Friday, August 18, 2017

Top 10 Back-to-School Books

  Top 10 Back-to-School Books for Speech Therapy

Are you looking for a fun back-to-school read aloud to start the year with? Do you want an attention grabber that will spark an excitement for learning this year? For me, starting a new school year is an exciting time of the year. New room decor, new school clothes, and newly sharpened pencils. But what I get excited about is NEW books! 

In this post, I want to share with you my top 10 back-to-school books for speech therapy and why I recommend them.

(disclaimer: This post includes Amazon affiliate links. Any purchases made through the links may result in a small profit for My Speech Tools.)


The dinosaur books are some of my favorite. They teach social skills with rhyme and rhythm. In the engaging read aloud, How do Dinosaurs Go to School?, you can target expected/unexpected behaviors or appropriate/inappropriate behaviors for school conduct. The authors ask questions such as,  "Do dinosaurs yell?" This book targets expected behaviors throughout the school day and throughout the school environment (library, classroom, playground, etc.) I used this book with my PK-2nd grade students and we made a large T-chart showing what we should/should not do at school. We hung it in the hall and titled it "How do (name of school) Leaders Go to School?"

Do you have students who show anxiety at school or worry about what other's think of them? David Shannon's book  A Bad Case of Stripes uses a crazy illness like "stripes" to depict the consequences of worry and anxiety. The illustrations provide detailed opportunities for inference and discussion, as well as an opportunity to discuss "size of the problem." I used this book with students in 2nd-5th grade. I copied pages from the book and we looked at text and picture clues to make inferences. The theme, "Be yourself" is a complex concept for younger students to comprehend. I recommend this book for students in upper elementary or older.

For those of you who love Froggy, this is a must for back-to-school. In Froggy Goes to School, Froggy is nervous about school and has a horrible dream about going to school in his underwear. When he wakes up from his nightmare, he is excited to find out it was just a dream. This read aloud for student in PK-2nd grade is engaging with repetitive events and text. Full of onomatopoeia, you can't resist but to read it with enthusiasm. This is another great book to calm the jitters and provide opportunities for young learners to tell you about a time they were nervous or even a bad dream they might have had. So how does Froggy get to school? They leapfrogged all the way to school, Flop, Flop, Flop!

Model personal narrative skills with Mark Teague's  How I Spent My Summer Vacation. This book is written to target older elementary students and middle school students. A young boy stands up in front of his class to tell a story about his summer vacation. With elaborate detail, the readers are thrown into a wild western. This book is perfect for older elementary and middle school due to the nature and complexity of the story. If you are targeting story sequence, personal narratives, adding details, expanding sentences, visualization, and sensory language, this is the perfect book for your students. Story expansion activities can include vocabulary development, and an oral or written personal narrative with the opportunity to share it with others.

A fun book in Lucille Colondro's series depicts the Old Lady getting ready for the first day of school. In There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books! readers follow the traditional pattern reading they are familiar with from her other books. She swallows all her school supplies, just in time to catch the bus. Tier 2 vocabulary such as fuss, balk, brag, measure, protect are rich in meaning and should be taught in context and expanded further in discussion. A few story expansion activities may include: school vocabulary, story sequence and retell, identifying rhyming words, and answering "wh" questions.

David is back! and he's as active as ever! This is another terrific book by David Shannon to target expectations at the beginning of the year. It is perfect for PK-2nd grade since David gets into quite a bit of mischief on his first day of school. This book reminds me a lot of How do Dinosaurs Go to School?I can definitely see it read as a companion book to discuss expectations and behaviors at school. Full of vibrant illustrations, this book is also ideal for building descriptive language, targeting inference skills and expand on cause/effect skills with your students. No matter the age, there are always consequences (good or bad) to our choices.

Nancy Carlson, author of ABC I Like Me! and I Like Me! wrote these two books to provide students the opportunity to develop self-esteem and self-expression. These companion books expose students to rich vocabulary and simple sentence structures. These are great books for "All About Me" themes at the beginning of the year. These books are appropriate for PK-1st grade students. 

