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Project STEPS
Instructional Stategies Manual for the Helpful Entry Level Skills Checklist
Developmental Ages for the Skills Included on the Helpful Entry Level Skills Checklist

also see Project Steps Training Manual



Rita Byrd
Beth Rous

Revised Edition

Table of Contents


Introduction to Instructional Strategies

Overview of Instructional Issues

Using the Instructional Strategies Manual

Instructional Strategies & Activities



Introduction to Instructional Strategies

Social, behavioral and functional skill development is often incorporated into the daily routines and activities of a preschool program. However, these skills are not typically taught or identified on a child's Individualized Education Program (IEP) as transition goals. For example, preschool teachers will instruct children to line up and even use visual cues, such as colored footprints, to assist the children, but they generally do not target this skill as an integral part of the curriculum, one that facilitates a child's transition to school-age programs.

Social, behavioral and functional skills have been identified by private and public preschool and schoolage teachers as important for the successful transition of children into and the adjustment of children to kindergarten and elementary school programs. When children enter the public school primary programs, they are expected to function more independently than at the preschool level. Therefore, it becomes important for teachers and parents to insure that children have these skills to increase the likelihood of success in public school classrooms.

This manual was developed to be used in conjunction with the Helpful Entry Level Skills Checklist Revised Edition and the Developmental Ages for Skills Included on the Helpful Entry Level Skills Checklist. Specific strategies for teaching or reinforcing a particular skill, as well as general teaching ideas for use with a class, are included. Many of the strategies can be incorporated into classroom routines and activities. Other strategies are appropriate for parents so they can reinforce skills at home.

When using these strategies, the goal should be to foster independence. Specifically, children should be expected to master as many skills as possible. If children with disabilities are unable to acquire certain skills, adaptations should be made. Ideas for these adaptations are provided. For example, a child using an augmentative system for communication should still be encouraged to be as independent as possible when communicating his own needs and preferences.

Finally, this manual was designed to be flexible for individual use. The strategies correlate with the five major areas addressed by the Helpful Entry Level Skills Checklist - Revised Edition. Teachers and parents are encouraged to add their own ideas for facilitating skills in normal routines and activities. In addition, a coding system has been developed to address skills that are particularly applicable to specific disabilities.

The coding system consists of the following symbols:

ear    Hearing Impairments

eye    Visual Impairments

wheel chair      Multiple Disabilities

lips    Speech/Language Impairments

family   Good Ideas for Families

Using the Instructional Strategies Manual

This manual provides specific teaching strategies, activities and adaptations for facilitation of skill development in areas targeted through the assessment process for intervention. In this manual the following terms are used:

Refer to specific environmental changes to assist the child in skill acquisition. For example, placing carpet squares on the floor during circle time to assist children with staying in their own space would be considered a strategy.
Refer to specific games, songs, learning centers, etc. which are designed to assist the child in skill acquisition. For example, playing "Follow the Back in Front of You" to assist children with walking in a line would be considered an activity.
Refer to specific changes in strategies or activities to assist children with very specific disabilities in skill acquisition. These adaptations could involve using sign language during songs for a child who is hearing impaired.
Is a section that provides teachers and parents a place to record their own ideas for facilitating skills in normal routines and activities.

When determining which strategies, activities and adaptations to use with a specific child, the following process can be used. This process builds on the natural routines and activities of the classroom or environment.

Step 1
Using the current classroom schedule, determine the number of naturally occurring opportunities children have to practice the desired skills. Special attention should be paid to opportunities in relation to circumstances such as climate, child health, biological functions, etc.
Step 2
Determine if the number of opportunities is sufficient for skill acquisition for the specific child.
Step 3
If there are not sufficient opportunities, determine methods for increasing the number of opportunities providing specific strategies, activities and adaptations to the current classroom structure.
Step 4
Determine if, with Step 3, there are sufficient opportunities for skill acquisition.
Step 5
If there are still not sufficient opportunities, determine methods for individualized instruction (i.e., one-to-one instruction, small group, specific instructional strategies as described in the Overview of Instructional Issues Section).

Classroom Rules

Skill #1: Walks rather than runs indoors.


Since compliance with any rule requires the student to comprehend or understandthe language used to communicate the rule, the following strategies and adaptations are offered.


earFor children who have a hearing impairment or children who need visual cues or signs to help them comprehend the concepts of walk vs. run, fast vs. slow or inside vs. outside:


eye For children who are visually impaired:


For children who learn better through the touch or movement modes:


lipsFor children who respond best to musicality or rhythm in processing language and learning new material:

Point out examples of people who are walking/not walking at the mall, stores, etc.


Role play with puppets or stuffed animals the logical consequences of NOT walking inside. For example, bumping into our friends and accidentally hurting them or ourselves.


Song: "Follow the Back in Front of You" - tune of "Mulberry Bush"

Imitate types of walking like: "falling snow," "cat's paws," "velvet," "soldiers marching"

Run a week's theme on such topics as "How we go" and "Where we go" and include language and vocabulary unites on opposites, which include fast vs. slow, verbs emphasizing run vs. walk and locations of inside vs. outside.

Conduct safety units. Provide examples of when it is appropriate/not appropriate to exhibit given behaviors (i.e., walk inside the school bus, run on the playground).

eye Using a metronome, or music, set at two different distinct speeds. Explain that one is an inside/ walking speed and one is an outside/running speed. Then play the different speeds and have children walk/run to the speed. Remind them that when inside they always use the inside speed except for special occasions like PE.


Work Skills

Skill #1: Refrains from disturbing the activity of others.


Use area markers, carpet squares or place mats to mark individual spaces. Use designated areas for activities, such as colored tape on the floor for the block area.

Use individual work boxes for children to store their materials.

Discuss "hands to self" as one of the class rules.

Initially space activities/centers far apart. Then gradually move the activities /centers closer together as the children learn to stay in their own spaces.

familySet aside time each day for children and family members to engage in an independent activity.

eye For the student who is visually impaired:

Model good hands and then reinforce those who are doing it correctly.



Work Skills

Skill #2: Stops activity when given direction to "stop."


eye ear Use signals/lights/bells to cue the class to begin and end work. This can be used appropriately for hearing and visually impaired children.

eye wheel chair For the student with multiple disabilities:

Give reinforcement of verbal praise, handshake, winks, etc.




Simulate an activity utilizing the Indy 500. This can be as a board game or gross motor activity. Stress "stop" by having the children refuel, change tires, change oil, have a wreck, etc.

Make a large size floor game with contact paper or masking tape using a format similar to "Candyland." Let the child move from red/green circles on board: If green, they get another turn; if red, they must stop.


View Description for this Item

Instructional Strategies Manual for the Helpful Entry Level Skills Checklist

View Description for this Item

Developmental Ages for the Skills Included on the Helpful Entry Level Skills Checklist

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