When we hear the word “literacy,” we usually think of the ability to read. We want our children “literate” by kindergarten or so, and we consider our children literate once they have read their first storybook.
www.wikipedia.org defines literacy as ” the ability to read for knowledge and write coherently and think critically about the written word. Literacy can also include the ability to understand all forms of communication, be it body language, pictures, video & sound (reading, speaking, listening and viewing).” Sounds like a recipe for PECs and multi-sensory learning, doesn’t it? As parents of children with learning disabilities or differences, having this holistic approach to literacy is necessary as we deliberately plot our child’s course on the road to reading.
I want to make books come alive for our children. I want our children to do more than just sit still while we read to them. I want them to see the story, not just a bunch of random colors and shapes. I want them to think about what they are seeing. I want them to apply their knowledge to the new pictures and text on the written page before them. I want them to take from the pictures and text on the written page new tidbits of knowledge. I want these stories that we read to our much-loved children to do more than just entertain them for five minutes or so. I want these stories and ideas to attach themselves to our children’s minds and hearts in the form of memories that will last a lifetime.
We did that today. Wow, when I write it all out and see it in black and white, I realize we accomplished quite a bit!
My mind is still whirring from all I learned at the 2012 TSHA Convention. Taking away a little bit from each workshop I went to, I’ve come up with a couple of ideas for literacy-based activities that I’d like to feature here on a regular basis. Yesterday I posted our first Build-As-You-Go PEC Storyboard, and today I made our first Find and Seek PEC board. Here’s how it works.
Method: Find and Seek PEC Boards
- Reading and Listening Comprehension
1. Choose a short picture-based book to read to your child.
2. Make PECs that correlate with different details in the pictures.
3. Prepare the PECs (print, cut and laminate PECs. Place velcro loop dots on the back of the PECs.)
4. Prepare a PEC board (laminated paper with a length-wise strip of velcro hooks at the top, middle and bottom).
5. Choose the PECs that you want to focus on for that session and place them face up in front of your child.
6. Read through the book with your child, stopping to point out the details that you have a corresponding PEC for. For example:
Mom: (Pointing to a shoe in the picture) “Oh, look, what is she wearing on her foot?”
Noah: (says or signs) “Shoe.”
Mom: What color is the shoe?
Mom: “Oh, she has a blue shoe.” Do you have a blue shoe (pointing to the PECs)?
At this point, Noah will pick up the blue shoe PEC and place it on the PEC board.
7. Alternatively, you may want to have a session with your child where you are only working on the PECs. So you may read the book in one session, and work on PECs in the next.
In case you are wondering, the difference between Find and Seek Boards and Build-As-You-Go Boards are the BAYG boards focus on the main point of each page or spread, and the Find and Seek Boards focus on pictoral details that may not even come to light in the text.
One thing I have heard over and over again about working with children with learning disabilities is that we should always take things down to a level where they can be successful. So don’t hesitate to only put one picture in front of your child at a time to choose from. You are building up their abilities by taking baby steps. The first thing they need to be able to do is to pick up the correct card. So even if they are doing that without having to make a choice, they are being successful. Reward them!!!! Praise looks like “Good job, way to go, that’s right, yes!” Once they have that down, just have them choose between two cards at a time. Slowly build up from there until they are looking through a whole book’s worth of PECs to find the right one. Children are more likely to want to return to an activity that they have experienced success at (and come to think of it, so are parents, right?)
Stay tuned for my first Find and Seek PEC Board, coming soon!