Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The World According To Jimmy

I am so excited to post a brand new addition to the bee! As you know, most of my favorite colleagues are my students. I love them, love learning from them, am inspired by them, just overall I love my students! I had an idea inspired by a pretty incredible kid named Jimmy. Jimmy is a favorite student and has been since he came onto my caseload in preschool. He's one of the most fearless kids and has a great family that has been right by his side nurturing him right along. Jimmy and his family are pretty open about his vision condition and their life, struggles and love that have happened over the past few years. With all of that being said, Jimmy is our newest blogger! Yay!! His mom, Kristi, has also signed on to share her views and experiences as they navigate life experiencing this crazy beautiful world. Jimmy's going to try out new things, tell us about school, life, whatever floats his way and together we can all learn about the world according to Jimmy!

Dear Blind Students:
Hi I am Jimmy! I am in 2nd grade in Stratford. I am a very low vision student. I read and write in Braille. Oh this might sound funny or weird, so I whacked my eye, right, so then the next day I could see a little better, I think. And just some advise do not try this at home because it is very painful. I like to play outside, dig in the dirt(this is most likely for boys), water ski, climb, run, build, try new things, fight with my dad (playfully of course). I am writing this blog to help Robbin get a young students life better. I am willing to answer any questions you have. I am hoping with this blog I will make a friend who is like me and to show that us blind kids are not any different than sighted kids, we can do anything (for the most part).
Talk to you later, Jimmy
Jimmy at Camp Abilities 2011. He caught a fish!
Jimmy at our Holiday Skills Day 2011. He's snagging an Oreo before our cooking project. 

 Jimmy at our ice skating event. He's on the ice with his cane checking things out.
Jimmy proudly supports our USABA Fitness Challenge.
And an introduction from Jimmy's super mom, Kristi. My editor note: I asked Kristi to also be part of this because she is one of those awesome moms who gets "it". Their family has had to learn a lot and she has done a great job of accepting, learning and empowering Jimmy. If I've got any moms out there reading this and just feeling like the blindness card is just overwhelming, this is a mom that gets it. She's 100% real and down to earth. Happy to have her!

Hi my name is Kristi, I am Jimmy's mother! In 2004 we got the devastating news that Jimmy had something called Retinoblastoma, cancer of the retina. In the years that proceeded we did treatment after treatment: chemo, radiation, enuculation of his left eye, plaque therapy on the right eye, retina reattachment, cataract removal...etc. In the process of all of this Jimmy lost the majority of his vision and is now considered Blind. He has the ability at times to see shadows and forms. In the years since Jimmy has gone blind (he was 3 ½ when he lost it) it has not slowed him down. He plays t-ball for the local team, he is an avid waterskier, he runs around outside our home like any other child and most people who pass by have no idea he actually cannot see them or anything else. Jimmy is now in the 2nd grade learning to read and write in Braille. He loves going to events with other children like him. He also loves music, books, and any excuse to get outside and RUN!

Good deals and steals at Target THIS WEEK!!

This Tuesday blog day I have TWO great posts to share. The first one is about my finds today. I was shopping at Target this evening and found two great deals and steals that I had to share!!
The first one is from the dollar bin section. It's $2.50 for these dip and chip trays aka sorting trays!! Do you love the bright yellow? Hello CVI!! They also have white, pink and blue. When I was a deafblind teacher, I loved sorting trays! These are such a steal at $2.50!

The next one is instantly great because it is 50% off! These are winter sleds. My Target has a ton of these because we have had almost no snow this year (don't get me wrong, I am not complaining!).  The sleds that I am blogging about are the circle disk ones. They are on clearance for $2.98!!
Why are these a steal? Because they are perfect little defined spaces for preschool!! You can sit in them or flip them over and have some fun (so many ideas---hide things under them, put balls in them when sitting in them and let them roll around, I could keep going...).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Camp Abilities CT Wants You!!

And now....a word from our favorite camp, CAMP ABILITIES CT...
(applause now)

Hi blog friends, this is just a friendly ad to recruit college students to come and be
 part of Camp Abilities CT 2012! It is my favorite week of the year (seriously, it totally is!!)

