Mmm, pumpkin pie!

So I know Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I just had to share this adorable craft.  Maybe you can use it next year!  Unlike many people, I had to work on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of Thanksgiving week.  I see my intellectual disabilities rooms with the OT on Tuesdays, so when I saw this pin, I had to make this craft with the ID classes!  (The pin I used is “broken”, but I just used the picture as a jumping off point.)

My OT friend has a student with her this semester, so luckily we had some help preparing the supplies beforehand.  Jackie, the OT student, pre-cut the paper plates and glued the orange paper to them.  She also cut the “crusts” from some awesome corrugated paper our art teacher has.  If you are doing this with your students, you could absolutely have them try to cut the paper plates themselves – maybe just draw a thick black line on the back, first. 

Here’s all of our supplies before we started:

This corrugated paper is great for feeling “bumpy”.

There is a slice of pie and a crust for each student.  We used cinnamon, as you can see, but you could also use pumpkin pie spice.  (We had used cinnamon before in an earlier craft, so it was easily accessible.) At the beginning of the session, we talked about what we were making and Thanksgiving, etc.

We poured glue in a suction bowl and added a little water to it to thin it out.  The students used a wide-handled paint brush to spread the glue from the bowl onto the white part of their pie slice.  This was great for following directions: “Put glue on the white.”  Then we added the crust.  We talked about how the crust felt “bumpy” and the orange pie felt “smooth”.

We used a slant board, so the clip on the top was great for holding the crust in place as we added glue and cinnamon to the orange part of the pie (our second step!).  We told the students to “put glue on orange” then we sprinkled some cinnamon onto it.  We, of course, let them have a good sniff of the cinnamon before putting it on their pie.  I love watching their little noses twitch!

Last, we added a little more glue and a cotton ball on top for the whipped cream!  Some students LOVED to feel the cotton ball in their hand and squish it while others hated it.  Sensory needs/preferences are so interesting to me!

Here’s one batch of our finished products!

Aren’t they just so cute?!

I also made a quick BoardMaker question activity for the students to do on the Smart Board when we were finished.  It asked the following questions: “What shape is our slice of pie?”; “What did we make?”; “When do we eat pumpkin pie?”; “What color is pumpkin pie?”.  My students very much prefer these question/answer activities using technology, but you could also make one using Boardmaker and a printed sheet (answer with Bingo dabbers) if you don’t have a Smart Board.  Or use your iPad and the amazing app See.Touch.Learn. 

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!  I’m very thankful for the opportunities this blog, and all of you, have brought to my life!

Paint Chip Turkeys

For the past two weeks, I’ve made paint chip turkeys with a good majority of my groups.  I found the original idea here, but didn’t want to work on “I’m thankful for…” with my groups.  Instead, we targeted artic, Wh- questions, pronouns, comparing/contrasting, yes/no questions, absurdities, regular past tense verbs, social skills, and sequencing.  Yes, all of that, sometimes 3-4 things in one session, all with one cute (almost free) craft!

My co-SLP and I raided the paint sections at both Home Depot and Lowe’s.  We grabbed a ton of different shapes, sizes, and colors.  Here’s our loot before we started.

I cut the wide paint chips into 3 long strip, to make them look more like “feathers”.  (The funny shaped ones, that actually look like a feather, came from Home Depot, by the way!)
To target a variety of speech/language goals, I went through my Super Duper “Fun Deck” books.  I have all four at my school, so it was easy to go through them and find a target for each student.  For the artic kids, I used my Jumbo Webber Artic Drill book.  To make the papers fit onto the feathers, I put the page(s) I wanted on the copy machine and shrunk them to 50%.  They may be difficult for you to see, but I promise it won’t be an issue for your students (with the exception of any vision problems, obviously).
I cut out the pertinent information into little boxes for each student.  The student above is working on answering wh- questions given 3 choices.  Some students were shown a picture and asked to label the verb, insert the correct pronoun, compare and contrast the pictures, etc.  The Fun Deck worksheet books covered EVERYTHING that I needed!
verbs and when questions

more when questions

absurdities and answering yes/no questions
It was a great way to work on following directions, too.  Once our feathers were complete, I had the students put some glue on the bottoms of their paint chips and put it on the back of a brown circle I had cut.  This was difficulty for some, so I drew an “X” on the bottom and had the student “put the glue on the X.”  For the turkey’s face, I had students use Sharpie markers to draw an upside-down yellow triangle for the beak and an upside-down red heart for the waddle.  I used googley-eyes, too.  Then we did stick-figure legs on the bottom.  Some students chose to get creative and draw wings on their turkeys, too.  We had the students describe their turkeys’ faces using adjective+noun phrases (i.e. yellow triangle & red heart).  It also worked on features of animals: beak, waddle, eyes, legs, feathers.



