Category: Uncategorized

Phonological Awareness Skills

By Chelsey Craig,

Children playing with….sounds?!?!

When most of us think about children playing, we usually think about things like blocks, puzzles, and other toys. But it’s also important for young children (and their families) to play with sounds – the sounds in their language. Doing so not only helps children learn how to pronounce these speech sounds but also helps them to become readers as well. Learning to read and write starts long before kindergarten and has long-lasting effects. Learning to play with sounds (also called “Phonological Awareness skills”) is one of the key skills of children ages 0-5 that predict later reading success. A more formal definition of Phonological Awareness is the auditory processing of spoken language (not of written language) and understanding that spoken language can be divided and manipulated into smaller components (sentences, phrases, words, syllables, phoneme clusters; individual phonemes). 

Areas included in the skill of phonological awareness are:

·     Rhyme (discrimination (“Do book and cook rhyme?”) and production (“Tell me a word that rhymes with bee”)

·     Segment (clapping out words in sentences, number of syllables, phonemes)

·     Isolation (tell the beginning/middle/end sounds in a word) and recognizing when words share phonemes (‘ball’ and ‘bat’) (also known as “alliteration”)

·     Deletion of syllables (“Say ‘cowboy’. Now say it again but don’t say ‘boy’”) and phonemes (“Say ‘fox’. Now say it again but don’t say ‘f’”)

·     Blending (“win—dow ” is “window” and “b—oy” is “boy”)

There are many ways to incorporate phonological awareness skills into your daily play with your child. Many nursery rhymes include rhyming words that you can point out to your child as you read as well as words beginning with the same sounds. You can clap out long and short words and talk about them (e.g. “cat” vs. “ballerina”). You can take turns naming as many words as you can think of that begin (or end) with the same sound (ball, baby, book, etc.). You can play “I’m thinking of an animal that barks and begins with the “d” sound. You can play “I’m going on a trip and I’m taking a….” using rhyming words, words beginning with the same sound, only 1 syllable words, etc. Books are a fantastic resource for talking about and pointing out all of these skills. Talk back and forth into a play microphone or wooden spoon or in front of a mirror. You can play these games in the car or while in the bathtub or anywhere! Have fun!

Fun Reading Resources and Ideas:

•       Reading Rockets website

•       Get Ready To Read –

•       Reading is Fundamental website-

•       Reading Resource website-


This post written for you by Lora McConnell, M.S., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

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Our Favorite Teletherapy Activities

By Chelsey Craig,

Over the past several months, speech therapists everywhere have been learning how to make teletherapy fun, engaging, and beneficial to their clients. The SLPs at Columbus Speech & Hearing Center have created a list of some favorite tele-friendly activities, and they can also be used with parents at home! 

Mad Libs

  • A quick Google search will allow you to find endless Mad Libs to complete at home! Work on reading, writing, sentence grammar (verbs, adjectives, plural nouns, word order…), story elements (characters, setting, problem, solution…) and more while creating silly and fun stories. 

What’s in the Bag?

  • Grab a grocery bag and take turns hiding different toys or objects from around the house inside. Whoever hides the object gives clues for the others to guess what it is! While playing this game you can practice describing (“It’s green, round, and you can eat it”), question asking (“Is it something from the kitchen?”), and perspective taking (Does the guesser have enough information? Do I need to tell them more?). 

Digital Spinners

  • Does your child need to practice some speech articulation sounds? Check out this FREE resource! Go to and search for “Free Speech and Language Digital Spinners”. Our therapists make great use of these and say that their clients love them, too! 


  • Head to to find all sorts of trivia topics! From sports to comic books and many topics in between, this website is perfect for school-aged kids who are working on answering Wh- questions (who, what, when, where, why, how), creating complete sentences, or just for fun! 

Rory’s Story Cubes

  • This educational game has endless possibilities – and you do not need to be a speech therapist to take full advantage! Follow the directions included with the game to work on language skills, imagination expansion, concentration, and more. See who can make the funniest or scariest story! Available at, Amazon, and Target. 

This post written for you by Natalie Day, M.S., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

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CSHC’s 2019 Annual Report

By Chelsey Craig,

Columbus Speech & Hearing Center unveiled their 2019 Annual Report with a virtual Year-End Celebration on December 10. This virtual celebration was hosted by Board President, Robert Rupp, President & CEO, James Dye, and Development Director, Chelsey Craig.

You can read the 2019 Annual Report here.

If you’d like to learn more about how donations have impacted the patients, clients, students, and staff of the Center, please reach out!

