Back To School

Why Do I Come To Speech?

Back To School Speech Therapy Activities

Student: “Mrs. Davault, why do I come to speech?”

Me: You are learning how to correctly say the /r/ sound.

Student: “Ok, why does HE come to speech” *student gestures to a boy in the group that has autism and perfect articulation*

 Me: (fumbling, as I quickly try and find age appropriate words to explain a pragmatic language disorder): Um, well, he is working on something different.

Have you ever had the “Why do I come to speech” conversation? Or worse, the “Why does he come to speech” conversation? It’s tricky, you know.

Some disorders are easy to explain, others, not so much.

As a newer clinician, I would frequently experience some version of that conversation. Group therapy makes this conversation even more difficult, because let’s be honest, you cannot be 100% confidential in group therapy. You just can’t. I had no idea how to explain why a student came to speech, without totally violating all confidentiality.

Finally, after what felt like the millionth time of having this conversation, I had a light bulb moment. I needed to be doing a better job of explaining to my students why they were coming to speech. I already talked about goals with my kids, but I wasn’t doing a very good job. We would quickly address it at the beginning of the year, and then I usually would forget about it until the start of the next school year.

What I wasn’t doing, was teaching my students why they had to come see me in the first place.

When you take the time to explain the different kinds of speech and language disorders to your students, you can help each student understand what they are working on when they come to speech, and then you can draw on this knowledge for the rest of the time they are in speech therapy. You can also use this knowledge to open a conversation about specific goals, and how you are going to go about mastering those goals.

Here is how I do this:

  1. I do an age appropriate activity with my students that explains why they come to speech. If they are younger, we do an interactive mini-book that gives a very broad summary of their disorder (although I do not use the word disorder with them). If they are older, I like to do a reading passage and comprehension question activity (that way we are still working on other things while we address this task #multitasking). Each student gets a reading passage or book, that is specific to their individual disorder.
  2. After they know why they are coming to speech, we talk about when they will come and we talk about their individual goals. You can use your discretion on this step to make it as confidential as you feel comfortable with. For example, you can choose to pull students aside individually and discuss goals one at a time while the other students in the group work on coloring the mini-book or answering the comprehension questions.
  3. We talk about how it might take a long time to master our goals, and that the more we practice, the faster we will master them.

The beauty of using this method, is that it opens the doors of communication. Students have an opportunity to have their questions answered and they understand the process. They also get to learn about many different kinds of speech disorders, and that everyone who comes to speech, has goals to work on.

What’s even more beautiful, is that we can use this method for any “first day of speech”. It could be the first day back from summer, the first day of a new IEP year, or the first day of a new insurance authorization period. It works all the time!  

If you are interested in using my method, please let me save you some time! I have already done all the hard work of creating, so you don’t have to. Click here so you can see the entire resource!

This resource contains the following first day of speech therapy activities:

  • Classroom posters you can hang in your room to remind students why they come to speech. (see below)
  • Interactive mini books for younger students. There is one for each disorder (language, articulation, fluency, pragmatic language, and voice).
  • Reading passages and comprehension questions for older students. There is one for each disorder (language, articulation, fluency, pragmatic language, and voice).

If you are not sure what this school year will bring and would like a digital version of this resource, I’ve got you covered! Just click here!

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Autism · Back To School · Language

Fun Activities to Teach Body Parts To Preschoolers

Activities to teach body parts

If you have landed here, you are probably looking for some fun activities to teach body parts to preschoolers. It doesn’t matter if you are a parent, a preschool teacher, an early interventionist, or a speech-language pathologist, you know the importance of teaching body parts. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), children should be able to identify a few body parts between the age of 1-2 years.

Maybe your student still needs to learn body parts, or maybe you are wanting to reinforce some emerging skills, but if you have landed on this page it is because you are searching for some ideas to teach body parts…so let’s dig in!

Fun Books For Teaching Body Parts

Like any speech therapist, I love using books to introduce/teach/practice new vocabulary. For body parts, my favorite book is “Toes, Ears, and Nose” by Marion Dane Bauer and Karen Katz.

Toes, Ears, and Nose book
“Toes, Ears, and Nose” lift the flap book, written by Marion Dane Bauer and illustrated by Karen Katz.

