How I Make Visual Aids {& Giveaway!}


I am always looking for ways to make it easier for my kids to understand things more easily. A method I use for literally all of my students is visual aids. Pictures provide help to all students to aid them in understanding what they hear or read, but they are especially helpful to students with difficulties understanding language. Words can be pretty abstract, so pictures help give a concrete representation to those words. Visuals can also provide structure to help my kids produce more complex sentences. I love creating these supports for my students and seeing their success with them. I routinely use visuals to make therapy materials, visual schedules, and materials for TPT. It can be time consuming to find the specific visuals my students need. That was why I was excited to try Smarty Symbols.

Smarty Symbols is an online library of tons of picture icons! They currently have over 19,000 images. The pictures range from common objects, adjectives, and verbs to specific academic vocabulary. They even have symbols to help with more abstract concepts such as prepositions and grammar. One of the things I love about Smarty Symbols it that since it is online, they are constantly adding to and improving their pictures. I do not have to purchase a new CD every time I need more updated pictures. Also, if you can't find the specific word you are looking for - just ask! When I needed a picture of a fried egg and it was not a part of the library, I sent in a request and it was added to their website in just a few days. They even have an activity library where you can look and download what other people have created! It is a great space for SLPs to share their resources.

Here are just some of the many ways that I have used Smarty Symbols since I signed up for a subscription last year:

• Picture schedules
• Behavior picture supports
• Social stories
•Sentence strips
•Vocabulary and articualation cards
• Games
•Communication boards
•Adapted books

You can checkout more about Smarty Symbols at their website here.  The great people over at Smarty Symbols have also allowed me to give away a 1 year personal subscription to one of you! Be sure to enter below! I will announce the lucky winner on Monday.

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Cyber Monday Sale and Giveaway!


How was your Thanksgiving? Did you enjoy a nice break?

Mine was an interesting week. First, I took a personal day on Monday to take my dog Leah to get eye surgery. She has tumors in her eye and they had to do stuff with lasers (technical terms I know) to keep them from getting bigger. I thought the long trek back from the eye specialist with my half blind and sedated dog in the back seat was going to be the tricky part. But then things got much worse.

My dog was allergic to her pain medication.

Super allergic.

Like she is never allowed to have pain medication again allergic.

It took 24 hours for her to develop stomach ulcers and 48 hours until we ended up at the emergency vet. In case you were wondering if it is a good idea to schedule vet appointments around Thanksgiving - it isn't. Absolutely nobody was open or returned our calls to figure out why the dog was suddenly so sick.

So Wednesday night was spent at the vet emergency room out of desperation. My pre-holiday cooking plans went out the window. But luckily, Leah is all better now and has been spoiled rotten all week.

Anyways, after a long week, I am super happy to announce a happy beginning for next week:

The TPT Cyber Sale is on Monday and Tuesday!

Use the promo code CYBER2016 to grab 28% off of my whole store! Here are some great steals that are perfect for the upcoming winter season:

These NO PREP activities are perfect for those busy days when you don't have time to plan and you will never find these at a cheaper price than during this sale. It's already a good deal at 20% off, but with the sale it will be a total of 48% off!

Have you read Turkey Claus? My kids and I LOVE it! This is the perfect companion for this funny holiday book.

Looking for something for your older students? Weird Winter Sports will keep your upper elementary and middle school students interested and engaged while reading about some strange winter sports and watching videos of them using QR codes! Bonus: No prep!

More good news:

I've got a giveaway going on over on my Instagram page! I am SUPER thankful for all the support you have given me and for that I am giving away a $10 TPT gift card. Just click here to head on over to my Instagram account and look for the graphic below. Follow me and comment about what you are thankful for this year and you will be entered to win! Tag some friends for some extra entries.

Happy shopping and I hope you have a good first week back from break!
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The Best Speech Therapy Materials for November

Tomorrow marks the beginning of November! This is my favorite month! If all months could be full of colorful leaves, scarves, boots, family, and mashed potatoes, the world would be a perfect place in my opinion. I love incorporating fall and Thanksgiving themes into my therapy this time of year. It's something all of my students can relate to and enjoy. I asked some of my SLP friends what their favorite materials for November are, and here is what they said!

What are your favorite therapy materials for this time of year? Comment below. I would love to hear from you!