A special thank you to Edwin John Yang, a former patient of CSHC, who so generously donated his time and talents to help create our first digital annual report.

Activities to Celebrate Diversity

By Chelsey Craig,

Every day, adults and children alike are learning how to be more inclusive and celebrate the beautiful diversity in our world. Here are a few activities to help you and your family listen, learn, and grow in this pursuit. 


  • Reading books that have racially and culturally diverse characters help children see, learn about, and empathize with people who are different from themselves. 
  • Peekaboo Morning by Rachel Isadora is great for babies and toddlers.
  • Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman is a beautiful story of self-confidence. 
  • Whoever You Are by Mem Fox shows how children all over the world share joy and love despite living, speaking, and looking different from each other. 


  • Craft projects will allow children to see and think about physical characteristics that make us all different. By creating these works of art themselves, they can take pride in them and appreciate the beauty in diversity.
  • Use construction paper, foam sheets, or regular paper with crayons and markers to create paper dolls with varying skin tones. Give them hair, clothes, and personalities, and start playing pretend!
  • Cut out hand prints in a rainbow of colors and/or skin tones and create a wreath. Hang it on your front door or in a window to share the love with your neighbors! 


Playing pretend and imagining that they are someone else can allow children to explore the hearts and minds of others, which helps them see things from their perspectives. 

  • Learn about people like Katherine Johnson, Duke Ellington, or Jesse Owens and play pretend! 
  • Play “Guess Who?” Give clues to help your child guess the person you are thinking of. Start with simple clues such as their favorite food or the color of their hair. This can help your child start to think about and appreciate what makes us all different, but also what we have in common!

Check out our Diversity Pinterest page for more activities and ideas!

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This post written for you by Natalie Day, M.S., CCC-SLP of Columbus Speech & Hearing Center

Partnering to Improve Communication for ALL

By Chelsey Craig,

Columbus Speech & Hearing Center hosted the 13th Annual Great Communicators Golf Classic on October 19. Though the weather was less than favorable, our event was still a success thanks to the support of our community partners!

You can learn more about the impact of our annual fundraiser by checking out this short video produced by Zinnia Films.

Watch the video on YouTube here!

Thank you to all who donated, participated in our virtual Silent Auction & Raffle, sponsored and volunteered!

Impact Sponsors

Success Sponsors

Storytelling Sponsors

Hole Sponsors


COMDOC, Inc. ⚫ Elford, Inc. ⚫ HMB, Inc. ⚫ The Joseph Group ⚫ Ketchum & Walton Co. ⚫ The Scotts Miracle Grow Company ⚫ TSG Advice Partners ⚫ US Bank

If you’re interested in getting involved and making an impact in your community through our annual golf outing, please reach out to We’re always welcoming new partners and volunteers!

Halloween Costume Contest

By Chelsey Craig,

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, our in-person Halloween Hop has been canceled for the 2020 season. However, CSHC loves Halloween too much to let the holiday pass without some spooktacular family fun!

This year we will be hosting a virtual Halloween Costume Contest. Each participant will be entered into a random drawing and the winners will receive a Halloween prize basket filled with goodies for the whole family!

This contest will run from October 10th – October 29th.


1.      Follow Columbus Speech & Hearing Center on Facebook and/or Instagram (our Instagram handle is @columbusspeech)

2.      Post a picture of your child, children or entire family in their Halloween Costumes between 10/1- 10/29

3.      Tag Columbus Speech & Hearing Center in your post and use the hashtag: #CSHCostume

·         Please be sure to tag Columbus Speech & Hearing Center and use the hashtag so that we can see your picture(s) and enter you into our basket drawing.

·         You do not need to be a current client of CSHC to enter- anyone is welcome! However, the winner must be able to pick up their prize in-person at Columbus Speech & Hearing Center.

·         Please keep in mind that is a family-friendly costume contest

Click here to email with any questions about this contest.

What’s the Chatter About?

By Chelsey Craig,

At Columbus Speech and Hearing Center, we know that the early identification of a speech, language, or hearing disorder is critical, but that it also leads to better outcomes.

The first two years of a child’s life are a critical period for their development of speech and language skills. Communication skills are essential in building the foundation of academic readiness and the earlier a child’s disorder is detected, the sooner a family can make the best decision for their child’s language and communication approach.

At Columbus Speech and Hearing we screen more than 2,000 children a year for early detection. We work with families to provide the best services to ensure children are able to develop the language skills necessary to help them communicate freely and actively learn.

We know that numerous studies have shown a link between a child’s language skills in preschool and their academic success later in life. You can ensure your child is ready for learning with a speech, language and hearing screening.

