For years I’ve wanted to put together a resource for parents that explains what therapists do to encourage and elicit language from clients who are around age 2 and have a few words, but are not yet combining words. Well, I finally had enough clients who needed it and thanks to COVID, I had more time than usual so here it is! I put it together for my company’s blog.
Click the image below to check out their blog and here to download the article.
I love using videos and especially humor to get a conversation going with my social skills clients. Check out this Jerry Sienfeld stand up video as he talks about tone of voice. Yes, it’s a little dated and chauvinistic, but I can still find a lot of humor in it.
*FYI to Jerry Sienfeld: tone of voice misunderstandings can occur with all people male or female! ; )
Helping your students learn about tone of voice can be challenging because it is very context based. What the person is actually communicating though tone is dependent on the person, the history and relationship they have with the person and the situation.
Are they serious? Are they joking? Are they upset?
Here are some resources that you can use to help your students learn about tone of voice:
I really like this prosody treatment program published by LinguiSystems . I like how they make the phrases visual with circles. The bigger the circle, the more the emphasis and stressed placed.
Prosody Treatment Program
I’ve also created a few activities related to tone of voice over the years. Check them out below on my TPT store.
Let’s Talk About Tone of Voice
Context Based Informal Assessment of Tone of Voice
Sarcastic or Real? A Context Based Approach to Teaching Sarcasm
Have fun helping others learn about the “tone of voice problem”!
The Creative SLP
Standardized tests… End of the Year Assessments… Grades…
Being able to perform well on standardized tests or making good grades in school doesn’t ensure that your student or child knows how to do what’s really important in life: THINK!
I’ve found a great resource that does just that. The Social Language Development Scenes resource published by LinguiSystems is great because the questions come from pictures IN CONTEXT. I use them to teach social skills, emotions, critical thinking, and many other language skills. I like to draw thought bubbles and speech bubbles right over the images to help students build and develop critical thinking skills such as perspective taking, making predictions, inferring and problem solving.
You can find it here:
Social Language Development Scenes
For many years, I found it difficult to evaluate critical thinking skills with the basic language assessments. That was until I discovered this great expressive language assessment:
You can find it here:
TOPS 3 Elementary: Test of Problem Solving A Test of Reasoning in Context
The TOPS uses picture scenes that contain context based problems and asks the student questions that require critical thinking. The questions on the scoring protocol are categorized, so it gives you specific information for skills such as: Making Inferences, Making Predictions, Problem Solving and Perspective Taking. That way, you can see where the breakdown is occurring and explicitly teach those skills.
Check out this FREE Reading Comprehension and Language Skills Resource on my Teachers Pay Teachers page that includes many of the critical thinking skills that students need to be successful in life.
I hope you found this helpful and gave you something to THINK about!
The Creative SLP
I love listening to podcasts as I commute to work, so when my boss asked me to be on her podcast to talk about my social skills program I was excited and scared at the same time! My social skills group focuses on just “hanging out” with peers while getting support related to social skill difficulties as they arise… and they always do! Take a few minutes to listen to Carolina Pediatric Therapy‘s very first podcast!
Click here to listen!
Find out more info here:
The Creative SLP
When I lived in Atlanta, I developed a passion for working with middle schoolers with social skills deficits. Over almost 6 years, I developed many social skills groups while working as a Speech-Language Pathologist for The Howard School. I had fun implementing a social skills cooking club, social skills movie club and social skills writing workshop. I found the most success when allowing students to have some autonomy in the direction of the group as well as explicitly sharing the purpose of the group to the students.
Learn more about what science and research says about using autonomy and purpose to improve motivation here: Drive by Daniel Pink
After moving to Western North Carolina, it took some time (almost 3 years), but I’m VERY excited to announce that I will be starting a social skills group in Asheville, North Carolina!
Check it out here: EPIC Saturdays
I’ve incorporated all of the ideas from my previous groups and combined them into one EPIC social skills group.
Stay tuned for the fun things we do together while learning how to be more of a social thinker!
The English language is filled with figurative language. Many have been used for so long and are so common that people often don’t even consider them to be abstract! If you work with students who struggle understanding abstract and figurative language or who have poor executive functions, they likely miss a lot of meaning during conversation and when reading.
I found that with my clients, they often understood and had been taught basic figurative expressions such as, “It’s raining cats and dogs,” but struggled with the more commonly used phrases and slang. You might be surprised if you ask your students to define some of these common phrases. When a student is having a bad day, tell them to “hang in there” and then ask them if they can explain what that means.
I recently spent a few weeks compiling a list of the most commonly used expressions that aren’t obviously figurative. I used those 90 phrases and made a basic card game to be used with any game or activity. I also incorporated executive function skills and use of context clues in the instruction to help students learn to use self-talk, or their inner voice and to consider the context to help them figure out the meaning.
You can find it here:
In my search for the most commonly used phrases, I discovered a useful site called idioms4you.com. Although, use with caution, because it does contain many pop up ads, some which are inappropriate for children. I like it because it offers an audio definition of the phrase and quizzes. Here is the link:
I hope you and your students will “get a kick out of it”!
