I’ve talked about using AAC with adapted books and task cards but cooking, crafts, and games/activities are also great ways to incorporate and use AAC with your students. Again, these are things you do all the time so we just need to remember to have the students get out their AAC devices and use them during these activities. The more practice the easier and more natural it will be for our students to use their devices. These devices are how our students communicate with others so we don’t want them to keep their “voices” set aside in a backpack or a closet. Get those device out and ready to use for everyday activities!
Cooking – This is always a super motivating time for my students to use AAC to communicate. I put that recipe out and all of the sudden my student either with PECS books or high tech devices can request all day long! I have my students request each item they need to complete the recipe. Your students might request the needed item by exchanging a single picture or finding that item on their device. Some of my students can formulate an “I want” or “I need” sentence to request the item either with a communication book or AAC device.
You can also ask some simple yes/no and “wh” questions about the items to elicit more language then just requesting. For example, if you are using a big bowl to mix the ingredients I might hold up a big and small bowl and ask “big or small?”. Then the student can navigate their device to indicate they need the “big bowl”. You might ask “what color” certain ingredients are or “how many” teaspoons or cups of certain ingredients they need to add. I might ask “what’s in the bowl?” and they need to name the ingredients that are in the bowl or “what next?”. Lots of questions you can ask during the cooking activity.
After you make the recipe and taste it you can work on having your students describe how the food tastes. Maybe have them provide 1-2 descriptive concepts about the food and work up to 3-4 concepts. They could describe the color of the food and how it tastes (i.e hot/cold, sweet/sour, smooth/crunchy, or salty). Lots of great describing terms you can use and work on finding those terms on their AAC devices. I use lots of modeling on their devices. I usually first tell my students how I think it tastes (i.e. “it is sweet) and then I ask my student what he/she thinks about the food. Cooking is a great time for requesting and commenting!
Crafts – Completing different craft activities is another great time to incorporate and use AAC devices. Again, the students can request all the different material they need to complete the craft. There are lots of ways you can set up the activity depending on your student’s device and skill level. For some of my students I might just use a core board or a communication book and put the word “more” on the cover if the craft requires “more” of the same item. For example, we made Easter eggs by putting small pieces of cut paper on an egg. Every time the student requested another strip of paper to cut I had the student touch the “more” symbol on the core board or exchange the “more” picture.
When we made cow faces, I had my student request “more” for each spot for the cow’s face. This allows for multiple requests using the concept “more”.
You can also have the students use communication books or their devices to request the needed colors to complete the activity. I have created lots of different identification boards to pair with themes I do with my students. If I’m working on requesting with my students then I have the student request the needed color crayon to use to color a specific picture on the board.
Other times I have the students request the needed material to complete the craft such as the glue, scissors, or pencil. They can use a single word such as “glue” or formulate a simple sentence such as “I want glue” or “I need glue”.
The students can request the different body parts for crafts such as the eyes, nose, or mouth.
I also sometimes only have one bottle or glue or one pair of scissors when I working with 2 students to make the students take turns using the material. The student can also working on using “my turn” to pass the glue back and forth when completing an activity. There are lots of ways you can sabotage the activity to make the students have to request. After you finish the craft you can have the student comment on it. “I like it”, “a pink pig”, or “silly cow”. The more practice describing and commenting using their devices the better. It’s okay if it takes a minute or two to find what you want to say.
Games/Activities – My students are also motivated by fun games/activities to communicate with others. Even just playing a simple game there are lots of ways to incorporate and use different AAC systems. You can play Go Fish and every time the student needs to request “my turn” to get the fishing pole to take his/her turn. The student has to request “my turn” to take a turn in a memory game.
My students also love the game “Pop the Pig”. Again, you can have the student request “my turn” to get to roll the dice. Another option is after they roll the dice and get a certain color they need to request that color burger from you. I hold all the burgers to the side and after they request the color they need they get to pick the burger and pump up the pig! “Pop Up Pirate” is always a big hit with my students. The students can request “my turn” or the color sword they want in order to participate in the game.
Any game/activity such a driving cars down a ramp or Lucky Ducks is a good time to work on request “stop” and “go”. You can have the cars all lined up and put your hand in front of the car so the student has to request “go” in order for you to move your hand and the car to slide down the ramp. Same with the Lucky Duck game. The student has to request “stop” and “go” to make the ducks go around and stop them to pick one out of the pond.
Any sorting activity you can have the student request the needed color of the item or even just “more”. Once they request the item you can give him/her the object to place in the correct spot.
Board games work too. The student can request their turn and also indicate how many spaces he/she gets to move after they roll the dice. They can answer a question in order to move their piece or name what color space they land on depending on what the board game is. Lots of ways to incorporate AAC into the games you already have and use with your students.