Thursday, May 31, 2012

Alertness Activities for Elementary Students

One of my classes for students with mild intellectual disabilities has been using this video for alertness activities each morning:   Movin' It Groovin' It 2 video

What caught my eye this morning was the placement of yardsticks on the carpet to mark off different spaces for students to use, to prevent accidental collisions.  Better yet--the teacher told me that using the yardsticks was the idea of one of the students.

Of course, when the first video ended and the Zumba-ish video started it was a little hard to dance within the lines.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Caterpillar, Chrysalis, Butterfly

I think I've got the names and order right---the students know the stages better than I do, since they've been studying the life cycle of the butterfly for some time now. 
When I received my flyer from Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden in Richmond this weekend I knew I'd be able to utilize those gorgeous photos of the butterfly show at the gardens. Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens
Students cut out photos from the flyer, pasted them onto pieces of construction paper, chose descriptive words to identify the photos and wrote those on pieces of paper, then we played our favorite memory/lotto game with the pairs.

 To make it more challenging for their fine motor skills, the students slipped the pairs into sentence strip holders.
 One adult and one student held the sentence strip board while the second student looked for a matching pair.  Things got a little wobbly once in a while.
When we finished, we hid the pairs again and left the game at the butterfly center in the classroom.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cute Cows

Before you scoff at watching a video about cute cows on a "therapy blog," remember that Temple Grandin has a doctorate in animal science and she hangs around cows a lot.
Temple Grandin
These cows hang out on our "farmette" in the country.  My DH patiently trains them to tolerate human interaction so they can be handled if they need medical attention.  They have a'ways to go...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Homemade Assistive Technology

I think I'm gonna cry...the milk jug handle marker holder is fantastic and the ring adapter on the computer mouse is incredibly smart.
Oklahoma Assistive Technology Center ideas

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Get the Wiggles Out Activity Ideas for Elementary Students

Found this post from Pinterest, of course; this teacher has developed a clear-cut method of revving up the attention in her class when little eyes start to glass over:
Activity Ideas to Rev Up the Kiddos

Friday, May 25, 2012

Good Blog Site for Home Program Ideas

Just found this site--looks like it has lots of good activity ideas for many different areas we help students with in schools:

Therapy Street for Kids

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Activities for Summer Home Programs

Of all the handouts I pass along to families, this is the one I use the most to encourage parents to have their kids practice activities which will develop hand strength and coordination at home.

School and Home Activities to Develop Hand Strength and Fine Motor Skills

To Develop Hand Strength for Endurance in Handwriting & Scissor Use:

 After grocery shopping, put away canned goods on shelves.

 Fold clean laundry and carry to rooms.

 Make bed daily.

 Stir cookie dough.

 Remove books from shelves, dust and return to shelves.

 Climb on outdoor play equipment; be sure to hang from your hands as long as possible before jumping down.

 Use safe cleansers to scrub bathtub, sink and countertop.

 When cleaning bathroom, use a “trigger” sprayer to spray water on the surfaces.

 Make creations-gifts out of homemade bread dough (1 cup each of regular flour, plain salt and gradually mixed-in water.)

To Develop Hand Coordination:

 Cut out a simple comic strip, such as Garfield or Beetle Bailey. Cut the strip into individual frames and have your child rearrange the strip in the correct order. Work into cutting out Sunday comic strips with more than four frames.

 Cut out favorite comic strips and glue/tape them into a homemade scrapbook or notebook. Keep adding to favorites and make a collection.

 Put away clean silverware.

 With close supervision, have your child make snacks, involving cutting bread, fruit, spreading peanut butter…

 Check out Ed Emberley books from the public library and draw the designs with your child, step-by-step.

