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October 22, 2013

Trick or Treating Practice

I don't know about you, but I get asked by parents each October about how to practice the whole trick-or-treating sequence with their child.  Halloween is one of the most exciting holidays for most kids, from toddler years through middle school, and every parent wants their kids to be able to participate to their fullest potential.

One place I like to start is with a toy house and figurines and a social story.  The house I have is from Melissa and Doug.  It's made of wood and has four separate doors with locks and keys and four figurines.  I usually read the social story I posted last year to introduce the activity.  It's a very simple story, shows the trick-or-treating sequence clearly and is easy to use.  After reading the social story, we move right to the house.

We take a figurine, have it ring a doorbell, and then open the door.  I will either have a picture of a child wearing a costume inside the house, or another figurine.  We practice saying "trick or treat!" after the door is opened, pretend to hand out candy, say thank you, and then close the door and say good-bye.  Then we turn the house and move to the next door.

This is a great opportunity for my non-verbal kiddos to practice using a voice output device.  I like these simple single-message devices which are easy to record and easy to carry.  You can find these or something similar at Mayer-Johnson's website.  I programmed mine so one says "trick or treat" and the other says "thank you".

The kids never seem to tire of this activity, so I've learned to extend it to work on other goals as well.  I keep a stack of cards of kids in costumes close by so we can change out who answers the door or rings the doorbell.  It's a great way to learn new vocabulary and work on articulation.  I got my cute set of trick or treaters from Carrie's Speech Corner last year and they continue to be a hit with the kids.

Another thing the kids love to do is to decorate the house for Halloween.  I keep a variety of cutouts that I made with Scrappin Doodles clipart close at hand.  The kids tell me which piece they would like to have and where they plan to put it, and then stick them to the house with tape or other removable adhesive.  They love to create silly Halloween houses, which often leads into them telling me how their own house is decorated.  It's the perfect opportunity to work on descriptors, vocabulary and comparisons.

I have also used the clipart cutouts for following auditory directions.   Here's a sample of some of my directions:

 You can email me if you'd like a copy.

Sometimes the kids like to hide something in the house and give me directions on where to look, such as "look in the house that has a red door with pumpkins next to it."  They love to be the teacher, too! There are SO MANY ways to use this set of materials for SO MANY goals!  If you don't have this exact house, I'm guessing any toy house would work.  All it has to have is a door that opens and closes.  You could even use a barn and pretend it's a house.  Whichever house you decide to use, I'm sure your kids will love practicing trick-or-treating as much as mine do.

Happy Halloween!


October 14, 2013

Halloween Eraser Fun

This little jar of Halloween-themed erasers has been my go-to material for the past week.  Who knew that an inexpensive little bag of erasers that I picked up at a craft store was worth its weight in gold?  Let me show you some of the ways I've been using them.

I used them for sorting with some little orange buckets I found at Target in the dollar section.  They were perfect for my little Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS) kids working on Consonant-Vowel pairs while we said "in" and "out".  Then we turned the buckets over and put the erasers "on" and "off".  Then I used them with preschoolers for following directions such as "Put a bat on the bucket with a ghost".

I used them with every articulation kiddo I saw, too.  Last year I printed off this great pumpkin from 3Dinosaurs.com and laminated it.  I give the kids a handful of erasers and have them put one eraser on a dot on the pumpkin after they say a target word/sentence a pre-determined number of times.  It's fun to watch them decide where to place their erasers.  Some make patterns, some put them in rows and some just place them randomly.  But no matter where they put them, we get lots of opportunities to practice sounds.

Here's another version of using erasers to track productions.  I use these strips with my younger kiddos who need to work in shorter bursts of time.  Like the example above with the pumpkin, kids put an eraser on a picture on the strip after attempting a target word.  After filling a strip with 5 bats, I give them a new strip with pumpkins or ghosts and fill that one, too.  I don't know about you, but I am always looking for ways to get my littlest friends to give me at least 10 good attempts at saying new words.  This one usually works for me.  I like to change it up a bit and let them select which strip they'd like to cover, so I made four different ones for Halloween.

Gotta love those cute Halloween graphics from Scrappin' Doodles!  I'd love to share these with you if you'd like.  Just click here.

One last way I used them was to hide a bunch in my tub of beans.  It's all kinds of fun!  And speech and language opportunities abound.  What kid doesn't love to dig for "treasure"?

What are your ideas?  I'm sure you can think of a few...