Spring is Here

28 Mar

I hear Spring has come to some parts of the country.  We are not experiencing too much of it here. After waking up to three mornings of snow last week, I am happy to settle for rain this week. Occasionally the sun peeks out  and  I run out to catch a few rays.  I am looking forward to seeing more of that sun.

April is coming soon and I am using my Spring Break to make some plans.  This is the time of year I usually try to focus on non-literal language and metaphors.  I saw this pattern for a butterfly  here at

http://www.marinmommies.com/ and thought it would be an ideal project.  It meets  my criteria.  It uses a minimum of  steps, concept vocabulary  and  recycled materials I already have on hand.  The youngest to the oldest will find the end result enjoyable.  I will put them on a Spring Bulletin Board with the following title.

Butterflies are self propelled flowers.  R.H Heinlein.

It will lend itself to a discussion of what makes up  a metaphor and if they can find more to add to the board.

I am having so much fun using StoryKit to make sequenced directions I decided to use it once again.  StoryKit is a free apt that allows you to make an edit your own books.  On an Ipad it has actual pages rather than the story board format.

The link for the butterfly directions is here.

There is no audio at this point.  I will have some of my students add audio when I get back from Spring Break.

Here is a picture of the butterflies.  I will put a picture up of the bulletin board when that gets completed.

 

Working with/against the Unthinkables

18 Mar

Many of you may be familiar with the Unthinkables.  It is a name coined by Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner.  They are part of the Superflex Curriculum that uses comic books and characters to teach strategies to conquer problem behaviors and gain thinking power over them.   I was able to purchase the program through the generosity of our school parent group.  This is the site for those who are interested. http://www.socialthinking.com/home

I have begun using the program with several of my students in small groups. So far I am impressed.  I have a few students who are on the higher end of the Autism Spectrum and have difficulty with social pragmatics.  They are often sensitive to anything that points out imperfections they may have.  In the past,  I’ve had difficulty getting them to participate in role playing.  Their initial reaction is to declare an activity as boring and then not participate.  Yep, my Destroyers of Fun.  On cue, that is how we started out.   The comic nature of the program roped them in and as soon as the props came out they included themselves.

The characters are a great feature of this program.  They let the students step back and talk about problem behaviors in an unthreatening way.  They actually start to recognize what they have in common with the characters. I was amazed how much information they had retained  after three sessions and sending the parent letter home.  They explained the characters and strategies to a guest therapist on the 3rd session.    It appeared they had actually talked about the characters with their parents.  I guess we all want to be super heroes deep down, and we all have those unthinkable moments we need to conquer.

I have been busy gathering materials to make the characters and props.  You don’t necessarily need a lot of props.  However they are useful in grab bags or quick role playing in limited space.  Many children respond better to manipulatives and props then paper and pencil activities.  A model of a brain is helpful to simulate the brain sensor.   I’ve found it helpful to visit craft stores and  thrift stores that have small toys,  fast food characters, and pieces  of toys.  I’ve learned that even if your children have grown you should never throw those things out.  Here is what I have gathered so far.   Can you guess the characters?

Image

     Here is a quick way to make super hero capes. I found a large men’s short sleeve sport jersey in royal blue at the thrift store for fifty cents.  I cut off the sleeves and came up to the neck and kept the neck band. The front and back gave me two capes.   I cut off the lower cuff area on the sleeves.  I then cut this circle and sewed each end to the neck band ends still attached to the cape.  It was stretchy enough it could fit over a child’s head and I didn’t need to put on fastners.  I did some hemming up the sides of the cape.  This may not be necessary since it might be material that doesn’t fray.

March Expressions Bulletin Board

27 Feb

It is time to change the bulletin board again.  The students really seem to enjoy these projects and ask each month what we are going to do next.  I like them because they can encompass so many objectives from speaking clearly with detail to following directions.  I think they like using the art supplies since there is not as much time to do art in the classrooms.  These same students often have difficulty following directions and get lost in a large group.   In a small group they can all be successful.

I obtained my materials from a lot of different sources.  I found a  hat on this web site and shrunk it down to a usable size.       Leprechaun_Hat.   This site taught how to draw facial expressions.

I used Story Kit to record the directions.  This time I had the students take pictures of the project and make the story themselves.  It taught them about sequencing and providing important detail.  You can access their directions here.  Leprechaun Directions.

It took two sessions to accomplish everything.  Not only did it make interesting therapy sessions, I have a new bulletin board for March.  Here is a picture of the bulletin board.

Directions for Antonym Hearts

26 Jan

It is hard to believe we are getting to the end of January.  This is parent teacher conference week for us so it has been hectic getting all the progress reports written.  In between conferences I usually have a chance to make changes on the bulletin board for February.  I decided the antonym bulletin board  worked really well last year so I would do it again. I liked the way the directions for the paper ornaments worked on the Story Kit so I decided to make some for the glitter hearts using the same program.   I thought that some of you may find them useful as well.  You can find the directions on this link. Glitter Heart Directions

Toontastic is Fantastic for Therapy

2 Jan

I find that many of  my students  have  difficulty telling a story.   I usually start with sequence cards.  They start  getting the idea of sequencing a story and understanding a story has a beginning, middle, and end.  At this point they get bored with the sequence cards and still need work on being able  to elaborate from that basic structure.   I am always looking for  ways  to expand their experiences from the typical sequence cards and allow for more imagination and story plot development.

Just before winter break, I found an free app for my iPad  that allowed students to develop story plots much like using puppets.  They were  able to make animated stories and the structure of the program encouraged them to construct a story with sequence and plot development. The best part was they could replay their creations and critique them.   The program has built in  flexibility allowing them to add their own drawings and speech.   It also allowed them to  add  music and set a mood.   I was impressed that it was child friendly and allowed for imagination to develop.  This is a program that actually allows  for imaginative play.

My daughter and I had a fun time trying the program out.   The app came from toontube.launchpadtoys.com.  I want to thank this company for providing a high quality program free.  It runs with little  interference from advertisement, although they would like you to purchase more characters and scenes.

Currently my employer has restrictions on purchasing apps for our iPads until they get the logistics worked out.  This leaves me  exploring  the world of free apps. When this  restriction is lifted,  this app will be on my list for more characters and scenes.

Here is an example of my daughter’s creation..

http://toontube.launchpadtoys.com/9370