Rachel SLP explains how you can decrease disruptive behaviours by using interesting activities in your speech-language therapy sessions.
Rachel SLP explains how to correct negative behaviour in your speech-language therapy sessions by focusing on good behaviour, using parallels with parenting. Share this website with your friends & subscribe!
Rachel SLP explains one way to help with problem behaviours in the therapy room like whining, talking back, and demanding attention.
The water beads that I use are from We Learn Multi-sensory Play (you can find them on Facebook!). There are a variety of colours that you can choose from and all of them are non-toxic. I tried making them for the first time and I wanted to document my experience for you. I put three packages of the ‘Birthday Party’ colours and about 15 cups of water into a container I found at the dollar store.
After about 1 hour the beads look like this:
I left them in overnight and strained the water first thing in the morning. One package of beads should hydrate in water for 4-6 hours. I wasn’t sure if I could leave the beads in water overnight, but it turned out great:
In speech-language therapy, so far I have used the water beads primarily with children aged Pre-Kindergarten to Senior Kindergarten. I’m sure I will have uses with it for older children as well.
Many children can benefit from play with water beads even without a speech or language difficulty. Think of it like speech and language enrichment.
A recent study (2018 recent) discovered that children who heard more words and had more conversations with their parents had better language skills ten years later and that conversations had a larger impact on children’s language skills than the number of words parents said to their children.
Water beads are a great conversation starter.
I’ve had children say to me ‘I love this!’ and parents tell me their kids wouldn’t stop talking about the water beads all week.
Here are some uses of water beads for language development. Use sentences like:
- It feels wet
- It feels like water
- It feels soft
- It looks like … (some kids say candy but don’t worry - none have eaten them!)
Talk about what you are doing or what you want to do using action words:
- I’m twirling
- I’m stirring
- I’m mixing
- Hide my hands
- Show my hands
- I’m holding the beads
- I’m scooping the beads
A number of the kids told me they were hiding their hands and thought it was so funny. Sometimes the beads bounce out of the container so we have an opportunity to talk about it ‘bouncing’ and then we ‘catch them’ or ‘pick them up’ (i.e. more ways to have a conversation and practice our language skills).
Here are some uses of water beads for speech development (clarity):
- Sometimes children are practicing particular sounds in sentences, so we may emphasize certain sounds when speaking; for instance, we may practice the ‘m’ sound in the word ‘my’ when we say ‘show MY hands’ (one example).
- I like to hide articulation cards under the beads (usually laminated but I have used the paper. Be aware that they will be wet later). I hide about 5 articulation cards and children find them and practice their word(s). I repeat this over again.
I find that when activities involve new sensory experiences, children are engaged longer, they attend more, and they participate easily.
In the future, I may find soft figurines of a boy and a girl so that I can practice using pronouns (e.g. ‘he/she’ ‘his/her’ etc.) while playing in the water beads.
These are just a few ideas - I will keep using these beads in different ways and I hope you will too!
Rachel SLP explains one way to solve problem behaviours in your speech-language therapy sessions using parallels with parenting.
Thank you SLPs and SLPAs for connecting here to complete this quick, anonymous survey. In return, I’d like to give you a free poster that I designed to express expectations in the speech-language therapy room. (I use it, and it’s been helpful). Simply fill out your response in the survey below, and an e-mail with the poster will be sent to you (4 pages including versions with no lines & black letters).
Make fake snow at home or in Speech-Language therapy to practice many skills.
Making fake snow is easy and it’s great for sensory play. I made it a couple days ago and I have used it with 3-4 year olds who are working on both articulation and language goals. All you do is combine hair conditioner with baking soda.
3 cups of baking soda
½ cup of hair conditioner
I bought a single box of the baking soda (500g) which only amounted to approximately 2 cups, so I estimated how much hair conditioner to put in. I bought a hair conditioner that was on sale, which happened to have a strong lavender scent. You may want to consider the scent of the conditioner that you use. I recommend keeping this mixture in a plastic container with a lid (pictured below).
Mix the two ingredients until you get a texture that looks like snow, is soft, and sticks together. I would add more conditioner until I got the desired texture that would allow me to clump the ‘snow’ into a ball in my hand. If it’s too wet, then add more baking soda.
One child and I were working on applying the skills she has learned in both speech and language practice (e.g. ‘l’ sound, using pronouns). We were also practicing slowing our speech down. I found this fake snow activity helpful for practicing multiple goals at ‘more advanced’ stages. Specifically, she wasn’t learning the skills for the first time, we had already practiced them over several weeks.