It's Llama Llama's first day of preschool! Llama Llama's mama helps him get ready for school. "Llama school begins today! Time to learn and time to play. Make the bed and find some clothes. Brush the teeth and blow the nose."   This book provides opportunities for young students to sequence their morning and tell you what they do to get ready for school. Language expansion activities may simply be, "draw a picture of what you do to get ready in the morning." You could also make sequencing pictures and let students retell the story (wake up, get dressed, eat breakfast, drive to school...). When Llama Llama starts missing mama, his friends help him feel better about his first day. What a great opportunity to talk about how to "be a friend."

Chrysanthemum loves her name. Her parents chose her name especially for her. However on the first day of school, she is teased, "You're named after a flower. Let's smell her." Kevin Henkes, author of Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse, is the author of this charming book that touches on friendship, bullying, and self-esteem. This books provides opportunities for character analysis, Tier 2 vocabulary instruction, verbal problem-solving, and story comprehension with inference skills. This book is recommended for students in 1st -3rd grade.  

This little mouse from If You Give a Mouse a Cookie is going to school. Laura Numeroff writes a circular story in the traditional "If...Then..." story pattern.  "If he asks for a lunchbox, he'll want a sandwich." Students will have the opportunity to make text-to-self connections by talking about their first day at school, buying school supplies, packing or buying their lunch, and even having a class pet. This story provides many opportunities for story expansion activities, such as: back-to-school vocabulary, story retell, describing, sorting and categorizing. This book is ideal for PK-1st grade students.

I have included Amazon affiliate links throughout this post for your convenience. I've also provided several book companion links to  my Teachers Pay Teachers online store.

Take a look at my Back-to-School products, including my all inclusive "Back-to-School Speech and Language Pack," adapted books and book companions. Click on the image to link to my Teachers Pay Teachers online store.

Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter and receive updates on new products, therapy tips and resources directly to your inbox. 

Lisa, SLP

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Friday, August 11, 2017

8 Tips for the New School SLP

8 Tips for the New School SLP

As a speech-language pathologist, I have had the privileged of working in several different settings both full time and PRN. As a school based SLP, I continue to work in various PRN positions during the summer and throughout the school year as I have time. My heart and energy, however, is poured  out in serving public school students with disabilities. My students make me smile and laugh everyday.

If you are making the switch this year to public school, there are a few tips I want to share with you to help you make the transition. So don't fret because change is always a little scary.

Here are my 8 Tips for the New School SLP:

1. Focus only on those things you can control. When you work in the public schools so many different things change at the drop of a hat. Here are a few examples of changes I've seen from one year to the next: school assignments, caseloads, staff members, budgets, your office or classroom location, duties, dress code, special education paperwork, district curriculum (math or reading), and of course your schedule. Every year there are changes. And let's face it, big changes can happen anytime of the year due to unseen circumstances. Because things are always changing, I have really tried to focus on my " Circle of Control."   So let's think about the things you can control. Perhaps it's your choices, your attitude, your response to others, your healthy or unhealthy habits, what you read, your sleep patterns, or your effort. These are the things worth applying your effort toward.

2. Be a part of the school community. It is very difficult to "fit in" when you are internet. I've been right there with you, and I get it. I remember when I was assigned to a large campus and an administrator told me how happy she was to have me because she could tell I "wanted to be there." If you are assigned to more than one campus, try and make every effort to show each campus that they are a priority and you want to be a part of their team. You could participate in the pot luck lunches or take a plate of cookies up for Christmas. You could offer to help out with registration at the beginning of the year, or even wear their school T-shirt when you are there once a week. If you do have a room or space, decorate with the school theme or school colors (even if it's minimal). 

3. If you do have a spending budget, don't spend your money too quickly. I am fortunate to have a small budget for materials at my campus. This year it will be a little smaller due to deficits in the budget. However, I am required to spend it by January, which is the beginning of the second semester. In the past, I jumped ahead of myself and purchased games and therapy materials in August. Then by the time I knew my students I was out of money and was not able to purchase what my students REALLY needed. So wait, if you can, and purchase materials when you know it will be most beneficial for the students. 

