Shoebox Task: Practicing Choice Selection with Music

Earlier this year we were able to visit the University of North Carolina (UNC Chapel Hill) Institute for Developmental Disabilities (CIDD). UNC is one of only two clinics worldwide that is structured to evaluate and offer developmental plans for children with Angelman Syndrome. One of the recommendations we received from the visit was to use “shoe box tasks” to assist with the promotion of development. My own version of Juliana’s music shoebox task is pictured below.

music box with borderThis particular box contains stuffed animals and toys to represent some of Juliana’s favorite songs. We use the box to practice choice selection, object identification and attention. Once seated, I give Juliana the opportunity to choose the song she would like to sing by simply choosing the object. We then play the song on the corresponding CD or sing a short version of the song without music. I can further check her comprehension by giving her cues like asking her for the spider so we can sing “Itsy, Bitsy Spider”.

Recently, I discovered another added benefit of the boxes. When my two year old Jessa showed an interest in participating, I used it as an opportunity to practice turn-taking. Now, I can sit with both girls and each one of us will take a turn choosing an object and the song we will sing.

These task boxes have been a welcomed addition to Juliana’s structured playtime. What I like most is that they are easy to make. Simply get some clear shoe boxes and add the necessary objects for that particular topic. Boxes can be designed to practice a variety of concepts like “put in” “take out” and “stacking”. You’ll notice that the task boxes that you can buy have a space cut out to place the objects on top of the box. I will eventually make some this way, but so far I am simply removing the items before use.

Juliana’s teacher and therapist are now using the shoebox tasks at school so it has been a great way to reinforce the same concepts with a familiar item both at school and home. And for me, an added benefit of the boxes is that they keep my parts and pieces separate from our other toys. This is better than my hunting all over the house for things I need that have been played with elsewhere. Now, I can easily start an activity by simply pulling a box off the shelf.

I know shoebox tasks come in a variety of forms and are used for various concepts. Have you had success with something similar or a little different that may be just as effective? If so, what boxes have you used or made and how have you incorporated them into your daily activities?

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