Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Orange Pumpkin Book---Revised; Get Ready for Halloween!

Back in 2012, I found an awesome Halloween book on Tarheel Reader, and after adding interactive icons, put it up on my blog.   It has been a huge hit, and when I was working in the schools, my students read it year after year.  Today, I decided to actually look at the book and my blog entry.  I still liked it, but when I took a look at the photo credits on Tarheel Reader, I found that some of the photographers had changed their usage rights, or had removed the photos.  In addition, back in 2012, I knew very little about copyright laws and image use.  The bottom line--I've revised the book using Photos for Class  or provided a link back to the photo website (provided the photographer allows use of the photo in the first place). I'll be taking down my original book.

The book is the same pattern, but some images are changed.  I also changed the font to make it more child friendly.

There are also the same icons as previously, both in Boardmaker and as a pdf.

For those of you who don't know about adapting books, I like to print out and laminate the pages including the icons.  The kids can match colors and item pictures to the book as it's read to them, or as they read it themselves. 

Links for downloading are below.  Happy reading! 

Click here to download the icons in pdf

Click here to download the icons in Boardmaker

Click here to download the revised Orange Pumpkin book in pdf

Off topic, does anyone else love Joan Baez?  Her farewell tour is coming to Durham NC this weekend.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"What do I see in the Fall?"---Free printable interactive book

It's fall!   My favorite season!    In the spirit of giving, I found a new book on Tarheel Reader and adapted it (changing out some of the pictures, adding icons, and adding a sentence frame). You can print or display it, whatever your preference is.

The book focuses on a few core words ('I', "see", "go") along with fringe vocabulary ('fall' words such as 'rake', 'acorn', and 'leaves').
Kids can add pages if there are other items that they see outside---that's just a quick extension activity idea :)

This was originally found on Tarheel Reader.
Tarheel Reader is an excellent resource for simple books with vivid pictures.  These can be printed or downloaded to an ipad.  I print, and edit.

Simple repetitive language is throughout the book.  "I" and "see" are core words.  Kids also need the fringe (in this case, 'fall' vocabulary).

Icons are provided to make the book interactive, along with a sentence frame.  Icons are from Smarty Symbols----I pay a professional subscription to create and share materials.   These symbols are copyrighted, so please don't create new materials using them.


If you are interested in this free book (which does focus on nouns and 'fall'), you may also like an item I listed on Teachers Pay Teachers which is also fall-themed.  This packet includes two interactive books, a craft booklet, and a fall scavenger hunt for a nominal price. As usual, if you are a starving CF, or in a disaster zone (such as a Hurricane Florence area), email me at, and the packet is yours free.


Let's pray for no more hurricanes. We were very lucky in Chapel Hill, but my heart breaks when I see images from the coast.

No more, please!

Friday, September 21, 2018

"I See Trains" --free printable interactive book

Who doesn't like trains?  I've ridden them in the US, in Indonesia, in Italy, in Spain, and in Norway.  I'd love to go to Japan and ride the Bullet Train.  Kids often are facinated by trains too and several I worked with were familiar (obsessed) with Thomas.  Some owned myriad Thomas toys, and even when they didn't really have functional communication skills, could name all the characters instantly, putting my limited Thomas vocabulary skills to shame. 

In honor of train travel, I've adapted a Tarheel Reader book I found. I changed out some of the pictures due to copyright issues, and added icons, and a sentence frame at the end. The original book is here.      The link to my interactive rendition is below.  I liked this book with its repetitive language, use of modifiers, and vivid pictures.  If you are working on core AAC vocabulary, there are several words here along with a variety of fringe vocabulary.  If you are working on kindergarten reading level, this book works for that too!   The symbols are from Smarty Symbols and  I pay a subscription fee which allows me to create and share materials

All pages follow the 'I see a _____ train' pattern.

Icons are provided for matching, and a sentence frame is on the last page. 

You can download the free printable book from this link.

Long ago, my husband and I along with our two boys took a trip across the country on Amtrak. 
It took a long time with many stops along the way to explore  Washington DC, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Glacier National Park, and Seattle.  Needless to say, we had loads of fun and an experience my boys will never forget!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

New Gluten-Free Vegan recipe--Butternut Squash Coconut Chili

I'm not a vegan.

