Saturday, April 28, 2012


My youngest son is graduating from high school on May 18.  Of course, this elicits many emotions in my heart: joy, hope, sadness, peace, anxiety...

I sit here this Saturday morning making plans for his graduation day and I realized I need to decide on a gift (since we are only 3 weeks from the event).  I plan on gifting him something useful and pricey, but I also need another small meaningful gift.  As I browsed on the computer for suitable ideas, I came across a picture book, DREAM by Susan V. Bosak.  At first I dismissed it, then I decided to look closer at it.  I found screen shots of the book and was impresssed with the illustrations.  Then I found a link in which the book was read.

I like what I found. But it also opened up another floodgate of thoughts on my own life, especially since I am in the latter half of the story. 
This book is about our dreams (hopes) throughout our lifespan moving from infancy, childhood, teens, young adults, fully adult, middle life, and aged.  It suggests that though dreams change they remain.


I have not purchased it yet, but plan on doing so (hope he doesn't read my blog... think I am safe on that one).  I think it will be a very appropriate gift on this occassion. He has his whole life ahead of him and so many dreams to dream...

Of course, the idea of DREAMS (and the links on youtube) reminded me of Susan Boyle.  What a special moment she had when her dreams began to be realized! I never tire of watching this video:

Susan Boyle is a great example of the DREAM in so many ways.  Even at the age of 47 she continued to hold onto what seemed an improbable dream and she went onto the show Britain's Got Talent.  She faced the sarcasm and ridicule. And didn't she pick a fabulous song!  She had the courage to reach out one more time and grasp for her dream, and this time it happened for her.  Most of us have heard the problems that followed.  She had a nervous breakdown; dreams do not come without a price in many cases.  But she worked through her difficulties and emerged on the other side.  In that first appearance she says she wants to be like Elaine Page.  So here is a further fulfillment of her dream:

All of this makes me step back and look at my dreams.  Some have been forgotten or broken.  Others have been fulfilled. Yet others have been tweaked and realigned.  Maybe it is time for some to be rediscovered...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It Looked Like Spilt Milk (by Charles G. Shaw)

It is a beautiful Tuesday morning and I am sitting at home... sick.  Instead of wasting my day, I decided to try to post another blog in between sneezes.  Since I discussed the book Little Cloud  in my last post, I thought I would discuss It Looked Like Spilt Milk this time around.  I am also "killing two birds with one stone" since I am planning on using this book tomorrow with our little pre-K group. These books go well together since they both visit the idea of cloud shapes.  The main difference is that "spilt milk" story has more shapes to look at and identify, and it doesn't tell you it is talking about clouds until the very end of the book. If you are not familiar with this book you can check out the youtube link below to see a video of it being read.

Our pre-k group consists of 3-4 three year old boys with communicative disorders. They are high energy kiddos. Our main focus with these boys is teaching them how to interact appropriately with one another: sharing toys, playing together, requesting items (instead of grabbing out of the other child's hands), waiting, taking turns, sitting in a short circle time (without hitting, kicking, getting up, etc.), and attending/participating in the story time.  So I will choose some of the easiest activities that will work with short attention spans.

