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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 11 - November, 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 "peanut?" (Hint: we found 35.)

Riddles for Kids: Fun at School
Q: Why did the students study in the airplane?
A: Because they wanted higher grades!

Q: Why doesn't the sun go to college?
A: Because it has a million degrees!

Q: How is 2+2=5 like your left foot?
A: It is not right!

Q: What did the calculator say to the other calculator?
A: "You can count on me!"

Q: Why did the boy eat his homework?
A: Because the teacher said it was a piece of cake!

Q: Why did the new boy steal a chair from the classroom?
A: Because the teacher said to take a seat!

Q: What happened when the teacher tied all the kids' shoe laces together?
A: They had a class trip!

Q: Why was the choir director so good at baseball?
A: Because she had perfect pitch!

Q: Why did the teacher wear sunglasses?
A: Because his students were so bright!

Q: Why did the girl take a ladder to school?
A: Because she was starting high school!

Answers to WordsInWords
An, ant, ante, ape, apt, at, ate, aunt, eat, nap, nape, neat, net, nut, pan, pane, pant, pat, pea, peat, pen, pent, pet, pun, punt, put, tan, tap, tape, taupe, tea, ten, tuna, tune, up.

In This Issue

  • Stories from the Kids: Kyle and Gus
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • Testing Procedures for Speech, Language and Reading Disorders
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in November!

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

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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 multisensory word grid). Writing is a terrific way to learn, teaches numerous skills, and kids love it. We hope you enjoy them.

The Stand On Your Head Police, by Kyle

Once there was a kid who stood on his head all the time. His parents did not like it. He wouldn't walk on his feet; he would only wiggle on his head.

His parents offered him treats, like ice cream, if he would only walk on his feet. In school, he sat on his head and raised his hand backwards. It was starting to bother the boy, but he did it anyway.

One day, when he was at home, he heard a siren. He looked all around because he did not know where the sound was coming from. Then, there was a crazy car, the size of his pinky, next to him.

Out came a tiny policeman, the size and shape of a Lego man. He said to the boy, "Why do you always stand on your head?" "I like it," said the boy. "You have to jump up on your feet ten times and stay there if you ever want to hit that piñata," said the Lego man.

When the boy saw the piñata, he stood up on his feet and he jumped ten times. He tried to hit the piñata and finally he broke it. The boy stayed on his feet because he liked it and he was more comfortable. His parents liked it too.

The Rhino in the Subway, by Gus

One day some people were waiting in the subway. Then they thought they saw a Rhino horn and then they said "Nah, that's not a Rhino. I'm just imagining."

Then they heard the thumping as the Rhino crashed into one of the poles holding up the subway station. He wasn't hurt at all because Rhinos are pretty tough.

Then, the rhino ran into the tracks and ran toward the train because it didn't know the train was there. The Rhino was running around the tracks because it was being silly.

Then, they heard a yell. The Rhino ran out of the tracks with a train chasing him. It was the Rhino yelling.

Somebody asked, "What is your name?" The Rhino said "My name is Rhino." Then he walked onto the train smashing into the doors because all the people were pushing him.

Then the Rhino sat down on a seat and then his stop was here. When he got up, there was a huge dent in the seat. Somebody sat down beside where Rhino was sitting and slid into where the Rhino was sitting.

The Rhino was going to work. He worked in the zoo taking care of the other Rhinos because he was a Rhino.

You usually don't see Rhinos on the subway, but that day his car got smashed into so he couldn't drive to work.

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

During the month of October, all of the reading groups read several different genres of stories. Because Halloween was coming, we read several spooky stories and mysteries, selected to coincide with the children's reading levels. Using a website called mysterynet.com, and then selecting "kids mysteries," stories were selected for the children to read. Some students read The Three Feathers, a story about a sleepover, a magic trick and a girl who is turned into a feather. For fun, we always try to predict how the mystery or, in this case, problem will be solved. This story was written by a child, by the way, and was not at all scary.

This same website had a "spooky" story called The Darkmaster's Challenge. In this story, a couple of friends get pulled inside of a mysterious and very scary computer game, which was purchased at a mysterious store. When they finally escape from the game, they decide to return the game to the store where it was purchased, but when they get there, there is no store at all, just a vacant lot and a note from the Darkmaster. The students wrote about what they would do if they were inside this game and how they would make decisions as to what to do. They had to select a game they would like (or wouldn't mind) being pulled into.

