Basic Concept Christmas Trees

Last week, my mod-severe autism groups and I started making Christmas Trees.  Most of those students have goals to do with basic concepts of size (short/long and big/little).  When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew it was perfect!

I started by buying some packs of cute Christmas scrapbook paper.  I found 8.5×11 size sheets in packs of about 25 sheets for only $5 at Michael’s, so I bought 3 different kinds.  I cut a couple of each type of sheet into strips that are a couple cm wide.  Then, I took a handful of them and cut them 7in, 6in, 5in, and 4in long.  I left some the length they were (8 in – because that’s how wide the paper started out).  I kept the other halves of the 7/6/5 inch pieces and that gave me my shorter strips. 

So, I started out with strips about 2-3 cm wide, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 in. long.  I’m so glad I bought myself a paper cutter at the beginning of the school year!  It was only $25 at BJ’s!

I recommend putting each length in a separate bag or clipping them together some how.  The above mess was a pain to sort through when I first started.

Each student got a green piece of construction paper.

As I went around the table, I placed a field of 3 strips in front of each student: 1 short piece and 2 long or 1 long piece and 2 short. I used this as a receptive task to identify “short” vs “long”.   

To assemble the trees, we began placing the longer strips were on the bottom of the paper and they gradually got shorter as we went up. 

a field of 3 with the prompt “Give me long.”

I did a couple repeated trials of receptive identification of short vs long for each student.

For students who were not working on short vs long, I showed them a few strips in the size that they needed and had them describe to me which paper they wanted.  This targeted adjective+noun phrases, “I want…” sentences, and descriptions, depending on the level of the student.

Because I have about 4 students in a group, and I did many trials of receptive identification for each student, we only got as far as finishing the tree itself. 

I also used my Cricut machine (“Joys of the season” cartridge) and cut ornaments (of varying sizes), stars (in different patterned papers), and presents (of varying sizes).  We will add these elements this week, while discussing concepts of size and location (i.e. “under the tree”, “on top of the tree” & “on the tree”).  We will also add a trunk! 

I will update this post with a picture of some of our completely finished trees at the end of the week, but I wanted to write it in time for you to use it in your speech rooms! 

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!  (Only 5 more days til Winter Break!  Woo hoo!)

Activities for Minimally Verbal/Nonverbal Students

Am I the only one who’s been a little overwhelmed at work lately?!  I’m so behind in posting and making things!  So, one of these activities is a little outdated at this point, but it can be adapted for any holiday so I’m going to share it anyway. 

I can remember doing this craft when I was in first grade!  You know how it’s said that your scent of smell is most closely tied to memory?  That’s definitely evident here, because this smell is so potent, it’s stayed with my for 20 years!  It’s actually the smell of Jello!  (In its powdered form)  For Valentine’s day, the OT and I took 2 weeks to make a craft with our intellectually disabled group.  We made Valentine’s cards for the students’ parents.

We pre-cut hearts with our Ellison press.  The student glued the hearts onto a pink sheet  of paper that we folded in half, to make the card. We put the Jell-o powder in a plastic cup and had the students smell it.  The students then put glue all over the heart and we used a spoon to pour the Jell-o powder all over it.   It was strawberry, and yes, I got sprayed with strawberry powder as some of the students were “smelling” it 😉

On this day, we only completed the front half of the card.  Then, we had the students use Bingo markers to answer multiple choice comprehension questions about what we had done.

 
 
I made the question sheet using Boardmaker Studio.  Does anyone else have this updated version of BM?  It’s AWESOME!
 
Throughout the activity, there was a ton of language used: heart, shake, strawberry, red, pink, glue, on, in, spoon, etc.  We also had them feel the powder and talked about how it felt similar to sand.
 
The next week, we completed the insides of the cards.  I again used Boardmaker Studio to make an adapted writing activity. 
The students chose:
-who they’d write their card to: Mom, Dad, or Mom & Dad
-what their message would be: Have a nice day; Happy Valentine’s Day; or I love  you.
-their salutation: Love or From
and then their name from a field of 7 (the number of students in the class).

Here’s what the screen looked like during the writing activity:

 

 
We printed it, cut it to fit, and glued it on the inside.  Here is how the inside of one turned out:
 
Now, the smell dissipated a little over the week, but I’m sure the parents like them regardless.  Besides, the smell was more for the students’ sensory input – which was definitely on overload the first week!  My hands smelled like strawberry Jell-o all day!
 
