Executive Function, Language Therapy, Pragmatic Language, Social Cognition

ANAMAzing Ideas for Therapy! (Thanks Pixar)

While sitting in a day-long conference on school-based SLP challenges associated with qualifying kids from culturally and linguistically different backgrounds, one the the presenters mentioned using the Pixar animated short film, Partly Cloudy, as a great interactive, informal assessment or treatment tool to evaluate a child’s narrative skills, emotional recognition, inferencing skills, etc. This got me thinking that there might be other Pixar “shorts” out there that would be fantastic for use in treatment sessions. Below are some ideas about how you can use a few of these fun mini movies with your clients:

“PARTLY CLOUDY”

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 12.22.50 PMWhat your client can be working on:

  • Recognizing and analyzing facial expressions (and explaining why the character might be feeling that way)
  • Pausing the video at different points and making predictions about what will happen next (immediately next, after an hour or two, tomorrow, etc.)
  • Problem solving when the character(s) feel sad/upset/disappointed
  • Comparisons between happy/joyful/ecstatic/proud characters and sad/upset/disappointed/angry ones

“LUXO JR.”

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 12.32.22 PM

What your client can be working on:

  • Create a script for one or both lamp characters. This involves perspective taking, theory of mind, prediction, etc. (lots of those tough social cognition/executive functioning/social communication skills that many kiddos struggle to learn and use)
  • Inferring how each lamp character feels at different points in the mini movie
  • Making predictions about what will happen next (and supporting those predictions with contextual clues from the mini movie)

“DAY AND NIGHT”

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 12.44.03 PM

What your client can be working on (this short is best for older elementary/middle/high school students):

  • Create a script for one or both characters. What kinds of expressions are they likely to be using? Are these characters friends? Siblings? Strangers? How do you know?
  • Categorize the differences between things that happen during the day versus at night. Work on finding an efficient way to document all of these examples without having to re-watch the short over and over (this is a critical study skill!)
  • Pause the mini movie at various points and discuss how the characters feel and how you know

“THE BLUE UMBRELLA”

Screen Shot 2013-04-27 at 12.50.17 PM

What your client can be working on:

  • Fill in thought bubbles for each umbrella and notice and discuss the changes in what each umbrella is thinking as the short video goes on. Why do these changes in thoughts/emotions/behaviors occur?
  • Make predictions about what will happen next

Media can be such a great way to engage students of all ages in working on therapy objectives. Any other animated shorts out there that folks are using?

Apps, Language Therapy, Worth Every Penny

Flashcards for Your iPad

Flashcards are great therapy resources.  They are tried and true, and serve as a great go-to set of stimuli during many of the activities SLPs do on a daily bases.  There are a lot of benefits to having a physical set of cards in front of you.  BAM: basic flashcards can become a memory or matching game.  BAM: stack flashcards around the room to make a car obstacle course (https://hbslp.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/making-drill-activities-fun-for-little-boys/).  BAM, hide flashcards to create a scavenger hunt for therapy targets!  Despite all these great uses for stimulus cards, there are just those moments where you want the content from the card without the ability for your client to pick it up and toss it across the room (or flip it over, or rip it, or spill on it).  Unless you’re a laminating maniac and an organization genius, cards often get lost or ruined after a finite amount of time. They can become cumbersome to lug around for SLPs on the go, and keeping them organized can be a nightmare.  Solution? Flashcard apps.  Super Duper is a GREAT resource for a big selection of flashcard decks that have been converted for the iPad!  The concept is by no means revolutionary, but for short money (apps run $5.99 each) you get all the benefits of the cards’ content without the downsides of dealing with individual cards.  Here are 2 Super Duper apps that I’ve been exploring and would love to share:

WHAT ARE THEY ASKING?

The deck includes a wide variety of picture scenes where one character has a “?” thought bubble coming from his/her/its mouth, encouraging the question, “what are they asking?” Before you begin an activity with this app, you have the option to choose your client(s) and customize the card options for them by selecting the specific cards you want (or you can always select all cards).  Here are some great ways to use this app:

  • Its intended function: asking your client to think about what the character is likely asking.  This requires your kiddo to look for contextual clues in the scene to support their theory.  If you are hoping to generate further language beyond a simple answer to what the character is thinking, ask your client to explain the contextual clues they used to come up with their answer.
  • pronoun practice: what is heshe, it thinking?
  • Inference practice: ask your client questions like: “What do you think happened right before this?” “How does the other character(s) feel about what’s happening?” “How could you solve this problem?”
  • Engage your client in WH-question practice by tailoring your questions about each card” “WHO is having this thought?” “WHEN did X character do X action?” “WHERE has the girl traveled (hint: look at her suitcase)?”

You are given the option to mark each card as correct or incorrect if you come up with a personalized data system, but you can certainly leave the activity open as a means of generating great language in addition to thinking about what different characters might be saying in each scene!

