Santa please bring me...

If I was Santa I would send all my fellow speech therapists a few of my must-haves.  Since there are 10 days until Christmas (I'm reminded every 10 minutes by my students) I thought a top ten list was necessary.  Here are some items this speech lady could not live without (lucky you, some are free (or cheap)!)
1.     Boardmaker
I seriously do not know what I would do without it.  It makes my life so much easier and helps me create all kinds of fun activities.
2.    Pinterest
I use Pinterest for inspiration and to find other speech therapy blogs.  I often ask myself what I did before Pinterest was created. Pediastaff has some amazing boards check them out here. Feel free to follow my speech therapy board as well.
3.    Blue Pens
Anything official in the schools has to be signed with a blue pen.  I buy blue pens in bulk, yet I can never find one when I need it.
4.    Starbucks
No explanation necessary.
5.    Ikea Magazine holders
These cardboard magazine holders are $.99 for a pack of them.  I use them to organize my books and anything else I can organize.
6.    Laminator
I would laminate this computer if I thought it would work.  I love laminating!
To support my OCD, this lovely website has given me the cutest labels ever so that I don’t feel bad about labeling anything and everything.
8.    Mirror
I have some kids that all it takes is a look in the mirror when they’re making their sounds and BAM! they graduate from speech therapy.  I take all the credit though :)
Check out my classroom post and see how I've made the mirror an integral (and fun) part of the speech room. 
Along with being OCD, I am also a germaphobe.  My manicures last 5 minutes because I’m constantly washing my hands and using hand sanitizer.
10.  Velcro
Velcro is one of those supplies that I am forced to use sparingly because it’s so expensive, but if I could I would Velcro everything!
What are some things that you couldn't live without? Write a comment and let me know.

Come back after the holidays for my go-to speech therapy games (super easy to make and/or cheap to buy).

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Jolly Kwanza too,,,

I was hoping to get this winter themed post up weeks ago.  Alas, this speech lady has been bogged down with evaluations, progress reports, IEP paperwork, Medicaid and all that “fun” stuff that we get paid overtime for (cough, cough not).  Sorry to be a Scrooge, but had to get my “Ba Humbugs” out before I was able to talk about the festive activities that have been going on in speech therapy. 


"Oh Christmas Tree"
We made Christmas trees out of articulation words that are winter themed.  Colored the pictures green, added a star on top and these labels so parents knew what this activity was all about. 


This activity may look familiar.  I did something similiar in my Halloween post. I used a circle template and then had the kids fold the circles in half. Then, they glued one half of the circle and connected all of them except the last two.  I use four circles for each ornament.  Before you glue the last circles together use string and white glue to create something for the ornament to hang.  Add articulation words to each side of the circle and you've got yourself a speech therapy ornament. 

Hot Chocolate

This was a great activity for beginning sequencers.  They had to sequence how to make hot chocolate. First, I did a demonstration. Then, they completed their sequencing.  After that, they had to follow their own directions to make their hot chocolate.  Thank goodness it got cold in Texas or the hot chocolate wouldn't have been so warm and cozy!

Snowman Activity

This was also an activity from my Halloween post that worked out so well I decided to make it for the next season.  Have the students follow or give the directions to another to make a snowman. Great for working on those quantity, quality and spatial concepts.  Here is the template I used.   

Social Story
Christmas time can be stressful, but it's also a great opportunity to work on those social skills that our kids with Autism need to work on.  I have made a social story about receiving gifts.  There is nothing I dislike more than when a child receives a gift and huffs and puffs because "That's not what I wanted!".  So, to prevent this from happening here are two pages of a social story to read to your kids and send home with parents. 

The Grinch
The Grinch is a great character to talk about expected and unexpected behaviors as well as describing words, antonyms, synonyms etc.  Videos are a great interactive way to work on inferencing as well.  I work closely with a teacher who uses it all the time and it inspired me to do a holiday version. Here and here are two links to Grinch videos. 

Here is a great post by Jenna Rayburn that has activities for Chanukah.
She also has some great Christmas activities too!