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Is Your Team a Perfect Fit? {Linky}

Hi! I am linking up with the Frenzied SLPs today to talk about working as part of a team! Some of you may be lucky enough to work with other SLPs in your school, but at my schools it is just me! Also, I am literally in my own building that is an annex building off of the regular school building... there are no general education teachers out with me! This can make it tough sometimes to feel like I am part of everything going on with the teachers. I try to avoid being on an island by myself by making sure I really try to be part of the team with my teachers!

One thing that I have found to be really helpful in boosting teamwork and collaboration is pairing with a grade level to complete one of my SMART goals. Do you have to do these types of goals where you are? Having a goal or two to measure a select group of students' growth is part of the evaluation process in my district. For the last two years, I have paired with my kindergarten team to address a language goal. I find that this works well with kindergarten because their students are working on lots of language skills in the classroom and they are not bound to goals involving state tests like most of the other grade levels. Last year we implemented the Story Champs program together to address narrative language with all of the kindergarten students. I trained the teachers how to use the program and they implemented it during their language arts blocks. Then, I would come into their classrooms once monthly to lead small groups during stations (in addition to using the program in my therapy sessions). My students made great growth and I really believe that the collaboration between me and their teachers made a big difference! I love getting to see my students practicing their goals across settings, working with other students I normally wouldn't see, and showing teachers that SLPs can be part of the team, too! It worked so well we paired up again this year and are working on using the Expanding Expression Tool (EET) together!

Do you have any tips for working as part of a team? Link up with the Frenzied SLPs here to share!

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How Being an SLP Has Changed How I Vote

Politics. It's a dirty word. We aren't supposed to talk about it at the dinner table. I have it on my lists of topics to avoid when I review "touchy subjects" with my social skills groups. It sits in the same group as religion and money. But today... I'm putting the rules aside and talking politics. I'm not going to tell you how to vote or why you should vote a certain way. But I am going to talk about how being an SLP has changed how I view politics.

As an SLP, I work with a variety of students from preschool through 8th grade. I see students from every walk of life. Some students have significant disabilities and are in self-contained classrooms. Some of my students are extremely intelligent but happen to stutter. But the students who I think about when I lay awake at night are my kids who look "normal", my students who are in general education classrooms who work alongside their peers, but find learning to be very difficult. Some may have "Learning Disability" as their disability category at school, while others may have "Other Health Impairment". Either way, it doesn't matter. What does matter is that school is always difficult for these students. What other kids easily pick up on, my kids work tirelessly to grasp. They are always 3 steps behind while the teacher has to keep plowing ahead in order to cram in everything before the end of the year state tests. Most of my students seem to never be able to catch up, yet they are held to the same standards as their peers.

I think there is a perception held by some people that people who hold minimum wage jobs, jobs that appear "easy" or jobs that "anybody could get", must be lazy. But here is the thing. No job is easy. While technology has made things easier, you still have to know how to read that fast-food order, you still have to know how to count back the correct change in the check-out line, and you still have to sequence the steps to place that order in the computer system. The skills that I work on with students are not just impacting them at school, they are impacting their ability to participate in real life. They are going to grow up to be adults who have to work just like you and I to make ends meet and they need skills to do those jobs. This perception of the "American Dream" where anybody can get ahead as long as they work hard seems pretty unreachable for my kids sometimes. My students work ten times harder than any of their typically-developing peers. They work on their assignment with their teacher, then again with their special-education teachers, then again with their parents, and probably again in the morning before class. We celebrate their successes of making a 10 point growth over their state test score from the previous school year, even though the state will only see that they failed the test yet again. If my students can go on to hold a job where they can read the orders of the tickets, where they can remember the multi-step directions given to them by their boss, or where they can give back the correct change, I will be so thrilled for them because I know they will have worked extremely hard to get there.

When I used to think about politics, I used to think about how the policies or the candidates would impact me. What can this candidate do to make my life different or better? But now? I also think, what plans does this candidate have that will make life for my students better? My students deserve a chance just like anybody else. My students deserve to be able to support themselves and live independent lives in which they are valued members of their communities. They deserve a living wage. They deserve to be happy. They deserve their shot at the American Dream.

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Quick Strips for Following Directions

When I first started doing therapy, I targeted following directions primarily through crafts or seasonal cut and glue or color pages. While these can be great and I love a good craft, I was finding I needed something that I could just pull out and get to work with that provided lots of repetitions and opportunities for practice. That is why I created these Quick Strips for Following Directions. They are great for a grab and go activity to target a variety of following direction skills.

