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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 10 - October, 2011
You can sometimes make words using the letters in a larger word. For example, from the word "tube" you can make "be," "bet," "but," and "tub." Now onto a harder one: how many words can you make from the word "pumpkin?" (Hint: we found 15.)

Riddles for Kids: Happy Halloween
Q: Why was the skeleton studying so hard?
A: It wanted to get a head in its studies!

Q: Why do skeletons make great stand-up comedians?
A: Because they've got real funny bones!

Q: What did the werewolf do after graduating college?
A: He went to claw school!

Q: How do monsters keep the bugs out of their houses?
A: They put screams on the front door!

Q: What do horse racers decorate their homes with on Halloween?
A: Jockey-lanterns!

Q: How do spiders do computer research?
A: On the Web!

Q: What does Dracula look for at the library?
A: Books he can really sink his teeth into!

Q: How did the jack-o-lantern get into the best school?
A: His teacher gave him a glowing recommendation!

Q: Why do ghosts make good cheerleaders?
A: Because they have a lot of spirit!

Q: What do old spirits do when they retire?
A: They move to a ghost town!

Answers to WordsInWords
Imp, in, ink, kin, mink, nip, pin, pink, pip, pump, pun, punk, pup, ump, up.

In This Issue

  • Stories from the Kids: Daniel and Zeon
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • When to Seek an Evaluation for a Young Child's Speech Production
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in October!

In Upcoming Issues

  • Phonemic Awareness: What Is It, and Why Do People Talk About It?
  • Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History
  • What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?
  • Home Treatment for Language Delayed Kids
  • Testing Procedures for Speech, Language, and Reading Disorders

You're receiving this newsletter either because you have requested it, or because you're a current or former client or associate of Park Slope Communication & Learning Center. If you do not wish to receive any further newsletters, please click "Unsubscribe" at the bottom. You'll have the opportunity to "opt-out" with every e-mail.

Our ongoing goal is to keep you informed about all matters related to the Communication Continuum: Speech, Language, and Literacy; to keep you updated on our seminars and other matters of interest; to answer questions you may have, and also provide some fun activities for your child, created by us, by colleagues, as well as syndicated content.


Please submit any questions you have regarding Speech, Language, and Literacy, and we'll be happy to reply in an upcoming issue of CC-News. If you do submit a question (to news@parkslopecc.com), be sure to let us know if you'd like your name (first and/or last) to appear, or if you'd prefer it left out.


In the past, we've held seminars and discussions on: Stuttering, Auditory Processing Disorders, How to Help Your Child Develop Reading Skills, Early Speech and Language Development (0 - 5), Speech/Language/Feeding Developmental Milestones, Using the Phonic Engine® Reading Method to Facilitate Reading, Writing, and Spelling. Please let us know if you'd personally like any of these repeated, or have other topics that you'd like to hear about.

Stories from the Kids

The students in our reading groups produce writings using KidsVoyager Online with KidsVoyager Animated Storywriter. The writings may be imaginative stories, summaries of things they've read online, writings to teach higher level skills, such as persuasion, and so on. The stories are entered into the Online Storywriter's text box using typed spelling, combined with Phonic Engine Encoding (i.e. selecting initial & final phonemes for a word, then clicking a matching word displayed in a multisenory word grid). Writing is a terrific way to learn, teaches numerous skills, and kids love it. We hope you enjoy them.

The Alien, by Zeon

I was iceskating on the pond when I could see the reflection of myself, but under the ice there was a huge thing. So the first thing, I ran to the security guard and told him there is a huge thing, the size of a dinosaur. The security guard heard that, so he made all the skaters come off the ice and got a person to break the ice. One hour later, the ice broke down to the mysterious thing and I found out that the thing was a spaceship from space that the aliens rode on. So we looked around the spaceship and found an alien the size of a human.

We sent the alien to a technology lab where the people study aliens. I ran home thinking I saw something really bad and should not tell any one.

I ate my dinner as fast as I could in silence. My mother asked "so how was the skating?" I paused for few seconds. "It was ....." I replied "It was good" in the smallest voice I could make. My mother answered "Well okay."