I am now actively recruiting for physical education, adapted physical education, special education, recreation therapy majors and all other related majors to come be part of 
our camp team. 

Please visit the Camp Abilities CT website for the application and more information 
about Camp Abilities CT.
I hope to see some of you soon!!
"It's not about what we SEE...It's about what we DO!"

Grab your tool belt!

Happy DIY projects! My colleague gave me a new copy of FamilyFun this week and I instantly smiled. I love FamilyFun magazine!! I found another hot little idea that I knew I had to blog about. I took lots of pictures of this page with all the details. This idea is great for preschoolers through first/second grade. It's easy and it totally works so many ECC skills (systematic search patterns, bilateral hand skill activity, cause and effect, etc. plus it is a totally functional activity). You could totally take this a step further and go to a hardware store and see where you buy nails and screws and stuff (now you have incorporated mobility and made it a community based instruction activity--voila!!). This is also a great activity for dads to take the lead on. Think dad date (or uncle or man date...) and head to Home Depot! Get a tool belt to dress up (imaginary play, meet a construction worker too!) and put nails and screws of different lengths in baggies (and now it's a sorting project! ding ding!!). Check out this project!!


Read the "take it further" tip! It's a good one ;)

I also like to find little gems like this in magazines because I want all of my parents to see that they can still be part of all the typical education activities, magazines, etc. You can't be part of every one of them (no one can. Trust me, I am a single mom and I know this well). But there are so many things that we can get ideas from! It also helps me learn how to tweak something for our kiddos in a pinch.  So, pick up a magazine and look for good projects and think about how you can do an easy tweak to it. Here's one tip, I usually can do these modifications or get ideas for them in about 10 minutes. If I have to recreate the wheel in order to the project, then it is a no-go (so don't kill yourself with over complicating things!)  Happy reading :)

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Cane holder

Before I can share why I wanted to blog this piece, I have to give major props to the source of this week's inspiration. This DIY vision project is courtesy of Channel 3 Kids Camp in Andover CT. Our agency has been partnering with them for two years for our super awesome Camp Abilities (and other programs). Their entire staff has been so thoughtful and creative to come up with ideas for our kiddos. 

That being said, let me unveil my latest DIY vision project:

How cool is this idea? Mark, from C3KC, constructed this for us. With so many canes, it is easy to lose someone's! That is why we have the Cane Drop Box. As soon as students arrive, we tag their cane with their names. At each rotation we have a box (in the same spot) that students drop their canes in.

I don't have the dimensions to construct this but I think you can get the jist from the pictures. I am so happy to work with people who are thoughtful (in all the right ways) about helping our kids get out and have fun at camp. 
I love it!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cinema Without Sight

Sometimes I just get giddy with excitement when I discover new ideas or projects for out kids. It just makes me smile to know that there are people across our great country and in other parts of the world that are pioneering new ways of thinking or redefining how people view our small but mighty community of children (and people) with vision impairments. 

I have recently been viewing on Youtube video snippets from the Cinema Without Sight festival and I have been LOVING it! I feel so inspired and happy watching all these clips! :)

What is Cinema Without Sight? Here's an excerpt from their site:
"Cinema Without Sight (CWS) is a unique film festival sponsored by Braille Institute for visually impaired students in grades 7-12. It challenges participants to apply their creativity and shepherd a film concept from script to screen. The goal of the program is to enable students to contribute their own unique perspective to society, thereby demonstrating how well they are able to interpret and engage in visual media."
Their site address: http://brailleinstitute.org/Services/Children/Cinema_Without_Sight_Film_Festival.aspx.
I've also posted it in a separate post today (just in case you feel you are not too tech savvy...).
You can see a full list of clips and winners, etc. as well on their site. Here's the shortcut:

Here is the link to the Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X8WBUX6p7o.
I also viewed this clip (also on Youtube), titled "Blind Ambition: A Life Without Vision".

Have some fun and enter a video! The deadline is May 1, 2012!!

Cinema Without Sight - Film Competition for Blind and Visually Impaired ...