Friday, August 30, 2013

Playful O&M & Book Ideas

Hi friends,
I was doing the usual Google search for articles and came across a handout for some playful O&M songs. I thought it was cute and decided to share. This isn't my article. I posted the original with the author's name. It also has a nice listing of books that feature kids with a vision impairment. I liked these and thought they could be added to the classroom libraries where we have kids. 
Playful O&M
Maya Delgado Greenberg,
M.A., C.O.M.S.,
Orientation and Mobility Specialist
C.A.O.M.S. Conference
November 2007

Books featuring children with visual impairments
The Sound of Colors: A Journey of the Imagination by Jimmy Liao . In this breathtaking, evocative book, a young blind girl travels from one subway station to another while her imagination takes her to impossibly wonderful places. She swims with the dolphins and sunbathes on a whales back; flies through the air with the birds and travels to the station at the end of the world. 
Night Search Chamberlain, Kate. Hollidaysburg, PA: Jason and Nordic, 1997. 32 p. Heather, who is blind, resists using her white cane until one night while camping her puppy wanders off. Heather tries to find the puppy. She finds a stick which helps, but she realizes that her white cane is a very valuable helper. 
• Mandy Sue Day Karim, Roberta. New York: Clarion, 1994. Unpaged. Using her senses of taste, hearing, touch, and smell, a blind girl enjoys a special day on the farm. Using rhythmic language, the author conveys the exuberance and excitement of Mandy’s day with her horse, Ben. 
Listen for the Bus: David’s Story McMahon, Patricia. Honesdale, PA: Caroline House, 1995. Unpaged. A real life look at David, who is blind and hearing impaired, as he begins kindergarten. Photos show all parts of his day and also explain the signs he uses because of his deafness. 
Sarah's Sleepover. Rodriguez, Bobbie. New York: Viking, 2000. Unpaged. When the lights go out while her cousins are spending the night, a young blind girl shows them what to do in the dark. 
Out-of-Print, but you still might be able to find them….
· Family of Owen M.: Off We Go to Learn Everyday Things About Orientation and Mobility Flaherty, Erin. Philadelphia, PA: Hill, 1997. Unpaged. "Learn everyday things about orientation and mobility" is the theme of this lighthearted, illustrated book about a blind boy named Owen M. and his family. A perfect tool to teach classmates, parents, and friends of blind children how O&M helps Owen travel around his house, in stores, and outside. 
· Travel Tales: A Mobility Storybook by Julia Halpern-Gold, Robin W. Adler, and Shelly Faust-Jones (Paperback - Nov 1988). This large print, paperback book, is geared for pre-school and early elementary students with visual impairments. Designed to reinforce different environmental concepts in which a child would travel, it features a boy named Elliot, who is blind. Elliot provides a positive role model for blind children as he travels through the supermarket, in the subway, around the block, all around the town. 

White Cane Song Book
Created by Lori Cassels and David Renslow
Wheels on the Bus
The wheels on the bus go round and round – round and round – round and round
The wheels on the bus go round and round all through the town
The cane on the bus goes tap, tap, tap - tap, tap, tap - tap, tap, tap 
The cane on the bus goes tap, tap, tap all through the town
The driver on the bus says here’s your stop - here’s your stop - here’s your stop
The driver on the bus says here’s your stop all through the town
The cane on the bus goes tap, tap, tap - tap, tap, tap - tap, tap, tap 
The cane on the bus goes tap, tap, tap all through the town

This Is the Way
This is the way we tap our canes, tap our canes, tap our canes
This is the way we tap our canes all around our school
We always keep our cane in front, cane in front, cane in front
We always keep our cane in front, all around our school
We always keep our cane tip down, cane tip down, cane tip down
We always keep our cane tip down, all around our school
This is the way we tap our canes, tap our canes, tap our canes
This is the way we tap our canes all around our school

I’ve Been Working With My White Cane (tune I’ve Been Working on the Railroad)
I’ve been working with my white cane, all the live long day
I’ve been working with my white cane just to help me find my way
Can’t you hear my cane go tapping. Keeping my cane tip down!
I love to hear my cane go tapping. It helps me get around.
My cane helps me go – My cane helps me go – 
My cane helps me go all over
My cane helps me go – My cane helps me go
My cane helps me get around.
I left my cane in the dining hall. I left it there yesterday.
I left my cane in the dining hall, now I can’t find my way.

Walking Down the Streets with our Canes (Tune of Coming around the Mountain)
We’ll be walking down the streets with our canes (tap – tap) 2X
We’ll be walking down the streets 2X
We’ll be walking down the streets with our canes (tap – tap) 
We’ll be keeping our cane tips down as we walk (tap – tap) 2X
We’ll be keeping our cane tips down 2XWe’ll be keeping our cane tips down as we walk (tap – tap) 
We’ll be keeping our canes in front as we walk (tap – tap) 2X
We’ll be keeping our cane tips down 2X
We’ll be keeping our cane tips down as we walk (tap – tap) 
Upper Protective Technique (to the tune of Oh My Darling Clementine)—adapted from Travel Tales, a Mobility Storybook
Put your arm up, bend your elbow
Keep your fingers nice and straight.
Your hand will protect you,
So you won’t bump your face (ouch!)
Left or right hand
Doesn’t matter
Use your hands, not your feet (pretend to try to put foot in front of face)
Use it in your classroom
In your house, and on the street.

