Thursday, April 26, 2012

Community Event

Hi all,
I received this flyer for an upcoming camp for any in the area who are interested. All  contact information is below for the event.

        Braille Rocks!
 A two week day camp for blind children or at-risk for visual impairment ages 4-12

·       Braille Reading and Writing

·       Orientation, Mobility

·       Nonvisual Skills of Independence

·       GAMES and FUN!

An action-packed two weeks in which children will learn that Braille Rocks!

When: July 16 - 27, 2012

Where: National Federation of the Blind of Greater Springfield Chapter House,
    910 Liberty St. Springfield, MA 01101

Cost: $20 per child or $25 per family.

Time: Monday through Friday 9:00 A.M. to 3:30 P.M.

Details:  The National Federation of the Blind of Massachusetts Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning (BELL) is a program that involves development of braille reading and writing skills, nonvisual skills of independence for children who are blind, orientation and mobility and recreational activities. 

For more information:  About the camp or to apply go to or contact Kristina Constant at or 413-218-2339. 

Camp sponsored by:

National Federation of the Blind of Greater Springfield

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

iPad Giveaway!

Hi blogland,
I have some info on how you can win an iPad for your little one. is sponsoring it. All info is below. Good luck!

This contest is being sponsored by Perkins, AbleNet, RJ Cooper and Inclusive Technology who have all donated wonderful items to our giveaway.
One family will win:
*The NEW iPad (iPad 3) donated by Perkins School for the Blind
*A virtually indestructible GumDrop iPad Case
*The RadSounds switch-ready music app donated by RJ Cooper plus an RJ Cooper switch interface
*A Blue2 Bluetooth Switch for use with switch-activated apps donated by AbleNet
*Two fun switch-ready apps, Smarty Pants & Five Sharks Swimming, donated by Inclusive Technology

This is the perfect package for a child with special needs who wants to get started with the iPad!
I would love to have you tell your readers about this contest on your site. Anyone can enter, but we are focusing on families with special needs children, so I thought your site would be a good place to get the word out.

For more information about the giveaway, please visit:

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Toy Story

It's a toy story post day!
These are pictures of toys that were adapted by the super fab preschool teacher, Yvonne Locke. I knew I had to take pics and blog about toy mods when I saw her awesome goody toy bag! I love these toys because they are typical toys found at any Toys R Us with simple and fast adaptions. The first thing you need to grab is texture! I suggest the APH texture paper collection (last picture). I don't think you can really see all the texture on the paper but it's there and you can cut and stick it on in a snap! The toys that I have taken pictures of work on spatial skills, bilateral hand skills, matching, etc. And it's all PLAY! These are just a few toy ideas. I think that once you see these ideas the light bulb will be going off in your head!!

The piggy banks:
 On the left is mine without texture. It's a good toy even without the tactile modification. On the right is Yvonne's adaption. She added the texture to each coin and that's it. Now for kiddos with total blindness a new dimension has been added. We always want to keep their fingers engaged and getting them into a variety of textures. 

Old school ring stacker:
Again, Yvonne cut some textures (velcro--both sides of the hook and loop), ridged paper, and rough texture and hot glued them to the ring stacker. Yvonne likes the matchy match so she kept it all the same. The other thing that great about Yvonne's matchy match is that the texture is embedded. There's no contrast and it really works because there's no visual clutter or contrast competition. 

Pool noodle stringing:
Cut pool noodles (summer is coming, think Dollar Tree!!) and make them into big loops. Grab a rope and make a good knot at the end and viola! Great stringing activity. You can of course also add different textures to each pool noodle and do patterns!
The red canister is an old oatmeal container with a red cardstock (or use fabric) and hot glue it on. 

Pop up toy:
Okay I'll be honest, I am not entirely sure the name of this toy but you all know what I mean. Again, Yvonne added color corresponding textures. Notice that the textures are on top (of the pop up) and then down below at the knobs. It also supports matching skills. There's no visual clutter and the texture samples are big enough for little hands to explore. 

APH All-in-one Board with race track by Yvonne Locke:
This is an all-in-one board. The awesome thing that Yvonne did was add race tracks. The race tracks work for tracking skills, direction development. The student practice tracking the track (notice the bump dot notches as place markers). She also took a race track and put velcro down the center of it. She attaches different shapes that the student has to find. Genius!
Here's the link for the All-in-one board from APH:

APH All-in-one Board, Dry Erase Side:
Yvonne uses this with these little magnetic pieces for tracking. You can mix it up and have them find each piece. Super fun!
APH Textured Paper Collection:

Always remember:
-Avoid visual clutter!! If you aren't sure about what it looks like to NOT have visual clutter, refer back to Yvonne's toys. Look how the texture is clean with the toy. The goal of adding texture to toys to to target the hands and fingers. We need those tiny fingers and hands to be able to discriminate between textures regardless of their future reading modes. Yes, a few pieces of contrast or highlighting is helpful (think CVI especially) but let's target the tactual readiness!
-Expect things to fall apart or not work out. It's okay to glue things over and over. The hot glue gun (I have an industrial one) is my best friend. 
-Go to garage sales! The classic toys are always there. I find almost all of my preschool toys from sales. 

