What animal is it? Question Activity

12 Mar

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Do you have a collection of stuffed animals that seems to reproduce before your very eyes?  I do.   I inherited a collection of Beanie Babies from my children when they left home.  They were so adorable that I had difficulty parting with them.  Naturally they ended up in my  room of misfit toys, my therapy room.  I have them stored in a shoe storage unit that fits over a door.  As people noticed them they added more to the collection.  After I started using them for therapy, I found how valuable they truly are.

The animals are very enticing even to some of my older students who have moved on to Minecraft. I  have used them for calming distraught Kindergarten students.  Teachers  have borrowed one for the day to get a student through trauma.  Students have used them when they forgot theirs on a “Read to your stuffed animal day.”

I have used them when reading animal stories.  Students take a animal from a grab bag and  listen for the part of the story where  their animal shows up.  It keeps them focused on the story and gives something for their hands to hold.

I have some unusual ones that become a help for expanding vocabulary.   For example, some students have not had exposure to a jelly fish.  I know my stuffed animal is not an exact replica  but does give the idea.   This leads  to a discussion to what is different about a real jellyfish and the stuffed version.  My jellyfish has the typical stuffed animal round eyes which led to the question, “Do jellyfish have eyes?”.    We explored this on the iPad and it provided a very interesting topic.

They are great for categorization according to traits.  A favorite activity I made up is ” Mystery Animal”.  I especially like this activity for its use of questions and cognitive skills. It is a memory and cognitive task to remember the details and use that information in a meaningful way. I have a velvet box that is the mystery box.  One student hides an animal in the box and the other students ask questions to determine its identity.  The rule is they need to ask a descriptive question before they can identify the animal. Some of  my students have difficulty coming up with relevant questions or ask the same questions several times.  I made this communication board to help them with formulating questions.

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This is a pdf version you may be able to download and print  for use.   What animal

They have been used as rewards for behavior plans.  Students earn animal babysitting priveledges and  swap one out occasionally.  This keeps the incentive going.  It is nice to have an incentive that doesn’t need funding or involve food.

Amazingly, I have only lost a few over the years.  They seem to find their way back to my room at the end of the school year.

 

Body Parts and Emotions Theme

21 Feb

LeprechaunI traditionally use the months of February and March to work on  body parts  and emotions theme.  There are quite a few free materials you can use out there. To help you with your search I have listed a few activities I have used with my early language learners.

I started with following directions and naming body parts by putting band aids on a print out of a boy and girl.   Teachers notebook: Toadally Tots Shop has a free download called Betty and Billy Boo-Boo which you might want to check out here.  This was not only good for naming body parts but was also good for subject, object, and possessive pronouns.

I used musical play to encourage movement and use of body parts.  The Hokey pokey song works well for this.  There is an  United Kingdom version: Hokey Pokey- Kids song on You tube.   I used a hula hoop to designate the middle of the circle which worked out particularly well on this version as it mimicked the video.  I liked the speed on this one because  my students could keep up.  Head Shoulders Knees and Toes is another good one.  I used this version here.

I used bubbles to motivate some of my reluctant participants.  Students drew a body part from a bag.  You can use pictures printed from a symbol system or for those who respond better to objects you can use potato head parts.   I blew bubbles and they tried to pop a bubble using their body parts that corresponded to the one they drew.  They got quite a kick out of getting a bubble with their nose.

To work on facial expressions, I found this Leprechaun that works well for a movable face.  The Leprechaun comes from http://www.how-to-draw-funny-cartoons.com/.   It gives directions on how to draw a Leprechaun which can then be placed on a toilet paper roll.  There are directions for making it on the toilet paper roll here.  you can make a Mad lib leprechaun story here. The students have fun turning the roll to get a different face to match an emotion in the story.

I hope you have fun with these activities and it makes your lesson planning easier.   Let me know if you have any other activities that can be added.

Irregular Plurals Interactive Book

30 Oct

Morgan button                                                Click on this box  for direct link

Sometimes we need to allow ideas time to grow.  We don’t always have the right  materials and knowledge when we first start out with an idea. It takes trial and error.  This is a  good lesson to impress upon our students. My wish to write a children’s book was a personal example of this.  I thought you might be intrigued about the process I went through.

