Styrofoam Cups and Rubber Bands

15 Feb

Having a party day mid week sure throws off the concentration.  There was a level of energy that  was  hard to contain.   It made for a long week with a lot of interruptions.

This month the  4th grade students  studied  different types of machines.  The final task was making machines that would deliver valentines to  their valentine boxes.  The styrofoam cup activity that is in the pragmatics section is a good example of a tool/machine operation.  I decided to bring it out again to reinforce what was happening in the classroom and add my language component.    I used it previous years  with larger social pragmatic groups so some of you may already have found it and  used it.  I thought it was worth mentioning again.   I would love to hear how it worked for you if you tried it.  Please go  to the pragmatic section to download  more specific directions.

This time I adapted the activity for  my smaller therapy groups of 2 to 3 students.  We used 6 to 8 strings on a rubber band  and each student pulled 2 of them.  I added myself  to the mix.  Basically the tool is a rubber band with 2 feet lengths of yarn tied to it.  Students take a yarn in each hand and pull  to open it  enough to fit around the end of a  styrofoam cup placed  bottoms up on a table.  They were instructed not to use their hands when moving the cups.  When they released the tension the rubber band grabbed  the cup and they  then lifted the cup with the yarn pieces and moved it  into position to form a pyramid.  15 cups make a nice size pyramid.  Students took turns being the leader to give directions. yarn tool

I found adding myself allowed for some sabotage.  I just didn’t move unless specific directions were given.  One person not moving can make a big difference in the operation of the rubber band which is the beauty of this activity.  They learned quickly to use positional words and to work cooperatively.  I pointed out that “Whole Body Listening” is important here.    One person can ruin the whole operation if they are not focused on the group and cups.   That rubber band can assume a rather flat appearance and not be functional if someone isn’t pulling right.  Also they can’t make assumptions that people will know where to move.

It’s How You Say it

31 Dec

I have been working on some new social pragmatic cards.   I found that most of my social pragmatic cards did not have answers included.  I needed  cards that students could use  in small group activities and would have an answer they could discuss if an adult wasn’t with their  group to get them thinking.  I also wanted to use them for  role playing.  I found that students really enjoyed video taping themselves and viewing themselves.  However a written prompt  was needed for some students.    Students will be told that the answer is a possible answer and there may be more than one possible answer in some cases.

These  cards  were made for  my students in 3rd through 6th grade.  I tried to include some more difficult scenarios  that would be beyond the school environment.  Some of my older students need to spread their wings a bit more.

I included 12 cards for download here and  under Social Language.   There are 20 more at the TPT store.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Cynthia-Montalbano

A Flexible Brain

17 Apr

Today we continued to work with the social pragmatic group using the Superflex program.  The lesson of the day required the use of a flexible brain to illustrate how the brain needs to be flexible to grow and handle changes in its environment.  There is a comparison of a rigid brain with a flexible  brain. For those who do not know the program, Superflex conquers Rock Brain  who is not flexible and doesn’t adapt to change well.  He keeps getting stuck doing the same old thing.

The lesson manual suggested using a brain mold to make a jello brain.   I was in luck because I knew someone who I could get the mold from.  The manual   did not give actual directions or a recipe.   I  put this lesson off for as long as I could because  I do not have a good history with jello molds.  I have a history of  jello that sticks to the mold and never turns out looking right.  The thought of trying to work with one in the time line of classes had me worried.  I figured the jello would melt and be over the table before the session was up.

I researched jello  brain recipes on the internet.  It turns out that there are a lot of these.   Some of them are a bit on the gross side of things.  I decided to stay away from the worm and bug infested brains although I’m sure they would be attention grabbing.  I wanted something that would be close to flesh tone and stay fairly solid.  So  I  settled for the following recipe.

You need 3 boxes of jello with orange to pink colors (watermelon, peach), Evaporate milk (12 0z), green food coloring, and 2  1/2 cups  boiling water

Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water, Spray the inside of the mold with vegetable o spray.  Add milk and cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir until smooth.  Add 2 drops green food coloring.  The mixture should look more flesh-colored.  Add a drop at a time until you get the right color.  Pour the mixture into the mold and put in the refrigerator.  This brain turned out to be quite solid and kept its form several hours.

For the lesson, slips of  paper with brain functions from the categories of  social awareness, motor,and factual/science  are inserted  into the jello brain.  The students take turns  pulling  these out and talking  about them.  I debated the best method of getting the papers in the jello.  I ended up laminating the papers and poking them in after the brain was taken out of the mold.  This way ends of the paper were left sticking out and easy to grab with tweezers.  Surprisingly, the brain is still in good shape after the papers are removed and I can use it again for another group. No one asked if they could eat it.  I took a picture of the brain so you could  have a visual.