Alright, I've started to "pin" things to pinterest!  Now you can find some of the same useful ideas on that great website.  Search for me (Hilary Trottier) and you can "follow" me or "repin" some of your favorite Teach Speech ideas to your own pinterest name.  It may also be an easier way to see if there is an activity that you think your child may enjoy.

Speech and Language seem to be used synonymously.  However, they are different things entirely.  Let's break it down for you just a bit.  

Speech is the actual production of sounds that build to make words.  Speech has to do with your articulation, fluency, nasality, and voice.  1.  Articulation:  This refers to the actual production of the sounds.  Does your child say "wabbit" instead of "rabbit"?  We would say that he/she has an articulation disorder.  2.  Fluency:  This is a fancy word for stuttering.  If your child stutters (and therefore does not have fluent speech), then we would say that your child exhibits dysfluency.  Please see my blog post from January 3, 2012 for more information about stuttering in small children.  3.  Nasality:  Some of our sounds come out of our nose (m, n, and ng), but most should come out of our mouth (oral cavity).  If you can think about someone who has a a cold, their sounds are typically de-nasaled.  Their /m/ may sound more like a /d/.  Whereas, some people have a more nasal-sound to them and more than just the 3 nasal sounds are actually being phonated through their nose (naval cavity).  4.  Voice:  Your voice can refer to the volume that is used and the quality of your voice.  If you "lost your voice", then we would say that you had a breathy sounding voice.  Sometimes people who are just getting their voice back after "losing it" will have a harsh sounding voice.  All of these components make up your speech.  All of the areas mentioned above are within a speech-language pathologist's scope of practice and can be worked on to correct if there is something wrong.

If speech is how you are saying things (the mechanics) then language is what you are saying.  Language is what you understand, how you use words to communicate, and how you string those words together to create phrases, sentences, and paragraphs.  There are two types of language: receptive and expressive.  Receptive language is sometimes called "Auditory Comprehension."  That's actually a really great descriptor of receptive language.  Your auditory comprehension (receptive language) is what you hear, understand, and respond to.  You would see it come in the form of kids following directions, pointing to things requested, retrieving objects, etc.  Your expressive language is what you are actually telling us - how you are communicating.  

I hope that clears things up a bit!
Not everyone is fluent all the time when talking.  However, when do we cross the line between normal and abnormal stuttering?  Many young children will begin to stutter, but not all of them will persist.  Here are a few guidelines to go by if your little one starts to stutter.

Don't worry if...
  • your child is younger than 3.  Many children under the age of 3 will stutter and recover.  If my memory from my stuttering class serves me correctly, 90% of stutterers naturally recover (meaning without intervention).
  • if your child's stutters are an even tempo and don't seem to be bothering your child.  Many young children want to "hold their spot" and not let an adult finish their sentence.  The child may say, "I...I...I... want to go to the store"
  • If your child does not seem to tense up while stuttering.  Tensing up or flinching eyes or looking as if the child has to force out the word are all signs of a struggle.  If your child doesn't seem to be struggling, then I wouldn't be concerned yet.

Ask for a referral to a speech therapist if:
  • Your child is older than 3 and continues to stutter.
  • Your child's stutters are uneven in tempo (i.e. I.....I..I...I..I..I..I) when stuttering
  • Your child's stutters are more than 3 in a row (i.e. You... You..  You... You... shouldn't do that)
  • Your child seems to be struggling to get strings of words or sentences out
  • You hear many different kinds of stutters.  Part word repetition (be-be-be-because), Single sound repetition (d-d-d-d-og), whole word repetition (we we we will go to the store), blocks (where no sound comes out and there is a pause in speech), interjections (I uh uh uh want to go there), prolongations (sssssssssnake)
  • Your child has begun to talk on an inhale
  • You have a familial history of stuttering (although we don't know the cause of stuttering and it has never been proven to be "genetic", there does seem to be a familial link)
  • Your child is a male.  Males are more likely to persist in stuttering

Don't panic if your child falls in the second category.  Ask for a referral to a speech therapist and see what the evaluation reveals.  Speech therapy can give your child lots of great tools to reduce the number of stutters he/she uses.
Kids typically LOVE to play "bean bag toss."  It's a simple way to target MANY different goals at once.  You can either use a commercialized bean bag toss game or you can make your own (much cheaper).

