Basic Concept Christmas Trees

Last week, my mod-severe autism groups and I started making Christmas Trees.  Most of those students have goals to do with basic concepts of size (short/long and big/little).  When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I knew it was perfect!

I started by buying some packs of cute Christmas scrapbook paper.  I found 8.5×11 size sheets in packs of about 25 sheets for only $5 at Michael’s, so I bought 3 different kinds.  I cut a couple of each type of sheet into strips that are a couple cm wide.  Then, I took a handful of them and cut them 7in, 6in, 5in, and 4in long.  I left some the length they were (8 in – because that’s how wide the paper started out).  I kept the other halves of the 7/6/5 inch pieces and that gave me my shorter strips. 

So, I started out with strips about 2-3 cm wide, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 in. long.  I’m so glad I bought myself a paper cutter at the beginning of the school year!  It was only $25 at BJ’s!

I recommend putting each length in a separate bag or clipping them together some how.  The above mess was a pain to sort through when I first started.

Each student got a green piece of construction paper.

As I went around the table, I placed a field of 3 strips in front of each student: 1 short piece and 2 long or 1 long piece and 2 short. I used this as a receptive task to identify “short” vs “long”.   

To assemble the trees, we began placing the longer strips were on the bottom of the paper and they gradually got shorter as we went up. 

a field of 3 with the prompt “Give me long.”

I did a couple repeated trials of receptive identification of short vs long for each student.

For students who were not working on short vs long, I showed them a few strips in the size that they needed and had them describe to me which paper they wanted.  This targeted adjective+noun phrases, “I want…” sentences, and descriptions, depending on the level of the student.

Because I have about 4 students in a group, and I did many trials of receptive identification for each student, we only got as far as finishing the tree itself. 

I also used my Cricut machine (“Joys of the season” cartridge) and cut ornaments (of varying sizes), stars (in different patterned papers), and presents (of varying sizes).  We will add these elements this week, while discussing concepts of size and location (i.e. “under the tree”, “on top of the tree” & “on the tree”).  We will also add a trunk! 

I will update this post with a picture of some of our completely finished trees at the end of the week, but I wanted to write it in time for you to use it in your speech rooms! 

Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!  (Only 5 more days til Winter Break!  Woo hoo!)


Holiday lights craft

Last week with my Intellectual Disabilities classrooms (where I co-treat with OT) we made thumb print holiday lights.  I’m sure you’ve seen the idea on Pinterest.  Here’s the pin I went off of.

We used one large piece of white construction paper to make a poster per class.  Instead of an ink pad, we used a tray of water color paints (because it’s what we had access to from our art teacher).  I put a couple drops of water on each color and placed the tray in the lid from a cardboard box (from printer paper) so that any drips would be caught in there.

Clearly the box was a good idea.  Not all of that mess is from this project, but that clump in the middle is!

We had students use the photo magnets below to make a choice of what color they’d like to print.  Depending on the student, we gave them a field of between 2-6.  These can be placed on a magnetic whiteboard or on the table, making them easily accessible for a variety of students.  They came from the dollar store, so they’re a cheap, low tech way to make choice-making accessible to a variety of students!

We gave them each 3 chances to do prints.  We used directions like “put finger in (color)”, “put finger on paper”, and some students were even asked to put their finger next to/under/between/above etc. certain colors.  It made for a great following directions activity.  Here is our finished product!

These look SO cute hanging in the halls!  My co-SLP and I also did this activity with our preschoolers.  Their directions were a little more complex and we had them verbalize in phrases/sentences what they were going to do next.  Because they can get antsy, we gave them each a coloring page to do when it was not their turn.  Here’s the one we used.  The site has a bunch of great coloring pages, that could also be used as templates for something.  Here are all of their Christmas options!

The kids really liked this activity and they came out so cute!  Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!  How many more days til Winter Break?!

CELF problems?

Do you have students who do poorly on the following directions subtest of the CELF-4?  (Have you heard they’re making changes for the CELF-5?  Well, there is still a following directions subtest and the items involve many of the same concepts.)  I found that finding materials to use with students who struggle with these skills (i.e. temporal concepts, multi-step directions, basic concepts, directions with a LOT of language, etc.) was way too difficult.  I decided to make a leveled following directions packet to systematically teach and probe these skills.

 There are 6 levels of difficulty.  The components of each and the concepts targeted are described in detail on the contents page (shown below).