Please remember that all pics and posts are copyrighted. The toys were all from Yvonne Locke, Preschool Teacher for Children with Vision Impairments. She is an amazing teacher so please give credit where credit is due. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another Target Find!

I kinda just think I should give Target their own label because I am always finding steals and deals at Target. I found another one in the Easter clearance section tonight. Yep, it's plastic Easter eggs! Why eggs? Because this is a great bilateral hand skill activity! Putting eggs together, finding things inside of them, opening them up and dumping them, etc.The possibilities are endless! AND it's not just for the Easter holiday! Get a medium plastic sweater box and put it on a kid table and fill it with Easter grass (also on sale!) and have the preschoolers go for an egg hunt. Are you thinking that the sweater box also doubles as a defined work space? Because it does! You can also work on systematic search patterns and mobility and spatial concepts as well. I actually suggest you put the box on a table and take away the chairs so the student has to stand and walk (or trail) around the table to do activities. Lastly, throw a finish box on the table to make it a complete activity and viola! You are ready to rock!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Modifications for an Easter egg hunt

Hi, Happy good Friday! I am sorry that I am late posting about Easter. I had a last minute burst of inspiration for mods for the traditional hunt. I also did a little research for ideas, products, etc. to help with mods. I found some nifty ones at
image from the powerhouse Christian church on Google

Here's a resource on talking eggs that can be purchased at Walmart, Target, Rite Aid and Amazon:
And another about some fun mods for traditional eggs:
Easter crafts: activity

Plus, one other thing to keep in mind especially for our cane users: make a tactile map of the layout for the hunt! It is so important that you give your little one a heads up of the hunt prior to getting down to the egg collecting. Review large landmarks (like a bench, water fountain, tree, etc.). Here's a tactile map from the Wheatley tactile diagramming kit (so you can get an idea of an easy tactile map): 

I know you might not have one of these laying around but you can also whip one up using some hot glue and pipe cleaners with a few squares to indicate landmarks. I also recommend that you get one for your family. This way you can make a map on the fly for family reunions, church events, birthday parties, etc. Make sure you consult with your mobility instructor to review the "how to's" of making one and reviewing your child's individual needs. 

Other mobility tips you can do: have your kiddo walk the perimeter and make sure they know the starting point as well as have a system for how they will collect their eggs. It's also a good time to review systematic search patterns!! Egg hunts are great for our kiddos because they work in mobility skills with some fun. Feel free to do them throughout the year! 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Hand Under Hand Instruction Resources

I came across these instruction videos while I was scouring the web for really good hand under hand instruction (HUH) videos. Teaching hand under hand is so crucial and mastering this technique is a little tricky. I found these for my March RT for the OT presentation that I do yearly for OT/PTs. There are also other videos and really good resources on the site but I love the HUH ones.

The videos are from the Washington Sensory Disability Services.
 Here's a link directly to the videos: Sometimes the hotlink doesn't always work so you can also go to their webpage, and hit the tab "videos". These are some sweet videos so save this to your favorites tool bar! They have all the right instruction pieces built right in. 

I've also included a link to another helpful article about HUH from The family friendly article is:

A lot of people may think that HUH is just for children who MIVI or DB. But I use HUH with almost all of my Braille reading students including those who are MIVI, DB and ASDVI. It's just the best way for them to "see" what's going on. In fact, that's my prompt language when I am going to do HUH. I ask my students if they want to "watch me do it". They just pick their hands up and I slide right under them. 
A small side tidbit about HUH that has come up a lot when I have been working with OTs: how do you do HUH with preschool? Their little hands are just so small (and cute!!). Here are a few ideas: hook up under their pinkies and let their hands follow with you prompting from the pinky. I will sit facing them instead of behind them so that their little hands can see what my fingers are doing. Or  I will prompt at their wrists and guide that way. As I write this, I realize that it is a tad tricky to understand if you don't get it. I will do my best to find a preschooler who I can take some pictures with and post them. Until then, watch the videos (again and again). HUH is my ultimate tool when teaching so many of my students. It takes time and practice to get the finesse of it down. Good luck!