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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Fidget Mazes and 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.

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.

 

roundmarblemaze

For the square I sewed straight lines.

rectangmarblemaze

 

 

 Remember to alternate the lines from reaching the edge so you have a path for the marble.
  When you are finished,  insert a marble through the opening  and sew the opening shut.
 Students use their fingers to move the marble through the maze.
marblemazeall
The teachers really had good reviews on these. They held up well and were washable. once I got the hang of it, I could make one in 20 minutes.

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

Adaptive Don’t Break the Ice

10 Oct

 

 

Don't Break 1

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.

break ice colors

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.

 

Don't break board

 

 

Mouse Books for Language Samples

8 Aug

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Recently, I was looking for new books to add to my therapy collection and noticed that a favorite series of mine are still available.   It is the Mouse Books by Monique Felix.  I have 2 of them and I see there are more in the series now.  I bought mine years ago so the covers have changed.  They are still very reasonable in the $12 range.  I originally bought  mine for $3 which is very telling to  how old mine are.

The books are great for getting language samples  because they do not have  words, only pictures.   I have used them frequently for  my younger students.   The mice are engaging.   The books  are great at eliciting comparison and descriptive vocabulary.  Because they tell a story in a sequence of events I can also get a variety of verb tenses.  I can tell if the student recognizes there is a story sequence.  This is all valuable information to get informally to compare how students do with standardized testing.  Because I use them frequently, I can tell what the average student can do and when they are struggling.

Here is a bit of an inside view of The Opposites book.  There is a white mouse and a dark mouse that do opposite things throughout the book until the surprise ending.

 

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The Colors book illustrates the antics of a mouse in an art studio and explores mixing colors.

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If you are looking for  new books, you will not be disappointed in the number of ways you can use these.

 

 

Free Trial: Reply to a Comment Task Cards

31 Jul

Comment cards button

 

Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Back to School Sale on Aug 4th and 5th. If you are waiting for the right time to get back to school materials, now is the time.  Don’t forget to use the Promo code when you check out to get the full discount.

In a previous post I mentioned how I worked with students to recognize comments and questions and how they should make a reply.  I made comment and reply cards last  Spring.  I have since updated them to include  pictures.  I’m putting a trial set here for my readers to try out.  If they look like something you could use, the full set is on Teachers Pay Teachers.

free trial button

Reply to a Comment trial set

 

Quick link to Teachers Pay Teachers.

TPT button

Poppa’s Pizza Game Adaptation

28 Jul

 

Poppa's Pizza Topple.

I have some of my therapy games home for the summer since I had grandchildren visiting.  I noticed that I missed putting this one up on the blog.   Poppa’s Pizza Topple is a game I found at a garage sale a few years ago and I think it is still being sold in a few stores. It is a game  my students enjoy no matter what their ability level.  Pizza seems to be a favorite food of most children. I have used this game with students who are working on basic communication skills such as turn taking and making requests.  It can easily be adapted for students with limited verbal abilities by adding a communication board.    It also works well as a simple reinforcement for doing therapy tasks. At the most simple level, just use the pizza crust and have the student request ingredients and place them on the crust.  At the most difficult level, students place the ingredients on an unsteady pizza  crust propped up on Poppa’s finger.  They pick up the ingredients  according to what is rolled on the dice.   I recommend picking this game up and adding it to your collection if you get the chance.

Poppa's Pizza Topple.                                                                         pizza board

I had a request to show the communication board.  I do not have Boardmaker available on my home  computer to open this board. I ended up taking a picture of it. It will give you an idea of the symbols used.

Grand Opening

24 Jul

We did it.  Hopefully you have found yourself at the new web site.  You may be finding yourself here because of a redirect from the old site.  Please change any book marks you have to reflect the new url address.  Subscribers have been transferred over so you should not have to subscribe again.  There may still be a few glitches but I think you will find most of the material that was on the old site has been transferred here.  Let me know if you can’t find something.  There may still be some glitches but I think we are fully operational.  I hope you find this site easier to navigate and enjoy not having the ads pop up.  Thanks for being patient while we made the changes.

fireworks

The Art of Having a Conversation

25 May

Comment cards button

 

Students are sometimes referred to  Child Study Team (CST)  because of difficulties relating to peers. Concerns revolve around the student saying inappropriate things, being picked on and  starting   fights on the playground.   When you talk to the student, you may  find they have limited interests and talk excessively on one topic.  They have difficulties taking turns during a conversation.  In their attempts to enter a  conversation  they say something that can be  perceived as an  insult or bragging.  This results in a fight or peers not wanting to interact with them.  The student then  feels picked on or shunned.

