Monday, July 1, 2019

Teach the ECC at a Home Improvement Store

Text with three pictures of students touching appliances at The Home Depot

Hello friends! I am finally getting around to blogging about one of my favorite places in the community for Expanded Core instruction: a home improvement store! Yep, like Lowe's or The Home Depot. These stores a treasure box of skills, experiences and learning opportunities. There are many options for doing community based instruction (CBI) at a home improvement store. I recommend doing it as a series. This means you come back several times and break up the store into smaller parts. I like this option because there is more opportunity for students to have a stronger connection to the concepts. After all, there's much to learn, see, touch and do at a big home improvement store. The pictures from this post are part of a two part series I did. We did some work in the classroom and then put it together at the store. Part one was dedicated to learning about tools and basic home improvement around the house. Students learned a lot from the difference between a flathead and a Phillips screwdriver to how to plunge a toilet! Note: I always buy a new plunger and label it so students can touch it and explore it without it being gross! I feel that students should know basics of their home. These areas often get overlooked but it is a valuable skillset. Plan time for this. It's easy to just do a "show and tell" lesson. That's not effective ECC instruction. Use the "I do. We do. Y'all Do. You do." approach for this one! It's okay to break it up into a series of learning as well! 

A male young adult examines a stove dial appliance close up

A male teenager examines a refridgerator at the home depot.

A home improvement store is also great for a variety of age groups. I brought younger students to high school students for this outing. My younger students had a bonus lesson: they went and explored different textures! There were so many textures for younger hands to find and discuss. We also did a scavenger hunt of shapes, textures, measurement and comparing/contrasting sizes with their group. 

A young adult male and an elementary age male touch a display of small rugs

A group of young students tactually explore a wall of carpet samples.
 Plan a few hours for an ECC CBI--even if you are breaking it up in a series. There are many departments that have lots of hands on exploration even for older students. Check out the picture below with all the different faucets! We had lots of discussions about student's preferences, uses and locations of just faucets!
a photo of a wall display of faucets at The Home Depot.

a group of teenagers hold up flooring samples and smile for a picture
 I brought a medium sized group of students for this outing. I broke them up into small groups and gave them an "educational scavenger hunt" (aka a creative list of things I want them to learn about). Each group had time to go about the store at their own pace. They had to check out major departments and apply their new "tool knowledge" to each department. Can you see all the possibilities?? We spent almost an entire day on our home improvement unit.
a group of students listen to a male teacher as he points out items on a heating system
 There's another reason why I like doing ECC lessons at a home improvement store: the appliance section! Many students haven't had the opportunity to check out a variety of appliances. Their knowledge is usually just their own home appliances. I like to do a whole lesson about accessible appliances. I like to review what makes an appliance accessible. I give the students a checklist of accessible options to consider and tell them to find these options on appliances. I encourage them to learn about their own accessibility needs. Then look for appliances that match their needs. Note: I don't rush this lesson. We go appliance by appliance---we do laundry first, then kitchen, etc. I let students discover features of appliances.
A female student explores a washing machine

a male young adult smiles next to a washing machine.

Don't forget to talk about the money! We also discuss prices and budgets. I kind of like to play "The Price is Right" for this. I have students take a guess at how much appliances cost including their dream accessible appliances. Fortunately, many of the most accessible appliances are the most basic ones. We compare and contrast pricier models with basic. We discuss all the bells and whistles. It's such a great ECC lesson!! 

a close up of a basic dial on washing machine
 Make sure you go during off hours if possible. It makes it easier to have "department to yourself". You can do a lot more instruction without everyone staring at you. The workers are usually awesome to work with. Many employees will take extra time and really help out where possible.
a male young adult turns the knobs on a stove as he checks it out.
 I have students pack their assistive technology (that includes their phones) for this CBI. I like them to use their AT when determining what accessibility they need. Feel free to invite an orientation & mobility instructor as well for this one. There's so much to gain on this ECC adventure!
a male young adult checks out the knob on a stove.

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