Age level: Preschool, Early Elementary
Description: This construction set includes mouthpieces, twisting tubes, and trumpet ends to allow learners to create their own instruments. It is popular with both my preschool and early elementary school students. It’s also a great toy for facilitating parallel play and peer/sibling interaction. Prepare yourself, though, because it can get loud!
Skills & Modifications: The great things about a toy like this is that it easily allows you to follow the learner’s lead and to meet the learner at their current skill level. I will sometimes provide specific instructions to create limitations and challenge the learner, such as “make an instrument using only yellow tubes” or, for older learners “create an instrument with two trumpet ends that face opposite directions.” I’m able to challenge the learner and gauge his/her acquisition or generalization of a specific skill, while he/she is having a blast creating a new instrument.
- Adjectives/Color Recognition – You can help a student practice adjectives both receptively and expressively. I may request that a student find a curvy piece to add next, or ask them to describe the instrument they just created.
- Scanning – When students are creating instruments, I typically give them free rein to make whatever they wish. However, sometimes I will request they use a specific piece, and they have to scan an array of pieces to find the one I’ve instructed them to use.
- Alike & Different/Compare & Contrast – Frequently I will make an instrument with my student. This allows them the opportunity to compare the two instruments, and adds a dimension we don’t get to discuss often: the comparison of sounds. It’s easy for students to see the difference in sound between a very short instrument (such as one with only a mouthpiece and a trumpet end) and a very long instrument.
- Block Imitation – This is a great activity for testing generalization of block imitation. Though this is not a toy that uses blocks, it is still based on construction skills. Simply take photos of instruments you have created, then have the student recreate them based on the photo. It’s a wonderful natural reinforcer in that the student gets to play the instrument after creating it.
- Imitation Skills – This is also a great toy for practicing imitation skills in a novel way. With this activity, I will build an instrument along with my student. Then I will have them imitate the number of notes I play, the duration of a note I play, and/or the volume of a note I play.
- Peer Play – Students are typically highly motivated by this toy. What’s unique about this toy, though, is that my students with Autism are usually motivated by the instrument they’ve created AND any other instruments created by peers or siblings. This toy can be easily used to facilitate peer interactions and joint attention.
Pros: I would actually consider this as one of the must-have toys for educators of young students with autism. There is so much that can be taught with it, and students have a high level of motivation to engage in the activities presented.
Cons: Sometime I actually wish there were more pieces included in the set. It may be worth it to purchase two sets in order to allow for a greater range of options in play and teaching.
Cost: $14.99 Should I buy this? Yes!
ABLLS: coming soon
VB-MAPP: coming soon