Activities for a Variety of Functioning Levels

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by teachersk, Aug 2, 2011.

1. teacherskConnoisseur

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Aug 2, 2011

I found this in an old thread I posted and felt like I should resurrect it just in case it could help anyone:

-index cards that have pictures paired with words; lower functioning students match two like cards, middle functioning students match a word/picture card with a word card, higher functioning students match a word card with a picture card. Cards can be placed in a basket all shuffled up - student's task is to paper clip them, clothes pin them, or put them in library card pockets in a book (let me know if you need clarification).
- Handmade story books with picture cues to help with words; lower functioning students velcro a card with a sight word on top of a greyed out sight word, higher functioning students have to fill in the blank with the appropriate word (velcro cards) -- visual cues can be used to help in this process.

Word Families:
-matching books; again, lower functioning students can use cards that match to pictures with greyed out words, eventually you can fade out the grey.. higher functioning students match cards to pictures. For example, a page with a picture of a hat may say _ a t and the student has to choose the correct letter. To simplify - you could put two choices on the top (velcro) -- B or H ? They have to choose the right letter. You can also make it errorless where they just have to take the H from the top of the page and place it in front of the _ a t to spell the word correctly. There are tons of ways to do this!
-word family book; have the words listed on the page, have pictures that the student has to match to the words. Another variation is to have four to five words from a word family, let's say, -ot, and then the child has to write in the correct beginning letter. Or trace the beginning letter. Or choose between two or three choices. OR again you can make it errorless for the lower functioning, then you can move up to two choices, three choices, etc.

Comprehension:
-For simple comprehension activities, I write sentence strips that say simple things. Such as "The boy is sleeping." Then there is a basket of picture cards and they have to match the picture. Surprisingly enough, VISUAL learning is so important - and it seems so simple - but choosing the right card is showing that they are comprehending what is read to them. To make an activity like this one errorless, you can have two sets of cards. Your first set would be several sentence strips with the sentences.
The boy is happy.
The girl is working.
The baby is crying.
The dog is barking.
At the end of each sentence may be a colored square (each one a different color). One set of "answer picture cards" could be outlined in the corresponding color. Once you think the child "masters" matching the colors (they are secretly taking in the reading while they are matching the colors) -- you then switch out the color answer cards and give them just plain answer cards (no colored border) -- this is a good progression for comprehension, sight words, etc. I do this color coding with a lot of my grade level vocabulary! The kids match cards to science and social studies vocabulary words and pictures, they start out color coded and then they get so used to which cards go where, they move to the no color coding and are successful!

MATH
Recognizing Numbers:
-simple puzzles that you can get from the dollar store, tj maxx, marshalls, etc. where they are putting numbers in a wooden puzzle, foam puzzle, etc.
-counting activity may be several butter containers glued to a box. You can vary this activity by not writing the numbers outside of the container, rather putting a popsicle stick hot glued on the side of the butter cups (vertical, so the stick is popping out of the cup) then place a piece of velcro on the top of the stick. You can have a basket of counters (bears, erasers, pen tops, laminated sheets of colored paper, etc.) and then you can switch out the activity for numbers 1-10, 1-20, etc. You place the velcro card (7) on the butter cups (you can do 3,5,6 however many you think the child can span their attention for...) and then it may have butter cups with the numbers 4, 7, 9, and 1 on them. The child would then have exactly 4+7+9+1 counters in their basket. I might not be explaining this well, but the child can look at the task and see that they are supposed to put the specified number of counters in the cups. Also, you can vary this for higher level thinkers by putting a blue 5 on the cup and a green 6 on the cup, meaning the child has to choose 5 blue bears for that cup, or 6 green bears for the other cup, so on and so forth.
-TouchMath activities could be a little sentence strip book, or file folder book, with different pages. you can write the problems on the pages, and the child has to choose the touchmath answer card to velcro in to the book. You can make these errorless for those just learning, where they have to match the number to the correct answer that is already listed there. Or, each page could have the answer velcroed in a different spot and the child has to move it to the square where the answer should be. Errorless activities are so KEY to exposure for kids who may not ever be able to be independent. So even if you have a kid that's not quite to Touchmath yet, they may be exposed to the addition concept by having an errorless book.
-Coins: I always do sorting activities. I save TV dinner trays and tape pictures of the coins on the inside. Sometimes higher kids have just the coin names taped on the inside. They have to sort the coins. This is a good skill for math and also a good vocatonal skill.
-Coin Book - I make little books with ACTUAL coins because this is helpful for kids to feel and see actual coins. Sometimes those fake-o coins work but then the kid doesn't have a clue when they touch real money... I will do variations of the book based on what the child's IEP goal is... sometimes each page says one coin, PENNY, NICKEL, DIME, QUARTER, DOLLAR, and then I have the child velcro the coin onto the right page. You can ALSO AGAIN make this errorless by keeping each correct answer velcroed on the top of the page and they have to "move" it to the "answer" square (rather than placing all of the choices into a basket, where a higher child could choose each correct answer from the basket and place it on the page.)
-Fractions - Similar to what I've been talking about - some sort of book that has different fractions in it and the child has to velcro the correct answer for what that fraction is. You can make this one interchangeable as well, by maybe laminating it and coloring the fractions differently each time, or by making it an option to velcro your card to the top of the page and the answer is on the bottom of the page, and you can change the order, answers, etc. as the child makes progress or masters the first skills. If that makes sense.

