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!)

Fall wrap-up

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post.  I wish I could tell you that I’ve done something exciting with my time, but it’s honestly nothing I can put my finger on.

I know Fall is almost over, but here are all of the things the OT and I did with our intellectually disabled groups over the past month.

Here we did a sensory acorn craft.  I printed an acorn template from Boardmaker in black and white. (Did you know you can use the black and white library only?  I didn’t until last year!)  We used vanilla pudding for the tops and coffee for the bottoms.  Here are all of the materials we used:

We mounted the acorn onto a brown piece of construction paper.  We painted glue on the top half first and squirted the vanilla pudding powder (out of the bear/honey container) onto it.  This smelled AMAZING!

This guy loved smelling the pudding!

 Next, we painted glue on the bottoms and put the coffee grounds on it.  FYI – I used decaf coffee.  I dare not waste my beloved caffeine on artwork!  (The art teacher overheard me say this and was slightly offended! haha)

Next we glued symbols for “top” and “bottom” to label our acorns.  We also glued symbols for “yellow” and “brown” across from the “top” and “bottom” symbols.  We also worked on writing sight words (for those who were capable) “the” and “is” to make a sentence: The top is yellow.  The bottom is brown.”

I will have you know that many of my students HATED the coffee smell.  One could not stop making the stink face at his project, and when we walked down to his classroom, I caught him hovering his paper over the trash can.  Some very much enjoyed it though.  I didn’t tell them what either smell was before having them smell it.  Watching children smell is possibly one of my favorite things to do.  It’s just too adorable and funny.  The faces at the coffee smell – man, I wish I could have gotten them all on video!

The finished project!

Next, we made hot glue spider webs.  This is mainly an adult-only “craft” – but the language is outstanding! We only did this with our higher functioning ASD and language delayed students – not the mod-severe intellectually disabled population.  (Basically only with kids who can understand the danger of a hot glue gun – and follow the command “don’t touch” seriously.)

This is a great activity for following directions!

You will need a shallow pan (a dark one or a Teflon-coated one would work well for seeing the web), cold/cool water, a glue gun, PLENTY of glue sticks, and spider rings.  We told the students that we needed cold water then had then guess where we might go to get that and how we were going to carry it.

 First, we drew circles (about 4) with glue in the water.

Next, draw 4 straight lines through the circles you’ve drawn.  This is how the whole thing will stick together, so make sure everything connects.

The last step is to take it out of the water (make sure the glue has completely solidified) and add a spider!  We cut the ring part off of the spider rings, then glued in onto the webs.  The students told us where they would like to put their spiders.  Most chose “in the middle”.

After doing the first student’s web, we had each subsequent student tell us exactly what to do.  This worked on sequencing, using specific words, giving instructions, using correct vocabulary, etc.

The kids LOVED their “prize” at the end of this session.  This one was a huge hit!

The package of spider rings that we got had orange and black spiders.  I’ve seen purple, too.  This was a great way to have students make specific requests and use adjective + noun phrases.

For the students who could not do this spider activity, we made an adapted version.  We helped the students draw circles and straight lines with glue, then sprinkled silver glitter on it.  We stapled the spider to a corner of the paper.  These came out very cute, too.  The same language concepts were targeted, just in a safer way!  (Sorry, no picture.  Yet.  I’ll take one Monday at school!)

Memorial Day craft

Today the OT and I did a Memorial Day craft with our intellectually disabled students.  We made flags!  This activity helped target colors, concepts (big & little and top, bottom, & middle), patterns, shapes (star, square, rectangle), nouns (flag, paper, glue), and verbs (squeeze, glue, touch, pick up, put on).

I used sheets of white construction paper then pre-cut strips of red paper into long and short pieces.  I also cut a blue square and used the Ellison press to cut a star.  **I would have used a bunch of little stars, but our Ellison press only had a big star.

our materials
 
 
First, we glued two “small rectangles” to the top right side.  We receptively identified which ones were “small”, which were “red” and then labeled red.
 

gluing the big rectangles

Next, we added two big rectangles to the bottom of the flag.  Lots of great language!

The next step was to add the blue square to the top left (which was blank at this point).  Everything fit perfectly together!  Last, we added one big star to the middle of the blue square.

Voila!  There we have our flags!

Hope those of you who are not yet out of school can use this activity.  Being in an area with a large military population, I know parents will appreciate this Memorial Day activity!