CSHC also knows know that piece of mind for parents and caregivers is important! That’s why we offer a variety of ways for you to discuss your child’s unique speech and hearing needs with a licensed speech-language pathologist.


This free program connects you with a speech-language pathologist from CSHC for a casual Q&A about your child’s speech and language development. Our SLP can also provide fresh ideas for home activities, or help you determine next-steps for your child’s continued speech and language development.

Chatterbox sessions are open to anyone who has concerns regarding their child’s speech and language development. Chatterbox sessions can take place over the phone or via email with a licensed speech-language pathologist. You can contact Lora McConnell at (614)261-5462 or

View our flyer or follow us on instagram for more information!

In-Office Speech & Hearing Screening

Early detection and intervention increase opportunities for success in school. Our In-Office Screenings offer families a chance to have an in-person, one-to-one screening with one of our licensed speech pathologists.

Our in-office screenings are a 20-25 minute screening to assess your child in the areas of speech articulation, receptive language, expressive language, social pragmatic language, fluency, and hearing to determine if a full speech and language evaluation is warranted. We offer screenings to any child age 3-7.

In-office screenings determine if speech articulation and language skills are age-appropriate and if there is any possible hearing loss or middle ear problems. Results and recommendations are provided immediately.

In-office screenings cost $30. You can inquire about an in-office screening for your child by contacting Janel Niekamp at (614) 261-5469 or

View our flyer.

Community Speech & Hearing Screening

Our Community Outreach program partners with preschools, schools, early learning centers, daycares and more to offer speech, language and hearing screenings to children 3+. These screenings help to identify children with speech, language and/or hearing problems and provide families with the appropriate recommendations and referrals resources so that any necessary treatment and intervention can be done in a timely manner.

If you are interested in learning more about community speech, language and hearing screenings, please contact your school or daycare to see if they participate in this program!

Additional Resources

Learn more by visiting our Speech Services page to see a full list of services offered!

Check out our Pinterest page and Instagram page for educational and fun activities to target speech therapy goals in the home!

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Introducing: ASL Baby!

By Chelsey Craig,

ASL Baby is American Sign Language instruction for caregivers and babies that’s educational and nurturing!

At Columbus Speech & Hearing Center, it is our mission to help all people improve communication for life. This includes people of all ages and developmental stages. We’re here to foster improved communication between you and your child!

Early exposure to signing helps babies to develop their language and reasoning skills. Sign language will allow your child to express their needs before they learn to articulate words.

Studies show signing with your baby can reduce tantrums and frustration while increasing child/caregiver bond!

Our ASL Baby program is designed to teach parents and babies 0 months-2 years old to use sign language to increase and improve communication.

Classes will meet for 8 weeks for 1 hour per week.  Each class will include time to learn different signs that your child can use to communicate simple things.  The class also includes individual instructor time, educational resources on early childhood development, and Q&A with guest speakers. Our guest speakers are experts from the speech language and hearing development fields.

Here are the dates for the upcoming classes:

Tuesdays, October 6-November 24, 11AM-12:00PM, Register

Don’t see a class that meets your needs? Sign up to be notified when more classes are available, or leave us a note with your preferred day/time! We will be creating additional classes to accommodate interests.

Each eight-week course is $150 per family.

Courses are presented online and provide sign language education for both babies and parents.

Limited class sizes provide an intimate environment for optimal learning. Only one registration is required per family.

Classes will include sign language instruction, guest speakers, educational resources on early childhood development, individual instructor time, and additional resources for families.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What signs will we learn?

ASL Baby will cover signs to make daily life easier by helping babies express more clearly what they are needing and/or wanting!

  • Mealtime signs, examples include: “eat”, “more”, “yes”, “no”, “want”, “need”, “please”, thank you”
  • Bathroom signs, examples include: “diaper”, “bathroom”, “clean”, “dirty”
  • Pet signs, examples include: “dog”, “cat”, “fish”
  • Playtime signs, examples include: “play”, “book”, “toys”, “music”, “outside”
  • Colors
  • Family Members
  • Bath-time signs, examples include: “bath”, “soap”, “pajamas”, “clean”
  • Bedtime signs, examples include: “bedtime”, “brush teeth”, “bed or crib”, “blanket”

When should our family enroll?

Our ASL Baby program is designed to teach parents and 0-2 years old. We offer the courses listed above, but are able to accommodate different days/times if there is a need. We allow seven families per class, if you’re interested in a different day/time than listed above, let us know!

What can ASL Baby offer our family?

