This is part 3 of my Community Based Instruction Series.
The tasks and skills you work on in community should be directly tied to the work you put into place in the classroom (See Part 2). Of course this will vary depending on age level, your curricular targets, IEP goals and more!
However, below are some ideas to get your gears turning!
For students with visual impairments
** Visual clutter may be quite high in a supermarket or other community environment. I always bring a black fabric or paper along. This allows me to quickly provide an uncluttered and high-contrast background for my students. I can place visuals against it or an actual object from the store.
Black background with image velcro-ed on to reduce visual clutter
** Bring models of the items on your shopping list. We often buy coffee and tea for our coffee cart program. I will save the coffee wrapper and a little bit of coffee in a ziplock, as well as a tea bag. I bring these on our trips to the grocery store and it provides students with a multi-sensory and concrete “shopping list”! Also, you can target the concepts “same” and “different” by comparing what you bought last time to what you are buying this trip!
For student with Cortical Visual Impairment. High contrast image with red glitter tape to promote visual fixation and concrete object of peanut butter to touch/see/smell
For functional reading, writing, math
When you go shopping for yourself, chances are you had a role in writing the list. You probably know what you will use the items for, why you are buying them, and a general idea of cost. In this same fashion, your students should have this opportunity as well. I usually have my shopping lists double as a space to jot down the cost of items, but you can work it however you want! See below for some ideas.
*Tip: Some grocery stores allow you to search for their items online! It isn’t always consistent with prices in the stores but it gives you/your students a general idea of costs.
For some functional FUN
So… in my opinion, all the above is super FUN 😉 but some students might need a little extra ‘oomph.’
We use these scavenger hunt sheets to work on various skills with students. They work for a chosen reinforcer.
My favorite part of these is that I can change the targeted skills based on student, trip, social skill or core word focus, etc!
For structured needs
Just because you’re outside of the classroom, doesn’t mean all structure should go away. In fact, it is often the opposite, you’ll need to put even more supports in place to promote success.
**Be sure that the incentives you have in place are able to be used in the community. For example, if your student gets 5 tokens to play on the computer and their schedule of reinforcement is every few minutes – you probably don’t want to bring a computer on your trip!! Give other reinforcers as options to work for.
**Provide a mini schedule. You know your students best, so be sure to individualize as needed. One student may be successful with a schedule that shows “bus, shop, eat, bus” and one may need the tasks more broken down “bus, find item, buy item, eat, clean up, bus” .
Please note that you don’t always need to buy items! Students can have a super successful, fun, and challenging trip without buying anything! On one of our trips (photo below), students walked around the store and found/sorted items into food groups.