DIY Spin the Wheel

Sunday, July 17, 2016 1 comment
Have you ever watched how fascinated children are with spinning the wheel at a carnival? Okay, admit it, it is pretty fun for you too, isn't it? If not, I know I am guilty as charged...  I have a funny feeling that some of you may be too though.  Those spinner games don't seem to be off by their lonesome in casinos after all, do they?  I am certainly not advocating for any type of gambling with your students but spinners in general are awesome motivators to bring into your therapy room or classroom and I am a fan of getting work done in a way that motivates my students to use every ounce of time that we have. Enough with the small talk, you are probably wondering how I made this, aren't you?

Here is what you will need...

2 pieces of plywood (mine were each 12" x 24")
2 hinges
A Lazy Susan (I bought mine from IKEA)
Liquid Nails (or another strong adhesive) to adhere the Lazy Susan to the plywood
Chalkboard paint (to paint the Lazy Susan)
Craft Paint (if you want to paint your plywood)
Nails for the perimeter of the Lazy Susan wheel (Note: I have since switched out the nails to plastic tipped thumb tacks- I like them much better)
1 Zip Tie
1 small wooden dowel

THE CHALLENGE BOARD (this is optional, but I like to use every space I can!):
Spray painted washers in varying sizes
Screw in hooks
Chalkboard Labels

How to make the wheel:

1. Paint the Lazy Susan with chalkboard paint and allow it to dry.

2. Attach hinges to the top of the two pieces of plywood so that your wheel can be free standing.  I do recommend holding it while students spin the wheel though... they can get pretty aggressive in their spins at times.

3. Place nails or thumbtacks around the edge of the top of the Lazy Susan. I initially used nails when I made mine but have since replaced the nails with thumb tacks. I would recommend the thumb tacks because they work quite well and aren't sharp while spinning. You may need to use a small drill bit or get a hole started with a nail to place the thumb tacks in. I used a little dab of hot glue to make sure that they stayed in place.

3. Using Liquid Nails, attach the bottom of the Lazy Susan to your hinged plywood.

4. Attach the small dowel to the plywood approximately an inch from the Lazy Susan wheel by drilling a small hole and using wood glue.  Then attach a zip tow to the dowel. You may need to trim down your zip tie after it is attached. As the wheel spins around, the zip tie runs along the thumb tacks and will act as the pointer.

If you would like to add the challenge board to the other side, simply space out the screw in hooks along your board and attach chalkboard labels. I imagine that you could also use Washi tape to write the names. Use spray painted washers in varying sizes to then track homework completed, goals met, stations completed, whatever you little heart desires.

Here I was using the wheel to spice up a progress monitoring activity.  You can find this Language Progress Monitoring Tool by Natalie Snyders here.

The wheel is one of the most popular tools in my therapy room.  The beauty of the chalkboard paint is that you can change its use at a moment's notice. I use it to decipher between student turns, wh- questions, descriptive attributes, randomly assigned points, prizes, actions, comprehension questions, categories, and so on. This is where you can really let your creative juices flow!

I hope that this tutorial was helpful for you. Please comment below with any additional ideas or questions that you may have. Thanks for stopping by!

Room Decor (and Freebie)

Sunday, July 3, 2016 2 comments
Summer is in full swing but it won't be long until we are welcoming those new little loves into our therapy room and hearts. I love to create a warm environment for my students, a living room of sorts. A couple years ago, I created a Photo Collage with my own crew to display in my room. All you need is a large box (I used a left over wardrobe box from moving), a picture frame with a piece of black paper inside (we will add the words later) and the free (where have you been all my life) website PicMonkey. Here is the final product but I'll show you the steps along the way, don't worry.

I had this printed on a banner at my local office supply store... super cute!

First, get yourself a box, rent some kids (or have some, whatever is easier ;) ), a frame and snap away.  Don't worry about what look you are going for, just play around and have fun. My room was blue and green so we wore those colors, but really anything will work. If you are anything like me, there will be PLENTY of out takes. I do recommend taking the photos on a flat surface. Don't worry about the background, we will crop that out later. I took mine on the grass but I would recommend the driveway/floor if you can... it is easier to crop out than random blades of grass.

Zoe even joined in on the fun!
Next, after enjoying a nice cold beverage, hop on your computer and go to the PicMonkey website. Choose Edit, then select the first photo to edit from your computer (you may have it saved on your computer, flash drive, photo card, etc.). You will edit each photo that you want in your collage individually first to crop out the background and add text to your frame.

Do not worry about the Log In part, I do it all without ever logging in.

Next, Crop your photo so that you mainly have only the box. Do not worry if it isn't perfect, it will all work out when the collage comes together because we will select brown as the background that will divide the photos in your collage.

Okay, now it is time to add some text. Select the Tt box, then select the font that you would like to use. Unless there is a crown next to the font, it is free to use (all of mine were). Type your text and change your font color to white (see the photo below).  Position the text within the frame and rotate it as needed. 

It will look like the text was there all along!
When you are finished editing your photo, make sure that you save it by clicking Save and select the name and where you want to save it on your computer. Edit your next photo by selecting Open to select your next photo. It will warn you that you will lose changes to your current photo, but as long as you have saved it already you are good to go!  Edit each photo that you would like to include in your collage the same way. Next, you will select Collage from the main PicMonkey page as shown below.

Select Layout icon, then select Square Deal. I chose the 9 square option. Once the squares are open, you can expand the collage to be wide and then it will take on a rectangular shape. To add your photos, select the Images icon (right above the Layout icon) and select photos from your computer (the same ones that you previously edited and saved). Drag each photo to the boxes that you would like them placed.

Next, you will change the background from white to match your box. This will make it look like the boxes are all stacked on top of one another. First, select the Paint Palette icon on the left, then select the Dropper symbol. Make sure that Background is selected (not Cell). This allows you to match the exact color of your box. You can change the spacing to your preferred sized, then Voila! Make sure to SAVE your collage. You now have a fun, personalized photo that you can display in your therapy room or home. I printed mine on banner paper at my local office supply store. With the sale that they offered, it cost me about $14.99. You can also upload it to print as a poster or banner on Vistaprint.

Now that you have your poster all set up, are you looking for an easy print and go addition to compliment  your speech room or classroom?  You can download a fun Alphabet Banner (including digraphs and er) in either a Bright or Neutral version to compliment your decor while providing photo cues and spelling patterns that are compatible with Orton Gillingham spelling instruction. My students relate with the child friendly mouth photos that reflect correct sound production by their own peer group.
Click the Photo to Access the Bright Version of the Alphabet Sound Banner

Click the Photo to Access the Neutral Version of the Alphabet Sound Banner

You can download also this free Speech Banner here to welcome your students into your room or create a hallway display.

Thanks for stopping by.  Have fun decorating your home away from home!