Social Skills Calendar

This school year, I’ll be running a social skills group at my work! I wanted a basic outline of topics to hopefully target each week. I decided that most of the time, things are too difficult to target in just one week so I made this handy dandy calendar of which topics I’ll target when. I will target each topic for 2 weeks and move on, but obviously most of the topics are connected.

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I began the year with topics I know I’ll want my students to be familiar with right away. For example, if my kiddos aren’t using whole body listening, very little will get done the rest of the year!

 I hope to tie in themes/holidays as appropriate to target skills as well. For example, I put “Giving Compliments” over Valentine’s Day so it could easily be incorporated into therapy!

Note: Many of the topics are based on Maria Garcia Winner’s vocabulary and her Social Thinking Model. For more information on this, visit www.socialthinking.com!

Hope this has been helpful!

The best visual schedule/motivator ever.

**This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for your convenience**

The title says it all! I am so excited to share this idea with you all!

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This idea began when I began working with a very hard to motivate student. She was very smart, but wasn’t really interested in stickers or other rewards I  use for the other students. Additionally, her classroom teacher had concerns about her task completion skills. If the teacher didn’t tell her each step of a process, or what to do next, the student would sit there or get into things!

 I needed some sort of motivational visual schedule! Below is what I came up with, and I can tell you it was a HUGE hit. She loves using “her boxes”!

First, I purchased/printed all of the materials in the picture below. I used Boardmaker and made the icons 1 inch. To make the reward strips, I put 3 empty boxes and then a fourth with a ribbon in it, indicating they had earned a reward.

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You can see some of the icons I printed in the picture below. I cut them out as I need them. Many are classroom related for carryover.

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I put a soft piece of Velcro on each box of a pill box, and the reward strip. Then, I put rough Velcro on the icons and the fake money (I used only the nickels).

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Next, I put the icons on the pill box like a visual schedule.

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Inside each compartment was a fake nickel with Velcro on the back. I told my students that they needed to finish each task and fill up their reward strip to earn painting time at the end of the session! They were excited to get to work.

After each activity, the student opens the pill box, puts the nickel on their reward strip, and puts the icon (e.g. writing) in the pill box to indicate the activity is all done.

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This continued until the reward strip was full.

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This activity can be modified in SO many ways, which is why it is great!

1) You can make the reward strip longer and use a bigger/longer pill box (see some of the longer strips/bigger pill box in the picture of all the supplies).

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2) You can fill the boxes with other things. I plan on putting pom poms in the boxes and having my students each pom poms to glue on do a dot pages. You can also put small items like stickers and beads in there as well. One thing I hope to do in the future is put a bead in each compartment for classroom use. Then the student can keep a string in the classroom and see how many beads they can earn each day.

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3) You can put the icon of what the student is earning over the ribbon!

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 4) Or you can put the reward activity in the last pill box so it’s a surprise to the student when they finish their work!

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Really, the possibilities of this visual schedule/motivator are endless! And how cute are these owl pill boxes?! :) I actually purchased extras of these boxes after realizing how great they function as storage for my millions of icons flying all over the place.

The picture below shows how I store all of the money/icons in the pill box:

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Easy right?

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What is great about this tool is that it can easily be implemented in the classroom. Did you notice how many of the icons I printed are classroom subjects? This is because this tool now functions as a way for students to increase their task completion and to be more independent. And the students love the reward aspect of it!

 I purchased these pill boxes at Walgreens. Not sure if everybody has access to a Walgreens, but the link to see the product is below:

Walgreens 3 Day Pill Cases

It looks like you can’t order them online. If you’d rather order online, the pill box below on Amazon looks very similar! I also like how it says 1, 2, and 3 on each box.

Hope this helps motivate some of your students. Thanks for reading!

Teaching WH Questions

So many kiddos have WH question goals… in some form or another. The ability to answer WH questions is important, in all settings: school, home, in conversation, etc…

I knew this, but I always wondered how to teach WH questions without feeling like I was testing the kiddo. I didn’t want to repeat the question over and over, emphasizing the first word anymore. I didn’t want to point to my WH questions poster that they had seen 100 times but hadn’t fully understood. I wanted to give them an activity where they could succeed, and reflect back on later as the questions got more difficult.