In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, this week we made Cat in the Hat hats out of fruit!  I saw this idea on Cooking up Good Speech.  Find her version here.
 
One of the students in the group is allergic to strawberries, and the grocery store didn’t have raspberries this morning, so I went with grapes.  They got the idea.  And let me tell you – this group has the BEST eating habits!  They LOVE fruit!
 
We used sliced apples as the bottom of the hat, then stacked banana slices (which the kids cut themselves, with a weighted knife) and grapes on a long toothpick.  This targets patterns, sequencing, a variety of textures, vocabulary, and categorization.  They loved it!  Here’s what my day looked like:

 
Keep your eye out for more seasonal activities for your nonverbal students soon!  St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, and we’ve got something up our sleeves. 🙂
 
~Denise

Super Bowl Sunday Sale & 2 new products

By now you’ve probably heard that TPT will be holding a Super Bowl Sunday Sale!  Sellers can choose to give 5, 10, 15, or 20% off their products.  Then, using the code “SUPER” at checkout, you can get an extra 10% off the already reduced prices.  That’s a total of 28% off!

I will be giving 20% off all of my products.  Be sure to get your wishlists ready and take advantage of this 28% off opportunity.

I’ve recently added two new products to my store.  Here’s a peak.

The first is a book companion for “If You Give a Pig a Pancake”.

My original inspiration for using this book actually came over the summer.  I was at Marshall’s and saw this ADORABLE spatula in their “impulse buy heaven” of a checkout line.  It was $2 and I had to have it.  I pinned it then but haven’t done anything with it. Until now.

I’d seen those of things on pinterest involving flipping “pancakes” as an activity.  Many of the items in this pack are pancakes.  So, break out your pink spray paint, head to the dollar store for a cookie sheet, and get to crafting!  That’s what I’m gonna do anyway…

There are a variety of preschool/Kindergarden topics covered.

Pages 2-4: props for story retelling, sequencing, story elements, and for use as visuals for a variety of tasks


Pages 5-7: Comprehension/Inferential questions & Pages 7-8: General Wh- questions




Pages 9-11: CVC words with /p, b, m, n, t, d/


Pages 12-20: Initial, medial, and final /g, k, f/ & Pages 21-24:  l blends, s blends





Pages 25-27: Phonemic awareness – word segmentation using compound words


Pages 28-29: Regular plurals


Pages 30-32: Sentence structure targeting is/are, with a pancake per word (for those who omit the helping verb)



Pages 33-35: Third person singular verbs (-s)


Pages 36-38: Basic concepts – clean/dirty, empty/full, hot/cold


Pages 39-41: Association matching (go-togethers)


Page 42: Prepositions


Pages 43-44: What does not belong?


Pages 45-46: Verbs


Pages 47-49: Object functions



Pages 50-53: Categories (receptive and expressive)


Pages 54-55: Attributes

  Grab this download here.

I also made a simple balloon themed phonemic awareness pack.  It targets initial sounds and rhyming.

Initial sounds:
Cute little clowns are holding balloons that have letters in them.  The letters are grouped according to age of acquisition and manner of production: B, P, M, N, T, D & K, G, F, W, H.

                                      

There are 8 picture flashcards per sound.  Draw one card at a time.  Students can use dry erase markers or bingo chips (if the sheets are laminated) to cross out that picture’s initial sound.  First one to “pop” all of their balloons, wins.  You could also use dot painters or finger paint to “pop” the balloons, if you don’t mind the sheets not being reusable.

I included some clowns with blank balloons in case you’d like to group your sound differently.  Or you could target lower case letters or a mix of upper and lower.

 Rhyming:
These mats have a bear and an alligator holding balloons.  Their balloons have pictures in them.  There are 15 picture cards (with words, so there’s no confusion) to draw.  Students pop ALL of the balloons on their mat that rhyme with the word.  First to pop all of their balloons, wins.

Time for a giveaway!  Enter below using Rafflecopter for your choice of either of the 2 products in this post.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you enjoy the sale and my new downloads.  I’ll be enjoying some greasy food and vats full of bleu cheese dressing.  Sadly, I’m not kidding.
~Denise

Winter Wishful Thinking – Giveaway!

Just like every other teacher (in most states) I pray for snow days.  However, as a former New Yorker now living in what I consider a “Southern” state (VA), I adore in the fact that I do not have to deal with 15 degree mornings, scraping the ice off my car before work (when I’m already running late), and tracking in dirty, brown slush everywhere I go.  It’s a very real inner struggle.  This week in therapy, I am mixing the best of both worlds!

