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Literature books provide ALL the vocabulary we need to help our students develop their speech and language skills. Classrooms are full of varied children's books providing easy accessibility for the school SLP.



While pushing into classrooms, I've focused on finding ways to support communication skills within everyday activities. Book bins, or containers for housing student selected books that fit their reading level, are prevalent within the classrooms around my building. I decided to adapt a way to use this container for further articulation and vocabulary practice. I created the Book Bin Buddy to keep within containers for writing and/or drawing articulation or vocabulary words as encountered within text.



These are easy to download FREE, then print, copy and place in student book bins. You can provide explicit instruction by modeling their use during speech therapy sessions. You can have students focus on finding words with their speech sounds or new vocabulary encountered within text. Encourage students to use their Book Bin Buddy during their independent reading time within their classroom. These also lend themselves nicely for a follow-up therapy session for review and even for sending home for more practice.



What other ways have you found to promote generalization and utilize routines in the classroom to build communication skills?


This is the first, in hopefully a series of posts about monthly books for use in speech therapy sessions. This has been a long time coming and after I realized just how many books I have collected and routinely use in therapy, I finally decided to share.


Please know that I don’t use ALL of these books each month every year. I tend to choose about two books a month each for 1st & 2nd graders. Often times these are books being used in the classrooms by teachers, so that is why I separate these grades. I do use literature books for K and 3rd grade, too (maybe I can get around to sharing that process someday), but the ones I use for 1st & 2nd grade are those that I generally have established plans surrounding and can suggest for use with your entire elementary caseload. That being said, if you are just starting out with books, I recommend you pick two per month that meet the interest and needs of the majority of your caseload, to start. Then begin to plan ways to incorporate these into your groups.

Here’s the short list of books I have set aside for September.
This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.


Here’s what I target with just about EVERY book:

→Sequencing, retelling, summarizing, story grammar/elements (character, setting, problem, events, consequences, ending/solution)
→Tier 1 describing, Tier 2 vocabulary, synonyms & antonyms
→Comparing & contrasting/similarities & differences
→Basic concepts, direction words, temporal concepts
→WH questions-basic and inferential
→Inferencing-social/pragmatic
→Verbs & pronouns
→Sentence generation-higher level structures, conversational, expansion
→Articulation

Here’s what each book is particularly great for (don't forget about all the targets above, too):



Sylvie
Simple predictions
Tier 1 describing
Story grammar
I just LOVE this book about a curious flamingo. You can find my book companion with 1st grade standards here.


Pirates Go to School
Similarities & differences
Inferencing-social/pragmatic
Rhyme
This is a quick read and best for younger students. You can find my quick prep book companion here.


Pirates Love Underpants
Story grammar
*Lots of giggles AND language:).
This entire series is one in which your little ones will request over and over again. You can find interactive notebook activities for this book here and the FREE craft activity shown above here.


A Bad Case of Stripes
Inferencing-social/pragmatic
Tier 2 vocabulary
This book is perfect for the beginning of the year and building rapport with your students. You can find interactive notebook activities for this book here.

Hooray for Rodney Rat
Articulation/discrimination /r/
Similarities & differences
Inferencing-social/pragmatic
This is right in line with the feelings associated with speech sound disorders in which your students might find a connection with the events of the story. You can find interactive notebook activities for this book here.


Miss Nelson Has a Field Day
Tier 2 vocabulary
Figurative language
This is one of my favorite series from when I was young. My students get a chuckle out of the plot and vintage language. You can find my book companion here.


Those Darn Squirrels
Sequencing
Problem solving
This is a new story for me about a grumpy old man and a problem with squirrels. One read will have you hooked on the quirkiness of Old Man Fookwire and the clever determination of the squirrels. I must add this to my list of companions to create!

The Invisible Boy
Synonyms & antonyms
Inferencing-social/pragmatic
This is a great book for empowering students to embrace their talents and gain perspective. You can find my book companion here.


If you want to take the leap into using books, try my September Bundle of book companions. Do you have favorites that I have missed?





At the start of every school year, it’s VITAL to EXPLICITLY teach routines. It’s no different in speech therapy. Establishing routines and taking the time to ensure all group members know the expectations and learn the skills to follow the routine will provide a foundation for the rest of the year!

Teaching WAIT to show students how to take turns and also monitor work is critical for continued success in conversations as well as for completion of activities. I like to use a simple table top visual to teach and then cue the wait routine. I place these simple WAIT tents in front of students during group therapy. They are taught to wait their turn by watching and listening for other members to respond/take a turn. When the wait card is removed, the student is taught to take his turn verbally or non-verbally depending on the task.