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So what’s an SLP blogger to do? Make something! I made a WH Questions Interactive Book. This book is AMAZING for actually teaching the concept of WH questions. Almost every single kiddo I’ve used this with has been able to be successful with it almost immediately. Below are some ideas for teaching WH questions. Have fun!

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I follow the steps in my WH Questions Interactive Book. Below are more pictures of the book. Basically, you can use the first couple pages to sort/teach the basics.

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Then, have your students find three icons for each page: one that describes the who, one for where, and one for what. The book contains eight scenes, 8 people, and 8 items. Each picture is simple so you can use this to teach a variety of levels!

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I also included icons for each type of WH question, and example questions for how, when, and when for each scene.

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 I work at this level for quite a while with each student. I really want them to understand all of this!! Before moving on, I like my students to be able to independently fill in the boxes for each page, AND be able to answer my WH questions about each page when I mix up the order of the questions asked.  For example, I might turn to a page and ask “where” first once, and then “who” first the next time. I usually point to the icon on the bottom of the page when I ask the questions.

After they are able to do this, I use the following worksheets which are also included in the book:

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These are also great for mixing it up, to ensure your students really understand what is being asked.

After these interactive materials, I move to more typical WH Question activities. You can find these all over Teachers Pay Teachers depending on what you’re looking for.

I LOVE the visuals I found at Speaking of Speech. I glued them on the back of paint chip cards and they fit perfectly. An easy way to have your students reference visuals! Check it out!

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The last way I love to teach WH questions is to use Story Cubes.

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I absolutely love the freebie worksheets from Sublime Speech. Click here to check them out! I would recommend having your students plan the who, where, what, why, how, and when for their stories, and then use the one from Sublime Speech to write the story! I may or may not be working on a Story Cubes freebie myself so stay tuned!

What creative ideas do you have for teaching WH questions? I’d love to hear!

Click here to see my WH Questions Interactive Book in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

Interactive Visuals for Guessing Games, Describing, and Inferencing

How many of you use Hedbanz or Jeepers Peepers in therapy? They are both amazing games but can sometimes be challenging for some of my language/ASD kiddos! I feel like I spend so much time prompting and prompting and prompting. I knew there had to be an easier way, but I had trouble finding an appropriate visual for them online. So I made my own! If you feel the same way, or want your students to be more independent when playing this game, this product is for you!

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What I wanted out of a visual was something interactive. Something my kids could use themselves, even the nonreaders. Click here to check it out in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

This product contains:
-1 category page
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-12 subcategory pages (similar to the one shown below)
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-Yes/no page (for sorting and storing icons)
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Note: When I say “page” above, I am referring to two pages, that once assembled combine into one. One page is the storage/question strip page and the other contains the symbols.
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To Use: Begin with the first categories page and the yes/no page. Prompt the student to pick a category icon and move it to the sentence strip at the top of the page. Have the student read the question out loud.

If the question is answered with “yes” move the card to the Yes side of the page and vis versa. This page will help those students who have difficulty remembering or putting together information they have gained from previous questions. After the student knows the category of their card, give them a subcategory page. For example, when they know it is an animal, give them the page that says “It is an animal” on the top. This second page will help them uncover more details about their animal.

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To work on describing, pick an icon and have the child find the category and then describe it using the icons on the subcategory page. I have them do this using the yes/no page again, describing what something is and isn’t.

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For inference, the SLP can fill the yes/no page and have the child guess what object they are thinking of! Provide picture options as needed. I like to lay out three cards from Hedbanz and fill the yes/no page. Then, the student can choose the appropriate card and explain why they picked it.

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This game is perfect for students who use AAC, who have difficulty formulating questions or recalling information, who have ASD, our language kiddos and other students that you are trying to fade off of prompts during these fun guessing games!
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Curious how it works? Download the preview and get the first 2 pages (for asking about the category) FOR FREE!

This game does require assembly, lamination, and Velcro. Or, you can use page protectors and dry erase markers to circle/cross off choices.

Speechy Musings does not own the right to Hedbanz, Jeepers Peepers, or 20 Questions and is in no way sponsored by these companies.

{CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE THE PRODUCT FROM MY TEACHERS PAY TEACHERS STORE!}

Make Your Own Story Visuals for ANY Book!

I love materials that are adaptable to a variety of levels and easy to make, and this one is both of those things!