 Use your “double prints” to have your child make his/her own photo album. Demonstrate that it’s okay to cut around the interesting part of the picture. Be sure to add decorations such as star shapes, hearts that he/she traces and cuts out of leftover construction paper. Also look for double-sided photo album tabs on a roll; peeling off the protective strip to expose the sticky tape is a good challenge for little fingers. You might find that the album becomes one of your child’s most treasured possessions.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Keyboard Stickers Keep Slip, Slip, Slippin' Away

After weeks of forgetting I finally remembered to send stickers for a student's word processor out to the school.  The student has hemianopsia and has a great deal of difficulty locating the keys on her portable keyboard.  She is able to locate letters with less difficulty if she uses an Intellitools keyboard connected to a computer, but sometimes she needs something more portable.
Alas, the teacher told me that the stickers worked well at first but they began slipping off the keys upon the slightest touch.  Not good.  I should have cleaned the keys with rubbing alcohol prior to applying the stickers, to remove the oils left behind by all of our fingertips.
So, I removed the stickers today, wiped down the keys with rubbing alcohol, and reapplied the same stickers.  Might have to bring in brand new stickers if the old ones don't stay firmly attached, but we'll try the old ones and see how it goes.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Ideas for Summer Sensory Activities for Families

This Pinterest member has an incredible number of sensory-based ideas--many of them perfect for outdoor activities.
Tons of Great Sensory Ideas

Might be some to recommend for summer activities for families?

A Gentle Reminder

This caught my eye as I was washing up after an activity today:
Not exactly sure why this might be a concern in the classroom for students with emotional disabilities, but I'm going to follow the rules.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Jello Worms

I just found my new "go-to" for gag gifts.
Jello Worms

Wonder how many of my students (and friends) will be willing to put them in their mouths???

I want to make green ones.

Classroom Rules Chart

This morning I was a little perturbed because I couldn't get into the classroom I usually use in the early mornings, before most teachers arrive at school. Well, I ended up using a different classroom--one I haven't ever visited before--and found this fantastic chart about classroom rules.

The reason I think the chart is so fantastic is because it works for everyone--students who read, who don't read, who know classroom rules in their head but aren't really following them, for visual learners, for students with and without disabilities.  Adults can point to the words or to the photos and ask the students if they are following the rules.

If you're poking your neighbor with a pencil, are you using "Helping Hands?"  If you're shouting out answers during morning circle are you using your "Quiet Voice?"  If you're darting around the room are you using your "Walking Feet?"

Teachers can compliment a student for using their "Listening Ears" when they are attentive during story time, and also compliment another student for using their "Looking Eyes" during the same story time.  It's limitless.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Homemade Fidget Toy

For months now I've been avoiding the task of making homemade squeezy/fidget toys.  I strongly agree with the benefit, for students and adults, of having a readily-available fidget toy like this; however, I think most of the ones I've seen are gross.  Living on a ranchette/farmette like I do, I shun things that look like they were once inside or attached to a farm animal and the typical balloons filled with flour look too much like that to me.  What to do?

I found the answer on Pinterest.  Use Play-Doh to make fidget toys.  Instead of trying to stuff the Play-Doh into a balloon, as the Pinterest author suggested, I decided to use plastic wrap and tacky socks or tights.

 Hmmm---go with the shamrocks or argyle design?
 Wrap a whole container of new Play-Doh in plastic wrap.
 Cut off a length of tacky tights with extra room for tying several knots at the end(s).
 Slip in the wrapped Play-Doh.
 Knot several times and snip off excess fabric.
Ask a co-worker with great jewelry to test it out.

This will be suitable for students who to not know how to unknot knots, who do not put items in their mouths and who are not allergic to any of the materials.

Update 5-22-2012---After about 3 days of use by students and curious adults, the Play-Doh finally started oozing through the shamrock tights.  Need to wrap it better before putting it into the tights.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Weighted Pencil How To

 Some students benefit from using a weighted pencil, all of the writing time or sometimes.  The extra weight gives a little extra proprioceptive input that alerts the student to the fact that s/he is holding something and gives them a bit extra information about where the pencil is, in their hand.
 Where did I buy those gummy grips???  Big Lots, of course!  Where did I get the right-size nuts for adding weight???  My shed, of course!
This photo would be better if the student's forearm was resting on the table surface, but the grip itself looks better than the grip he normally uses without the weighted pencil.
Be sure to use the student's favorite color gummy grip on the "lead" end of the pencil.  That way he'll be motivated to grasp that color with his thumb and first two fingers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Knots and Tying Shoelaces

