January 2013 Smarty

It’s a new month and that means a new Smarty Video!

Just in time for the New Year, January’s Smart Art is a calendar project!  This time mom or dad gets to do the crafting and the kids get to do the playing (and learning).  Click HERE for the link.

If crafting isn’t your thing, don’t worry, there isn’t much work involved.  The end result is a wonderful inexpensive alternative to commercial magnetic calendars.  To download the template, visit the Autism Live facebook page.  Once you have the template, print, cut and paste!  Want to make it even faster?  You can print directly to a printable magnet sheet, like these from Avery.  Mount your calendar on the fridge or put it on a metal cookie pan for a mobile calendar.

Once your calendar is complete, the teaching/play options are endless.

Let’s start with the basics.  Calendar skills start with learning the days of the week and months of the year. In addition, children must be taught the concept of a day, week, month and year.  We can’t cover everything here (The Skills® Calendar lesson has 29 activities and hundreds of targets!), but calendar skills also include learning to identify dates, holidays, seasons, understanding the chronology of the calendar, and much more.  (Skills® users, refer to the Calendar lesson in the Math Domain of the Academic Curriculum for your child’s specific targets.)

A calendar is a useful tool for discussing past, current and future events.  This gives children the opportunity to practice sequencing skills, recall of events and experiences, and past, present and future verb tenses.  To make these events more concrete, take photos of people, places and events or use symbols (e.g. soccer ball = soccer game, egg = Easter).  Add these photos to the calendar to help your child remember when past events occurred and see when future events will occur.  Older children may prefer sticky notes with written reminders.  (Skills users, refer to the “Sequencing – Before / After” lesson and “Sequencing – First, Then, Last” lesson in the language curriculum for your child’s specific targets.)

Calendars are also an essential tool for planning and organization and understanding a calendar is a prerequisite to using a planner.  Adults use calendars and planners multiple times a day to plan short and long term schedules, break tasks / activities into logical and achievable steps, and determine a realistic timeframe and make judgments about what they can accomplish or commit to.  Our children are lucky enough to have us for social secretaries, but there is no reason they can’t start learning these planning skills now.  Using pictures or text, add future events to the calendar with your child.  Determine whether your child can commit to future social events based on what is already scheduled and use the calendar as a reference for planning (e.g. “Emma’s birthday is on Saturday.  We need to buy and wrap a gift and make a card.  When should we do it?”)  It might be helpful to keep a To Do list next to the calendar to record tasks.  (Skills users, refer to the “Academic Planning” lesson, “Social Planning” lesson, “Adaptive Planning” lesson and “Using a Planner” lesson in the Planning Domain of the Executive Functions Curriculum for your child’s specific targets.)

Happy Crafting!

NOTE: As a safety precaution, please keep the calendar pieces away from small children.  If your child has a tendency to mouth objects, the calendar should only be used under supervision, or as an alternative, laminate the calendar pieces and use double stick tape or Velcro.