My AAC Immersion Homeschool Kindergarten: Week 2
Last week seemed idyllic compared to how this week felt as I moved through it. We got off to a weird start on Monday due to a mid-morning physical therapy appointment. The appointment went fantastic, but morning appointments derail our day. Monday morning appointments can derail more than a day.
When I planned our kindergarten homeschool schedule, I purposefully put bible, math, phonemic awareness/phonics, occupational therapy/fine motor work, and our augmentative alternative communication (AAC) lessons in the morning. These are my highest priority for Nathaniel right now. I placed enrichment lessons - literature, science and culture, music, and art in the afternoon. For the last few months, I have been gradually moving all our appointments to after lunch. There is a natural break in our day if we spend the morning at home learning and head out after lunch for a PT, OT, speech therapy, or doctor's appointment. If we don't return to school after we get home, the enrichment lessons are easily accomplished after dinner or on the weekend.
We are squeezing in some extra physical therapy this month, and Monday morning was the therapist's free slot. Since I'm attempting to keep morning interruptions to a minimum and know we'll hit those priority subjects most often, I stepped back into our Monday with the afternoon enrichment lessons. We haven't been at this long; I barely have hold of our daily schedule. The different start to our week made everything feel slightly off.
AAC Words of the Week:
My primary goal with these posts about teaching Nathaniel at home is to share how I am incorporating AAC immersion into our daily kindergarten lessons. I follow PrACCtical AAC's Core Word of the Month twelve word list. I focus on four words each week. Our words this week were: THEY, MUCH, BEFORE, LATER.
Week's Theme: Animals Live in Homes
Nathaniel enjoys the PBS show Wild Kratts; that fascination prompted many of our themes this year. I can work on math concepts, phonemic awareness, AAC core words and other kindergarten skills with any topic. Picking subject matter that interests Nathaniel encourages learning. Before we sat down to read Monday afternoon, I anchored our theme by talking with Nathaniel about Wild Kratts as we traveled home from therapy.
Our children's literature selections were: Wonders of Nature by Jane Werner Watson and Welcome Home Bear, A Book of Animal Habitats by Il Sung Na. I try to read our literature selections each day of the week and build additional lessons from them.
Though not planned, Welcome Home Bear had a core word we worked on last week, FIND, on the first page. After the first few readings, I added the repeated phrase "FIND a home, bear!" each time bear explored an unsuitable habitat. This gave Nathaniel a way to engage with his device as a shared reading activity for the rest of the week. I am currently modeling 3-5 word phrases for Nathaniel. Sometimes he offered the entire phrase; sometimes portions of it. A simpler modeling and expressive language option would be to say only FIND with the AAC device while you say the rest of the phrase orally.
I asked Nathaniel to apply what he learned by sorting his plastic animals onto air, water, land mats. (Photo at the top of the blog post.) He also cut, matched, and pasted clipart of animals and their homes. I realized when adding the photo above that out of the the twelve animal and home combinations, the photo I took includes the only two he got wrong. I'm keeping life real by posting it anyway. AAC phrases I modeled during these activities included: "You cut BEFORE glue." "FIND the right home!" "It will go away LATER," referring to the excess glue. "Put it in trash LATER," referring to the scraps of paper Nathaniel wanted to take to the trash after each cut.
We also enjoyed Eric Carle's book My Very First of Animal Homes. The split pages create a matching game. LATER and BEFORE can be used with this text with phrases like, "We did cave BEFORE." "We will FIND the dog's home LATER." We are using Carle's book, Animals, Animals as one of our poetry books this year. I introduced this book to Nathaniel by looking through it together and talking about each animal's habitat. I searched for symbols to add each habitat name, (desert, artic, jungle, rainforest, etc) to Nathaniel's device as fringe words, but did not get them programmed in yet. We will return to these concepts; I will have them ready for him next time.
Our letter and phoneme this week was Aa. We followed a similar structure as last week and completed the same worksheets for the new sound. AAC opportunities arose in our activities when making our play dough letter, "You have too MUCH play dough," and when painting, "You painted black BEFORE blue."
