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.