Here is what's included...

There are four targets for following directions: basic, sequential, quantitative, and temporal. The basic directions include one to six elements, such as color, size, and location. The more elements, the more complex the direction. This is especially helpful for my students who are working on remembering details about directions or understanding basic concepts.

The Sequential Directions include both two and three step directions. I always have lots of students working on multi-step directions, so I love that I can just pull these out for quick and easy practice. 

The Quantitative Directions include the concepts of one, all, some, both, or, either, except, not, and don't.  I especially love these strips for my older students who still need to work on these concepts, but are too old to target through play.

The last type of directions included is temporal directions. These strips include concepts of before and after.

The packet ends with a data collection sheet so you can progress monitor how your students are doing! You can check this product out here on TPT! Grab it for 50% off until Monday night.

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Using Google Calendar to Write Lesson Plans

Happy October! Today I am sitting here typing this up while I lay under a warm blanket watching the rain outside. I hope all you east coast people are staying dry and safe!

On Friday, my district had a half day for professional development in the afternoon. I assisted in planning the SLP session and coordinated with the tech people who presented a great session on how Google tools can help therapists streamline our never-ending paperwork. I thought I would share a cool tidbit I learned!

Not only can you use google calendar to make your therapy schedule (check out this post incase you missed how to do this!), but you can use that same calendar to keep track of your therapy plans! Here's how....

Here is a fake therapy schedule (looking pretty light I know, but you get the point!) 

Click the group you would like to plan for, then choose "edit event".

In the description box, enter your plans! Then click the red "save" button at top.

After you clock the "save" button, a pop-up window will appear asking you if you want what you typed in the description to save for only this session, all following sessions, or every single session including past sessions. Unless you plan on doing the exact same thing in therapy with that group forever, I suggest clicking the "Only this event" button.

And that is it! When you want to go back and view your plans, just click on the session on the calendar and click "edit". Then you can quickly see what your plans are no matter where you are and not waste any paper (a precious commodity in my school!) I thought this was such a great idea to quickly and easily make plans. Also, if your administrator requires you to submit lesson plans, you could just share your therapy schedule with them and they would have access to see the plans as well! I also like it because I travel between schools and hate having to lug anymore folders/paperwork around than I have to. 

How do you do your plans? Do you think this would save you some time? Comment below! I would love to hear from you!
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FREE Voice and Swallow Clinics Lecture Series


I wanted to take a quick minute to share an opportunity to earn some free CEU's - the best kind of CEUs in my opinion. The University of Wisconsin is offering an online Voice and Swallow Clinics Lecture Series. There are six parts to this series occurring over the next year and you can register for ASHA CEUs, so they can be tracked in the ASHA registry (or track them independently if you are more organized about your CE paperwork than I am). Click here to check it out!

Have you taken any of these courses yet? Comment below to share what you think! I would love to hear from you!
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Invisalign and the SLP


I hope you are all having a good start to your school year. Mine has been c-r-a-z-y. New principal, two new special ed programs, but still the same supportive staff and smiling faces!

Also new this year: my braces. Over the summer, I decided to get Invisalign. My teeth have done some shifting since I had braces in high school and it has always been something I wanted fixed. So, no time like the present, right? I scheduled an appointment with an orthodontist and, after waiting a month for my trays to come in, I now am wearing them pretty much full time on both my top and bottom teeth and will be doing so for 6-9 months. I am allowed to take them out to eat and drink beverages that are not water. I have had them on for a few weeks now so I am becoming more used to them, but it took some adjusting at first! Being an SLP, I was nervous about getting them since all I do is use my mouth all day and have people look and listen to my mouth all the time! But here is how it has gone so far:

