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Life Skills in Special Education
Another handy life skill that comes into the special education teaching domain is getting dressed. For most students in mainstream education, getting dressed and choosing clothing comes almost naturally. For some students in special education (and their parents) it is a vital daily living skill that needs to be carefully and meticulously taught. It may not seem like a significant part of the curriculum, but the ability to choose suitable clothing for the day as well as carry out the functional task of putting clothing on and off is an important activity of daily living which takes enormous amounts of time if it is not able to be completed independently.
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The Getting Dressed Game
So here's the game:
- Divide children into two groups, with sufficient teacher aide support to ensure success.
- Give a signal (whistle, hand clap or verbal prompt etc).
- On the signal, the first child in each group looks at you to see which Makaton dressing sign you are giving (for example, hat, jumper, pants, shoes, socks, tie, coat).
- They then move to the 'dressing room' (usually a corner or area of the room where the clothes are set out ready) and put on the item which matches the Makaton sign you gave.
- They then return to their group as fast as possible and tag the next child in the group for their turn.
This game is obviously more fun if it is done fairly quickly, and if the clothes are layered on over each other so children end up wearing multiple layers of clothing. You can add more humour to the dressing game by introducing some silly clothes such as big floppy hats, paisley shirts or wildly coloured coats and ties. The funnier and sillier, the better!
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Reinforce the Makaton Learning
Remember that the key to good teaching in special education is to reinforce learning, so don't just use these Makaton dressing and clothing signs once. Play the dressing game a few times during a week or two, then apply the signs in other situations. For example, you could create a cut out person from cardboard and ask students to paste or draw on the clothes as they tell you the Makaton sign for each item. Or they could link their learning of Makaton weather signs with getting dressed signs by checking the weather and then indicating which clothes would be most suitable for a day. It is 'raining' outside (give Makaton sign for rain) - we need a 'coat' (give Makaton sign for coat) and a 'hat' (give Makaton sign for hat).
Using Makaton Signs - The Getting Dressed Game
Makaton is a great tool for building communication skills in children with hearing impairments and those who have communication difficulties. Makaton signs are supported by spoken language, and focus on key phrases and words to aid life skills and general communication.