October 30, 2014

Halloween Craftivity: Mummies

Halloween is almost upon us, which means that time is running out for preparing an extensive seasonal activity. If you are still looking for a last-minute thing to do with your kiddos, this craftivity takes little prep and materials that are readily available in a school.

You will need:
* cardstock
* masking tape (found some at the dollar store)
* googly eyes

I bought two books featuring mummies this year: "Where's My Mummy" by Carolyn Crimi and "Skeleton Meets the Mummy" by Steve Metzger. I read one of these books with my groups (I mixed it up - some groups got to listen to the Crimi book, other groups got the Metzger book). We worked on listening comprehension and vocabulary. Afterwards, we made mummies by taping strips of masking tape onto a pre-cut construction paper body. Last, we glued on the eyes. Easy!

This would also be a great activity for artic groups: students receive a piece of tape after producing their sound x number of times.

October 29, 2014

Halloween Sale

I just wanted to make a quick announcement: all of my Halloween-themed products on TPT will be 15% off October 30th and October 31st! Click on the picture to be redirected to my store!

October 28, 2014

Monster Slime!

Monster slime!
After having been out sick with a cold yesterday (courtesy of some of my Speech kiddos, I'm sure...), the Halloween festivities are continuing this week in my Speech room. I am doing a very special activity with my 4th/5th graders in the same vein as my Witches' Brew potions: we are making Monster Slime! The ingredients are inexpensive and readily accessible, which made this activity relatively easy to throw together.

Using the template of my Witches' Brew recipe, I copied and pasted this slime recipe.  In addition to these ingredients, we also added craft googly eyes to increase the creepiness factor. I made sure to go over safety with my students when handling Borax -- because of this key ingredient, this activity works better with older students, and adult supervision is required.

As with the Witches' Brew, this was a great introductory lesson to using measuring cups and spoons. We didn't have bowls, so we used two large plastic cups instead. We also made sure to use warm water, so that the glue and borax would dissolve more easily. Students worked as a team to follow and complete the instructions in the recipe. Once we had made our slime, we transferred it into small Dixie containers and taped on these cool FREE labels from TPT. You could also place the slime in a plastic Ziploc bag. Of course my students got to take their creepy creations home.
We talked about vocabulary, such as "ingredients, measuring, add, mixture, consistency, texture, stir, dissolve, label, toxic, sprinkle, liquid," etc. This was a fun and motivating lesson for the kids, and taught useful life skills. And we made some great memories, too!

I think this recipe would be even more fun if using the glitter glue by Elmer's, but it is $3 per bottle. Maybe adding glitter to the mixture would work?

Another fun variation would be to use red food coloring and calling the mixture "brain matter". Gross!

October 26, 2014

Halloween Social Skills Activity

Available on TPT.
One of the things that I am always in need of are new materials to target social skills and problem-solving. I figured that Halloween brings with it some unique or unusual situations in which students may need to problem-solve, so I created a bunch of scenarios.

To make this activity more motivating, I presented them in a game format: Each student receives a candy bucket that they will have to fill. Each scenario depicts a piece of candy of a different color. On their turn, the student picks a card and tries to solve the problem on the card. The cards include scenarios such as:
    Example of game play.
    Amanda is going trick or treating. In front of one of the houses, there is a filled candy bowl with a sign that says, “Take one.” Amanda takes almost all of the candy and puts it into her bag. What did Amanda do wrong? Why were her actions wrong?
  • Eric is going trick or treating. In front of one of the houses there is a large dog tied up right next to the door and it is growling at him. Should Eric go up to the house? Why or why not?
  • Hailey is participating in a costume parade at her school. A classmate accidentally steps on her costume and it rips. How could this problem have been prevented? What could Hailey do?
  • Jane is going trick or treating. A man opens the door and says, “I have a bunch of candy. But you have to come inside the house so I can give you some!” What should Jane do? Why?
 If this game sounds like a fit for students on your caseload, you can find it in my TPT store.

October 21, 2014

Halloween Articulation Words

I came up with a super easy, cheap, and fast Halloween articulation activity. There's not much to it, but if you are out of time / too lazy to prepare something more extravagant, this last-minute activity may be for you.

I needed a quick Halloween-themed thing for my next artic group. I simply placed a parchment paper template (check TPT, Google images) and placed it into a word doc. I placed a table with hidden borders over it to create  lines on the paper and put the title "Halloween Words" on top (I found that the Blackadder ITC font that comes with Microsoft Word looks pretty Halloween-ish). I then printed out a copy for each student.