At a website called "East of the Web," we read another story that was ideal for Halloween called Hobnail. Since this story contained some potentially frightening imagery, we read it with an "older" reading group, comprising children from the 4th through 7th grade. The author, Crystal Arbogast, did a great job of slowly building the tension. The ending was a big surprise and really hard to predict. In this story, which appears to take place a long time ago (before electric lights or battery operated flashlights), a mother and young daughter, Fannie, are visiting the mother's brother, after having gone to church together. It is getting close to evening and the little girl's aunt suggests they sleep over, rather than walk the 3 miles on dirt roads. The little girl's mother decides, however, to come home, at her husband's request. So they set off with a lantern, and began walking home along 3 miles of dirt roads. As the mother and daughter walk home, the daughter hears footsteps behind them. The little girl is frightened and her mother stops to soothe her, as they sit on a railroad track. Finally, it gets fully dark outside. It was a moonless night, and they only had the lantern to light their way. The little girl still hears the footsteps, so her mother suggests they sing to drown out the sound, which is probably a mouse or something. Eventually, they get home and the little girl is put to bed, finally safe. At the end, the mother and father are speaking alone and the mother says that they were being followed by a man with hobnail boots; a man with no head!!!

We had lots to talk and to write about with this story. The children were given question sheets, one question per page. We wanted to know if the students could feel that this story was not taking place in the present. The use of lanterns, rather than flashlights, puts us pretty far back in time. Also, Fannie and her mother traveled on foot; they did not call a cab! In the story, it is mentioned that the mother had a brother who is fighting in the Spanish-American War. We asked the students to look it up and see what year that placed the story in. We also asked the students to look up what a hobnail was. They learned that it is a nail that is used to reinforce the sole of a boot, and we could all imagine the feeling and the sound of a boot like that; and what it would feel like to be followed by footsteps with that sound. While reading this story, we focused on its imagery, its vocabulary and its historical setting. Before we got to the last page, the students were asked to predict who was following Fannie and her mother. Nobody predicted a headless man, but the students had fun coming up with possibilities.

Another reading and writing activity we did in October involved an invention timeline. This timeline was at:


We asked the children to look at inventions from ancient BC to early AD, decide which invention they thought was the most important, and write a persuasive short essay discussing why their choice was the most important invention of its time. In the year 400 BC, the Greeks invented the catapult, the first artillery weapon. One of our students selected this invention, saying that it gave an advantage in a battle. Another student selected the use of horseshoes in Europe in 700 AD, because it allowed people to travel more easily on land. Another student picked an invention noted to have been invented in the year 20,000 BC, the bow and arrow! The student said it helped people hunt for food and hunt for large animals in groups. It was interesting food for thought.

One other writing assignment that many of the students were given was to write about the origin of a holiday that had either just passed or was going to occur soon. They had the choice of Columbus Day, Halloween or Veteran's Day. Several students selected Halloween because they thought it would be less work; in fact it was more work! The other 2 holidays have a very clear derivation, while Halloween does not. Nevertheless, all of the students did a nice job of explaining their choices.

So the month of October included reading an array of story styles, writing expository and persuasive essays, and learning new vocabulary. All of our students, without exception, rose to the occasion, engaging in animated conversation and working diligently on their writing skills. Since spelling continues to be an ongoing goal, it was discussed during most of our sessions. Utilizing Phonic Engine Spelling, the students were enabled to produce correctly spelled essays. All in all, we had a very successful month and we are looking forward to November and the Thanksgiving holidays.

Testing Procedures for Speech, Language and Reading Disorders

Oftentimes, parents call us, telling us that their children are experiencing difficulties in one or several areas of communication skills. After describing their child, they frequently say, "Now what happens?"

Part of that answer depends on the child's age and what the referral is for. Let's delineate two groups of children: 3 ½ and younger, and 4 years and older. A third group we will discuss are adults, since we work with all age groups at our center.

If we want to evaluate the language of a child who is 3 ½ or younger, it is best to obtain a large sample of his/her spontaneous language. We select toys that the child wishes to play with; this is called client-directed play. This will tend to elicit more language from the child. Pre-school language is described as being "egocentric"; not a value judgment, but descriptive of the difficulty young children may have at switching gears to focus on something another person said. Since this is a skill that develops over time, and falls under the category of pragmatics, we take note of this area as well. Obtaining the language sample allows an SLP to evaluate the child's best performance in the areas of:

  1. Expressive vocabulary - how the child labels objects, actions, events or ideas. We also notice whether the words come out readily, whether the child struggles to access them, or uses pronouns like "this" or "that," instead of using the actual names of the items.
  2. Grammatical structure - how the child puts his/her utterances together. We want to see whether the child uses complete sentences in a spontaneous situation. Does the child use subject-verb-object utterances? Are word endings that add meaning (such as 's' denoting plurals, or 'ed' denoting a past event) being used in the child's utterances?
  3. Pragmatics - how the child uses language. We want to see whether the child uses language to interact with the rest of the world. Some children speak only to have a need met, such as pointing while saying, "water." However, what is surprising to many parents, is that the first function typically noted, and the primary purpose of language, is merely to interact with others. Some children echo what is said (echolalia) or repeat the same word or phrase over and over again (perseveration). These are both indicative of problems in the area of pragmatics.
  4. Speech sound production - Most 3 year olds are intelligible 80% of the time to strangers. Obtaining a language sample allows us to have some sense of what sounds the child uses, whether there are any phonological disorders (such as fronting, in which the child makes sounds too far forward in the mouth). So we look for patterns and get a sense of overall intelligibility. We may also, at this time, look at the structure and function of the peripheral speech system, including the lips, tongue, mandible (jaw), etc.