Levels 1 & 2 correspond to a set of 3 visuals (labeled A, B, & C).  There are 16 directions for each visual A, B, & C.

Some examples of level 2 directions that correspond to visual A.

Levels 3-6 correspond to a set of 12 visuals (labeled D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, & O).

Below are some examples of directions that pertain to the visuals pictured above.  They are for levels 3-6.

The number/letter code at the top left corner of each card shows what level the card is and to which visual it pertains.

I’ve also included a data sheet so you can keep track of the types of errors your students are making.

In total, this download has 432 directions: 216 two step directions and 216 three step directions.  The various levels make this appropriate for a wide variety of students/groups.  The vocabulary pictured is simple: computers, notebooks, numbers, and letters.

I hope this is helpful for you and all of those students who struggle with those complex temporal directions (like on the CELF)!  Find it here.

Spring and Mother’s Day crafts for low incidence populations

I’ve been slacking on my usual posts about activities with low incidence populations, so now I’m playing catchup.  Here’s what I’ve done with my intellectually disabled group for the past three weeks.

I live in a suburb of Washington, DC, so the Cherry Blossoms are a big thing.  When I saw this on Pinterest, I knew I had to make it!

We used two different sized soda bottles and two different shades of pink (barely…).  This is great for working on big vs. little and added to the OT aspect as well.

Instead of each student doing their own, we put 2-3 students to a poster and made a collaborative piece of art.  It’s now hanging in the hallway 🙂

First, they drew the trunk and branches with brown paint, then we dipped the soda bottles in the pink paint and added the flowers, and last we put the grass at the bottom.  We worked on colors and nouns (grass, flowers, tree, trunk, branch, etc).

This activity did not take long at all, so we also did a comprehension/wrap up activity on the SMARTBoard using Boardmaker Studio.  Here are some screenshots of the Boardmaker question activity:

Last week we made umbrellas.  I also saw this craft on Pinterest.  I know you’re all shocked…

We used dot paints to decorate a paper plate.

Then the adults cut the paper plate in half and a small slit in each half (the top of on side of the plate and the bottom of the other).  On one half we glued a handle (that we had pre-cut).

While one one adult was cutting/prepping the paper plates, the other occupied the students with the “April” banner from the calendar.  It had rain drops and an umbrella on it.  How perfect!

We glued the handle to the half with the slit on top; the other half of the plate has the slit on the bottom.

Here it is all put together!

We also attached rain drops with white yarn and a hole punch, but I don’t have a picture of that. 

This, again, was a rather quick craft.  Here are the Wh- questions that I asked at the end of the session using Boardmaker on the SMARTBoard.

Today we did a Mother’s Day craft/card.  Here is my inspiration. 

To prepare, we cut pots, strips of green paper (2 different colors for some added dimension), and flowers using the Ellison press.  I also used white yarn.

The pot has a fold at the bottom, so it has 2 halves.

First, we used fun scissors (those craftng ones that cut different patterns) to just snip the grass.  Then, we glued it to the top of the open flower pots.  Here are two examples:

a different shade of green on eaach half

Next, the students chose which color flowers they wanted.  I had 5 colors to choose from.  If you’re doing this with more verbal students, this would be great for requesting and describing: “I want a blue flower.”  We also targeted first/second/third and top/middle/bottom.  The example includes a picture of the student on a fourth flower, but we did not.  As the students chose a flower, we just taped it to the yarn.

Next, we taped the end of the yarn into the bottom of the pot, then glued the sides of the pot shut.

The example has words written on each flower and the pot.  I adapted it for my non-verbal/non-writers by printing symbols beforehand. The students had to receptively identify the word/picture/symbol I asked for.  They read: “I”, “love”, “you”, & “Happy Mother’s Day”.

We glued  and/or taped each symbol to the flower and pot.  Both glue and tape worked, so we just did whatever was nearest to that student at the time or whichever worked for their OT goals.

Here they are all finished.  How cute are they?!  I really think the moms will love them!

I hope you can use these soon and it’s not too late!  Visit the pinterest link for the Mother’s Day craft – there’s a pot template!


A Twist on Twister

Today as I picked up my second grader for my first group of the day, he said to me, “My mind is asleep. And my muscles.” I’d been wanting to use the game “Twister” in therapy for a while – my mom even got it for me for Christmas because she knew I’d put a call out on Facebook for someone’s hand me down. I used the opportunity to get this little guy up and moving with some Twister, rather than the usual table work.

