Monday, July 8, 2013

App Review: SoMuch2Say

Description:  A picture communication AAC iPad app that is designed specifically for individuals with cognitive and language impairment.

Therapy Use: Therapists can use this app to target the following skills: receptive vocabulary, expressive vocabulary, single word expression, sentence expression, introduction to use of AAC.

App Benefits/Likes: 
Flexible page layout includes 1-6 cards per page and sentence strip lay out
Cards can be grouped by category
In app library of SymbolStix© symbols
In app photo library that can be easily expanded
Ability to add photos to in app library from iPad photo library
Ability to add photos to in app library by using iPad camera
Voice recording
Fast card creation
Easy to use
Drag and drop card sharing between iPads
Selected card visually enlarges
App tutorials on website

My Wish List:
Google image search right in app
Ability to easily switch out cards all cards in sentence strip
Pre-made core vocabulary pages

App Tutorial Video:
So Much 2 Say Video Tutorial

App Summary
Skill(s) Targeted
Receptive Vocabulary
Expressive Vocabulary
Early sentence formulation
Early AAC skills

Age/Grade Levels Targeted
Preschool through Adult

How to Activate
Hold and drag

Type of Device
iPad, iOS 4 or greater


Would you recommend this app?


Final Thoughts:  SoMuch2Say is my go to intro to AAC app for my Pre-K students. The app is easy to use, features a nice library of symbols and the ability to create cards “on the fly” with my iPad’s camera.  I have been able to quickly create cards within a therapy session.  The developers are continuing to develop and add features to the app.  Two added features are the SymbolStix© library and the ability to create sentence strips. I appreciate that the developers appear to be interested in educating the app purchaser regarding AAC principals. To that end, they have including links to AAC resources on their “Getting Started” page within the app.  

Reviewed by
Deb Tomarakos, M.A. CCC/SLP-- I purchased this app and was not asked to write this review, nor was I compensated in any way for my review.  The opinions expressed with this review are exclusively my own. 

Review Date

Do you have a "go to AAC" app?  If so, we would love to hear from you.  That’s all from me for today.

Until next time…

Deb J

Thursday, December 20, 2012

My Speech Folders

It seems that organization is always on my mind. I am always trying to find ways to streamline paperwork and keep information at my finger tips.  Having just finished writing progress reports, I was once again reminded that organization skills are key for success as a SLP.  I think that Universities should consider making Organization 101 a requirement for all speech/language graduate students.  As 2012 comes to a close, and we move forward into 2013, I wanted to share another organizational tip with you all. 

In a recent post, I discussed the forms that I use to keep parents informed about our speech sessions.  Today, I want to take some time to talk to you about how I send home information to parents.  All of my students have speech folders.  Yes, I said speech folders.  I know it is a bit of an "old fashioned" concept, especially in this digital age.   I realized exactly how old fashioned my speech folders are when my husband saw them and said they reminded him of the speech folders he had as a child with a frontal lisp.   

Old fashioned or not, I have found that speech folders are an easy way to communicate with parents.  While many of us have entered the digital age, our students still come to school with backpacks and parents search those backpacks for information about their children's school days.  My speech folders are created from simple 2 pocket folders that I purchased for very little money in August during the back to school sales. Because I work with young students, I wanted to put something cute on the cover of the folder.  After seeing many different folders for school organization on Pinterest, I came up with the idea of creating O.W.L.S folders for speech. 

O.W.L.S, stands for Our Weekly Lessons for Speech/Language.  Here is the graphic that I made for the front of the folders:

Inside each folder, I place information that explains the concept of the O.W.L.S folder.  I also include a school calendar and general information about myself and my experience as a SLP.  Most of my students received their folders at the start of the school year, however, I made extra folders so that I could use them with new students throughout the year. Each time a new student enters my caseload, I give them an O.W.L.S folder.
If you would like to create your own O.W.L.S folders, you can download my folder cover and parent letters here.  In the download I have included two different parent letters.  One letter is suitable for younger students and the other is geared toward older students.  The older student letter discusses student goal setting and progress tracking. I have also included forms for older students to write their speech/language goals and chart their own progress. 
As we move forward into the New Year, I have once again resolved to become more organized.  If you have similar resolutions on your mind, I hope you will download and use the O.W.L.S folders to keep yourself and your students more organized in 2013. 
That's all from me for today.  Until next year... :)


Monday, November 26, 2012

Wrapping up November with Pizza

Time sure flies at work these days.  It seems I barely have a minute to photocopy homework let alone even think about writing a blog post.  November sped by for me both at work and at home.  I can't believe that Thanksgiving is over and we are moving into December.  November in my speech room focused on the following pre-school themes: farm, food, Thanksgiving and turkeys. 

