Monday, December 31, 2012

Marshmallow Surprise! A reinforcer game FREEBIE!

 Marshmallow Surprise is just a fun little reinforcement game that can be used for all goals.  Each child/student gets their own cup of "hot cocoa", and after numerous trials focusing on your child's individual goals, he/she chooses a game card to see how many real marshmallows he/she can add to the cup of cocoa.  The child with the most marshmallows at the end of the session...wins! (Of course in reality, everyone wins b/c who doesn't want to eat marshmallows?)

Graphis from: Jessica Weible Illustraions

The second game that goes along with this marshmallow theme is a simple game board called Marshmallow Lane.  Each student gets a game board.  You place the designated number of real marshmallows on the numbered game board spots.  Have your students practice their speech and language targets, roll the dice, and move the numbered spots.  As the pass each spot, they get to eat their treats.  Whomever gets to the hot cocoa and eats their treats first....wins!!!

**For personal use only, NOT for redistribution.  Communication Station: Speech Therapy, PLLC reserved the creative rights to all materials made and distributed on**

Click below to download FREEBIES:

Right before I was ready to post these activities, I found this wonderful new blog called Busy Bee Speech!  One of her great activities is ALSO a FREEBIE with the same premise as Marshmallow Surprise...she calls it Hot Cocoa Speech.  I guess great minds think alike!  Check out her page and activities.  She has some nice freebies as well!

Enjoy and happy talking!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Tree-Pinecone Word Associations game

Looking for a winter themed word association game?  Well here is one just for you.  Have your children match up the pine cone with the pine tree for the two words that "go together"!  You can work on answering ?s and problem solving by having them answer "why" those words go together!  There may be two words your child seems to think goes together.  My rule is, if you can reason its association and the reason is logical, then its correct! 

You can see that each page is full of words that belong in a specific category.  To further expand the activity you can talk about categories the objects belong in, or the functions or attributes the two objects have in common.    I added a blank page at the end for if you want to make your own words as well.  Simple fun game!

For personal use ONLY!  NOT for redistribution!  Communication Station:  Speech Therapy, PLLC reserves the creative rights to all materials created and released via

Find the FREE version at the bottom of this blog.  Enjoy!

For Your FREE version click links below:

Page 1
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Page 3
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Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8

Happy Talking!!!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My New Year's Resolutions for 2013!

It's that time again...time to make some New Year's resolutions.  I tend to be very cautious of making resolutions mostly because I tend to decide to do the impossible and make changes that are fueled by a place of vanity rather than a place of hope and love.  So this year...I'm going to simplify...try and make a few resolutions I can stick to with the help of those in my life.  This may be a short list but maybe that is what I need! Here's goes nothin'...

My 2013 New Year's Resoluations:

1.  Spread the Love!  I want to show and tell my husband and son more often that I love them.  I am so blessed to have my loving husband and wonderful son in my life.  The recent tragedies around the world have hit me hard this season and made me face this one personal question:  If today was my last day or the last day of someone I love, would they know how much I love them?  Would they know how much I think about them, wake up in the middle of the night and thank God for them, ache for them when I am not with them?  So I decided to let my actions and words speak the love and gratitude I want my loved ones to feel from me!

2. Invite God along for the ride more often!  I know this is a speech and language blog and what does God have to do with anything?  I know speaking of faith and love of God is not accepted in the mainstream these days.  But for me, I am who I am and do what I do because of my faith.  There is no separation for me.  With all of the things that have to get done daily, weekly, monthly, I easily loose sight of the big picture and sometimes forget that God is there with me.  He's always there but I forget to invite His presence into my experiences.  So I am hopefully going to remember to take a moment, sit in His presence and learn how to "live in the moment" WITH Him.