  • They are not really painful or restricting like traditional braces. I can still talk with students, parents, and teachers all day long with no issues or pain.
  • My speech sounded "slushy" at first, particularly for /s/ and /sh/. The top trays do come up onto the front of the hard palate a bit, so I had to readjust how I was making these sounds. It was a little tricky to self-monitor at first, but it really made me appreciate what our students go through! It was a bit exhausting to constantly be trying to monitor my speech the first week or so. I definitely have some new insight on how hard this must be for our students.
  • My middle schoolers are completely fascinated. They all have braces too (the traditional kind), and they love to talk about mine and ask me all sorts of questions. Whatever gets them talking!
  • I am becoming a champion at eating and drinking quickly. The recommended time for wearing your trays is 22 hours a day. That sounded easy enough at first, but you also have to calculate flossing, brushing your teeth,  and brushing your trays after every meal! This has been interesting at school. I am lucky to have a staff bathroom close by to go brush my teeth that hardly anybody uses in my building.
  • They have forced me to have better snacking and caffeine habits. In addition to my morning cup of coffee, I would usually bring some coffee to work or make some in the afternoon and sip on it throughout the day. I also love to snack! But now, I have to weigh the benefits of my coffee/snack vs going through my extensive oral-hygiene routine that must follow said coffee/snack. Most of the time I just keep to my 3 meals now. I never realized how many snacks and goodies people brought into work until now when I can't really have them!

I am glad I finally bit the bullet and am on my way to straighter teeth! Are you an SLP who has/had braces? What has your experience been like? Comment below to share! I would love to hear from you.

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What's in Your Cart? TPT Back to School Scale! {Linky}

Can you believe it? Summer days will soon come to an end.... and you know what that means! The TPT Back to School sale is here! This year's sale is August 1st and 2nd and my whole store will be 28% off! These sales only happen four times a year, so it is a great time to stock up and get ready for the new school year. Just don't forget to se the promo code BestYear when checking out!

I am linking up with Jenna at Speech Room News to share some items in my cart! I also have a few ideas from my store for your cart!

Here are a few items from my store that will make the starting the school year a breeze!

Be prepared for the whole season with Speech in a Snap Fall Bundle! It include three months of no prep activities for both speech and language goals that are perfect for fall.

I am so excited about these Quick Strips Prepositions! These are the perfect interactive grab and go tool to target both identifying and following directions with prepositions.

My best selling Parent Handouts for Articulation are perfect for giving parents or teachers tips and tricks to practice articulation with students.

Here is a look at what is in my cart!

No prep scenes for the whole year with targets for nearly all my students? Yes please. These Seasonal Scenes for Mixed Groups from Speech Time Fun look perfect for busy days!

I am so excited for these Articulation Progress Trackers from A Perfect Blend! My students love to know how they are doing and this looks like a great way to keep them involved in monitoring their own progress.

I am already in love with these Editable, Monthly Newsletters for SLPS from Speech Musings! A practical and cute way to communicate with parents! Win win.

I would love to know what is in your cart! Comment below or link up with Jenna at The Speech Room News to share! Happy shopping :)

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Video Tutorial: How to Use Google Calendar to Make Your Therapy Schedule

I think that all school SLPs can agree that one of the most dreaded tasks at the beginning of the school year is trying to schedule students! I have tried using pencil and paper, post-its, and my white board to help make visualizing my schedule easier, but I think I have finally found the easiest way to create my schedule: Google Calendar.

I KNOW, right?!

We are all using Google for everything else, how did using the calendar feature to create my schedule not occur to me sooner?! 

But seriously ya'll. It's so easy. And you can't lose any post-it notes only to find them on the bottom of your shoe later. And you won't get pencil marks all over the side of your hand. And possibly the best part is that you can easily change it all year long! 

And when you get your schedule all finished and you are sitting there glowing with pride at your accomplishment, and then that one pesky teacher (you know the one) comes in and tells you she forgot that Johny can't come on Fridays either (don't ask why) - ITS OK. You can just drag and drop to another slot EASY PEASY.

What do you think? Super convenient, right? I hope that makes starting the school year a little bit easier for you!



Side Hustles for SLPs

Speech pathologists have so many options when choosing what sort of setting they would like to work in. For me, I am a school SLP through and through and I wouldn't have it any other way. Nothing beats those smiling kids! But to help make ends meet, I have dabbled around in doing PRN work and it really helps! I work just a few days a month at a local rehab facility. I love the flexibility and I like keeping current in the adult world of therapy. Looking for a few ways to make a little extra cash? Here are some side hustle ideas for SLPs:

