Monday, December 21, 2015

Temporary Symbol Storage Options

In earlier posts, we discussed creating simple symbol-supported extension activities to revisit the language content initially introduced on the interactive whiteboard or iPad using an Animated Step-by-Step™ (ASbyS).

Dual=Representation symbols (symbols with the picture symbol on one side and either the printed word or the photo on the flip side) were presented as a wonderful way to reinforce the use of AAC during these ‘hands on’ extension activities.  (

I Spy with My Little Eye and Mary Wore Her Red Dress are two examples of ASbyS lessons that are conducive to simple extension activities that serve to provide practice with the content or alternately provide ‘a better learning fit’ for that student with complex needs in your class.

Both activities have a slot-filler format, i.e.,  symbols can be rotated through a slot in a repetitively used sentence, e.g.,  I spy with my little eye something that is _______;  Mary wore her ______ _______ to school today. The visual complexity of the sentence frame represented with symbols can be adjusted in keeping with the needs of the individual student. The I Spy With My Little Eye example depicts a full sentence structure, while the Mary Wore Her Red Dress example depicts a less complex setup intended for a younger child.   When manipulating the many props (e.g. the cutout graphics of the clothes, the Dual=Representation Symbols),  a temporary storage option is necessary to organize the materials to promote efficient use during the lesson. There is nothing more debilitating for a potentially great lesson than material manipulation that is a needless flurry of activity. Tempory storage options are required to help you organize those materials for efficient use.

Commercially-available storage options (depicted above) include the following:

It is also possible to make your own velcro-receptive storage option by attaching indoor-outdoor carpet (carpet with a loop rather than a cut edge) to a firm base. I recently made six, 9” X 12” boards for a school using new carpet remnants (thank you to the construction worker at our new neighborhood TD Bank) and ‘burlap art panels’ purchased on sale at Michaels (a craft supply store).

As the carpet had a self-adhesive backing the process was quick … no messy glue required ….  AND … best of all, given that sale at Michaels, those six temporary storage boards cost a grand total of $3.00.

Summary: Many of the classrooms serving children with Complex Communication Needs require a continuum of options to best serve the continuum of students enrolled in those mixed ability classrooms. Animated Step-by-Steps™ provide a great starting point. Introduce the lesson on the interactive whiteboard, then follow that up with a one-on-one lesson on the iPad, or a more concrete extension activity using Dual=Representation Symbols. 

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

Visit my website
Follow me on twitter @AnimStepbySteps

©2015 Carol Goossens’, Ph.D.
Augmentative Communication Consultant
Speech-Language Pathologist
Special Educator