When the students came in, I asked them to brainstorm as many words with their target sound that have to do with Halloween. My s/z group had a lot of fun trying to fill up their lists. We then practiced the words from this list. This is a great activity to help younger students increase their awareness of their targets within words.

I almost felt guilty because this was so easy!

October 19, 2014

Brewing Up Some Language

This ancient recipe came from a
magic book.
Note: This post contains affiliate links.

I think this year I cracked the Halloween jackpot with my students: We are brewing up some bona fide witches' potions in the Speech room with an authentic magic recipe. Okay, maybe it's not that authentic, but my students believe it is. It really is just the good ol' vinegar and baking soda experiment with a spooky twist to it.

I purchased some miniature cauldrons (available on Amazon and Oriental Trading), which gave me the idea for this activity.

I found some parchment paper templates online and used these to create an ancient-looking recipe titled "Witches' Brew" (the Blackadder ITC font in Word lends itself well to this). The recipe's ingredients are truly mystical: it calls for "bone dust" (baking soda), "fairy dust" (glitter), "goblin drool" (vinegar), and "snake venom" (green food coloring).

Using the parchment paper template, I also created labels for each of these ingredients. These labels were taped onto each of the corresponding materials.

When students arrived to their session, we read the book "Witches" by Cheryl Christian, a beautifully illustrated rhyming book about witches' antics. I then told the students that I had found a witches' recipe in an old magic book in the library. The students were amazed! And they kept asking me where I had gotten these weird ingredients. Well, truth be told, some of my older students questioned whether this recipe was real, but they still had a blast! Using measuring cups and measuring spoons, students had to follow the recipe's instructions to create their "Witches' Brew".

Click on the picture to get the recipe and labels on TPT.
This activity was an awesome "life skills" lesson, as it provided an opportunity for the kids to be introduced to different abbreviations (tsp./tbsp.) and measurement tools. They also had to learn how to read the numbers (1/4, 1/2) and find and use the correct measurement tool. It was amazing how many of my students have never used these kitchen utensils! To mix in some language practice, we targeted new vocabulary ("ingredients", "ancient", "dust", "drool", "venom", "cauldron", "stir", "measure", "teaspoon vs. tablespoon", etc.). This also makes a good articulation carry-over activity, and you can have students read the recipe using their good sounds.

We also talked about the different smells and looks of the ingredients, and made predictions about what might happen when we mix the ingredients together (a common guess was that the potion would "explode"). After the activity, I had students guess what they thought the ingredients really were.

My students had a blast!
The kids had so much fun with this! I think this activity created some lasting memories for them. I bet that next year they will ask me if we can do this again (which is usually a good indicator that an activity was successful)!

If you would like to do this activity with your groups, I posted the recipe, labels, and an observation form for a buck fifty on TPT. Just be aware that you will have to purchase additional materials: miniature cauldrons, the ingredients, measuring utensils, and a tray to catch the mess (I found the clear cup, measuring cups/spoons, vinegar, and tray at the Dollar store). Worth it!

October 18, 2014

Playroom Entertainment Game Review: Saddle Up!

Get it here.
Saddle Up! by Playroom Entertainment is a quick card game that requires logical thinking and relies on students' visual processing skills. It would also be a great game to complement a farm / cowboy / horse theme in your classroom setting. This game can be played with 2 to 6 players and the recommended age range is 5 years and up (although it may be challenging for young players).
Example of game play.

The game consists of 50 cards, each of which depicts four horse-related object in four different colors. The object of the game is to place your cards in such a way so that no two identical colors or objects are touching. As with most Playroom Entertainment card games, there are multiple variations of play, which allows you to be flexible with the level of difficulty.

Incorrect card placement (the
arrows indicate the mistake).

Version 1: Set up a starting grid of two adjacent cards and put the remaining 48 cards in a pile. A player flips over two cards from the pile. The first player to identify where to place one of the cards correctly on the starting grid keeps the second card as a point. The player with the most points wins. If a player identifies an incorrect place, they lose a turn in the next round and relinquish one of their points.

Version 2: Shuffle all of the cards. Each player receives 7 cards and the remaining cards are discarded. All the players then race to create a grid using their seven cards while observing the rules. The first player to create a correct grid is the winner.

Version 3: Shuffle all of the cards. Each player receives 7 cards and one card is placed face up in the middle of the table. The remaining cards are discarded. All of the players simultaneously  look for a position on the grid to place their card. The first player to play all of their cards is the winner.

Of course you could also play the game after the rules of "Uno", and have players take turns playing a card. If they can't go, they draw a new card. The first player to play all of their cards is the winner.