social skills

final /b/

past tense verbs

subject pronouns

Why questions

Wh- questions

Wh- questions

Wh- questions

pronouns & absurdities
I couldn’t pick just one…  The last two pictures are of students following the direction, “put your turkey on your head”.  Just some silly fun 🙂
We also worked on conditional directions when we were finished:  “If your turkey has a red feather, go line up at the door.”
Go ahead and bombard your nearest home improvement store.  And save any extras you have for spring time!  😉

CELF problems?

Do you have students who do poorly on the following directions subtest of the CELF-4?  (Have you heard they’re making changes for the CELF-5?  Well, there is still a following directions subtest and the items involve many of the same concepts.)  I found that finding materials to use with students who struggle with these skills (i.e. temporal concepts, multi-step directions, basic concepts, directions with a LOT of language, etc.) was way too difficult.  I decided to make a leveled following directions packet to systematically teach and probe these skills.

 There are 6 levels of difficulty.  The components of each and the concepts targeted are described in detail on the contents page (shown below).

Levels 1 & 2 correspond to a set of 3 visuals (labeled A, B, & C).  There are 16 directions for each visual A, B, & C.

Some examples of level 2 directions that correspond to visual A.

Levels 3-6 correspond to a set of 12 visuals (labeled D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, & O).

Below are some examples of directions that pertain to the visuals pictured above.  They are for levels 3-6.

The number/letter code at the top left corner of each card shows what level the card is and to which visual it pertains.

I’ve also included a data sheet so you can keep track of the types of errors your students are making.

In total, this download has 432 directions: 216 two step directions and 216 three step directions.  The various levels make this appropriate for a wide variety of students/groups.  The vocabulary pictured is simple: computers, notebooks, numbers, and letters.

I hope this is helpful for you and all of those students who struggle with those complex temporal directions (like on the CELF)!  Find it here.

Fall wrap-up

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post.  I wish I could tell you that I’ve done something exciting with my time, but it’s honestly nothing I can put my finger on.

I know Fall is almost over, but here are all of the things the OT and I did with our intellectually disabled groups over the past month.

Here we did a sensory acorn craft.  I printed an acorn template from Boardmaker in black and white. (Did you know you can use the black and white library only?  I didn’t until last year!)  We used vanilla pudding for the tops and coffee for the bottoms.  Here are all of the materials we used:

We mounted the acorn onto a brown piece of construction paper.  We painted glue on the top half first and squirted the vanilla pudding powder (out of the bear/honey container) onto it.  This smelled AMAZING!

This guy loved smelling the pudding!

 Next, we painted glue on the bottoms and put the coffee grounds on it.  FYI – I used decaf coffee.  I dare not waste my beloved caffeine on artwork!  (The art teacher overheard me say this and was slightly offended! haha)

Next we glued symbols for “top” and “bottom” to label our acorns.  We also glued symbols for “yellow” and “brown” across from the “top” and “bottom” symbols.  We also worked on writing sight words (for those who were capable) “the” and “is” to make a sentence: The top is yellow.  The bottom is brown.”

I will have you know that many of my students HATED the coffee smell.  One could not stop making the stink face at his project, and when we walked down to his classroom, I caught him hovering his paper over the trash can.  Some very much enjoyed it though.  I didn’t tell them what either smell was before having them smell it.  Watching children smell is possibly one of my favorite things to do.  It’s just too adorable and funny.  The faces at the coffee smell – man, I wish I could have gotten them all on video!

The finished project!

Next, we made hot glue spider webs.  This is mainly an adult-only “craft” – but the language is outstanding! We only did this with our higher functioning ASD and language delayed students – not the mod-severe intellectually disabled population.  (Basically only with kids who can understand the danger of a hot glue gun – and follow the command “don’t touch” seriously.)

This is a great activity for following directions!

You will need a shallow pan (a dark one or a Teflon-coated one would work well for seeing the web), cold/cool water, a glue gun, PLENTY of glue sticks, and spider rings.  We told the students that we needed cold water then had then guess where we might go to get that and how we were going to carry it.

 First, we drew circles (about 4) with glue in the water.

