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    Sunday, September 25, 2022

    Facilitating Communication During Structured Play Groups in the Special Education Classroom

    In early intervention settings, Structured Play Groups are a perfect, developmentally-appropriate evidence-based practice for autistic students and can be a valuable support for developing friendships and communication skills. In my experience, the benefit of these groups certainly stretches beyond just my autistic students but those with other developmental disabilities and even their neurotypical peers! Especially in these unique post-pandemic lockdown times when all students have had gaps in their opportunities for social engagement.

    To facilitate communication during structured play groups, I created communication boards with common play phrases in predictable locations and fringe words specific to the play activity including related labels, actions, and even descriptive words. 

    Each board was easy to implement because all I needed to do was print and laminate and they were ready to go! In my opinion, sometimes low-tech options are all you need! Students can simply point to the word they want to use or for some they may use the board as a word bank to facilitate their verbal communication. 

    To make these even easier to use in my classroom, I created lesson plans for each board that could easily be implemented by my paraprofessionals or subs. These lesson plans were differentiated for early, intermediate, and advanced learners. Often, I would have a paraprofessional introduce some of the vocabulary and concepts on the board using the lesson plans during 1:1 instruction, and then I would help with the application during our structured play groups. Then, once we had practiced a bit with a board I would add it to my free play area so that students always had them accessible during play times. 

    And as an added bonus, when I added these boards to my TPT store I also added differentiated IEP goal ideas that aligned with the lesson plans. 

    In addition to being a big hit with my students, these communication boards have been a big hit with my TPT customers too! 

    Ready to check these out for youself? Head over to my TPT store!

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