Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Greet and Treat Halloween Party

Our classroom is currently preparing for our Annual Greet and Treat Halloween Party.  Every year we celebrate holidays with functional parties that practice social skills that relate to the traditions for the holiday.  This helps students practice the social skills they need to be successful at family and community events. 

For Halloween, the skill we practice is trick-or-treating (without costumes).  Before the big day, I find teachers and staff who are willing to let us visit their classrooms/offices during out  greet and treat activity.  I often choose rooms and people who are familiar to the students  (the nurse’s station, the speech language room, the office, etc.)  Parents donate small party favors or snacks beforehand that serve as the treat at each stop. The children decorate a treat bag during art the day before our Halloween party.  

Our Greet and Treat Bag:  It's a large grocery bag with a handle cut-out near the bag's opening. 
On the big day, I post numbered, printed light bulbs outside our designated stops.  The light bulb images representsignify the illuminated porch lights the children will look for while trick-or-treating in their neighborhoods later that evening. 

The above image signifies the second stop on our Greet and Treat quest.
Then during the designated time for our elementary building’s fall parties (usually the last hour of the day), we have the students "Greet and Treat".  Before we start I read a social story about what we will be doing during our "Greet & Treat". 

Teacher's Tip: Social Story™ describes a situation, skill, or concept in terms of relevant social cues, perspectives, and common responses in a specifically defined style and format.)You can learn more about social stories by visiting Carol Gray’s work at this link  www.thegraycenter.org/social-stories 

Our Greet and Treat Social Story 
Today, we will be Greeting and Treating. It is just like trick-or-treating.  We will walk quietly in the hall in search of five classrooms with light bulbs outside of them.  
When we find one, we will knock on the door and say "hello”.  The person who answers the door will say “hello” back and give us a treat. We can only take one treat and we may not go into the classroom. We are only stopping by for a visit. Then we will say "thank you" and "goodbye".  
Next we will search for more light bulbs.  When we have all five light bulbs, we will quietly walk back to our classroom and put our bag of treats in our backpack so we can show our families after school.  
Greeting & Treating is lots of fun when we follow the rules.  We stay close to our teachers.  We walk quietly in the hallway and we use our best manners to greet teachers and say "thank you" and "goodbye".  

The story is written on Boardmaker using visual cues.  If you would like a copy of it, just shoot me an email at considerateclassroom@gmail.com.

Next, the children line up to go on our "Greet and Treat".  We walk down the hallway in a line in search of rooms with numbered light bulbs affixed to their doors. When we get to one, the children knock on the door and say "hello" and then receive a treat.  Many of our children have IEP goals that work on appropriate social greetings so this activity is perfect.  

For those students that need extra support, we provide mini language aided boards to facilitate their language.  For nonverbal students, we bring a step-by-step communicator for the students to say "hello", "thank you and "good-bye".  (Refer to this link for more info http://www.mayer-johnson.com/step-by-step-with-levels .) 

Mini Language Aid Boards used to support non-verbal students.
Instead of the step-by-step communicator, this year I am going to try using our iPad so the student has to choose what they will say rather than just hitting a button.   I plan to use the Answers: Yes No App by Simplified Touch. Using this app I can program two buttons for the kids to choose from to communicate with.  I am going to use "hello" and "thank you".  We also work on waving and signing thank you as appropriate. Instructor's Insight:  Sometimes by having the staff wave or sign thank you, the children have a cue to do the same and often add language to it.  

Often our first stop is Miss Andy, our Speech Clinician.  She then joins our quest and serves as additional support. The activity also provides great data on greeting goals.  It is amazing to see how many of the children greet appropriately for a treat.  It is a highly motivating activity that serves a dual purpose of getting the children ready for the evening’s events.  

Some of our students have never been trick-or-treating because parents are a little nervous to do so, but after they see their child’s success at our Halloween party they are more likely to give it a try. (All parents and caregivers are invited to join us for our Halloween party.) I also provide my address to families if they would like to trick-or-treat at the house of a familiar face later that evening.
** A special thank you to my little sister, Julie, for helping me brainstorm this idea five years ago when I started teaching Special Education Preschool.  

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