That being said, I occasionally have to cook vegan, and found a perfect recipe which accomodated vegan and gluten-free diets.  When there are multiple food restrictions occuring in the same meal with different people, cooking sometimes gets a little complicated!  I do want to prepare a meal for a friend at times, and accomodating another's special diet is the first step to having a good time.

The recipe is for Butternut Squash Coconut Chili.  I found this on a beautiful blog that looks as though it's been abandoned.   I'm working on making sure my own, Chapel Hill Snippets, continues to be up and running.

I made this today, and it was delicious.  Please go to the Fig Tree for the recipe.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention our state's weather disaster.  Hurricane Florence devastated the eastern part of North Carolina.  My community, Chapel Hill, was relatively unscathed, but I worry about all the people down east, many with flooded homes and little relief in sight as the flood waters continue to rise.  The news is terrible and sad.

We did have a bit of a downpour yesterday which gave us a taste of the power of water.  Our little babbling brook down in the ravine turned into a major torrent in the matter of a few hours.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

"My Beak, Your Beak"-- Free Companion Materials for Comparing/Contrasting

Now that my little granddaughter is four, she totally loves books.  I found one at our awesome library that would be great for teaching comparing/contrasting in a speech/language therapy session. It's "My Beak, Your Beak" by Melanie Walsh.

From Amazon: "Melanie Walsh, creator of Do Pigs Have Stripes? and Do Monkeys Tweet? shows her skill in reaching the youngest readers. Walsh shows differences between pairs of animals and then shows how they are similar.
Lions are big and have hairy manes. Kittens are small and fluffy. But . . . they both have scratchy claws!
There are birds and bats, sharks and goldfish, penguins and birds—who at first may seem very different, but share similarities, too. Children will love guessing on their own."  

The author compares 5 pairs of animals, with clear illustrations, and simple language--perfect for our kids.  I've created a set of visuals to go with this book, all free, just for you.  You will have to find the book--it's for sale online, or you can check out your local library, which is what I did.

The visuals have clipart from Smarty Symbols for each animal, along with a sample Venn diagram and a blank Venn diagram.

The book is loads of fun, and the kids will all love this.

For the free set of visuals to go with this book, click here.

A while back, I made a comprehensive set of visuals to go with 'Nothing Like a Puffin' along with some supplemental teaching materials, and a compare/contrast game.  You can view 'Nothing Like a Puffin' companion pack here on TPT.


Sunday, March 4, 2018

Open the Door! Make a Simple House Craft--printable directions, sequencing, communication board

Last week, I posted a free simple book to elicit the word 'Open'.  This week, I'm sharing a craft also designed ultimately to elicit the same word.  Links to download are at the bottom of this post.

This craft comes with free downloadable step by step directions, a sequencing activity, a simple communication board, and some sample yes/no and wh-questions.

Sample instruction page

Simple core/fringe communication board.
Use the child's own core board and system if you want.

                                Sequencing page activity
This activity was originally meant for a Teachers Pay Teachers product.  When I looked at how many 'core vocabulary' products were for sale on TPT, I felt the market was a bit glutted there (as in 1,470 products listed when I typed in 'core vocabulary' under speech therapy) so I switched this to free on this blog.  Core vocabulary words are beautiful because children can use them in any school or daily living activity all day long.  This is a simple craft to elicit a few, including the target word 'open'.  

Have fun!  This can go with my previous blog post where I listed a free book "What Can Open?"

Click here to download this craft booklet.
Click here to also download a free book, "What Can Open?"

This picture was too good not to share--my granddaughters.  As an SLP, I can't help but marvel at the eye contact and happy smile on the 6 week old baby's part, and the ablility of the fun-loving 4 year old to elicit a response.  

Thursday, March 1, 2018

"What Can Open?"--Free Printable Book with Icons

A very functional word to teach your students is 'Open'.  Everything seems to open, so here's a free book to let the children practice using this word with a variety of nouns. (13 pages including icons)

The symbols are Smarty Symbols---Please do not use these in another product as they are copyrighted. I have a commercial license.

The images are from Pixabay---public domain.

The last two pages are icons (Smarty Symbols) for matching, and a small sentence frame.