WAIT card tents for student behavior support
FREE RESOURCE for Teaching WAIT
Have you thought about adding Alexa to your speech room?



Amazon affiliate links are included in this post. 






Alexa is a virtual intelligence assistant from Amazon. It is a voice controlled search device (an evolved Siri). She comes in a variety of device styles! The assistant is activated by speaking, "Alexa..." followed by a command. Now, with Amazon's Echo Show 5, Alexa can SHOW you things. It's also, in my opinion, portable and priced at a point that is possible for individual purchase for your speech room (especially if you took advantage of Amazon Prime Day:). Echo Show 5 is Alexa with visual supports! You know how I feel about visual supports and what SLP can't use a virtual assistant! You also need a power source and a WIFI connection for your device in order to benefit from Alexa.

Let's start with some ways in which Alexa is being used in classrooms:
  • Playing music, especially ambient noises or 60 bpm background music.
  • Setting timers.
  • Setting reminders.
  • Choosing students by selecting a random number.
  • Rolling dice.
  • Reading aloud. Alexa can read audio books or internet articles.
  • Morning meeting use for checking the date, weather, and current events. You can even check out the weather in other parts of the world!
  • Checking out current events or NPR (National Public Radio).
  • Checking sports stats for all those future statisticians.
  • Self-checking of math facts. 
  • Asking Alexa to spell words.
  • Providing word definitions or gaining synonyms/antonyms.
  • Asking Alexa research questions. She can also read research off of any website.
  • Translating languages. 
  • Using a word of the day.
  • Giving messages to your class.
  • Playing games like Simon Says, Jeopardy, Rock Paper Scissors, Tic Tac Toe, or the Magic Door.
Alexa has skills! There are up to 80,000 skills and growing. Skills are voice-driven Alexa capabilities (think apps). You can add Alexa skills to your device. Using the Alexa App, you can view available skills and enable them. There is a skills section in the Alexa App or you can voice command to your device, "Alexa, open skill finder." to find skills. Be sure to check out the AskMyClass skill.

Now that my Amazon Echo Show 5 is on its way, I'm doing a little planning for ways in which I will use her within my speech therapy sessions. I was hoping she would accept a name change, "Hey Sparklle..." has a nice sound to it, but since she can only accommodate Alexa, Echo, Computer, or Amazon, I will keep her as is!

Here are some initial ideas for using Alexa in my speech room and speech therapy sessions:

  • Above all, my students are working on effective communication, which involves clear articulation, organized messages, and precise use of vocabulary. Since she responds to voice commands, my students must continue to improve their communication skills in order to effectively communicate with Alexa. They may be required to slow rate, adapt the structure, and rephrase what is initially spoken. We are all a work in progress and while communication breakdown may be encountered, having a breakdown with Alexa may be perceived better as she has such a sweet disposition.
  • Listening to jokes. Jokes are a great way to teach conversational turn taking, especially using knock knock jokes. I also like to use jokes to work on multiple meaning words. Jokes are great for articulation in conversation, too. They are highly motivating for students, as well!
  • I envision using Alexa to help with self-regulation. My room is adjacent to the sensory room and I co-treat social skills groups with the OT. By setting a timer and having students choose a tool that might help with calming down (music, ambient noise, games, counting, etc.), it will reduce the adult to student verbal interaction and allow more student independence of choosing calming tools.
  • Visually and auditorily displaying word definitions. I work a lot on defining Tier 2 vocabulary with my students as words are encountered in their everyday texts within the classroom. Asking Alexa to define and SHOW the meaning will reach a new level in vocabulary therapy.
  • I am certain Alexa can support my students with their syntax. I'll be looking for a skill that will provide another way to say a sentence or a spoken grammar check.
  • Having conversations with my students while using Alexa for conversation starters or to gain more knowledge on a topic to help add comments and questions to conversations is also a way I see Alexa being a great SLP assistant.
  • The Echo Show can display YouTube videos from the web browser. I love using books in therapy sessions and I have pinned several online read alouds on my Pinterest page. While I know my other devices are great for this purpose, creating student independence as well as efficiency when pulling up stories may be another SLP assistant job of Alexa.
  • Let's not forget the value of setting timers and reminders. Timers for therapy sessions, incentives /earned time or within games/activities would be helpful. How often am I forgetting to print a homework sheet or get a new sticker chart or parent contact page. Alexa can help with the memory for sure and my students can tell her to remind me!
Here are some Alexa Skills I plan to enable right away on my Echo Show 5:

Heads Up-Great for describing vocabulary.
Categories-Name items in categories.
20 Questions-Answer yes/no questions.
Question of the Day-Use for starting conversations.
Would You Rather Family-I love to use Would You Rather activities for articulation at the conversation level as well as baseline gathering.

