Archives for therapy ideas

Weekly Planning Part One: The Set-Up

Weekly Planning Part One: The Set-Up |

Last week I posted about  how to print on sticky notes. In that post I mentioned how sticky notes can help with time management and planning. I received some wonderful feedback from that post and I decided to give you some examples of how I help my clients do weekly planning using those printed sticky notes!

The first step is the “set-up” – creating our “Days of the Week” papers. I print out 8 1/2 x 11 sheets of paper with the day of the week printed at the top. Important: each day of the week is on a different colored sheet of paper. This is the beginning of a color coded system for my clients, so we pick the colors VERY specifically. It really is whatever makes since to each client, so I have to keep a note in my file as to what color system each client uses. TIP: if you are short on colors for printer paper, you can print on construction paper. Just make sure to carefully trim it down to 81/2 x 11 and feed it in one piece at a time.

Next I laminate these sheets. I do this for two reasons: durability and to create a work surface.These sheets will be getting a LOT of use, so laminating means they will hold up and not have to be recreated over and over again. It also creates a good surface for the sticky notes to adhere to each week without coating them in paper residue – you’ll see why this is important in the upcoming posts. Did you know laminating creates a dry erase surface as well? (hint hint)

BTW, This is my favorite laminator!

Tune in next week for the next post in this series …

– Tara, the Speechy Keen SLP

Thanksgiving Comic

thanksgiving comic

Seeing as today is the day before Thanksgiving, it always feels better to work that into therapy somehow. So, when this comic came up on my Facebook feed, I quickly saved it to use in my sessions today!

The Goal

I love using comics in therapy. There are so many areas comics can address in therapy! Today’s session focused on social cognition and executive functioning.The client’s I used this with have difficulty:

  • Describing facial expressing when given a picture with contextual cues but blocked out facial features.
  • Figuring out the emotions of everyone in a scene based on contextual cues
  • Making connections between what they see as expected/unexpected and how that can help them make social inferences
  • Seeing organization in a space – most of them see “chaos” in pictures and the real world
  • Problem Solving within the areas of Executive Functioning and Social Cognition


Our Session
  • Social Cognition
    • I covered the face of the mother, working with my client to “put yourself in her shoes” and “read the clues”. We talked about how she was stirring with her feet, how many pots were on the stove, etc.
    • We used Social Thinking’s™ “Expected/Unexpected” language to talk about mom’s actions
    • We used Mindwing Concepts™ Story Grammar Marker to talk about the important clues in the room (Who, Setting, Kickoff, Feelings, Plan). We then made “Smart Guesses” (Social Thinking™) to predict what would happen and fill in the rest of our Story Grammar Marker.
    • We then had to draw the important clues we thought we might see on mom’s face to know how she was feeling. They had to describe her face to me, and I attempted to draw it. (Funny side note: When I asked one of my clients why they thought I covered her face, he whispered “because she’s drinking something?”)
  • Executive Functioning
    • We looked at the kitchen space and had to figure out if mom had “Getting Ready, Doing, and Done” (GRDD/Sarah Ward) spaces (Hint: She does!)
    • We discussed the “TIME”  – was this a fast moment or a slow moment for mom?
    • We pretended we’d been hired to be her “GRDD” consultants – how could we help mom? The conclusion was that she was “too zoomed out”! Her “GRDD” Plan was too general. Instead, we needed to “zoom in” and make a “GRDD” for the Turkey, the mashed potatoes …. (this also showed me how many clients didn’t categorize Thanksgiving foods! I got all types of wacky guesses as to what was on the stove!)

Here is a pdf from one of the lessons – to give you a “picture”. We worked together on this document during our session, using screen sharing!

Happy Thanksgiving!

– Tara Roehl, the Speechy Keen SLP

LessonPix: Movement Breaks

Squirrely. You know the one. Doesn’t sit still for two seconds. You aren’t sure they know how to walk. Not really. There is always that skip, bounce or shimmy to every step. And as crazy as they can drive you, they also pull all of your heart strings. They make you smile and your therapy session clearly compensates for skipping out on the gym this morning. Heck, if you know it’s their therapy day you plan on sleeping through your date with the treadmill. I love those kids!

I love a mobile therapy session. I love moving and jumping and dancing. I’m blessed to have a therapy space where we are the only ones in the building on my therapy days. So we make a ton of noise and take up a ton of space with all of our activities. In between key parts of the lesson, I often take “movement breaks”. Something that gets them up and the wiggles out. That’s where the “dice” option on Lessonpix comes into my therapy!

LessonPix: Movement breaks | logged onto the site from my laptop and picked six gross motor movements for the day. A few  clicks, cuts and a bit of tape (all great fine motor practice!) were all we needed to create our die!

We had fun making predictions as to which motion we’d land on the most, and even *I* got in on the fun! It was a great “quick” break that lasted through the whole session. We even had fun “rolling” the die by chucking it across the therapy room then running to see where it landed *smile*

Tip: Agree on how many “rolls” each break gets ahead of time! And maybe make more than one die – everyone will want to take it home!

