FREEBIE Book Companion for “The Dunderheads”

Posted by Emily Richardson in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

One of my favorite things about going to the public library is stumbling across surprise books.  I go armed with a list from Instagram or Pinterest and usually I’m lucky to find one or two titles in stock.  So I just start browsing…I pick up books next to where my hopeful book should have been, look at the ones that are displayed on the counters, and just grab randomly.

I ran across this book while exploring at the library and instantly knew I had found treasure! It is written and illustrated by two very familiar names: Paul Fleischman and David Roberts. Due to my limited group times with students, I love when I can find books shorter in length that pack a punch with content. As my language students grow into 2nd-5th grade, I try to parallel their curriculum content with skill-based therapy using chapter books. (If you are also on the hunt for manageable chapter books in speech/language therapy or small group sessions check out my novel study units for Freckle Juice and The one In The Middle Is The Green Kangaroo).

As you know, it could take an entire school year of therapy sessions to make it through one grade level chapter book.  So I am always on the look-out for short but rich chapter books.  While The Dunderheads isn’t a chapter book, it is a picture book with a longer yet manageable length.  This is a cute story about some underdog kids with a plan to outsmart their teacher who is just plain mean. At first glance all I could think about what what a fun lesson in prediction this would be with each character’s nicknames correlating to their hidden talent (Junkyard, Clips, Wheels). Students can engage with the reading of The Dunderheads while practicing skills of prediction, summarizing, sequencing, and describing (just to name a few!).

This FREEBIE book companion includes:

Before reading, students will make a prediction about each of the 10 character’s nicknames. This is a great opportunity to discuss predictions and inferences and how sometimes your guess could make complete sense but isn’t the right answer (compared to guesses that don’t use our best reasoning skills).  You could even extend the idea of “What’s in a name” by researching the origin and meaning of our own names.  Do those characteristics match how we see ourselves?  

Following the familiar script Somebody/wanted/but/so/then students will summarize the story through words and pictures. If you aren’t printing this as a double sided packet, you could have students cut this out to make a sequencing board or story booklet. You could also assign student different characters to summarize the story through their eyes. That makes for a good conversation on perspective taking.

In The Dunderheads, each character has a nickname that describes them well. (The narrator is Einstein because he solves problems well, Pencil draws from memory, Hollywood has seen every movie ever made, etc) After reading the story, students can use this 2 page (I copy mine double sided) template to read a description for each character and label with their (nick)name. There is also space for students to draw a picture of the character. (For kids who struggle with this task, I show them my simple stick drawings and they usually outdraw me! I do love providing an outlet in drawing for kids who are comfortable in that form of expression)

Students get to play with creativity here! Using the framework that the author has set out, students get to create 3 new characters with a name, short description, and picture. If support is needed, you could start out creating as a group to provide a model.

Now students can do a little self-reflection a create a nickname for themselves. The framework is provided for students to write something they do well or often, label that action with a person place or thing, and then draw/label their picture using their self-created nickname. If you are feeling brave, you could always have students use this process to create a nickname for you!

Cut out the 10 character cards. After reading the story, a few ideas to use the cards include:

A)explain how each character helped in the plan.
B)describe the character to a partner to play ‘guess who’
C)sequence the story characters
D)state a character trait for each one
E)think of where you might find him/her
F)share what you think are each character’s favorites (food, toy, activity, place)


Posted by Emily Richardson in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Get a flavor of the style of my book companions with a 50% discount! Scroll down a few posts to see details on this unit and how I used it with my students.

(hint: you get a few bonus hours because I’m not sitting at my computer at 12am!)

Red Nose Day (and a Freebie!)

Posted by Emily Richardson in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What is Red Nose Day?
Red Nose Day is an international movement through Comic Relief to provide support to those in need. In America, the effort is focused on ending childhood poverty, one silly red nose at a time. You can participate by getting your red nose at Walgreens (cost is $1 and half of that goes to the cause), engaging in the conversation, tuning into NBC on May 24, 2018, or setting up your own fundraiser. Get the entire scoop at


Red Nose Day is about seeing a need and making a difference. I send my three kids off to class each day with “be a good listener, use best effort, & be kind”. There are an overwhelming number of books that can be used to guide you in a lesson on kindness. I chose to spotlight “Be Kind” by Pat Zietlow Miller and “What Does It Mean To Be Kind” by Rana DiOrio because they break down the concept of kindness into tangible actions. This is important to me for my particular students. These books explore what it means to BE KIND in a sincere and meaningful way.

In addition to the tangible examples given in these stories, we will also use this vocabulary template to guide us to a deeper understanding of kindness.