To turn this book into an interactive lesson for my little learners, I like to print out pictures of each body part featured in the book using a program like Boardmaker or Symbolstix. As we read the book, I help my students match the printed image to the picture in the book. This works on matching two non-identical pictures and helps my kiddos stay engaged while we are reading. I have yet to meet a kid who didn’t like ripping apart two pieces of Velcro.

Body Part Book Activity
“Toes, Ears, and Nose” body part picture matching activity.

Songs for Teaching Body Parts

I am sure we all like to use Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes as our song companion when we teach body parts. So today, instead of recommending a new song, I would like to suggest a YouTube channel.  If you haven’t already discovered the YouTube channel Cocomelon, I would strongly encourage you to watch some of their videos. I love these videos because the characters have great facial expressions and use really good nonverbal language. I also like that they take traditional songs and put a new spin on them. Here is their versions of Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes if you would like to check it out.

Cocomelon Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes YouTube Video

This is another great video choice for teaching body parts. It has more body parts and it talks about the functions of the different body parts!

Fun Activities to Teach Body Parts to Preschoolers

Activity #1: I can’t take credit for this first activity. I have seen it a few times on social media, but its such a genius activity that I wanted to share it here, just in case you haven’t seen it.

Body Part Band Aid Activity
Band-aid body part activity

You will need band aids and a stuffed animal or doll, that’s it. Pretend that your toy has gotten hurt and needs a band aid, then help your student put a bandage on the hurt body part. I mean, what kid doesn’t love playing with band aids? And what teacher doesn’t like working on pretend play skills, body part vocabulary, and following directions at the same time? That sounds like a win-win scenario if I’ve ever heard one.

Activity #2: Preschoolers + Play Dough = True Love, #amiright?

Body Part Play Dough Smash Mat
Body Part Smash Mat Activity

For this next activity I used my play dough smash mats from the Body Part Activity Packet I created on Teachers Pay Teachers. Your students can have fun smashing out their favorite colored play dough while you are teaching vocabulary and following directions. Fun and multitasking? Another win for the teacher.

Activity #3: Sensory Bins. So you may not want to do this one if you really hate cleaning up messes…but if a little mess doesn’t bother you and you want to take a multi sensory approach to your lesson, give this one a try. And hey, you can always have your students practice those functional cleaning skills when you are done.

Body Part Sensory Bin Activity
Body Part Sensory Bin Activity

For this activity you will need a container and a filler and pictures of the body parts you want to practice. Dry rice, dry beans, dry pasta, pom poms, and cotton balls are all common fillers. For the container, lot of teachers like to use empty supply boxes or food storage containers. You can also use a clothes pin or tweezers to grab the pictures out of the bin for a fun fine motor challenge. To create these images, I have used the matching picture-to-picture worksheet that is included in my Body Part Activity Packet.

All your students have to do is find the picture in the filler and practice matching them to their counter parts. Burying the picture under the filler for a little scavenger hunt is extra fun-but again, messy. I especially love this activity for learners who have limited language abilities.

Activity #4: Slap the picture.

Body Part Vocabulary Activity
Body Part Slap the Vocabulary Picture Activity

For this activity you will need images of the vocabulary you are wanting to teach and something to hit the picture. I like to laminate the picture and use these little suction hammer things to grab it. I got my hammers as part of another game, but you can use a fly swatter, a pointer, or students can use their hands. You can do this activity individually, or students can compete against each other.

Activity #5: Sentence Builder

Body Part Sentence Builder Activity
Sentence Builder Activity

For this activity you will need a mirror and some picture cards to use as a visual cue. Students find a body part while looking in a mirror, then make the sentence “I see my _____.” I’ll even give you bonus points if you make silly faces while you look in the mirror. 😉

We have reached the end of this post and I truly hope you have found some fun activities you can take with you as you teach your preschoolers about their body parts. If you would like to see these activities and more like them, check out my Body Part Activity Packet on Teachers Pay Teachers by clicking the image below. If you would rather keep perusing the blog, I would recommend reading this story about this experience with one of my preschool students!

Body Part Activity Packet Cover
Click the image to check out this Body Part Activity Packet on Teachers Pay Teachers!

