Home Learning: Secondary Department

We hope you’re all fit and well, managing to find your new ‘normal’ during these difficult times.

Our teachers are working hard to try to support you and your child in learning at home. Please check your e-mail as ideas will be popping into your Inbox regularly. These e-mails are intended to give suggestions of activities that might help to fill your day. There is no expectation that things must be done and we most certainly do not wish to add additional stress to your family life! Dip in and out of learning as you feel appropriate and do let teachers know if there’s anything you’ve found particularly useful.

We would be very grateful if you would maintain contact with your child’s class teacher during this period of closure to let us know that you’re safe and well. If we can support in any way, please do let us know.

Healthy regards,


School Closure Activities for Room 15 – Week Two

Below are some ideas for families wanting to do “school” activities with their children – if any of these ideas look good to you, give them a go!  Equally, if this isn’t what your child is needing just now please don’t put pressure on yourself or them to complete this.  It’s also great to take more time on Week One’s activities if your child is benefiting from those.

Information about how to do each activity is underneath.  Let me know if you have any particular learning requests for future weeks.

Literacy – Let’s play a game!  You can play any game you have at home, but I’m also sending to families in Class 15 a simple snap / memory game you can use at home too if you’d prefer.

How does this help build literacy skills?  We learn how to interact in a social situation (playing with others), build the language of turn-taking (“my turn” “your turn”) and encourage spontaneous communication related to the game.  Can you copy any of the signs?  Can you use your communication system to share communication?

I’ve popped together a video on how to use communication devices / core vocabulary when playing a game here: https://bit.ly/3bz6ZZY


Numeracy and mathematics – If last week you managed to match two coins of the “same” value, this week we can try to make it trickier!  Choose one coin (I’d suggest a £1 coin – it’s a helpful coin to recognise when doing shopping, however any coin will do).  You’ll need two or more of your chosen coin – mix the coin amongst other coins (start with a small group first), keeping one aside to show your child.  Show your child the coin and encourage them to repeat what it is called (using their communication device as applicable).  Ask them to find that coin amongst the mixed up coins.

Alternative option (for learners not using coins): Use a ball to play catch with your child.  Pause at different points in the game and request the ball from them (“ball please”), allowing them to build an understanding of exchange (the foundation of money work!).  Pause at other points and ask your child “More?  Or Finished?” (encouraging signing, use of communication device or personal signifiers as your child requires).


Health and wellbeing – let’s talk about how we feel.

We have a daily “how are you?” time in Class 15, and even if our communication doesn’t always appear to be entirely accurate, it is helpful to have a chance to share.

“Hello [name], how are you?  Hello [name], how are you?  Hello [name], how are you?  How are you today?”

Some learners will choose from two symbol options, some will use their communication devices, some will sign.  Encourage full sentences where appropriate (especially with our PODD and TouchChat users!) – “I feel [emotion]”.  Our most able might be able to tell you why they feel the way they do.


Wanting to burn some energy?  A few pupils in Class 15 are big fans of Jump Start Jonny – you can access his free material at https://www.jumpstartjonny.co.uk/free-stuff .  If you’re wanting more, he is streaming kids exercises on YouTube weekdays at 9am (available to view afterwards too) – https://bit.ly/2WKR5ri


Social studies – What signs of spring can you notice?   Building on last week’s weather communication, can you talk about what weather you can see and feel?  As adults we can help make links – flowers are starting to come out because there is more sun.  Do we need to water the flowers, or has there been enough rain?  What weather does spring bring?


Science – Observe how materials change by playing with water.  Can you help to make ice?  How does the ice look and feel?  Can you put the ice in water?  What happens to the ice?  How does it look and feel now?  Can you notice the difference?  Can you repeat a word to describe the look or feel of the ice (using communication systems too)?  If you’re really keen, take a photo and we can pop this in your ASDAN folder!

Can you keep an eye out for any spring flowers coming out?


Technology – I’m sending a shorter version of our class song choices PowerPoint to families.  Can your child communicate which song they would like to hear?  If you child uses a communication device, please use it as you encourage them to share their preference.

Next week we’ll be using the same PowerPoint, but work on using technology skills to activate our preferred option ourselves!


Expressive arts – Can you sing / sign along to “Make your Own Kind of Music”?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FzzBg1TnPAM&list=PLjT4XhijakZjgDSblHxgYBiN4R9V2BZnA&index=23  Can you dance to the music?

Can you make your own kind of music?  Pots and pans?  Clapping your hands?  Stamping your feet?  Vocalising / singing?


RME – we’re coming up to Easter.  Can you make an Easter card?  As we build our understanding of religious symbols, you might want to return to the egg shape we worked with last week (or another shape, up to you!).  Eggs are used to represent new life – what animal comes from an egg?  Can you communicate who your card is for?

Optional idea – Can you try a hot cross bun?  (This can link to some of your technology work if you toast it!)

Storytime: Elevenses with David Walliams

You’re never too old to enjoy a story! Many of our senior classes enjoy listening to stories and in these uncertain times all of us (adults too) can benefit from a bit of escapism! Please tune in daily to listen to author David Walliams sharing stories. While stories are shared at 11 am, they can be accessed throughout the day.  The link to his website is:


Room 15 General Learning Activities

Many of our learning activities have focused on life skills, and should be easy to include in daily routines without many / any resources.  Below are a range of ideas and a sample of what a day might look like – please take from this anything that you find useful.



  • Encourage your child to use their communication system throughout the day. (Cannot stress this one enough – insisting on communication device usage all day has seen incredible progress, we’d love to see this continue for when school re-opens!)
  • Read a story together – there are signed stories on YouTube if you’re looking for something new! One example of many – https://bit.ly/3aj0z0L
  • Share a signed song or two together – I’ve linked some class favourites: https://bit.ly/39468Pa
  • Practice the Makaton “sign of the week” – https://wetalkmakaton.org/
  • Bucket time – we know this has been popular with many of our young people so have put together a few videos showing bucket time if you’d like to try something similar at home. A more detailed explanation with video links is on a separate sheet. These are for your benefit, your child will respond more to your presence than a video.
  • Role play – perhaps different jobs, perhaps different stories, perhaps something different but of particular interest to your child – we like our theme park role play in Class 15!
  • Watch TV together, using your child’s communication system to talk together about what you see, what you like, what you don’t like, etc.


Food and drink

  • Help to make breakfast / lunch / dinner
  • Help to chop snack foods (safety, hygiene, not eating food before serving!)
  • Using communication system to request snack foods.
  • Explore how ingredients change when cooking (this is part of the ASDAN science module – if you’re super keen you could take a photo or write a wee note about what your child did and we can put it in their evidence folder!)


Life skills

  • Washing hands – several in our class have been working on improving their hand washing skills prior to this, but this is an especially important time to build this skill. Encourage your child to rub soap into their hands.
  • Getting dressed independently – this also includes opportunities for labelling body parts (and which ones are private and should be covered).
  • Brushing teeth and washing faces.
  • Going for a walk – stopping at the road, looking or listening for traffic, communicating when to “go!”
  • Cleaning surfaces, washing the dishes, taking out the recycling.
  • Matching coins, naming coins, helping to buy items at the pretend supermarket.


Creative arts

  • Recreate trash band by making instruments from containers you have, pop on some favourite tunes and encourage your child to join in replicating rhythms. Communication work could include requesting a particular tune or commenting on the music they can hear.
  • Draw, colour in, paint, collage – any materials can be used!
  • Dance together – you can explore rhythm, communication, gross motor skills.


Outdoor ed

  • Enjoy the great outdoors, talk about what you can see, hear, feel, touch.
  • Talk about the weather, and if the weather means you can’t go outside perhaps you could recreate it indoors – water spray rain, torch (or mobile phone light) for sun, fan for wind.


Sensory regulation

Including sensory regulation activities will support our young people with their resilience at a challenging time.

  • Explore preferred sensory resources – perhaps large, soft blankets, possibly shiny card, maybe a cold drink, or perhaps a material to stretch or rip.
  • Messy play – brilliant for communication as well as sensory regulation! Squeeze mud in your hands, squirt shaving foam onto a table and draw shapes, or splash water in the sink.
  • Listen to calming music in an otherwise quiet space, dim lighting and offer your child a hand massage.




Room 15: Home Learning Ideas (Bucket Time)

In order to give some continuity of learning, here are some ideas from Room 15.


Bucket time


Bucket time is an intervention devised by Gina Davies, a Speech and Language Therapist based in England.  She has shared some fabulous short videos recently explaining bucket time for families, including ideas for how to adapt to what resources you are likely to have at home for home-learning.


https://bit.ly/3bj5xdW – introduction to bucket time

https://bit.ly/3bqYsIG – Gina Davies Autism Centre YouTube page (lots of tips for home learning).


We know bucket time has been popular with many of our young people so I have put together a few videos showing bucket time if you’d like to try something similar at home.  These are for your benefit, your child will respond more to your presence than a video.






Stage one – the bucket.

Your aim is to encourage focused attention from your child by creating an irresistible invitation to learn.  Choose high interest items that your child does not get to play with / use normally.  Keep spoken language minimal but be enthusiastic in your presentation.  As your child is learning to focus attention on you (not the item from the bucket), they do not get to use the items from the bucket.


If you’re interested in the other stages, I recommend this document for a quick overview: https://bit.ly/2IWV3oB


Have fun!

Animal Discovery: Live Webcams

Some of our pupils show an interest in animals and nature. There are Live Webcams at Edinburgh Zoo and Highland Wildlife Park that the children may enjoy.

https://www.highlandwildlifepark.org.uk/webcams (Highland Wildlife Park)

https://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/webcams/ (Edinburgh Zoo)

For our Secondary pupils, the National Geographic Kids website can provide more information. Although not all pupils can access it fully independently, there are pictures to look at and discuss, and some interesting video clips to watch:


Have a look and find out what your favourite animals are.



Sport Relief 2020

Many thanks to Amanda, Salvi, Sam and Scott for organising fun activities for us all to join in with to support Sport Relief 2020. We kicked off the morning with a select band signing up to Run a Mile. Thanks to Room 19 for braving the cold throughout our challenge, the spectators that cheered us on from the warmth of the classrooms and those that came out for playtime, supporting with cheers as we ran our loops. Each of us did 5 loops of the playground in total.

At lunchtime we enjoyed dance sessions with Sam. We all had lots of fun!

Finally, the whole school joined in for the afternoon to Walk a Mile with a Smile. We were grateful that the sun came out and warmed up the playground nicely for us. We also had some special visitors – the sumos!

Our day was just for fun, but we also received generous donations towards Sport Relief, raising a total of £165! Well done to everyone for taking part!

Clothing Exchange

Room 16 have been doing a great job, supporting the Clothing Exchange scheme. Pupils are regularly tidying up the area, washing, sorting and folding new clothing. It’s good to see an increase in sizes available too. Please keep sending items in if they’re in good condition and no longer of use to your child. Do also feel free to pop in and browse any time or let us know via the home school diary if you’d like the class team to have a look on your behalf.

Life Skills in Room 15

In Room 15 we have been working hard on applying our learning to recognisable contexts that will support our functional independence in the wider community.  In particular, we have been making fantastic progress with our shopping skills.

Each pupil uses a symbol shopping list to know what they need to look for, with a personalised focus – whilst some of us work to match the shop items to the symbols, others are counting, labelling colours, comparing big and little or choosing flavours from the available selection.  Our symbol-shopping lists are relatively recent but the class are already demonstrating familiarity with how to use them as we promptly and accurately find the items we need to find.  This also gives us an opportunity to develop our reading skills as we identify information from (symbol-supported) text and apply our communication skills including using our communication devices.

Once we have found all of the items on our list we go to pay for our items.  As before, each of us has individual targets – some are working on matching one coin with another, but some of us have recently progressed to beginning to label a small range of coins.

The whole class has shown notable progress in recent weeks in these skills which we can take with us as we explore our wider world.

Friends of Orchard Brae Fun Run: 28th April 2020

Many thanks to the brother of one of our pupils who has asked if he can fundraise individually through sponsorship for the 5k Fun Run for Friends of Orchard Brae. If anyone else wishes to raise money through the Fun Run or any other sponsored activity in future, sponsor forms can be obtained via the Friends of Orchard Brae by contacting school, or a sponsorship page can be set up at: https://wonderful.org/charity/friendsoforchardbrae

Lisa Thomson (Chairperson of the Friends) is the normal point of contact for any fundraising. Clare Russell can also be contacted regarding the Fun Run.

Full information regarding the Fun Run can be found here: https://scottishrunningguide.com/race/fun-run-for-friends-of-orchard-brae

or check out the Friends of Orchard Brae Facebook page.

Please remember, all participants must be over 12 years of age to enter, and must be accompanied by an adult at all times if under 16. Donations are optional – the event is free to run for everyone!

If we have wheelchair users who wish to participate, an adapted course that avoids the rooty / muddy trail section will be available.