This week I am wrapping up my November themes.  I have one more food related lesson to do this week with our OT.  Each week, our OT and I conduct a group that we call our Sensory Motor-Language group.  Our groups are based on themes that coordinate with the preschool curriculum.  Most weeks, we have an obstacle course, a song, a book, and coordinating activities.  This week our theme is pizza.  During the month of November, our preschool classrooms have been talking about foods and pizza.  They read Pete's a Pizza and other pizza stories, they cooked pizzas, they created pizza parlors in the pretend areas of the classroom and they made pizza crafts.

I created an open ended pizza game to go with this theme.  I have used it for articulation and language practice.  You can down load it here:

I hope you can use and enjoy this game with your speech kiddos. If you download and use it, please feel free to leave me a comment.

If you are looking for more pizza related speech materials, check out this category game from Brea at Let'sTalkSpeech-LangaugePathology.

My December themes are going to be gingerbread, reindeer and Christmas related.  I am crossing my fingers that I will have time to share some of my December speech ideas with you.  I am excited to download some pre-made activities at the Teachers Pay Teachers sale this week.  I have already added some of my favorite speech items to my wish list.

That's all from me for today.
Until next time...
:) Deb

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Parent Contact through Therapy Update Sheets

In my last post, I shared my October homework and discussed trying to keep parents informed.  There are so many items that require our time and the last thing we need is more paperwork.  Without paperwork, however, it is difficult to keep parents informed about our therapy sessions.  In an effort to keep parents up to date, I created a therapy update sheet that let's parents know what we practiced during our speech sessions. 

I utilize the top of the form to outline what we practiced and the bottom part to assign homework.  It only takes me a couple of minutes to fill out the form.  I write the date at the top and circle the appropriate items or pictures.  I typically fill out the forms at the end of my sessions when my students are cleaning up and selecting their stickers for their sticker charts.   I don't send new homework every time I send an update.  Sometimes I write simple statements like, "continue practicing k words."  Some days I am pressed for time and I don't fill out the update sheets.  I usually try to send at least one update home per week.  So far, I have gotten all positive feedback from my students' parents about the updates.  Many of them have even taken the time to write me a quick note telling me, "thank you so much for the updates." 
If you would like a copy of my form for your personal use, you can find it here.  The symbols I used are from  If you don't already subscribe to LessonPix, you really should.  I use the web site for everything from symbols for AAC to visual schedules to articulation practice sheets.  I also frequently use the web site to create visuals to accompany my monthly themes, as well as visuals to accompany my literacy units and books. 
How to you keep parents informed about your therapy sessions?  Do you also send home written updates?  We would love for you to share your thoughts or ideas.
That's all from me for today.  Until next time...

Monday, October 22, 2012

October Speech Homework

Homework, homework, who has homework?  I do.  I have always believed that it is important to have parent involvement when working as a SLP with a pediatric population.  When I worked in an outpatient setting, it was easy to keep parents informed and give home suggestions as I saw the parents during every therapy session.  Now that I have moved backed to a school setting, I am frustrated that parental contact is much more limited, making it harder to keep parents informed. 

In an attempt to keep parents informed, I decided to send home monthly  "Speech Room Updates" and homework suggestions.  I try to keep this update to one page and give general suggestions for practicing speech and language skills at home.  Each of my students also gets individualized homework suggestions sent home in their speech folder.  I try to send home something at least once per week, but I don't always have the time to create individualized homework for every student.

Over the last 2 weeks, I have been sending home my October Update and decided to share it with my readers.  It is geared toward a preschool population, however, you could also use it for elementary school students.  If you would like a copy, you can find it here.  Here is a copy of the homework I sent home in September

How do you keep your parents informed and involved in speech/language therapy?  If you have a system that works for you, we'd love to hear about it. 

