Potato Heads & Speech

Finding different, yet fun and engaging activities to use in Speech sessions can be a difficult task. If you're like us, then a lot of the Speech and language falls upon staff in class to handle and plan for the students.

One of our most loved activities that is part of our Speech session is Mr & Mrs Potato Head. You won't believe how many ways you can incorporate learning into playing with Mr & Mrs Potato Head - one of the most popular children's toys.

For this blog post I'm going to discuss a group game speech activity. All you will need are Mr & Mrs Potato Head (or just one, depending on how you think your students will manage) and a camera/computer/printer. I would love to be able to give you the flashcards that I use - but, Mr & Mrs Potato Head differ in stores and all come with different accessories, we all know how specific our students can be and if something is not exactly the same it can throw them off - so it really is best to make your own flashcards.

In the blog post that follows, I list two different ways that you can use the Potato Heads in Speech Sessions. I hope it gives you some great ideas and works well with your students!

Idea 1

First, lay out the accessories that you're going to use with your students. I usually recommend 1-2 pieces per student. If your students find it difficult to sit and pay attention for a long period of time I would recommend starting with 1 accessory each.

First, put the accessories into a box - this can be a jazzed up, fun box or just a simple cardboard box. Hand around the box and ask the students to open the box and choose one item each. Once a student has chosen an item, ask them to name it - or you name it if they are non-verbal. 

Once you have worked your way around each of the students, pull out the Potato Head body. Hold up symbols of each accessory. Ask the students "Who has his hat?" the student with the matching hat then puts the hat onto the Potato Head - this will also enable you to find out if students are able to recognise where different items go on a body - i.e eyes, nose, hat, arms etc.

Once all the accessories are placed on the Potato Head and the students have each had their turn, hold up the completed Potato Head. Point to the different items on him/her - naming them. Now, go around each of the students ask them "Where is the hat?" "Where are his eyes?" and get students to point to different parts of the Potato Head. Encourage students to repeat the names after you.

Idea 2

Ask students to follow directions from a flashcard on adding items to the Potato Head. Add one item per flashcard. This is a great way to see if students are able to follow directions and pay close attention to detail - finding out what's new in the image and being able to copy it onto the real life Potato Head in front of them.

For example:

What was the difference in the two images? What is new that has been added in the second image? (The answer is the ears). So now, the student will find the ears and add them to the Potato Head.

For students who are new to the sequencing activity and have a low attention time I would recommend doing a very simple, 4 step sequence activity. 
For example:

Image 1: Potato Head Body (Empty)
Image 2: Potato Head Body with Shoes
Image 3: Potato Head Body with Eyes
Image 4: Potato Head Body with Mouth

If students are able to complete the first 4 steps, start adding on more steps/accessories. If students are able to complete these steps individually, start adding two new items per step/image.



Seller Spotlight Sunday: Teacher's Time Turner

Welcome to my Seller Spotlight Sunday.
Every Sunday on my blog there is a guest post from another fabulous TpT Seller. They will be sharing one free resource from their store, one paid resource from their store and something that they have been up to that week or similar! 

So, don't forget to check back every Sunday or sign up for my email list to get notifications of new sellers!

Up this week is Marina McKenna from Teacher's Time Turner!

Hello! I am Marina from Teacher’s Time Turner. I am a primary teacher in a Special Educational Needs School. I am also a tutor for children with autism. I am passionate about helping children to develop their communication and language skills. I have an advanced diploma in linguistics and a postgraduate certificate in autism studies which has helped me to understand the difficulties children in my class my face when learning.

I would like to take this opportunity to talk about my work with children who have word finding (word retrieval) difficulties. It may surprise some teachers to know that this is quite a common language difficulty and that it is likely they have at some point come across a child with this difficulty in their own teaching career. Most of us have experienced this difficulty in a mild form at some point in our lives – at those times when we are struggling to think of a word and find that it is just on the tip of our tongue but we can’t quite remember the word we want. 

For children with word finding difficulties this is an everyday occurrence and can make their access to learning very difficult. Children with this difficulty will often try to hide it by either being quite shy in class and not offering answers especially in whole class groups or in other cases will use generic words such as ‘things’ when they can’t think of a word allowing for the teacher or a friend to fill in the gaps for them. Children with this difficulty tend not to store new words in their brain in the orderly connected fashion that the rest of us do. For example, when we learn a new word we often link it to other words or ideas that we already know – e.g. when we learn the word ‘tractor’ we would connect it with vehicles, farms, the countryside etc. However, for a child with word finding difficulties this filing system in the brain does not come naturally and the child needs support to learn how to file words for use.

So how can we support children with these difficulties? Well, over the years I have used games as a support mechanism to encourage children to make the connections needed to store the words effectively so that when they need them they can remember them. I use these games with all of my class and not just children with difficulties as the games themselves help children without the difficulties to make stronger connections with the words they are learning too. 

