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I can see signs of spring and the sunshine inspires optimism. My books for the month of April share a similar theme!



Here’s the ever growing list of books I have in my April bin.
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 are my "top targets" for each book.

Barnyard Fun
Sequencing
Cause and effect
Inferencing
Tier 1 describing

This is the perfect little story for April Fools' Day. Sheep plays jokes on Rooster, Dog, Pig and Cow. Then the tables are turned on Sheep. You can find my Boom Cards™️book buddy here.


Stuck
Story Grammar
Summarizing
Inferencing
Mindfulness

Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers, is a story about a little boy who winds up with his kite stuck in a tree. The most logical thing to do is...and so the adventure begins as Floyd tries to get his kite un-stuck. You can find my book companion materials here.


The Gruffalo
Story Grammar
WH Questions
Rhyming
Descriptive Vocabulary

The Gruffalo, by Julia Donaldson, is about a mouse who takes a stroll through the woods. He meets a fox, an owl, and a snake who all want to eat him! So the mouse invents a gruffalo. There's no such thing as a gruffalo . . . is there? You can find my quick prep + digital materials here.

Miss Rumphius
Sequencing
Visualizing/Imagery
Goal Setting

In this book, Alice longs to travel the world, live in a house by the sea, and make the world a more beautiful place. She plants lupines that bloom along the coast of Maine are the legacy of the real Miss Rumphius, the Lupine Lady, who spread lupine seeds everywhere she went. You can my interactive notebook companion here.

Bruce's Big Storm
Story Grammar
Problem/solution
Teamwork
Social/pragmatic conversational skills
Verbs

I love this edition of the Mother Bruce series. Grumpy Mother Bruce's home is already full. Then a big storm brings all the woodland neighbors seeking shelter. Students love the orneriness of Mother Bruce and the persistence of the woodland animals. At the time of this post, my added One Page Language Book Companion is not yet finished for this book in the series.

Farfallina and Marcel
Cause and effect
Social/pragmatic friendship & kindness
Compare/contrast
Sequencing

Farfallina and Marcel is a sweet story of friendship that withstands changes. You can find my book companion materials here.

The Umbrella
Story Grammar
Cause/effect
Tier 1 Vocabulary (rainforest animals)
Verbs-present tense -s

Carlos walks through the cloud forest and drops his umbrella to climb a tree for a better view of the animals. All the animals cram into the umbrella and it gets so crowded which causes... You can find my interactive notebook companion here.


Otis and the Puppy
Story Grammar
Social/pragmatic-overcoming fears
Verbs-past tense
Tier 1 describing

Otis, a friendly tractor, and his farm friends love to play hide-and-seek. A new guest comes to the farm and challenges Otis and his farm friends. You can find materials here.



Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs
Predicting
Tier 1 describing
Problem/solution

Spring is a great time to talk about the weather and why not Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? You can find my interactive notebook companion materials here.

Do you have any other favorite books I should add to my April bin? 










































I have learned NOT to enter my first week in speech without my trusted behavior support visuals. I have a whole filing cabinet drawer of visuals, one that you would get lost within, yet I have developed a few tried and true favorite visuals that make my first week and beyond a bit more successful! I'm sharing my top 4 categories of behavior support visuals. You can find the entire packet here (linked in each section below, as well).




SCHEDULES

Did you know that visual schedules help to alleviate stress and anxiety students feel about expected routines? They greatly help with comprehension of tasks. Visual schedules also help students with ASD in becoming independent of adult prompts and cues (Mesibov, Shea, & Schopler, 2005).


I use a simple 4 part schedule for my speech therapy sessions. I can easily switch it out for the session activities. Students can move each task to the finished spot. Despite my best intentions, not all of my students love staying in my sessions, so knowing there is an end is motivating. 



TOKEN BOARDS

We all work for rewards and reinforcement. Whether you finish your work before you eat your chocolate bar, do your have-to-dos before your want-to-dos, or push through to meet a deadline for a promotion, we all find incentives motivating. 


Allow your students the same benefit of working to accomplish a task and be rewarded for their efforts. Easily use token boards by offering intermittent reinforcement with an end reward in mind. 




SELF-MONITORING

Help your students self-monitor with visuals. Taking breaks, learning to wait (read about how to teach wait), asking for help, having countdowns or parameters, and choosing tools to aid attention and focus help with student self-monitoring. Teach your students how to advocate for what they need using visual supports.



GOALS

Goals are essential for progress. You can change the plan, but keep the goal. Easily set students up with achievable behavioral goals and watch them master the skills necessary for success with these visual goals.




Join me in preparing for behavior management with visual supports. You can grab all the visuals here.



I gathered my back to speech routines, organized them into 5 categories, and linked some products to provide you with tips for starting the school year off right!

