Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hopping Chickens at Thanksgiving

We enjoyed Thanksgiving at our friends' who host us every year.  Well, this year we had the additional fun of watching the hopping chickens, our friends' non-edible pets.  The B/W girl is a Barred Rock (AKA Plymouth Rock) variety and the rust girl is an Americauna.  They've been jumping all their lives so their leg muscles are strong enough to handle the exercise.  Listen carefully to their calls--very soothing. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Flat or Fluffy Turkeys

Here's the link to a short video we made from the photographs taken during an integrated therapy session this week at one of my high schools.  Can you guess which song I'm thinking of in the first few photos?

Thanksgiving Banner for Handwriting Refinement

Straightforward handwriting remediation is usually not very exciting.  However, switch it up and practice those tricky letters on interesting cut-out shapes, string them on a holiday banner and you ramp up the motivation.
Students copied me in using WikkiStix to form one capital letter, then wrote the letter on a turkey shape or maple leaf shape.  Then, they strung the shape onto a heavy string to create a banner which read, "Happy Thanksgiving."  My idea started last night when I was reviewing this website:
Banner idea
When we doubled up the WikkiStix to make short, straight lines the students pinched the WikkiStix together and made sure there was no "air" or "daylight" showing, which helps to emphasize the importance of not doubling back on their written lines with the negative result of making them look like skinny balloons.  Although the letters ended up taller than the lines preprinted on the "white" board, they don't drop below the baseline.
Observing the students string their turkeys or leaves on the thick string was an eye-opener and permitted me to observe their motor planning and visual-spatial skills--whew!--there was a little confusion going on in many instances!
I'm going to try and create a fancy banner for my fireplace mantel for the upcoming holidays---I'll have my eye out for fancy lettering and small pictures to cut out of the newspapers and magazines at this time of year to spruce up the individual letter cards.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Another Attempt at Parking Those Runaway Pencils

Although Velcro parking places work well for some students, this student needs a different approach to keeping one good pencil in an easy-to-locate spot on his desk.
We'll see if this desk "belt" works well for keeping his pencil from disappearing into the cave of his desk.

Pull-Out Drawer for Student Desk

I've been working with this sweetie for several years and haven't "cured" his disorganization, here's the pull-out drawer we're trying again this year to see if it helps him locate his books more quickly and keep them more orderly. 
The cool thing this year is that he said, "Oh, it's like a keyboard drawer," when we arranged it in his desk this morning so here's hoping he'll think it's a positive thing and really use it well.

Note the clear tubing on the far right; you'll see it again in the next post.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jig for folding t-shirts

Who woulda thought???  A high school teacher for students with intellectual disabilities asked me about a jig to help students fold the t-shirts they launder and dry after lunch each day.  This link has a great video on how to create a t-shirt folding jig.  Perhaps it would be suitable for someone on your holiday gift list--the person "who has everything."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Machine Made Turkeys

Usually we use die-cut shapes (thank you Ellison machine makers) Ellison Machine Info to make relief drawings, but today we also used the leftover paper which has a "window" shape inside.  First, we created turkeys plus letters of the students' first names to make Thanksgiving pictures.  Instead of using construction paper we die-cut the shapes out of coarse sandpaper, which made the relief pictures nice and speckley.  Older students promised not to peek while they felt the letters in their hands and guessed what letter they were touching. 

The components of this activity have been used with these students for several weeks now and they are definitely showing more "umph" (AKA hand strength) when they use the crayons sideways to draw a relief picture.  They are also using their helper hands more frequently to stabilize the paper, since they know the end result will be better looking if they prevent the paper from shifting around.

Weeks ago the students had to be cajoled into using more than one color to draw their picture.  Now they eagerly reach for more colors after coloring with the first crayon.
Yes, you're right--there's a little hyperextension of the DIP going on.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

OTs Have Fun on the Weekends

Yes, yes, I love to take photos.  We OTs do have a life outside of work and here are the photos to prove it.  Friends invited my DH (Dear Husband) and me to go sailing yesterday on the Rappahanock River, starting in Urbanna, VA.  Had never been sailing before and we had a perfect, golden day.  When our "Captain" friend gave me directions I felt like a student with learning disabilities who didn't understand the directions given by the teacher. Therapeutic sailing, anyone?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Different Kind of Flag Waving

Today is Veteran's Day, when we remember the men and women from all branches of the military who have served and continue to protect our freedom.  Driving from school to school we itinerant therapists will see lots of extra flags waving in front of homes and stores today.
Here's another kind of flag, for the purpose of visual and tactual exploration.  It's hanging on a sensory tent at one of my high schools.  The scarecrow has surprises for any visitors--sparkly silk leaves, soft felt leaves and a bumpy styrofoam acorn attached to the flag for the students to explore.  Even the seams connecting the different sections of the flag are fun to run your fingers along.  Most of the items are attached to the lower half of the flag, so students who use wheelchairs can easily reach what they see.  Sometimes I take the flag down and drape it over a wheelchair laptray so a student can explore different sections of the design. 
Last month I bought three of these seasonal flags at Goodwill for $3 apiece.  The classroom teacher ran out and bought another that is perfect for Winter themes.
Wouldn't it be great to collect flags which match up with the themes in different story books?


Monday, November 8, 2010

The Fallen Leaves Seem Awful Gummy

Time for those fun fall posters.  Students in a high school class for individuals with Autism identified fall scenes vs. another theme (Jobs) and glued the newspaper photos to a large poster.  An adult wrote down the descriptive words used by the students as we reviewed each photo so we could recall those words later on in the project and include them on the poster.  Students collected fallen leaves several days prior to the activity so the leaves were nice and dry and ready to glue on the the poster.  The teacher contributed die-cut paper leaves for the students to use in copying their descriptive words--you can only write so big when you're constrained by the size of your leaf.

What a great way to see the students' functional handwriting skills and observe their sensory preferences for handling the gummy glue sticks and brittle leaves.  We made sure we had lots of "out of your seat" time by placing the poster way across the room and leaving the classroom desks and chairs in place so they became a nice "obstacle course" as the students wove their way across the room.

Friday, November 5, 2010

AlphaSmart Fun

Do your students have difficulty with far and near point copying their words when using a word processor?  Try using Scrabble size letter tiles and put them right on the screen to make copying easier.

Note:  The pink letters are not part of this activity, just there to help another student.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Turkey Time

We'll be seeing lots of turkey feathers this month!  Help students practice creating 3-D feather shapes before asking them to draw them 2-D cold turkey. Those incredible Wikki Stix are to the rescue again--just be sure to model all the steps for your sweeties because some students don't have lots of experience making feather shapes.  P.S.  Feathers can start out as circles and squish down to pointy ovals.  Be sure to press the Wikki Stix tightly to the paper so they don't wiggle while the student traces around the edges (and trace inside the edge if you want, too.)