Happy Mother’s Day! Add a Free Gift from Us to Your Order

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Happy Mother’s Day from all of us at Different Roads to Learning!

We have the utmost admiration for all of the moms out there who tirelessly strive to give their children the best life possible. Whatever life throws at you, you handle it with strength and humor.

To wish you a Happy Mother’s Day, here’s a free gift: Get a free deck of Hooray for Play! with any order over $25.00. Use promo code MOM2014 at checkout to add your free set to your order. Orders must be placed by Monday, May 12, 2014 at 11:59 ET.

This deck of cards is wonderful for parents to work one-on-one with their children in developing social and play skills. Hooray for Play! is a multi-use deck of 31 beautifully illustrated cards that offer children an opportunity for perspective taking, problem solving, cooperation, social emotional skill acquisition, and language development. These cards are broken down into 3 components: Do!, Say!!, and Play!!! to explain roles with scripted statements and suggestions for props and set-up to help you fully play out the illustration on each card.

We hope you will take this chance to try out Hooray for Play! with your child when you place your order with promo code MOM2014 at checkout.

*This offer is valid until 11:59pm ET on Monday, May 12, 2014. Orders must have a minimum value of $25 USD before taxes and shipping fees in order to qualify for the free set. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at checkout!

Introducing Modified Instructions for Roll & Play

We’re excited to bring you the third installment in our new series of Modified Instructions, created by Sam Blanco, BCBA.  Sam’s Modified Instructions present 3-4 additional ways to play a mainstream game to make it most useful and accessible for our students with special needs.  These alternative instructions break down each adapted game by:

  • Age/Skill Level
  • Number of Players
  • Object
  • Skills Required
  • Materials Needed
  • Prep
  • Instructions
  • Considerations

We’re thrilled to introduce Modified Instructions for Roll & Play, one of our favorite games. This game helps reinforce patterning skills, creativity, and gross motor skill development in your student.

Roll & Play gently introduces young learners to play patterns and rules of a game through interactive activities that encourage creativity and active play. Roll the big, plush cube and identify which colored side faces up. Then, choose a matching color card and perform the simple activity shown. Players will be asked to “Make a happy face,” “Moo like a cow,” and “Find something red.” Activity cards in this game cover 6 categories related to early development: Emotions, Counting, Body Parts, Colors, Animal Sounds, and Actions. Included with the plush cube are 48 cards, 8 in each category, and 1 Parent’s Guide.

Don’t forget to download our free Modified Instructions for Roll & Play today!

Pick of the Week: Circle Time Learning Activity

Teach math skills in an active way! Sharpen early math skills, along with shape, number, and color recognition through a variety of kinesthetic games with the All Around Learning Circle Time Activity Set. Gathering for circle time has never been so much fun. This week only, save 15% on your order of the All Around Learning Circle Time Activity Set by entering in promo code ALLCRC7 at checkout.

Circle Time Set

Learning through play will help encourage gross motor skill development and group cooperation skills, as well as increase self-esteem and positive attitudes in your students. This set includes: one lightweight, wipe-clean vinyl mat that measures 4 feet in diameter and folds easily for storage; five inflatable cubes (5 inches each); five canvas bean bags in red, orange, yellow, green, and blue (3 inches each); and an Activity Guide that offers suggestions for activities, such as Color Find, Circle Around the Colors, Number Line-Up, Number Toss, and more. This circle time mat is a wonderful addition to the classroom and in the home for more structured learning.

Don’t forget – this week only, you can take 15% off your order of the All Around Learning Circle Time Activity Set by using code ALLCRC7 when you check out!

Visual Schedule to Improve Independent Play Skills in Children with Autism

Parents, caregivers, therapists and teachers alike work so hard to teach a variety of play skills but what happens when your child or student doesn’t make that leap from facilitated play to independent play? Independent play is such an important skill that will allow him or her to better connect with their peers, build friendships, expand problem-solving skills and structure downtime.  A successful transition from demonstrating play skills with adult support to playing independently can be impacted by a myriad of variables.

Some of my students struggle with independent play because it is difficult to move from a thick schedule of reinforcement of 1:1 adult attention to a thinner one of just having an adult “check in” once in a while.  Other learners have impairments impacting executive function, specifically the organization and sequencing of steps for meaningful and reinforcing play as well as on-task behavior, task completion and working memory. Additionally, in some cases the skill of independent play is elusive because teachers struggle to find ways to fade out prompts or to successfully thin out the schedule of reinforcement.

