Monday, August 24, 2015

Apples Literacy/Activity Packet

Fall is in the air, and school starts today in Chapel Hill!  I'm excited!

I've spent some time on creating an apples-themed activity/literacy packet.  It's for your more linguistically challenged children.

This packet covers lots of goals---comprehension of questions, speaking in sentences. labeling pictures, requesting, sequencing........  I plan on using this with our kids in a separate setting, as well as my younger regular education language-impaired children.

Link to view the preview and purchase at a modest price.

Below is the table of contents.   As usual, if you are a starving CF, email me at if you need this but don't have two nickels to rub together.

Enclosed in the packet are:
“10 Red Apples” Interactive Book--Pages 3-13
Icons for the “10 Red Apples” book– page 14
Sentence Frame for “10 Red Apples” -page 15
Numbers page for the “10 Red Apples” book –page 16
Pom Pom Apple Tree’ craft direction book –pages 17--25
Communication Board for the Apple Tree craft—page 26
Comprehension questions for Apple Tree Craft—page 27
Sequencing activity for Apple Tree craft—page 28
“All About Apples” interactive book—Page 29-39
Icons for the “All About Apples” book—Page 40
Comprehension questions for “All About Apples”—Page 41-42
Simple worksheets (matching, counting) –page 43 and 44
I hope everyone has a great start to the school year!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Fall and Apple Collections---free to use

I'm back from vacation, and teacher workdays start here on Monday. I'm sure all of you are worrying about schedules and caseloads, so to help this fall season for some of your more special children, I'm reposting some free material.  Enjoy!

Here are a couple of collections of ideas and downloads from the past:

Fall (click here)

Apples (click here)

We had a great vacation in Vancouver by the way.  I highly recommend.....


Sunday, August 2, 2015

TPT sale

I'm on vacation in Vancouver right now so blogging is more complicated.  I just wanted to let my readers know there is a site-wide Teacher Pay Teacher sale August 3 and 4.  All of my items will be 20% off.  Check out my Tpt store here.  If you use the promo code BTS15 you get even more discount from TPT.

That's all for now.....Vancouver calls!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Plain Walls or Intricate Brickwork---Musings on AAC systems

I finished ESY last week during which I worked with a number of  children who were new to me and came to school with a variety of low-tech AAC systems.  First of all, I'm very happy this year that the kids had systems.  In past ESY sessions, often I had to make communication notebooks from scratch, instantly.  This year, every child had something, ranging from PECS, to a core board, to a more complicated notebook.  Core has been emphasized across the district this year, and it's reflected in what the kids brought.

Having a wide variety of little systems, though, gave me pause on what are the components needed to really make even a low tech system work well for a child. Many of the notebooks the children had were ineffective. Some notebooks had only random photos of toys or activities which the child really didn't want.  Some systems only presented core vocabulary (also not reinforcing at the moment to the child). Some systems were difficult to model and had hundreds of itty bitty pictures. Some children didn't seem to have underlying cognitive foundations of communication such as joint attention, communicative intent, object permanence.  Again, I'm very happy the children had something, and the teachers and I really attempted to incorporate use of the existing systems into the activities.

 Five weeks is a long time to ponder about these difficulties, so I came up with 'bricks and mortar' analogy for effective development of a dynamic system (either low or high tech).  Explanations are below:

HOUSE:  This represents where the child is---house, school, church, playground, babysitters....the list goes on.

FOUNDATIONS OF COMMUNICATION:  Every house cannot stand without a solid foundation. AAC users often need to also work on basic intent, joint attention, functional object use, tracking if possible.

FRINGE VOCABULARY:  These are the bricks.  I found that fringe is vital because these are the real things in a child's life.  People, toys, food, places---this is what they wanted to talk about.

CORE VOCABULARY:  This is the cement that holds everything together, and enables language expansion and development.  The house/wall can be simple or intricate, small or large.   As a child's language expands, so does the house.

POWER:  This is vital to the house.  A child has to be shown the power of communication.

PRAGMATICS:  This involves people.  Without people in the house, there's no purpose.

CONTEXT/ENVIRONMENT:    This all goes back to the house, which represents wherever the child is.

This may be simplistic, but all of these components are necessary for a child to effectively learn to communicate using AAC.   I'm welcome to ideas to improve this.  

A good system with all the components can help a plain brick house become an awesome brick cathedral.

And now, I want to say that I'm going on vacation to Vancouver, BC.  I'll be posting pictures!

See you!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Writing Buddy--Assistive Technology Low Tech Flip Book for Inclusion

Writing is one of the most challenging areas for students with special needs, and often an adult has to sit one-on-one with the student to eke out every word and letter. I created "Writing Buddy"  to enhance independence for the early primary writer by providing an extensive word bank which is organized by who, what, when, and where concepts along with other categories. I used Smarty Symbols for the awesome graphics (commercial license).

