Monday, October 15, 2018

'How to Play' Game Resources

Games are a wonderful way to promote peer-peer interactions especially needed in Blended and Mainstream Settings. They're also ideal for targeting communication skills, while providing the scaffolding needed for nurturing friendships. In the home environment, games are a great way to further social closeness and build shared family experiences.

The Bloom Where You're Planted Store (TpT) is now adding a new line of Animated Step-by-Steps® called 'How to Play' Resources. These new 'How to Play' resources present the objectives and rules of familiar games in a highly visual, easy to understand format. They also provide some 'simulated' practice to 'set the stage' for the followup 'hands-on' portion of the training routine. 



Animated Step-by-Steps® are animated PowerPoints designed to address literacy, language, AAC and a host of academic goals and social agendas. Each page includes a series of animations. Read the text up to the star … click … and see an animation of what you just read. Symbol-Supported (PCS, SymbolStix) resources provide the symbol support after all the page animations are triggered. This strategy is designed to promote a 'literacy first' agenda so the symbols do not 'steal attention' away from the task of deciphering text. 

To date there are four resources in the 'How to Play' product line:


Each resource is available in 3 formatsRegular ( no symbol support), PCS (Tobii/Dynavox) and Symbol Stix(n2y). Some titles also have a VI version.


The I Spy with My Little Eye Resource can also be used to 'set the stage' for the more traditional, environmentally-based, I Spy Game, e.g., " I spy with my little eye something that is yellow ... Is it that yellow ball?  … Nope! … Is it that yellow cup?  …. Nope, but you're getting warmer. (as they are moving closer to the mystery item). Is it that yellow J on our alphabet chart? ... No, you're getting colder (as they are moving further from the mystery item). As you can see from this script, it also provides repeated practice for language structures such subject-verb reversal 'Is it ...'  for questions.


These 'How to Play' resources can be displayed on the 'big screen'(interactive whiteboard, large screen TV using Apple TV) or the 'small screen'(computer monitor, iPad/Android tablet using the free Microsoft PowerPoint app).  I prefer to display them on the classroom's interactive whiteboard using a wireless switch (i.e., infrared, bluetooth) to trigger the animations. This option allows all the students to share the magic of activating the animations in an efficient, time-saving manner. It also guarantees greater student engagement. 

Consider initiating a  'Games Project' at your school ... providing students with structured instruction on how to play various popular games. Every two weeks a new game is added to the roster of interactive games. This would necessitate setting up AAC devices for 'task-oriented' messages (e.g. 'Crown me!') and 'relational oriented' messages (fun interactive comments that nurture social closeness) (framework derived from Dr. Erna Alant).  Initially, classroom staff serve as 'game coaches', with the long range goal of fading assistance to foster independent game playing. 

'Let the games begin!"

…’til the next post …  

Visit my website   http://animatedstep-by-steps.com
Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/@AnimStepbySteps
Follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/AnimatedStepBySteps
Email me canadiangoosse@gmail.com

©2018 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator


Monday, October 8, 2018

Custom Touch Sensitive Glove

To be in the field of AAC you need to have a 'large bag of tricks' … an assortment of 'things you can try' in the hopes that something will be a great fit for your students. It might not be an adaptation that works for your current students but it's comforting to know that it might just 'do the trick' for a future student. 

I've always been interested in motor access as it pertains to AAC. Recently I've been devoting a lot of energy to creating Animated Step-by-Steps® as they are a wonderful way to address a variety of goals (AAC, language, literacy) in a range of resources. I like the fact that they can be flexibly displayed on a range of options. One of these options is the iPad or android tablet using the Microsoft PowerPoint app. When using this option, the animations can be triggered in three ways:
a)     swiping to the leftwith a single digit (may be difficult if the child is not able to isolate a finger)
b)    touching an imaginary vertical bar on the far rightof the screen

c)     using a bluetooth switch(that communicates wirelessly with the iPad or tablet). 


Recently, I have been giving some thought to physical adaptationsthat might provide more reliable access when using Animated Step-by-Steps on the iPad. In earlier days : )  (before technology), we made simple mitts that allowed us to isolate a child's index finger to better decipher where the child was pointing on their non-electronic communication display. 

