Tuesday, October 8, 2019

October 2019 Task of the Month


This is a useful beginning task for students who are learning about simple sequences. When initially seeing this toy, many of our students do not understand that they are to place the rings in a sequential manner based on size. They often lose interest before testing out how to make all the rings fit.

By incorporating sequencing into the visual instructions for this ring stack, students understand more clearly what to do. They work from left to right while matching rings to the same color on the toy. Many beginning learners may not realize they need to retrieve only one item at a time to succeed. To help students comprehend this concept, we segment the rings into individual slots.

After students become familiar with this toy during direct teaching and learn to stack the rings from large to small when given these visual instructions, we assess which cues to fade, into which different classroom setting to place this toy so the student can play with it independently, and which other toys or activities also address the same skills (using only one at a time, color matching, left-to-right progression, size sequencing, sustaining interest until finished). It is essential that we figure out how students can generalize new skills to other activities and settings.

To learn more about how to teach appropriate play with toys and peers please check out our Tasks Galore Let’s Play book.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

August 2019 Task of the Month


Learning Life Skills is SO Important!

This task focuses on using functional daily living skills to enhance understanding and retention. Students gather a bag of groceries from an assigned area and take it to a kitchen setting. They then sort the objects onto two shelves, one labeled cans and one labeled boxes. The student knows to continue until all groceries are put away and the bag is empty.


This is a good activity for students with goals regarding the gathering of materials; moving between areas; following a sequence to complete an activity independently and sorting from a field of two.

Once mastered in a structured setting a student may move on to the next step of helping unpack and put away groceries after a trip to the community store. Remember it is very important to generalize skills across settings whenever possible. For example, students begin by learning these skills in a classroom setting then generalizing to home and then to similar tasks in a work situation.

If you have further interest in structured daily living skills for your students, please be sure to check out our book Tasks Galore for the Real World .



Wednesday, July 3, 2019

July 2019 Task of the Month


Strategies for attempting new skills

This task breaks down cutting into its initial steps: how to hold scissors, position them on a black line, and snip.
Children must hold the paper with one hand while snipping on the line with the other.
These tasks provide ideas about how to structure cutting activities for students who are beginning to use scissors. The first breaks down cutting into its initial steps: how to hold scissors, position them on a black line, and snip. Strips of paper with short black lines are firmly attached to a bin. While they are cutting, students use their other hand to stabilize the container.

The second task uses similar strips of paper with black lines but children must hold the paper with one hand while snipping on the line with the other. When finished cutting, they place the pieces of paper into the “all done” pocket.

Each of these tasks has materials already organized so that the students can focus on the skill of cutting, instead of, first having to figure out how to set-up the task. Additionally, each task incorporates clear indicators of when the task is finished to the students. In the first, when cut, each strip falls toward the bin; in the second, strips disappear into the “all done” pocket. Students usually sustain attention better if they know when they will be finished.

There are many ways to teaching beginning snipping/cutting skills. However, helping the students to learn this new skill while also understanding when they will be finished aids in misunderstandings or confusion often associated with new tasks. Many times, when there is an ending to a new skill the student is much more willing to try new things.

Please be sure to visit www.tasksgalore.com for this and many other task ideas and the accompanying strategies.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

June 2019 Task of the Month


Routines are Important

Our students benefit when they know what the routine will be. When we expect their attention and focus, we provide to-do lists that answer.

· What work?
· How much work?
· When will I be finished?
· What is next?

We forget sometimes that students need such a list even when working 1:1 with their teacher. This to-do list for teacher time has written directions with a check-off format. The numerals match work folders and the store activities include work on skills using real money to purchase items. The checkmark or X that students place in each box when they complete an activity lets them know that activity is finished. Choice, the last entry, lets students know what is next: choosing among options of high interest to them.

Not only are students’ attention, concentration, and retention improved through use of such a to-do list; they also feel less anxious when they know what will happen and when they will be finished working. When the student is less anxious, we see fewer behaviors and these reduced behaviors also are a result of the student seeing what he will get to do next. For example, they may see that their favorite activity will soon be coming.


For this and other wonderful ideas about structure and routines, and how/why we use these structures please visit www.tasksgalore.com!

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 www.tasksgalore.com 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 www.tasksgalore.com. 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 www.tasksgalore.com. 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!