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My AAC Immersion Kindergarten: Week 10

My AAC Immersion Kindergarten: Week 10


We have had a busy few weeks. I've shared photos on Nathaniel's Facebook page of recent events at our house. We had company from New Mexico and Texas one weekend and had a bridal shower for my future daughter-in-law, Taylor. Rich, Nathaniel, and I went to Madison, Wisconsin last weekend to help Josiah complete a move into his first leased living space. On top of fast paced life, we've all been struggling with a head cold type of virus. Thankfully, Nathaniel seems to be managing it with increased breathing treatments and suctioning.

With weekdays full of actually homeschooling, weekends busy with older kids' stuff, and being a little under the weather, there hasn't been time for documenting our homeschool journey and writing blog posts. Many of our activities, like how we are learning phonemes, have fallen into a pattern that doesn't need to be posted about repeatedly. But I will share a few things from last week that offer a peek into my attempts to saturate Nathaniel's learning experience with augmentative alternative language and accommodate his nonverbal speech.

AAC Core Words of the Week
My primary goal with these posts about teaching Nathaniel at home is to share how I am incorporating augmentative alternative communication (AAC) into our daily lessons. As I've mentioned in the past I typically use PrAACtical AAC's Core word of the month list. However, for September, I've decided to drop a few from the list and continue working on some of the words from the summer months. The words Nathaniel and I worked on last week were: CALL, LISTEN, WE, COLOR. In descriptions below and examples of what I modeled, this week's words are in capitals to draw attention to them. Other words we will work on in September (sit, take, time write, and, is, much) are in italics.

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Week's Theme: Vegetables

Our story for the week was Bread and Jam for Francis by Russell Hoban. We also talked about vegetables using books The Vegetables We Eat by Gail Gibbons and Mrs. Peanuckle's Vegetable Alphabet, art by Jessie Ford. We explored the produce aisle at the grocery store and decided to bring home beets, tomatoes, and corn. As you can see from the photo above, I remembered to take pictures of Nathaniel examining the beets and tomatoes, but not when he helped his dad shuck and looked at the corn. We color sorted and matched some vegetable photo cards. This task was very simple for Nathaniel, but gave me opportunity to focus on language.

My goal for this theme (combined with talking about fruits this week) is really just that - expose Nathaniel to the language categories, provide opportunities to communicate, and maybe try some new foods. He eats corn willingly. He tried beets. I scolded my thirty-two year old, Wes, when he hid behind a napkin laughing hysterically at the face Nathaniel made and then announced to family dinner, "Beets taste like dirt." We have leftover beets in our refrigerator if anyone would like to come get them.

Nathaniel offered the repeated phrase "bread and jam" when we read the story, and I used our week's words during science exploration and meal preparation by modeling these phrases:

  • What COLOR is it?
  • That COLOR is....
  • WE find more ______ COLOR.
  • WE put _______ COLOR here. (while sorting pictures of vegetables)
  • WE like that COLOR vegetable.
  • WE see vegetables.
  • WE eat vegetables.
  • WE not LISTEN to Wes.

Language Lessons:
Jolly Phonics teaches Cc and Kk at the same time. Cc is the "caterpillar /k/" and Kk is the "kicking /k/." We focused mostly on Cc last week and even found a caterpillar. I imagine this week will be full of karate kicks. I introduced a new activity to practice identifying each phoneme we've learned so far in initial placement of a word. I offered the phoneme sound and named the photos aloud. By using photos and clothespins, Nathaniel was not taxed with having to give an answer with his device. Nathaniel seemed to understand the exercise, however when I showed him the Nn card he turned to his device and said, "Eat waffle." 


We will start our kindergarten math curriculum this week. I picked Saxon Math for Nathaniel, in part because I am very familiar with it and there is low expectation of writing work for the Kindergarten level. Concepts are taught mostly with manipulatives. It is calendar oriented and starts with twelve lessons for the month of September. I am excited to jump into that. Last week we continued to work on counting, number recognition, and identifying quantities. Nathaniel graphed some vegetables and then talked about their colors with his brother, Peter. He asked the question, "What COLOR that" and pointed to a vegetable. Peter answered using the device. I love the photo above... they were both trying to talk at the same time. Often a moment like this ends with Nathaniel batting the other person's hand away and claiming his words. A good thing.


AAC Instruction:
One of my favorite classes in graduate school was Grammar. Yes, I'm a little weird. I spent the semester learning how to diagram harder and harder sentences using syntax trees. Nathaniel is putting longer utterances together, but often the syntax is a little messed up. Instead of "Can I get down?" after dinner, he might ask, "can get down I" or "down I get." Of course we honor his communication immediately and excuse him from the table, but I want to do some direct teaching on word order. I decided with our recent study of trees, I could use a very rudimentary syntax tree to show Nathaniel complete utterances.

Nathaniel understands the left to right progression of reading. I explained that to make a complete thought when we talk, a word has to sit on each branch. Using this week's words, I created sentences: WE COLOR. WE LISTEN. WE CALL. Nathaniel tends to not enjoy mimicking what I model on the high tech device. He would rather generate a unique utterance of his own. But he doesn't seem to mind using his device to say a sentence I modeled with low tech on the tree.

Another day we played a game with family photos/names and pronouns in one bucket and verbs in another. We made more simple sentences on our tree branches, and again used his device to speak our complete thoughts. I suspect with time, continued immersion in modeling, and direct teaching, he'll develop more typical syntax. Whether my little construction paper syntax tree will actually help him understand this is anyone's guess. I suspect someday he'll tell me if it helped or not.

Other Books We Enjoyed This Week:
What Will Grow by Jennifer Ward. Great picture book with fold outs on seeds. Repeated line "What will grow" can be used for shared AAC reading. I found the phrase occurred so often that Nathaniel grew a little weary of using his device to help read. I compromised by asking him to generate the phrase only on the pages with a fold out. Seeing the larger picture was great motivation.
Henny Penny by Paul Galdone. Nathaniel loves this book. The phrase we repeat using his AAC device is "The sky is falling!"
Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. Wonderful story. We've been reading it repeatedly just for the loveliness. The challenge to do something that makes the world more beautiful causes me reflect each time I read it. 

Thank you for sharing our week!

My AAC Immersion Kindergarten: Week 11

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