Cooler weather, colorful leaves and pumpkins are here! Students should be settling into the new school routine and many classrooms are focusing on fall-themed activities. For O&Ms, the initial rush of teaching school/class schedule orientation is over – how do you motivate your students for O&M lessons?
One of my favorite fall O&M activities is Trick-or-Treat Orientation lessons, especially fun with those preschool, kindergarten and early elementary students! This is a wonderful motivating orientation activityto review/practice all the school routes – often requiring the student to figure out a new route to navigate to a destination when starting for a different location.
Every year, I observe parents who are excited about their child’s costume and trick-or-treating only to be disappointment when the child is overwhelmed and scared on Halloween night. For many young students – especially those students who are visually impaired – trick-or-treating in the neighborhood can be daunting with all the scary costumes, haunting sounds, and in the dark of night. Being able to ‘trick-or-treat’ around the familiar and safe environment, dressed in a cute costume and without all the distractions will often pave the way for kids to enjoy the real trick-or-treating.
Ideally, the student should know the school’s layout and routes to the various rooms and areas around his school. Really young students in a new school may know specific routes to key areas but may not yet know all the “shortcuts” or various routes to each destination.
Once the student is dressed and has his empty candy bag, give the student his first destination. (Depending on the student’s level, you can tell the student the destination, give him a brailled card with the destination, or use a tactile symbol to represent the destination.) Encourage the student to travel quickly and efficiently with good cane skills so that he has time to get to as many destinations as possible! Do not prompt the student during the route – the goal is travel independently.
Once the student arrives at the destination, he should initiate the trick-or-treating by knocking and saying Trick-or-Treat! If necessary, prompt the adult to hand out the candy; the student should be prepared to say, ‘thank you’ and place the candy in his bag. (You’d be surprised how often the adults need prompting!) Encourage a speedy exit and quickly move on to the next destination; giving the student the next destination is a good prompt for the adults too!
Hint: I, the O&M, carry a similar candy bag with candy and destination cards (organized in order). I’m prepared to sneak a piece of candy to the adult at the destination and prompt (by gestures) to give the candy to the student.
The better the cane skills, the faster the travel, the more destinations – and the more candy the student receives!
Older students are motivated by candy too! Modify the “trick-or-treating” to whatever activity the student is currently working on. Example: The student says “trick-or-treat” after each good street crossing (and receives a piece of candy). Working on cardinal directions of specific intersections? A piece of candy is available at the north west corner of Main and Oak streets. Working on orientation to departments in a store? A piece of candy is available at the pharmacy desk!
By Diane Brauner