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Small Group Activities

Barbara reserves a table in the classroom for "special activities" that extend the current themes they are focusing on. The activity is available to small groups of interested children during free choice time. Today, after reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle, with the class, a group of three students gather around the table to discuss the story. A tailored set of picture symbols are the employed to engage all children in this discussion. In recounting the storyline, they recall all the food the caterpillar eats. Picking up on this theme, Barbara tells her students that she would like them to make collages of things they like to eat. Pointing to the related picture symbols as she speaks, Barbara identifies the tools students will use for the task: scissors, glue, paper, and magazines.

Barbara and children sitting at the table preparing to make collages.Andrew uses his SpeakEasy to request more glue.

Ricky's aide, Beth, displays three magazines and Ricky uses his fist to point to the one on the left. Beth slowly turns the pages and when Ricky sees a page he wants to use, he hits his BIGmack switch (Ablenet) which has been programmed to say, "Stop!" Beth begins to scan the small items on the page with her finger and Ricky reactivates his switch when she reaches the one he wants to cut out. A set of electric scissors are plugged into an environmental control unit and the timer is set for thirty seconds. Beth positions the scissors appropriately on the page and Ricky initates the cutting by pressing his switch. After 30 seconds the scissors stop and Ricky must reactivate them when the time is right. When Ricky indicates he is ready to stop collecting pictures, he glues them on the page with hand-over-hand assistance.

Ricky choosing a picture.A classmate helps Ricky choose pictures to add to his collage.

On another day, Lindsay and Ricky are involved in a small-group cooking activity together with four of their non-disabled peers. The group is making instant pudding to share at snack time. Students take turns with measuring, pouring and stirring the simple ingredients. As the aide verbalizes each step she points to comparable symbols on a picture communication board, modelling communication strategies that the non-speaking children can use. For example, she points to the symbol for "done" when Amanda's turn is over and subsequently points to Lindsay's photograph and the symbol for "pour" as she verbalizes, "Now it's Lindsay's turn to pour."

Lindsay pointing to her communication board.Lindsay acknowledges that it is her turn to pour by pointing to the symbol on her communication board.

With hand over hand assistance, Lindsay pours the water. When it's Ricky's turn to pour, he activates an electronic pouring cup by Enabling Devices with his switch. The cup is mounted on a vertical platform and when Ricky activates his switch the cup begins to turn in a clockwise motion. When all the water is poured, he hits his switch again to stop the rotation of the cup.

View Video Clip of Ricky and Lindsay helping to pour water in the cooking area.


talking headBarbara Comments on Small-Group Activity

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP)  in collaboration with the Center for Literacy and Disabilities (CLD)  at Duke University.   NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by CLD, NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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