A few years later there was a call from someone I didn't know. I asked "who are you?" He replied "I am a person at the technology lab." He told me that he found out that some of the people you might know can be an alien that turned into a person.

Then, that became a crazy thing around the world.

The next day, I went to school. A lot of kids came to me, and yelled, "hey what you found out is awesome." A few days later, the government called me. The government said "can you come to the White House in Washington D.C?" I replied, "yes" as fast as I could.

I went to the White House in Washington D.C. They brought me somewhere else than my mother, father, older brother, and older sister. I thought they were brought to the president, but actually they were in the audience. When I was in front of everyone, I finally noticed when the governor talked to me. He said, "please take this. "He showed me the award that you get if you do something good for the world.

When they got home from Washington D.C my whole family was happy. Everyone went to sleep, but they never woke up.

They were invaded by the aliens from whole space because they showed the whole world about them.

Polly Helps A Friend, Short Story Summary by Daniel

The story I read was Polly Helps A Friend. It was a great story.

Polly and her mother were walking to park near the silver slide. The kids played different games when Polly was walking past them. They threw a big green and white striped beach ball back and forth; also they were racing to go get the beach ball; and they went to go get ice cream and cold drinks.

Polly loved when her mom was talking to a friend because it would give her extra playtime.

Something magical happened. The slide was talking. It is magical because slides don't talk.

My prediction was that she wrote on the sign saying "Help the slide." Instead she wrote "wet paint."

She was happy because she did the right thing. She helped the slide. Her mom called her and that meant time to go home.

That was my summary about Polly Helped A Friend. I would give this story five ***** stars.

Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Method & KidsVoyager Online: September, 2011

In the month of September, we welcomed back our returning students and we also welcomed some new faces. As of now, we have four reading sessions running each week and we still have room for more children whose parents want their children to catch up, keep up or get ahead.

This month we have been reading lots of fiction, as well as focusing on grammar, writing and spelling. We have noted that most of the children do not like filling out graphic organizers, so instead we have been providing the kids with a structure, presented both verbally and written on their worksheets. That structure is repeated over and over while the children are writing so they stay on course. What are they writing about? First, let's look at what they have been reading.

When asked, many of the children told us they like fantasy. There are many a book series of this genre, such as "Harry Potter". We used websites that had magical short stories for the children to read and interpret. The first week or so, the analyses of the stories were done verbally and graphically. We read a number of stories from a website called www.eastoftheweb.com. It was apparent that even though the children like fantasy, they sometimes have no idea what is happening because they can't relate it to normal life. Understanding the stories required us to talk a lot about context. It is essential that the children exhibit what is called "suspension of disbelief." In other words, in order to understand the fantasy, you have to accept that what is happening is something that can happen, even if in reality it is impossible. In subsequent weeks, the children were given worksheets to fill in while they read the stories, with the idea that answering these questions while reading would result in better comprehension of the stories. Finally, the children had to write summaries of their assigned stories. As before, the summaries comprised an introductory sentence, a statement about the problem, 2 to 4 events and the conclusion; i.e., how the problem was resolved.

One story we read was called "Polly Helps A Friend." In this story, Polly goes to the park with her mother. The author was very adept in recreating what that experience is like for a youngster. For example, Polly thinks to herself that she likes it when her mother finds someone to talk to. Why? Because she will have more time to play if her mom is engaged in conversation. All of the children without exception related to that. Polly is about to go down the slide (her favorite) for the 12th time when the slide starts to speak to her. He says he is old and tired and needs a rest. He doesn't want to be replaced; he just needs to take a rest. Polly thinks and thinks about how she can help him. Finally she comes up with the perfect solution. She gets paper and crayon and on the paper she writes "Wet Paint" which is the perfect solution. The students understood that the slide would then have a few days off and could then get back to work all refreshed. A very clever ending, indeed! I asked the kids to predict what Polly's sign would say and no one got that one. It was a very enjoyable short story.

