November 4, 2012

Easy Lessons to Target Play Skills & Sharing

Orlanda and I have spent a considerable amount of time over the past 6 weeks in our collaborative speech/social thinking groups working with our "littles" on basic play skills and sharing. We have two small groups (4 kids each) that we needed to target these skills. One group is made up solely of Kinder students who have significant speech and language delays (both articulation and pragmatic language) and ADHD. The second group is made up of Kinder and 1st grade students who all have pragmatic language deficits, but are "higher" than the first group. The students in this group have Autism Spectrum Disorder and Speech Impairment.

We grouped the lessons in this unit into indoor play skills and outdoor play skills.
During the outdoor play lessons we listed different activities that the kids like to play outside and which were solitary activities vs activities they do with others. After choosing a few of the most common activities on the lists, we taught the explicit rules and defined the "hidden rules" for those activities. We read portions of The Social Skills Picture Book by Jed Baker, PhD that related to outdoor play.
We then took the kids outside to the Kinder playground when no other students were outside to practice taking turns with the balls and playing a simple game that required joint attention. The kids did a great job.

Next, we began to target indoor play skills. We specifically wanted to make sure to address the kinds of activities the kids engage in Kindergarten and 1st grade "centers". We again made lists of activities they did indoors and divided them into solitary vs activities done with others. We read applicable parts from The Social Skills Picture Book again and discussed "hidden rules" for playing with others during centers. We spent several sessions watching and discussing the lessons on sharing and taking turns from Playtime with Zeebu. The kids loved Zeebu and it provides a great anchor to remind students to share in the inclusion setting.
We spent a session reading a picture book on sharing. For the Kinder students with less language sophistication, we read Will Sheila Share? by Elivia Savadier. For the combo Kinder/1st grade group, we read I Am Extremely Absolutely Boiling by Lauren Child.

Finally, we spent several sessions practicing sharing and indoor play. During the first session, we used wooden trains and train tracks (which worked really well since there is an example of sharing/not sharing with trains in the Zeebu video). During the second session we used Legos. Before the first session we spent time teaching various phrases that could be used to initiate play and to help facilitate sharing using this visual.

When we played with train tracks I initially "controlled" access to the tracks handing out one or two to each child and then prompting them to use the scripts to ask for more from me or from a peer. When we did the Lego activity, Orlanda gave each child a small pile of Legos that they eagerly started building with individually. Sure enough, they soon wanted more. They were prompted to ask a friend for a piece. Ya gotta love a little sabotage! :) We do have a few students who we wanted to target accepting "no thanks" from their peer for an answer while we also had one particular student who tends to get run over by his peers and we wanted to help him know it was ok to say "no thanks" at times. This led to some interesting interactions!

I have worked on generalizing the skills from small group to the inclusion classroom by using this powerpoint social story. I just load it on one of the classroom computers in the specific classrooms and prompt the kids to read it (either independently or with me) before center time. Feel free to download it for your use!

I hope that you will find the lesson ideas and tools to be useful with your students.  ~ Kelley

November 1, 2012

Welcome to the Vocabulary Parade!

I'll admit I've been in a bit of a funk this past month -- too many obligations, too little time. I know that is a universal feeling out there among educators at one point or another in the year.

Yesterday, however, we had a great activity at school that pumped my enthusiasm back up and I'm already brainstorming ideas about how to incorporate instruction in idioms and vocabulary next year with my students. Instead of the usual Halloween based events, our school hosted our first annual Vocabulary Parade. This idea was based on the book Miss Alaineus: A Vocabulary Disaster by Debra Frasier. Our students were asked to choose a vocabulary word and create a costume that would define that word. We then all gathered in front of the school and were led by the high school drum line in a parade. It was absolutely adorable!

I just thought I would share the costumes Orlanda and I came up with. Orlanda's word was "communicate" (of course!) and mind was "deduce" (a la You are a Social Detective by Michelle Garcia Winner & Pamela Crooke). Next year I'm on the hunt for a yellow trench coat!  ~ Kelley