Saturday, February 16, 2019 No comments

You know how you walk down the aisle of a store and think to yourself, 'I could use that in my speech therapy room'? Well, that's how I started using tokens in my therapy room. Nearly two decades ago, I was walking through an SLPs home away from home, a dollar store. I spotted sleeves of plastic poker chips and they somehow jumped into my cart.

At the time, I was working with a preschool and early intervention caseload. I grabbed some modge podge and my trusty Boardmaker to add visuals. They worked beautifully to keep the kids engaged with a learning tool that they perceived as a toy.

Many years later, I've updated the graphics and vocabulary that I use but the concept remains the same. I've used poker chips I've found at the thrift store, glass gems from the dollar store, wooden discs from Amazon, and plastic bottle caps. Now, to ease the process, I print my images on full sheet label paper and simply stick them on. Works like a charm.

Here are some of the ways that I have used Articulation Tokens:

  • Use tokens in sensory Boxes
  • Hide & Seek
  • Incorporate with spatial concepts
  • Use in play based therapy as manipulatives with toys (ex. tokens ride on pirate ship)
  • Create a game board
  • Feed a puppet
  • Stack
  • Deposit into piggy bank
  • Fill token companion letter
  • Use in silly fill-in-the-blank stories
  • Place on pictures within a storybook
  • Use in a speech relay race
  • Balance on a spatula and deposit in a bucket across the room
  • Hot potato (say target sound when passed to you)
  • Use in a lending library for RtI (paired with data sheets)
  • Use printable shrink paper, cut out and place in the oven to create your tokens
  • Use black & white stickers on crafts
  • Cut a row of token strips to form into bracelet
  • Print as smash mats
  • Print black & white pages of the labels to use with paint dab markers

If you are interested in introducing Articulation Tokens to your speech therapy sessions, I've done some of the legwork for you. This Articulation Tokens Bundle contains token templates, data sheets, storage labels and token companion letters. I hope that they bring as much joy and engagement to your sessions as they have to mine! 

Articulation Tokens

CRAZY Hair Day

Monday, October 15, 2018 2 comments

Next time you need a language sample, get one on Crazy Hair Day. It’s a conversation starter, that’s for sure! 🤣 You can address sequencing, problem solving, inferencing... you name it! I’m sure it comes as no shock to you that my concrete thinkers were surprised that it wasn’t real soda. 

Thank goodness I had some fabulous helpers to help get this to actually work. There may have been a teacher using a glue gun while the bottle was on my head... just sayin’. 

It was the teacher version of a trust fall.

So how did we do it? And I really do mean WE, this was a group effort after all.

1. Cut a hole in the side of an empty 20 oz. soda bottle that is big enough for your ponytail to fit through.

2. I cut 2 slits in the soda bottle and then slid a plastic headband through the slits. You can adhere the bottle to your head with bobby pins instead but the head band felt more secure. 

3. Using scissors, cut two slits in a solo cup to feed the headband through. This will sit on the side of your head.

4. Put your hair in a high side pony tail with the pony tail on the side of the bottle with the hole.

5. Put on the headband with the bottle and cup attached. Twist your pony tail and feed it in through the hole in the bottle and out the top. This is where those extra hands really come in handy. We had to hot glue the bottle to the headband as well to position it the way we wanted it but I think that may have been because I cut too big of a hole in the bottle so it wasn't snug.

6. Place the end of your pony tail into the solo cup so it looks like it is pouring out of the bottle.


Quick Tip: Using Visuals with Puzzles

⭐️Quick tip⭐️
When you use Hide & Seek puzzles, label the back of the puzzle piece with the hidden item (in this case, animal). It gives you the opportunity for matching, generalization of vocabulary to different photos/representations of the same item, and increases opportunities for repetition. 🙌🏼

I used the pictured farm puzzle paired with visuals to complete a cloze sentence, expand MLU, ask questions, answer questions, and target noun-verb agreement with singular/plural nouns.

Some of you have expressed interest in a copy of the visuals that I used, so I added them to my FREE RESOURCE LIBRARY. To access this freebie and others, simply subscribe to my newsletter and you’ll receive the link and password. 


