Saying Thank You! Shoebox Therapy for Autism!


Can you envision your student opening a present at the holidays and saying, “But this isn’t what I wanted!” If so, this activity is for you!

Shoebox Play for Autism- A fun way to learn to say thank you from Looks Like Language!
Shoeboxes can be a fun, functional way to teach play and language skills. What better activity this time of year than to work on language for opening presents and saying “thank you?”  Children need to practice language in routines a lot before it becomes routine for them to use. They will love to keep practicing with this!

All you need is:

* An old shoebox
* Some small toys that will fit inside- start with only toys that your student will like. Later, add some disliked toys to practice saying ‘thank you’ when you really want something different! 
* 4 pictures of gifts to fit the size of the openings.
* Paper to decorate the shoebox, if you wish. I used this without ever decorating it and my students couldn’t care less. They had a great time anyway!






To make the play box:

1. Cut a file folder in strips that are as wide as the box is tall to use as a separator.
2. Cut one strip to the length of the box. Tape it on both sides inside the center of the box.
3. Fold the additional strips in half, place them inside the box and tape them together like crazy until you have dividers that will stay stiff and make the inside of the box in 4 sections.

I promise you, the kids won’t care what it looks like inside as long as you have something fun for them to play with! You just need four compartments with a divider that is sturdy.

Shoebox Play for Autism- A fun way to learn to say thank you from Looks Like Language!

To make the box top:

1. Draw 4 squares on the top of the box. Leave enough space in between that the top has some support while the little ones are opening and closing the presents. I  left about 1.5-2 inches between mine. 
2. Decide which way is the top, then cut out three sides of each square, being consistent. Razor cutters are great for this, but you can use scissors. Just punch a hole with one of the blades first to get you started.
3. Glue a different gift picture on each flap.
4. Glue on symbols for the language you will be modeling. Make the ‘thank you’ symbol removable if you have nonverbal children using picture exchange.

Have fun!

Students can request to open the color present, respond with ‘thank you’ after receiving the toy inside, and have fun playing! This was such a fun activity for my students, we played it almost every session all December long!

You can use this activity for the holidays and for your students’ birthdays, too! They just love the excitement of opening up the box and seeing what is inside.

I taught it as a language activity at the beginning of the month, then kept it available for requesting to play for the rest of December, changing the toys inside every week to keep it fresh. Then, pull it out for a quick review on someone's birthday!

If you have students in your group who already say thank you, just find small holiday figures or toys to work on labeling, requesting or play skills.

Do you want even more ways to reinforce this functional language? Check out this interactive book!

I say, "Thank you for stopping by!"
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