He and the 5th grade girl that he comes with both work on giving definitions. I made this visual for them, to know what to include when describing/defining items.

It’s been really helpful for both of them. (Download it here on my BoardmakerShare. There’s also some Valentine’s & St. Patrick’s day plurals Bingo boards that I made on there.) The 5th grader has it memorized, because I taped it (the small strip on the right) to her desk. The colors are arbitrary; I made them correspond with a lacing bead set that I have from Melissa and Doug.  The stringing of the beads makes for some added input/reinforcement when teaching the poster/skill.

Today, I laid out the Twister mat on the floor and grabbed a random Super Duper artic deck (/ch/).  We put one card on each circle on the Twister board.

Then, I spun the spinner and gave them a 2 step direction with a lot of qualifiers to pick up a card.  For example, “Use your right hand to pick up a card from a blue circle.”  FYI – I didn’t have them pick up cards with their feet.  If it landed on left/right foot, I just said hand.

The student had to give me the definition of the item on the card.  I had my describing poster on the table if they needed to refer to it.  Then, after they defined it, I gave them each a colored bear manipulative to mark their “spot”.  First one to get 4 in a row won.

Notice the bears on the spots.

I made a rule at the very beginning of the session not to step on the mat (since they had shoes on – yuck! I hate dirt.  And feet.)  They really had fun traversing the perimeter of the mat, especially when they had to reach to the middle for a blue or yellow space.

I plan to do some more Twister stuff with my kindergarten group tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

I also know that many people struggle to find things to do with the more severely language impaired populations.  I’ve written before about the co-teaching OT/Speech sensory lessons I have done with my intellectually disabled students (i.e. the hand print turkeys here).

The OT, Colleen, and I decided to make sensory snow globes today.  We used the “Pod” water bottles because they are easier to grip.

We were planning on using rice, but last night I got the bright idea to use sugar because it looks more like snow.  So this morning I grabbed my big bag of sugar and was on my way.  Before our group, Colleen came and got the sugar from me so she could prep for the lesson.  A couple minutes later I got an email: “Did you mean to bring flour?”  OOOPS!  Haha I burst out laughing because I was SO proud of myself for thinking ahead and setting it out ahead of time.  Oh well; we went with rice as originally planned.

Colleen also had a GREAT collection of “junk” (excuse the term) that we used as the “I Spy” goodies inside.  There was a variety of beads, plastic coils, pipe cleaners, etc.  We added some glitter and voila!  They came out SO cute!  The kids were enthralled by them, too!  We worked on following directions, like “scoop”, “pour”, “put in”, “put on”, etc. We also targeted colors and verbs (“shake”).  Colleen had a variety of cups, funnels, and containers for scooping.  It was great.  Here they are:

What re-purposed games have you used?  Or, how do you get your kids up and moving when table work just won’t cut it?  How do you work with your most serve students – those for whom flashcards just don’t cut it?


Winter Wishful Thinking – Giveaway!

Just like every other teacher (in most states) I pray for snow days.  However, as a former New Yorker now living in what I consider a “Southern” state (VA), I adore in the fact that I do not have to deal with 15 degree mornings, scraping the ice off my car before work (when I’m already running late), and tracking in dirty, brown slush everywhere I go.  It’s a very real inner struggle.  This week in therapy, I am mixing the best of both worlds!

The other SLP at my school found this awesome “instant snow” kit at Hallmark.  During the after Christmas sale, it was only $0.99!

This is what the packaging looked like.  It was originally $5.  I wouldn’t have paid that much, but it is definitely worth the dollar!
The powder (or “snow”) came in this tube, which was taped to the cardboard pictured above.  Please excuse the fruit bowl.  Use what you have…

This group is full of students from self-contained classrooms; their primary disorders include autism and intellectual disability.  My colleague and I share the group and we see them for a full hour.  We usually talk about our weekends and then do something fun and language rich for the rest of the session.  We started out seeing them for the usual half hour, but always had to end at a crucial and fun point in our weekend conversation so we upped it to a full hour session.  And I’m SO glad we did!  At the beginning of the session, we told them we were going to make something.  We gave them one clue that it was not something you eat and then had them guess.  One student guessed hot chocolate.  Another one, with poor initiation, guess we’d be making a Kleenex (there was a box of them next to her.).  This is why I love my job.

