Monday, May 16, 2016

Summer Speech and Language "Work"

Across the US, many SLPs are braving the end of the school year madness with final progress reports, IEP meetings, and sessions with children ready to start summer vacation!!  I say to you, "Hang in there, you've got this people!!  

While I am thankful to have those manic school days of 75 plus students behind me, I have not dodged all of the end of the school year bullets in my private practice world!  I need to first navigate the waters of my family life and son's busy, summer schedule (oh to be 10 years old again and have summers off!!)  Then, I have to steer clear of summer school schedules as I plot a summer work schedule.  Next, all of my paperwork, planning, insurance calls, and new patient consultations need to be done by early May in preparation for my summer speech and language pool group sessions.  Finally, I have to plan for holiday closings and vacations by preparing carryover work for my families.  Little by little, I'm getting there though and I wanted to share some freebies and ideas with you that will hopefully make my life and transitions easier this summer!  

Before I show you my activities and plans for summer sessions, I want to give you a sense of my mindset.  I believe that every child deserves some down time and the opportunity to participate in some summer fun, which is why I have decided to offer 6-week summer speech and language pool groups through Naperville Therapediatrics.  I also firmly believe that taking too much time off from practicing communication skills can lead to regression.  So how do I find a balance between these two worlds of taking a break and continuing practice?  It isn't easy, but I strive to offer some fun, thematic sessions that don't feel like "work." This year, I'm taking my plan one step further and providing families "work" for home use in the form of sand/water play buckets, bright and colorful flashcards, and pencil boxes filled with all kinds of goodies.  Luckily, my practice is small with under 20 clients, so I can spend a little on materials, but I understand that this may not be the case for all practitioners. If you can't afford gifting supplies, then please feel free to share the lesson plans that I have included in this post.  You can also find all sorts of summer carryover work on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Let's take a look at what I have prepared. 

Years ago, I found pencil cases at Walmart on clearance for 25 cents each, so naturally, I bought 20 of them.  I completely forgot that I had these boxes until I was Spring cleaning this year.  I decided to finally put these to good use, so I packaged several of them for individual clients.  There are three types of boxes.
  1. This one is for my youngest client who is working on increasing vocalizations and single word utterances.  I found the beginning words deck and ocean-themed lacing cards at the Dollar Tree.  You will also notice a pile of stickers on the bottom and a bingo dabber because this client loves creating artwork and can sit for hours to play with stickers and dabbers! This little one will also receive some dabber pages for expressive language practice so the dabber marker can be put to good use!
  2. The next box has a collection of items for one of my early elementary, speech only clients who typically comes to sessions with an older sibling, so I included an I Spy Snap card game for the two of them to enjoy.  I also updated my flair pen supply recently, so I am donating my older flairs and some crayola thin markers for articulation writing work. I cleaned out my arts and crafts bin and found some decorative tape and stickers, so I added these for some crafting fun.
  3. This final box is for my oldest client who is in middle school. We have been working on memory drills so I included a sticky note pad and mini writing notebook as a way to encourage using the strategy of writing things down in order to improve recall.  My hope is that this client can use the flair pens, pencils, and paper to work on carryover tasks. Finally, I will be adding the free, summer idioms deck that my Frenzied colleague from Old School Speech recently had featured in the TpT newsletter.   I added fish and seashell stickers to these cards to designate the idiom cards from the definition ones.  
While the pencil boxes worked well for some clients, I found something better suited for my young clients with autism.  Last summer, I purchased some colorful, blue bins at the Dollar Tree to store some materials, but have since re-arranged my office and no loner have room for these on my shelf. Rather than recycle them, I am going to gift them to some families to use as a sand/water play bin.  As luck would have it, one of my neighbors just offered me a large bag of blue, Crayola sand that she no longer needed, so I divided the lot and used a Ziploc bag to store the sand in each bin.  Next, I picked up some sand toys and summer die cuts at the Dollar Tree.  Some of my clients have been working on answering "WH" questions so I used three different objects for "WHO", "WHAT" and "WHERE" with my Smarty Ears Custom Boards app to create a matching deck for each question type.  All of the questions pertain to the summer and seasonal activities to keep things functional.

Each pencil box and bin will have an instructional sheet included with it. I wrote a few different handouts to meet the needs of three, different clientele groups. First, I created this sheet appropriate for toddlers needing to build expressive speech skills and early elementary clients working on improving articulation of target sounds. 

Next, I wrote this handout for my young clients using either PECS or speech generating devices to communicate.  Many of my tasks are carryover ones that we have worked on during speech sessions over the last six months.

Finally, I have monthly homework sheets for June, July, and August that suite my upper elementary and middle school clients working on language skills.

I am really pleased with how these collections turned out and cannot wait to share them with my clients!  The best part is that I didn't spend a fortune on materials, but rather used supplies that I already had in my practice and purchased some great items at the local Dollar Tree.  I hope that you all enjoy a wonderful, relaxing summer and that you can use some of my materials from this post to make your speech lives easier!!  

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