Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas

Winter 2009

Meeting Point: Latest From Lovaas

Reinforcers for the School Setting

By Rachel Russell
Vancouver, B.C., Canada

We all know the incredible value of effective reinforcers to promote learning and demonstration of appropriate skills in any environment. When it comes to the school environment, however, it can be difficult to identify reinforcers that are both “classroom-friendly” and motivating for the child. Many reinforcers that are highly motivating at home are too distracting for the other children in a group setting or require too elaborate of a set-up to quickly and easily implement at school. Below is a list of activities and ideas for reinforcers that can be used in a group setting. Most of the activities can be found at your local crafts store (e.g., Michael’s).

  1. Lite Brite (put the pieces in a large pill-box with each color peg in a separate attached box with the matching letter on the top of each lid). Student looks at the screen, sees the letter needed- finds the matching pill-box- opens it- and then uses the correct color peg.
  2. Coloring/Drawing free play on computer
  3. Coloring programs (click and drop color to complete coloring page item on the screen)
  4. Velvet Doodle Art Posters
  5. Color by Letter
  6. Color by Number
  7. Crayola Magic Color Pages (Magic Pens reveal pictures)
  8. Paint by Number (watercolors)
  9. Suncatchers (drop small crystals with tweezers into metal shapes- by color/number)- bake in oven to melt and hang in window.
  10. Make-it and Bake-its (similar- but small plastic beads to drop into metal shapes)
  11. Fuse Beads (similar to above)
  12. Painting ceramics (copying the picture on the box for colors)
  13. Hidden Picture Activities (use markers to color all over page to reveal hidden pictures)
  14. Scratch 'n' Sketch (use a plastic 'scratcher' to scratch off black wax to reveal colored under-layer- in specific patterns to follow)
  15. Color Explosions (similar to above)
  16. Sand Art Mosaics (using colored sand discs to copy a pattern/picture)
  17. Bead Work animals- threading colored plastic beads onto a plastic string- copying patterns to make animal shapes.
  18. Mosaics by Number (using sticky raised stickers on a picture board- (place color/shape by number) to follow a picture (sold by ‘The Orb Factory’).

Do you have an experience with a creative format to typical programming? Share them with us here

The names of all children in this newsletter have been changed in respect for family confidentiality.


Get the Maid! Try to pick up toys while bending from the waist. Let the child push you over whenever you try to bend over.

Chair Rides! "Fasten your seatbelt! Hold on to the chair!" Begin to lift chair off ground slowly. Then take off like a racecar!

Magic Tricks! Pull a candy out of the child's ear. Transfer a reinforcer magically from one hand to another closed fist (the child doesn't know you had it there already), or even into a sealed container (where it already was).

Chattering Teeth! Get chattering mechanical teeth and throw them on the table by surprise.

What's So Funny! Find a suction toy that will stick to your forehead.



Paul is a 7-year-old. He was telling his instructor Mary that he would be going to Legoland during his spring break and invited her to go with him. When she told him she couldn't go because she was going to hang out with another instructor, Anna, he said Anna could come too. Paul then told Mary the travel arrangements would include his mom, his little sister, Anna, Mary, Lucy, and Karen (all instructors) in one car and his dad, him, and Tracy (his most preferred instructor) in the other car.
- California

Tasha had recently learned to continue a conversation by staying on topic and making a statement similar to a statement that was just made. For example, if someone said, "I like Blues Clues," Tasha would add, "I like Dora the Explorer." With the start of football season, one of Tasha's instructors offhandedly remarked "I like the Colts and the Jets." Tasha chimed in, "I like the helicopters!"
- Indianapolis




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