Sunday, August 20, 2023

Camping Themed Speech and Language Therapy


I always like to do a camping unit in late summer/early fall. It seems like I often have a lot of families taking camping trips during this time. I usually pair woodland/forest animals with my camping theme, as they are the animals that most of my children would be seeing while camping in the area.

This camping set from learning resources is great for pretend play. We love using it to roast hotdogs and make s’mores. I also pair Speech Room News's S’mores Articulation Activity with the fire. Rather than cutting out and laminating all of those pieces so that they can be attached with Velcro, ice simply glue them directly to the paint stick for the child to take home themselves. 

I use my Woodland Animal Sensory Bag Speech activity to target articulation, verb vocabulary, pronouns, verb tenses.

For my kiddos working on language goals, I like to use my Camping Speech And Language Unit. It has worksheets and activities to target grammar vocabulary various concepts, listening comprehension, categories, and so much more! It also includes open ended games that can be used to target any skill.

I also have some random materials that I have accumulated over the years. They are pictured below. 

The "All About Camping" mini book is from this push in therapy packet. The picture scene is from this picture chats bundle.

I found these camping pronoun cards that have been a staple in my therapy room for years. I love that they show both genders doing the same activity so that you can use the cards receptively or expressively. I can't find them anywhere now! If you know where they are, let me know so I can add a link! If you are looking for some of your own, there are lots of different options on TpT. Just search "camping pronouns." 

This Spot It: Camping game is great for working on camping themed vocabulary. I love to pair it with flashcards or worksheets to target any skill, while incorporating the camping vocabulary/theme.

I use my craft visuals mega pack to make these fun toilet paper tube binoculars during this unit. We decorate them with pictures to target articulation or language goals. I will often print out super Duper articulation pictures at 50% scale to use on them. The kids love it! Then we use the binoculars to look for woodland animals that I’ve hidden around the room. I love this woodland animal set that I found on Amazon. The animals are very realistic looking and many of them are local to our area, so they are animals the child might actually see.

I honestly don’t have a lot of camping themed books, but here are the ones I love to use.

Bruce the Bear Books. My favorites are Peek-a-Bruce and Bruce’s Fun Day. They aren’t specifically a camping theme, but have a lot of the same vocabulary. I really like the Bruce books for perspective taking, social skills, emotions, verbs, describing, spatial concepts, and more. 

My son received Home Builders from the Dolly Parton Imagination Library and I immediately wanted it for my therapy room. It talks about all the different houses animals make and how they make them. It’s wonderful for listening comprehension, listening for details, describing, verbs, etc. Birdhouse is very factual and great for listening comprehension, wh questions, listening for details, etc. Riverside Friends is an awesome board book that I love to use with preschoolers. 

And I love Squeak for my preverbal friends. It has a ton of environmental noises for them to imitate! 

And that will pretty much wrap up my Camping Unit! I hope you found something you could use in your own therapy room! Thanks for stopping by! 

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Book Review: Balanced and Barefoot


The last few summers, I have read books about getting kids outdoors and the benefits it can have. You can read about some of those books here or here. I am passionate about raising my son with lots of outdoor experiences. For a little guy, he's already clocked a lot of hours in the woods around our home! And his mood is significantly better on days when he gets lots of outdoor time. 

But Balanced and Barefoot (affiliate link) by Angela J. Hanscom was different than other books I had read on the topic. This book was geared towards educators more than parents. Of course, parents could benefit greatly from reading it, too. But she talked about real problems we are seeing in classrooms (poor focus, falling out of chairs, not being able to sit still, emotional control, etc), why those problems are happening, and what we can do about them. Her ideas and strategies were realistic and attainable. She spoke of some barriers to these strategies, giving thoughts on how to overcome them. It feels almost like a handbook - here's what to do and here's how to do it - for getting nature back into our kids' lives. She covers basically all aspects of the school day - how to incorporate movement into the daily routine, how to improve recess, how to design better playgrounds, how to decorate your classroom in calming ways that invite nature, how to incorporate nature into daily lesson plans, how to work with administration to achieve these goals, and more. 

