time is really productive. The children are alert--they anticipate that time because they
love songs. Throughout the day I may have them grouped by communication ability or they
might get pulled out for occupational therapy or physical therapy. Morning group is the
one time I have them all together and we can work on academic skills in a fun way through
singing songs rather than sitting at a table and counting beads or blocks. When they are
all together, they serve as good models for each other.
It's a good time to set the theme for the day and the month. Everyone has a chance to say hello. I introduce the hello part by explaining that each of us has a different way to talk--some of us use our voices, some of us use our hands, some of us use symbols. Saying hello is our way to share our mode of communication with each other. It affirms that we all communicate in different ways.
We try to teach the children to recognize their name as a symbol and match it to their actual photograph. So I pass around a board with their name on it. They choose it from the pack of twelve and match it to their picture. By the time the year is through they can all find their name. Some children recognize both their first and last names. Then we talk about who is at school--we look at the board and see whose name isn't there and then problem-solve why they might not be there--they're sick, they've gone to the doctor, someone's car broke down, the bus broke down .We use words and pictures that we pull off the boards at the front of the room. By halfway through the year, the kids can make those boards themselves. This gives them practice with labeling, word recognition, picture identification, using picture symbols, and some students get practice in ordering words. It's neat to see children building sentences with pictures and words and knowing they go in a certain order. I've had a child put the picture sick in front of a photo of a child and then have another child tell him it's in the wrong order.
Then we talk about what's happening today. The predictability is important so children know what's happening. They like the idea of going to a special activity and this provides a base for communication by giving us something to talk about. They know all the pictures and words that go with physical education and music. It's a good way to cover skills children need without it being artificial.
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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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