Today a lot of attention is being directed toward accessing the iPad or Android table. Here is an exellent blog (OT's with Apps & Technology) by CarolLeynse Harpold, MS, AdEd, OTR/L, ATPthat offer numerous fantastic suggestions

When using the Microsoft PowerPoint App on an iPad/adroid tablet, the older solutions would work but a more elegant solution for the digital age might be a custom 'touchscreen compatible' glove. So …..consider using an adaptive glove with only one digit that has been made 'touchscreen compatible' (e.g., index finger or side of thumb). This might allow the child to swipe left more reliably without the distraction of other gestures being triggered inadvertently by the other fingers.  

You can purchase 'toddler size' cotton Eczema treatment gloves  (http://bit.ly/kidscottongloves) and make one digit 'touchscreen compatible' by 
a)  adding 'Any Glove' liquid solution  (https://amzn.to/2KwCVUY) on the  accessing digit (finger or thumb) of the cotton glove; 

b) embroidering conductive thread (http://bit.ly/2IELYy3 on the tip of one digit on the cotton glove. (Sparkfun, Adafruit, Sternalb are cited as brand names that are reputable sources of the thread)



Hope this suggestion proves helpful for your students!

…’til the next post …  (new posts every Monday)


Visit my website   http://animatedstep-by-steps.com
Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/@AnimStepbySteps
Follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/AnimatedStepBySteps
Email me canadiangoosse@gmail.com

©2018 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.

Monday, September 24, 2018

The Judicious Use of Sound Effects

Animated Step-by-Steps® are animated PowerPoints designed to address literacy, language, AAC and a host of academic goals. Each page includes a series of animations. Read the text up to the star … click … and see an animation of what you just read. 
Animations are frequently associated with sound effects  … and yes ...  there is a bit of a science to how sound effects are selected and assigned to animations. 

Some sound effects are arbitrarily learned (Symbolic mappings
e.g., the chimes that signal the end of the slide, the whoosh that signals a graphic is entering the page, the drum roll to announce an upcoming answer, the sharp ting to suggest something is about to happen. Every effort is made to ensure that symbolic mappings are held very consistent across the almost 700 resources currently available through the Teachers Pay Teachers site. A student soon learns that when they hear the chimes sound, it is time to select the page forward arrow and advance to the next slide. 

Some sound effects reflect the sounds generated by the event (Nomic mappings)
e.g., liquid pouring,  boiling water, microwave being activated, dog barking,
Such sounds serve to deepen the student's understanding of the concept being targeted. Nomic mappings are the easiest to learn and remember, so they are usually given priority when selecting sound effects for Animated Step-by-Steps®. 







Some sound effects are merely suggestive, i.e., they reflect similarities between the target and representing system (Metamorphical mappings) 
e.g., pitch down sound .... when the clump of brown sugar is dropping down into the bowl; when the firefighter is sliding down the pole 



e.g. pitch up sound ... when the balloon is drifting up to the sky; when the cookies in the oven are visibly rising
e.g. boing boing boing sound ...  when the monkeys are jumping on the bed; when the rabbit is hopping on to the page; 









Sound effects help to alert the child that an animation is occurring on the page. They also help to 'round out' the child's conceptual understanding of the world. 


…’til the next post …  (new posts every Monday)

Visit my website   http://animatedstep-by-steps.com
Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/@AnimStepbySteps
Follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/AnimatedStepBySteps
Email me canadiangoosse@gmail.com

©2018 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

'Book End' Animations

I recently posted another Animated Step-by-Step, 6 Brave Firefighters, designed to address the needs of students with Visual Impairments. This resource addresses numbers (1-6), colors (red, blue, yellow, green, purple, orange) and the concept of down using high contrast visuals.




In many of the VI resources, I have tried to separate out the important auditory linguistic information from the visual information, using attention-getting 'book end animations' (get the visual attention … present the important auditory linguistic information … maintain the visual attention). For example, when the six firefighters are being counted, the number appears first using the 'grow & turn' animation + an attention getting 'whhhht' sound effect … then you hear the auditory count, "two" … then the number is pulsed 3 times to ensure the child is looking at the correct target item. 



