I often became annoyed by the spilled beans. They were difficult for my students with poor fine motor concerns to pick up and took precious therapy time collecting them. I thought there had to be a better way. Then I remembered my Chipper Chat therapy materials. It is a product from Super Duper which many of you may also have. You can breathe new life into your “Don’t spill the Beans” game by switching out the beans with the magnetic chips. The students are always enthused about using the magnets and it makes it easy to pick up the spilled chips. I usually have the students pick up the chips with the magnets and place them in individual saucers to compare the amounts. You can also vary the game by having students collect specific colors that spill. The magnets have really helped with quick clean up. I added a communication board to practice sentence frames and turn taking..
You may have noticed that I like to use spinners to expand the therapy value of some of my games and teach concept vocabulary. I have some of them as part of my downloads in the vocabulary section. The spinners in my previous downloads are black and white and not very colorful. I decided to update them with pictures and color to make them more friendly for my non-readers. You can access them on TPT for FREE. Just click the button.
The spinners are made from the clear plastic lids you find on products such as whipped cream or oatmeal containers. A pony bead, paper fastener and spinner from heavy cardboard or plastic are added. The lids are clear so that the paper form can be placed underneath and still be seen. The paper can be replaced from one activity to the next and the same spinner stays intact. Look below to see my showcase of spinners and the games I use with them.
Left and Right Spinner.
This spinner is used when playing Blockhead or some other block stacking game. It targets the concepts of left and right. The spinner has the directions of Left or Right with a handprint for cuing. Students take turns spinning the spinner and use the hand that is indicated to pick up a block and stack to make a tower. Point out to the students that when their hands are flattened on the table their left hand will form an L shape with the pointer and thumb. This is another cue they can use to distinguish their left hand from their right hand. I have used this as a table or center activity with table groups of 6 students in a Kindergarten class.
Size and Shape Spinner:
You need bean bags or soft balls that can be tossed, plastic pails and boxes of various sizes and shapes, and spinners with the vocabulary words printed on it. Have the students make a big circle with the containers placed in the center. Instruct the children on how to toss the ball or bean bag safely so no one gets injured.
The spinners travel around the circle. Students spin the spinner and toss the bean bag or ball as required trying to get the bean bag in the appropriate container that matches the word on the spinner.
Use the amount spinner, one 2 lb plastic coffee container. A rubber band that fits around the mouth of the container, tissue paper, marbles, cup to place marbles in water, spinner with vocabulary words. Instructions: Put one sheet of tissue paper across the opening of the 2 lb container. Fasten it down by stretching the rubber band around the top of the opening. You may need an extra set of hands to accomplish this. It should look like a drum. Put marbles in the cup and fill with water. Children take turns spinning the spinner and taking the number of wet marbles indicated.
The students place the marbles on top of the tissue paper top. The wet marbles will weaken the tissue paper and eventually fall through. The wetter the marbles the faster they will fall th rough. If you are using this activity with table groups they can count the marbles and compare who has the most or least marbles.
Don’t Spill the Beans is an other game that can be used with the spinner.
The conversation spinner can be used with any board game that uses a typical number spinner. It works well with games such as Snakes and Slides or Chutes and Ladders. Students try to follow the prompts on the spinner and give an example.
During my career there have been certain students who have made a lasting impression on me and aided in my growth as a speech language pathologist. It seemed that fate crossed our paths so that we could learn from each other. I am thinking in particular of a student who I met in her Kindergarten year. Her disability prevented her from speaking or using her arms and legs effectively although eventually she learned how to use her head to control a motorized wheel chair and a laser to activate an Alpha Talker and then a Delta Talker. This is when the field of augmentation communication was beginning to blossom with more advanced electronic devices. This child did not have the outward appearance of much ability other than a beautiful smile. However with her devices her true personality could shine.