Around this time Christmas stuff starts to hit the shelves (I know, I know - its out earlier and earlier these days).  However, that is good when it comes to created a bean bag toss game.  Sterilite makes an ornament holder box (I'm sure other companies do as well).  I found one at Big Lots for $6.00 recently.  The one made by Sterilite has a lid, which makes it easy to store all necessary items in your box.  You will need the ornament box and beanbags.  You can either purchase beanbags ( has them for sale) or you can make them (I found a tutorial here - you do not need to put numbers on you beanbags).  Now you are ready to play.

There are several ways to make this a therapy game:
  • Have the child do some work before earning a turn.  Write numbers in the individual ornament slots and whoever accumulates the most points by the end of the game wins.
  • Place cards or questions in the ornament slots.  Whatever the child lands on is what he/she must work on or do for that turn.  You can either write points on the back of the card (depending on its level of difficulty) and add up the points to see who wins or assign a number of points earned if the question is answered correctly.  What you do depends on the kid(s) you work with and their level of confidence and abilities.

What kinds of cards or questions would you put in the box?
  • Articulation:  Pictures of words containing the child's sound
  • Language:  Pictures of things that would target the child's goal (pictures of multiple items for plurals, pictures of a boy, girl, or thing to work on pronouns, pictures of a boy/girl holding items to work on possessives, picture of a scene or an action to work on creating complete sentences or describing, pictures of items to work on creating definitions, etc)
  • Pragmatics:  Questions or topics to discuss to practice good social skills (eye contact, maintaining the topic of conversation, taking turns in a conversation, beginning/ending a conversation appropriately, etc)
  • Listening:  Pictures with several items and ask for the child to point to a particular item
  • Fluency:  Pictures of scenes or actions - have the child describe the picture to work on his/her "smooth" speech
Don't throw out those old beach balls just yet.  They can become great speech and language materials.  All you need is an old beach ball and a permanent marker.  Don't have a beach ball laying around your house?  Now is a good time to find some on sale.  I've even found them at the dollar store!  

Use your permanent marker and write tasks on the ball.  Throw the ball to your client/student/child and wherever his/her thumb lands, that's the thing he/she has to complete.  This can be used for many different goals!  See below for some examples:
  • Articulation:  Write words that your child is working on.  You can even throw in some sounds that have already been mastered.  Is your child working in conversation?  Write different questions or topics to discuss so you can elicit that sound in conversation.
  • Language:  Working on past tense or future tense verbs?  Write the infinitive form of a verb (to cook, to wash, to bake) and have him/her tell you the correct verb form.  Working on describing?  Write down a bunch of items that your child would have to describe.  Working on naming items in a group?  Write down a bunch of groups (fruits, vehicles, animals, etc) and have your child name 3-5 in each group.  If you need some more ideas for what your child is working on specifically, just leave a comment or send me a message from the "contact me" section.
  • Pragmatics:  Write down different topics of discussion and have your child practice good conversational skills (eye contact, taking turns, remaining on topic, making appropriate transitions, etc).
  • Fluency:  Write down things to discuss and practice their "smooth" speech.
  • Listening Comprehension:  Write simple to more difficult instructions that would match your child's ability in listening comprehension.  Some variations could include: touch your shoe; get a pencil and put it on the desk; walk to the door and knock three times, find a blue crayon (if you have crayons out), etc.  If you have more than one person in the group, then have that person read what to do and have the child who is working on listening comprehension follow the instructions.  If it's just you, then have your student read the direction to you and have you do it.  Then when you catch the ball, read it to him/her and it's his/her turn to follow the direction.
  • Pre-talkers:  Encourage your little one to ask for his/her turn.  You can model the correct phrasing by saying "my turn" and picking up the ball.  Say "my turn" again (using auditory highlighting) and then place your hand under your little one's chin.  Wait for him/her to try to say something.  It may take a while until they understand the relationship between saying my turn and getting the ball.  You won't need to write anything on the ball, but it can be helpful to start the talking process.  You can also exhibit the following language from a ball (this is not an exhaustive list, just what comes to mind at this moment): ball, bounce, roll, throw, bye bye ball, my turn, mine, kick.  Remember to use auditory highlighting to emphasize the word(s) you want your little one to imitate. (see blog post from 
Here is an example of what I found at a garage sale (more of an ice breaker game), which gave me the idea for the beach ball!

