Tag Archives : Literacy

September Children’s Literature Reviews

September Children’s Literature Reviews

Hey there! The official beginning of fall will be here in a few days. For you football lovers out there, I am sure that you have happily immersed yourself into cheering on your favorite team on GAME DAY!! I know there are plenty of die hard college football and/or professional football fans. I live in Georgia Bulldog country! Go DAWGS!! I have to admit though that I am not much of a football fan because I attended a HUGE BASKETBALL university!! GO TARHEELS!! 

Anyhow, I look forward to a new season because I get to introduce new books in my speech-language therapy sessions and I love books! Go LITERACY! Here are my three top picks for the month of September. 
Home-Field Advantage by Justin Tuck is an awesome story about family, forgiveness, and football! The main character is the author, a football player who played 9 years for the New York Giants. He now plays for the Oakland Raiders. This story is about him growing up with his five sisters who always seem to have the upper hand and his brother. One day, his twin sisters decide to give him a haircut that turns out horrible! There are great illustrations of his reverse mohawk or bald spot down the middle of his head and him diving under his covers to hide from embarrassment! Justin forgives his prankster sisters and they all support him through the years as he excels at his craft of football! 
My second pick is Amelia Bedelia’s First Apple Pie by Herman Parish. I love this entire series actually. This particular one is a fantastic book to practice story retell, figurative language, and multiple meaning words. The author invites you to experience Amelia as she enjoys the season of autumn. She plays in the leaves at her grandparents’ house, takes a trip to the farmer’s market with her grandfather to buy Granny Smith apples, and lovingly makes her first apple pie with her grandmother. You need to read the book for yourself and with your students. There is a delightful twist at the end that will have you smiling. Plus, the author includes an apple pie recipe as well! Yum!
My third pick is There was an Old Lady Who Swallowed Some Leaves, by Lucille Colandro. I think many SLPs, teachers, and parents are familiar with this series. However, it is definitely worth mentioning. It is the perfect book to teach story sequencing and to give kids an opportunity to practice verbal and written story retell. There are tons of book companion sets that accompany this book on TPT. I have successfully used visual cues with picture and vocabulary cards (e.g. with sequencing terms) to help my students retell the story. Other children just need a quick picture walk after listening to the story to retell it by themselves. 
Here’s a link to my oral story retelling rubric: 
What are you favorite books for September? I’d love to hear. 
Literacy Website Review # 2 {Technology}

Literacy Website Review # 2 {Technology}

I am constantly adding new grade level fiction and non-fiction text to my speech-language therapy resources. It is critical that speech-language pathologists support developing children’s literacy skills on a regular basis. I do this by addressing listening comprehension and vocabulary IEP objectives related to text at students’ instructional reading level. An instructional reading level is the level of book that they can read with adult support. 

I love the website http://www.readinga-z.com/   because there is a ton of information on this site!You can search for books by different categories. I go right to the literature genre and leveled book collections when I need language therapy materials. 

If you are an SLP supporting the 3rd grade Common Core Reading Standards, you should click on the tab for Fables and access these books:


Each book is marked with an alphabetical letter that corresponds with a certain reading level. For example, the Boy who Cried Wolf is marked “Level E or 1st grade” but it supports the 3rd grade standard of teaching fables. I read aloud the stories to the children and have them follow along in a printed book. Then, I ask story comprehension and vocabulary questions. You can also have students practice story retell. 

I love that this website also has vocabulary lists available that are already sorted into Tier I, Tier II, and Tier III words. How awesome is that! The SLP can teach kids how to use context clues to understand the meaning of the words. 

You can also verbally model for your students how to verbally compare and contrast fiction/non-fiction text using the recommended paired book sets. Then have them practice this skill. This encourages kids to use higher level thinking skills to identify similarities and differences between the characters and events. Here is the link to access paired books by reading grade level: /http://www.readinga-z.com/book-related-resources/paired-books/

I frequently go to the leveled books tab when I want to differentiate instruction for my students. I will select a book for each child at their instructional reading level. For example, I may have a 4th grade student who is reading at a 3rd grade instructional level. So I may select level Q text such as:

Since I am a SLP, I read aloud the text so that the child is practicing their listening comprehension skills. However, I believe it is important to provide them access to books at their instructional reading level so they are not frustrated with their literacy practice. Their special education resource teacher addresses their reading decoding and comprehension objectives. 

