Thursday, March 27, 2014

PBS Kids Games Galore

PBS Kids All Game Topics
People are always looking for ways to supplement academics with fun computer games and apps.  A great resource for educational games is PBSKids.org.  It's a great website to use during independent computer time or with the whole class on a SMART Board (or Tap It).  I previously mentioned The Electric Company's Website for speech therapy games.  As a result of my search of speech therapy games, I've stumbled upon even more games.  The site itself is arranged by show, but if you search a little further you can actually have the games sorted by academic category.  Being the speech language pathologist that I am, I am particularly interested in any that work on language, vocabulary, phonetics/phonemic awareness, and literacy.  There are so many more categories though.

Here are a few PBS Kids Games that work on language skills:

Skits Cooks - following directions, verbs
Martha Speaks - Catch - 2 choice receptive vocabulary
Super Why Bingo - opposites - vocabulary
Calliou the Cook - food vocabulary
Between the Lions Alphabet Soup - jokes/riddles - missing word
Martha Speaks Scrapbook - verbs -receptive

There are so many games to see.  This is a great resource!
PBS Kids Vocabulary Games

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Push-In Phonemic Awareness and Articulation Activity Idea

If you're like me, then you love finding activities that are engaging, fun, and educational.  As a speech language pathologist, I get to determine which service delivery method is most appropriate for my students.  And, more often than not, I do more push-in therapy than I do individual or small group.  The nice thing about push-in therapy is that it provides the response to intervention (RTI) services that speech language pathologists are often asked to perform.  So, by doing push-in, you are building skills for all kids--even for those who often fall through the cracks.

Alphabet Song by Have Fun Teaching
(Sorry, I couldn't embed the videos on the blog.
Click on one of the links to view them on YouTube.)
A few years ago, our school district installed SMART Boards (interactive white boards) in all of our classrooms.  This was great because it gave me a whole new medium to present to my students.  What I found with SMART Boards was that the kids were 100% focused on me (the board), front and center.  One of my first missions was to get the classrooms to utilize the boards as an opening language/phonics lesson that they could do on a daily basis.  Through time, I made my way through some pretty entertaining YouTube ABC songs.  Some were okay, some were pretty good, and others were really bad.  There are a ton of ABC songs and videos on YouTube.  

Then I stumbled upon a REALLY good video by Have Fun Teaching.  The first one was the Alphabet Song | ABC Song | Phonics Song.  I really liked it because unlike the other ABC songs on YouTube, it was hip, current, and catchy.  The real value was that it was well thought out in terms of being educational and geared toward teaching phonics.  Once I found this then I was really onto something.  This guy (Mark) actually produced individual videos for every letter in the alphabet!  For instance, when watching the video for the letter M, I counted at least 4 measures (or 64 trials) of producing /m/ in isolation.  Then, within the song he added 2 measures (or 8 trials) of /m/ in the initial position of words for 6 words (that's 48 trials if you're not good at math).  He also added in a little multisensory stuff by having the students "air write" the capital and lowercase letters.  Pretty cool if you ask me.  When it was all said and done, /m/ was used at least 112 times!  Talk about repetition and practice!  All in all, they've produced 27 alphabet videos.

But that's not all!  That's right, there's more.  Have Fun Learning has its own webpage and lots and lots more videos that include: Science Songs, Character Songs, Fitness Songs, Shape Songs, Counting Songs, Kindergarten Songs, and much, much more.  Depending on your budget, you can either purchase the videos or songs on their website or you can watch them for free on YouTube.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Legos + PECS (or AAC) = Great Idea!

Free Lego Instructions from LetsBuilditAgain.com
Why in the wide, wide world of sports haven't I thought of this sooner? Using Legos could be a fun, motivating way to practice the Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) and AAC. Maybe you're saying duh right now because you've been doing this for years, but it took me one spontaneous moment to realize the potential with Legos. I have this kid that desires so much to communicate with others. He gestures and makes noises better than any kid I know. He is so good at gesturing that most people can decipher his stories. We've been stuck trying to get him to utilize his AAC device.  So, I happened to walk in the classroom as he was trying to build some sort of creation out of Legos and a light bulb went off!  I quickly went back to my office and searched for simple Lego instructions, brought it back on my iPad, and propped it up for our activity.

LEGO® Instructions 0503 Basic Building Set

Next, I showed him what we were going to build (a red car) and the types of pieces that we'd needed.  I held onto the bucket of Legos and then he had to make requests for the pieces.  Now, if you do this, you can modify the type of request to add more details.  Obviously, it depends on the level of student you're working with.  We were working on the motor plan of I + want + (color).  The student was highly motivated with the activity (I already knew this since he was busy playing with the Legos to begin with) and completed it proudly.

This activity could be easily done with the PECS too.  You could have a Lego picture to make a simple request for each piece.  Or, you could have a sentence strip for I want + Legos.  And if your student is even more advanced, you could add qualifiers like I want + red + Legos or I want + small + red + Legos.  You get the idea.

After the session, I got a bit excited and filled out a requisition form to order a bucket of Legos to add to my therapy supplies.  Legos can be expensive, but I found a bucket of Legos for $30 on Amazon.  It comes with basic instructions too for a few items.  

Have you used Legos in any other ways for therapy?  What are some of your go to PECS and AAC activities?