UNDERSTANDING INFERENCES

Since inferences are a broad area of language, this app has lots of possible functions!  Again, you have the power to choose specific cards to include for each client, or to use the whole deck.  You can mark each card as correct or incorrect if you want to tap into the data function of the app!  Here are some ways to get rolling with Understanding Inferences:

  • If your client is just starting to work with inferences, one-word responses might be a great target with this deck!  For these kiddos, elaboration might be too tough, but the ability to provide a relevant answer to the posed question will demonstrate that they’re getting the idea of an inference!
  • Use the cards (and their questions) as a story generator.  Ask your client to not only provide an appropriate response, but to also create a story about what happens next.
  • Use the cards to model a descriptive guessing activity and then have the client try it on his/her own!  Practice with a card like the one below (giving clues to help describe a target object based on its appearance, function, etc), and then see if your client can give you enough clues to guess what he/she is thinking of 🙂
  • Be silly; instead of thinking of things that DO belong (for cards like the one below), try to think of things that DON’T belong.  Understanding how objects DON’T fit into certain semantic categories can be just as important as determining how and why they do! 

There you have it!  A few fun ways to get your started using a couple of Super Duper’s flashcard apps!  The magic is in how you make these apps work for you, especially since there are so many possibilities beyond their basic, intended functions 🙂

Apps, Random Therapy Ideas, Worth Every Penny

Scribble Press

Now that finals are over and I’m well on my way out of rainy dodge to a week of sunshine in AZ, it’s time for another app review.  This time I’m talking story creation with Scribble Press.  This app is fantastic for letting kids create their own books (which can even be ordered and mailed to you if you’re feeling sentimental).  What I love about Scribble Press is the ability to start with the “skeleton” of a book and fill in the details so kids can make it their own.

When you click on the “New Book” link, it brings you to a shelf full of book categories.  Does your client love aliens?  CHECK!  Is it Christmas/Hanukkah time and you want to do a holiday themed book?  CHECK!  Check out the various book categories below!

Within each category is a list of actual book “skeletons” to choose from.  The image below shows the book options available in the “About Me” category.

Once you’ve decided on a book, a madlibs-esque screen will pop up with a story skeleton and blank spaces for you to fill in with your client.  This is a great opportunity for them to practice spelling/typing skills if appropriate.  For those kiddos who hate to generate their own sentences or stories, this is great because it gives them a place to start from which to come up with ideas.  You can always go back later and edit the skeleton to be more relevant to your client (or just create a book from scratch with no skeleton).

Once everything is filled in, it’s time to illustrate the book!  The app has a decent selection of images to choose from, but the real gem is the ability to choose from a PLETHORA of colors and a PLETHORA of “marker types” to draw your own pictures.  I love the creativity this encourages in kids. You can always alter your books to target particular artic sounds, semantic categories, or language elements.

 

You’re enticed, aren’t you?  So…the big question: how much is this app?  $free.99!!  That’s right folks, Scribble Press is absolutely free.  Depending on the level of support you want to offer, this app is great for kids of all ages (or maybe even some of the adult clients out there) and opens the therapy floodgates for a multitude of great intervention targets and ideas!

 

Worth Every Penny

Unrolling a Good Time

Do you want to shake your session up a bit…literally?  Then invest in your very own Rory’s Story Cubes Game.  This glorious little box contains 9 dice that will get your kiddo’s imagination AND language production rolling.  Here’s the premise:

  1. Roll any/all of the 9 dice
  2. make up a sentence/story with the images that appear on those dice

Yup, it’s that simple!  But wait, there’s so much more you can do with this game.  If story generation and spontaneous language aren’t your primary goals, here are some other ideas to use with your Rory’s Story Cubes Dice:

  • For the WH-questions kiddo: take turns rolling 1 die (I know, it’s a weird singular form of dice…I double-checked with google).  The non-roller must use WH-questions to guess what image the other person rolled.
  • For the articulation kiddo: Be creative in how you “name” the images for their word/sentence/story.  The “bee” can be an “insect” if you’re targeting word-medial /s/ (like me).  Or the “light bulb” can actually be “dark” for those postvocalic /r/ sounds.
  • For the kiddo working on opposites: simple…roll a die and try to name the opposite (or something that’s different vs same) from the image that lands up.
  • For the semantic deficits kiddo: roll a couple dice and try to find a way to semantically link the images together (do they all fit into some kind of basic category?  How are they related or unrelated?).  OR, roll one die and try to name other things that might belong in the same category as that image.
  • For the sequencing kiddo: connect your images into a story with clear, concrete temporal connector words.
  • For the kiddo with disordered (or just plain messy) narration: this can be a great game for focusing on strategies to work lots of novel elements into a cohesive story.  Ask you kiddo to create an introduction of character(s), setting, etc., then to generate a clear story with a climax, and finally to conclude their story.  Use the images on the dice to guide the story!
  • for the pragmatics kiddo: work on turn-taking by creating a story together where you each get to add one die image at a time and must build off of what the last person said.; Create a fun sentence with some of the dice images and ask the kiddo to determine whether you’re producing it in a declarative vs interrogative vs exclamatory way based solely on your intonation (suprasegmentals baby!).  Then have them say the sentence with a target intonation.
  • For the prosody kiddo: make up a crazy sentence with some of the dice images, and then ask your kiddo to identify what kind of emotional tone you’re using to produce that sentence: happy, angry, confused, surprised, sad.  Then ask them to produce the same sentence with a target emotional tone.


As you can see, there are a plethora of ways you can apply this great game to your variety of kiddos!  So take the plunge on amazon.com and get your own set of Rory’s Story Cube dice.  There’s also a set with action images, so the possibilities are even more endless than before!