I added a shape sort to the review activities we continued from last week. I placed a draw pile in the middle and we took turns drawing cards. This gave us opportunity to work on waiting, an OT goal, and practice the phrases "I go LATER" and "Your turn LATER." We practiced quantities 1-5 with toy trains and marbles. "I (You) have too MUCH!" and "How MUCH?" were AAC phrases we used with this activity. Nathaniel enjoyed the marbles, so I incorporated them into our AAC focused learning time as well. Find a blog post here about those activities.
Art and Music:
Our art piece for this week was A Girl with a Watering Can by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. AAC phrases I modeled during our discussion included: "What did she do BEFORE?" "What season is it?" "She is playing outside." "THEY are pretty," referring to the flowers.
Our music listening selection was the Star Spangled Banner and we enjoyed the National Youth Orchestra's rendition. Over the year, I will build on these at home opportunities we've have to listen and observe symphonies and orchestras. AAC phrases I modeled during our music time included: "BEFORE THEY play, THEY watch" referring to how the musicians watch the conductor. "THEY play MUCH too loud." "You hold too MUCH!" as Nathaniel carried our cymbals to our work area. We talked about waiting for the right time to play our instrument, listened for each cymbal crash, and joined in. Then I returned to the device and said, "We played MUCH too loud!"
Occupational Therapy - Fine Motor
I model so much language when we work on fine motor skills that I want to share a few activities Nathaniel enjoyed. Our Handwriting Without Tears work focused on constructing the jump frog letters with the wood sticks. "BEFORE little stick, do big stick." "You put big stick down LATER." were examples of my modeling during this activity. We worked on basic strokes with paint on our easel. I said "BEFORE you paint, watch this," and then modeled the shape I wanted him to make. (Modeling AAC while modeling fine motor skills... the need for patience is why I go to bed at 8:30 every night!) "We can do that LATER," fit great when Nathaniel wanted to wash the paint brush repeatedly.
Did I just say Nathaniel loves to wash his paintbrush? He loves to play in water period. He tried to push away my attempts to incorporate modeling in this phase of the activity. I used our low tech tools and pointed to the words with the messy paint brush to get his attention. "Too MUCH water," and "Give me more," fit in the moment though now as I write them out, they seem awkward and I can't remember the context. Incorporating AAC into our kindergarten routine is not all smiles and happiness. Nathaniel is uncooperative at times. He will occasionally cross his arms over his chest, turn away from me, and refuse to watch another example of putting words together. Sometimes he just wants to do the activity, not talk about it. Sometimes I let him. Sometimes I just keep modeling whether he is paying attention or not. Once this week, I confronted this behavior directly. "Nathaniel, you need to learn how to talk with your device because it is the best way you have to interact with other people. You will learn by watching when Mommy. We are working on putting three words together to say something about these marbles. It is your turn." Offering the reason we have to keep including his device in everything we do seemed to soften the resistance.
Physical Therapy - Gross Motor
Nathaniel's greatest gross motor accomplishment this week was pulling a hose up the hill to water our sunflowers. "MUCH too hard!" "Go up BEFORE you turn it on!" But then he turned the water on at the nozzle, and I had to put his device in a safe place because he LOVES to spray me.
Other books we enjoyed this week:
Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee and Kurt Cryus. I love this book. It has counting. It has rhyme. It has seek and find - look for the boy on his bike on each page. It has a brief introduction to map reading with an aerial view of all the stuck trucks. But most importantly, it features a little boy with an idea who isn't heard. So he has to "say it again and say it loud." Such an important AAC lesson for Nathaniel.
Move Over, Rover by Karen Beaumont. Sweet story about a puppy who shares his dog house with the neighborhood animals until skunk ruins the coziness. Rhyming text. Good for visual cues - look for skunk in each picture of the doghouse. Useful to work on present progressive verb endings and some longer repeated phrases: "Looking all around," "Find a place that's warm."
Alphablock by Christopher Franceshelli. We continue to work on our phoneme awareness.
Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney. Of course, it's a classic. And it has two of July's words, MUCH and LOVE in the title, which can also be used as a repeated line during the reading. We'll read this often at bedtime this month.
Summer Days and Nights by Wong Herbert Yee. We are working on learning the seasons and the activities that accompany each. This rhyming text and the pretty illustrations offer a peek into some tender summer moments between parent and child.
Thank you for reading about our week! If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy My AAC Immersion Homeschool Kindergarten Week 1.