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In fact, this is SO easy to make that I’ll tell you how to make it AND use it in this post!

(1) The first step is to make a background using any visuals you would like. I made two: one with racing visuals, and one with just words. (ignore the Velcro on the second word one when you get to the Velcro part later on!!)

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 (2) Write a basic beginning, middle, and end for the story in boxes as shown below:

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3) To make the small pictures as shown in the picture above, all I did was copy the pages of the book at 50% reduced size and cut off everything put the primary image on the page. You might need to do a bit of trial and error with that percentage depending on the size of the page/picture of the book you’re using, but 50% worked well for me.

4) Laminate everything!! Cut out the text summary and the pictures, but leave the background visual (the racecar or words visual). By keeping the background one piece, you make it much easier to store and keep together!

5) Velcro, velcro, velcro! You can see some of my Velcro-ing above, but below you can see the backs of the moveable pieces as well. Velcro-ing like this makes the activity incredibly adaptable, as I’ll show you later on!

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Overall, for the Velcro, put a small Velcro square on the exact middle of the pictures. Then on the longer sentence strips, I put two pieces as shown above. Look at the pictures in the previous parts of this post to see how I Velcro-ed the rest (except please ignore the visual I pointed out earlier!!).

Okay!! Now you’ve got the product created. Below are some ideas of how you can use it:

The picture below is how it looks all put together, and how I store it:

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 One obvious way to use this is to just remove the sentence strips from the mat and have your students arrange both the picture/sentences in order to describe the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

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For your students who don’t need the picture support, you can have them match just the written parts of the story with what happened in the beginning, middle, and end.

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For your students who aren’t at that reading level yet, forget the words and have them arrange the pictures from the story in order! (this is why I redid the arrangement of my Velcro!) The pictures will stick perfectly on the story macrostructure mat as well!

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Have your students match the pictures to the written text. For your non-readers, you could read the text aloud and have them find the corresponding picture:

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Have your students do it all!! Mix up all of the pieces and have them match the picture to the text, and then the text/picture to the correct part of the story (i.e. beginning, middle, end).

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This activity can easily be used for understanding story macrostructure, picture description, sequencing, retelling stories, narratives, and SO MUCH MORE.

Hope this has been helpful for you! I love how small this activity is, and how adaptable it can be for ANY book!

Data… Grad School Style

Jenn, from Crazy Speech World, is hosting a “Show Me The Data!” Linky. I wanted to participate, and share the way I took data throughout my first year of graduate school!

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This way worked incredibly well for me in our on campus clinic, and hopefully it helps get some of you started! Feel free to leave a comment or 2 or 3 about the way you take data. I’d love to learn more!

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I posted a little bit about how I take data in my How to Survive SLP Graduate School post, but here it is again, with more detail (after going through second semester!). I’ve provided affiliate links to Amazon so you can see the exact products I use!

First, you will need to buy a binder and binder pocket inserts. And a good pen! :)

Then, find a data sheet you LOVE. My personal favorite is from Let’s Talk Speech-Language Pathology. You can see her data sheet here. I just print the second page and make billions of copies :) I’ll probably make my own eventually, but for now, this one works!

Let’s say for example you have 3 clients. Put one binder folder in a binder for each client. I like to choose a client’s favorite color or something to help keep it straight! In the folders, I put worksheets/some materials I use every week with that client. For kids, it might be a rules sheet or for adults it might be a favorite visual. Then behind the folder, I put the completed data sheets for that client. I keep blank data sheets in the very front of the binder.

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Here is an example of what it looks like. The green folder is for a young artic client I had. You can see his data from the first session. Some keys to making this easier:

1) Put the objectives in the same order each time. That what you can flip through the pages and compare performance session to session easily!

2) Calculate and write in percentages in a different color. I chose red. It’s much easier to see!

3) Make a key if necessary. We aren’t experts yet! Sometimes on the bottom of the page, I’d write in my cueing hierarchy with a code for each level so that I didn’t forget how to mark it! (see picture below)

Below is a picture of how I took data for a client with aphasia. As you can see, I wrote down many more subjective notes!

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Keeping track of data is really important for all SLPs! This way has helped keep me organized, analyze long-term trends of my clients, and write those SOAP notes!