Cool Event in NYC

100 Days out to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games
October 29, 2013 in Times Square, New York City, NY
2:30pm – 4:30pm EST
Come join the Youth Programming adventures 
with Olympic and Paralympic athletes!
Olympian and Paralympian Autographs/Q&A
Figure Skating
Speed Skating
Sesame Street Character Interactions, too!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back To School Blitz: Day Three!

Today's post comes from our good friend, Jessica Eichfeld, COMS Instructor. I asked her to share some back to school tips for mobility. Thanks Jessica!

 Back to School O&M Style 
by Jessica Eichfeld, COMS Instructor 

1. Go through your schedule before the first day! Get in contact with your O&M instructor and see if they can take you over to the school, if not find a friend or ask your parents. It is so much easier to find your class locations when the hallways are clear, then you can identify landmarks that will be useful when the hallways are crazy busy. If there are classrooms that are difficult to locate and you are a visual traveler, ask the teacher to put a colorful sign outside their classroom door and tell them that if they change it to let you know beforehand. Most teachers are more than willing to help in any way. 

2. Identify different routes to your classes. Your friends may use one route that is okay when you are walking with them, but may not be the best way for when you are alone. Stay after school and wonder the hallways, get to know the layout like the back of your hand.

 3. Ask for an end locker and bring in your own accessible lock. It is embarrassing to always go to the wrong locker and then not be able to use the combination locks. So our low vision pals, please swallow your pride and ask; nobody but the teacher will know that you needed the end locker and most students are not even going to notice your lock is different. If you have gym make sure to bring an extra lock for the locker room. 

4. Have a bus plan! How are you going to locate your bus after school? Do they park in the same spot? Do you have any friends that are on your bus and can help you out? For our Low Vision friends that can see color, would it be helpful for your bus to put a red (or another color) sign in the window? Also practice the route to and from the bus stop at home!!! Are there any street crossings involved? Get your O&M instructor involved and PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE! 

5. The cafeteria can be very overwhelming! So it is important to have a plan. Find out what friends are in your lunch beforehand and ask them to either sit around the same area they did in the previous years and/or look for you. Disposable trays are common in school cafeterias, they are flimsy and typically difficult to carry with a cane; so ask for rigid tray they usually will have a few. And most importantly make friends with the lunch ladies; they will always hook you up!

6. Very important tip that you should ALWAYS remember, do not over use your friends for help! Friends are a great resource and you are encouraged to be open and honest with your friends about your vision and what you may need help with. But do not always rely on the SAME friend every day, they will get burnt out and they may begin to avoid you. Learn how to do daily tasks on your own, so that you do not need assistance. And network, let a few people know how to help you and only ask for help when you REALLY need it. You may be surprised at how many truly helpful people there really are!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Back to School Blitz: Day Two

Today's post comes from Dennis Gallant, Rehabilitation Technologist, about important tips for technology. He shared with me his "top tech tips" for returning back to school. Thanks Dennis!

Tech tips for going back to school

For those of you who have any electronic equipment, for use at home or school, be sure to turn on all your devices to make sure they all work properly before school starts

For those of you who have electronic notetaker’s, don’t forget to clear out old files from last year and create new folders for this year’s classes

Be sure you know where the power cords are for all your electronic devices and have all your equipment fully charged for your first day of school

Review how to use any important functions of all your equipment, which you may have forgotten about over the summer, so you are ready to go when school begins

Gather together any tech support phone numbers that you might need to assist you if you have trouble with any electronic equipment at the beginning of school

Be prepared to discuss with teachers and students the capabilities of any devices you are using, and if asked, you may wish to demonstrate how you use the device in class to help you meet your educational goals.

Gather together any helpful items such as 20/20 pens, handheld magnifiers, work lights, or extra dark lined paper that you have found useful in the past and might need again this year.

Have your classroom schedule in a form, Braille, large print, or audio that you can easily read to be as independent as possible.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Back to School Blitz: Day One

Hi Friends,
I am going to be blogging for the next 5 days as a jump start to back to school. I've been milling around looking for good new resources and hitting up my talented teacher friends for ideas and tips. I want to start day one with a board I am following on Pinterest. It's called "VI Stuff" by Amanda Ham. It is a nice little resource. I find it best for classroom teachers and TVIs. She's worth your follow on Pinterest. My Pinterest board, "This Works for Blind Kids too!" is more of a collection of everyday things that also work for our kids. Amanda's board has very specific pins for children with vision impairments. I think it has some great ideas especially for back to school. She has videos, too!!