I will never forget the time I worked with her at her home during extended summer services. She would be going into first grade when school resumed. Her mother reported she had something to tell me. She proceeded to tell me she had seen the movie Pocahontas. That doesn’t seem that unusual except she used her Delta Talker to do it and she had programmed the name Pocahontas into it herself. Those of you who have worked with min speak realize this involves not only getting into the programming mode but also selecting a symbol sequence to represent the name. She did all of this using a laser attached to a head band. She had learned the programming by watching me during other sessions. I learned not to underestimate her abilities when motivated.
She would be in her twenties now. I lost track of her after her elementary years but I think of her often. She reminds me that our first impressions of a student’s capabilities are not always correct.
How does this get us to Don’t Break the Ice you ask? Well it was difficult for her to play with her peers and have normal interactions. I was always searching for games I could adapt. Don’t Break the Ice was one of the games I adapted so she could play too. I basically took the orignal game and put masking tape along two sides. I then color coded the rows. This allowed her to tell another student what block of ice she wanted to be hit out by saying two colors. Where the colors intersect is the block chosen. She used her voice output system to communicate. The set up was also useful for other students using a communication board. You can color code a dice or spinner. Students roll a dice and then say what color they have or will hit out. It is good for I want, I have, I need statements.
I have some of my therapy games home for the summer since I had grandchildren visiting. I noticed that I missed putting this one up on the blog. Poppa’s Pizza Topple is a game I found at a garage sale a few years ago and I think it is still being sold in a few stores. It is a game my students enjoy no matter what their ability level. Pizza seems to be a favorite food of most children. I have used this game with students who are working on basic communication skills such as turn taking and making requests. It can easily be adapted for students with limited verbal abilities by adding a communication board. It also works well as a simple reinforcement for doing therapy tasks. At the most simple level, just use the pizza crust and have the student request ingredients and place them on the crust. At the most difficult level, students place the ingredients on an unsteady pizza crust propped up on Poppa’s finger. They pick up the ingredients according to what is rolled on the dice. I recommend picking this game up and adding it to your collection if you get the chance.
I had a request to show the communication board. I do not have Boardmaker available on my home computer to open this board. I ended up taking a picture of it. It will give you an idea of the symbols used.
This is the time of year when a lot of games are selling for good prices and you may be wondering which ones are good for therapy. I have adapted Pop the Pig recently. It really only needed a communication board to add the structure I need. I use it with students who are working on making basic comments such as I have ______, and I want______. It is also possible to work on descriptive vocabulary such as size, colors and amounts. We also work on turn taking and becoming aware of another student’s turn and when they are finished. The game is really pretty simple. Students roll the die to choose a colored hamburger. The student then looks at the bottom to see how many times they press the pig’s head so it will munch on the hamburger placed in the mouth. Pressing on the head inflates the rubber tummy until the belt pops open. It isn’t as dramatic as the advertisement indicates. However my students seem to enjoy this game and it provides a lot of repetition. I have them make comments for every turn they take. It is also good game for general reinforcement. If you find one at a good price, pick it up.
Goodwill is such a good place to find cheap games to adapt for therapy. This was a recent find.
This type of games works well for my students in the Life Skills program. It keeps them engaged, promotes turn taking, and teaches language with repetition. Many of my students are working on making comments using sentence frames such as I want,I have, and I need. They are also working on using descriptive words such as colors, amount and basic prepositions. I make a communication board available for my verbally challenged students. I use the visual cues to prompt sentences. The students I worked with last year are now using the communication boards independently to form 3 word sentences. Children with autism often get stuck in an echo pattern where they answer questions by repeating the question. The communication board helps break up that pattern.
This game also gives opportunity to practice verb + ing sentences. Students pick a circle card depicting a monkey getting ready for bed and use verbs such as brushing teeth, taking a bath and putting pajamas on. After describing the picture, the students put a monkey on top of the bed and then spin the spinner. The student then pushes the button on the bed post the number of times the spinner indicates. At some point the bed will spring and the monkeys will fall off. There is a game board that also comes with the game, but my students had fun using it at this basic level and I felt I had control over the pieces. I found this game had a lot of possibilities for students at different levels. I’ve thought of making more round disks to add to the variety of verbs that could be picked.
