What a treat!

Once upon a time there was a 4-year old girl who had a dream. She told her daddy all about it and they turned it into a story; daughter dictated the words and daddy drew the pictures. The story became a published children’s book and they lived happily ever after.
This is not a fairytale, though! My niece is the author and my brother is the illustrator of a children’s book titled The Great Marshmallow Adventure. It was published and released when my niece was just 5 years old (she’s now going on 12) and was based on a dream she had at age 4! Quite an accomplishment for a little girl, huh?!
It is the most adorable story of Leah’s adventure one night when her bed turns into a giant marshmallow and takes her on a ride through her neighborhood, which has also turned into delicious treats!
The text is simple, the story is exciting, and it is full of speech and language targets! Perfectly suited for students in grade K-3, easily adaptable for 3 and 4-year olds or 4th and 5th graders. Incorporate into a fall or camping theme or use any time of year!
I have been waiting to be able to use this book as part of therapy lessons. Now that I am back “in the classroom” working directly with students, I had to create some companion activities to use with it.
So, I thought I would share what I came up with – which you can download as a FREEBIE here on TpT.
The book, unfortunately, is not so easy to find these days. It’s not as easy as one may think to get a book published and available to the masses! But, I can help with that! I worked some magic with the author and illustrator (it’s all who you know, am I right?!) and if you like what you see in the free download and would like to purchase this book for your personal library, send Elissa an email at livingthespeechlife@gmail.com and we will make it happen! I mean every little penny (aka royalty) helps when you’re a middle school tween!

Back to the companion

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There are comprehension questions to use before, during and after reading the story, three pictured Tier 2 vocabulary targets, pictures and sentences for sequencing and retelling, articulation pictures with words from the story (r, l, s-blends), and pictures to target the irregular past tense verbs included in the text.
And I cannot wait to read this book as the mystery reader in my daughter’s first grade classroom – complete with a bag of all the ingredients and a recipe card for Indoor S’mores (also included in the download)!
So, click this link and download the FREEBIE – you really have nothing to lose, right?! Did I mention it is FREE!
Be sure to email me (Elissa) if you are interested in more information about this sweet book (pun intended).

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Layers of vocabulary

As an SLP, we live and breathe vocabulary! It is the basis of it all, right? Without words, communication would have little meaning – it doesn’t matter if the words are spoken, pictured, signed, gestured, or produced through a voice output device. They are foundational to acquiring language – both written and oral.

Increasing vocabulary is a HUGE part of the daily life of school-based SLPs. It can be overwhelming at times, especially when we think about the sheer number of words students are exposed to and expected to learn in a school year. Or the amount of repetitions needed to learn them all.

So many words, so little time

The words we choose to focus on are as important as the therapeutic methods and strategies we use. There should definitely be nothing random about it. Relying only on spelling lists or vocabulary lists from the teachers’ lesson plans just won’t cut it. But where should we begin?

Starting at the core

Core vocabulary is a small set of words (250-350) that are simple, and are common in any context. These words are familiar and frequent including all parts of speech and most have six or fewer letters. In any age group, core vocabulary makes up 80% or more of the words we use in daily conversation. WOW!

These make up the first words and phrases of toddlers and continue through adult conversations.

Working with students using AAC? What about students who are minimally verbal or have low cognitive ability? Teaching high frequency core vocabulary is the way to go!

This article at Minspeak has various word lists

Praactical AAC has monthly lists and tips for instruction including suggested books to increase practice! Just type ‘core vocabulary’ in the search box and away you go!

Beyond the core

When choosing words to teach beyond the core, it is helpful to consider the three tiers of vocabulary as discussed in the second edition of Bringing Words to Life by Beck, McKeown, and Kucan. Their article on Reading Rockets summarizes it nicely.

Tier One is made up of basic words that typically are learned without instruction. These words include sight words and basic nouns and verbs – and core vocabulary too. We definitely work with individuals who need to build their Tier One vocabulary, don’t we?!?

Tier Three words are low frequency and usually learned specific to content or context. If these are the words we focus on, will our students be able to converse with anyone about anything? Probably not where we should focus our energy and all-too-valuable time!

Tier Two words, however, are the words to know! These are highly frequent in literature and conversations among adults. They are invaluable for reading comprehension and generalize across environments. These words have multiple meanings and can help increase descriptive language.

Cha-ching!!

Comment below and tell us how you choose which words to teach.

Follow us as we continue the vocabulary conversation. Future posts will further discuss teaching vocabulary concepts and strategies, tools for identifying Tier 2 words, breaking down prerequisite skills and writing measurable vocabulary goals.