Thursday, January 23, 2014

Favorite Therapy Item Thursdays -> BEAN BAGS

Our Favorite Therapy Item Thursday post!! 

Today we are excited and honored to have Kari Radovich from Rock Chalk Speech Talk guest post on her own favorite therapy item. Kari is a school-based speech-language pathologist with a bachelor's degree from the University of Kansas and a master's degree from Miami University (Ohio). She loves the Jayhawks and she loves to talk about speech therapy over at her fabulous blog! Go check it out when you have a minute! 

We are so impressed with this post because both of us did not even think of using bean bags in as many ways as Kari has in therapy. She really opened up our eyes to several more helpful and fun ways to utilize them in our own speech therapy sessions! We really appreciate the post and think that she picked a terrific favorite therapy item to discuss with us all! Enjoy the post and don't forget to visit Kari at her Rock Chalk Speech Talk Facebook Site, and to check out her fabulous therapy items for sale over at Teachers pay Teachers

Manda & Shanda, SLPs

You know the saying, "When the going gets tough, the tough get going"?  In my case, sometimes, it's "When the going gets tough... I go and get my beanbags!"  Beanbags have saved therapy sessions a time or two when "the going got tough" with my little guys, but they also work great when I actually do plan ahead of time to use them!

I use beanbags all the time with my caseload.  A lot of the language kids on my caseload in preschool have goals for increasing vocabulary, as many of them come in not being able to label common items in their environment, such as common household items, foods, and animals.  Sometimes I'm able to target these goals during play at center time, but with 4/5 of my prek classrooms having centers at the same time of day, I'm not always able to get into all of them, and I have to target these goals during our pull out time.  Beanbags are one way I can work on picture naming skills during pull out, without it seeming drill-like.

Some days, I have pictures taped to the beanbags and they have to see how many they can toss into a box of sorts (see picture below, where they tossed farm animal beanbags into a jeep for our "Sheep In A Jeep" activity!) 

Other days, I have vocab pictures spread out on the floor, and they have to tell me which picture they want their beanbag to land on, or which picture it actually landed on (or both!).  It doesn't seem like "work" to them so they're completely willing to engage!

Another language task I use beanbags for is increasing MLU.. It's easy to get kids to imitate 2-3 word carrier phrases like "I see..." "I got...." etc... when they're super motivated by beanbags!

I also use beanbags with my articulation kids as a general reinforcer activity.   Throw some artic cards on the floor and have your students aim for them.  As fun seasonal activities, I make items with the die-cut machine at work like hearts, pumpkins, snowflakes, leaves, etc..., write numbers on them, and spread them out on the floor.  
The kids toss their beanbags, and the number they land on is the number of different speech words they have to say or the number of times they have to say each word (I just decide as I go!).  With older kids, you could make it a competition--when they land on one, they add that number to their score, and whoever has the highest score at the end of the session, wins!

Don't have a lot of floor space to work with? Use your table!  Prior to this year, I did therapy out in an open pod area just outside the PreK/K classrooms.. There were generally Kindergarten reading groups or another therapist out there doing therapy, too, so I didn't have a lot of room to work with.. So I had the kids toss beanbags onto the table instead of onto the floor! The following picture is an example of table beanbag tossing when we were working on vocabulary with our transportation/"things that go" week!

Something so simple, yet so highly motivating! There are dozens of ways to use beanbags, but these are a few of my favorite ways! How do you like to use beanbags in therapy??  Leave a comment below if you can.  Thanks a bunch and have a great day! 



Anonymous said...

when do you have time to make all of these things?

Kari said...


The pumpkins pictured in the post were made just using our die cut machine at work. All we have to do is just grab the foam block with the cutout we want, stick some construction paper on top, and slide it through the tray. I fold the construction paper or stack 2-3 scraps of paper on top of each other at the same time to make 2-3 at a time. You can easily get 10 cut in just a couple minutes!

The transportation vocab cards pictured towards the end of the post were pre-made. They came from a tonka truck flashcard counting/letter set that one of my former student's mom gave me when they didn't need it anymore.

As for the Sheep in a Jeep pictures.. the farm animal pics were made on Boardmaker. I think I may have even found them on the Boardmaker Share website and just printed them off! I was able to make those pictures work for multiple activities-- the beanbag toss pictured, Memory games, and Cariboo, so I feel like I got good use out of them, as I used that 1 set of pictures all week.

If you're asking about the actual box used for the beanbag toss, I didn't make it myself. I have a para this year, and she made it for me one day. It didn't take her long, though, I just printed a sheep picture, and she grabbed an empty box out of the work room and wrapped it in red bulletin board paper from our work room, just like you'd wrap a present! She's pretty detail-oriented, so she added extra touches that I wouldn't have if I didn't have much time!

The box is something I used over and over for Farm Week, and the kids LOVED it. I also used it for Fire Safety week since the red makes it look like a fire truck, and I could also use it for Community Helpers week for a firetruck, as well. The younger kids think it's *hilarious* that a sheep would be driving a firetruck, so we talk about who would REALLY be driving a firetruck, and what other community helpers drive/fly.

So, the die cut pictures just take a couple minutes, and farm animal vocab pics were just print and go, as well. The box is what took the longest, but as I stated, someone else made it for me. I've made similar things in the past myself, though, and sometimes I did spend some time at home making it. I enjoy creating and crafting, though, so it was just something fun for me to do.

Since I keep most of my things from year to year to reuse, I feel like the initial time up front I've spent making them/putting them together is worth the multiple uses I get out of them, and is also worth the level of engagement I get out of my kids. I work with preschoolers, so hands-on activities are key for them!

I hope this helps answer your question! :)

SpeechSpace said...

What fun and creative ideas! I think I might have to get some bean bags for my therapy room.


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