ABCs and Behavior

Due to the nature of our population, my team spends a fair amount of time problem-solving and modifying challenging behaviors. Lately, we've been working on conducting some functional behavior analyses to gather more information regarding the factors that motivate and maintain some of our current, complex behaviors.

I use this data form (adapted from Writing Behavioral Intervention Plans (p. 55-62), by Laura Riffel, 2005.) to collect details regarding the ABCs of a behavior: antecedent, behavior, and consequence.

To determine severity and schedule systems of positive reinforcement, we are currently using this chart to document behavior frequency and create DRO (differential reinforcement of other behaviors; I highly recommend the online training module on Differential Reinforcement here for more detailed information) schedules, when appropriate. The schedule that I am currently using this for employs five-minute time increments, but I adjust the form to work at other frequencies.

I change each of these documents to create a version that suits the needs of a specific client or behavior. I also edit them to be used in tracking ABC data across other environments such as home or daycare.

How do you measure and analyze challenging behavior?

Other resources that I find helpful can be found here and on the Project STAY site here.

Autumn (not so) Messy Table

Fall is in full-swing and we are getting ready for some Halloween fun this week! Typically there is a lot of planning and executing that takes place at the beginning of a new unit, and then I get to spend some time collecting data and enjoying new activities and materials. :)

This is what's going on at our ever-popular Messy Table...

We filled our water tables with wood pellets ($4.00 for 40lbs at Home Depot; reusable and smells good too!) to create an autumn farm scene that includes pumpkins, gourds, fake plants, animals, tractors, farmers, and scarecrows. We're working on theme-related vocabulary, prepositions, attributes, and wh- questions, among other language objectives.

Quick and easy to put together and so fun! Sensory experiences lend themselves to the elicitation of great spontaneous language and we're always looking for new, innovative materials to put in our 'Messy Table'. What are your favorite mediums?

Caboose Sounds

Final consonant deletion is currently trending on my caseload. I created this activity with a certain little one in mind, but what preschooler doesn't love trains?

The purpose of the activity is to target minimal pairs. We talk about trains and how each one has a special car that always rides on the end: the caboose. Then I explain that some words have a special "caboose sound" too. If we forget the caboose sound, people might think we are talking about something else.

There are two sets of cards. Train Cards carry words that have caboose sounds...

... and Coal Cards carry words that do not. The object is to collect train cards to build a loooong train behind your engine (I draw or put a picture of the client in as the conductor), but you have to remember the caboose sound or you'll end up with a piece of coal in your rock pile instead - bummer!

There are other variations for the cards. Sometimes we work on auditory discrimination where I say the words and the student guesses whether they heard the "train" word or the "coal" word.

What language do you use to talk about final consonant deletion with little ones?

Camp Preschool

The kids in one of my classrooms are packing their bags, coolers, and flashlights and camping out! Well, pretending anyway.

One of my coworkers was kind enough to lend her tent and our team set it up in the Dramatic Play center. The tent is equipped with two sleeping bags, flashlights, and a box of books related to our current unit theme.

We also added a DIY Coleman camp stove and created a little miniature campfire for grilling lots of play food. Preschoolers work on sequencing ("first, next, then, last") and giving/following directions while making s'mores. During play, I can get in some great wh- questions; these are probably some of the easiest goals to address in an inclusive setting.

The "camp stove" was made using green poster board and some clear packing tape to attach an inexpensive wire cooling rack. I glued on circles (included in the set of visuals below) to indicate where the condiments belong. The campfire consists of two real pieces of cut wood with crumpled paper for the "flame". We used packing tape to enclose it so that the pretend food would sit easily on top.

As always, I labeled bins holding materials with Boardmaker pics to help address vocabulary objectives and show students where items belong during clean-up. I am big on visuals for many reasons, but mainly because most of my population is not reading yet. We're also working on receptive and expressive categories and sorting at our little campsite.

Sometimes it's fun to do some articulation therapy or other small-group/one-on-one practice in the tent (try using the flashlights as pointers!).  What's more motivating than a little change of scenery?


We've been practicing our trick-or-treating and filling up treat bags with /k/ and /g/ sounds in the form of candy corn and gumdrops.

I made these gumdrop and candy corn cards to hide in the hallway or on our playground (weather permitting) and my preschoolers love hunting for them and collecting the "candy" in their treat bags or buckets. Students practice the sounds in all positions at word or phrase level as they find the cards and review again as they count their loot. Best work = a real gummy bear :) My crowd is easily pleased.


I also made these "treat bags" to use as a game. In this version of the activity, students practice turn-taking by drawing cards. If they say the targeted sound correctly, they get to keep the card on their "bag." The object is to get a lot of candy. Sometimes in preschool it's best if everybody wins.


It's officially Fall in preschool! In our transdisciplinary model, we work as a seamless team and all specialists support goals and objectives across many areas. I embed therapy and do most of my data collection in the classroom, often during play. For this reason, I feel very strongly about presenting engaging materials and language-rich activities in my classrooms during each thematic unit.

For our Fall Unit, we've set up a little autumn backyard scene at Blocks Center. Students can dump out baskets of leaves, rake leaves and bag them up, assemble scarecrows, and go apple-picking! 

The "grass" is synthetic turf (sold by the yard at Home Depot). Most of the leaves are fake, purchased in packages at the dollar store, but we supplement them with real ones that the children bring in throughout the unit. Preschoolers are encouraged to collect leaves and drop them in a bin near the door at arrival. The real leaves are laminated to prevent crumbling. I use the leaves to work on sentence-formation, answering questions, following directions, and adjectives/describing.

We use crates to store materials and visually labeled each with Boardmaker pictures of the items that belong inside. This aids during clean-up and also helps me to target vocabulary objectives.

I painted the "apple tree" onto a big sheet of cardboard and set it with clear spray paint. We used a staple gun to fix the cardboard onto a stand and velcro to attach play apples. The apple tree works as a fun sequencing activity, and I incorporate multi-step directions with embedded prepositions.

For those little ones working on dramatic play skills and sequencing, I made visual play sequences to give them some basic three-step play ideas.

How do you implement speech and language therapy into thematic play? Stay tuned and drop by this week for more preschool fall fun!

/s/ is for Spider

Fall Break is quickly approaching, and I've been working on some new preschool articulation games to go along with our upcoming Fall Unit. I made these little spiders to target /s/ and s-blends with a little Halloween flare.

I use the cards to work at word, phrase, and sentence levels. Each spider "swallowed" an object containing the target sound/blend in the initial, medial, or final position. Players begin with an empty "spider web" and take turns drawing cards ("My spider swallowed a..."). 

The object of the game is to collect as many spiders on your web as you can. But watch out for the Silly Monsters that are mixed in! Silly Monsters scare spiders away...

How are you incorporating articulation into your unit themes? Other ideas for some spider fun?