Which April Fool are you, Jokey or Jerky?

April Fools

April Fool’s Day is upon us about a week from now.  I was never a big prankster, but my younger brothers had many hours of enjoyment playing tricks on family,friends and each other. Most jokes were harmless fun, like switching out the salt for sugar. My college boyfriend’s roommates thought it was hilarious to put tacks (pointy side up) on the floor, just outside a running shower, and yell to the person taking the shower that they had an urgent phone call. I found this mean-spirited and not one bit funny, but those crazy college boys thought that was the best joke ever!  Ugh. Everyone has a different idea of what is funny (Jokey) and what isn’t (Jerky).

So how do you figure out the boundaries of April Fool’s Day? For my kids who struggle with social language and humor, I found they needed background knowledge, perspective taking and very clear rules to participate successfully on April Fool’s Day. This group can include students with ASD, ADD (impulsive + jokes=potential social trainwreck) and ESL learners (humor has a LOT of figurative language components). These skills translate into unstructured time with peers too, as humor is a way to connect socially, when it’s done with the right people, in the right place and at the right time.  You can find my social language packet in my TPT store here: “April Fools”  to work on these skills.  This 18 page pack is perfect for elementary and young middleschoolers and includes:

  • A one page summary of the history of April Fool’s Day
  • A page to create your own April Fool’s Day ad
  • A discussion chart with questions to ask BEFORE you play a joke or prank. Remember how I mentioned very clear rules?  Here it is and it would make a great classroom poster! 
  • A cut and paste chart to determine if April Fool’s Day actions are JOKEY (funny) or JERKY (mean)
  • Five April Fool’s Day social scenarios to talk about what someone might be thinking/saying/feeling, identifying problems and figuring out solutions
  • A list of suggested books to go along with April Fool’s Day theme and an Expected/Unexpected* behavior chart to discuss the character’s actions from the books

* Expected/Unexpected are terms used in the  “SocialThinking” (R) curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner.

This Pinterest page dedicated to April Fools has a lot of cute, kid friendly ideas and you can talk about them in light of being “Jokey or Jerky”.

What is the best April Fool’s Day prank you ever pulled?  Share here (we won’t judge 🙂 )

What’s Up Peeps?

blog hop picHello and welcome to our blog hop!  My name is Heidi Britz and I am a school based SLP with more than 20 years of pediatric experience.  I prefer the term “seasoned SLP” to “old speech lady”, but that’s just me 🙂  My professional love (some might call it an obsession) is social language.  My goal is two-fold, to reach my students with social language impairments, and to provide support to my fellow SLPs, CFs and teachers in my community.  It’s a win-win for everyone!

My blog, Smartmouth, is focused on connecting social language with the common core and helping the kids who struggle with both.  Full disclosure, I am an unapologetic groupie of Michelle Garcia Winner’s work, so don’t be surprised if I toss about the terms expected/unexpected frequently!  My weekly posts include therapy freebies, lesson plans, TPT materials and discussions about the changing dynamic of social language.  And speaking of social, you can also find me on Instagram: @Smartmouth_SLP!

I hope you enjoy my FREE  “What’s Bugging You?” Idiom activity today HERE from my TPT store.  It has a bug themed idiom activity, extension activities suggested and a butterfly template (example included) to make visual representation of the literal and non-literal meanings of the idioms.                                                 Slide1

I also have several social language packets in my TeachersPayTeachers store that include inferences, main idea, expected/unexpected behaviors, comparing good/better/best choices, prediction, point of view, and the concepts of “think/ feel/say”. Please take a peek at these thematic packets including: “It’s Your Lucky Day”, “April Fools”,  “Party Time Pragmatics” and my newest Spring packet, “What’s Up Peeps?”.

One of the things that I think we SLPs do best is collaborate and share, so I am very excited to link up with the other bloggers in our hop (don’t forget to sign up to follow their blogs )!  Click on the Hop To The Next Blog link below to head over to Keri’s fantastic post!  If you have popped up in the middle of our bloggie bonanza, click on the Hop to the Beginning button so you don’t miss any of the great freebies!

I’m so glad you stopped by today! Please sign up to receive my blog weekly and hope to see you soon…

You don’t want to miss this!!

I am very excited to give you a heads up about a fun blog hop happening on 3/20, the first day of Spring (yipee!!) What’s a blog hop you ask?  I had the same question!  It’s a group of bloggers (in this case all SLPs) that link together for an event and share materials and blogs!   Stop back by on Friday and hop into the links that will get you 14 fantastic speech freebies and introduce you to some creative new slp blogs as well!  See you then….


blog hop pic

A Leprechaun Named Mike

I don’t believe in coincidence, and I absolutely love this story of Katie and her Mr. Mike!

Monday Coffee & Other Stories

A Leprechaun Named Mike

By Cynthia Patton

As Saint Patrick’s Day approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about luck and twists of fate. One of the most unlikely leprechauns I’ve encountered on our strange and humbling autism journey is a taxi driver named Mike.

When my daughter Katie switched school districts back in February 2013, she once again was slated to ride the special needs “short bus.” The two school districts, however, did not share bus service, so after a month of my driving her to and from the neighboring town, Katie began to take a taxi to school. Yes, a taxi. I was hesitant to send a barely verbal nine-year-old by herself to school (or anywhere, for that matter), but a taxi ride is quicker and easier on Katie’s often over-taxed sensory system. Plus a taxi has far better air conditioning than the average California bus. So now both…

View original post 685 more words

Gooder, Better, Bestest?

gbb eggs

Spring is in the air and last week I was fortunate enough to attend the Best Practices workshop at GOSSLP (Georgia Organization of School Based Speech Language Pathologists).  Jennifer Jacobs was presenting on therapy ideas for social language and one of the concepts she mentioned was working on the concept of ‘good, better and best’ with students who have social language impairments.  I thought about how I have worked on good choice vs. bad choices in speech therapy, but this can be pretty easy for many of my higher functioning students with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). What also tends happens is that my therapy friends get fixated on the bad choices…a lot. The rest of the therapy session turns into a search and rescue mission to get the kids (and conversation) back on track!

