Top Five Favorites: Alphabet Toys

Many of the individuals I work with are emergent readers.  We work a lot on letters and letter sounds.  Teachers, parents, and I often use this section from the Bridge Rating Scale with our emergent readers to see what areas of alphabet and phonological/phonemic awareness we need to work on.

Here are the top five toys that I use the most when working on alphabet knowledge and some phonological/ phonemic awareness skills.

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Inclusive Dramatic Play Activity – Baby Doll with G-tube

In the next few weeks we’re going to be reading “Sometimes” by Rebecca Elliot.  Many of the students I work with have G-tubes and are in wheelchairs.  They also, unfortunately, spend time in the hospital.  This book is a great story for children with disabilities or their siblings. The main character, Clemmie, and her sibling talk about their time in the hospital and the things Clemmie sometimes has to do.

We’re going to be reading Sometimes using the format from the Tell Me Program. To learn more about how we use the Tell Me Program click here. You can download the visuals for Sometimes here to go along with our visuals book. If you own a copy of this book and would like a copy of the electronic adapted version, send an email to AmandaSoperSLP@gmail.com.  The adapted copy contains the pictures only, no text, with background clutter removed for our students with vision impairments.  We put each page on a light box or use the PowerPoint on an iPad.

In order to address the “dramatic play” aspect of The Tell Me Program, you can make your own G-tube doll using these materials.

  1. Exacto Knife
  2. Baby Alive Doll (This brand allows you to actually feed the doll. Just make sure you buy extra diapers!)
  3. Mickey Button & Feeding Tube/Extension Set (Amanda got this one by asking the school nurse.)
  4. Syringe

To insert the Mickey Button into the baby, simply make a small hole in the appropriate spot. Slowly make the hole bigger and test the button as you go, until it is the correct size.

Put the Mickey Button in and use the syringe to insert air into the button to inflate the balloon on the inside of the baby doll. Now you can feed the baby doll using water and the syringe!

Using the Tell Me Program in Your Classroom

A few years ago, I heard Carole Zangari present on the Tell Me Program at a PALSS conference.  I was watching live with a teacher and another SLP and we immediately wanted to get started!  It took a couple of years until the program was available for purchase through Attainment Company, but it was worth the wait!    This year, I’ve worked with several classrooms using this program and have been so impressed with the increase in students’ language and AAC use.  Hang in there, this post is a bit on the longer side but has some great resources!

The program comprises of a ten day (two week) learning sequence revolving around one book.  The books tend to be simple and familiar.  Many have predictable pictures or text.  Each two week sequence has:

  1. Target vocabulary words and a target letter. – We decided to do two target letters per book for contrast.  (Check out this post by Jane Farrall where she talks about providing at least two and up to six “letters of the week” for alphabet learning.) 
  2. Shared Writing lessons
  3. Shared Reading lessons 
  4. Quack Quack Questions – Simple questions that can be answered using target or concept vocabulary.
  5. Dramatic play.  – This has been a favorite component of ours and has encouraged carryover of target vocabulary into other contexts. 

There are many other components to the program, but these are the ones that we have been most successful in implementing!

I saw a post on Facebook about how the amazing mom from the “Hold My Words” page, created a chart book to go along with the program.  You can check out her video post here.  She used a few pieces of poster board to create her chart book and it seems ideal for home schooling or individual sessions.  However, using the program at school, we needed to create something that could be easily replicated for several classrooms.  With that in mind, we created a visuals book that has the target words on the front and pages inside for the song, who poster, what poster, story map poster, letters of the week, and quack quack questions.  For each of the eleven books in the program, we created a unique visuals book that we printed on tabloid paper, laminated, and bound.  After the eleventh book, another teacher and I came up with a generic template for the book and visuals.  You can download our template for the book and icons!  You can also see the book and icons we made for the “I Went Walking” book.  If people are interested, I’m happy to share the visuals from the other ten books!  You can email me at amandasoperslp@gmail.com for access to the rest.

We also put together a dramatic play kit for every unit.  We make sure to include accommodations for our switch users!  This is a great time to work on language carry-over using the words of the week!

