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Information About the Communication Continuum
Speech, Language, Literacy
Park Slope Communication & Learning Center Newsletter
Issue 13 - January, 2012
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 "blizzard?" (Hint: we found 24.)

Riddles for Kids: Snow
Q: What kind of cake does Frosty like?
A: One with lots of icing and frosting!

Q: Why don’t mountains get cold in the winter?
A: They wear snow caps!

Q: What do you call a penguin in the Sahara desert?
A: Lost!

Q: Why do birds fly south for the winter?
A: Because it is too far to walk!

Q: What kind of ball doesn't bounce?
A: A snowball!

Q: What did one snowman say to the other snowman?
A: Do you smell carrots?

Q: What does an octopus wear in the winter?
A: A coat of arms!

Q: What do you call a snowman on roller blades?
A: A snowmobile!

Q: What do snowmen call their offspring?
A: Chill-dren!

Q: How do snowmen greet each other?
A: Ice to meet you!

Answers to WordsInWords
Ad, aid, ail, air, arid, bad, bail, bald, bar, bard, bid, bird, braid, bridal, dab, dial, dib, drab, lab, lad, laid, lair, lard, liar, lid, lizard, rabid, raid, rail, rib, rid.

In This Issue

  • Stories from the Kids: Gus, Daniel, and Roman
  • Monthly Feature: Phonic Engine Reading Method & KidsVoyager Online: What happened last month?
  • What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?
  • For Fun: Trivia Quiz
  • For Fun: Some Interesting Events in December!

In Upcoming Issues

  • How to Help Your Child Write Short Sequences
  • Using Literacy Activities to Increase Your Child's Knowledge of Current Events and History
  • 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.

How The Giraffe Lost His Voice, by Daniel

Once, in Africa, their was a Giraffe, and he was going to eat dinner. He brought his son with him. The son's friend, Lion, came and baby Giraffe wanted to go with Lion to play.

They left and Dad said, "Be back at noon."

It was past noon and dad was worried. He heard a scream and he called his calf (or son). They didn't answer. He screamed and screamed and screamed, till he lost his voice!

Never trust your son's best friend!

Neanderthal, by Roman

Today when we were hunting we saw this creature. He stole our kills!

The creature was thinner and taller. We tried to get it but it ran away.

Soon they started to attack us. Then they conquered us.

Tap, Tap, Tap, by Gus

Tap. Tap. Tap. The sound came from inside the closet. Quietly, I crept toward the door.

Out of my room I ran. I ran to my dad. We went to my room, and looked in my closet… It was my cat!

My Uncle Joe Lives in the Water, by Gus (from the assignment: write a poem beginning with "My uncle Joe lives in the water.")

My uncle Joe lives in the water,

he is a shark that eats potters,

he uses the bathroom twice a day,

every time he scares the fish away.

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

We started December reading classic short stories. One of the stories we read was the famous Ransom of Red Chief by O. Henry. It is a very humorous story about some down on their luck guys who decide to kidnap the son of a wealthy family. The little guy, or "Red Chief" as he was called, is the most difficult and demanding child. In fact, he's a real terror. Such a terror that he has the kidnappers running themselves ragged trying to keep him happy (which he was thoroughly enjoying), to keep him from destroying everything.

One of the men sends a ransom note demanding $1,500 for the return of Red Chief. The response…? Red Chief's father, the wealthy Ebenezer Dorset, says he thinks that is a bit steep and his counter offer is that the father will take back Johnny (a.k.a. Red Chief) if the kidnappers pay him $250.00. The hapless kidnappers bring Johnny back, pay the $250, and are told by Johnny's father that they'd better hurry because he can only promise them a ten minute head start before he let's go of Johnny (who, the kidnappers fear, may torture them some more!) The students found this story to be quite funny. Since most of them had heard of "irony", but had not read any ironic stories, some explanations were required. We did talk about why some of the events and dialogue in the story were funny.

The groups spent many sessions reading poetry. We had a particularly fun time reading the poetry of Jack Prelutsky. His poems are hilariously funny. Even the titles are funny. For example, Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face and Super Samson Simpson. Many of his poems have a surprise ending. For example, in Super Samson Simpson, Super Samson Simpson comments on how strong he is; so strong he can carry elephants. Only one person is stronger though, for when he carries elephants, grandma carries him!