Make sure to comment me or send me a message (contact me section) if you have a goal that has left you stumped!  I might be able to help brainstorm how you can adapt this activity for that particular goal.

Ok... so it's not technically a folder game, but this one is too good not to share.  This comes from another great speech therapy friend, Conni Wambold.  She and I worked together in the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System and she introduced me to the wonderful world of "choose games."  They are simple and easy and the kids LOVE them.  While working with Conni, we did themed therapy.  Therefore, my choose game has a "theme".  However, it can take on the theme of a holiday that's close by, a favorite character or show, etc.

With a choose game, you have a character and pieces you must collect.  For my example, it's a camper/hiker (character), sleeping bag, campfire, boots, tent, and backpack.  Simply print out the pictures onto several different colors of paper (you choose as many or as few as you need).  Then, cut out the characters and mount them on a solid piece of paper (preferably not the color that the hiker is printed on.  I often used black).  Cut out the items the kids will have to collect and mount those on black construction paper (so they can't see through the construction paper).  Laminate all the pieces for durability.  

Directions for the game:  Each child gets to choose one color hiker.  All other pieces are placed face down in a pile.  The kids will do some work (whatever he/she is working on) and then get to choose from the choose pile.  If he/she got an item the hiker needed in his/her color, then the child gets to keep it and the play continues to the other kids or yourself.  If an item is chosen that does NOT match his/her color, then it must be placed back in the pile face down.  The first person to collect all five items the hiker needs wins!

This game can be used with any deficit area since the child works on whatever goals he/she has and then gets to take a turn.  It's great for kids who work on pragmatics to simply practice good social skills while playing the game (notifying someone when it's their turn, waiting for his/her turn, learning to lose, etc).

Click here to print the PDF version.
This post is geared more for the speech therapists, but parents - there is a lot for you on that site also (namely the information on normal speech development, communication disorders, and pictures of things you know your child needs to work on at home).  

You know me - I love FREE!  Speech-Language-Therapy is site filled with FREE stuff!  The best part is that it has tons of word lists WITH pictures.  No more searching through google images to create your own flashcards (well, not for the things they have on the site, at least).  They have links to other useful sites, which takes some of the guess-work out of internet searches for you.  The table of contents page is a good place to start.  They have information on typical development, communication disorders, etc.  Now, the "freebies" page is my favorite.  They have a quick phonological screener, therapy facts and tricks, and TONS of pictures for articulation and phonology.  The most useful thing I have found are the minimal pairs for phonology therapy!  Wow!  Minimal pairs that are printable.  All I did was print, cut, and paste onto flashcards!  Woohoo!

Hope you find some good stuff in there.
On August 23, I discussed the importance of TVAK (Tactile, Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic) in every lesson.  [If you missed that one, I highly recommend it]  I hope it has changed your focus of how to reach kids - either your own or your clients.  It is so important to stimulate as many senses as possible.  

In deaf education, we often do "listening walks".  It's simply a walk around where we wait for the kids to hear something and locate the sound.  We will then talk about it.  If the kids aren't hearing something, we'll direct their attention to it.  It's a great way for kids to hear an environmental noise and learn, first hand, what that sound means (car horn honking = car is coming) and how to react (stop moving).  When I taught at Sound Start: A school for the deaf and hard of hearing, we would often take listening walks on lawn day.  The maintenance men were very sweet to make sure to come close enough to us so that the kids could see what they were doing while listening to the sound.

