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Miss Mancy Videos

The Sensory Approach to Learning

This is my favorite time of the year!!! Back to school!!!

I get to do what I love the most! Giving workshops to all the wonderful teachers that I work with! Here’s a little snippet of my workshop. You can view all the slides by following this link.

http://www.slideshare.net/MissMancy/the-sensory-approach-to-maximizing-students-potential-2016

Here are some things you can do to create Sensory Smart Classrooms:

Classroom Organization:

1.Set up your classroom in stations and make sure you have a quiet area where kids can calm and regroup if needed when the class gets too loud.

2.Make sure the quiet area has lots of book, heavy blankets, pillows, bean bags, earphones, soft music, fidget toys.

3.Provide fidget toys such as tactile balls, “stress” balls.

4.Use visual schedules at the beginning of class that “maps” out the children’s day. This helps kids transition more easily from one activity to the next and keeps them more organized.

Classroom Activities:

1.Use songs to help children transition such as “Clean up…clean up…” or flick the lights.

2.Make sure your schedule allows for movement breaks as well as table-top activities. Brain Breaks are great.

3.During circle time. Keep the children that have a harder time keeping still next to you or make sure you give them something to hold like a puppet. Give them a fidget toy to hold on to or even a weighted lap pad. You can also have them sit against a wall.

4.Try to plan activities that incorporate as many sensory components as possible. Ex: finger paint on textured surfaces.

5.You can begin all table-top activities with a little “chair exercise” program that allows all the children to get their state of arousal at the same level. Ex: prior to commencing a handwriting task. Sing a song with the children that wakes up the arms, legs, stretches etc…

6.Consider having a “treasure box” with a variety of sensory toys. You can send a child to pick a sensory toy that helps them calm and become centered/organized. Ex: Put stress balls, fidget toys, body brush, lotion, etc…

7.Make a “bean bag snake” using a sock and dried beans. The over-aroused child can put it on his shoulders or lap to help calm during circle time or at table-top.

8.Outdoor activities are an all around wonderful sensory experience.

Sensory/Arousal:

1.For children who need to calm, use deep pressure such as pressure with your hands to his/her shoulders

2.Another great way to calm is to give a child heavy resistive work to do ex: carry heavy books to the table, push/pull heavy cart.

3.For children who need increased arousal, have them do a few jumping jacks, wall push ups etc… or use light touch from your finger tips to awaken their senses.

4.For children who touch other peers during circle time, consider sitting them against a wall or bookshelf for extra grounding and trunk support, give them a fidget toy to hold.

5.Touching others can be an indication that the child needs input to their hands and body. It can also be a spatial awareness or body awareness challenge. Give input to the hands by brushing the child’s hands, play with playdoh/other resistive toys, clap hands. I also use the one arm rule to teach personal space.

6.For a child who has difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next, allow him/her to hold on to an object that they like (aka.  A transitioning object) This helps them stay organized during the transition. You can also assign a task to the child such as “helper” (ex: he holds the cards you will be using and brings them to circle time)

Have fun implementing these strategies and let me know how it goes!

Categories
Miss Mancy Videos Sensory Activities

Creating a Sensory Smart Classroom

As an OT I get the opportunity to visit many schools in South Florida. Teachers ask me all the time how to implement sensory components in their classrooms. Here is a list of a few suggestions:

 10 steps

 

Sensory/Arousal:

1-       Try to plan activities that incorporate as many sensory components as possible. Ex: finger paint on textured surfaces.

2-       For children who need to calm, use deep pressure such as pressure with your hands to his/her shoulders.

3-       For children who need increased arousal, have them do a few jumping jacks, wall push ups etc… or use light touch from your finger tips or a feather to awaken their senses.

4-       For children who touch other peers during circle time, consider sitting them against a wall or bookshelf for extra grounding and trunk support, give them a fidget toy to hold.

5-       Touching others can be an indication that the child needs tactile input to his hands. You can brush the child’s hands, have him play with playdoh/other resistive mediums, play hand clapping games, crawling or wheelbarrow walking,

6-    You can begin all table-top activities with a little “chair exercise” program that allows all the children to get their state of arousal at the same level. Ex: prior to commencing a handwriting task. Sing a song with the children that wakes up the arms, legs, stretches etc…

7-     Consider having a “treasure box” with a variety of sensory toys. You can send a child to pick a sensory toy that helps them calm and become centered/organized. Ex: Put stress balls, fidget toys, body brush, lotion, etc…

8-    Make a “bean bag snake” using a sock and dried beans. The over-aroused child can put it on his shoulders or lap to help calm during circle time or at table-top.

9-    Another great way to calm is to give a child heavy resistive work to do ex: carry heave books to the table, push/pull heavy cart.

10- Outdoor activities are an all around wonderful sensory experience.

Here’s a few more tips:

Classroom Organization:

1-       Set up your classroom in stations and make sure you have a quiet area where kids can calm and regroup if needed when class get too loud.

2-       Make sure the quiet area has lots of book, heavy blankets, pillows. Bean bags, earphones.

3-       Provide fidget toys such as tactile balls, “stress” balls.

4-       Use visual schedules at the beginning of class that “maps” out the children’s day. This helps kids transition more easily from one activity to the next and can keep them more organized.

5-       For a child who has difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next, allow him/her to hold on to an object that they like (aka.  A transitioning object) This helps them “keep it together” during the transition. You can also assign a task to the child such as “helper” (ex: he holds the cards you will be using and brings them to circle time)

6-       Use songs to help children transition such as “Clean up…clean up…”

7-       Make sure your schedule allows for movement breaks as well as table-top activities.