 A long time ago, I went to a workshop where a talented mother, Inga Smith, presented on an assistive technology low tech flip book which she called "Journal Jogger".  I bought the CD for this, and we created some of these flip books at our school.

She offers this product online here.  Even though the website mentions 'passwords', I had no problem going directly to it. It's free, and many, many pages long.  If you own Boardmaker, you can download it all!

The problem that I know many of you have is that Boardmaker is expensive.
The other problem with "Journal Jogger" is that the flipchart that it becomes is big with 26 pages of pictures/words.  My kids get lost with all the words.  Bigger is not better.

I have taken the same concept, but simplified it, totally reorganized the vocabulary, eliminated many pages,  and used Smarty Symbols rather than Boardmaker.  Although "Journal Jogger" was the inspiration, this product is totally different from the original with a different type of child in mind.  "Journal Jogger" was designed originally for high functioning children with extensive vocabulary.  "Writing Buddy" is designed for more linguistically challenged children who deserve their seat in the mainstream, too!

This is a low tech
assistive technology accommodation
for students to use during inclusion
in a regular primary class.
Page 1—Title
Page 2 –People and verbs
Page 3—Adjectives or descripters
Page 4---Nouns (food, drink, toys)
Page 5– Where; prepositions and places
Page 6—Numbers and fractions
Page 7—Colors
Page 8—Calendar concepts
Page 9—Feelings
Page 10—Sentence starters
Page 11—Kindergarten high frequency words 
Page 12—Steps to writing visual

This example is printed in black and white. It's very nice printed in color, but both ways work.

Take a look at this flip chart online here.

I hope you all are having a good summer.  My ESY experience just ended.  Vancouver, BC is next!


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Let's Make a Boat---Simple craft with printable directions, questions, communication board

A long time ago, I blogged about a boat craft I did with the kids using Pictello.  This was a great activity, and Pictello has only gotten better through the years.  I used this activity again this summer and the kids loved it, making a substantial flotilla of little boats, all seaworthy! 

I now have a set of printable or displayable directions for all of you.  This summer, during Extended School Year, I didn't have access to a printer, so we simply displayed the directions/pictures on the iPad with the Pictello app.  It's also easy to simply show the directions on the Smartboard, or on your laptop without printing.  Pictello has text to speech which is nice, but the boat craft directions work with an adult or child reading them aloud too.

Save lids in advance for this project.  I used wooden skewers broken down to size for the mast.  Pencils work too.

Kids love the hole punch.  It's sometimes hard for little hands to have enough strength, but then they can ask for help.

At the end, I asked some of the kids simple yes/no questions and wh-questions about the craft. You can also download those at the link below.

 A word about the communication board (link is below)---this is primarily fringe vocabulary.  Hopefully your limited verbal children have personal systems with core words.  Mine did!
A communication board with fringe is just handy for immediate needs during a group as a supplement. 

This communication board is made with Smarty Symbols, which is an awesome set of clip art, and within a reasonable price range.  I have a commercial license, and these symbols are copyrighted by that company.  Check them out! 

Download the boat directions here in pdf.

Download the communication board here.

Download a simple set of questions here.

Flotilla including a pirate boat!


Monday, June 29, 2015

Dotty---Short Film to Watch and Ponder

I love the blog Film English, mainly because the author highlights short films, and I love shorts.
This author, Kieran Donaghy, actually is highlighting and providing lesson plans for English language teachers at the secondary level--but I look over his virtual shoulder and watch too!

One film he showed me was Dotty.  This was an awesome illustration of human interaction set in a nursing home in England.  A review is here: "This beautiful film tells the story of a lifetime in the span of 11 minutes. The simple, yet elegantly crafted tale begins with an elderly woman in a full care facility who wants to send a text message to her daughter.

A young woman brings her tea, but before the elderly woman will drink it, before she will do anything else, she must send this text to her daughter.

The young woman tries to help, but of course there is difficulty mastering the technology. Just when her patience has run out, so has yours. At different moments you will empathize with each of the women.

This film was a favorite at the 2013 Naples Film Festival

As speech-language pathologists, we have all been there---mustering patience, modifying our language, putting ourselves in the shoes of the other person.  We often have to let go of our own agenda, and honor the agenda of our client whether the person is 5 or 85. As I get older, I empathize more and more with Dotty.  I could be her someday, and only hope that I am treated with respect and patience as I navigate my world the best I can. 

  I'm curious as to what do you readers think about the younger woman's interactions as she shifted from "talking at" Dotty, to actually providing instructions on how to send a text message?  

I highly recommend this film on many levels.

Go HERE to watch this short film on Vimeo (10 minutes).