While listening walks are wonderful, let's not forget our other four senses: touch, taste, sight, smell.  Take a walk with your kids (it doesn't matter the age) and have them find things they could touch and describe how it feels.  If they don't have the words for it, give them the language by saying, "that feels rough."  Let your kids find things they can hear (a lawn mower) and explain what it is, what it does, if it's loud or soft, etc.  Taste is one that may be hard to do unless you "plant" a treat for the kids to try.  :o)  Let the kids find something they see - maybe you're focusing on a certain color or shape that day.  Have the kids describe that object as best they can.  Give them the language that they don't have to fill in the gaps.  Let the kids smell things and describe their smell - good or bad.  It may be funny to do the walk on garbage day and see if they notice the garbage smells.  Let the kids take the lead as much as possible.  If your child is a pre-talker, then watch him/her.  When he/she is focused on something, then describe it to him/her.  Your pre-talker may not be able to tell you what he/she sees, hears, smells, etc, but where he/she is focusing will tell you what his/her little brain is trying to learn about.

If your child works on articulation, then make sure to find things that have your child's sound or listen to your child's sound in conversation.

If your child is working on listening comprehension, then take an "I spy" walk.  Say something like: "I spy a car", "I spy something that smells yucky", "I spy something that is blue and says vroom", "I spy something that has four legs and a tail", etc.

If your child is working on fluency, then work on his/her "smooth speech" while on the walk.
I must credit this game to the one and only Nancy Sinclair!  She is a wonderful dear friend whom I met when I worked under her for my school placement while in graduate school.  I learned so many wonderful things from Nancy and this one was one that I have used A LOT!  Kids seem to love it and it's super easy.

You will need:
  • Flashcards
  • Something to temporarily fix flashcards to a surface (tape, sticky tack, etc)
  • Working flashlight
  • darkened room

Put the flashcards of whatever you are working on with your child around a room (preferrably a room that can get dark).  Make sure your child doesn't see where the cards have been placed to make it even more fun.  Turn out the lights and give the child the flashlight.  Let him/her find or "tag" the flashcards with his/her flashlight.  Once he/she finds the flashcard, then have him work on that skill.  Once that turn his complete, let the flashlight tag game continue and have him/her find another card!!

This is great because it can be used with so many deficit areas:
  • Articulation:  Put pictures or written words up that contain your child's speech sound.  If your child is working on a sound in conversation, then put up pictures and have your child describe the picture or tell a story using the picture to illicit that sound.
  • Language:  Is your child working on plurals?  Cut out or print out pictures of multiple items (i.e. shoes, cats, dogs, etc) and tell you the plural of the word.  Is your child working on pronouns?  Print out pictures of little girls and boys and have them say: "that is his hat" or "that is her cat" or "she is playing ball".  Is your child working on is/are?  Print out pictures of single items and multiple items.  Your child will have to say: "that is a brown cat" or "they are walking".  Is your child working on answering questions?  Print or cut out pictures with multiple people or things going on in the picture so you can ask: "who is holding the cat" or "where are they" or "what is she eating".  The list could go on and on!
  • Listening:  Once your child finds the picture, ask your child a question about the picture to answer.  Another idea is once your child finds two or three pictures, then line them up and have him/her find a specific picture.  You could also put up three pictures right in a row that are similar, but not the same and tell your child "find the cat with orange polka dots" (you may have a cat with green polka dots, orange squares, and orange polka dots).  Let him/her use his/her flashlight to look at all three and light up the correct answer!
  • Fluency:  Is your child working on smoothing out his/her "bumpy" speech?  You could play this game and when the child finds his/her picture, simply have the child say the name of the object, a short sentence, or a longer description (whatever closely matches what they are working on in speech therapy) smoothly.
  • Pragmatics:  Is your child working greetings or introducing himself/herself?  Print pictures of kids and let him practice greeting that child and introducing himself/herself.  Is your child working on taking turns in a conversation?  Print pictures of favorite topics for the child and then have a short conversation with your child about the picture he/she "tagged".  Make sure he/she is taking turns while talking.  
  • Voice:  Is your child working on reducing hard onsets or talking at an appropriate volume (decibel) or pitch (frequency)?  Make sure those good skills are being practiced when they find pictures and talk about them!  It can be especially hard for a child not to yell in excitement when a picture is found!  :o)

I hope this game is a useful and fun one for you!  It's also a great game to play just before going to bed... when it's already dark!