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Letters Alive is a supplemental reading program that incorporates technology (augmented reality) and the alphabet. Letters Alive has helped reinforce the alphabet, introduce new vocabulary, and build words.

Here's a quick demo of what it can do:

Check out our Facebook page to watch videos of how we are using Letters Alive in our classrooms! 

Here's a link to our videos:

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Be on the lookout for upcoming videos! We have exciting news to share very soon!!!

Games that require putting pieces on a structure - or taking them off - are easy, motivating, and fun. In therapy, they can also lead to competition that takes focus off speech and language goals. Keep reading to find out how to use these games while running effective therapy groups.
how to turn a board game into a cooperative game in speech therapy by All Y'all Need
Games like Monkeying Around, Yeti in My Spaghetti, Don't Spill the Beans, Don't Break the Ice, and many more, are easy to find, affordable and engaging. This cooperative method will work with any game that involves balance through either adding or taking away game parts.

Let's talk about Monkeying Around.
The object of this game is to put on all the monkeys without making the magnetic tree canopy fall down. If it does, the hungry alligator gets to eat the monkeys!
It's cute, it's fun, so what's the problem? Students start focusing on who makes the tree fall. And see the little spinner in the yellow circle? They get upset if a friend spins 3 and they spin a 1. The cries of "No fair!" start. And then behavior management. And speech and language goals get stuffed into a few minutes of precious therapy time.

Here's my solution:
* Don't use the spinner. Everyone gets 1 monkey per turn. No one focuses on who spun a 3 and who spun a 1.
* Because students are not focusing on the spinner, they can look through their stimulus cards or write words on their homework pages.
* Set a team goal, for example, the group has to work together to get 12 monkeys on the tree without it falling before getting a smelly smiley.
Lather, rinse, and repeat for any game that requires balance.

What about games that take away, like Don't Break the Ice? I also set a team goal for those. For example, I may require that students work until each student has 4 blocks. If all the blocks fall before that, they all go back into the tray.

The same result happens - students work together, don't blame the poor person who has to hit the ice cube that will make everything drop, and they can pay attention to what's going on while also working on homework pages between turns.

Be sure to check out How to Turn Board Games into Cooperative Games for more tips. And be sure to check back for more types of cooperative games.

Games are great motivators in speech therapy. And I love getting lots of data from open-ended turn-taking games. The downside? Games are games. And they can bring out competitiveness, cries of "No fair!" and not much focus on language skills. Cooperative games are my solution, and this method will work for open-ended board games!

I changed to cooperative games waaay back in 2002. You can read about my reasons for this in Cooperative Games. Suffice it to say, there was a group of 2nd-grade boys who tested ALL of my therapy skills. We weren't getting ANY work done. I had to change.

Open-ended games are some of my favorite therapy tools. I can address some drill & kill in mixed groups, get good hard data, and the games are pretty easy to set up. I frequently use the August-December and January through April game boards from Mia McDaniel - Putting Words in Your Mouth.

A typical session starts with assigning game pieces. I've tried different ways - letting students pick, shaking the pieces in my hand and drawing them out blind, and throwing them up in the air like confetti and seeing who catches which one. Not really, but it feels that way sometimes!

The best way to assign the game pieces is by shirt color. I can keep track of which pawn is whose at a glance - a handy thing when I'm keeping data, running the game, working with a small group, AND doing behavior management.

Next, we quickly review our speech and language goals for the session.

I explain the rules of the game. It should be pretty easy - take a turn, roll a die, first one to finish wins. It's not. Inevitably, one student will always roll the 1 while another always rolls the 3 (I only use 1, 2, 3 dice.) Here are the rules for a cooperative game:

* EVERYONE has to get to the end to get a reward. I use smellies (read about these here and here) because they are easy and motivating. Stickers and brag tags also work.
* The first one to finish still takes turns. They continue to roll and let another student move those spaces.
* If you roll the die off the table, you lose your turn.

That's it. Just 3 rules. The benefits are:
* Behavior management - the students are focused on working together to all finish the game.
* Focus on speech/language skills - the students aren't worried about who is ahead.
* Fewer cries of "No fair!", "He's cheating!", and "I'll never win!"

Usually, there is one student in the group who is one concerned about where everyone is on the game board. You know, the one who moans, "I'll never catch up!" or crows "I'm so far ahead of everyone!" Cooperative games give that student a chance to be helpful instead of telling other students they are behind or that they are cheating just because they rolled the 3 instead of the 1.

