Let’s Prep for Extended School Year

Hey! If you are reading this post, you are probably heading into Extended School Year (ESY) too! This is my fifth year working ESY and while I always dread it a bit as ESY approaches, I am usually happy that I worked it. ESY is more relaxed with a summer camp feel. I love being able to stay connected with a few of my students during the summer. Some districts have more intense ESY programs than others, but for me, it is just a couple of hours, just a few days a week to help me keep a little bit of a schedule during the summer.

Here is how I get ready for ESY each year!

Image Description: Let's plan for Extended School Year 1. Review your caseload list and confirm their ESY service delivery.⁣
2. Read each students' most recent progress report and objectives. Check-in with the primary SLP if you can.⁣
3. Group children with similar goals and create a workable schedule. ⁣
4. Input students, objectives, and schedule into autopopulating data forms and print for the duration of the ESY program.⁣
5. Determine what specialized materials you need to borrow from the primary SLP or pull from your own resources.⁣
6. Loosely map out each week of ESY. Themes can be helpful to keep you organized and minimize materials.

If you are interested in checking out the autopopulating data sheets, you can grab your copy here in the freebie library.

These are the themes I decided on for this year! And I already have a free one-page guide for each theme with books, articles, videos, songs, games, apps, play, and no-print resources so you are ready to tackle Extended School Year. Grab the themed speech therapy idea guides in my freebie library here.

Let me know if you are working Extended School Year this year!

Thanks for reading!

Short Videos for Speech Therapy

I love to use short videos in speech therapy sessions to spark discussion and increase engagement. Often these videos are wordless or have minimal dialogue, which allows the students to make inferences, predictions, and use descriptive language.

Before we get to the list. I want to familiarize you with three helpful resources to bring these videos to the next level.

Safe Youtube

If you are worried about inappropriate advertisements popping up or the video ending and automatically playing something inappropriate next, paste the YouTube link into safeyoutube.net and it will generate a safe version of the video hosted off of YouTube, so you do not have to worry about students seeing advertisements or content that you have not approved.


Edpuzzle allows you to add strategic pauses in videos with built in question prompts. You can also trim videos to remove content inappropriate or irrelevant to your students. I have included an example I made below. You can sign up for a free account to make twenty of your own videos, but you also get unlimited access to tons of videos made by other educators.

Any Video/Article Visual Organizers for Describing and Critical Thinking

No time to prep? I feel ya! I have this no-print visual organizer Boom Card Deck bookmarked on my iPad for quick, engaging, language rich sessions. It includes visual organizers for describing using attributes, describing using key info, compare/contrast, sorting important vs. unimportant details, story retell, summarizing fiction stories, summarizing non-fiction stories, and inferencing.

Check it out here.

List of Short Videos for Speech Therapy

This is a growing list of animated shorts available on YouTube. I have tried to organize the videos by theme for easy planning. The title of the video is a direct link to the video. These links are subject to change, please preview content before sharing it with your students. It is your responsibility to ensure appropriateness of the content for your students.

Click on the playlist icon in the top right of the video to see all videos included on the playlist. You can bookmark this playlist on YouTube for quick access to animated shorts for speech therapy.


Preheated: A boy decides to make a birthday cake for his eccentric scientist father, but accidentally spills one of his dad’s experiments and ends up with super hot hands! Use this video to target predicting, sequencing, inferencing, describing, and summarizing.


Automne: This animated reimagines the changing of the seasons by creating seasonal characters, who paint their season on to a scale model of the Earth when it is their turn. Great for working on comparing and describing the different seasons.

Geri’s Game Pixar Short: Geri is enjoying a competitive game of chess in the park…against himself. Great for inferencing, describing, and identifying emotions.

Autumn Leaves: Cute, super short film about a little boy enjoying the leaves in the fall! Great for sparking discussion about fall and making simple predictions!

Autumn Squirrel: Silly video about a squirrel trying to keep the Autumn chill out of his tree house. Great for discussing problem solving and cause/effect.

Back to School

Clocky: Cute story of a little alarm clock getting ready to ring for the first time. Great for perspective taking, describing, and problem solving.

Afternoon Class: A boy fights the urge to fall asleep during a boring afternoon class. The video features excellent imagery for using figurative language! Also great for perspective taking and cause/effect.

Acceptance & Friendship

Alike: This is a beautiful animated short with the message that it is okay to be different from others! Great for working on describing, cause/effect, perspective taking, summarizing, and predicting!

Invisible Animated Short: Two chameleons are lonely at a school dance. One chameleon wants to ask the other to dance, but he is too nervous and every time he tries something goes wrong. Great for working on summarizing narrative events, perspective taking, identifying emotions, inferencing, and problem solving.

