I love when I come across a new resource that really opens my eyes to new possibilities and my mind is stimulated to greater heights of creativity. Such was the case when I was sitting next to a stranger this past summer at a professional development seminar. She happened to be carrying around with her a copy of a book called Tasks Galore. This is a book I highly recommend not only to intervention specialists, but to teachers in general. The book is chock full of creative, hands-on, manipulative based ideas and modified curriculum tasks. Better, most of the taks and projects in the book involve re-purposing and recycling stuff that might otherwise be wasted.

For this post, I have simply expanded on an idea (found on page 51 of the book) the authors called "Seven-piece jigsaw of familiar item." The authors simply took the front of a cereal box, jig-saw cut it (rounded pieces, etc.) and made a puzzle. I like the idea, but I also thought it needed some expansion. (One of the great things about the book is that it shows a picture of a task and its use is left open to interpretation.)

I have kept the basic idea of cutting up the front of a box–in this case, cereal, breakfast bars, or even the lamination product I use–and building a puzzle. The only real difference is that I prefer to cut my boxes into geometic shapes–triangles, trapezoids, etc.–instead of jigsaw shapes. Here is an example:

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Now, here is where I am going to build upon the general idea found in Tasks Galore. As important as seeing the parts of the whole and putting the whole back together is, I also want this project to be a little more useful for my older and more advanced students. So, I want them to be able to read and write about what they have just finished. Thus I developed a short paper for the students to work on after the puzzle has been completed. I have attached a file to this bog post that you can use or you can use it as a template for your own writing project. (You can find the link below.)

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The puzzles can be as simple or as complex as you like them to be. When I'm using a smaller box, I tend to make the puzzle simpler. When I'm using a larger box-front I make the puzzle more complex.

I am grateful for Tasks Galore for the idea– because it is a great idea and I will be using this as a writing task for my students. As you can tell, this also serves a vital functional task as the students are learning about products they may need one day in their life. (I included a question on the question sheet that requires the student to use the internet in order to discover the price of the product.)  I believe the only limit to this game is the amount of box-fronts you can collect, cut, and laminate. Yes, even though the box-front is typically cardboard, it is still likely to be destroyed quickly. I go ahead and laminate the pieces so that I can get more than one use out of the puzzle.

It is also serving the function of strengthening your student's fine motor skills–occupational therapy which many of our special education students participate in daily.

As you can see this is yet another way to re-purpose things that might otherwise just be discarded into a landfill. Cardboard is highly recyclable and when the laminate is added, it lasts even longer.

You can use this link Tasks Galore to access the Tasks Galore Task of the Month. You can download the question sheet here: Download Box fronts writing.

Feel free to share your ideas about the writing project that goes along with this task. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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