Butterfly Paper Folding / Bulletin Board

7 Apr

butterfly bulletin boardIt is Spring here in the Northwest.  Many of the classes use butterflies for instruction on the cycle of life. They watch caterpillars form cocoons and develop into butterflies.  I found directions for folding paper butterflies on Pinterest.   They made a good activity for my bulletin board and a direction following activity.  It also helped to reinforce what was happening  in classrooms. Here is a picture of the bulletin board.

The directions were fairly simple and could be completed within a  20 minute time frame.  I added pipe cleaner  antennae.  The students just bent a pipe cleaner in half and wrapped the ends around their fingers a couple of times. They then stapled it to the top.

These directions really reinforced the concept of half.  We also talked about parts of a butterfly.  I was surprised to find my students didn’t know what antennae were.

I couldn’t make better directions then what were already posted here.  There are easy to follow directions  on  goorigami.com.  I just put them up on my iPad.

 

Whirly Therapy Fun

1 Apr

20150331_154939I am not sure what they are called, but as a child I called it a Whirly.  They were a great find this last weekend in the Easter basket toys at Walmart.  It would be a good time to look for them.   I  was trying to find new mechanical toys for my early language learners who get engaged by anything that spins and pops.  For $2 you couldn’t go too wrong.  I did wonder how long it would last but it was sturdy enough to make it through a morning of therapy with the younger K through -2nd grade Life skills class.   There is a precaution for aiming it at people and there is the string to watch out for.

 I used it this week and it was a big hit.  It was great for learning  communication intents and making requests.  It gave opportunities to review the concepts  of  around and over.  If the string was pulled strong enough the spinner would stay on the ceiling a few minutes spinning over our heads. The students would give me the Whirly and make requests for fast pulls.  We also practiced a few more prepositions when  finding  the location of that spinner after it came down.   A few of my students needed a person to hold the device while they pulled the string.  This encouraged joint attention to a task. I like it when a toy can offer so much opportunity for natural communication with very little effort.

Here is the communication board I used for the activity.

twirly board

Free Trial of How and Why Question Comprehension Cards

14 Mar

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I  have several students who are  answering  a  how question with a why response. Our students with language delays, autism, and 2nd language learners often have trouble with these skills.  “How” and “Why” questions are question forms that require a higher level of thinking and language skills to formulate responses.  The students often need the ability to problem solve or take on another perspective when answering them.  When looking through  the Language Arts section of the  “Common Core Standards”  I discovered this would be a skill they would need. Like many of you, I am rethinking what is most valuable to my students as we try to align curriculum with the “Common Core Standards”.  I made  task cards to specifically address  how and why question forms from a  given text.

Students  may require some direct teaching  on the differences between how and why questions.  How question  have  a few variations.  It may require a student to tell how something is done in steps, how something is done descriptively,  the amount  of something,  or state of being such as  with “How are you feeling?”.  The answer may contain an adjective or adverb.

Answering why questions  often involves finding the antecedent or cause  of an event.  The answer recalls  facts that happened before an event.  For example the question  “Why did the dog dig a hole?” He dug a hole because he smelled a bone under the ground.   Compare this to the  how question.  “How did he get the bone?”  He dug a hole with his paws and grabbed it with his mouth.

Answers to how question often  relate an action and possible  steps. These response can seem to be quite similar  to a student.  For instance, look at these questions and answers. “Why did the lights go out in the storm?” or “ How did the electrical wires get knocked down in the storm?”  The answers, “The electrical wire was knocked down in the storm because a branch hit it.” and  “A strong wind blew a branch off the tree and it hit  the electrical wire which was torn down.”  They seem interchangeable except the because is used in response to the why question and how elicits a series of events. Our language learners will shorten their  response to, “A branch fell off the tree”, for both questions.