We read another story called "The Dragon Rock". The author of this short story used excellent imagery that enabled the students to feel both the rural setting and the intense heat and lack of rain that was a problem for the townspeople. She describes the muddy well water, the dishwater that has to be reused to wash clothes and the lawns that are now the same color as a biscuit. The reader begins to feel uncomfortably warm as a result of her detailed and highly visually oriented descriptions. We again had a discussion about "suspension of disbelief." For this story to have any meaning, suspension of disbelief was required. The townspeople know that there is a dragon in the mountains that looks like a rock because of his spikes and because he never moves; he is always sleeping. They are not afraid of him because they believe in a particular rhyme that they all chant that says that one day the dragon will "make them a lake." The children in the town manage to wake him up. They put flowers all around him and the pollen begins to make his nose itch. He sits up "like a dog" and stretches "like a cat" and then he sneezes several gigantic sneezes that cause the earth to crack, forming lakes and rivers. I asked the students to explain the reference to dogs and cats. They totally understood that this was a way of making the dragon appear tame. The author also refers to his long eyelashes and kind eyes. The students again understood how this functioned to make the dragon seem tame. Well, the dragon's effect on the land is so great that many buildings in town are flooded, including the ladies' dressing room in the bowling alley. Why don't they mind this? The students explained that the villagers were so happy to have water that nothing else matters. Finally, the dragon jumps in the water and is never seen again. What was the reason for this event? One student came up with the idea that once the dragon's job was done, he left for another village that might need his help. All of the students said they liked this story.

Some of the children read a story called Mr. Sticky. It was about a girl who had a goldfish. She and her mother had bought a plant for the tank. One day, a tiny snail appeared and the girl named him Mr. Sticky because he had the unique ability to stick to the side of the fish tank. This story was not a fantasy. Where did the snails come from? Both the girl in the story and the students figured out that there were eggs on the plant when it was bought. This was an amusing short story that was not at all complicated to explain. As noted last month, the children are asked to explain their stories verbally and/or in writing, taking the listener's point of view. The students were told to think about what a listener needed to know in order to understand the story. Before you use the pronoun "she", you have to explain who "she" is. Before you say "there", you have to say where "there" is. The events have to be described sequentially so they make sense. The same structure for writing as noted above had to be used.

The last story we did was called "Peace Day" which was at a website called PeaceKids.net. At this website there are numerous stories about several children from all over the world who meet in a peace chat room and then magically, end up meeting each other in cyberspace. In this story, they plan a huge campaign to get all the countries to pledge that on "Peace Day", there will be no fighting in their respective countries. They contact Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings and Queens. The campaign spreads all around the world. The children hope that they can organize a Peace Day every year on September 21st. Three students read this story. As they read, they had a question sheet they had to answer. This time, the question number did not necessarily correspond to the page number, making this a more difficult task. For some, it was quite difficult and for others, it was less so. It appeared that some of the children were able to determine the salient words in each question and were more able to notice them while reading. One thing that is stressed during these sessions, repeated over and over is, "You are here to learn. You are not being graded. Our goal is to make these kinds of assignments easier so that when you have to do this for school, you know exactly what to do. Our goal is to make your life easier and to make reading more fun." This is so important for the students to understand. They often fear making a mistake and that fear causes them to freeze up when it comes to putting pen to paper or fingertips to the keyboard. Some of our really bright students will sit, and stall and act silly; do anything to avoid having to write. Spelling figures into this as well as some children fear making spelling mistakes even though with Phonic Engine Spelling, they can find any word they need. We will continue to encourage these young minds to not be afraid, to try their best and have fun in the process.

In summary, our focus for the month was reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, grammar and spelling. We worked on these goals by reading short stories, discussing them (both individually and group depending on whether students were reading the same or different stories), answering questions first verbally, then in writing, making inferences and predictions where appropriate and finally summarizing the stories, using a very specific structure. In writing the summaries, some of the students were spot on, while others did not feature the salient points in their summaries. In addition, we focused on the concept of what the listener needs to know to fully understand the story that was read by the student. One goal that runs through all of the work we do, is to have students love reading.