By the way, I HATE saxon. I never thought Saxon was designed with special ed kids in mind. The pages are hideous, there's so much text, the lessons move too quickly, ick. Haha, off topic.

WRITING
Handwriting:
- www.handwritingworksheets.com --- get a cheapy clipboard and put a velcro piece on the top where you can velcro a pencil. One of the activities can be to do the activity on the clipboard - this can work with many different things. you can print out handwriting worksheets with the child's name on it - these are GREAT for data collection, portfolios, etc. I keep my students worksheets, especially for kids who have a simple, clear cut goal of writing their name. That way, I can show the progression from September to January, etc. by keeping these worksheets that they do from time to time.
- you can make velcro activities in boardmaker - put a picture of something simple, and they have to velcro the right letter (c for cat, d for dog, basic stuff) -- you can again make these errorless by putting a greyed out answer already there for them to match, or for them to move the piece from the top of the page to the "answer box" and then slowly move them towards two choices for that page, then all of the choices are in a baggie or basket and they have to pick it from all of the choices (usually 5-7, depending on child's ability).
- puzzles with alphabet letters - these are reinforcing letters, sounds, etc. these are great for independent activities. I'm assuming you have an elementary classroom - because you do want to be sure your activities are age appropriate. puzzles etc. may not be appropriate for an older level classroom.
- writing also includes fine motor skills, putting pegs in a pegboard, putting items into a container, sorting, unclipping clothes pins from the side of a box and placing them in the box, another good fine motor one is getting a bunch of key cards (old ones) from a local hotel/motel, making a larger hole and having the child put the cards from one side into the other side, then slowly changing it and ending up with just a horizontal line, about a millimeter thick, and they have to get the hotel cards in the slot.
- writing can also be computer/keyboard activities. there are quite a few typing / learning games for higher kids, and then switch activated games for lower kids. I know that there are several pieces of writing software that are for VERY low functioning kids - and work up to the higher functioning kids by allowing them to write with symbols and pictures. A computer assignment, once the child learns what is expected of them, can also be a good independent activity.

SENSORY/OT
-moving jelly bugs (or something else squishy or silly feeling) from one jar to another (something the child might enjoy doing, but is getting sensory input from)
-filling up squirt bottles (also could be vocational, but is water play) -- I have a station by our sink in the classroom where I put electrical tape at different capacities on several spray bottles (that I got at Costco) and it SAYS the capacity on the tape, so the child is also being exposed to following directions, looking at capacities, numbers, etc. This can also be transferred into using the squirt bottle to water different plants in the school or classroom
-a tub of rice or sand with hidden toys in it, little cheapy dollar store toys, with a bucket attached to the side for the child to place them all in. You can also step this up a bit by having three buckets, the child has to do small toys, medium toys, big toys. Or red toys, blue toys, green toys. Or even throw in some math - 3 little soldiers in this cup, 8 little soldiers in this cup, 5 little soldiers in this cup.
- pouring activity - similar to the squirt bottles - but the child is given several containers with lines (and capacities written on the lines for exposure) and a jug or bottle with water (or sand or rice or whatever you think) -- this one can get messy so I only use it with my higher / responsible kiddos
- clothes pins - putting them on sentence strips, baskets, etc.
- matching sensory / tactile items. I sometimes get paint samples from the store and will do tactile patterns on them with puffy paint - the child has to match one card to the other. Lower kids can look, higher kids can learn to shut their eyes and have to find the match by feeling...

3. Proud2BATeacherPhenom

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Aug 2, 2011

Thanks Teachersk!

Is it okay if I pick your brain too?

What would you do with a student who is having difficulty recognizing/labelling the letters in the alphabet? Would you do sight word activities (ie matching word to picture)? I was thinking of just doing environmental words that he should know (i.e. girls, boys, exit, enter, etc...). What else would you suggest? The student is in the 3rd grade.

