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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Easy Resources to Share with Parents
September 19, 2014 9:09 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
My last two posts addressed the challenge of implementing items that families have in their home to support therapy and IFSP goals and strategies. In my posts I specifically addressed populations that may not have access to many books and toys for their children.  As a therapist working with very young children, it can be difficult when supplies are limited. Creativity and resourcefulness for the therapist and ideally for the parent as well must take over! To read more about my ideas for "using what you've got," visit my last two posts: Using Items in the Home and Using Items in the Home, Continued.

In our county, we are currently being told that any resources we bring in we must leave with the family unless it is a more high-tech communication device that we are piloting. Then we are allowed to bring it in for a session or two and if it is working, we must do our best to rent the same or a similar device for the family to use. Although this theory is very good and well appreciated, the reality of the situation can often be quite difficult.

Today's post offers a complete list along with brief descriptions of simple resources you can make and leave with a family. It is very important to remember that it is vital for therapists to model HOW to use the resources we provide so that parents understand what to do with them and how to prompt their child:

  • Flashcards - Photocopying flashcards or using programs such as Boardmaker to create pages of pictures are two ways to help families build their child's vocabulary. You can also print resources from the web.
  • Music Pictures - I have a set of about 8 nursery rhyme pictures that I use with many of my students. I will often make color copies of them for the family to use so that they can practice making choices and singing simple tunes.
  • Pacing Board - You can easily create a pacing board using construction paper and 3-4 post-it notes. Laminate it and share with families!
  • Articulation Handouts - Photocopy vocabulary words/pictures as well as artistic handouts if appropriate and leave for the family to use throughout the day.
  • Photo album - Ask the parents to provide pictures of family members and friends their child knows and sees on a regular basis. Have them help you create a simple album the family can use to identify and name the people closest to their child.

Have a wonderful weekend and Happy Fall!

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Using Items in the Home, Continued
September 16, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I wrote a post about the task of only using items found in the various homes where you are doing therapy. This is the expectation we work under in the county where I practice speech therapy. When you work in impoverished areas, this can definitely be a challenge. Many children have very little access to toys and various resources. Families are often struggling just to put food on the table and pay their bills; therefore toys are often a luxury that does not exist. Working with children in this type of environment can be very difficult so learning how to improvise is vital!

Here are some additional ways to do so:

  • Magazines, catalogs, coupon flyers and circulars - If the home where you are working does not have any or very few children's books which could be used in your therapy session, ask if the family has any catalogs, flyers, coupon circulars, etc. Many times families will have basic mailings that are sent out by companies, local food stores, etc. Coupons will have pictures of food, school supplies, basic household items, etc. Use them to build receptive and expressive vocabulary skills. Cut them apart and flip through them like flash cards. Use toy catalogs to hold the child's interest. Look for favorite toys and familiar cartoon characters. These are all common items that can be found in most homes.
  • Basic household items - Ask the family for basic household items such as a spoon, bowl, fork, measuring cups, wooden spoon, pots and pans, toothpaste and brush, etc. Practice naming these items. Practice using these items appropriately through pretend play. Get the child involved by "cooking" the child's favorite food and using the real materials from their kitchen.
  • The child's clothing - Ask the family for some of the child's clothing and practice naming them as well as body parts. Items such as socks, shirts, pants, shoes and pajamas as well as cold weather items, such as hats, mittens and scarves are perfect. Practice identifying what each item is called and how the child wears them, such as "You wear a hat on your ____" and "You wear mittens on your ____." If the child has a doll or stuffed animal, you can dress them as well!

Join me Friday for simple supplies you can make/bring and leave with a family to help to improve carryover and parental involvement.

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Using Items in the Home
September 12, 2014 7:57 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
If you are a therapist working in homecare, then you know the challenges of trying to use what the family has in their home during therapy sessions. In our county, therapists are encouraged to only use items that the family possesses in our therapy sessions. Years ago when I first began working in homecare this was not the case. In those days we were able to bring in various tools and toys, whatever we felt would be helpful, all in the hopes of eliciting appropriate speech and language skills.

Now that I have worked in both settings, I think both models have advantages and disadvantages. Most likely the ideal therapy model lies somewhere in the middle. Bring in items when you really need them such as to demonstrate a skill for a parent or to try something new. There are times when, as a therapist, you may want or need a specific tool/toy/device.  A little bit of balance goes a long way.

