My AAC Immersion Homeschool Kindergarten: Week 3
When I posted My AAC Immersion Homeschool Kindergarten: Week 2 on Nathaniel's Facebook page, I said something like, "I can't promise these will be weekly..." But then I received a message from Laura in Texas.
Her daughter has complex communication needs and was under served by her public school district last year. Laura is hoping to use the summer to boost her daughter's AAC exposure and use. "Can I buy your curriculum?" she asked. Problem. I don't really have a curriculum. I have made eclectic selections of other people's stuff and supplement it with materials I own or create depending on Nathaniel's needs. Often an idea on how to use a core word in tomorrow's math lesson occurs to me at two in the morning when I'm awake checking on Nathaniel's oxygen levels. I have nothing to sell to Laura.
But I have a story to tell... The story of how I am trying to help a little boy learn to talk by providing a kindergarten learning environment drenched in augmentative and alternative communication modeling and opportunities.
So I will continue to tell the story. For Laura and her daughter.
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: SAME, READY, IS, WITH. An additional post describing four simple activities I did this week to focus on these words can be found here.
Week's Theme: Birds
Nathaniel's first word was bird. I was rocking him to sleep for a nap and there was a Blue Jay squawking loudly outside his bedroom window. He signed bird. It made me cry. We have explored birds before. I anchored this week's theme with our literature and playing with the Safari Bird Toob and cards we had from the last time we talked about birds. The core word SAME was helpful as Nathaniel quickly matched birds to cards.
Our children's literature selections were All Things Bright and Beautiful by Cecil Frances Alexander and About Birds: A Guide for Children by Cathryn Sill. I read the weekly literature selections daily, used them to purposefully expand Nathaniel's receptive vocabulary, comprehension, and prediction. For example, I defined the word 'creature' when we read Alexander's book and discussed how we might know what season the book describes by the presence of flowers and birds in the illustrations. Both of these texts have gorgeous pictures - highly recommend.
Other than reading aloud, I only have two short opportunities in our week to explore science or social studies topics with Nathaniel. These just aren't priority subjects this year. But by providing hands on materials and purposeful play, a lot can be accomplished quickly. Many of the activities work their way into Nathaniel's free play and our family time.
I expanded his understanding of different bird species with matching laminated cards and added some of the more common names, like Robin and BlueJay, on his device. "It IS the SAME." "THEY are the SAME" were core word phrases I focused on using during this activity. He explored bird anatomy with spiral bound flash cards and searched for the terms on his device. Common ones - head, body, feet - were on his human body page. We added claw, wing, and beak to the page with bird names. Nathaniel used a magnifying glass to study the TOOB birds' beaks and feet. I avoided adding really specific fringe vocabulary and bird terms, like talon and webbed, by having Nathaniel point to pictures to differentiate between the two. He's a kid who will go get a book to show me something very specific when he wants to communicate about it, and my goal is core vocabulary. So I used almost all of our science work this week to drive home the words IS and SAME. Pronouns he, she, and it were reviewed for this, but in Nathaniel's world all big tough birds are Daddies and little cute birds are babies.
Some of the materials we used with this theme: Bird Tally Sheet (FREE; not pictured; working present progressive verbs while bird watching.) Bird Nature Study Packet (FREE; we used the Scavenger Hunt during outside play. Lots of material for future use.) Bird Species Matching Game (Free; we started with just five birds and will grow into more.) Usborne All About Birds - out of print. My Number Book by Patricia Mitter. Little Book of Backyard Bird Songs, Backyard Birds TOOB, owl, penguin,
Our letter and phoneme this week were Tt, and we did the same learning activities as with previous letters. Opportunity to use this week's core words worked with a initial sound worksheet, "Get glue READY" and "That IS READY/not READY." I wasn't prepared for our letter art activity on Friday and needed to cut triangles before he could start. I modeled "I get triangles READY" multiple times. He answered by signing "waiting" multiple times. This is amazing growth toward our OT's goal of patience as an adult prepares an activity for him. It is also a peek into his humor. I heard his sign as "I'm W A I T I N G..."
We have six shapes in our shape sort game now. (See week two for description.) I see significant improvement in turn taking. We played pretend ice cream shop with play dough and work mats as we continued to work on number four and quantities up to five. "Ice cream IS READY." was the AAC phrase I modeled and encouraged Nathaniel to repeat. Check out week one for a list of other math activities I use daily until we start Saxon Kindergarten Math in September.
Art and Music:
The Peaceable Kingdom by Edward Hicks was our art study. "THEY are WITH animals." "Cow IS WITH lion." "IS wolf sleeping?" were some core word phrases I wove into our discussions and observations.
"The Lark Ascending" by Ralph Vaughan Williams was our music selection. I found this gorgeous version featuring Hilary Hahn. I am her newest fan. Seriously, go listen and watch her. Amazing! Core word phrases that I modeled during our listening time included: "THEY are getting READY," "She IS getting READY," "She stops," and "Look a triangle!" What a fun connection to our math and science learning!
Our easel gets used a lot. One day this week, we smeared Mr. Bubbles and then added paint. It became a thick substance that be smoothed out over and over again to create a writing surface for basic strokes. First with paint brushes and then with fingers. "READY at the top," "Do it WITH that!" "Do it the SAME!" were phrases I used during this messy play that featured the week's core words.
Nathaniel's OT suggested using chalk and then a spray bottle and rag to wipe it clean. Nathaniel drew a car and sun and then told me what they were with his device. Check out this post on his Facebook page to see the drawing. These peeks into his learning are so rewarding.
Nathaniel really enjoyed our family writing activity at Tuesday night family dinner. He was bursting at the seams to share what he likes to get ready. Chocolate! We read the story, using his device to add 'I get READY' multiple times over the week. I would like to get some photos and make this into a book for him to read, but didn't have time this week. The place mat is new for us this week. It will help Nathaniel learn to set the table and give us a chance to review "I get ready to eat" after this week. I will add velcro to the place mat as a way to secure our picture cards and remind him to use his device to let me know he is all set for a meal.
Other books we enjoyed this week for fun:
Albert's Alphabet by Leslie Tryon. Perfect for our Tt week because Albert uses so many tools! Predominately a wordless book, I modeled the phrase "Is he READY (to) make it?" on Nathaniel's device before each letter.
Don't Be Afraid Little Pip by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman (Same team that does the Bear Snores On books). My brother calls one of his daughter's Pip, so this title grabbed my attention at the library. It was perfect for this week's theme of birds. Pip the penguin can't understand why he has wings but can't fly. Core word phrase repeated in text: "I can get help."
Summertime in the Big Woods. The Little House picture books are such a sweet series for little ones. We have many of them. We continued our discussion on seasons by noticing fireflies, bees, flowers, and the type of clothing the children are wearing.
I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems. Nathaniel is quickly becoming a fan of Gerald and Piggy. I am not so much a fan, but they make him laugh. I stuck in the phrase "Is he READY?" on Nathaniel's device a few times when Gerald was thinking about trying the slop.
Thanks for sharing our week! If you are mom like Laura who is supplementing your child's AAC experience, or maybe homeschooling a minimally verbal child, or a classroom teacher or a Speech Language Pathologist who is looking for new ideas... like Nathaniel's Facebook page to get notified of more posts like this one.