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These ideas should work for both direct access and switch use.

If the pupil is used to using one or two single message aids, then start with one or two cells on the 4talk4 and work up to four gradually.

Make individual overlays for various activities and store them so that you can use them again.  The 4pic4 folder is useful for this – and can be used as a communication book if the machine breaks down or is not available for use.

If the user has a physical difficulty in reaching one of the end cells, put the most motivating message on that one – being rude is always useful!

4talk4Ideas for using all four cells

  • Use the colours on the cells to choose which brick to put on a pile or what colour to colour in a picture.
  • Reading a story – sequence four parts the story i.e. ‘What’s the time, Mr Wolf?’, then ‘breakfast’, ‘lunch’ and ‘tea!’, ‘Goldilocks’, ‘who ate my porridge?’ etc.  There are many stories that have either repeated text or just a few parts to the story.
  • Repeated text from a story, i.e. ‘Poor old teddy!’, ‘I took him to the teddy doctor’, ‘She made him better’ and then the text from the last page.  Lots of joining in!  Coloured dots can be put on the overlay and on the pages of the book to give a prompt or a symbol stuck on a page the same as the overlay. 
  • Sequence events that have happened or about to happen.  Practice a journey, what you are going to buy at the shop, what you want to eat at the fast food restaurant.
  • Four lines in a play.
  • Four things to hang on the Christmas tree.
  • Follow a simple recipe.
  • Directions to the hall or somewhere else in the school.
  • Simple counting activity.  ‘How many eyes do you have?’, ‘how many sweets in my hand?’
  • Sing a song, ‘head, shoulder, knees and toes’
  • Sing the first line of four different songs to make a choice
  • Photocopy the covers of CDs and videos to make a choice of what to listen to or watch
  • Play a matching game, snap, what’s in the bag? etc
  • Put photos of switch operated toys on the cells and attach the toy to the device.  Choosing a photo of the toy (and a suitable message) makes it work
  • Give the staff instructions – ‘Go away’, ‘Come here’, ‘Sing’, ‘Laugh’, ‘Stand on your head’ etc
  • Direct a ‘Simon Says’ game
  • ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’
  • Tell jokes
  • Do the voiceover for a ‘Power Point’ or ‘SwitchIt! Maker’ presentation in assembly


Ketchup on your Cornflakes by Nick Sharratt isbn 0-59054151-X
My Old Teddy by Don Mansell isbn 0-7445-3057-1
What’s the time, Mr. Wolf? By Colin Hawkins isbn 0-00-662571-1