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Fall 2002 Table of Contents
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New Teacher Series: Getting Started with Activity Routines

Ann Rash and Nancy Toelle, TSBVI Outreach

The most important tool in the TVI's toolbox when working with MIVI students is collaborative consultation regarding activity routines. A well-written routine will incorporate aspects relating to all disciplines working with the child: occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech therapist, teacher of the visually impaired, teacher of the auditorially impaired, classroom teacher, parent. Remember the overriding purpose of activity routines is to provide the child with a pleasurable experience that they will want to participate in, will anticipate, and communicate about. Also keep in mind that the very first step to implementing routines is to build a relationship with the classroom teacher and assistants so that they will be open to trying this approach.

Though we feel strongly that activity routines are appropriate for all MIVI students, we recommend that for your first trial you select a student who: attends school regularly, has a teacher who is willing to try new techniques, has demonstrable likes and dislikes and has periods of alertness during the school day.

Steps for incorporating Activity Routines into your practice:

1. Informal assessment of the student:

2. Writing the routine:

3. Implementing the routine:

Once this routine is firmly established, develop another pleasurable routine, following all the guidelines presented above. This sets the stage for choice making and incorporating these activities into a calendar or schedule of meaningful activities for the child. Eventually, you will be able to sandwich a not-so-pleasurable routine (tooth brushing, face washing) in between highly pleasurable ones.

Sample activity routine:

Rocking with a young child (consult with speech therapist regarding the signs for "more" and "finished"):

  1. Start by going up to the child with pillow, blanket or other object prompt and say, "Let's rock!" and help them make a rocking movement with their hands/arms.
  2. Take the child to the rocker (plain chair or place on the floor where you can rock slightly if no rocker is available).
  3. Say, "Let's sit in the rocker (chair/floor)," and seat yourself and the child with the pillow or blanket touching the child.
  4. Start rocking and sing a rocking song, such as "Rock, Rock, Rocking with Amy". Sing the line three times before saying, "STOP!"
  5. Stop and wait for 15 seconds to see if the child indicates in any way that he/she wants to continue.
  6. Ask "Do you want more?" You may help the child make the sign for more.
  7. Repeat the rocking, singing, and the STOP several times, as long as the child is enjoying it and is engaged.
  8. Look for anticipation, participation, communication, and enjoyment on the part of the child.
  9. When ready to end, say "We're finished (or all done)," help the child make the finished sign, and get up from the chair immediately.

Suggestions for other simple routines:

Sample IEP Objectives to support the use of activity routines:

These objectives could be implemented by the OT, PT, SP, AI, O&M, TVI, and classroom staff

Resources for more detailed information:


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Last Revision: September 1, 2010