9 Great Tips for Adapting Materials You Already Own!


Therapy doesn’t always have to be expensive, if you use materials you already have around the house creatively! It also helps if you have garage sales in your neighborhood or if you know people that have kids. Don’t be afraid to ask them to let you go through their kids’ toys and books before they get rid of them!

9 Tips: Adapt Materials for Therapy that You Already Own!
Adapting items you have takes a little time, but building up a supply of activities around a theme makes working with mixed-level groups much easier! Being able to mix and match the materials for different groups’ needs also keeps you from having to do the exact same activity all day long. 


These examples have a pet theme, so fun to do at any time of the year.
Garage sales are great for getting together a theme.


Tip 1: ORGANIZE AND KEEP COLLECTING!

Buy some inexpensive boxes to keep the toys and books you’ve found for each theme all in one place. Add to the theme as you find more inexpensive items.


Puzzles with separate pieces are worth spending some money on.
Tip 2: GET SOME PUZZLES!

If you have students with low-level skills or minimal language, puzzles that have separate pieces of whole items are worth spending some money on.

Students can:
• Request the pet they want to place. (labeling)
• Find the pet that makes the sound. (auditory skills)
• Find the pet who swims, flies, etc.  (action vocabulary)
• Find the pet who eats carrots, wears a collar, etc.  (word association skills)
• Request a black pet, a flying pet, etc. (describing)


Adapt your books and collect containers for play.
Tip 3: BOOKS! MUST HAVE BOOKS!

Find varied books on that theme with different levels and great pictures. This will let you build literacy skills while choosing the book that is easiest to elicit the specific language each group is working on.

Tip 4: ADAPT

Taping symbols over the book text to adapt it to be a simple repetitive book is simple to do. Just adapt the size of the symbols so that the original text is covered and use a wide roll of clear tape that extends past the paper to hold it firmly in place. The book in the photo is still in good shape after 20+ years. Don’t use school tape, though, as it will yellow and peel.

Tip 5: USE BOOKS TO BUILD SYMBOLIC PLAY!
Playing 'feed the animals' is fun!

The book in the photo has repetitive text for what the pets eat. Use craft glue to put small pieces of the foods in the bottom of empty, clean plastic fruit cups. It dried clear, keeping the pieces from falling out and kids from trying to eat them. 

After each page, students put the toy animal in the matching food cup to ‘feed’ them. It makes reading fun and brings the language to life!


Tip 6: MIX & MATCH
Having many items in the same theme to mix and match is so useful!

       • Therapy stays interesting.
       • There’s lots of opportunities to label and use or expand language skills.
       • Combining items in different ways aids generalization.
        • Building skills with different play combinations helps students to develop symbolic play.

A shoebox makes a great pet house for play!
Tip 7: SAVE YOUR SHOEBOXES

(Honestly, I am not a shoe shopaholic but 
little kids grow into new sizes quickly!)
Admittedly, it can be a pain to cut through shoeboxes, but they offer such inexpensive ways to incorporate hands-on fun with lots of language!

After warming up by labeling the pets with 
the puzzle, you can have some pretend play!
"The animals are inside, but they are hungry. Let’s take them out."
 "Who wants to eat first?"
"I think I hear “meow.” What is it? 
Let's open the door!"

You can emphasize concepts, sentence structure, question words, auditory skills, you name it!
Students who are minimally verbal can respond using the pet symbols you made by taking photos of the puzzle pieces, or the puzzle pieces themselves.


Turn worksheets into interactive fun!
Tip 8: TURN WORKSHEETS INTO PLAY!

Worksheets with pictures are great to turn into hands-on activities.

In the photo, you can see examples of:

     • Sticker activities that are laminated and turned into a pet shop game. One set is an enlarged version so that the students had to specify the big/little pet.

     • Shape matching pages turned into a game.

     • Hidden picture pages put into a page protector to make a matching activity using pet symbols. The pictures of the hidden animal were colored in this set for a student who was just beginning to visually discriminate.

• A trading card plastic page that was adapted with symbols for students to match the associated pet and say the sentence.

Construction paper is a basic school supplied material- use it!
Tip 9: USE ANY SUPPLIES 
YOUR SCHOOL OFFERS!

My school had Ellison cutters and construction paper available. Adding pet photos on the back before laminating made a simple game. Students requested the color cat or dog and then turned it over. 