Now when I enter a home that has limited resources on a weekly basis, I rely on my own creativity. Many of the homes I am in have very few toys, if any at all, and the ones they do have are often broken or not age appropriate. It can be very challenging to find toys and items that interest the child and are safe and fun to play with. This daily reality has challenged me to do two things: 1. Make tools and give them to the family to keep and 2. Look around the room for items I can morph into something fun and engaging.

The following two items can be found in most homes in some capacity, even if they are a low income household. I've also offered a description of how you can use these items in your sessions:

A Mirror - Ask if the family has a small hand-held mirror or a small one hanging up. Any type of mirror will do and can be used to practice speech. The child can watch their mouth and see their reflection, giving them ideal visual feedback about their own oral anatomy and what it is capable of. 

Cups - Ask the family for some plastic cups which can be used as a microphone. Talk into the plastic cup and it will amplify your voice a bit, creating an echo. I use a cup often when I don't have access to a microphone. They can also be used as toys: stack them, hide things under or in them or turn them over and tap them with a spoon or spatula making some unique music.

Join me Tuesday for additional ideas and items you can use in homecare!

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Fluency Goals for a Preschooler
September 9, 2014 7:49 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Now that the school year has begun, so have our IEP meetings. From time to time we receive Evaluation Reports on new students entering our preschool program. The reports are hot off the press and our job is to read them and design goals that are appropriate for that particular child. There are times when this is not an easy task, as information is often limited and we have not personally met or evaluated the child so we are dependent upon the information we are given.

Recently I received an evaluation for a child who is experiencing "dysfluencies" and "stuttering, including sound and word repetition when communicating." He is young, just turning 3 within a week from now. My challenge now is to write a goal that is appropriate and attainable, implementing strategies that are both pertinent and practical. Based upon the information I was provided as well as the child's age, awareness and cognitive level, my goal and strategies recommend the use of visual supports, such as a pacing board to help make fluent speech more tangible. My main focus during the early days of therapy will be to get to know the child and pay special attention to their speech patterns. How aware are they of their stutter? Are they embarrassed by their dysfluencies? How is or isn't it hindering their communication?

According to an article written by Craig Coleman, MA, CCC-SLP, Stuttering Center News, Volume 2, Issue 1, of February 2004:

"When writing an IEP for a child with a stuttering disorder, it is important to target all aspects of the child's disorder, not just the number of disfluencies he or she produces. It is important to address the "quality" of the fluency, not just the "quantity." This means goals could address secondary behaviors, physical tension, or avoidance. Also, the child may not have control over how fluent he is. He only has control over whether he uses techniques to help him speak more easily. Goals should focus on the child's effort in addition to the desired clinical outcome."

The article also reminds readers at the end that any objective "should be individualized to meet a child's specific needs. Writing IEPs in this way will help the child address the entire stuttering disorder."

Join me in a few weeks when I report back about how therapy is going!

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Summer Speech Miracles?
September 5, 2014 7:51 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
There are numerous research studies that give evidence that children often LOSE skills over the 2 to 3 summer months when they are not attending school. According to the RIF (Reading is Fundamental) website the "summer slide ... is what happens when young minds sit idle for three months." The site reports that the National Summer Learning Association has found that "a conservative estimate of lost instructional time is approximately two months or roughly 22 percent of the school year ... It's common for teachers to spend at least a month re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer. That month of re-teaching eliminates a month that could have been spent on teaching new information and skills." In addition, "Low-income students also lose more than two months in reading achievement, despite the fact that their middle-class peers make slight gains"(Cooper, 1996).

As a mom of two young girls and as a speech therapist who has worked in a school setting for many years, I can absolutely see how the "summer slide" is a slippery reality for many children. I'm sure this is especially true for children whose families have limited resources and opportunities for them to engage in learning experiences and activities over those summer months. If your child is attending various camps, doing their summer reading, visiting the library and local museums, etc. then hopefully skill loss would be kept to a minimum.

