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.