This strategy is being employed to ensure that students with visual impairment have time to 'get a visual lock' on the target visual before the important linguistic information is added. Then … just to be sure … an additional animation is provided to ensure the child's visual focus is correctly on the target visual. 

This 'book ends animation' strategy may also be useful for students on the autism spectrum. Researchers at Hearing & Speech Sciences and Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences at Vanderbilt University (Camarata et. al) (Bit.ly/sensorydiffs) presented two groups of children (with  & without ASD) with audiovisual stimuli and asked them if the 'audio' and the visual events happened at the same time or not. 

According to the researchers, children on the autism spectrum may experience a 'lack of a time lock' between the spoken word and a visual explanation, when that audiovisual information is simultaneously presented. This may suggest that simultaneously presented visual & auditory information may present learning challenges for students on the Autism Spectrum.  

Here's hoping that the manner in which animations and linguistic information are presented to children with Visual Impairments, and possibly to children on the Autism Spectrum, can actually increase the likelihood that learning will occur!!!!

…’til the next post …  

Visit my website   http://animatedstep-by-steps.com
Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/@AnimStepbySteps
Follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/AnimatedStepBySteps
Email me canadiangoosse@gmail.com

©2018 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator

Monday, September 10, 2018

The 'Outlining Animation'

Highlighting/Outlining is a strategy frequently used when working with children with Visual Impairment. This strategy highlights or outlines the target graphic to ensure that the child is focusing on the item under discussion. In Five Little Pumpkins, for example, an attention getting red line is gradually drawn around that target pumpkin ("The second one….") when it is the 'second pumpkin's' turn to speak. This allows the child to better differentiate the target pumpkin from the other pumpkins in the five-pumpkin array.






























This is what the animation looks across a 5-second span. 
So how exactly do you make that magic happen?



This effect is easily achieved by stacking a pumpkin graphic (no outline) on top of pumpkin graphic (identical in size) but stroked/outlined in red. 














This outline can be created in a graphics program such as Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. When the outlined pumpkin is animated using the 'wheel' animation, it gives the effect of a red line being drawn (clockwise) around the pumpkin image. Magic, indeed!  

Pulling apart the two stacked images, this is what's happening 'behind the scenes' across a 5-second span:












So if you are using PowerPoint to create educational resources for students with visual impairment,  be sure to add this 'outlining animation' to your 'bag of tricks'. 

…’til the next post …  

Visit my website   http://animatedstep-by-steps.com
Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/@AnimStepbySteps
Follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/AnimatedStepBySteps
Email me canadiangoosse@gmail.com

©2018 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator

Monday, August 27, 2018

Personalizing Animated Step-by-Steps® - Method 2

Personalizing has always been a very powerful technique for nurturing greater student engagement. In the past, only resources specifically designed for personalizing could be adapted with photo faces. Ideally, all ASbySs should be candidates for personalizing but gulp … the thought of going back to retrofit over 600 ASbyS resources made me 'weak in the knees'. 

6 Little Monkeys VI  is a resource that I recently posted in my TpT Store. After posting the resource,  I promptly regretted the fact that I had not created the resource in a way that would allow for easy personalization.  ARRRRGH! How short-sighted of me!  So this had me agonizing ... yet again ... how can we retrofit existing resources allowing them to be personalized without disrupting the existing, meticulously orchestrated, animations.

This time around, I am pleased to report that I finally achieved success!


Here are the instructions for Method 2: ('the work around'). 
This method will be discussed using the 6 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed VI resource. 


Step 1:   Duplicate the monkey #1 graphic. Move it down toward the bottom of the page to minimize confusion. 

Duplicate the graphic




Step 2:  Drag the photo face (created with a transparent background) on to the PowerPoint slide.You can also bring in the image using the Insert picture tab. If you require further information on how to make photo faces with transparent backgrounds, please check out the following blog post http://bit.ly/PhotoFaces

Step 3: Select the photo face that you have just added to the page and size it to completely cover the existing monkey face. (Don't forget to hold down the shift key when you re-size to maintain
the correct proportions; you can also flip or rotate the image to optimize its appearance)

Add & re-size the photo face







Step 4: Select the 'duplicated monkey' and select the photo face while holding down the shift key (monkey body + photo face). Group these two components. You will note that the
animations assigned to the monkey image are lost when you perform this action.

