Monday, May 6, 2019

May 2019 Task of the Month

This task example uses TouchMath strategy to assist students with counting. Students choose a numeral 1 or numeral 2 card from a bin on their left (start bin not shown). They place their bingo marker on each touch point on the numerals and make a dot as they count 1 or 2 aloud. They then sort the card into the corresponding bin. They know to continue with the activity until they complete all the cards in the start bin.

This is a good activity for students who are ready to advance beyond rote counting. They learn to count to 2 and associate the amount with its numeral. The auditory, visual, and kinesthetic/tactile sensations they experience during this task enhance their attention and retention. Next step activity would be for the students to associate numerals 1 or 2 to sets and then to create sets of 1 or 2 items according to the numeral shown. We ensure students have a firm grasp of quantities of 1 and 2 before adding another numeral/amount.

Our books are full of great task ideas not only for math skills but for all curriculum areas. The books include hands on ideas from the very simplest in Tasks Galore for Early Education, to more advanced activities in Tasks Galore: Literature-Based Thematic Units and finally some awesome real-world applications in TasksGalore for the Real World. Be sure to check them all out at where you will find extra savings when buying the whole set!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

April 2019 Task of the Month

Emotional Connections

Once our students with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs recognize the association between a facial expression and an emotion, we next ask them to learn what might cause such emotions. In this task that addresses the goal, students read the question and look at the two pictured choices. They determine which situation would create the emotion. Is the boy happy because his toe hurts or because he sees a birthday cake? Is the boy scared because he sees teddy bears hugging or because a ghost says, “Boo!”? Once the students decide which situation created the emotion, they Velcro their chosen picture under the question.

Typically, making these connections does not automatically happen for our students. You can help by pointing out in real life situations the emotion the student feels and what happened to evoke that feeling. For example, “John shared his toy with you; you must feel happy.” Also, when reading stories, help them see such connections. Doing so leads to better comprehension of the text.

Our books are full of wonderful ideas to enhance social emotional connections!  Please visit us at Thanks to those of you who showed support on April 2nd for World Autism Awareness Day. We strive to support our loved ones with autism and those agencies and caregivers working with them. And as always partial proceeds from our books are donated to organizations that provide services for people with autism spectrum disorders.

Friday, March 1, 2019

March 2019 Task of the Month

Beginning Steps to Develop Tool Usage in Writing Skills

Many of our students initially have little interest in pre-writing activities. Structuring tasks to clarify for them what to do and when they will be finished encourages their participation in these learning tasks.

Think about how you can organize a task to enable a student to complete it independently. In this example, we have separated crayons into these openings so students, who do not yet know to pick up only one crayon at a time when scribbling, can easily do so. The rimmed border helps them scribble within the designated space. After students scribble with a crayon, they place it in the square opening. Its disappearance is a sign that marking with that crayon is finished. Clarifying the finish point helps some students attend a task that is not of their choosing.

The pre-writing task below addresses many different skills. Several fine motor movements are used – palmar grasp to pull the marker from the opening; finger grasp to remove top; wrist rotation to place marker into slot, etc. Additionally, after matching the number on the marker to the number on the coloring page, children need to focus on where they place the dot to stay within the lines as much as possible.
For these and other ideas for beginning steps to learning please visit Our products have hundreds of teaching activities along with invaluable information about the why’s and how’s to create these learning activities. Happy Tasking!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

February 2019 Task of the Month

Making A Leisure Choice

Our students typically have strong interests and prefer engaging in those interests when they have time to play. We have successfully used this type of choice board to encourage students to try something new. When the students have free time, they are shown the choices. For this student, the list includes written choices.

Students learn to pick one choice 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 then realize (after instruction in some cases) they must pick some other activity.

This structured routine, while giving several choices, leads to students’ expanding their interests. Choosing the same item for play may often be the result of comfort in sameness rather than truly enjoying the activity. We find that when students are guided to try a new leisure activity, they often like it and can add it to their interests. We also see fewer negative behaviors when students are able to see in advance what their choices are and when they will receive them. This takes away the often-enjoyable bartering!

For students who understand they are to make a choice but do not yet read, pictures or even objects can indicate the choices.