The Creative SLP
During my years working in a middle school, I often spent much of my time helping teachers develop activities and lessons geared towards improving expressive language skills. Traditional school lessons contained many ways to assess and measure receptive language skills, or how a student understood the content. What I felt needed to be addressed was the students’ expressive language skills, or how well they were able to explain the content they learned or how well they were able to put the content into their own words.
The ability to express concepts, thoughts and ideas can be difficult for teenagers in general. However, if the teenager has been diagnosed with an expressive language disorder, being able to use words to express concepts and ideas can be even more challenging. For easy ideas to work on and practice expressive language skills with students, check out the article I wrote for Carolina Pediatric Therapy’s Parent Partner Blog:
Focus On Expressive Language: As a Parent, What Can I Do to Help My Teen?
If you’ve seen my blog before, you’ll have noticed that I LOVE finding social skill nuance references in commercials and on TV. I know it’s been a few months, but last week I found a new one and it’s great!
The way you say things matters. Your TONE OF VOICE can easily change the meaning of what you say. Just watch this Wendy’s commercial to see how the same sentence can mean two very different things.
Wendy’s Commercial: It Tastes Like Chicken!
If you have students that struggle understanding differences in tone of voice or students who struggle monitoring their own tone of voice, check out my new Teachers Pay Teachers activity here:
Social Skills: Context Based Informal Assessment of Tone of Voice
The Creative SLP
Tonight I stumbled on an amazing and informative documentary on Netflix called, The Beginning of Life. If you work with babies, young children or have children of your own, stop what you’re doing and go add it to your watch list right now. In my career as a pediatric speech-language pathologist, I work with many children under the age of 3. When watching this documentary, I found myself rewinding and listening over and over to the very helpful brain science nuggets this documentary contains. I can’t wait to share these nuggets with my clients’ parents to help them understand and value the importance of play. So many parents want to focus on the fact that their child is not yet using words. They don’t always understand the importance and significance of play and social development during the first 3 years of life.
My favorite nugget was from Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. when he was discussing the importance of providing a balance of challenge and support during play with young children:
“What [babies and young children] need is that little bit of challenge and the frustration that goes with not being able to do something so easily so that you work at it. It’s not only working at it to master that skill. It’s working at it develop a sense of what it’s like to work for something that’s not that easy. If you never get that experience… If every time you try something that’s a little bit frustrating, an adult comes in and does it for you, how do you learn how to deal with frustration?”
So, the next time you interact with your baby or young child, focus less on the words they are able to use and more on how they are exploring and interacting with the world. How are they taking in their environment? How are they solving problems and exploring the world around them? How much are you letting them figure things out on their own? Are you letting them fail so that they can learn how to succeed?
As your children are home from school this holiday season, use these common play activities in a deliberate way to strengthen their language skills. Click on the link below to read the article I wrote for the Carolina Pediatric Therapy blog:
If you’ve visited my blog before, you know I love using commercials to help get a conversation going with students about a topic. So, when I saw this Nike commercial it reignited my interest in helping students develop and strengthen their executive functioning skills. Use this video to help explain and teach executive functions to your students.
A few years ago, I was part of a team that developed a program to help middle schoolers learn how to use “self-talk” to navigate social situations and problem solve situations on their own. What we discovered in the process was that many students lack the inner dialogue necessary to effectively complete school tasks, figure out social situations, and get to where they needed to be on time and with the necessary materials.
The culture in schools is slowly changing, but for the most part, executive functions are not directly taught in schools. And, many school-aged students simply have not developed the skills necessary to get their work done and be socially successful in school.
So my advice to parents and educators would be…
DO NOT ASSUME children have fully developed organizational systems to complete tasks or socially savvy inner dialogues to navigate nuanced situations.
It’s your responsibility to explicitly teach them and provide opportunities for them to develop and refine these executive functioning skills.
I have found many resources out there to help students become more aware of the ability to use an inner dialogue to help them problem solve and successfully navigate the social world. See one of my favorites below.
The Zones of Regulation
I’ve also created many activities and resources for building executive functioning skills. Check out my two most recent creations.
BUNDLE Build Social Skills with Executive Functioning Activities
Executive Functions Informal Assessment Questionnaire
When you’ve taken the time to help your students build stronger executive functioning skills, use your own “self-talk” to tell yourself, “Good job.” ; )
The ability to appropriately answer abstract questions is an important developmental language skill. In order to accurately answer these questions, children must understand what each question word is asking.
See below for normal developing ages for answering “wh” questions:
A great way to help children develop and refine their ability to answer “wh” questions is through story time with books that are simple in plot, repetitive in writing style, and include lots of great visuals. There are a lot of children’s books out there and many of them for younger children lack the content needed to elicit these “wh” questions. Many younger children’s books are simply images with vocabulary images and labels. While these books are helpful, they don’t promote the development of more abstract language understanding.
However, I came across a book that’s great for young children and promotes the development of “wh” questions.
I also recently created a visual resource to help children more effectively answer “wh” questions for my Teachers Pay Teachers
site. I’ve been using this idea for years, but have always just used blank paper and basic drawings to teach the different “wh” types. I’m sure my clients will appreciate not having to view my awful stick figure drawings. You can find it here: