Salient is an adjective defined as: most noticeable, important, main, principal, chief, or primary. When choosing words to describe the salient characteristics of an object to a child, we should also think “consistent.” Choose the characteristics of objects that are never-changing. Think about how you would describe a duck to a child.
After looking at these images of ducks, has your choice of descriptors changed? Now, think about non-visual attributes of the duck that are linked to our understanding of what a duck is. It says quack, it likes to be in the water, it can walk on webbed feet, but we don’t see the webbed feet when it is in the water…confusing! Just keep it simple, being as consistent as you can be. A duck has a bill, feathers, wings….Let the child touch, hold and see as many examples of ducks that you can. Make a simple book about ducks, reinforcing those consistent features. Present the ducks next to different ducks and then next to different animals. See if the child can tell the difference and pick out the duck consistently. Several iPad apps are listed at the bottom of this page that may help support children learning about salient characteristics. When deciding which ones to use with a certain child, take into consideration what environmental accommodations the child needs to be successful. Can the child tolerate sound when using vision? Is the background simple or complex? How many items can be displayed at a time? Is there adequate spacing between the items? Use the information you learn through interview, observation, and assessment to help guide your choice of materials for instruction and play.
Reading Rockets website has an extensive collection of resources about reading, including topical research briefs and reports, descriptions of nonprofit, state and federal literacy organizations, and free reading guides for parents and educators. Their technique for building vocabulary can easily be applied to objects a child encounters throughout his daily routine. http://www.readingrockets.org/article/building-your-childs-vocabulary
iPad Apps for teaching the consistant characteristics of objects through play:
Animal Fun by Brian Pfeil
Large image library of animals presented on a solid, white background, one simple photo at a time. Animal’s name is also on the screen in a simple, black font. App will speak the animal’s name, spell the name with each letter changing to red as it is spoken, and you can hear the sound the animal makes.
See, Touch, Learn by Brain Parade
Starter image library of simple photographs, individually presented on white background squares (option to purchase more categories). Starts with one photo providing teacher the opportunity to describe the object’s characteristics, click on it, hear a ding for correct, then move to a screen with that same photo and one different photo, find it, click on it, move to screen with 3 photos, etc.
Find the Same by Ebenezer School
Library of drawn pictures of shapes, animals, foods, for matching “same.” Ability to choose white or black background for pictures, large array of choices (9).
Toddler Tap! by James Miller
Choose from multiple categories including letters, numbers, shapes, food, animals, etc. Screen has simple background with simple images. Large array of images at one time, which is not adjustable, but the pictures are clear drawings. Easy change from English to Spanish auditory.
Animal Pairs Game by Acento Comunicacion
You are given the choice of: easy (6 pictures), medium (12) or difficult (21). Background is complex with a farm scene behind the squares of animal pictures, which you tap to reveal a color drawing of a single animal, you tap a second…if they match you hear the sound that the animal makes, if they don’t match, the cards turn back around and you make a another set of choices.