Wednesday, June 27, 2018

FREE BOOKS AND THE POWER OF STORIES

Last week, I came home from a busy day at summer school and decided to kick back with a good book. I sat outside on the patio beside our bedroom sliding glass door. Our cat Shadow, curled up on my lap as I read. Eventually, he jumped down, but a few minutes later, I felt a tail brush against my leg. I reached down to pet Shadow and instead of his velvety back, I touched wiry fur. I looked down and jumped. A skunk! He jumped too, but fortunately, he didn’t spray. He waddled off into the garden and I rushed inside. 

When I’ve told this tale to others, their responses have been varied; some have leaned closer to hear every detail; some, with eyes wide, jumped back when I came to the word “skunk”; and some have laughed. Whatever their response, all of my listeners had one thing in common. They listened closely to the details and each listener held an image of how a skunk’s fur might feel.

Stories engage the mind. That is why they are one of my favorite tools to use with speech students. Well-told stories and well-written books capture attention, which in turn, creates rich learning opportunities. 

With this in mind, I’d like to share some of my written stories with you. I’m offering Kindle versions of three of my books for free through June 29. You can find the links here: https://www.amazon.com/Ghostly-Night-Jeanette-Stickel-ebook/dp/B01MCSV4KE/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1529875841&sr=8-4



If you enjoy them, I hope you will consider writing a review on Amazon. 

By the way, in case you are wondering, the skunk came back the next day and I’m afraid the word is out among the wildlife in our area. He is not the only visitor to the food dish. Take a look!

A visiting fox with our cat looking on!
He came back with a friend


He decided to stay so he stole our cushion and cat's bed!






This raccoon wanted to get in on the fun.



"Hey, I could be a cat. What a cushy life!
And yes, the skunk came back but I'm safely inside behind the screen door!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Sh! Sh! Marie

Early in my career, I had a young student named Marie. She had wild, unruly hair and a wildly enthusiastic attitude toward life. Her unguarded enthusiasm often got her into trouble. Her voice was loud and she was always moving. Her big personality wasn’t a good match for her quiet classroom and she often came to the speech room to see if I needed any “help”. I could usually find a job or two to keep her busy. Marie’s teacher welcomed the relief and I welcomed the day-brightener. 

Marie is grown now and has left home for college but she will never leave my memory. I think of her often when I meet other wildly enthusiastic children who struggle to keep their bodies and voices within the classroom-acceptable range, and she was the inspiration for my story, Sh! Sh! Marie

from Amazon:

Marie can't seem to keep her voice or body quiet as she twitches and twirls her way through life hearing, "Sh! Sh! Sh!" at every twist and turn. Her irrepressible spirit has her leap through the living room practicing ballet; pound with exuberance on a toy drum (near the neighbor's window); and imitate a baby baboon during story-time at the library. Children will laugh with delight at her antics and relate to the common refrain, "Sh! Sh! Sh!" Their delight will increase at the end of the story when Marie gets to say the final "Sh!"
Speech, language and reading skills are interdependent and children make leaps toward literacy when those skills are taught together. This story, besides providing entertainment, will help children learn the letter combination "sh" and give them practice pronouncing it as they join in the repeated refrain Sh! Sh! Sh!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Wild Waves Speak



One of my students came bursting through the speech-room door, excited to tell me about his weekend, “Ye yent tor a beach yalk on da yeekend. Da yaves yer yild!” 

Trevor has a great vocabulary and loves to talk, unfortunately, not many people can understand him. If you are a speech therapist, you might recognize his “y” for “w” substitution (along with a few other errors.) Actually, you might recognize that substitution even if you aren’t a speech therapist - he is so consistent! 

Trevor isn’t the only child who needs help pronouncing his “w” sound but he is the one who inspired me to write the story, THE WILD WAVES SPEAK.
                                                       

Capturing the magic of a day at the beach, this story reveals a child's delight in listening to the ocean, building sand castles and playing in the surf. 

Children will have numerous opportunities to learn the letter "w" and practice its sound as they join in the ocean's repeated whisper, "w w w whoosh." 


Trevor came in on another Monday, talking of “Yale.” My hope is he’ll soon be able to tell me about the whales he saw without my jumping to the conclusion he is making college plans. He’s definitely Yale material, but that is off in the future, once he’s taken care of a few pesky articulation errors! THE WILD WAVES SPEAK is sure to give him the start he needs.

Free Kindle version available through April 17, $2.99 after that date.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION

I recently started working with a group of nonverbal two-year-olds. You might think they’d have a difficult time communicating but you’d be wrong. Some of them are very skilled at using sign language or other nonverbal forms of communication. One of these little ones went down our toddler slide and landed hard on her well-padded, diapered bottom. With tears in her eyes, she ran to me for a hug. Then she puckered her lips, smacked them into a kiss, and pointed to her bottom. Her communication was quite clear but it would have held an entirely different meaning if she had been twenty-two instead of an innocent two-year-old!

Animals can also use nonverbal forms to communicate with us. Take a look at this raccoon – I’d say he is checking out our cat’s bed and considering the cushy life of our cat. 


This young fox has taken it a step further; he pulled the bed and cushion down and decided to give the cat’s life a go! 

 
Hoping we'll fill the catfood dish!
You may have noticed I haven’t been posting for a while and you might have taken that to mean I’ve grown tired of blogging. In this case, you’d have misinterpreted my nonverbal communication! I haven’t had much time for blogging lately because I entered into new business partnership with two other speech therapists. We plan to bring more children’s literature into the therapy room through our new educational products. I hope you’ll drop on by our website and say hello on our blog! https://www.speechfixslp.com



Tuesday, August 15, 2017

PAX and Our Foxy Friend


Over the summer, I read a variety of books for children and one I especially enjoyed was a middle grade novel by Sara Pennypacker – Pax.

pax sara pennypacker review

In this story, twelve-year-old Peter is forced to abandon the fox he had rescued as a kit. After five years together, they are inseparable but war is raging and the front line is approaching their home. His father joins the military and sends Peter off to live with his grandfather, three hundred miles away. As they drive off, they leave Pax behind, on the side of the road.

Once Peter arrives at his grandfather's house, he realizes he should have stood his ground and insisted on bringing Pax with him. Instead, Pax is left behind to face the dangers of war and the wild. Peter sneaks off at night and strikes out on his own to travel the 300 miles back to his fox. Pax faces challenges of his own, learning to survive in the wild but he never loses hope that Peter will return.

It was heartbreaking to read of Peter’s reaction to leaving Pax, but it was even more so, to read Pax’s thoughts.  The author tells the story from alternating points of view and her depiction of Pax’s perspective seems totally believable. She researched fox behavior and wove that into the story beautifully. This book made me feel I could understand a fox’s thinking.

It also increased compassion. Perhaps that’s why I had no complaints when I discovered who has been stealing our cat’s food.