Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hadley School for the Blind

I have another great resource for families and education teams: The Hadley School for the Blind. Have you checked them out? I love recommeding Hadley to families because they have wonderful, FREE resource classes. Professionals can also take courses from Hadley as well. They are online and correspondance type courses that usually go at your pace. They send you out materials and additional resources. I have taken the Braille class (as a refresher) and a few of their early childhood classes.

Check them out:

From the Hadley website:
The Hadley School for the Blind offers more than 100 courses in four program areas. Courses relevant to the needs of blind or visually impaired individuals, their families and professionals working in the blindness field are continually being developed and updated.

Hadley is a distance education school and delivers its courses to students in a variety of different media formats, depending on the student’s need. This custom, one-on-one service allows students to work at their own pace and benefit from Hadley’s expertise regardless of where they live.

Find out more about the individual programs:
href="http://www.hadley.edu/2_c_HS.asp">Adult Continuing Education (ACE)

High School (HS)
Family Education (FE)
Hadley School for Professional Studies (HSPS)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Camp Abilities Costa Rica

Hola! I am excited about my adventure: Camp Abilities Costa Rica!

I am excited to share with you my good news! I will be part of a team that is going to Costa Rica for a program called Camp Abilities. Camp Abilities gives children and youth who are blind and visually impaired the opportunity to discover their abilities as they get to play and be active. I love this program! Camp Abilities programs started in Brockport, New York and is now all over the country. I am also proud to say that I started Camp Abilities chapter in Connecticut last year.

Camp Abilities Costa Rica will be in March from the 16-20, 2011. I will be facilitating the vision impairment training for 30 volunteers on March 16. This is the first year for Camp Abilities Costa Rica. They have 23 students of all ages, vision impairments and abilities participating. Camp Abilities Costa Rica will be at Universidad de Costa Rica Cede del Atlantico.

I am proud to be part of the Camp Abilities Costa Rica training team. I will provide the vision impairment training for 30 volunteers on March 16. I have jumped into learning Spanish and preparing for my training. Camp Abilities Costa Rica has limited resources for programming needs for their program. I am asking for donations for resources, equipment and travel needs for Camp Abilities Costa Rica. I would like to purchase specialized sports equipment such as beep baseballs to donate for future Camp Abilities. I am also fundraising for travel needs and additional resources to support a successful camp. It is my goal to raise $600 for Camp Abilities Costa Rica. For more information about Camp Abilities programs, you can visit the main program, http://www.campabilities.org/. You can also visit the Camp Abilities Connecticut site, http://www.campabilitiesct.org/. I am the program director for Camp Abilities Connecticut.

I would appreciate a donation of any amount. I have opened a Paypal fundraising account for this program. I hope to reach my goal so I can help support a successful start to Camp Abilities Costa Rica. All of the equipment and supplies I purchase will be donated to their program for current and future use. Thank you for supporting my efforts to go to Costa Rica. I love teaching children who are blind and visually impaired. I am excited to go to a new area and train other professionals and meet new students.

Here's how you can help: Click on the DONATE button on the sidebar of the blog. It will take you to the Paypal site and you can make your donation.
Please let me know that you donated. I want to personally thank everyone who supports me. I will also post pictures of Camp Abilities Costa Rica on my blog. Feel free to contact me for additional information about Camp Abilities Costa Rica, vision impairment education or how you can be part of Camp Abilities Connecticut.

Thank you for your support! Remember, “it’s not about what we SEE, it’s about what we DO” (Camp Abilities Connecticut motto).

Robbin Keating

This is me doing archery under simulation at Camp Abilities Connecticut.
I actuallyhit the target!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Even more holiday projects...

I found another cute holiday project that I thought would be another fun one with just the right tweaking! Take a look at the picture. It's a handprint Christmas tree.

Why did I think this would be a great project? It's another project that would be a great sensory activity especially for our children who thrive on sensory activities. Art can be fun for children with vision impairments, you just need to know how to make the accomodations!

A little sensory in the mix...
Let's break it down: add sand, glitter or another texture to the paint for the hand print. One idea I had was to actually go to a Christmas tree and pluck of some needles and mix those in the paint, too. The pine needles have a great scent, feel nice on your hand and when they come from the Christmas tree, add a great connection to what they are actually going to paint.

Use a paintbrush and brush the paint onto your childs' hand. You can also use a roller. Your child may like the paint cold (throw it in the freezer for a bit right before the activity) or warm (same thing as the cold, a little warmth is soothing). When brushing, use long strokes (spice it up by adding some pressure while doing it).

For tactual defense issues....
Make the handprints but then remember to let your child get messy if they want. Let them ooze the paint between their fingers if they like! If they are resistant to the paint first, ease them into it by letting them paint yours first or letting them paint their own hands. Don't force your child but be firm about having them be involved. I like to have them touch it for at least 3-5 seconds and then gradually increase the time until they get comfortable. If they still don't want to do it, keep it hand under hand and let them do something. I have always found that if I just start doing a project right next to my students, they eventually get interested and start creeping their hands into what I am doing. Let them lead to tell you when they are ready.