The other SLP at my school found this awesome “instant snow” kit at Hallmark.  During the after Christmas sale, it was only $0.99!

This is what the packaging looked like.  It was originally $5.  I wouldn’t have paid that much, but it is definitely worth the dollar!
The powder (or “snow”) came in this tube, which was taped to the cardboard pictured above.  Please excuse the fruit bowl.  Use what you have…

This group is full of students from self-contained classrooms; their primary disorders include autism and intellectual disability.  My colleague and I share the group and we see them for a full hour.  We usually talk about our weekends and then do something fun and language rich for the rest of the session.  We started out seeing them for the usual half hour, but always had to end at a crucial and fun point in our weekend conversation so we upped it to a full hour session.  And I’m SO glad we did!  At the beginning of the session, we told them we were going to make something.  We gave them one clue that it was not something you eat and then had them guess.  One student guessed hot chocolate.  Another one, with poor initiation, guess we’d be making a Kleenex (there was a box of them next to her.).  This is why I love my job.

After we talked about our weekend, asking questions and formulating grammatically correct sentences, we gave the students a few more clues about what we were making.  We wrote each one on a post-it and laid them out on the table.

The clues were: “white”, “do not eat it”, “see it in winter” and “cold”.

They were able to synthesize all of this information and guess snow (one said “ice” – not bad).  Woo hoo!

Here are the students touching the powder while it was in my hand.  We described how it felt.  Most of them said, “warm”.  I think they were surprised that it wasn’t ice cold but honestly, they just felt the warmth of my hands. I guess the pretend aspect of this was a little too abstract.  It was a pretty coarse powder, so I shared that I thought it felt like sand.

To make the snow, all you have to do is mix it with water.  We had the students tell us step-by-step what to do:
Take off the cap; pour the powder in the bowl; go get water; pour the water in the bowl.

How cute is her blue nail polish?!

We gave each student a chance to dump a little of the powder in the bowl.  Then, while my colleague brought one of the students to go get water, I helped the rest of the group make predictions about where they were going to get the water; the water fountain or the bathroom.

We also talked about the “empty” tube we had.  We had a second package of “instant snow” so we contrasted the two tubes.  We also talked about what the word “instant” meant.

As we poured the water in, the powder grew to this awesome, fluffy consistency!  If you happen to do this with your own students, I’d suggest using REALLY cold water, only to give it more of an illusion of cold snow.

We talked about all of the things you can do in the snow – make snowballs, build snowmen, make a snow angel, etc. Then we passed the bowl around and let each student have a fun sensory experience touching the snow.

This student said, “Look!  I’m making a finger angel!”  So adorable!
attempting a snowball

As we recapped, we used regular and irregular past tense verbs to discuss how we made the snow.  They each used an adjective to describe the snow and how it felt.  We touched on SO many basic concepts, too.  They really LOVED this activity!  And for only 99 cents!  ❤

I’ve also recently added two new winter/Valentine’s themed products to my TPT store.  They are Valentine’s Wh- Questions & Valentine’s Listening and Describing.

The Wh-questions one is pretty self-explanatory.  It includes all 5 Wh- questions and How.  There are 8 of each question type, for a total of 48 questions in all.  Students collect their cards on their envelope.

Here’s a peak at a few of the cards:

The next is Valentine‘s Listening and Describing, which is very much like my Gingerbread Listening and Describing.  If you liked that pack, you’ll love this one!  And what kid doesn’t love a funny little monster now and then???  The pack targets conditional directions,exclusionary listening, listening for details, written descriptions, describing verbally, and negation.


In the first section, each student will get a monster.  They are all a little different and all pretty darn cute. There are two of each type of monster, just in a different color.  There are 10 different monsters in all!

 To play, give a conditional direction (or read one from the list of sample prompts).  Students must do what the direction says, according to their monster’s characteristics.  I’ve given a huge list of sample prompts, or you can come up with your own!  I also made all of the actions that the students need to take nonverbal (and mostly quiet) so that it is not disruptive and  you can tell if they did it correctly or not.  If they were all counting, saying their name, etc, it would make it a little hard!

After you’ve done the conditional directions part, students can write about their monsters.  They must give as specific a description as they can, since the monsters are all so similar.  I’ve included two different writing pages: a blank one and the one below.

Comes with an “answer key” so you can guide your students to the right answer.

I think it would be fun to read these aloud and have the rest of the students guess which monster is being described.  Or, hang them in the hall for everyone to guess!

