The Autism Helper Leveled Daily Curriculum was designed for our unique learners. The holidays are here and I thought this would be a great opportunity to recommend some educational toys. Maybe you want to build your homeschool classroom with the gift cards you receive or take advantage of end-of-year sales. Educational toys make learning fun and can be used for independent work, extra practice, and building fluency. Choosing a toy, activity, or game based on your learner’s interests helps to capture their attention and make learning more engaging and fun.
Here are my recommendations for using educational toys to encourage learning with The Leveled Daily Curriculum.
Alphabet Learning Locks are wonderful for fine motor skills. These teach matching uppercase to lowercase letters and beginning sounds as well. Part of the Roadmap to Reading Course includes teaching our learners vocabulary. If you have a learner with budding skills, you can use the Basic Skills Vocabulary Unit to teach foundational vocabulary. Matching games teach many skills including very important executive functioning skills. I love alphabet matching games like this one because not only does it reinforce what Ben and George are learning in the Level 1 Language Arts and Reading Comprehension Curriculum, but it also teaches things like turn-taking. They are also developing their executive functioning skills like working memory, sustained attention, response inhibition, and organization. The ABC Puzzle by The Learning Journey continues these skills for learners who are learning beginning letter sounds.
For budding learners who are learning numbers and one-to-one correspondence in the Math Curriculum, levels 0.5 and 1, Lakeshore Touch & Match Counting Cards helps build math fluency by giving your learner extra practice. My boys love them because they are very tactile learners. They use physical touch to learn a concept, and these cards are textured. Learning Resources Counting Cans also give a hands-on learning approach. When I taught in a special education classroom, these were always a favorite with my students. These are also great to teach core language, such as “In,” “out,” “open,” and “close.” We have been teaching Ben to play Connect 4 to help build math fluency. I use his anchor charts from previous units of the Math Curriculum, Level 1 to provide him with visuals. This game is also teaching him executive functioning skills like working memory, sustained attention, and response inhibition.
Higher Level Math
Davyd is using the Leveled Daily Curriculum Level 3 for Math and level 2 for Functional Math. Davyd is a very visual learner. Lakeshore Pop & Add gives him a fun way to practice what he learned from his curriculum. Lakeshore Counting Money Puzzles and Equation Match-ups help him practice upper-level math skills and also helps build his executive functioning skills like organization, sustained attention, and response inhibition. They are self-correcting so they are great for independent work when I need to work with his brothers.
Fine Motor Skills
Learning Resources Big Feelings Pineapple not only helps build fine motor skills but also allows the development of higher-level matching skills and teaching emotions. Learners can create faces on the pineapple to match the emotion and there is a handy guide to help them. This is a great activity to pair with a book about emotions, like The Autism Helper, Why Do You Feel? Learning Resources Noodle Knockout is also a fantastic game for teaching fine motor skills. It can also be used to work on communication skills, turn-taking, and executive functioning skills. My favorite fine motor activity is letting kids be creative with crayons, markers, and paint. You can get some canvas at your favorite craft store and let their imagination run wild.
Executive Functioning Skills
My boys are really into dinosaurs, so I loved that I found this Jurassic World Game. It teaches turn-taking, colors, and communication skills. I love using games to work on executive functioning skills. In the Executive functioning skills course, every skill comes with a handout that describes ways to build the skill and suggests games and activities you can use to work on the skill. The Jurassic World game is excellent for response inhibition, sustained attention, working memory, emotional control, task initiation, and flexibility. I love Mental Blox Junior and The Three Little Pigs Puzzle Game because the puzzle gradually becomes more difficult for your learner. The Mental Blox also comes in a more advanced version when your learner is ready. These puzzle games cover so most of the executive functioning skills!
Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning. -Fred Rogers
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