Before we had smart phones and iPods many of us remember playing cards when waiting any length of time with a group. Sometimes it is good to look at the old traditional card games because there is a reason why they had staying power. Children still like playing them. Card games such as Go Fish, Rummy, Old Maid, Crazy 8 and UNO can meet a lot of different therapy needs as well as provide a recreational activity for disabled students to mix with non disabled students. You may remember we used a game of UNO in our “Circle of Friends Group” to work with a student who performed on academic grade level but was severely impacted socially by Autism. http://cjmonty.wordpress.com/category/circle-of-friends/.
Card games have the advantage of engaging a number of students of different ability levels within a structure. They provide lots of opportunity for modeling by peers in predictable interactions. The use of card games provides a training ground to reinforce social skills some students need to develop in order to participate in a group and have a conversation. It also allows the peer group to interact with a disable student and see them as a person they can develop a friendship and play with.
Our high needs students benefit from some preparation such as communication boards, video modeling and visual cue cards. Many of my students I work with in the Life skills Programs are working on skills such as maintaining focus with a group, staying on topic, realizing their turn, the turn of others, perspectives of others, and appropriate emotional control with unexpected events. In addition, they may be working on vocabulary and following directions.
I have collected free downloads of some traditional card games. I hope this will make it easier for some of your planning for next school year. Some of these have the advantage of using specific themed vocabulary.
There are some creative variations on the internet. However this particular game is under copyright so I didn’t feel I could post them. The regular game is very useful for working on following directions.
This is a board that is a tech speak overlay but I just use the board without the device for my less verbal students. http://www.boardmakershare.com/Activities/Search?SearchText=uno
I have used cards that come in pairs such as opposite cards, and plurals. Just add a blank card that does not match with the others for the old maid.
I Have, Who Has
This is a fairly recent card game that seems to have a lot of potential for small groups. Students need to maintain focus to stay with the group and participate.
Animals created by Ashley Hughes
Food by Ashley Hughes
Winter vocabulary by Kindergarten Squared
Synonyms by Dee Bibb
Halloween Vocabulary by Mandy Neal
Back to School Vocabulary by Simply Speech
http://www.boardmakershare.com/Activity/1729317/Go-Fish-Cue-Card communication board
http://bogglesworldesl.com/cards.htm (a variety of flash cards for vocabulary building.)
If you need help remembering the rules this is a good place to look them up.
Here are two adaptations for the game Crocodile Dentist. This is a plastic crocodile that has a spring loaded mouth. The mouth closes when a certain tooth is pushed down. Kids enjoy the suspense of seeing who is going to get bit. The trigger tooth changes location each time the mouth is opened. Some of you may already use this game for reinforcement. I thought you might like to know how you can expand its use a little further. I use it to expand a student’s verbal output to 2 to 3 word phrases using a communication board and to review prepositions when following directions.
Using permanent markers, I colored the teeth alternating colors. I used pink, green, and orange because I already had a die that had those colors. If you don’t have a die you could make a spinner or use colors for a die you have.
For my students with limited verbal abilities, I use the communication board along with the die in a plastic jar. I have the students shake the die to get the color of tooth they need to push down. I then model phrases using the communication board while playing the game. The game creates a lot of opportunities for repetition of phrases such as “I have ….” or “push down green tooth”. I also reinforce saying “your turn” and “my turn.” After repetition the students start to say the appropriate phrase when you point to the correct icons as a prompt. Finally, they may prompt themselves by pointing to the icons and verbalizing. This is a good way to break up an imitative pattern that often happens when training non-verbal children and uses a natural context for turn taking.
The colors are used in the direction cards also. Cards were made using the concept vocabulary: next to, beside, between, right, left, colors, not, side, front, either/or. Children take turns drawing the cards and following the directions for the tooth to be pushed down. We play a variation by giving each child three poker chips. They feed the crocodile a chip if he bites. The person who feeds all three chips is the winner. I provided a word program down load because I thought people may need to adjust the color words for their needs. If you have any difficulties with this, leave me a comment. Print out the cards and have the students pull them out of a bag and then follow the directions while playing the game.