Sunday, December 18, 2011

Gingerbread Man Activity

When my schedule permits, I get to do a fun group activity on Fridays with my upper elementary students.

This activity is very easy to grade.

We started off with a digital version of the story about The Gingerbread Man projected from a laptop onto a whiteboard. I used this link from Topmarks -
The students gathered around as I read and the teacher flipped the "pages." Every time the story read the famous lines "Run, run as fast as you can. You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread man," we all stood up and ran in place as fast as we could.

Then we sat at their desks and colored, cut and decorated a paper gingerbread man. This would also be fun with real cookies. You can find Gingerbread Men and Women templates for free online. Here is a link for one.

Gingerbread theme activities are especially good if you have a diverse group of students who celebrate a variety of holidays.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Snowflake Craft Ideas

Ahhhh, snowflakes. There has to be 101 different ways to make a snowflake. I am currently making 4 different versions with my students. Here are some fabulous examples for inspiration.

Old-fashioned Snowflake
I have to start with the classic folded paper cut out snowflake. It doesn't get simpler than this. There are plenty of directions/examples available online. This link is from They also suggest that you can make a card with youe snowflake as the design.

Cotton Swab Snowflake
Here is another craft from Disney's Family Fun. Here is the link for details. It uses cotton swabs, which can be purchased at the Dollar Store; what a cheap craft! I am sure there are many different ways to do a craft like this. I am thinking if you provided a template under the wax paper or plastic wrap, then your students could be more independent and successful with this task.

Snowflake Ornament
Something I have been doing with my students for years is a pipe cleaner snowflake ornament.

You need

  •  2 pipe cleaners
  • beads ( I use pony beads, only because that is what I have)
  • String
Cut the pipe cleaners in half and twist them into a snowflake pattern. Add the beads and make a knot at the end of each leg of the snowflake. Tie the string on one leg and you've got yourself a snowflake ornament.  Alphamom does a lovely job explaining a similar version here, complete with step by step pictures. Martha Stewart also has a similar craft.

Tissue Paper Snowflake
Another craft that is also simple and easily adaptable to your student's skill level. Draw the outline of a snowflake on paper in a stick-like pattern. Have your student tear small pieces of tissue paper (or pre-cut small squares) and roll into small balls, hopefully with their fingertips. Glue onto the lines of the snowflake.

Here are some other ideas to get your creative juices flowing. Have fun!

Popsicle Stick Snowflake Ornament from

Snowflake Coasters from Mad in If you can find these snowflake shapes at your local Dollar Store, then this would be a wonderful craft for students to make. Simply glue them on and have your student cut the felt. The students can give them as gifts.

Puzzle Piece Snowflake from Family Crafts at This is too cute. Love the glitter.

Toilet Paper Roll Snowflake also from Family Crafts at This would be a good two day craft, if you have the time. Great scissor practice with cutting the toilet paper rolls.

Handprint Snowflake from Too cute, good tactile craft. Sprinkle some glitter on it too!

Snowflake Activity Printouts from Scroll down until you see Snowflake Activity Sheet Printouts. She offers some ideas to turn this into a writing task. Scroll further down the page for even more snowflake ideas.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Sensory Friendly Films!

What a brilliant idea. AMC theaters offers the opportunity to see movies  in a sensory friendly environment. The lights are up, the sound down and people can get out of their seats to move about whenever they want. Here is the link

What a great resource for our clients and their families.  Brilliant!

How to create your very own social story.

One of the interesting bits of knowledge I learned at the AOTA autism conference was regarding Social Stories. 

First, I have to admit that I have written few social stories, mostly because this is handled by many other people within my district. 

However, I know that it is often a skill we bring to our diverse working environments. So, for some of you this may be oh-so-passe and I send my apologies. In that case, maybe you can teach me something. 

The fabulous Jane Case-Smith shared tips from Carol Gray, a leader in the world of social stories. 

What  makes a good social story?

  • Once upon a time, there is a child who.....did what? without getting too wordy, provide simple facts about the who, what, where, etc. 
  • Include illustration - add pictures of the child or clipart from the internet. 
  • Provide perspective - how does the targeted behavior impact others?
  • Specific Directives - what is the desired response?
  • A happily ever after - end with a positive. 

Whenever possible, include the child when writing the story. Make it their own.

It was also noted that social stories are most successful when the goal is to extinguish/replace an undesired behavior and less successful when trying to introduce a new positive behavior. 

Please let me know if you have any resources used to write social stories or tips you have learned along the way. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

AOTA Autism West

I attended the Autism West Conference this past weekend and it was AMAZING! My brain is full and I am looking forward to sharing some of the highlights with you. Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Shoelace Experiment!

I was thinking about suggesting this shoelace adaptation for a student that I work with after seeing this post.    In contrast to those detailed directions, I am not planning on snipping the extra length from the laces. Having a traditional bow tie look will be important to many students. If need be I can sew the bow closed if the elastic banding won't stay put.

I have only just begun this experiment and so far I can slip these shoes on and off with ease. Pretty handy for a variety of people who have difficulties with complex tasks, like shoe-tying. 

Only problem is that now my white laces are making my "white" shoes even more dingy. Yikes. 

I found my elastic banding at Jo-Ann Fabrics AND they were on sale! It cost around $1.25 for both laces. I bought two elastic bands of 1 1/2 yards in length, which was a little bit too long.  

I hope this idea is helpful for some of your students/clients. 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Amazing OT App for the iPad. Dexteria!

Dexteria - Fine Motor Skill Development

Although I haven't used this app myself, watch the Demo and I am sure you will fall in love with it like I did. This is on the top of my wish list. It doesn't have the glitz and glamour of some other letter tracing apps, BUT it documents the student's success. Let's hear it for easy data collection. Amazing!

Also, love the rest of information offered on this educational website - Apps for Children with Special Needs. 

I am wondering if anyone has a preference about stylus' available for the iPad, as I feel that is a more functional way for student's to learn letter formation.