Therapy on the Go: Tips n' Tricks and Easy Data Collecting Games

Are you a traveling SLP? Do you feel like you spend more time walking the halls to get students than in your office providing services? By any chance, are you at one school but do not have an actual office?  Or perhaps, you find that by the time you pick up your students on one end of campus to take them out to your portable that is on the opposite end of campus that you have just enough time to touch the door and head back? Or my personal favorite, you get your students and then the fire drill hits and once it is over you have 10 minutes left?  Been there!  Done that! Yes, I have been in ALL of these situations and I KNOW that I am NOT alone in finding a way to just make it work in an effort to provide the best services possible to our favorite little clients (our students!).

Quick Tips to Make It Easier:
  •  INVEST IN A ROLLING CART- I love mine!  It is definitely a wonderful investment if you are going to be at one location and not traveling from one school to another (getting them in and out of the car is a nightmare, at least for me).  However, it has really come in handy and saved my back when I found myself without a permanent office or when having to have an office on wheels for a bit.  It was especially helpful for me in these situations:
    • Door-to-Door RTI or Serving Speedy Speech (or Daily Apraxia) Kiddos: I could just put all my materials in the cart and roll around the school site without losing time from picking students up and walking to office and back.  It made schedules with heavy caseloads easier too!
    • Hauling Early Childhood Props: When I provide services to our Early Childhood Class, I like to bring a lot of goodies!  I typically go along with my Early Childhood Teacher’s thematic plan and choose a book with the theme and build my whole group lesson around the theme or dramatic play but targeting specific skills that the kiddos are working on. This often requires a lot of props.  The cart is also helpful in hauling the materials to target individual goals when working with some of my Pre-K kiddos individually. 
    • Goodies Galore for Self-Contained: I like to have more than just one or two Type A Level Reinforcers in my goodie bag while working with my self-contained students with Autism or Multiple Disabilities.  When possible, I use the materials in the class especially when teaching them to communicate using their device or a picture exchange system.  It is best practices since those are the materials in their immediate environment and what they will have access to when making requests or commenting. However, sometimes those items are no longer reinforcing and I need to pull out some of my own goodies to get a response. Carts are WONDERFUL tools for that!  Otherwise, my back would be even worse than it is if I was still carrying around my 2 different bags to contain it all.
  • TABLET- Oh, how technology has made my life easier!! My tablet goes with me everywhere.  It is almost like it is my own little communication device. I do not always use it, but it is great to have on hand!  Between the many different application programs I have on there to address a wide range of skills, quick articulation screener, or to use as a reinforcer, my tablet is an easy go to and now I do not have to carry a million books or copies of papers from books.  Plus, it saves the trees by not having to make so many hard copies.
    • Dropbox- I have easy access to some of my favorite TpT products on here, as well as important school information to make jumping from school site to school site easier on me.
    • Moka - Do you have this app?  If not, you may want to consider the small investment to get it.  I am able to put some of my old files or books in these apps.  For example, I have put a folder of search and find games into them and I am able to easily pull them up. 
      • Searching by Sound: I have the students find pictures that have their sounds in it and highlight the picture or circle it.  
      • Language Ideas: Same as the ideas as above but I describe an item and they have to find it or I provide the student with 1-3 step directions and they complete the task using the highlighter and colored pencils. 
      • No Print Tpt- I put a lot of my No Print TpT products in here.  Then it really is No Print and I can move around in the product as it is intended.
  • SCHEDULING-  Schedule your time super wisely! Easier said than done, I know.  However, when I start scheduling kiddos, I block off a set time every day to provide for RTI or Speedy Speech kiddos.  Same time every day, that way I can seriously just go door-to-door, pull the student out, drill like a bandit, return the kiddo to their class, and go to my next door to get the student. It is fast, and efficient!
Okay, so now you have an idea of my go-to materials to make it work.  However, what about the kiddos that time seems to be wasted with the walk but there is simply just no place to see them outside their class and they have a lot of service minutes (traditional services) or you are walking from one part of the school to the next collecting a little harem of kiddos? I have some ideas for that too! I won’t discuss them all, as I have put six of them into a little freebie for you and you can just go download them and have them on a ring as a go to.  But I will mention a few fun games I play while we make that long walk.
One activity I find that I incorporate into our walk for my speech sound kiddos is Sound Search.  I incorporate this even when we are not having to walk very far just because I like to get their mind thinking beyond just the drill and kill word lists.  I want them to acknowledge and know that sounds are everywhere around us and that if I asked them to go home and come back with a list, this would not be a hard task.  I start them off early doing this so that when they get to the stage of self-correction they are more cognizant and really slow down and think about the words that they are saying and to learn to listen to themselves. 

SOUND SEARCH- While walking from point A to point B, I ask the kiddos to look around their environment and see if they see anything that contains the sound they are working on.  If there is, I have them say the word while practicing good placement, say it a set amount of times, and then tell me if the sound was at the beginning, middle, or end of the word.  If they are past the word level, then I have them use it in at least two different phrases or two different sentences.  If it is a word that has more than one meaning, I ask if they can think of two different meanings for the word and use it in a sentence in at least two different ways.  The point is, I want them thinking, engaging, and not wasting time while we walk towards our destination.

If I know that we may be limited with time, then I bring along my little data flip sheet.  We can easily get 100 trials in if they are at word level without even making it a game (though, I find they like to take turns on finding things).  Also, once we have gone over our immediate environment over and over and we can not think of any new words on follow up walks, I change it so that they have to imagine a place (bowling alley, grocery store, library) and ask them to think of words for things they would find in that location.  I find it continues to keep them engaged plus they like to see if they can stump me and I run out of words before they do!

For this and other ideas (with the little data spaces) on little flip cards that you can take with you on the go, check out my freebie.  Just remember, although obstacles may exist there is always a way to get around them.

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