Students are sometimes referred to Child Study Team (CST) because of difficulties relating to peers. Concerns revolve around the student saying inappropriate things, being picked on and starting fights on the playground. When you talk to the student, you may find they have limited interests and talk excessively on one topic. They have difficulties taking turns during a conversation. In their attempts to enter a conversation they say something that can be perceived as an insult or bragging. This results in a fight or peers not wanting to interact with them. The student then feels picked on or shunned.
Sometimes these students have a diagnosis of Aspergers or high functioning autism and are on our caseloads. They may need direct instruction on how to have a conversation. Learning the art of having a conversation can help alleviate some of the difficulties. However, it is a very difficult skill to teach without structure. Left to their own devices, the a session may go something like this. A student will start a topic of high interest to them. The other students interrupt to make off topic comments. One student dominates the topic with multiple comments until another student manages to derail to another topic with multiple comments. It becomes a competition to control the topic rather than enjoy an exchange of information. No one feels they have been listened to and arguments occur as they interrupt each other. Each student feels that only their topic and comments are right. I have actually had a student say they won because they had the most papers out.
How do we provide structure so it becomes a learning task? It is important to break down skills in in smaller increments so they can understand and practice. I have used colored paper shapes as visual cues to illustrate turn taking, topic changes and questions and comments.
Can you guess which conversation is interactive with multiple people talking about a topic. Which conversation is more likely people talking for themselves?
During this process I have discovered many of our students do not know how to start a conversation or recognize when another student is giving them an opening to start a conversation. They may not see the differences between a question and a comment and do not understand the hidden expectations of both. When a comment is said, they may misinterpret its intent and not respond appropriately. I made comment and reply cards so that my students could work on this directly. There is a full set at the TPT store. You can reach them directly by hitting the button at the top of the page or the button below.
There is also a set of trial cards here.
We are counting down with 4 1/2 weeks of school left. We even saw some sunny days which made people think that summer will make it yet. We get a lot of rain this time of year so sun is appreciated. It is hard to keep students interested when they would rather be outside. I am especially low on ideas for the life skills program. I came across this BINGO game and it was the perfect activity for this week. The students took turns drawing the call cards and making the faces so everyone could guess which one it was on their Bingo card. Even the students with limited verbal abilities had a good time. You can find them at http://peoniesandpoppyseeds.com/ here
May is also the month I bring out the Pear Tree for Homonyms. It seems to look different every year. I thought you might like to see how it is looking this year. I am still giving out lollipops for each homonym pair a student comes up with. After doing this several years, I am pleased to find that students that contributed when they were younger do not need prompting to come up with words now.
We are coming to the end of the year and it is time to see how much progress my students have made. I have been working on new irregular past tense verb cards. My commercial cards have pictures that don’t reflect the past event and also have the printed word below. I end up hiding the written word when doing post testing which is annoying. I also find that students do not always generalize to other contexts. I wanted an activity the students could use after they have memorized the verbs according to the usual prompts of what happened today and yesterday and would be a better indicator of what they know. I made the cards so the past tense would be elicited within the context of answering a question. The cards may also be used for interpreting questions that use the words before, after, during, and while and used for making predictions. I usually have students working on different goals in the same session. The answers are hidden. Students can use a QR reader to get an answer. I have a UV pen I bought at a school book fair that I use to write answers in the blue boxes. The students find it motivating to self check their answers.
I am posting 3 of the pages so you can try them out. You can download them by clicking on the button..
The complete set is at TPT which you can reach by clicking the button below.
April is here and time to switch out the bulletin board again. We seem to be getting our fair share of rain and the fruit trees are in full bloom. I know some places are still getting snow so I don’t really have a right to complain about the rain. When looking for this month’s bulletin board project, I saw several variations of paper flowers on Pinterest. I happen to have a supply of colored computer paper that would make colorful flowers for the traditional saying “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” I was able to adapt one of the flowers to a version that used the materials I have on hand; paper and tape. The flowers are simple enough that my older students in the Lifeskills program were able to complete them along with my younger general education students. My only problem is that the students want to bring them home for their mothers so I had trouble getting them to leave them for the bulletin board. This is what the board is looking like so far. We made the directions and shared them on Storykit. It is still a good exercise to have the students record the directions. Their voices were removed here before posting because of our school privacy requirements. Directions for flowers on the bulletin board.
