Speech All the Time

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Using Patterned Language Storybooks

Predictable books give young children the opportunity to predict what is going to be said and what will happen next in a story. The more predictable the story, the more likely children will enjoy, remember and retell the story with words that do not put a heavy language load on their expressive language.  

Repetitive books may be predictable in a variety of ways. The story may repeat itself, a phrase may repeat on each page or the same question may be asked throughout. 

In cumulative books, each part repeats the previous part and then adds a new part. The story begins with one person, animal, or event, then adds on bit by bit to form the complete story. (i.e. The Napping House by Audrey Wood, No Jumping on the Bed by Ted Arnold)

Repetitive books:

  • make the stories predictable and helps develop vocabulary and sequencing.  
  • foster the development of phonemic awareness and sound symbol association; the presence of carrier phrases, repeated content and recurring words can result in the frequent occurrence of a particular sound (phoneme) or group of sounds. 
  • have a high frequency of occurrence for the sounds of language, and facilitate multiple production and practice in a fun and reinforcing manner
  • use carrier phrases throughout the story which enable a child to produce a longer utterance while only having to change one core word
  • allow a child to fill- in without imitating and can lead to increased participation and  turn taking

Using Patterned Storybooks

  • Choose easy books with strongly repetitive patterns and a minimum of short sentences on each page.
  • Pause to allow the child to fill in a portion of a repeated phrase.
  • Encourage the child to repeat a carrier phrase heard throughout the story.
  • Provide adequate time for the child to attempt productions.
  • Read a preferred repetitive book multiple times and provide increased opportunities for the child to verbally participate.

I have used simple predictable patterned books successfully with young developmentally delayed children for many years and would like to demonstrate how I use a predictable, patterned rhyming book that uses only one new word at the end of each sentence. The book allows emergent readers the opportunity to recognize and learn familiar, predictable text, practice rhyming, and focus on phonemic awareness.

Download the file, then print, laminate, cut pages in half, and bind on the left to make a book. Cut vocabulary pictures apart individually. 

Show the cover of the book and point to the bees one by one and ask “What are all these?” Respond, “Yes, these are bees, and this book is about bees. It is called ‘Bees Everywhere’.”

Read the entire book page by page. Read it 2 or 3 times, either in one setting or over several days depending on ability levels, interest, and attention to task.

After multiple readings, use the vocabulary cards and have students match them to the page after you read it. Have them say the vocabulary word as they are matching them to the book page. 

On the next read, choral read the story with the student(s). Move your finger across the text pointing to each word as you read.

Read the page again, pausing before the last word (cloze procedure) allowing the student to say the word. 

Finally have the student(s) read or narrate independently. Encourage them to move their finger across each word of the text. This lets them understand that each group of letters, or word on the page, is the same as the word they are saying. 

For an added enrichment activity, 2 or more of each vocabulary picture is provided. Children could tell how the two pictures are the same and/or different. You could use verbal description of one picture and ask which picture you are describing.

Have fun. You and your students will love this very powerful preliteracy language strategy.


Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Toys I Love for Early Intervention

If you are just starting your career in Early Intervention or have been working with these itty bitties for a long time, you will LOVE these toys. 

I admit it. I am a shopaholic for toys to use in early intervention. My criteria for choosing a toy is that it has to elicit multiple opportunities to practice phonology, language, vocabulary, and communicative intent. These are some of my most favorites. As my 10-year old (in his wisdom) pointed out to me--"your kids learn while they are playing and they don't even know it."

I put pictures on lots of my toys. These are perfect.

Mega Blocks

I printed these pictures for apraxia on large sticky backed mailing labels, cut them out, and put on the mega blocks. These are available at my TPT store.

Connect 4 


Zingo (Think Fun)

Kids love this game. I also printed pictures on sticky labels and placed on the game tiles. I have created these sets for the game:  

"CV, VC, & CVC Cards" and "Pronoun & Verbs Cards" and CVCVC Cards.

Token Towers (SuperDuper)

Every child will add chips to Token Towers endlessly just for the fun of filling the towers. 

Laugh & Learn Piggy Bank (Fisher Price)

This one even sings which makes it a hit with little ones. The pieces are also nice and big for little hands. I attach pictures to the coins with velcro or Tack It. 

Some games come with pictures that are ready to use. They are great for vocabulary and following directions. 

Snack Attack (Think Fun) is great for vocabulary and food classification.

Seek-a-Boo (Mindware) has large pictures that can be placed on the floor for kids to find (receptive) or label (expressive) while they are moving and active. 

Roll and Play Cube (Think Fun)

Kids roll the soft block then choose a picture card that is the same color. The card will describe an action for them to do.

These games are great for reinforcers.

Roll-a-Rounds Swirlin’ Surprise Gumballs (Fisher Price)

Brilliant Basics Dunk’n Cheer Basketball

Pop the Pig

Feed that pig hamburgers, push on his hat, and watch his tummy get bigger and bigger until he POPS!

If you are looking for books to engage even the youngest child you have to have Poke-a-Dot Books. Raised buttons are on every page and kids press them as they label the pictures. While these books are counting books, I have the children name each picture rather than count. This allows multiple practices of the words. 


