Literacy Related to Routines

Routines can provide the content to begin to create experience stories, boxes, or bags. This supports literacy. For example, you can have a routine for breakfast time that might include mom making cereal for your breakfast. First she might gather all the ingredients and put them in a sequence box in the order you will put them together:

    1. pour the cereal
    2. add the yogurt
    3. pour the milk into the bowl
    4. eat with a spoon
    5. put the dirty dishes in the finished bin 

We could make an experience story about gathering ingredients, pouring cereal, then yogurt, then milk, eating, and finishing breakfast. Initially we might use an empty box of cereal or the pouch in side the box to represent cereal, a yogurt container or perhaps the lid to represent the yogurt, a milk carton for the milk, and a spoon to represent eating. These might be inside a box or glued to pages in a binder. They could also be in a sequence box. We explore the objects with the student, perhaps acting out pouring and eating the cereal and tell the story about having cereal for our breakfast. 

Some children who have vision can use photos or drawn pictures when creating an experience book. Others may use tactile symbols. 

An experience book using hand-drawn images.
An experience book using hand-drawn images.

Instruction Strategies Menu

    • Assessment
    • Communication Overview
    • Calendars
      • Time Concepts
      • Sequencing
      • Using Calendars to Expand Concepts
      • Calendars Support Social Interaction
      • Anticipation
      • Daily
      • Weekly
      • Monthly
      • Timelines
    • Choice-making
    • Concept Development & Experiential Learning
    • Interaction and Bonding
      • Factors to Consider
      • Avoid Pitfalls
      • Hand Under Hand
      • Building Security
      • Imitative Play Strategies
      • Turn-taking Play Strategies
      • Be a Good Playmate
      • Use Interaction to Teach
      • Additional Resources
    • Routines
      • Experiencing Routines
      • Turn-taking Games
      • Level 1 Routines (Sharing the Work)
      • Level 2 Routines (Participation with Support)
      • Level 3 Routines (Independent)

Use Experience Books to Recall or Preview an Event 

Experience books can be thought of as another way to expand on an activity or event. Usually we think of them being used to talk about past events, but it’s a great idea to use them to preview activities as well. To use the Experience book as a preview tool, add it to the daily calendar box. Before beginning the activity spend time looking at the book and talking about it.

An experience book page showing picture of putting screws in using an electric drill along with the number of real screws that were used.
An experience book page showing picture of putting screws in using an electric drill along with the number of real screws that were used.
Have another conversation about the experience the next day. Look at the pictures, objects, etc. This is a great way to start to expand the concepts of time. 
Keep the experience books in a place the child can access freely to review during down time or before doing the activity again. These books can be a static form of communication if the child retrieves the book to comment on  or request the activity after it has happened. 
It is important to include things that are memorable to the child. For example, maybe one day when making breakfast, their were no clean spoons so the child has to help find a spoon and wash it. In the process the child splashes water on himself and his teacher. This would be memorable! Adding events to existing books that have emotional significance make the stories more enjoyable. You might actually add a page to the book or just talk about the time both of you got wet when getting a spoon to eat breakfast.

Examples of Experience Books

Cover of the experience story Tania's Building Plan.
Cover of the experience story Tania’s Building Plan.


On another page it shows a paper mask with the words, "Tania wore a mask."
One page shows a paper mask with the words, “Tania wore a mask.”


This page of the story reads Tania sanded and has pieces of sand paper glued to the page.
This page of the story reads, “Tania sanded” and has pieces of sand paper glued to the page.

Webinar on Experience Stories

In this webinar from February 2021 Outreach Consultants, Deanna Peterson and Kathy Garza, talk about using experience stories. When we create experience stories with children, we build literacy skills while supporting the development of deeper connections with others and an interest in reading. Experience stories empower children and teach them to find joy in reminisicing. This session focuses on various ways to create and use experience stories in a variety of formats. Examples of students enjoying experience stories are included.