I hope everyone has recovered from their feast. I decided to give a new look to the site for the holidays. My picture for the header didn’t fit well with the other color scheme. I hope it doesn’t make anyone feel like they are in the wrong place.
I’ve added two more card groups to the sentence section. One is for answering why questions and the other one for answering when questions. I have a few children that find these hard to answer particularly using temporal words such as before, after, and while. I’ve also been using them with articulation kids to get a spontaneous response. I hope it provides help with your therapy planning as we all get pretty busy this time of year.
This week, like many schools, we have a short week because of Thanksgiving. It seemed like a good week to have a food theme. We did the “Never Ever Dinner Plate” activity. I originally made this activity to introduce the concept (never). It also works for matching skills, categorization of food and talking about empty and full. The kids always get a kick out of finding the things you never eat. It’s similar to the memory game so also encourages concentration.
We are amazed at the progress the students have made since the beginning of the year. They are now taking turns without difficulties. We can leave a table periodically and the activity will continue on without direct supervision from an adult. They are not worried about who is winning and will actually help students who are falling behind. This is quite amazing since our classes are quite large. It really helps to have them more independent and cooperative.
We were back to having a full week of school and had our 9th concept group. We used the Musical Chairs activity in the vocabulary section. This activity reviews positional words such as 1st, 2nd, 3rd, middle, and last. We also talked about before and after as it relates to position in a line. I’ve found kindergarten students will be enthused about any activity that has movement and music. This activity has both so it becomes a favorite. Getting the middle card becomes the coveted position because that child gets to hold the bear that marks the middle of the line. I had two new adults that hadn’t completed this activity before. They caught on pretty quickly although I forgot to tell them to start with the middle position and build from there. We had different numbers of children at the tables so the middle position could shift if they started with the first place child.
We had parent teacher conferences this week and a day off for Veteran’s Day. This meant we didn’t have our usual session of concept group. Parents were given the back page of their child’s BOEHM test which explains the concepts they missed at the beginning of the year and suggestions for concept development. There are always a few parents that are surprised that directional vocabulary is important along with counting and saying the ABCs. We’ll continue the concept groups again this next week.
I did add a few new things on the activity pages. I added another set of animal association cards under the other set. It seems to be a popular item when I look at how many times it has been downloaded. I also added a comparison game I named “Will it Fit in a Jar?” It’s similar to “In a Pickle” but has pictures. I have some kids whose reading ability prevented them from using the commercial game but needed to work on comparisons. The kids I used it with seemed to enjoy it so I will use it again. I’m still learning how to use it to it’s full potential. I also added cards to answer why questions. My children with autism always find these type of questions to be a challenge.
This week we used the “Skip and Pass” activity that is in the “Vocabulary” building section on this site. This activity works best with larger groups and we only had 3 adults that could participate. We formed 3 circles of 10 students each. The purpose of this activity is to present the concepts of left, right, skip, every other one, and every one. These are some of the hardest concepts for this age to understand so this activity is typically harder to do at this time of year. It gets presented again later in the spring and on the second presentation goes much better. We reviewed left hand and right hand which is still very confusing. We then did a trial of passing a ball around the circle left and right. The students are given white or black paper shapes they place in front of them. Students take turns tossing the direction cube into the center and the ball is passed following the direction on top. The direction is something like “skip white pass right”. The child with the ball starts passing it accordingly to those with the black paper shapes until it completes a full circle. At this point it was heavily adult directed in getting the ball going the right direction. The groups are generally doing better at following directions and turn taking.
It’s hard to believe this was our 7th session. We played the Memory Game or Match. This is the childhood game where pairs of cards are mixed and placed face down. The children take turns picking up two cards to see if they have two cards that are the same. It reinforces the concepts of match, same, different, and pair. Several of the children were familiar with the game. We also had several that weren’t. This game tells a lot about a child’s learning strategy. A couple of children would pick the same two cards for each turn. Others would take two cards at the same time not realizing they could increase their chances by picking one card up and then another card in case it wasn’t what they expected. A couple of the kids that appeared to have difficulty remaining focused had good memories and did better than their peers. This was a pleasant surprise. They must be focusing more than what it appears.
The kindergarten math program introduced the concepts less, least, more, and most this last week. The classroom teacher asked if I would support that. I was fortunate to have found another game of “Don’t Spill the Beans” on my trip to “Goodwill” last weekend. We had three games of “Don’t Spill the Beans” and two games of “Kerplunk” available to us. In both games the winner is the one with the least marbles or beans. Instead of using the provided chambers for holding marbles or beans I used empty paint cups. I do this because there aren’t enough chambers for the number of kids and in the case of “Kerplunk”, if the marble chamber doesn’t have to be moved there is less chance of marbles accidently coming down.
