January Children’s Literature Reviews {Winter Themed}

One of the best parts of winter is getting to read new fiction stories to my speech-language therapy students. Although I do not love cold weather, I do love reading winter themed stories. Here are my 5 favorite books that are ideal for January and even next month as the feeling of winter may still be very present in your area and even here in Atlanta! 

I absolutely love the books written by Jan Brett!!! My speech-language therapy students are always engaged when I read aloud her stories. This week I had a break through moment when a student finally used her correct tongue placement for the /l/ sound during articulation practice during my read aloud! I was so excited!!! This is a student with moderate intellectual disability who struggled immensely with tongue elevation and placement for this sound and woila! She nailed it several times while reading The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett! 

This is a fun book that follows Aloo-ki a native Inuit girl on an adventure as she searches for her huskies or sled dogs. Along the way, she discovers an igloo and makes herself quite comfortable in the home of Papa, Mama, and Baby Polar Bear. I love this winter themed twist of Goldilocks and the Three Bears and my speech kiddos do too!! This book is great when working with articulation, speech fluency, and language students!

I also like, The Mitten as well as The Hat by Jan Brett. These books are ideal for preschool and early elementary aged kids who need practice with sequencing, verbal narratives, answering yes/no questions, and answering “wh” questions.  Both books follow a simple story line. The Mitten is a Ukrainian Folktale about a boy, Nicki, who loses his white mitten made by his grandmother in the snow. Before he finds it, several animals make it their new home until the bear sneezes and they are all suddenly thrown out of their new dwelling. 

The setting of The Hat is a Scandinavian farm where a little girl, Lisa, hangs her winter clothes on a clothesline. Hedgie, the main character, gets a wool stocking stuck on his head and he tries to convince his animal friends why it’s a good thing. Unfortunately, his friends tease him and tell him that he looks ridiculous! Lisa eventually finds Hedgie with her stocking meanwhile the other animals end up running around the farm wearing other winter clothes that they took from Lisa’s clothesline. At the end of hte story, Hedgie comments by saying, “Don’t they know animals should never wear clothes!”

My other favorite author of winter themed books is Caralyn Buehner. My students and I absolutely adore Snowmen At Night and Snowmen All Year  because they enjoy seeing what activities the characters will do next. 

Both books are excellent instructional and practice tools to address the usual answering “wh” questions, sequencing, and story retell objectives. However, the past 2 weeks I also had students practice naming synonyms and antonyms with specific vocabulary targets with this book. They completed this task orally and on a worksheet that I made with a word bank. I know many of you are familiar with the story lines of these books, but those that aren’t will just have to read them with your students to find out what happens!

Thanks for reading the blog today. 

Tamara Anderson

Speech-Language Success Stories- # 3

Welcome Carly Fowler!

Today, I will share successful tips for providing speech-language services for adolescents.

Why Following a Child’s Lead Isn’t Just for Early Intervention

Hi I am Carly Fowler, a Speech Language Pathologist in  Nebraska. A big thanks to Tamara for letting me join in her blog celebration!  Now a little about myself: I live in Omaha, Nebraska with my husband and two  cats. I have been a SLP for three years and I love what I do. I especially  enjoy creating materials for my students.  I work with students elementary up through  high school. It is quite an unusual caseload as I stay at just one school, but  it also means I have to stay on schedule, plan ahead and know what I am up
Today, I want to share my tips when working with  teenagers. It is not an easy population, nor do I claim to have all the  answers. But I want to share with you what works for me.  Many times working with elementary students  they are thrilled to see you and are willing to work for a token or a sticker. It
is not that easy with high school students, trust me sometimes I feel like I am  pulling teeth in order to get any kind of data.
When working with my teens, I follow their lead. This is  probably making you think of early intervention kiddos but I recommend it with  any age. I find that following my high school students’ lead will allow me to gain  more effort from them.  Teens are searching  for more control of their lives. Many times their days are dictated for them; they  are told when to go to school, what they need to do and they are not often
given the freedom to choose. By allowing your teens to run the session they  will give you more respect because you are treating them more like an adult.
When following the lead of a teen it is important to listen  to them. Often times, my students want to chat about life or sports. Let them! You  can target a lot of goals by doing this, plus it is functional. I am often able  to target grammar, sentence formation, pragmatics and articulation when talking about sports.
Another thing a student may lead you to is school work.  I see many students during their study hall
and I encourage them to bring their homework. I also ask how classes are going  which may reveal their struggle with homework. School work and homework are  functional activities and a great therapy target. I know many of you may say “I  am not good at science” or “Math is like a foreign language”.  I encourage you to step outside of your  comfort zones and encourage students to bring homework or materials from
classes they need help with. It is okay to learn with your student- in fact I  encourage it! By helping them with homework it shows you are a valuable resource and they will begin to see your time as more valuable.
Another way to follow your high school student’s lead is by  allowing them to play with some of your toys in your speech room. You may be  thinking that they would never be caught dead playing with toys but you are  wrong. They often need a fiddle such as a ball to concentrate or playdoh as  sensory stimulation. As long as it doesn’t become a distraction is a perfect outlet to the energy they may have.
These are tips that I have found successful when working with teens during their speech-language therapy sessions. Thanks for reading the blog today!

