Sunday, May 31, 2015

Let's Do Some Personal Math Before School Ends

Hmmm..if you look at the book lists on the right side of this blog you can easily compare the number of books I've read while using the elliptical machine (or home treadmill) vs. the number of books I've read while driving during this school year.  3 vs. 13.

There are days I'm driving between schools for at least 1.5 hrs.  Add on the drives between additional schools and to/from work and it makes sense that I had the time to read almost 15 books from late August until now.  What bothers me is that I spent so few hours on exercise equipment this school year!  Sure, I exercised to a few movies instead of listening to books--mostly North and South (British version, not Civil War version) and Pride and Prejudice (Colin Firth version, of course), but I definitely spent more time sitting than exercising this year.  Very bad for health!

Here's to a summer of digging in the garden, hiking and kayaking!  It'll be here soon.

Dutch Gap, Chester VA

James River, Richmond VA

Riverside Drive, Richmond VA


Friday, May 29, 2015

Friday, May 22, 2015

Is It Really Important to Know How to Use Scissors???

Well, yes, it is.  A very functional skill even in current times.

This high schooler in a program for students with autism is preparing laminated flashcards for math:

A couple of weekends ago I cut apart 40 paper hearts, to use as "We'll miss you" notes for a wonderful Weight Watchers leader who led our group for a long time.  At least a couple of times a week I cut around a rectangular comic strip to post it on my refrig or share a laugh with a friend.  Scissors are here to stay. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

SnapType app

One of our super-smart OTs sent this e-mail to the group today:

More app fun!

If anyone is in need of an app that allows students to type on class worksheets, you might want to check out SnapType (

You take a picture of the worksheet with your ipad, crop it as needed, & then have the student type on the worksheet right on the ipad. To print the student's work, just send a PDF copy to yourself via email (in the app).

I have found it particularly helpful for some of my students who have trouble with the larger laptop keyboard (a lot of the hunt & peck typers), & those who have trouble visually tracking when trying to type on a traditional computer/laptop.

It is free. If you want to save more than 3 files then you will need to pay $2.99 to upgrade.  

Thanks L.S.!

Heavy Work Activities

Just in time for summer programs--choose some good ones for your students and share with families:

Friday, May 15, 2015


Yesterday, a high school teacher for students with autism showed me this website:

She uses it with her students as a morning warm-up and also for transition times or when the students need an active diversion from the tension building up in the classroom.  This morning I shared it at my other high school and the teacher immediately presented a few of the videos to her students.

Here's a teacher testimonial from the site:

Since this is a report-writing, documentation type of afternoon I just may sneak off into someone's empty classroom/office and jump around with one of the dance videos myself...

Thursday, May 14, 2015


One of our OTs recommended an app that's for doodling but can also be used to keep students visually-engaged during handwriting practice/remediation:

I just wanted to let you know about a fun drawing app that I came across today.  It's called KidsDoodle.  It's free but if you want to get rid of the ads, you have to pay $0.99.  I used it with one of my students to practice forming letters and writing her name.  First we wrote the letters using the pencil tool (lots of multi-colored/neon options) and then we traced along each letter using the eraser tool.  The coolest part about this app, in my opinion, is that when you're done, you can watch a video that shows each letter/drawing/etc. being formed.  Great if you need to go back and look at it later!

Some reviewers wrote that in the free version you may want to watch out for some of the ads...buyer beware!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Activities for Young Students with Hemiplegia

I work with a smart little guy with hemiplegia and this guide to activities is just what I need:

Therapeutic Linzer Cookies

How do you describe Linzer cookies to someone who has never seen them?  Window cookies?  Cookies made like a sandwich?  I should have pre-made a few cookies or at least given the students a color photo of how the cookies might look when they were completed--they were really confused until the very last steps of the process.
My trusty speech-language pathologist (SLP) and I took the students through the steps of flouring our hands, forming squishy sugar cookie dough into flat discs and then choosing between a star or a bone cookie cutter to form a window in one of the two cookies they made.  After the cookies baked the students chose between strawberry or grape jelly (no need to buy the strawberry--grape won every time) to spread on the bottom cookie, then carefully set their "window cookies" on top, or at least pieces of their window cookies.

Some students were so fascinated with the feeling of flour on their hands that they spent several minutes rubbing their hands over the table surface, making swirls with the flour.  It was surprising to me that no one objected to the feel of the very mushy cookie dough, even when it stuck to the web spaces between their fingers.  Although we usually work with two or three students at a time, today we had just one or two working at the table in shifts since the directions were so intensive and the hard-working SLP was rigorously asking the students to use complete sentences, "I want the grape jelly, please," instead of "grape."

Several students demonstrated excellent dexterity as they carefully used the back of a teaspoon to gently spread the jam over the bottom cookie and delicately arrange the "window" cookie on top.  Some students needed a little physical guidance to turn the mound of hastily plopped jelly into evenly spread "frosting" on top of the cookie.

Tomorrow we're going to try making the Linzer cookies from pre-made pie crust instead of the tube of sugar cookies; maybe it will bake up firm and not spread all over the pan like it did today.  We had to re-form a lot of cookies before they cooled since they all melted into a big blob while baking.  We also learned that if you forget to cut a window out of a cookie you can do it after baking, if you work real fast.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Skin Care for Sensitive Skin

Being very sensitive to facial care products I'm very interested in this review by my OT buddy, Fiona:

BTW--this RVA site features short posts on lifestyle, culture and health & wellness topics.  Here's a sample:

It's fun to read about things other than strictly OT stuff, once in a while.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Textured Fidget Mats

These fidget mats were created by Laura Spencer, OTS, from Virginia Commonwealth University.  Thx, Laura, for letting me share your hard work!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Crafty Idea for Jewelry Storage from a PT Buddy

This has been the month for cool, handmade projects.  Two VCU students made fidget items for my use with students and now my PT buddy, Katrien, has made a remarkably sturdy travel item for keeping her gorgeous jewelry handy and secure.
This triangular stand is similar to what speech-language pathologists use for presenting pictures or words to students.  Katrien took a length of laminated construction paper and punched tiny holes in it, large enough to slip the earring studs through.  Then she folded it lengthwise into sections and applied sticky-back Velcro patches to turn it into a stand.
I forgot to look and see if the Velcro will also connect if you fold the stand backwards to cover over the front of the earrings--that might protect the earrings from getting squished in a suitcase.  With this nice jewelry, though, I think it would probably travel in a carry-on case that isn't jammed full with items.  Katrien notes, "...This  arrangement is not just for travel, it's to keep the earrings
organized in general."  If you had the privilege to work with her for as many years as I've had, you'd know that organization is built into her total being, in a very good way.