Back to School!

In many states, August means state fairs, funnel cakes, and sculptures made from butter (if you live in Iowa). It also means that some summer revelry comes to an end as we transition back to our classrooms to meet our students and begin the new school year. As the classroom composition changes with new students and staff arriving, use the small group setting to get to know one another. In the small group, your students get to practice some of the skills they learned the year before, including attending (“look at me,” “hands down”), turn-taking, using mini schedules to complete simple routines, and responding to wh- questions, among others. Using the principles of applied behavior analysis to reinforce appropriate behavior and to shape up emerging behaviors, your small group activities will take off!

To maintain our “getting to know you” theme, consider downloading the “All About Me” group art activity. To get started, take pictures of your students and classroom staff. Print the “All about me” template on to construction paper, gather some markers, and if you are up for it, find some  fun stickers and glitter (glitter for the truly brave, of course). You will also need pictures of students’ family members, pets, or other items special  or important to the student. If those pictures aren’t available, then use pictures of reinforcers that you know your students enjoy.  Complete a template for yourself as an example for students to follow, and remember that mini schedules might be necessary for your group.

When completing the project, students have opportunities to write their names and birthdates, or they can use a copying or tracing accommodation, a stamp, or a cut-and-paste match. For students working on responding to social questions during discrete trial training, use this small group activity to help them generalize that skill. Once you have pictures of students, you can also place at least 3 pictures in front of your students and use the cue “give me X” to help them generalize the identification of their own picture.

Another idea is to have students practice the “Hello game” using all the pictures from the group activity (shown below). With this activity, have students practice greeting classmates in the morning using their mode of communication, in exchange for a token. Once they have earned all their tokens, they can exchange them for their reinforcer. This is a fun way to have students generalize the ID of people lesson, and it serves as a meaningful activity in the morning when students are arriving at different times and are waiting for morning activities to begin.

Have a great time getting to know your new crew!