Sometimes setting up language groups in a classroom setting can be a bit intimidating. Many speech therapists aren’t given funds to buy commercial programs and therefore need to develop a program on their own. This is a rather daunting task when there are so many tasks to complete at the beginning of a school year. I began collecting and developing activities using materials you typically find in a school environment, games I found at thrift stores, and games I made. I’ve posted most of the activities in the vocabulary section. I thought you might enjoy hearing how they are actually carried out during the school year.
Today we started our first session of “Concept Groups”. This is only day 6 for most of our Kindergarten students. There were 3 adults available; the counselor, speech therapist, and classroom teacher. That made a ratio of 1 adult to 10 children. In the future we will need to get that down to a smaller rate, but for today it worked.
As most of you know it’s better to start simple with new Kindergarten students. We decided to put the emphasis on introduction. This was as much for the adults as it was for the kids, because we were all still learning names. We started with a story about the first day of school and making friends. We talked about how everyone is nervous when they don’t know people and it’s nice to know their names. We modeled how you can ask someone their name and they can become your friend.
The activity was a ball circle activity that I’ve used before as an icebreaker for groups of kids. Each adult took 10 kids to form a circle. The adult started it out by looking at a child in the circle and asking “What is your name?” . When that child responded the ball was tossed to them. They then continued by asking another child “What is your name?”. When all the children have had a chance the activity was changed to calling out another child’s name and then tossing the ball to them. This is where you find out who remembers the names. We then rotated half the kids from each circle so that the mix would change and we would get a chance to meet everyone.
This activity can tell you a lot about the children in the groups. It can tell you who may have trouble following the instructions or remembering the names, if they have eye contact, if they stay focused for the whole activity and if they have language skills that allow them to ask questions. As a side benefit the adults know most of the names and have met all the children.