Saturday, May 1, 2010

Communication During Crafts

This past week our class decorated some wooden card holders we had recently acquired.  We gathered up all our craft materials, with help from the students, especially those with "will gather needed items..." benchmarks on their IEPs and set to work.  As you all know crafting in our classrooms is unlike crafting anywhere else.  While it is a motor skills activity for some of our students, be it directly completing steps in finishing the craft independently, participating with visual/verbal cues or using hand-over-hand or hand-under-hand assistance or using a switch adapted tool like battery operated scissors or a fan and an a Powerlink to dry paint; crafting is often times much more a communication activity.  That too occurs at many different levels, from pointing with a finger or using eye gaze to make choices from objects in a field of two or pressing a sequential step to play a message about the craft to use of middle level AAC like a communication book or static display device to use of a high technology device with dynamic display. 

Here are some of the ways we communicate during crafts:
  • facial expressions and gestures/signs to confirm/deny, comment and make choices
  • voice output switches to comment and request
  • pointing to objects or symbols to make choices
  • eye gaze to objects or symbols to make choices
  • static display devices to make choices, comment, request, deny and more through direct various access methods
  • dynamic display (including Minspeak/Unity at times) do all of the above are some of the things we make choices about in the course of doing crafts:
  • colors
  • embellishments (glitter, googly eyes, craft foam, felt, fabric paint, etc)
  • shapes
  • size
  • placement on the page/craft
  • when we are done with each step and the final product
Finally our class is just starting to work out how to best have each student tell about his or her product and the process of making it, some ways to do this are sequential switch, creating a document using Clicker5, Classroom Suite or Boardmaker Plus, using communication symbols/boards with core vocabulary and fringe vocabulary, using mid to high tech AAC with core vocabulary and related fringe vocabulary or something else.  How do other people do this so as to have every student share his or her product at the highest level of self-generated language possible for each individual?
This student picked brown,3 googly eyes, a red felt star and to write, "play cards" in orange and yellow using craft foam letters.  Choices were made using a combination of a high technology AAC device with direct selection and pointing to objects.
This crafter choose a silver background by picking the paint bottle out of the basket and then choose the googly eyes by picking them up as well.  This student always has the most googly eyes possible on every project!

This student made the card holder white with shiny colored flowers; choices were made using eye gaze to objects and a sequential switch.

As you can see, no matter how communication happened the card holders turned out fantastic!


  1. What a timely post! Have some difficulty with those "perfect craft projects" our staff seems to do (while the Going to print and share with all of our teachers! As always a well thought out and timely post (think Mother's Day crafts!)

  2. Thanks for all the ideas! I agree, it does come in good time for Mother's day, as we have been working on a decopauge jewelry box :) By the way, Elmers glue and a little water goes along way and is much less messy when doing decopauge.


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