaimer: kids will tell on you. All the time.)  I focused on using 'wh' questions to ask her questions like "Why did so-and-so go to timeout?" "What should he have done instead?" and "What do you go to timeout for?" --Trick question on that one...I wanted to see if she'd tell on herself. But she just responded "Halle Jane not go to timeout." Thata girl!


Here, we went for a walk. When we heard an airplane, we stopped to look all around until we found it. We talked about what the airplanes are used for (in this case, the crop duster sprayed a near-by field for bugs). She had tons of questions about the bugs eating the plants in the field.


Pretend play is so, so important. I'll say it again: Pretend play is really, really important. It is so necessary for developing early critical thinking skills. Last week, Halle Jane left her pretend baby bottle at her grandma's house. When she wanted to feed Baby Jenny, I told her she'd have to find something else to use as a bottle, but didn't tell her what. She thought about it for a little while, went to the container cabinet, and asked me to help her get the Doc McStuffins empty juice bottle out that we had washed and saved from a few days before. She thought it made a great baby bottle, and I was super proud that her little creative mind had figured out a solution all by herself! (I would've helped her if she had needed it!)


Below, we carved pumpkins a few nights ago, and that included letting her clean out her own pumpkin. She had no idea pumpkins were filled with seeds and gooey insides, so that was quite a shock! But she enjoyed it, and it was a great learning activity.


Finally, instead of looking at her children's books before bed this week, we've been looking at magazines. Since I was raised on a cattle farm, my dad gets tons of "cow magazines," and Halle Jane is currently really into cows. And tractors. And pretty much everything farm related. She has enjoyed looking at "real pictures" of the animals, farm equipment, and people. We've talked about the different kinds of tractors and what they do, and the different breeds of cattle. Sure, some of it is a little over her head, but it's never too early to start raising a farm girl. :)

Opportunities to enhance critical thinking skills are everywhere...you just have to focus attention on building those skills as you walk through life. The Hanen Preschool Language and Literacy Calendar is a great resource for getting started, both for parents and teachers! Be sure to enter the giveaway to win a copy below...and just in case you'd like to buy one (or more), you can find them on their website HERE for only $9.95!


Friday, October 23, 2015

Pronouns by Teach Speech {An App Review}

Hey Peeps!

I'm back today with another app review....Pronouns by Teach Speech Apps! In the world of simple, amazing, and affordable apps, Teach Speech Apps are definitely at the top of the list! Just about every SLP out there has to target Pronouns at some point (or all the time if you're me!)

When you open the app, you have 4 different activities to choose from. These activities get harder, which is great for a caseload full of students with all different ability levels!


In the first activity, the student chooses the pronoun from the picture shown.


In this activity, the student chooses the picture that best demonstrates the pronoun from the sentence. When the student chooses the correct answer, the outline of the box turns green. If they answer incorrectly, the outline turns red.



After 10 questions, a summary appears with the student's number of correct answers. This makes data collection so easy! 


Here, the students drag and drop the object in the correct picture to complete the direction. This is an awesome way for the students to physically practice following directions and pronouns at the same time!


Below, the students choose the correct pronoun to complete the sentence.


As in all Teach Speech Apps, you can change the settings to meet the needs of your students!


Overall, this is another wonderful app from Teach Speech Apps! The apps are simple, so they couldn't be any easier to use! They keep the students attention and provide countless opportunities for teaching and practice. Even better, these apps are very affordable. Pronouns by Teach Speech sells in the iTunes app store for only $2.99. You can find it by clicking the link below:

CLICK HERE TO SEE PRONOUNS BY TEACH SPEECH APPS IN THE ITUNES STORE

Teach Speech Apps graciously gave me FOUR copies to giveaway to you all! You can enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below: 
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Have you used this app yet? If so, tell me what you think!