Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Learning Language Through Literature

One of the things I love about being a speech-language pathologist is that I get to teach language.  Lots of people think I just teach kids how to say their /r/ sound.  Don't get me wrong, I do enjoy that!  But I also love finding a child with language needs, figuring out what their core difficulties are, and then finding out how I can help them with those challenges.  It's a fun process and each child always presents with unique weaknesses.  On the other hand, I have noticed that many of my kids do struggle in similar areas, namely: synonyms/antonyms, multiple meaning words, describing and defining words, and predicting/inferring.  If you're one of my fellow speechies you are probably picturing some specific kiddos right now.  And if you're a fellow mom, I think you will like using this post to help strengthen those skills in your child, regardless of their language abilities.  I have begun a project I like to call, "Learning Language Through Literature" which I have found really helps these kids with broad language needs. Language is best learned in context.  Granted, there are times when it is appropriate to drill with flashcards.  But I also really like to emphasize the importance of learning and using these skills in the context of a book.   Reading comprehension is one of our greatest goals, right?  So I have selected some books on which to focus for each month of the school year (I'm only up to February).  It is a time in speech when the kids get to relax with me, read a book, look at pictures, ask questions without feeling scared, and show me what they know.  It's more relaxed, natural, and they don't feel the 'pressure' to give me the right answers.  Little do they know that they're still learning a lot! :)  I created a type of data sheet with the questions to ask in a pre and post test fashion.  The questions vary in difficulty, and probably are mostly targeted towards kids from 2nd through 6th grade but of course you can adapt it as you need to.  Here they are!  Enjoy!

September - Froggy Goes to School by Jonathan London

October - Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White

November - One is a Feast for mouse by Judy Cox

December/January - The Mitten by Jan Brett

February - Love, Splat by Rob Scotton

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Book Review: We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen

This book is such a classic!  There are so many things to love about it.

One of my favorite elements is its repetitiveness.  Younger children will pick up on the 'chorus' quickly and enjoy reading along with you.  (Great auditory memory activity for children with hearing loss!)  I also love how well it lends itself to reading with rhythm, as if you're marching. A great activity that goes along with this book is having the child make their own drum, and then take it on a bear hunt! The child can work on following directions, (a crucial skill and one I always try to incorporate somehow).  Then hide your child's teddy bear around the yard or inside the house while they recite the 'chorus':

"We're Going on a Bear Hunt
We're going to Catch a Big one!
What a beautiful day!
We're not scared!"

Another great thing about this song is how easy it is to add actions.  If you need ideas, watch Michael Rosen himself act out the book.  It's quite entertaining.  What a character that man is.

ALSO - prepositions!  This book really reinforces the concepts of 'over' and 'under' and 'through', which are sometimes hard to grasp for little ones.  Throw in actions for these too!

Charlotte from Make Do & Friend had this darling idea to help reinforce the vocabulary and make it fun!  I'm dying to try it!

This book is also fun to use to teach descriptions.  "Long, wavy grass" or "deep, cold river" are some phrases from it.  Have your child come up with their own descriptors.  No wrong answers!  Well, that's not necessarily true.  But you know what I mean.

Another reason I like it (also good for kids with hearing loss) is it teaches onomatopoeia.  "Swishy, swashy" or "squelch squerch" are really fun to say!  They reinforce the idea that certain things (like mud and grass) make different sounds and how we sometimes try to imitate that in English.

FUN STUFF!  What other ideas do you have for this book?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Summer Language Worksheets

Ahhh....summer.  It's almost here!  Road trips, swimming pools, running through the sprinklers, ice cream and popsicles, it's all great!  I'm assuming you're as excited as I am.  And whether you're a fellow speechie or a fellow mommy, I've got a treat for you.  Summer Language Worksheets!  These are wonderful, short, and fun ways to keep your child's language skills sharp over the long summer break.  They're best for children K-4th grade or so.  Some may be easy, some may be a little more difficult.  You can make them more fun by putting them in a page protector and having your child draw a star or smiley face in  each square as they complete it.  Or you can cut them out and put them in a jar for them to draw from.  Or if you're on a road trip, make it a sort of a game while you're driving!  Be creative! And enjoy!
*I realize my blog needs more pictures.  And finding pictures online is a pain.  So I just used a family picture.  Hope you don't mind. :)

Monday, May 7, 2012

Hearing Journey Website

If you haven't heard of The Listening Room, you need to check it out right now!  Actually, wait until you finish reading this post.  Or go right now.  Either way.  The website is targeted for children with hearing loss, and is provided by Advanced Bionics.  But the activities provided are great for parents and professionals, and for any children with language goals!
There are a few artists, but the main one is Dave Sindrey, who is also a certified auditory verbal therapist and therefore specializes in teaching children with hearing loss how to listen and speak.  And therefore I love him!!!  You have to sign up to enter, but it is free and I never get emails from them.  It's divided into an infant section, kids section (the one I use the most), and an adults/teens section.  In the Kids section, each week there is a new language activity that comes with instructions and a PDF file for you to download.  Most things are not archived so I try to check it frequently and save everything to my computer.  There are also some great informational articles that are great to printout and distribute to parents.  And several activities and articles even come in Spanish which is fabuloso!

Friday, May 4, 2012

You Caught Me Chart

One of the greatest concepts I learned in grad school came from my fluency professor.  She was explaining how difficult it can be to raise a child's awareness of their own speech.  Sometimes they just don't listen to themselves, and they have to listen to themselves before they can fix their errors.  But before they learn to listen to themselves, they have to learn how to listen to other people's speech.  Thus the concept of a "You Caught Me" chart.  It works best with younger kids, like ages 3-8ish.

First, introduce the child to the chart:
"Hey, Josh/Kyle/Emily/whatever the kid's name is, sometimes I make mistakes while I'm talking too.  If you catch me making a mistake, say, "I caught you!"  Then we can draw a smiley face in the chart.  If you catch me FOUR times, then you get a prize!"

It's usually very motivating and exciting for these kids.  They kind of feel like they're the speech teacher, and what's not fun about that?!?  At first they may not notice any of your errors.  You might have to correct yourself for a while:  "Oops.  I forgot to say my /s/ sound.  Let me try that again.  Ssssstop."  Eventually they will start to notice something is wrong, but not be able to explain it.  That's ok!  It's a good start.  Pretty soon, they should be able to catch your errors 100% of the time and be able to explain what you did wrong 100% of the time.  Now you're one step closer to having that child identify their own errors.

 It's simple.  It's genius, and here's one for you if you want it.
It's basic and to-the-point.  Just laminate it or put it in a page protector so you can re-use it.