Monday, April 30, 2018

Down on the Speech Farm

Hey Ya'll!

Many of you know that I live for therapy themes. I'm at an elementary school with both gen ed and Pre-K through 5th grade self-contained classrooms, so I have a pretty wide range of ages and abilities. I personally find that using themes, even for my 4th and 5th grade students, keeps me much more organized and on track. I prep any new materials the month before so I stay ahead, and have activities targeting all of my students' goals that somehow relate to the current theme.

Perhaps my favorite theme to do all year is the farm. I grew up on an Angus cattle farm and spent many years traveling to cow and pig shows and helping with both the animals and the garden. (See the below picture)! I live in South GA, so farming and agriculture here is huge. It's important to me for my students to not only know where food comes from, but to also have an appreciation for farmers and how hard they work. Though I sometimes change up my theme calendar from year to year, the farm theme always has a place, and this year, I carried it on for 2 1/2 weeks because there was so much to do! Take a look at some of the activities we did below!

Me and "Annie" 

The first thing I did this year was decorate my speech room. Though I don't normally decorate for themes, I decided to do so this time, and I'm so glad I took the time to do it. My students were coming off of 2 weeks of state testing. They were tired and over it and needed something to excite them about learning again....and boy did this do the trick! I covered my book cases for the barn and silo, and just used bulletin board paper to make the scenes. I covered Pampers diaper boxes with yellow bulletin board paper and drew lines on them to look like hay, and raided my kids' rooms for farm stuffed animals and the stick horse! It took about 3 hours of work after school, but it was worth it....I had some of the best engagement all year! 

I knew I wanted to do a "Speech Orchard", as I wanted to make sure I taught the kiddos that some farms are fruit orchards instead of just animals or row crops. I used bulletin board paper to make the trees and printed out and laminated the different fruits. Then I put sticky magnets on the back of the fruits, and used a dry-erase marker to write words with target sounds on them. Since they're laminated, the dry erase marker wipes right off, and new words can be written. (Just a note-if you're going to do it this way, make sure your white board is magnetic. If it's not, you can use tape!)

The kiddos loved "picking" their fruit, saying their word/phrase/sentence, and putting their fruit in the baskets (bought for $1 each from the Dollar Tree!)

This homemade garden was probably my most favorite activity of all! I used bulletin board paper, a cardboard box top, and cut pool noodles to make the dirt! Then I printed, cut, and laminated the veggies and hot-glued popsicle sticks to the back! The shovel, rake, and watering can came from the Dollar Tree. The students had so much fun planting, watering, and picking the veggies! We used these for sequencing, vocabulary, sorting (by size, color, fruit/veggie, etc.), describing, and more! 

This adorable "Feed the Cow" activity came from Ms. Gardinia's Speech Room.  It's editable, and the students loved picking a piece of grass, practicing the target sound in words (my language students made sentences or described the word), and feeding it to the cow. (PS: Keurig cup boxes make the best boxes for these animal feeding activities.)

We also used these adorable interactive books from Panda Speech. They were perfect for Pre-K and Kindergarten!

We used quite a few other farm books as well. These are just a few of my favorites!

My Pre-K and Kindergarten students loved using these Playdough Smash Mats from Simply Speech!

This Melissa and Doug egg set paired perfectly with a stuffed hen (swiped from my son's room at home) for matching colors, requesting, following directions, counting, sequencing, and more! 

We used the fence and farm animals to practice prepositions, basic concepts, and following directions.

And Uno Moo and Big Roll Farm Animal Bingo worked great for this theme too as reinforcers!

I probably couldn't survive my themed therapy units without No Prep activities. This time of year (well, all year, really), I am swamped. I don't have a ton of extra time, and having No-Prep packets ready to go helps me address student goals and even progress monitor to determine any new goals that need addressed. My Farm No Prep packet is one of my favorites. You can see example pages below, and see it on Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking HERE.

Older students practiced verbs, writing, comprehension, describing, comparing and contrasting, and more, all with activities from the No Prep packet.

And sometimes, simple coloring pages work great for eliciting authentic language samples!

I also had my Farm Vocabulary and Comprehension packet prepped and ready. This packet has both prep and no-prep pages and focuses on vocabulary, describing, following directions, sorting categories, comprehension, and more! 

And what's a theme without crafts? These EASY farm crafts paired with writing/coloring pages make the perfect functional decor for your speech room! 

At the request of many, I bundled all three of these activities together in one money-saving Themed Therapy Farm Bundle. You can find it by clicking the picture below:

And if you know me at all, you know I incorporate books into almost every therapy session. The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash is the PERFECT book for Farm week and is so wonderful for targeting comprehension, sequencing, and cause and effect! You can see my book companion for the book below! 

If you made it to the end of this super-long post, you deserve a treat. And here it is....a real-life quote from a real-life therapy session when I was being observed! (At least our job is never boring!)