Gaby and Spelling BINGO

For anyone new to my blog, my niece Gaby, who has Autism, helps me twice a week with The Trip Clip. You can read more here about Gaby and the kinds of tasks she does, but first, check out this wonderful picture of Gaby from last week when she got to meet one of her favorite characters, Winnie the Pooh! Apparently her hug was so heartfelt and enthusiastic that Pooh had to take a step back to steady himself when she got to him!

This picture doesn’t have much to do with spelling BINGO, but I love it so much I wanted to share it. It serves as a reminder that while Gaby is capable of doing many, many tasks for The Trip Clip, she is also a special needs adult with limited communication skills, and media choices that are more like a child’s than an adult woman’s. Working with Gaby means always remembering that she is both very capable and still limited all at the same time.

For this post, I will write a little about my experience working with Gaby as she created all of these spelling BINGO bundles so that I could sell them on Teachers Pay Teachers. If you’re more interested in just the spelling BINGO bundles, try this post instead.

All told, Gaby created 2,700 unique BINGO boards, with teacher calling cards for each batch of 30 boards, so that you wouldn’t have to! She used a combination of the Custom List and The Trip Clip BINGO activity to make these bundles, using written instructions I gave her.

Typing the Words

The first thing I had Gaby do was type in all of the spelling words into a Google Doc for each year using the word lists created by K12reader. We saved all the typed in, unformatted word lists so that we can use them in creating future spelling activities too. She did this for 36 weeks for grades 1st – 5th, so that was a LOT of typing in words. I found only one mistake in all of the words she typed. When I found it, I asked her to go back and check her spelling to fix any errors, but she insisted her spelling was correct. Ah well, I fixed that one myself!

Making Calling Cards

Next I had Gaby use The Trip Clip’s Custom List to make calling cards for each batch of words, 2-3 weeks at a time depending on the grade level. She just needed to copy and paste her typed words into the edit box, and then add them to the list using the ‘small picture clips’ format, which is normally used for making magnets but doubles as a great way to make calling cards that can be printed and laminated. Gaby took some job training classes in high school that taught her how to use Word and Excel and do things like copy and paste text, so this kind of task is no problem for her – nor is switching around between websites and software applications. Using my written instructions for this, Gaby added the calling cards to The Trip Clip’s Print Queue so that they would be the first thing in the PDFs she’s making with no problems.

Making the BINGO Boards

Next up, Gaby needed to generate 30 unique boards for each batch of words. She used The Trip Clip’s Custom BINGO activity to do this. I had her add a new blank board, choose the button to enter text only items, and then paste in the spelling words in batches of 24 for the younger grades and 32 for the older grades. She added the word FREE as well to create the free space in the middle of each board. She used the shuffle feature to cause the words to be placed randomly on the board, and added each board to the Print Queue until she had 30 boards saved (enough for every child in a classroom to have their own unique board).

This task took quite a while, spanning a few weeks of work days for Gaby since she only works a few hours at a time. Covering 1st-5th grade meant 180 weeks of spelling words, approximately 80 sets of calling cards, and 2700 unique BINGO boards. It was boring, and repetitive, and by the time she got to 5th Grade Gaby was pretty sick of this task! When I discovered the spelling mistake and that one set of boards needed to be regenerated, she was not pleased, and insisted she had already done that and didn’t need to do it again! Re-doing anything upsets Gaby – she doesn’t like to make mistakes, and being asked to redo a task feels like she is being punished for her mistake, which causes her to argue. Some gentle reminders that everyone makes mistakes, and that all the 5th grade kids would want to have the words spelled correctly on their BINGO boards eventually convinced her that she could fix that set of boards, and she got it done.

Combining the PDFs

In order to aim for 24-32 words for each set of BINGO boards, Gaby was working 2 weeks at a time. When she had finished creating the PDFs for weeks 1-2, 3-4, all the way through to 35-36, she had 18 individual PDFs, each with calling cards and BINGO boards. I wrote instructions for her to use a tool called Combine PDF to merge together all the individual PDFs she’d made. Doing it in batches like this made it easier for us to go back and fix a 2-week section without having to re-create the entire 500-page PDF each time we found an error. This task was super straightforward. Even though she had never used the combine PDF website before, some very simple written instructions let Gaby do this last step with no issues at all.

Feeling Accomplished

After years of working with Gaby, I’ve learned that she takes a lot of pride in the work she does. I try hard to remember to tell her when someone has used the materials she created. I haven’t sold a lot of these spelling BINGO boards yet, but I let Gaby know whenever I do because she remembers being a student in school and having to do things like practice her spelling words and take spelling tests, and it’s clear she understands she’s helping other kids do this too, and Gaby likes to be helpful. Or as Gaby would say (in Thomas vernacular), she is a Really Useful Engine!

Here are all of the completed bundles Gaby made:

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