It's that time of year for school-based SLPs, where a visual reminder to "breathe in, breathe out, and repeat" becomes all too necessary. The Frenzied SLPs are joining forces once again to offer suggestions as to how to make the end of the school year more manageable. Thank you to this month's frenzied hostesses Tracy, of Gold Country Speech, Laura of All Y'all Need, and Linda of Looks Like Language for coordinating the behind the scenes organization.
Our school district usually ends the school year within the first two weeks of June. We begin before Labor Day, but our snow days are not factored into the calendar, so we typically end up having to make up missed weather days. This year our winter was so mild we only had ONE snow day (very unusual for NH). From the beginning of May until the middle of June I have about six weeks of school and it goes FAST! Here is how I manage to stay relatively sane.
The first week of May comes on the heels of our spring break and includes kindergarten screenings. We have a larger than usual number of kindergarten students registered this year, so we had to add another 1/2 day for screenings. The key for this week is organization, time management, and optimism. I had the pleasure of taking Sparklle SLP's soon to be published kindergarten screening out for a test drive. It took me 5-7 minutes to administer (yes, I timed it), depending on the child and when I was finished I felt I had a really good sense of each child. Organization: for screening days, having everything printed and laminated with names and birthdays already entered is most helpful. Time management: it is also helpful to have an idea of what you would like to accomplish during those periods when you are not screening, like during lunch when the cafeteria is unavailable. I got some evaluations and IEPs written in the down time. Optimism: it is very easy to become overwhelmed when faced with the prospect of a new and needy cohort entering kindergarten. I have to remind myself I am only getting a snapshot of a child and much can change in the four months between now and the beginning of school.
The end of the school year brings an onslaught of evaluations and IEPs. In order to avoid becoming anxious I have to stay very organized and focused. When I am at work I have to avoid relaxing. I know that sounds awful, but I have to close my door, not chat with friends and chip away at the to do list. I keep a list of all evals, IEPs, progress monitoring, etc. I often prioritize the items on my do to list by number. this too keeps me organized. I enter due dates and meeting dates on my paper calendar and google calendar and set alarms for 30 minutes and 10 minutes before a scheduled meeting. Sounds a little over the top, I know, but this scattered brain needs over the top! There are also a million special class activities, school wide activities, and field trips that impact therapy. It is crucial to know what it going on in order to prevent having to plan and prep therapy that will never happen. That is a time waster! All this allows me to leave at a reasonable hour and have time for exercise and my family. I used to neglect those things and work to the exclusion of all else and then I got smart. The work will always be there, my health may not!
I have mentioned before how I love to exploit a theme. The end of the year is the perfect time for theme exploitation! After screenings we have two weeks of bug week, two weeks of camping and two weeks of wheel of fortune. I do two weeks of each theme because my students look forward to them every year and I have amassed a wealth of materials to support the themes. I have listed only a few of the wonderful activities available around bugs and camping.
Pam of Small Talk SLP authored this versatile product that can be used to target so many skills. I love this one!
I needed an activity for my intermediate and middle school students with social needs, so in the spirit of capitalizing on a theme I created Don't Bug Out...Apologize, which targets when and how to apologize.
Sparklle SLP has a wonderful freebie that is just right for homework. I'm just itching to use this one again!
I love a craftivity to complement a book. This is actually a craft I did with my own little ones when we read the book A Firefly Named Torchy. The craft itself is simple. The only extra supplies needed are clear sequins and wax paper. I drew templates for the body and wings on cardstock and have students trace them independently.
Camping affords so many opportunities for activities and fun. I found this recipe last year after camping week(s) was finished, but I am definitely making them this year; Nutter Butter Camping Cookies. You can find the recipe on the blog Party Pinching: Budget Friendly Party Ideas and Cute Food Inspiration.
I just love this activity for articulation and language targets, and so many can be addressed. It was a hit with my students, too.
This baby is so comprehensive targeting articulation, details, grammar, following directions, similarities and differences, conversation skills and more. Sparklle SLP is my hero (and camping buddy).
If you don't have LessonPix, I recommend it highly. It is an amazing alternative to Boardmaker, which, in my not so humble opinion, has become overpriced and inaccessible. LessonPix allows you to make games, dice, communication boards, visuals and more, so for $36.00 a year it is well worth it. We used these dice for sentence formulation and expansion.
Last but not least is one of our all time favorites. Wheel. Of. Fortune. This happy take on hangman is perfect for any speech-language goal. Last year I had a brainstorm and started using the colors on the wheel to coordinate with the colors used with the Expanding Expression Tool. I downloaded the music and use the sound effects from the show including spinning and buzzers.
I hope these activities give you some nice ideas for finishing out your school year without too much stress. One consolation is, you know it is going to go fast and then, if you are anything like me, you will be sitting on your porch with your coffee and a book relishing summer!
We would love to have you link up and share your ideas for rounding out the school year.