Do you struggle with coming up with an organized way to keep track of new vocabulary terms for your students?  I have created a free printable to help!

FREE personal dictionary printable to help expand vocabulary

Research (Wright & Cervetti, 2016) shows that simply being told a definition is not enough when it comes to actually learning a given term.  Students need to be actively engaged in thinking about the word meaning, and this printable provides a great starting point for your therapy discussion!  I like to start by asking my students if they have ever come across this word or what it makes them think of.  We talk about not only what the word means, but also come up with example sentences, a drawing of the term, and brainstorm or look up any related words (synonyms, antonyms, etc.).

FREE personal dictionary printable to help expand vocabulary

This "personal dictionary" allows your students to take ownership of their vocabulary, as well as provide different ways to practice.  I often make several copies and staple ten to twenty together for each student, so we can review words in later sessions.

Wright, T.S., Cervetti, G. (2016). A systematic review of the research on vocabulary instruction that impacts text comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly.

Do you ever feel like you deserve a little more recognition for all the amazing things you accomplish and juggle as a school based SLP?  

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Well, unfortunately, I don’t have any medals to hand out, but I do have some honorary merit badges for things that totally deserve one!  

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Completed progress reports!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Graduated one student before three more moved in.  :/

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Helped a student learn to say their name correctly!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Explained your full job title...again.

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Completed the first draft of your therapy schedule in one week or less!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Got over 100 productions in a session!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Managing to fit every student into your schedule!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Made it through 4 or more IEP meetings in one day!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Had a breakthrough with a student!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Followed the student's lead for a fantastic session.

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Student's excellent progress warranted a dance party!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

You totally wrote a terrific and thorough evaluation report.

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

A student carried over a skill into conversation!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Finding the perfect resource for your students!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Totally got 10,000+ steps in the hallway alone today.

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Acing that "make it work" therapy moment!

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

Did your part in changing Balentime's Day into Valentine's Day.

Merit Badges that School SLPs Totally Deserve

What other SLP merit badges would you add to my list?

PS:  Don't forget to sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date on new blog posts, therapy ideas, freebies, and more!

I don't know about you, but I often have students that need extra visuals to help learn a concept.  I realized the other day in the midst of a session with a sensory bin with a kindergarten student that I needed something to help with preposition or direction terms.

 FREE preposition visual reference chart for SLPs

So, I created this preposition reference chart, and made one for you, too!  :)  I've found it helpful in structured play settings with my younger students.

 FREE preposition visual reference chart for SLPs

This free download is available in my store in a full or half page version.  I hope you find it helpful!

Looking back, there are so many things I wish I had known in grad school about being a school based SLP!  Classes can only teach you so much, and there is so much more I wish I had known starting out.  Looking back, here are five of the things I wish I had known!

Grad school for speech language pathology is difficult, but it's difficult for a reason.  

Our field is so broad that you really need to have a wide base of knowledge to draw from to be successful.  Even in the school setting, you'll be faced with all sorts of challenges and different disorders every day, and it is essential to have that knowledge base to fall back on.

That being said, you won't know everything as a new graduate, and that's ok!  

It's only now, going into my ninth year, that I feel fairly confident in my knowledge base, and yet I know I could have a new student walk in tomorrow with an issue that I will know nothing about.  It's perfectly normal not to have an answer for every question you are asked - the important thing is that you know where to look or who to ask for an answer.  My go to line is always, "I am not sure on that, but I'm going to do some research and get back to you."

The first position and salary you have won't be exactly what you expect.  

That median salary data is just that - the median, compiled from SLPs with many more years of experience, and from around the country, particularly in places with high living expense costs.  I can tell you with certainty the pay range in central Illinois is very different from California!  Most school districts have salary schedules for all employees, and there's generally not much (if any) room for negotiation.

Along those lines, your first position will likely not be exactly what you had your heart set on.  As the newest employee, everyone else with more seniority will generally get the chance to switch or move positions first, generally leaving single position open for you.  You may have really wanted to work with preschool, but all that was available was a middle/high school position.  No matter what position you end up with, I guarantee it will make you a better therapist, even if it's not exactly what you thought you wanted.  And don't worry - you won't stay in that position forever!  I don't know any of my friends from grad school who are still in the same exact placement that they started in their CF, even if they are still working for the same district.

Get as much supervised observation time as you can now.  And don't be afraid to ask questions!

Observing different therapy sessions and styles is invaluable experience - you won't realize it until you're out in the field and don't feel like you know what to do with a particular student!  Observe as much as you can - and don't be afraid to ask the SLP why he or she did or said things a certain way.  This is one of the best ways to grow as a therapist, and once you are out of grad school, there won't be much opportunity for this.  Even if you don't like something the therapist is doing, you can learn and make informed choices about what you would do in therapy and why.

Being a speech-language pathologist is the best job in the world!

