Say Cheese!

photo booth props blog

I was wandering through our local thrift shop this summer looking for new therapy games when a photo booth kit caught my eye.  It was a whopping $1.50, so I threw it in my cart not knowing quite what I was going to do with it, but I was absolutely sure I was going to do something with it!  By the time I got home, an idea popped into my head.  What about using these for social language concepts to figure out what someone might be thinking, saying or feeling?

I let each of the kids take turns picking a prop and standing in front of the backdrop, and imagining a feeling they wanted to convey (angry, silly, scared).  I cut thought and speech bubbles out of poster board and pinned them to the backdrop, but you could also attach them to wooden dowels and make your own props with them.  If you are printing out the pictures on paper, you can use post it notes in these shapes (how cool are these?) for your thought and speech bubbles or you could put the pictures in a clear plastic sleeve and write on the outside using a dry erase marker to make them reusable.

After I snapped a few pictures on my phone (you could prep and print them out before hand too if you are more organized than I am), I asked them to figure out what each other might be feeling, thinking or saying.  No helping from the person in the picture was allowed before we made our guesses, but their input definitely was helpful in the discussions afterwards.  We also had some silly fun to work on identifying what was unexpected or unpredictable in a picture (example:  a girl with a mustache).  You can extend this activity to make guesses about where the person might be going or even make your own photo booth props for seasonal fun!

Have you ever used photo booth props in therapy?  Share your ideas here!

 

Fits to a T

T shirt blog template

With the Presidential election around the corner, I have noticed quite a few slogans on T shirts that make me laugh out loud or cringe in embarrassment. ¬†Whoever you are voting for, there is sure to be a T shirt to make a statement! ¬†This got me thinking about T shirt slogans and the thoughts we have about the people wearing them (well, at least I do!). ¬†What a fun way to talk about the social language concepts of inferences, conversation topics and being politically correct in today’s world (and the hidden rules that go along with this)!

I found this great freebie on TPT from Cara’s Creative Playground with a variety of clip art baseball style T shirts. You can make your own slogan activities for your late elementary through high school students to figure out the meaning of the slogan or guess who might wear these shirts. ¬†If you don’t want to make your own, the internet is FULL of great examples (preview first my friends, preview first). On a related note, I also¬†found a cool website, Stereotype Design, that gives a few sentences on a T shirt and you have to guess the movie ( well,¬†hello¬†figuring out the big picture from details!).

You can create a whole Pinterest board of t shirt slogans to work on these skills as well (or just click for my board here; it’s a growing work in progress, just like me). ¬†Walk them through a few examples to practice together, then see how they do!

The questions you can pose with the slogans could include:

What do you think the message means/intent?  

Is this literal or sarcastic? 

Who might wear this shirt?  Who would NEVER wear this shirt?

What do you think other people might think or feel when they see this shirt?  

Where would it be okay to wear this shirt?  Where would it NOT be okay to wear this shirt? 

What first impression do you have of someone wearing this t shirt?  

What background knowledge might you need to understand the slogan?

Would you wear this t shirt?  Why or why not?

If you disagree or are upset with a t shirt slogan, should you say something?  Why or why not?

*Ask your students to take pictures of any other interesting t shirts they see to extend this activity. ¬†You can call it “operation slogan sleuth”! I would clearly state the rule that the slogan can’t have any profanity, especially with your middle schoolers on up.

Any good slogan t shirts that you have seen recently?  Share here!

Start With the finish in Mind.

olympic blog cover

There are BIG international sports competitions that are starting this month and while I am not watching all the events, I do love the moving highlights of the athletes’ personal stories. ¬†The details differ a bit here and there, but what strikes me is the theme that their journey to reaching their goal usually started with the end, not the beginning. ¬†Visualizing themselves winning an event, standing on the podium and receiving a medal were all part of the training process for these elite athletes way before they qualified for the first event. ¬†This wasn’t daydreaming, it was purposefully envisioning what they wanted to see in their futures.

This idea isn’t just for athletes, it applies to our students too. ¬†SLP¬†Sarah Ward , of Cognitive Connections,¬†¬†presented at our GOSSLP conference I attended earlier this year. Her focus was ¬†on beginning with the end in mind when developing executive function skills, an “a-ha” moment for me as a SLP! ¬†She¬†shared a fun therapy technique of putting on our “future glasses” (any funky sunglasses you could find in a dollar store or even making and decorating your own paper versions) to visualize ourselves walking through a plan successfully. If you start with the finish in mind, it’s easier to visualize the steps you need to take to get there. ¬†If you don’t know where you are headed, it’s easy to get lost.

