Easy Matching Workbooks with Young Learners

As an Infants & Toddlers special education teacher, I feel so privileged to work as the frontline of young learners first experience with skill acquisition.  I really do get to see where it all begins!  I love using child-led play, daily routines, and structured activities to work on cognitive, social emotional and communication domains (and of course motor).  I have experienced working through activities in the classroom and the home setting which can be very different!  What they have in common though is the challenge of adapting myself and the materials/toys around me to meet the learning needs of my students.  Check out below how to target MULTIPLE skills using easy matching workbooks with some of my youngest learners!

What do Easy Matching Workbooks target?

These matching workbooks come in so many different themes (such as Spring & Halloween) and there is a different book for Monday through Friday! The workbooks target an array of skills including (but not limited to): visual discrimination, basic matching skills, errorless learning, building independent work skills, fine motor abilities, vocabulary, expressive and receptive language skills, and task initiation.  For younger learners, skills also include learning to complete a task, attention to a task, developing a social routine with an adult or sibling/peer, turning pages in a book, working left to right and so much more!  I love materials that focus on multiple skills in one sitting.  Young learners are known for their short attention span so the fact that even completing one of the pages can focus on practicing all the skills above…count me in!  Check out this almost three-year-old working through the books for the first time ever!

Who can use Easy Matching Workbooks?

The short answer is…EVERYONE!  These types of books target students working on the skills that I mentioned above.  I also love that The Autism Helper has made real photo and a life skills edition so that even if you are working with older students who need this skill, the material is age appropriate!  Littles can also use those books and you can find them here: real photos  and life skills books.  I have used them with children as young as 20 months old (see video below) and older! Do you have some younger learners you would like to try this with? Are you not sure how it might go with your child?  Keep reading for my tips for introducing these more structured type tasks with younger learners!

How do I even start with my student/child?

Before I launch into my tips, I do want to acknowledge that my approach to working with younger children has always been a multi modal approach completely tailored to that child. This means that I may use a mix of child led therapy type approaches and more systematic structured type activities.  These workbooks can certainly be used in either approach and I encourage you to start looking at all materials and toys in this way!  With my experience I could turn most any toy into a structured type of activity and a structured activity into a more child led approach depending on how the materials are presented!  And this is OK.  In the end we want to do what’s best for the child while building and respecting the rapport building!  Depending on my student’s attention and interest level in the materials will guide how many pages and pieces I will present at one time.  For some learners, presenting the whole “Monday” book would feel overwhelming and lead to taking off pieces, maybe throwing them, etc.  Usually when I begin, I will take one page and present a piece or two at a time to show the concept.  If the child has a bit more experience with tasks, I would be able to have more pages on the ring.  In the beginning we may complete the page quickly and then it’s finished.  In other sessions we can elaborate a bit more on the vocabulary, pictures, verbal directions, and the actual motor aspect of the direction. Check out the video below of this amazing mom I worked with. Her son is 20 months old, and this was his first time using a book like this.  We used the book in its entirety because he is tolerant of sitting and listening to multiple books daily.  If your child is not yet at this point, that’s OK! Start with one page and stop.  I also love how this mom expands with some questioning and “think aloud”.  If your child is not yet as expressive, you will want to narrate even more and question less.  Provide the out loud narrating of what you see and what to do!  Acknowledge any and ALL types of communication. Above all, have FUN.

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