Monday, June 11, 2018

June 2018 Task of the Month



Our students typically have strong interests and prefer engaging in those interests when they have leisure time. This type of choice board has been used successfully in getting students to try something new. When the students have free time, they are shown the choices. For this student, the list includes written choices. For students who understand they are to make a choice but do not yet read, pictures or even objects can indicate the choices.


Students learn to pick one option during their first break time and place that written word in the “My Choice” box. When break time is finished, the students move the written word into the “Finished” box. When it is time for the next break, they recognize that the first option chosen in no longer available in the “Today’s Choice” box and is finished for the day. The students realize they must pick some other activity.

This structured routine, while giving several choices, encourages expanding interests. We often find that when students are guided to try some new leisure activity, they often like it and it becomes a new interest.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

May 2018 Task of the Month


Many of our students are excellent readers. They decode words with ease. Our job is to make sure these students also comprehend what they read. We want them to understand that written words are not only symbols appearing on pages but also can give directions about what to do.

This task addresses this literacy issue and is designed for students who comprehend number and color words but have an emerging ability to comprehend nouns. To aid with reading these, we include line drawings on the direction cards.

The children choose one card, read it, find the correct color, count out the specified number. They then place the card and objects in a plastic bag.

Children complete the work independently. Later, however, we check to see whether the objects they placed in the bag match the directions. If there are multiple errors, we often bring the task back to 1-on-1 teaching sessions for more direct teaching of the skill.




After much practice with following directions with teacher-made tasks such as the one above, we present our students with more traditional types of worksheets.

Because some of the children pay better attention to tasks when there are components they can move, we adapt worksheets. For example, this worksheet has been adapted so that instead of writing the correct answer in the box, students place the numeral that equals the counted amount.



You can find a multitude of examples of activities that highlight following directions in our Tasks Galore books.

Monday, April 2, 2018

April 2018 Task of the Month


Our March 2018 Task of the Month described a game adapted to make it simpler and more understandable so that our beginning students could participate. A suggestion was also described for using peer buddies to play with our students once the game was mastered with the teacher during instructional times.

The activities below address the important skill of communicating with peers during games. Most of our more able students who have an extended vocabulary often use their words to ask for needs and wants, answer our questions, or talk about their interests. They typically do not comment in a social manner about what they are doing. As we discussed last month, any new skills, such as learning to comment, need to be taught and practiced during 1-to-1 teaching times before expecting the student to use independently.

During this game students wear oven mitts, stand a few feet apart and face each other. They toss “meatballs” onto a “plate of spaghetti”. The child whose turn it is takes the bin of “meatballs” and throws them one at a time at the plate of spaghetti. Velcro allows the meatballs to stick. Visual reminders help students know what comments they might make. The teacher guides students to comment on their actions by choosing a fun response befitting the situation from the comment board.


In this game, students take turns opening the eggs to see what is inside. Visual reminder on the tray help students know to request attention when it is their turn to open the egg. We include a picture of the peer with whom they are playing to encourage using someone’s name when speaking to them.

When peers show what they have found in their eggs, additional visual cues give ideas to their playmates about what reactions to make. We try to help our students understand that a comment can describe what they see or compliment what someone has.

We listen to the types of comments that students in the general school population use and include this vernacular in our commenting suggestions.



Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March 2018 Task of the Month

Modified version of Candyland, a Hasbro Game.

Many commercial games are too complicated for our students. By simplifying some of these, the children can have fun with board games

Here is a modification of Candyland™, a Hasbro game. Using a large sheet of poster board, we create a game board with larger spaces, and we provide chunky game pieces. These adaptations make both easier to manipulate. Additionally, we redesign the game with easier rules. Children choose a card that has either a colored circle or a food item on it. They learn to match their men to the next space with that color or food.

Once learned, the steps of picking a card; moving a game piece to act on what that card states; staying focused until the game is finished; and taking turns may be generalized to different, less simple, or unadapted games.

We often need to teach skills in isolation, build upon the learned skills and then practice. Once mastered it is fun to invite typical peers to come and play so that we may also practice our social and communication skills. Peer buddies are the best teachers!

For a wealth of more play ideas be sure to check out our website where you will find some wonderful resources, specifically a book entitled Tasks Galore: Let’sPlay. Within this book you will find a treasure chest full of wonderful ideas for developing play strategies, breaking down the steps to play, adding communication and social skills, and implementing the play.

Don’t forget to check out Amazon as well, where we often discount books that are new but may have a few print errors or marred covers. Great find!



Thursday, February 8, 2018

February 2018 Task of the Month


Puzzles are a perfect toy for teaching new skills. They tend to hold students’ attention because they have clear beginning and ending points. Children can usually look at a puzzle and know what to do with it without further explanation.

We think about the skills our students need to learn or build upon and sometimes use puzzles as a vehicle for learning those new skills.


Sensory – Many of our students have an aversion to different textures. Hiding puzzle pieces within textured materials, such as these beans, will encourage children to experience novel sensory sensations.



