Activities for Minimally Verbal/Nonverbal Students

Am I the only one who’s been a little overwhelmed at work lately?!  I’m so behind in posting and making things!  So, one of these activities is a little outdated at this point, but it can be adapted for any holiday so I’m going to share it anyway. 

I can remember doing this craft when I was in first grade!  You know how it’s said that your scent of smell is most closely tied to memory?  That’s definitely evident here, because this smell is so potent, it’s stayed with my for 20 years!  It’s actually the smell of Jello!  (In its powdered form)  For Valentine’s day, the OT and I took 2 weeks to make a craft with our intellectually disabled group.  We made Valentine’s cards for the students’ parents.

We pre-cut hearts with our Ellison press.  The student glued the hearts onto a pink sheet  of paper that we folded in half, to make the card. We put the Jell-o powder in a plastic cup and had the students smell it.  The students then put glue all over the heart and we used a spoon to pour the Jell-o powder all over it.   It was strawberry, and yes, I got sprayed with strawberry powder as some of the students were “smelling” it 😉

On this day, we only completed the front half of the card.  Then, we had the students use Bingo markers to answer multiple choice comprehension questions about what we had done.

 
 
I made the question sheet using Boardmaker Studio.  Does anyone else have this updated version of BM?  It’s AWESOME!
 
Throughout the activity, there was a ton of language used: heart, shake, strawberry, red, pink, glue, on, in, spoon, etc.  We also had them feel the powder and talked about how it felt similar to sand.
 
The next week, we completed the insides of the cards.  I again used Boardmaker Studio to make an adapted writing activity. 
The students chose:
-who they’d write their card to: Mom, Dad, or Mom & Dad
-what their message would be: Have a nice day; Happy Valentine’s Day; or I love  you.
-their salutation: Love or From
and then their name from a field of 7 (the number of students in the class).

Here’s what the screen looked like during the writing activity:

 

 
We printed it, cut it to fit, and glued it on the inside.  Here is how the inside of one turned out:
 
Now, the smell dissipated a little over the week, but I’m sure the parents like them regardless.  Besides, the smell was more for the students’ sensory input – which was definitely on overload the first week!  My hands smelled like strawberry Jell-o all day!
 
In honor of Dr. Seuss’s birthday, this week we made Cat in the Hat hats out of fruit!  I saw this idea on Cooking up Good Speech.  Find her version here.
 
One of the students in the group is allergic to strawberries, and the grocery store didn’t have raspberries this morning, so I went with grapes.  They got the idea.  And let me tell you – this group has the BEST eating habits!  They LOVE fruit!
 
We used sliced apples as the bottom of the hat, then stacked banana slices (which the kids cut themselves, with a weighted knife) and grapes on a long toothpick.  This targets patterns, sequencing, a variety of textures, vocabulary, and categorization.  They loved it!  Here’s what my day looked like:

 
Keep your eye out for more seasonal activities for your nonverbal students soon!  St. Patrick’s day is just around the corner, and we’ve got something up our sleeves. 🙂
 
~Denise
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