I used the snow and had a couple plastic molds from a play dough set to help give us topics to talk about (i.e. mold of a snowman or tree depicted below). I also had a male and a female figurine so we could use sentences such as, “she has a snowman” or “he has a tree”. We practiced clear speech and slower talking rate while using sentences like, “It smells like…”, “It looks like…”, and “it feels like…”.
I had many opportunities to model the language skills, expand on her utterances, and even practice auditory comprehension indirectly. We had a couple instances where she had an opportunity to self-correct grammar. The best part - she loved it!
As you can tell from the picture below, some of the fake snow spilled onto our play mat. You should know that it was very easy to clean up with wipes and a vacuum cleaner.
Share this article with your friends/family & comment on how you have used fake snow in your speech-language therapy sessions or at home.
Get your toddler talking more with this easy and fun spider craft.
There are a variety of words and sentences your child will begin to understand and use around 24-36 months of age.
At this age, children begin using words to describe locations such as in and on (e.g. hat on). They may also understand and use words like up, down, away, out, over, under, here, and there.
25-28 months: toddlers can use negative sentences by saying no to say that something is gone or away (e.g. no cookie).
Toddlers begin to use ongoing action words that end in -ing like running and walking before they are two years old. First, children will say “baby crying” before saying, “baby is crying”. The age range that children have mastered using -ing action words is between 19-28 months.
Finally toddlers begin using regular plurals (words like cows, shoes) between 27-33 months. Before this, toddlers will use more such as more cow or a number like two cow to say that there is more than one thing.
Overall, by 24 months, toddlers may be able to use 200-300 words. By 30 months around 450 words, and by 36 months they may be using over 1,000 words.
I used this simple, low cost, activity with many children this past week to practice all of these language skills and more (e.g. requesting). I designed this ‘Spider Play’ activity and it happens to be great for Halloween. The purpose of sharing this is to show you how you can practice language skills using any low cost, activity at home. You don’t have to go to a store to buy it, and it doesn’t have to light up and make noises.
Simply cut out the spider, and glue it together while modeling specific words and encouraging your child to speak with you.
Watch for ideas on which words to model, and download the free resource below the video.
Below is the free product (click ‘get this!’):
If you’re concerned about your child’s speech/language development, contact a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Learning to talk has many steps. Children must have ‘prelinguistic’ skills before using words to communicate. But which skill is a predictor of future language development?
Joint attention is an example of a prelinguistic skill that I practice with most toddlers. I do this because joint attention can be a predictor of future language development.
Joint attention is your child’s understanding that you can both pay attention to the same object or event. Children show this skill by following an eye gaze or a point. Another way to describe this skill is that it is the sharing of an experience between a child and a communication partner (e.g. the caregiver at young stages).
Early joint attention skills include reaching to be picked up by a caregiver, pointing to a toy, or looking at a book together. Later joint attention skills include focusing on a game, or requesting a favourite food.
One way to work on this skill is through ‘block play’. Download the free resource below to see what I do in my therapy sessions and to practice this essential skill at home!
This ‘‘Feed the Monkey” game is a go-to activity that I use in most therapy sessions with young children who are considered late talkers. I want you to be able to use it for free at home, because I have seen many children and families benefit from it.
A ‘late talker’ is a child between 18-30 months old, who has good play skills, motor skills, social skills, thinking skills, and understanding of language; but, has a small vocabulary.
Here are some guidelines:
18 month olds should use at least 20 words. There should be a variety of words such as social words (“hi”, “bye”), nouns, verbs, prepositions (“up”, “down”), and adjectives (“hot”, “soft”).
24 month olds should use at least 100 words and combine 2 words together such as “daddy go”, “doggie gone”, and “eat cracker”.
I like to include common early first words in my therapy sessions, and some common first words include “monkey”, “banana” and “eat”.
Print out the pages, cut out the monkey’s mouth, and cut out the bananas (two versions of the monkey for your preference). Find a tissue box, remove one side (so banana can fit through), and tape the monkey to the box. Now you can play the game.
In the game, you have to hold the banana near your face, say the word “banana”, wait for the child to request the banana, and then give the banana to the child. The child then has to put the banana inside the monkey’s mouth while you model the words “eat” and “monkey” (e.g. 3-5 times). You can also say things like, “the monkey eats the banana” and “monkey eats” (emphasizing italicized words).