With all that being said, I am so very happy to report that most if not all of the children who attended our summer school session this year are showing skill retention during this first week of school. I had the opportunity to work with and observe our students this week and those who were just beginning to imitate modeled speech in the classroom during the spring months are now using 1-2 words to initiate speech, answer questions and make simple inquiries. I also noted an expansion of vocabulary words as well as improvement with non-verbal body language, such as eye contact, smiles and overall social engagement.

Was it their 4 week summer school attendance at our preschool? Was it trips with family to the shore, the zoo and amusement parks? Was it longer days playing outside with siblings and friends? Or was it just natural human development that children experience during a 3 month timeframe? It's difficult to say. No formal research was conducted. Regardless, I am happy to report many of our students have arrived back at school looking excited and eager to play, learn and demonstrate what they know!

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Starting Off Right: A Personal Reflection and Reminder
September 2, 2014 8:07 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Has school started yet where you are? Are you READY for a brand-new school year?

Now that I am working in both homecare and preschool I had very little vacation time this summer. Our homecare program runs 51 weeks a year, so even when preschool is on a break, I continue to see my homecare caseload. Now that September has arrived and the school year has officially begun, I look back at summer and it seems to be a bit of a blur. I was able to schedule in a few long weekends but there was no extended break during the warm 2014 summer months.

That being said, I am now faced with preparing for the 2014-2015 school year and trying to muster up the energy to do so! As in the past, I have created a checklist to help me get ready for the upcoming year so that I am proactive and ready for all the work challenges that await! I have found that when I strive to get organized early and lay a strong foundation at the beginning of the school year, everything goes much smoother.

Here is the checklist I created for NOW:

  • Build a realistic schedule so that I can balance both my preschool and my homecare caseloads
  • Send home a "Welcome to Speech" note to all parents!
  • Introduce myself to all the new parents!
  • Read over all IEPs and speech goals!
  • Observe and informally assess all the new children!
  • Clean out and put away data sheets for all the children who graduated!
  • Create new data sheets for all my new students!
  • Consult with colleagues - talk with the teachers about their schedules, collaborate and coordinate with other therapists - OT and PT!
  • Stay on top of testing, report writing and drafting IEPs!
  • Put time aside each week to plan for upcoming therapy sessions!

The school year kicks off today, September 2nd, so I will begin NOW to implement my New School Year "To Do" List! Share how you like to start off your school year....What are some mandatory MUSTs on your to do list?

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Welcome to Preschool Books!
August 29, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
As we all know, the first day of school can be daunting and even scary, especially when children are just 3 and 4 years old and entering a classroom for maybe the first time. Reading fun, light-hearted stories about the experience can really put their mind at ease. Today's post highlights several age-appropriate books that can be used with children entering school for the first time and getting ready to begin preschool!

1. The Night Before Preschool - written by Natasha Wing, illustrated by Amy Wummer

  • Appropriate for children ages 3-5, preschoolers
  • We actually own this book and it is adorable! I purchased it last year when my daughter began preschool as a 3-year-old and was very nervous about her first day. This endearing tale helped to lessen her fears and encourage a sense of anticipation and excitement for the fun times that were waiting for her "big girl" school!
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

2. Maisy Goes to Preschool: A Maisy First Experiences Book - written and illustrated by Lucy Cousins

  • Appropriate for children ages 3-5, preschoolers
  • This book is part of the "Maisy" series and kids love them! We own "Maisy Cleans Up" and it is one of my younger daughter's favorite books. The summary on Amazon states that: "Preschool for Maisy means a day filled with friends and things to do, from the time she hangs her coat on a special peg to the time she says good-bye. There's painting and snack time, stories and nap time .... (this book is a) child-friendly look at a day in the life of a preschooler."
  • Earned 5 stars on Amazon

3. Curious George's First Day of School - written by H. A. Rey

  • Appropriate for children ages 3-8, preschooler - 3rd grade
  • Summary from Amazon: "Curious George has been invited to Mr. Apple's class to be a special helper! George is just the right monkey for the job - until he starts to wreak his usual havoc, that is. Red and yellow paint makes orange, yellow and blue makes green ... and a mixture of all the paint colors makes a big mess! ... A full-color twenty-four-page paperback with bonus activities inside, including an ‘Ants on a Log' recipe, a word search, and a ‘Color Your World' craft idea."
  • Earned 4 and ½ stars on Amazon

Here are some additional books celebrating the first day of school, appropriate for preschoolers:

