By: Carmen Willings
It is important to start the school year with an introduction or review of the classroom and school campus and also to introduce or reintroduce school personnel. An additional goal of this unit is to introduce, teach, and reinforce the daily routine of the classroom and orient the students to the classroom (find cubbies/lockers, work stations, locations in the school building). This is also a good time to introduce authority figures and rules at your school. Assure students that this is a place where they are welcome, and where they can make new friends. Discuss the importance of playing and working safely so everyone can have fun and learn.
- As a result of touring the classroom, students will become familiar with the classroom and understand where to locate stations and materials within the classroom.
- As a result of touring the school campus, students will understand the school layout and where the office, nurse’s office, main exits, cafeteria, playground, gym and any other regular visited areas are within the school.
- As a result of meeting school personnel, the students will understand that workers in the school have different responsibilities. Students will identify classmates, teachers, school personnel the students may have contact with and related service staff.
- Following discussion and role playing, the students will be able to identify classroom rules.
- Students will identify ways they can help contribute to the classroom organization and cleanliness by assisting in chores.
Some possible materials include, but are not limited to:
Help students develop familiarity and understanding of the materials and vocabulary by presenting the students with riddles and encouraging students to touch or tell the object:
- By name (ex. Find the box of crayons.)
- By description (ex. Find the one that is a large rectangle)
- By function (ex. Find the object that is used to wipe your face when you eat.)
- By texture (ex. Find the one that feels round with a point on one end.)
Encourage students to reach inside a bag and try to identify objects related to school. Once the students have identified the objects, extend the activity by encouraging the students to match the item to the printed word. Encourage students to have more time exploring the details of the materials. Additionally you may consider providing two of each item and encourage the students to locate the matching object.
Present students with simple sentences about the objects. Omit the object words from the sentence and encourage the students to collaboratively or independently complete the sentences by selecting the word paired with the object that would complete the sentence. Adjust the complexity of the sentence to challenge but ensure success.
- An (eraser) is a tool you use when you make a mistake when you are writing.
- You can carry your lunch to school in a (lunchbag).
- You can wipe your hands and face with a (napkin) when you eat.
- You can color pictures with (crayons/markers).
- You can use a (ruler) to measure how long something is.
- You can take notes or write in a (notebook).
Present students with pre-printed cards (Use a simple, bold font such as Arial and in a large enough font for comfortable distance viewing. Add braille as needed.) with vocabulary words related to the unit. Present each word and assist as needed in sounding out the word. When possible, pair objects or pictures with each vocabulary word (e.g., slide show, PowerPoint, photo, etc.). Provide a brief verbally description of each word.
Possible Vocabulary Words for this unit include but are not limited to:
Inform the students that these words have things in common and can be grouped together by what they share in common. Present a simple web with headings of categories. Have students take turns coming to the front, reading the word and placing in the category where it may belong. If the student has difficulty, encourage them to request help (differentiated learning: “I need help” programmed on a switch” or allow the student to select a peer to help them). Sometimes a word could belong in more than one category. When this happens, allow students to select where they would like it to go, or write the word on two cards and place it in both categories.
Possible Web Categories include:
- Locations in the school: art, bathroom, bus drop off, cafeteria, computer lab, elevator, office, nurses station, gym, hallway, library
- People at School: teacher, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist, physical therapist, teacher of students with visual impairments, cafeteria workers, janitor, nurse, principal, secretary
- Locations in the classroom: art, writing, circle/meeting, math, science, computer, bathroom, desk, sink
- School Supplies: books, crayons, notepads, pencil, eraser, markers, tape, glue, ruler
- Food related: lunch, snack, lunch bag, menu
Prior to this activity, record greetings by key school employees and specialists. Also be sure to take a picture of each person. If you are able to obtain recordable buttons (or use a recordable photo album), have a button or recording attached to each person's picture. Display the pictures of peers, key school employees, and therapists/specialists on the board or in a photo album. Prepare print/braille labels of each person's name as they are known to the students (some staff may go by first name while others go by their last names). Be sure to laminate the cards to ensure durability and attach Velcro for repeated matching opportunities.
Present cards with the school employees/therapists names printed/brailled on them. Play the recorded greetings from the staff one at a time. Encourage students to identify the person in the audio recordings and the picture (if the student has usable vision). Next, pronounce the person’s name. Encourage the students to locate the printed name. Stress the beginning sound of the person’s name to assist students in identifying the beginning letter of their name. Then locate names that begin with that letter. If there is more than one name that begins with that letter, continue by determining the next sound/letter combination in their name. Once the student has found the printed/brailled name, place it by the picture. Continue until all names are matched.
Prior to the activity, prepare a print out of the Mad Lib using print and braille if there are any current or future braille readers. leave enough space to fill in the blanks. Consider preparing it in a way that it can be used multiple times (e.g. laminate and attach Velcro). Tell the students that you are going to make a silly story about school. To do this, you will ask them to provide a part of speech. Go through the Mad Lib and ask students to provide you with nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, exclamations, etc. Use an existing school related Mad Lib or create your own.
I was very (emotion) about going back to (place). I wondered what I would do and if I would have any (plural noun). I (past tense verb) to (place) on the school (noun). I sat next to my friend (name). We (verb) the whole way to school. When we got there, the teacher was waiting in the (noun). She seemed very (emotion) to see me. I think my first day is going to be (adjective)!
Following classroom discussions about areas within the school and people who work at the school, encourage students to determine the person or place based on the description. Make the riddles more challenging for some and easier for others.
- This vehicle takes people to school. (school bus)
- This is where you go to eat at school. (cafeteria)
- This is where you go if you get sick at school (nurses station).
- This is who is the leader of the school (principal).
- This is the area of the school where you can find many books (library).
Present students with pre-written fact sentences related to going to school. Read the sentences together in choral reading several times to improve fluency and word recognition. Assist the students in cutting the sentence(s) into individual words, or provide pre-written/cut sentences. Mix the words up (but ensure they are all still oriented correctly) and encourage the students or groups of students to put the sentence together into the original order. Vary the complexity of the sentences to challenge each student, but ensure success. Encourage students to generate their own simple sentences related to the topic. Support them in forming a variety of sentence types: declarative, interrogatory, exclamatory, or imperative. Provide assistance in generating new sentences as needed. Some possible sentences include: