Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Book Recommendation--The One and Only Ivan

I'm going off topic here today and want to recommend a book.  Adults can read it, older kids can read it, parents can read it to their kids---this was a book that I read and continue to ponder weeks later! In the middle I cried, the ending was life-affirming and wonderful.  The title is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate and my words can't do it justice.   
 If you want to read a good review, go here to the NY Times.

Here's a synopsis from the book's website:  
      Ivan is an easygoing gorilla. Living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall and Video Arcade, he has grown accustomed to humans watching him through the glass walls of his domain. He rarely misses his life in the jungle. In fact, he hardly ever thinks about it at all.
Instead, Ivan thinks about TV shows he’s seen and about his friends Stella, an elderly elephant, and Bob, a stray dog. But mostly Ivan thinks about art and how to capture the taste of a mango or the sound of leaves with color and a well-placed line.
Then he meets Ruby, a baby elephant taken from her family, and she makes Ivan see their home—and his own art—through new eyes. When Ruby arrives, change comes with her, and it’s up to Ivan to make it a change for the better.
Katherine Applegate blends humor and poignancy to create Ivan’s unforgettable first-person narration in a story of friendship, art, and hope.

That fact that this author won the coveted Newberry Medal says it all---I wasn't the only person who loved it.  Personally, I think our school needs multiple copies so the kids can read it together in a book club.
Use this book to teach concepts such as: 

It's all there and more.   It's a must read.

Cool Things:

--There was in fact, a real Ivan.  Although this is a fantasy book (similar to Charlotte's web, where the animals talk to each other and have distinct personalities), the real Ivan did exist in a cage for 27 years in a shopping mall.  You can read about him here and here.

--The second cool thing is that the author, Katherine Applegate, volunteered for a while several years ago at my school in our EC classroom. She is a wonderful person, and a great author.  Little did I know that she would become so famous!

Happy Reading!!!!!


Saturday, March 16, 2013

Speedeebee! Review of a Cute Word Game

“Life is more fun if you play games.”
― Roald Dahl, My Uncle Oswald 

 Heidi Kay over at PediaStaff asked me to review a couple of games by Blue Orange Games.  Of course, I said yes---if you look at my therapy room, it looks like the game aisle in a toy store.  I love games, and my kids do too!  Even with the current iPad craze, most of my students will choose a game in a box to play when the time is right.

The game we played this week was entitled Speedeebee!  The ages suggested were 8 to adult, with 2-6 players in 20 minutes.  I played it with five EC 4th graders, adapting it a bit, as I do most of my games.

Here are the company-supplied directions:

For my students, this game is little fast paced; however, the directions were easy to change to make less competitive, and to allow for simpler tasks.  I became the card reader, and the kids wrote the words on the SmartBoard after I read a question.  I was really amazed at how they started off tentative, and then became risk-takers with answers such as 'celery', 'wrestling', 'Asia', and 'Dale Earnhardt, Jr.' (most spelled correctly and thought of without adult cues!)  I embellished the game a bit with iPad dice which were the same as the dice supplied by the game---different colors, but this was explained to the children who had no difficulty switching.  Ipad dice don't roll off the table :)

Some examples of tasks included:
game cards
---Name something associated with winter, starting with one of these letters.
---Name a word containing the blue letter but NOT containing the other 3.
---Find a word containing these 2 letters (throw the green and red dice).
---Name something you can eat starting with one of these letters.

With the adapted directions, I simply had the kids take turns coming up with words, rather than requiring a competition (some of us have difficulty losing).  This worked out fine, and they really loved this new game.  After answering a question, each child kept the card--no one lost.  I feel this game was great on many levels---
  • Following complex directions
  • Categorization, 
  • Spelling, 
  • Vocabulary.  
 It's a keeper, and will hold a prominent spot on my game shelf for the older kids! 

We embellished with both SmartBoard and iPad dice

Friday, March 15, 2013

My backyard today

I'm sorry for all of you from the still snowy north reading this.  It's almost spring here, and this visitor was in our backyard---a really nice nature friend to see after a long work week.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Eggs, Bunnies, and Chicks---Prepositions Bingo to download

This is short and sweet.  My kids didn't really master describing the little pictures for the St. Patrick's Prepositions Bingo, so rather than giving them a completely different activity, I revised this same one to fit the Easter theme.  (And now I'm sharing it with all of my speech and blogging friends!)