Another trick I like to use is to give each student a homework page and have them write their words between turns. The table can get a little crowded if there is a game, homework pages, and more than 4 students, but it does help with focus on speech and language skills.

While this works for 98% of my groups, nothing is 100%. I don't use cooperative games if students are working on social skills such as sportsmanship or playing games with peers.

I hope these these tips help you with your own groups. Be sure to check back for future posts on other types of games!

My class is obsessed with our Letter of the Week iMovie productions! It's a quick and engaging way to assess your students' knowledge of letter identification, beginning sounds, and capital/lowercase differentiation. I'll show you how to use iMovie with your students. First, here's an example:
Please note that I did edit one of our class iMovies for a preview. Most iMovies contain pictures of my students.

Activities Day-by-Day: 

Monday and Tuesday - Investigate the letter via books, songs, etc... Use your usual teaching tools.
Pretty easy so far, huh? Nothing new needed.
Wednesday and Thursday - Have your students walk around your classroom or school and take pictures of letters and objects that begin with the letter of the week. Send all of the photos via Dropbox- more on that below- and put them in whatever order you would like on iMovie.
Friday: Have a viewing party and watch the iMovie. The kids will want to watch it several times.

Don't feel discouraged if you don't have a class set of iPads or any iPads at all! Just use your iPhone! The students could search for objects and raise their hand once they have found their object/letter. Then, you'd just have to send them iMovie. I did this at the beginning of the year and it worked perfectly.

How to Set Up and Use Dropbox:

For security purposes, Airdrop is turned off at my school. I have 1:1 devices in my classroom, so I share all of the photos via Dropbox. I just send them to myself during nap time or after school. You can teach your kiddos to share photos via Dropbox....IF YOU'RE BRAVE! ;)

If you don't have Dropbox, go here to create an account. It's really easy and only takes 2 minutes max.

If you already have a Dropbox account, just make sure you sign in.

How to Make a 1-Minute iMovie: 

Reasons why I love Letter of the Week iMovies:
  1. The kids are completely engaged!
  2. Technology! Technology! Technology!
  3. The students feel a sense of pride because they are taking ownership of their learning!
  4. They get to yell, "That's what I found!" really loudly while the other students cheer.

As I prepare for parent conferences, I am so thankful for the "Parent Conferencer" tab on ESGI. I can create a schedule and print out conference letters within minutes! 

Here's how you can utilize the "Parent Conferencer" tool on ESGI: 

Go to the "Parent Conferencer" tab and add dates and times you would like to schedule conferences. 
Click and pull student names into desired time slot. 

Once all students have been placed in a time slot, click on the "Print All Letters" tab to print a conference letter to send home to parents. Each letter is generated with the students name and their conference time. *Spanish translation is also available! 

When it gets closer to conference time, click the "Print All Reminders" tab and send home a reminder letter to parents. 

Don't have ESGI? No problem! Try a free 60 day trial using the code B7165. You won't regret it! 

Ah, it's that time of the year. Therapy is rolling along, referrals are on a steady pace, it feels like whatever "balance" is might actually be achievable, and then the REMINDER on the calendar pops up - END OF REPORTING PERIOD. And suddenly, the prospect of writing multiple progress reports makes us lie on the ground in the fetal position. To help with your sanity, and to keep people from wondering why the SLP is speechless, we've rounded up a few tips to help SLPs get through progress reports.

Plan Ahead

I know, easier said than done. Try creating calendar reminders as a countdown, as in "2 weeks until reporting period ends", "1 week until reporting period ends", etc. Just plant a seed in your mind. You don't have to do anything with the reminder, unless you want to. It's kind of like allowing for a snooze (or few) on your morning alarm. When the final reminder of "Reporting Period Ends TODAY" comes up, you'll be less frantic.

Check the Data

At least two weeks before progress reports, take a quick look at the data for each student. Don't analyze the data. This should take no more than a few seconds for each student. Quickly make a list of students you need data for before writing the progress reports. Maybe a student has been absent due to sickness, or a student moved in mid-reporting period, or you yourself were out. This fast glance will tell you which students you need some good hard data before the due date. And yes, I've learned this the hard way for multiple reporting periods.


Consider writing progress reports for students who have services in addition to speech first. The Sp Ed teachers will thank you. If your data is already in the progress reports when the Sp Ed teacher is ready to print them, they might kiss your feet. Not really, but this act will go a looong way in working with them.