Next is listening for details!  Students must use all the clues to decide which character you are describing.  The picture below will ideally be used as a mat (do not cut apart).  However, if your students need a smaller field or can handle a larger one, cutting it apart would work too!

Put this mat in the middle of the table for all to see or print one for each player.  If everyone has one, they can use a dry erase marker to eliminate the characters that you are not describing and use process of elimination to determine which you are talking about.  There are 4 mats, with 6 pictures each, for 24 total pictures.  Each picture comes with a unique list of clues for you to read.  All of them are organized according to numbers so there is no confusion.  Here’s just a sample.

I hope you enjoy these activities!  For a chance to win your choice of one of my Valentine’s packs, enter via the Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading! Now go to your nearest Hallmark store and raid their “instant snow” department! 😉
~Denise

Cyber Monday (& Tuesday)

As most of you have probably heard, TPT is doing a huge Cyber Monday sale.  So huge, they are including Tuesday in the deal!  TPT is giving an extra 10% off all products (use the promo code CMT12), on top of what individual sellers are giving.  I am giving 15% off all of the products in my store.

During the busy holiday weekend, I tried to get as many downloads done as I could.  I tried to target the areas you request most!  I was able to complete 2 products: Snowy Social Scenarios & Hot Cocoa Questions.

Hot Cocoa Questions is a 14 page download targeting all types of Wh- questions plus “How?”!  There are 66 total cards: 12 who, 12 what, 12 where, 12 when, 12 why, 6 how, and 6 special cards.  All of the questions are winter-themed and appropriate for lower to middle elementary students.

Snowy Social Scenarios is a follow-up to my Fall Pragmatics Pack.  It, like many of my most popular products, is leveled.  There are a variety of Pragmatic Language targets in the pack:
Problem Solving (elementary): multiple choice & open-ended
Problem Solving (middle school): multiple choice & open-ended
Perspective Taking: multiple choice & open-ended
Social Rules (rude vs. polite): sorting & open-ended
It is 27 total pages in length and easy to organize according to the graphic/topic.

To make things a little more interesting, I’d like to add another spin to the Cyber Monday/Tuesday deal!  If you spend $10 or more in my TPT store, I will send you a FREE product!  I have had an idea about a topic maintenance activity for some time now.  I finally decided how I’d like to do it, I just haven’t had a chance to finish (start, for that matter) it in time for the sale.  Those of you who take advantage of this sale will be able to ALL have a free copy of this soon-to-come download!  In order to qualify for the freebie, the $10 minimum must be made on Monday 11/26 and/or Tuesday 11/27.  So that I can verify your participation, please email me your TPT username.

Thank you in advance for your support and participation.  I hope you find my additional giveaway helpful!

Happy shopping!
~Denise

Gingerbread Language Pack

I recently updated one of my students’ goals to include following conditional directions.  While working on it last week, I realized that he is capable of following them when I am speaking to just him, but when they are given in a group, he loses this ability.  This prompted me to make my latest activity – Gingerbread Language pack! 

In it, I target the following receptive and expressive skills:
following conditional directions
exclusionary listening
listening for details
written descriptions
describing verbally
There are 6 different mats/gingerbread men to give to students.  These can be duplicated if you have more than 6 students in your group.
Each gingerbread man has different buttons, eyes, noses, mouths, and other accessories.  I also provide a list of conditional directions.  Your options are certainly not limited to this list!  You can make them easier or harder.  I’ve included 2 steps in mine (i.e. “If your gingerbread man is holding 1 lollipop, clap your hands.  If not, touch your nose.”).  I’ve made all of the tasks involved non-verbal, so they can be done in a group and still maintain a level of composure among the group.  If they all started singing their ABCs or counting to 10, it would get a little crazy!
These same mats can be used for describing.  This can be done verbally or with the writing sheets provided.  I have provided a blank version and a scaffolded version.  These versions allow for different ability levels to participate in the same task.  Can the other students guess which gingerbread man is being described?  You could write the correct answer (a number) in the corner, cover it with a post-it, and write “Lift for Answer” on the post-it. 
The next group of tasks involves listening for details and exclusionary listening.  Print a mat of pictures for each student and laminate it.  As you read the descriptions (out of order) and students must decide which gingerbread man is being described.  They can use a dry-erase marker to cross out, using process of elimination to find out which gingerbread man you are describing.  You could also decrease the field to make it less difficult.
And now, time for an impromptu giveaway of this latest Language Pack!  Enter using Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

~Denise