Focused stimulation starts with an adult and child sharing the same focus of attention. Then your child hears examples of a specific word or words. In this case it is our three early words - “banana”, “eat”, and “monkey”. Try saying these words 3-5 times during each turn with the banana. Focused stimulation is an effective strategy for stimulating vocabulary in children with language delays.
Determining when you give the banana to your child depends on your child’s level of communication. For instance, at first you may wait for your child to make eye contact with you before giving them the banana. Later, you can wait for them to make eye contact + gesture (e.g. point at the banana). As your child becomes more advanced, they can combine eye contact, gesture + a vocalization (e.g. “uh”). Still, your child can also say ‘nana’ for “banana”.
Below is the game free for download, for you to use at home to get your toddler talking! If you are concerned about your child’s language skills, contact a Speech-Language Pathologist.
How to Teach the ‘L’ Sound
In speech therapy, the ‘l’ sound is one of the more difficult sounds for children to learn. The child is required to keep the tip of his/her tongue up and in place while having their voice ‘on’.
I sometimes call the ‘l’ sound the ‘lalala singing sound’. Metaphors help the children to recognize and produce different sounds in speech therapy.
I typically begin working on this sound when children are in Junior Kindergarten. When the ‘l’ sound is beside a consonant like in the word ‘block’ and ‘climb’, I will begin working on this when the child is a bit older.
One way to strengthen the tongue, so that the child can keep the tongue up for this sound, is to use a cheerio. Have the child use the tip of the tongue to keep the cheerio ‘up’. The cheerio will be placed up on the bumpy ridge area, behind the upper teeth.
Have the child practice this, and then practice holding the tongue up without the cheerio while saying just the ‘l’ sound.
If you would like more information, or materials to practice this sound at home, please see the program below. This program takes you through the 5 steps to learning a speech sound that I do in my therapy sessions. I also provide helpful materials for home practice including individually selected, high resolution, photo flashcards.
To request a sound - comment below. If you know of anyone who would enjoy this resource, share this blog!
How to Teach the ‘S’ Sound
First off - I wanted to mention that there are two types of lisps. One is the lisp where the ‘s’ sound is produced incorrectly with the tongue between the teeth called an ‘interdental lisp’ (e.g. ‘thoup’ for ‘soup’). The other one is when the airflow goes on either side of the tongue making the ‘s’ sound ‘slushy’ called a ‘lateral lisp’.
The correct way to say the ‘s’ sound has the airflow going through the centre of the mouth.
The first thing to do is to determine whether the lisp is interdental or lateral. If the lisp is interdental, most of the ‘s’ sounds will sound more like a ‘th’ sound. If it is ‘lateral’, you will hear a lot of ‘slushy’ talking.
If you’re a parent and you find it difficult to tell if your child has a lisp, you’re not alone. Sometimes you can ‘get used to’ the way your child sounds.
Many parents request that we begin working on the ‘s’ sound early because lisps can be distracting, and can make it difficult for people to understand the child. Sometimes I see children before they enter Junior Kindergarten (in Canada) so that would be age 3 and a half to 4 years.
Other times children start working on the ‘s’ sound a bit later, especially if they have other sounds that they are working on.
If you have a child that has a lisp, it is recommended to begin working on it early because it can be a sound that takes a while to correct. The ‘s’ sound is one of the most common sounds in the English language. Share this blog with your friends!
If you know a pre-kindergarten child who loves dinosaurs (who doesn't?) - share this!
Let’s face it, not every child loves learning about letters. Not every child wants to recite the alphabet song, match letters, recognize letters, name them, or do whatever else we instruct them to do.
I wanted to teach my pre-kindergarten nephew how to look at a lower case alphabet letter, match it with the same shape, and then name the letter, all while playing a turn taking game.
But I had a problem. Playing with toy dinosaurs is arguably more fun than learning about letters. And my nephew loves dinosaurs. If I could just find an alphabet activity that included dinosaurs in it, I thought, my nephew would be ecstatic. He’d be acquiring essential pre-literacy skills all while playing with the prehistoric creatures he knows and loves!
I looked and looked (and looked) and couldn’t find anything. Not online, not in stores, nothing. I asked myself - why not just create my own? I developed a turn taking game that involved magnetic chips and a magnetic wand because from my experience, kids can’t get enough of magnets either.
As I was developing this idea, I wondered if there was such thing as an ‘alphabet dice’ and luckily there was.
I used his favourite colour (orange) and his favourite dinosaur (T-Rex) and designed a playmat that could display all the lowercase letters. I decided to design it with multiple colours and multiple dinosaurs to suit more people.
