Why Teach “All About Me” Lessons
In SEN one of the most important things is to get to know your pupil. All about me sessions are a generally accepted part of the process. These lessons are often done in September on a change of class or on the transition into school. I am a real fan of using tangible resources where possible. This can help to make concepts more concrete for learners. By using physical resources you increase levels of engagement. You might also like our post on making your own Maths Manipulatives.
This is a brief guide on why “All About Me” is an important topic for teaching children with special educational needs:
All About Me Promotes Self-Awareness and Self-Esteem – Having SEN students explore their identities, families, likes/dislikes, strengths, challenges, goals, and more helps build greater self-understanding. Recognizing positive qualities about themselves boosts self-confidence.
Encourages Self-Advocacy Skills – When students learn about their learning needs, preferences, accommodations, and rights, they are better equipped to speak up for support. Practicing discussing needs with trusted adults paves the way for self-advocacy.
Provides Insight for Teachers – By learning about students’ unique skills, interests, backgrounds, needs, and ambitions, teachers can gain insight on how to best support each student. This student-centered knowledge informs teaching methods.
Allows Students to Feel Understood – Opportunities to express information about themselves helps students feel known. Feeling understood by peers and teachers contributes to a greater sense of belonging and being valued.
Supports Healthy Identity Development – SEN status is just one part of a student’s identity. Exploring non-academic dimensions like family, gender, culture, personality, dreams, and more leads to healthy identity formation.
Teaches Important Communication Skills – Being able to articulate details about oneself, ask questions, listen to peers, and share appropriately are crucial social-emotional skills. These will serve students inside and outside school.
Tracks Progress Over Time – Comparing “All About Me” projects year-over-year provides a snapshot of growth in skills, self-awareness, goals, and adjusting to their needs. It is great to review if you are using an app like evidence for learning to capture progress across the years.
You might also like our top 5 SEN teaching resources post.
The All About Me Neighborhood Set.
The All about me neighbourhood sorting set from learning resources is brilliant. This is a great resource that is colourful and robust but also simple enough in design to use across a wide age group. The set contains 6 Colorful two-piece houses and 36 All About Me family counters. We also bought the additional people and pets set as we have a household of 7 and many of the families I work with have extended families.
The houses are strong and the figures can survive a chew. Removable housetops encourage mix-and-match sorting with rainbow-colour family members (including a baby and pets). A strong design with imaginative learning through play in mind.
- Practice greetings “good morning” or a “goodnight,”
- Use the houses supplied or build your own houses to reflect reality for the child
- Colour identification
- Fine motor skills
- Social and emotional learning
To reinforce these essential early childhood skills and build higher-level thinking, ask follow-up questions during play: “How do you know? What made you think that? How do they feel?”
Suggested All About Me Teaching Activities:
Build several families (including your own!). Explain that the large figures represent adults, the small figures represent children, and the four-legged creatures represent the family pet. Describe the figures using terms such as large, small big, little, bigger, taller, larger, and compare families. Which family has the least family members? Which family has the most family members? This is also a good time to talk about what makes a family and how some families look alike and some different.
We used it to explain how different children in our house also formed parts of other families. This is some of the time for step-siblings etc. This is perfect for the new statutory RSE curriculum or to use with books to explain different families.
Line up three figures of different colours. Have the child look away as you remove one. Can the child identify which figure is missing? Try this memory activity with different amounts and sizes of figures.
We can use role-play as well. Let’s solve some fun story problems! Make up a story and have the child use the houses and family figures to ‘act out the answer. For example, “Dad and Mom are throwing a birthday party for baby. They invite Grandma and Grandpa and three cousins. How many guests are invited?” Repeat with other amounts, and add in simple subtraction: “Two cousins will not be able to attend. How many guests are left?”
All About Me Activities: Communication opportunities.
I made a simple “all about me” communication board using the new Twinkl Symbols App. This is free and so easy to use. Using a communication board allows AAC users to answer and ask questions. It supports children to form sentences and process answers without having to verbalise. This is especially important when it comes to emotional situations or safeguarding. You can print the board and the child can point at it or cut it up to label/match their family members. You can easily use the Twinkl symbols app to make your own or customise a board like this. If used on a device the app it will speak the labels for you.