It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Chunk your assignment. How many reports can you reasonably write at one time? Is it a time limit, like 30 minutes? I tend to write my progress reports by groups. For example, I try to get through at least 3 groups at a time. Or complete all the reports for the morning groups, take a break, then concentrate on the afternoon groups. 

Make Sure Your Hard Work is Seen

You've done the therapy, the data collection, and written the progress reports. Make sure the right people get the progress reports, whether it's the teacher, parent/guardian, or student.

The progress reports I am required to use have tiny print. They are not user-friendly for reading. To solve the problem of distributing the progress reports, I use Progress Report Covers for SLPs. These are templates, and they are editable! I download one the pages, type in the common information (date, my name, and school/district). Then, I run off a bunch of the covers and write in the student's name and grade/teacher. The progress report covers are ready to staple on top of the progress reports! Parents/guardians and teachers have user-friendly print to know that the progress report is included.

Reward Yourself!

Progress reports are hard work. Treat yo self! And give yourself a big ole' pat on the back!

A summer of bathroom remodeling and getting my own children ready for college left my wallet a little empty. When I got my official assignment 20 days before students returned and found out I would be moving, I quickly realized a needed a budget. $25 it was!

The school's space is pretty nice. It will hold me, a licensed assistant (M), and student groups. The first thing I did was review tips for setting up rooms. My goals were to make it student-centered and functional.

Note: I will be serving two schools. I'm showing you one room right now. It's nicely located in the center of the school, so it had to be ready for Meet the Teacher Night. The room at the other school is larger and in a portable, so I'm still working on it.

When I first set up the room, M didn't think it had the right "energy". We angled the horseshoe table in front of the mirror. Students will sit on IKEA stools. They are so much better than chairs, and the wooden stools are lasting much longer than the metal stools I tried 2 years ago. Another IKEA product - the storage shelf - is within reach during therapy sessions to save time.
The items in the picture are things I already had, so the cost so far is a whopping $0!

This is the beginning of my 25th year. I have stuff. After purging, we filled up the bookshelves already in the room. The materials still looked distracting, so all of my budget went to fixing that. I found tension rods at Big Lots for $2.25 each and fabric shower curtains with hooks included at Wal-Mart for $9.88 each. I'm not crazy about the pattern, but they will do for this year. Total cost - $24.26.
To make the shower curtains fit, we doubled them over on the tension rods and hot-glued the bottom hems.

Next to the shelves are therapy cards in shoe holders. The pockets are labeled.

Other areas include the desk:
The thirty-one bag holds my PLS-5 manipulatives so I can grab it and go. The phone and electrical plugs are to the bottom left of the desk. Notice the fan? I'll be using that while M operates her personal heater.

 Lightbox Inserts for SLPs by All Y'all Need
Of course, we have a welcome sign that will change each month and lots of books. Organization of the books comes courtesy of my librarian sister, Amy.

NOTE: Amazon links are affiliate links, which means that if you should choose to click on them and buy an item, we may get a percentage of the sale at no cost to you.

And how wonderful is the school's theme - Happy Campers?!?! Upon my cousin Lisa's recommendation, I bought fadeless paper and a bunting from Amazon. I'm sure you're wondering how I bought those for 74 cents. I used some Amazon reward points, and I already had the chevron ribbon and an IKEA frame, so this cost me nothing!
I'm super happy with our room. It's student-centered, functional, looks nice while still having space, is welcoming without being over-decorated, and it's within budget!

As I set up my classroom, I can't help but think about all of the labels I need to create for my new students.... Come on class list!!!! However, I rest assured because ESGI totally has all of my labels covered. The Classroom Management Tool saves me so much time! Here's how:  

First, Sign Up for ESGI:

Here's How ESGI Can Save You HOURS During Classroom Setup: 
Y'all, the classroom management tool is going to be your best friend. After plugging in your student names, look what all the Classroom Management Tool automatically generates! 

(Click on the image below to watch an overview of the Classroom Management Tool)

Here are some helpful demos of how to use the Classroom Management Tool: 

Class Management Tool:

CMT Cubby Names Report Printing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBhayuyPtk

Look how great these look! 


The first 60 days are FREE! Just sign up for the 60 day trial!
After you have fallen in love with this assessment tool, the usual yearly subscription fee is $199.
But, I have a code that will make this product $159 instead!
Just enter the code: B7165 to save $40

ESGI is also doing a HUGE Back to School Giveaway! 