In this dinosaur game, the child has to roll the alphabet dice, then find the letter on the picture that matches it, place the chip on it, and then practice naming the letter (the child can also name the sound). The child can take turns with one person or a group of people.
Turn taking is an essential skill that I include in most of my therapy sessions. Children learn to take turns in play before they learn to take turns “talking” in conversation. Turn taking can also increase a child’s attention span and promote eye contact.
Once the board is finished or over a set period of time (e.g. after 10 minutes), the child can pick up all the magnetic chips with the wand - I call it the ‘magic wand’. I haven't met a child who doesn't love this part!
Now to the test. I was finally ready to try this activity with my nephew. When I told him we were playing a game with dinosaurs while we learned about letters he truly was ecstatic - “Can I have the T-Rex!? May I have the orange one?!”.
We sat together for over a half an hour and played all the letters, covering the entire alphabet. It’s one he will definitely go back to and play again and again. Fewf. Next up - a game with capital letters.
You can find the game mats here (click on image):
The full physical product will be available for shipping soon!
When Should My Child See a Speech Therapist?
Typically, when children have errors saying the ‘g’ sound (e.g. saying “doat” for ‘goat’), I start working with them in the summer before they enter Junior Kindergarten (JK) and during JK (in Canada).
Children who have speech sound disorders or delays are at risk for literacy difficulties down the road. Because of this, I like to include books, vocabulary, and phonological awareness skills in my therapy sessions to build on their literacy skills. Phonological awareness (i.e. the ability to recognize and work with sounds) is important because it is a basis for reading.
I make it easy for you to practice while on vacation!
In the 5 Steps to Learning the ‘g’ Sound I explain exactly what to do with your child when teaching the ‘g’ sound, and I include materials for building literacy skills (e.g. mini books, vocabulary, phonological awareness). This package can be printed, or you can view it from your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
CLICK on the image for details.
If you would like to request another sound, please let me know in the comments below & share this article with your friends.
Ever wonder what's involved in speech recognition? Here, I introduce you to this topic.
When Should My Child See a Speech Therapist?
Typically, when children have errors saying the ‘k’ sound, such as by saying “tar” for ‘car’ or “tootie” for ‘cookie’, I begin working with them before entering Junior Kindergarten (JK) and during JK (in Canada).
I follow a process in teaching the ‘k’ sound that I wanted to make more accessible to parents, caregivers, home school teachers, and daycare providers (to name a few).
For example, in my first therapy session I read mini books that emphasize the ‘k’ sound and I teach the child how to ‘hear and recognize’ the sound. I will shape play dough to demonstrate the sound, and then I will elicit the sound in the child.
In the 5 Steps to Learning the ‘k’ Sound I explain exactly what to do with your child. I include visuals, mini books, and essential flashcards for practicing the sound. The package can be printed, or you can view it from your computer, smartphone, or tablet.
CLICK on the image for details!
If you would like to request another sound, please let me know in the comments below & share this article with your friends!
When I was about 7 or 8 years old, I was fascinated with sign language. Teaching myself words in sign was captivating and truly fun. Today, I still feel inspired when learning a new language. I’ve learned simple expressions in French, Spanish, Mandarin, Italian, and Arabic.
When it comes to your baby or toddler, you may ask yourself whether teaching your child sign language will prevent them from using spoken words or help them to communicate.
The first question you should be asking yourself is → is my child speaking enough?
Here are some general guidelines (data from the Child Development Institute):
12 month olds: 2-6 words (other than mama and dada)
15 month olds: 10 words
18 month olds: 50 words
24 month olds: 200-300 words
30 month olds: 450 words
36 month olds: 1,000 words
4 year olds: 1,600 words
5 year olds: 2,200-2,500 words
Some parents begin teaching their toddler sign language because the child is 24 months old and has less than 15 spoken words. Others begin teaching their baby sign because they have read about the positive outcomes.
Generally speaking, here are the PROS to teaching sign language:
- Decreases overall frustration for the child
- Promotes the child’s language skills
- Increases the child’s feelings of empowerment (for communicating effectively)
CONS to teaching sign language:
- You have to use the sign regularly
- It can be time consuming to learn and teach your child sign
- Not everyone will understand the child’s way of communicating in sign
When working with hearing children who have begun using sign language at home, I tend to add to their skills using both sign and spoken language therapy. It’s not an either-or scenario.
