An Interview with Nancy Crist and Rose Sheedy: Grammar Chipper Chat

Sep 25, 2012 by

Michael F. Shaughnessy –

1) First of all, what exactly are you trying to accomplish with Grammar Chipper Chat?

Rose: Most children acquire language by imitating what they hear in their environment, whether it is from their parents, siblings, caregiver or from social media – television, radio or movies. Other children do not acquire language skills naturally. With Grammar Chipper Chat, we have developed a product to target the most common specific skills for language impaired children. By using elicited imitation, Grammar Chipper Chat provides grammatical target forms as they give the child a fun format for practice.

Nancy: The colorful game boards, combined with the chips and wand, are highly motivational when used to reinforce in speech/language therapy. Students earn chips after each turn, and the fun begins when the students move the magnetic wand over them and watch them “fly up” to the wand!

2) Let’s talk about some of these grammar things-for example- comparatives and superlatives- why are these important?

Rose: When learning language, a child needs to be able to make critical judgments about objects to better understand them. Using comparatives and superlatives improves functionality of language in their environment.

Nancy: By learning how to compare objects, they can attach more meaning to what they have learned as they encounter new learning situations daily.

3) Now, prepositions- why is it that some kids have trouble with these?

Rose: Prepositions can be spatial, relational, directional or temporal in nature and are typically learned in that order. Since there are not many prepositions in the English language, most have several different functions. The preposition “in” can be used for different functions, – in the wagon (spatial), in the east (directional), and in the afternoon (temporal).

Nancy: Another aspect that makes learning prepositions a challenge for language impaired students is that they must understand the relationship of objects. For example, if you show a picture of a dog under a wagon and ask “Where is the dog?” the child must understand the relationship of the dog with the wagon.

4) Possessive pronouns- let’s do some teaching here- why are these important and what can parents do?

Rose: Determiners serve as an essential grammatical function in language. They are necessary for clarity of the message.

Nancy: Parents of typically developing children will probably not even notice when their child begins using possessive pronouns. For language impaired students, we normally tell parents to model the correct form for the child immediately after the child has misused or omitted the possessive pronoun. If this is the only grammatical error for the child, this is often a successful method. Possessive pronoun errors are generally not the only grammar error for a language impaired child.

5) How possessive are possessive nouns and why are THEY important?

Rose: All aspects of grammar or syntax are important for a child to become a competent communicator. Possessive nouns are another of the universal grammar principles that linguists believe is innate.

Nancy: Grammar Chipper Chat included this category for those students who need remediation practice with this concept.

6) I find some of these quite interesting- for example changing verbs to nouns— (A person who drives is a ___Driver). Tell us about this realm.

Rose: As children build and develop their vocabulary, they need to make associations or connections between words.

Nancy: Once a child knows that a person who plays is a player, and a person who runs is a runner, then they are able to transfer that concept and increase their vocabulary knowledge by applying that rule.

7) Following up–changing nouns to adjectives- I never thought about this process.

Rose: Typically developing children begin acquiring language by the surrounding language input of their caregivers, siblings, etc. Incidental exposure to language is not enough for children with language disorders to develop competence in their native language.

Nancy: This category was included in Grammar Chipper Chat as a way to make this remediation product very versatile. The skill of changing nouns to adjectives is often found on language assessments for children.

8) I have to tell you, I see college students with problems with noun-verb agreement- Why is this a difficult area?

Rose: As children learn the inflectional properties of language, number agreement is learned. This category in Grammar Chipper Chat focuses on the two or more nouns or simple pronouns agreeing with the verb. Curriculum for grammar lessons throughout a student’s elementary, middle, and high school always address noun-verb agreement.

Nancy: Some students are misled by the subject and the verb being separated by a phrase. Others become confused with collective nouns. Some students do not allow for words such as “everyone”, “neither” and “someone” requiring a singular verb. It is all part of the complexity of the English language that trips up even college students.

9) Let’s talk verbs- progressive verbs and past tense verbs- why important in speaking and writing?

Rose: Progressive verbs (-ing) are the earliest verb form learned by English speaking children. Phonological variations of the past tense verbs make learning those a little trickier. There is the voiced /d/ as in jumped, voiceless /t/ as in walked, and /id/ as in lifted.

Nancy: Using the proper progressive and past tense verb forms during oral and written expression enhances clarity for the listener and reader.

10) I understand that this was a collaborative effort between Nancy Crist, Rose Sheedy and Sharon Webber. Is it appropriate to ask “Who did what?” Or was this a total -collaboration?

Rose: Nancy and I proposed the idea of these sixteen areas of grammar to be developed into a product using the popular Chipper Chat format.

Nancy: We proposed the elicited response format as we have had success in our practices with this type of format for language delayed students. We wrote the prompts for each section and Sharon developed the artwork, layout, packaging, etc.

11) What ages and grades is this for?

Nancy: Grammar Chipper Chat was designed for use with children in grades Kindergarten through grade 5.

12) Where can readers get more information?

Rose: More information on “Grammar Chipper Chat” can be found at Super Duper’s website is colorful and easy to navigate. The website provides a complete description of “Grammar Chipper Chat” and the components included with the game.

Nancy: The actual layout and design of the game board and sample cards can be viewed by clicking on the “Samples” tab. The website also includes an animated version of the game that is very cute and informational. In addition, Super Duper has also included a video showing the game and suggestions on variations of play. With all of these options, Super Duper offers you an excellent view of the game before purchase. As always, Super Duper offers free shipping in the USA and Canada.

13) What have I neglected to ask?

Nancy: We would like to mention that if someone is interested in previewing all of the other “Chipper Chat” games, it can be easily done on Super Duper’s website at .  Type the words “chipper chat” in the search box, and it will readily show all of the “Chipper Chat” games that are currently available – Auditory Processing, Artic, WH, Holiday and Seasonal, Social Skills, Phonological Awareness,  Open Ended, and coming soon – Vocabulary Chipper Chat. We would also like to encourage everyone to read the customer reviews for all of the “Chipper Chat” games to see what customers have to say about the products.

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