Here's How to Sign Up:

Sign up for a free trial using our code B7165 and you will be entered into a raffle to win one of ten $50 Amazon Cards!

Sign up for the free trial! You won't regret it!

Have a great school year!

You might be waiting for me to say, "I love summer because I get to sleep in, go to the bathroom when I want, and travel." While those are MOST DEFINITELY TRUE, my favorite part of summer is that I get to reignite my passion for teaching and my kids.

Here's how I recharge my batteries:

Catch up on reading

I try to do all of my "teacher book" reading in the summer. I really want to devote my entire focus to digging into content and figuring out how I can use the content in my classroom to help my kids. So far, my favorite books have been Kids Deserve It! by Adam Welcome and Todd Nesloney and Engaging Young Writers, Preschool - Grade 1 by Matt Glover. I'm currently co-hosting a book study with some coworkers via Facebook and I can't even begin to describe how inspired I have been by all of the ideas and passionate conversations happening.

Have meaningful conversations with passionate people

While in Vegas, I had dinner with some very dear friends, Greg and Jason from The Kindergarten Smorgasboard, and two new acquaintances, Joyce and Eric from SitSpots. I honestly have to say, it was a dinner I will never forget. We talked about life, our passion for teaching, hard work and funny stories of "being in the trenches" of our classrooms. I also heard the story of how SitSpots came to be.

See the people my Mom calls "My internet friends." 😜

My cousin, Amy, and I just got back from the TPT conference in Anaheim, California. We had such  a blast connecting with old friends and making new ones. Every time I go to a conference, I come back energized and my passion for making a difference is reignited.

This summer, I've also spent some time catching up and working with Amy and Laura. I love this crazy journey of blogging, tpt, laughing, joking, social media-ing we are on together! I wouldn't trade it for the world!!! While summer may be winding down, I hope everyone has had a chance to rest, reflect, and recharge!

We are so excited to be taking over Target Teachers today! If that's new to you, Target Teachers is an Instagram account for educators who loooove Target - which should include about 98.9879% of you.

I'm always looking in the Target Dollar Spot for therapy activities. These inflatable dice looked like a lot of fun! I'll be sharing with you how to play a life-sized game with them, and it only takes about 7 minutes to set up (with 5 of those minutes being blowing up the dice)! So for about 2 minutes of prep and less than $10, I made a game that several of my students called "the best ever!"
Use inflatable dice and sidewalk squares to make the students themselves a game marker in speech and language therapy!
* inflatable dice - 4 10-inch dice come in the $5 pack from Target
* sidewalk chalk - the sidewalk chalk is also from Target - I bought it in the toy section. It has a holder for people who don't like sidewalk-chalk-dust fingers, like me.
* a clipboard for data pages
* cards for each student. All of my cards are on a binder ring. These artic cards are from Gold Country SLP. Each student was responsible for carrying and flipping through their own cards.

Optional: an IKEA cart to hold everything

To set up:
* go outside, use the existing sidewalk squares or hopscotch squares for game squares, and write START in the first block and END in the last block.

Seriously, it's that easy. I mean, you could go all out and decorate squares and add go forward and move back spaces, but it's not necessary. It would be really cute, but I only used START and END, and the game was a hit.

After a student practices a skill, the die is rolled and the student moves that many spaces forward. That's it. And the kids love being the actual game!

I did learn a few things.
1) One of the inflatable dice had a hole that I could never quite completely cover, so only 3 of the 4 dice worked. If this is a concern, buy more than one package of dice.
2) The dice are pretty round when blown up and do roll more than I thought they would.
2) The two days I did this were pretty windy. I ended up having the students toss the dice to me as I stood about a foot away. I twirled the dice, tossed it back, and whatever number their right thumb was on was the number they "rolled".
3) Of course, one student will roll all 6's and be the first one through. To slow that down, the students had to roll the exact number to get to the END. So if they were two spaces away and rolled a 4, they couldn't move and had to continue to take turns until they rolled a 1 or 2.
4) And to add to that, one student will be lucky and finish quickly. I had my students continue to take turns and give their rolls to another student. IDEA: You could use this for behavior, as in having the finished student give their roll to the quietest student, the one standing in their space the whole time, etc.
5) If you need to stretch out the game, students could move backwards. So if a student needs a 2 to get to the END and rolls a 4, they have to move BACK 4 spaces.