The  packet I am posting on Teachers Pay Teachers  has  30, 3 inch by 3 inch cards with 3 questions on most cards.  In the packer there are 4 cards that deal with how many questions and amounts.  26 cards deal with the variations of how and why listed above. There are 17 cards that also contain a question on  vocabulary  within the story context.  This provides opportunity for students to derive word meanings from the text and verbalize it.  You can find them here or by clicking on the picture button at the top of the page which takes you to TPT and also gives a preview.

I made a free trial packet for my readers.  You can get it by clicking on the button. free trial button

There are 3 pages of cards for a total of 9.  You can see if they are something of value for your students.  I have been using them with my 3rd through 6th graders.  I try to keep the picture cues meaningful and appropriate for middle school range.  I  have a lot of boys and they don’t tolerate things that look cute. I make them double sided so they have possible answers available.  This helps when I have groups and it is motivating for them to flip them over and see if they got it right.


Adaptive Don’t Spill the Beans

5 Mar

20150305_074758_resized       Don’t Spill the Beans is another game that I have used with my language learners. It has always been good for general reinforcement.  Many of you probably have the game already.

I often became annoyed by the spilled beans.  They were difficult for my students with poor fine motor concerns  to pick up and took precious therapy time collecting them.  I thought there had to be a better way.  Then I remembered my Chipper Chat therapy materials.  It is a product from Super Duper which many of you may also have. You can breathe new life into your  “Don’t spill the Beans”  game by switching out the beans with the magnetic chips. The students are always enthused about using the magnets and it makes it easy to pick up the spilled chips.  I usually have the students pick up the chips with the magnets and place them in individual saucers to compare the amounts.  You can also vary the game by having students collect specific colors that spill. The magnets have really helped with quick clean up.   I added a communication board to practice sentence frames and turn taking..

Dontspillbeancb2

Have a Heart

9 Feb

valentine flowerProgress reports are in and it is time to get back to planning for therapy.  February is a short month so it goes by quickly.  I find I still need to keep things simple for my younger folk.  We dressed the bulletin board up with heart animals.  This activity was more open-ended then the ones I have done in the past.  I used a die cut to cut a variety of hearts in different sizes and colors. They used sequins for the eyes.  Students were told  to put the hearts together to form an animal.  I showed them a few pictures from Pinterest and then they were on their own.  It was hard for them to get started.  When they found they could try pieces out 1st before gluing they got a little more adventurous.  It was a good opportunity to practice social skills to ask for tools and materials. We have worked a lot on sequencing and this activity required them to think about the order of gluing.   I also listened to my articulation  students to see how they were progressing with their spontaneous speech. Quite a few of my students decided to take them home to give for Valentine’s Day.

They came up with a good variety of animals.

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Winter and Cold Theme

9 Jan

I have noticed that there are a lot of wintery cold places across the United States weather map.  Some of you have even experienced a snow day or two.  We have experienced mainly cold here with blasting wind. We have not had the ice that is typical of this time of year or snow.  We needed to make our own.

January is a good month to bring out the winter theme items.  I found a snowflake on Pinterest that was easy to make and looked impressive.  It looks so good that the students don’t want to leave thenm for my bulletin board after making them.  Thus I only have 3 of the large ones up there. My bulletin board is looking like this.  I put the snowflake directions on the free app Storykit.  You may download them here.free download button

 

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I added the corner template to make it easier for the students to draw the curved arches in the corners of the triangles. I used cardstock. and cut the slits just wide enough for a pencil.   Download a copy here.free download button

 

The students were able to make them within  a 20 minute time period.  The directions review vocabulary such as half, triangle, corner, arch, curve, middle, small, medium, large,  and center. Have fun. Of course they also get practice following directions.

 

 

Happy New Year 2015

4 Jan

I hope everyone had a good holiday break and are refreshed for 2015.  My holiday  took an interesting turn this year. I strained my back wiping  dog feet the weekend before Christmas.  Large dog feet  but that really shouldn’t have done it. Who could be mad at a face like this.Baxter head

Moving around like I usually do was pretty much out of the question.  My husband dutifully took over household chores including cooking.  It was one the most restful holidays I ever had.