Whether you choose to teach your child sign, or combine spoken language therapy with sign language learning, remember to take your time and have fun. As always, Rachel S-LP at Clearway Speech is here to help you along the way.
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Ever wonder why so many toys and books for young children have the letters of the alphabet somehow included in them? ‘A’ is for ‘Apple’, ‘B’ is for ‘Bee’, ‘C’ for cat and so on.
Turns out, there’s a very good developmental reason behind this.
Children's knowledge of letter names and recognition of letters is a strong predictor of their success in learning to read. Not knowing letter names is related to children's difficulty in learning letter sounds and in recognizing words.
Put simply, if children don’t know the alphabet letters and sounds, they can’t begin to read.
Here is a summary of what you should know when teaching a child:
- First, children learn letter names (e.g. by singing songs including the “alphabet song”).
- Then, children learn to ‘recognize’ letters which is what is happening when you say ‘point to A’.
- Next, they can ‘recall’ letters on their own, by picking up a letter and naming it.
- Last, children learn letter sounds (i.e. ‘letter-sound correspondence’ so that the letter ‘S’ is the sound “sss”).
Order of Teaching Sounds
Research and experience shows children learn letter-sound relationships at different rates. An easier pace to keep is to teach your child 2-4 letter-sound relationships a week. Another thing to consider is to focus on teaching the sounds that are more frequent in english first, including s, p, m, h, a, and t.
Try not to teach sounds together that are easy to mix up visually (e.g. b and d), or ones that sound alike such as ‘i’ and ‘e’.
What are you waiting for? Pull out those alphabet books, blocks, and games, or visit your local library for some fun. Subscribe for information straight to your inbox (bi-weekly).
To us, ‘print awareness’ comes naturally and we often take it for granted. But, to the 2-4 year old child you care for, print awareness is a new concept. It’s as new to them as self driving cars are to you.
Print awareness is the second step in my pre-kindergarten Reading Readiness System. It is the understanding that print is read from left to right and top to bottom. It is knowing that words consist of letters and that there are spaces between words. Those of us with fully developed print awareness understand that print has different functions depending on the context - signs, books, menus, labels on food products, etc. It’s surprising how much we use print, isn’t it?
Print awareness is an early and critical step in literacy and it doesn’t just magically appear in a child’s life. Your child’s performance on print awareness tasks is actually a very reliable predictor of his/her future reading achievement.
Here are easy tips that parents and educators can use to help children develop this crucial skill:
You can point out letters and words to your child when you come across it in your day to day activities.
When children participate in interactive reading with you, they learn about book handling, how to turn pages, and how to identify the front and back cover of the book. They also learn that a word on a page represents a spoken word. - That meaning is conveyed through written words.
The beauty of print awareness is that it is never too early to introduce it to the children you care for. Starting now means planting seeds for the future success of your child. Talk about good karma!
Join my mailing list for insights on my new products on early speech & language development, and literacy. Share this article with your friends!
Well, why does anyone do anything? Why do you get out of bed in the morning, go to work, or tend to your family responsibilities? The question, "How do I motivate my child to read?" is often asked by parents once the child is expected to read in school.
Instead, the first step in my pre-kindergarten Reading Readiness System is all about motivation. It is the child’s interest in reading that sets the stage for his or her success as a reader for a lifetime. In order to understand how motivation influences behaviour, it’s worth touching on the different types of motivation and how they work.
Cue lights, cue projector, ahem.
Extrinsic motivation occurs when we are motivated to complete a task to earn a reward or avoid punishment. Like when you study hard because you want to bring home a great report card and receive praise from your parents.
Intrinsic motivation occurs when we perform the activity for its own sake, because the act alone is personally enjoyable or rewarding; an example would be solving a crossword puzzle because you find the challenge fun and exciting.
So, which one is better?
Well, some studies have shown that offering excessive rewards for something that’s already internally motivating can lead to a reduction in intrinsic motivation (called the ‘overjustification effect’). For instance, if children are rewarded for playing with a toy they are already interested in, they will become less interested in the toy after they are externally rewarded.
While intrinsic motivation is often seen as the ideal, both extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation are important ways of driving behavior.
My advice for a DIY takeaway is to observe and discover what approach is right to take with your child based on his/her unique self when it comes to reading. Discovering the right motivations and rewarding the right behaviours is instilling within your child a true interest in reading. And this, of course, should be the first step to reading readiness.
Share this article with your friends, and if you’re interested in finding out how to encourage motivation to read, subscribe to Clearway Speech.