References: One to Two Years. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.asha.org/public/speech/development/12/

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Click the image above for your free pragmatic language evaluation checklist!
Autism · Back To School · Language

Nonverbal Speech Therapy Homework Activities

Speech Therapy Homework Calendar

I was sitting in an IEP meeting and a cold dread started seeping from my throat to my toes. I was terrified of what I was going to say to the parents sitting across from me. They were desperate for their son to talk- so desperate, that our meeting was solely focused on that one topic. As the paid speech and language expert in the room, it was my job to help them.

To help this family I needed to do three things:

  1. Help them understand the severity of their son’s disorder. SPOILER ALERT: I failed. (But that is a story for another time.)
  2. Inspire their confidence in my ability to help their son. I would like to think we made some progress in this area by the end of the school year, but lets be honest, I know we will never be best buds.
  3. Help them help their son at home. SECOND SPOILER: I would like to think I was successful, but I was not efficient… keep reading to find out what happened.

Let’s go back to that IEP meeting. The parents wanted their son to talk, so they were requesting more speech time. I increased his speech time at school, but I knew that this little boy needed help outside of school too. His parents were already trying to help him at home but they didn’t have a strategy and frankly, they weren’t using good techniques. I really wanted to help this little boy and his family, but as a school SLP I had limited contact with the caregivers outside of IEP meetings.

The mother and I exchanged email addresses, and each week I told her the goals we were targeting in speech and ways that she could practice them at home. Trying to teach her how to facilitate a language rich environment through email was tedious. I kept thinking to myself “There has to be a better way to give this family home practice activities.” I hoped there might be some sort of homework calendar for nonverbal students on Teachers Pay Teachers, but the only homework calendars I could find required the student to have expressive language skills. Since this boy had very limited expressive language skills, none of those resources would work for me.

I spent all school year thinking about this problem. I spent all school year thinking about how I could do this better. I wanted something that I could easily print and give to the parents of nonverbal and limited verbal students that would help them practice language skills at home. I wanted something that could be used for every nonverbal preschool, PPCD, kindergarten and early intervention student on my caseload. I wanted something that would get me through the entire school year. I wanted something that would teach caregivers how to work on language skills using everyday items.

Since nothing like that existed…I created it. It was my first big project on Teachers Pay Teachers and y’all, it took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R. I sat down and made my first draft and put it up for sale. It was awful, but someone purchased it.  That person then promptly gave me a well-deserved, terrible review. (If that person ever reads this, I am so sorry you bought that.)

But I still felt strongly about this project so I called my grandmother and asked for her help. My grandmother is a well experienced teacher, and I knew she would have some wisdom for me. We hashed a new plan for my calendar and my grandmother agreed to be my editor. I slowly churned out each month until the calendar I have today was completed. I was so happy when that dang thing was finished!

My Nonverbal Speech Therapy Homework Calendar

Each week focuses on common areas of weakness and 2-3 skills are targeted each week. It also very loosely follows the kindergarten curriculum of the district I worked in. I did this so that my students could practice the vocabulary they were learning at school, at home. Most of the activities can be completed using items people probably have at home, but there is a shopping list that should be sent home with the caregivers at the beginning of the month so they can make sure they have everything they need on hand. Each activity is then explained using basic vocabulary and tells the caregivers what skills are being practiced during any given activity. As the educator, all you have to do is print off the calendar and companion activities and send them home.

Even though all that stuff I just mentioned is great, I think the best part is that no expressive language abilities are needed to complete any of the activities in the calendar.  

So now you are asking, “Can you tell me more about this calendar?” Honestly, I could talk about this calendar for days, but I think the preview, product description, and free sample do a better job of showing you what is included in the resource. Just click on the image below if you want to learn more!

Year Long Nonverbal Speech Therapy Language homework activities

One more thing…my sweet friend Kaitlyn (aka The Stay at Home Teacher) created a blog post about the resources she uses with daughter as part of their home school-preschool routine. She mentions this calendar and several other resources that would be helpful to speech language pathologists, special education teachers, and early interventionists. If you want to read more about these resources, click here!

If you’re interested in upping your pragmatic language therapy/evaluation game then you have come to the right place. Let me share my tips and tricks with you so that you can approach this tricky area with confidence. Click here and we can start learning together–I even want to give you a free pragmatic language evaluation checklist so you can sample my work. If my style isn’t your cup of tea, you can unsubscribe at anytime 🙂

Click the picture to get your free pragmatic language evaluation checklist now!