Building upon a Train Ism

Today I was eager to try out a train game idea that a few of us brainstormed for Little Star during the New Frontiers training course.

The idea was to introduce a train game and have dolls get on and off the train at various stations, and have the dolls model waving Hello and Goodbye.

Our goal was for the last goal of Stage 2 of the Son-Rise Social Developmental Model, one that we have been stuck at for quite a while: communicating with gestures (e.g. nod for yes, shake head for no, point, wave, etc.) Most of the time, Little Star would go straight for the verbal “Ya” or “No” (if she so chooses!) and skip gesturing. She would reach for the things that she wants, bring us to the object or bring the object to us, rather than point. Waving hello and bye bye is something she does pretty sporadically.

We all thought this game was a good idea as it uses two of her motivations — little dolls and trains.

So let’s see!

At one point this afternoon, Little Star was isming with her books, finished, and wandered away to the middle of the playroom. Perfect time to INITIATE the new activity! I got down the train box from the toy shelf, shook it, did a little maraca jive thingy with the box while saying: “Let’s play trains!” (we all gotta be silly in the playroom as per Son-Rise haha).

I began laying out the tracks on the mat. I know she likes to lay circular tracks, so I decided to make mine oval shaped instead, with a little bridge thing in the middle. She walked away and watched, then came over and began putting the trains on the track. Score Mommy! As she did not re-lay the tracks to her favourite formation 🙂

However, she did begin to ism with the trains. Alamak lol. She wanted to push them round and round the tracks, up and down the bridge, over and over. Score Little Star :p

I sat back and thought of what to do. Maybe introduce the dolls, as I still did not have a chance to model that part of the game. Little Star pushed them away, so that part did not work…. hmmmm.

As I was thinking about getting out some cars to join her ism, Little Star began throwing glances at me. These are like flashes of green light. So what to do when we get green lights of interaction? Build! Since the dolls did not work, I started describing the trains animatedly, in very simple language. Like, look at the train; go train; choo choo! (Little Star is in Stage 1 verbal communication so we keep language for learning simple).

And she kept glancing at me, and even said “Choo-choo” twice, amongst her verbage! Little Star is quite vocal and babbles alot, we reckon she is saying stuff, it is just that we have not deciphered them yet.

Another green light! Pulling down a couple of puppets, I used them to model the Hello and Bye Bye wave instead. “HELLO,” I said while making the puppet wave frantically as she approached, “Hello train!” Then as she zoomed away, the puppets wave frantically again while yelling “BYE BYE!”.

At this point, Little Star is giggling a bit, and glances, although still focused on moving the trains along the track. A few times, she copied my “Hello” and “Bye bye”, verbally. Celebrating her, I cheer and say it is so awesome to hear her say hello and bye bye to me. Twice, before I said hello or bye bye, she greeted me first. A few times, I had me wave and say Hello and Bye Bye, which she responded to well also.

So we did not get to work on her Stage 2 non-verbal communication, as the greetings were not accompanied by waves. But it was still really cool as we adapted to build on Stage 1 verbal communication instead, which is using nouns and verbs consistently.

After more green lights and interaction in her inclusive ism (or is this an interactive ism? I still can’t tell very well). I add one thing. I brought down some blocks and built an arch on one part of the train tracks, calling it a train station. Little Star seemed very controlling over the trains, so after numerous green lights, I decide to try to add one thing to the activity to see if she accepted it.

And she does! I model pushing the train through the arch, and Little Star liked it. She began incorporating that part into her train ism. Although she accidentally knocked it over a few times :p Then I changed the train station into a small block tower with a doll waiting on a block chair. She accepted it as well, and even tried to not knock over the “train station” (to no avail lol). So we got to work on her Flexibility as well (she is Stage 3 on the Son-Rise Developmental Model).

In a way, we also worked on her Interactive Attention Span goal as well (Stage 3 in the model), because the goal pertains to symbolic and imaginative play. Was not our main intention but it turned out well anyway today!

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