Monday, February 27, 2012

Creating Get Well Cards for a Favorite Teacher

 A favorite teacher was absent for 3 days last week, and her kids missed her terribly.
What a great opportunity to do some meaningful writing by creating "Get Well" cards.  This provided lots of practice in using the teacher's tape dispenser.
 Spruce up the lined paper--cut out heart shapes for pasting personal messages onto the card.
The students told me what they wanted to write and I modeled it on my lined paper for them to copy onto their heart-shaped paper.

Survival Signs

Is that what signs like these are called?  I'm not sure.  These single inset puzzle pieces were highly motivating today to spur these cuties on to write long-ish words.

The students chose which signs they wanted to trace and copy.  When talking about the "First Aid" sign one student said, "I see that at the doctor."  Pretty good connection, I say.  

The stylized font on the puzzle pieces messed up one guy; he kept trying to write the letter "R" with a wide square on the top because it looked that way on the puzzle piece.

Here's a photo just for fun--my daughter made this "Skyscraper" ice cream cake (at least 10" tall) for a relative's b-day party yesterday.  Easily 1500 cal. per slice!  Peanut butter, chocolate, frosting, more peanut butter..

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Refining Hand Grasp at the Easel

Lots of fun using puzzle pieces to start our drawings on the classroom white board.  This student could easily imitate my drawings.

Great activity for improving visual-spatial skills and refining grasp.  Using the easel makes the hand fall into a nice, tripod grasp.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Multiple Opportunities to Practice Pencil Grasp

One of my teachers always has her supply baskets full of sharpened pencils.  Nothing like a freshly sharpened pencil to start the day off right.  One of my sweeties had a few extra minutes to work after a project one morning, so I thought I'd bring over the teacher's pull-out drawer of extra pencils to see if we could help her teacher by sorting out her "good" pencils from those that have seen better days.  Yes, I did ask her first if I could do this with the student.
After testing each pencil to make sure it was usable, we measured the length and kept pencils that were at least 4" long.  Those less than 4" can be reserved for students who will benefit from using stumpy pencils, like those used with the Handwriting Without Tears program.

By testing the pencils my student practiced correct pencil grasp many more times than she might normally have done with our usual projects.  Of course, there were lots of compliments from me when I noticed the excellent grasps.

My other motive for trying out this activity was to see if the student could stick with the pencil testing for more than just a few minutes.  Her teacher and I had discussed the student's behavior that morning and I recommended providing the student with classroom jobs, to encourage her to care for her classroom space and use her energy productively.  One other task she tried was rearranging the display area in the classroom's library corner, which she performed with very little supervision from me.  I'll be looking for other jobs that she can do with little assistance and make a list of them for her teacher to try.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Using typical classroom tools--Scissors and Stapler

There aren't a lot of activities I have found to use to help kids get more comfortable with a stapler.  Here's a way to use those teensy photos that are usually left over from school picture packages each year.  Will require very precise scissor use to cut apart the columns of pictures and stapling the photo strips at just the right spot.

Instead of heart shapes we can make circles or even straight photo strips.

Photo Ornament tutorial

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Slimey Eyes Sensory Activity

What a good way to use those googley eyes that seem to reproduce in storage.

Sensory Activity

I'd use duct tape on the ziplock edge to keep it from springing open too easily--no guarantees, though.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Source for Donated Adaptive Equipment

One of my high school teachers for students with severe intellectual disabilities went through this organization to secure a chair-ish swing for the classroom.  It's one of the better swings I've seen since it only provides linear movement and it seems like this will allow less opportunity for overwhelming the vestibular system than some other swings I've seen used in educational settings, as long as the student initiates the swinging and not another person.

Donors Choose Organization

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ball Maze Idea Snatched From Another Site

What a great idea for a fine motor activity--planning, problem solving, spatial relations, cutting, gluing, changing head positions for increased vestibular input...

Ball Maze

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

You Can Never Have Too Many Valentines

It's been kind of a Valentine "week," beginning last Thursday and continuing through today.