I use rhyming games, alliterative games, starting sound games and category games to help children to make as many links as they can in their brains with words. Once children are used to using these connections with simple words teachers can move on to using games with topic specific words in different lessons too.
Please take a look at my free rhyming words game to get started and if you think this would be something helpful to children you work with then 
take a look at my bundle of word finding games.

Thank you very much to Nikki for allowing me to write this blog post.  

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CVC Fly Swat Game

So, through the Summer I've been hunting around our local bargain shops, trying to find cheap, yet fun items that can be used in a fun way in the classroom. When I seen a bright and fun looking fly swatter, I knew I had to incorporate it somehow into a resource - but how?

I knew it had to involve a fly image, that was just too blatant, but what to put on the fly. The more I played around with the idea, I knew CVC words would be great, mainly because it was something that we would benefit from with the kids in class during our morning speech/literacy sessions and I just knew they would love it!

Once the idea was in my head, it was all systems go. I wanted the game to be fun and engaging yet also giving students the opportunity to learn and practise their CVC words. I also knew that it would be important to differentiate for two different levels of learners, this would be the trickier part.

In the end, I decided upon the two following ways to differentiate:
  • The easier level would consist of the CVC word on the body of the fly, and the matching image on one of the wings of the fly. Then, the flashcards would have the CVC word and the CVC image on it.
  • The harder level would consist of just the CVC word on the body of the fly - no supporting image. The flashcards also come in word only option so students could match the word to word or use the flashcards with the image and word on.

The idea of the game, is that once a student has selected/been given a flashcard, they are to locate the fly with the matching CVC word on it and then swat it! 

With regards to the flashcards, you can do this whichever way you prefer and how you think your students would cope. A great way is to put the flashcards into a bag and have the students individually pick out one card at a time then swat the matching fly.

You can then remove the fly once it has been swatted or leave it there.

Another way is to hand out the flashcards when it is each students turn. This activity is also a great way to promote turn taking and having students waiting for their turn.

It also provides a great opportunity for students to read the word that they can see and self-check if they have swatted the correct fly. 

If you want to find out more information on my fly swat game or where you can get this resource, please click here.


CVC Gum Ball Sorting

One of my most favourite resources is the CVC Gum Ball Sorting Activity. The main idea behind making this resource was that I wanted to be able to make practising CVC words more fun.

When I stumbled upon the gum ball clipart set I just knew I had to have it - and up came the CVC game. The students had so much fun matching the gum balls into the gum ball machine.

We all know that the best way for children to learn, is if they don't even know they're learning! They had so much fun and they were so engaged that the activity went extremely well.

I've attached some photos below so that you can see the activity in action. The activity comes in two difficulty levels: image & word and just word. I recommend that you use the level you feel is more appropriate for your students individual needs and what they are able to work with.

The above photographs are of the harder ability gum balls. The gum balls just have the words - no accompanying image. Students simply match the words into the correct gum ball machine. The whole idea behind the matching is that students are able to match the medial sound.

The photographs above are of the lower ability gum balls. They include images accompanied with the matching word. Students simply match the gum balls into the correct gum ball machines: matching the medial sound.

I highly recommend laminating each of the individual pieces of this resource so that they can be stored and re-used over and over again in the future. This is especially great for those quick time filler sessions - or even as some group games. 

Group Games Idea

I have attached some instructions on how this resource could be used as part of a group game session. Each medial sound comes with 6 accompanying 'gum ball' pieces. This game will work with a group of up to 6 students. 

Hand out one of each medial sound to the individual students (give more to the students if you have a smaller group), then have the gum ball machines out ready. 

Now, you can either have a dice which students roll - put a medial sound on each side of the dice (a,e,i,o,u). Whatever letter the dice lands on - the students have to match their gum ball pieces to that gum ball machine.


You choose a gum ball machine and offer it around to the students asking them to put their matching gum ball piece into the gum ball machine.

Don't forget to click the images to link back to find this resource on my TpT!



Seller Spotlight Sunday: Sarah B Elementary

Welcome to my Seller Spotlight Sunday.
Every Sunday on my blog there is a guest post from another fabulous TpT Seller. They will be sharing one free resource from their store, one paid resource from their store and something that they have been up to that week or similar! 

So, don't forget to check back every Sunday or sign up for my email list to get notifications of new sellers!

Up this week is Sarah Balagtas from Sarah B Elementary!

Hello! My name is Sarah, and I’ve been a resource teacher for ten years! Ten years seemed like a huge deal to me! I told as many people as possible that I was in my tenth year. No one seemed as impressed as I was. ;) Nonetheless, I’m excited for the chance to share some of my resources with you here on Nikki’s blog! 

The first one is an alphabet craft book freebie! Students would color, cut, and paste keyword pictures on top of the letter of the week to create an alphabet book to refer to all year. 

(a, b, and c included)

Not revolutionary, but I created this resource because I wanted to make crafts for the all important lowercase letters, and wanted the keyword pictures to look like their target letters.