Heidi Kay over at Pediastaff challenged some bloggers to create therapy activies related to Chanukah and Kwanza.  While the activity I came up with is pretty simple in nature, it was a really great motivator.  These chain links can be used in a couple different ways.   
I introduced Kwanza to the kids first.  I explained what the colors mean and the basic traditions of the holiday. Then, depending on what level they are at, they get to add a link for every sound or sound in a sentence that they produced correctly.  I tried to keep the conversation centered around the holiday.  Whoever has the longest chain at the end of the session gets an extra sticker.
Because many children at my school do not celebrate Kwanza or Chanukah, they don't know much about the holidays.  I wrote on the white board "Holidays" and the kids had to either tell a personal story (they get a red link), ask a question (they get a green link) or comment on someone else's response (they get a black link).  They want their links to be a mix of colors and not all one color.  Whoever has the longest chain at the end of the session gets an extra sticker.  It was a good way to work on pragmatics and other expressive language goals and get kids to talk about their holiday traditions and ask questions about others.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season and enjoys spending quality time with family.  I'm seriously looking forward to it and my goal is to be paperwork free by December 22nd! Happy Holidays!

December Take-Home Program

Week 1
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Week 4

Week 1
Week 2
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Week 4

Mama Mia!

So my alarm went off one morning, and I had a sudden “Oh my!” moment.  What was I going to do with my 3 year old group that morning?  We all know 3 year olds must be entertained the entire therapy session or things can get ugly! I don’t know about all of you fellow SLPs, but I find myself thinking of therapy ideas when I’m brushing my teeth, showering, running, sleeping etc.  Well I have to say this spur of the moment activity happened to work out great (we all know sometimes those spur of the moment therapy ideas totally backfire!).  So here it is the pizza articulation game. 

Materials you will need:
-Tan cardstock cut into circles
-Red paper cut into a circle smaller than the tan circle

-One paperclip
-One brad a.k.a paper fastener
-Sharpie to mark the pieces of pizza
-Boardmaker food pictures.
Directions: Glue the red circle onto the tan and then mark lines for your pieces of pizza.  Have the child glue each target word onto each piece of pizza (I pick out the words ahead of time so I know they will get lots of practice with their sound in error).  Then make a hole with your brad, take out the brad and put the sharp side through a paperclip and re-insert it into the pizza.  Voila! you have a homemade articulation game.  The kids just have to flick the paperclip like it’s a spinner and then whatever word it lands on they have to say. 

I include the book Pete’s A Pizza with this therapy lesson.  It’s such a cute book and gets the group in the mood to talk about pizza! Here are sequencing cards to go along with the book here, here and here
Bring a doll in and have the children act out Pete’s A Pizza.  Depending on the level of the child you can give them directions of what to do next, or they tell you what part of the story they are acting out. 
If you're not reading Pete's A Pizza and just want to sequence a pizza-making experience here are more sequencing cards here, here and here.
Poppa's Pizza Game
We played this game in social group.  It's great for a te amwork activity, taking turns asking questions ("Can you pass me a pepperoni?").  It's also quite a laugh for the teachers.  My favorite quote of the game happened after the pizza toppled over and all the pieces fell off. 
Student- "Mama Mia!"
(Laughter from other students)
Student-(very excited to get a laugh from friends) "Ya, that means "Oh my! I want pizza!" in Spanish". 
(The kids just didn't understand why the teachers were laughing so hard!)

Note: To download the files on this post you must have access to Boardmaker.  

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Fall is my favorite time of year.  I love the leaves changing, the cooler weather, sweaters with boots, and pumpkin spice lattes. The list could go on for days.  Anywho, here are some of my favorite activities to do in therapy for Fall and Thanksgiving.

I like to read 10 Fat Turkeys.  In this book the recurring statement is "Gobble, Gobble, Wibble, Wobble." which is just plain fun to say and the kids like to help me read it. 

So after reading this book we of course have to make turkeys! Each feather on the turkey's head has a word related to the fall or Thanksgiving. ( I got reprimanded by a 3 year old for having a yellow beak instead of an orange beak. Whoops!)
Fall Articulation Tree:
I pick out words ahead of time that target the student's articulation goals.  Then they glue the items onto the tree.  As they glue them down they have to tell me the word and then at the end they have to tell me all the weird things on their tree. 
Here are the labels I have the kids put on their page so parents know what it was for.
I would also like to suggest you use the sound pages that are in the bottom right corner of this web page.  There are a multitude of words for all sounds you might need to target. 