I was just beginning to feel better when the 2nd bad turn happened. My web site was hacked into December 29th. I am thinking that most of you were not visiting at that time which was probably a good thing.  If you were you might have been greeted by Russian prose.  You can imagine how surprised I was.

As most of you know, I became self hosted in July and moved my Word press blog. It gave me a little more freedom for developing the blog and got rid of the ads.  I knew there was a risk for hacking but didn’t think it would happen so soon.  Fortunately I used a local server; Host Pond.  I contacted them and they  provided personal service promptly.  Host Pond helped me  by cleaning up and putting new security measures in place.  I think the Russians were in control only a couple of days.  The representative from Host Pond patiently explained to me what security risks I had. So now with a new plugin (Wordfence)  I will be notified by email when someone suddenly has administrator privileges.  

By the way, my old site cjmonty.wordpress.com is still coming up as a bad site in Google.  As a connected site it was flagged as well.   It is only used for referral purposes and I will be dropping it. Now would be a good time to drop that url if you haven’t done so already.

I did manage to get a little preparation done for when I get back.   I have several students who benefit from fidget toys.  You may have noticed cloth marble mazes on Pinterest if you were looking for sensory fidget items.  They looked simple to make and I am always looking for  items that can not become missiles in the end.

To make them I used textured cloth; fleece and terry cloth.  I cut a 9 inch circle for one and 9x 8 inch square for the other. I then sewed around the edge leaving a gap to turn it inside out.   round maze

After turning it inside out, I  drew a maze leaving 1 1/4 inch channel for the marble to move through.  I then sewed on the lines with my sewing machine.  These can be as simple or difficult as you want to make them.   For the square I sewed straight lines.

square maze

 

 Remember to alternate the lines from reaching the edge so you have a path for the marble.
maze4
                                                Maze2
   I made the circle look like a snail with the marble moving from the edge to the inner circle.  Just sew a spiral going to the center.  I used a simple stitch first to make sure the marble would make it through and then used a stretch stitch to make it sturdier.  When you are finished,  insert a marble through the opening  and sew the opening shut.circle maze
 Students use their fingers to move the marble through the maze.

Free Spinners for Game Adaptations

4 Dec

You may have noticed that I like to use spinners to expand the therapy value of some of my games and teach concept vocabulary.  I have some of them as part of my downloads in the vocabulary section.  The spinners in my previous downloads are  black and white and  not very colorful.  I decided to update them with pictures and color to make them more friendly for my non-readers. You can access them on TPT for FREE.  Just click the button.TPT button

 

The spinners are made from the clear plastic lids you find on products  such as  whipped cream  or oatmeal containers.  A pony  bead, paper fastener and spinner from heavy cardboard or plastic are added. The lids are clear so that the paper form  can be placed underneath and still be seen.  The paper can be replaced from one activity to the next and the same spinner stays intact. Look below to see my showcase of spinners and the games I use with them.

Left and Right Spinner.

This spinner  is used when playing Blockhead or some other block stacking game. It  targets the concepts of left and right.  The spinner has the directions of Left or Right  with a handprint for cuing. Students take turns spinning the spinner and use the hand that is indicated to pick up a block and stack to make a tower.  Point out to the students that when their hands are flattened on the table their left hand will form an L shape with the pointer and thumb. This is another cue they can use to distinguish their left hand from their right hand. I have used this as a table or center activity with table groups of 6 students in a Kindergarten class.

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 Size and Shape Spinner:

You need bean bags or soft balls that can be tossed, plastic pails and boxes of various sizes and shapes, and  spinners  with the vocabulary words printed on it.   Have the students  make a big circle with the containers placed in the center.  Instruct the children on how to toss the ball or bean bag safely so no one gets injured.

The spinners travel around the circle.  Students  spin the spinner and toss the bean bag or ball as required  trying to get the bean bag in the appropriate container that matches the word on the spinner.