When to Seek an Evaluation for a Young Child's Speech Production

Many parents call us with questions about their child's speech. They notice that their child is not saying one sound or another, and they wonder whether this is something that they should be concerned about. As one might expect, there are a number of factors that have to be taken into account when formulating an answer. Let's discuss what they are. But, please remember that nothing is written in stone, and all children are different in how they learn and progress.

2 year olds

Between the ages of 1 and 2, children's speech typically becomes 50 – 75% intelligible. Although vocabulary at this age is small, and all speech sounds may not be developed, the words that are spoken should be intelligible at least half the time. Vowel sounds should be grossly accurate in spontaneous speech, with very few exceptions. Lip sounds /b/, /p/ and /m/ as well as lip closure around the spoon while feeding should be present. So it is more than age that we want to know. We want to know level of intelligibility, what sounds are cause for concern and about feeding skills.

Keep in mind that very young children, under three years of age, can be difficult to understand, even for their parents. In general, they are not yet producing all of the ~44 phonemes (speech sounds) that make up the English language and they are not producing complete sentences. The combination of incomplete sentences and incomplete grammar can render the toddler's speech unintelligible.

When parents have any concerns, professional guidance should be sought. Although many aspects of speech sound production may be treated at a later age, earlier treatment is typically shorter and more effective. Seeking professional guidance does not mean (although it may mean) that your child needs professional treatment, as all factors need to be considered.

As a general rule, parents know their children best, so if you come to believe that your child has a problem, you should consider obtaining an expert opinion to put your mind at ease.

3 year olds

According to Sara Rosenfeld Johnson, director of Talk Tools, "Oral motor skills for speech sound development are in by 3, meaning the child has the capacity to produce any phoneme." Also, according to numerous studies, by the age of 3 years, children are generally intelligible roughly 80% of the time. Their grammar is continuing to develop. They are using the "to be" verbs in their utterances e.g.," I am happy." Although physically, 3 year olds are capable of making all the sounds of English, they don't necessarily use them in their spontaneous speech. Once again, when determining the need for intervention, it is important to look at the whole picture. One major red flag is the distortion of vowels, which significantly impacts intelligibility. Another red flag, is a child whose production varies markedly from day to day. Thus, if a parent notices varied production, distortion of vowels, and many grammatical omissions, the child should be seen for an evaluation and will most likely need intervention. It is essential that intervention should be as early as possible. The tenacity of speech habits has already been noted. The course of treatment is smoother and the duration will be shorter than if a child begins therapy at between the ages of 3 to 4 years, rather than at 6 years, for example. Sometimes giving a child " a little more time" a phrase that some parents, teacher and pediatricians use, is really doing the child a disservice. It is also important to look at the social implications of speech sound disorders. If the child cannot be understood, does she make friends in the school setting? How is it affecting her ability to establish social relationships in school?

To sum this all up, if there is any question about whether your child is speaking as clearly as he should, a speech evaluation is strongly recommended. If treatment is required, the earlier, the better. It will most likely be easier, faster and more fun for your child.

Trivia Quiz: Trivial Trivia

1. Where does the word "laser" come from?
2. True or false: A rat can live longer without water than a camel.
3. What is the dot over the letter "i" called?
4. The very first bomb dropped by the Allies on Berlin during World War II killed what animal in the Berlin Zoo?
5. What direction do all bats turn when exiting a cave?
6. Who is the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo?
7. What is the maximum number of times a single piece of paper can be folded in half consecutively?
8. Which burns more calories: sleeping or watching television?
9. Which is the only planet that rotates clockwise?
10. Where are two-thirds of the world's eggplant grown?


1. It is an acronym for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emissions of Radiation".
2. True.
3. A tittle.
4. The elephant.
5. Left.
6. Casey Kasem.
7. Only seven times.
8. Sleeping.
9. Venus.
10. In New Jersey.