Matching Shape with Picture – This is a commercially-made puzzle that has pictures of the puzzle pieces in the spaces. You can easily make such an activity with puzzles you have by copying the pieces, cutting them out, and placing pictures of the pieces in the slots where the pieces fit. We might use this adapted puzzle with beginning students who are not yet seeing how shapes match up but understand how pictures match. We would also use it with another student who may be great at matching shapes but not yet matching pictures.


Jigsaws – To help student tackle easy jigsaw puzzles, we might add colored dots on the backs of the pieces and onto the spaces where the pieces fit. Even though the students must figure out how to rotate the pieces to make a fit, the matching dots help narrow down where they go.


Personalize – Printing a picture of a familiar item (such as Mommy’s van), cutting the photo into pieces, placing Velcro on the backs and on the laminated paper where puzzle assembly goes easily makes a puzzle that is personalized for the student. For such an activity, we often choose familiar items whose names the students need to learn to comprehend and say.


Social with Teacher – In this scenario, the teacher has the puzzle pieces and encourages the child to ask for the one he wants to place into the puzzle. To make it more fun, the teacher rolls the piece to him in the dump truck and he dumps it out before placing in the puzzle. In this way, a familiar puzzle becomes the tool for socializing with his teacher in a fun game.


Social with Peer – Students, each with a puzzle, sit across from each other. Between them is a bin with pieces from both puzzles hidden in beans. Students dig into the beans and retrieve a puzzle piece; they decide whether the piece belongs in their puzzle or their peer’s puzzle. If it is the peer’s piece, we encourage the peer to ask for it. The visual attached to the bin is a reminder of what she might say in requesting: “Give ______________.”



Literacy – Placing the written word in the spaces when using a puzzle of everyday objects, such as this food one, helps students practice reading the words.

We always encourage looking at tasks from many differing angles. How can the task be used for a variety of purposes and how can we structure each task for a variety of skill levels? For more information on creating tasks and individualizing them, please visit our website www.tasksgalore.com

Saturday, January 6, 2018

January 2018 Task of the Month

Happy New Year! We at Tasks Galore hope that you had a wonderful holiday season and that 2018 will be the best year yet for our families and friends.

Are your children not playing with their new holiday toys? Maybe they will be more interested if these are organized in a way that makes how to play with them more understandable. Here are 3 examples of how we have modified some store-bought toys for our students.

You will notice with these 3 examples that all the pieces are self-contained on a tray or on a box. This strategy enables the students to focus on the toy and not be frustrated by pieces falling, etc.

This toy Fisher-Price xylophone becomes more interesting if we use familiar characters on the sticks and organize the materials with a clear beginning and a clear ending. The student chooses one of the sticks and makes music with it by striking the colored keys. When finished with the first stick, he places it in the spaceship and proceeds in the same fashion with the remaining characters.


This ramp is easier for our students to use with the pictured adaptations. It aids many children if we place the ramp on a tray with edges to contain the car when it rolls down the ramp and if we set up the activity with a “start” box and a “finish” container for the cars. The child takes one car from the left, rolls it down the ramp and then places it in the container on the right. Pushing the car through the slit in the lid adds both interest and fine motor work.


Car toys can be fun if the pieces are organized and the point of the activity is clear. Below cars are Velcroed onto the box top. The student removes each, rolls it down the ramp, and into the opening. The car disappears into the box giving the student a clear understanding that it is finished. Once all cars are in the box the activity is over. Knowing when an activity will be over can greatly reduce behaviors due to misunderstanding, differing expectations or confusion. Some students need to begin playing with toys with this type of structure before being expected to play with a toy garage, for instance, that has so many variables.


Tasks Galore: Let’sPlay explores why and how we structure and teach play to our students. This wonderful resource including hundreds of play ideas may be found at www.tasksgalore.com or www.amazon.com . *Make sure when you order from Amazon that Tasks Galore is the seller to get the best deal and to get the product you are looking for.


Sunday, December 10, 2017

December 2017 Task of the Month



Many times, we create tasks that are fun for students but can be frustrating for them at the same time. When pieces keep sliding, moving, or falling off when the student retrieves the task or attempts to put it away the student will not be successful. A cookie sheet is a fabulous way to present these tasks with multiple pieces. Simply glue small magnets onto the pieces and voila! This task can be set up in a variety of ways for individual students. We always plan tasks that can be adapted for a variety of learning levels. For example, one student may need a reduced number of pieces available to them and some black dots on the tree. They would place the pieces using one to one correspondence. Another student may be able to have colored dots to match with a variety of the pieces, again completing one to one correspondence but with the added component of color matching. Another student may have a list of decorations to check off such as “put 4 red circles n the tree” and finally another student may be able to have this task open ended if they are beginning to learn that not all activities have a distinct ending. It is a great idea to have a variety of activities for students to explore when their work is finished. Unscheduled time is often the most difficult time for our students with Autism, so it is helpful to have “what’s next” activities available until their next work session.