I thought about how to work on ‘good, better, best’  and came up with this FREE activity in my TeachersPayTeachers store using Easter eggs, social scenarios and a visual map to sort out responses.  I have included blank templates for students to write their own choices or for you to develop your own social scenarios. You could also show the students pictures of social scenarios for support.  Consider using the examples included to teach the concept of first listening to a problem and then figuring out the appropriate solutions before having the students generate their own.

None of the choices are negative, but they have to think a bit harder to decide which would be the best.  If you want to make it a little challenging, have them explain why one choice is better than the others.  To make it even more fun (and spring themed), cut up the strips (one for each of the three choices) and tuck each completed choice strip into individual Easter eggs (a bargain at The Dollar Store). The younger kids love picking an egg out of a big basket and cracking it open.  Have them read the choices aloud and then facilitate a discussion to figure out who has a good idea, a better idea and the best idea for each social scenario.

good better best

This activity really pushes students to think beyond clear “black and white” answers and consider the subtleties that determine what makes one choice better than another.  It can also open up discussions about considering the thoughts and feelings of others, and being able to compare and contrast different points of view.  This activity can be used throughout the school year (sans eggs) or modified for older students with more complex social scenarios.

How do you work on ‘good, better, best’ ?

You Crack Me Up!


The Dollar Store is quickly becoming my go-to place for inexpensive social language materials.  I found this pack of eggs with different expressions and immediately thought of my kids who are working on Theory of Mind (ToM) and reading nonverbals.  Doesn’t everyone? NO?!  Well,that’s where my speechie brain wandered that day 🙂

We brainstorm (or review) different feeling words and what it means to think about other people’s thoughts and feelings. It’s easy to get stuck at “happy/sad” but emotions go much deeper and wider than those fortunately! Now I know at least one of the kids will protest that eggs don’t have feelings and brains, much less faces. This is a great teachable moment to talk about using our imagination to wonder about things and it can be fun to do this!  Thinking about what someone else might be feeling or thinking is a hard thing to do, especially for kids who struggle with ToM.

I have them pick an egg-spression (sorry, couldn’t help it) and then give them strips with two choices:  a thought bubble and a heart. You can find a free, printable copy of the sheet below HERE.

feel and say sheet

I have the students make a guess and write down (or dictate to me) what the expression might be telling us as a feeling (angry, silly, shy,etc…) and what the egg might be thinking. I can extend the activity by cutting the sentence strips up and putting them in the eggs for the kids to check their guesses at another speech therapy session, or put them in the wrong eggs to see if the kids can identify if the thoughts and feelings match or not!

You can also read the thought/feeling strips aloud and see if the kids can match them to the correct egg/expression. If your students have enough language and you have the luxury of video in your session (hello camera phone!), have them create little videos about thoughts and feelings using the eggs as the actors.  How much fun would it be to have them make a video about “egg-spected” vs. “un-eggspected” behavior?!

Any other ideas on how you would use these crazy eggs in speech?  Share them!

SLP-Speechies Love Parties?

birthday boxes

Who doesn’t love cake, ice cream and a good birthday party? Well, for our kids with social language weakness and/or social anxiety, it isn’t always a good time. One of my own children was very active and impulsive when he was little, and birthday parties were a bit of a nightmare. I had to prep him prior to the party to review what kind of behaviors were expected and which ones were unexpected in the environment (for example, an inside the home party vs. outside park party). It was easy for him to go into sensory overload, and I learned quickly to have a plan so he could calm down and reorganize himself if needed.   These prep steps were crucial to limit bodily harm and collateral property damage, and they kept the party a positive experience for my son (and the other kids).

I created this Party Time Pragmatics packet  to practice birthday party scenarios with my speech students who have social language impairments. This can include kids with ASD, ADHD, EBD, and social anxiety. I use it to introduce the idea of being an ‘Ask-Again Friend’ (yay!) versus an ‘Uninvitable’ (not so yay!). Birthday parties have many of hidden rules and the rules change based on lots of variables such as where the party is, who is attending, how long you have known the birthday child and your relationship with them. For example, how you act with your cousins that you see all the time is very different from how you act with a new classmate. It is always an eye opener to talk about what the kids think the important things to know are about attending a party, and then guide them to fill in the missing (or misinformed) pieces of information.  I have six social scenario cards of Uninvitable behaviors and a Present Time Rewind to go over what those friends could have said or done differently to be more of an Ask Again Friend. I also made 12 birthday gift scenes to contrast Ask-Again Friends and Uninvitables.

One of the challenging activities included is to act out different feelings and emotions related to birthday parties. They can only use facial expressions and body language, but NO WORDS.  Oh, this is hard!! Sometimes it is difficult for kids to figure out how to match non-verbals with verbals, and doing this is trickier than it would seem at first! Extend the activity by having them come up with some party scenarios of their own or YOU act out the scenarios, but match the wrong expression or body language and see if the kids can catch you (and hopefully correct you)! The last two activities are multiple meaning words (with a birthday theme, of course) and a “guess what’s inside the present” activity to work on visualization and making inferences. To make it a little more fun, I bought tiny birthday cartons and boxes at the dollar store and put actual objects inside so the kids can check their guesses. You can also use these containers and have the kids come up with other clues/present combinations or they can give each other the clues and make a guess which box or carton it is in, to extend the activity.

I hope this packet and the ideas will help your students become Ask Again Friends!