IMG_8323Meet Mandi Schaumburg, a school based speech-language pathologist from Texas and a mother of a child on the Autism Spectrum. She also serves on the Autism Team for her school district. Mandi is the author behind Panda Speech, and more recently a TPT seller. Mandi has been using Smarty Symbols to create her TPT products and we love seeing how creative she is with it. You can access Mandi’s amazing products by visiting the Panda Speech TPT store.

Name of Blog/Topic of BlogPanda Speech: Resource for SLPs, parents, and teachers.

We asked Mandi a few questions and we are happy to share them with you.

Q1. Mandi, can you tell us a bit about your job and also tell us your favorite and also most challenging part of it.

I love that my job is so diverse! It is challenging and rewarding to treat a variety of communication and feeding disorders. I also love that I can do PRN work in hospitals and rehab facilities to keep up my medical therapy skills. I would have to say my absolute favorite area to treat is preschool language and phonological disorders. I love getting down on the floor, using toys, and providing treatment through play!

Q.The most challenging part of my job is…

Scheduling therapy sessions and paperwork! I also think that because our field is so vast, we are expected to be experts in everything!

Q2. Tell everyone a little bit about you and the materials you create. When did you start creating materials for sale?

Panda Speech FontsI have been a speech language pathologist for almost 7 years! I started creating my own materials in graduate school. I have always been a little artsy and techie, so it just came natural to me! I started selling products in 2012 on Teachers Pay Teachers. My store started out very small and has now grown to over 100 products! Creating materials has become a hobby for me that I LOVE! It isn’t work when you love it! My materials are primarily geared toward elementary aged students with speech and language disorders. Many of my products can be used in special education classrooms and general education classrooms too. I do offer a few classroom decor items, open-ended games, and documentation items. My newest venture is creating fonts! I have a Panda Font Shop (custom category in my TPT store) and currently offer 36 unique fonts! My husband thinks I am crazy, but creating materials/fonts is my way of relaxing and de-stressing!

Q3. What is the most popular product you have created and why do you think it is so popular?

functionalMy most popular products are my Functional Vocabulary Adaptive and Interactive Books. I think they are popular because they are simple, well made, and engaging for the students. I designed these books for life skills classrooms and language delayed students. Each book targets functional vocabulary with a fun and engaging comprehension task at the end!

Q4. Where do you get inspiration for creating activities?

I get my inspiration from my students and also from my own children. Every therapy product in my store was created to target my students’ speech and language objectives. (I then decide if it could be adapted and sold on TPT). They have all been tested and used in therapy before I post them in my store! My children have also inspired a few of my products and they also make excellent TPT assistants/ testers! Another source of inspiration comes from my thematic units! I do themes throughout the year and if I don’t have a resource to go with it, I make one!!

Q5.Do you have a routine you follow when creating materials? Do you search for images while creating the materials or before?

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 1.47.41 PMI wish I had a routine! ha ha ha! I’m a bit of an organized scattered-brain (if those two things can exist together)! When I get an idea for a product I will just dive in! I sometimes make a story-board on paper or layout my idea before I get it on the computer. Many times I will start with one idea and it will morph into something different! Sometimes inspiration hits me when I am in random places, so I have an ongoing note in my phone labeled “Speech Material Ideas.” I do think there is a method to my madness though! My creative juices really start flowing when I am providing therapy and I find myself in need of a product. I often make products because I just can’t find what I am looking when I am searching for materials! As far as images or clipart, I generally start with Smarty Symbols and go from there!

Q6.What is your favorite item you’ve made with Smarty Symbols?

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 10.17.22 AMMy favorite product to use in therapy with Smarty Symbols are my category games. I currently have 3 available (Category Pizzas, Fishing for Categories, and Cookie Jar Categories). These are great because the students get to sort functional vocabulary pictures onto category boards (that go with the theme). In Category Pizzas, the pictures are on toppings (pepperonis and mushrooms) and the students have to sort them onto the correct pizza board (for example: “make a school supplies pizza,” “make an animal pizza,” ect…). The other two games follow this same pattern (sorting cookies into jars and fish into buckets). The cool thing about these products is that they come with 2 card decks, 4 different worksheets, and 2 craft activities! I needed A LOT of images (over 50) to create these activities and I was able find all of the them through Smarty Symbols.


Q7. What is your favorite item you’ve seen someone else make with Smarty Symbols?

Screen Shot 2015-09-12 at 2.08.52 PMI love the Visual Keychain for Students with Autism by Simply Special Ed. They are symbols to keep on a ring to have visual support wherever you go! They were made for students with Autism, but I have used them with my language delayed students who need this kind of support too!