A summer blog series about thematic language learning with six preschool-aged children with varying communication needs.
This week I went in with the mindset that it probably (okay, definitely) won’t go the way I planned. I think that’s the most important advice I can give anyone starting a new group. That way, we can celebrate what worked and work on improving what didn’t work without being too caught up in the details and becoming disappointed and frustrated with ourselves.
My basic plan each day included discussing our vocabulary wall (more on that in a bit), reading a book on that day’s concept, and completing various crafts/activities targeting our concepts and their individual goals.
SIDE NOTE: Can I just admire all school SLPs for a minute?! Each of my six kiddos are working on different goals and trying to target all of them as a group honestly makes me want to pull my hair out but that’s what you all do on a regular basis! Excuse me while I get on my knees and bow down. YOU are a special bunch and YOU do not get the credit you deserve! Rock on, school SLPs! 🙂
Before we start each day, we go over our schedules. I cannot say enough how important visual schedules are. Visual schedules help with transitions and reduce anxiety, teach time concepts, reinforce verbal instructions, support literacy development when paired with words, support conversational skills when talking about their day, and contribute to executive functions (planning, organizing and complete activities). That’s just to name a few! We also reference the schedule after the completion of each activity and I let them take turns taking the activities down and putting them in the “all done” folder.
I put up a bulletin board and will change out the pictures each week to represent our weekly theme. This week, we learned the following basic concepts: colors, shapes, and size (big vs. little) and those were depicted on the wall. I discussed these at the beginning of each session during circle time and reviewed at the end of my session. What I LOVEEEEEDDDD seeing was that during later activities, one of the kiddos especially would reference the wall and use the visual to help him verbally express his answer without needing clinician phonemic prompts (insert SLP happy dance).
I wanted to have plenty of circle time to work on sitting and participating as a group. I laid out colored dots for each kid to have a visual marker of where they needed to stay seated. Well, kiddos can be quite smart and while they may technically stay on the dot, their dots were moving all around the room! SO…our wonderful OT came up with the idea of taping boxes around each dot to give them another visual space of where their dot cannot leave. Stay tuned next week to see how well this works (fingers crossed for this type A SLP)!
I used the following books for each concept:
Color- Brown Bear Brown Bear by: Bill Martin Jr.
Shapes- Shapes Shapes Shapes by: Suse Macdonald
Big/Little- You Are (Not) Small by: Anna Kang
All of these books were well received and served as great precursors to our activities. Included in the Preschool Unit on TpT is a craft activity for Shapes Shapes Shapes.
I used both clipart photos and real photos of everyday objects. For colors, we sorted these objects into the appropriate bucket. For fun and to give the kids some movement, I had them stay on one side of the room with the cards on the other side of the room. When their name was called, they were able to go pick up two cards and tell their friends what the object was and its color (i.e. brown penny). This worked on following directions, vocabulary, colors, speech sounds, etc. The same thing was done with shapes but instead they had to find the shape on the floor that matched. These activities worked really well for the ones that struggle with, say, shapes because they were able to go to each one and see if their object’s shape “matched” the shape on the floor until they found the right one (Again, VISUALS!). This increased success and increased confidence as the activity went along.
The last activity we do each day is our goodbye song. I use this one here. (Note: They see our fabulous OT to start their day who sings a good morning song with them). I love it because it allows the children to move and they have to follow directions and imitate actions within the song. They LOVED it!
Next week: Gardening!
***If interested in the activities I used this week (and additional activities/HW sheets), check out my 69 page Preschool Thematic Language Unit: Basic Concepts here.