Visual needs...
Use the colors that work best for your child. For example, pick a shiny red back drop for our CVI kiddos. Strong contrast always works best. When you use green, discuss with your child that Christmas trees are green and that's why we use green. Watch out for background clutter, keep your materials simple and organized. Make sure you use a defined work space!

Use puff paint to write your childs' name and the year on it. I also think it would be fun to write their name in Braille on it, too with puff paint!

For my Jewish friends...
I thought about this for a second and thought you could make a finger print Menorah.

My little disclaimer: I don't know if this is offensive to my Jewish friends so please no offense is intended. I thought you could use a Menorah clipart but then use your fingers as the candles. As with the handprints, you can paint your finger and make the print of the candle. Then I thought you could use your thumb print as the flame (white paint for the candle, yellow paint for the flame). Not sure if it will work but it was an idea!

I'll keep my eye out for more projects!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Another fun holiday project

I saw this project at my friend's home today and had a lightbulb go off when I saw it: IDEA!! She made this super cute holiday mobile and I thought we could tweak this to make it a fun (and accessible) holiday project.

Here's how you can make it:

1. Grab some fabric of different textures and/or contrasting colors
2. Look for object to attach. I love how she used shiny oranaments (are you CVI parents thinking what I'm thinking....)
3. Get bells or anything that makes sounds to attach as well (think windchimes...)
4. Use sensory objects such as peppermints, candycanes, holly leaves that smell, ornaments with fun textures to attach.

You can hang them in a doorway, in the corner, by the door or anywhere your child can find them.

Have fun with this! Customize it based on your child's vision needs and sensory preferences. I thought this would be great for a range of our students. You can also use other colors if you don't celebrate traditional Christmas. This is a great activity for children of all abilities. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Fun ideas for holiday projects & presents

Here are some of the projects we made this year at our annual Holiday Skills Day. I included the materials, directions and some pictures. My examples are just the basics, you can customize and embellish any way you like.

Just remember, as with everything, this is about process not product. Let these crafts & projects be something your family can do together (it doesn't matter what size your family is).

Be prepared especially if you have a child with multiple impairments. Nothing stresses out a mom like unpreparedness and a child with a short attention span. Students of all abilites completed these projects.
Holiday Card ideas (these can be turned into garland, too!)

Mitten Card Directions
· Mitten pattern
· Tactile paper/craft foam
· Pipe cleaners
· Card insert
· Blank card
· Glue
· Braille paper & Braille labels

1. Cut out mitten pattern (adult)
2. Put mitten on card
3. glue pipe cleaners onto base of mitten
4. put insert inside
5. Customize it!
*Instead of doing the yarn (as shown on the example picture), we glued 3 lines of pipe cleaners.

Christmas Tree Card
· Wrapping paper
· Christmas tree pattern (tall triangle)
· Corrugated board paper/tactile paper
· Blank card
· Glue
· Braille paper & Braille labels

1. Wrap wrapping paper around Christmas tree pattern to make the Christmas tree.
2. cut out small square of corrugated board (to make stump)
3. Glue corrugated board on blank paper, put Christmas tree on as well.
4. Attach any embellishments to customize
5. Place insert inside
*Christmas tree card example is with the magnet card example further down in this post...

Peace & Joy Braille Letter Cards
· Wrapping paper
· Circle punch or pencil and scissors
· Blank card
· Print tag with Peace or Joy written out
· Glue
· Braille paper & Braille labels

1. Cut out circles to make a Braille letter P or J
2. Place circles on card in the Braille cell
3. Place print tag with the work Peace or Joy on card front
4. Place insert inside card
5. Customize with any embellishments

I did the examples on regular Braille paper. We used blank cards when we made them at the activity day. I used a circle punch to make these. The students had no problem punching out their own circles. This is great for Braille readers!

I also made tags that said "Peace" & "Joy" and put them on the front of the cards.

Holiday Project Idea

Christmas Present Magnets
· Foam board
· Magnetic paper/magnets
· Wrapping paper
· Ribbon
· Bow
· Glue

1. Cut foam board into 4x7 rectangles
2. cut wrapping paper to 4x7 size
3. cut magnetic strip to place on the back
4. Place wrapping paper on foam board
5. cut ribbon to make a “wrapped present look”
6. put bow in top left corner
7. place magnet on back
8. Customize with any embellishment

Another recipe for all abilities & ages

Happy December,

As I mentioned in another post, every year I do a Holiday Skills Day with my students. It's been going now for 3 years and each year it gets better. I thought I would share one of our favorite recipes. I've had preschool age students through high school make this treat. It's fun to do and it has texture and yummy smells to make it a great sensory activity, too!

Here's a recipe for chocolate bark:
French Chocolate Bark
9 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips1 cup roasted cashews
1 cup dried apricots1/2 cup dried cranberries
(note: feel free to substitute any other toppings of your choice)

*We have used peppermint candies when making this at our activity. They have a great smell and the kids love to prepare them for cooking. Just take peppermint candies and put them in a bag. Use a hammer to mash them up into little pieces (what kid wouldn't love to do that?!)

Melt the chocolate in the microwave OR in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.Meanwhile, line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Pour the melted chocolate over the paper and spread to form a rectangle. Sprinkle the nuts and cashews over the chocolate. Set aside for 2 hours until firm. A old porch may help speed up the process. Cut the park and serve at room temperature.