Today we used the gym once again. We have access to a large parachute in our gym equipment. It is a great tool to work on concept development. We started by spreading it out on the gym floor. It’s good to establish a few rules such as all activity stops when a whistle is blown and everyone needs to hold onto the edge of the parachute unless told otherwise. There are always a few students who can’t resist trying to run under the parachute. To start, we had the students grab the edge with their right hand, pick up the parachute, and circle to the left. We still have a few students that do not recognize their left from their right so we reviewed that once again. Next they practiced holding the parachute high and low as they walked We then reversed the process and had them grab it with their left hand and hold it high and low. We then have them grab the edge with both hands and wiggle it up and down fast and then slow. A ball is placed into the center and they are told to try to keep it in the center. In the last activity we have them hold it above their heads while 4 students’ names are called. These students are then instructed to run across the middle and under the parachute to the opposite side. By the time the parachute activity is completed we have reviewed the concepts center, edge, right, left, across, center, low, high and above.
We used Tiddly Winks as the group activity this week. This is a reasonably cheep game that usually comes with at least four sets of different colored winks (plastic circles), a felt take off point, and a target area. I divide the sets up so there is one big wink and 3 small ones for each table group. I make extra target areas from small saucers or cups. We talk about the concepts, center, over, close, edge, and far. The students then take turns using the larger circles to pop the smaller circles into the targets by pressing on the edges. Each child gets 3 attempts before moving on to the next child. The tables can be in competition for who gets the most winks into the targets. I let the students decide if they want the target moved far or close to them. It takes a bit of skill to make them pop up, but most get it on the 3rd attempt. It’s not usual for the winks to fly over their target. It leads to the use of prepositions quite naturally.
This group time we played dominos and reviewed the concepts, different, same, match, end, and between. There are a lot of domino games out there for purchase that use pictures rather than the traditional dots. You can use them for vocabulary and category development if you get sets that are made around a theme. In the vocabulary section there are directions and a place to download them if you want to make your own.
I’ve posted a new social pragmatic activity. I’ve called it Crocodile Pass. Please look in the social pragmatic section to download the directions. This activity encourages students to learn from mistakes and to move on. A lot of my students are afraid of making a mistake so won’t even make a guess. They need to learn it is ok to make guesses and mistakes can be OK. We can learn from them. It also requires them to use their short-term memory and make inferences to predict a pattern. It encourages using observation as a learning method. So have fun with it. I’m sure you will find your own variations. We had a group that had some low functioning and high functioning students with autism. One guy that would stay on the side lines finally joined the group and participated for the first time. It made my day.
This week we played the game Simon Says. Basically the game has a leader give directions. If the direction is prefaced by “Simon Says” the students follow the direction. If it doesn’t preface the direction the students do not follow the direction and have a penalty. We had the students in the gym so were able to use some lines that were already present for a basketball court. The directions included moving forward and backward to the next line doing various walks such as walking like a crab, or hopping on one foot. If students were caught following a direction without the preface of “Simon Says” they had to go back to the original line they started at. This is a good game to increase listening skills and curb that impulse to do immediate action without thinking about the direction. We also reviewed the concepts right, left, backward, forward, next, and sideways.
This last week the group reviewed the concepts of backwards, center, and items that belong to a category. We played a variation of the game “Fruit Basket Upset”. In this game the children form a circle, step backwards one step and sit down . One child was placed in the center of the circle. An adult would then gave a direction such as “All children with white on their shirts stand up.” These children were then given the direction to change places. The child in the center then tried to get one of the spots that were vacated. This left one child at the end to come back to the center. You can instruct children to hop when they exchange places to discourage a mad rush to the vacated places. Once the children understood these basic games rules, we handed out cards from the “Never Ever Dinner Plate” activity. The directions were given to include a category that was handed out. For instance only those with fruit could exchange places or only vegetables that grew underground.
Today we again found ourselves in the gym. We set up an obstacle course that consisted of a very long jump rope, cones set up in a circle, hula hoops laid out on the floor in various patterns and cones that were rounded off rather than having the pointed tops. We then lined the students up behind the jump rope that two adults held up between them. The students were instructed to jump over the rope, go around the cones, skip to the hula hoops, jump in and out of them, jump over the half cones or tap them and form back to the line. The 2nd round they were instructed to bend backwards under the rope (think limbo stick) gallop around the circle of cones to the hula hoops, walk through the hula hoops (think football players and tires) and weave through the half cones. The concepts reviewed were between, through, bend backward, over, around, and skip. They had additional practice skipping, and galloping which allows practice crossing the mid-line which is said to be important for writing skills. An obstacle course lends itself to all types of directions using prepositions. Just use your imagination when looking for equipment.
This week we decide to do the bean bag toss activity. We were able to use the gym which gave us more room. The students formed two large circles. We placed containers in the middle of the circle and had students take turns using a spinner to decide which container they should try to toss a bean bag into. Our containers were round, square, and three sizes (small, medium, large). We used the direction ” between” which meant they tossed the bean bag between two containers, and closest and farthest. We spent the first 20 minutes doing this and then played a game of “Simon says”. Up until this time we have introduced this game without having a penalty. We just pointed out students caught not following the direction. This time we lined students up and gave directions such as stepping forward 3 steps. When the students were caught they returned to the starting point. It really pointed out the students who were not listening or had difficulty with impulse control.
We are back from the holiday break and have had one day to get back into the routine again. This session we used the “Don’t Fall Through the Ice” activity that is in the vocabulary section. This activity reviews the concepts one, a couple, few, and several. The students spin a spinner with the vocabulary words printed on it. They pick wet marbles as indicated and put them on top of tissue paper stretched across a plastic coffee container. The marbles eventually get too heavy and fall through the paper to the bottom of the container.
I’ve found that anything with water seems to be a hit. I have learned not to put the coffee containers on the tables too fast. Children can’t seem to resist poking their fingers into taunt tissue paper. I’ve done this activity several times and have found there are a lot of differences in tissue paper. You may be surprised which paper turns out to be the strong or weak paper. I usually just collect whatever tissue paper I can find which ranges from the paper in shoe boxes to paper stuffed in gift bags. We’ve also used Kleenex and brown paper towels in a pinch. It’s worth testing it out to see how long it will actually last. The amount of water used with the marbles and how drippy they are can make a difference on how long the paper lasts. Today one of the adults double papered my opening and it never did break for the 20 minute period, even though we had the top filled with marbles. Have a 2nd round of tissue paper available because you usually have to change the paper at least once.
I hope everyone is enjoying time with their family. My school is on winter break for two weeks so there isn’t a “Concept Group” to report. I did add cards for “Complex Sentence Comprehension”. I use these to emphasize the connecting words that usually get students in trouble when they are trying to do word problems and generally when they are trying to follow instruction. They are under the sentence section. As the list grows, I wonder if people are having trouble finding what they want or noticing when something new is added. Is it helpful to list new items here?