Some of the kids were assigned to write a poem with a funny first line, in the spirit of Jack Prelutsky. The first line was to be: "My uncle Joe lives in the water."

Some of the groups read articles about Neanderthal man, also known as Homo sapien neanderthalis. The students read about their physical attributes, where they were found and, because they inhabited places concurrently occupied by homo sapien sapien (that's us), they read theories about Neanderthal man's demise. We could see how the Neanderthal man had the brow ridge that was so prominent. There were other noticeable features as well. Homo sapien sapien was significantly taller.

Following our reading and discussion, the students were asked to write a story in the first person as if they were from the Neanderthal clan.

Aside from short stories and poems, we spent a lot of time working on grammar. There are websites that focus on parts of speech, subject-verb agreement, verb tenses (including the fact that when you add "did" as a helping verb, the other verb goes back to its unconjugated form). For example, "We went to school" vs. "We did go to school." We also worked on the "perfect" tense. The perfect tense allows the writer or the speaker to be more precise. Here is an example of how the perfect tense does that. Think of "I am working at the store," and "I have been working at the store." The latter sentence which is in the present-perfect-progressive tense implies a period of time spent working at "the store." Let's try one in the past tense. "I worked at the store," and now in the past perfect, "I had worked at the store."

Using websites that focus on grammar, with multiple choice or other questions, and having Merlin read the directions and questions to the students provided the students with rich, multisensory grammar practice. Because both the questions and their answers are read by Merlin, they have the opportunity to see and hear their replies and get that extra bit of sensory input that helps the listener to figure out "Was that right or was that wrong?" Anyone interested in these websites can feel free to contact us at info@parkslopecc.com.

What are Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs)?

Autism, what exactly is it? In short, it is one of several disorders grouped into the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) category. PDD describes a group of disorders characterized by a variety of impairments within a number of areas of development. The Autism Society of America defines autism as "a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills."

Children as well as adults with autism generally have trouble with social interactions, leisure or play activities, as well as verbal and non-verbal communication abilities. Many cases include poor communication skills, affecting both speech and language. This, in turn, interferes with the ability to express needs and desires, resulting in the use of gestures and alternative communication means. Autism is a spectrum disorder, suggesting that every individual is affected differently and that two children both diagnosed with autism can behave completely differently from each other. Early diagnosis is critical and learning the signs of autism can give way to many beneficial intervention programs for children.

Although autism varies greatly between individuals it can still be defined by certain behaviors. Children as well as adults can have any combination of characteristics listed below.

These characteristics include, but are not limited to:

  • Fixation on inanimate objects
  • Impairment in social interaction
  • Inability to communicate normally
  • Resistance in changes to daily routine
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Echolalia – repetition of words or phrases
  • Unmotivated tantrums – laughing and/or crying for no apparent reason showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
  • Inability to express needs verbally, using gestures or pointing instead of words
  • Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
  • No real fears of danger
  • Aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior
  • Preference to being alone; aloof manner
  • Tantrums
  • Difficulty in mixing with others
  • Not wanting to cuddle or be cuddled
  • Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
  • Sustained odd play
  • Spinning objects
  • Obsessive attachment to objects
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills
  • Non responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf, although hearing tests are in normal range.

There are several behaviors that signal the need for further evaluation. For instance, does the child babble or coo by 12 months? Are there gestures like waving or pointing by 12 months? Are single words produced by 16 months? Are two-word phrases produced on their own by 24 months? Has there been any type of language or social loss at any age? These are crucial milestones in language development. Difficulty meeting these stages in speech and language may suggest early signs of autism.

Autism in and of itself is a very large topic that is continuously being looked at and discussed. With each day we acquire more and more knowledge in terms of assessment, treatment, and support. Although we do not have a concrete answer as to what causes autism, we do have great tools and resources for both the individuals with autism and their families.

Trivia Quiz: Have a Cup of Joe

January is Coffee Gourmet International Month. Test how much you know about one of our favorite beverages with this trivia quiz.