 6:15 AM at my house, "Would you please go out to the shed and cut off some 2 1/2 foot lengths of rope for me to use this morning?"  "What diameter rope?"  "Oh, about 1/2" thick."  "How many pieces?"  "2--no make that 3."  "Okay." 
My DH (dear husband) doesn't even ask why anymore.
 This is rope my DH uses to make halters for the horses.  It's very soft to the touch and keeps its shape.  You have to burn the cut ends to keep it from unraveling but the ends were not scratchy.  It's great for students to use when they practice making half knots because you can see the curve of the circle and how one end slips inside the circle as you form the knot.
 Once the student masters the half knot with the halter rope, we progress to thinner green rope and then fun-color shoelaces.
 These two students with autism were able to take turns tying half knots and bows on each other.  That requires excellent modulation of the tactile system on the part of the student whose tender forearm is being touched by the rope or lace.
 Not too tight!
 Rather than remove his shoes, this elementary grade student practiced tying half knots and bows on my notebook.
Afterwards, I verified with the classroom teacher that the student ties his own shoelaces at school.  Truly independent!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Unexpected Perks of Working in Schools

Teacher Appreciation Week!
Yesterday I walked into a teachers' lounge and was delighted to discover that the PTA moms had showered the staff with "snacks."  My kind of snacks--chocolate, Twizzlers, homemade cookies, a little trailmix to make you think you were eating healthy...great way to end the work week!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Great Article in OT PRACTICE

Hope this link works for you:
Fun (and Inexpensive) Ideas for Multidisciplinary Therapy

The article presents many ideas for "Therapy Day" themes.  Students love to take part in creating props and scenery and many of these activities can be assembled by students of all levels over several days prior to them experiencing the final product during the big "Therapy Day." 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Jane Case-Smith Presents on Handwriting

Very interested in listening to Jane Case-Smith's presentation:

Handwriting Presentations

Handwriting Apps for iPad

One of our OTs e-mailed our staff members, asking for recommendations on which apps they thought were helpful for handwriting practice, "to faciliate writing/letter formation for those students who really don't like pencil/paper and have not been successful with a multisensory approach."

Two of our more tech-savvy OTs agreed that their favorite is “Letter School” for letter formation and that Write It on the “Dexteria” app is also good for letter formations.

For students learning to write their name they recommended, “Write My Name”.

A third OT on staff wrote, "Letter School is my favorite, too. I also use iWriteWords and Penultimate. Word Wizard and Sentence Builder are also worth a look for students with Autism- though not specifically for handwriting practice."

When I get access to an iPad one day I will check it out!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Studying Equine Coordination

Not really "studying" it--just enjoying the beauty of a 7-day old colt, acting frisky in the pasture:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

It happened--Coach Smart has the drawings!

Just received a call from the teacher for students with autism who went with her student and his mom to present the student's drawings to Coach Smart at VCU this afternoon--he loved them!
According to the teacher's detailed report, Coach Smart engaged the student/artist in an interactive conversation and thanked him in earnest for giving him two drawings--one of drawings featured Coach Smart with his little daughter.  The drawings were taken from images in the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Studying Emotions Via VCU B-Ball Photos
Hats off to a persevering teacher, a joyful mom and talented highschooler for creating and presenting a special gift to a well-loved coach.
Big hats off to Coach Smart for taking the time to meet with the little band of folks; it meant so much to them.

Mystery Letter Game

You can adapt this Mystery Letter Game from the Frog Jump Gazette (Handwriting Without Tears).  Let students use a Touch Screen to draw in Microsoft Paint, and project it to your screen for the class to guess what mystery letter is being drawn.

Handwriting Without Tears Mystery Letter Game

If students have difficulty visualizing which potential letter is being drawn, give them cards with the possible mystery letters.  Different students can have different numbers of cards.