Below is the visual schedule with data sheets for measuring acquisition and progress that I have created.  I have found it useful with learners with very different skill sets and abilities.  Click here for a comprehensive Task Analysis on teaching independent play using a visual schedule.

Keep in mind that this is for learners that:

  • Have successfully acquired a varied repertoire of play skills
  • Do not require visual schedules that break down every step of the play
  • Are able to complete activities with delayed reinforcement

In order to prepare this for use with the learner:

  • Set up a toy organizational system that has toys bins
  • Print the materials and laminate the schedule strip and the cut out shapes.
  • Attach Velcro dots to the bins, schedule strip and shapes and to the work surface if you like
  • Identify activities that are suitable for this schedule

Remember that any open-ended activities like building blocks or coloring can be turned into close-ended activities by limiting the number of pieces or by teaching the learner to use a timer.

As you would when teaching any schedule, use a most-to-least prompting strategy, only use verbal instruction for the initial direction or S(e.g. “Go play.”), and prompt only from behind and out of view.

The schedule I have been using has a smiley face at the end of the schedule indicating a “free choice” time which all of my students understand.  However, if you are using this with a learner that requires a visual reminder of what they are working for, you could easily adapt this by putting a picture of the reward in the place of the smiley face.  Time to play!

*Don’t forget to download your free visual schedule and data sheets here!

Tip of the Week: Increasing Play Between Siblings

Helping learners with autism engage successfully with their siblings is an important goal. The ultimate goal should be for both the sibling and the child with autism to initiate interactions without adult direction.

Children playing a board gameActivities should be reinforcing for both kids in order to increase the likelihood that siblings will independently engage in play without prompts by adults. Try to avoid situations where you are requiring the typically developing sibling to engage in an activity just because it is motivating for the learner with autism.

Don’t expect the sibling to fill the role of “mini-teacher” or “mini-therapist.” While at times the sibling may need to prompt the learner with autism to complete a task or take a turn during a game, when possible be clear that the adult is responsible for guiding the child with autism through activities. The adult can also act as a model for appropriate language and prompting in instances when the sibling is alone with the child with autism. However, your goal is to provide low-pressure play situations for both children. One way to help with this is to introduce activities and games that the learner with autism has mastered so the sibling is less likely to take on the roll as teacher or therapist.

Teach the learner with autism to invite his/her sibling to play. It’s beneficial for both kids if the learner with autism initiates some activities. While introducing games and toys to learners with autism, it’s useful to have highly-motivating games that then become associated with the sibling. This way, when the learner with autism sees the game, he/she automatically thinks of inviting the sibling to play. In ABA terms, the presentation of the game acts as an Sd for inviting the sibling to play.

Allow both kids to have interests that are unshared. It is frequently counterproductive to force play situations. Finding common interests is the key to increasing the likelihood of each child initiating play in the future. If the child with autism is required to participate in un-motivating activities with his/her sibling (or vice versa), the child will begin to associate the sibling with undesirable activities. It is perfectly normal and healthy for both siblings to engage in hobbies, games, and activities that the other is uninterested in.

Modified Instructions for “All Around Town”

We’re excited to bring you the second installment in our new series of Modified Instructions, created by Sam Blanco, BCBA.  Sam’s Modified Instructions present 3-4 additional ways to play a mainstream game to make it most useful and accessible for our students with special needs.  These alternative instructions break down each adapted game by:

  • Age/Skill Level
  • Number of Players
  • Object
  • Skills Required
  • Materials Needed
  • Prep
  • Instructions
  • Considerations

We’re thrilled to introduce Modified Instructions for the All Around Town game, an all-time favorite around here. The game helps reinforce logic, sorting, and social skills in your student.

All Around Town is a multi-player game that engages students as they explore stores in the neighborhood and develop sorting, thinking, and organizational skills.  The shops in this town are just like the ones you have visited in your neighborhood!  As you move around the game board, you’ll visit the grocery store, furniture store, book store, clothing store, pet store and art supply store.  Race around town and collect a card from every store and match them to your game mat.  In addition to developing logic skills, players will also sharpen their social skills and awareness of community locations.  Don’t forget to download our free Modified Instructions for All Around Town today!

Pick of the Week: Grandma’s Trunk Alphabet Game

ProductWith five games in one, the options for practicing letter names and sounds, along with memory skills and story-telling are endless in the Grandma’s Trunk Alphabet Game. This set of 26 illustrated alphabet picture cards, 26 riddle cards, and guide all packed in one trunk allows you and your student to work on auditory memory skills and listening comprehension while playing What Comes Next?, Memory, Letter Sequence Memory, Grandma’s Adventures, or Riddles. Each game involves the child pulling an alphabet card and then using a visual prompt to reach a goal, whether it’s sorting, recalling, creating a story, or solving a riddle.

