How To Teach: Taking a Shower and Applying Deodorant

functional life skills how to teach life skills special education teachers teacher experience teacherspayteachers transition Aug 16, 2021
Importance of Showering and Applying Deodorant 
I’ve heard that smell is more closely linked to memory than any other sense. Most likely, a good smell is going to trigger happy thoughts and a bad smell will trigger unhappy thoughts. So, let’s help our young adult students be on the happy thoughts side of the smell memory by encouraging them to take a shower daily and apply deodorant regularly.
-When to shower
-Keeping the body private walking to and from the shower
-Supplies needed to shower
-How to turn the shower water to warm/hot
-Parts of the body that need to be cleaned
-Order in which to clean the body
-When to apply deodorant
-How to apply deodorant
-Why to apply deodorant
Why Focus On These Skills
Besides it being a necessary activity of daily living, these are my top 5 reasons to focus on the skills listed above:
  1. This skill can be taught as a routine for students who thrive on routine.
  2. This skill can be taught visually with little/no verbal prompts.
  3. Strengthening this skill can increase student independence and decrease daily caregiver demand.
  4. Mastering this skill can lead to better student health and hygiene, which often results in positive thoughts by peers and familiar and unfamiliar communication partners.
  5. Students most likely will need to possess or tolerate assistance with this skill in order to obtain or maintain volunteer or competitive employment.
When To Teach
Loop this body cleaning skill with other personal hygiene skills, such as bathroom and hand washing and brushing teeth. All of these ‘clean body’ skills should occur daily or multiple times a day and will likely be utilized as much as preparing food.
I’ve created a complete lesson unit of materials for teaching this topic. The materials are comprehensive (5 full lessons) and most appropriate for life skill lessons at the middle school, high school and transition level students. Below are some lesson unit highlights!
Students will identify what parts of their body to clean in the shower.
Students will identify the need to shower daily.
Students will learn the steps to find the right water temperature, wash their body with
integrity, and use the appropriate amount of liquids when showering.
Students will apply deodorant under their arms.
Lesson Vocabulary
Deodorant, loofah, rinse, rub, shower, soap, towel, turn, wash, wash cloth
  • Pre and Post assessment
  • 1 page narrative explaining the skill with and without visual text supports (to incorporate functional reading)
  • 5 skill practice activities to learn and/or reinforce the focus skills
  • Game for students to practice their skills (because learning is fun)
  • Boom Cards for practice or assessment
  • Student learning reflection worksheet (thumbs up or down)
  • Encouraging on-topic quotes (use as a classroom poster or starter for each class period)
  • 5 strategies for success (tips for being successful with the focus skills)
  • Coloring page with on-topic graphics
  • Skill mastery certificate for positive recognition and reinforcement
  • Data collection sheet on specific focus skills
  • Homework sheet to encourage students to practice the skill outside of the school setting
  • Word search of key vocabulary terms
  • Visuals for focus skills with age appropriate colors and graphics
Ultimate Goal
Shower daily WITH soap over ALL parts of the body!
Some students may never shower outside of the home so covering up as they walk to the shower may not be a necessary skill. Some students prefer cold water when they shower. Some students hardly sweat, so reapplying deodorant wouldn't be needed. Regardless of those additional steps, showering every part of the body (even the parts they can’t see) with soap on a daily basis is necessary for proper health and hygiene.
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