A Tangram Puzzle is an old Chinese tile game that consists of seven geometric shapes called tans. The tans usually consist of a square, 5 triangles and a parallelogram. The shapes can be used to form various shapes and designs. I used the original square but also developed a Shamrock puzzle for a lesson that was presented in March.
These puzzles work great as a cooperative activity for social skills groups. It is a good activity to work on problem solving, seeing another person’s perspective, using directive language and cooperating within a group. I recommend using the square first because the shamrock tends to be more difficult for the studernts to figure out. Hopefully you have a chance to work on social skills, observe your students in action, encourage their social development and get a break from lesson planning.
To begin the activity you need a square puzzle printed out on cardstock for each student in the group. Look at the bottom of the post for the pattern. Have them cut the square apart into individual shapes.
At its simplest level each student mixes their pieces up into a pile and then puts them back together into a square shape. The difficulty and need for interaction can be increased by having students mix their pieces of the puzzle with other students. They choose puzzle pieces from the mix and then try to put their square back together again. This forces students to look at the pieces they have and what other students have. It will require them to negotiate and trade for the pieces they need to make the original square.
There are two free downloads for this activity. One is the square pattern and the other is a shamrock pattern . I hope your students learn from and enjoy this activity.
It has been a while since I posted but I am back. I had a great summer visiting family and am refreshed. Recently, I was looking at old posts. Back in April 2013, I posted about an activity called Trial and Error Pass. I have always felt this activity had a lot of value. I was surprised to find the post is now 4 years old. Some of you may not even remember seeing it the first time. Sometimes when an activity is packaged a little differently It allows for multiple presentations without students disengaging because they have seen it before. I decided to rework it with a Halloween theme.
Halloween is often a time when students are allowed a group celebration. Students may think it is time off from work but little do they know. It is an opportunity to build social skills. Trial and Error Pass is a good activity to use with small groups or a class. For those who are working on social skills, it provides an opportunity for students to generalize skills into a classroom setting.
You can make this activity easily enough on your own with clip art. If you want to save some time and effort you can down load it from my TPT store for a minimal cost. Just click on the button for a direct link.
The activity requires students to use a trial and error method of problem solving. It reinforces the idea that mistakes are not necessarily bad and can be used for learning. It also teaches students to work together toward a common goal. The solution is found by observing the mistakes of everyone and it would be very difficult to succeed individually. It also requires students to use their short term memory and make inferences to predict the pattern.
This activity can be used with small groups of students, two competing teams, or with one or two students. The object of the game is to cross a grid in 6 moves stepping on the correct sequence of objects. They determine the path by trial and error.
Cards are laid out on a carpet in a grid pattern. If you do not have room to lay them out you can print off a grid to make a game board and use a game marker to represent the person crossing the grid. I think using large motor movements makes it more interesting for some students.
A judge, who could be a student or teacher, is selected. The judge takes one of the pattern cards that will be the solution to the stepping pattern.
A student begins the challenge by stepping on one of the objects in the first row and moves one row ahead for each step. As the move is made the judge indicates if it is the correct one by saying right or wrong move. There are buzzer sounds available on apps for electronic devices that make it even more engaging for some students.
The student continues to move forward as long as he steps on the right object. If it is the wrong step the person returns to the start or the end of the line and watches the attempts of others until they get to the front of the line again. The students may notice that a pattern is developing as students discover the correct moves. This will speed up the progress until someone finally makes it across. The students should be reinforced for working as a team and not make it an individual competition to make it to the finish.
For other versions just click on the button and it will take you there.
This fall I am enjoying my retirement status and doing things I didn’t have time for the last few years. It is nice not to have the stress that comes with the beginning of the year. I have been thinking about all of you SLPs in the trenches.
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.
I imagine some of you are wrapping up your school year and ready for a break. We still have 4 weeks to go here. I am still doing lesson planning in the middle of all those end of the year IEPs and progress reports. I can’t help thinking about last year’s contract negotiation issues which caused an unplanned for week off. This year is going much better. Looking at the bright side, I developed some strong relationships with my fellow teachers with all that walking. It paid off in my interactions this school year. This got me thinking about how bad things often have a silver lining, and how that carries us through to a better future. My inflexible thinkers often have difficulty seeing this possibility and have difficulty making a recovery when things go badly. It may be one of the most important life skills to develop. If you are using a Social Thinking Curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner, www.socialthinking.com, it fits in well with determining “The size of the problem.”
I decided to address this ability to turn a bad thing into a good thing more directly. We’ve been using cards I made called “Bad Thing Good Thing’. I started using them with my 3rd and 4th graders who are part of a social skills group. That was tough. The inability to think flexibly was very apparent and they needed a lot of prompting to think otherwise. The 5th grader did better. I was worried that I might have created something too difficult for the age range so I brought them out for my articulation students working on sounds in conversational speech. The 3rd graders through 5th graders were able to do them without prompting and pretty automatically. I concluded that these cards were very telling about a deficit area.
I am putting the full set of 32 cards on TPT. You can reach it by clicking on the button at the top of the page.
I am listing the first 11 cards here Good Thing no. eleven cards. I would love to get your feed- back on how they work for your students.