Finishing Strong: Keep Calm and Just Color!

The end of the school year is always a stressful time for me.  I have not only all of my end of the year IEPs, evaluations, and progress reports to complete, but I also have all of my own kids end of the year activities and sports to contend with too.  Some days it can just be completely overwhelming.  Some days when I get really frazzled, I like to go out for a run and clear my head.  But, taking a run isn't always possible in my world, so I need something else to calm my nerves (besides a nice cold craft beer).

Five years ago, my husband had some pretty major health problems and ended up needing numerous surgeries, and finally, a kidney transplant.  While I was in the waiting room the day he received his kidney, I was given a gift from some volunteers.  The volunteers were from the Gifts of Art program at the University of Michigan.  They gave me a brand new box of crayons and a coloring book.  I loved to color when I was little, and truly had not done it in years.  My kids were pretty little at the time and hadn't really gotten into coloring pages yet.  So, when I was given this gift, I was actually excited to try it out.  I have to say that it was truly very calming for me.  Because I had little guys at home, I needed my support people at home with them, so I was by myself most of that day. This was a great way to distract myself.  There was something about putting the brand new crayons to paper and creating something without a lot of thought that really relaxed my mind.  I think it was nice for me to feel like I had control over something during such a chaotic time.

Here is a page that I colored from this wonderful book:

Here are three sites where you can find some free coloring pages to help yourself relax and calm down for a few minutes:

Color Pages for Mom
Coloring Pages for Adults
Super Coloring

I have also purchased a book from Michaels that I really liked that is full of Lotus designs.  With that book, I also purchased some markers and colored pencils.  I have really enjoyed that too.  Here are a few examples of coloring books that you can purchase from places such as Amazon, Michaels, or book stores:

Creative Haven: Lotus Designs (this is the one that I purchased)
Mandalas Coloring Book
Flower Designs Coloring Book

Here is a picture I finished from my book, and one that I am still working on:

So, the next time you are feeling stressed, go out an buy a brand new box of crayons, print off a sheet, and relax for a few minutes!  Then, you can go to work and finish strong!

Homework Hotline: Linky Party!

This week Gold Country SLP is hosting a Linky Party that is highlighting great summer homework activities that are all available in black and white!

I am going to share with you my Summer of Speech and Language Calendars today.  These have been updated for the summer of 2015, and will continue to be updated for each summer coming up, so you will always have calendars available to you with the correct dates!  After you purchase this pack, you will be able to re-download the updated files each year.

These calendars come in both color and black and white versions, so if you are looking for something that will save you ink, you do not need to use the colored versions.

There are articulation and language calendars included in this packet:

Here is an example of a color version:

I have used these for three years now, and I always get compliments from parents each fall.  They love the simple activities that are included, and the fact that it does not take them a lot of time to work on some great speech and language skills.

You can find these calendars HERE.

Thanks for a fun linky party, Gold Country SLP!!!  Remember to check out all of the great summer activities available HERE.

ColorCard Apps: Review and {GIVEAWAY}

I have so many students working on sequencing and describing pictures in sequence.  I am constantly looking for new ways to target this, as my students sometimes quickly learn my pictures, and it is not longer a challenge for them.  When I found out about Colorcards Apps, I jumped at the chance to check them out and review them!

These are five great apps focus on using real-life pictures for sequencing, predicting, and describing. The apps are engaging, and lead to some great descriptions and stories!

The main reason that I was really interested in these apps is for the sequencing.  There are actually three different apps for this:
Basic Sequences App: This one has three pictures for students to sequence.
4-Step: This app has four pictures that students sequence.
6 & 8 Step: This app has six and eight step picture sequences.

All of the apps begin with similar opening pages:

Each of the apps offer four different activities:

  • Ordering: students move the pictures around in to the correct order.  There is an option for recording on this part of the app, however when the students put the pictures in order, the pictures flash with transparent color, which I find a bit distracting while trying to describe.

  • Predicting: students guess what will happen in the last picture.  Students can record on this activity.  There is no correct answer picture provided.  The therapist will judge whether or not the prediction is correct.  

