Tag Archives: American Sign Language

Cowboy Camp – Literature Extension Activities for Speech and Language Development

I finally decided what I want to be when I grow up.  For a while I thought it might be a teacher, a speech and language pathologist, maybe a nurse, but now I’m thinking what I really want to be is a children’s librarian.  Wouldn’t that be a blast???

In the meantime, since I already have the very, very best job in the whole wide world (being a wife of one and a mommy to seven), I’m going to try my hand at some literature extension activities that focus on Noah’s growing expressive and receptive language as well as visual and auditory comprehension, following directions, sequencing, emerging concept understanding, well, you get the picture.  The books  we’ll use are either our around-the-house favorites or borrowed from the local library.  One thing I’ve learned about library books is that the majority of books in the children’s section usually are found in most libraries, so be sure to check yours.

If literature extension activities with a focus on speech and language development are what you are looking for, please take a look at my Language-Rich Picture Books and Extension Activities Page for a complete listing of books, activities and general information and instructions on the different features you may find in these posts.  In other words, if you are looking for books to use in speech therapy or language play at home or in the clinic or classroom, you’ve come to the right place.  I’m starting this feature as of today, so although there may not be much as of December 2012, more is on its way.

I’ve been working on this set all weekend and it’s been SOOOO much fun!  I know, I know, I have a bad habit of starting new things, making promises of more to come and then, well, I drop the ball.  I’ve loved books for as long as I remember, and I’m enjoying teaching myself a little graphic design (if you can call it that); so I think this might actually stick.  I’ve started a new page entitled Language-Rich Children’s Books and Extension Activities.  Be sure to click here to visit the page and get a run-down on how to use the different sections.

We borrowed Cowboy Camp by Tammi Sauer from the library, and it gave me lots of material to work with.  You can really use the printables whether you read the book or not, especially if you are looking for something with a cowboy theme.  And who couldn’t stand to add cowboy and boots to their ASL vocabulary?

As usual, these materials are free, and I have made most of them in black and white.  I figure it’s easier to get somebody to help you color them in than it is to find a way to print color materials if you don’t have a color printer.  In case you ever wonder what chores you could possibly assign to your 6- or 7-year-old – this is a great one!  You’ll find links to websites and printables by clicking on the bold brown text.

Cowboy CampSynopsis:  Join Avery as he goes off to cowboy camp with a too-small hat, a too-big belt buckle and too-red boots.  He battles some pretty big insecurities and winds up being the hero of the camp.

Speech Words:  Ah-ah-ah choo!, boot, beans.  There is only one “Achoo” in the text, but sneezing is mentioned a couple other times.  Noah does a pretty good “Achoo” with gestures and all, so we practiced at each mention of sneezing to get in a good “Achoo.”    Same thing with beans and boots, just a couple mentions in the book, but there are several more opportunities to practice the word through the illustrations. 

American Sign Language (ASL)Cowboy Camp ASL – moon, hat, cow, horse, ASL video for boot – http://www.signingsavvy.com/sign/BOOT, ASL video clip for cowboy – http://www.handspeak.com/word/index.php?dict=coo&signID=502.  Although the word “moon” is not prevalent in the text, many of the illustration pages have a moon on them, so we played a lot of “Where’s the Moon” and “What’s that?” (pointing to the moon.)


Concepts – Big and Little:  cowboy camp big and little file folder game,  Your child places items in the  big or little column according to size.  This is a great time to work on two-word phrases.  The script goes like this, “What’s that?”  Answer – (signed or spoken) “Cow.”  “Is it a big cow or a little cow (gesturing or signing)?”  Answer:  “Big.”  Respond with “Big” as you prompt your child to do the same.  Immediately after your child responds, point to the object and prompt your child to name the object, so their answer should be, “Big cow.”           

Colors  – cowboy camp color word matching game.  Red boots are a theme throughout the book, The cowboys wear a variety of colors via their pants and bandanas, a perfect opportunity to quiz color words with questions like, “Who is wearing a blue bandana?”  Your child should respond by pointing to the appropriate cowboy.