Being a speech-language pathologist is such an amazing role and responsibility, and I wouldn't want to do anything else.  I truly believe the quote from Daniel Webster that says,

 SLP Inspirational Quote Posters from Natalie Snyders

School SLPs, what other suggestions do you have to add to my list here?

PS: Don't forget to sign up for my email newsletter at to make sure you never miss a post!

Looking for a quick therapy idea?  Try beach balls!

3 easy ways to use beach balls in speech language therapy

Beach balls are a fun, easy way to incorporate more movement into your therapy sessions, without a lot of prep time required.  Here are 3 quick ideas to incorporate them into therapy!

3 easy ways to use beach balls in speech language therapy

1.  Use a beach ball to target articulation or phonology.  You could write target words on the beach ball, but I prefer to write numbers instead, so I can use them with any sound target!  Simply use a permanent maker to write numbers all over the beach ball, then toss the ball to your student.  The number closest to your student's thumb is the number of times they have to say their word, phrase, or sentence.

3 easy ways to use beach balls in speech language therapy

2.  Use the beach ball to model fluency enhancing strategies.  To model slow rate, simply toss the ball up and say one word in a sentence for each toss.  (Ex: toss - My - toss - name - toss - is - toss - Natalie.)  You could also use this to model chunking or phrasing, where you would only say two or three words on a breath before taking a pause.

3 easy ways to use a beach ball in speech-language therapy to target common goals

3.  Use a beach ball to work on prepositions and following directions.  Have your student show you the ball "above" the table, or "next to" the chair.

I don't know about you, but I'm all about automating everything I can to make my life easier!  Between my school job, family, blogging, creating therapy materials, and presenting, my time is at a premium.  I also live in a small town at least 20 minutes from the nearest big grocery store, with "real" shopping about 30-40 minutes away.  I use Amazon Prime on a regular basis, and their "Subscribe and Save" and "Prime Pantry" and I have become BFFs.  (Yes, I get monthly deliveries of cat food and my favorite English Breakfast k-cups!  It's so much easier than having to make special trips to different stores, especially during the school year.)

So when I heard about Stitch Fix (*affiliate links throughout post) a few years ago - a service that sends a curated box of five clothing items directly to your house on a monthly basis - I was definitely intrigued.  I went to the website to learn more, figured out they didn't carry my size, and promptly forgot about it.

And then, a couple of months ago, one of my friends was raving about the service, and I decided to check them out again.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that they had expanded their size range!  I had just wasted two hours going to the mall looking for an outfit for a special occasion and came up empty, and didn't have time to sort through all of the options online and worry about the sizing, so having clothes exactly my size sent directly to me definitely sounded appealing.

After sharing some of my fixes on Instagram, I've had several people reach out for more details, so I decided to address some of my most frequently asked questions.  (I'll also be updating this post over time with pics of some of my favorite pieces!)

FAQ's About Stitch Fix

What sizes do they carry?

Stitch Fix now carries women's sizes 0 to 24 (XS-3X).

How much does it cost?

There is a $20 styling fee per box (or fix).  This amount is then applied to any items you decide to keep.  (So if you decide to keep a $40 shirt from your fix, they will apply the $20 to that shirt.)  You can select what price range you feel comfortable with for each item type (the cheaper the better, $50-100, $100-150, $150-200).

I have all of mine set to "the cheaper, the better."  Most of the prices have been comparable to shopping at a department store without coupons, if that makes sense.  I've gotten everything from a $35 top to $78 pants so far.  There is a 25% discount if you keep all 5 items in your fix.  Sometimes, a reminder to your stylist about a lower price point or shopping on a budget is necessary.

What kinds of clothes do they send?

You get to choose!  You fill out the extensive style quiz, and let them know how often you would like to receive the different types of items.

In your fix request, you can be very specific or general - it's up to you!  You may know exactly what you are looking for, or maybe have a more general request (ex: "I'm looking for pieces to take with me on vacation this summer to California," or "I need long sleeved sweaters and cardigans for winter; I prefer jewel tones, v-necks, and machine washable.")  They may not be able to meet each specific request, depending on their inventory at the moment (I'm still waiting on a cargo vest for fall!), but they do their best to try to send at least one or two items to meet your specific requests.

I prefer to get tops, blazers, and some pants - I don't wear a lot of dresses or skirts, and shoes are often too difficult to fit to not pick them out myself.

All of the items I have received so far have been very good quality.  I haven't kept everything from each box - I have averaged 2-3 piece from each fix so far.  A couple of pieces weren't flattering colors or shapes on me, some weren't "wow" pieces, others were too similar to what was already in my closet, and a few pieces just didn't work for the upcoming season in Illinois, so they were sent back.

My favorite pieces so far have been a navy 41 Hawthorne blazer, sleeveless Alice Blue blouse, RD Style sweater, Marc New York coat, and black Liverpool pants.

One of the things I like about Stitch Fix is that they push me a bit outside my style comfort zone!  Some of the pieces that came in my shipments made me think, "Oh, there's no way I'm going to like that!" but Stitch Fix simply asks that you at least try everything on once.  After I tried them on, I find that I change my mind at least half of the time!