  • Describing: students describe each picture, and can record their voice.  This is my favorite part of these apps!  It is great to have students listen to what they recorded, and fix anything if needed.  When they are finished describing each picture in the sequence, it gives them an opportunity to listen to what they recorded in any order.

My students LOVE to record themselves and then listen to each picture.  This is a great opportunity to talk about what they recorded, and how they could change it if needed.

  • View Cards: students are able to look at all of the pictures in a sequence and describe to you.  There is not a recording option on this portion of the app.  

In the first three activities, there is an opportunity for the therapist to record data.  This is all kept for each student, and graphs are available for the data.

The remaining two apps, What Can You See? and Everyday Objects target describing and inferring skills.

What Can You See?  Students touch the picture, and a small amount is revealed with each touch. Students must infer what is going to appear.  They can then describe it.  There is a recording function on this app.

  • Everyday Objects: Students are asked to describe a variety of pictures.  The recording function is included in this app.  Students can describe a sequence, or describe pictures as they are revealed (similar to the What Can You See? app).

I have been using my EET beads with this app, and students are able to record their responses.  This gives us a great way to discuss what else students could add to their descriptions.

What do I like about these apps?
My students really love these apps!  There is a nice variety of pictures and sequences.  I'm sure my students will eventually memorize some of the pictures, but that happens with a lot of sequencing cards, so really it is nice to have a new set to throw into the mix.  

I really love the recording function.  My students have loved recording themselves and listening back. It has created so many great moments for self-correction.  They are so proud of themselves when they work hard to create a story, and then are able to listen to the whole thing.

My students also really like the pictures in the What Can You See? and Everyday Objects apps.  They like to reveal piece by piece and figure out what the item is before it is fully revealed.

What would I love to see?
The only thing that bothered me was in the sequencing activities.  I wish that the page would not flash colors.  It is distracting to my students when they want to describe the sequence that they built.  There is, however, another place for them to describe the exact same pictures, so really, it is not a big deal.

Now that you know how much I love these apps, how about a chance to win ALL FIVE!?!?
Colorcard apps is giving away all 5 of their apps to one lucky winner!  All you have to do to win is enter below.  This giveaway will run through Friday, May 15 at 11:59 pm (EST).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Spring and Summer People Sentences

I love using my free product called Spring People Sentences.  It was one of my first free products, and something I actually use all of the time (during the season).  Last week, I was using it, and realized that I had some great new spring clip art that I would love to see used on the mats.  Well, this turned into me completely revamping the product!

This is a free product that targets third person pronouns in a really simple way.  There are mats with sentence starters, and mats that are blank.  Both sets contain a boy, a girl, and a pair (they).  The mats with sentence starters simply state: He/She/They have a ______.   There are 24 different items for the student to comment about.

This activity targets not only the pronouns of he, she, and they, but can also target a variety of spring vocabulary.  My students love picking a picture to use in their sentences!

So, while I was revamping my spring pronoun packet, I decided to redo my Summer People Sentences also.  This has never been available on TpT.  I released it as a freebie on my Facebook page for a year, and then had to remove my freebie link from Facebook.  So, this may be new to many of you.  Even for those of you who have my previous version, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the changes.

The layout of these mats are exactly the same as the spring version, just with summer vocabulary.

You can get these freebies here:
Spring People Sentences
Summer People Sentences

Summer Interactive Books!

Hi everyone!  I am super excited about these books that I am going to show you today!  These books are very similar to my Winter and Spring Interactive Books that have been very popular with my students.  I don't know about you, but I am so ready for summer!  I am going to start using these books in the next few weeks to get my students interested in summer too.  So, here are my...

Summer Interactive Books!

These are fun, simple books that can be used in a variety of ways.  They are pretty easy to assemble with a little lamination and Velcro.  Complete instructions for how to assemble these books are included in the packet.

The first book is called What Do You See?

In this book, students use the interactive pieces to complete sentences about things that they can see in the summer.  Examples include a bike, a sand castle, a pool, and sunscreen.  Here is an example of a page:

The second book is called Summer Activities.