I actually found this game quite challenging! It is easy to overlook a picture and make a mistake. This makes it a good game for children who are working on visuo-spatial processing  and impulse control. Because this game is quite affordable, it would also be an excellent stocking stuffer!

October 15, 2014

Jack O'Lantern Magnets

Sometimes I think I love Halloween as much as my students!!! Having grown up in Germany, we did not have this holiday (although it's been gaining popularity in the last few years), so I was always intrigued as a child, wishing I could get dress up in a scary costume and get free candy, too. I guess I am making up for this lost childhood dream by doing cool activities with my kids at school!

I have all sorts of fun activities planned and will be posting about our speech sessions for the next few weeks. This week, I made Jack O'Lantern magnets with a bunch of my groups. This project was relatively inexpensive (less than $20 for almost my entire caseload) and the kids loved it. The magnets are surprisingly easy to make, although 1st graders and below may need a little assistance (hot glue is involved!).
Some of our finished magnets.

To make this endeavor therapeutic, I paired this activity by reading a pumpkin-themed story prior to making the magnets. I read "Pumpkin Jack" by Will Hubbell with my older students and "Big Pumpkin" by Erica Silverman with my younger groups. My language groups worked on answering comprehension questions, and my articulation groups worked on saying words from the book that contained their sounds.

The magnets didn't take very too long to make (10-15 minutes depending on the group), so this worked out well.

You will need the following materials:

* Large decorative glass gems (available near the floral section at Michaels -- make sure to use their online 40% off coupons!)
* Orange construction paper
* Green pipe cleaner
* Magnets (available at Michaels)
* Pencil
* Sharpie
* Scissors
* Hot glue gun

See the instructions on the left to find out how it's done.

A 5th grader hard at work.
To make this easier, I pre-cut 3"x3" construction paper squares prior to this activity. The kids had tons of fun designing scary or silly faces, and although many of them were a little wary about the hot glue gun, they were willing to give it a try with my assistance (I held down the pumpkin face while they squirted out the glue).

I got lots of exclamations along the lines of, "This is so much fun!" and "Did you say I can take it home?!" One 4th grader was even astute enough to ask me whether I had gotten this idea off of Pinterest. Why yes, I did! The original pin can be found here.

October 11, 2014

Halloween Inferencing Activity

With Halloween drawing close, I figured I should share some of the themed activities that I created for my students this year. I do have quite a few groups working on logical thinking, listening, and inferencing skills, so I love doing "riddle" type activities with them. My Easter Egg Inferences were a pretty big hit with my students, so I figured I should create a similar activity with a Halloween theme.

Halloween Inferencing - get it here!

The activity consists of 54 gravestone cards, each of which features three clues. Students then have to guess what lies buried in this spot. To check their answers, they flip over the card to reveal a picture on the back. Several of the cards feature Halloween-themed objects, alongside common every-day items. Blank cards are included so you can add your own! If you teach large groups, it might be fun (or macabre!) to have student pictures on the back and write clues about them onto the gravestone. The riddles are fairly easy and would probably be most appropriate for Pre-2nd grade, depending on students' cognitive levels. You can also adapt the activity by playing in any of the following ways:

• Simply read clues and have students guess what the item is.• Place all the picture cards on the table, then read clues and have students find a corresponding picture.
• Give students points based on how many clues they needed (e.g., one clue = 3 points, two clues = 2 points, three clues = 1 point).
• Show students the picture card first, then have them come up with possible clues that might be on the card. Give points for correct guesses!

Just something fun for October. You can find this activity (priced at $3) in my TPT store.

October 4, 2014

Halloween-themed Books for Speech Therapy

Note: This post contains affiliate links.

In an effort to increase the number of children's books that I own, I recently bought a bunch of Halloween / Fall-themed books for my students. The following 10 books are some of the ones that I thought might be great for use in therapy with my K-5th caseload. I have found that even 4th and 5th graders still enjoy listening to stories, even when they are geared for younger audiences. Click on the book title to be redirected to the product page on amazon.

Where's My Mummy? by Carolyn Crimi
In a game of hide and seek, Baby Mummy loses his mother and tries to find her. During his efforts, he comes across a number of creepy creatures. This book contains a lot of word play and onomatopoeia. Great book for K-2nd.

The Monster of the Woods! by Claire Freedman & Russell Julian
Owl, Mouse, and Rabbit are trying to come up with a plan in case the Monster of the Woods decides to come to their house. When the Monster of the Woods stops by, they are in for a surprise. This book has a lot of suspense and would work well for K-2nd.

