Books, Glorious Books!

book blog pic

Doesn’t this picture make you feel all warm and cozy inside?  I love books (coffee and cookies too)! In fact when I was pregnant with my first son, I laid down the law with my husband.  I could buy as many books for my children as I wanted, no questions asked, no arguments.  I think he agreed because he was smart enough not to argue with a pregnant woman.  But my point was that books are not just a luxury, they are a necessity for little (and big) minds!  Over time I learned to feed my book habit in a more budget friendly way at our local library, garage sales and at thrift stores.  I still use many of those sweet books I bought years ago, in therapy today.

In talking with some of my CFs the past few weeks as we worked through scheduling and  therapy lesson plans, I brought up the idea of thematic planning and using book companions to address a variety of goal areas.  In the past few weeks, I have seen some fantastic companions made by SLPs on TeachersPayTeachers (search book companions and prepare to be amazed), facebook, and Instagram.  I bought Speech Sanity’s “There Was An Old Mummy Who Swallowed a Spider” product last week during the #SeptSLPMustHave sale. (*BTW, there is a 50% off sale on a TPT product for a select group of SLPs on the 7th of each month. Search #OctSLPMustHave on October 7th in TPT for the next event).  It has enough variety to cover receptive language, expressive language, vocabulary, following directions, articulation, turn taking games, and more, already made and ready to print and go!

I struggle with the difference between a want and a need when it comes to TPT materials and clip art, but here are a few of my wish list book companions for Fall:

Old lady and leavespumpkin soup

While I don’t plan to do ALL of my speech therapy around a book companion, it’s a nice compliment to have in my arsenal of materials.  I sprinkle in benchmark and goal probes, games, curriculum based activities, cooking adventures and music/movement. What’s your favorite book companion?  Share here!  Now excuse me while I go put on my jammies and curl up with a good book and some cookies on this cool Fall night!

Old Dog, New Tricks!

old dog new tricks

This is my old boy, Archie, looking thrilled to be in the tub (not)!  But as cute and mopey as he is in this picture, he is not the old dog I am referring to.  That old dog would be me.  I was chatting with some other “seasoned” SLPs about technology in our field.   We were laughing at the memory of handwriting IEPs on carbon paper and that amendments required drawing a line through the mistake and initialing it.  Those days are gone!

What is second nature to my own boys and the new grads that I mentor with apps and social media, requires visual tutorials and lots of time for me to master.  Thank goodness for Youtube and collaborative boards on Facebook!  One of the great things about our field is that we all share information and support one another, and this is true in the virtual SLP realm as well.  I have learned a tremendous amount from Natalie Snyders, Jenna Rayburn and Meredith Avren (The Peachie Speechie)!  I got to thinking about the GIANT learning curve I have been on this year.

In the past 8 months of 2015 I have joined Instagram (love), Periscope (jury is still out), and learned to create my own pins on Pinterest.  I think I may need a Pintervention, as I am slightly addicted to it!  I learned how to create TeachersPayTeachers products on Powerpoint, edit pictures with A Beautiful Mess and Instasize apps,  and utilize Camtasia to record presentations for new SLPs.  I have struggled with Twitter (meh) and am getting ready to start using an iPad to create social language training videos for a grant project.  Each time I struggle with a new skill and come out the other side, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction!  Not that I am fantastic at everything, far from it,  but just that I am able to learn and grow is enough.

The only constant in our field is change, and you can either embrace it or let it frustrate you.  I choose to embrace it.  Give it a try and dip your toes into Instagram.  You will be amazed at the great SLPs and ideas you will find just by looking up the hashtag, #slpeeps!  Not sure what that means?  Check out this post by Nicole Allison.  Besides, I have read that constantly challenging yourself to learn new things keeps your brain young and flexible, and that sounds like a win-win for this old dog!

What has been your experience with the social media learning curve?

What did you do today?

what did you do today blog post image

Sometimes these five seemingly innocuous words breed frustration, silence or worse, “nothing”.  As a parent, being able to connect with your child’s day at school is important.  Not in a “I figured out what I want to be when I grow up”  kind of day, but in a social connection way.  Understanding that people have different experiences and can share them is a powerful idea.  It leads to conversations and connections, both important milestones in communication development.  I don’t need the minutiae of bathroom details, but the meat of the day helps.

It is a tension point sometimes for teachers to add one more thing to their to-do lists, but your speech therapist (or OT or para-pro) can help.   My fellow speechies developed a simple checklist that went home once a week for our group thematic activities.  We would follow a theme calendar and then give feedback on the child’s participation, any verbalizations or new skills we saw (hurray!), things that worked well and things that didn’t go smoothly.  We also had some visuals for their emotional state and room to comment if we figured out new tricks to share with mom and dad.  A quick email from home on a Monday morning about the weekend activities is always helpful too!

For my older students, I often ask them to use their technology to share about their weekends or breaks (instagram pictures are a great prompt…teacher friendly please!) or to help them create personal blogs or storyboards.  They are often doubtful when I suggest sharing these with their families as their perception is that mom and dad won’t care.  Surprise, we do!!

Over breaks and summer, I suggest that my parents to get a cheap flip picture book like this one:  flip book

This one was from Walmart and was less than ten dollars.  You can also find them at Dollar stores for much less and build a library of memory books.  This is an easy way to talk about a vacation or what happened while the student was on break.  It also is a good visual prep for visiting family you don’t see very often (Look, remember when we went to visit your cousins?  We had so much fun swimming at their house!) to reduce anxiety.

For more tech savvy parents, you can use a site like Shutterfly to create permanent photo books for your adventures.   There is also a new app called Steller that you can take a peek at to create visual story telling on your iphone (it  has a save feature for future viewings).   Even Pinterest can be used to create secret boards all about your adventures and can be shared only with who you invite to view it (teachers, grandparents, therapists).    So next time you ask “What did you do today?”, you just might get more than you asked for!

What communication tools work for you?