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Festive AAC Implementation Activities for the Fourth of July

Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a time for celebration, family gatherings, and patriotic fun. For individuals with complex communication needs, it is essential to ensure that they can fully engage in the festivities.


Here are some festive AAC implementation activities to make the Fourth of July memorable for everyone.


Activity 1: Patriotic Story Time


Storytelling is a wonderful way to engage those with complex communication needs. Choose a selection of Fourth of July-themed books or create a simple story about Independence Day. Use the AAC device to introduce new vocabulary related to the holiday, such as "fireworks," "flag," "parade," and "celebrate."


Activity Tips:


  • Read a story aloud and pause to let the individual comment or respond using their AAC device.

  • Ask questions about the story and model responses using the AAC device.

  • Encourage the individual to retell the story using their AAC device.

Activity 2: Crafting and Vocabulary Building


Art and craft activities are perfect for hands-on engagement and language development. Create simple Fourth of July crafts such as American flags, star-shaped decorations, or patriotic hats.


Activity Tips:


  • Prepare the craft materials and set up a welcoming crafting space.

  • Encourage the individual to request (or protest) materials, describe their actions, describe their feelings, and share their creations.


Activity 3: Cooking and Recipe Sharing


Cooking together is a fun and interactive way to practice communication skills. Prepare a simple Fourth of July recipe, such as fruit kabobs with red, white, and blue fruits or patriotic cupcakes.


Activity Tips:


  • Gather all necessary ingredients and utensils.

  • Follow the recipe step-by-step, using the AAC device to model phrases like "mix," "stir," "cut," and "taste."

  • Encourage the individual to give instructions or comment on the process.

  • Share the finished treats and describe the taste and appearance with friends and family.

Activity 4: Parade Participation


Many communities host Fourth of July parades, which can be filled with sensory experiences and communication opportunities. Prepare for the parade by discussing what you will see and hear.


Activity Tips:


  • Use the AAC device to introduce parade-related fringe vocabulary such as "float," "band," "marching," and "cheer.”

  • Model phrases such as "I see the float" or "Listen to the band."

  • During the parade, encourage the individual to comment on what they feel, see, and hear.

  • Take photos and create a post-parade scrapbook, using the AAC device to write a sentence on each page.


Activity 5: Fireworks Viewing


Watching fireworks is a highlight of the Fourth of July. Prepare for this activity by discussing what fireworks are and what to expect.


Activity Tips:


  • Use the AAC device to talk about fireworks beforehand, modeling words like "bright," "loud," "colorful," and "beautiful."

  • During the fireworks show, model phrases like "Wow, that's bright!", "I see red fireworks", “I like it,” and “It is loud.”

  • After the show, encourage the individual to discuss the experience, what they liked, and what they did not like.


Fringe vocabulary related to the Fourth of July may not be programmed into the individual’s AAC system. Instead of spending time and energy programming words that they are only going to use one day of the year, use descriptive teaching to talk about topics related to the Fourth of July while developing the language skills of those with complex communication needs.



Remember that those with complex communication needs are to have the skills to fulfill all four of the communicative functions, which are expressing wants and needs, transferring information, establishing and maintaining social closeness (i.e., interpersonal relationships), and displaying appropriate social etiquette (e.g., greetings, closers, maintaining conversations, etc.) (Beukelman & Light, 2020).


  • Holidays are much more fun when celebrating with siblings and/or friends AND it facilitates engaging, meaningful, and motivating social communication opportunities, so involve the individual’s sibling(s) and/or friends in your Fourth of July festivities!

  • It is important to pause the action for a few seconds to provide the individual with complex communication needs with a chance to generate utterances on their AAC system and join the communication fun. Communication partners should model relevant language and communication functions when appropriate to facilitate language and communication skill growth. Check out this resource from Forbes AAC on modeling!


The Fourth of July offers numerous opportunities for individuals with complex communication needs to engage, socialize, and celebrate. Creating an inclusive and festive environment that allows everyone to fully participate in the joy and excitement of Independence Day. Have fun and make the holiday memorable for all!


References

  • Beukelman, D. R., & Light, J. C. (2020). Augmentative & Alternative Communication: Supporting Children and Adults with Complex Communication Needs. Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., Inc.

 

Hannah Foley, B.A. serves as the Support and Implementation Specialist at Forbes AAC, leveraging more than five years of experience in AAC support and implementation. Committed to delivering quality implementation resources and support, Hannah focuses on empowering AAC teams who are implementing CoughDrop. She is dedicated to ensuring successful integration of AAC into various life activities, maximizing communicative skill development, and fostering meaningful engagement for individuals utilizing AAC.


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