Tara Roehl, The Speechy Keen SLP

Lego: Life of George

The Dilemma:

If asked what my boys love to do in therapy, it always comes down to 3 things: Angry Birds, iPad and Legos. If you read back to my post on Angry Birds, you can see that I linked the iPad and interactive play into the same activity. I really enjoy doing this with iPad based activities. But it isn’t always easy. Lego based iPad apps are often highly involved games, movie makers, etc and they are solely iPad based. I like activities with manipulatives in the immediate therapeutic environment. Legos are great but come with a variety of dilemmas as well. The games come with a MILLION pieces and take time to set up, and time is valuable in any session! Just straight Legos often require me to provide extensive structure – time limits, goals, purpose, etc.

The Solution:

I was walking through a local bookstore recently and a strange box caught my eye. It looked like (yet another) Lego game, but there was a mention of iOS. So I stopped to read it. I then walked out of the store with a very popular purchase, my guys LOVE it! Let me introduce you to “Life of George

The Features:

The package

Life of George comes in a nice small box, so less space taken up in my closet!  The 14+ age range on the front of the box has me a little concerned, considering a lot of my clients are 5th grade or younger. However, after playing it just once on my own, I knew even my 2nd graders would be able to handle this activity. Also, it specifies that the app attached to the box contents was for iPhone. Although you can use iPhone apps on the iPad, sometimes it really isn’t that functional. The graphics get fuzzy, the app navigation isn’t as responsive, etc. But again, it seemed too good to be true, so I had to give it a try! It worked GREAT on the iPad! It was a tad grainy in some scenes, but the navigation and game play don’t seem to be impacted at all when using the “2x” feature.

Box contents

Inside the box were two bag of Legos (put in ziplock baggies by me) and a thick card with a grid printed on it. The app is a free download from the iTunes store. You are given a map of continents to select from, and it brings you to a scrapbook like page with blank photos. Each photo you click on is a new, timed, challenge in which you build the Lego constructed image presented on the page . Within the time limit you not only need to construct the image, but also place it on the card and snap a picture which is then scored by the app.

The Lesson

I have paired this activity with a few different lessons. It clearly can work as an incentive, and the nice thing is that each round is extremely short. So, letting each member of your speech group play a round at the end won’t take any significant time away from your therapy. I also have a group with whom I have been working on “waiting turns”. This involves discussing what we do while waiting for our turn in a game and how our words/actions/attention impacts the group. Cheering, advice and even “awww mmmaaannnn…” when an oops occurs are some of the things we work on. We discuss it as a group, because often both parties need practice giving AND receiving. We practice giving helpful advice (versus “know-it-all” advice) and accepting advice from peers. We also talk about cheering to encourage versus to distract them from doing better than you. This is a great game to practice this on because cheering during a Lego activity is MUCH different than cheering through a gross motor activity (like Angry Birds)! We aren’t going to be jumping up and down screaming “GET THAT BLOCK! YEAH!”. Instead we can talk about how loud our voice should be using a 5 point scale, and specific things we can comment on (ex: “Yeah, the yellow block! Nice job!”). I keep tally marks on the board for who comments/cheered/etc and they get to “earn” their turn at the game by participating throughout their waiting turns. After each round, I ask the player how the cheers and advice made them feel. It’s great for them to hear from each other how they are impacting the group!


  • Practice snapping the picture of the creations on the grid a few times on your own BEFORE moving this into therapy. If the lighting is bad, there is a lot of reflection  you snap is sideways, etc you end up without ANY points. If something does go wrong, I’ll often have the students “judge” each other to off-set the bad score and hurt feelings.
  • You cannot replay a round – so there is no “fixing” it. I’ve gotten around this by simply deleting the app and then re-downloading it to clear EVERYTHING. I have enough groups playing that this allows us to play for weeks on end.
  • If you are going to be re-installing the app routinely, take a picture of the blank “scrapbook” page and print it out for each group. Then group members can keep track of which ones they have done to avoid the “awww… I did this already! This is dumb” stalemate.
  • Go through and check all of the images first, making note of ones that might not be appropriate. For example, the first time you access the North America page, you get a bar scene and the first image is a cocktail. Thankfully, the bar doesn’t reappear on subsequent visits to that scrapbook and the image itself appears less clear once “completed”. All of my students think its a flamingo *smile*
  • I am sure to explain the game to parents and often ask that they do NOT purchase this app as soon as they leave therapy. I have frequently run into the situation where parents go out and purchase a game that their child LOVES in therapy, and then it stops working for me in therapy. Ug!
  • They have recently come out with a NEW app, Build Your Brain, that works with the same materials! This is “game show” based and involves some problem solving to answer questions with the blocks. Not great for my younger ones, but the middle schoolers are loving it!

Go enjoy some Legos in therapy this week! *smile*

– Tara, the SpeechyKeenSLP


*Disclaimer: When I link to a product on Amazon, I do include my associates code. I do this to help purchase more therapy items down the road! If this bothers you, simple go to Amazon and search for it on your own and it will not count any of the purchase towards me!