3.  Educate, Encourage, Inspire!  My hope is that I can continue to present information and materials that will help those who read this blog.  I'd like to think I could spread some zeal for the speech pathology field, some encouragement and confidence to parents who think they just can't do it on their own, and some materials that can be used to meet both of these goals.  But this resolution will not come to pass if I don't hear your thoughts.  Let me know what information you would like to read about.  Let me know what materials you are needing.  I will do my best to meet those needs or, in the very least, direct you to someone who can.

That's it!  3 simple resolutions!  None of them targeted on improving my outward appearance but all that could change my world the world of those I love for the better.

Do you make resolutions?  What are your plans to change your life this year?  I'd love to hear from you.

Happy Talking!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Playing in the snow!!!

Did I ever tell you that my husband and I are originally from the east coast?  Well we are and we decided to take a trip back east to see the family this holiday.  We must have had luck on our side as we flew just between two snow storms and made it to the east coast yesterday...just in time for a "White Christmas" (a few days late but still part of the Christmas season so that works just fine for us!).  You better believe in the 17 degree weather this morning we put on our snow gear and got "serious" about having some fun!!!!

There's my boy with his cookie monster hat on (made by a friend) and that beautiful smile that could stop traffic (at least it stops me in my tracks from time to time) having the time of his life in the snow!  We are supposed to get a bit more snow before this week is through.  Here's hoping for some nice snowman making, snow ball throwing, sledding kind of snow!

Have you taken my advice and had some playtime this holiday break?  What have you and your family been up to?  I'd love to know.  Maybe you can give me some good ideas! 

For those out there traveling, have safe travels this holiday season.  Keep having fun and happy talking!!!!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

It's the eve of Christmas Eve! Remember to take time to play with your kids over the next few days!

It's the night (well day actually) BEFORE Christmas Eve and as I was going through my plan of "things I need to get done before Christmas morning" I realized NONE of those things involved playing with my son.  At that moment I looked up to see my son holding tight to his new race car, dancing around the living room to Christmas music with his eyes closed.  (He very much loves his new race car which was an early Christmas gift from his Aunt J.)  What an incredible site to see!  It warmed my heart and made me laugh out loud at his innocence and wonder of life!  

What if I hadn't had that thought?  What if I didn't look up at that moment?  I would have missed that beautiful site of my son's pure joy and love of life.  Shame on me for getting so wrapped up in all of the "shoulds", "coulds" and "need to"s of this holiday season rather than living in the moment!  

So, I decided right then and there...what gets done, gets done, what doesn't, doesn't and if someone has a problem with it...frankly, they can keep their opinions to themselves.  Because I will never get today back and if I waste it "doing" and "planning" rather than "listening" and "playing"...then it is my own fault if my life passes before my eyes.

So I've messed up.  I've made the mistake of putting "things" before my family.  I'm not going to beat myself up about it because I'm human.  BUT, I do believe it's never too late to change and I WON'T be making this mistake again (at least not over the next couple of days...bad habits are hard to break, you know!).  Instead, I'm going to play and laugh and learn from my son!  I'm going to watch with wonder as my 2 year old navigates through this Christmas holiday with enthusiasm and a level of excitement that he will not be able to contain within his little body!

The reason I am writing this post is to talk to all of you that are reading this today, parent to parent.  I completely understand the stress and busyness of the holiday, cleaning, wrapping, traveling, visiting family and friends.  All of these things are necessary and must be done.  But, if I can impart one very little piece of advice...please, please, don't forget to stop and play with your children this holiday.  Even if its 5 minutes here and there throughout the day when you give your children your undivided attention, it will make a difference for them and for you.  Let's make some wonderful memories this holiday!

Be safe, be silly, and have fun!
Have a Blessed Christmas Holiday!
Happy Talking!

Friday, December 21, 2012

What My Clients' Were Up to This Christmas Season!

 Here are just a few of the fun Christmas themed activities my clients' and I had fun with this holiday season.

Must Be Santa:
Guess what my kids got to do with a bag of cotton balls and some petroleum jelly?  Make Ms. Maria into SANTA!!!!

