TELL ME About It: AAC Learning with ‘From Head To Toe’
It’s time for another installment of the TELL ME About It series which focuses on AAC, language, and literacy learning with preschool children. Maggie Judson and Jeanna Antrim are back with more great ideas for AAC intervention, this time focusing on the Eric Carle book, From Head to Toe.
Maggie and Jeanna are speech-language pathologists who work in the Assistive Technology Department for the Belleville Area Special Services Cooperative (BASSC) in central Illinois. They are AT/AAC facilitators and provide evaluations, direct therapy, consultations, and trainings.
You can check out the earlier posts in this series below.
TELL ME About It: AAC Learning with ‘From Head To Toe’!
TELL ME About Reading: The third book in the TELL ME program (Teaching Early Language and Literacy through Multimodal Expression) is “From Head To Toe.” We love when books are interactive and involve gross motor actions, and this book hits the nail on the head for both movement and interaction. Clapping hands, stopping feet, wiggling toes – there are so many fun movements to imitate and copy! Such a great book to use for a shared reading lesson!
And of course, by now, we are getting familiar with the core word focus of a TELL ME book. The goal is for students to hear the words repeatedly, be provided with lots and lots of aided language input for the words, and have opportunities to practice saying the words using their natural speech, communication boards, or personal AAC systems.
Book Focus: From Head To Toe
- Core Words (BOW WOW Words): CAN, DO, HELP, IT
- Additional Words (Tiger Talk Words): First, Like, Sing, Write
- Concept Vocabulary: body parts and zoo animals
- Special Letter: d
- Book Concept: first page of the book
TELL ME About Writing: Incorporating writing into the classroom on the daily is one of the main components of TELL ME, and the program does a great job of breaking this down into easy-to-implement instructional activities. To that end, today we will focus on the instructional skill of ‘Getting Ready To Write’. This is an excellent way to ease into writing through predictable charts – and to work in those core words – CAN, DO, HELP, IT!
- Show the book to set the topic: This step is super quick, but also super important, as it sets the stage for the lesson. Hold up the book so the students can see it and say, “Here’s our book. It has a lot of words we know!”
- Review core words: We did say these words – CAN, DO, HELP, IT – would be making an appearance throughout all activities and lessons! You can print the words on a card or print out a symbol of the words and hold each one up as you say it. Allow students the opportunity (aka wait time!) to say the words using natural speech, manual signs, manual communication boards, and/or with their personal speech generating devices. This is also a great time to provide aided language input for the words by pointing to them on the manual communication board or speech generating device as you say them.
- Introduce the predictable chart and it’s title: Today is just a day to introduce the title of what the students will be writing about later in the week. You can say something like, “Later we will WRITE about the book ‘From Head To Toe’ and talk about things we LIKE to DO. I LIKE to WRITE and SING. I wonder what you LIKE to DO? We’re going to WRITE about that!” You then write out the title on chart paper, saying each word out loud as you do. Finish up by saying something like, “That’s our title! We’ll be writing more later, and you will get a turn to WRITE about what you think!”
TELL ME More: Below are some specific ideas on how to implement “From Head To Toe” in your therapy sessions and classrooms TELL ME-style!
- Activity – Singing!
Singing before reading is such a fun way to add excitement, build a routine, and get everyone ready to dig into the book! Starting your shared reading group with a song helps to establish the activity – and is a fun, engaging way to introduce the vocabulary (hello core word focus – CAN, DO, HELP, IT!) and concepts that will be introduced in the book. The TELL ME manual provides an introduction book song and letter song, so you don’t need to worry about coming up with something on the fly (a big thank you for this TELL ME!).
- Teaching Strategy – Be the Fun!
Shared reading is all about making connections with your students and enjoying the interaction together. A great way to up that connection and make it meaningful is to bring in the fun!
Some ideas on how to Be The Fun:
- Dress up!
- This can be a great way to get you in the right frame of mind to bring the fun to the book! Now, you can get way into it and find a costume or mask that is related to the story, or you can just wear a fun outfit that lets the students know that you are serious about being fun!
- Incorporate gross motor activities with the book!
- This is an excellent book to get your move on, as the actions are part of the story! Just take it a step further by getting up and moving around the room to act it out!
- Use fun reading voices!
- This is such an easy way to up the fun factor, and students love it! Let the students pick what kind of voice you will use – a silly robot voice, a monster voice, or a squeaky mouse voice! We love this choice board that AACreATively created and posted about on social media (you can find her on Facebook and Instagram!). It provides the students with the ability to have a say in reading the book. And it instantly ups the fun factor by getting you to read the book in a fun, silly voice!
- Use props with the book!
- Who doesn’t love story props?! Story props and toys can help students make connections to the book, and they support engagement and interaction during shared reading activities. And are just plain ol’ fun!
- Add in some fun musical components!
- Turn the story into a song and rap it out!
- Make musical instruments and let the students make music to the beat of the book! And spoiler alert, one of the crafts for this book is making a drum, so this works out just perfectly!
- Collaborate with your music therapist if you can. This can give you all the ideas on how to incorporate more fun musical elements into your shared reading time!
- Implementation Tip – How to use check-in forms!
The TELL ME program is all about helping us as educators develop good AAC teaching practices and routines that can then be implemented when planning other lessons. But to do this, we have to reflect on how we are providing instruction. This allows us to analyze what we are doing well and what we need to improve on.
One way to create this self-reflection is to use the check-in forms the TELL ME program provides. You can use one after each lesson for self-assessment purposes and to stay on track with your learning as you move through the program.
You can use these checklists independently to self-reflect on your instructional procedures. Or consider completing these together with your team at the end of the day to check in with how you provided shared reading, shared writing, and extension activities throughout the classroom.
Self-reflection and receiving constructive feedback helps you plan for your next session and get better at providing TELL ME-style instruction!
- Aided Language Input Tip – Don’t forget to provide aided language input for the fun words!
Aided language input is an instructional strategy used to teach symbol location, symbol meaning, and symbol use. Think of it as talking in AAC! While it is a great strategy to use during lessons and book reading (and for the core word focus – CAN, DO, HELP, IT), don’t let the learning stop there! Providing aided language input during daily interactions helps to infuse AAC learning throughout the school day! And don’t forget to provide this learning for all the fun words that we use during the day. Interjections and exclamatory words (“awesome, cool, yum, yuk, good, bad, wow”) are great fun words to work in during naturally occurring opportunities. Learning happens when we’re having fun!
To read more about how we prepare for a TELL ME week, check out our previous posts in the TELL ME About It series!
- Goal Idea – Providing shared reading and writing opportunities directly relates to IEP goals, as these activities align with various core standards. Here are some examples you may find applicable:
- ELA-Literacy.L.K.5d: Distinguish shades of meaning among verbs describing the same general action (e.g., walk, march, strut, prance) by acting out the meanings.
- ELA-Literacy.L.K.6: Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts.
Be sure to check back next month as we work through the TELL ME manual and share activities, teaching strategies and implementation tips for the next book in the program, “Here Are My Hands”!
You can learn more about the program by watching the webinar TELL ME: AAC for the Preschool Classroom presented by Dr. Carole Zangari, available from Saltillo (bit.ly/2RNpykn).
You can find our Lesson Planning form and a template for “From Head To Toe” here.
Follow us on Instagram @basscAAC and subscribe to our YouTube channel (basscAAC) for more AAC implementation ideas!
This post was written by Carole Zangari