Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Wish I Had Invented This "Quiet Spray"

This preschool teacher's blogpost is full of wonderful ideas.  I'm going to take "Quiet Spray" with me in a purse-size container and use it at the coffee shop when someone is talking loudly on their cellphone or "ear" phone.  Maybe it can be used on airplanes if it's less than 3 oz.?

"Quiet Spray"

Monday, February 25, 2013

Online Resources

Many schools block student access to well-known URLs--I often wish my access was blocked at times when I see such offensive images!   Here's a link to an article about online resources for students:


Haven't checked out all of the suggested sites but am excited to find resources I can share with my teacher friends.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shake It Up and Stamp Your Letters

Letter talk is important for helping students practice correct letter and number formation, "Let's start our tall letters at the top," but I think students tune us out after hearing the directions so many times.  Let's shake it up a little.

This little album is simply the wonderful Handwriting Without Tears guide to writing capital letters, cut up into "bite size" sections and slipped into individual photo sleeves.  Students select one fingerpad to use as their stamp, then create a letter on a piece of scrap paper.  After the students practice on their own for a few minutes you can have partners play "Mystery Letters" and guess what letter the other person is creating.

Might you mention a little hyperextension in your treatment notes?

Add a drop of good-smelling baking extract (peppermint, almond) or mini squirt of bath oil to the stamp pad to enhance the fun.  You've made sure nobody in class is sensitive to anything, right?

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dynamic Activities for Students with Severe Disabilities

Just came across this site; looks promising:


Like the idea about creating a large slingshot from stretch bands, but I'm not so sure I'd put a student using a wheelchair in the middle and let go!  I'd want to be the one sitting in the wheelchair first, to try it out!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Small Fidget Tools for Middle Schoolers

One of my teacher buddies e-mailed me with a "Help" request--a middle school girl needed some fidget items ASAP!  Thankfully, she wasn't known to put things in her mouth.  What to give her from my meager stash?

Let's see:  a length of shamrock tights filled with playdough, white poster tack and coffee stirrers, inexpensive wristbands, a child's broken, coiled keychain and a gel- and glitter-filled double circle that a friend was given at a "sensory" conference.

That's all I had around the office and most of it was made from recycled materials.  My teacher buddy said the student loved it--success! 

Friday, February 15, 2013

Online Practice Tests for State Math Assessments

Does your state have online practice tests for students to prepare for Standards of Learning assessments?  Here's the link to online math practice tests for Virginia (USA):

Practice Tests for Math

I think the "Pencil" tool lets you write numbers pretty well when just using a mouse.

Visualize a Shamrock...

It's a little late to be offering activities based on the heart theme, so imagine every heart you see in these photos is a shamrock...

 Tape large shamrock shapes to the table surface, then tape a big piece of paper on top.
 Hold a crayon (think green) sideways to make a heart shamrock rubbing.
 Go ahead and hold the crayon the regular way if you want.  Be sure to use lots of colors.
Decorate with small heart shamrock stamps.  We added the honeysuckle candle oil scent to the paint before stamping.  

Be sure to bring the project right onto the lap tray of students who need it a bit closer.
These pink and red heart green shamrock stamps were made from leftover foam, wood scraps and
Elmer's Glue.  The Crayola Kids' Paint was fantastic for creating bold designs on the paper.

Let the project dry then hang up outside the classroom for everyone in school to enjoy.

Excellent cooperative class project for students who could stand up and reach across the paper while they were coloring and for students who needed the paper and materials brought within reach.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy V-Day to All!

Decided to make our V-Day dinner at home tonight with my DH, AKA "Uncle Grumpy," and dear son.  Garlic pork chops, pan-fried potatoes, sweet potato/red onion/bacon quiche, roasted brussels sprouts, cinnamon apples and mocha brownies ala mode with real whipped cream and Hershey's Hugs.  De-lish!

Have to admit, I started working on this meal last Monday night and made a little bit more on Tues and Wednesday, plus 2+ hours tonight.  Hard to imagine that I once cooked like this several times a week!  Yikes.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Stained Glass-ish Valentine Heart Cards

Use a recycled manila folder to steady a taped-on Valentine heart shape.  Now, tape a piece of tracing paper over the top of the heart shape and color real hard!  No light coloring--students must press hard!
 Select a piece of construction paper that's approximately the same dimensions as your tracing paper.
Trace carefully around the outside border.  Then, pop a hole in the center of the heart as an entry for your scissors.  That helper hand has to keep the heart shape steady even though there's a little tape roll under the center of the heart.
Cut out the heart but force yourself not to let your scissors wander over to the edge of the paper.
Use glue to "draw" several concentric roads around the cut-out heart shape.  Are you a good glue driver?
Place your construction paper so the heart window fits over your tracing paper heart.  Then write a mooshy note to your mom or sweetie.  I had some sample sayings for the students to copy and a few students composed their own message.
Go wild with your coloring on the tracing paper--dainty coloring won't show up well.  Press hard!  It's tricky 'cause the tracing paper shifts around easily on the surface even though it's secured on four sides with tape.  Students really have to grade the intensity of their pressure when coloring.
When you're finished coloring, carefully pull up the tape because that tracing paper is very thin and fragile.

