In a few days it will be the fourteenth of March, and math enthusiasts know this to be Pi Day. This week we’ll be posting some ideas for Pi Day festivities for those looking to increase FUNctional language through some math related tasks. Many educators bring in various pies to share with students on Pi Day. Since we always want to include students with allergies, we recommend playing the game, “Pie Face,” instead. Shaving cream or something else can always be substituted for the whipped cream in the case of a dairy allergy. The game allows for natural opportunities to practice language and communication skills during some silly play.
Nouns: game, pie, whipped cream
Verbs: put, turn, spin, go, hit, give, want, need, clean
Pronouns: I, you, me, we, he, she
Adjectives: cold, wet, fluffy, sweet, delicious
Questions: Who, do
1. Set up the game and play according to the directions. Focus on some of the skills listed below.
2. Model appropriate comments for your kiddo as the events of the game progress. You can also model expression of opinions so that if your child becomes frustrated, they have some language to imitate instead of turning to undesirable behaviors. Some examples are:
Oh no! I got hit! I don’t like that.
It feels weird!
I hate this part.
I like when other people have a turn.
You’re safe! No pie hit you!
This game is so silly!
3. We’ve mentioned before that pronouns are an area of difficulty for kiddos with autism. They may struggle to use or understand pronouns. Depending on your child’s knowledge of pronouns, you may just choose to comment on the games events while modeling the correct usage of the target words. (I.e. “WE are playing a game.” “SHE got hit with a pie!”) If your kiddo demonstrates adequate comprehension but uses pronouns inconsistently, you can provide choices to help them select the correct sentence structure (I.e. “Should we say, HE won, or SHE won?”). This helps them to feel empowered and take a role in improving their grammatical skills, as opposed to simply being corrected.
4. As with most other games, you can use positive reinforcement simply by praising students for waiting their turn or appropriately remaining on task.
5. During the first few rounds, model use of target adjectives by using your senses as a guide. Not all games make this possible, but this activity allows for multi-sensory play. Talk about how the whipped cream feels, smells, looks, and tastes. In later rounds, you can ask your child about the sensations and see if they use any of the target words.
6. You can work on the two following questions repeatedly throughout the game:
Who: Who’s turn is it?
Do: Do you like this game?/Do you like that part? As the game progresses and some players are hit with pies, while others are not, the answers may change!