I’ve been sitting back and admiring those motivated SLPs who transform their doors, walls and décor into an explosion of colour and crazy fonts for too long now. Admiring, but not doing anything about it.
The thing is, those things just AREN’T me… and I don’t feel guilty about it. I just couldn’t be bothered.
But I wanted to do something. Something easy. Something small. Something that took like 10 minutes prep and didn’t require too much effort on my behalf. But there was a catch: I wanted my kids to still be working at their goals with this new speech room routine.
Yes, I wanted to reel my kids into that false sense of ‘hey, this is so fun’ (while secretly high-fiving myself under the table that they were getting more speech and language practice in muhahaha). And I do this, not because I’m some hard task-master. I do this because time is precious and I thought that instead of playing a game, that I could instill creativity and a little altruistic act. Something my kids have never done before but that has larger impact.
So I thought of ‘Message in a Bottle’ and implemented it in a way that got every student involved in this secret. See, at the end of a session, I introduced this new idea that ‘before you leave, you have to write a secret message to put in the bottle’.
And my kids were like ‘ummm… did you just say secret message?’
Then after THEY wrote a secret message, they got to pull OUT a secret message and read it. It’s a little like ‘pay it forward’ but of the speech and language kind! But here’s the trick – we used picture cards and word lists containing the student’s articulation goals. Yes, I’m THAT sneaky. And just to make sure I got language focused, we referenced our Message Prompts to expand our message writing skills. Anything from ‘ask a question’ to ‘make a silly sentence’ to ‘write a dare’ or ‘describe something’. And when you tell a kid that they have to write a dare using the word ‘sandwich’, let me tell you that they are MOTIVATED to write.
By all means, use the blank craft pages and mini picture cards for articulation therapy all on its own – but I love using it at the END, as a reinforcer such as ‘you thought so hard about your sounds today, you can send and pull out TWO secret messages when we finish’.
It’s that fresh little routine that allows you to squeeze out every last ounce of your IEP goals all in the name of writing putting a message in a bottle. I’ve just put this up in my store, so if you’d like to be a little daring, a little different this year – grab this now and embrace the new!