Next, draw 4 straight lines through the circles you’ve drawn.  This is how the whole thing will stick together, so make sure everything connects.

The last step is to take it out of the water (make sure the glue has completely solidified) and add a spider!  We cut the ring part off of the spider rings, then glued in onto the webs.  The students told us where they would like to put their spiders.  Most chose “in the middle”.

After doing the first student’s web, we had each subsequent student tell us exactly what to do.  This worked on sequencing, using specific words, giving instructions, using correct vocabulary, etc.

The kids LOVED their “prize” at the end of this session.  This one was a huge hit!

The package of spider rings that we got had orange and black spiders.  I’ve seen purple, too.  This was a great way to have students make specific requests and use adjective + noun phrases.

For the students who could not do this spider activity, we made an adapted version.  We helped the students draw circles and straight lines with glue, then sprinkled silver glitter on it.  We stapled the spider to a corner of the paper.  These came out very cute, too.  The same language concepts were targeted, just in a safer way!  (Sorry, no picture.  Yet.  I’ll take one Monday at school!)

Pumpkin craft for ANY goal.

Today with my kindergarteners I targeted their goals in a brand new way for them. We didn’t play a game, we made pumpkins!  I found the original idea here.
To start, I cut orange construction paper in long strips.  My stips are about 12 inches long and an inch and a half wide.  I gave each student ten strips.
Using BoardMaker, I printed 1 inch pictures.  My visuals targeted their goals, which had to do with sequencing and wh- questions.  I had questions on some and answers on the others.  I asked the students the questions on the papers; when they answered I gave them the corresponding visuals.  Then they glued them on the orange strips.  I also had steps of common sequences printed out.  I had them separated into groups and gave them to the student.  He put them in order while the other students were answering questions, then he told me “the story” on his turn.  He also glued them to the strip in order.  They really loved it!
My hesitation with crafts has always been that the focus would be too much on crafting and not enough on speech/language goals.  Not with this one!

When they were all finished gluing their pictures on, I had them stack the strips together again.  I punched holes in each end of each strip.  Then, the students each helped me put a brad “through” the hole.  (We did a LOT of modeling of this word because I know from past sessions that they don’t know it.)

When we were finished with the first brad, I had the student flip their strips over so that the pictures were facing the table.  We fanned out the strips and I had the students curl up a strip and hand it to me (so I could keep the holes somewhat in line) one at a time.  I placed another brad in this set of holes and there we had it!  Look how cute they turned out!

wh- question pumpkin

sequencing pumpkin

This was my first attempt at it, so I didn’t add leaves.  I plan to do this same thing with my preschoolers and their artic sounds.  For them I might do a leaf or vine of some sort!

One of the pumpkins (the one I forgot to get a picture of…) came out much more round than the other two.  I have no idea for the life of me why that is, though!  I wish I could figure it out!  I really wish I had gotten a picture, because it really was drastically better.  Oh well!

This was so easy and fun!  I’m definitely going to be doing more crafts with my younger guys!

Fall apple craft

This week in therapy we made apple trees.  We used apples to paint/print with and they came out adorable!  This craft was so simple to do! Here’s a look.

To prepare,  I cut out a “tree” shape from green construction paper.  I also found some cool corrugated cardboard paper stuff in our art supply room, so I cut that in longs strips for the trunk.  This gave us some added texture and ability to talk about “bumpy” vs “smooth”.  I found some fake, decorative apples at the dollar store, so I used those to pre-teach vocabulary and to illustrate how apples can be red or green.  (The dollar store didn’t have yellow pretend apples…)  We put green and red paint in small, shallow tubs and I cut an apple in half.  Make sure to use a sharp knife; the dull, flimsy plastic kind from the cafeteria will make the cut uneven and they won’t print well on the paper.  Not that I know from experience or anything.


We did this with our 3 intellectually disabilities (ID) classes back to back.  We did one big tree per class so we wouldn’t be overwhelmed with the number of turns each student needed, since they all require hand over hand.  With the first class, we just had the students using their hands to grab the apple halves out of the paint trays.  This was a BAD idea.  I could barely grip the apple to get it out of the tray (that was just slightly bigger than the circumference of the apple), so how did I expect these students with fine motor deficits to do it?  To fix this problem, we took some adapted forks, with wide, rubber handles, and jammed them into the apple halves.  It worked WONDERFULLY after this!  It’s important to scrape or blot the excess paint off the apples – either using the edge of the paint tray or a paper towel.

With the ID rooms, I had PCS symbols printed out.  Each student made a choice of which color apple they wanted to stamp. 