Saturday, January 31, 2015

Do You Need Cariboo?   YESSSSSSS!

If you are an SLP you MUST have the Cranium Cariboo game. If you are NOT familiar with this game you are in for a treat. Six small balls are placed in the three holes on the top of the game board. Children can label, match, do go- togethers or matches, answer questions . . .  almost anything you want. When the correct target is produced  the child uses a little key to open a door in the game. If there is a ball hidden under the door, it is placed in the hole in the tide pool. When all six balls have been placed in the tide pool, the treasure chest opens to reveal a large jewel. Kids never, never, never get tired of it so it is perfect for multiple repetition practice. 

My friend Kelly is having a Giveaway for a Cariboo game on her Blog "Speech 2 U" to celebrate her Blogiversary. 

How do you find pictures to use for communication that will fit this game? Visit my TPT storeI have 17 different packets to choose from.   

Click on the Custom Categories link for Cariboo Cards on the left of the page OR enter "Cariboo Cards" in the search box on my page on the right. There are packets for Opposites, Synonyms & Irregular Plural Nouns; /k/, /g/ & /f/; Early Vocabulary; /p/, /b/, /m/, /n/, /t/, & /d/;  Vocabulary for Fall, Halloween & Thanksgiving; Final Consonant Deletion; Vocabulary for Winter, Valentine, Sports, and Christmas; Pronouns & Verbs; Early Syllable Shapes; and 5 bundles of cards that accompany can my Storybook Companions. 

Have fun,


Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Therapy on Wheels for the Frenzied SLP


Are you in a frenzy of toys and papers, and files, and stickers, and everything but the kitchen sink? Everyone who does Early Intervention (AKA Home Visits) knows that the trunk of our cars looks like a combination of Toys 'R Us and a Mini Me Office. Frankly it can be a mess back there. So after months of rummaging through stacks of ‘stuff’ I decided that I needed to organize everything from my student files to my Play Doh.

Task #1
Student Files

 I have 2 files in my ‘real’  office— a work file and a cumulative file, but they are so big, that I can’t keep them all in my car. I decided to create a personal work folder for each family containing what I consider essential to have with me in my office on wheels. I use a different colored vinyl pocket folder for each child with a cute name label on it. It contains a copy of the IFSP with the outcomes highlighted in yellow so I can look at them at a glance to be sure I am targeting their goals. A one page 24 month calendar helps me to keep track of the days that I see the families. I simply highlight the days that I make visits in yellow (Are you seeing a pattern of highlighting?), periodic and annual IFSP’s in pink (we cannot count those as visits), and no school or vacation days in green. A quick glance at the calendar shows how many times a month students are seen to assure that I am providing the amount of service time  specified on the IFSP. I keep the student’s enrollment form in the folder which is a data sheet that contains information regarding the family, address, phone numbers, family member names, housing subdivision, emergency contacts, and email addresses.  

My school district provides us with Progress Notes which are on NCR paper (3 copies). This is where I record what was done during the family visits, where data is collected, and parent activities and coaching recommendations, as well as our next scheduled visit. The family signs it, and they get a copy. I keep the other ones in the family folder. I like looking at these as I am planning for each visit. Somedays I see 5-6 families, and while I think I can always remember every detail of everything, having it in writing is a good plan. I have a plastic file in my car. Each one of these files are placed in a hanging folder for quick retrieval. Of course I always keep a bunch of blank progress report forms in there as well. 

Task #2

I know that it is considered best practice to use Routines-Based Intervention. Still, in my experience, there are some basic must-haves to keep on hand. For me these include: play dough, cookie cutters, cookie sheet, wooden puzzles, drawing paper, bingo daubers, small vehicles (cars, trucks, trains), Fisher Price Little People, a ball, bubbles, animals, board books, and lift the flap books. Although this list is certainly not exhaustive, kids always relate to these kinds of playthings. 

For little ones who have phonological needs, I print pictures on sticky labels and put them on everything — Super Duper Token Towers chips, Duplos, large plastic coins that come with many Fisher Price toys, Zingo tiles, Pop the Pig burgers, ball pit balls—anything I can think of. This gives opportunities for children to practice multiple repetitions.

Parent handouts and activities should be readily accessible. I use binders with several copies of each ‘tip’ or activity that I can put into the vinyl work folders that I always bring into the homes. I have also designed a series “Communication Tips for Early Intervention” that my families loves. They are short and easy to read. They are hole punched on the top left and can be kept together on metal ring binders. They are available in my TPT store at: 

Task #3

I love see through containers. One of my favorites are Vinyl zippered pouches that are available at Walmart and Target. They are perfect for little pieces, cards, chips, etc. 

Drawers are compact and easy to access in your trunk especially if you have an SUV. They allow you to find small items quickly (I put several of the vinyl pouches in the drawers that contain Cariboo cards, token chips, Zingo tiles, etc. 

I put all of my toys in individualal Ziplock bags and place them in clear 66 quart Sterlite totes. Don’t forget to keep Clorox wipes in the car too to clean off toys. 