Franklin Goes to School (Classic Franklin Story)

Little Critter: First Day of School

Amelia Bedelia's First Day of School

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Back to School: Know Your Child's IEP Team
August 26, 2014 8:21 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
If you are sending your child off to preschool for the first time or maybe you are sending them to a new school this year, today's post is for you! Building a rapport with the professionals working with your child is vital to their progress and will be instrumental as you make decisions in the future. Now is the time! Read below to learn what to do:
  • Reach out to your child's therapists - Most therapists will send home a "welcome back to school" note, introducing themselves, letting you know the days and times your child will receive therapy, etc. They may send you their contact information and the best way(s) to get in touch with them. If they do, RESPOND! Acknowledge their note and let them know you are an involved parent who is concerned about your child's progress. IF you DON'T receive a note from your child's therapist(s), initiate communication. Send a note or call the school, maybe even stop by for a visit. Set up a line of communication and build a relationship with the individuals working with your child.
  • Find out HOW they will communicate with you - Ongoing communication with teachers and therapists throughout the school year is important. In the past, we used email to interact with parents; however we now use a communication book which travels back and forth between home and school with the child. All of the students' teachers and therapists, as well as their parents/caregivers write in this notebook. Homework and follow-up activities are attached to it as well. Find out the policy at your child's school so that you are aware of WHO is working with your child, WHAT they are working on and HOW things are going.
  • Ask them to send home activities to work on at home - I always love when parents ask how they can support their child's communication skills at home. The work we do at school is only improved when reinforced at home. Homework and follow-up activities are imperative for your child's success!
  • Review your child's IEP goals - Take out your child's IEP and review the goals. Look for work to come home that supports their goals and what they should be working on. If you don't have it, lost it or never received a copy, contact your child's school and ask for a copy of the IEP to be sent home.
  • Request a face-to-face meeting - Although this is not mandatory, as a parent you can request a meeting at any time, so if you feel like it is necessary, request to meet with your child's teachers and therapists to discuss all the topics listed above and any other concerns you may have.

Best of Luck for a Happy and Successful 2014-2015 School Year!

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The Free APP Every SLP Needs!
August 22, 2014 12:39 PM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Today I met with an SLP who specializes in Assistive Technology and does consultative work for the Birth to 3 population in our county. She was a wealth of information, and I learned a ton of new techniques that I can use and expand with the young child and family we met with today, as well as other children I work with in both 0-3 and 3-5. One of the most remarkable new resources I learned about today was an app called: Choice Board Creator. 

Choice Board Creator is a free app perfect "for creating customizable choice boards for the unique needs of individuals with communication challenges. It reinforces correct choice by expanding the select image as well as playing the customized auditory rewards. It is an excellent tool to train and prepare users for more sophisticated communication devices via an easy, simple-to-use choice-making platform."

 Here is a list of just some of the valuable features of this app:

  • Large buttons
  • Black/white contrast to facilitate visual attention
  • Box sizes are adjustable
  • Customizable so that you can have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 boxes per page. Below is an example of a 6 box screen as well as the pop-up directions box that can be accessed to customize your boards (insert picture).
  • Users can download their own pictures (from your iPad library) as well as snap camera pictures on the spot - both are simple and require few steps
  • Users can create blank boxes as distractors to suit users of all levels
  • Users can also type text into the choice box - use this feature to teach sight words, etc.
  • Users can download different sounds, their own music, as well as their own voice to accompany pictures

Below is an example of a three picture boards I created in about 2 minutes in my living room. I used the camera button and snapped pictures of three items and placed them into each box. If I were to use this in therapy I would record my voice naming each picture:  duck, pizza, glasses. When you touch the picture, my voice would be heard naming it.  A set-up like this can easily be used for picture/curriculum vocabulary identification, function, etc. (ie. "Find the duck." Or "Touch the object that helps you to see," etc.)

I am VERY excited about this app! A program like this will be very instrumental during the school year when conducting my language-based recipe lessons. I will now be able to snap pictures of the ingredients on site, as well as actions and steps taken to create the recipe. The possibilities are endless! As the app site description says "The possibilities are (ONLY) limited by your creativity." Good luck!