With over 20 years as a school-based speech language pathologist, I would like to think that after all these years I would have back to school mastered; however, there is always so much to do it’s easy to forget steps. 

1.  CREATE

  • BULLETIN BOARDS:  If you are lucky enough to have a bulletin board in your speech room, fill it up with evergreen decor, perfect for the entire school year. Add some modern rustic decor or abstract colors found within my Back to Speech product.                                        



  • PARENT LETTER:  Consider writing a beginning of the year parent letter. I like to have this initial contact to remind parents about their child's participation in therapy, to share my expectations and any logistical information, as well as encourage home practice. I have a sample parent letter and template in my Back to Speech packet.
  • IEP AT A GLANCE:  Prior to the first day, I make sure to share with teachers and staff an IEP at a glance for each student. This summary of goals, services, and accommodations will give the teacher a quick reference regarding speech and language needs of their students. I use one generated from our IEP software.
  • FIRST SESSION ACTIVITY:  I always plan a first day in speech activity that includes goal setting and gathering of baseline. You can check out my Speech and Language Snapshot or Goal Setting Foldable Activity within my Back to Speech packet or my Back to Speech Lap Book.
                                         

                                          

2.  ORGANIZE

  • CASELOAD:  I always go through files to create a caseload list with student names, date of birth, grade, teacher, IEP and evaluation deadlines, type of service delivery and minutes. I use this information to create my own caseload spreadsheet in Google Sheets™️ so I can update it live throughout the year.
  • BILLING:  Whatever I can do to add information into billing software, I do! SLPs know how time consuming billing can be and how easy it is to get behind. Every little bit of organization helps.
  • LOGS/LISTS:  I organize paperwork for logging lesson plans, testing, and screening. I keep these in a binder and add to them during the year. Check out my SLP Planner and Workload Forms packets for a variety of logs. My favorite is a my digitally fillable weekly checklist. I never start a week without it completed!
 

  • DEADLINES:  For those IEPs and evaluations that will expire quickly upon the start of school, I add the student folders to my working file and attach sticky notes as flags to remind me of deadlines. The start of a new school year is always fast-paced and staying on top of deadlines is a must.
  • ASSESSMENT:  I also organize folders for screenings and testing. I keep different colored 2-pocket folders for quick grab and go. For screenings, the tools I use are right in the folder. The testing folder is a working folder with assessment protocols.  
                                         
  • THERAPY BAG/BIN:  Since I often push into classrooms, I organize my therapy bag with must have supplies. Many of my go to materials stay put all year, including this Speech Sound Board which you can grab for free.


3.  COPY

  • KINDERGARTEN SCREENING:  We screen all kindergarten students in my district, so I copy kindergarten speech and language screening forms to immediately tackle this task at the start of the year. You can find my kindergarten screening tool here with both printable and digital options!

  • WORKLOAD FORMS: I restock copies of my most used forms, including homework logs, observation forms, 100 word samples, screening permission, parent communication logs, as well as baseline and progress monitoring tools. You can find some of these in my Workload Forms packet.
                                            

4.  PREP

  • STUDENT FOLDERS:  I prep student folders for my youngest students. I print labels for name, therapy day/time, and to-do and finished for the inside pockets. I also add a home communication session update log. You can also find these materials in my Back to Speech packet.
        

  • SPEECH TIME REMINDERS:  I also prep student reminder cards to encourage my pull-out students to show independence in coming to therapy. These are FREE in my TpT store.    
        
                                            



  • SLP WORKING FOLDERS:  I use working folders for organizing groups. The plastic folders with prongs hold up for years. The folders are numbered to match the group number on my schedule and contain data sheets, IEP at a glance sheets, individualized student visuals, and materials for students in that group.
                                           

5.  EXPLORE/REFRESH

  • MASTER SCHEDULE:  Before the school year starts, I explore the school master schedule, so I can anticipate a draft of my therapy schedule.
  • DATA TRACKING:  I am always exploring more efficient ways to take data and once I establish my system, I can import goals and objectives. I have successfully used a data tracker app over the past 4 school years. Prior to that I used a printable group data collection form, which can be found in my Workload Forms packet.
  • TECHNOLOGY:  Take a look at your technology and ensure everything is charged and functioning properly. This also goes for making sure you know passwords and how to log into frequently used programs. It's amazing what a summer does to the memory!
  • MATERIALS:  Familiarize yourself again with your materials. I am always pleasantly surprised by the collection that has accumulated. I can pull favorites for my first weeks easily while exploring.

What have I missed? Are there other tricks I can add to make the year go off without a hitch? 


Dating way back to my undergraduate clinical experience, I learned that one way to plan therapy was to pair any skill with a favorite quick play game. I still play games in speech therapy to this day, 20 plus years later.  

