From Little Seeds Grow Mighty Trees

Monday, October 23, 2017 No comments

From little seeds grow mighty trees.

What we do today impacts what our students do tomorrow. No pressure, right?

When we work together with students and families, our impact increases. You can read more about the how and why I have this tree in my classroom here. In the meantime, let's get to how I made it, shall we?

Being the frugal resourceful SLP that I am, I was determined to make this project happen with minimal cost. Initially I thought I would make it using an artificial tree. Then I spotted the price on them-- yikes!

Insert Plan B.

The first thing I did was take my boys back to a wooded area behind my house to scope out our "tree". We hunted around until we found the perfect branch. However, our luck didn't end there. We also found an abandoned wooden toolbox. The perfect base for our project!! We checked with our neighbor whose son had abandoned the toolbox he had created in boy scouts and got the green light to use it. Awesome!

A little white spray paint and our perfect branch was ready to go!

I then busted out my trusty Cricut machine to add vinyl lettering to the toolbox. Vinyl and I are BFFs you know...

As in any DIY project, safety comes first so my son was well protected with his hockey helmet as he drilled into the toolbox. He loved every second of it.

Now, onto the mason jars. My daughter helped me design mason jars that we could adorn the tree with, highlighting my students' strengths from their perspective. We used floral wire to create a hanger for various sized mason jars. 

I just love how the final project turned out.  My students love showcasing their strengths and reading the positive messages that their parents leave them on the attached ribbons! You can read more about how they are used in my speech room here. You can download the mason jars here.

Student and Family Relationships Come First

Relationships come first. Establishing strong, authentic relationships with my students and families increases the value that they place on improving their communication skills. This in turn, positively affects their progress. 

Working in an urban, low SES school presents its unique challenges with parents/guardians who may not have the same knowledge on how to help their child communicate as we do as SLPs. Acknowledging the parent’s role and establishing a positive partnership with families cultivates that dialogue. 

Providing personal touches as small as offering a water bottle at meetings, making positive phone calls or sending notes home go a long way. When I meet with parents, they write a message to their child on the back of a ribbon. 

We hang it on a tree branch displayed in my room to illustrate our home-school connection. The students then write their favorite part about themselves on a mason jar tag that we attach to the ribbon. 
(You can find the mason jar tags here).

After reading his father’s message, this student filled out his mason jar with such a sweet response. We tackle what is hard for our students but encouraging words help them know that we are rooting for them every step of the way. 

You don't need to spend a small fortune to create the tree that I described above. Learn how I made mine for less than $5 here.