After we talked about our weekend, asking questions and formulating grammatically correct sentences, we gave the students a few more clues about what we were making.  We wrote each one on a post-it and laid them out on the table.

The clues were: “white”, “do not eat it”, “see it in winter” and “cold”.

They were able to synthesize all of this information and guess snow (one said “ice” – not bad).  Woo hoo!

Here are the students touching the powder while it was in my hand.  We described how it felt.  Most of them said, “warm”.  I think they were surprised that it wasn’t ice cold but honestly, they just felt the warmth of my hands. I guess the pretend aspect of this was a little too abstract.  It was a pretty coarse powder, so I shared that I thought it felt like sand.

To make the snow, all you have to do is mix it with water.  We had the students tell us step-by-step what to do:
Take off the cap; pour the powder in the bowl; go get water; pour the water in the bowl.

How cute is her blue nail polish?!

We gave each student a chance to dump a little of the powder in the bowl.  Then, while my colleague brought one of the students to go get water, I helped the rest of the group make predictions about where they were going to get the water; the water fountain or the bathroom.

We also talked about the “empty” tube we had.  We had a second package of “instant snow” so we contrasted the two tubes.  We also talked about what the word “instant” meant.

As we poured the water in, the powder grew to this awesome, fluffy consistency!  If you happen to do this with your own students, I’d suggest using REALLY cold water, only to give it more of an illusion of cold snow.

We talked about all of the things you can do in the snow – make snowballs, build snowmen, make a snow angel, etc. Then we passed the bowl around and let each student have a fun sensory experience touching the snow.

This student said, “Look!  I’m making a finger angel!”  So adorable!
attempting a snowball

As we recapped, we used regular and irregular past tense verbs to discuss how we made the snow.  They each used an adjective to describe the snow and how it felt.  We touched on SO many basic concepts, too.  They really LOVED this activity!  And for only 99 cents!  ❤

I’ve also recently added two new winter/Valentine’s themed products to my TPT store.  They are Valentine’s Wh- Questions & Valentine’s Listening and Describing.

The Wh-questions one is pretty self-explanatory.  It includes all 5 Wh- questions and How.  There are 8 of each question type, for a total of 48 questions in all.  Students collect their cards on their envelope.

Here’s a peak at a few of the cards:

The next is Valentine‘s Listening and Describing, which is very much like my Gingerbread Listening and Describing.  If you liked that pack, you’ll love this one!  And what kid doesn’t love a funny little monster now and then???  The pack targets conditional directions,exclusionary listening, listening for details, written descriptions, describing verbally, and negation.

In the first section, each student will get a monster.  They are all a little different and all pretty darn cute. There are two of each type of monster, just in a different color.  There are 10 different monsters in all!

 To play, give a conditional direction (or read one from the list of sample prompts).  Students must do what the direction says, according to their monster’s characteristics.  I’ve given a huge list of sample prompts, or you can come up with your own!  I also made all of the actions that the students need to take nonverbal (and mostly quiet) so that it is not disruptive and  you can tell if they did it correctly or not.  If they were all counting, saying their name, etc, it would make it a little hard!

After you’ve done the conditional directions part, students can write about their monsters.  They must give as specific a description as they can, since the monsters are all so similar.  I’ve included two different writing pages: a blank one and the one below.

Comes with an “answer key” so you can guide your students to the right answer.

I think it would be fun to read these aloud and have the rest of the students guess which monster is being described.  Or, hang them in the hall for everyone to guess!

Next is listening for details!  Students must use all the clues to decide which character you are describing.  The picture below will ideally be used as a mat (do not cut apart).  However, if your students need a smaller field or can handle a larger one, cutting it apart would work too!

Put this mat in the middle of the table for all to see or print one for each player.  If everyone has one, they can use a dry erase marker to eliminate the characters that you are not describing and use process of elimination to determine which you are talking about.  There are 4 mats, with 6 pictures each, for 24 total pictures.  Each picture comes with a unique list of clues for you to read.  All of them are organized according to numbers so there is no confusion.  Here’s just a sample.

I hope you enjoy these activities!  For a chance to win your choice of one of my Valentine’s packs, enter via the Rafflecopter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for reading! Now go to your nearest Hallmark store and raid their “instant snow” department! 😉