Monday, March 28, 2011

Custom Name Stamps

Name stamps purchased at office supply stores can be pretty expensive.  Here's a way to make individual name stamps that I picked up at a Letterboxing class I took with a little friend a couple of weeks ago.  See photos with designs of animal pawprints and baseball bat and ball.

Get a block of wood that can be attached to something that the student can easily grasp.  For my student I glued three parquetry blocks together.

Using a thin piece of foam (mine was about 1/8" thick) cut out letters for your student's name.  Glue these to the wood.  It took me 45 minutes to figure out how to arrange the letters so they would be in correct alignment when inked and stamped.  Duh.

Use non-toxic and, hopefully, washable ink in your stamp pad.

My student's name is pretty big, but he has lots of room on his papers to stamp his name.  The smaller the letters, the more difficult it is to cut out the little holes in the letters...

4-14-2011--Duh #2---You can create letters in pieces, like the Handwriting Without Tears sticks and half circles.  No wonder my quilting always ends up wrong, absolutely no spatial skills in this brain.

Spring is the time to grow stuff

Two weeks ago we planted sunflower seeds with our highschoolers in a class for students with autism.  It's a group activity--students, instructional assistants, OT and SLP.  This morning we did a follow-up activity--planting green bean seeds in see-through baggies.  We want the students to be able to view the roots as the seeds sprout and grow.  So...
We scooped dirt into bags; not too much!
  Great for observing the students' motor planning and willingness to reach down into a smelly bag of earth.  One student didn't even have to look at what she was doing and she didn't spill a speck of dirt.
Then, drop a seed into the bag of earth.
Put about 10 teaspoonsfuls of water into the bag.
  A couple of students could keep the water from spilling out of the teaspoon as it traveled from the cup to the bag.
Zip up those bags of dirt and hang them on clippy skirt hangers.  Hang them in a sunny window and water every other day.
  Zipping the bags tight and pinching open the clips on those hangers was not too easy for some students.

The speech-language pathologist has been helping students take photos of the sunflower pots with the little seedlings.  In two weeks some of the plants have grown as high as 6".  The classroom teacher made a chart for the students to record growth measurements. 
The SLP also used this online activity with the students to follow up with vocabulary:

Help Plants Grow

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Designs for the Classroom Art Wall

Students chose from die-cut butterflies, kites and bunnies to make decorations for the classroom art wall.  Some students practiced gently punching out pre-cut designs, without tearing them in the process.  Some tore sections of the design to place on top of a "twin" design, in order to decorate without having to use crayons or markers.  Other students learned how to put eyes on the butterfly wings, to make frogs and birds think the butterfly was another kind of critter.


More Beauty in the Classroom

My Tuesday morning kindergarten classroom has a new art project going on every week.  Here are photos of the mural, painted by a teaching assistant, and the daffodils "grown" by the students.  Such a delight.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kids Telling Stories

I work with a teenage girl who has Rett Syndrome--she loves watching people's faces.

These video stories, written and read by kids, might just be the ticket to get her more interested in using a computer for leisure time:
Stories written and read by kids

Interactive Computer Based Games

Just what we all need for a crazy Friday--here's a calming activity for students who need a little soothing:
Stained Glass Chimes

If you're looking for some visual motivation to practice letter formation, this is a little livelier:
Lively Letters

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tips for Preventing Wandering out of the house

This article appears on a blog for families of folks with dementia who live at home, but I think a lot of the ideas might be helpful for parents of students with autism.  Some of the recommendations might be practical for the classroom, as well.

Thanks to Mr. DeMarco for letting me know the correct link to post.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Social Story for Desk Organization

I'm planning to use this with a wonderful guy who has quite a bit of trouble keeping track of his materials and supplies at school.  It starts out talking about the whole class, then zeroes in on his personal organization.

Same video via YouTube

Switch Activities

Need some fresh switch activities for students using the classroom computer?  This site is chock-ful of ideas and they have a great list of free computer activities:

Note:  I haven't checked out all of the activities listed, so please do your own due diligence prior to printing this off as a parent handout.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Make a Tree

What a great activity for students who need practice with pinch, directionality, motor planning, many things.  Plus, it's beautiful.  Just have to find an alternative to leaving pushpins in the wall.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Driving Miss Hoola-Hoop

Those hard-driving PT buddies of mine--you sit with them on that tipsy therapy bolster, you hold up your head for a little while and next time they want you to hold it up even longer!  Well, it's a lot more fun (and a little easier) to hold your heavy head up against gravity if you're looking at something interesting.  If your vision isn't the greatest then you need a little different incentive to work hard...
Driving!  The hula hoop makes a fun steering wheel for her to grasp and rotate from side to side while she practices holding her head up for longer and longer periods.  Maybe next time I can tie some shiny streamers to it, or maybe some textured materials or a stuffed animal that hugs the hoop, to make it even more fun.


We always hope the materials we leave in classrooms will actually be used by students. 
Well, these Velcro-backed Scrabble letter tiles do get used by the student and now I think I'll use another part of the Scrabble game to help the little guy figure out how-in-heck to make a triangle--drawing it is very tricky for him.
We used to just sit on the floor to work but now I'm having him work on all-fours as much as possible, to build up his shoulder girdle muscles and overall UE strength.  Since he has spent about half his life in hospitals he hasn't had much opportunity for UE weight bearing over the years.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Enticing Reach

This preschooler has been practicing her use of a large pressure switch Big Red to listen to her favorite books.  Of course, it takes a lot of practice to gain accuracy in reaching the switch and becoming more independent.

Due to her limited vision, I'm thinking I should put some textured material on the switch, to give her more information about where her hand should be aiming.  After all, her smooth wheelchair tray might feel about the same as the surface of the switch.  I could even put a tiny stuffed animal which relates to a character in the book.

As Fast As I Can

Went into a first grade classroom to see if my sweetie had returned to school after being hospitalized with real bad flu earlier this week.  No, she had left the hospital yesterday but is resting at home and should be back at school next week.

A classmate drew this picture, which somehow ended up on my sweetie's desk.  Thought it was appropriate for her situation, and for all of us.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011