Evaluating a child from the age of 4 and up requires us to not only obtain a sample of spontaneous speech and language, but to also perform a number of formal, standardized tests. To test speech intelligibility, there are several articulation tests that can be used. After the testing, we examine the child's oral mechanism, asking the child to perform certain speech movements, sometimes at his/her fastest speed. This is called diadochokinesis. Also, we use tests to a.) examine receptive and expressive vocabulary, b.) examine the ability to follow directions, and c.) understand a large variety of concepts. Children are asked to follow sequential directions, repeat sentences of increasing complexity and length, as well as to formulate sentences with a given word, etc. Testing may also examine the ability to tell and retell narrative stories, problem solve, make inferences and predictions, and so on. Because sentence structure is more complex at this age, we expect the child to both understand and use more complex utterances. We also use testing for phonological disorders, language processing, and reading and writing skills. Tests of reading generally include reading passages with questions relating to the text. In addition, we look at the child's ability to decode and manipulate phonemes. In writing, we not only evaluate structure and vocabulary, but we also examine spelling, as spelling has an impact not only on writing, but reading as well.

Many of these tests have been validated through adulthood, so we test adults with these instruments as well. Many of the skills tested in adults are similar to those tested in younger children. Often, adults that demonstrate impairments in language or speech have learned English as a second language.

For all of these evaluations, getting a background history is paramount. Often, this information is what pulls together the whole story; the whole story about why someone, adult or child, is having difficulty with speech and language skills.

Just as a note, we also evaluate stuttering, foreign accents, and voice disorders, as well as other areas of communication skills. These will be discussed in future issues.

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: Thanksgiving

1. True or False: Only the United States celebrates Thanksgiving.
2. What was the first department store to hold a Thanksgiving Day parade?
3. Who was the chief of the Wampanoag tribe, the Indians who were invited to the first Thanksgiving feast?
4. Who was the captain of the Mayflower?
5. Which President set the date for Thanksgiving as the fourth Thursday in November?
6. What does the word "cornucopia" mean?
7. What is a female turkey called?
8. Which state produces the most turkeys annually?
9. True or False: 90 percent of American households eat turkey on Thanksgiving.
10. What is the name of the skin that hangs from a turkey's neck?


1. False. Canada has a Thanksgiving Day.
2. Gimbel's Department Store.
3. Chief Massosoit.
4. Miles Standish.
5. Franklin D. Roosevelt.
6. Horn of plenty.
7. A hen.
8. North Carolina.
9. True.
10. Snood.

November 2011 Holidays and Events

American Diabetes Month
Aviation History Month
Banana Pudding Lovers Month
Diabetic Eye Disease Month
Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month
Lung Cancer Awareness Month
National Adoption Month
National AIDS Awareness Month
National Alzheimer's Disease Month
National American Indian Heritage Month
National Diabetes Month
National Family Caregivers Month
National Georgia Pecan Month
National Inspirational Role Models Month
National Lifewriting Month
National Long-Term Care Awareness Month
National Marrow Awareness Month
National Pomegranate Month
Peanut Butter Lovers' Month
Pet Cancer Awareness Month

1-7 National Fig Week
1-7 National Patient Accessibility Week
7-11 National Young Reader's Week
7-13 Dear Santa Letter Week
13-19 American Education Week
18-24 National Farm-City Week
20-26 National Family Week
20-26 National Game & Puzzle Week
21-27 Better Conversation Week

1 National Authors' Day
1 National Cook For Your Pets Day
1 National Family Literacy Day
2 National Traffic Directors Day
2 Plan Your Epitaph Day
3 Cliché Day
3 National Men Make Dinner Day
4 Use Your Common Sense Day
5 Sadie Hawkins Day
6 Daylight Saving Time Ends
6 Saxophone Day
6 Zero-Tasking Day
7 Job Action Day
8 Abet and Aid Punsters Day
8 Cook Something Bold and Pungent Day
8 National Parents as Teachers Day
10 Guinness World Records' Day
11 Veterans Day
13 World Kindness Day
14 Loosen Up, Lighten Up Day
14 National Girls Day
14 World Diabetes Day
14 World Orphans Day
15 America Recycles Day
15 I Love to Write Day
15 National Bundt Day
16 National Educational Support Professionals Day
16 International Day for Tolerance
17 Great American Smokeout
17 Homemade Bread Day
19 Family Volunteer Day
19 National Day of the Play
20 Name Your PC Day
20 Universal Children's Day
21 World Television Day
21 World Hello Day
24 Celebrate Your Unique Talent Day
24 Thanksgiving Day
25 Maize Day
25 National Flossing Day
25 Native American Heritage Day
25 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
29 Electronic Greetings Day
30 Computer Security Day
30 Stay Home Because You're Well Day

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