I am currently tutoring a student who has an Autism Spectrum Disorder. The student is a participant in the Autism Scholarship Program which means that he is educated at home by a professional. I work with the family to provide helpful tools they can use, I work with the student on academic and behavioral skills, write curriculum and also provide guidance on achieving IEP objectives. It is truly a worthwhile effort that I enjoy immensely.
There are times, however, when we encounter small problems. One such example is what some call 'circle time' and others call 'calendar time.' It's that time of the day when teachers engage the students in learning the days of the week, months of the year, and other such fun things. Well, when there is only one student, circle time can be rather boring; nevertheless, I did not want my student to miss out on this opportunity. So I had to develop a way to teach the various circle time elements in a one on one situation to a student with an ASD.
Out of this was born the Traveling Circle Time. Here's a picture:
As you can see in this picture, there are many elements included in this miniature version of Circle Time. Some of the elements are traditional–for example, today is, yesterday was; the add-the-number-of-the-day calendar in the center; today's weather is; and so on. Other elements are specific to our environment. One on one, we can talk about nouns, verbs, synonyms, antonyms, specific numbers and letters. Also included is a student specific category for 'how I [the student] am feeling today.' Here's another view:
Most of the elements included on the Traveling Circle Time board were produced from Boardmaker(R). It is super easy to make them, and they can be designed any way you like. I used simple, clear shapes and provided plenty of space for my student to place the 'buttons.' The buttons are incredibly easy to make using the Boardmaker(R) software (which I swear by). The various elements are simply created, printed, and glued to the tri-fold board using Elmer's Craft Bond Rubber Cement. I did not laminate the elements because they wouldn't stick as well to the board. After gluing them down, simply apply your sticky-back Velcro(R) (or another hook and loop product) in the appropriate space.
After the board is prepared, make your butttons. I did laminate the buttons because they will get a lot of use and you don't want to have to remake them every other day. In a later post, I will show you the container I use to keep all of my prepared buttons in for easy access.
The cost on this item is a little higher than I would normally like, and did not involve any recycling at all, but in the end it is worth. Boardmaker(R) is provided by my district. I prefer Scotch brand thermal laminating sheets and my trusty Scotch desktop laminator. A couple of the items (days of the week; months of the year) were found on a couple of free websites (I regret I don't recall to give them props). And the tri-fold board is $2-$3 depending upon where you buy it.
This is an excellent tool you can use to provide individualize calendar time to your students. Maybe you can even find a way to work this into your classroom setting, but at least it is useful for one on one contact. I'm actually going to build another one for other tutoring sessions and students, but it will most certainly have other elements included.
Enjoy the Traveling Circle Time. Let me know if you have other ideas for improving this task.Good luck, and enjoy!
PS-The Traveling Circle Time probably looks very dull and un-colorful. That is intentional. The students I work with are easily distracted so I limit the amount of extra-curricular decorations which only aid and abet their distractability. I keep it to the point intentionally.