You may remember in the original posts of this blog, I wrote about using a push-in model of therapy with Kindergarten students using table games to teach concepts that were measured on the The Boehm Test of Basic Concepts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this test, The Boehm Test of Basic Concepts is a norm-referenced, standardized test of fifty common language concepts for children in Kindergarten through second grades. The concepts are important for following classroom directions and when acquiring math skills. Children with language delays, 2nd language learners, and those with lack of preschool experience benefit from direct instruction on these. The vocabulary section on this blog has some of the games that we developed and adapted. If you are interested in researching back to the original posts just put Concept Groups in the search bar and you can see how a year of school lesson planning went. I still use the same activities so they have held up over the test of time.
One of the Activities, “The Never Ever Dinner Plate” needed some refreshing. My sets are looking a bit worn after 5 years. The directions are in the vocabulary section but you still need to do quite a bit of work finding the clip art and collecting it together. This can be daunting when you don’t have much time and you are not sure of its true value. I decide to make a new set and preview it here so you could see what it actually is. This game/activity was used to teach the negatives (never, not), the concepts of match, full, half, and categories of food. It is also good for talking about a balanced diet if you have a nutrition program or theme. It was used in our Lifeskills program for that purpose.
The original game was played like this: Each child was given a plate mat and 3 pictured food items that match the outlines of the foods on the plate. I make a set of plates for each table so that each child will have a different plate. I made the meals balanced so dairy, vegetables, fruit, proteins, and grains are represented. There are also a set of non food items for each table group. These are items a child would never eat. The cards, including the nonfood items, are mixed and placed face down in rows in the center of the table. Students take turns flipping one card over on their turn to see if it matches a food item on their plate. If it does they can place it on their plate. If it doesn’t they turn the card back over. If it’s a non food item, emphasize that children “never” eat it. It is “not” food. The nonfood item is then flipped back over. They are basically foil cards. While you are playing you can also discuss categories of food and if their plate is ½ full empty etc. The game is over when one of the children is able to fill their plate with the proper food items. I have them swap plates and they are always eager to do it again. There is usually a lot of discussion about what they do like and don’t like to eat.
The full set of 10 plates is available at TPT. Click on the apple for quick access.
March is here again and it is time to find a new project for the bulletin board. I looked into the supply closet and found coffee filters left from someone elses project. This looked like a possibility for inexpensive fun. I started looking for a shamrock pattern. I was disappointed to find the die cut pattern was too big for my needs. Then the kindergarten teacher came to my rescue. She pointed out it was easy to make a shamrock from hearts. Even though I couldn’t find a shamrock, I found 3 sizes of die cut hearts. The plan was coming together. It would be easy to get this project ready because I already have all the materials.
I saw a project that used water based markers and a spray bottle of water. The water made the markers run into interesting designs. I thought the students would enjoy experimenting with that. They could glue the hearts on top of the colored coffee filters and it would look like stained glass. It would add some color to the board. I found a simile that worked well with the shamrocks; A best friends is like a four leaf clover, hard to find and lucky to have. This gave an opportunity to talk about Similes with my older students. The younger students worked on following directions and talking about St. Patrick’s Day. This is what it is looks like so far. More Shamrocks will be added as they get completed.
Directions on StoryKit here.
Have fun and have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
The need for social skills groups continues to grow at the elementary school where I teach. We had enough students to form two groups this school year. One group is made primarily of second graders and the other fourth and fifth graders. The counselor and I teach these classes together.
We have used Leah Kuypers The Zones of Regulation® (www.zonesofregulation.com) and Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® materials for our lesson planning. Recently we have worked on identifying emotions and how they fall into the 5 zones. For a brief overview, the Zones are 5 color coded signs that rank from the lowest blue zone of low alertness which relate to being calm, or tired to the red zone of heightened alertness which relates to feelings such as anger or fear. You can click on the web sites to obtain more explicit information.