1. Who is believed to have first brewed coffee?
2. Which composer wrote a whole cantata to coffee in 1732?
3. Where was the first prototype of an espresso machine created in 1822?
4. What percentage of all the caffeine consumed in the United States comes from coffee drinking?
5. True or False: The typical coffee drinker has 3.4 cups of coffee per day.
6. How old must a coffee tree be before it produces its first full crop?
7. How much coffee does a mature coffee tree produce per growing season?
8. Which contains more caffeine: espresso or regular coffee?
9. Cappuccino is so named because its peaks of foam are the same color as what?
10. True or False: All coffee is grown within one thousand miles of the Earth's equator between the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn.

1. The Arabs.
2. Johann Sebastian Bach.
3. France.
4. 75 percent.
5. True.
6. Five years old.
7. One pound of coffee.
8. Regular coffee contains more caffeine (more caffeine is lost during longer roasting).
9. The robes worn by monks of the Capuchin order.
10. True.

January 2012 Holidays and Events

Bath Safety Month
Be Kind to Food Servers Month
Book Blitz Month
Celebration of Life Month
Coffee Gourmet International Month
Dried Plum Digestive Health Month
Financial Wellness Month
Get Organized Month
International Creativity Month
International New Year's Resolution Month for Business
International Quality of Life Month
International Wayfinding Month
International Wealth Mentality Month
National Be On-Purpose Month
National Blood Donor Month
National Clean Up Your Computer Month
National Get Organized Month
National Glaucoma Awareness Month
National Hot Tea Month
National Mail Order Gardening Month
National Mentoring Month
National Personal Self-Defense Awareness Month
National Polka Music Month
National Poverty in America Awareness Month
National Radon Action Month
National Skating Month
National Soup Month
National Thyroid Awareness Month
National Volunteer Blood Donor Month
Oatmeal Month
Rising Star Month
Self-Help Group Awareness Month
Self-Love Month
Shape Up US Month

1-7 Celebration of Life Week
1-7 Diet Resolution Week
1-7 Silent Record Week
2-8 New Year's Resolutions Week
2-8 Someday We'll Laugh About This Week
5-9 Women's Self-Empowerment Week
8-14 Universal Letter Writing Week
8-14 Home Office Safety and Security Week
8-14 National Folic Acid Awareness Week
15-21 Healthy Weight Week
15-21 International Snowmobile Safety and Awareness Week
17-23 National Fresh-Squeezed Juice Week
22-28 National Nurse Anesthetists Week
23-27 Clean Out Your Inbox Week
23-27 National Nuclear Science Week
23-27 No Name Calling Week
23-29 National Handwriting Analysis Week

1 New Year's Day
2 National Thank God It's Monday Day
3 Drinking Straw Day
3 National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day
4 Trivia Day
4 World Braille Day
4 World Hypnotism Day
5 Twelfth Night
7 I'm Not Going to Take It Anymore Day
7 International Programmers Day
8 Argyle Day
8 Bubble Bath Day
8 National English Toffee Day
8 Show-and-Tell Day at Work
9 National Clean Off Your Desk Day
10 National Cut Your Energy Costs Day
10 United Nations Day
13 Blame Someone Else Day
14 Dress Up Your Pet Day
14 Organize Your Home Day
15 Humanitarian Day
16 Appreciate a Dragon Day
16 Martin Luther King, Jr Day
16 Religious Freedom Day
17 Kid Inventors Day
17 Rid the World of Fad Diets and Gimmicks Day
18 Thesaurus Day
19 Popcorn Day
19 Get to Know Your Customer Day
19 Women's Healthy Weight Day
20 National Disc Jockey Day
21 National Hugging Day
22 Celebration of Life Day
23 Chinese New Year
23 National Handwriting Day
23 National Pie Day
24 Belly Laugh Day
24 National Compliment Day
25 A Room of One's Own Day
26 National Peanut Brittle Day
27 Fun at Work Day
27 National Preschool Fitness Day
28 National Kazoo Day
29 Curmudgeons Day
29 National Puzzle Day
30 Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day
30 Inane Answering Message Day
31 Inspire Your Heart with the Arts Day

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