Movement Breaks for Speech Therapy

Hopefully most of you saw a previous post of mine about regulation, and having my clients find their optimal level of energy throughout our sessions together. If not, click here to catch up and read it!

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Many of the clients I see have trouble maintaining a regulated state, or maintaining an appropriate energy level throughout our sessions. In order to help them eventually learn to regulate their energy levels themselves, we discuss various ways they can calm down or perk up!

According to a research article you can find here, “it is not developmentally appropriate for the kindergarten students to receive Direct Instruction for more than 8 minutes”. According to a second article you can read here, “taking a movement break will not compromise any student’s academic achievement even when the children lose instructional time”. Many other articles point to movement breaks as a great strategy for a variety of students!

Below are three of my favorite ideas, that typically take 5 minutes or less!

1) Slap Your Name
Cut 1 large circle out of construction paper for each student. Cut a slightly smaller circle in white paper and write their name on it. Hang in on a wall above the level of their head. Put 1 minute on a timer and start the countdown. Once the timer starts, the student will jump and try to slap their circle/name. If they can do it, raise the circle. If they can’t, lower the circle. The point of the game is to see how high they can get their circle. This is extra fun if you have a couple kids together in a group! They love competing to get their circles up and up! Jumping is a really great movement break because it doesn’t require a large space and uses up a lot of extra energy!
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2) Speech Boot Camp
This is another fun, and easy idea! Using the materials and space you have in your room, make boot camp cards. You can use index cards! Write ‘boot camp drills’ on each card. For example, “Do 5 pushups”, “Do jumping jacks for 20 seconds”, or “Jump up and down as many times as you can in 10 seconds.” You (the SLP, teacher, etc…) can be the drill sergeant, or pick a lucky student! The drill sergeant should pick cards, and direct the group to do each action. You can put 5 minutes on a timer to see how many exercises they can do as a group in 5 minutes! The whole group needs to work together to finish each exercise! This is a great movement break because it can also be used as a following directions activity!

3) Dance Party
Have a dance party! I keep a playlist on my iPad called “PG Playlist”. Every song on it is relatively recent and ‘cool’, but are all appropriate and pre-selected by me. I’ll play one song and everybody can dance or wiggle or move as much as they can during the song! Looking for some fun music? Check out this timely blog post from Rockin’ Teacher Materials.

These ‘movement breaks’ are often called ‘brain breaks’. Check out this fantastic Pinterest board I found filled with FUN ideas for brain breaks, including some videos you can play! How easy is that?

What do you use to keep your kids focuses? Let me know in the comments below! I’d love to get some new ideas!

Regulation Strategies for SLPs

Every semester since I began working with children with disabilities, I’m reminded of the importance of self-regulation. If you are unfamiliar with self-regulation, read this informative post explaining the concept!

Far too often, it is difficult for our kiddos to focus on their speech and language when they are not properly regulated or focused! Below are some basic strategies, handouts, and a freebie that I’ve found effective for quick ways to promote self regulation for all of our kiddos!

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First, I made a free download that you can snag here.

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As you can (hopefully) tell, it’s a volcano! I got the idea for the handout here, but there was no printable. The levels on this handout correspond to the Zones of Regulation (described below). You can have your students fill in their unique ‘tools’ or what they can do to calm down, focus, and be ready to work! They can color or decorate the volcano as they desire as well. Feel free to use the top left portion to write in other things such as things that make them feel frustrated, or how they act when they are in a calm or happy state.The second page of the handout is a simple handout that you can use to have your students identify what state they are in. It is similar to others I’ve found, but more simple and less overwhelming!

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I always use the Zones of Regulation handout seen below. My kiddos can write in things they can do to get them in the green zone. I love that this can be customized for each kid with strategies that work for them!

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I’ve also compiled a Pinterest board of resources for self-regulation. Feel free to check it out here and repin anything you might want in the future!

So what can you do in your speech room to help your students with self-regulation?

1) Make them aware of it! Help them identify how they are feeling, whether they are happy, tired, frustrated, or out of control!
2) Think of strategies they can use at each stage. Do this before they need them so when the moment arises, they are ready to utilize their ‘tools’.
3) Allow your students to take frequent breaks.
4) Provide fidget toys or other sensory tools as part of their ‘sensory diet’. (e.g.: weighted vests, etc…)
5) Maintain a consistent schedule and/or provide a visual schedule.
6) Secure your student’s attention first, before provided directions or instruction.