Here are some of the targets/goals that can be readily pulled from this book:
  • Perceptual skills: Let the kids look at the pictures and guess the shapes.  Most of the shapes will be easy to guess.  Add to this, if desired, by making your own additional shapes out of tagboard or felt pieces.  Can use a grab bag to pull out shapes and decide what they might be.
  • Vocabulary:  Naming the items in the book or game (above).
  • Categorization:  Group items - What animal shapes were in the book? What food shapes, etc?
  • Articulation:  /l/ sound - "looks like".  Any sound can be addressed if you add an appropriate carrier phrase.  You could also follow up the book by having the children make their own take home books and add the criteria that all of their cloud pics contain their target sounds. (Ex. /s/ blends - skate, skunk, spider, snail, smoke....). They can practice in single words by naming pics or in sentences by inserting the target into the repetitive text. A fun oral motor game (found in the Preschool Express link below):  Use Straws and cotton balls to play a game of "blowing the cloud around the table". (Or, if you are really brave, blow white paint around on blue paper).
  • Repetitive text / Verbal expression:  "It looked like a (car) but it wasn't a (car)."  This allows the child to fill in the new word in the first and/or second slot, similar to an early cloze exercise.  It also makes it easier for the child to learn the carrier phrase which is actually a compound sentences 10 words in length. 
  • Grammatical skills:  Highlight (say with added emphasis) any grammatical target needed: 
                Articles:  a car.
                Pronouns:  it
                Past tense verb:  looked, wasn't
                Negation:  was not - teach about negation
                Conjunction: but - introduce "but" as a contrasting idea. 
                Temporal concept / adverb: Sometimes - can discuss the difference
                    between "always" and "sometimes" in the context that the cloud
                    changes shape.

Art activities:
Tear paper into shapes.
Glob white paint on paper and see what shapes you end up with.
Glob white paint on blue paper, fold and decide what shape emerges.
Shaving cream paint:  One of my new favorites!  Mix equal parts shaving cream
   and Elmer's glue, stir, and paint.  Dries like a white puffy paint.  Great for clouds.
   Can also do the folded paper trick with this.
Stamping clouds:  Use large stampers (I know have these somewhere) and use white
   paint to stamp shapes onto blue paper.
Tracing shapes:  Best for older kids.  Trace around tagboard or other shapes.
Cotton Balls:  Can fill in the shapes with cotton balls.

Sensory Play:
Shaving cream:  Use bare hands to move shaving cream into shapes. Change shapes  
      into other shapes.
White playdoh or clay:  shape into the book shapes.
Finger paint white shapes.
Pull batting or pillow filler material into cloud shapes. Can even glue onto tag.
Pinterest: One of my friends pinned this recip e and it looks perfect to go along with this book.  Use 8 cups of flour mixed with 1 cup of baby oil. Makes a really soft "moon sand" for sculpting clouds and such.

The Wind Moves the Clouds  (tune of "The Farmer in the Dell")
The wind moves the clouds,
The wind moves the clouds,
And when it does they change their shape,
The wind moves the clouds.

Clouds are Floating  (to the tune of Frere Jacques)
Clouds are floating, clouds are floating,
Up so high, up so high,
Floating up above us, floating up above us,
In the sky, in the sky.


What is fluffy?
What is white?
What can you see
When skies are bright?
What can float?
What brings rain?
What may be higher?
Than a bird or plane?
Say it loud:

* You could also make up riddles about the shapes:
What is furry?
What is white?
What has long ears?
What can hop?

Science: Make a Cloud
1. Need hot water (not boiling), glass bottle, thin piece of cloth, rubber band, crushed ice.
2. Pour hot (not boiling) water into a glass bottle. When the bottle becomes hot, pour out all but one inch of water.
3. Stretch a thin piece of cloth over the mouth of the bottle and fasten it with a rubber band.
4. Place crushed ice on top of the cloth. Have children observe the cloud that forms as the warm air meets the cold.

Links: Check out the links below for more great ideas.

youtube video story

Preschool Express Cloud Theme

Story patterns at

Weather Wiz Kids info about clouds

Clouds Power Point Displays for those who really want to dive into clouds with older kids.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Little Cloud by Eric Carle

I used this book again this past week.  Although I included it in my blog about Spring books a year ago, I think it is worth having its own forum here.  This is another perfect book for this time of year.  It is the story of a little cloud that drifts away from the other clouds and plays around by changing into various cloud shapes.