4. Create systems and procedures. Collaborate with your special education team on how IEP meetings will be scheduled. Will you send out email notices or handwritten? You will also need to establish a procedure for picking up students for your sessions. Does your administrator have policies about students walking down the hall alone? Do you want teachers to send the students to you, or will you go and pick them up? You'll find that administrators like procedures. They are systematic and predictable. They help the campus run efficiently.

5. Document. Document. Document. You probably get the gist of this one. Document all parent conversations. If you send an email to a parent, either save a copy to a folder on your desktop or print out a hard copy to keep in a working student file. You might also want to print out emails you send to teachers regarding student behaviors, progress, information reported by the student, etc. Also, document any missed sessions and the reason for it being missed (ie: "Missed 2:00 session due to student being at a Boy Scout Assembly. Make up session is scheduled for Friday at 2:00."). You can write it in your lesson plan book, on your attendance log or anywhere you can save it. 

6. Prioritize your day. Your time is valuable and limited in so many ways. Yet as SLPs, we want to help everyone as soon as we are asked. I am guilty of jumping up to screen a student when his teacher asks me to "take a look at a kid." I loose track of my schedule and miss sessions when I drop everything for a teacher. Kindly suggest that you are more than willing to come by. Set up a time when you typically do not have students so you can devote that time to the teacher and her concerns. 

7. Be flexible. This is another important aspect of our job that I know you already understand. The question is, are you willing to be a superhero of flexibility? There is always something going on at my campus, such as: assemblies, special community visitors, guest speakers, special science lessons, and district wide assessments. My perfect Tuesday/Thursday schedule is thrown out and I am rearranging my schedule to make up missed sessions as soon as possible.

8. Lastly, keep an open line of professional communication. As SLPs, we are not teachers, intervention specialists, reading teachers, or tutors. We are communication experts. We should model what we are facilitating in our students. Be careful not to judge others' communication intent. Assume teachers want what's best for their students, and be willing to take a few minuets to touch base with your secretary, counselor, administrator, OT, PT, and paraprofessionals. You should also keep your emotions and feeling about a student to yourself in order to remain objective. You may be the only advocate this student has. Because you may be the one who understands your student the most, you may be the one the student confides in and reaches out to. 

If you are making the switch to public school therapy this year, I commend you. Our profession needs dedicated and skilled SLPs that are willing to go the extra mile for student with communication impairments.  I would love to hear from you. What prompted you to make the switch? What are you looking forward to? Do you have someone to walk beside you and mentor you in this new setting? 

Comment below, and don't forget to sign up for my newsletter and blog post to be sent directly to your inbox.

Are you looking for more SLP tips and strategies? You may want to read these previous posts. 

Have a wonderful week,

Lisa, SLP

Friday, August 4, 2017

Part 4: Read the Nonverbal Communication

5 Highly Effective Strategies for Managing Behavior 

(Part 4: Read the Nonverbal Communication)

read nonverbal communicationThis is the fourth part of my 6 part series 5 Highly Effective Strategies for Managing Behavior. I encourage you to read the first three posts in the series, including: 

Part 1: Why is He Acting That Way?
Part 2: Create Routines
 Part 3: Structure for Success

These previous posts in the series provide the background information to understanding the communication intent behind behaviors, the importance of routines, and tips and ideas for structuring the environment for success.

As we've talked about communication being the foundation of relationships, we cannot ignore the importance of nonverbal communication. In this fourth post, I want to talk about the different types of nonverbal communication and how language impaired students are often unable to interpret and use nonverbal communication effectively. Our strategy for managing difficult behavior addressed throughout this post will focus on tuning into nonverbal communication.

What is Nonverbal Communication?

