Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Recognizing African American History {Children's Literature Reviews}

So many children today have a very limited knowledge about the influence of American Americans in the United States. A great way to teach students about this is by reading them biographies, historical fiction and non-fiction text. I enjoy reading aloud to children in my speech-language therapy lessons. They learn factual informational while also practicing their speech-language skills. 

Here are 3 of my recommendations that I  read and discussed with my students this month. Although Black History is celebrated during the month of February in the U.S., these books can be read at any time of the year. Likewise, students should continue to learn about African American History all year long as well. 

This is an engaging biography that describes Hank Aaron's determination to play professional baseball at a time when Jackie Robinson was the only other black player. The illustrations are excellent and truly help the story come alive as Hank Aaron beat Babe Ruth's record of hitting the most home runs. In 1974, he hit his 715th home run! The book also tells the story about how he persevered despite the discriminatory threats that he received because of the color of his skin. My speech language students enjoyed learning that he played for the Atlanta Braves, when his original professional team, the Milwaukee Braves moved south to Georgia. That detail helped them connect to the story since we live in metro Atlanta, Ga. 

Grandma's Pride is a beautifully written historical fiction book told from the perspective of a little girl, Sarah Marie, who travels to the south with her family during the summer to visit her grandmother. The precious little girl quickly learns the differences between how blacks experience life in the northern U.S. versus the southern U.S. On her journey, she experiences having to sit in the back of a bus, not being able to use certain public restrooms, not being able to eat at certain downtown restaurants, and the tenacity of her grandmother whose pride would not allow her to ride the city bus. I like this book because it gives children a glimpse into what life was like during the civil rights era of the 1960s when Jim Crow laws were enforced. Through the voice of a child, they are also able to hear how in a later summer visit, the unjust rules of the south were no more!   

Freedom on the Menu: The Greensboro Sit-Ins  is another excellent historical fiction book that tells the story about a young girl, Connie, who sees first hand the boldness of four college students from North Carolina A & T. The young men, her brother's friends,  decided that enough was enough and they planned a "sit in" to quietly protest their lack of service at a lunch counter in Woolworth's, a popular downtown department store. They sat at the lunch counter and requested to order food. They were denied and asked to leave due to the Jim Crow laws. This book will evoke questions and emotions from children. Most will empathize with Connie, who wanted to order a banana split at Woolworth's the day she saw her brother's friends. This story also comes full circle as the author summarizes events that this incident sparked such as more lunch counter "sit ins", a visit to Greensboro by Dr. Martin Luther King, and additional non-violent protests for civil rights for African-Americans. I love that this story is also told through the eyes of a child who was able to sit at any lunch counter and enjoy her banana split after the Supreme Court ruling that those Jim Crow laws were unconstitutional!

There are so many great books out there to help children recognize and understand African American History in the United States! I also created a non-fiction curriculum unit so children can learn about historical African Americans. You may check out that resource here:

Thanks for reading the blog today. 

Tamara Anderson

SLPs Have Ways of Making You Speak & Understand { Link up & Purchase SLP Products}

Pediatric speech-language pathologists have an awesome job of teaching children the skills they need to communicate verbally, using picture exchange, or using a communication device! We also enable them to improve their comprehension of numerous language skills that are the underpinnings for attaining communication, academic and social success! 

Guess what? Today is a special day because my entire TPT store is on sale 20 %. Plus, you will get an additional 8 % off when you use the discount code: HEROES at checkout! 

I am also linking up with Jenna, SLP at to share my recommendations of products in my store and also what I plan to purchase from other fantastic SLPs. 

From my store, I recommend these resources to ensure that your speech-language therapy sessions are educationally relevant while addressing your students objectives:

                 Non-fiction Language Intervention with Tier II Vocabulary


                                       Tier I Vocabulary Informal Assessment

                                   Tier III Curriculum Vocabulary Intervention

                        Tier III Curriculum Vocabulary Informal Assessment

Here are some items that I plan to purchase: 

                        Twin Speech Language & Literacy LLC

                                                             The Speech Space

                                                   Jenna, Speech Room News

                                         Maureen, The Speech Bubble SLP

Kim, The School SLP

Thanks for reading the blog today. Make sure you click the link here to see other suggestions on awesome SLP resources:

Tamara Anderson

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Speech-Language Success Stories # 5

It is important to remember to be patient and optimistic when providing pediatric speech-language therapy services. Often times, children will not immediately learn speech language strategies. It takes repetitive verbal modeling, visual cues, and tactile cues for kids to acquire new skills. 

Many children with intellectual impairments struggle with learning how to correctly pronounce various consonant sounds. When they are speaking with their parents, teachers, SLPs, and peers their speech is not readily understood. It is our responsibility as SLPs to help improve the speech intelligibility of these kids. 

I had a success story with teaching a child the correct tongue placement to pronounce her /l/ sound. This child struggled with elevating her tongue to accurately articulate this sound. Her speech was not easily understood when the context of conversation was not known. 

