Sunday, September 23, 2018

What's in a Theme? An Awful Lot, Actually.

Thematic teaching is used extensively in education in general and speech-language therapy in particular.  Using books and activities that revolve around a single specific topic allows for focused intervention on a specific group of vocabulary and concepts and provision of multiple opportunities for learning.  



Given that our AAC users need many more opportunities for learning and receive far fewer life experiences, thematic activities can provide activities that relate to real life experiences and and build on what they know.  Themes can help make connections between what students read and hear with what they do.  Keeping the vocabulary consistent is much more strategic than providing students with random word lists. And making activities interactive keeps students more engaged.


One of my most recent ventures in resource creation is thematic resources, which fcus on core words and relevant fringe vocabulary for common themes and topics.  I began with a Summer-Beach theme, and moved on to Fall and Winter, and am currently working on Fire Safety.

Each resource has vocabulary cards featuring both core and fringe for the theme, practice with finding said vocabulary in the AAC system, extending the vocabulary practice with a variety of games and printables, and using the words in writing activities, flip books, and a lap book that ties it all together.  Also in the resource are Wh questions, BINGO cards, and sentence building activities.



But obviously, even multiple activities using the same vocabulary repeatedly can’t offer all that is needed for students to “own” the words.  


So, what can parents and other partners do to help?  Here are some simple Fall activities for extending the learning:

  1. Look at or gather a variety of leaves. “Look!”  “I like that.”  “Do you see?”  “Pick up.”  “Make pile.”  “Jump in!” These are all core word phrases that can be modeled.
  2. At this time of year, you might see all sorts of great colors, depending on where you live. “What color?” “Red.” (etc.) “Look at that.”  “Pretty.”  “Different.”
  3. Headed to the pumpkin patch?  “Which one?”  “That one.” “Big one.” “Little one.” “Different.”  Also: round, bumpy, rough, smooth, orange.
  4. Thinking about going apple picking? You can even do that at the grocery store. Or try painting some. Again, you can talk about colors, about being the same or different. About being hard or soft, big or little, mine or yours, and having more or less.
  5. Drive or walk around the neighborhood looking at Halloween decorations. Are they funny or scary? Spooky or pretty? Do you like them or not?
  6. Practice sentences where ever you go for Fall fun. “I see big pumpkins.”  “I see apples.” “She is jumping.” “Do more!”


Enjoy this wonderful season and………keep on talking!




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