Sometimes these students have a diagnosis of Aspergers or high functioning autism and are on our caseloads. They may need direct instruction on how to have a conversation. Learning  the art of having a conversation can help alleviate some of the difficulties.  However, it is a very difficult skill to teach without structure.    Left to their own devices,  the a session may go something like this.  A  student will start a topic of high interest to them. The other students  interrupt  to make off topic comments. One student dominates the topic with multiple comments until another student manages to derail to another topic with  multiple comments.  It becomes   a competition to control the topic rather than enjoy an exchange of information.  No one feels they have been listened to and arguments occur as they interrupt each other.  Each student  feels that only their topic and comments are right. I have actually had a student say they won because they had the most papers out.

How do we provide structure so it becomes a learning task?  It is  important  to break down  skills in in smaller increments  so they can understand and  practice.  I have used colored  paper shapes as visual cues to illustrate turn taking, topic changes and questions and comments.

Conversation strip 1 and 2

Can you guess which conversation is interactive with multiple people talking about a topic.  Which conversation is more likely  people talking for themselves?

During this process I have discovered  many of our students do not know how to start a conversation or recognize when another student is giving them an opening to start a conversation.   They may not see  the differences between a question and a comment and do not understand the hidden expectations of both. When a comment is said, they may misinterpret its intent and  not  respond appropriately.  I made comment and reply cards so that my students could work on this directly.  There is a full set at the TPT store.  You can reach them directly by hitting the button at the top of the page or the button below.

TPT button  There is also a set of  trial cards here.  free trial button

The Value of Playing Cards

20 Jul
playing cards

playing cards

Before we had smart phones and iPods many of us remember playing cards when waiting any length of time with a group. Sometimes it is good to look at the old traditional card games because there is a reason why they had staying power.  Children still like playing them. Card games such as Go Fish, Rummy, Old Maid, Crazy 8 and UNO can meet a lot of different therapy needs as well as provide a recreational activity for disabled students to mix with non disabled students. You may remember we used a game of UNO in our “Circle of Friends Group” to work with a student who performed on academic grade level but was severely impacted socially by Autism. http://cjmonty.wordpress.com/category/circle-of-friends/.

Card games have the advantage of engaging a number of students of different ability levels within a structure. They provide lots of opportunity for modeling by peers in predictable interactions.  The use of card games provides a training ground to reinforce social skills some students need to develop in order to participate in a group and have a conversation. It also allows the peer group to interact with a disable student and see them as a person they can develop a friendship  and play with.

Our high needs students benefit from some preparation such as communication boards, video modeling and visual cue cards. Many of my students I work with  in the Life skills Programs  are working on skills such as maintaining focus with a group, staying on topic, realizing their turn, the turn of others, perspectives of others, and appropriate emotional control with unexpected events.  In addition, they may be working on vocabulary and following directions.

I have collected free downloads of some traditional card games.  I hope this will make it easier for some of your planning for next school year. Some of these have the advantage of using specific themed vocabulary.

UNO

There are some creative variations on the internet. However this particular game is under copyright so I didn’t feel I could post them.  The regular game is very useful for working on following directions.

This is a board that is a tech speak overlay but I just use the board without the device for my less verbal students. http://www.boardmakershare.com/Activities/Search?SearchText=uno

Old Maid

I have used cards that come in pairs such as opposite cards, and plurals.    Just add a blank card that does not match with the others for the old maid.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Opposite-Sort-Freebie-702983

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Ocean-Plurals-Freebie-670212

I Have, Who Has

This is a fairly recent card game that seems to have a lot of potential for small groups.  Students need to maintain focus to stay with the group and participate.

Animals created by Ashley Hughes

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Have-Who-Has-Animals-197698

Food by Ashley Hughes

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Have-Who-Has-Food-30-Cards-198322

Winter vocabulary by Kindergarten Squared

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-Have-Who-Has-Winter-Vocabulary-Freebie-460163

Synonyms by Dee Bibb

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-haveWho-hasSynonyms-587727

Halloween Vocabulary by Mandy Neal

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/I-HaveWho-HasHalloween-360098

Back to School Vocabulary by Simply Speech

http://kcummingsslp.blogspot.com/2012/07/back-2-school-i-have-who-has-freebie.html

Go Fish

http://www.boardmakershare.com/Activity/1729317/Go-Fish-Cue-Card  communication board

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pronoun-People-Go-Fish-570158 (pronouns)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Go-Fish-for-Irregular-Plural-Nouns-230009 (plurals)

http://www.filefolderfun.com/Pages/PreschoolPictureMatch/GoFishGame.html   (Feelings)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Pet-Shop-Go-Fish-Card-Game-230710  (Pets)

http://bogglesworldesl.com/cards.htm    (a variety of flash cards for vocabulary building.)

If you need help remembering the rules this is a good place to look them up.

http://www.webterrace.com/family/games.htm