I hope you have fun organizing your mini office. It is worth all the work to set it up so that your time can be spent focusing on the kids, and not rummaging through your car for just the right things to bring in for them to interact with.


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Is Shared Storybook Reading Evidence Based?

What is shared storybook reading? It is when an adult reads to children and stops to engage them in a discussion about the book. Many of us love storybooks and use them as a means of speech and language intervention. In this day and age of evidence-based practices, we may ask ourselves whether or not this intervention is evidence based. Interactive storybook reading has been shown to produce significant gains in oral language development. Several researchers in the field of reading and speech and language have explored this issue. 


Storybook Preview
  • increases expressive and receptive language in the context of literature
  • content of the book is explored by using a picture walk---looking at and talking about the pictures
  • builds vocabulary
  • connections to real life

Read Aloud
  • targets the development of print, vocabulary, and oral language
  • children can choose their favorite page

Story Celebration
  • follow up activities extend children’s learning
  • activities should be motivating, relate to the meaning of the book, and have meaning to the children
  • connecting the meaning of the book to children’s own experiences, as well as to new experiences


Oral Language Development
  • hearing sophisticated comments provide good language models
  • use of open ended questions allow for multiple responses and connections to story content
  • children learn to expand their explanations                                 
Comprehension Development
  • questions asked before reading help children predict what they think the story will be about
  • open-ended questions connect the reader to the text
  • text to text questions during reading encourage children to think about and process the meaning of what is being read to them
  • after-reading questions cause children to reflect on what they just heard

  • words can be taught explicitly through pointing and labeling
  • picture cards and prompts help students discuss their understanding
  • saying the words helps establish a phonological representation
  • child-friendly definitions can be provided
  • definitions related to how the words are used in the story can be related to real world examples of how to use the words outside the story

Phonological Awareness
  • attention can be drawn to rhyming words
  • the last words of a sentence can be left off enabling the children to provide a rhyming word
  • word syllables and words in a sentence can be “clapped”

Book and Print Conventions
  • how to hold a book
  • turning pages left to right
  • identifying a title
  • differentiating between words and pictures

Concept of Letter and Word
  • tracking print from left to right 
  • placing fingers under each word as it is read

Alphabet Knowledge
  • targeting specific letters of the alphabet before, during or after shared storybook reading
  • specific letters on a page can be identified


A large number of children with developmental disabilities do not care for book reading activities. Since it is a language-based activity and the communication demands are high, those children with impaired speech and language may not find this an engaging activity. To increase interest, we need to create engaging activities to go along with the storybook readings. (Justice & Kaderavek, 2002). 

How can we increase the appeal of storybook reading to young children with developmental delays? 
  • ensure that both the adult and the children interact with the book
  • increase children’s level of control
  • lift-the-flap books
  • slot books
  • predictable books
  • select books with few words per page
  • large print
  • repeated use of words
  • print embedded in the illustrations
  • talk about print

Considerations when reading to children with developmental disabilities (Justice & Kaderavek, 2002).
  • If the language demands of the story appear too difficult, modify the interaction to match the child’s interests and skills.
  • Embedded print encourages children to engage with written language.
  • Children add considerable knowledge about language from birth to age 6.

Specific practices and components have been associated with improved achievement from shared storybook reading.

Dialogic reading, (Whitehurst, Grover J., 1994) a method for shared storybook  reading, highlights a powerful approach to helping children talk more and give detailed descriptions. This happens by
  • prompting children to say something about the book
  • asking questions throughout the story
  • expanding child utterances
  • asking open-ended questions


Senechal (1997) studied the effects of repeated storybook readings to 3 and 4-year olds. She found that:
  • increased exposure to storybook reading enhanced receptive and expressive vocabulary skills
  • active responding during repeated readings increased expressive vocabulary more than receptive vocabulary
  • children made more gains in vocabulary after three readings of a book than after a single reading
  • children were able to extract clues from the text and the pictures
  • inferred meaning increased
  • asking labeling questions increased use of expressive vocabulary



Beauchat, K.A., Blamey, K.L., & Walpole, S., (2009) Building Preschool Children’s Language and Literacy One Storybook at a Time. The Reading Teacher, 63(2), pp. 26-39.

Howard, J., & McCathren, R.B., (2003), Developing Emergent Literacy Skills Through Storybook Reading, Intervention in School and Clinic, 39(2). pp. 72-79

Justice, L.M., & Kaderavek, J., (2002), Using Shared Storybook Reading to Promote Emergent Literacy, Teaching Exceptional Children, 34(4), pp. 8-13.

Senechal, M., (1997),The Differential Effect of Storybook Reading on Preschoolers’ Acquisition of Expressive and Receptive Language; Journal of Child Language, 24, pp. 123-138.

Whitehurst, Grover J., Dialogic Reading: An Effective Way to Read to Preschoolers; http://www.readingrockets.org/article/400/

Whitehurst, Grover J., Arnold, David S., Epstein, Jeffery N., Angell, Andrea L., Smith, Meagan; & Fischel, Janet E., (1994) A picture book reading intervention in day care and home for children from low-income families; Developmental Psychology, Vol 30(5), pp. 679-68.