Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Task Box Countdown: Task Box #2 - The Bubble Gum Machine Fun

My Top 10 Task Box Countdown began last week with "TaskBox #1: Academic Sensory Bags".  This week we move onto an excellent multi-purpose task box, The Bubble Gum Machine.

My students often get tired of the same old task boxes. Even though they may not have mastered the skills being practiced in the task, it gets old working on the same task over and over.  Other times students master a skill when presented in a specific context, but have difficulty using the skill in a different capacity. Needless to say, I am always looking for new ways to work on the same concepts.  
Teacher’s Tip:  When creating task boxes for the classroom, think of ways to make your materials fit more than one skill. You’ll get more bang for your buck!!!  

For example, this week I found these small bubble gum machines for a dollar at Dollartree.  Simply add some fuzzy pom-poms and you have a motivating and unique assortment of tasks.

Activity #1 - Basic Counting Task:  Add number flash cards and you have a counting game.  Instructor's Insight: Add sticker dots to your flash cards and you have a way to work on one-to-one correspondence.  Or if you put the sticker dots on the back, they can be used for the more complex skill of self-checking. 

Activity #2 - Advanced Counting Task:  Put several different colors of pom-poms in one machine and have your students count how many of each color.  For a higher-level challenge, use this template to increase the task’s complexity. 

Activity #3 - Fine Motor Skills Task:  Add an ice cube tray & tongs and you have a unique fine motor skill building activity.

Activity #4 - Non Verbal Task:  If you have nonverbal students or students who do not know their colors yet, you can use this aided language page.  The students can match or point to the colors as they draw them from their bubble gum machine. 

If you are playing the game with a student who is at a higher-level and already knows how to sort and name colors, ask him/her to graph the colors he/she and their friends draw from the bubble gum machine using this graph template.   

Language-Aid Page

Activity #5 - Taking Turns:  Lastly,  add a "Take 1" fabric bag or container for a turn-taking practice game.  

A "Take 1" bag or container is just a little fabric bag or container with the phrase “Take 1” written on it.  I make them to use in our classroom to practice selecting only one item.  Often times when students are asked to take one item from a bowl or bag of items, they grab a   handful.  By using the take one bag we can work on the skill of taking one, and all support staff will remember to prompt with the term "take one" as it is printed on the bag.  Instructor's Insight:  If a student is having trouble with the concept of taking one, I will only put one item in the bag or container to make their selection errorless. 

To use the "Take 1" bag in The Bubble Gum Machine Game, you would simply have the students take turns taking one pom pom out of the bag, name the color they pulled, and then  put it into the correspondingly-colored gum ball machine.  Or add several different colored pom-poms into the bag.  Have the student draw only one pom, identify its color, and place it in the bubble gum machine.

There you have it .... five activities for the price of one!  And to think, I almost passed up purchasing these bubble gum machines because I thought it was too much storage for one simple sorting activity.  

Extra credit:  A great app that goes along with the same idea of sorting gum balls is 
Candy Count - Learn Colors & Numbers. 


  1. Do the pompoms come out when you pull down the lever?

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