This is the back view of an assembled project.  Now, punch two holes at the top of your finished work so you can thread a string through the holes and create a picture hanger.

Valentine--You Make My Heart "Glow"

Way too adorable and interesting use of a current fad--glowstix!  Mrs. Jenn printed off the hearts with text then attached the cards to the ends of inexpensive glowstix from the Dollar Store.

I don't know if there is anything toxic in the chemicals, so make sure you check the ingredients before distributing this cute Valentine's Day gift to bunches of kiddos.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Scholastic Site for Story Starters

This site generates ideas for story starters, based on a limited amount of student preferences.  However, it also allows you to type your story and illustrate it digitally.  Might be motivating to some reluctant writers.
Scholastic Story Starters

Friday, February 8, 2013

Calling All Horse Lovers

Just for fun.  If you have a young horse lover at your house, or maybe a student who's crazy about horses, this little homemade video from a couple of years ago might satisfy their need to be up close and personal with a nosey four-legged friend:

Nosey Junior the Quarterhorse

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Wacom Bamboo Tablets

So...has anyone used these tablets with students for drawing social stories or cartooning?  I know some high school art classes draw with these tools.  I want to try it so bad.  However, I can't draw at all so I also need a friendly art teacher.


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

College Cooking--Practicing For Valentine's Day and Mother's Day

This morning in the class for highschoolers with emotional disabilities we held our "College Cooking" group but with a twist, we were practicing for Valentine's Day next week.  If we start practicing now we'll all be ready to make one of those famous breakfasts for mom, come Valentine's Day or Mother's Day. Maybe.

First, you pass out the plates.  At 7:30 in the morning that's not an easy job since the plates are usually stuck together as tightly as the students' eyelids.

Next, cut two identical large shapes from cheap white bread, using one of the cookie cutters.  Then, use a smaller shape to cut a "window" in one piece of bread.

Or, do this in reverse order.

It turns out looking like a "Linzer" cookie.  You can also toast the bread before or after using the cookie cutters but definitely before adding the strawberry jam!  We used jelly instead of preserves since there may be some students in class who don't like the texture of preserves.
 We experimented with other shapes and many fit only if they were slightly angled on the bread.

Moustache or heart with wings?
Younger students may need help with understanding whether or not the shape completely fits on the bread.

For one student we learned that the soft bread made an unexpectedly wonderful fidget toy.  No kidding.
$1.29 per loaf at Target, what a deal!
The bird feeding area was close to the classroom, so we threw the crusts and leftovers outside.
We had an unexpected visitor in this high school class who thoroughly enjoyed working with the big kids!
He brought out the tender side in several of the high schoolers who helped him with the activity.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Preparing for Valentine Goodies

Students of all ages will be making lots of Valentine treats this week and next, why not get a head start and create goody bags for those little trinkets and candy hearts?  A great opportunity to practice writing, making requests, planning how to lay out the decorations on the bag and get an early whiff of honeysuckle.

First, wake up those dried out stamp pads with a little something extra.  In this case, it's honeysuckle oil from the candle making aisle at the local craft store.
Drip a few drops of oil on top of the stamp pad and enjoy the fragrance.  There are many scents to choose from at the store but I thought this one would be more appealing than some others, like a strong rose scent.

Some high schoolers in the class for students with autism could verbally request which color stamp pad they wished to use and which stamp they wanted to try first, but others used a communication sheet or their personal communication device to make their requests.  Our SLP brought the stamps so she made sure there were symbols related to the stamp designs on the communication sheets ready for our activity.

My thrill is to see students squish hard and they sure had to in order for the designs to show up on the brown paper bags.

 We confirmed that the students had a "Mom" at home and wrote that, plus each student's name on their bag.
 This student could not be convinced to use his left hand to stabilize the bag as he wrote.
 What an excellent grasp.
 Best handwriting award here and I don't dare mess with his grasp style.
I had pre-cut Valentine designs from the Sunday newspaper flyers and we used these in the final step to embellish our goody bags.

In discussing this activity afterward with the SLP I realized that the table got a little visually crowded as the hour progressed, which made it difficult for the students to focus on the sequential steps in the task.  Need to tidy up a little after each part next time.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

1st Grade Pencil Grasps

Over the last few weeks I've gotten lots of informal referrals from elementary school teachers, to take a peek at students who are exhibiting unusual grasps.  One recommendation--post a photo of a "typical" grasp on numerous student desks throughout the room (not just the desks of the students having difficulties) and even at writing centers. 

That way the teacher can point to any of the pictures and casually say, "Friends, remember how we hold our pencils..." when she sees that a student needs a visual and verbal reminder to practice good habits.

Here are some of the "typical" grasps I've seen lately:

And, a pretty good scissors grasp--although I think students can "drive" the scissors better if the index finger is outside of the scissors, between the lower loop and the base of the blades.
Here's a photo of one of the pencil grasps that could use a little refinement (we don't post this one on the desks!):