Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sparkly Sensory Fun

We reviewed our sensory activities in the classroom for high schoolers with autism.  Initially, some of the students weren't too keen on having their hands coated with canola oil or the good-smelling orange Kool-Aid playdough but they loved it once they were gently encouraged to explore the materials.

We focused on applying deep pressure via an (amateur) passive hand massage using the canola oil and also pressing the playdough on and between the fingers.
Even though the playdough was already sparkly we added a bunch more glitter.

Better to alert you to the task, my dears.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving Fun

A friend grows organic veggies on a small plot of land we own--our future mini farm down the road.  She shared this fun decoration with us for Thanksgiving:
Hope everyone had a relaxing, happy Thanksgiving with family and friends. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

In-Hand Manipulation

Sort paperclips by color, draw a geometric "home" for each color and nestle the clips inside, then use only one hand to pick up "x" number of clips, one clip at a time.  Work each clip deep into your palm and then pick up the next clip.  Keep upping the number you pick up.  No, you really can't use the other hand to help.  Sure, some paperclips fall out of your hand but you'll get the hang of it eventually.

In-Hand Manipulation Video

You can also use pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters for your sorted groups instead of paperclips.

This student started off using her left hand but learned that her right hand has an easier time of it.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wrapping Up the Holidays--A Video

Do you think your students help with gift wrapping at home?  Give them the opportunity at school and maybe they'll be better able to help their parents during the holiday rush.
Wrapping packages and gifts video

First, we wrapped old phone books to use for proprioceptive/vestibular activities in a high school classroom for students with autism.  Next, we worked with highschoolers in a class for students with emotional disabilities and practiced wrapping small packages, using typical wrapping paper.  Great opportunities for bilateral coordination, motor planning, fine motor coordination and tying bows.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Coffee Lid Happy Face

This morning I threw away the non-recycleable lid from my empty coffee can, got inspired, and quickly retrieved it from the trash can.  What was I thinking???

The bright yellow lid turned into a big happy face, once we added the mouth, nose, eyes and eyebrows.  Each time the bell rang on my timer (every 3-5 minutes) the student received one part of their happy face, if s/he was working hard with smart fingers and paying attention to his/her work.  Some students could even roll the painter's tape into a circle in order to stick the facial features onto the yellow background.

Nice change from simply drawing a smiley face on a sheet of scrap paper.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Fun Way to "Write" Your Name

Having two days off at the beginning of the school week makes for a confusing Wed, Th and Friday.  What the heck--the kids are high energy so let's do fun stuff.

Here's a colorful way to reinforce letter formation; making nameplates using stickers on graph paper.  I drew the outlines of the letters and the students chose which colors and shapes to use.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Elementary Geometry

We can get a good idea of how students will write manuscript (print) letters by looking at how well they can draw simple geometric shapes.  Here's a hands-on way to reinforce in their minds how to create some important geometric shapes, featuring squares and triangles.

Elementary Geometry video link

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sunday School Reality Check

This morning I substituted for a teacher's helper in 3rd grade Sunday school.  Out of 20 little rascals, probably 5 of them had a perfect tripod grasp when writing and drawing with a regular diameter pencil.    At least two of them had those horrendous supinated grasps and there were many varieties of lateral grasps.  The students were able to work for 15+ minutes, writing legibly and drawing, with no outward signs of fatigue or discomfort.

Some of these sweeties had lived all their lives in the USA and several of them had spent at least their early years in the Sudan and other faraway places.

Sure, having an efficient grasp is very nice but my experience this morning showed me that it doesn't seem to make a big deal of difference in handwriting if the student's pencil grasp is not picture perfect.  Kinda makes me question which factors might matter more when it comes to functional, legible handwriting in school.

Friday, November 4, 2011

What a Lovely Video

This little girl is a wonderful actress:

HopeAbilities Fun With Clay

Great Art in the Classroom

I don't work with this student, but I happened to see some of her art this morning.  Beautiful and vibrant.  She's very quiet but her artwork shows how much she appreciates the details of the fascinating world around her.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Home Program and Classroom Program for Hand and Finger Strengthening

Strengthening the Hands and Fingers for Writing

To supplement written home and classroom programs we can also use brief videos. 

These are old photos from other blog posts, assembled to make a "follow along" video for promoting hand and finger strength practice at home and in the classroom.  It really doesn't take too long to make a short video like this one and I can use it for many parents and classrooms.