Journey To the Finish Line

PR's, 4 children, hopes and dreams; I'm always running after something



Manipulatives and Learning

I’m a hands on learner, and I’ve found that many of my work kiddos are too. Good visual and tactile cues can sometimes make a world of difference in both understanding the material and the amount of time it takes to achieve mastery of a particular goal or skill. Most of my caseload is younger kids but I also see a few whose focus is on reading.

Because Performance Counts
In the world of education, it is more than teaching your students. You need your students to be able to demonstrate that they understand the concepts that are the foundation of learning. Manipulatives are one of the best ways to truly achieve success for students, allowing them to have hands-on learning experiences. Manipulatives also open the door to assessment, allowing you to actually watch your students in action as they tackle a recently acquired skill or concept. View a broad selection of learning supplements and order today from Assessment Services, Inc. You’ll be able to get started right away with learning tools that have been proven to be effective.

See it to Believe it
From unifix cubes to geocubes, hands-on learning tools will allow you to see if your students have achieved mastery. You will be able to get a sense of what is going on in their minds during assessment. You can also open the door to discussion, providing key moments to perform demonstrations when your students are experiencing difficulty with a concept. Manipulatives are perfect when you are looking for a concrete way to illustrate a skill. You will also have clear evidence of understanding. Choose to go in the direction of hands-on activities and you are building the foundation. Once students have a solid understanding of educational concepts, they will be able to move on to abstract activities. Your main goal is to use every resource at your disposal to ensure success.*

What is your learning style?

What do you think about manipulatives and/or hands on learning?

*compensation was provided for this post

Bright Baby App – A Review

As a Speech Therapist I use my IPAD at work often and I’m always in search of new apps that I can use to keep kiddos interested and test their knowledge. In my experience so far, Early Intervention (birth-3) type apps that I like have been hard to come by. A few weeks ago I was contacted by Karol at One Percent Matters Labs asking if I’d be willing to review their Bright Baby App 🙂


The app itself  comes in a free and paid version (paid is $1.99). It is a series of flash cards in 25 categories, which are all displayed on one page and sorted alphabetically, each with a text name and picture example. Once you select a category a picture of each item contained in the category is shown on the screen.


From here you can choose one of three options: slide show, manual show or choose a picture individually. When you select a picture, a larger version of the image is shown on screen with the name of the object in text and a childs voice that also names the object.


Selecting slide show allows you to view all slides in the category at timed intervals (3, 5 or 7 seconds per slide which you can choose in the settings) and manual show which I think (will address this in review portion) allows you to scroll through the pictures at your own rate. You can also select the picture as your favorite by touching the star, which will then group all favorites into its own category on the main page.

The settings can be accessed by pressing the wheel button in the top right corner of the main page of the app. From here you can set the amount of time spent per slide in slide show mode, turn the sound on or off, or change the font size, capitalization and color. Here you can also choose the play mode which allows you to do things such as shuffle the cards, or choose whether you’d like them to show the cards with text (no sound), with sound (no text) or picture only. Finally, in the settings you can add your own category including pictures from your phone camera and a voice recording if you choose.


What I liked

  • The photos are high quality pictures of the actual objects – not line drawings.
  • 25 different categories that appeal to a fairly large age range – not just birth to 3.
  • The ability to set up the cards to play in different modes – this comes in handy for me as I can use the app as exposure but also to “test” by showing picture only and asking a child “what is that?”
    • Picture, text, sound
    • Picture and text
    • Picture and sound
    • Picture only
  • The ability to add your own categories so that the app can grow with your child
  • Adding your own category was easy to navigate
  • The ability to add “favorites” which then groups them together into its own category so you don’t have to scroll through each one.
  • You can try out 3 categories in a free download

What I thought could use some improvement

  • Some of the categories could use some more examples, particularly the animals and furniture.
  • While I was navigating the app I was unable to to get “manual show” to work. If I clicked the right arrow it simply repeated the same picture, and if I clicked the left arrow it went into a slide show.
  • This is a picky thing but the spelling was not always consistent – for example in settings you can choose “capitalization”, but when you click it its written at the top as “capitalisation”.
  • A few pictures could be somewhat unfamiliar. For example the furniture category contains a futon where I might suggest bed, and the “cupboard” is what I would consider more to be clothes storage than one in the kitchen.
  • This may be more of a personal thing but I probably would have swapped a couple categories in favor of another. For example, I’d maybe swap art supplies for transportation and office supplies for something like “first words”.

Overall I’d give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. I’d easily bump it up to 4 if the “manual show” can be fixed in the next update. (Unless of course I misunderstood what it was supposed to do.)



Whatcha Reading?

One of my 2014 resolutions was to read more. Its honestly an odd resolution for me as I love to read, but somewhere in the mix of pregnancy and parenting its taken a back seat to other things, namely diaper changing, spit up clean up in aisle 4 and running. After this latest injury, though, I figured if I can’t exercise I could at least begin reading more again.

