It really has been a busy month . I decided I better post before the month is over. Just to give you a heads up, I added another page to record group activities. I am finding my group activities tend to get buried in the blog when I try to refer back to them.
I have been using a theme of spiders this month. In our part of the country the spiders really come out of hiding and webs are very noticeable. Children are always fascinated by them. I am working with a younger population and students with more severe disabilities that require a lot of repetition and motor activities to keep them interested. I find if I can use the same theme vocabulary with a little variety in the activity they are more likely to keep interest and retain the vocabulary. It helps to find a theme that has a lot of activities. I discovered there are really a lot of songs, rhymes, and crafts around the topic of spiders.
The first project I started was the bulletin board. I got my idea from enchantedlearning.com. They had a craft that used glue, black paper, and glitter to make a spider web. You know how the students and I love glitter. Besides, we have a new janitor and I had to condition her. She was nice enough to take it in stride although she said it may take awhile to get rid of the last sparkles. I really do try to keep the mess down, but my drying box turned out to have a hole in one corner. In the past, my room has had a trail of glitter coming from it down the hall.
The spider web craft project was meant for individual webs. However, I decided we could make one large web if we joined them. I like to promote group effort for social pragmatic reasons. Before doing this project with the students, I tacked black paper up on my bulletin board. I then used a white crayon and string to draw circles from the center. I then added intersecting lines to make the web. I then took the black rectangles down and cut them into squares for the students to use. The students put glue (white glue or heavy glue stick) on the lines and shook the picture in my glitter can. They always love seeing their creation when it comes out. This gave the opportunity to talk about parts and the whole. Warning! If you have a lot of squares it would be good to number them before taking them off the board. We then tacked the squares back up on the bulletin board to form the web.
I decided to extend this project even further for some of my older students. They read Charlotte’s Web for their “Battle of the Books” last Spring. If you remember the spider saved the pig by putting newspaper clippings in her web and spelling out words. I encouraged them to add positive words from newspaper clippings to the web like Charlotte did. It was emphasized that old newspapers and magazines are used and not books. I added a spider made of yarn and pipe cleaners in the corner. The older students also used one of my favorite app programs “Storykit” to sequence the directions and provide the oral commentary. This was used as a visual direction for the younger students.
The counselor and I run social pragmatic groups in the two Life skills classrooms. We brought spider activities into those classrooms as well. You may notice I have added a new page, listed above, to keep record of classroom activities for this population.
The 1st session with this group involved calling a name of an individual to get attention, using eye contact, and then tossing a small rubber ball to them. This encouraged a number of social pragmatic skills around how to get someone’s attention and make a communication exchange. It also was good preparation for the yarn activity coming up in another session. We had pictures of the kids which we placed under colored paper leaves. We sang the song “ Where is Thumbkin?” and used the kids names. It promoted using names, the colors of the leaves, and asking where questions.
In the next week, session 2, we used a ball of yarn instead of a ball for the tossing and kept hold of the yarn with a left hand. The yarn stretched across the center and built a web of sorts. This promoted group participation because everyone needed to remain connected for it to work. We added concept words such as over and under when talking about the yarn. For a 2nd activity we introduced spider songs, “There is a Spider on the Floor” from http://kinderkorner.com/spiders.html. I used a free app called SoundingBrd to build a 2×2 communication board. The board was used by our non verbal students to direct what body part the spider should go when singing the song. This introduced body parts and basic prepositions.
For week 3 we used a sheer length of fabric ( I think it was a curtain in a previous life) and placed a beanie baby spider on top. The students grabbed hold of the edges and followed directions of holding it up, down, low, high etc. The spider could be slid down the fabric by holding it up and down on the ends. This introduced some more prepositions; up, down, edge, and end. We sang there is a spider on the floor again and reviewed prepositions again. We put pictures of the students behind leaves. They guessed where individuals were behind the leaves saying a color plus the leaf.
For week 4 of this theme we used spider rings from the dollar store. The previous songs were used again. The spider rings were placed in the locations mentioned in the songs. Students were introduced to prepositions such as behind and in front. A new song “Little Miss Muffet” was added. We hid the spider rings behind our backs and then sang up the notes as we crept up from our toes to our head. For the end, we put pictures of the students behind cut outs of pumpkins and they guessed where individuals were.
For the older group we discussed near and far. The students tossed bean bags as they got further and further apart. We then used a spider in a game of warmer/colder except we used nearer/further. One child closed his eyes while the spider was hidden. The other students then called out further or nearer to the student until he located the spider.
We have conferences coming up so that takes us through the month of October.