Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pinterest Finds

I have to admit it....I am hooked on Pinterest! I know, I know so are you but I was slow to get on board but now that I am, I am totally addicted!! I peruse the infinite boards and posts for ideas on everything including ideas for our kids and let me tell you, there's a ton of ideas out there!! I have decided to create a new board, This works for Blind kids, too!, because I am always finding ideas that work for children with vision impairments. I think it's good that we find the "regular stuff" and learn how to make quick modifications and develop the "eye for the vision stuff" (meaning that you can see something that was designed for a typical kiddo and see how you can modify for our kids in a quick second). I do that all the time. 

So to kick off my new board and my new label, I Got it From Pinterest!, here's some great ideas that I loved for our kids that I found today.

Pinned ImageThis is just brilliant. The idea is for teaching preschoolers sweeping skills but are you totally seeing the bright blue box (that you could also do in RED for CVI--painters tape baby!)?? What a great way to kick off independent living skills for kiddos with a vision impairment!! 
Vision tip: first allow your kiddo to sweep by themselves. Just let them have fun getting the "dirt" into the square. Feel free to put things like bells, stones, etc. in the mix for sweeping. It's not the sound that we are after here, it's the weight. We want our kids to feel that they are sweeping something. After they have got the hang of it, help them improve their technique by purposely and accurately moving the broom (use two hands!). Lastly, as they are becoming pros at finding objects, tighten up their technique by encouraging them to use systematic search patterns (using a grid pattern) for sweeping. Viola, now you have the skill!

Candyland-FREE printable giant shape board game with an action for each space you land on! Great for when you're stuck inside all day!I also pinned this fab idea today. It's a giant Candyland game! Go to my board to get the web address so you can get all the information as the pin has free print outs (yay!!). This one is obvious fun for budding mobility and movement for early childhood but I also thought with a bit of  tweaking for kids who have multiple impairments, this could be a fun cooperative game that really does include all of our kids (be sure to laminate). Always remember that you could also neon yellow background paper to help with highlighting or if this is too much visual clutter, take a large black paper and cut out a square (that fits over the paper) so your child knows which one they are on (I hope that made sense). Watch for glare (as you can see in the picture).

If you are following my board and think "what was she thinking with this one?" or "I don't quite get how this could be good for blind kids", email me and I will share more vision modifications. I will do my best to type notes as I repin ideas. 

Please share your ideas too!! 
I would love see your pins, pictures and hear your ideas!
 We are all in this together!!


Hi friends,
I've been noticing that the last few times I have pulled up my blog something else takes over and I am redirected to another site. Has this happened to you too? I just wanted to let you know that I am working on it. Have patience and just refresh your page if my blog doesn't come up. I am definitely still here!! I am working on figuring out how to solve this problem. 

Life has gotten a bit crazy so keeping up with my usual once a week posts have gotten away from me the last few weeks. I am definitely still blogging on a regular basis. It might be every 10 days now (especially with summer programs coming up).  Just wanted to keep you in the loop friends!! 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Hello Pool Noodle!

It all started with a birthday idea for my son's Spartan Race themed obstacle party and a FamilyFun magazine idea....the pool noodle: not just for the pool!! We made an obstacle course for his party based on this idea from FamilyFun:

Pretty ingenious, right? We had a great obstacle course birthday party. After the party, we were taking down all the obstacles and I was left with a bunch of hoops and dowels when a light bulb went on in my head: these are great for my students!!! Once the light bulb went on, my mind lit up with ideas on how to use these pool noodles: perfect for defined work spaces on the go (put the work items inside the circle or do activities that require you to put inside the circle), small enough to teach concept development for early childhood (on/off, in/out, up/down), plus they are a fun vision modification for outdoor games like hopscotch or any other throw into a hoop game and of course a giant "horse shoe type" game (I'll post that picture). I've even seen some clever moms cut noodles and slide them on to PVC pipe and construct a bath seat for an older child (man do I wish I would have taken a picture of that cool idea---if you have seen one and can snap it, please do and send it to me!!). These noodle beauties can get wet, stepped on and a kid can tightly grip it and they take the hit! Plus if you get quality ones, when a little one pulls hard on it or even tries to mouth it, little pieces won't break off. 

All you need is duct tape and dowels from Lowe's/Home Depot and viola! You are in business!! A word on pool noodle selection: I advise buying from Walmart or Target and getting quality ones. They are more pliable and bigger when they are made into rings. I bought a few from Dollar Tree and they were just okay. We also found them at CVS that were good but I am sure they are everywhere and since summer is just around the corner I thought now would be the perfect time to blog about it. 

Now I am not a handy person. Crafty, yes but assembling things, no. So I tell you that these pool noodle rings (or Fruit Loops as I like to call them) are super easy and even I can do it (which means you can do it too). I love the richness of the colors and how well they stand out. The yellow one was purchased at Dollar Tree and you can see that it is smaller than the other ones purchased at CVS. 

Notice the candy cane striped pool noodle? I did that because I was worried that the kids couldn't see it standing up in the sunlight. We stuck this one standing up with a dowel at the bottom into the ground. The kids tossed rings and tried to get them on the noodle. Fun game for everyone but secretly a vision modification for our kids.  I haven't even scratched the surface of how many cool things you can do for our kids (preschool through school age including kids who are MIVI/DB and ASD/VI) so I decided to Google some images for other ideas of pool noodle fun:

This is also from that FF article. These are called wickets (all you need are dowels!).