Nonverbal communication includes not only facial expressions, but gestures, eye gaze, body posture, tone of voice, body orientation, and movement between speakers and objects. It is important to recognize that nonverbal communication is not universal and does not transfer meaning between culture and religion. Let's look at a few general examples of communication without words.

There are different types of eye gaze, and I bet you've seen it all. Both children and adults use eye gaze to gain attention, direct or redirect attention, maintain attention, cease interaction, and show confidence.

On the other hand, a lack of eye gaze or eye contact, can be associated with fear, anxiety, feelings of distress or failure, fatigue, distraction, disinterest, boredom, sadness, or irritability (frustration). Be aware these are general statements and a lack of eye contact has different meaning across cultures. In some cultures, looking away shows respect rather than avoidance. When adults and children are actively engaged in positive nonverbal communication, their body orientation will match their eye gaze. Likewise, when communicators lack eye gaze or eye contact due to anxiety or fear, they often pull away physically and distance themselves from engaging with others. 

Monday, July 31, 2017

TPT Back-to-School Site Wide Sale!

It's the TPT Back-to-School Site Wide Sale!

For many educators, summer vacation is almost over. For others, you may still have a month of rest and relaxation. Regardless of your contract start date, you do not want to miss the Teachers Pay Teachers Site Wide Sale!

August 1st and 2nd are special days for educators and TPT, and I want to share this sale with you! During this 2-day sale, you can save up to 25% off your total purchases using the #BTSReadyWithTpT code at checkout.

I want to highlight some special additions to my store for back-to-school and fall.

1. Back-to-School Speech and Language Pack This speech and language comprehensive packet includes activities and ideas for back-to-school. The packet includes an "All About Me!" Banner, a game board,writing prompts, and much more!

2. "Chrysanthemum" A Back-to-School Speech and Language Book Companion This sweet book by Kevin Henkes, was written to address student individuality and uniqueness. You can help students feel right at home with this read-aloud and hands-on comprehension activities.

3. "I Like Me!" and "ABC, I Like Me!" Speech and Language Companion Bundle Build your students' self-esteem by helping them discover their positive attributes through the alphabet! Target multiple speech and language goals with this book unit. 

4. There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Books! In the traditional cause/effect style book, you'll catch the "Old Lady" swallowing her school supplies as she's off to catch the bus!

5. "This is My School" Back-to-School Adapted Interactive Book for Emergent Readers  Easy to print and create, this adapted book targets basic skills and emergent reading comprehension for young children. Students learn about areas within their school, including: cafeteria, office, nurse office, etc.

6. "Who Works at My School?" Back-to-School Adapted Interactive Book for Emergent Readers This easy to print adapted book introduces students with emergent reading skills to different people who work in their school.

7. "What's in my Backpack?" Back-to-School Adapted Interactive Book for Emergent Readers Be on the lookout for what might be in the backpack. Target basic concepts and beginning inference skills with this adapted interactive reader.

8. "Have You Seen My Pencil?" Back-to-School Adapted Interactive Book for Emergent Readers Students will look all over for the missing pencil. This is a fantastic book for targeting prepositions and basic concepts. 

9. "My Colorful Crayons" Back-to-School Adapted Interactive Book for Emergent Readers  This Back-to-School emergent reader uses basic vocabulary and predictable text while teaching color words.

10. "Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse" A Speech and Language Book Companion  Lilly wants to bring her new purple purse from home to share during "show and tell" at school. Target vocabulary and inference skills, as well as social skills with Kevin Henkes' second back-to-school book.

11. Fall Play Dough Articulation Mats  Each set targets phonemes in initial, medial and final position of words. Students can use the mats with dough, then color their own black and white page for home practice. 

12. There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed  Some Leaves! Get ahead on your fall preparations. What do you think she is building with a pumpkin, shoes, pants, a shirt and gloves?

13. There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bat! In this magical Halloween book, the old lady swallows some bones, an owl, a cat, a wizard and much more!

14. There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Turkey!  The Thanksgiving book introducing readers to vocabulary such as "quirky, grandstand," and "Horn of Plenty." Comprehension activities and a game board are provided.

