Tell Me About Summer Stories

I love hearing great stories! Lately it’s been from friends over dinner or a juicy summer story with a friend on the phone! No gossip…just sharing some interesting life happenings. I have also been reading some great books. 

Well, in speech-language therapy, it is critical that children are taught how to retell fiction stories. They need to understand the sequence of events and key story elements such as character, character trait, setting, introduction, problem, solution, conclusion, etc. They need practice with verbally communicating narratives. It’s a good thing that most speech-language pathologists and educators know how to read with expression to really grab the attention of children. This helps keep children engaged during literacy lessons.

Summer is a great time to read new stories to children and have them practice retelling the story in the correct sequence with key details. Here are some great summer stories for young kids:



Now for those of you working with private practice kiddos this summer you definitely need my best selling Oral Story Retelling Rubric. School-based SLPs this is a must have for you as well. Many of you will be back to your regular SLP awesome life in the schools very soon! 🙂

Here are what some buyers have said about this product:

“I am very happy about this rubric. It is a great resource for me to figure out what I need to focus on more with students. I like the grading system as well.”

“The rubric addresses areas that I focus on in therapy. I do not have to generate my own, which saves me time in the planning process as well as when writing IEP goals.”

“This is a great visual to use to show the students as well! Love it! Thanks!”

There are still a few weeks left of official summer. So keep reading summer stories and have speech-language kiddos tell you about them! What are some children’s books that you think young kiddos love in the summer? I’d love to hear your favorites! 🙂


Spring Into Literacy {Teaching Compare & Contrast}

I absolutely LOVE integrating literacy activities in my speech-language therapy sessions! There are so many skills that you can target while using fiction and non-fiction text. 

Recently, I decided to use the 2 books pictured above, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick!  and There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog!  to target teaching my lower grade elementary students the concept of compare & contrast. For them, I introduced the skill as explaining similarities and differences. During one session, I read aloud one of the stories and we talked about the sequence of events. Then we briefly talked about how that book was similar to others we read earlier in the year. For an extension activity, my students completed this book with assistance. 

Then another session, I read aloud the book, There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog! Then we talked about how that book was similar and different to the one that I read last session. Then they made their book. 

I used non-fiction text to teach my 4th and 5th grade language therapy students the skill of compare and contrast. Over several sessions, I read aloud passages from my Historical Irish American unit. Then my students selected 2 people to write down on their Venn Diagram such as Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan or John F. Kennedy and Henry Ford. I modeled for them how to find similarities and differences from the text and then write them down in the correct part of the diagram. Lastly, they took turns verbally comparing and contrasting what they learned. This is a great activity for students to practice synthesizing what they have learned. 

Here is a picture of 2 completed Venn Diagram for this unit.

You can purchase your copy of the Historical Irish Americans unit in my TPT store so you can teach this skill to your speech-language therapy or language arts students. Click here for direct access to the digital download of this product!

Thanks for reading the blog today!

Tamara Anderson

Recognizing African American History {Children’s Literature Reviews}

So many children today have a very limited knowledge about the influence of American Americans in the United States. A great way to teach students about this is by reading them biographies, historical fiction and non-fiction text. I enjoy reading aloud to children in my speech-language therapy lessons. They learn factual informational while also practicing their speech-language skills. 

Here are 3 of my recommendations that I  read and discussed with my students this month. Although Black History is celebrated during the month of February in the U.S., these books can be read at any time of the year. Likewise, students should continue to learn about African American History all year long as well. 

This is an engaging biography that describes Hank Aaron’s determination to play professional baseball at a time when Jackie Robinson was the only other black player. The illustrations are excellent and truly help the story come alive as Hank Aaron beat Babe Ruth’s record of hitting the most home runs. In 1974, he hit his 715th home run! The book also tells the story about how he persevered despite the discriminatory threats that he received because of the color of his skin. My speech language students enjoyed learning that he played for the Atlanta Braves, when his original professional team, the Milwaukee Braves moved south to Georgia. That detail helped them connect to the story since we live in metro Atlanta, Ga. 

Grandma’s Pride is a beautifully written historical fiction book told from the perspective of a little girl, Sarah Marie, who travels to the south with her family during the summer to visit her grandmother. The precious little girl quickly learns the differences between how blacks experience life in the northern U.S. versus the southern U.S. On her journey, she experiences having to sit in the back of a bus, not being able to use certain public restrooms, not being able to eat at certain downtown restaurants, and the tenacity of her grandmother whose pride would not allow her to ride the city bus. I like this book because it gives children a glimpse into what life was like during the civil rights era of the 1960s when Jim Crow laws were enforced. Through the voice of a child, they are also able to hear how in a later summer visit, the unjust rules of the south were no more!   

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins  is another excellent historical fiction book that tells the story about a young girl, Connie, who sees first hand the boldness of four college students from North Carolina A & T. The young men, her brother’s friends,  decided that enough was enough and they planned a “sit in” to quietly protest their lack of service at a lunch counter in Woolworth’s, a popular downtown department store. They sat at the lunch counter and requested to order food. They were denied and asked to leave due to the Jim Crow laws. This book will evoke questions and emotions from children. Most will empathize with Connie, who wanted to order a banana split at Woolworth’s the day she saw her brother’s friends. This story also comes full circle as the author summarizes events that this incident sparked such as more lunch counter “sit ins”, a visit to Greensboro by Dr. Martin Luther King, and additional non-violent protests for civil rights for African-Americans. I love that this story is also told through the eyes of a child who was able to sit at any lunch counter and enjoy her banana split after the Supreme Court ruling that those Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional!

There are so many great books out there to help children recognize and understand African American History in the United States! I also created a non-fiction curriculum unit so children can learn about historical African Americans. You may check out that resource here:

Thanks for reading the blog today. 

Tamara Anderson

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

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