Let us know how you use the Tell Me Program in your classroom!

Hair Salon Dramatic Play Kit

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I often see people asking for ideas to teach language through play in AAC groups on Facebook.  What I most commonly see as the suggestions are cause and effect toys like light up toys, wind up toys, sensory items, etc.  Frequently people write that their students with autism aren’t motivated by play and I almost never hear about students with severe physical disabilities engaging in play other than to direct it using their talkers.  I’ve thought a lot about this and came to the conclusion that this didn’t feel right.  Why are we not providing our students with disabilities with the same play opportunities as their peers?

With that in mind, I started to order toys for dramatic and pretend play.  I started using them with lots of different groups of students and guess what, they ALL love them.  Even some of my super tough to motivate to play, kids with autism are having a blast playing with these kits!  The most important piece, I think, is that I facilitate the play and never expect to just leave the toys with a group of students and see them successfully play.  It doesn’t always go smoothly the first time but it often does in subsequent sessions.  I play with these kits in individual sessions or in small groups with no more than four students at a time.  They are a HUGE hit.  I promise!

The first kit I decided to share is my hair salon kit.  My SLP intern and I have had so much fun playing with this kit in sessions.  It was our first “hit” and was loved by both boys and girls.  🙂  There are a bunch of accommodations so students with severe physical impairments can use switches to engage in pretend and dramatic play!

Students can use an adapted pourer and switch to “wash” the doll’s hair.  I attached velcro to the shampoo, conditioner, and a brush.

Students can “braid” or “twist” the doll’s hair using an adapted pourer and a switch!  I attached hard velcro on either side of the switch plate.  If you press a doll’s hair tightly into the hard velcro it will stick.  Then use the switch to have the pourer go around and around while it twists the hair!

Students can cut the dolls hair using adapted scissors and a switch (or any kind of adapted scissors).  I bought hair extensions (they were fairly cheap) and I let students cut the extensions so we don’t end up with dolls with no hair!

Students can blow dry her hair using a Powerlink and switch.

Here’s my PowerPoint with lesson ideas, accommodation explanations, etc.

Everything in the kit is labeled for easy use!

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Icons are available along with an eyegaze board to accommodate students who need to make choices using pictures.  These icons are also used to label the switch during switch adapted play.hs3
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Here is a link to items I bought.   Some of them were donated by a family member no longer using her American Girl doll items!

Enjoy!  Don’t hesitate to send an email if you’re interested in making this kit to use with your students or children! More to come! 🙂

Adapted Book Kit – Bill the Duck and the Ladybug (CVI)

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I recently saw an awesome post on the Paths to Literacy Website from Deena Recker about books for students in different CVI phases. Check it out here.  It’s a great post as she outlines different characteristics for Phases I, II, and III.  She also provides free downloadable books to be used for students with CVI.  I downloaded this fun one, Bill the Duck and the Ladybug. My SLP intern and I decided to make this into one of our adapted book kits!

We adapted/ included a few things in this kit.  First, my intern put the story on a black background.  Next we found a rubber duck and a light up ladybug (it’s Easter time so CVS is packed with tons of little spring light up toys like this).  My intern has been reading this with one of our students who has characteristics of CVI Phase I.  He’s been very clearly looking at the pictures in the book and saying “turn” to ask her to turn the page with his talker!  She also reenacts the story using the story props.

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Next we made a simple counting book to go along with the story.  We followed the same guidelines and kept the text on one page and the picture on the other.  We kept the background black, used bright text, and added some glitter to our spots to make them more visually attractive.  On the last page of the book, we made a ladybug with removable spots.  The Velcro on the ladybug is painted red so that it blends in.  We did this so that it would not get confusing when counting “spots” on the ladybug if there were less than 5 black spots on.  Then we made black spots with some glitter on them (again to make them more visually attractive).

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We provided teachers with a few ways to work on numbers and counting while using this interactive activity.  We included ideas for labeling numbers on a student’s talker, following directions with numbers, and counting.

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You can find the PowerPoint with the instructions for our adapted book kit here.  Enjoy!