Here is the download link:

Click here to download "What Can Open" 

For an extension craft, go here. The kids will be provided step-by-step directions for making an 'open the door' house craft.
Icons for the "What Can Open" book

If you are interested in another Core Vocabulary Product, go here for a packet highlighting
"Look and Go".

In the ongoing saga of my life, I have retired again, however, with our new little addition to our family, I have important grandmother responsibilities.  The picture below illustrates a typical morning.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Why I Quit

The past few months with a new job have allowed me to seriously reflect on personal happiness, health, and guilt-free options.

You probably all don't know my work history, but I started an awesome retirement in February 2017.
In July 2017, I then was hired on by the same school system as a part-time teacher (itinerant) for hearing impaired children.  At the time, it seemed like a perfect marriage between my former career as a speech-language pathologist, and my other former career as an educator for the deaf.  I was hired as the only teacher of the deaf for this district.

After beginning that new job in August, I resigned in January.  Why, you may ask?  After all, I was in fact very familiar with the school system, IEPs, community, and the special education field.  I did have 25 years experience with this same system.  What could go wrong?  With me, it was a lack of anticipation.

1. I didn't anticipate the work-related anxiety.  I started in August, and by September, I was having difficulty functioning at home.  The 'anxiety knot' (for lack of a better term) simply wouldn't go away.
The job was part-time, two and a half days a week, but even when I would leave it on Wednesday, it wasn't until Saturday that I could function. 
    The picture below is a screenshot of my resting heart rate, as measured by FitBit.  Basically it shows how well I've been sleeping at night. The lower the heart rate, the sounder the sleep.  Even though I was only working part time, my nights were filled with worry about my students, and feelings of angst about the job. I finally decided I wasn't getting paid enough to drag the worry around with me 24 hours a day.

2. I didn't anticipate how the lack of instructional funding would affect me.  North Carolina seems to expect that teachers purchase supplies out of pocket, and that was certainly true for me. I was forced to raid random bookrooms, purchase materials from Teachers Pay Teachers, submit DonorChoose grants, and otherwise beg for scraps.

3. I didn't anticipate that I wouldn't have enough time to teach the students.  Too many high needs students, too little time (I was only half time), too many schools, no instructional money---all leads back to reason number 1.

4. Myriad other reasons involving serious student equity issues, my own feelings of isolation in the job, no 'guide book', low pay, low morale in the entire special education department.  It was impossible to stay happy.  Since I already had health insurance and other benefits with my pension, there was no incentive to stay.  I hope that if any of you readers are seriously unhappy in a work setting, you feel free to explore other options. 

5. New job!  I'm looking forward to spending lots of time with the grandkids!   Isabel was born January 10 joining her big sister Lily! 

My hope is that the school administration will look at this particular position and make some changes.  Bumping it to full-time would be one---as of now, the position is still vacant.  With no benefits, and a half-time salary, few people will line up to even interview.  Other changes would be to include the teacher in a professional learning community to reduce the feelings of isolation.  Providing instructional funding would be a necessity, as well as adequate office space. Providing a mentor for a new teacher also seems vital. 
   Given the state of turmoil that NC education is in, changes are doubtful.  I can only hope, for the children's sake.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Accountable Talk® for Everyone---Shout out to Chapel Hill Schools SLP blog with free printable

My former SLP colleagues at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools put out a blog post from time to time.  They're busy, so their postings have been a little sporadic lately--I know how that goes.  Initial enthusiasm tapers off, and pretty soon, a blog post seems to be a monthly, then quarterly event.

Their latest post, Accountable Talk® for Everyone, is a particulary good one.  Buddy talk, Accountable Talk, small group discussions, partner work---these are all extremely challenging for language impaired children.  The child may know answers, but to explain thought processes, or to think about ideas from others' perpectives and provide verbal supports for your own opinions is difficult.  The author of this blog post, Sarah Smith, M.S,, CCC-SLP, has provided the readers with free visuals to aid a child duing Accountable Talk times in the classroom.  These are leveled flip books--one for beginners, and one for more advanced learners.

If you are interested in these free downloads, hop on over to the Chapel Hill Speech Pathologist blog by clicking here, find the link, and download.