It’s the beginning of a brand new school year for me and this visualizing technique is something I want to try for myself and my students! ¬†Why not think about where you want your therapy sessions to lead ? ¬†How do you see yourself developing new skills this year? What about teaching your students to “see” themselves in the future with clear articulation, strong social skills or participating in a class discussion successfully? ¬†For my students with social language impairments, it is hard to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, including their own in the future!¬†This visualization may help motivate us through the difficult times when we don’t see progress, have a set back, or we are just plain tired. This would be a great way to start your first few sessions this year when you are setting your goals with your students!

Would you use visualizing with your students or yourself in speech therapy this year?  Why or why not?  Share here!

Ready or not, here it comes!

 

blog picture tpt BTS sale

The party is almost over, as I head back to school August 2nd. ¬†Summer feels faster to me each year! ¬†The back to school blues can be hard to navigate, but I have found a few things to help me adjust to my school routine over the years. ¬†The biggest thing that helps is coffee, lots of coffee. ¬†Also, taking a little time over the summer to organize my materials and start to loosely formulate some ideas of how to set up my students for success helps too. ¬†If I am disorganized in the beginning, frankly it’s all down hill from there!

TPT bestyear linky

¬†BUT cheer up, at least we have a TPT sale to kick of the year on August 1st and 2nd, ¬†*HURRAY*!! ¬†Head over to TeachersPayTeachers¬†and shop away to get ready for your year. ¬†Don’t forget to enter the code: ¬†BestYear ¬†for an additional discount of up to 28%! ¬†Jump on over to Speech Room News next (you can click on the what’s in your cart picture above) to check out Jenna’s recommendations and links to lots of other great stores, blogs and recommended TPT products!

Some of the¬†TPT products¬† in my store might just meet your social language needs and help your students start off on the right foot with social skills. ¬†I have highlighted a few products from some of my speechie friends’ stores that you might find helpful too!

Social Skills Interactive Notebook templates: Elementary

I created a social skills interactive notebook for my elementary friends.  Getting the notebook templates set up and ready to go helps the students know the routine from the start and you can use it for the entire school year to reinforce the social language concepts that you are working on in speech, the classroom or in social skills groups!

Seasonal Social Skills:  Fall

This Fall themed seasonal social skills card set has 120 social scenes ( 6 card decks with color cards or black and white options) and aligned data collection forms to work on the concepts of: Predictable/Unpredictable, Emotions, Inferences, Predictions, Connecting comments/questions, and Think vs. Say.  You can use these with games, as a ticket out the door or even on your morning announcements as a social skills school-wide challenge!

The Social Language Misadventures of Sid and Sis:  First D

I use this original social story to introduce beginning of the year social language concepts with Sid (socially inappropriate dude) and Sis (socially inappropriate sister) ¬†in a fun way. ¬†If you like this one, it’s included as part of a bundle of Sid and Sis stories in my store too.

What’s on my wishlist and headed into my TPT cart?

Social Emotional Control for Problem Solving

Awesome social language product on size of the problem for older kids from SLP Runner!

Interactive FLIPBOOK:  Making Social Inferences

I love this flipbook set for social inferences from The Dabbling Speechie too!

My Emotions Workbook and Poem Cards

These fun little black and white mini-books on emotions (from The Peachie Speechie)  look so fun for the younger set!

I am also very excited about this awesome social skills theme unit from Social Talk too!

Social Talk Unit 1: Welcome to Social Skills Group

I hope you saw something that might make your back to school a little less blue, and set you up for success this year!

What are some tips that help you make the transition from summer to school?  

 

Social skills and hard conversations

hard conversations blog

This summer has been a difficult one as the news has been full of upsetting images happening across our country.  I was visiting family in Dallas, Texas the week of the police shootings and like the rest of the country after an extraordinarily violent week, I was stunned.  I watched the peaceful protests in Atlanta on the local news when I got home the following week.  I had to turn off the TV for a while to process all I was thinking about, away from the rhetoric of social media. While I am not a mother to a police officer or an African American son,  I am a mom. My heart broke for these families and broke for us as a country. How can we begin to discuss these big issues-racism, trust, personal safety- in our homes, schools and places of worship, if we cannot begin to take the perspective of someone else?