2nd Year Blogiversary Raffle Winners!

I can’t believe that today is exactly 2 years since I wrote my first blog article for Building Successful Lives Speech & Language Services! Here is my first post from 2013:
I am enjoying writing information for speech-language pathologists, educators, and parents. Thanks for participating in the 5 day raffle!! Here are the winners! I am sure that you will enjoy using all the fantastic products! 

The 3 finalists with the most entries from all 5 days are: Dreya Gotti, Carly Fowler, and Meagan Lawson. A grand prize winner was randomly selected. The winner is: MEAGAN LAWSON!!! 

Your grand prize is a collection of my favorite and most frequently used speech-language therapy and instructional resources that I specially created. 

Dreya Gotti and  Carly Fowler, you may select 2 of the above resources! All prizes will be emailed to the winners! Thanks again to all the SLP sponsors who contributed products for the giveaways as well. I have something special for you too! I will contact you regarding that soon! 🙂

I look forward to all that is in store for BSL Speech & Language this year. Make sure that you subscribe to this blog and follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to stay connected to all the time-saving resources and therapeutic/instructional best practice tips! 

Tamara Anderson, Ed.S., CCC-SLP
Speech-Language Pathologist

Speech Language Success Stories- # 2

Welcome Susan Berkowitz from Kidz Learn Language!

I have been a speech-language pathologist for 35 years, before which I taught kids with autism.  I have been in the classroom, therapy room, and worked as an administrator. I have worked in public and nonpublic schools. I currently specialize in alternative-augmentative communication for nonverbal students and in training staff to implement aac in their classrooms. I provide local and national workshops on augmentative communication and on teaching literacy skills to students with complex communication needs.

This is an article that I wrote on my blog in November  of 2014. I am happy to be BSL Speech Language’s guest blogger this week.  Check out this aac success story!

More From the AAC Case Files – How Much Can We Expect?
One of my favorite student success stories is one I tell over and over again.  While you may have noticed I am a big fan of using and teaching core vocabulary, I am also a huge user of PODD communication books.  That is Pragmatic Organized Dynamic Display books, designed by Gayle Porter, a speech pathologist in Australia.  She has been using this system very successfully with children for decades.
I have been to trainings with Gayle, and with Linda Burkhart, when they have presented them here in the States.  A week with Gayle is mind-numbing – in a good way.  The first workshop I took with her was a week of 9 hour days and we learned so much it was amazing!  I don’t honestly think I could have absorbed one more idea by the end of Friday.  She is one of those rare people who are both a wealth of information and a master at transmitting it to others.  (Of course, you have to work your way around her accent).
I have been using PODD books with my nonverbal students with autism for the past several years, and with great results.  Teachers usually get that ‘deer in the headlights’ look in their eyes when I walk in with a 125 page communication book.  I’m very careful to talk about taking it slowly as they get familiar with it and begin using it with their student(s).
I’ve taken to using this story.  The story of Aaron.  Aaron was a 16 (then) year old student with autism in a classroom for students with severe disabilities.  When I first met him, Aaron had a single page PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System) “system” by which he could request his favorite reinforcers.  He had no other appropriate mode of communication. What Aaron did have was a history of self-injurious behaviors.  He has done permanent neurological damage to himself.
On the day I arrived in the classroom with his new,  >100 page PODD communication book, both his teacher and aide regarded me with looks of …. outrage? amazement? overwhelming dismay?  I spent some time going over how the book was constructed and how it worked. I reviewed the navigation conventions and where and how vocabulary was stored.  I gave them examples and phrases to try.  We talked about Aided Language Stimulation and how it worked.  And I carefully explained how to begin with a single activity, gradually increasing use of the system as their comfort level increased.
Aaron was lucky.  His aide was extraordinary.  She did a wonderful job of learning and doing and being consistent. TWO weeks later the teacher called me.  I could hear her jumping up and down.  The excitement was palpable. The day before, Aaron had been upset because A.P.E. had been cancelled and he needed some time to run off some of his energy.  He had started out, she told me, by starting to engage in his SIB.  But he stopped himself.  He looked at the communication system.  He pointed to “More to say,” and then proceeded to move from the feelings page (“angry”) to the people page (“no APE teacher”) to the activity page (“run” and “
outside”) to the places page (“baseball field”).  With a string of single word responses he told a perfect narrative, expressed his feelings, and told what he wanted – needed – to do.  The aide, of course, took him straight outside to the baseball field to run around.  I’m pretty sure she was crying most of the way.  I know I was when I heard the story.

Now of course, most students need more than 2 weeks of consistent teaching to learn to communicate so effectively.  But this certainly speaks to the power of appropriate aac intervention.


How are your students learning to use their aac systems?





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