by Mary Staub, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA
Independent play skills do not always develop naturally and sometimes must be taught. One way to teach independent play skills involves breaking play into a doable schedule in which the child receives reinforcement for completion of the activity. Some ways that independent play can be encouraged in the home involve using “play bins” in which a single mastered play activity is put in a bin and an activity schedule is made to signal what the child is to complete before earning reinforcement. All materials can be things that you already have at home and that the child would typically have access to so that the presence of designated bins can be faded out for more naturalistic play.
Following are steps on how to use in the home:
Teaching the use of a play schedule can be useful for increasing independent play and can also be a tool to use when your child might not have immediate access to parent/adult attention and must engage in an activity independently. An example of when this might be useful could be when you are in the kitchen cooking or need to make a phone call and cannot play with the child.
Task analysis teaching steps
Example of a play schedule
Blog entry written by Mary Staub, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA
ABA is Functional. Unique. Natural.
Here's a great process to create a FUN ABA goal:
1. ABA goals are functional. This means goals are chosen because they are of importance to the child and the child's ability to be a part of the community. That is, within the family, school, at the grocery store, etc.
Sam (not an actual client!) is doing really well with his preschool peers and the teachers are excited to move him up to Kindergarten. Our goal is to work on Kindergarten readiness skills: playing with toys in a functional manner, reading grade level words/letter sounds, and identifying numbers.
2. Each child is unique. The first thing we have to do is find the appropriate motivation. Children don't fit into cookie cutter therapy programs. Every child is UNIQUE and will prefer different activities, experiences, foods, or toys. Identify a few of these highly preferred things your child enjoys.
Sam is pretty good at playing with a variety of toys, but ABSOLUTELY LOVES vehicles. In fact, this is the first thing he runs to during free play time and will sit for 15 minutes and play with airplanes and firetrucks. Sam will also consistently and quickly finish worksheets when told that he can play with vehicles after work.
3. Natural. A lot of people think that ABA only occurs at the table, but it actually occurs everywhere. ABA therapists may have to begin skill building at a table, but they will quickly work on generalizing skills to the natural environment. We want the child to be able to use all of that wonderful knowledge in all environments.
Time to piece it together! For Sam, we made a parking lot and filled in the parking spots with "targets." Programs covered during his therapy time included:
- Receptive and Expressive identification of words and numbers (park the airplane in spot 11, what is parked in the spot that says "that")
- Multiple step instructions (grap the red train, fill it up at the gas station, and park it in spot 20)
- Block imitation from a model (Vehicles need gas to go! build a gas station pump that looks like mine!)
- Following instructions (Parking lots need stores! Go get the pile of blocks and build your favorite store)
- Receptive and Expressive Categories (where are the numbers/words/vehicles, what vehicle do you want?)
- Math, Counting (how many empty spots do we have left? How many more vehicles need spots?)
- Positional words (put the airplane on top of the store)
- Yes/no/not (is this a firetruck? find the airplane that is NOT yellow)
- Answering questions (the kids on this bus are hungry...where should they go?)
Remember: It's important for children to play and have fun while they learn!
Written by: Elizabeth Ginder, MSSW, BCBA
While I love every ounce of my profession, my biggest goal is using ABA principles and techniques to teach kids to be KIDS! Discrete Trial Training (DTT) is very important, but it is equally as important to generalize these skills across people, settings and stimuli. Today, we had fun with dinosaur bones and fossils. If your child has a list of ABA program goals (and if they're with me, you know they do!), don't forget to carry those goals into fun activities. I'll try to post some of these ideas under the Everyday ABA heading.
Baking/cooking is probably one of my favorite ways to incorporate ABA program goals into a child's day without it feeling like "work." Mix up your own salt dough with your child. While making the dough with your child, count and measure, work on action words like "stir" "mix" "scoop", ask about textures, temperatures and all those other describing words listed in his/her program book. This is also a great time to work on pesky positional words: put the flour in the bowl, put the spoon on top of the table, etc. For my older kids, I like to have them draw sequence cards to work on remembering steps and putting steps of a task in order.
For dinosaur day, we worked on matching dinosaurs into salt dough fossils and also worked on putting dinosaur bones in order from small-->big, heavy--> light and thin--> thick!
I must give credit to the wonderful world of Pinterest for initially giving me this idea a year or so ago! If you want to make your own salt dough, follow this recipe:
~Elizabeth Gagliardi, MSSW, BCBA Owner and Behavior Analyst of ABA Interventions