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.






Tuesday, October 2, 2018

October 2018 Task of the Month


Structuring activities to teach self-help/home living skills

Sorting socks, folding wash cloths, putting away silverware etc. are all good beginning chores for students. Children with special needs may need a more structured method than verbal direction alone when learning these skills. Therefore, we design structured activities or “tasks” that explicitly teach the needed skill. We teach, practice, and then implement the activity in the appropriate context.

The following tasks were designed for a student during TEACCH training held in North Carolina this summer. In the first one, he was to choose a sock from the bin on the left and clip it to the match on the “clothesline.” In the second, he was to locate two matching socks in the bin, combine them with a different kind of clip, and then place these in the finish bin on his right. Both tasks work on matching colors, sustaining attention, strengthening pincer grip, and organizing all the parts. The second task requires a bit more organization with its additional steps. A next step may be to place the socks into a drawer.



For hundreds of more activities and tasks please visit www.tasksgalore.com. You will find books full of ideas along with the “how and why” we structure them the way we do. Our books detail a wide array of curricula. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Hurricane Florence: We are open!

Tasks Galore continues to be open for business. Our sale on Amazon is still taking place! Check out our best prices ever! We are actively shipping orders but please be aware the orders may be delayed due to conditions within our state. 

We pray for those affected so severely by Hurricane Florence and continue to do what we can to support our neighbors. We are #Carolina Strong!

If you would like to help those suffering from the affects of Hurricane Florence in NC you may make donations to The American Red Cross. https://www.redcross.org/


Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2018 Task of the Month


We hope your school year is off to a good start. We always felt the beginning of a new term was stimulating. Getting to know our new students and their skills and possibilities was always exciting as was figuring out what was next in learning for our returning students.


Sometimes in our early learning classrooms, we have new students who have not yet been introduced to activities that require them to sustain focus until completion.




This is an example of a simple put-in task. The objects to put in are visible and can be turned up or down to fit through the opening. The opening is highlighted with white tape. To encourage our beginning students to attempt tasks, we design them so the explanation of what to do is visually clear. They remove each item from the box top, place it in the opening where it disappears into the container. It is obvious when the children have completed the task because all the pegs are gone.


Frequently we add additional sensory components to beginning tasks to make them more appealing to individual students, such as watching the chip float down through the water.



Or textures students can feel while placing the item.



Gradually we change the skills required in these simple tasks. In this task below, the students must figure out which object fits into which opening. Because the cylindrical spool will not fit into the horizontal slit and the buttons will not fit into the circular opening, the students discriminate. This is an early sorting type of task. Focusing attention to problem-solve is an important skill that they can generalize to other tasks as they progress. Such simple put-in tasks have valuable implications for our students.


For hundreds more task ideas and classroom strategies please view our products at www.tasksgalore.com.

Also, continued for the month of September for those of you who shop on Amazon you will find our books at a deeply discounted “Back to School” price! This is an Amazon only offer.


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!



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.