October 2011 Holidays and Events

Adopt a Shelter Dog Month
Bat Appreciation Month
Car Care Month
Celebrating the Bilingual Child Month
Celiac Disease Awareness Month
Children’s Magazine Month
Church Library Month
Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Dyslexia Awareness Month
Eat Better, Eat Together Month
International Starman Month
International Strategic Planning Month
National Animal Safety and Protection Month
National Bake and Decorate Month
National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
National Chili Month
National Chiropractic Month
National Crime Prevention Month
National Cyber Security Awareness Month
National Dental Hygiene Month
National Depression Education and Awareness Month
National Disability Employment Awareness Month
National Down Syndrome Awareness Month
National Roller Skating Month
National Sarcastics Awareness Month
National Spina Bifida Awareness Month
National Stamp Collecting Month
National Work and Family Month
Self-Promotion Month
Spinach Lovers Month
Squirrel Awareness Month
Talk About Prescriptions Month
Vegetarian Month
Workplace Politics Awareness Month

2-8 Great Books Week
2-8 Mental Illness Awareness Week
2-8 Mystery Series Week
2-8 National Carry a Tune Week
2-8 Nuclear Medicine Week
3-10 No Salt Week
4-10 World Space Week
6-12 National Physician Assistants (PA) Week
9-15 Build Your Business with Business Cards Week
9-15 Emergency Nurses Week
9-15 Fire Prevention Week
9-15 National Chestnut Week
9-15 National Metric Week
9-15 National School Lunch Week
9-15 National Work from Home Week
10-14 Kids’ Goal-Setting Week
10-16 World Rainforest Week
16-22 Freedom From Bullies Week
16-22 Getting the World to Beat a Path to Your Door Week
16-22 Kids Care Week
16-22 National Character Counts Week
16-22 National Chemistry Week
16-22 National Food Bank Week
16-22 National Forest Products Week
16-22 Teen Read Week
17-24 Food and Drug Interaction Education and Awareness Week
17-21 National School Bus Safety Week
23-29 National Massage Therapy Awareness Week
23-29 Pastoral Care Week
24-31 Prescription Errors Education and Awareness Week
24-30 Disarmament Week
25-31 International Magic Week

1 Fall Astronomy Day
1 International Day of Older Persons
1 World Card Making Day
1 World Vegetarian Day
2 Country Inn, Bed-and-Breakfast Day
2 Guardian Angels Day
2 Intergeneration Day
2 National Custodial Workers Day
2 International Day of Nonviolence
2 World Farm Animals Day
3 Child Health Day
3 World Habitat Day
5 World Teachers’ Day
6 National German-American Day
7 National Denim Day
7 National Diversity Day
7 World Smile Day
8 National Pierogy Day
8 Universal Music Day
9 Leif Ericson Day
9 World Post Day
10 Columbus Day (Observed)
10 National Kick-Butt Day
10 World Mental Health Day
11 General Pulaski Memorial Day
11 National Face Your Fears Day
12 Columbus Day (Traditional)
12 Emergency Nurses Day
12 Freethought Day
12 International Moment of Frustration Scream Day
12 International Top Spinning Day
12 National Bring Your Teddy Bear to Work Day
12 International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction
13 Navy Birthday
14 Be Bald and Be Free Day
15 National Grouch Day
15 Sweetest Day
15 International Day of Rural Women
15 White Cane Safety Day
16 Dictionary Day
16 World Food Day
17 Mulligan Day
17 National Boss Day
17 National Cake Decorating Day
17 International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
19 Evaluate Your Life Day
19 Hagfish Day
20 Smart About Credit Day
20 International Credit Union Day
21 National Mammography Day
22 International Stuttering Awareness Day
22 Make a Difference Day
23 Mother-In-Law Day
23 National Mole Day
24 United Nations Day
24 World Development Information Day
25 Sourest Day
26 Mule Day
27 Cranky Coworkers Day
27 Navy Day
28 Frankenstein Friday
29 National Cat Day
29 National Forgiveness Day
30 Checklists Day
30 Haunted Refrigerator Night
31 Halloween
31 National Knock-Knock Day
31 Magic Day
31 National Unicef Day

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