It's the end of the school year! This is the time of the year when it's tricky to pull students from their classes to work on any skills with them. I'm competing with beautiful weather, movie days, concert practice, fun end-of-the-year projects and other activities. Planning my sessions with students this time of the year takes careful coordination with teachers to make sure I'm not overlapping a field trip or other special classroom activity.
To keep their time with me motivating and fun, this is the perfect opportunity to reinforce ear anatomy through my Edible Ear Lesson. My students LOVE this activity! I never get a complaint about pulling them when this is the plan for the day.
For schools that house multiple students on my caseload, this is the perfect end-of-the-year party. I can easily pull multiple students from a variety of grades to do this together. If I have students that are the only student in their school with hearing loss, I can do this 1:1 with them, but it's also a fantastic opportunity to bring a friend. And, with it being the month of May and Better Speech and Hearing Month, this is also a fantastic lesson to do with the general education classroom.
Outer ear/Pinna: A large pretzel (I purchased mine at Walmart), but you could also use a Pringles potato chip
Ear Canal: A thick piece of licorice (I used the stuffed kind and talked about the impact of having fluid in the ear)
Ear Drum: A round piece of hard candy
Malleus, Incus and Stapes (ear bones): Jelly beans (you can also break a pretzel and use the pieces)
Cochlea: Little Debbie Swiss Roll, sliced (you can also use any swirly treat, such as a mini cinnamon roll) as long as it's small
Auditory nerve: A thin piece of licorice (I use a different color, to reinforce this is a different part of the ear.)
Brain: I like to use something less sugary, such as egg salad, macaroni salad, or macaroni and cheese. I personally prefer the cold salads so I don't have to worry about heating them.
I like to start by showing this two-minute video from the National Institute of Deafness to reinforce my students' background knowledge: https://youtu.be/eQEaiZ2j9oc
From there, using the materials listed above, I have my students recreate the anatomy of the ear. We talk through each part, how it works and "what could go wrong." You could go as in-depth as you like during this part of the activity.
From there, I'll often ask my student/s, "What about YOUR ear?" We just take a few minutes to review where their hearing loss is located and how it impacts their hearing. If you are doing this lesson with a general education classroom, you can easily reference ear tubes, ear infections, fluid in the ear, damage from earbuds, etc. to make it meaningful to all the kids in the classroom. This is a great way for our DHH students to realize that other people also struggle with hearing.
Before the students eat their edible ear, I ask them to show me how the ear works, asking them to use their own edible diagram to talk me through the process. I also ask them about their own hearing loss and see what they can tell me.
After that - it's bon appetit! Party time!
I've created a full lesson plan of this fun activity for your to DOWNLOAD HERE. This is just one example of tools inside the TEACHING TOOLBOX for teachers and parents in the Professional and FRIEND Academy. Inside the Toolbox starting fall of 2022, there will be a full unit of 5-minute lessons just on the ear anatomy. Interested in getting the full toolbox? Teachers can check out the PROFESSIONAL ACADEMY and parents can check out the FRIEND Academy now.
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