Tuesday, September 4, 2018 1 comment

How to Increase Parent Engagement Using Seesaw

I am thrilled with what Seesaw adds to my practice as a speech-language pathologist! If you are new to Seesaw, it is a FREE app that allows you to create a digital portfolio of your students’ work that you can access through an iPad, android tablet or computer. I have been using Seesaw consistently for about 2 years now.  Let me share with you a few ways that I have used it and the benefits that I have seen. Did I mention that it is free?!?! 

{Note: Seesaw also has a paid version but all of the benefits contained within this post can be accessed through the free version}.

How does Seesaw increase parent involvement?

To give you a little background history, I work in a school that is comprised of students from a low socioeconomic background. About a third of our students are also English Language Learners. Historically, this can be difficult for parent communication with both the language barrier and families who are working really hard to get their daily needs met. Seesaw has been a game changer for me. 

A few years back, I attended a session on Cultural Poverty by Celeste Roseberry (Side note: If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak, run. Don’t walk. It’s worth it).  In the session, one of the take away points for me was the power of video with families living in poverty. 

In cultural poverty, families live for the moment, not what tomorrow may bring. So, though others may judge a cell phone or smartphone as frivolous spending, families are really trying to make the best of the current moment. 

The parents of the families that I work with often change their phone number as their minutes run out or their plans change so other applications like Remind weren’t a viable option for me. With Seesaw however, they can access their child’s account regardless of their phone number or from the library because it is web based.

How does Seesaw increase communication in the home?

Parents that do not speak English are able to watch a video of their child in speech therapy and gain an understanding on what they do while in school. Yes, there still is the language barrier but it gives our students a frame of reference or visual support to explain to their parent what they did that day at school. That is powerful

Parents love to know that their child is loved, learning and enjoying their time in speech. To see the smile on a parent’s face on conference night after watching their child in action is PRICELESS.

Seesaw also offers parents insight to topics that they may want to discuss or explore further with their child. For example, I used Seesaw in sessions with a student targeting social language goals by showing task cards and having the student record their response. One such task card involved receiving a text from an unknown person asking for the student’s location. Initially, the student was quick to reveal their location. The parent was able to hear us walk through why this is not a safe approach and what the student should do. The student was highly motivated by the “likes” that their parent would give their posts and it opened up a conversation at home that may not have happened otherwise.

How do you get parents involved?

Seesaw provides an individual QRCode that the parent can scan to access their student’s account and “follow” their student. They also offer an email option. I sent home the letter that Seesaw generates explaining Seesaw and the student’s QRCode in the beginning of the year. 

I’ll be honest, just sending home a QR Code didn’t yield a ton of parent participation in my experience but what did was having students excited about their learning as we added more and more to their account. Seesaw offers an option that generates a QRCode to a particular post. If a student was excited about something that they had posted that day, we would simply print out that post with a QRCode that they would take home to share with their parent. BINGO! This worked like a charm!! Not to mention that it opened up the dialogue between parent and child about their day beyond “what did you do at school today”.

How does Seesaw increase student accountability?

Realistically, we know that not every parent is going to check their child’s Seesaw account. In fact, chances are a large majority may not but do not let that stop you

Why, you ask? 

It’s simple. Our students are growing up in a generation intrigued by YouTube sensations and selfies galore. Putting their work out there (even if you wind up being the only one who sees it) adds accountability and motivation. Say you have a student working on descriptive language. The student can describe a topic/picture by either photographing the object/picture and adding an audio description or can video themselves describing it. Watch the student shine and proudly show off all of those awesome language skills they are growing in speech-language!

Baseline anyone? 

Students love to revisit their old posts on their Seesaw timeline. Let students witness their growth and watch them beam with pride. Show their skills off to their teacher for added reinforcement outside your therapy room.

Data, Data, & More Data!