Snack Attack: This video is awesome for working on many different social skills! The older lady in this story has the wrong perspective and she completely over reacts! Awesome for working on perspective taking, prediction, describing, cause/effect, personal space, summarizing!


Hair Love: This is a beautiful, heart-warming story about perseverance! Great for working on describing, predicting, perspective taking, and problem solving.

One Small Step: Luna Chu wants to be an astronaut more than anything! Follow along on her journey from childhood to the moon! Great for perspective taking, predicting, describing.

Content Warning: Luna’s father passes away during the story. She comes home to find his can left on the floor and the lights off in the house. Then, the animator shows her at his grave and destroying her bedroom in grief. The loss of her father renews her desire to work hard to become an astronaut.

Scarlett: Scarlett is a young girl with an amputated leg and a lot of perseverance! Great for working on perspective taking, summarizing, and describing!

Pip: Pip is ready to become a guide dog for the visually impaired, but the training is much harder than expected. Nevertheless, Pip perseveres and becomes a true hero. Perfect for targeting describing, compare/contrast, summarizing, and problem solving.


Lucas the Spider Animated Shorts : Lucas is an adorable Spider and everything is new and exciting to him!

Simon’s Cat in Spooky Tales: Simon’s Cat videos are terrific for inferencing and summarizing!


Simon’s Sister’s Dog in Fed Up : This one will get your student’s laughing as this poor hungry dog gets himself into a predicament. Great for inferencing and summarizing. Target figurative language with the title as well.

Simon’s Cat in Festive Feast & Other Cat Capers:

Mr. Indifferent: Great for discussing empathy, cause-effect, character development, and summarizing.

Coin Operated: This one is very silly. Target describing, problem solving, cause/effect, and summarizing using this video.

Kid President’s 25 Reasons to Be Thankful: This video is a helpful example for students as they try to brainstorm their own gratitude list.

Salt: This is my favorite Thanksgiving video. It is perfect for targeting cause/effect, sequencing, describing, perspective taking, summarizing, & predicting.


Under the Winter Sun: Two snowman have a fun snow day until the sun begins to rise. Great for predicting, describing, cause/effect, and summarizing.

Hey Deer: Ever wonder what it would be like to live inside of a snowglobe? This short answers that question. Great for predicting, inferencing, and summarizing.


The Present: A young amputee receives a puppy with three legs from his mom. This video shows the boy going from displaced frustration and anger toward the dog to care and compassion. It is a good conversation starter regarding empathy and perspective taking. USe this video to target summarizing, describing, and inferencing.

Downtown: Cute animated short about a town that has lost all of its color and a little house that brings the spirit of christmas. Use to describe, compare/contrast, predict, infer, and summarize.

A Shorter Letter: Cute video that helps kids understand you do not always get the toys you want for Christmas. Good for sparking discussions about describing, compare/contrast, and summarizing.


Here’s the Plan: This video is definitely for a more mature student group. It references divorce and includes a scene where one of the character accidentally gets a bloody nose. This video is good for discussing cause-effect, compare/contrast, and inferencing.

Preheated: A boy decides to make a birthday cake for his eccentric scientist father, but accidentally spills one of his dad’s experiments and ends up with super hot hands! Use this video to target predicting, sequencing, inferencing, describing, and summarizing.

Salt: This is my favorite Thanksgiving video. It is perfect for targeting cause/effect, sequencing, describing, perspective taking, summarizing, & predicting.


Petals Animated Short: This is the story of two young humanized animals with different levels of respect for the environment. Highlights the impact people can have on the environment. Great for inferencing, making predictions, identifying cause & effect, compare/contrast, describing, and summarizing.

Sweet Cocoon Animated Short: A very chubby caterpillar cannot fit into his cocoon. A few of his buddies help him out. Great for working on summarizing narrative events, identifying cause & effect, problem solving, and inferencing.

The Spark & The Time Shop: These Chik-fil-a commercials are adorable! They help children see the true meaning of christmas and are great for inferencing, predicting, and summarizing. Time shop includes some funny figurative language examples.

The Gift: A boy asks Santa for an elf and the elf is afraid of being someone’s toy. This little video is fun and festive, and great for targeting describing, compare/contrast, perspective taking, and summarizing.


Watermelon a Cautionary Tale: A boy imagines what if you really do turn into a watermelon when you eat the watermelon seeds. Great for discussing figures of speech (i.e., do you really become a watermelon? No. You may just get a stomach ache.)

Content Warning: Some of the imagery of becoming a watermelon may be scary for some students.