So I don't know about all of you, but I love the There Was An Old Lady books. There are a million and they are really fun.

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves!
I got the template for the old lady from here.  Then found all the items the old lady swallowed and made this sheet in boarmaker. The kids can use this for practicing articulation or can use it for language as a sequencing activity.

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Pie:
For this book I made a sequencing activity for how to make a pumpkin pie.  Click here, here and here for the links to this activity. 

Scarecrow Activity:
This is a great activity for expressive and receptive language.  Here are directions you can use to work with an array of students and their auditory comprehension needs. Also, to save all of you lovely readers time and energy I've included the different pieces to the scarecrow here.

To work on expressive language, I made two different scarecrows and laminated them in a manilla folder.  Set them up like work areas and each child has to give a direction to the other child about how to make their scarecrow look like the one on their work folder.  Then at the end each child reveals the scarecrow they've made and see if it matches with the other student's scarecrow laminated into the folder.   
For my children who have difficutly with asking questions appropriately I like to have a mock Thanksgiving.  I print off a number of pictures and the kids pick their favorite Thanksgiving foods and have to ask me or a friend to pass them the food.  I always preface it with "Let's pretend we're at Thanksgiving dinner and all the food is at the other end of the table." My hope is that on Thankgiving my kids are able to ask "Can you please pass the turkey?" and everyone says "Oh what nice manners you have!" and the kid says "Yes, I learned this in speech therapy."......a girl can dream, right?

Bulletin Board:
"We're gobbling up speech and language skills!"
I trace the kid's hands and they write words that have to deal with fall or Thanksgiving on each finger.  I like to do this before anything else so that the kids can build up that vocabulary before we move into the rest of the Thanksgiving unit.  The hands are the turkey's feathers. 

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for everyone that visits this blog and supports me in what I love doing.  I couldn't ask for a better career (I mean today I played Mr. Potato Head and spoke in a British accent!)

November Take-Home Program

Here are take-home sheets for the month of November.
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5


Halloween is just around the corner.  Here are some ideas of how to incorporate the holiday into your articulation and language therapy. 

Articulation:Use a trick or treating basket and have the kids pull cards that target their speech sounds.

Pumpkin craft
I got the idea and template from this website.  I of course had to tweek it to fit my therapy needs.  The kids glue Halloween words that have their speech sound on each side of the 3-D pumpkin. It was a fun activity that even my 3-year olds could do. 

Ghost scavenger hunt
Tape string around your room (my goal was to make it look like a spider web) and paperclip sound cards on it.  Each child makes a ghost out of a white lunch sack and black crayon.  Then the scavenger hunt begins.  They use their ghost's mouth to grab the cards off of the web and bring it back to the table where they have to tell me what they found. 

(Warning: Making this web is very time consuming.  Might I suggest having your fluency group help you while you chat about life and work on those fluency strategies?!?)
Candy corn sound blending activity:  I found this image through clip art and copy and pasted it into BoardMaker.  I then added letters to each section of the candy corn.  The kids can play around with their sounds at the beginning and ending of words with different vowels in the middle. 
Sequencing book/social story for trick or treating. 
Page 1 
Page 2 
Page 3
(you must have BoardMaker to download these files)

Sequence how a pumpkin grows. “It’s Pumpkin Time” is a great book for sequencing how a pumpkin grows from a seed to a jack-o-lantern. 
Describe a pumpkin:  I print off a bunch of describing words beforehand and have the kids shout out what words describe a pumpkin. If they have trouble you can let them choose between the pictures. The best way to do this is to actually have a real pumpkin that the kids can touch and see. 
Bulletin Board Ideas:
"Look At What Sounds We're Brewing Up"

Some lovely teaching assistants made all these circles (bubbles) for me. The kids brainstorm words that go along with Halloween.  Then, depending on what level they're at, the child:
A. draws a picture and writes a word that has their speech sound in it.
B. Writes a sentence with one of the words in it.
C. Writes a scary story that they have to read to the group and use their best speech sounds while they read it.   

Can you tell I love Halloween? This nice fall weather is really getting my brain rolling with ideas on how to get outside during speech therapy.  This speech lady is in desperate need of fresh air!