There are two additional activities included in the packet you will receive.

In this book, students use the interactive pieces to complete sentences about activities they can do in the summer.  The ten activities include: playing in sand, swimming, surfing, camping, canoeing, planting flowers, playing baseball, having a picnic, hiking, and riding a bike.  Here is an example of a page:

The third book is called Summer Clothes.

In this book, students use the interactive pieces to complete sentences about clothes or things they can wear in the summer.  The ten items include: sun hat, cap, swim suit, shorts, t-shirt, sunglasses, mask, snorkel, flippers, sandals.  Here is an example of a page:

These books are great because they can be very versatile.   I use them with my students who have ASD and need help expanding their utterance length.  Sometimes, I will pull the book apart and pull off two or three interactive pieces to create a smaller field of choices for my students.  

I also use these books for some of my Kindergarten and First Grade students who need a little help with using complete sentences.  I use them for WH questions such as:

  • When can you wear shorts?
  • What do you see in the summer?
  • What can you do in the summer?
  • When can you go swimming?
These books have been so much fun for me to make and use with my students.  When my older students come into my room, and the books are lying on the table, they can't help themselves either. They love to look through the books and manipulate the pieces.  Kids LOVE Velcro!

You can find these books here:

Getting to Know Your Favorite Online SLPs!

Thanks to Natalie over at Natalie Snyders, SLP for hosting this fun linky!

Who am I?
My name is Jen, and I live in southeast Michigan with my husband and our two boys ages 7 and 8. The boys keep us super busy!   I have been a speech-language pathologist for 15 years, the majority of them in public schools.  I have been blogging and on TpT since November 2012, when I started on kind of a whim.  I had no idea that I would be able to meet and interact with so many amazing SLPs!

What do I offer?
The tagline on my blog says "A Place to Explore Speech and Language Ideas."  My blog is mostly ideas and activities that help me out in my practice as a school based SLP.  I love to use apps in therapy, so there are often app reviews.  I highlight new products that I have produced for my therapy room and my TpT store.  I also have a new feature where I am highlighting some simple tips and tricks that help me out in my everyday SLP life.  Once in a while I will also talk about things that I am passionate about, like raising money for the JDRF in honor of my son who lives with Type 1 Diabetes.
My TpT store consists primarily of things that I have made after being inspired by my students.  I have a lot of activities targeted towards and inspired by my ASD population of students.

My dream job?
If I had to be totally honest, I think my dream job would be to stay at home with my boys or secretly to be a major movie star.  But, I can't act, and I really love my job at my school, so, I guess I am staying there!  In terms of a speech-language pathology job, I think I really have it all.  I love working with the K-5 population, and I love working with the ASD population.  I have both, so I guess I really do have my dream job.

3 of my favorite things:
I love running, playing with my boys, and anything crafty.

Who else should you know?
This is a tough question!  There are so many people that I think you should follow.  But, I really think you should know Kelly over at Speech 2U.  She is seriously so smart and funny, and her posts make me laugh out loud, and make me think.
Check out her BHSM: Flip Flap Freebie at her TpT store.

Hopefully you can learn a little bit about some new SLP bloggers through this linky.  Thanks for reading!

Tips and Tricks on Tuesdays: Laminating Tiny Pieces

Have you ever had a few tiny pieces that were cut up, but that you really wanted to laminate.  So many times, I have put loose pieces into a laminating pouch and then placed them in the laminator, only to have them move around, fall out, or end up on top of each other.  What a mess!

I have discovered a quick, easy way to get these tiny pieces laminated with no mess, or frustration.  Two words...glue stick.

I simply take a glue stick and put a small dot on the back of whatever I want to laminate.  Then, I put it into the laminating pouch and press down just like I would to make the piece stick to paper.

When I am done, I have a whole sheet full of loose pieces, but they won't fall out when I move the sheet to the laminator.

When I get it to the laminator, I can just place it into my laminator and can turn away.  The pieces will not fall out, and they will not move.

WOO HOO!  An easy peasy way to laminate those tiny pieces that always drive me crazy!

Hope this tip helped!  If it did, please share with a friend.