Tools of the Trade
I find it interesting to see what tools speech therapist find to be most helpful or essential for the job. I’ve moved and changed jobs frequently while following a military spouse. There are some items that I try to get fairly quickly when I start a new job. I thought you might like to hear what I find most useful beyond the usual articulation decks of cards and therapy materials.
I’ve found a tally counter very useful for students working on articulation in conversational speech. With this counter I can include them in groups that may be focusing on language activities. They get the task of counting the sound they are working on as they speak. It has the benefit of slowing the fast speakers down and making them think before they talk. The students find operating the tally very motivating. I take my own count and we compare the count. If we are doing an activity that requires a turn, I will give them a quota such as 20 words with a specific sound before stopping.
A timer is used in some of the word games such as password. It is used to measure conversational speech for a speech sample. Some of my objectives use 3 minutes of conversational speech as part of the measurement. It can be used to break up how much time I spend with each child in a group. I will work with one child in a group for 1 to 2 minutes while 2 others in the group monitor themselves with a game of “Monkeys”. The task becomes how many monkeys can be linked in 2 minutes. I find I can focus on the one student and not get distracted by the other two debating if a monkey was actually dropped. It allows students of a group to do an activity as a motivator while you work with another student. This is necessary sometimes when one child needs to work on something different from the other members of the group.
A small hand held white board can be used for many purposes. Several of these can allow everyone in a group to be active. Students can work on comprehension questions or main idea. I can read a short paragraph and ask a question and give multiple choice questions. Students can respond by putting a. b. or c. for multiple choice answers or write short answers. They can display their answers and defend them with members of the group. I find I get more responses per student and less distraction from students waiting for a turn. The students find writing and erasing a white board motivating. I don’t have to copy papers for them to fill out and it’s much more interactive. I like to stay away from the paper pencil type activities because so many of my students have difficulties attending to such task.
Objects from a junk box have been a cheap source for therapy activities. They are used in a number of ways. It started out as a bunch of items to elicit specific sounds. Over the years it’s also become objects that children find interesting and are good for vocabulary development. A thimble, sea shells, and an old compass are favorites. I use the objects in the grab bag for descriptive language practice and articulation practice. The objects can also be used in a game of “Secret Box” where an item is hidden and the students ask questions to determine the identity of the object. I use a present box that has a removable cover.
A sock bag is a handy item because it forces use of the tactile senses. It can be made from an old pair of jeans with a little bit of sewing. I cut a leg off of an old pair of jeans to a length of 20 inches or so. I sew across the bottom of one end. I gather the other end. I take the top of a sweat sock and cut the top off so I have a 10 inch length or so. I want the cuff portion and not the heel and foot section. I then sew the cuff to the top of the jean section. It can now be used as a grab bag. I put objects from the junk box in it to to elicit descriptive vocabulary.
. A buzzer or bell is a good tool for group game type activities such as “College Bowl”. Older students are motivated when using this. They enjoy the competition to answer quickly and it provides a TV Game show type atmosphere. It’s important to monitor its use however because quick responses do not work in every child’s favor. It is also a natural motivator because kids just love to ring bells.
So those are my top choices. Does anyone else have anything they just can’t do without? Just hit the comment button and add to the discussion.
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