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is another favorite among my students and of course I happen to like it too.  Here are some ideas about how to integrate this book into your therapy.

I like to have the kids try and think of all the foods they like to eat.  We try to then find their speech sound(s) in the words.  Another activity that is fun for my younger kids is to create their very own “Hungry Caterpillar”.  Then they tell the group what their hungry caterpillar ate.  I pick the foods to put on their caterpillar so it targets the sound(s) they are working on in speech. 

The label on it says ______(name)'s Very Hungry Caterpillar

This is a great book for sequencing, talking about plural endings, categorizing etc. 
I made this caterpillar with a plain white paper lunch sack and painted it so the mouth was at the opening.  After we’ve read the book we sequence the foods and the kids get to put the picture of the food in the caterpillar’s mouth. 

This is a good activity if you are working on students being able to put complete sentences together and/or using plurals.  Make cards for Monday-Sunday, numbers 1-5 and a card that says “apple”, “pears”, “plums”, “strawberries” and “oranges”.  Have the kids figure out where each card goes on the sentence line. 
"Monday he ate 1 apple."
"Wednesday he ate 3 plums."
Other ideas:
-Make a t-chart and categorize the good foods in the book from the unhealthy foods. 
-Sequence the life-cycle of a butterfly.  
-Have each student create their very own Very Hungry (insert student's name here) and sequence the foods they had for breakfast, lunch, dinner etc. that week.

Morning and Bedtime Routines

I’ve had so many parents tell me they have the hardest time getting their child ready on time for school.  Either the child doesn’t want to go to school, they like to dilly dally around or just can’t quite wake-up.  Here are some sequencing cards that you can use for your child in the morning.  I would suggest putting them on Velcro and having an envelope next to them.  After they have completed a task they put the picture in the envelope and move on to the next task.  I made these using clip art and Boardmaker pictures.  You could certainly Google image pictures or even take pictures of your own child actually completing the tasks so they can see firsthand what they have to do.  If it’s especially difficult for your child tell them if they can get their morning routine completed by themselves they get a special treat.  Then once you know they are able to do that, they have to have an entire week of getting ready to go to school independently and they get a treat.  Keep expecting more out of them and eventually (hopefully) you have stress free mornings. 
Here is a bedtime routine too.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear

The theme this week is Brown Bear, Brown Bear
This book is great because of its repetitive phrases. 
When reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear we work on syllableness.  Syllableness focuses on producing the appropriate amount of syllables in each word or phrase.  First I model the words for the children.
Word List:
brown bear    red bird          yellow duck    blue horse      green frog    

purple cat      white dog       black sheep    goldfish          teacher
If a child is having difficulty we might clap out each phrase or hit wooden sticks together so the child can hear and physically produce the syllables. I’ve been on the hunt for bongo drums because I think that would a fun way to break up the syllables. 
This is often the first lesson I use when I admit kids for articulation or phonological delays/disorders.  It’s nice because the first time I see the children there isn’t so much pressure to get the sounds as there is to get the correct number of syllables.  Plus what kid doesn’t like the book Brown Bear, Brown Bear? Especially with my three year olds it’s important to start out with something fun that can build their confidence, so I don’t see any crying the next time they have to leave mom and dad for speech.  
For my kids working on language this is a great book for sequencing.  It’s also a great vocabulary builder.  We make a chart and think of all the things that are the colors associated with the animal.  They always want to yell out things like “shirts”, “table” and then we have to go over that not all shirts are red and not all tables are yellow.  I like to give them clues like “I’m thinking of a fruit that is yellow and has a peel”.  They have to use those deductive reasoning skills to figure out what I’m talking about. 
Another activity is going on a sort of “bear hunt”.  I usually just place random animal pictures around my room and the kids have to go looking for them.  When they find one they glue the picture on a pre-made sheet and at the end they have to tell me in what order they found the pictures. 

A lot of kids have difficulty asking questions appropriately.  An activity that I use during this “Bear” theme is Jesse Bear.  There is a book called “Jesse Bear What Will You Wear?” I found this template and each child gets random bits of Jesse Bear’s clothing.  Each child is given a time of year (winter, spring, summer, fall) and they have to dress Jesse Bear appropriately.  If they don’t have an item of clothing they want, then they have to ask one of their friends for that item of clothing.  This works on lots of basic concepts as well i.e. red shirt, blue coat, brown boots etc.
Jesse Bear is ready for fall.  He's got his boots on and a sweater handy. Now if only there was a fall season in Austin...