So far this year  I’ve read , Where We Belong by Emily Giffin and the Divergent series and The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult. In fact, I’ve read every book Jodi Picoult has ever written (with the exception of the one she wrote with her daughter). She even wrote a book called Sing You Home that touches on infertility. No, its no Shakespeare or The Great Gatsby (which I read in high school and did not like), and you probably won’t see me perusing the top 25 New York Times best sellers either.

Overall though I’d say my favorite type of books are Memoirs. There is something about knowing the author overcame the hardships or lived the hilarious stories that are written in these books that makes it easier to relate and find parallels in my own life (maybe once day I’ll get a chance to write one about the hilarity of twin parenting). I honestly wish we could have read more of this type of book in school, as I personally just could not get into what many think of as classics.

If you happen to be a teacher looking for good books to use in your classroom:

3 Great Memoirs for High School Teachers

Tired of assigning Huckleberry Finn year after year? These three memoirs will shake things up in your classroom while still providing age-appropriate learning and parent-friendly stories.

1: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

This autobiographical tale chronicles the lives and struggles of the Walls family, a nomadic, unconventional group of poverty-stricken hippies who move across the U.S. with no great purpose. Jeannette Walls was only three when it began, and by the time she ran away from home and went off to college, she’d learned quite a lot about life, love and perseverance through every kind of obstacle. Use this book to highlight the importance of goals and dedication through adversity.

2: I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb

Written and co-authored by Malala, the young teenager who defied the Taliban in pursuit of equal learning opportunities for girls, this memoir makes for a thrilling narrative and an even more important lesson. Buy it in bulk from a mass retailer like BookPal and pass it out to every young female student.

3: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou

A favorite of classrooms and high school curriculum, Maya Angelou tells the story of her childhood with humor and grace, even as she’s describing the racism and prejudice that haunted life in the 1930s. If you’re looking for a personal, memorable account of growing up in the early South, this is it.

Bookpal has books for all ages, certainly not limited to high school.

What kinds of books do you enjoy? I am open to suggestions for the remainder of the year in order to meet my resolution 🙂

I Have Ways of Making You Talk

I don’t traditionally blog much about my job, and honestly I’m not really sure why because I really enjoy it. Maybe it was an attempt to keep it separate from my personal life, but now as the babies get older it is naturally making its way into my personal life more and more.

In professional terms I am a Speech-Language Pathologist. Most know me as a Speech Therapist. Every once in awhile someone asks what drove me to my profession and the truth is I don’t really have a crazy or compelling story. I started college unsure of what I wanted to do and it was suggested by my advisor that I take a few classes that interest me and see if it helps. That first semester I took a class on Dietetics, Psychology and an intro to Communication Disorders. I ended up choosing the major by a strange process of elimination – because of a bout with both disordered eating and depression, (that really lasted well into my college years and beyond, but that’s a topic for another day….maybe) I knew that it would be difficult for me to truly succeed in a profession as a dietician or counselor. What initially drew me to it was the idea of helping those with strokes learn how to communicate again. I completed a 4 year undergraduate degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, took a year off and worked part time in a therapy office and as a nanny, and then enrolled in a 2 year graduate program. At the time my focus was on adults – my “dream job” in a rehab hospital. Unfortunately since I was married to a member of the Air Force at the time, I knew I would only be at my first job for a year before relocating, so I took a job at a nursing home.

I worked in 2 different nursing homes my first three years and then quit. That turned out a be a huge blessing because I really was not happy at my job and had hemmed and hawed at the idea of switching to pediatrics for awhile. I contacted the man I worked for between undergrad and grad school (who just happened to own a pediatric clinic), asked if he had any openings and then began my journey in the world of pediatrics. Admittedly there were hard times, but working with kids every day while battling infertility actually bothered me much less than I had expected. Thank goodness.

I work with kids of all ages ranging from a few months to 15 years, but the vast majority of my caseload is ” Early Intervention “, or kids aged 1-3 with some form of speech or language delay. So basically, I spend most of my day playing with an IPad and toys. As the babies get older and we begin to enter the world of associations with objects and learning first words, I’ve come across many moms worried about their own kids’ speech development. I’d be lying if I said I’m not watching mine like a hawk and mentally (or literally *cough*) evaluating their skills. Since I’m doing it anyway, I thought I’d start a series of posts where I describe a popular or favorite toy and then explain how it can be used to help develop speech and language skills. It’s been churning in my mind for a few weeks now and so I think its time to give it a shot and see if it develops some interest.

Stay tuned but be warned, I have ways of making you talk 🙂

*I am still accepting guest posts for anyone still interested – it kinda fell through with the holidays but I’d love to get it started again!*

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