15. Room on the Broom The Witch looses her bow and wand and swoops down to find them. She meets up with a dog, a cat, a frog and a bird. Together they must face a dragon. This rhyming Halloween book unit has multiple activities for mixed IEP groups. 

16. "Blurt!" Game Companion  This fun game companion includes 18 game mats targeting word association skills, comprehension and speech sound production. This game is perfect for students in first grade and older. 

17. Pumpkins, Patterns and Prepositions includes color and black and white basic concepts activities for early learners.

18. Year Round Pacing Boards Pacing boards help student expand utterances, practice fluency strategies, and much more! This packet includes pacing strips for the entire school year!

It is going to be an amazing school year! Visit my store for special deals and sales on August 1st and 2nd and don't forget to use the special hashtag sale promo code at check out for additional savings up to 25% off your purchases. 

Let's have a wonderful year!

Lisa, SLP

Friday, July 21, 2017

5 Reasons Why I Chose the Happy Planner

5 Reasons the Happy Planner is the Best Choice for Me!
(Plus a FREE Download)

Are you looking for a new planner? What features do you look for? Why type of layout do you like? How much do you want to spend on a planner? 

During the summer, I take time to relax, binge watch a show on Netflix, and get inspired with new ideas for the upcoming school year. One important task I take on in the summer is finding my ideal planner for the next school year. I don't write much down during the summer so I tend to use my iPhone for planning the few appointments I have each week.  So when I started looking at planners for the 2017-18 school year, I searched Pinterest and Amazon, watched You Tube videos, viewed online store products like Office Max and Wal Mart, and used Google search to figure out what would be the best choice for me.

In this post, I want to share my new Create 365 Happy Planner with you, show you some of it's features and provide you with a few resources and ideas specifically for educators and speech-language pathologists. Also included in this post is a link to a new product I created just for my readers. You definitely want to read to the end of this post for my new free download.

Friday, July 7, 2017

4 Reasons You Should Follow Me on Bloglovin'

Top 4 Reasons You Need to Be on Bloglovin'

bloglovin' my speech tools
Do you follow several educational and lifestyle blogs? Is your inbox full of weekly blog posts you wish you had time to catch up on? Do you have posts bookmarked for later to read in your "free time?" As the internet explodes with bloggers, I have found the most efficient platform for managing blogs is Bloglovin' This site allows readers a single platform to view thousands of blogs on any subject.

As a blogger and entrepreneur, I enjoy sharing my experiences, ideas, and resources with my customers, readers and followers. I have become part of a greater community of professionals. Bloglovin' offers easy access and organization of blogs and posts by subject or feeds.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Speech Therapy Organization Ideas: Plastic Zipper Envelopes

How To Organize Your Speech Therapy Materials Using Plastic Zipper Envelopes

Are you looking for a way to keep your thematic books and book companion materials organized and stored neatly? For years I kept my thematic materials stored in file folders. It worked for a while, until my material resources started to multiply. I found myself loosing items such as sentence strips, task cards, vocabulary visuals, manipulatives, and craft samples. That's when I decided to try out plastic zipper envelopes for a few book companions. This has been an organizational transformation for my materials. I wanted to share with you what I have found to be an organizational gem.

In this post, I will show you three different ways I use plastic zipper envelopes to organize my thematic books and book companions.

Friday, June 16, 2017

What You Need to Know About Boosting Tier 2 Vocabulary

What You Need to Know About Boosting Tier 2 Vocabulary

Vocabulary is a key component to learning. Not only is it an important part of communication, but it is one of the essential layers for establishing literacy. The National Reading Panel, 2001 identified Vocabulary as one of the 5 key components for learning to read (Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency, Text Comprehension). In addition, vocabulary is learned indirectly through conversation, life experiences, media, and listening to stories, as well as through direct instruction such as: word studies, frequent exposure and use, and a systematic approach. Vocabulary is essential for academic success, and both RtI (Response to Intervention) and speech-language therapy can be an important factor in remediation for vocabulary deficits. 