Here is a FREE resource that I created to help with teaching routines for using Alexa.






You can check out this tutorial for using the Echo Show 5 that I found when researching for this post (no affiliation). I have a lot to learn; however, the possibilities seem endless and I look forward to enhancing communication with technology even more during this school year.
Are you an experienced Alexa user? Have you used Alexa in your speech room? What do I need to know?

As always, you must protect your student’s privacy in the classroom. Make sure you do your part to ensure you are aware of privacy issues with using Alexa and follow your district's policy on introduction of any technology within the classroom. You can read this article for more pros and cons about using Alexa in the classroom. With anything, knowledge is power and setting clear expectations will support your endeavor.




We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  All opinions are my own.

Check out this post with ideas for adding Alexa to your speech room or classroom. Echo Show 5 will be making an appearance in my speech room this year. I can't wait to work on effective communication using this added engaging technology!





Whether you are shopping days of deals, door buster type sales, or Amazon Prime Day (Amazon Affiliate Links provided in this post.) this back to speech list for the school-based SLP may help make your experience a bit more efficient:). I'm sharing my shopping cart of many items I routinely buy to stock up my speech room. You will also find a collection of my favorite speech therapy resources from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

*This post is being updated during Amazon Prime Days. 



Velcro Dots-Little explanation is needed for these gems if you are a speech-language pathologist. These are quick and effective for prepping your behavior visuals to start the year off right. I use them to prep my visual schedule and token reward charts.

Use Velcro dots to create behavior support visuals.




Laminating Sheets-These help with prepping behavior visuals, task cards, or other interactive therapy materials. I like to buy the 200 count pack as I know I will go through these sheets quickly. My Scotch laminator has been serving me well for a very long time.



Sheet Protectors-I am obsessed with using sheet protectors for organizing my materials. I will use them for keeping originals safe in binders like these (no affiliation). Using sheet protectors and binders is how I organize my book companions. I also use sheet protectors for student use to make worksheets interactive and reusable.

Use sheet protectors in binders to create interactive materials.




Document Holders-I have a collection of these document holders that I keep handy to turn any worksheet into an interactive or reusable material. I also use one to hold my story dice and companion sheets.




Happy Paper-Worksheets look so much better on "happy" paper! It's an effective way to add color without using color ink. Plus, if you use sheet protectors or document holders you can reuse the materials printed on your "happy" paper!



Zipper Pouches-I use clear plastic zipper pouches for interactive materials, such as my barrier activities, where small pieces need to be contained. I usually purchase mine at my local dollar store. I'm planning to give these zippered document holders a try. I like that you can hang them and they seem a bit more durable than the ones I currently own.





Magnetic Hooks & Rings -I have several metal filing cabinets, a metal storage closet, and a metal rolling cart (similar, no affiliation) so having magnetic hooks is perfect for hanging visuals and task cards on rings. I have both 1" and 2" rings. Check out my FREE Carrier Phrases and my Essential Visuals product.








Highlighters, Black Dry Erase Markers & Magic Erasers-I keep highlighters handy for having students highlight their target speech sounds encountered in text. I also write on tables all the time. I never go anywhere without black dry erase makers and magic erasers!





Kwik Stix & Paint Markers-Worksheets can instantly be engaging when using Kwik Stix or paint markers. My students love them! Kwix Stix are nice because they dry instantly. Paint markers last longer though.



Clear Spinners-I created no prep spinner activities for articulation and language (coming soon) targets. While a pencil and paper clip work just fine, my students really enjoy using these clear spinners.




Echo Dot-I participated in a digital literacy workshop this summer where I learned ways to incorporate technology into my therapy sessions. Echo and all its skills might just be joining me this year!



THIS JUST IN...Echo Show is a great Prime Day Deal buy! I'm going to make this happen as adding this visual component for my students will be a step above. Now to start learning some skills!

If you want more storage organization ideas, check out this post. It shows my 10-Drawer CartSmall Materials Organizer (similar), Thirty-One Fold N' File, and my toolbox with FREE labels.


I get that you will definitely need to prioritize which essential buys will join your speech room this year. These all didn't make their appearance at once. In case you are looking for a push-in classroom-based therapy cart, I love this one (no affiliation). I have used it for a year. It has held up well, is nice and compact and fits so much!



Two additional storage items that has been purchased multiple times for my therapy room are these Photo Storage Boxes for corralling all my task cards and these Bead Organizer Boxes for my articulation cards. Check out these FREE labels here and here.




What are your back to speech essential buys?

We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  All opinions are my own.



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