Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Frankie and His Zombie Pumpkin Friends

Eek!  Two days until Fright Nite!  Time to make a scary decoration for the elementary classroom.

Ooooooooooooooooo...what will it beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee???

It sorta looks good (after all, the original image is made from all sorts of candy) but it also looks pretty scary.

Yikes!  It's Frankenstein surrounded by Zombie Pumpkins!

As we created this puzzle the student and I decided that we'd keep cutting smaller and smaller puzzle shapes, since just having four shapes to put together was way too easy.  Be sure to let the Elmer's Glue dry completely before cutting.

Want a refresher on making Zombie Pumpkins?
Zombie Pumpkin Primer

Monday, October 28, 2013

Holt Interactive Graphic Organizers

Interactive Graphic Organizers
These organizers allow you to enter data directly.  Good possibilities to help students who primarily use word processing vs. handwriting.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Teacher-Made Pencil Pouch Squish Bag

Look at this great squish bag, created by a hard-working elementary school teacher, Ms. Gordy (with design consultation by Ms. Lerch):

Those Koosh-type toys trapped inside blob and bulge so enticingly when pressed or squeezed.  The tape keeps the zipper closed, at least for a little while.

Great activity for kids who like to squish things.  Pick it up and squeeze it with one or both hands, or put it on the floor and push down on the bag with an open palm.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Clever Letter Ideas

Can you make your letters & words stand up like this???  Way too much fun.

Can you imagine how long the teacher worked her little fingers creating this great way to "write" words?
These clothespins stay securely on the edge of a recycled party tray from our local grocery store.

Thanks to Vicky Jordan, teacher for elementary students with Mild Mental Disabilities, for sharing this idea.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Way Too Much Hugging Going On

One of my teachers for middle school students with autism asked me how to help a student who can't get enough hugging.  The student is doing above grade level academics but she is constantly craving full hugs from teachers and sitting way too close to other students for their comfort. 

Here are some ideas we discussed--what would you recommend???

Resistance Exercises: Use Thera-band, Thera-tubing or bands cut from the lower 6” of old t-shirts. Since she likes to feel deep pressure there are several resistance exercises that might provide her with that input and I can show you some.

Figure out where to mark a square or “x” on the floor and have student stand inside the square, leaning heavily against the wall with flat palms, a straight back and flat feet. Push away from the wall and clap real hard before landing back on the wall with flat palms. Repeat at least 10 times. If clapping is too loud for the classroom you don’t have to include that.

Does she have Special PE? There may be some stretches or exercises which can be done in the classroom. If she’s familiar with yoga she might do poses that require upper body weight bearing. If that’s weird in the open classroom do you have room dividers to create an exercise area?

Keep a large zip-up sweatshirt on back of chair, show her how to zip herself up with the back of the sweatshirt behind the chair. Lean forward for the feeling of being compressed/squished.

If you feel that you can have a sitting ball in your classroom, with the students respecting the safety rules for using it, try a ball that inflates to the height of student chairs. If you put the ball inside a large cardboard box that comes half-way up the sides of the ball that will help it be more stable (but not totally safe). The vertical movement of gently bouncing and adjusting your position on the ball are also weight bearing activities. This can be a risky addition to the classroom so use your best judgement.

After doing “wall push-ups” on the chalkboard, practice drawing a simple sketch from a drawing book which relates to a topic being discussed that day. Or, allow the student to tape her paper on the board and write while standing. (Working arms in anti-gravity position while drawing; joint compression and upper body strengthening which some students find calming; increase success in drawing to increase interest in journal writing or other academics which include student drawing)

Classroom job--Extra clean up of student desks, tables. Student or adult squirts thin line of shaving cream on table surfaces, then uses hands to spread it over the table. Student then uses thick cloth to wipe up cream from table, followed by using a drying towel. (This is not really a “cleaning.” Good for L to R sequencing, weight bearing through arms, sequencing of a task).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Dressing the Scarecrow

Reading a book about scarecrows and creating one of our own in the class for middle schoolers with intellectual disabilities.  Of course we have to enjoy the textures of each item that goes into making our scarecrow...wouldn't you love to put your toesies in this nice, soft boot???

To save time we decided to explore the soft texture of the boots with our hands instead of our feet.

Oh, go ahead...put BOTH hands in those snuggly boots!

Some items of clothing we explored--a cowboy hat made of woven straw, a soft & warm flannel shirt, smooth denim jeans, fuzzy gloves...the students took turns trying them on to see how everything felt.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Financial Literacy--Michelle Singletary

My bosses were kind enough to let a lowly occupational therapist be the only non-teacher--non-administrator to attend this wonderful conference on Financial Literacy in Richmond today:
Financial Literacy Conference

The keynote speaker was Michelle Singletary and was she ever fantastic:
Her YouTube videos are pretty great, too.

