Review: Color My Conversation

I was really wowed by all of the good stuff included in the Color My Conversation (CMC) kit by Northern Speech Services (NSS).  Opening the box was like opening a treasure box, and when the kids caught on to what I was doing, they crowded around eagerly to see what was inside!

In my family are children of every kind of personality and social skill level.  From completely outgoing and highly verbal quite shy and highly verbal to completely outgoing and not-so-verbal to quite shy and not-so-verbal--we've got all of them.

And I?  I have excellent language skills, but I become utterly tongue-tied in new situations or in the face of authority or when I'm overwhelmed with emotion.  

Count me in with the kids.

So a chance to formally work on our conversation skills sounded like an awesome opportunity!

We dug in to our treasure box.

The first thing I did was find the teacher's manual.  It's on a CD ROM, so I had to pull out the computer and open it up.  In spite of the fact that not printing the manual probably keeps the cost of the kit down, this was not my favorite feature of the program because I wasn't free to keep a printed manual out on my counter-top to pick up for study in random quiet moments.

Of course, I was free to print the manual pages myself.

Which I did, as often as possible.

In addition, there are online training videos (just a few minutes long) for each lesson.  Those helped because they were quick bites of information as needed, and they summed up the training manual pages quite well.

I liked that even with zero speech training, the manual taught me exactly what I needed, and the lessons were clearly outlined for me.  I felt completely comfortable implementing the lessons.

After studying the manual, we found a pump for the yellow ball and pumped it up.  It arrives flat so that it fits in the box.  After it is pumped up, it doesn't fit in the box! :)  We had to get creative with how to store our box and ball on our school shelves.

(I really liked subbing a beanbag for the ball sometimes.)

Next I dug out a CD player and listened to the song CD.  There are songs that teach the principles of conversations, and they are totally engaging for the kids.  Before we even had our first lesson, they were gathered around me singing and dancing to the music.  I particularly like that there is a "gathering" song that signals to the kids that a Color My Conversation lesson is about to begin.  They come running with no work on my part other than pressing "play."

Once I'd studied the lesson, pumped the ball, started the CD player, and gathered the supplies I needed (all of them in the box--right down to a dry-erase pen!!!!) we had our first lesson.

The kids just loved it!

My goal was to work specifically with Little Brother (4), Brother (5), and Ladybug (6) who all have histories of speech issues and trauma, but all of my littles and middles (ages 2-10) joined happily in the once-a-week lessons and the brief, daily practice sessions.

And all have benefitted . . . even our tiny toddlers.

We're working through the program very slowly--we've only barely completed the beginner level because we spent lots of time practicing until the kids could hold conversations (mostly) on their own without me directing them (too much).

And these little boys are rendered non-verbal in any stressful situation, but they love, love, love to have yellow conversations because they are concrete, and they have had lots of success with them.

And they love to share how to have conversations with other people.  Brother taught his therapist about how to have a yellow conversation, improvising with a ball she had in the play room.

Here is Mister Man sharing what he knows about short conversations:

And here are Little Princess and Ladybug practicing a short conversation together:

We figured a long conversation would be too long for a video, so Nature Angel (who is one of those highly verbal but very shy members of our family) shares what she learned from our long conversation practices:

Our dance team performs at least 4 times a year at nursing homes in our local community.  After each of these shows, the children are encouraged to mingle with the residents for a few minutes--sharing their beautiful youth with the elderly.  Now that we've had yellow and short conversations with Color My Conversation, I can say to the kids, "Go find 3 people to have a yellow conversation with," and they will.  Even Little Brother, who usually just smiles and sticks his fingers in his mouth, will say "Hello" and "Goodbye" to the residents now.  The slightly older kids are more comfortable having short conversations with the residents.

This is success!

We're getting ready to start the intermediate work.  We'll be working on "Wh--" questions and how to change topics.  We'll continue working on sustaining attention for longer conversations, too.  I'm really tempted to invite my teens to join us because these are skills that are solidly useful for life.

For more reviews on Color My Conversation by Northern Speech Services, click here or on the banner below!


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