Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is.  You have to actually live what you preach.  Well, on September 7, 2011 I posted about the importance of a print-rich environment (check it out for more information).  It was easy for me to post about it then - Timothy was barely crawling!  Well, now he knows all of his letters and he is starting to figure out that letters make up words.  It's really cute.  He will name all the letters in a word and then guess what the word is.  It's usually associated with what he sees and knows, but he will be way off.  For example, he read the letters off my shirt: "f-r-o-g-s" and then said, "Mommy!"  He knew that I was Mommy and just figured that my shirt was advertising my title.  :o)  Therefore, I went to the dollar store (Dollar Tree), purchased some blank word strips, wrote out words of things he sees everyday, and posted them around the house.  Does my house look like a pre-school?  Yes.  But it will help him learn and, if you think about it, we are called to be the first teachers our children encounter.  Therefore, it's ok that our house looks like a pre-school!

I know that our freebies are usually on Friday, but considering Valentine's Day is Thursday and this freebie is a Valentine theme, I thought I'd just post it early.

It's a simple game that helps your kids learn or review opposites!  I hope everyone enjoys the game.

You will need to: print the game board, collect up coins as place markers (each player selects either a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter and collects 10 of their selected coin), and play!

The clipart is the work of Scrappin' Doodles (I do heart Scrappin' Doodles' clipart).

Cards can get expensive these days... especially if you are like me and set a precedent to send them to your "baby cousins" from the time they were born and don't feel like you can stop now.

Plus, we have had some bad weather days where we just can't go outside.  What is a mother to do?  Have your child make Valentines!

It's simple and it can be so much fun.  All you need is: paper, art supplies, time, and some imagination.

The card on the left is a bit more involved.  I used my son's hand-print and my daughter's foot-print to make the letters "o" and "v" respectfully in the word "love".  I suggest using washable paint and doing this outdoors.  I then wrote in the letters "l" and "e" with a red permanent marker.

The card on the right is easier and can be made into a learning activity easily.  Kids like stickers, right?  (I know mine does) Have your child do some "work" (whatever his/her speech goals are or whatever you are teaching him/her right now) to earn a sticker.  After you have placed some stickers on the card (we used heart and star stickers for our Valentines), then he/she can color on it afterwards (I don't think Timothy was quite into coloring the day we made this card).  Write a cute note inside and you are done!

If your child is older, then have him/her come up with the greeting that should be written inside, have your child write his/her name, etc.

This activity is a great activity that can easily be made easier for small children (we've been making cards since before Timothy could talk) and older children (even Middle Schoolers may get into this if you allow them to color a scene on the front instead of using stickers).

Have you ever had those days that you went throughout the whole day without knowing what day it was?  That was me yesterday!  I didn't realize it was Friday until dinner time when I checked our calendar to see what I was cooking that day.  Wow.

Sorry Freebie Friday has become Freebie Saturday.  This freebie finishes out our week theme of snowflakes.  Simply have your child look at the three snowflakes and tell which one is different.  If your child has more sophisticated language, then have him/her tell you WHY it is different or describe one of the snowflakes.  Just print, play, and learn!

Our prayers go out to those who were affected by Nemo.  I grew up in Rhode Island and so I have many friends in the New England area who have LOTS of snowflakes right now (and some without power).

Click here for the pdf version.

clipart by Scrappin' Doodles

Have you ever heard the old adage, "don't eat the yellow snow"?  If you live in an area where it snows a lot, then you probably have.  :o)

Well, now you CAN eat the yellow snow (and green and red and orange and blue...).

Simply collect up these materials:
  • water
  • food coloring
  • spray bottles (you can use spray bottles that you buy - i bought some at the dollar store - or spray bottles that used to hold cleaning products.  Just make sure you clean out the old cleaning product bottles completely first)

Put water in each water bottle.
Add food coloring to each water bottle.  
Go spray the snow and see the white snow change colors!!!  

You can make this into a wonderful language learning activity by talking about the steps, teaching colors, talk about how colors change when you mix colors (what happens when you mix: yellow and blue? red and yellow? blue and red?), describe the painting you created in the snow, talk about the verbs associated with the activity (pour in the water, mix the colors, spray the bottle, paint the snow, etc).

Continuing with our "snowflake"/winter theme this week, I found an app that combines winter fun and learning.  It's called "Winter Word Puzzle for kids".  It's available on the ipad and iphone.  I'm not sure about any android products.  The first 4 puzzles are free and then you can buy others as an "in app purchase".  For me, I see this app as a great way to change things up a bit.  You can do it a few times and then erase it - no need to keep it around long-term (unless you plan to purchase the additional puzzles).  Sometimes, it's just nice to have a different activity for a short time.

Each puzzle is some kind of winter scene (north pole with 3 animals, two kids having a snowball fight, a mom baking Christmas cookies, and a dragon outside of a castle with snow on the ground).  Open a scene and select one of the items by pressing the magnifying glass.  That will highlight that one object (i.e. a polar bear) and you will see the word written at the top.  However, some letters are missing!  There are letters on the left side of the screen that you can use to complete the word puzzle.  The easier level has the missing letters faded.  Therefore, you simply have to match the letters on the left with those that are faded at the top.  The harder level has the missing letters with no visual cue of the faded letter.  However, the empty block is the coordinating color of the letter on the left hand side.  

