Critical Communication for Behavior Management

Functional Communication is an important skill to master in any successful Behavior Management Plan. Here’s a brief description on how I teach theses skills with my young learners.

How I Teach students to use a “Break or Help” card

1. Firstly you need to help your student realise when they need to use the break/help card, preferably before they get too frustrated or loose concentration. At the start of any activity, show the student the break card and place the card where they can easily reach it.

2. Point to the break/help card and tell them, “This is your break/help card. You can use it to ask for a break.” When your student starts to get frustrated or loose interest, You say “If you are getting upset, use your break card to tell me you need a break/help.”

3. Once he requests the card allow the student to take a break/help from his tasks, or direct the student to move away to the “break area.” I found that self regulating visuals on the bottom of the card is a fantastic way of calming your student while on a break.

4. Requesting is an important part of teaching the student to trust and use the visual support, once they are consistently asking for breaks, you may begin to extend the time between the request and the actual break.

5. Visuals to the bottom of the support cards help redirect the student to what he can do instead, or while using the card. I hang them up on a keyring for easy access in my calm down corner!

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My Calm Down Corner

I’ve been creating behavior supports for my classroom and I particularly love the calm down resources that iv finally put together. The system works great especially for children that needs to calm themselves and rely on clear visual instruction to help process what they need to do.

So I started with a sign, a “Calm down” sign … before I even put together a selection of fidgets! A couple of cheap fidget toys that I knew my kids would love and the first part of my kit was done. Then I sorted out a corner of my room with a beanbag on the floor and a little book shelf for privacy, I kept it very plain and simple with just the calm down tools on hand… WOW it looks great, and my kids love it!

Next I wanted to gave my kids a chance to take a break before things got to tricky, so I made these colourful break cards and purchased a sand timer. I added Velcro to the break board and attached it to the side of the bookcase, a good place to put the break card, I thought, before they grab a timer and sitting down. I knew this skill would take a bit of practice but was surprised at how quickly I saw results… its well worth the effort.

In a crises a visual choice of nice, peaceful activities would help to distract for a moment until we could sort out what was wanted.

And my all time favourite support! (already established) that always seems to work and get the little learner back on track is the REWARD BOARD and MENU CARD!

Mini Beast crafts

For Busy Preschool Teachers

Teachers never seem to have enough time in the day to plan and create fresh, effective and engaging resources. That’s why Id like to share some of my minibeast craft sheets that my kids have loved painting and creating this week. Iv been so proud seeing them using different techniques to decorate their ladybirds, butterfly’s and caterpillars.

I started off by letting them choose a template of their favourite bug and laying out craft materials, paints and tools to encourage their creative minds to run free!

Each student knew what they wanted to use and I was able to see their own unique way of expressing themselves in their art work!

These simple bug crafts kept my young learners focused for ages and and turned out absolutely brilliant!

Click here to download some FREE Bug templates to use with your kids!

For more activities and resources visit my TPT Store

Counting and Number Recognition 1-5

Bugs Interactive Workbook

Playdough Activity Mats for Autism in Special Education Classrooms

Bug Jars Counting 1-10

End of year for Preschool & Special Education

Well the countdown begins! So I’m going to take it easy in the run up to the end of the year. I still like to be prepared for those last few days though, I also want to keep those little ones learning in a fun way and tiny fingers busy, right to the end!

A lot of preschool and children with Special Education can find organising, sequencing and prioritising difficult so I thought Id target some of those skills and keep them practicing.

Keeping my little ones engaged and motivated is important to me, but can be hard work preparing and organising, so having these no-prep sheets ready are a huge life saver and fun for students to work on! I’ve also laminated a copy and popped them in a binder for my students to use at their independent work centres.

For More of my End of year Activities press on the links below.

End of School -no prep Sequencing fun

End of year Flip Book – My summer plans

Things that go together – kindergarten, Autism, Special Ed


Tips For Special Ed Teachers

The four functions of behavior are, Sensory, Escape, Attention and Tangible. Effective intervention involves identifying the function of a behavior and incorporating strategies to replace it.

Attention – if the student is pinching you to gain attention, then teach her to request attention appropriately with e.g. visuals such as “will you play with me” icon.

ESCAPE – if she’s hitting her head to avoid a task, teach her to request “help” or a “break” with a timer.

Tangible – crying while in a cue to get lunch, teach her to “wait”

Sensory – biting her hand, then teach her to request a “chewy toy”.

When planning these new skills always remember that the replacement behavior must serve the same function as the one displayed.

More Ideas

SENSORY SIMULATION – Offer opportunities for bouncing on a large ball or trampoline, spinning, squeezing sensory balls, chewy toys, sand play, water play, banging a drum.

ATTENTION SEEKING – Give non verbal students a voice with visuals to request time with a favourite person, play games or work together. Model with hand over hand instructions to tap your arm and get your attention in structured sessions.

AVOIDANCE – Teach students to request a “break”, “help”, Give a choice of what to work for with a Token Reward system. Motivate with a choice of reinforcers and keep them fresh and handy.

Plan fun activities, maybe short to start with. Tailor learning with individual interest in mind.

TANGIBLE – Redirect to requesting items using visuals or voice, Use “First and Then” strategy and schedules. Token Economy with a reinforcer of their choice should incorporate their favourite items and snacks.

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