I wanted to share another resource I love using with some of my students. Check out this Alphabet Mystery Box from Lakeshore Learning. The activity comes with an alphabet board and a mystery box with 26 mini items which each beginning with a different letter of the alphabet.
I use this activity different ways depending on my students’ skill levels and communication abilities. I like to use it with small groups of 2-3 students so they each get several opportunities to pull items out of the mystery box. Plus the students can work on turn taking! It can be challenging for some students not to say/shout the item’s name when it is a peer’s turn to pull the item out of the box.
I have one student pull out an item from the mystery box and name the item if they can or are verbal. They can also find the item’s name on their AAC system or find the picture on a PECS book to practicing naming. I do have symbols to go with all the items if I have a student who needs to use them. Then the student places the item on the board which corresponds to the initial sound of the word.
If the student needs help I model the word for them and exaggerate the initial sound. For example, “nnnnnnn…est”. If they still don’t know it I give them a choice of 2-3 answers. “Does nest start with a pppp or nnnn sound?” Even if your student is non-verbal he/she may still be able to match the item to the correct initial letter-sound especially if you model the word and initial sound for the student. I have a student right now who has limited verbal speech and matched all the items to the correct letter which is awesome!
You can also hold up 2 different items from the mystery box and tell your student to select a certain item or an item which begins with a specific sound. For example, “find bike” or “take umbrella” to target receptive language skills. Another option is to say “find the one that starts with the ssss sound”. The student can find the “sun” and place it on the letter “s”.
If you are working on requesting, you can hold up the item and have your student verbally request the item using the item’s name. If the student is non-verbal, the student can also use his/her AAC system or pictures on a communication board. Like I mentioned before I have pictures for each of the items and just place them on a PECS book. If you interested in using these pictures too click the link to download the ones I made. Alphabet Mystery Box Pictures
I also use this activity to expand language skills. I may ask various “yes/no” and “wh” questions about some of the items. For example, “Does the watermelon have seeds?”, “Where does the zebra live?”, or “What does the duck say?” I always have several students working on answering “yes/no” and “wh” questions so this is just another activity that not only works on phonological awareness skills but I can also use it to target answering questions. This activity was a win with my students!