After each student had a turn, we went around and had each one smell some cinnamon. Then we sprinkled some on the still-wet paint. Last, we glued on the corrugated trunk and our tree was finished! As a little reward and motivator, we had extra apples, sans paint, for the students to snack on! I also had a comprehension wh- question, fill in the blank activity printed (using BoardMaker) but we didn’t have time to complete it. 

I think they came out really cute!

I did the same craft with my high-functioning language group of students with autism.  These students made their own, individual trees because they’re more independent.  I used the same materials.  The students noticed that, although I was holding what looked like a whole apple, it actually had a slice down the middle.  One asked, “How did you cut that apple?”  I used this opportunity to talk about object functions.  We also discussed what you do with an apple and that today we were going to break from the norm and actually paint with an apple!

Next, I laid out the two halves we’d paint with and my fake, green apple.  We talked about ways they’re the same and different and the concepts of “half” and “whole”.  We used multiple attributes to describe the apples: half a red apple & a whole green apple.

I went around and asked who wanted to paint a red apple first.  Here we worked on manners: raising hands, waiting our turn, asking politely for a turn, being patient, etc.

I let the students stamp as many or as few red apples as they wanted. 

 We talked about concepts like: more, less, some, etc.  Then we moved on to green.

Once we were finished painting, we talked about why we couldn’t eat any of the apples on the table (even though they mentioned wanted to eat the real apple before we started) – two had paint on them and one was pretend.


We talked about where the students were putting their apples using a variety of prepositions.  We also touched on some green apples, some red apples, more red than green, more green than red, who had the most total apples, the most green, the most red, etc.  TONS of quantity concepts!

With this group, I stapled the the trunks to the tops of the trees for the students.  Turns out, one of my students didn’t know what a stapler was!  I told her, “Stand up, look on the shelf behind you, and hand me the stapler please.”  She stood up and had NO idea what to do after that.  I repeated the direction, she turned around and looked blankly at my shelf with a tape dispenser and a stapler on it.  I really had no idea she didn’t know this common school object.  I did a LOT of repeating the words “stapling” and “stapler” and I attached their tree trunks.  We also worked on the concept of “together”. 
For 4 of the 5 students’ trees, I stapled the trunk to the short side of the green paper.  For the last student, I decided to do it on the longer side.  Here we talked about how one of the trees on was tall, the other was short, one was narrow and one was wide. 
This activity had way more basic concepts than I even thought of when I first started it!  I hope you enjoy it with your students!  🙂  If you’d like to see my OT colleague’s spin on this, check out HER blog here. 🙂

Teacher Evaluation and SLPs

I’ve heard much discussion from you (SLPs) about the method that your district/state uses to evaluate your performance.  Some have said they are evaluated much like the teachers are, others said they’re not evaluated yet because the district is unsure how to do so.

In my district, all teachers, SLPs, OTs, PTs, specialists, etc. are on a 3 year “cycle”.  We are to be collecting evidence of our performance on two of those years and on a third year we must present it as proof we are effective.  As part of our “case” that we are effective, all teachers and specialists  must write a goal for themselves.  I’ve heard many of you have to write similar goals for yourselves – and are stressing about how to write it!  So, I’m going to share mine with you. 

I wrote this last year, with the help of our Communication Disorders department supervisors.  They gave us a couple of examples of goals – one from each area of speech/language disorders.  I chose to go with articulation because I have a good number of students working on it and it seemed easiest to prove.

Feel free to use my goal as a jumping off point for yours!  It reads:

In the current year, selected students receiving S/L services whose goals address articulation will make measurable progress in the production of targeted sounds.   Using a program created articulation rubric to measure progress, all students will improve at least 25% from baseline.  Data collection will be measured from the beginning of therapy 2012 and compared to data collected twice a year. “

We were only obligated to track the progress of a handful of students, not all.  If you have to do all of your students, welp, sorry – I can’t help you out there.  😦 

I’ve uploaded the rubric I used to my Google docs.  Find it here and feel free to use it!   To use the rubric, I just put an “X” in the box if the student was producing his/her sound with at least 80% accuracy in the specified context.  The total possible points on this rubric is 24.  If the student starts with 10 points on the rubric in September, in order to meet your goal, he/she would have to have improved by 25% on the rubric, or achieve 13 points (12.5 but I rounded…) by June.  Make sense?  If you have any questions, I would love to try to answer them.  Leave them in the comments!

I hope this helps some of you out!