Saturday, October 28, 2017

Scavenger Hunting

(image is of my kids, Will on his scooter and Maya in her wheelchair, studied scavenger hunt pages)

Last week a friend posted a fun neighborhood scavenger hunt on Facebook. This morning we awoke to a picture-perfect autumn NYC morning and absolutely nothing on our schedule. I printed up two copies of the sheet below, grabbed some Halloween stickers, and our family headed out for a lovely, leisurely scavenger-hunting walk.

Image is the scavenger hunt page that we used and a sheet of partially used Halloween stickers. 
This "Scavenger Hunt-Neighborhood Search" page was found at this website---grab and print here!

The kids searched as we walked, and we stopped frequently to put stickers on the squares for items that we spotted (you could also cross them out, stamp them, punch holes, put a fingerprint on each, etc.). 

This wasn't an AAC activity for us today . . . but it got me thinking about how many opportunities there are for language modeling and meaningful AAC use during scavenger hunt activities. These ideas are probably well-used by lots of speech and AAC folks, but they were new to me this morning----and maybe there are some people reading who could use a few easy ideas.

Here's some language that could be targeted during a scavenger hunt (scaffold up or down as needed):
  • Attention-getters: Look! Stop! Wait! (Halt! Freeze!)
  • Declaration: I see it/one! I got it/one! Show me! (Spotted! Nailed it! Ding! Success!) 
  • Narration: I am looking, We are looking (I'm/We're hunting/searching/investigating/spying)
  • Questions: What do you see? Where is it?
  • Negation: Not here, Can't find, Don't see
  • Emotions: Frustrated, excited, confused, victorious!

With some careful image/item selections, scavenger hunts could be crafted to target specific goals, as well. For example, if you're looking to target 2-word combinations the scavenger hunt could contain images like these:

(these images show pumpkins and ghosts of various colors. Images were retrieved via Google image searches)

These images could be hidden around a room (or home, school, yard, etc). When one is located the finder needs to use two words in order to communicate what was found ("yellow pumpkin," "black ghost," etc.). 3-word combinations could be targeted by adding another variable, like size, into the mix (which require the speaker to say "big orange pumpkin" or "small black ghost"): 
(these images are pairs of large and small orange pumpkins, yellow pumpkins, white ghosts, and black ghosts.
Images were retrieved via Google image searches)

The same idea could carry into other word combinations. For example, verbs could be highlighted by using images of different actions. Subject + verb combinations could be targets by using pictures that require both subject and verb to be identified in order to identify the picture (e.g., a boy painting, a girl painting, a boy singing, a girl singing). The subject target could be a pronoun---or, to increase motivation, you could use images of characters from favorite shows. (It's actually surprisingly easy to find images of show characters doing different actions via Google image searches). 

I particularly like the idea of using scavenger hunts for asking questions---sometimes targeting questions feels so contrived, but this is a genuine questioning activity, like this:

You (speech + modeling) : I see one!

You: Do you want to know what I found? You can ask, "what?" (model "what")

You (speech + modeling): I see the yellow pumpkin!

You (speech + modeling): You see it?

You: No? You can ask "where?" (model "where")

When your child indicates that they have found one, you can switch roles in the conversation and ask what and where questions in order to elicit more information.

This won't be a hit for everyone, but my kids are list-lovers. The idea of having a printed list in hand makes this activity really motivating and engaging for them.  Happy hunting!

(image is of each kid pausing to put a sticker on some item that they had spotted)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Ghost Balloons (and free printable)

This week, while browsing Facebook, I saw the coolest little craft project---simple, inexpensive, difficult to mess up, and sure to delight! A librarian friend of mine did this activity with a student group and it was a hit (shout out to all of the children's/youth librarians!), so I stole it. It would be great to use with AAC users (or actually for a variety of speech goals)---or just with your own children at home.

Here's what you need:
  • .5 cup vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • balloon
  • water bottle 
  • optional: index card (helpful for getting the baking soda into the balloon)
  • optional: funnel (helpful for getting the vinegar into the water bottle)
  • optional: sharpie (for drawing a ghost face, if you'd like)

Here's what you do:
  • (Note: Before beginning, I blew up our balloons to stretch them a bit.)
  • Draw a face on the balloon (if you'd like). The face will fade a bit as it stretches.
  • Measure and pour half a cup of vinegar into an empty water bottle.
  • Measure and pour a teaspoon of baking soda into your balloon. Tip: if you roll an index card into a funnel shape and insert the tip into the balloon opening, it's pretty easy to do get the baking soda inside. (Other techniques were not as successful.)
  • Carefully stretch the mouth of the balloon over the top of the water bottle---taking care to let the balloon flop to the side so that no baking soda escapes.
  • Lift the balloon, dropping the baking soda into the vinegar. The resulting reaction causes a sudden burst of bubbles and inflates the balloon!
I made a quick book to go with this activity. The photos show a pretty clear sequence of steps, although you may want to customize the pages (e.g., take out the index card page if you're not using it) and/or the text. For the sample book, I used simple sentences and repeated some core words (e.g., need, get, put, it, in, look) . . . but this activity could be easily used to target a number of goals and a wide range of vocabulary. The book has been uploaded as a (free) powerpoint file, so you can easily modify the text on each page, or add/delete pages. 

Here are the screenshots from "Ghost Balloons!"


The link to download the powerpoint file for this book is here: Ghost Balloons!  (I'm not sure why the file is so big--it says unable to preview because it's so large---which is why I uploaded the whole sample book here. It can still be downloaded from that link, just not previewed.)

If you end up using it, or doing this activity, swing by here or our Facebook page and let me know how it goes!