We teach our beginning students who find objects more meaningful than pictures or words to use an object choice-board. In this example, each of these objects represent a toy; two represent this child’s preferred toys. Our student chooses one item and gives it to the teacher who gives him the associated toy. Each item is removed once the student chooses and then plays with the toy. When the preferred choices are no longer available, the child must choose something different and, thus, learns to play with non-preferred toys.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

January 2019 Task of the Month

We design tasks to eliminate any possible frustration the students may experience when trying to complete them. Because the items in these examples are large and chunky, they are easier to pick up. Because all pieces are contained and stabilized in the shoeboxes, there is no confusion about how to set up the parts. Because the individual items are organized in bins or on a post, they are less likely to fall from the desk.

Such organized tasks also lead to independence. The materials define what the students are to do.

Clarifying beginnings and endings of tasks eliminates the desire of some students to undo the work they just finished. Having materials disappear into slots emphasizes the finish aspect.

Often when designing tasks for our beginning students, we add a sensory component to make the task more interesting to them.

In this activity, the items students are to push through the opening have different textures.

In this task, the plastic shapes make a clanking sound when hitting the bottom of the tin can. Students enjoy memorizing a sing-song phrase to say along with the action. “Clink! Clank!”

After our beginning-level students can complete tasks requiring them to place objects into openings, we often design this type of sorting task for them. Here, the students must figure out which object fits into which opening. Because the cylindrical spool will not fit into the horizontal slit for the buttons and the buttons will not fit into a round opening, the students must think about what they are doing. They must sustain their attention to a problem as they use trial-and-error methods to make the objects fit. Focusing attention in order to problem-solve is an important skill that can be generalized to other tasks as the students make progress. Learning to complete such a simple put-in task has valuable implications for our students.

Our Tasks Galore series of books will aid you in designing activities for all developmental levels. We address all areas of curriculum whether academic or self-help.

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As always, a portion of our proceeds go to organizations helping people with autism and their families.

We wish you a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

December 2018 Task of the Month

It is the time of year for gift-giving in many cultures. We have discussed in previous posts how our students with learning challenges can enjoy commercially bought toys just as do typically developing children.

There are, however, many cute toys that some of our students cannot yet use as the instructions direct. By our making simple visual adaptations or simplifying how to use the toys, the children can more easily look and see how they can play with them.

In this Lucky Ducks game, children are to pick up a duck that is spinning on the battery-operated pond. Next, they are to look at shape and color on the bottom of the duck. The rules state that the children are to keep the first duck they find and then keep two more ducks with matching shape/color. If subsequent ducks they choose after their first do not match the shape/color of the first duck, the children are to return it to the spinning pond.

Those directions can be complex for many of our students. One adaptation we have used is adding a lotto board with the colors and shapes that match those on the ducks. When students pick a duck moving about on the board, they match it to the board that all the students use. The game would then be over when all the ducks leave the pond and land on their lotto board spot.

In this example, we use the pieces of this interesting toy but change the directions further to an even simpler version. To engage students in an activity not of their choosing, we often incorporate their interests in these adaptations. For this toy, we add water play which many young children enjoy. As these colorful ducks spin about on the Lucky Ducks™ pond, students choose one and let it splash into the water that has turned blue with a dash of food coloring. Children enjoy this game while they also work on their fine motor and attention skills. They grasp, release and fit the ducks into the container. They must sustain their focus until all the ducks are gone from the board and in the water.

Here is another example of an adapted game. This is a modification of Candyland, a Hasbro game. Using a large sheet of poster board, we create a game board with larger spaces and 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 the student had 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, these rules may be generalized to different games.

For more fun ideas and ways to task analyze play activities please be sure to look at our webpage.

We wish all of you a very Happy Holiday season… Merry Tasking!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

November 2018 Task of the Month

This is a great activity for getting our students to begin noticing their peers. Some of the pages guide them to pay attention to peer’s physical characteristics. Others encourage questions in order to fill in an answer to complete the sentences about the person. The pages can be individualized for the students. This example is adapted with movable possible answers that can be Velcroed to fill in the blanks. You may even put this together as a booklet or leave it separated, depending on your student.

Other students may be able to practice the skill with pencil and paper. Below is an example of an activity for practicing the same skill in a Conversation Game format. Students take turns by choosing a topic from the two presented and then picking a question to ask. A next step might be to have the students think of a question independently when presented with a written prompt, such as, “What else could you ask your friend?”

Our hope as educators is that, as the students become comfortable with interacting with a peer using such structure, they may next ask spontaneous questions.

For these and other great ideas for social activities please visit our website.