How do you get the best fix possible?

Once you get a fix where you feel like the stylist started to nail your style, ask for that stylist again in your next fix note!  I've had quite a bit of luck with Alyssa as my stylist over several months, but there are other great stylists out there, too.

Also, you are allowed to link to one Pinterest board in your style profile.  Having a well-curated Pinterest board is VERY helpful in getting fixes tailored to your specific taste!  I have learned that having a general "style" board, where I pin items I like from both Stitch Fix and other sources, as well as leave specific comments about what I like or don't like (color, fit, length, style, etc.) is helpful, as well as having a more specific board for my current fix requests.  For this one, I try to pin no more than 20 items that are directly related to what I'm looking for in that fix.

How well do you feel they listen to your feedback?

I'll be honest, I had one terrible fix where I sent everything back.  I had asked for a box full of my favorite colors, cobalt blue and kelly green.  The box I was sent only had ONE item in those colors, AND they accidently sent me that item in XS instead of XL - plus none of the rest of my items were my style at all.

I was honest about my feedback when I sent everything back, and explained how disappointed I was.  Stitch Fix was very prompt in their response, in which they apologized and offered to waive the styling fee of my next box.  Since I didn't have anything to lose, I decided to continue, and it's just gotten better from there.

How do you give feedback?

When you check out, there is a place to leave feedback about the sizing, style, and any other comments you would like to leave.  The more detailed you are, the better your stylists can select items for future fixes.

How often do they send a fix (box)?

You get to select how often you receive a fix - you can have one sent every three weeks, monthly, every other month, or on request only.  Once you receive your box, you have three days to decide what you want to keep and what you want to send back.

Who would you recommend should try Stitch Fix?

I would definitely recommend it to busy school SLPs, teachers, and other professionals looking for some quality and unique pieces to add to their wardrobes that don't have a lot of time to shop.  (If your personal style is, "whatever I can get on sale," it's probably not a good fit for you.)  I would also recommend Stitch Fix to someone looking for an outfit for a special occasion or event.

How can I see more of what pieces you get from Stitch Fix?

You can follow my Instagram account (@slpnataliesnyders) to check out future fixes!  Here's a few more pieces I have gotten:

Stitch Fix - 41 Hawthorn Rowan Textured Pullover & Charming Charlie necklace

Stitch Fix - Loveappella McCally Top & Evolution by Cyrus Vanike Sleeveless Duster Cardigan

Stitch Fix - RD Style Mckinley Ribbed Detail Pullover

*If you choose to sign up for Stitch Fix through my affiliate link, I receive a small credit.  This post is not sponsored or endorsed by Stitch Fix in any way; all views are my own.

6 Easy Bulletin Board Ideas for SLPs

Do you have bulletin boards, or perhaps some wall space that needs a little special something, but don't have the time or energy to come up with an idea?  Tired of feeling like you have to change them up for each season?  No need to worry, because I've gathered six easy bulletin board ideas for you, designed specifically for SLPs!

6 Easy Bulletin Board Ideas for SLPs

1.  Student Goal Display (free here)


This is something easy that I do with my students each year in our first session!  I love it, because it gives me a chance to get to know my students, as well as get a picture of if they truly understand *why* they come to therapy or not.  

It's also great to refer to during sessions when students ask what we're going to be doing that day.

2.  "I Can" Posters Aligned to the Common Core State Standards for SLPs

These posters are something I came up with a few years ago when my state switched over to the CCSS, and I wanted to be able to tie them into therapy.  I have two different levels - kindergarten through 6th grades, and fifth through twelfth grades - and multiple color options.  I love these, because they look so nice, but can be put up once and stay up for years!

3.  See You Later, Alligator Posters for Articulation

 See You Later, Alligator Posters for Articulation

I created these posters when I was trying to think of ways to encourage articulation carryover.  I often told my students, "See you later, alligator!" when they were leaving my therapy room, and one day, I thought it would be a good idea if I had responses set up for them with their target speech sounds in them!

 See You Later, Alligator Posters for Articulation by Natalie Snyders

4.  "Words Have Power" Growth Mindset Bulletin Board

This bulletin board was inspired by the growth mindset movement - where you encourage students to go from negative, "what I used to say," to more positive "what I say now."  I simply printed the negative statements in different fonts on white paper, and put the positive re-framing statements on colored copy paper.

5.  Inspirational Quote Posters for SLPs

This set of ten inspirational quote posters are all related to communication, so they are perfect for an SLP's room!  You can put them in individual frames, or make a bulletin board display with them.

 Inspirational Quote Posters for SLPs

6.  High Stakes Vocabulary Builder (younger and older versions)

 High Stakes Vocabulary Builder for SLPs

My High Stakes Vocabulary Builders are designed to strengthen a student's testing vocabulary throughout an entire school year, with one word used per week.  There are two versions - the younger version for about first through fourth grades, and the upper version for about fifth through twelfth grades.

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