Lessons I have pulled from this book for my speech therapy clients:

Articulation:  Good book for working on  the following sounds
  • /s/ Use the carrier phrase "I see..." to identify cloud shapes
  • "sh" shape, shark, sheep, carrier phrase "______ shape"
  • /kl/ cloud, clown, carrier phrase "cloud is a ________"
  • /l/ carrier phrase "Little cloud is a _______"
  • Vocabulary
  • Answering questions: What is it?  Why did he turn into a sheep? (because he saw sheep in the field)
  • Sequencing: First he turned into a sheep, next he was a ....
  • Verbal expression: Retelling the story.  This would be a good time to use blue paper and white chalk or crayons, or white paper cut outs to reconstruct the story into a take home book for practice with targets. 
  • Narrative Development:  I love to use spin off stories that follow the original structure but with the child's own ideas of cloud shapes and why the cloud chose that shape.
  • Sentence structure:
            Pronouns: He/She
            Linking Verbs:  Cloud is a _______.
            Past tense verbs:  Cloud turned into a ________.

Cognitive/Perceptual Skills:
  • Recognizing cloud shapes.  What a great task for flexible thinking!  Here is a wonderful website ( that helps even the poorest at this task.  Scroll over the cloud and a drawn outline appears to help the viewer perceive the shape.  The fun thing about this is that once you see the line drawing, it is much easier to discern the shape in repeated attempts with the help.  I took this idea and located cloud shapes on Google Images which I then printed.  I placed two pages in clear page protectors (front and back) and used a sharpie to trace around the images onto the protector (works as a clear overlay).  With younger children we first view the pics with the overlays.  Then we view them again removed from the protectors/overlays to see if they can still find the images.  Older children can do the same process in reverse; guessing first then seeing the overlay added.         
Sensory Activities (Art):
  • Chalk on blue paper to draw shapes
  • White finger paint on blue paper: Draw cloud shapes or create whole pages of white textured painting to dry and cut out into cloud shapes (Eric Carle style).
  • Shaving cream mixed with white glue will dry into puffy paint clouds.
  • Torn paper clouds
  • Cotton ball clouds
Snacks: Whipped cream, marshmallows, cotton candy, meringue cookies, cream cheese... think white and fluffy.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Very Hungry Caterpillar

This is a terrific book to use for a Springtime theme. Here are some of the language development concepts I have pulled out of this book:
  • Sequencing events: first, second, third, next, last...
  • Counting 1-5
  • Learning days of the week
  • Life cycle of the butterfly: Get a butterfly house, find or buy some caterpillars and watch the life cycle as they grow
  • Concept "through": I made large versions of the fruits in the story and cut a hole in the middle of each one.  I use a plastic caterpillar and have the children pass it through the hole along with the story.  A fun follow up activity is to play with a fabric tunnel and crawl through it.
  • Basic sentence structures: It eats..., it is eating...,  it ate..., he/she, etc.
  • Food groups: Fruits, Sweets, etc.
  • Articulation: multi-syllabic words, medial sounds, any target when using an appropriate carrier phrase.
  • Expressive Language: Retell the story with props such as plastic caterpillar, butterfly, or felt board pieces.  A good activity would be to use some of the printables available online to make a take home book for the children.
  • Arts & Craft activities are unlimited. Check a few of my links below or simply Google a few.
  • Snack ideas:  Make caterpillar shaped foods.  Pinterest is a good source for these.  Children with ASD are especially picky eaters and this might be a good time to attempt to have them pretend to be the caterpillar and nibble on the foods in the story.
There are tons of online resources.  Here are a few that I have "mined".
Pinterest has a wealth of treasures for this book as well.  Just go to the search bar and type in "very hungry caterpillar" and tons of great activities will appear.

One of the best activities we ever did (think I will do it again this year) is to actually raise some caterpillars until they become butterflies.  I purchased a net house like this:

More info on ordering and raising caterpillars can be found here:
and here:

Here is a great video of the life cycle of a Monarch butterfly

It is always fun to follow up a story with other theme related books, fiction and nonfiction.

And, if seasonal, why not take a little walk outside to see if you can find a caterpillar or a butterfly in your yard.