There are so many different activities you can include in your classroom to target communication. I could talk about this topic forever but I’ll try to give you a few suggestions/ideas you might want to incorporate into your schedule as you think about your classroom set-up. Some of the ideas might be helpful to schedule in on a weekly basis. Again, if you set time aside in the schedule for cooking, crafts, games, etc on a weekly basis then the students have something to look forward to and it targets many of their goals and builds communication skills.
Adapted Books – I like to use adapted book with many of my students. There are interactive which makes it more motivating for the students. I have created several different adapted book series which all target different skills and vocabulary concepts. For example, What’s Bugging You School Supplies is a set of three books which focuses on learning school supply vocabulary terms, number concepts, and color concepts. I also made some Farm adapted books which target farm animal vocabulary, sequencing terms, and prepositional concepts. I made seasonal adapted books which focus around most of the holidays. You could pick a different theme each month and pair some adapted books with it to include in your small group teacher time. I find it helpful to have some of these books made and ready to use especially if you have extra time to use up after the lesson. You could choice one of the adapted books to read and then do a follow up activity or craft which pairs with the theme of the book. This leads me to my next topic which are crafts.
Crafts – Incorporating some different craft activities is another ideas to add to the schedule. Maybe you do a different craft each week and that is part of the theme or relates to upcoming holiday. There are always tons of great craft ideas on pintrest and I try to include some posts every month with crafts my student do. I try and include a craft in one of my therapy sessions each month. The crafts don’t have to be complex and cost lots of money for material. Some of my favorite crafts involving ripping or cutting stripes of paper to make different shapes or animals. For example, in March we made Easter chicks by ripping yellow paper. Crafts are usually motivating for the students and I have my students request all the materials they need for each step in the craft. You can get some great requesting, commenting, answering questions, and model so many concepts while doing craft activities. If your students use picture exchange, core boards, or other AAC systems this is the perfect opportunity to use those communication systems for your students to request the needed items.
Cooking – I love cooking with my students! Cooking is a fun way to target following directions, sequencing, requesting, learning new vocabulary, answering questions, and turn-taking with peers. Again, maybe you could set up a system where you cook once a week or even once a month in your classroom. I try to do a cooking activity once a month in some of the special education classroom I provide services. One of the special education teachers I work with also does a cooking activity every other week with her students. Sometimes it is just a very simple cooking activity but I find cooking very motivating for almost all my students. There are so many different cooking activities you can do. You can do simple tasks that require no cooking or appliances. For example, I made Harvest Trail mix in October with my students and it only required measuring tools and a big bowl.
If you have a microwave you would have even more options! I’ve done simple microwave cooking such as hot chocolate, instant Mac & Cheese, and Stove Top Stuffing. Sometimes with the microwave recipes I have my student read the direction on the box and work on problem solving how to complete the overall task. I have found a simple task such as making instant mac and cheese can be challenging for some of our students if you step back and don’t provide lots of prompting. I did this last year with one of my higher functioning groups and it took some time for the students to figure out how to get the materials, measure the ingredients, and cook it. Taking a motivating task and having the students problem solve and work together is so beneficial for them.
Games – I have always loved playing games and there are tons of awesome educational games out there. Games help students learn turn taking, requesting, commenting, and then also whatever other skills are include in that particular game. I have had comments such as you are just playing go fish with you students. A game like “Go Fish” works on turn taking, asking a peer for a particular card, using different vocabulary terms, simple inferencing skills to know who to ask for a card, and more. I have some games that I like from LakeShore Learning and also some of the classics like Ants in the Pants, Memory, Barnyard Bingo, Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, etc. I feel I always get so much out of my students when we play games and can elicit language and concepts that we often forget about when just teaching a lesson or doing a worksheet with our students.