Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Summer Practice 

As the year winds down and I start to give my students the speech about speech for the summer, I get a variety of reactions. The look of desperation that says, “What?, No Way! I shouldn’t have homework over the summer.” The excited student “Yes! Give me as much as you can!!!” 

I get it, summer is for fun and relaxation, especially when you are a kid. So why keep practicing. Let me share a story. A student who makes his sounds wonderfully way over 95% of the time asked if he could have lunch with some of his friends in my room. I said of course. He came down and made one small /r/ error for which I repeated the word (my cue to kids to try it again). He started to try the word again and then said, “I don’t have to practice now, it’s lunch time.” This story is an example of how many kids interpret practicing their speech, and making correct sounds as something they do for me and during their “speech time” regardless of how many times I tell them about the importance of practice. This is why I need them to practice at home and need parents to support that. Here are some ways to practice at home. 

Speech Practice:
1. Speech is easy. Speak.... Think about your sounds......Make Corrections if need be.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

                              Listening and Attention

       Listening and attention continue to be one of the largest complaints that parents and teachers have about their children.   These skills do not usually just naturally develop but require some lessons and practice and early on.   For some children listening can be something that they are choosing not to do, but for others it's something they simply do not know how to do or the importance.  Too much instant gratification with today's technology, being able to switch instantly when bored, being allowed to not focus on directions are all contributors.  Let's start teaching children the importance of listening.  The following link is from Parent's Magazine and provides a list of books for children that help teach listening.  We should all be reading to our young children any way so why not read these cute stories with positive lessons:  https://www.parents.com/fun/entertainment/books/best-books-to-teach-listening/ .  Follow up these stories with incentives or praise when you catch your child performing one of the positive behaviors portrayed in the story.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Screen Time and Social Language Development

Screen time is often unavoidable.  Cell phones, tablets, and televisions can be found almost everywhere.  How has this explosion of electronic media affected society and what can we do about it?

The American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) updated their recommendations regarding screen time in November 2016.  For preschoolers, they recommend no more than one hour of high quality screen time a day (preferably with an adult) and no screen time during meals or one hour before bedtime.  They also recommend that media not be used to help children calm down on a regular basis.  So what about those all those great apps meant to prepare our children for school?  With a few exceptions, these apps tend to focus on rote skills and are not based on developmentally appropriate practice.  They also tend to reduce the time that preschoolers spend interacting with other people, which is proven to increase language and social skills.  In fact the AAP states “It is important to emphasize to parents that the higher-order thinking skills and executive functions essential for school success, such as task persistence, impulse control, emotion regulation, and creative, flexible thinking, are best taught through unstructured and social (not digital) play, as well as responsive parent–child interactions.”

Monday, February 27, 2017


Have you ever realized how much time you spend in the car with your children? Driving to and from school, a quick trip to the grocery store, visiting family or friends, or sports activities. Much of our day is in the driver’s seat, and our children in the back seat.  The car is a perfect opportunity to incorporate speech and language into every day life.

I Spy – This classic guessing game can focus on articulation and language. Pick something that contains a targeted sound (“I spy something that starts with a ‘t’”) or utilize vocabulary skills (“I spy something that is red and round”). 

20 Questions – Think of an object, animal, person or place. Have your child ask up to twenty questions to try and guess the targeted word.  For example, “Is it something you eat? Can I hold it in my hand?” Next, switch it up and you ask the questions! Great way to address question formulations and answering questions, vocabulary.

Categories – Pick a category and list as many items as possible. For example, if the category is “restaurants”, name as many restaurants you pass by on your trip.

Alphabet Game – Find things along your route that begin with the letters of the alphabet. Starting with A and ending with Z, see if  you and your child are able to find them all before you arrive at your destination. Another version of this game is finding words on signs that begin with the targeted letters.

Make up a Story – Each person generates a sentence one at a time to create a story. This focuses on sequencing skills, grammar use and vocabulary all at the same time.

Camping Trip – This activity is great for auditory memory, attention and phonemic awareness. Begin by saying, “I’m going on a camping trip and I am going to bring ______” and fill in the blank with something that starts with “A”, such as apple. Your child then repeats the sentence and has to recall your response of “apple” and add another word beginning with “b”,   (“I’m going on a camping trip and I am bringing an apple and a blanket”). Play continues utilizing the letters of the alphabet.