You may access some of this information on the site for free! However, I recommend paying for a subscription because it is well worth the money! 

Thanks for visiting the blog today. 


Literacy Website Review {Technology}

Literacy Website Review {Technology}

Last school year, a friend of mine told me about roythezebra.com, a website that has an engaging fiction story, literacy worksheets, and interactive reading games.  The story is divided into nine parts and features the main character, Roy the zebra.  This is great to use as a group language therapy activity in the classroom. 

This year, I am currently enjoying using this resource with two language therapy groups.  Before reading the story, Roy the Tale of the Singing Zebra,  I ask my students questions to help them make predictions about what the story will be about. Then I read aloud the story during a  language therapy lesson in both a moderate intellectual disability class and a mild autism class. My students are enjoying viewing the story as it is displayed on the whiteboard and listening to my animated oral reading.  In one of the classrooms, I am using Mimio software that allows me to easily click through the pages of the story by touching the stylus pen on the white board. 

At the beginning of the story, Roy lives in a zoo where all his favorite activities of singing, dancing, and rolling around are banned. In part two, he is eager to escape from the horrible zoo and gets help from his friend George and his elephant friend Lucy. At the end of each part, my students want to know what happens next but they have to wait until the next weeks lesson.

I recommend that the SLP or teacher pause the reading of the story at times to model “think alouds” by asking questions. This helps check for story comprehension and teaches them to think while they are listening. This is especially necessary for students with language disorders because of the unknown vocabulary that is embedded in the story. There are discussion questions available for use after reading the story to further check for understanding. 

There are 27 literacy worksheets available or  3 for each part of the story that may be used after listening to the story. The worksheets address skills such as sentence construction, correct use of punctuation marks, capitalization, story sequencing, rhyming words answering literal comprehension questions, and character perspective taking. I think the worksheets are great to use as extension activities by the speech-language pathologist or the teacher as appropriate by the skill taught. However, I typically ask students verbal questions and ask them to orally respond due to time constraints during language therapy lessons. 

Additionally, this literacy website has interactive whiteboard lesson plans that can be paired with provided learning games to teach literacy skills. An associated worksheet is also available to be completed as classwork or homework. I have not personally used the interactive games, but have reviewed them online and told the special education teachers about them. Some of the learning games are free and some you have to pay $6.95 to access them.

Here is the list of the free learning games:
Alphabetical Order- sequence words in alphabetical order 

Double Consonants- add word endings (ff, ss, bl, br, cl, cr, ck, ng)

Singular or Plural- sorting activity to distinguish between singular and plural nouns  *This is a great activity for SLPs to use.

Long Vowel Phonemes- identify target sound blends by clicking on them to make new words *Certain sounds such as “er”, “ir”, “or” would be great to use with students practicing their speech articulation of vocalic /r/.

Rhyming words- identify words that sound the same or rhyme

Here is the list of the learning games available for purchase ($6.95):

Consonant Blends- targets phonological processing skill of blending and segmenting consonants to make CVCC words

Long Vowel Phonemes- complete access to learning game; add vowels to make new words 

Tim Bowerbank in the creator of roythezebra.com. He was inspired to create the character Roy, after a trip to South Africa. He requests that all users register on the website and subscribe to his literacy newsletter before using the free resources. 

I encourage you to integrate technology in your speech language therapy lessons or instructional time in the classroom. Thanks for the reading the blog today. 

Tamara  Anderson

August Children’s Literature Reviews

August Children’s Literature Reviews

I love using children’s books in my speech-language therapy sessions with my students. I enjoy reading aloud to my students and popping in that oh so lovely CD to play an audio book for different group sessions. Either way it is a win win situation because students are typically engaged in the story and there are so many speech language objectives that can be addressed. 

Last week, I used the audio CD that read aloud the book, Teacher’s Pets, by Dayle Ann Dodds. I was lucky to have multiple copies of the book so that my students could follow along with the read aloud. The audio teaches them to listen for a chime to turn the page. 

This is a delightful book about Miss Fry and her elementary school aged students. In their class, each Monday is sharing day. One Monday, Winston has the creative suggestion for his classmates to share their pets. Your students will love turning the pages to find out the pet each character in the book brings to school. This is a great way to discuss sequencing of story events.