We know it can be hard caring for an infant, so that’s why we offer this program! Sign language makes it easier to communicate with your little one. Studies have shown using sign language with babies and children can reduce tantrums and frustration, boost self-esteem and confidence, stimulate intellectual development, and strengthen the parent-infant bond.

Will learning sign language delay my child’s speech?

No! Infact, giving your child an early form of communication, like sign language, has been proven in research to promote a desire to learn more communication techniques, including talking. In ASL Baby we encourage our parents to simultaneously sign and say words for maximum benefit!

I’m in a parenting group, can our group enroll?

Certainly! It’s not uncommon for already-formed parent groups to want to add ASL Baby. It can even make ongoing group time more fun! If you have a group you’d like to enroll in ASL Baby together please email us at Our minimum class size is five families.

I don’t live in Columbus…

That’s okay! You don’t even need to live in Ohio. Our virtual classes provide the opportunity for our classes to be taken anywhere. Just note the times listed in our course offerings are ET.

I don’t see a time or day that fits my needs…

Let us know! We will be creating additional classes to accommodate interests. Our classes require a minimum of five families, and a maximum of seven, to allow for optimal learning and engagement.

PRO TIP: A great way to get a class started is to share our course with friends and family! The more interest we have in a time/day the easier to accommodate!

What comes after ASL Baby?

That’s up to you and your family! If you’d like to continue using ASL in your household, let your instructor know. Future course offerings based on interest and demand could include a 2-5 year old class. And for some families, once their little one is verbalizing their needs, they choose to stop the use of ASL. This is a personal decision, you can discuss with your instructor and guest speakers who are experts in the field of speech language and hearing development!

Other questions, concerns or comments?


Register your family today!

Smile Mask: How To

By Chelsey Craig,

While individuals in our community are doing their part to slow the spread of Covid-19 by wearing face coverings, it has created a new challenge for those who rely or can benefit from lip reading.

Mastering the new normal of communication with a face covering, while social distancing six feet away is difficult for anyone, especially those of the community we serve. This combination can disrupt the visual and auditory input people who are reliant on lip reading need to communicate effectively.

Smile Masks can help with that since the clear window design assists with communication access!

As a part of our commitment to meet the needs of the community we serve, smile masks can help overcome the communication barriers brought on by standard masks.

Standard face masks make lipreading impossible, but smile masks can provide a great alternative.

Smile masks are good for:

  • Those reliant on lipreading
  • Speech pathologist who need their patients to read their lips as a form of education
  • Those who use American Sign Language as it leans heavily on facial cues and expressions

Make your own Smile Mask by following the instructions below!

Instructions for Smile Mask

Things you’ll need:

  • Two pieces of fabric 8.5” wide X 11” long —the size of a piece of standard printer paper
  • One Pipe cleaner (can also use a paperclip, bobby-pin or something that bends easily to keep the mask secure on your face)
  • One piece of plastic 4.5” wide X 6” long — utility plastic “fabric” or a binder paper sleeve. Something that is thin enough so you can sew through it easier
  • Two pieces of elastic cord measuring 12” long —can use something like yarn or ribbon
  • Pins to help with keeping fabric together while sewing—safety pins work well as an alternative
  1. Cut two pieces of fabric 8.5 inches wide by 11 inches long. These will be the exterior and lining pieces of your mask. Pin fabric right sides together on all four corners.
  2. Trace out a rectangle 2 inches wide by 4 inches long in the middle of your fabric. this will be the rectangle that you cut out for the window of the mask. Next, place four marks a 1/2 inch outside of the smaller rectangle, one in each corner.
  3. Cut out rectangle of both pieces of fabric.
  1. Cut slits starting at the corner of the smaller rectangle to the corner of the outer rectangle. Do this for all four corners.
  1. On one of the pieces of fabric, fold each side of the smaller rectangle to where the slits stop on the outside of the outer rectangle. Press down hard on the fabric so that it holds the crease from your fold. You can also iron these folds down if you want, but this is not necessary to keep the fold. Repeat on the other piece of fabric. NOTE: I’ve pinned each flap down so it’s easier to demonstrate where to fold. You can pin down the flaps if you would like, but this is not necessary.

6. Sew the outer edges of the fabric together using 3/8” seam allowance.

  1. Turn the fabric inside out. Take a pencil or a capped pen and push out all of the corners of the fabric so the edges look crisp and straight. This will make it easier to complete the top stitching for the next step.

