Friday, December 25, 2015

A Joyful Christmas to All

My "50% off after Christmas" metal tree decorated with homemade, white Sculpey ornaments
and very old, tatted (not tattered!) snowflakes.
A little story for Christmas:

All is bright

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Gifts That Matter

This beautiful photo my friend took of her daughter speaks to the importance of giving children the gifts of your time and attention:

See more by this talented mom, photographer and writer at:

And, to read my latest rant about giving priceless gifts to your children:

My Latest Rant

Friday, December 18, 2015

Indoor Snowball Fun Alert

At my first school this morning one of the instructional assistants showed me the indoor snowballs she had recently purchased at a local CVS drugstore--they feel wonderfully squishy, in a resistive/crunchy sort of way.

So, I looked for them on the way to my next stop and--Voila!  The snowballs are now happily settled in my trunk.

Here's a link to a photo of them:

Indoor Snowball Photo & info

No, they don't need to be kept in the freezer and, no, they aren't icy in the center--no worries! 

I did see a warning that they are a choking hazard for young children.

Speaking of no worries, Christmas break starts at 4 PM today--two weeks off--all you hospital/clinic/home health OTs out need to come work in public schools!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Cutting Up the Christmas Tree

Erica, one of our abundantly-creative OTs on staff, sent along this activity for scissor practice and assembling a little holiday tree:

I saw this idea online and decided to do it as a session with one of my students IN his K class with his classmates. A substitute and L.D. teacher were present to assist with the other children. My student was max A for most of the tasks, but a lot of his classmates required assistance, too. To complete, they had to cut a paper plate into thirds, thread ribbons through hole-punched holes, and squeeze glitter glue. Quite the fine-motor challenge! 

Here are some of the finished products: 
Here are more of Erica's recent activities:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Tacky Sweater Submission

This morning started off with my walking into one of my high school classes and seeing the teacher for students with autism dressed in her "tacky sweater" outfit.  O v e r   t h e   t o p ! ! !

 Her shoulder drape and her skirt are Christmas tree skirts.  She hot glued the fringe to her sleeves and borders of the tree skirts.  Ornaments on hangers are hung from the edge of her green sweater.
  Did the bling upset her students?  Not at all.

Non-Live Turtle Gives Birth

Before our staff meeting/holiday luncheon today, one of our handy OTs, Michelle, showed us the critters she had created in an ocean theme.  You won't believe how imaginative this is:

I told her I would come over and clean her bathrooms if she taught me how to make these. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sculpey Clay and Diamond Dust--Essential for N'Little Ornament Cuteness

My SLP buddy and I carefully considered which material to choose for making tiny ornaments with our high schoolers with autism.  I wanted resistant material so they would have to exercise their fingers, she wanted something that was easy to spread into a pancake and would be easy to use with the variety of cookie cutters.  The frugal therapist in me wanted to make it from scratch, but bread dough would have to be painted since it isn't exactly a pretty color.  After going through my personal n'little homemade ornaments this weekend I decided that the baking soda/corn starch recipe  that I used a few years ago might be too brittle to make it home successfully with the students.  Alas and alack, I used the Walmart gift card graciously given to us by the school's PTA/PTSO to spend $6 on a l lb. pack of white Sculpey.
Now, when you buy a pack of Sculpey you have to make sure it's sufficiently squishy to allow seldom-worked fingers to manage it independently.  There I stood, in the crafts aisle, squeezing the Sculpey through the little cellophane window of its box.  I found one that was just right.

Students washed their post-snack hands, formed the ball of clay into a thick pancake, then rolled it to about 1/8-1/4" thick with a mini rolling pin.  Many students were unable to flatten it without lots of physical prompting.  It worked best if they used a flat hand instead of trying to push down on the handles.

Students asked for the design of cookie cutter they wanted to use and figured out how to put two cookie cutters on one "pancake"--a little spatial relations challenge.  Then, they asked for the color glitter they wanted and bored a little hole in the top of the shape for a string to later be passed through.  My SLP always is watching me to make sure that I wait until the students use words to ask for what they want to use; I always forget to keep a firm grasp on the items until the students make their requests.
There were a couple of students who did not like the feel of glitter in their palms, so we shook some from the bottle onto the parchment paper for them to pinch and sprinkle over their ornaments.  No, we do not just shake it from the bottle, that is way too easy.
When I was searching at home for glitter to use in this project I came across this little jar of "Diamond Dust," leftover from the 1980's when my personal children spent many snowy days making n'little ornaments of their own.  It has such a magical feel to it, like icy, blue fairy dust sprinkled over the white ornaments.

Wondering why the bottle of glycerin is on the table in the first photo?  Years ago my good, arteest buddy, Angie, told me that she rubs a little drop of glycerin on her palms and fingers prior to working with Sculpey, since the material seems to leech the oil from the skin.  I don't know if she still does this when she makes her beautiful designs, but I think the clay stays more pliable when I use glycerin on my hands.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

December Sky

One of the advantages of keeping my little camera with me during the day for photographing student progress is that I also have it handy for taking photos of unexpected sights:

This is the view of the late afternoon clouds over one of my high schools.  I'm sure all the teachers heading for home yesterday thought I was really strange, standing in the parking lot and taking pictures of the sky, or maybe waiting for my drone delivery.  I kept trying to head over to my car but the clouds mesmerized me and I couldn't move from the spot for quite a while.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Thumbprint Ornaments

At an IEP meeting last week one student's mom showed us a photo of ornaments her son had made, with the help of his after-school caregiver:
These start out with thumbprints and, with added details, turn into familiar holiday images.  You can customize them by changing the colors to all blue & silver, or other colors that appeal to your students and their families.

My student was fully assisted to place his thumbprint on the ornament and the details were painted by his caregiver; his mom considers the gifts to be very special.

Friday, December 4, 2015

NEWSELA--a Resource for Readers at Differing Levels

A high school teacher for students with learning disabilities told me about this free, online resource:

The reader can choose articles based on their reading level, or not.  Look into it!

Disclaimer:  I haven't signed up myself so I don't know what info is required to do so--always proceed with caution!  The teacher who told me about it has been using it for some time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Fine Motor Stocking Stuffers

Just read this post about 10 great ideas for stocking stuffers which are not only fun but might just help develop fine motor skills--thanks Mama OT!