Old stories and folk tales have been used to educate children for thousands of years, and we are still finding fun and creative ways to incorporate them into learning. This week at Building BLOCS, some of our groups have been reading the story of the Little Red Hen. This story is integrated into various parts of the day, from storytime to pretend play.
During storytime, everyone sits in a circle and listens to the story of the Little Red Hen. This sets the groundwork for the other activities–it’s important to know the story we’re talking about! We like to make it interactive, so we pause the story to ask each child a question that corresponds with his or her learning objectives. For example, someone might be asked to “point to the bread,” while someone else might be asked, “Who is cooking?”. Sometimes, we pass around toys that relate to the story to practice sharing and other important skills as well.
Pretend play is when everyone gets a chance to let their creativity shine. The therapists lead an activity in the gym in which the children get to pick their own wheat, roll out their dough, and bake their bread–all in their imagination, of course! We all get a chance to process our grain and seeds in the kitchen at the first station by pouring rice through a small plastic play set. Next, we pretend we’re all giant rolling pins and roll the “dough”–four extra squishy bean bags on the floor. Then, with a slide down our slide, we put the bread in the oven to bake. Then, with a quick run back to our chairs, we’ve all baked bread, and it’s time to eat! Once everyone has had a chance to bake and “eat” their bread, we all head back to the other room for more activities.
For children with ASD, pretend play can often be difficult. However, by finding a unifying theme, like the story of the Little Red Hen, and creating a fun group activity, makes it easier and more enjoyable for learning all kinds of new skills.