Hint: print extra game boards and send home as homework!  This comes with three Bingo boards--good for you, but these would be ok printed in black and white for the moms and dads.

Click here to download this game in Boardmaker.

Click here to download this game in pdf.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Kermit the Frog, Temple Grandin, and "Visual Thinking"

It's a beautiful day in North Carolina!   What about where you are?

I saw this video on Visual Thinking and had to post it.  Kermit was ahead of his time (1959).

Temple Grandin, of course, is the leading world expert on autism and visual thinking.  Below is just a short interview about visual thinking, but if you are really interested in her and her work, a simple Google search will reveal more videos, and some of her writing.  She is brilliant and "to the point".

I really like her perspectives on education. 

Friday, March 8, 2013

Expectations Jeopardy for the Smartboard

Happy Weekend!  I don't use the SmartBoard too often, but I've started going into one EC classroom for a fun Friday time, trying out different social skills activities that I've found.  These kids (mainly 4th graders) are all on the high end for needing a separate setting, and the district is transitioning most of them out into regular education.  Today, they were all able to clearly articulate Expected vs Unexpected Behaviors well enough to beat the adults in the room in a rousing game of SmartBoard Jeopardy. 

I found the original version of Jeopardy on the Smart Exchange HERE.  After downloading it and playing it, I tweaked the questions to fit our setting.   You can either get this from the Smart Exchange, or look at my version.

Click here if you want to download my version of Expected Behaviors Jeopardy

Screenshots are below.  The bottom line is the kids loved the game, and they showed that they do have the knowledge of expected behaviors.  We still need to work on some of their performance deficits though---generalization of knowledge and skills is always the tough part. At least they understand the vocabulary, and the adults working with them are using this vocabulary daily!

This was a great game for other reasons---
  • reading fluently and intelligibly, 
  • answering comprehension questions, 
  • taking turns appropriately
  • adding by hundreds.  
We'll do it again (changing questions is easy---another thing I like about this.)

The kids beat the adults, by the way.  I loved everyone's enthusiasm, and it made for a great Friday activity.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Peace Corps update

Here is an update on my daughter and her Peace Corps adventure!     She is 'shipping out' April 7th from San Francisco!  Her destination is Indonesia, where she'll have several months of training before living with a host family and working (teaching English) for two years.  I'm not sure she knows really what she'll be doing or what town/village she'll be living.

Fun Facts About Indonesia:

  • There are about 17,508 islands
  • It's the world's 4th most populous country
  •  Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world
  • Badminton and soccer are the two must popular sports
  • Average temperatures vary little through the year (26-30 degrees Celsius)
  • Indonesia is home to the Komodo dragon, the largest lizard in the world

Andorra will be flying to the city of Surabaya in Indonesia arriving there on April 9th.  I've actually never heard of this city, but it's the second largest in the country.  I learn something new every day!    The pictures are stunning---I just did a quick search on Google.

More about all of this to come!!!!!  My husband and I are very proud parents.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Eggs Everywhere! ---new free printable

If you notice, all of my stuff is free.  Perhaps if I needed the income to supplement my school salary, I'd be selling, too.  For now, though, I'm grateful for my job and the kids I work with, I'm grateful for my husband who supported me for years as I worked, and I want other SLPs and teachers who may be struggling with a lack of instructional funding to use my materials with children.  I hope these downloads help someone.

Here's the latest---based on my earlier books.  I'm a believer in repetition, so if you read 'Bunnies Everywhere' and 'Shamrocks Everywhere', you'll see this is similar.  It's named (not too creatively) 'Eggs Everywhere'. 

This book is 15 pages, including the icons page.  Objectives can include:
  • simple prepositions (in, on, under)
  • commenting
  • describing a picture with a simple patterned sentence
  • labeling familiar pictures
  • getting ready for your own Easter egg activities!  

Click here for the book in Boardmaker

Click here for the book in pdf
Use the blue area as a sentence strip. Cut up the rest.