We made "stamps" to decorate our Valentine cards.

 Now don't worry, their parents won't care that the message prints backwards.

Great for observing spontaneous grasp patterns.

Use the leftover foam to write just for fun; one student said the "paper" felt soft.
Smell the roses and only eat a little chocolate today.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Interesting topic

This blogger has a very interesting list of reasons why kids may not be able to sit still.

Reason #17 is a favorite of mine, since I'm so old-fashioned anyway.

24 Reasons Why a Child Can't Sit Still

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Helpful Hint to Gain Perspective

On Thursday I spent about two hours preparing to write a report on an older student.  That's just the beginning of a longer process that will involve actually writing the final report and preparing information to add to her present level of performance in the IEP.  You might guess that it's hard for me to be concise; I really have to discipline myself and keep whittling away at my verbosity.

I spent the two hours reviewing the student's cumulative file which held her OT "history" in the schools--from early childhood classes until now--a total of 15 or so years.  OT was involved all through those years and I created a year-by-year summary of the focus of intervention over that time span.  She had about five different OTs over those years and it was interesting to read the consistency of effort from our OTs on her behalf.  It's very helpful to know when sensory issues and handwriting remediation and assistive technology came into play, and how the student responded and improved with OT working directly with her and consulting with her teachers and family.

This gives me a framework for writing her report and contributing to her IEP as a related service.  Now I have a perspective of understanding how the student responded, in the past, to activities designed to improve self help and functional fine motor skills.  If the family and/or staff wants to write a goal about XYZ I can provide the historical data on how she demonstrated improvement or not when it when was a targeted skill in ___ grade.  If the IEP team is considering addressing a skill such as writing her first and last names the student might have a better foundation for mastering the skill now that she's older, or it might not be as critical as another area, perhaps vocational skills or greater independence with self-help skills.

I really should do this historical "sleuthing" on all the students I receive from other OTs.  The insight is very helpful to my planning for the students' needs.

P.S.  Why the quilt photo?  It's only a lapquilt but I spent countless hours working on it.  Probably 9 hours just ripping out the seams and re-sewing them in the correct orientation.  My awful spatial relations skills really worked against me; I get so confused with how to line up the squares.  I've given away most of my treasured quilt fabric stash over the years--why torture myself?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Making Castles for Fine Motor Fun

Turn your cereal boxes inside out to "build" castles or towns.  Wonderful for spatial understanding, pencil grasp, ruler control, handling tape and letting the imagination run free.
Be sure to draw windows, guard towers, royal personages.....  We'll attach the separate "buildings" to the exterior of a sturdy fruit crate and then create the castle's courtyard inside.
Just so happens that the 5th graders in this school are studying castles.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Handwriting with the Dinosaurs

Who minds writing long words when they end in "us?"  This first-grader loved tracing inside the dinosaur shapes and then writing their full names on specially-lined paper.
I've had these stencils about 25 years because my own sweetie lived and breathed the giant critters.  Pretty good investment.

Fine Motor Fun with Icicles

Saw these in the hallway yesterday morning--so beautiful.  Will have to try making them with students; I'd like to make really long ones like we used to have hanging off our roof in Chicago.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Have Your Handwriting Ready for Valentine's Day

Moms and Dads will love their Valentine's Day cards no matter what their child's handwriting looks like--but why not motivate the students to write well?

We made Valentine's Day cards lots of different ways today--with stamps, with cut-out shapes, with recycled placements cut into hearts and glued to the card page--anything that would tap the students' needs for fine motor and handwriting remediation.

If you look closely at the center photo you'll see that the student cut out tiny placemat leftovers to form, "Mom," on his stamp.  Good thing "Mom" is spelled the same from left to right and right to left...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Sensory Aversion in Equines

This is too much fun not to share--my DH leading Junior around the first time the little guy wore "boots."

Goofy Horse Video

Note:  We "Western" folks don't usually use protective boots like this but Junior's new owner wanted to keep his legs shipshape while he rode a long distance in the horsey trailer.