In this post I will outline what you need to know about Tier 2 Vocabulary, offer 8 fun intervention activities, and provide you with my Tier 2 Vocabulary FREEBIE!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Speech Room Organization with Bins

Organize Your Speech Room with Bins

using bins organzieDo you have piles of therapy materials set aside for the week? Are your piles and stacks of materials getting mixed up and disorganized? I have found an organizational strategy that works to keep the stacks and piles organized. In a previous post, I talked about organizing your speech therapy room using Command Hooks. You can read about how to utilize that vertical space in your therapy room HERE

In this post, I am going to show you how I organize my grade-level group materials in different bins.

Friday, June 2, 2017

3 New Vocabulary Games using Apples to Apples

3 Creative Games Using Apples to Apples

vocabulary gamesApples to Apples is a FUN word game of matching adjective cards (green cards) to noun cards (red cards). The winner is the player with the most matches.  Speech-language pathologists are known for being creative with materials and adapting what we have to meet our students' needs. Apples to Apples can be adapted to address target goals in articulation, language, fluency and social language skills.
 For months, this game sat in my closet untouched. My students were not successful playing this game as it was originally designed and I knew it needed to be adapted. I especially wanted to add visual support to target semantic features and language flexibility in a way my students would be successful. 

In this post, I am going to teach you how to play 3 of my favorite fast and fun games using Apples to Apples to target academic and functional vocabulary skills.

Friday, May 26, 2017

5 Reasons to Use Graphic Organizers in Speech Therapy

5 Reasons You Should Use Graphic Organizers In Your Speech Therapy Sessions

speech therapy
When do you use graphic organizers? Do you use them to pre-teach concepts, or during brainstorming activities? Do you use them during lessons to target specific skills such as comparing and contrasting with a Venn Diagram? Do you use them at the end of a thematic unit to assess comprehension? I hope the answer is all of the above. Graphic organizers use symbolic language to communicate and connect visual information in the brain. Once I understood that graphic organizers use visual language to represent concepts, I knew they needed to be incorporated into my lessons regularly.

In this post, I will give you 5 reasons why you should be using graphic organizers in your speech therapy sessions, PLUS I am offering my Graphic Organizer FREEBIE through this blog post.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Creating an Atmosphere of Sucess

5 Highly Effective Strategies for Managing Behavior

(Part 3: Structure for Success)

structure for success

This is the third part of a 6 part series for managing difficult behaviors in language impaired children. I encourage you to read both the introductory post and Part 2: Create Routines for some background information in this series on managing difficult behavior in your speech therapy room. 

In this post, I am going to outline 3 ways you can structure your speech room for success.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Speech Room Organization with Command Hooks

Organize Your Speech Room With Command Hooks

command hooks
One thing I really try to do for myself is stay as organized as possible. For me, I am a more effective therapist when I am organized. In our profession, we have resources for multiple ages and grade levels, various levels of disabilities, specialized curriculum, and tools and toys for just about every holiday.

I think if there was one organizational MUST HAVE for your speech room, I would suggest you invest in Command Hooks. You can find Command Hooks HERE on Amazon, or other stores such as Michaels, Wal-Mart, and Target.

In this post, I want to share three different ways you can organize your speech room with Command Hooks.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Teacher Appreciation

How Do you Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week?

My Speech Tools
There is one week out of the school year that being called the "Speech Teacher" has it's perks. Teacher Appreciation Week has always been something to look forward to in my district. In the past we have had fun things like an extra planning time; free appetizer and drink coupons in our mailboxes; snacks and dessert bars; lunch provided and jean passes. It's usually something everyday from Monday through Friday. Teachers are the pillars of the community. Everyday I trust educators to take care of my own children. I trust them to keep them safe, to love on them, teach them and mentor them. As a speech-language pathologist, I have worked in many different settings. Education is where my HEART is!

TPT and it's Sellers Appreciates You!