8-       During circle time. Keep the children that have a harder time keeping still next to you or make sure you give them something to hold like a puppet. Or give them a fidget toy to hold on to or even a weighted lap pad.

Categories
Autism Advice

Innovative Classroom Strategies- A Proactive Approach to Early Intervention

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I just finished putting together the Teacher’s Workshop that I will be giving this week. Click here for the the Power Point Slides! Enjoy!

Categories
Fine Motor Activities

14 Most Effective Tools to Add to Classroom Stations

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Working in the schools for many years, I see that teachers have less and less time to work one-on-one with a child that has fine motor difficulties. I therefore try to provide teachers with tools that they can easily incorporate into their classroom stations so that children are working on fine motor skills any chance they get. These simple changes are a wonderful pro-active way to make your stations go from great to AWESOME!

Advice from an OT:

 

1-Add clothespins:

The resistance from the clothespins strengthens pincer grasp. Just make sure that children are using a squeezing the pins with their thumb and index finger (they can also add middle finger if the strength is not there) all other fingers must be tucked in the palm of the hand.

Ex: Pick up pompoms to count or sort, write upper case letters on clothespins and have children match them to a card with its lowercase match.

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2. Add Adaptive chopsticks or tweezers:

The important thing is the placement of the fingers on these tools. We are looking to mimic a pencil grasp. Make sure that children use their thumb and index finger only. All other fingers are tucked inside the palm of the hand. The webspace (space between the thumb and index finger is open and forms an O, not flat. Use for all stations that require picking up items.

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3. Play doh or putty:

The resistance of the dough helps strengthen little fingers. There are so many ways to use dough. Ex: hide items in the dough and have children dig with little fingers, make little balls using the thumb, index and middle finger only to make little balls (these can be used to count), roll the dough to create letters and numbers, use dough to teach cutting, make stamps and imprints.

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4. Tiny items:

Use neat pincer grasp (i.e. thumb and index finger only, all other fingers tucked in the palm of the hand) to pick up tiny items like beads, beans, cheerios and mini shaped erasers (my favorite).

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5. Use coins or buttons:

An important skill to improve dexterity involves Nesting and retrieving small items. Nesting: Use the thumb and index finger to pick up coins and hold them in the palm of the same hand. Retrieving: hold coins in the palm of the hand and “wiggle” fingers to retrieve one coin at a time from the palm of the hand to the tip of the thumb and index finger. Use coins count, sort or stack.

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6. Push pins:

Place worksheets on a cork board and use pushpins. Children use a neat pincer grasp to hold the pin. I like using the extra-large push pins for little kids but you can use a variety of sizes. Ex: Draw a shape on construction paper, have kids push on the outline of the shape to “cut” out the figure, kids make letters using several pushpins, use for counting, use to poke the answer from worksheets.

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7. Use rice or bean bins:

An important skill to develop is tactile discrimination. This means that children use their fingers only to feel for items without visually monitoring what their fingers are doing. (This is useful when fastening buttons on oneself. We are more efficient closing buttons without visually monitoring our fingers). Hide items in bean bins for sorting, counting, categorizing, alphabet games like hiding all sorts of small figurines and asking children to find the ones that begin with the letter A only.

8. Stickers:

Peeling stickers is a great way to use little fingers and improve pincer grasp. Use stickers with numbers, letters, colors, categories etc…

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9. Easels:

One of the best tools to use to strengthen the wrist and position fingers correctly in preparation for handwriting. Put all worksheets on easels.

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10. Use containers with fasteners, twist tops and lids:

Place items such as cards, blocks etc.. in Ziploc bags or pencil cases that have zippers, buttons or snaps. It strengthens fingers to open and close them to retrieve items from inside them.

11. Use Manipulatives:

When picking manipulatives for counting or letters etc… try to pick some that that have resistance such as lego, links etc… (instead of blocks). Learning Resources has some great options.

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12. Use grippers, fat and short writing tools:

When picking tools for writing, choose short and fat markers/crayons. You can also attach grippers to all pencils.

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13. Use a stylus:

When children are using iPads, use a stylus with a gripper on it to mimic pencil grasp. Children are very motivated to use iPads and therefore using a stylus (with a gripper) gives them the chance to practice proper pencil grasp which they can then carry over during handwriting.

 

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14. Use dry erase boards:

Dry erase boards and markers are great for teaching skills. I find that children are so excited to use these tools, more fun and appealing than a pencil and paper. When teaching something new, consider using easels!

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BLOG Uncategorized

Pack a Backpack

The American Occupational Therapy Association has published ten tips to avoid backpack-related health problems:

  1. Never let a child carry more than 15% of his or her body weight. This means a child who weighs 100 pounds shouldn’t wear a backpack heavier than 15 pounds.
  2. Load heaviest items closest to the child’s back and arrange books and materials to prevent them from sliding.
  3. Always wear both shoulder straps. Wearing only one strap can cause a child to lean to one side, curving the spine and causing pain or discomfort.
  4. Select a pack with well-padded shoulder straps. Too much pressure on shoulders and necks can cause pain and tingling.
  5. Adjust the shoulder straps so that the pack fits snugly to the child’s back. The bottom of the pack should rest in the curve of the lower back, never more than four inches below the child’s waistline.
  6. Use the waist belt, if the backpack has one, to help distribute the pack’s weight more evenly.
  7. Check what your child carries to school and brings home to make sure the items are necessary to the day’s activities.
  8. If the backpack is too heavy, consider using a book bag on wheels if your child’s school allows it.
  9. Choose the right size pack for your child’s back as well as one with enough room for necessary school items.
  10. If a student is experiencing back pain or neck soreness, consult your physician or occupational therapist.