These colors and zones can also be used when talking about the size of a problem. Students determine if a problem is at the lowest level which would be a glitch in our day or at the highest level a crisis difficult to correct. Other problems may fall somewhere in between. When compared with the zones of regulation students can see if the emotional reaction is appropriate to the problem. This also leads to talking about possible solutions.
When starting this unit, I found it difficult to find appropriate scenarios for the students to rate. They came up with a few on their own but typically do not think of the full range. you would be surprised at how much comes in as being a crisis. I created 26 cards with written scenarios. I added another four blank cards that if drawn the student would make up their own. The scenarios are ones that are common to students. I used Ned’s head for drawing out cards. Ned’s head is a good way to add humor to the situation and remind students that they may be thinking and seeing from one perspective inside their head. They can step out to see another perspective and problem solve. Here are a sample of the cards. You can down load them and test them out by clicking the button below.
You can reach the the full set by clicking the button below.
January sure has gone fast. Here we are a week away from February. We are coming to the end of a grading period so I am busy writing progress reports. I am a bit behind because of other meetings. I am sure you can all relate to that. We have a new software program which makes it a little harder. The paper work has been a bit of a challenge this year.
It is getting harder to be creative with the bulletin board lately. I stayed with my theme of antonyms for February. I looked in my cupboard and noticed that I have a large supply of straws on hand. Valentines Day brings out the cupid in all of us so I decided to make arrows. It helped that we have die cuts for hearts available. The die cut makes a heart as an outline and a smaller heart to be pushed out of the center. We used the smaller hearts to make the point of the arrow and used a folded rectangle for the feathered end. The students wrote a word on the arrow head and the opposite word on the white paper to match. It doesn’t look like the words are visible in the picture. This is the beginning of our project. I will post updates as we go. The students are making directions as usual. However, we are regulated for voices as well as visual images so I can not post my story kit directions until we are done and I can remove the child audio. This is what it is looking like. Here is the Storykit link to the directions: arrow directions
This is our first week back from the holiday break. Some of us are in the grips of winter. Baby its cold out there! It seemed appropriate to go with a winter theme and cold things. I dug into my archives and brought out my version of “Don’t Fall Through the Ice”. This activity has been in the vocabulary section and there are written instructions that can be printed out under the link. I didn’t include pictures so some of you may have missed it. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words. The activity is really very simple and made from recycled materials. I get a lot of use from my coffee cans. All you need is a wide mouthed container like a coffee container, a large rubber band, paper towels, marbles, and a spinner made from a plastic lid. The spinner has the words, one, couple, few, and several. The marbles are placed in a container of water. The paper towel is stretched across the mouth of the container and held by the rubber band. Students take turns spinning the spinner, taking the corresponding amount of marbles from the water, and placing them on top of the paper towel. Eventually the water will weaken the paper towel and the marbles will fall through. I used this activity as a reinforcement for students during therapy or as a group activity to work on the concepts of amount. I have table groups play and then compare the number of marbles they put on top before they fall through. In addition to the spinner words you can talk about the concepts of wet/dry, weak/strong, and most/ least.
This is the time of year when a lot of games are selling for good prices and you may be wondering which ones are good for therapy. I have adapted Pop the Pig recently. It really only needed a communication board to add the structure I need. I use it with students who are working on making basic comments such as I have ______, and I want______. It is also possible to work on descriptive vocabulary such as size, colors and amounts. We also work on turn taking and becoming aware of another student’s turn and when they are finished. The game is really pretty simple. Students roll the die to choose a colored hamburger. The student then looks at the bottom to see how many times they press the pig’s head so it will munch on the hamburger placed in the mouth. Pressing on the head inflates the rubber tummy until the belt pops open. It isn’t as dramatic as the advertisement indicates. However my students seem to enjoy this game and it provides a lot of repetition. I have them make comments for every turn they take. It is also good game for general reinforcement. If you find one at a good price, pick it up.