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Thursday, April 20, 2017

Where Do I Find the Words for THAT?! Talk About Earth Day with AAC Users

As I continue to assure you that you can, indeed, include your AAC users in speech therapy and classroom activities that the rest of your (verbal) students are doing, I'm going to talk about an Earth Day activity today.
Earth Day is this weekend, which is Why I'm posting next week's post a few days early - so you can give this a try.
But no vocabulary teaching is limited to a specific day or week.  We can build our AAC users' vocabulary any day as they continue to add words to their "stash."

I have an Earth Day sorting activity that I use with students, which requires only that students be able to sort items into their recycling categories (paper, plastic,  metal) or non recycle activities (laundry for clothing, etc.).  I usually use this as a jumping off point for talking about not just recycling and Earth Day and being "green" every day; but also about describing the items - specifically about what they are made from.

What are all the things your students can think of that are made out of paper?  Workbooks, text books, bulletins and notices, newspapers, magazines.... you get the idea.
For your speaking students, you may need to provide some scaffolding for word retrieval problems or other language issues that make listing items in a category difficult.

But what about your AAC users?  What do they need to do to retrieve the words they need for this activity?  Well, where will they find those items in their AAC system?  It might be in a folder of "School Things," or a page of "Leisure Activities." Help them figure out where to look to find the words they need to participate in the discussion.

What about plastic things?  These can be found in many different groups of items, so help your AAC users to think bout where some of those might be in their systems.  Plastic utensils?  Probably found in the Food & Drink -> Kitchen Utensils pages.
Aluminum cans? Probably found in the Food & Drink -> Drinks page.  And many of your students are bound to know where to find those soda cans even if they aren't usually allowed to drink soda.

Point out places in your classroom or on campus that encourage recycling of these items.  Many rooms have black trash cans for trash and blue ones for recycling paper at the least.  One high school campus I'm on has specially marked trash containers around the campus for students to place cans and bottles in.  One of the special education classes bags these up and takes them to the recycle center, where they exchange bottles and cans for cash they can use for outings in the community.

Any activity you can talk about or within with your speaking students can include your AAC users.  Just make sure they have a robust system with sufficient vocabulary to participate.  In a pinch, make a core-word based communication board for the activity - while you're waiting for that robust system to arrive!

Have fun, keep recycling, and.... keep on talking!

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