The AM class had an extra adult helper available to us, so we divided the kids into five table groups. The PM class did not have an extra helper, but we still divided the class into five groups. We placed a chosen group of five students who we knew could monitor themselves with an adult standing by. This of course stacked our other groups with students who had more difficulty monitoring themselves, but did have an adult at the table. We reviewed the rules of the games and stressed the concept vocabulary.
The activity went well for both classes. Two students in my table group in the PM class had difficulty waiting for their turns and didn’t understand they were trying to get less beans. When I reinforced the appropriate turn taking with one student, I was told “My mom is bigger then you”. I told him that she probably was but he still had to take turns. I did get a little chuckle on that one. He was also a little disappointed when he found the student with the less beans was the winner at the end of our first round. Sometimes experience is the best teacher.
I made a trip to Goodwill today. It’s my favorite place to shop for games and game pieces. I’m probably one of the few people who doesn’t care if some games are missing pieces. I supplement a lot of the games I already own so more children can play at the same time or I can replace lost parts. I found I can often find directions to a game on the internet, if they are missing. Part of a game can also be a source of inspiration for another game.
What’s interesting to see is how games have changed over the years. A few of my games started out wood and are now made of plastic. The kids marvel that some of my games are over 20 years old and I still have the parts to play. It makes for a good discussion of taking care of what you own and having respect for another person’s property.
Parents will often ask me what they can do at home to help their children who have language delays. The main complaint is they get one word responses like “fine” when they try to talk to them. We are in the golden age of technology and communication but it doesn’t seem to be at a family level. There seems to be less opportunities for family members to actual talk to one another. The trick is to create an opportunity for communication other than just asking questions. Provide opportunities to talk about impersonal topics and the personal ones will come along also. I think a family game night can go far in creating a language rich experience and communication opportunity. It’s one thing that has fallen off the grid with technology taking its place. Children enjoy the interaction and it isn’t just another homework assignment.
There are quite a few commercial games that lend to vocabulary development and creative thinking. For older students working on word associations and more global thinking, I have found Apples to Apples, In a Pickle, and Scattergories to be good. For younger students games such as Kerplunk, Don’t Spill the Beans, and Hi Ho Cherry O Game review concepts such as least, most, and more. There are some good ones that aren’t published anymore but keep you eyes open for them at garage sales etc. Often the games don’t even look like they have been used.
This week we decided to tackle “left” and “right”. This is a very difficult concept for 5 year olds, so we usually have several activities that go over it in the course of the year. We start the activity by having children raise their right hand and then their left. Funny how watching the person across the table from you just doesn’t work. We also talk about some other cues people use like they write with their right hand and your left hand makes a natural L with your thumb and pointer finger. As an adult you have to refrain from saying “Your right!” when they lift their left, which just adds to the confusion.
This activity uses the game of “Blockhead”. It’s listed on the vocabulary page as “Stacking Blocks“. It involves spinning a spinner which tells you which hand you can pick up a block and then place on top of a growing tower of blocks in the center of the table. If the blocks fall they are placed back into the box.
There is a friendly competition between table groups to see who can build the tallest tower and use all their blocks. A couple of tables had natural born leaders who talked to their peers on the best block placements. Other table groups were not so fortunate and had difficulty keeping their hands from the tower or taking appropriate turns. A good introduction to team work. In any case it was a learning experience beyond the concept words.
We were fortunate to have an adult volunteer in both the PM and AM classes. This brought the table groups to 6 children with one adult. What a difference this makes. I would like to make a cheer and thankyou for all those parent volunteers out there.
The math program was reviewing shapes and catergorization this week. My “Sequence Vocabulary” activity happens to have shapes in it, so I decided that would be a good activity. Again I had to add 6 more sets of cards to accomodate our class size. This was a matter of printing train and shape pictures, pasting them on poster board, and laminating.
In this activity the cards are drawn from a pile in the center of the table one by one. The students have a possibility of getting a shape card or one of four cars to make a train. It allows for the discussion of first, last, ending, middle, and beginning of the train. There is also a same and different decision to be made because a student doesn’t keep a card he already has. These and the shapes go into a discard pile. The first student to get the four train cards is declared the winner and the game can be played again. Six students to a table made the turn taking much easier and the game appeared to go well. We went through the stack 3 times in a 20 minute period of time. I had them each build a train sequence, review the sequence vocabulary and then rubber band each set so it would be ready for the next class. The volunteers seemed to catch on quickly. It’s good to have activities that don’t need much explanation.