I am going to share a tale with you today about how I tricked several (and some even difficult) students into saying 100+ structured sentences and 200+ single word utterances in one session - sometimes almost quadrupling what I could get them to do before.

Disclaimer. These kids were and are totally capable of this, but Ms K is really easily distractible and the kids are very good at distracting. For a long time, I was glad to get 50 target words out of each kid during each 20 minute session (which I realize can be regarded as puny, I suppose), but that was before I discovered the magic beans.

Elizabeth Gretz (a.k.a. Speech Lady Liz) shared some of her favorite low-tech speech activities on the ASHASphere in January. I stumbled across the post about a month ago and found her very simple bean activity to be exactly what I needed.


I marched to my local grocery store's bulk foods aisle and scooped up a hearty serving of magic beans (or pinto beans ... or whatever! Beans!) and borrowed/stole six plastic cups from our lovely RSP teacher. I only do this with three kids max because they get a little wild if I have more kids, but... wowza! 

I have my word lists handy, a handful of beans ready to go, and two cups in front of each kid (a "great" cup and a "needs work" cup). Then, the magic happens. We drill until the handful of beans is gone. A handful of beans is at least 25-45 or so beans, so in each turn, there is a lot of practice! I use this as my method of data tracking, as well. That is the part that has sometimes scared me, but I've just let it go. Yes, the kids could accidentally knock the beans over or mix them up (that has happened), but the number of targets I can get knocked out in 25 minutes is AWESOME! 

Now, the kids didn't see it as awesome as I did at first, so we have started a Speech Room Top 5 (in words and in sentences) on the white board. Yesterday, I had two kids get 200+ words in during their twenty minute group sessions! If they make it into the top 5, they get an extra reward coin. It probably doesn't hurt that I do a little friendly Kelly Kapoor style smack talk to get the kids going, (i.e., "You first graders aren't going to let the smelly third graders get more beans than you, right?" - wow I am so professional... hah. I am sure I will have to do some social stories later for this... :]).

This kind of drill is good for kids who are still in that phase where they benefit from imitating, of course... but I also have kids who read the word lists on their own. In sentences, we are usually doing carrier phrases, and that works well, as well! The Wall of Fame is constantly evolving and I've been majorly excited to see the numbers grow (and as a result, I am already seeing some growth speech-wise!). And... I think it's funny to call them my little bean counters (as they help me group beans by 10s at the end!).

Check out Elizabeth's blog at Speech Lady Liz on easy, cheap therapy ideas. I love this one and it's a lifer! PS - If you pin this, give credit where credit is due and that is to Elizabeth!

And, for giggles, check out Kelly Kapoor talking smack!

PS I am now on Twitter and Facebook - see the right sidebar if you would like - to like and/or follow me socially! :]


04/15/2012 1:16pm

love the idea of the top 5 list! such a great motivator! thank you for sharing!

12/15/2012 7:37am

You're welcome! Thank you for the comment!

08/08/2013 10:05am

I love this idea! I can't wait to go scoop up some beans myself. Thanks for sharing!


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