Then I found a great link on Pinterest with a ton of ideas (almost all are doable activities for our kids too!): And of course I blogged about this idea when I showed off my colleague Yvonne's fabulous preschool toy modifications (but here's another pic from Google images):
Thank you pool noodle. You are just not for the pool or cool summer fun, you are a secret vision modification that allows our kids to have some super summer fun without needing the extra large modifications!!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Finding Nemo, Finding an Unlikey Mentor

I bet you might be wondering why I am blogging about the movie Finding Nemo. Have you seen it? I LOVE it! Not just because it is super cute but because it is the perfect movie for parents of kids with vision impairments. I bet you didn't know that! 
Most of our parents start out like Marlin does in the beginning of the movie. Marlin is happy, excited about the babies and life is good. Suddenly his world is turned upside down when unexpected events change the course of his parenthood (sound familiar?). He loves his precious Nemo as any parent naturally does. However, pay attention to his parenting style. He goes from carefree and fun new parent to the hover craft---totally over protective and anxious about keeping Nemo completely safe. 
He finally takes Nemo to school and it is a bit awkward. The part I want you to pay attention to is when Marlin tells Nemo "he can't do it." Sometimes it is easy to lose track of the importance of empowering independence. There's a lot on your plate concerning school, IEPs, paraprofessionals, etc but you can't lose sight of empowering independence. 

There really are a ton of wonderful parallels and I want  you to stop and really ponder this journey that Marlin embarks on. He has to go on a journey and learn from unlikely sources about how to empower and believe in his son. 

Now I know you are thinking, "Robbin, I believe in my child..." I am sure you do BUT I see too many parents forget to empower their kids and accept their vision impairment. Remember from my most recent posts: Everything I learned, I learned because my parents made me do it!! Nemo also had to go on his journey and notice that there are definite parts without Marlin. Nemo had to learn that he can do it. He had to struggle and problem solve. It's okay for your kids to have struggle. Our kids learn by experience. That only comes when they can actually do something. I repeat, it's OKAY for our kids to struggle and problem solve. The last critical part is the 'aha' moment at the end when Marlin not only reconnects with his son but truly lets Nemo be independent. The result of that is that Nemo does something amazing! 

I am going to post some of my favorite scenes that I want you to pay close attention to. 
Finding Nemo Drop Off (This is where Marlin isn't empowering. He's acting out of panic protection. Notice how Nemo feels.)

Meeting Crush and learning about how to let your child struggle. (I LOVE this scene! Remember parents, "kill the motor". Let your kids struggle!!).

Last step: Empowerment in real life!!

Watch the movie. Take notes. Ponder. Think about one thing you can STOP doing for your kids and one thing they can START doing for themselves today. It's okay to make your child do chores (in fact, 20 minutes daily is what I recommend for all my students!). Thank you Marlin for being our unlikely mentor! Pop some popcorn and have a movie date :)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Everyone Can Do It Finished Box

 This is the thing that truly everyone can do! It's a portable finished box (and if I don't say so myself, it's truly GENIUS!). Thank you super awesome teacher, Mary Quinn, for letting me blog about her super fab idea.

First and foremost, you do know what a finished box (or all done box) is, right?? If not, stop reading this post and go through my labels and find all the posts about calendar box systems and finished boxes. It's a must prerequisite to this post.  Now that you are familiar (and excited) about using finished boxes, let me introduce (drum roll please...) the PORTABLE FINISHED BOX.  This sweet little collapsible tote is otherwise known as a fabric drawer and is great for being the finished box on the go. The average price runs about $5.99 to $9.99 and can be purchased at any Target or Walmart store. These sweet on the go finished boxes are perfect for when you are out of desk space, traveling from classroom to classroom or out and about in the community. They fold right down and pop back to life easily and pretty sturdy, too. They come in two different sizes, a small one and a large. Mary, being the talented teacher for kiddo with MIVI/DB that she is, took it up a notch and decorated them based on season. This way there is a "theme" to each one. Now a note of caution about decorating here. Decorating is a great idea BUT be cautious about the child. If you are just introducing these, ask yourself the following questions: are they visually distracting? does my child/student have a concrete understanding of what a finished box is? Am I sending out too many clues--should they put the decorations together or use the actual finished box? Don't get lost in making them "cute". They have a purpose and that purpose must remain clear to the student.

 Another thing I thought about is consider the visual needs of the student. Should you make the bottom of the basket black so that there is contrast? Highlight the top rim so it highlights where to put things? There is no universal answer here. It all depends on the visual needs of your student. Same thing goes for which size to use. You may find yourself using both especially if you are a busy family and you want to use these out in the community, playgroup, church, etc. You may need both sizes. Keep one in the car so that you always have a finished box no matter what the situation.
 Notice the handle? You could also make a little velcro rope or chain so that this lightweight box can hang from a chair or on a stander, etc. I saw a para attach a plastic finished box to a chair and thought it was brilliant.

Now after reading this and seeing these pictures you have no excuse for not using a finished box everywhere you go. Your main dilemma now is figuring out what color to buy!