How many of you do some sort of end of the year celebration? I usually do something for the last day of speech class. I think it is important to acknowledge the effort students have made in speech class and the progress towards their goals. Celebrations are not as prevalent in the school environment as in past years. It seems they have suffered from not being politically correct or there just not enough time with all the accountability. I think they are valuable teaching moments though. Our students are missing out on the social communication that goes along with a social gathering.
There are social pragmatic skills that are learned from participating in a party. A carefully planned platter of cheese and crackers and a pitcher of water or juice works well for teaching basic table manners. Prepare just enough to make it around the table. Of course you need to check about allergies before doing this. I would still have some in reserve for the unexpected to happen.
Some students may not have much experienced with a sit down meal in a group. I remember one particular social group that needed a script to follow on serving. They didn’t think about looking ahead to see the amount of portions on the plate and helped themselves to multiple servings. They needed to be schooled about looking ahead to make sure there was enough for everyone. They may also need to be schooled about asking politely for the drink, using please and thankyou, and asking the next person if they would like some.
If you have worked on conversation skills in the past, it is a good place to see the culmination of skills; introducing a topic, staying on topic, exiting a topic, and including everyone.
I find icy parties are also a good therapy tool for the end of the year. My early language learners enjoy following directions for the treat. The syrup is economical and available in a sugar-free form for my student with medical restrictions on sugar. I have an icy machine but you may be able to uses a blender. I found I needed to keep in control of the bottles for proper portion control.
I like this party even better than a popcorn party because it is the easiest to clean up. Usually it is just wiping the table. We have an ice cube maker in the staff refrigerator so I only need to get a few syrup bottles and bring my icy maker, plastic spoons and cups. The smaller clear cups actually work the best because you can make layers of color and watch them blend. You can work on a lot of descriptive vocabulary with an icy party.
I made a pdf of the communication board for those who would like to use it.
I noticed that this game is being sold once again. I have used Tumblin Monkeys as one of my therapy games for quite a few years. It is a great game for general reinforcement, and can be played by early language leaners as well as my older elementary students. The game is similar to Kerplunk but looks like a palm tree. The sticks are a little easier to stick in than kerplunk. The monkeys are placed on top of the sticks and the sticks are pulled out one by one. There is a little more strategy involved because the monkey tails get hung up on the sticks as they fall. The other thing I like is the use of dice. With the addition of a communication board my early language leaners are provided the opportunities to make comments such as “Your turn”, “my turn”, “I have pink” or make requests “May I have the die?” It also emphasizes the word “least” because the winner is the one with the least monkeys.
I use the following comunication board with my early language leaners.
Don’t Spill the Beans is another game that I have used with my language learners. It has always been good for general reinforcement. Many of you probably have the game already.
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..
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.
card download here