Tip of the Week: Ideas for Interactive Play For Learning

Creating opportunities for interactions is key when working with any child, but it is especially important when working with children with autism. ABA often gets a bad rap for being staid or leaving a kid stuck at a table doing discrete trials for hours on end. In reality, it should be neither! While I do discrete trials in my practice, my biggest priority is always focused on increasing learning opportunities by taking advantage of the child’s natural motivations. This typically means leaving the table, so I alternate between discrete trials and lots of teaching through games and activities. Here are a few of my favorites:

Toss & Talk
For this activity, I usually use a large ball, a soft ring, or something else the child can toss. I name a category, and we take turns tossing the ball (or other item) and naming an item from that category. The game can be easily modified for whatever you’re working on: counting, skip counting, or even vocal imitation. I like the game because it’s simple, it provide a back-and-forth that is similar to a conversation, and it can easily be modified to include peers, siblings, or parents. This is particularly great if your learner likes throwing balls, but I’ve also modified it to push a train back and forth or take turns hopping towards one another.

Ideas for Interactive Play For LearningPlay Dough Snake
This game is one I saw a preschool teacher use years ago and have had great success with. In this game, I simply create a snake out of play dough. I make a large opening for the snake’s mouth, then roll up little balls of dough that will be “food.” I tell the child that we are going to pretend the play dough is food. I have a silly snake voice, and I tell the child “I’m so hungry. Do you have something I can eat?” The child picks up a piece of the rolled-up play dough, tells me what kind of food it is, and then feeds it to the snake. I pretend to love it, and the little ball of play dough becomes incorporated into the snake’s play dough body (which is great, because the more “food” the snake eats the bigger it gets.) I can expand the game to have the snake dislike certain foods or tell the child he is too full. On several occasions, the learner has asked if they can be the snake, which is fantastic! This is another great game for peer play, sibling play, and modeling.

Pete’s A Pizza/You’re A Pizza
One of my favorite books for young learners is Pete’s A Pizza by William Steig. In this book, it’s a rainy day and Pete’s parents entertain him by pretending they are making him into a pizza: they roll up the “dough,” toss him in the air, add toppings, etc.
This is another game I saw a preschool teacher using during play time, and one I’ve used with many, many students. Sometimes I read the book beforehand, but if my learner’s level of comprehension or attention span is not appropriate for the book, I can just introduce it as a standalone game. I say, “It’s time to make a pizza!” Then, we get into the fun part of rolling the learner around, tossing him on a couch or mat, etc. This can generate a lot of language, work on sequencing, and provide a lot of opportunity for requesting activities.

Ideas for Interactive Play For LearningAnything with a Parachute
My parachute is one of my best purchases of all time. I use it often and it allows me to play a wide range of games. Besides just having the learner lay on the floor and have the parachute float down onto his/her body, it is a highly motivating toy for a range of activities. Many of my learners love just pulling that large item out of it’s small bag. I’ve already written about three games I frequently play with the parachute. You can see that here.


Songs

Repeating rhymes and songs with motions that your learner loves can provide anticipation of an activity that may increase eye contact and manding. One of my favorites is shown in a video here. While this video is shown with toddlers, I’ve used it with kids up to 6 or 7 years old. Similar activities might include Going on a Bear Hunt; Heads, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes; and Animal Action.

It’s important to note that none of these activities is beloved by every learner I encounter. The idea is to have a range of possible activities to learn which ones are motivating to your learner, then use those to create opportunities for language and interaction.

WRITTEN BY SAM BLANCO, MSED, BCBA

Sam is an ABA provider for students ages 3-15 in NYC. Working in education for twelve years with students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental delays, Sam utilizes strategies for achieving a multitude of academic, behavior, and social goals. Sam is currently a PhD candidate in Applied Behavior Analysis at Endicott College. She is also a lecturer in the ABA program at The Sage Colleges.

Pick of the Week: “Introducing Inference” Workbook

Teach inferencing and problem-solving skills to young learners with this comprehensive workbook by Marilyn M. Toomey! Our ability to infer or to draw conclusions given partial information is a cornerstone of our reasoning process. Guessing, implying, hinting, suggesting, supposing and reasoning are just a few of the mental processes in which we draw inference. Throughout Introducing Inference, students are encouraged not only to draw conclusions using inference, but to explain how they solved the problem at hand. The aim is to teach students that using inference in their reasoning process is using their best judgment.

The book starts out with pictures of objects, each with an obvious part missing and moves to sequenced events, with a part of the sequence missing. Finally, questions requiring answers that tell what is missing complete the path to learning this basic skill. For example, an image of bike with a missing wheel is accompanied by: “A bicycle is supposed to have two ____, but this bicycle has only one. One ____ is missing.”

Introducing Inference covers topics in:

  • Missing parts: animals, objects
  • Sequenced events
  • Missing parts: sequenced events
  • Predicting outcomes
  • Identifying intermediate events
  • Analyzing outcomes
  • Inferring causal events
  • and more!

Use our promotional code INFER15 at check-out this week to take 15% off* your copy of the Introducing Inference workbook!

*Offer expires on Tuesday, December 22, 2015 at 11:59pm EST. Promotion does not apply to past purchases. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code INFER15 at check-out! Call our friendly customer service team at (800) 853-1057 with any inquiries.