The first Monday, Winston brought in his pet rooster. The next Monday, Patrick brought his pet tarantula. Then the class got to see Roger’s cricket, Alia’s goat, Amanda’s dog, Jerry’s snake, Megan’s cat, Mitchell’s mice, and so on. 

Last week I used this book with my speech-language students with co-occurring autism, moderate intellectual disability, and learning disabilities. They all smiled as they listened and eagerly turned the page with each chime! After listening to the story, they verbally answered literal “wh” questions about the characters, setting, and events in the story. One of my students in my intellectually disability group  especially struggles with initiating oral expression. For her, I wrote out the questions and showed her a visual choice of 3-4 answer choices. After that, she did a fair job with indicating her responses with visual prompts from the story as needed. 

The previous week, I read aloud, Charlies Goes to School, by Ree Drummond. 

I love this story because the pictures are so vibrant as well as realistic and it is told from the perspective of Charlie, the ranch dog as he explores the ranch for the day. This is a great time to remind students about the meaning of the word fiction as the main character engages in activities that dogs don’t do in real life, such as teach school to animal friends.  Charlie invites the reader to explore what life on the ranch is for his human and animal family. 

He introduces us to the other characters: daddy, cowboy Josh, mama, the kids, Suzie the dog, Kitty Kitty, ranch horses, cows, and Walter the dog. He tells us that his human family goes to school at home and gets inspired to teach his animal family reading, math, and history. Well you can just imagine how well turns out for the animals! They have difficulty focusing, want to play, and Walter the dog even falls asleep.  

Since I read Charlie goes to School aloud to my students, I modeled “think alouds” along the way by making additional comments and asking questions to check for story comprehension. 

I definitely recommend these awesome books for use during speech-language therapy lessons or reading class. 

I also recommend a rubric to measure students’ abilities to orally retell fiction stories. The SLP or teacher records a score of 5 to 0 in each performance element category: characters, setting, problem or rising action, solution or falling action/conclusion. To calculate a score, just add up the points in each category. To calculate a story retelling percentage of accuracy divide the score by 20, that is the total possible points. I recommend audio recording your student’s story retell for easier scoring using the rubric. 

This product was revised last week and it is available in my TPT store here: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Oral-Story-Retelling-Rubric-819201

Thanks for visiting the blog today! 🙂

Tamara Anderson

Oral and Written Story Retell: Turkey Trouble

Oral and Written Story Retell: Turkey Trouble

This year, I discovered a new fiction book, Turkey Trouble by Wendi Silvano. It is an excellent book that is perfect for students to practice retelling stories in speech language therapy lessons, special education resource classrooms, or regular education classrooms as well. 

Today, three of my groups did a picture walk with the story by looking at the pictures to gather ideas about what the story would be about. Then, we listened to the audio book and each student had their own book to actively engage in the story as it was read aloud. Next, I asked questions about the story and modeled orally retelling the story. After that, each student had a chance to verbally retell the story by expressing the characters, setting, sequential events, and why the main character did certain actions in the story. 

This is a captivating story about a turkey on Farmer Jake’s farm who disguises himself in different animal costumes in an attempt to not be captured, slaughtered, and cooked for Thanksgiving Dinner. There is a delightful end of the story that you will have to read for yourself! 

Here is a picture of my students actively writing their story summaries after practicing their oral summaries. 

I played classical music while they wrote and they were truly working with minimal need for redirection. I was pleasantly surprised that I had 1 group of students with Mild Autism and 2 groups of students with SLI and SLD actively engaged in writing in my speech language classroom! With my ASD morning group, I wrote a written summary while they wrote as well. I believe that it is important to model all expected tasks for students to increase their task initiation and successful completion.

Here’s a picture of the summary I wrote this morning. 

This was definitely an awesome lesson! On their next session this week, they will complete a turkey arts and craft activity on the other side of their summaries. I am going to make copies of their completed work to keep as a work sample. They will get to take their original home for further oral language practice at home …hopefully when they share with their family. 

Thanks for visiting my blog!


Launch into Literacy

The beginning of the school year is an ideal time for speech language pathologists, teachers, students, and parents to intentionally launch into literacy. We are surrounded by the four essential areas of literacy on a daily basis: listening, speaking, reading, writing. I wonder how many moments a person could be observed engaging in one of these four domains. I’m sure the number would be quite high. Imagine what it would be like to have a literacy pedometer that counts how many “literacy interactions” you have everyday. Hmmm…something to ponder! Ha!