Group the monkey body and photo face                                                  Save as Picture   









Step 5: Now the grouped image (monkey body + photo face) must be converted into a graphics file that can be imported/substituted for the original animated monkey. Right click on the new grouped image, then select Save as Picture from the drop down menu. Give the newly saved file a distinct name, e.g., Monkey 1- Rayhana. I always save to the desktop where I can easily find my 'newly minted' graphics. 

Step 6:  Right click on the original monkey image. Select Change Picture from the 'drop down' menu. Navigate to the desktop where you have stored  the altered graphic (e.g., Monkey 1- 
Rayhana). Presto the original Monkey #1 is replaced with the personalized monkey without
disturbing the animation sequence! Yay!

Use the Change Picture tool to import the new graphic


Repeat this procedure for all 6 monkeys. You will then need to replace the monkeys on each page of the resource.

Obviously it is easier to incorporate photo faces on resources that are specifically designed to accommodate photo faces. Method 2 does require more steps ... but the extra effort is well worth the additional engagement that will occur as a result of personalizing. 

Go forth boldly and personalize!!!!!!

... 'til the next post

Visit my website   http://animatedstep-by-steps.com
Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/@AnimStepbySteps
Follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/AnimatedStepBySteps
Email me canadiangoosse@gmail.com

©2018 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator

Monday, August 13, 2018

New Product Line - Animated Step-by-Steps® for Children with Visual Impairments

A mother recently inquired about the availability of Animated Step-by-Steps® (ASbySs) for children with Visual Impairments.  Although many of the current ASbySs do possess qualities beneficial for children with visual impairments (clear graphics, good figure-ground differential), they did not specifically address the unique needs of children with more severe visual challenges. So….. in an attempt to better serve this population, I re-designed and posted a new product line.

Regular Version                                                                                      VI Version      

Regular Version                                                                                      VI Version


When designing these resources I focused on:

-using simple vector-based graphics
-outlining the graphics with either a black or a black + white border to help the visuals 'stand out' from the page.










-using eye-catching colors such as red, yellow and white to grab visual attention;
-presenting the graphics on a black background to promote more optimal 'figure-ground differential';







-incorporating realistic animations to grab and guide visual attention;
-incorporating sound effects to deepen conceptual understanding and alert the child to the presence of an ongoing animation;
-providing simple text with good figure-ground differential (yellow or white text on a black background). If you are using an iPad, a 'gesture' can be used to enlarge the text.  
-incorporating a 'safe zone'(camouflaged as the page number) to allow the Animated Step-by-Step to promote more errorless switch training for children with both visual and motor challenges; 
 -some (but not all) of the resources can be personalized with photo faces of your students, e.g., 5 Little Cones.




Current VI titles include:

5 Little Ducks VI 
5 Green and Speckled Frogs VI
5 Little Cones VI
6 Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed VI
Apple Tree VI
Aiken Drum VI
5 Little Snowmen VI
B-I-N-G-O and Friends VI
6 Little Gingerbreads VI
Brownies VI
Instant Pudding VI
Apple Juice VI
Rice Krispie Treats VI
Color Match the Flowers VI
Instant Oatmeal VI
Helping Mister Potato Head VI
Applesauce VI
5 Fat Turkeys VI
Chuga Chuga VI
5 Little Pumpkins VI
I Want a Pet VI
Jack-o-Lantern VI
Counting Snacks for Baby VI


These resources can be purchased from The Bloom Where You're Planted Store on the Teachers Pay Teachers web site. A bundled version of 9 songs/poems is also available for greater savings. 



Many thanks to super mom, 'Claire O' for setting me on this new fun path. 

…’til the next post …  

Visit my website   http://animatedstep-by-steps.com
Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/@AnimStepbySteps
Follow me on facebook www.facebook.com/AnimatedStepBySteps
Email me canadiangoosse@gmail.com

©2018 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator