Banana Boat S’mores – A Visual Recipe

Hello, Everyone!

I hope that everyone is enjoying these last few weeks of sweet summer!   My extended school year program ends next week!  I’m looking forward to some family time before gearing up for the new school year!

We’ve been focusing on various summer activities in my classroom during our summer program and have recently been learning about camping.  We read the social story that I created about camping along with various other “camp” related stories.  We wrapped up our camping theme with making Banana Boat S’mores.  This recipe was really exciting for our group and delicious too!IMG_3642I created a visual recipe with pictures embedded for Banana Boat S’mores!  This recipe also comes with a recipe review page.   If you’d like to try this visual recipe with your students/children, click the link below.

 

Banana Boat S’mores – A Visual Recipe

 

Once again,  Thank you for joining me on my journey as an educator!

 

Sincerely,

 

Dana Grasso

You’re Going Camping – A Social Story

 

You’re Going Camping – A Social Story

Camping Social Story & Activities

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Hello, Everyone!

I LOVE social stories and I use them frequently in my special education classroom.  All children can benefit from the use of social stories to help make new experiences/places less scary and events more meaningful.  I use social stories before each of our community outings to help increase independence with the specific goals that my students are working on.  We’ve used social stories before going to restaurants to practice appropriate table manners before generalizing them into the community.  We’ve also used social stories to promote street and parking lot safety.   I’ve used dentist social stories that I found on YouTube before taking my son on his first dentist trip so that he knew what to expect.  Social stories are an extremely powerful tool, but they can be very challenging to find for specific situations.  My family and I recently went on a camping trip and had a wonderful time.   When we came home I thought about how students on the autism spectrum could benefit from a camping social story.  I looked for a camping social story on Pinterest, but I was unable to locate one. I decided to create a camping social story with actual pictures from our camping trip.  I like to use real pictures so that children can visualize what the experience will look like before it occurs.    I really enjoyed creating this social story because I was able to include my family in the pictures!  if you’re interested in using this social story in your home or classroom click the link below.  The social story also comes with a vocabulary page with pictures, a word to picture match activity, a 1:1 correspondence activity and a writing prompt to help promote generalization.  I hope to create additional social stories in the near future.  At the conclusion of our extended school year program my class is going to the local ice cream shop!  I’ll share a social story and corresponding activities from that experience soon!  Once again, thank you for joining me on my journey!

Sincerely,

Dana Grasso

Camping Social Story & Activities

Preview Page from Camping Social Story:

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The Power of Choice!

Hello Everyone,

The extended school year program at my school is in full swing and I have three new students in my multiply-disabled classroom.  When I receive new students I need to gather baseline behavior and academic data to make sure that I’m providing the appropriate supports and behavioral systems to increase growth.  I have younger learners this year (grades K-2nd) and we’re working on reinforcing appropriate behaviors and pairing our classroom and staff with reinforcing items to increase motivation.

What do you work for?  Many times, parents or staff members will ask me WHY my students work for preferred items and/or edibles.  I answer them with “Why do you work here?”  I’m sure it’s because you love education and you want to inspire learners, but when it comes down to it you need a paycheck to support your family and pay the bills.  If the school failed to pay you chances are you’d have to quit and find another job.  Our students are working towards developing the intrinsic motivation that learning new skills provides but until we get to that point we want to provide immediate reinforcement to increase their academic, social and behavioral skill levels.    We want them to feel motivated to learn otherwise we’re going to see an increase in maladaptive behaviors and a decrease in academic and social skills.

How do we know what our students want to work for?   I always create a take home survey for my parents to fill out so that I can better get to know their son/daughter.  I also allow my students to explore the classroom when they first enter and write notes about the different items that interest them.  Once the students feel comfortable in the classroom and being around the new staff members I perform a preference assessment.  This assessment tool provides data about the most reinforcing items for my learners.  When I first started in the field of ABA this was a tedious pen and paper and Excel graphing process.  Thanks to the world of technology you can now use an application right on your SMARTphone or tablet to perform the assessment.  I use the application “Preference and Reinforcer Assessment.”  A link for the application as well as a sample of the preference assessment post-data graph are shown below.

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   Preference & Reinforcer Assessment

     Finally,  once I’ve gathered this information and completed the preference assessment I create Choice Boards for my students.  These boards are laminated and Velcroed and taken everywhere with my students.  Please see the example below.

 

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Choice boards are a simple and extremely powerful tool that can help our students to stay motivated and on task.  They are really simple to create and I’ve created a *FREEBIE* Choice Board product for you to use in your classroom or with you son/daughter.  The product comes with a description of how to create the choice boards as well as three templates to choose from.  The students in my classroom are presented with their choice boards and select a picture of the item that they would like to work for.  The picture that they select is then placed on their token board and once they earn all of their tokens they earn a break with that desired item.    Click the link below and be sure to check out the additional products that I’ve created.

Choice Board Product *FREEBIE*

     Once again,  thank you for joining me on my journey and please check back for updates.  I appreciate any feedback and/or questions!

 

Sincerely,

Dana Grasso

(Author of Autism Zen)

Let’s Make a Sandwich!

Hello Everyone,

I hope that everyone is enjoying their summer break!  The extended school year program started at my school this week and I truly enjoyed the two week break that I had with my boys (Travis & Ben) before it started!  I wanted to create a blog post about my life skills “Let’s make a Sandwich” program and explain how beneficial it has been for my group of special needs students.  Each day, when my students work on their activity schedules they each make a sandwich to promote life skills, social skills, math skills, language skills and prevocational skills.  When they see the “Let’s make a sandwich” page in their activity schedule they know to grab the labeled bin (Shown below: middle row on right) IMG_3155

and listen to the staff member working with him or her about the sandwich that they would like to order.  The various sandwich options are shown on a ring (shown below) and can be faded once the student has mastered the various sandwiches and their contents.

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The student then states the name of the sandwich that they made and depending on their skill level, works on having the staff member “pay” for the sandwich.  This program is a favorite in our classroom and has promoted independence in several areas for our students.  We have also generalized this skill to our Friday cooking groups.  The students have practiced making sandwiches with real food to increase generalization skills and independence with mealtime routines.  I purchased this sandwich kit from Amazon (Melissa & Doug).  Sandwich Making Kit

If you’re interested in replicating this program in your special needs program, please click the link below!

 

Let’s Make a Sandwich Program

Thank you so much for joining me on my journey in creating lifelong learners!

 

Sincerely,

 

Dana Grasso

(Autism Zen)