I'd say this game is great for kids who know their letters and are beginning readers or beginner spellers.  They also must have enough hand/eye coordination to touch a letter and drag it to the correct location.  Each letter block measures to be about a 1 cm square.  Therefore, the letters themselves are pretty small.  

Hope you enjoy this free game!  Tomorrow I'll blog about a great activity to do outside in the snow.  (although it's 60+ degrees at our house today... hopefully these activities can be useful to others in the northern half of the USA or tucked away in your mind for another time when you do have snow)
This is a game that I posted about a year ago.  However, I wanted to re-highlight it for those of you who haven't seen it.  It's a great print and play folder game!  Plus, it has a football theme, which is perfect since the Super Bowl is Sunday!!  

This game is blank and so it's completely customizable to each client.  You can either laminate it so you can write on it with a dry erase marker and erase.  Or you can print a copy for each student and let him/her take it home after the end of the session.

Articulation:  Write in the articulation words that he/she needs to work on.

Language:  Write in language tasks that correspond with your students' goals

Pragmatics:  Write in different social situations that a student might need to practice role playing.

Fluency/Stuttering:  Have a student practice his/her techniques for getting out of a stuttered moment or write different topics that your student has to talk about it order to practice "smooth speech"

Click here to download the pdf version

Monday we started off with discussing words with multiple meanings.  Today let's flip that around and talk about different words with the same meaning.  A lot of times kids who are just learning language or kids with language learning difficulties don't broaden their vocabulary.  They will use the same words over and over.  For instance, in their writing, they will always use "said" in a sentence that uses a quotation.  

"Sure we can," the boy said.  
"I will" said the girl.
"I don't like that park" said his brother.

Is it correct to use "said" in each of those sentences?  Sure!  But can your writing be more colorful and exciting with alternate words?  Yes!

"Sure we can!" the boy exclaimed.
"I will" answered the girl.
"I don't like that park" the boy said sheepishly. (I know, I used said... but only once)

In the world of technology, we forget about good old fashioned BOOKS!  (present company included) I initially thought to look up an app that is a thesaurus.  However, I decided against that.  Kids need to learn to physically look up a word in a thesaurus to see what other words they can use.

If this is an area where your child struggles, I would start by reading.  Point out the different use of words around quotations.  I think that's the easiest place to start.  It stands out to the child because of the quotation marks.  One book that does a great job of this is "Time To Sleep" by Denise Fleming.  

After you have pointed out the different words that can be used, then I'd have your child create a book, write a short story, or use something he/she has already written.  Focus on one word.  Have your child LOOK IT UP in a thesaurus to find alternate words that can be used.  Have him/her "sprinkle" those other words into his/her writing.  Again, beginning with quotation words can sometimes be the easiest place to start.
I stumbled upon a great site yesterday:  www.spellingcity.com.  This website does have "premium" options for those who pay a membership fee ($30 for the year for up to 5 students).  However, there are SO MANY GREAT things that are FREE!!  I'll blog about those things.

First off, to piggy back off of our "multiple meanings" blog from yesterday, there are lists and lists of multiple meaning words.  Sometimes it is hard to come up with words that have multiple meanings.  However, if you had a list, that may help you when creating your multiple meanings pages with your child.  Simply click on "multiple meanings" in the "featured vocabulary and spelling lists" box located about halfway down the page on the left hand side.

You can also insert your child's spelling/vocabulary words and the computer will generate FREE games or worksheets!  This makes learning fun and interactive.  Plus, it can be a great reward for getting homework done or doing chores.  Let's face it... they have to practice those spelling words anyway, right?  What better way to do it!

For those kids with articulation word lists, insert your articulation words to create some fun games. After each turn you take, practice saying the word 5 times!

This site also has TONS of teaching resources.  You can click on the "teaching resources" tab at the top and a list of topics will pop up.  Click on any one and you will find videos, enrichment strategies, word lists, games, articles, explanations, etc.  Just this morning I learned what a "capitonym" is!
The Super Bowl is only 6 days away.  I don't know about you, but our house is a football house.  Saturdays is college ball and Sundays is NFL.  Our TV gets to rest from late January (or early February this year) until August when pre-season begins.  

Multiple meanings is something that can be very difficult for kids.  When I worked with the Middle School population, I always went through the multiple meaning flashcards that I had created at least once or twice a month.  It's good for them to realize that some words can mean different things and be used in different contexts.  

I thought about this when I thought about the word "super".  Have you thought about the different meanings for the word "super"?  People who live in apartments can have a "super" (I know this is an abbreviated word.  However, it's how it is used and so it should be taught that way) - someone who fixes things.  Super can add emphasis to a feeling - I'm SUPER excited, I'm SUPER sad.  Super can also mean something extraordinary or mythical when used as "super powers" or "super man".  It can also just mean that something is good - Oh wow, that's super!  

Now try that for Bowl - something you eat out of, a sport, a game (super bowl), etc.

Divide a piece of paper into four sections.  Have your child write the word in one quadrant and draw a picture with a sentence to explain the meaning in each other quadrant.  You can punch holes in your papers and start a multiple meanings notebook.