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I CAN DO IT: Shopping For Groceries

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Keywords: Special Needs, Grocery Shopping, Self Determination
Subject(s): Social Skills, Special Needs
Grades 9 through 12
School: Muncie Southside High School, Muncie, IN
Planned By: Larry Alexander
Original Author: Larry Alexander, Muncie

My students’ highest area of need is to be able to establish an effective expressive communication system that they will use and benefit from. Many students, by the time they reach high school, resist attempts to learn expressive communication skills, preferring to let the communication receiver do all the work in trying to figure out their pointing, vocal noises, and facial expressions. The purpose for this lesson in grocery shopping is to develop a sequential digital photo step by step photo board for them to perform grocery shopping independently.

For this lesson we will begin by taking photos of all the classroom grocery supplies we normally buy on a weekly basis. These items include:
• Milk
• Chocolate pudding
• Vanilla pudding
• Potato chips
• Cheese puffs
• Pretzels
• Grapes
• Carrots
• Broccoli Spears
• M & Ms
• Paper towels
• Paper cups
• Lysol Spray

From a picture board, containing individual pictures of each supply item attached to the board by Velcro, the student along with an assistant can take weekly inventories and determine what items and the quantity of the items that are needed to be purchased at the grocery for that week. This can be accomplished by the student pointing to the picture of the items that need to be purchased and use their number board to indicate the quantity to be purchased. This information will be transferred to a shopping board where the individual picture items and quantity are attached to the board by Velcro.

When the grocery list is completed, it’s time to do the shopping. Once the student and his or her assistant enter the grocery store, the student will be responsible for finding the items on the list and putting them into the grocery cart. If the student needs physical assistance, it will be his responsibility to tell his assistant when to stop pushing his wheelchair when he finds an item on the list. He will then need to point to the item on the grocery list and its quantity and to where he sees it on the shelf and direct his assistant to put them into the cart. This cycle will be repeated until the grocery shopping is successfully completed.

Once the student returns to school, his final responsibility will be to put the groceries away in the proper location. If physical assistance is required, the student has the responsibility to direct his assistant to put the groceries away where the student points for him to put it. By learning these lessons, with the help from a digital camera, not only will my students learn I CAN but they will realize I DID.

It is my belief that once my students realize the power they have with expressive communication, in the form of digital photos, they will work harder in developing these skills. This grocery shopping experience can be expanded to include everyday activates like doing laundry, cleaning the room, purchasing items from a vending machine, and learning to make snacks to just name a few lessons that can be taught using a digital camera.
All students can learn. All students want to be successful. All students learn by different modes and means. The equipment obtained from this grant will not make my students’ disabilities go away but it will give them the power to compensate for their disabilities and perform many of life’s day to day tasks with them being in control of the task. For most of these students it will be the first time in their lives where they can experience this sense of empowerment.
Cross-Curriculum Ideas
With a digital camera, the student can benefit from its use in every life skill task they undertake. Besides grocery shopping this methodology can used for personal hygiene tasks, cleaning rooms, taking care of pets, doing laundry, folding clothes, purchasing items from a vending machine, making snacks, and participation in recreational activities like bowling and playing table games.
Once pictorial sequential steps have been produced for grocery shopping, it will be used by other students and adapted to fit their specific needs, whether it is additional pictorial steps or larger pictures for them to see.
Materials: Point and Shoot, Word Processor, Special Education, Camera Bags, xD Memory Cards, Flash/USB Drives, Batteries
Other Items: 1 FE-240 Digital Camera, $250.00 each, total of $250.00
1 MAUSB-300 xD Reader Writer, $20.00 each, total of $20.00
1 Carrying Case, $20.00 each, total of $20.00
1 512 MB XD card, $50.00 each, total of $50.00
1 2 Year Extended Digital Camera Warranty, $40.00 each, total of $40.00
1 Tool Factory Digital Camera Guide, $20.00 each, total of $20.00
1 Picture Builder, $69.95 each, total of $69.95
1 Word Processor, $99.95 each, total of $99.95