Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Recycled Holiday Present

This is a recycled blog post that seems timely again as people are trying to find a good present for a child with autism.  In many households, there will be presents that come packaged in Styrofoam. My ever greening conscience makes me feel pretty bad about packaging like Styrofoam but if you have it, at least this is something you can do with it. Be sure that the child you give this to is old enough to have sharp pointy golf tees.  Age warnings are not always adequate for children with autism, so ask parents if you are giving this to a child who is not your own child and are not sure if the child would be safe using these.

Most of us end up with a few pieces of Styrofoam from a new DVD player or something and, at least at my house, this sits in my garage for a while "in case I need to return the machine". Then it sits in my garage because I forget about it. Here is a good use for this Styrofoam:

  • Buy or borrow some colored golf tees.
  • Use a currently owned (or go to the Goodwill and get a) plastic hammer.
  • Hammer the golf tees into the Styrofoam one at a time.  
  • While doing this, it is possible to also teach many language skills.
  • Adult hands out the golf tees if you want language use or comprehension to be a part of the activity--otherwise, your child will simply pound the tees in quickly and without regard to anything you say.

Here are some examples of language skills or social behaviors that you could teach while using this activity:
  • Your turn, my turn (or use names to identify whose turn it is and teach Turn-taking)
  • Put in the red circle (teaching language comprehension for items drawn on Styrofoam. Draw shapes on the Styrofoam with your child or prior to starting)
  • Do you want blue nail or red nail? (Teaching your child to make a verbal choice)
  • What color should Mommy put in? (Teaching expressive use of color words)
  • Put the red nail on X. ( Where X is a picture. Teaching receptive language for any word you can find a picture to depict. First cut out pictures depicting target words from magazine and nail these in to the Styrofoam).
  • How many nails do you want? (Teaching How many question form)
  • First put one nail in, then Sit on Potty, then put three nails in. (motivating child to sit on potty or use potty)
  • Put your nail close to my nail...far away from my nail...on your side...on my side (teaching pronouns my/your)
  • First put in red nail and then the green nail (Teaching following two part directions.)
As you can see, pounding in the golf tees is a way to make learning many different things more interesting. Learning to pound a nail is interesting without adding anything else to it and so it is motivating if you do want to add another learning goal. The only caution in this game is that as you help your child hold the golf tee straight, you might get your fingers pounded. All in the day of a Speech Pathologist, is what I say, grinning while the tears run down my cheeks. Actually, if you push the tee in just a little and move out of the way fast, the tee stays up without endangering your fingers.  A package of many colored golf tees, a plastic hammer and a few chunks of Styrofoam make a very nice holiday present.


Melissa Ketola said...

Great idea Tahirih!! Similar to a game and fine motor activity that I've used in prek before....all kiddos love pounding nails into stuff.

sue said...

This is great. I have been using foam and golf tees as a fine motor activity before but never thought to include all the other elements of speech and language. So obvious when you think about it! Ah well, when you know better you do better.
Thanks :)