Additional Resources (all free, all the time): 

http://www.pre-kpages.com/texas/ – Here you’ll find a TON of cowboy- and Texas-themed ideas for preschoolers and kindergarteners – printables, arts and craft activities, etc.

http://homeschoolcreations.com/CowboyPrintables.html – Here are those high-quality “tot” or preschool packs – pre-writing sheets, number puzzles, alphabet identification, labeling – all high quality adorable cowboy graphics.  This preschool pack even comes with a kindergarten expansion pack.

Have fun, and be sure to let me know what you think!

Red Truck

I was trying to clean one side of the house, when I heard a familiar wail coming from the other side of the house.  Soon, a tear-stained Noah arrived at my side wanting my attention.

Ah, I see the hand coming to the face, he’s going to sign.

Index finger brushing lips and curling into palm (red).  Two fists formed as if gripping a large steering wheel (truck).

Did you catch that?  That was a two-word phrase.  Unsolicited.  From my 6-year-old with Down syndrome and suspected apraxia.

The only time I get more than a one-word utterance is if Noah is signing something that starts “I want” or ends with “please.”

(It turns out he was playing with the red truck and Seth grabbed it away from him.)

This is a HUGE, HUGE milestone in speech and language development.  It usually precedes a huge spurt in language acquisition.  I’m not sure what this means for Noah, so I have to remind myself to be fully present and rejoice in the moment we’re in.

I found a great article about two-word phrases and their significance in the area of speech and language pathology here:  http://www.talkingkids.org/2011/06/two-word-phrases-what-to-expect-and-how.html?showComment=1350842030220#c7350308075385837754.

Capturing Teachable Moments at the Grocery Store

We are fortunate to have a wonderful grocery store (HEB) in town that gives out free “Buddy Bucks” to the children as they pass through the grocery aisles.  I am often tempted to tell the cashier “no thanks,” because I’m usually so ready to get out of the grocery store and into the car after shopping with my spectacular seven.  I only had three of them with me today, including Noah, so I went ahead and let them have their Buddy Bucks.

The way this works is the cashier, with a parent’s permission, hands a “Buddy Buck” to the child, the child takes it over to a machine that looks like the wheel on “The Price is Right”, the child inserts the buck, pushes a button which causes the spinning wheel to stop, and whatever square the wheel stops at determines how many points are printed out on a sticker that pops out of the machine.  The sticker is then put into a booklet and added to other points on future visits which can then be redeemed for prizes.

All that to say that I worked in a good therapy session with Noah at the grocery store today that would have taken me a lot of time and frustrating distractions if I had tried to do something similar at home.

It’s times like this that just a tiny bit of awareness and creativity on a parent’s part can turn an errand into a captured teachable moment.

So how did I do it, and what’s so great about a Buddy Buck?

First, understanding that money is used in exchange for goods is a very important life skill, and it is never too soon to start understanding that.  So Noah is handed a buck, and he is exchanging it for a sticker.

Next, Noah is having to exercise his memory in order to put the money in the right slot in the right way, not to mention having to use fine motor skills.  He is also having to remember where the machine is located.  In short, he is remembering a process.  This is VERY good brain exercise, and again we are addressing life skills.  When Noah is a little older and he is hungry, I will expect him to figure out that when he is hungry, he needs to go to the kitchen, get the bread, go to the toaster, put in the bread and wait for it to be cooked.   Processing what to do with a Buddy Buck is setting those thinking and memory skills in motion.

After Noah pushes the button, he has to wait for the wheel to stop.  Another very important thinking skill is giong on here.  Noah is seeing that the sticker isn’t coming out immediately and the wheel has not stopped moving, but experience has taught him that if he waits, he will get a sticker.  This is a great time to practice “wait” in ASL.

When the machine gives him a congragulatory comment, he knows the sticker is ready and he takes it out of the machine.  He peels it (fine motor) and sticks it into his record book which I keep in my purse.

I didn’t get to it today, but this would be a great time to review numbers with him, as we have several stickers from previous visits, each with a different number on them.

I think my favorite life skill taught in all this is delayed gratification.  He may not completely understand the system yet, but this is a precursor to Noah being able to handle his own money some day, at least to some extent.  He is learning that just because money (stickers) are coming in and being put “on the books,” it can’t go out until he has accumulated enough to pay for what he wants.

Now that I think about it, I think I might be able to capture teachable moments with Buddy Bucks with most of my kiddos.

Another reason to go shopping?  Goody (as long as I can just take two or three with me at a time).