This week only, take 15%* off your purchase of the Grandma’s Trunk Alphabet Game by using our promo code TRUNK3 at checkout!

The 5 games included in Grandma’s Trunk are:

  1. What Comes Next? Take turns placing the letter cards in the trunk in alphabetical order.
  2. Memory Take turns repeating the sequence of cards already in the trunk, then adding one of your own and challenging other players to remember them all, in order.
  3. Letter Sequence Memory Deal the cards and take turns putting them in the trunk in alphabetical order, repeating the items already in the trunk and challenging other players to remember them all, in alphabetical order.
  4. Grandma’s Adventures Place the letter cards in the trunk and take turns pulling them out to create a cooperative story: “Once upon a time there was a grandma. She saw an iguana.”
  5. Grandma’s Riddles Deal the cards and then read a riddle and race to see who has the letter card that answers it.







*Offer is valid through Feb. 18th, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in the code at checkout!

Pick of the Week: 1 to 10 Counting Cans

Introduce early math to your students with this vibrant set of 1 to 10 Counting Cans. These cans depict and contain 1 to 10 kinds of colorful fruits and vegetables for your young learner to practice counting, number recognition, and sorting. This week only, save 15% on your order of the 1 to 10 Counting Cans for by entering in our promotional code COUNT10 at checkout!

Children will also be able to expand their knowledge of a variety of fruits and vegetables that are typically not found in other play food manipulatives. This set of 55 plastic fruits and vegetables will reinforce everyday vocabulary, fine motor skills, and number sense in learners in grades pre-K and up. Each can measures 3 by 4.25 inches.

Don’t forget — this week only, you can get your own set of the 1 to 10 Counting Cans for $39.91 reduced from $46.95 by using code COUNT10 at checkout.

*Offer valid until Feb. 4, 2014 at 11:59pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in the code at checkout!

NEW! Modified Instructions for Games & Toys, Created by Sam Blanco, BCBA

LetsPlay_WormThere are many great mainstream games available out there but it can sometimes be challenging to know if a particular game’s intended uses are feasible for a learner on the spectrum. With a few simple tips and modifications, many of these games can be altered to provide an excellent learning opportunity through play and most of all, fun.

We’ve worked with Sam to select some of our favorite games and toys. She’s field tested all of these with her students and figured out creative and innovative ways to adapt each game to meet the needs of her learners. Our Modified Instructions present 3-4 alternative ways to play the game, in addition to the regular intended uses suggested by the manufacturer. Sam’s Modified Instructions break down each adapted game by:

  • Age/Skill Level
  • Number of Players
  • Object
  • Skills Required
  • Materials Needed
  • Prep
  • Instructions
  • Considerations

This week, we’re introducing the first set of Modified Instructions for S’Match! Memory Game available as a free download at Different Roads to Learning. Just follow the link and click on “Modified Instructions” to download your free copy.

S’Match! is a favorite around here as it presents an exciting new SPIN on the classic game of Memory. This engaging multi-player game challenges players to find matches by the attributes of color, number or category. The game allows readers and pre-readers to learn and play together as the colorful cards feature both pictures and words. Download our Modified Instructions for Use for S’Match! for free today!

Pick of the Week: In, On, and Under

Teaching prepositions can be greatly enhanced if children are given ways to manipulate objects. The use of images and hands-on activities can help students better grasp what prepositions are and how they are used. To help your child get started with learning prepositions, this week only, we are offering a 15% markdown on the In, On, and Under kit. Enter our promo code BLOGPREP8 at checkout to redeem these savings.

In, On, and Under is a charming kit that teaches the prepositions “in”, “on”, “under”, “next to”, “in front of”, and “behind”. The game asks children to match a card with a penguin or chick in a hat or wooden tub to a game board.  The game includes 4 boards, 24 cards, 4 chicks, 4 penguins, a wooden tub, a felt hat, a metal carriage, as well as teaching notes. These appealing objects can also be used with and without the game boards to help your student expand spatial awareness and develop vocabulary and language skills.

This week only, save 15% on your order of In, On, and Under, by entering in promo code BLOGPREP8* at checkout.

*Offer is valid until Nov. 26, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces in the promo code at checkout!