Publishing a children’s book was one of those things on my bucket list. So 20 years ago I began to work on it.  It had several different titles and variations but in the end I called it  Morgan the Magician and his Amazing Box.   I didn’t always have a lot of time to devote to it. I would get a part of it going, end up with a road block, and it would get stuck back in the filing cabinet until I was ready to attempt it again.

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So how did I end up with the idea of Morgan the Magician you ask? Irregular plurals are not something that seem that important at first glance. Classroom instruction spends only a short  time on them.  They seem to play a small part of what students need for academic performance.   However I find my language students usually have  difficulty  with them and don’t acquire them through the  general education curriculum. I usually try to find some opportunity to review them.

For my therapy students, I started out my career using the usual task cards and tried to

morgan beginningget them to memorize them.  What else can you do when irregular plurals don’t follow the usual rules and are so  irregular.   This seemed to take more time out of therapy sessions than it was worth. Some would get memorized from the cards but were not used in any  other context.  So I tried to think of a better way.  I decided putting them in a story would give them some context.  My own children always liked the stories that had  pull flaps and they could  interact with.  Rhyming also helps us to remember things.  So this began my journey on making an interactive book with flaps that used rhyming.  I often had rhymes swimming in my head so I had empathy for Dr. Seuss.

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I started by making it for personal use first.  In  the first version, I hand drew the characters and objects. This was before graphics were available on computers for  the average person.   My own children said my wizard looked freaky and would scare children.  I  decided I better make him  a more friendly magician.   My first version had a pull strip that was pulled  through a door so that the single item went in the door and the plural came out the other side.  It was a workable book  but  the strips were a bit cumbersome and students had a tendency to pull the strips all the way out.  I also wanted the pages to be double-sided.  The last challenge was making it printable and user friendly for construction.  That turned out to be the biggest challenge.

Getting a publisher interested would be another challenge, but then came Teachers Pay Teachers.  I found I could just publish it myself.  page3 I discovered Power Point and that this program could be used for formating and placing  clip art easily on pages.  I got a notebook with a sketchbook app which openedup new possibilities for drawing characters.  I could draw the magician once and then make some changes to him as I  went without him changing appearance too much.  No more hand drawing each page.  It made it possible for me to make the clip art,  make multiple pages, and make it in such a way that others could make copies for themselves.

Then I had one of those light bulb moments.  I could just use doors and have the pages back to back.   The single task card could be placed in the door by the student.  The next page could  contain the plural form of the word.  The task cards are separate so they can be attached with velcro and used for  other activities.  Such a simple method that took years for me to come up with.

 

iregular plural button

Click on the button at the top of this post for a direct link to TPT and the book.

 

 

Don’t Fall Through the Ice

8 Jan

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.

Ice game

5 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed

2 Nov

Goodwill is such a good place to  find cheap games to adapt for therapy.  This was a recent find.

Monkey on the bed

This  type of games works  well for my  students in the Life Skills program.  It keeps them  engaged,  promotes turn taking, and teaches  language with repetition.  Many of my students are working on making comments using sentence frames such as I want,I have, and I need.  They are also working on using descriptive words such as colors, amount and basic prepositions.  I make a communication board available for my verbally challenged students.  I use the visual cues to prompt sentences.  The students I worked with last year are now using the communication boards independently to form 3 word sentences.  Children with autism often get stuck in an echo pattern where they answer questions by repeating the question.  The communication board helps break up that pattern.

This  game also gives opportunity to practice verb + ing sentences.  Students pick a circle card depicting a monkey getting ready for bed and use verbs such as brushing teeth, taking a bath and putting pajamas on.  After describing the picture, the students put a monkey on top of the bed and then spin the spinner.  The student then pushes the button on the bed post the number of times the spinner indicates.  At some point the bed will spring  and the monkeys will fall off. There is a game board that also comes with the game, but my students had fun using it at this basic level and I felt I had control over the pieces.  I found this game had a lot of possibilities for students at different levels.  I’ve thought of making more round disks to add to the variety of verbs that could be picked.