Conversation Boxes

Conversation boxes for children with deafblindness, multiple disabilities, or who have limited formal communication skills

By Charlotte Cushman

Conversation Boxes provide a way for children with limited formal communication skills to share their experiences with others.   Using real objects or object symbols, children with limited communication skills can share these objects and refer to them with others.  Objects can be stored in a box or a bag, along with sentences about what is being described.  For example, a plastic straw and a toy from a Happy Meal could be in a box, along with a strip of paper that says “I went to McDonald’s yesterday with my brother.  I ate Chicken McNuggets and drank milk with a straw.  I got a toy with my meal.”

The learning objective is to increase communication skills and social interaction.  These objects and phrases can later be used in an experience book.

A “Discussion Box” or “Theme Box” is similar, and may be used for a routine activity.  For example, a discussion box about bath time may include a towel, shampoo, bath toys, and a bar of soap.  These items can be stored in a box or bucket and reviewed with the child before the activity takes place.  This helps to prepare the child for the activity, as well as building vocabulary and developing an understanding of routine events.

Additional Resources

Creating Conversation Boxes

Mary Ann Demchak of the Nevada DuTrack meet conversation boxal Sensory Impairment Project has created a tip sheet about conversation boxes, including step-by-step instructions on how to create your own.


Conversations without Language:  Building Quality Interactions with Children who are Deafblind

Linda Hagood and Kate Moss from TSBVI explore what conversation is for children with limited language skills.  They discuss why conversation is important for these children, and offer some solutions. Read the article.

Theme Boxes

Independent Little BeWinter theme kite shares ideas for how to make your own theme boxes.  Examples include car box, bathroom/dressing box, eating box, and the winter box (pictured on the left).

Conversation boxes for children who are deablind