This past summer I had my niece Gaby, who has Autism, create a set of sports activity books for teachers and parents to use with their kids. Parents who have sports-loving kids can use these activities when watching sports at home, when going to a game, and at siblings’ sporting events. Teachers can use them as free time activities in the classroom, or assign them as extra credit packets. Kids won’t even know they’re learning with these engaging sports themed activities.
If you want to see all the activity books Gaby created, you can see them here:
Making these books was an interesting task for Gaby to do, and well-suited to Gaby’s skills and abilities. Here’s how I set this up so that Gaby could do this task on her own.
She started with Baseball, and I had her go to the Siblings on the Sidelines page, navigate to the Baseball Bingo and the Baseball Count On It activities and add them each to the print queue.
Creating the word search puzzle was a little more complicated. I don’t have a baseball-specific wordsearch puzzle on The Trip Clip website (yet) so Gaby needed to create a custom word search puzzle by entering in baseball themed words. Asking Gaby to generate words related to baseball, or do a google search to find them, is too much for her (she follows directions well, but can’t make editorial decisions), so I did this part and gave her a link to a website with the set of words she should use, and had her edit the words so that they would make sense in a word search puzzle – I had her skip words that were hyphenated or phrases, etc. This is an example of how getting to know Gaby’s abilities has helped me meet her where she is. Knowing this limitation simply meant I needed to do the deciding about which words should be included myself, and have Gaby do the parts that she was able to do. Gaby is a decent typist, so I had her type the words into a Google doc to remove all formatting and to preserve them for later, because I’ll be able to use her list down the road to help my customers more easily generate their own baseball-themed wordsearch puzzles without having to this same work Gaby and I did find and format the words. Once she entered the words into the custom edit box on The Trip Clip website she just needed to click a button to generate a puzzle and then add it to the print queue along with the bingo and count on it boards.
Adding a coloring page was easy – I picked the one I wanted Gaby to use and she just had to find it and add it to the queue. Similarly there was already a baseball themed cryptogram puzzle that Gaby could easily add. And I had her use the default alphabet game puzzle that I offer for free.
Once she had added all 6 baseball activities in the print queue, she saved the PDF and then emailed it to me so that I could create the graphics needed to advertise the new PDF on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, Facebook, etc.
At this point I had the instructions all written for Gaby to create a baseball themed PDF, and it was hardly any work at all to edit them so she could also make an activity book for football, soccer, and basketball. I did have to find the Word Search words for each sport, and also find material for the cryptogram puzzles for some of the sports since I didn’t have those on my website yet, but once I added those into Gaby’s instructions she was able to create the puzzles for the PDFs.
There was one issue when Gaby made these activity books – one of the PDFs she sent me had only 5 activities instead of 6. Gaby has a lot of trouble initiating communication, so she didn’t tell me there was a problem, but I noticed the missing activity in what she sent me, and went to look at my instructions for that book (it was the basketball activities). It turned out there was a problem with the website I hadn’t noticed that Gaby ran into. I fixed the problem and had her re-make that activity book the next time she came to work. For me this was a double bonus – not only did she get the basketball activity made, but she discovered a flaw in my website that I didn’t know about!
Working with Gaby often also offers moments of amusement, especially the more you get to know her. As she was working on entering the words for the soccer activity book, she reacted to the word ‘volley’, and thought that it was wrong. Gaby was very sure that word should be in a volleyball activity book, not one for soccer! I loved that she was also helping me check the quality of the words even though I hadn’t asked her to and didn’t think she would be able to!