That's all from me for today.  Until next time...
:) Deb

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Speech Room Tour

I can't believe it has been over a month since I have written a post.  No, scratch that.  I can believe it.  Starting a new job, plus my kids going back to school and starting at a new day care center adds up to one busy month.  Add in the fact that I am now teaching Sunday School (I just don't know how to say no) and one of my kids was very ill and in the hospital.  Well, let's just say September is one month that I am glad has passed.

As September comes to a close I feel that I am falling into a routine at my new job and I no longer walk into work each day feeling like the new girl.  In my last post, I talked about getting organized for school to start.  Today I want to take you on a tour of the room where I have been working for the past month.  I love seeing pictures of other speech rooms and classrooms, so I thought I would share with you.  My room is still a work in progress, however, I am now at a point where I at least know where to find everything. 

Let's start by walking into my room.   This is a picture of my door.    I know it's a little boring.  I can't really put anything on the door that identifies my room as "the speech room" due to DOE regulations.  I am planning to decorate the door with some student artwork as the year progresses.  For now, it is simple but lets people know where to find me.

This next picture shows "Miss Deb's corner" of the room.  I tell the kids this is my corner so that they don't invade my space.  Actually, I mostly tell them that because there is frequently a cup of coffee sitting somewhere in this corner.  Shhh, don't tell anyone I bring my coffee to my desk.  My desk only has one small drawer that doesn't fit much more than my pens and my scissors.  In the middle of my desk top, you can see my office supply organizer that I showed you in my last post.  Having used it for a month I can say I really love it.  If you are short on desk drawers, like I am, go buy one of these organizers.  You won't be sorry. 

In this photo, you can see the bins I purchased at Target and shared in my last post.  I labeled them with the days of the week.  Inside them I place any materials that I will need for that day's lessons. They sit on plastic drawers that are to the right of my desk.  Above them you can see my little window.  I have said this before and I will say it again.  I am so excited to have a window. The blue curtains were there when I moved in.  It is nice to be able to close the curtains when students are outside on the playground which is outside my window.

The next photo shows the shelf that is located to the right of my desk.  It holds most of my work books and my binders.  I am not in love with the color of this shelf.  If I had the time, I would really like to take this outside and give it a nice coat of spray paint.  Maybe that will be a project for next summer. 

As I said, my binders live on this shelf.  I love my binders.  Binders are another great way to stay organized.  I previously keep my papers inside my file cabinets.  I find it is so much easier to find what I need now that I have these binders.  I created the side labels and also some really cute front labels that I will share those with you in a future post.

Next is a picture that shows my table and my white board.  My table is actually two tables pushed together.  I am not wild about it, but it works ok in the space.  I wanted to get rid of one of the tables, however, I found that one table didn't offer enough space for my larger groups.  My solution was to keep both tables together and push them up against the wall. In the middle of the table I keep my dollar buckets with craft/writing supplies.  It is nice to have everything close at hand and my preschoolers are actually really good about  not playing with the supplies. 

Above my table is my white board.  It really is a large white board.  It takes up almost my whole wall.  Because my guys are so little, I don't write on the board very often, so I use it more as a large bulletin board.  On the white board are my speech room rules, my Whole Body Listening pictures, and my speech tree. 

I took this picture of my speech tree a couple of weeks ago.  The tree is now decorated with apples to go along with our current apple theme.  The tree was so easy and inexpensive to make.  The tree trunk is actually made from contact paper that has a wood grain.  I had this paper at home.  It was left over from a time when I was lining the shelves under my bathroom sinks.  The green part of the tree is bulletin board paper that I got for free at school.   As the year progresses and we move through the seasons, I will change my tree to reflect the change of seasons.  Stay tuned for pics next month as I change it into a fall leaf tree. 

This shelf is on one side of my tables.  On the shelf I keep most of my boxed therapy materials and my baskets of books. The books are sorted by topic or theme so that I can quickly find what I need.  In the back of this picture, you can see my large toy and game shelf.  I wanted to cover the large shelf with a piece of fabric to reduce the "distraction factor."  I haven't covered it yet because I am having a difficult time finding fabric that is "certified fire resistant."  My school has strict fire safety rules.  We also aren't allowed to have 3-D bulletin board displays or anything hanging from the ceiling.  It limits my decorating options, however, safety comes first.


