Saturday, February 18, 2012

Just Asking...

I find that many people want to give.  All you need to do is ask.  Here is my latest request.  I handed this container to my husband on his way to play squash today.

Squash balls make great stress relievers, fidget tools and hand strength builders.  We keep a steady supply to pass out to classrooms.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Your Name in Lights!

Light Board puts your message in lights as a scrolling marquee.  How engaging that would be for students to practice their name or spelling words.

Here is what you do:
1. Enter the words you want to display
2. Change the text font
3. Change the text size

They say it is free for one day only so grab it now!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Quick - I Need a Heart!

Okay.  You have kids who struggle drawing a heart.  Your goal as an OT in the school is participation.  How can they quickly learn this so they can make one when needed in classroom activities.  Stencils are fun, but here are three other ways:

1. Use two hands.  Put a crayon in each hand.  Have them start at a single point.  Now they draw lines simultaneously, moving their hands up, out away from each other and then travel along a diagonal towards each other.  Two handed heart drawing can be done by younger kids quite easily.  Their heart is symmetrical!

Hint...have them draw this on a vertical surface by taping the paper to the wall.

2.  Do they know their letters?  Have them practice a modified m (it sort of looks like what people draw as a simple image for birds in the air).  Have them draw a v.  Now tell them they can draw a heart.  Simply draw a m and attach a v under it (make sure you start the v at one end of the m and finish it at the other end.  Click here for a video demonstration.

3.  Finally, find an old paper tube and fold it in end is a point.  Reverse the fold on the other end to make the top of the heart.  The student grasps the tube in a way that maintains a heart shape.  Dip the end in paint and stamp on paper.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Handy Hearts

Valentines Day is tomorrow, so don't let it pass you by without using it for hand skill development.  Have your students imitate hand gestures, requiring fine motor planning.  This one is a simple two handed gesture, using all the fingers together:
By Krystal T

This one requires individual finger movement:
By GabrielaP93

This gesture involves separating the sides of the hands, needed to hold a pencil correctly.  Do your students curls in their last two fingers when writing?
By miss.libertine

Greet each student today with a friendly heart sign and have them imitate you...can they do all three?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Making Stuff

"Learn by Doing" is the foundation of occupational therapy.  Mary Reilly said this best in her statement, "Man, through the use of his hands, as they are energized by mind and will, can influence the state of his own health."  As a school based occupational therapist, I would like to say they definitely can influence the state of one's own learning.

Good Magazine's article Can Schools Create a Culture of Learning By Doing? talks about this very topic.  A discussion was sparked by a group of educators sitting together in a session at EduCon, an education innovation conference where the sessions are designed as conversations rather than presentations.   The group asked the question, "What if schools created a culture of "DO" instead of a culture of "KNOW?"  After considering how to move forward, they took steps toward learning by doing in their own school, like introducing "meaningful tasks" into the classroom experience.

Every month I am trying to mix things up in our room at school.  Last month it was painting and drawing upside down.  This month I pulled out the "make it - take it" table.  I threw recyclables into our sand table, provided scissors and added a fresh roll of masking tape (don't you hate it when it it old and you can't peel off a decent piece)?  I have been amazed at what the kids are making.  I am even more amazed at their enjoyment of the process. 

the Make It - Take It table
masking tape strips hang from the wall for easy access
So often we resort to paper/pencil tasks to give to kids.  Our hands are rich with neural connections, both sensory and motor wise.  Why limit them to a pencil or crayon?  Let them make stuff.  These kids were learning through their creations - they problem solved, designed and assembled.  All in a day's work at school.

a castle in progress
a castle complete with a CD draw bridge

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Falling (and getting back up)

Help students take risks.  Embrace mistakes and let kids learn from them.  If they fall, help them back up again.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Super Bowl Fun

Kids have passions.  One common one is sports.  I often try to encourage writing around a child's particular area of interest.  Starting with an image can be useful.  If you have a student who is really into football, try putting them side by side with their favorite player.  NFL Photo Booth allows you to take photos with NFL players, jerseys and gear.  It's free and just in time for the Superbowl frenzy.  Go Pats!