Published on December 25th, 2012 | by Robin Parker0
Merry Christmas PrAACtical AAC Style- Creating Language Rich Traditions
5 Ideas for Creating Language Rich Holiday Traditions
The holiday season is a great time to initiate and continue traditions. Since we try to NOT create more work for ourselves if possible, most of our traditions have evolved from activities that helped us at some point. We like holiday traditions because they tend to ease the chaos by building in predictable routines. Each year we talk about traditions (for awhile this was a new vocabulary word), we sometimes write them down, illustrate them, and look at the list at the beginning of the next holiday season.
Your family probably has many traditions that might just need to be named and organized. But if you are looking to add some new traditions, here are some of our favorites. If you have any, please share.
Photography & Stories- Pictures are a great way to tell a story or talk about past or future events. If you have access to an iPad or other tablet, story photo apps (i.e., Pictello, Tapikeo, etc) provide a great format for organizing and putting text and speech with photos. All the activities we photograph and write about are ones we would take pictures of anyway and as our children grew, they took more and more responsibility for taking the pictures and documenting. We take pictures of ‘cool’ christmas lights and then rate them from awesome to out of this world awesome. We take pictures of decorating the tree or lighting of the 12 menorahs, we make stories about funny incidents. These ‘stories’ have been told again and again.
Cooking Favorite Recipes- We cook together. Lots of cooking and baking. We use visual recipes, take pictures, cut recipes out of magazines or most recently print them from Pinterest. The children have done everything from turning on the button on a blender or mixer to fully preparing a dish. In between, they have lured, measured, handed, sifted, mashed, peeled, zested, smashed, covered, stuck, melted, and eaten the food. We have involved friends and other family into our cooking/baking traditions. Over the years, their kitchen help has really made life easier.
Nature Walks/Snow Walks with Checklists- Sometimes we just need a moment to enjoy and relax. Going outside for a little while usually rejuvenates everyone. To make this a language rich activity we have created nature walk checklists and have the children check off what they see. They often work together to get as many items ‘found’ as possible. The walks have become such a tradition in our house that the children learned how to create their own checklists of things to find. Part of the tradition is to always put one humorous item on the list (a yellow tailed dog was once on it- maybe the year we were learning colors).
Donations- A dessert night is fun and meaningful for everyone. On this night, we go through materials and decide where the holiday family donation be given. This is decided by reviewing materials that have been collected throughout the year. When the children were very young, they didn’t really understand ‘donations’ (so this part was only meaningful later to them, but they had dessert and the ‘shoebox). The ’shoebox’ is a decorated box (think glitter, glue, stickers, etc) that all of the donations will go in. Then at the big family holiday party, everyone brings a monetary donation (can be from $1.00 and up based on everyone’s own personal finances) and it is dropped anonymously into the box. The donations are then given to one or more of the chosen charities. This has really become one of the favorite traditions and we only wish we had saved the decorated boxes.
Even Cleaning Up…- This tradition began when we really needed help quickly before guests arrived (we both have our own version). This became the ‘Christmas Clean-Up Race’. There are winners (who got to do an extra room- until they learned that was not really a prize), there is throwing of items into ‘clean up’ buckets, there are best hiding spots, there are ‘clean up’ straw drawings, there is labeling and other organization aspects to this tradition. The idea here is to get help in a fun engaging way.
Enjoy Your Holiday Traditions!!!