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..
Progress 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
For the square I sewed straight lines.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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” can sometimes trigger the student to do the opposite of what you want because they don’t hear or understand the “Not” part.
It has been a very busy Fall with another school added to my caseload. I am a little slow with the bulletin board. My students are young this year and I need to keep my projects simple.
The students always seem to enjoy paper-folding and I discovered these easy bat folding directions at WikiHow here. They may not look very fancy but they did serve the function of working on following directions. We also talked about what they knew about bats. This was an easy board to put up because I kept the tree from last month and just added my spider. You may recognize the spider as my pompom and pipe cleaner spider from years gone by.
During my career there have been certain students who have made a lasting impression on me and aided in my growth as a speech language pathologist. It seemed that fate crossed our paths so that we could learn from each other. I am thinking in particular of a student who I met in her Kindergarten year. Her disability prevented her from speaking or using her arms and legs effectively although eventually she learned how to use her head to control a motorized wheel chair and a laser to activate an Alpha Talker and then a Delta Talker. This is when the field of augmentation communication was beginning to blossom with more advanced electronic devices. This child did not have the outward appearance of much ability other than a beautiful smile. However with her devices her true personality could shine.
I will never forget the time I worked with her at her home during extended summer services. She would be going into first grade when school resumed. Her mother reported she had something to tell me. She proceeded to tell me she had seen the movie Pocahontas. That doesn’t seem that unusual except she used her Delta Talker to do it and she had programmed the name Pocahontas into it herself. Those of you who have worked with min speak realize this involves not only getting into the programming mode but also selecting a symbol sequence to represent the name. She did all of this using a laser attached to a head band. She had learned the programming by watching me during other sessions. I learned not to underestimate her abilities when motivated.
She would be in her twenties now. I lost track of her after her elementary years but I think of her often. She reminds me that our first impressions of a student’s capabilities are not always correct.
How does this get us to Don’t Break the Ice you ask? Well it was difficult for her to play with her peers and have normal interactions. I was always searching for games I could adapt. Don’t Break the Ice was one of the games I adapted so she could play too. I basically took the orignal game and put masking tape along two sides. I then color coded the rows. This allowed her to tell another student what block of ice she wanted to be hit out by saying two colors. Where the colors intersect is the block chosen. She used her voice output system to communicate. The set up was also useful for other students using a communication board. You can color code a dice or spinner. Students roll a dice and then say what color they have or will hit out. It is good for I want, I have, I need statements.
This was our first day back with students. We start quite a bit later than most parts of the country. Our school seems to be in a growth spurt. Additional kindergarten classes were added. We have full day kindergarten now and more students are enrolling. In the past, we often lost students to private schools. Parents needed childcare for the other half of the day and it was easier to have students stay in one place.
The building went through some renovations over the summer with new walls and doors to make enclosed classrooms. Our school was built during the time of the open classroom concept. Through the years walls have been added but not always with doors. This creates some interesting difficulties with noise, temperature control, and keeping students contained in classrooms. In the past we have actually used tape on the floor to show boundaries. I am hoping the full day kindergarten will help alleviate some of my scheduling difficulties.
This was the Welcome Back bulletin board I made to start the year. I used rolls of brown butcher paper for the trunk of the tree. I had a stencil for oak leaves. I cut toilet paper rolls and glued the edges onto yellow paper to make the hive. A teacher noticed my theme and gave me bee note paper. We have a lot of bee themed materials at this school because our mascot is a bee. It didn’t take long to put up. It is interesting how the tree has a different character each time. I like to use a tree because it is easy to continue it through the school year and change it for the seasons.