After we played the game, students wanted to play it again, said it was the best game all year, and asked to play it the next session. I sincerely hope this helps your students!
"Be nice to your secretaries and custodians."

That's my advice to every CF and grad student I've supervised.

It may seem weird. They are probably expecting pearls of wisdom about working with mixed groups, how to implement behavior management, or encouragement or affirmation.

And I  just toss out those words - "Be nice to your secretaries and custodians."

They are the words my own mother told me 23 years ago. They've held true.

Today, I'm focusing on the unsung heroes in schools - the custodians. They clean for not very much money. And they clean yucky stuff. That alone is enough to boost them up on the pedestal. They will do so much more for you. Last year, a glass-framed picture above my chalkboard fell to the floor. I don't know how. It was up when I left in the afternoon and then laying shattered on the floor when I returned the next morning. I went to borrow a vacuum. The custodian wouldn't give me her closet keys - instead, she left her breakfast post to vacuum for me. And when I forgot to take the frame home to try to fix it, another custodian fixed it for me and hung it back up. Custodians have our backs.
Here are 5 tips that don't cost anything and go a long way in establishing a relationship.

1) Learn your custodians' names

Say hello and good-bye with their names. Say "thank you" with their names. It's common courtesy, but it is so appreciated.

2) Show interest in the custodians

If I have their children or grandchildren, that's a powerful common bond. And it seems to mean a lot when I ask about their children who are older and are in secondary or even graduates.

3) Place the trashcan next to the door

If I have to set it closer to the other side of the room for an activity, I try to remember to move it back before trash pick-up. Seriously, they are emptying so many trashcans. I can try to make it a little easier for them.

4) Show the custodians respect in front of students

Point out how we need to use the rugs to clean our shoes so we can help keep the floors clean. Teach students the names of custodians as part of back-to-school or vocabulary activities. Say hello to the custodians in the hallways.

5) Share with the custodians

For example, I don't keep play-dough over the summer because it gets hot and melty. Instead, I offer it the custodians, who are usually more than willing to take it to their children and grandchildren. I learned sharing the hard way when I threw away an empty gift basket. I didn't think anything about it. The next day, the custodian approached me shyly with the basket and asked if she could have it. Now, after cleaning out my room at the end of the year, I keep a stash and give first dibs to the custodians before putting it in the "share pile."


If you work in a school, you know what I mean. If you are new, follow this rule. No questions. Even if you go to school when no one is there, you will be tracked down and become the subject of an email sent to the whole school. Even worse, you'll be on the custodians' bad list. You really don't want that.

And now, here's some kindness for you from the Frenzied SLPs! We are sharing kindness this month the way we know best! We have collaborated to create FREE materials for use with your students centered around a kindness theme. Target a variety of speech and language skills with these products!

Pronouns, Places and Possessives: Kindness focuses on friendships and working together in the classroom while also targeting pronouns, prepositions, and possessive /s/.
Check out The Frenzied SLPs Sharing Kindness Blog Hop for more freebies by starting at Talkin' with Twang.

 The Frenzied SLPs Kindness Blog Hop

To continue with the hop, click below to go to Speech Sprouts.

We graciously thank you for downloading and using these materials with your students/clients. If you would be so kind, please leave feedback in our TPT stores if you find a few spare moments!
SLP Commitments. They can be so overwhelming. IEPs, testing, therapy, supervision - the list goes on and on. And between the demands of my district, my schools, ASHA, my state requirements, and my own personal standards, I could be exhausted - and it's only January...

This year, I commit to NOT STRIVING FOR BALANCE. Huh? No balance? All work? Not exactly.

I've determined that balance does NOT exist. How can I work towards balance if I don't know what my end result should be?

I will follow all of the guidelines to the best of my ability. I will keep students and their needs first. I will do my best to make all timelines. I will strive to serve, treat, and comply. To clarify, I have an experienced and wonderful licensed assistant. My caseload is more than some of yours, less than others. It doesn't matter because it's what I'm assigned. And it's enough that I can roughly follow 8 hours of work, with some days being more. I refuse to take work home - I'll stay later at school - because home is home.

I'm not a perfect SLP, wife, mom or daughter or person. I can't be. I can try my best to live out this life God has given me. For me, life is not perfect balance. It's more real, some things happening more than others at different times. Instead of striving for balance, I'm going with God's will for my life. He's a lot smarter than me.
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