Children communicate in a variety of ways — through vocalizations, pictures, sign language, gestures, communication devices, or speech. Some children with communication and language disabilities may need extra time to communicate an idea or thought or they may use special equipment to assist them.
Don’t take it personally if a child doesn’t always answer you or respond verbally — it doesn’t mean they don’t want their friends to talk and interact with them. If a friend is trying to tell you something that you can’t understand, it is ok to ask an adult for help.
Pay attention to how friends communicate their feelings, needs, and ideas and help others understand what they are trying to communicate. It may take practice, but you can learn how to communicate with friends in different ways, include them in conversations, and serve as a positive language model to others.
Game: Story Starter (Grades 2nd - 3rd)
Disability Awareness: COMMUNICATION
Storytelling can be an outlet for children to share what they know, be creative, and/or encourage both receptive and expressive language. Children can practice interacting with children that communicate in different ways, and develop appreciation of how they can contribute.
Ask children to act out or retell their favorite stories using puppets at a stage, theater panel, or other chosen space. Providing a story starter for children to create their own story helps them get started while encouraging children to communicate, practice conversational turn-taking, and incorporate their own creative ideas, changes, or expansions to the story. Using puppets can help children with communication disabilities feel comfortable participating and motivate children to be part of the storytelling experience. Children can be paired with one another or put into small groups.
Challenge each pair/group to find ways for every child to participate at their own level - using music or sounds along with the narration, making vocalizations or sounds, assuming a the role of a certain character, or leading the direction of the story. Stories can be performed for others if desired.
More Fun Inclusion Tips
- Musical panels, instruments, and communication devices can provide ways for children who are nonverbal to contribute to the story.
- Create a recorded message of things a character would say or sounds that may occur in the story so that a child who is nonverbal can press a voice output switch to participate.
- Using sign language can help children learn new ways to interact and communicate.
- Provide a variety of picture symbols or visual supports for children to engage in communicative exchanges with one another.
- Have children who are nonverbal be the puppeteer and another child interpret the puppet’s actions and provide the voice for the puppet.
- Rather than using puppets, children can be the characters of the story and physically act out the story using the entire playground as their stage.
- The facilitator or students can write story starters on a note card for the groups to draw from.
Additional Equipment Needed
Puppets, instruments, music, costumes, props, etc.