Winter break is finally here. December went by pretty quickly and I didn’t have time to post. Now that I have extra time I will try to catch up and tell about some of the things I have been doing. If you have a chance, pick up a package of match box cars in the after Christmas sales. It would be well worth it. They are great for therapy sessions with some of your harder more concrete thinkers.
It was our last week before winter break and I needed an activity that would keep my students focused as the sugar plums danced in their heads. You may remember that last May I had a post on using match box cars. They were a very popular item especially for the boys. Just like before, I started out with descriptive work on identifying features of the vehicles and identifying a vehicle from the description. This was expanded to asking questions to get clues and drawing a conclusion in the Mystery Vehicle activity. I used communication boards to help the process. These help my lower grades as well as my more challenged learners.
There is a communication board “What Vehicle is it?” in the vocabulary section. I have access to Boardmaker, but I know others do not. The boards make a big difference keeping this activity moving and on topic. It also helps to expand the sentences of students who are trying to get past one and two word utterances.
After the initial describing sessions, I decided the students could really benefit from one more round with the cars to reinforce the descriptive vocabulary. I often find the novelty is worn off by the 2nd or 3rd presentation of the same activity so I really needed to find a way to expand it. I dove into my recycle box. I found a nice long flat box. A race track seemed like a pretty good option and would be easy to put together. The race track was made by gluing black tag board on to the flat box. A piece of cardboard could be another option. I marked 3 starting positions on the top,1st, 2nd, 3rd. I could now use positional vocabulary when directing the car placement. Students placed the cars behind a paper roll. We have been working on variations of the meaning for the word “behind.” We predicted which vehicle was faster and would be first. Students took turns holding the paper roll and lifting only after “ready, set, go” was said by another student. This would also be a great opportunity to use a speech button so a nonverbal student could be included. It is a good way to practice impulse control and waiting for a verbal cue.
I have found that the proper container can make a huge difference on how an activity works. A gift box from the dollar store is great for the mystery vehicle activity. Everyone likes to open presents. For the race activity, I put the vehicles in a large clear freezer bag. Some of my students have difficulty with impulse control and would be continually grabbing a vehicle if they weren’t contained in something. This way the students can see through the plastic, but are unable to grab vehicles until they have completed the work of describing and asking.
The picture shows the setup. The communication board on the left was used for making descriptions and asking questions about the “Mystery Vehicle.” The communication board on the right was used to choose cars for the race and the race itself. Students gave descriptions of the vehicles they chose for the race so I was able to review those descriptions one more time.