The Picture Exchange Communication System® (PECS®) is my 6 year old’s main form of communication as he is non or pre-verbal (depending on your terminology preference). He is a book fan and commenting with PECS is something I love to do with him. Using PECS allows us to share the book and both enjoy it together. PECS UK have kindly gifted us a Storybook Activity Kit in exchange for this honest review. All words and opinions are my own.
PECS Storybook Activity Kits
PECS UK currently has four Storybook Activity Kits available:
- Dear Zoo
- Handa’s Surprise
- The Very Hungry Caterpillar
- Brown Bear, Brown Bear
The reason these books are great for commenting is they have appealing visuals with one clear thing to comment on for most pages. Repetitive, lift the flap and rhyming books are all ideal as they provide structure and are easier to understand.
We were familiar with the first three books and have done commenting activities with them before, so we decided to try something new and opted for the Brown Bear Set.
PECS Story Book Activity Kit
You can purchase either just the book, just the activity board set or both as a full set. In the full set you get:
- the book
- an activity board including a sentence strip
- hook and loop fasteners for the activity board
- hook and loop dots for the PECS cards
- Laminated PECS cards for the story including a variety of sentence starters
It was very easy to set up the activity board. Clear instructions were included on how to apply the hook and loop fasteners to the activity board and the sentence strip. It took just a couple of minutes to have this ready.
The PECS cards needed to be cut out and the hook and loop dots added to the back. This was very easy and took about 5 minutes to complete. So in less than 10 minutes I had the commenting activity set up and ready to go.
Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
I had not come across the Brown Bear book before, it is written by Bill Martin Jr and Eric Carle. My boys are familiar with The Very Hungry Caterpillar also by Eric Carle so the visual style of the book was already familiar to them. Familiarity is important for my two autistic boys as they take a while to get used to new things.
I was really pleased with the book as it is perfect for PECS commenting. Each page has one large picture of a different coloured animal on so it is really obvious what I am asking the boys to comment on. There is also a lovely summary page at the back providing another great opportunity for commenting.
PECS Commenting with Brown Bear, Brown Bear
With my non-verbal 6 year old
Whilst my 6 year old has been commenting with PECS for a few years now he still struggles with new activities. He is very routine based and likes to do things he has done before as he knows what is expected of him.
He struggled with the first couple of pages because I had both the animals and colours out on the board. This was probably too much for the first go. I know he is capable of a three part sentence but he needs to do it in small steps. So I pulled it back and we went through the book just commenting on which animals he could see.
This was brilliant as he was verbally saying the ones he is confident with like duck and dog, he also attempted several other sounds /words. This was very exciting as it has been a while since he has vocalised with PECS and I love hearing his little voice. He can vocalise but maybe does this for a couple of words once a month and usually only manages part of the word i.e. ‘CA’ for cake.
Next we went through the book commenting on colours, he was great at choosing the correct colours but was not able to vocalise this time. The gold and yellow are very similar so he needed a bit of prompting to choose the right one. After this we were able to go back and do the three part sentence commenting on the animal and the colour.
He definitely enjoyed the book and activity and has requested it several times over the weekend. Repetition is what he needs to learn and lots of time to process so I can see we will get good use out of this Storybook Activity Set with him.
With my echolalic hyperlexic 4 year old
Whilst my 4 year old has good language and reading skills (I believe he has hyperlexia), he has little social communication ability. Therefore we have been using PECS with him to focus on functional speech development. I have not done much commenting with him so my husband helped out with a bit of physical prompting to get us started.
After the first couple of pages we were able to phase out the prompt and he nailed it. He would verbally comment on the animal he saw as soon as the page was turned, but he was still happy to form the sentence on the sentence strip and hand it to me. He even tapped each card as he said the sentence back to me. This highlighted that I do need to keep going with PECS with him as it can really help him to extend his sentences and direct them to me.
I was surprised both boys knew teacher and found the right card without any prompting as they have probably not seen that one before.
Value for money & quality
I have PICS for PECS at home so can make up my own PECS cards easily. Having said that the Storybook Activity Set was much quicker than finding, printing and laminating my own cards. And I am always a fan of something that saves time.
The full Brown Bear Storybook Activity Set costs £15.39 (including VAT). I think this is great value, you get a good book, a durable activity board and sentence strip and a number of PECS cards. The set can easily be used for other PECS activities and I know I will get lots of use out of all of it.
You may also be interested in the Christmas Activity Book Set.