Science experiments are engaging, meaningful, and a great tool for teaching language to students of all ages. (Need some convincing? Check out my reasons why here.) They are nearly perfect, however, they can take a lot of preparation. From powerpoints to worksheets to materials for the main event, a lot of time can go in just a single experiment.
This Powerpoint introduces the scientific process, and lays the foundation for all future experiments. *When in 'view slideshow' mode, some of the slides animate, so make sure to check it out ahead of time.
If you like to also do worksheets, here's a simple one to go along with the powerpoint.
To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science. ~ Albert Einstein
I am obsessed with this story of a little girl who decided to wear her hot dog costume to dance class on "Princess Day." I love that she wanted to do it, that her parents let her, and that her teachers and peers admired her for it. Totally inspired - keep dancing to your own tune, Hotdog Princess!
Read the story here
As the population of students get older, the number of them who are working on articulation shrinks, and unfortunately so does the pool of engaging activity ideas. This is not a great situation for those (of us) who are still working on speech sounds...like that pesky /r/. Here are some activity ideas to try out with your students who are beyond BINGO and Articulation Station.
Charades: Write down a bunch of target /r/ words, and have the students take turns acting them out while the other group members try to guess. Tell them ahead of time that all of the words contain /r/, so they can filter their guesses accordingly while having fun - which is a great skill for generalization (thinking about /r/ sounds in words before saying them). If your group isn't getting in enough of repetitions, add some extra practice between turns. Once the correct guess is made, I like to go around the table and have each student say the word three times. To take it a step further, I encourage them to try to make improvements with each repetition (and without feedback from me). Another option is to have them each make up a sentence with the word.
Heads Up!: This app is super fun for people of all ages. To play, one person holds the phone up to her forehead (so that the screen faces the rest of the group). The teammates - or in my sessions the rest of the group members - describe the noun on the screen. The 'guesser' can tilt the phone up to pass on a word, or tilt down to move on after a word is correctly guessed. After the timer runs out, you can look at (and practice) all of the words that came up. You can't single out targets that contain /r/, however, it is a common enough sound that there are usually plenty of opportunities. Because of the variety of decks available, it's easy to make sure the options match the crowd. Each deck has different topics, and some have variations on the rules. For example, in the Animals Gone Wild deck you must get your teammate to guess the animal by describing it or acting it out (animal sounds encouraged). Download the Just For Kids deck for free to access gems like Selena Gomez, and a bunch of cartoons that I have never heard of.
*Bonus* The app records the people guessing with the selfie cam, so afterwards you can watch the mayhem (which kids tend to love doing) and also listen for those /r/s.
Classroom Projects: Ok, so this one isn't "fun", but it can be a great resource. Not only does it help curb the amount of preparation and materials required by you, but it also embeds speech practice into academics. If we can get students thinking about /r/ in the vocabulary from classes, then hopefully that will start to carry over to when they are actually using that vocabulary. You can highlight /r/s and practice reading articles, or hold discussions about the material. My favorite is when there is a long term project, like a presentation, that you can work on across a number of sessions.
Reading Passages: Another "thriller," I know, but it's pretty effective. Articles can come from classroom curriculum, k-12reader, or more fun sources such as an excerpt from a student's performance piece or seasonal traditions like "'Twas The Night Before Christmas." I like to have each student go through and highlight all of the /r/s they can find independently (including tricky ones like "3"). Then we take turns reading paragraphs. The students often catch /r/s that they originally missed, and help their peers as well. Overall, this is a great exercise for attending to speech sounds and practicing them with some structure.
Articulation Dice Game: There are many versions of templates for this game on the Teachers Pay Teachers website, but they generally contain 6 columns or rows, each representing one of the 6 sides of a dice (interesting tangent on the singular form of dice). Each column contains a list of target words. The students take turns rolling a dice, and choosing a word from the corresponding word to practice. Whoever completes an entire column first is the winner (or at least concludes the game). Here is a link to my template. I have pre-populated the colums with complex r-clusters and vocalic-r for different students to work on, but there is also a blank one on the bottom.
Another piece that I find is missing when searching for resources for the older students is guidance on how to modify instruction. These kids have been hearing "up and back" for years, and that obviously hasn't worked for them. Here are a few tips that I find to be effective:
Molly and Larissa are speech-language pathologists in San Diego, CA, who are looking to share inventive, inclusive, fun ideas for developing communication. This is also their platform for highlighting the many amazing people and resources in the community.