I absolutely adore that Rana DiOrio, the author of “What Does it Mean to be Kind?”, explores the multiple meanings of “kind” to start off the story.  And the illustrations by Stephane Jorisch have such sweet details.

I appreciate the direct examples of kindness in both of the books. I have made a grid to go along with each story.  Each grid has two variations – one with clipart and one without.  Students who enjoy drawing can use the second grid to draw examples either from the story or their personal experiences.

I’m also excited about making this connections chart…How I will be kind a) to others b) to animals c) to the Earth and d) to myself.  My favorite part?  Of course it is decorating the face and gluing a red pom pom for the nose!

I hope you have fun adding a little silliness into the lesson of kindness!  I’d love to hear how you are incorporating Red Nose Day into your teaching.  You can grab this Promoting Kindness in the Spirit of Red Nose Day FREEBIE today!

“No kind action ever stops with itself. One kind action leads to another. Good example is followed. A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees. The greatest work that kindness does to others is that it makes them kind themselves.”

~ Amelia Earhart

The Great Paper Caper… A fun lesson, indeed!

Posted by Emily Richardson in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


I confess…I am obsessed with Oliver Jeffers! His illustrations are adorable and filled with a witty sense of humor.  The messages of his stories connect with children (and speechologists alike!)   We had fun with “The Great Paper Caper”, especially when we made paper airplanes for our own competition!  There is a theme of treating the forest (and our earth) respectfully, so we tied it into our Earth Day conversation.

I used my fun highlighting tape for the book and students used the word template as we dug in deep to the story vocabulary.  I also have a poster (or it can be cut into cards) with an example of the content for pre-teaching or a word wall.  I printed these on card stock for a colorful presentation.

I was able to target comprehension at different levels depending on the goals of my students.  It makes me so happy when we can jump into the land of stories together!

I don’t always cover each of these skills in each group.  For this story, I customized each group’s lessons and we were able to cover a lot of ground in four sessions.

The students loved making their own paper airplane!  You can see we unfolded the (winning) paper airplane to reveal the sequencing steps written inside.  My son made us some prototypes to work from, because otherwise it might been a disaster 🙂

If you’d like to check out these materials, you can find them here: Speech & Language Book Companion: The Great Paper Caper .



I guess I’ve been on a blog sabbatical!

Posted by Emily Richardson in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

We have been using this vocabulary frame in therapy…turns out is works well on the blog also 🙂

I guess I’ve been on a blog sabbatical!  At work, I’m just trying to keep my head above the paperwork waters.  I’m proud to say that I’ve done my online documentation (previously known as medicaid billing and always known as a major time sponge) the same day of service EVERY DAY for the ENTIRE YEAR.  This is huge for me because in the past I was notoriously behind due to well, life.  You know that therapy life of planning, creating, implementing, documenting, and meeting about therapy…and then you get to document all of that all over again?! The district expectation is to be current within the week, and I have been current to the day. (yay me!) But alas, no blog entry.

I have supervised two graduate student interns this year.  There have been numerous professional conversations about parent/teacher/student communication, building relationships with all stakeholders, specific technique and rationale, patterns of speech/language behavior, educational trends, and evidence based research.  Thanks to a post from Activity Tailor, I learned about “The Informed SLP” which has filled my EBP and research bucket so full!  But alas, no blog entry.

This is a free app! And it definitely FREES up time while improving parent/SLP communication!


I’ve become Brightwheel’s #1 fan.  I am snapping pictures like crazy of materials and work productivity so parents know in real time the WHAT and HOW of our speech language skill work.  But alas, no blog entry.

I’ve been able to reach outside my therapy room to the perfect spot on campus that aligns with the stars to upload my therapy photos on instagram.  But alas, no blog entry.

We’ve explored some very cool authors/illustrators (#OliverJeffersObsessed) and units (Everyday inventions and their African American Inventors.  I even presented at a staff PD about executive functioning. But alas, no blog entry.

These one page stories are the perfect length for therapy sessions!

The grocery store knows us by name. I’ve been to piano, violin, and soccer weekly.  Started a neighborhood book club with Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.  Binge watched “How I Met your Mother” and decided the name of the show should have been “Robyn, Robyn, Robyn”.  Planned family road trips to DC and FL.  Dreaming about a trip to Portugal, Spain, and Italy.  Currently immersed in “Hawaii 5-0”.  But alas, no blog entry.

Life is such a balancing act. I always want more time (and more Hootie songs!) My mantra this year has been to “follow your arrow”…do what feels right for your path.   I’ve  learned I do really well with predictable patterns, so I’m working on building a better blog post pattern.  I’ve learned to give myself permission to not juggle every ball all the time.  And HEY!  Here’s a blog entry!