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!



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!






Self Regulation is in the bag.

zones blog template

I like finding different ways to work on social language concepts.  My kids (and I) get bored with flashcards or stories, so I want to shake it up a little.  Paper bag books aren’t new, but I thought it might be fun to put a social language spin on one for therapy.   My fine motor skills are not the best and my students also have some difficulty figuring out how to make something based on a visual model, so we walk through the steps together.  I start out with this tutorial from WhimsyandStarsStudio:

paper bag book tutorial

Now I also tell my boys there doesn’t have to be anything cute in their book and they relax a bit (but it’s definitely okay if they want to).  We practice making a book together first (begin with the end in mind) and then we get to work creating our personal strategies book to go along with Zones of Regulation .  If you haven’t checked out this amazing social language/self regulation resource from Leah Kuypers, GO NOW, you can thank me later!

Each page in our little book is color coded to the Zones curriculum.  We put in pictures (you can draw your own or cut out pictures from old magazines) or words describing the strategies we can use to stay emotionally regulated or get back to the green zone (calm, happy, self regulated).

Have you used paper bag books in therapy?  If so, share your ideas here!


Light It Up!

blog template light it up

This weekend we are celebrating the Fourth of July with fireworks and sparklers everywhere!  I love the contrast of the bright, sparkly lights against the sky as it finally gets dark around ten p.m. The deep thumps you can feel in your chest as the fireworks cannons launch sent my poor dogs scurrying to hide somewhere, anywhere, to get away from the scary sounds!  And of course our family tradition is to make s’mores to celebrate the occasion, because who wouldn’t want have a handful of sugary, sticky deliciousness on a 90 degree night, right?

We are working on a patriotic theme in speech this week to get ready with this light it up craftivity!   First, we brainstorm things that we like about our friends, discussing character traits vs. physical characteristics vs. “cool stuff they have”.  We talk about the idea that when we use kind words and tell others what we like about them, this makes them feel really good. I use the words “lighting people up” to describe this feeling, or even feeling sparkly inside!  Check out my post last week for a shark themed craftivity to make “shark bites”, to contrast this activity and talk about words that that hurt.

When we get that sorted out, then we write the positives on thin strips of construction paper that I have cut ahead of time.  We used white with red markers, but you can pick any color that suits you.  In addition, I cut strips of tin foil into thin strips to add a little sparkle

.Next, we fan the paper and foil strips gently together at the bottom and staple them together, then wrap blue tape around the bottom of the fan, attaching it to a straw.  And there you go, a safe sparkler of words that make people feel good, so go ahead and “light it up”!

How are you celebrating the Fourth with your family?