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Summer Speech Fun at Home
August 19, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Just a few weeks left before September arrives and school is back in session! During these remaining August summer days, you may be looking for fun, inexpensive ways to keep your child(ren) entertained as well as challenged and engaged. Today I'd like to share some of the fun ways we like to pass the time at our house when we are home together on my days off. My 4 year old especially has an active imagination these days and wants (and needs!) to be kept busy and amused!
  • Put on a Show! Pull out some of your child's favorite story books and act them out! Let your child choose the book(s) that they love the most....Goldilocks and the 3 Bears? The Very Hungry Caterpillar? Whatever it may be, use baby dolls, stuffed animals or even yourselves to act out the story. The way we have made this work in our house is the following: I am the narrator and read each page of the book. My 4 year old uses her Barbies, baby dolls, stuffed animals and various toys as props to reenact her favorite books. She LOVES this! We practice this several times and then perform for my husband and our little one. It's a great way to help your child(ren) use their imagination and develop pretend play skills. For example, when we needed a trophy for Barbie, we used a light up magic wand and when we needed a sea lion, we used a pink stuffed manatee. Creating a book "show" will challenge your child(ren) to think of creative ways to express themselves and the message their favorite book conveys.
    • Communication Skills Addressed: Developing pretend play, language development, pre-reading skills, problem-solving, story retelling
  • Create Exciting Scenes! All you need is some large blank pieces of paper, a few crayons and lots of stickers! I find my best and most inexpensive stickers at A.C. Moore and Michael's craft stores. Make a farm scene by coloring in some grass and sky and using farm animal stickers. Create an ocean scene by coloring in some sand and waves and fill it with stickers of colorful fish and buckets and pails. After your little one has finished theirs, have them tell what they did and describe the scene they created.
    • Communication Skills Addressed: Sorting and categorizing, describing, story telling
  • Bang Out Some Music! If you have some instruments you don't mind you child(ren) "playing" on, go ahead and bring them out! Put on some of your own favorite kid-friendly tunes or sing some of your own and have a mini concert right in your living room! We have a few CDs that are our favorites! Of course, Disney's Frozen, as well as Jack Johnson's Curious George CD and The Sound of Music Movie Soundtrack. We put these on and "sing and dance like no one is watching!" Short on instruments?? Try using some of your kitchen pots and pans. Also toys like nesting cups and large building blocks make wonderful impromptu drum sets! Short on children's music?? Sing some old familiar favorites like Old MacDonald Had a Farm, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star and The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
    • Communication Skills Addressed:  Developing speech/language rhythm and appropriate prosody.

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Apraxia Apps for the iPad
August 15, 2014 7:37 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Apraxia remains for me one of the most challenging conditions to treat in early intervention.  I am always looking for new ways to improve my therapy and the quality of resources to share with my students and their families. Recently I began researching once again some new apps to try in my therapy sessions and to share with families who have access and the ability to download apps to their home devices.

Today's post highlights a group of apps created by the NACD or National Association for Child Development. According to the app site, the NACD is a "unique organization with a unique approach to brain growth and development. Founded in 1979....NACD has helped parents enhance the development and function of their children for over 30 years...It is from this background and experiences that the NACD team of neurodevelopmentalists and therapists, including SLPs, has created the NACD Home Speech Therapist line of speech apps," which are all listed and described below:

  • NACD Apraxia - This app focuses mainly on the skill of syllable CV (consonant + vowel) development and according to the app site, it can be used for adults and children with apraxia as well as traditional articulation practice. It provides an informational video for users to review if needed and breaks the CV syllables down into sound patterns, for example bilabials (b/p/m) are one group, alveolars (d/t/n) are another group and so on to make executing therapy easier and more organized.
  • NACD Apraxia Words - This app takes the developmental skills to the next level, thus focusing on speaking CVC (consonant + vowel + consonant) words. It provides separate informational videos for both parents and therapists. Similar to the first app, you can chose which sound group you would like to focus on (bilabial-bilabial; i.e. "map"), (velar-bilabial; I,e. "cub") and so on.

Each of the 4 apps costs $4.99 and receives high ratings and positive reviews from users, some even calling it the "best speech apraxia app." One parent reported that her youngest child struggled with apraxia and felt the Apraxia Words app "was instrumental in the progress he's made."