  1. Hospitals: Working at a hospital or rehab facility often provides lots of flexibility for PRN SLPs. I work in a rehab hospital and can choose when I can and when I cannot work. During the school year, I usually work about two weekend days a month with the option to do more or less. I pick up more hours over summers and holiday breaks. When I first started, it had been a few years since I had done any work with adults in my clinical placements, but my facility was really great and let me shadow an SLP for a little bit until I felt comfortable. They also provided training for their documentation systems and have additional training online from time to time. 
  2. Nursing Homes: If you are looking for flexibility, working PRN at a nursing home can be another good option. You can let them know when you are and are not available to pick up some hours. Some nursing homes hire SLPs directly, while others rely on agencies, so it is a good idea to look into how the nursing homes in your area operate if you are interested in this type of work.
  3. Home Health: This is a growing area in our field and can be a steady source of extra income. It is flexible in that you can schedule your own clients, but it does require a routine time commitment to see your client(s). Working in home health provides a better opportunity to build relationships with patients and see their progress in therapy more than PRN positions do.
  4. Pediatric Clinics: If you are interested in working with kids, pediatric clinics often look for therapists to assist part-time with after school and weekend hours. I previously worked in a clinic and some of the perks included 1:1 sessions, no traveling, and getting to build strong relationships with kids and their families.
  5. Private clients: Seeing kids (or adults) privately can be rewarding, lucrative, and flexible - but there are some hoops to jump through to get started. Make sure you are following any rules set forth by your current employer to avoid any conflicts of interest. Also, ASHA states that clients need to be informed of all of their options of other therapy providers in the area. You also need to consider how you will get clients, what your rate will be, where you will provide your services, and if you need to purchase any tests or materials. 
  6. The internet! : Teletherapy, selling original materials online, and blogging can all be ways to use your skills and knowledge as an SLP to earn some extra money. 
Do you have any side hustles? Comment with your experiences below! I would love to hear from you!



A Time for Change

I first sat down to write this blog post last week on the last Monday of the school year. I was going to write about how awesome this school year was and how happy I was to have made the switch to my new school. This last school year I really felt like I had "hit the jackpot", so to speak, with a wonderful caseload, collaborative teachers, and an amazing principal who supported me from day 1. But after riding that happy wave, things got a little shaken up last week.

On Tuesday morning, my staff was called into the library for an emergency staff meeting. Nobody seemed to have any clue what it was about. I assumed it was something about state test scores or a change in end of the year activities. I was way off. When the staff was all gathered, the director of HR came in and informed us that my principal would be moving to a new school in our district next year.




*silent internal meltdown*

As you can tell - I take news of sudden change so well. The wave I was riding came to a giant halt. It turned out that the higher powers that be decided that we needed a principal shake-up. Several principals were moved around the district. My colleagues and I asked each other "Why now?" "Why our school?" A tangible sense of anger over losing our principal and anxiety about who was to come filled the school.

As the school year has come to an end and inevitable change is in my future, as well as my colleagues, I have been reflecting on these verses from Ecclesiastes:

"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."

~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

There is a reason and a time for everything, whether we understand it or not. Often we don't get to choose the change that occurs at our jobs or in our lives, but we can choose our attitudes about handling it. Whenever there is change, there is always benefit and opportunity. I am grateful I still will return to my amazing colleagues and wonderful students. I am hopeful that my next principal will have new ideas to share. 



Speechy & Teacher TPT Appreciation Sale!! {Linky}

This week is teacher appreciation week! In honor of all the wonderful SLPs and teachers out there, my store will be 28% off as part of the TPT side-wide sale! I am linking up with the Frenzied SLPs to share what I have my eyes on during this sale.

The sale will be Tuesday and Wednesday (May 3-4). These big sales only happen a few times a year, so be sure to go check out your favorite stores so you can get the best deal! Don't forget to use the code: CELEBRATE.

While you are over there, be sure to check out my latest Speech in a Snap editions! If you are not already familiar with this series, these packets provide a month's worth of no-prep black and white activities for the entire month! It makes planning easy peasy - which is great for this time of the year when it is very busy!


Speech in a Snap May has activities for Cinco de Mayo, an ocean unit, and Mother's Day! Want to save even more?? Check out the Speech in a Snap Spring Bundle! You can save a total of 48% during the sale as opposed to buying each packet individually at regular price! 

Here's what I will be filling my cart with during this sale!

Check out TeachSpeech365's No Prep Language Pack Cupcakes!

This no-prep packet is full of language activities that can be used any time of year. And who doesn't love cupcakes?

I also have my eyes on Speech Wonderland's Take & Go QR Sentence Task Cards
I have a lot of students working on grammar and this looks like such a fun and interactive way to mix things up!

Check out what some other SLP bloggers will be getting during the sale by clicking here! I hope you find some good deals during this sale!