Adapted Book Kit – Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

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It’s been forever since I posted!  Things have been pretty crazy this school year but I think I’m finally getting back on track.  More posts to come 🙂  I recently have been doing a lot of individual sessions with some of my more complex kiddos with a focus on AAC and literacy.  I frequently use the Bridge Protocol to assess where my students are with regards to emergent literacy.  I love this tool because it really breaks down emergent literacy skills and allows you see progress in smaller increments.  It also has helped the teachers and paraprofessionals that I work with to have a better of idea of where their students are at and what skills they need to provide more opportunities for.  (I was getting pretty sick of everyone only writing goals for “turning the page” as an emergent literacy skill with NO other ideas!)

A few weeks ago, I was at Barnes and Noble I spotted this sound story version of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site.  I am in love with it because it has a cute, quick story that goes along with the sounds on the side.  So often, sounds books are either short (in pages)and have no real story line or they have a story line that makes sense with the sound symbols but it is SO LONG.  This one is perfect!

I looked at the Foundations of Reading and Oral Language areas of the Bridge Protocol to keep myself on track while adapting.  I really wanted to work on how my students handle/interact with books and increase their engagement.

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With that in mind, I decided to texture adapt the sound symbols to give students (with and without vision impairment) something more to interact with.  My SLP intern and I tried to be very purposeful with what we chose and worked hard to make sure the textures make sense with what the symbol represents.  Here’s what we came up with.

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We also decided to include the plush toy that goes along with the book to encourage interaction for some of our students who have not yet discovered a love for reading!

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You can find the PowerPoint that goes along with the adapted book kit here.  Enjoy!

How To Adapt Graphic Novels in PowerPoint

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Earlier this year, I found out that my beloved Baby-Sitters Club books had been turned into graphic novels. I immediately thought of a few pre-teen girls I know that would love to read these books on their eye-gaze devices. In our previous post, we discuss using Office 365 on Accent Devices to display adapted PowerPoint books. This would also be possible using the PowerPoint App on the iPad.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite realize how daunting it would be to adapt the entire chapter book. I promise that it will be available for anyone who can demonstrate proof of purchase for the book when I it is complete. Until that time, I thought I would provide some instructions for how to I adapt graphic novels (I have listed a few suggestions, provided by a very helpful Barnes & Noble employee, below).

Roller Girl                              El Deafo                                        Amulet

                      

Continue reading for step-by-step instructions for adapting graphic novels in PowerPoint.

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Eye Gaze PowerPoint Book Template

PowerPoint can make adapting books a breeze. We recently took the same features we use when making books for the computer or iPad and created a book for an Accent 1400 with NuEye. The Accent 1400 allows the user to download Microsoft with PowerPoint 360. This opens up the endless activity possibilities available through PowerPoint.

AlphaOops! H is for Halloween is the first book we tried this with and it was a hit!  Each slide contains 4 icons that the child can click to turn the page, hear audio of the page, go back, or exit the book.

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Continue reading for a free template and step-by-step directions.

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Writing Activities Using Instant Messaging Apps For Kids

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An important rule in implementing comprehensive literacy instruction is that children need to be presented with multiple opportunities to write for multiple purposes (click here to read a great post from Caroline on the 3 T’s of Writing). When I reflect on my own day, I can include communication through text message and social media as two of my main forms of written expression. I made a Facebook Status Writing Activity a few months ago, and wanted to explore text messaging apps for kids next. I downloaded Roo Kids and PlayKids Talk, but will only be sharing information about Roo Kids, due to the security features of PlayKids Talk preventing Amanda and I from trying it (PlayKids Talk uses a photo of the user’s parent to determine if they are old enough to use the app and apparently Amanda does not pass for over 21).

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ISAAC 2016 Session Handout

We are so happy to share some of our ideas for integrating language and technology for students with multiple disabilities at ISAAC 2016. You can download the handout from our presentation by clicking here. 

Most of the activities that we shared during our session are available through our website. If you are searching for a specific activity and can’t find it please let us know through email and we will point you in the right direction. If you are looking for a book that is not available on our website due to copyright reasons, please email us with proof that you own the original book and we can send you the adapted version.

Thanks!

Lauren and Amanda