Pumpkin Soup by Helen Cooper
Cat, Squirrel and Duck usually work as a team to cook their delicious pumpkin soup. But what will happen when Duck decides that he wants to be the one in charge of stirring? This is a great book to talk about problem-solving, compromising, resolving arguments, and friendship. I think even 5th graders would enjoy this story!

The Hallo-Wiener by Dav Pilkey
Oscar the wiener dog is tired of the other dogs making fun of him because of his odd shape. Things get worse when his mom gets him a silly hot dog costume for Halloween... This is a good book to talk about teasing, others' feelings, and overcoming adversity. Great for grades K-5th.

The Perfectly Horrible Halloween by Nancy Poydar
I first came across this book when I was researching book titles to include in my social skills curriculum over the summer. It is out of print, but you can still find it used on amazon. Arnold is excited about his class's Halloween party because he has the best pirate costume. However, when he gets to school, he realizes that he left his costume on the school bus. From this point on, Arnold just knows he is going to have a horrible day. This book is great for talking about dealing with disappointment and teaching flexible thinking skills. Can be used for grades K-5th.

A Job for Wittilda by Caralyn & Mark Buehner
This book has cats - instant winner! Wittilda the witch has a cat-hoarding problem and ran out of food. To solve her problem, she has to find a job. But keeping a job isn't as easy as Wittilda had hoped... This book has a lot of humor and adorable pictures. You can use it to talk about problem-solving with grades K-5th.

Porkenstein by Kathryn Lasky & David Jarvis
Dr. Smart Pig is sad because he doesn't have any friends (they were eaten by the big bad wolf). To overcome his loneliness, he decides that he will invent a friend. After several failed attempts, he finally manages to create a pig. However, Dr. Smart Pig soon realizes that his new friend has an insatiable appetite... Humorous story that would be enjoyable especially by older elementary students.

Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
The witch decides to grow a pumpkin to make pie. However, she runs into a problem when the pumpkin grows too large to be pulled off the vine. How will she get the pumpkin off the vine? Good story to talk about problem-solving and teamwork. This book would work best with grades K-2nd.

Pumpkin Jack by Will Hubbell
Tim carves his first jack o'lantern this year. After the Halloween magic is over and the pumpkin begins to rot, Tim doesn't have the heart to throw it into the garbage. The book follows the journey of the rotting jack o'lantern which gives life to a new pumpkin plant. This book has some good vocabulary and would work great with grades 2nd-5th.

Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White
Rebecca Estelle hates pumpkins and grows everything in her garden except. Through a mishap, she ends up with hundreds of pumpkins and now needs to figure out what to do. Great for problem-solving and talking about flexible attitudes. This book has a little bit more text and would probably work best with grades 2nd-5th.

Of course there are tons more books revolving around Halloween / Fall, but of the ones I own these were my 10 favorites! I also have quite a few titles that are more appropriate for a younger crowd and may write about these in the next couple of weeks.

October 3, 2014

Educational Insights Game Review: Robot Face Race

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

One new amazing game that I wanted to share about today is Robot Face Race by Educational Insights. This is a neat game that can be modified into a quick and easy language activity and our students won't even suspect that they're learning. And of course it would also make a great family game to play at home if you have children of your own. The game supports 2-4 players and is recommended for ages 4 and up.

Robot randomizer & game play
The game board consists of 120 robot heads -- all of which have unique color combinations and none two robots are the same. The object of the game is to be the fastest player to find a robot with a specific color combination. The game also comes with a "robot randomizer", a plastic contraption picturing robot face parts and small colored balls that are covered by a clear bubble. This clever design allows players to shake the randomizer so that each ball rolls towards different face part. Players then have to analyze the color combination and match the colors for each face part to find the corresponding robot on the board. The first player to spot the robot face puts a scoring token on top of it. If their guess is correct, they get to keep this token; if their guess is incorrect, they sit out the next round (which is a good rule for our students with impulsivity). The first person with five tokens is the winner.

This game is a great tool for students working on improving their visual tracking / discrimination skills and impulsivity control. And, as with most games, you can "speechify" this one and use it to work on language targets. Here are just a few ideas:
  • Describing: You can use the different robot faces to target describing goals. One student could describe a specific robot (e.g., "My robot has a rectangular blue head with three green eyes, a yellow triangular nose, and a smiling purple mouth") while the other students have to listen and find the match.
  • Comparing / Contrasting: Have students pick two robots and compare and contrast them
  • Following directions: You can work on listening comprehension by giving directions, such as: "Place a token underneath a yellow robot / between a blue and a green robot," etc.
The versatility of this game is what makes it so great for use in Speech therapy. Another reason I love this game is because it requires no batteries!