Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Braille fun

This is just a little something fun that I came up with. It's a fun way to have fun with Braille. I found this idea of eating meals in muffin tins (like the ones pictured) awhile ago and thought it would be fun to do with my kids. I found these fun silicone muffin tins at JoAnn's on an after-Halloween clearance for $3 a piece. 

 I usually give these to my kids horizontally but then I decided to flip it vertically and viola! A Braille cell!! Can you guess what letters I made with my pita chips and celery? I thought this could be fun to do with young Braille readers as well as fun for siblings and families to have some fun with Braille.
It also might be fun to arrange your child's snacks in a letter each day and make a puzzle out of it! Take it to the next level by having your Braille reader do the arrangement and YOU have to figure out what letter it is!! 

Want to incorporate a little bonus ECC kitchen and cooking skills? Have your Braille reader go to the fridge or cabinet and prepare all the snack items and fix it up. 

 Do it at home: Buy a tin and do snack time with the first letter of everyone's name. Think of it as customized snacks for everyone. It's also a great way for families to brush up on Braille letters.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...How I love to use thee for my lessons

I was perusing through my usual magazines scoping out new ideas for my students and I stumbled upon this picture. I think this is a great idea for working on patterns! Students who are Braille or print readers could do this pattern. It's also wonderful for students with additional disabilities.

Here's what I think you should do for the modifications for this project: Make a pattern that the students can follow that goes under the food. You can do this easily for print readers by using contrasting colors lined up as the pattern to follow. For Braille readers, you can use tinfoil as the guide and make tick marks at each new food. You could also alternate tinfoil and parchment paper strips to use as a guide. 

I also think you could substitute one of the cheeses with pepperoni or olives, even crackers or goldfish. Be creative! This lesson also teaches systematic search patterns (starting from bottom to top, left to right)

Have fun :)

Holiday Recipe---It's not too late for holiday baking!!

I made this recipe with my students at our annual Holiday Skills Day. I found it on my all-time favorite magazine and website, FamilyFun. The recipe is chocolate cookie bark. I am going to be honest. The version that I made with my students looks nothing like the picture on the site but nonetheless, it was fantastic and super fun to make! It's a great recipe that utilizes basic cooking skills. The other reason why I totally dig it is because I think it is a recipe that any level can do. I am happy that my student Jimmy and his family consented to letting me use him in this blog post. Jimmy is probably the coolest Braille reader at his age in the entire state of CT. I hope you will get a chance to see more of this kid. He's the whole package.

Here's the recipe:

And here's what it looks like in real life...
This was a great (but simple) cooking lesson that you can do in your classrooms or family.
You don't have to save this one for holidays only.
I think this could be fun for New Years treat, party, etc. 
The first thing I did was go over the materials and ingredients (see picture below). I had them taste milk chocolate and white chocolate chips and compare them. I used the cookie sheet as the defined work space. Jimmy got right to work after his kitchen orientation. Pictured above is Jimmy breaking up his Oreos.

With the cookies crumbled, we measured out our chips (we decided to combine chips). We headed to the microwave and melted our chips. Cooking tip: I had Jimmy gently shake the bowl with the chips in it. There is a sound that the chips make. Students can tell when chips are done because they don't shake when melted. We mixed our cookies and chips together.

 Jimmy and I did a little teamwork to get him in the right position for scraping his bowl. 
This is what our finished product looks like---kinda. We scooped everything onto our parchment paper and wrapped it up. Then we shaped it into a square and put it in the fridge. 

This was such a fun cooking lesson! I did this recipe two students at a time for three rounds. The recipe users also gave a great suggestion of using mint chocolate cookies (mmmm....I love mint!). I also think you can do this with pudding cups, use cookie cutters, etc. There are a lot of possibilities  with this recipe. For students with limited abilities, do it the simple way that we did by just shaping into a square and freezing it. 

Happy baking!!

Where are all the new postings?

Hi everyone!
I know I have missed my last two Tuesdays for blogging. So sorry! I hope you can excuse me. I promise I had good reason. I graduated form graduate school, been working on a new awesome recreation & leisure presentation for students with multiple impairments (a wonderfully awesome hard challenge!!) and then my daughter had another round of strep throat and a mouth viral infection (our worst bout of strep yet!). But now I am back with all new postings and fun informational tidbits for the lovely kiddos with vision impairments. I'm baaaaaack :)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Self-determination: start thinking New Year's resolution ideas with a twist

Don't think I am rushing the season to an end here--I'm not! But I did have an idea a few weeks for my students. It got me thinking this week that it would be a great idea for resolutions for the new year. We made vision boards! We sat down together, got motivated from some motivational quotes, determined what is and what is not a realistic, just right goal and got to work! We decided to go for goals that the students could work on independently and then made a 'bucket list' as a group. We have a lot of seniors in our student organization so we decided to have an end of the year party to help them 'kick the bucket' from high school (they have to put up with my humor, you do too!)

Each of these students offered to share their vision boards with everyone. We have large print readers and Braille readers. Their vision impairments range from RP to Albinism to Usher's (deafblind) and more. This activity is also a great way to discuss realistic goals, planning, community & transition skills as well as self-determination skills. We used clear Braille labels for our Braille readers. 

We also made a Bucket List as a group. You can see it below! We are quite excited to finish our bucket list!! All of the students wanted the driving experience. I will blog about each of these as we do them. We are hitting the slopes in February.

The best part of vision boards? You can do this activity anywhere! You can do this as a class if your student attends a residential program, in an after-school student group (like my students) or better yet, as a family! I am excited to do this as I feel it is empowering for my students. They have to bring their vision boards to the rest of the meetings  this school year. They partnered up to help each other accomplish their goals and of course, they can always call me to help :)

Happy early New Year's!!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beware of the wrapping paper visual trap!

Happy December blogland!
December is officially here and so are the holidays! I've already started my holiday shopping and picked up some new wrapping paper for all of our presents. Selecting the wrapping paper got me thinking....BEWARE OF THE WRAPPING PAPER VISUAL TRAP! Dum, dum, dum!!!
Why is simple, innocent wrapping paper something you need to beware of? Because wrapping paper, paired with tons of presents, a well-decorated Christmas tree, decorations, decorations, decorations, create a visual nightmare for our students (especially our CVI kiddos). This is something that a lot of parents don't think about.

A few things to think about this holiday present season:
1. Think simple--eliminate visual clutter!
2. Contrast! This year I've noticed a ton of black wrapping paper that you can wrap with white, red, etc.
3. Wrap presents by person. My daughter's presents are all in polka dots, my son's are all in reindeer, etc.  But just remember to beware of visual complexity!!
4. Use tactual gift tags. Use large tags and put a tactual mark on them (like a star) in felt, velcro or whatever tactual mark your child would like. Make sure they are large enough and can be easily distinguished. I've also made gift tags like this with my kids pictures on them when they couldn't read their names.
I found this one online when I Googled large gift tag ideas. Make sure you use large print (I like Arial in bold). You can also put Braille over them.
*Save them so that you can reuse them next year!
5. Think about not mixing up presents. It might be easier to put each person's presents in one group. This will help with scanning and locating presents. It will also help with children who are ASD/VI. You need to remember structure to help kids who are MI/VI and ASD/VI anticipate what's going to happen and not overwhelm them. 

Happy holiday present wrapping!!