Thursday, August 2, 2018

August 2018 Task of the Month


These two tasks are being used in a classroom whose theme for the month is farm animals.

The first task is a great example of how one toy can be modified to fit the different functioning levels of our students. These chunky, wooden items from a farm lacing bead set by Melissa and Doug have large openings which make them easier for small hands to manipulate. The typical lacing strings which are included in the set, however, are often difficult for some of our students. The flexibility of the laces requires precise two-handed dexterity.

To thread the wooden farm-related items successfully, one student might need a rigid thread, such as a plastic straw; another may be able to thread the piece with a less rigid device that flexes somewhat, such as a pipe cleaner.

By thinking of each students’ emerging abilities, the skills they need to learn, and the products available, we devise different ways for students to achieve the same objectives: using two hands simultaneously and figuring out how to get the threader entirely through the opening.


This second task shows a similar idea of adapting materials (a book in this example) in different ways to meet the individualized needs of our students. The objective here to use clues to draw conclusions. This is an important thinking or inference skill that is needed when comprehending what we read.

The book, Who’s on the Farm written by Dorothea DePrisco and illustrated by Chris Gilvan-Carwright, provides clues about what animal or person is partially hidden.  Before uncovering the picture, children make a guess based on the clues.

To help our students understand what to do, we made two adaptations based on their emerging abilities. Adaptation #1 offers scanned pictures, identical to those in the book, of the possible answers. The children choose their answer from among the visual choices and Velcro the picture on the back of the flap that covered the answer. Below our student has Velcroed the pig correctly. Adding this additional visual component of scanned possible answers allows even a nonverbal child to participate, provides multi-modal interest, and helps students use clues to answer the question of “who.”

Adaptation #2 is designed for students who can answer questions but are learning the concept of making guesses. This visual support reminds the student to make a guess before uncovering the picture in the book.


ADAPTATION #1

ADAPTATION #2

All of our Tasks Galore products demonstrate various ways to use the same task for a variety of learning experiences. To learn more about thematic studies and how to adapt a full curriculum based on one unit please visit www.tasksgalore.com and click on Tasks Galore Literature-based Thematic Units.

Reminder we will have a Back To School Sale through our partnering distributor Amazon.com during the month of August 2018.




Sunday, July 22, 2018

Upcoming Sale!

We have an exciting Back to School sale planned for August and wanted you to be on the lookout for it! Please visit Amazon.com for special pricing on all of our Tasks Galore products. Be certain to look for us as the seller. 


Monday, July 16, 2018

July 2018 Task of the Month


These two examples show a couple of ways we use picture dictionaries with our students. These dictionaries pair the written word with its picture and offer visual support while students are learning to read or spell these words. Both examples also illustrate our emphasis on teaching skills based on a monthly theme in early learning classrooms.


In this lotto game, the objective is to take turns selecting cards from the container. Each student reads the card and then matches it to the lotto board. If the students do not remember the word or want to check if they are correct, they refer to the “dictionary” that pairs the words with their pictures. As students have more practice with the words, the picture dictionary is no longer available when they play the game.




The theme is about beaches. We integrate vocabulary words originating from the monthly theme throughout activities. We start with book(s) about the theme and then incorporate the words and associated concepts across curriculum areas (science, math, social studies, art, games, music). This strategy gives our students many opportunities for practice with the words and related concepts. This expands their reading and speaking vocabularies as well as their understanding of the world.


In our literacy book set, Tasks Galore Literature-Based Thematic Units, we illustrate how to take a theme about foods and making choices and design activities across the curriculum that represents this theme. The two-book set includes a storybook with vocabulary focused on food words and choice-making and a teacher resource book with activities associated with this food theme.

Below is another example of using a picture dictionary and is one of the 100’s of literacy activities featured in the resource book.

In this scenario, a picture dictionary provides an intermediary step as our students learn to spell vocabulary words from the book text. We eliminate this visual support once students become proficient with the vocabulary words.




Over our years of teaching, we have seen students’ progress when we utilize such an integrated approach, we highly recommend theme-based or units of study for learning.

We are currently running a special on our literacy book set Tasks Galore Literature-Based Thematic Units so that teachers can see more examples of how this strategy can be used. This special pricing is available only on our partnering distributor Amazon. 

During the month of August, we will incorporate a “Back to School” special on our books, again on Amazon only! Be on the lookout!!

Teachers will love our titles. Parents what a great gift for your teachers or therapists working with your student. These books are a fantastic way to begin the school year! We have books for all ages and levels.




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!