Anyhow, I love assisting my students who have speech language disorders and other special education needs improve their literacy skills. I love using children’s literature in my students’ speech language therapy sessions as they practice their receptive and oral language skills. Books are a great way to target most if not all speech language areas of need. I also encourage my students to practice their oral story retell abilities with fiction and nonfiction narratives. 
The first week of school, I always ask my students to tell the language group about an exciting or interesting event that they experienced over the summer. I encourage them to describe the event using as much details as possible. A SLP or classroom teacher can gather baseline data of students’ oral language abilities during their story retell. You could use a rubric to determine the level of mastery of specific skills.  Here is an example: http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Oral-Story-Retelling-Rubric-819201
The SLP or teacher could extend the activity by having them write and record their story using an I Pad, I Phone, or other digital recorder.  Here is a realistic fiction story I wrote and recorded today inspired by my recent vacation to Mexico. I am a firm believer that SLPs and teachers should provide models so that students have a clear example of the desired outcome. 
Coming soon….once I learn how to upload a file to my You Tube channel that I created! 🙂 The title of the story is: Yikes! I saw a Barracuda! A Summer Snorkeling Adventure.
Other oral and written language samples can be taken during the school year and rubrics used by the educator to measure students growth or mastery of skills.

Tamara Anderson, M.S., CCC-SLP
SLP Back to Work

Fiction Book of the Week: Green Shamrocks

Fiction Book of the Week: Green Shamrocks

This week, some of my speech-language students in grades K-2 listened to a CD with a reading of the fiction book Green Shamrocks by Eve Bunting. The learning objectives for the lesson were for them to answer listening comprehension questions, sequence the story events, and verbally retell the story. I have one student in kindergarten who stutters so he also practiced his speech fluency using his slow and easy speech. 

I was lucky to have multiple copies of this book, so each student had a chance to do their own “picture walk” by looking at the illustrations in order to make predictions about what the story would be about. The students did a great job naming the characters  before they heard the story and shared their thoughts about what was going to happen in the story. 

They did a great job answering literal who, what, where, when, and why questions that were directly stated in the story. They needed some verbal prompts to sequence the events and orally retell the story.  

I see most of my students 2-3 times a week for speech-language therapy. So, on the 2nd therapy day we completed an arts & craft activity. Here are a few photos:

Thanks for visiting the blog! Happy early St. Patrick’s Day!

Celebrating Dr. Seuss in Speech-Language Therapy

Celebrating Dr. Seuss in Speech-Language Therapy

Last week, my school had a celebration for Read Across America Week and Friday was a celebration in honor of Dr. Seuss’ Birthday. Some of my speech-language students had the opportunity to practice language arts vocabulary, orally summarizing story events, sequencing events, and speech articulation skills during Dr. Seuss themed activities. One of my favorite activities of the week involved using the book: The Lorax. I differentiated or modified instruction as needed for my students based on their IEP goals. Here is a picture of books I used:

I previewed relevant language arts vocabulary that we typically discuss with fiction stories. For example, I asked my students to name the title, author, and illustrator prior to reading the story. I pointed out the publisher and explained that I would be their narrator. During the story, I modeled “think alouds” and had my students name the characters, describe the characters’ traits, and point of view of the story. After the story, we summarized the plot and compared/contrasted what happened at the introduction vs. conclusion of the story.

I love this book because at the end of the story it promotes preserving the environment and restoring the Bar-ba-loot Bears’ habitat by planting trees. So, my students eagerly created their own “Truffula Forest” from the seed that the Once-ler had at the end of the story after he selfishly cut down all the trees for his “Thneed” clothing manufacturing business. Here are some examples of my students’ beautiful and colorful creations:

Here was our inspiration page for the craft activity:

These bright colors have me looking forward to fun speech-language craft activities with spring and summer themes during lessons in my speech-language therapy classroom!! Oh yeah…I should mention that I am eager DESPITE the light snow flurries we had in Atlanta over the weekend.

Thanks for stopping by the blog today!! Stay tuned for resources to support the English/Language Arts and Reading Common Core Curriculum Standards.