She was successful with auditory discrimination exercises to identify her target /l/ sound vs. other sounds. However, she initially consistently pronounced a /y/ for /l/ in words and sentences. So, I pulled out my hand held mirror and bag of tricks to get her to lift her tongue up. We practiced putting different food/candy items (e.g. smarties, cheerios) on the tip of her tongue. She demonstrated a lot of groping behaviors and eventually the food items would melt in her mouth or she would chew them. Now I know it is usually best to pair with the actual sound production, but I was having difficulty getting this child to attempt any articulation drills. So I decided to try using food. 

I also had her try to imitate lifting her tongue while saying the /l/ sound in isolation. She still said y/l or distorted the /l/ sound. I modeled for her how to practice the sound at the syllable level with vowels, but of course she was at 0 % with that because she did not have the correct tongue placement. 

I read aloud fiction text and emphasized the target /l/ sound. She really benefited from hearing multiple productions of the sound in a natural way during oral reading of a story. She loved the story, The Three Snow Bears, by Jan Brett. I must have said the words Polar Bear and Alooki, a character's name, a million times! 

Guess what! I stopped during my read aloud a few times and used a tactile prompt and verbal modeling with this child and she accurately said Polar with the CORRECT /l/ sound! I cheered for her loudly!!! I had her repeat the word several times as I touched her chin with my index finger and pushed down. This immediately prompted her to lift her tongue up! 

Auditory bombardment of target sounds is definitely an essential tool in articulation therapy. A tactile prompt was also key for this child to learn how to correctly elevate her tongue to say her /l/ sound.

This little girl also struggled with motivation to practice her speech sounds. She recognized how difficulty it was for her so I always had to pair her speech drill work with a high preference activity. 

One day, I decided to follow her lead and told her that she would receive free time to play a computer learning game. She eagerly completed all her speech articulation drill work with me. She accurately imitated the /l/ sound in isolation and syllable levels when provided with verbal and tactile prompts!  I was so excited once again and another student in her group even told her great job! She was soooooo happy and had the biggest grin on her face! We were all pleased at her progress and success!

Now, I will continue to reinforce the strategies that were successful so she can produce her /l/ sound correctly in words. She is definitely more stimuable for pronouncing these sounds in words now!

Hooray!!!!!!! Thanks for visiting the blog today. 


Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Speech-Language Success Stories # 4

Thank you so much Tamara for letting me guest blog today!  My name is Aersta Acerson and I have been given the wonderful opportunity of sharing a speech success story with you today.  First, let me say Happy Blogiversary to Building Successful Lives!  I love all the fun things happening here in this extended celebration!  Now a little about myself.  I have been working as an SLP (obviously!) for 3 years now, and I LOVE IT!  I have worked in both the schools and in private practice and I have loved both settings.  I also enjoy creating materials for speech therapy, and I own the TPT store Speaking Freely, SLP.  I am also a mom to two beautiful little girls who are my heart and soul! 

Now on to my success story.  It was during my CF year and I had a language group made up of 5th and 6th graders.  That year we focused heavily on learning curriculum vocabulary and understanding figurative language, specifically idioms.  Lots and LOTS of idioms.  It was a Friday afternoon at the end of the month, and my group had earned a game day, so my students chose to play Don't Wake Daddy.  We had recently talked about the meaning of the idiom "You dodged that bullet."  One of my students took his turn and rolled a six.  The Daddy hadn't "woken" in awhile, so we all assumed the student was going to get it!  When he didn't wake Daddy, another one of my students said, "Wow, you missed that bullet!"  SUCCESS!!!  Now, he didn't get the idiom exactly correct, but we had been working on understanding idioms more than using them, and he had spontaneously used the idiom in correct context.  I was ecstatic!  It's that kind of moment that makes it all worth it, don't you think?  :)  Have a blessed day!

Aersta Acerson, CCC-SLP
Click above to check out products in my online TPT Store! Thanks!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

For The Love of Speech & Language: Valentine's Categories & Associations

I know it's not Valentine's Day yet, but some SLP blogger friends and I want to give you a head start on your speech-language therapy activities for February.  After all, today is February 1st and Superbowl Sunday! Your brain may be thinking about all those commercials and game day snacks/beverages rather than planning lessons for this month! 

Well I am eager to use all the Valentine's themed speech-language activities that I have.  Lyndsey at Speech to the Core and Elizabeth at The Speech Owl are hosting a blog hop where you can follow 28 speech-language pathologists to collect 28 different therapy activities! How awesome is that! I hope I have enough ink! Ha! Some may be used on your IPAD or computer too so no worries there. 

My newest SLP resource will be FREE from February 1st- February 4th in my TPT store. 

This resource is geared towards 2nd-5th graders who need practice with categories and word associations. Some of my language disorders students with co-occurring learning disabilities definitely still need practice with verbally naming items in a category and associated words. This activity will allow kids to practice Tier I or basic everyday vocabulary in a fun way related to Valentine's Day. This product also has a few pages so that kids can write responses as well. I suggest having a stash of candy during your sessions for the love of speech and language! :)
Visit my TPT store to download my digital SLP resource & make sure to follow me there to stay current with updates

The next SLP participating in this amazing blog hop is Susan Berkowitz from Kidz Learn Language. Click below to visit her blog and link to her complimentary Valentine's therapy resource on sequencing. 

Thanks for reading the blog today! 

Tamara Anderson