In Virginia, every high school student must pass a Financial Literacy class to graduate.  As a non-math major who loves personal investing this thrills my heart.

Hey fellow OTs--do you know where your hard-earned money is going???  How's your "rainy day" fund coming along???

Friday, October 11, 2013

Screaming Toddlers and Social Story Successes

One of my office buddies is a teacher for two-year-olds who are receiving special ed via the "Natural Environments" service model.  She has been seeing, once weekly at home and once weekly in a typical preschool setting, a little sweetie who has screamed, non-stop, the whole time he's with her.

Despite his mom's best efforts to prepare him for home visits and group times this little sweetie wouldn't take a break from his wailing until.....here comes the secret...my teacher buddy overcame his unhappiness with a customized social story and his own personal CD with the songs sung every week in group.

Photos of him (crying) in different group activities were made into a little book, with captions such as, "I love to sing with my friends in group."  The whole book was comprised of about 5 photos of him arriving, sitting with friends, doing an activity, having a little snack and his favorite--leaving group.  For a week his mom read the book to him several times a day; he loves to have books read and re-read to him.  He was given the CD to practice his singing along a few days prior to group.  The day of group arrived---

---and he was all smiles and took part in everything!

Does every tale of childhood woe turn out this well.  Well, no.  But this one did.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Make Your Own Compass Rose

I knew those little stamps would come in handy.  This 2nd grader was working on her compass rose worksheet when I arrived in class, so we just continued the idea on our own.

Note the student's interesting style of drawing arrows on the left compass rose card.  She informed me that there is always a "key" on a map, so we stamped the word, "Key" and titled our card, "Compass Rose." 
Pretty sneaky way to work on handwriting, huh?????

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Those Twicky Little Stamps

These adorable stamps (upper and lower cases, although they are the same height...) are more of a fun dexterity challenge rather than a practical alternative to handwriting.  Each stamp is only about 1/3" wide, or less, so they fit on the line nicely when a student puts his/her name on the top of their paper. 
Found them at Wal-Mart over the weekend, near the seasonal decorations.  Not super sturdy (some of the little rubber stamp ends immediately fell off the tiny blocks) but fine for occasional use.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Chocolate Spiders and Graham Cracker Web Designs

It's that time of year again---when all the bizarre ideas come forth.  Time to make chocolate spiders and spin spider webs over graham crackers.

The recipe is not tricky.  Buy "Almond Bark" or something similar (and inexpensive) that's meant for melting and warm it in the microwave, according to the package directions.  Never let it scorch while heating.  Remove it from the microwave and stir:
Our students in the class for highschoolers with autism pretty much are masters of the microwave.  We just had to caution them to grasp only the measuring cup handle, since the cup part was a little toasty.  The students didn't believe us when we said stirring the warmed block of chocolate would work, but it did.
Occasionally we had to re-heat the chocolate for about 10 more seconds since it was cooling quickly and became a little sluggish when poured.
This is a fuzzy shot of the student trying to believe us when we instructed her to lift up the candy mold and drop it on the counter--really, you want me to drop it???  It helps settle the candy into the crevices of the mold and removes any air bubbles.
 After the drop.
 What to do with the leftover chocolate?  Drizzle spider web-ish designs over graham crackers.
 Cool about 20 minutes and the candy is ready to pop out of the molds.
Let's do it again.

Great activity for sequencing, graded arm/hand movements, independence with easy kitchen tasks and using small appliances, plus all the language associated with the task.  As usual, my SLP buddy had to remind me to stop handing items to students and wait for them to ask for each thing. 

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Chewable Jewelry by Dr. Bloom

Has anyone tried this jewelry for parents of kiddos who like to chew objects?  It actually looks pretty enough to wear:

Dr. Bloom's Chewable Jewelry

Friday, October 4, 2013

A Little Back-Up Plan for Those Wobbly Wheelchair Brakes

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When you're looking high and low for the right allen wrench to tighten up those brakes, try these wedges (from the auto supply shop) to temporarily keep the chair from slide, sliding away.  Not guaranteed, but they work pretty well under direct adult supervision.

Source for Pre-Vocational Training Activities

One of my teachers for highschoolers with autism showed me this excellent book she bought last week.  Once she looked at a few of the great photo pages she immediately implemented new ideas for setting up her class with all kinds of functional activities, including the sweeping guide that looks a little like a bowling alley following a birthday party:

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Another Way to Use Those Apple Stamps

Are you in the midst of fall activities with your students?  Here's a classy way to use those half apples to stamp an interesting project:

Banner Made With Halved Apple Stamps