Beach/ Ocean

Piper Pixar Animated Short: Adorable animation of a baby sandpiper adventuring out of his nest to get his own food. Great for describing, summarizing, and problem solving.

Trouble in Paradise: This crab does not know what a coconut is and he wants it far away from his home! Great for inferencing and describing.

Bottle Animated Short: Cute wordless story of a sandman and a snowman who communicate by sending things back and forth in a bottle over the ocean. Great for working on describing and compare/contrast.

The Legend of the Crab Phare: I love this sweet video. The Legendary Crab Phare likes to collect ships as they pass by. As he gets older it is harder for him to move, so he becomes sedentary causing him to appear as an island in the middle of the ocean. Eventually, a society forms on top of him until one day he molts and begins again. So many inferencing opportunities. Great for working on describing, inferencing, and summarizing.

Taking the Plunge Animated Short: Cute video about a nervous guy, who accidentally drops his engagement ring into the ocean just before he took the plunge to propose causing him to actually take the plunge to find the ring. Great for working on non-literal language, inferencing, describing, summarizing, and problem solving.


Roughin’ It Mickey Mouse Short: Mickey, Goofy, and Donald go camping, but they have very different ideas of what roughing it means. Great for working on compare/contrast, describing, identifying cause/effect, and summarizing.

Content Warning: Mickey references being in nature’s bosom in the first ten seconds. I personally just start the video after to avoid teaching this particular vocabulary word. Also, Mickey is attacked by forest animals very time, so may view the tussle as violent.

Zoo Animals

Rollin’ Wild Animated Short: What if jungle animals were like blown up balloons? Very entertaining. Great for working on predicting, identifying cause & effect and problem solving.

Catch it! Animated Short: The meerkat’s sacred fruit is stolen by a vulture! How will the meerkat’s get it back? Great for working on inferencing, predicting, problem solving, and summarizing.

We Love Animals Animated Short: A trip to the zoo shown from the perspective of the animals inside their small enclosures. Very sad and will spark big discussions about animal care. Great for working on inferencing and summarizing.

Safari, So Good Mickey Mouse Short: Mickey and Minnie are left behind by their tour bus in the wild, but they make the most of enjoying the plains and the animals. Great for working on summarizing, inferencing, describing, understanding indirect language, and identifying cause & effect.

Thanks for reading!

October Speech Therapy Ideas

October is my favorite month of the whole year! I have always loved Halloween, falling leaves, pumpkin pie, & cozy sweaters! I have more fall clothing and therapy materials, than I do for the whole rest of the year!

I am always eager to bust out my fall therapy materials and some of my favorite fall books, like We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger and Pumpkin Town by Katie McKy.

My very first speech therapy session consisted of fall-themed materials. I read We’re Going on a Leaf Hunt by Steve Metzger, which I bought for 50-cents at a local used book store. Then we sorted clothing and objects that I printed off of Google by season.

This month I am sharing my October Speech Therapy Idea Guide, which includes both fall and halloween resources best for preschool through sixth grade. In my sessions, I like to pair skill-based activities with thematic books, articles, and/or videos to boost engagement and provide consistent opportunity for generalization.

Head on over to the freebie library to download this free idea guide with clickable links, making it perfect for in-person or remote therapy.

Thanks for reading!

R is the Most Menacing of Sounds

“‘R’ is among the most menacing of sounds. That’s why it’s called ‘murder’ and not ‘mukduk.’”

Dwight Schrute speaking directly to SLPs everywhere

Raise your hand if “R” is your least favorite speech sound to treat?! Me too. Addressing “R” in articulation intervention is almost always a long road.

Why is “R” so hard?

First, accurate placement for “R” requires a complex sequence of lingual, lip, and jaw movements, which are often challenging for young children to see and execute. Second, the shape and sound of “R” is influenced by the surrounding vowels and consonants making it kind of like a shape-shifter. Third, “R” is generally regarded as one of the last developing sounds, which often translates to intervention being delayed.

When should I intervene with the “R” sound?

There are many considerations involved in eligibility decisions, including age, sound inventory, intelligibility, and stimulability.

Generally, I begin intervening for “R” sound errors by mid-first grade, around 6-6.5 years old.

How to Make the “R” Sound..

I find that multi-sensory instruction is extremely helpful when eliciting “R.”

Auditory Discrimination

I always begin with the auditory discrimination tasks to ensure that the child can perceive the sound. Can the student distinguish between the target and the error sound? If they cannot hear the difference, they will not be able to self-monitor. There are two ways that you can practice auditory discrimination. You can read a list of target words aloud and have the student identify whether you said the target sound correctly or with the error sound. For example, saying “wabbit” and seeing if the student identifies the production as an error. Alternatively, you could use minimal pairs and ask the student to hand you the target that they heard you say. For example contrasting “ring” and “wing.”