The apps also offer a "progress tracking" feature so that you can "save the progress for each user...and can resume....where you left off." Wonderful for SLPs working with multiple students! There is an additional charge of $4.99 to obtain this portion of the app.

The additional 2 apps created by the NACD in this apraxia series are:

  • NACD Apraxia 2 Syllables
  • NACD Apraxia Endings

Please write in and share if you have tried these apps!

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Learning Apps and Games for Toddlers, Continued
August 12, 2014 7:59 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Last week I highlighted one of my favorite apps for very young children: Peekaboo Barn! Today I'd like to share another group of apps that are geared towards young children called TinyHands: Educational APPS for Toddlers. One of my favorite aspects of these apps is that it lists the age for which each app is designed starting as young as 1+. These apps also focus on basic skills, such as sorting colors, shapes, clothing, etc. as well as matching and finding the pairs that go together. Other TinyHands apps are for children 3+ and focus on sorting, matching, classifying and building at a more complex level. I have downloaded several of these apps and have used them both in my own home with my children, as well as in therapy sessions and they are perfect for young kids and "tiny hands"!

Some of the TinyHands apps are FREE and some cost a few dollars, roughly $1.99-$3.99 per app. All of the apps are colorful and welcoming, including friendly looking animals and objects. In addition they are slow moving and allow time for little ones to process information and take their time. There are numerous TinyHands apps to enjoy and choose from, so make sure you take the time to peruse them all and see which ones will best suit what you are looking for. Below are some of my favorites:

  • TinyHands Lotto 1 educational matching puzzle games, toddler & baby learning first words, iPad apps for boys and girls: "Fun educational game for toddlers ages 1.5 and includes 10 mini game boards" - Your child can sort various pictures! Perfect choice for very young children just learning to use an iPad.
  • TinyHands Sorting 1, educational puzzle games for babies and toddlers, colors and shapes learning apps for preschool kids: "For children ages 2+ and includes 12 mini game boards and the opportunity to sort and classify by shape, color, seasons, vehicles and more"!
  • TinyHands Town center, Educational puzzle games for babies, toddlers and preschool kids age 3+: Teaches children to "sort, order, match and count by shape, pattern, color and everyday objects" using "10 mini game boards." Takes kids on a journey to various everyday situations, such as a diner, a minimart, an auto shop, a bakery and stores to buy clothing, hats, gifts, etc.

Please share some of your favorite apps for young children!

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Learning Apps and Games for Toddlers
August 8, 2014 7:52 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
During the months of January through May 2012 I wrote several posts about apps that were appropriate and recommended for young children, especially those with speech and language delays/disorders.  It's been over two years and since then I have discovered many new wonderful apps and I'm sure even more yet have been created. Today's post is the first in a series, as an update of some of my favorite apps for very young children and toddlers. Most will focus on following simple commands and understanding basic concepts such as shapes, animals, colors, counting, etc. All are colorful, exciting and designed to teach little ones the foundational skills they need to know!

Peekaboo Barn - This app was recently updated on 3/15/14 according to the info listed in the app store. It now includes numerous animals including a donkey, llama, cow, pig, and all the basic barnyard animals. I really like this app for young children, even as young as 12-15 months because all they need to do is tap the screen to make the barn door open and see what is inside and then tap it again to move on to the next animal. Perfect for following a 1 step command. I currently work with several 2 year olds recently diagnosed with autism and this has proven to be a fun interactive app that does not overwhelm the child. It holds their interest and they like to lean in to listen for which animal is behind the barnyard door. The animal "knocks" on the barn door and oinks, moos, neighs, or does whatever it does behind the door. For young children learning about animals, this app offers an opportunity to GUESS what is in the barn! A great way to begin developing early "prediction" skills!

If interested, this app also offers some additional features, namely the opportunity to record your own voice, so that is what your child will hear when they use the app and the ability to change the setting to one of 12 different languages. Your child will both see the word written in each language, as well as hear the word said in the language chosen. 

*There is also a Peekaboo Sesame Street, which features the real voices and images of the sesame street characters. Perfect if your child is a fan of Elmo and Cookie Monster!

Join me on Tuesday for more of my toddler and young child app picks!