To be able to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is hard. ¬†It’s even harder when we define ourselves by how we are not the same, rather than what we have in common. ¬†In social language therapy, helping my kids shift their point of view to at least try and consider what someone else might be thinking or feeling, is challenging. ¬†All the lessons that we address in a social language framework , as Michelle Garcia Winner states, are life skills to help us work and live with others successfully. ¬†Pause and consider this for just a minute. Understanding basic Theory of Mind, that my thoughts can be different from your thoughts based on our experiences and what we know, is a foundation to getting along with others. ¬†Even the basic social rules we learn on the playground still apply in the grown up world;¬†take turns, help someone if they get hurt, include others and play fair. Why is it so difficult for us to apply these lessons as we grow up?

It is critical that we teach the concepts of thinking about others and trying to consider another person’s point of view (even when you don’t agree with it) to all kids, not just students with social language impairments. It is equally as important as academics, in my opinion. ¬†Self-control and emotional regulation are also necessary social skills that we need to teach, to get along with others in this world. Bullying people into listening to your point of view and screaming that you are right and they are wrong, are not going to solve anything, whether you are five or fifty. Like I tell my own boys, you have the right to your own thoughts and feelings, but you do not have the right to use them to purposefully hurt others.

I realize that this is simplifying a very complicated series of problems. I don’t have the answers, although I sure wish I did. ¬†What I do believe, is that in a very “me” centered culture, we need to shift hard to thinking about other people, starting in our homes and in our schools. ¬†We need to listen to and talk with people who think like us and those who don’t. These opportunities for difficult conversations are going to continue to present themselves to you and me, so how are we going to handle them moving forward? ¬†I can take a step in the right direction by teaching children that I work with the life skills and social language concepts needed to think about other people, and practicing this myself.

Share your thoughts here.

Gotta catch em all!

Slide1

 

If you have seen people walking around staring at their phones more than usual, it might be because of Pokemon Go. ¬†This new app makes you a virtual Pokemon trainer able to “catch” all kinds of Pokemon in your own neighborhood using your phone’s GPS ( with the bonus of getting¬†kids off of the couch and walking around outdoors)! ¬†When they were little, my boys collected all the cards and¬†forced invited me to watch Ash Ketchum and friends wrangle Pokemon. ¬†But this app isn’t just popular with ¬†kids, even adults are using it!

My brain started thinking about how to use this fun app with a social twist. If you are using this in a social language group, you can map out a whole month’s worth of therapy lessons using Pokemon Go!¬†There are rules to playing the virtual game, both spoken and hidden, so that’s a great place to start. ¬†Safety is a big one with this app- you wouldn’t believe how many people walk into the street or get injured from falling or walking into things in their pursuit of a prized Pokemon! ¬† This is a great opportunity to talk about expected and unexpected behaviors too. I have heard news reports about people trying to play the game in places like the Holocaust memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. ¬†Boundaries anyone?

Once your group discusses the rules, then you can divide and conquer into teams.  There are three teams (you can read about their descriptions HERE) that are part of the game, Team Mystic, Team Instinct and Team Valor, but you could let the kids pick their own names.  This is an opportunity to work on the goal of negotiating with others when working in groups.  Once you pick the team, no changes are allowed, so be prepared to be flexible!

Self regulation is a big skill set in this game, as it’s easy to get overly excited or super frustrated when that elusive Charizard (or any of the 151 Pokemon characters in the game) escapes your grasp. ¬†Working in a group or with a partner on your team requires a LOT of self-control, executive function and future thinking (planning what you are going to do ahead of time). ¬†One of the social language lessons could include deciding what strategies you can use in the moment for keeping your cool ( Zones of Regulation GO!). ¬†You might even want to align each color of the Zones with a specific Pokemon to help you remember your strategies (for example: ¬†Blaziken would be a great icon for the Red Zone). ¬†To extend this idea further, have your kids make up their own Pokemon characters ¬†or trainer names that would describe themselves, including their strengths and skills sets. ¬†This¬†can lead to a discussion about how we want others to see us and both positive and negative character traits.

The game also tailors which Pokemon you can find by the time of day and where you are looking for them.  For example, if you are out in the evening, you will find more ghost or fairy Pokemon. If you are near the beach, you will find more water Pokemon.  This is a fun way to work on inferencing, categorizing and compare/contrast skills with your kids!

Have you played Pokemon Go yet (be honest)?  How could you use it in social language therapy? Share here!