  1. Cut a pipe cleaner to the length of the fabric. NOTE: you can also use a paperclip, bobby-pin, etc. for this step if you do not have a pipe cleaner. This will be used for the top of your mask to keep it in place. Place the pipe cleaner/paperclip in-between both pieces of fabric. hold in place as close to the top of the seam as possible with pins. Top stitch the pipe cleaner against the edge of the top length of fabric. The stitching will encase the pipe cleaner. Continue top stitching on the other three sides of your fabric, making sure to stitch as close to the seam as possible. Top stitching helps give the mask some reinforcement and sturdiness so that it doesn’t fall apart.

Learn about what a top stitch is here.

  1. Insert your plastic piece between the two pieces of fabric and align with the window you cut out from step 3. The folds that you made in step 5 should now be on the inside of the mask. Pin the plastic to the edges of the fabric.
  1. Stitch together the plastic and fabric pieces as close to the edge of the cut out rectangle as
    possible. This will help secure the plastic in place to make sure that there aren’t any holes
    in your mask.
  1. Take the long parts of your mask and fold them together to meet in the middle of the plastic
    window. Pin these down and top stitch as close to the outer edge of that fold as possible.
    This should give you three panels total of your mask (top, bottom and middle sections).
  1. Fold top and bottom panels from the middle out to the edge of the top stitch you just completed and pin down.
  1. Working your way around the edges of your mask, fold the two short edges of the mask inward toward the plastic window and pin down. This fold should only go in about 1/2 inch. You can use the pins that held the panels to the mask from step 12 to complete this step.
    NOTE: this will become a pocket for your elastic ear pieces.
  1. Sew down the fold at the edge of the fold closest to the window of your mask. This stitch should be like a top stitch in that you get as close as possible to the edge of the fabric.
  1. Feed your elastic cord through these pockets. You may want to use a paperclip or safety pin to make it easier to feed it through.
  1. Tie two adjustable sliding knots on each piece of the elastic to make your ear pieces adjustable. Learn how to tie this knot here.

Enjoy your new mask!!

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Stars, Stripes & Kites! Fun Crafts to do this 4th of July Weekend!

By Chelsey Craig,

It is an exciting time when your child becomes more verbal however, during these developmental times, some children may experience articulation or speech disorders. Articulation is how we make speech sounds using our mouths, lips, and tongues and teeth. Language refers to the words we understand and how we use them to share ideas and communicate what we want or need.

Using holiday-themed activities is a great way to engage your child and work on articulation and language skills. Check out these fun 4th of July activities to do with your child!

CSHC’s recommended read to accompany your 4th of July activities:
“Red, White and Boom” by Lee Wardlaw.

Find this book being read aloud here :

Activity Ideas:

1. Strike up the band!
Have the kids find everyday items in the house they can use as instruments to “play” for you or a group. Have them march while they play. Household object “instrument” play lends itself to working on:

  • Symbolic play – Using one object to represent another helps develop language skills because words are symbols. Example: this spoon is a drumstick, this pot is a drum, this toilet paper roll is a horn.
  • Turn-taking – “I’ll play my instrument and then you’ll play yours!” Taking turns in play helps develop the rhythm of communication.
  • Concept development – Describing objects and what is happening helps develop concept and vocabulary skills. Examples: big/little pot, quiet/loud playing, fast/slow marching.
  • Answering “wh” questions –  Who, What, Why, Where. Examples: What did you find to play? Where did you find the spoon? Who wants a spoon?
  • Developing rhythm/syllableness – Tapping out syllables in words or matching rhythms can help the child learn about syllables and the rhythms of speech.
  • Articulation- Some ideas for words to target are: /s/ blends: start, stop, stick; /g/ go, big, bang; /l/ listen, look, loud, play; /ch, sh/: march, crash, sh!; /r/ drum, crash, ready

2. Create paper bag Fourth of July kites!  
Follow these simple steps from Fun Loving Families for kites you can fly all weekend long.

Supplies needed for paper bag kites

3. Make Fireworks in a jar!
These fireworks are perfect for all, but especially those who find traditional fireworks to be too loud. Learn more with Chicago Parent.

Photo from Chicago Parent, Caitlin Murray Giles

4.  Make starlight mint fireworks!
Simple and easy crafts are always a hit. Try these mint fireworks again and again using Playdough to Plato‘s instructions.

Photo from Playdough to Plato

Celebrate July 4th with this collection of easy and festive crafts that work on articulation and language!

So break out the red, white and blue and bring some of these fun crafts to life with your little one!

Our team is dedicated to sharing fun ideas where children can play and learn all summer.
Check out our Pinterest page and Instagram page for more fun activities to target speech therapy goals in the home.

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If you think your child may be struggling with articulation and language contact us to schedule a speech and hearing evaluation! 614-263-5151 or to learn more.