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Making Toast: A Conversation Box

An overview of conversation boxes for children with a combined vision and hearing loss, with a hands-on example of how they can be used to develop communication skills and basic concepts

A boy making toast with his teacher

My son Liam (a happy, social, deaf-blind preschooler) has an intervener/interpreter that is with him at school.  Liam’s intervener and I wanted to create a conversation box that he could use at school.  We came up with an experience Liam enjoys and a topic that would encourage conversation: making toast with jelly at our house!

What is a conversation box? 

A box of items (in this case, items about a shared experience), that a learner can use to have a conversation with someone about the items. 

Contents of "making toast" conversation box
Contents of “making toast” conversation box

Why use a conversation box?

  • Encourages and aides in language development
  • Learner has ownership
  • Motivating for the child (it’s about things and topics that interest them!)
  • Reinforces and/or introduces vocabulary
  • You can label items with braille (more exposure to braille in a meaningful way!)

What is the process?

  • We came up with an activity that would interest Liam (making toast). A toaster with a jar of jelly
  • Liam communicates through ASL (American Sign Language), so his intervener signed the vocabulary during each step of the process, with enough practice and repetition that Liam was able to master each sign.
  • We then gathered a list of the items we would need to represent the items we used to make toast.  It is best to use ‘real life objects’ when possible.  Our box included a plate, napkin, plastic knife, jelly jar (labeled in braille!), toy toaster and toy toast (Liam understands the concept of play food  and LOVES play food, however this may not be the best option for every child.  Real objects are best when possible), and a box to put everything in.   We also had our braille labels ready in advance.
A boy makes toast
Putting bread in the toaster
  • First, Liam and his intervener made the toast together and then ate it; a shared experience! Now they have the ‘something’ to chat about!  Immediately after, they sat down on the couch and his intervener showed him the new conversation box about making toast…Liam LOVED it!
  • His intervener took the box to school with her so the next day Liam was able to share the box with all his teachers!  What a great opportunity for interaction and meaningful conversation!!

Learn more about Conversation Boxes.


Collage of Conversation Boxes



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