We had so much fun!  Each correct sound production, or correct response to various language activities equaled 1 cotton ball placed ANYWHERE they wanted on my face!  Here are some pics of our fun!!!!  What do you think?

I don't know about you, but I'm kind of liking this new look!!! You think I can rock the cotton ball Santa beard or what?

Christmas Tree BASH UP:
I have a few boys that just LOVE their cars.  So I modified the articulation cups game that has been floating around the internet for some time now.  

I took 10 small Dixie cups, placed articulation or language stimulus cards on top.  For each correct response or production, my client got to build a "TREE" one cup at a time!
Here is a picture of one of my client's picking up an articulation stimulus card and practicing saying it correctly BEFORE he obtained his cup.

Here's a picture of our "tree" in the process of being built!

Once the tree was complete, my clients' would choose which car he wanted to "bash up the tree" by driving into the cups and knocking them down.  

Tip:  Stick to doing this on the floor...the cups fly everywhere and it's so fun for the kids to see where they go (which we can then use to stimulate language by asking "where"?s) and gathering them up for another round of Christmas Tree Bash Up! Looks fun right?  It really is!  PLEASE DO TRY THIS AT HOME!!! You'll have so much fun.

Felt Christmas Tree Decoration:
I made a Christmas tree out of felt and used multi-colored buttons of various shapes and sizes to "decorate" to the tree!

My clients' would practice a few stimulus cards and then roll the big fat red die...
...and count the number of "dots" to know how many buttons to put on their trees! 
Here's one of our first finished trees!!!!

Later we made this game more difficult by sorting the buttons by shape, size and color and placed the correct buttons on the corresponding trees!  GREAT for PK kiddos learning these pre-academic skills!!!!

Christmas Tree Hop:

For this game I used some of the free materials I posted on Monday and placed target pictures next to numbered index cards.  Each student had to HOP in number order from 1-10 while practicing various stimulus cards along the way.

Below you can see the crazy path I created for the kids to travel on their way to the.... 

...Christmas tree!
 By the time they reached their Christmas tree, each child got to pull an ornament out of the "Christmas box" I had and place it on the tree.  This means in order to obtain 1 Christmas ornament each child had to practice 10 DIFFERENT stimulus cards.  

 Below is a picture of one of my kiddos placing their ornament on the tree!

(I was able to get an average of 8-10 ornaments per session which is equal to 80-100 trials!!!!)
Parent Presents:  Christmas Ornament:
Children LOVE to GIVE to others.  What's more fun than making a Christmas gift for mom and dad?  I found these super cute Christmas Ornaments at the $ store!  This packet comes with 2 ornaments and you assemble them with glue. 

I love this type of activity because you can work on sequencing and following directions!  And look how cute they are!!!
 For each piece of the ornament my clients' had to practice 5 stimulus pictures...and there were at least 10 items to glue which is equivalent to at the very least 50 trials PER ORNAMENT!

And how very proud my kids were of themselves!  They now have something they can give mom and dad on Christmas day!!!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Visual Schedules! What are they and how can I make one?

With the holidays quickly approaching, and how different our schedules will be over break that I thought I'd share with you the importance of using a visual schedule/charts to reduce anxiety for your children.

Visual schedules and visual charts are a great way to teach your child what events are to come as well as what activities or behaviors you would like to see from them.

Visual schedules are often used for children diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) as they are often times, concise, clear and the visuals aid in a child's comprehension.

In this way you can use visual cues to help support a child who struggles with behaviors.  Having a visual support to demonstrate the behaviors you WANT your child to exhibit helps remind him/her what behaviors he/she should be exhibiting in various situations. This technique is called using a visual chart or behavior chart.

Visual cues can also help your child understand time concepts.  By creating a daily, weekly or monthly schedule you can really help your child begin to understand days of the week, months of the year, and other time concepts. 