Pick of the Week: Story Prediction Fun Deck – Practice critical thinking & sequencing skills

Bring an interactive edge to improving students’ abilities to predict what happens next! This week, you can order the Story Prediction Fun Deck for only $28! Just use promo code STORYFUN at checkout to redeem your savings.

With the Story Prediction Fun Deck, students will practice their sequencing and inferencing skills by listening to or reading a simple, short story and then choosing the answer that makes the most sense from three options.

They’ll love self-checking their answers with the Super Duper Secret Decoder! Just hold the decoder over the answer choices and highlight the correct answer in invisible ink.

Each of the 56 cards in this deck measure 3 x 4 inches.

Don’t forget to apply our code STORYFUN at check-out to save on your order of Story Prediction Fun Deck this week!

 

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on November 24th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at checkout!

Pick of the Week: All Aboard the Language Train!

Endless possibilities make this “language train” a tool you’ll return to time and time again! Create-a-Game: All Aboard the Language Train creates a fun and creative way to enhance teaching language skills to young learners. The set includes a Velcro train and track that await your customized picture cards and words! This week only, you can save 15%* on our newly added Language Train by applying our promo code TRAIN15 at check-out!

With the Language Train, you can teach vocabulary, sequential concepts, spelling, reading, and more. You can even use it as a visual schedule. The set includes one 3-foot track and 8 train cars. Don’t forget to take 15% off* your order of Create-a-Game: All Aboard the Language Train by using promo code TRAIN15 at check-out!

*Offer is valid until 11:59pm EST on February 10th, 2015. Not compatible with any other offers. Be sure there are no spaces or dashes in your code at check out!

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: “Introducing Inference”

Our ability to infer or to draw conclusions given partial information is a cornerstone of our reasoning process. It is important for students to be able to infer or draw conclusions in their daily lives as well as in academic settings comfortably and confidently. Guessing, implying, hinting, suggesting, supposing and reasoning are just a few of the mental processes in which we draw inference. For language students, using inference as they problem-solve will also enable them to explain how they come to their conclusions. This week only, we are offering a 15% discount on one of our favorites, “Introducing Inference” by Marilyn Toomey, to help you make inference more friendly to your student. Just enter in our promotional code INFER11 at checkout to redeem your savings.

The aim is to teach students that using inference in their reasoning process is using their best judgment. In the first part of the book, students identify missing parts of people, objects, or animals.  For example, an image of bike with a missing wheel is accompanied by “A bicycle is supposed to have two ______, but this bicycle has only one. One ______ is missing.”

Sample

In later activities, students move on to looking for missing information in sequenced events that are presented in pictures. They are asked to explain what part of the sequence or process is missing. Finally, students will learn to predict and analyze outcomes as they read or listen to simple scenarios.

Click here for a preview of the inside of the book!

Remember, this week only, save 15%* on your order of “Introducing Inference” by entering in promo code INFER11 at checkout!

*Offer is valid through Feb. 11, 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: Sorting Suitcase

We’re delighted to share one of our favorite products with you as our Pick of the Week – the Sorting Suitcase!  This wonderful activity kit allows learners to practice matching and patterning skills, as they learn to sort shirts, shoes, shorts, and socks by one or two attributes.

Order the Sorting Suitcase this week and save 15% off the usual price of $19.95.  Just enter the Promo Code BLOGSORT3 at checkout to redeem your savings.

The suitcase comes with 40 double-sided clothing cards and 10 double-sided activity cards that ask children to “find all the blue items” or “find all the shirts with stars.” Even better, the cards are all write-on/wipe-off and can be used over and over again with dry erase markers. Finally, 5 blank write-on and wipe-off cards in the kit allow you to customize the activity to your student’s needs. This kit is perfect for easy clean-up and portability for those on the go.

Don’t forget, this week only, take 15% off* your order of the Sorting Suitcase by entering in our code BLOGSORT3 at check out.

*Offer valid through 12/24/13 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: Three Bear Family Counters & Sequencing Cards

Teaching sequencing to our early learners is important for developing logical order of thinking. Practicing hands-on sequencing skills makes discovering abstract concepts even more enjoyable with these manipulatives. This week only, save 15% on the set of Three Bear Family Counters and Sequencing Cards. Just enter in the promo code BLOG3BFC at checkout to redeem your savings.

These adorable counting bears come in three sizes, three weights and 6 colors for counting, size and weight comparison, categorizing by color and for developing pattern and sequencing skills. These bears are also proportionally weighted and can be used on a balance for measurement discoveries. This 96-piece set contains 24 Papa, 24 Mama, and 48 Baby Bear counters.

Perfect for use with the Three Bear Family Counters, these sequencing cards can help develop your child’s ability to recognize size, color, patterns, and logic, as well as early math skills. Children can actively explore and discover abstract concepts through hands-on learning. This set also comes with 30 full-color activities and a teacher’s guide.

Remember, this week only, take 15% off your order of the Three Bear Family Rainbow Counters and Sequencing Cards by entering in the promo code BLOG3BFC at checkout!*

*Offer is valid until Oct. 22nd, 2013 at 11:59pm EST. Not compatible with any other offer. Be sure there are no spaces in the promo code at checkout!