May is Better Hearing and Speech Month

That's right! Each May, we as Speech-Language Pathologists recognize Better Hearing and Speech Month (BHSM). Although we at MBST are constantly striving to provide education and resources surrounding communication and communication disorders, BHSM is a great time to offer additional information, tools, and supports to our community. This year, ASHA, our national speech, language and hearing organization, has launched a campaign to increase awareness of hearing loss and communication disorders. We particularly love this infographic, which shows literacy milestones for children in grades K-5. Looking for ways to help your child develop important language and literacy skills? Check out our Reading Readiness Camp, taking place at our clinic this summer!

 Visit  www.identifythesigns.org  for useful information and ideas for supporting your child's speech and language development. 

Visit www.identifythesigns.org for useful information and ideas for supporting your child's speech and language development. 

Quick Listening Activity to Use with The Polar Express

We've made it to that wonderful time of year! The holidays present a ton of opportunities for fun, creative speech and language activities that will keep your kids and clients engaged. I love reading The Polar Express with my clients during the holiday season. While I never actually read it as a kid, the first school I worked for based an entire unit around this book, and I saw how well it lent itself to exciting and motivating learning experiences. The fun and magic that those activities inspired stuck with me so much that I now try to carry it forward in my own practice. Today I am sharing a quick, low-prep activity you can do while reading The Polar Express with your kids:

 The kids loved the added bonus of taking a bell home with them!

The kids loved the added bonus of taking a bell home with them!

JINGLE BELL LISTENING

I incorporate as many opportunities for listening to speech sounds, grammar/syntax targets, and vocabulary as possible into my therapy activities. As an SLP, I sometimes feel like it's easy to get so caught up in the expression of sounds, words, and sentences that we forget to carve out time to just listen. With this activity, I encourage my clients to do that, while also offering them an active component that keeps them focused and engaged. All you need for this activity is:

  • Your copy of The Polar Express
  • One or more jingle bells

I bought a few packs of jingle bells at Rite Aid so that I could gift them to my clients when we were done with the activity, but you could easily just have one jingle bell that you use with each child/client. (If you are doing this activity with a group, having just one bell can create an opportunity to practice taking turns as well!) I started by reviewing listening targets that I found in The Polar Express with my clients, whether that was a specific speech sound, a grammar concept, or even just a single vocabulary word. Most of my clients also used this review as a chance to practice/talk about sounds and words, which was fine by me! After reviewing, I read the book aloud to them, and gave them the task of ringing their bells each time they heard one of their reviewed words. They loved the interactive component of this book-reading activity, and several of those in groups even turned listening and bell-ringing into a competitive game. In addition to being fun for them, this activity allowed me to see where their listening strengths and weaknesses were. Could they hear the difference between L and R? In which words was that easier or more difficult for them? Could they concentrate on listening for specific targets and still comprehend the plot of the story? 

Overall, I found this activity fun, motivating, informative, and super easy to put together. I will be incorporating it into my holiday activities and expanding upon it in years to come!

If you try this activity, please let me know how it goes! What did you do differently? What would you do to expand upon it? Send me an email or comment below to tell me!

Happy holidays!

Katie

Helping Transgender People Find Their Voice: NPR Interview

Check out this NPR interview with Wendy Chase, a speech language pathologist who heads the UConn Speech and Hearing Clinic which features a program specifically for transgender voice and communication therapy. You can read a transcript of this interview here. Thank you for the inspiring work you do!

Have questions about transgender voice and communication therapy? Please feel free to contact us!

A Favorite Springtime Activity + Tons of Ideas for Speech and Language Development

Hi there!

We hope you had an amazing weekend. Ours wrapped up with a little bit of lesson planning for the week, which we'd love to share with you!

Spring is a particularly fun time for creating and assembling activities for speech therapy. It's a season that lends itself to many themes that are great for language and articulation development (think garden, bugs, weather changes, animals and their babies, etc.). Today we're showing you one of our favorite spring/Easter-themed activities, which you can easily recreate at home: an Easter grass sensory bin! (For more information about sensory bins and sensory play, check out this post by Little Bins for Little Hands.)

For us, this has turned out to be one of those materials whose possibilities are endless. Take a look at some of the ways we use it, and please let us know what you do with it in the comments section below!

Start by filling a plastic bin with Easter grass, like so: 

 We chose a clear plastic bin, which lets the kiddos visually explore its contents before diving in, but assembling this in an opaque bin may give you a chance to build some predictions in to the beginning of the activity as well  ("What do you think might be inside of this bin? Listen as I shake it. Now what do you think is in there? You take a turn shaking it. What could it be?").

We chose a clear plastic bin, which lets the kiddos visually explore its contents before diving in, but assembling this in an opaque bin may give you a chance to build some predictions in to the beginning of the activity as well ("What do you think might be inside of this bin? Listen as I shake it. Now what do you think is in there? You take a turn shaking it. What could it be?").

Now for the fun part...fill your grassy bin with cool stuff! You can fill it with objects that all start with the same sound or all fall into the same category, like we did for this Bin o' Bugs:

  Wind-up bugs are always a hit.

Wind-up bugs are always a hit.

Or throw a bunch of different objects in there and use this activity to talk about similarities/differences, expand knowledge of adjectives, and practice sorting into categories:

  When children are learning categories, it's helpful to offer visual clues for how and where to group items. This can be done with written category names (e.g., "Insects," "Ocean Animals," "Farm Animals"), pictures, containers, or even just pieces of paper in different colors.  

When children are learning categories, it's helpful to offer visual clues for how and where to group items. This can be done with written category names (e.g., "Insects," "Ocean Animals," "Farm Animals"), pictures, containers, or even just pieces of paper in different colors.  

To make this activity more Easter-y, put your objects inside plastic eggs and bury those in the grass:

  Not only is this fun and visually appealing, but it adds a bunch of new opportunities for grammar and vocabulary development. Practice phrases ("I found a purple/blue/green/pink egg"), verbs ("I  will open  the blue egg," "I  opened  the pink egg"), and location words ("I found a pig  inside  the purple egg"). The possibilities are endless!     P.S. how cute is that teeny tiny pig?!

Not only is this fun and visually appealing, but it adds a bunch of new opportunities for grammar and vocabulary development. Practice phrases ("I found a purple/blue/green/pink egg"), verbs ("I will open the blue egg," "I opened the pink egg"), and location words ("I found a pig inside the purple egg"). The possibilities are endless! 

P.S. how cute is that teeny tiny pig?!

In addition to the ideas listed above, this bin is a great tool for:

  • Establishing joint attention 
  • Requesting and labeling
  • Answering yes/no and "wh" questions
  • Following single and multistep directions
  • Practicing specific sounds 

What are your favorite Spring activities to do with your kids? Let us know by leaving us a comment below!

The Power of Communication

"Your words and conversations create your reality, your future and your relationships. What you talk about--or don't talk about--defines your relationship."

http://www.parenting.com/parenting-advice/tips-tricks/10-most-powerful-things-you-can-say-to-your-kids

We love some of the suggestions for ways to enhance conversations and provide positive, meaningful feedback in this article from parenting.com. Number 5 especially stuck out to us; in our busy and fast-paced lives, we don't always realize how we may be cutting our interactions short with yes/no and closed-ended questions. We will be the first to say that it's taken time and a lot of practice to change this habit in our work, but we love what we see and hear from our clients as a result. Want to give it a try? Instead of asking, "Did you have a good day?" say, "Tell me about your day," or make it a little more specific with something like, "I heard you went to the park today. Tell me about that." And please, let us know how it goes by leaving a comment below!

- The MBST Team