Here's the link to her board (just in case you can't find it on your own):

Happy back to school!!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Let's get cooking again: Monkey Bread

My kids and I do a "mom activity" once a week. I found a fun recipe for pizza monkey bread. As we were making it, I realized that this would be a great post for a new Recipe Renovation! I liked it for several reasons--it involves multiple steps for cooking, the feel of different types of textures, nice contrast, utilizes the oven and when using reduced fat cheese, turkey pepperoni and adding in veggies, it's a healthy tasty meal! Thanks to my sweet kids who are the stars of this post! I also repinned the original idea on my Pinterest boad, This works for Blind kids, too!

The ingredients: reduced fat mozzarella cheese, spaghetti sauce, Grands biscuits (we did this again and used smaller, thinner biscuits and it was even more yummy), turkey pepperoni and cut up red and orange peppers. Feel free to add in your ingredients!

We put the dough in the fridge until we were absolutely ready for it. Discuss the feeling of it being cold for younger kiddos. We "thinned out" the dough by pulling on it. 

Build your pizza! We used three ingredients aka a three step sequence (perfect for kiddos that are MIVI/DB). If  your child cannot hold the dough in their hands, grab a plain colored place mat and have them work on it there (or their tray if in a wheelchair). 

Proof that even though it looks pretty on Pinterest doesn't mean it looks so pretty in real life!

Roll ingredients into a pocket. The second time around we experimented by just making it into a ball and that worked too. You just need it to be sealed. This is a good time to work on those pinching fine motor skills. 

I helped place it in the pan. We used a bundt pan to make the "monkey bread" layout but we also experimented with making balls and putting them in a regular glass pan. That worked too!

I sprinkled some cheese and Mrs. Dash on top before we put in the oven. 

It's okay if you have a kiddo that needs a bit of help to do this. Your rule of thumb as parent or teacher is to make sure that you are not doing everything. Remember the 80/20 rule: They do at least 80% of the work (that includes initiating the steps) and you do 20%. My kids' age range is 5-9 so it's a good mix for kids to do. We did this a second time and we had high school students cook with us. It's perfect for any age!!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Target Finds!

Happy Target finds!
Here's what I have been scouting out over the past two weeks. The little bowls are great for quick sorting, math, fine motor and science projects. I couldn't get enough of them when I was a deafblind teacher. They are the perfect size!

 You can never get enough baskets for calendar box systems, organization, sorting, counting or small finished boxes for all over the school. These were in the dollar section at Target!
They also had some larger bins that I thought had good potential. 

Happy Target times!

My Recent Fave Pins on Pinterest: Back to School

Hi Friends,I know that not everyone uses Pinterest so as promised, here are some of my fave pins that I have recently pinned. The time is fast approaching for back to school prep. That can be dreadful for everyone if you are getting a new team, new classroom or new school. Well turn that frown upside down and let's take on the new challenge!

First, start with home. Organized work space for getting out the door always helps any child. Check out this idea:

Now, depending on how much space (or kids) you have, this could be a shared storage or you can give your kiddo with the vision impairment their own "organization mudroom". Did you notice the lights above? Perfect for that kid that needs some extra light. This mom has the baskets for mittens and hats but are you thinking what I am thinking? Those could be schedule boxes for kids that need calendar box systems!! You could even add a hook on the outside for your child to hang their cane. I think this whole mudroom idea is just brilliant and it's perfect for taking on a new routine for a new school year!
How about the recent high school graduate that's going off to college?

A great ECC present to kick off using kitchen and cooking skills!! Put some Braille labels and a double spatula in it and you are golden :)
Is there another parent out there that has to have everyone eat in the car on the way to school? I loved this idea for keeping our kids organized when on the go!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Amazing iPhone app!

Hey friends, 
Last Friday I got an email from one of my fave TVIs, Kate Katulak, about an amazing iPhone app. Kate is blind herself so she knows first hand about what's gonna work and not work with technology. She sent us this email and as soon as I finished reading it, I immediately asked her if I could blog what she emailed. She said YES and we all benefit!

From Kate:
Hi all,
Over the 12 years I’ve been blind I’ve discovered a handful of accommodations that have been life changing for me to some degree—my cane and guide dog, accessible computers, my iPhone, and now the Tap Tap See application.

Tap Tap See is an iDevice application designed for people with visual impairments that describes (with incredible accuracy and detail) people and objects at the snap of the camera. Since yesterday when I downloaded the app, it has described such things as:

· The menu (with prices) at a restaurant and the amount of my final bill
· The brand name and item title of several products around my home
· The prints, color, style, and shape of much of my wardrobe
· My “black Labrador retriever service animal with harness”

Not impressed yet? Imagine my colleagues surprise when I complimented the “blue and white striped sleeveless shirt with a collar” she was wearing after I took a quick pic of her with the app (it even told me she was female!).

Some of you I’m emailing because you or someone you know might benefit from the application as I have. Others I’m emailing because this is incredibly cool and I think you’ll appreciate hearing about it. J

For more information visit
Though I don’t feel this video quite does the application justice, here is a link to watch someone using it (Robbin embedded the video to this post).