As a therapist who does mostly child-led, play based therapy, I love the way she clarified what exactly is play. She says, "according to Gray, when adults take over and direct play for children, it is no longer considered play. For instance, adult-let academic games may be fun for kids who choose to play them in school; however, they may feel like punishment for kids who didn't make that choice (Gray, 2013)." If you really think about play in this manner, how much play are kids actually getting in a day? Even in my "play based" therapy sessions, specific toys are pre-chosen with goals in mind. Is that really play? How do kids develop play skills, imagination, decision making, problem solving, and planning skills if the adults have already done that for them? And this applies to anything - not just outdoor play! 

She also discusses nature's role in the immune system. We all know schools are often overrun with germs. It seems like kids are always sick. Why is that and what can we do about it? I think most people know that exposure to germs builds immune systems. But, Hanscom writes about the lymphatic system. She explains that it is the garbage truck of the body, getting rid of all the junk that makes us sick. But I did not know that the lymphatic system needs physical movement to work. She reports that, "The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, issued by the US Department of Health and Human Services, recommends that children receive 60 minutes or more of physical activity each day. In my interview with Dr. Faris, a well respected chiropractor, she stated that 'This is just to prevent disease. Sixty minutes of movement a day is not enough to promote health in children.'" Yikes. I'm pretty sure my own child is not getting 60 minutes per day - and I try to be aware of that! 

If you are an educator, I highly suggest you get this book (affiliate link). Make a list of a few attainable things you can do. Implement the changes and watch your students flourish. 

Monday, April 24, 2023

Book Review: Oh Crap! I Have a Toddler!

I want to start by saying this is definitely a parenting book, not a therapy book. However, I do a lot of Early Intervention therapy. This means that I am often providing "parenting" strategies and resources to the family, as it is a family based program. When parents are reporting intense behaviors, it's hard for them to implement speech therapy strategies. We often need to work through difficult behaviors so the child is an a "ready to learn" state. I have found that if I can read a few parenting books a year - and hold on to some of the most useful tidbits from each one - I can give parents lots of different tools for their toolbox. And "Oh Crap! I have a Toddler!" by Jamie Glowacki definitely added several great tools to my toolbox! 

First of all, this author is super refreshing. She writes in such a fun way, like you're having a conversation with your best friend. BUT, the book is filled with profanity. So if that bothers you, you might want to skip this book. I honestly think I would have a hard time recommending it to parents simply because I feel it would make me look unprofessional. 

I love the way the author looks at the family as a whole. She encourages parents' self care, which I feels is so important. Even when she is giving advice, she acknowledges some of the challenges to implementing the strategies. 

I think one of the most important things she talks about is sleep. Sleep is when your body restores itself and establishes new connections in the brain. If your child is not sleeping well, they are not going to be able to learn as easily. I love that the author hits on how important good sleep is for everyone. No one is talking about good sleep habits and why it is important with my Early Intervention families. No one is helping these families work through their sleep difficulties and find something that works for THE ENTIRE FAMILY. While she did not dive into sleep strategies, she did give me some good language to use while trying to talk with my families about this in a respectful way. 

Part of working with kids in the Early Intervention program is working with their families. Sometimes you are working against generational parenting struggles. The author talks about "reactionary parenting," "parental anxiety," and breaking bad cycles. I never want to criticize one of my families' parenting because we are all just out here doing our best. And I am sure a parenting expert would have some constructive criticism for me, too. But I think being able to talk with families about this stuff in a respectful way may lead them to do some reflection on their own parenting - and how to improve. 

The bulk of the book talks about various behaviors and what we can do to work through them. I love the way she highlights what CAUSES "bad" behavior. I think so often parents label their kids as "bad" without really seeing WHY they are doing what they are doing. The author gives some reasons (acting out feelings, testing boundaries, curiosity, not being challenged, etc) and what the behavior that corresponds to those reasons might look like. It made it very easy to analyze your child's own behavior within her descriptions. From there, you can easily look for a strategy that might work. 

Overall, I think it's a great book. And I think you can use a lot of the strategies listed in speech therapy. I also love the way that she puts a "real life" spin on things. So many parenting books are great in theory, but impossible to actually implement in real life. But not this one. However, I would hesitate to have it in my personal lending library for families due to the unprofessional nature. It's a great one for the therapist to read and then re-word in a more professional manner to parents!