(all 26 letters included)

As I enter my eleventh year teaching (!!!), I’m getting ready to receive my new students, at a new school! I’ll be doing a lot of decorating, organizing, planning, and preparing in the coming week. This year, I’ll be using my new(ish) IEP checklists to keep myself on track. J

This resource comes as an editable powerpoint file so you can edit to suit your needs! It's sure to keep you organized throughout the School year. Just click the image to be re-directed to find out more about this resource and how it can help you in your classroom!

  • Editable checklist for initial IEPs and Initial Assessments
  • Editable checklist for Annuals
  • Editable checklist for Re-evals
  • Editable checklist for Progress Reports
  • Editable checklist for Medicaid Reports

I’d love to hear from you by email, on facebook, or even through TpT.
Wishing you a fantastic start to the new school year!
Sarah Balagtas


$50 TpT Gift Card Giveaway

Hi All! 
I have joined up with a group of great TpTers to bring you this amazing, free competition with the chance to win yourself a $50 gift card to spend on TpT!

Just image what you could do with that $50 gift card on TpT! But be quick, because the competition is only open for 24 hours! 

Find it by following this link to my Instagram, follow the instructions to hop through 9 different TpTers and that's it! Just 5 minutes of your time could have you winning a $50 TpT Gift Card!

Don't miss out - head on over now!



Dabbling in Art Therapy!

If you're like us, Art Therapy is a whole new side of Art that you may have never used or even seen in the classroom. A member of staff in our classroom recently wanted to introduce the idea and after some very successful sessions I thought I would share a quick outline here - because when we searched online, there was actually very little that we were able to find out about it!

The sessions run on a weekly basis and there is a topic per month. The main topics this year were colours and so our colour of the month was green - this linked in really nicely with our Frog Olympics theme!

The session starts with the children sat around the IWB for the introduction of the powerpoint. 

The powerpoint consists of:
  • Hello / Greeting Song
  • Colour song - Green song this week (find on youtube here)
  • Students are handed out their green frog hands they recently made ( you don't have to do this - but we did and the children loved it!)
  • A slide with images of lots of different green objects; apple, pear, car etc. At this point, a member of staff also works around the group with a green cloth bag filled with green objects - the children pull out a green object and staff/child names what they have pulled out.
  • A quick game on the powerpoint where students have to answer the question 'Where is the green (insert object here)' and below it are two different colour pictures of that object - students have to find the green one.
  • A slide with images and symbols of what activities are on offer that session
  • A slide with a calming green background with calming music to be played in the background which continues to be played throughout the session (we used this music)
Once the slide with the calming music is being played, students are directed to the different activities set up around the classroom - this is their choice of what activity they would like to do first.

The activities we have around the room are:

  • Play dough table - green play dough with green equipment to use with it - cutters etc.
  • Water table - We have a water table so we empty this out, fill with new water, add lots of green glitter to it and lots of different green toys and clear jugs for the children to play with.
  • Free paint - One table is covered with pieces of blank paper and lots of different shades of green paint as well as lots of different types of paint brushes, tooth brushes, sponges etc for the children to use to paint whatever they would like - we even have some painting their hands to make handprints and even their faces!
  • Soft Play Fun - The soft play room was transformed into a sea of green, lots of green material, green lights and different green toys for the children to relax with and explore.
  • Guided Art - A table is set up with one member of staff working with one student at a time, this is usually a staff led, guided activity, the last session the students made footprint Brazil flags (see below)

The session can be as short or long as you like, with the calming music playing in the background be sure to take a calming approaching to the art therapy session and allow children to have lots of free art time, exploring different activities. 

Do you do Art Therapy in your classroom? How does your session go? 


Ice Cream Building: Initial Letters

It's nearing the end of August, which means one thing - it's not long until we go back to School! My partner is finally off this week which means that we can go out and spend some time together, here's crossing my fingers for some great weather!

But, while my partner has been in work, I've been busy creating on TpT, and what a great time I've had this Summer! I had a to-do list so long, and requests constantly coming through to my inbox and it was great to be able to fulfil a lot of them.

One of the main things I wanted to accomplish this Summer was to be able to get some more images of my resources in action. I managed to get some of my Ice Cream Building:Initial Letters activity and I know you and your kiddos are just going to love this resource!

This resource is a great way for students to practice their initial letter sounds and working out which of the images go where.

The idea is for students to match the scoops of ice cream (with images on them) to the correct cone (initial letter of the image on the scoop).

I really do recommend laminating each of the parts included in this resource, just so they will be stronger and longer lasting for you, meaning you can pull them out year after year for your kiddos to enjoy.

It's also a great way to encourage students to work more independently, allowing you the chance to stand back and watch your student work. The resource is bright, fun and engaging, so your students are sure to love it!

This is also a great way for students to see different images that they may not recognise or become more accustomed to less regular images. It will give them the chance to practise their letter sounds and working out what each of the images start with. Plus, who doesn't love working with the alphabet and ice creams combined during the Summer!?

It's also a great resource to include in small speech/literacy groups, you can have it as a warm up game or even a cool down game. 

Don't forget, if you would like any more information on this resource or where you can get it, simply click here. 

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