Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Great Shoe Tying Book

Don't think I've shared before how much I appreciate this book for working with students on learning to tie their shoes:
Shoe Tying Book

I've been using it for a few years with students of all ages.  I start with the last page and work backwards.  Just practice a couple of steps for a couple of minutes each time I see the student, when I'm being good and remember to do it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Using Vocabulary Words to Make a Fall Classroom Streamer

Use that Elison machine to punch some fall shapes, then students can write vocabulary words and create a vertical streamer for the classroom.  An ongoing project for October.Fall Streamer

Good activity for sequencing, writing within a prescribed area, hole punching, eye-hand coordination and practice making half knots.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Video on Activity for Hand Strength, Dexterity and Sequencing Steps

If I were a "good" OT I'd never let a student punch out the holes backwards to make her name, but I'm just thankful she participated and worked on it so well.  Don't tell the HWT folks--it'll make them cry.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Little Video about Sensory Room for High Schoolers

The video doesn't really do the room justice, but this small room has vibrating beanbags, a range of visually-interesting lights and hand-held "toys," and many textured items to explore.  The Art Dept of the high school designed the interstellar murals and the teachers enhanced the concept by hanging planet-like decorations from the ceiling.  Even the windows to the hallway were painted with a jello-consistency mixture that alters the harsh light from the hall and makes it swirley.

The different classes have allotted times during the day when they regain their equilibrium in the sensory room.  Will feature different pieces of equipment down the road. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Writing Tall

Those Wikki Stix are at it again.  Use them as sticky guides to keep little writers in line.  Also, the wooden clipboard holders work great with this large writing board and allow fidgety students to stand while they work.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Beginning ABC & 123 Writers and Readers

For a young student who needs lots of time practicing her standing balance in the classroom one of my wonderful teachers and his instructional aide concocted several activities that the student can work on while standing at her desk or at the chalkboard.

One easy activity is using a clipboard and stand for "writing" the letters of her name, using Velcro-backed letters and a model.  Great activity for improving pinch, too.

At the magnetic chalkboard a little pocket made from a recycled manila folder was arranged at just the right height to have her match corresponding numbers.  It's important to practice keeping your balance when you're busy thinking hard about math--someday she'll be shopping!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Individual Baskets for Elementary School Desks

My teacher friend, who always has sharpened pencils ready for me to use with students, began using individual baskets for each student's desk.  Instead of using Velcro to affix the baskets, she used a double-sided tape which, supposedly, will not leave any residue and should be easy to remove later on.  I recall other teachers who used Velcro strips to attach baskets like these and the students eventually began using the sound of Velcro pulling apart as a fun way to amuse their friends. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Video of Self-Calming Activities for Highschoolers

Here are two activities we used today in a classroom for high school students with autism.  The students were bouncy before we started but they sure got calmer and less fidgety for a while once we rolled out the "lotion" and "clay."

Video of Self-Calming Activities

This was a joint activity with the students, speech-language pathologist, instructional aides, teacher and occupational therapist working together in the classroom.  The teacher will include the activities in her menu of "sensory breaks" available to students during the day.

Friday, September 9, 2011

String Art Idea for Highschoolers with Autism

It was like Homecoming for me today--got to go to my favorite idea-generating store near my office--Big Lots.  I've had withdrawal over the summer since I was in the habit of cruising their aisles at least once a month.

Looking for materials to use with students I saw a skein of soft, variegated color baby binkie yarn and my brain started churning--how about getting started on that string art idea from last year with the high school class for students with autism?  Tonight the idea percolated a bit further and I thought, "How about having the art students draw a bold picture of something related to the school, and then the students in the autism class could set in the tiny nails and begin weaving the yarn into a string art picture?"  Talk about good PR for special education at the school.  Well, I can dream.

The beauty of all this which makes it somewhat do-able is that one of the teachers for students with autism is also an artist.  She can make it happen.  If it does happen, I'll post photos of the process.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Shiny, Flappy Fidget Items for High Schooler

Yesterday I visited a high school class for students with significant cognitive disabilities.  One of the guys was working a giant Connect Four-type game while relaxing on the carpet.  This was a good break from sitting in his wheelchair and it allowed him to stretch out his legs and weightbear through his arms while leaning from side to side as he reached for the large checkers.

However, he seemed more interested in throwing the checkers around the room so he could giggle while the instructional aide darted around to pick them up--behind chairs, under desks, almost out the open window.

I wasn't sure how to tether the checkers so they would never sail too far away, but another idea came to mind.  I knew he liked to flap materials with his hands and he also liked shiny fabric, so I recalled the cheap car window shield I had bought at Big Lots last June.  Talk about shiny.  Here's how I made a flappy, fidget toy for him:

First, I cut strips about 6" wide by 36" long and covered the raw edges with colorful duct tape.
I think the duct tape will hold and not pull off too easily since this guy has difficulties with precise pinch.
The strip edged with yellow had a grommet built in, but the red and blue strips required some way to slide in a cord, so I doubled back one edge and duct taped it to form a type of wide loop.
A petite teacher friend is modeling a single flappy strip, with a length of surgical tubing threaded through the grommet, which then is connected to a belt around the waist.  For my student, I'll probably begin with attaching one strip of shiny fabric to the belt and add the red and blue strips over time.

The purpose of this fidget toy is to encourage him to stretch out his arms away from his body in order to flap the shiny material strips.  It's not exactly an "academic" tool for learning but it encourages greater excursion at the shoulders and elbows, promotes deeper breathing for a sedentary person and provides him with a fidget toy that no one has the joy of retrieving. 

Big caution--when a student is wearing a belt around the body he must always be carefully supervised just in case the belt gets wiggled into a position where is it restricting movement or respiration. 

Also, this student does not put items in his mouth, but your student might.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Faster Way to Create Videos to Use with Students

Using Windows Movie Maker is great and so is Photo Story 3, but this software let me make the video in a flash.  You can add more titles and other extras to clarify the photos if you wish, depending on how well the photos tell your story.  All About Fall

Having the quickly changing photos may hold a student's attention to the information you want them to see, but you can also pause any photo and discuss the action.

Folks working in education can have a free account with this company, , for at least 6 months.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Friday, September 2, 2011

Toting the Bins Back to School

In our county school system, assistive technology equipment is grouped by schools and the OTs deliver the "AT bins" to schools now, before students return to the classrooms.  This makes for a bit of car decluttering on the part of most of us OTs, since the bins do take up quite a bit of space in our vehicles.

I bring along my trusty, rusty luggage wheelie thing to help me trek the bulky bins along the sidewalks and long hallways.

Yesterday I delivered bins to two schools with electric power, and two other schools without any power.  The trooper teachers were carrying on by the faint light brought in by the skylights around school.  Driving along the backroads you could see all the damage to trees and homes from Hurricane Irene.  Our family only lost power for 4 nights; think I'll go home and hug a lightswitch.

Site for Parents

Checked out this blog again to see if the author is still posting excellent info--yep, she is.  If you have parents who want to know what they can do at home to enhance their child's learning you might direct them to this site:

My Obstacle Course blog