Once your child understands that each day is different, and time is not only measured on a clock or watch but can be measured in terms of "yesterday, today, tomorrow", you can begin to introduce various verb tenses.

The use of visual charts and schedules can also aid in reducing anxiety of the unknown by visually showing him/her what is coming up next.  If you have a child like mine, who has become obsessed with questions like "Mom, what are we doing today?" or "Mom, what's going on?", a visual schedule can be another way for your child to answer these questions for him/herself.  You begin to teach your children how to use what we SLPs like to call "compensatory strategies" to understand his/her world around him!

Tips to creating visual schedules:
1.  Keep it simple
2.  Know what you are trying to achieve or teach
3.  Use pictures that carry the meaning you intend

Example:  Weekly Schedule
In an effort to teach my child that everyday of the week has a name and we have plans for every day of the week, I made this very simple 7-day visual schedule below.  I have a symbol (and name) for every day of the week.  Below each day I have the typical activity we have planned for that day and below that I have a blank box.  I use this box to draw or write in any changes to our plans or additional activities we have planned for that particular day (I laminated the schedule so I could use dry erase markers on to do this).

Everyday my son moves a magnet from "yesterday" to "today"!  And we talk about what we did "yesterday" and what the plan is for "today" AND "tomorrow".  This is the beginning of introducing these time concepts.  We also address the day by its name as well so we begin to learn the days of the week.  (See how these activities lend itself to be a language activity as well???)

This is just one example of a visual schedule.  Your child's needs may differ from this.  Your child may be ready for a more complex visual schedule.  The key is to keep your goal in mind and create a schedule in which its complexity does NOT go beyond what your child can understand. 

Here are some other examples of visual schedules:

Courtesy of:
This appears to be a visual schedule for morning routine.
It's short and simple!
This appears to be a visual chart used with smiley faces used to demonstrate that the behavior was complete.  I added this example to show that sometimes children need to do something to show completion of each step!

Courtesy of:
This is a simple horizontal visual schedule of events during what
appears to be a class period or therapy session of some sort.  A simple way to show your child the activity was completed is to have your child pull each picture off the schedule as it is finished.  I added this picture because I LOVE horizontal visual schedules as they mirror reading left to right and it is quite simple to find the next activity if you pull each picture off when completed.

Courtesy of:
This is a simple visual behavior checklist.  I added this because it
illustrates how you can use visuals not only to sequence events or explain dates but to illustrate and teach your child what behaviors you want them to exhibit!
DIY-Visual Schedules:
You can make visual schedules fairly easy in this day and age of technology!

1.  Don't be afraid to use Real Pictures:  take pictures of your child performing the actions you want him/her to do, print them out, and put them in the correct sequence.  Real pictures are actually preferred for children that are more literal and struggle to understand symbols!

2.  Use Pictures found on Google Images or Bing Images:  You don't need a fancy computer program to create great visual pictures. You can find several great real life or cartoon pictures on these search sites that you can use.  Just remember to pick pictures that carry the intended meaning!

3.  Use tables, calendars and other templates in Microsoft:  One of the simpliest ways to create a visual table or graphic organizer is to use ones that already exist!  Why reinvent the wheel if all you need is a simple table that can be easily inserted into a Microsoft word document or powerpoint (that can be more easily manipulated in some instances)?! 

4.  Review the visual schedule with your child and spend time teaching him/her how to use it!  You cannot expect your child to understand or use a visual schedule just by seeing it once.  Visual schedules must be taught, referred to throughout the day, and rehearsed.  Don't expect your child to be able to use it independently overnight, although your long term goal is always to have your child use his/her visual schedule as independently as possible!

You can do it!  It just take time! 

I'd love to hear from parents and professionals on this topic.  If you have created and used visual schedules or visual behavior charts with your own children or your students or clients, what was the visual schedule for?  How did you teach your child how to use it?

As always...Happy Talking!!!
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