If you play games in speech therapy, have you ever tried using game companions? They make your planning a breeze and are perfect for mixed groups. More on that below plus a freebie.

Here is why I play games in speech therapy?

Games offer reinforcement for effort or success. 

They help build rapport with peers and therapists.

Games increase participation, engagement and attention to tasks.

They aid social communication development. 

They promote safe risk taking, strategy and problem-solving development, and emotional regulation.

Games foster creativity!

They work on following directions.


Here is how I play games and pair game companions:

  • Set up the game as expected in the directions. You may need to keep the game within your reach and away from student reach (at first). I like to have the game ready on my table when a session starts (this helps with immediate interest). 
  • Figure out the number of players and pieces needed. You may wish to withhold pieces and have students earn a piece for practice trials. If this is your strategy, then play happens when all pieces are collected by the students as an end of session reinforcement/reward. You may also want to allow play in between student practice rounds to keep attention. You know your students best!
  • During each round, have students perform the set task for a desired number of trials. If using a game companion, each student has an individualized board at their workspace and completes tasks on that board. I love companion boards for the uniformity, as each student has a similar board; however, tasks are individualized! I keep my game boards in sheet protectors in a binder and just pop out the boards needed for the session.
  • Play continues until your desired number of trials are accomplished or when the chosen game is complete!

Game companions and a freebie:

I recently purchased Melissa and Doug Suspend Junior (no affiliation with the game or creators; Amazon affiliate link included). I had the original version for years and would bring it out with my older students, especially during social skills sessions. This game does require a calm body and patience to attempt to balance the pieces on the stand, so supports were given to aid in thinking flexibly and with emotional regulation.  This game can also be used 1-1 as more of a creative building activity as the student tries to suspend the pieces.


While you surely can pair this game with any task cards or trials you might regularly use, I have also created a game companion to support both articulation and language, making it perfect for quick planning and mixed groups. If you click this link you can sign up to receive your free open-ended game boards to pair with this popular game. 



If you want to check out other game companion products for Quick Cups (no affiliation with the game or creators; Amazon affiliate link included), I have an articulation and language companion version. This is one of my favorite games to play. I might get a little too competitive! Kids of all ages like this quick, interactive stacking game. The possibilities are truly endless for racing to stack the cups. My game boards are set up for earning one cup each round after 5 trials of practice. It's seriously a fun, no prep therapy session for all goals.


If you like using story dice in your speech therapy sessions, check out this post for a companion activity. I'm brainstorming some other companions for quick play games. Let me know if you have any favorites. Don't forget to grab your freebie!

Do you have a routine for starting your speech sound sessions? While I find myself mixing it up to prevent the sometimes monotonous pattern of articulation drill therapy, I do tend to be a routine therapist, at least to start. 

When I first meet my kindergarten speech sound students, I need to know their stimulability for sounds. I also want to start my explicit instruction on placement techniques and pair print (letters) with sounds. I started using a speech sound warm-up board at the beginning of my sessions and I haven't stopped that routine for these youngest students on my caseload.

My isolation speech sound board was created to follow progression of speech sound placement in the mouth (front to back). It starts with bilabials and ends with the glottal /h/. I attached my isolation sound board to a MALMA mirror from IKEA that I purchased years ago. They don't seem to be made at this time, but that shouldn't stop you from making your own board.  Another SLP used a plastic mirror adhered to the center. I found these by searching on Amazon. You can also just print your board and pair it with your favorite speech therapy mirror. I know you have one of those!

Once your speech sound board is prepped with your mirror, I also like to have the students use a pointer as we practice. It adds some fun and they love taking turns being the SLP! At the beginning of the year, I go a lot slower to instruct each sound, talking about lip and tongue placement, airflow, and voicing. We also talk about phonics terms, like digraph, and we use motions paired with our sounds. It is very important that the students isolate the sound, as to not add a vowel. They get pretty good at following my SLP rules and in what seems like a short time, they are independent with practicing their sounds in isolation! This simple activity remains motivating and is accomplished in a short amount of time.

I can track productions periodically to add new sounds students are able to produce in isolation. This is very helpful is choosing targets. Once we start working on new targets, they are already successful at knowing the sound in isolation, talking about placement, and awareness of the print/text pairing. Whether I am in my speech room or in a classroom, this sound board is always close by. 

Are you ready to make your speech sound isolation board? You can get yours free. It also includes a vowel board. 

If you are looking for a digital version, check out this Boom Cards(TM) deck and Google Slides(TM) option. 

If you like this sound board idea, I have an entire packet of sound boards with words/pictures for all sounds and blends. Check it out.

Tell me some other ways you warm-up speech sounds during your sessions.






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