This next picture shows my owl bulletin board.  I case you haven't noticed, I will tell you I have a bit of an owl theme going on in the room.  This owl board was another easy to make and inexpensive bulletin board. I created it with clip art from Scrappin Doodles.  I simply printed out the clip art and laminated it.  I created the words in Power Point, printed them out and laminated them.  It is hard to read in the photo, but the words say "Look Whooo uses good speech." The blue background is bulletin board paper that I got for free at school.  Each one of my kiddos has their own owl chart that is stapled on this bulletin board.  They earn stickers for their owl chart every time they work hard in the speech room.  It is amazing how motivating a small sticker can be for a preschool student. 

Last but not least, is a picture of the side of one of my filing cabinets.  This cabinet is very old and the side of it was scratched and rusty.  I tried to make it look a little nicer by covering it with contact paper.  As you can see, I did not do a perfect job.  I have some wrinkles and bubbles that I need to go back and fix, however, it still looks much better than the rusty metal.  On the side, I keep my pocket charts with PECS.  These pocket charts were purchased at the Target Dollar Spot.  I bought them last year, however, I have seen them in the Dollar Spot at other times.

Well that is the fifty cent tour of my room.  I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the things in my room as well as some of my organizational strategies.  If you have a blog or website where you have posted pictures of your speech room, please post a link so we can stop by for a visit.

Thanks for spending some time in my speech room with me.  Until next time...
:) Deb

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Back to School Organization

I haven't written a post in a while because I have been trying to enjoy my last weeks of summer break.  The start of school is just around the corner and that means back to work for me.  This year, I will be starting a new job as a SLP at the preschool level in a public school.  I have seen my new speech room, however, I haven't been able to get into the room and get organized yet.  I will be able to get into my space in another week or so.  In the mean time, I have been trying to get my "speech stuff" organized at home.  I have bins of materials that have been stored in my basement since we moved last summer.  It is time for me to sort through everything and gather up the items that will be useful for my preschool caseload. 

Sorting through stacks of speech materials and selecting my favorite items is a post for another day.  Today I want to talk about my first step in organizing any space....containers.  We have all heard the old saying "a place for everything and everything in its place."  I take this to the extreme when organizing my speech rooms.  That said, I have been spending the past few weeks shopping for new containers for my new room.  One of my first purchases was this for my desk.  I have seen pictures of this container floating all around teacher pin boards on Pinterest. 

speech room organization 
I absolutely love this idea. All of your "office supply needs" are met in one little container. The drawers are clear and I covered mine with sticky labels. I wrote on my labels, however, I have seen photos of fancy labels that people have printed for their drawers.  I bought my container at Lowe's for under $20.00.  You can find this and similar storage containers in the aisle with the screws, nails and other fasteners.  I believe the original purpose for this container was to store small tools, nails, etc.  Some clever person decided it would also serve as a great desk organizer and I agree.  I am not sure who came up with the original idea.  If anyone knows the name of the person who first posted on Pinterest, I would love to hear from you so I can give her/him props. 

In additional to searching tool aisles, I also went to one of my favorite inexpensive aisles....the dollar spot at Target.  The Dollar Spot is a great place to find therapy materials, small games and yes storage containers.  I love these small buckets. 
speech room organization
This is an item that you can typically find at the Dollar Spot year round.  At holiday times, they have buckets with holiday themes.  These are great for storing arts/crafts items, such as glue stick, crayons, markers, etc.  You can also use them for sorting games, or for "Ants in the Pants," "Flipping Frogs,"  "Hopping Bunnies" and other such games. The handles make it easy to transport the buckets from place to place.

Another item from the Dollar Spot:
speech room organization

I bought five of these.  One for each day of the week.  I will be storing my daily lessons in these on my desk top.  I almost bought a set of these online and I would have spent way more money than a dollar each.

Here is a Walmart find:
speech room organization

I love these envelopes.  They are inexpensive and I like to store my picture books with accompanying lessons inside these.  It keeps all those small sequencing and retelling pictures with the book.  I have also used zip lock baggies for the same purpose, but I find these envelopes are easier to store.  

My other staple for organization is 3 ring binders.  I have found binders are the easiest way for me to stay organized. I just completed my calendar binder and I will share that with you in my next post.  I am very excited to get into my new speech room. Stay tuned for pictures as I clean, organize and get my room set up for the start of the school year.

That's all from me for today.  If you have some great inexpensive speech room organization ideas, we would love to hear from you. 

That's all from me for today.  Until next time...
:) Deb

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