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Speech at the Beach! Summer Themes Continued
August 5, 2014 8:00 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
This week during our summer theme series we are visiting the BEACH! The sounds, sights and smells of the ocean and sand are a perfect way to bring summertime to your sessions and help prepare your students for possible vacations near the water. Learning about and practicing with beachy vocabulary words and topics is not only fun, it is very appropriate for these hot summer school days!

So where to begin?? Start with a book!

Beachy Books are a wonderful way to bring visual imagery into your beach lesson and spark a conversation about all the many ways to explore the sea!  Here are some options for preschoolers:

  • What Lives in a Shell? (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 1) by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld (Author), Helen K. Davie (Illustrator) - appropriate for children preschool+ - Read all about the main crustaceous creatures found at the beach!
  • Beach Day by Karen Roosa (Author), Maggie Smith (Illustrator) - appropriate for preschool+ Amazon describes it as "a captivating introduction to the beach for young children."
  • At the Beach Paperback - by Anne Rockwell (Author), Harlow Rockwell (Author, Illustrator) - Amazon describes as "There's so much to do at the beach! There are sand castles to build, seashells to gather... and a picnic lunch to enjoy in the shade of a bright beach umbrella."

Get Gritty! Using a sandbox or sensory table, bring the beach into the classroom! Fill the sand box area with SAND as well as actual beach toys and sea urchins! Your students will love exploring with a pail and shovel, various beach toys and tools, sea shells of varying sizes, shapes and designs. You can even add in some construction-type toys, such as dump trucks and diggers to help little ones go on a seek-and-find digging up the sand looking for shells and treasures! What a great way to have a hands-on vocabulary explosion during your therapy sessions!

Create Their Own Beach Scene ... and Describe It!  Art is one of my most favorite ways to bring language into speech therapy sessions. When children have visual aids, they have a safety net to help catch them if they need it but also support their thoughts as they shape them into words. Give everyone a large piece of blank paper and some crayons. Have them color half the paper blue for the ocean and the other half brown for the sand. Give them beachy stickers and beachy foam shapes and have them design their own beach scene. They can draw themselves there or whatever their heart desires! Let them create and run wild on the paper. Afterward, ask them to describe it to you and you can write their words down for them. Have them tell their classmates about their scene and what they made, telling what stickers and shapes they used and what they drew! What a wonderful way to make summer come alive!

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Recipe: Desserts on the GRILL
August 1, 2014 9:30 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
Welcome to the last post in my summer grilling series! This week you are in for a treat! Delicious desserts that are warm, toasty and sweet...Perfect for hot summer days by the BBQ and cool fall nights by a campfire!

Summer S'mores

Here is a recipe I found that is a varied version of traditional s'mores using oatmeal cookies instead of graham crackers!

You will need:

  • Large soft oatmeal cookies
  • Block squares of milk chocolate (such as the size on a Hershey bar)
  • Large marshmallows
  • Skewers
  • Tin foil

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat your grill for high heat.
  2. Place 1 block of chocolate on the flat side of the oatmeal cookie.
  3. Skewer the marshmallows, and roast them, turning constantly, until they are a golden brown all over.
  4. Slide a warm marshmallow onto the chocolate and top it with another cookie (flat side down). Repeat these steps for all cookies.
  5. Wrap lightly in tin foil and let sit for about 3-5 minutes to melt chocolate. Serve with a tall glass of cold milk!

Other ideas? Add in some grilled bananas or try using dark chocolate squares with sliced strawberries. Enjoy!

Grilled Smashed S'mores

Here is another unique version of an all-American dessert!

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 (10 ounce) package mini marshmallows
  • 2 individual packages graham crackers, crumbled
  • 1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • A grill-ready pan - one that can sit directly on the grill and withstand the heat

Recipe Steps:

  1. Preheat grill on low heat.
  2. Melt the butter in your grilling pan. Pour in marshmallows slowly and stir until completely melted.
  3. Remove from the fire, and stir in the crumbled graham crackers and 2 cups of chocolate chips. Press both into the pan with the back of a spoon.
  4. Allow to cool completely and then cut into squares

Other ideas?

  • Add ½ cup of peanut butter for added creaminess.
  • Add ½ cup of chopped walnuts and/almonds for a healthy crunch.
  • Substitute the milk chocolate with white chocolate chips and add in a cup of dried cranberries. Mix everything and press down into pan ... cool and enjoy!

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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