def: Syntax is the way in which words and punctuation are used and arranged to form phrases, clauses and sentences. This can mean the selection of a word or the word’s tense, the arrangement of the words and the selection of the punctuation.
In today’s adapted book, we are focusing on syntax. Specifically, the order of words in a sentence. Even though the English language has rules for syntax, there are many exceptions and nuances. Changing the order of sentence can dramatically change the meaning of sentences, or make them incomprehensible.
Learning all of the rules for syntax for individuals with autism can be tricky because of all the variables. There are a lot of gray areas, and many individuals with autism are black and white thinkers. Visual teaching, manipulative components, and repetitive practice will go a long way to help students learn the fundamentals of sentence syntax. This adapted book is a great way to teach and reinforce this important skill.
We adapted the book Snowmen at Night by Caralyn Buehner. To create the book, we first created some shapes that look like this
We taped these shapes into the book to cover the sentences. We put velcro on the semicircle and the blue strip.
We also created a sentence for each page, each word being a separate card. These sentences did not match the sentences in the book. We chose to use a standard format “The snowman are…” on each page. This way the students can build the sentences using a similar structure and only have to replace one different word on each page. We jumbled the words and velcroed them on the blue semicircle.
To engage with the book, students take the words from the blue semicircle and build the sentence using the correct syntax across the white strip.
The book could be adapted to make it easier by having part of the sentence constructed already so students fill in fewer words. It could be made more difficult by increasing the complexity of the sentences, and adding punctuation.
Books that have different actions on each page are great to start with this type of adapted book to teach syntax. Using this type of book allows you to use the same basic sentence structure as your students are learning the skill, then make the sentences more complex later on!
Here are 5 books for $6 or less that would work perfectly! They are all by one of our favorite author’s, Eric Carle. Below is the sentence structure to use for each:
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? “I see a _______”
From Head to Toe “I am a _____”
The Very Busy Spider “said the ____”
Little Cloud “Little Cloud changed into a _______”
Does a Kangaroo Have a Mother, Too? “A _____ has a mother”