Visual & Kinesthetic Training

I am about to share my go to “R” trick, and it almost always works!

First, I ask the student to show me their muscles by flexing their arms. Next, I explain to them that their tongue is really just a big muscle, like the muscles in our arms. Just as we can flex our arms to show our arm muscles, we can flex our tongue to show our tongue muscles. Now, I am ready to model the sound. I stretch my arm out straight and begin modeling “ah” with my tongue flat on the bottom of my mouth. Then, in slow motion I carefully show the student how I curve my arm up and back toward my head and I do the same with my tongue.

I think the key to this being successful is practicing the tongue and arm movements absent of sound at first. I will usually carefully explain and model the tongue and arm movements to parents, and encourage them to practice 10x morning and night. I give them the visual below to tape to the bathroom mirror to help them remember. You can download a PDF of this visual in my freebie library.


To increase proprioception, I always begin with practicing in a mirror for visual feedback and I often use Dum-Dums for increased proprioception. You can rub the Dum-Dum on the sides of the tongue to help the student match up the sides of their tongue to the roof of their mouth. More often though, I have the student place the Dum-Dum in their mouth and carefully bite down on the stick. Then I instruct them to curl their tongue behind the Dum-Dum to ensure they are retracting their tongue far enough back into the oral cavity.

Fine Tuning Tips

If the student is curling their tongue back sufficiently, but the “R” does not sound quite right consider jaw height and lip retraction. I always tell my students to smile, because practicing “R” is soooo much fun. Increasing lip retraction can improve sound quality. We also play the jaw game. I teach the students that when we open our mouth all the way that is like eating a giant cheese burger, when we open it slightly that is like nibbling a slice of cheese, and when we open our mouth just right for “R’ that is like eating a french fry. We will practice opening our jaw to different heights by calling out hamburger, cheese, french fry and matching our jaw opening to the food called.

Combining all of these tips is successful for so many of my students. Hopefully, your student has found this successful too. If these tips worked, your student is now successfully producing “ar.”

Transitioning to Other “R” Variations

Once you have “ar” the other vocalic variations are easy to target. Using visual and auditory feedback, I show the student that “R” sounds different based on the vowel that precedes it. To change the sound you begin with the target vowel and transition to a flexed tongue position. I have my students practice transitioning from the vowel to a flexed tongue position slowly at first and then we speed it up, before we transition to words.


The most important part of any articulation intervention plan is that everyone is on the same page: the therapist, the student, their teacher, and their caregivers. If you are looking for a handout that includes all of this information written in parent-facing and teacher-facing language with easy ideas to incorporate daily practice at home and school, you do not have to reinvent the wheel, check out the articulation classroom and home support plans!


Okay, so you guided your student to accurate articulation and you have the whole team on board with cueing and daily practice. The student says their sound clearly with you and even with their teacher or caregiver, but the minute they hit the lunchroom that beautiful “R” disappears! That means it is time to really focus on generalization. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Story Retell

Read sound loaded picture books to your student and have them retell the story using their best speech. Check out this Road Map to R resource from Ashley Rossi at Sweet Southern Speech. It is a free download (when you sign up for her email newsletter) that includes a list of books and corresponding bookmarks with the list of R targets for each book.

Explanation Videos

Check out The Dr. Binocs Show by Peekaboo Kidz on Youtube. They have tons of kid friendly, animated informative shorts about things animals can do, how human biology works, what causes inclement weather, the story of modern day inventions, and the history of holidays. I like to watch a video with my students and then have them summarize the information we learned from the video using their best speech.

Conversation Starters

Choose a conversation starter and give the student a tally clicker to keep track of how many times they use their sound in the conversation.

News Anchor Role Play

My absolute favorite way to target generalization in speech sessions is by using the Newscaster Articulation App by Erik X. Raj. The app lets the student select a target word to build a breaking news story around. Then, the student records themselves telling their breaking news story and the app generates an awesome clip with a really cool breaking news opening sequence.

Before recording our breaking news story, I always discuss the important role News Anchors play in informing people. We discuss why it is important for listeners to understand the news. For example, when a storm is coming or if there is a dangerous animal loose.

After the student selects their target word, we write out their news announcement. Depending on the student’s level of generalization we may highlight words with their target to reinforce accuracy. Once the student records their video, we carefully watch it tally how many times we noticed the old sound or challenges with intelligibility.

Do you have any favorite generalization activities for “R”? Comment them below!

Thanks for reading!