The visual support helped the minimally verbal students form a sentence while the more verbal students used correct grammar in 
their productions.


Thematic materials are great for building speech/language skills!
As always, TpT can save you so much time with high-quality materials! 

Check out my Adapted Books: PETS Themed Activities and add your own toys for some interactive fun!


Enjoy!

3 Tips to Help Children Handle 'NO'


How in the world do you teach children to accept ‘no’? While this is not always an easy task, these tips will surely help if you use them!

no, temper, tantrum, meltdown, choice boards
My friend, Lisette, over at Speech Sprouts, asked what I did to help kids understand and accept 'no'. It takes a lot of work and very few 2-3 year-olds will easily accept 'no' for something they truly want! But there are some strategies you can use to help kids start moving along the path to accepting ‘no.’

Don’t ask a yes/no question! Give choices instead.


Be careful how you word your questions! Asking a child, “Do you want A ?” implies that you are asking them for their wishes. This leaves it open for them to say, “No, I want B.” when B is not an option. Then you have to say “No.”

Instead, try “Today we have A or B. Which one do you want?” While some kids will then reply, “I want C!” this leaves it open for you to say, “I like C, too, but today we get to pick from A or B.”  You notice that this response did not include the ‘N’ word! Sometimes just hearing that word sets some kids off!


Choice Boards

To do this visually, use a choice board! Visuals are important to help kids see the choices, even for verbal kids. They don't have to be fancy, just a 'no' item and 2 choices on plain paper.

* While they see the 'no’ symbol, they also see that there will be other choices available. 


* Without the visual, they will hear the 'no' and can have a meltdown before processing the other choices.


Carefully Sequence the Options

First, help your students understand 'no' (whether visually or verbally) in the context of structured activities where it doesn't have an emotional impact. Then build up to hearing ‘no’ when it actually is something that the child wants, after they have seen that there will be other options that are good, even if not their #1 choice.

Note: Some students may just not be able to handle ‘no’ for various reasons, but don’t make the mistake of giving in to tantrums or outbursts by giving them what they want! As painful as it can be to out wait a sobbing or screaming child, you will only be making it more likely that it will continue if you give in!

Work a deliberate sequence of choices into your daily routines, but don't start with your kids' most favorite choices. Here is one way it could be done.

Make the ‘NO’ choice a 'no' for someone else.


See this picture? I  never had a kid get upset when they couldn't feed a make-believe chocolate cookie in shoebox play. It is great practice for realizing that sometimes there is another choice that is okay. To read more about this, click here

Try out this step by step way, saving saying 'no' to their favorite choice being used only after your child is realizing that 'no' is not necessarily the end of the world. If they react with a meltdown, divert their attention if possible and go back to the last successful step the next day.


Note that the pictures are about cookies, but you can try this with toys, activities, or other favorites, too!


1. Make the ‘NO’ choice something that the child doesn’t like.

1. Make the ‘NO’ choice something that the child doesn’t like.

This is a great place to start for kids who just react to the word. Hearing ’no’ gets a bit of desensitization when it is used for something unwanted.

2. Make the ‘NO’ one of 3 equally liked choices.

2. Make the ‘NO’ one of 3 equally liked choices.

Switch them around from day to day just to help your child see that sometimes we run out of their favorites, or to learn that variety can be fine. Try these variations.


3. Make the ‘NO’ be the 2nd favorite.

3. Make the ‘NO’ be the 2nd favorite.
     
Have the favorite available, along with another choice your child likes.

4. Make the ‘NO’  be their favorite choice.


4. Make the ‘NO’  be their favorite choice.
Have the 2nd favorite available.
It also helps to have an empty chocolate chip cookie bag available for the child to see that there are no cookies in it. This can make settling for 2nd choice easier.

5. Build sabotage into your daily routines!

One day the crayon box can be empty, so kids have to choose from markers or colored pencils instead.

One day, the Lego basket is empty, so they have to choose a different building toy instead.

One day, the box of their favorite cereal is empty, so they have to eat something different.

You get the idea! Learning that there are changes and new choices to be made in life is tough learning for little ones, especially anxious little ones! But by presenting it in a way where there are positive outcomes as well as negative ones, many children can start to take it in better stride.  No miracles, just slow, hard work.

Good luck! How did this work for you?
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