September Articulation Homework

If your child is working on articulation here are some homework sheets that will help reinforce all the hard work they are doing in the speech room.  When they turn in a homework sheet with a parent signature, they get to add a sticker to their sticker chart.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4

Let me know if you need a reminder of what sounds your child is working on. 

Why "Speech Lady"

I got an email from a co-worker the other day asking me what I prefer to be called in paperwork- speech therapist, speech pathologist.  It got me thinking of all the wonderful names that the kids and others call me in this job position. 
I have 3 year olds yelling "Gretz!" down the hallway.  It reminds me of one went by their first names in college. 
There's always "That one girl".  I was at a school last year one day out of the week and apparently this teacher had no clue who I was or why I was there.
Out of all these, I get the biggest kick out of hearing what my speech kiddos tell their friends in the hall as I pass them-  "Yup that's the speech lady.  She teaches me how to talk."
So that is how I got Speech Lady.  Whatever you do just don't get my attention by saying "Hey little girl!"

Yes, I've also had a teacher think I was a student... 

A tour of the Speech Lady's room

I realize not all of you get a chance to come to Back To School Night and Meet the Teacher, so here is a tour of the speech room.  Now you can picture your child in the room working hard on articulation, language, fluency, voice, and social skills!
Sticker Charts

12 stickers = Treasure chest, picking a game, or sensory break activities.

Mirror Wall

"Mirror Mirror On The Wall Who Has The Best Sound Of Them All?" -I came up with that all by myself (pretty pleased if you couldn't tell)

Calendar and Reading Corner

I find it's helpful to move kids from station to station so they don't start getting antsy.  It helps Ms. Gretz not get frustrated with wiggle worms!

Therapy Table

This is where the magic happens! As in the kids (hopefully) listen as I give them strategies to reach their speech goals.  Lots of hard work happens at this table.  We try and have a little fun too. 

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

I think it's really important to remind my students (especially after summer break) what sounds they are working on in speech.  Every time a child comes to my room and they are working on articulation, the first thing I ask them is "What sounds are you working on?", and/or "What sound do you want to focus on today?".  This helps the kids take responsibility (hopefully) for the speech sound they have in error and the goals we are all working on helping them to achieve.
The first book of the year that I like to read is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
The kids love this book and it makes them giggle...which in turn makes me giggle.  I like to use this book because it goes through the alphabet and the sooner my little kiddos can start identifying the letter that goes with their sound in error, the better it is! I like to have them raise their hand when they hear the letter that corresponds to the sound they are working on.  The first day of reading it they raise their hand for every sound, but with some reminders by the 2nd or 3rd reading they have it down. 
Let's just say Chicka Chicka Boom Boom has taken over this Speech Lady's room. 

The kids picked out their sounds and placed them on the appropriate leaf.
Each leaf has a stage of obtaining an articulation goals.  Can they get the sound in isolation, in words, in phrases, in sentences and/or in conversation.

My younger kids made these take-home craft projects to help themselves and parents remember what their goals are this year. 
"Chicka Chicka Boom Boom _______ is working on these sounds in the speech room."

Even my kids working on language got in on the fun of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.
They listened and gave each other directions on where to put each letter.  "Put the "O" next to the "G"." Lots of work on spatial concepts and putting complete sentences together so a peer can follow the directions they give.  One child told me my coconut tree looked funny.  I never claimed I was the best artist. :)

Parent tips:
Talk with your child about what sounds they are working on. When you're out and about find words that start with their sound.  
Feel free to shoot me an email telling me if your child said all their sounds right during an activity or practice.  I make a big deal about it and their speech friends give them a little pat on the back. 



I'm going to attempt to create a blog that the parent's of students I serve in the schools can use as a resource. I will be adding helpful links, homework and fun ideas that you can use with your children to increase language skills, intelligibility, fluency, social skills etc.
Please let me know if there is a topic you would like addressed and I can do my best to add a link, post or supply any information I might have.