The use of colour and shape coding to support learners develop vocabulary and increase the use of different sentence types is on the increase and it is not uncommon to see these resources being used effectively within special and mainstream classrooms.
It is important however, to ensure that new words and phrases are not just being used within one activity but generalised across different sessions. Doing this will make sure that new vocabulary and sentence types are well established and learners are confident in using these new skills for a variety of communicative functions, across different settings and with a range of different people.
For learners with emerging language skills (those described by The SCERTS Framework as Language Partners) their communicative priorities should be focussed on building a wide range of vocabulary (nouns, verbs, people’s names, adjectives etc), using vocabulary creatively within different sentence types and using language for different reasons and to exert social influence on different people.
We have put together a range of resources to assist teachers and therapists build new language skills into classroom and therapy sessions to give their learners a kick start! If you’re also using the SCERTS framework to support your goal setting and outcomes, then these resources will assist you in ensuring that the skills you are supporting a learner with are functional and communication has social intent.
1. TALKING ABOUT ACTION PICTURES
Activity Summary: A learner has some photographs of people carrying our activities and describes the pictures using people’s names, verbs and objects.
Sentence types: subject + verb + object
Communicative functions: commenting to adults / peers
Target vocabulary: verbs, people’s names, object
Make it functional: Take photos of a learner’s peers and / or family for children and use these to share ‘news’ at the start of a day or ‘reflect’ on a day’s activities before a learner goes home
Extension suggestion: Add a ‘location’ to the sentence to increase the sentence length
2. TALKING ABOUT ACTION VIDEOS
Activity Summary: A learner, or groups of learners ask to push different coloured / shaped buttons on a powerpoint presentations which play videos of their friends which they can comment on.
Sentence types: I want + push + colour + shape sentence type and commenting using subject – verb – object type sentences
Communicative functions: requesting to an adult, commenting to a peer
Target vocabulary: colours, shapes, pronoun, verbs, names of friends
Make it functional: Use video footage of events that learners have experienced as a group (outings, sports day, partys etc) to create opportunities to reflect on shared experiences. As a bank of these PowerPoints get built up then you can ask learners “what topics do you want to talk about?”
Extension Suggestion: Make shapes and colours more advanced in line with the maths curriculum or name the buttons after other topic vocabulary.
3. REFLECTING ON A SCHOOL DAY
Activity summary: Learners take photographs across the day which they then print out and comment on at the end of the day. Each learner can to take their ‘reflections’ home so that they can tell parents and family members about what they’ve done that day.
Sentence types: People + Verbs + Noun
Communicative functions: Recalling information, commenting to their peers and family members
Target vocabulary: peoples names, verbs, curricular activites
Make it functional: Ask families to take photos each evening and send in photos so that learners can tell their friends about what they did at home each evening.
Extension Suggestion: As each learner is reflecting on something they’ve done that day you can introduce other adjectives to describe what they thought of the activity: like, didn’t like, fun, boring, difficult, easy etc
4. “TEACHER SAYS”
Activity Summary: This is an adaptation of Simon Says… each learner takes it in turns to pick verb picture out of a bag instruct peers to carry out an action.
Sentence types: Teacher + says + Verbs
Communicative functions: Giving directions
Target vocabulary: verbs
Make it functional: This is a great activity to take outside at play times!
Extension Suggestion: Introduce adjectives such as big / little, quickly / slowly to make actions more specific
5. STRUCTURED INTERACTION GROUPS
Activity Summary: A group of learners have a box of toys which they use to play with each other. Each learner lets the group know what they are going to do before they carry out an action.
Sentence types: Person (or personal pronoun) + verb + person
Communicative functions: Giving information
Target vocabulary: pronoun, people’s names, verbs
Make it functional: This is a great activity to take outside at play times or leave a box of toys in the play corner for children to use outside of each session.
Extension Suggestion: This activity can be turned into a ‘direction giving’ activity by asking learners to instruct their friends to carry out an activity rather than carrying out the activity themselves.
Get in touch if you want to use these resources in your classrooms or therapy sessions!