I have the same issue with him in math. He can't remember numbers past 3 and can't count past 5; so other than patterning, matching and sorting activities, what else can I do with him?

4. teacherskConnoisseur

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Aug 2, 2011

Well, here's the thing.

With reading, you can easily move to a "sight word" approach and teach him environmental print (as you suggested). This is a good move, however, I wouldn't completely abandon letter recognition at third grade. I've had kids where it just "clicks" one day, after many years of repetition and struggles. (With that being said, I teach middle school and we do not do much letter recognition in middle school).

With math, you can't really do a "sight number" (lol) approach, so there's not much else to focus on. Numbers are pretty important. In my middle school classroom, we don't do much with letters at that point, because if you don't know letters by middle school, it's probably not going to happen. But, with numbers, we will keep working on it as a side skill, just in case it clicks.

I would teach 1:1 correspondence. That is an incredibly important skill both vocationally and academically. This will allow him to understand "put one in each" if he were assembling packets, folders, items, bags, etc. at a job. (Put one flyer in each mailbox, put one fork at each place setting, etc.) Can he do this? If you have 5 dots on the paper and a pile of counters, could he put one counter on each of the five dots? If so, you can expand this by counting with him as he does it (teaching him to do it in order, as though he was counting). You can also record counting on a switch and then have him place the counters as the switch counts (slowly). This helps with number awareness.

Another thing I would focus on is time and money. Sometimes, when you put it into context, the kids learn it faster.

So, if he's having trouble counting little teddy bear counters, maybe he would get it if he has to count out THREE DOLLARS to get his school lunch. Or, maybe he can earn a treat at the end of the week but has to count out the right amount of money to get it. You can also do 1:1 correspondence for this (i.e. for lunch, you can have a laminated sheet that has a copy of three dollars on it, and teach him to "count out" (lay one dollar on each print out) his 3 dollars for lunch. Same with time, you can teach him when the little hand gets to 1, it's time for lunch (put a color coded tape next it, a big sign of 1:00, etc.) Have him look up at the clock - ask, "Is it time for lunch?" It's crazy how kids who previously "couldn't learn" things in the traditional manner, become SO STREET SMART when you put the learning into context. So, I'd try those things.

When it's all said and done, sight words (environmental print) - knowing which bathroom to go into, what food you want off the menu, when to STOP, etc. - is very important for independence. I would ask his parents which restaurants he likes to eat at. Get a copy of those menus and start to teach him words on the menu of things he likes to eat (even teach things like DRINKS, APPETIZERS, etc. and teach him to categorize that way - you said he can sort - this is a great life skill sorting activity). You can create sorting mats that say APPETIZERS, DRINKS, DESSERTS, MEALS, etc. and have pictures (with the word on the bottom of course) of his favorite things. Then he has to put them in the right category. Surprisingly, this is "sorting" that we do in real life, as adults. When you want a drink, you search on the menu for the drink category (essentially "sorting" the word in your mind).

Also, as far as independent math skills: time, calendar, money.

Hope that helps!

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Aug 2, 2011

You are amazing TeacherSK.

6. FLTeacherRookie

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Aug 2, 2011

WOW, thank you so much for posting!! I am making a list of items now that I need to collect.

7. Proud2BATeacherPhenom

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Aug 2, 2011

Thanks TeacherSK!

I wasn't going to leave letter and number recognition in the wayside. I know he is just getting tired of doing the same thing, even when it is a different activity. 1-to-1 correspondence was just clicking with him in June but who knows if he will remember it when he returns after the summer. I attempted coin recognition for 2 months, but it was unsuccessful and that is after he was exposed to it for 5 months during calendar. I'll attempt telling time as soon as he can recognize numbers to at least 12.

Unfortunately, I have no adaptive technology other than laptops and computers. No special computer programs...

He has memorized our classroom schedule around recess and lunch (as food is involved) and home time. Due to the behaviors in my class, we really don't use the clock to determine when we start/finish activities other than lunch.

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Aug 3, 2011

Once he is up to it, see if you can borrow Touch Money from someone or make your own set. Money seems like it's way above his head right now, but not out of his reach.

9. Proud2BATeacherPhenom

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Aug 3, 2011

I was going to introduce touchpoints to my students this year who just can't seem to memorize simple addition and subtraction facts. I don't have the program but I taught it for 2 years when I taught in a different county.

I do teach TouchMoney to all of my students and I absolutely love it.

I guess my problem is that I feel incompetent when my students don't show academic improvement. I just have to focus on and celebrate the smaller gains that this student makes.

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