Movie showtime – If it is time to put in a DVD and watch a movie, make it a language activity also. Ask questions (Who was the movie about? Where were they? When did it happen?). Have your child retell the movie in his/her own words. Focus on the sequence of events throughout the movie or problem solve issues that may have happened throughout the story.

With the scenery always changing, traveling can be a perfect time to develop your child’s communication skills. Whether it’s a five minute ride down the street or hours on the highway, talking with your children in the car can make the time fly by!  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

iPad Apps for Speech and Language Practice

IPad Apps for Speech and Language Practice:

With the prevalence of iPads and other tablets in school and at home, many parents look for ways to use them to help their child practice their speech and language skills.   There are many apps available that target a variety of skills and the list below includes just a few highlights.

**Please keep in mind that these are not required for home practice!  If you would like feedback on how to use any of these apps or an app that is not listed here, or you would like ideas or guidance on non-electronic home practice activities, please contact your child’s speech-language pathologist or check out their individual webpage.  

For speech sound production:

1.     Quick Artic – A free app that features many, common, target speech sounds in all positions of words (initial/ medial/ final sounds).   This app is no-frills, but offers a good way to practice single words at home.
2.     ArtikPix – This app features a few free sets of words for the /th/, /w/, /h/ and /y/ sounds, however other sounds are available for an additional purchase of $2.99 - $5.99.  Students can practice with flashcards or play a matching game.   
3.     Articulation Carnival – The main app is free, however, individual speech sounds must be purchased for between $2.99 – $5.99 per sound.  This app offers the opportunity to practice each sound in all positions of words, as well as in phrases and sentences.   Students can hear a recording of the word, phrase or sentence and they earn desired carnival games after completing a designated number of correct responses. 
4.     Articulation Island – This is a classic-looking video game in the style of Mario Brothers where the student navigates through a variety of obstacles in search of crates containing their target speech sounds.  This app is currently priced at $3.99, which includes all the speech sounds and does not require any additional in-app purchases.

**Please keep in mind that articulation practice requires the help of an adult listener to provide feedback on the accuracy of sound production.     

For language skills:

1.     Super Duper Storymaker FREE – This is a fun app for students to design and develop scenes that can be organized into narratives.  A wide variety of items can be added into the scene and the student (with a helping adult, if necessary) can write out the story in text boxes.  A paid version of the app is required in order to save stories.
2.     Sentence Maker – This app allows students to drag words into place to make grammatically correct phrases and sentences that they can then imitate aloud.  It is a good reinforcer for complete sentence forms and is fun for beginning readers!
3.     First Grade and Second Grade Antonyms and Synonyms FREE – Students can practice synonyms and antonyms in four different games and activities.  Additional target words are available in a paid version of the app for $3.99. 
4.     Bitsboard – This is a free app that allows you to customize sets of vocabulary words and pictures for your child.  You can choose from a large store of stock photos or upload your own photos in order to include family names, pet names or favorite vacation in your child’s practice repertoire.  Word sets can be designed to practice vocabulary and also speech sounds. 

It is important to remember that any electronic media should be used with parental supervision and interaction in order to get the greatest speech and language gains.   Please check out the blog entitled “Developing Communication Skills: Unplug to Plug In” on our “Let’s Talk” blog page for recommendations on managing students’ use of technology.  And most importantly, remember to TALK, TALK, TALK with your children! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

            A Recipe for Great Success


    What better way to spend some of the cold days of winter with our kids than to cook something up in the kitchen.  Baking or cooking something together not only provides a great bonding experience and teaches a very valuable life skill but helps kids develop so many other skills without too much effort.  So sit down with your child, pick a recipe together, start cooking and watch your child start learning the following skills.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Family Game Night!

Bring out the board games! Gather the family! Let’s play! Speech and language can be incorporated into almost any game you have on your shelves. Games can enhance a number of areas including articulation, vocabulary, grammar, comprehension and social skills. And the best part? Everyone is having so much fun PLAYING that they don’t even realize they are LEARNING core everyday skills at the same time!