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For the Amount Spinner, I use  a game I made up called “Don’t Fall Through the Ice ”       IMG326

amount spinner

Use the amount spinner, one 2 lb plastic coffee container.  A rubber band that fits around the mouth of the container, tissue paper, marbles, cup to place marbles in water, spinner with vocabulary words.  Instructions:  Put one sheet of tissue paper across the opening of the  2 lb container.  Fasten it down by stretching the rubber band around the top of the opening. You may need an extra set of hands to accomplish this.   It should look like a drum.  Put marbles in the cup and fill with water.  Children take turns spinning the spinner and taking the number of wet marbles indicated.

The students place the marbles on top of the tissue paper top.  The wet marbles will weaken the tissue paper and eventually fall through.  The wetter the marbles the faster they will fall th rough.  If you are using this activity with table groups they can count the marbles and compare who has the most or least marbles.

Don’t Spill the Beans is an other game that can be used with the spinner.


 

The conversation spinner can be used with any board game that uses a typical number spinner.  It works well with games such as Snakes and Slides or Chutes and Ladders. Students try to follow the prompts on the spinner and give an example.conversation spinner

Folded Leaf Bulletin Board

14 Nov

 

paper leaves border

My art project for this month consisted of  folded paper leaves I found on Pinterest from this site  http://krokotak.com/ .   They are a very simple to make and even my youngest students were able to complete one  in  15 minutes. It only required colored computer paper and a glue stick.  We also used pipecleaners because I had them on hand and they were easier for making the stem.   I am not sure what language the directions are in but they are still quite  user friendly because of the clear pictures. I put them on my iPad and let the students follow them. The directions are here.

We put the leaves on the bulletin board and I was able to make more use of that tree.

paper leaf Bulletin Board

How do we get students to follow directions?

7 Nov

 

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Every year there seems to be a  speech area that rises above all  the others.  This year I am hearing a lot about students who do not follow directions.  There can actually be a lot of reasons for this to include being distracted by the environment,  sensory issues around space and movement, not understanding the directions, not understanding the rules of turn taking (speaking vs listening) and difficulty with short term memory.  Of course some students have all of these things in different degrees working together to get them off track.  If one student is having difficulty they  can disrupt the learning environment for any of the other students causing a chain reaction.  It is no wonder that our teachers find this a concern.

Classroom management and warm up activities can go a long way in  helping students get prepared to focus or get them back on track.  I have included some  resources you may find useful for therapy or to pass on to your teachers.  Some of them are our tried an true therapy games, but maybe you haven’t thought of them in the framework of building memory or following directions.

This web site has good suggestions for teachers on classroom management to enhance the ability of students to follow directions.   http://thecornerstoneforteachers.com/2013/05/how-to-get-students-to-follow-directions.html

Body Jive   is a CD that has warm up activities for movement and following directions. I have used it as a warm up activity before social groups.   The site has some activity/song previews so you can get an idea of what they sound like.ARCD96

“Simon Says” and  “The Previous Command” are two traditional children’s games that do not need special materials and can be used at a moments notice.

     Previous command instructions

There  are the traditional card games such as “Go Fish  and “Memory Game” that can build a number of skills depending what is on the cards.  Some children need direct instruction on turn taking and paying attention to the cards drawn prior to their turn.  They will choose or flip cards indiscriminately  and not realize they need to remember cards.

Barrier games help build directional vocabulary and concepts.  Not understanding the prepositions in directions often add to the confusion of our language delayed students.  Be aware that some students have difficulty with words such as before, after, while, any, neither, either, during, not and none.  Try to give directions in several ways so the students get the meanings. For example; “Take any color means you take only one”

Goofy Follows Directions;  part of an educational film made by Disney. It illustrates  the importance of following directions.

 

In honor of Thanksgiving, I put The Never Ever Dinner Plate activity on sale on TPT.  I use this activity  this time of year because it fits in the themes of “Food” and “Dinner”.  It also teaches the concept of “Not”.  A direction with “not” in the directions can sometimes trigger the student to do the opposite of what you want because they don’t hear or understand the “Not” part.

Never Ever Dinner