When using another app in speech therapy that collects data, I can easily screenshot each student’s results page and upload it to their Seesaw account. This helps me streamline their data and reduces the amount of writing that I need to do in my daily session notes. I don’t know about you, but chances are you are back-to-back with groups like me and can’t realistically write extended therapy notes for each student every day. This allows for an accurate detailed account of data. At the end of the year, I simply print out each student’s Seesaw profile and attach it to the back of my Session Log sheet for the student.

Assign Student Practice

When planning ahead of time for therapy, I was able to screenshot a target sheet from a pdf file and save it to specific students. The student could then open the image and edit it using the text/drawing feature or record audio to capture their thinking.

With my preschoolers, I find that having them watch a snippet of therapy starring him/herself elicits more language than the activity itself did. Man, those littles sure do love to watch themselves! Capitalize on that and use it to your advantage!

Summer Carryover

I have mixed emotions about summer homework. I will usually send home a simple packet or calendar of sorts but many likely sit in unopened backpacks or find their way into the recycling bin. Remember when I said earlier that I print out the student profiles at the end of the year to attach to my session logs? I simply made an additional copy to send home with the students. 

In theory, the parents can access this through the app or online but remember, not every parent will do so regardless of how many times you do cartwheels and stand on your head. The students then had a yearbook of sorts of what they did in speech-language this year. Each post prints out a lovely photograph. When students recall what they worked on and all of the fun that they had, the learning extends far beyond your therapy walls!

 Okay, now what?

Download Seesaw here. If you need help setting it up, check out this blogpost on Seesaw I did a couple years back with picture tutorials. Also do not forget, I am just an email away. Reach out anytime!

Do you want to reference this post later? Pin the image below so you'll know where to find it!


Tuesday, July 17, 2018 No comments

I love how hands on activities spark engagement in my therapy sessions. Don't get me wrong, I don't go big in every session but when I do, I often find that as engagement goes up, behavior management goes down. I love how escape challenges facilitate cooperative learning (hello social skills) in a structured way as students work together to complete each mission. I couldn't resist taking the fun into my articulation sessions!

Mission One:

The first mission requires them to complete a 9 piece puzzle containing the target phoneme in the initial, medial and final position of words. They give you the flexibility to tailor expectations to your student's level of success (say each word 10x, identify the position within the word, auditory bombardment paired with sound in isolation, etc.). Once they complete the puzzle, the remaining three pieces will determine the first lock code. (Total puzzle pieces: 12)


Mission Two:

In the second mission, the students use the decoder ring to decipher the lock code by spelling it out. Each letter of the alphabet is represented on the decoder ring with a picture containing the target phoneme in either the initial, medial or final position of the word. You may also choose to use the decoder ring for additional therapy activities outside of the Escape the Speech Room Challenge. For example, students could spell their name using the target pictures, spelling/vocabulary words, etc.


Mission Three:
The third mission includes sentences containing words with the target phoneme. Students determine if the statements are TRUE or FALSE to color a grid which will reveal the third lock code. This mission encourages students to practice the target sound at the sentence level. Two different lock codes are provided for this mission for you to choose from.

When the students unlock all three locks, they can then open the toolbox to discover "I Escaped the Speech Room" brag tags (included) or a prize of your choice (not included). 

Materials you will need to purchase separately:
⇨ 3 Three Digit Combination Locks 
(Locks that you can program work best. Links are included for the ones pictured).
⇨ HASP - Allows all three locks to be attached to one toolbox. 
If you prefer, you can add holes to your toolbox or use separate toolboxes.
⇨ Toolbox or container to attach locks to.
I purchased the one that I use at the dollar tree.

★ Lock codes are consistent for each Escape Room Challenge to alleviate the prep of reprogramming locks between groups/phonemes. It also allows missions to be used interchangeably within mixed groups. For example, you may choose to use a different phoneme for each mission.
★ If you prefer to set your own lock codes, an option for you to customize is included. This is not digitally editable but allows you to customize printed missions.

If you would like to try more Escape the Speech Room Challenges, you can find more Articulation Challenges here.

I would love to hear what activities your students love! If you try an Escape Room Challenge, let me know how it goes!

P.S. If you are looking for an Escape Room Challenge to teach all about SLP, you may also want to read about one I used for my son's career day in this post.