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Cyber Monday Deals on Teachers Pay Teachers

It's that time of year, where my friends in the United States are celebrating Thanksgiving and my friends in Canada are just trying to get all their shopping done for the holiday season. For SLPs and teachers, it means the annual cyber sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. Here you can save as much as 28% off products bought there!  Today I thought I would share some resources in my store and some from some of my fellow sellers stores.  

 First we will start with some products from my store.

1.  Story Mapping and Sequencing using Folk Tales.  This low prep product helps introduce/reinforce story structure using familiar stories. It also works on sequencing skills. There are two versions of this product: with and without the stories. 

2. Food: Building and Extending Vocabulary.  This is a product that you can use with a variety of students working from very basic sorting skills to working on more sophisticated skills such as comparing and contrasting between two objects.

3.  Hop on Pronoun Train.  This is especially fun for preschool boys and works on so much more than pronouns.  You can work on expanding sentences, following directions, asking and answering questions as well as working on building pretend play.  

Now for some products my fellow sellers recommend:

1. If you are looking for social skills materials then Linda at Looks like Language has a bundle that is great for building conversation skills. 

2. If you are looking for  ACC materials, Susan Berkowitz has a product to help with building sentences. 

3. Here is another great product for working on pronouns with younger children by Lisette from Speech Sprouts.

4. Tamatha from TLC Talk Shop has a great craft to work on a wide range of language skills.  They are perfect for home practice.  

5. Ashley Rossi has some fantastic no prep worksheets  for both speech and language skills in her store.  Here is one just in time for winter.  

6.  If you are looking for materials to use on your tablet then Speech Therapy Fun with Jennifer has one just in time for Christmas!  

Happy shopping and don't forget to use the code: CYBER216!

The Long and Winding Road to Becoming an SLP: My SLP Story

First I would like to thank the Frenzied SLPs for this linky where people can read our journeys into becoming SLPs.  My journey was a long one and spanned many years.  

My journey started when I was 18 and I worked at an Easter Seal Summer Camp for children, teens and adults with intellectual difficulties.  It was my first real experience working with people with all sorts of challenges. I loved working with the campers and was excited to go back the next year.   

My second year there, we had a camper who was Deaf (along with cognitive disabilities).  He used ASL (American Sign Language) to communicate and, oh course, we only knew the very basics.  Naturally his behaviours were off the charts because he could not communicate.  We all frantically learnt as many signs as we could to help him.  The next year, he came back and this time he had a worker who could communicate with him.  He was a different child.  This was my first big lesson in how important communication is to a person's well being. It also got me very interested in ASL.  

After camp was over, I started taking night sign classes.  Later, I looked to increase my knowledge and ended up in an 10 month ASL immersion program. This was  (and still is) a fantastic program. I even started to pursue a career as an ASL interpreter but this was not for me and worked in group homes/day programs with Deaf and Deaf-Blind Adults with intellectual disorders.  I loved working with the residents and ended up spending lots of time working on building communication skills.  I loved making schedules and communication boards.  I loved watching these adults slowly improve their abilities to communicate but the government was cutting funding and there were rumours of layoffs.  
Being at the bottom of the seniority list, I knew my job was on the chopping block.  I had been tossing the idea of going back to school and the possibility of being jobless was the push I needed.  I went back and got my pre-requisites and ended up being one of the lucky ones who were accepted into the Masters program at the University of Alberta. I never looked back.

I hope you enjoyed reading about my journey!

5 Reason Why I Limit Screen Time in Preschool Therapy

Everyday there seems to be new apps or no print activities released on iTunes or Teachers Pay Teachers that work on speech and language skills.   These activities can be great.  They are interactive and you don't have to do a lot of prep plus most children love to play them.  They make taking data easy. When I first got my iPad a few years ago, I used it frequently in preschool therapy.  As the years have gone by, I have found that I am using my iPad less and less.  For the last year or so, I bring it out rarely and when I do, it is only for very special occasions. 

I count screen time as using an iPad/tablet, smartphone, TV, Smartboard (or like products), or  a computer.  I don't consider dedicated speech generating devices (SGD) as a screen because SGDs are an essential tool to help children gain their independence and communicate. 

Here is why I limit screen time in therapy:

1. The Canadian Paediatric Society and its American counterpart have set some strict guidelines about the amount of screen time children should be exposed to.  For children between the ages of 2 and 4, they recommend no more than an hour a day.  Talking with parents, it is not uncommon for preschoolers to spend anywhere from three to six hours a day in front of a screen.  I do not need to add to their screen time.  

2. Many children I work with have weak play skills.  Play skills are very important for preschoolers.  It helps them learn how to interact with their world and it teaches them about how to get along with others. It helps develop a child's imagination. There are not many games/apps on a screen where a child can pretend play and use their imagination (Toca Boca has some good apps for pretending). Many apps that I have come across are either test type activities or sequential type activities (i.e. I go through the steps and something happens at the end). These apps have their place but I believe that playing with toys/their environment is a better way to develop play skills.

3. When children play with objects, they learn a variety of different problem-solving skills and are experiencing hands on learning. For example, what happens if my toys don't all fit into the pretend fridge or what do I do if part of my fort collapses? Play can also help with generalization.  When using objects means that  the activity can be easily altered or the outcome will be different each time.  While improving, many games have a finite set of questions/activities and they some don't shuffle the activities.  This does not help with generalization. I have worked with children (often with an Autism Spectrum diagnosis) who can demonstrate a skill on the tablet but can't do it in any other situation with any other tools.

4. Sometimes the tablet is too engaging and it's difficult to add the therapy piece to the activity. The children would "zone out" or try to move their bodies around so that they were the only ones engaging in the activity. It is then not an appropriate therapy tool. 

5. In a classroom setting, I would have children arguing or having temper tantrums because they wanted a turn or a longer turn.  As well, I would often have four or five other children hanging around watching. I was then limiting the play opportunities for more than just the student(s) who were using the tablet. 

Screens have their place in therapy but for the stated reason above, I have chosen to limit the amount of games, apps, no print activities, and videos that preschoolers are exposed to in therapy.