MC9 Intervention Overview

Using the SHAPE CODING™ System S+V+O/Theme NP+GOAL(PP) Intervention Outline

Materials required:

  • S+V+O/Theme NP + Goal (Prepositional Phrase) sentence shape coding prompt.
  • Large, individual SC shapes : 2 ovals, long hexagon,  semicircle, 2 rectangles, (diamond)and/or SC app.
  • Symbols/ text for target preposition words.
  • Small figures, toys and  props (fence, gate, box, pans, cups and saucers )
  • Small pictures or text flashcards of people and objects.
  • List of verbs, objects and  locations for each session.

Assess comprehension of target structure using S+V+O/theme NP+GOAL (PP) probe or through play.

If <80% accurate, start with Step 1 (teaching comprehension). Focus on expressive work later in intervention.

If 80% accurate, consolidate comprehension with expressive work by alternating turns at sentence construction from Step 3.   


  1. Introduce the sentence coding.

Layout and, using small figures, miniatures, pictures and symbols/text, act out 2 simple sentences:

SVO:                             SV Goal(PP):









the ball is over the fence

Show that the rectangle in the first sentence is the same as the oval in the second sentence.  Lift up the

where semicircle from sentence 2 and place it inside first sentence hexagon as shown:



the ball John is throwin over the fence



Set aside the remaining oval and diamond.


  1. Say, “John is throwing the ball over the fence.” and point to the shapes as you speak. Act this sentence out by picking up the figure/picture in the oval and using that to make the ball go over the fence.

Ask these questions and ensure the child answers using the information from the appropriate shape.

Who is throwing the ball?  John (oval)

What is John doing? throwing the ball over the fence (hexagon)

What is John throwing? the ball (rectangle 1)

Where is the ball going? over the fence (semicircle)

What is the ball going over? the fence (rectangle 2)

Repeat Steps 2 & 3 with different first rectangles e.g. frisbee, stick, cup, until child is sure of the link between first and second sentences.


4. Now change the ‘where’ semicircle.  ‘John is throwing the ball to the dog/ over the gate/across the road.’ Ask the child to act out each sentence. Make sure child uses the subject ‘John’ to move the first object ‘the ball’ to its new location.  Ask questions as in step 2. Repeat with other objects and different people/subjects.

5. Target different verbs one at a time using steps 2-4. Alternate between acting out the sentence yourself with asking the child to act out the scene.  Keep asking individual questions to ensure child understands which part of sentence corresponds to which question/phrase/shape.

See app for a list verbs that can fit this sentence structure . Example Sentences:

The man is pulling/driving…………….the box/car/truck ……up the hill/over the cliff

The lady is  pouring/spilling …………the water/juice  ……..on the floor/into the jug/on the table

The boy is putting/placing…………the cup/the lid/the pan ….on the saucer/on the pan/on the hob

The girl is rolling/pushing……. the beads/pipes/marbles…… under the door/fence/onto the stick


6. Expression: Lay out/Display the sentence shapes in the correct order. Child gives instructions to the SLT to follow by selecting subject, verb, object, preposition and new location (from forced workable choices) and laying them in the correct shape/position. SLT guides child to produce structure by pointing to each shape/line as the child forms the sentence. SLT repeats it back, acts out and praises child for a clear and accurate sentence.

Repeat by changing different elements. Start including non-human subjects e.g. animals, vehicles for both comprehension and expression. E.g. ‘The tractor is pushing the cow down the hill’. ‘The machine is pouring the milk into the cartons ’.

7. Production: Ask child to lay out/find the sentence shapes in the target structure order. Act out a sentence and ask child to tell you what is happening?

If the sentence contains some information for all 5 key elements (e.g. John driving car to park), repeat the sentence back accurately e.g. Yes, John is driving the car to the park.

If the child omits one of the key elements, explicitly state what is missing. For example, if the child says ‘The man is throwing over the fence’. Say, I heard ‘the man is throwing over the fence’ pointing at the relevant shapes as you speak.  Indicate the error by saying “You need/don’t forget a ‘red rectangle word’ here”, pointing at the first rectangle. Give a forced alternative – is he throwing confetti or spaghetti? Help child reformulate using their chosen preposition.

If the child uses all 5 key elements but in the wrong order e.g. the man is throwing the fence over the confetti’. Say, I heard all the right words but I think they were in the wrong order. Act out what the child said if possible. If child doesn’t self-correct, ask questions as in step 2 as you point to the shapes to re-establish the correct order. 

Repeat with multiple examples. 

7. Reducing shapes: repeat comprehension steps 2-5 and/or expression steps 6-7 with fewer and fewer shapes, but then bring back to check responses.

8. Monitoring: SLT start to make “errors”, get student to spot and correct them

  1. Using shape templates as an aid
  2. Without the templates

9. Consolidation: At the end of each session, review verbs covered in previous sessions and start to mix up instructions to use a range of subjects, verb, objects, prepositions and new locations in consecutive examples. Make sure that some of these are reversible e.g. Peter is pushing Bill towards Lucy. The tow truck is pulling the tractor away from the bike. Ensure the child demonstrates the subject from the oval is moving the first object to its new location.

10. Generalisation: Watch short action clips together and create a running commentary.  Take photos and describe the action. Create a ‘crash’ play or building site scene with  workers/vehicles moving other vehicles, objects and people. Produce a ‘news’ report. 

Additional Resources for MC9