For more self-regulation strategies, check out this post.

What are your favorite resources for regulation? Have we used any of the same ones?

Stay tuned for a post on my favorite movement breaks, one of my favorite ‘tools’!

Using Elephant and Piggie Books for Speech Therapy

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Biggest hit in therapy so far this semester? Elephant and Piggie books! And it’s no surprise! These books are great. Wanna know why? Read on.

1) Kids LOVE these books. In my experience, they request them over almost all other books.

2) Elephant and Piggie books are easy to read. There are few words per page, and very few difficult words. This makes them perfect for children who struggle with reading or who are beginner readers. Because of the way the text is written, it is easy for beginner readers to add emotion and a little gusto to their reading as well!

3) Every book is hilarious! I laugh out loud at all of them, and kids do too!

4) Each book has a variety of lessons. (see my ideas below) There is an unlimited number of ways to use these books and topics to cover with these books!

Below are some Elephant and Piggie books, and what topics you could cover with each:

Let’s Go For a Drive: sequencing, problem solving, inference, prediction

My Friend is Sad: social skills, being a good friend

Should I Share My Ice Cream?: sharing, social skills, prediction, friendship

Can I Play Too?: inclusion, friendship, adaptation (for friends with a variety of needs/likes)

Today I Will Fly!: determination, not giving up, being creative, problem solving, friendship, supporting your friends

We Are In A Book: perfect for reluctant readers!

In my therapy sessions, we made our own Elephant and Piggie comics that I downloaded here! Check out the picture below:

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After they group wrote their own comics, they presented them in front of everybody!

It has been such a hit. I’ve gotten kids who hate writing and/or reading to ask for these books!

Want a TON more Elephant and Piggie ideas?? I’ve done all of the work for you by compiling a Pinterest board dedicated to Elephant and Piggie ideas that can be adapted for speech therapy. Check it out here.

Wanna buy some of the books? They are VERY reasonably priced through Amazon. If you weren’t convinced by me, READ THE REVIEWS!

Social Skills Groups: Ideas and a FREEBIE

This semester, I am co-running a social group for girls with ASD diagnosis’. I love it! In order to help attain some sort of a structure to session, I created a small 9-page packet. Here is what is included:

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1) Being a leader and a helper reminder cards. This semester, we will be working on understanding what it means to be a ‘leader’ and a ‘helper’. Everybody, at some point in their lives, needs to understand how to do both. Nobody should ever always leader or always follow! So it is important for our kiddos to understand how to do both! At first, almost all kiddos are less than enthused when they are assigned the task of being a ‘helper’ for the day. But once most of them understood what to say and do to be a helper, they became much more comfortable. In my packet, there are the cards seen above. I laminate and give either a ‘leader’ or a ‘helper’ card to every child as they enter the room. You could also have them switch around the cards during different activities.

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2) A different kind of reward system! Instead of using stickers or tangible rewards, I use things such as a dance party or the opportunity to have a ‘parade’. The great thing about working towards rewards such as these is that they also offer the opportunity for social communication throughout! For example, if they were to win a parade, they would need to work together as a group to plan the parade, etc… Win-win! In my packet, you will find a visual I use. Each day I hang it in the room to remind the girls of who is the leader and what everybody is working towards!

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3) A rules list! This is how the girls earn their rewards! If I have to remind them twice (in a relatively short amount of time) about a rule, then one minute gets deducted from the time they get to spend with their reward activity. Feel free to make your own rules list if you want to add or remove some! (I also included a simple black and white one if colored ink is a concern!)

Conversation Cards

4) Conversational reminder cards. Sometimes, when people get excited we have a tendency to talk over one another instead of to one another. Our kiddos do the same thing, except they probably do it more often. I print these cards back to back so on one side it says, “I am talking” and on the other it says, “I am listening”. If the conversation seems chaotic or disorganized, I reminder everybody to ‘pause’ and look at their cards. They can all flip it over to the appropriate side and decide which ONE person is talking. Then, everybody else should be listening!

If any of those materials sound like they could be used in your speech room, head on over to my TpT store here for this FREE download! Enjoy!

If you are interested in staying up to date on my future freebies, giveaways, and new posts, ‘like’ me on Facebook here.