Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sofia Sees Hope (at The Nutcracker)

Sofia Sees Hope
Let me tell you about this awesome young girl, Sophia. She has Leber's and is probably one of the most dynamic kids out there. And top it off, she's a talented ballet dancer. I have had the pleasure of knowing her since preschool.  Her family works to raise money and awareness for their cause. Go check out their website:

Who doesn't love a fun Christmas tradition like The Nutcracker?! Go to and order tickets for the family. This production is presented by Mystic Ballet Company at Fox Theater, Foxwoods Resorts Casino.

There is more information about how this a fundraiser and supports research funding for children with Leber's Congenital Amaurosis. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Super Awesome Wheel Chair Tray!

Holy cow, I LOVE it when people allow me to share their brilliant ideas! Thank you to Marci Rizzo, paraprofessional, and Alex the SLP who work at school for children with disabilities for letting me share their brilliant wheel chair tray. Let me set the scene so you can fully appreciate why this is a brilliant idea. This tray is for a student that limited use of their hands, has a very specific visual field (the place in her field where she can see the best) and favors colors red and yellow (best colors ever for our kids!). This student is non-verbal but can make choices and use a switch. The yellow and red circles on the tray are the areas where the student can see the best and can make a choice. Just in case you don't understand this, if the teacher were to put an item or switch anywhere else on the tray, this student probably wouldn't see or acknowledge the object. SO: it is very important that you know WHERE your student can see.

Here's the materials:
Semi gloss paint
Spray paint circles
*Use cornstarch for less friction so the student's hand glides like water (for cleaning the tray).

I couldn't believe that this tray was plywood when I saw it (and touched it) but Marci (and her husband) sanded down the plywood and cut it to fit on her tray. They painted it after the sanding. 

I also want to point out one more clever idea. This idea comes from the brilliant classroom teacher. Notice off to the side of the wheel chair…..there's a bucket strapped to her chair (tray). Do you know what that is? It's a FINISHED BOX!! It's attached so that the student can always use it (and it appears to be permanent part of the day because they always have to use it). Brilliant!!

Are you smiling right now after reading this? I am too! I love great ideas and I LOVE to watch great teachers working with our kids (that includes para's too!). We are all working together and making a difference :)

Easy Peasy PE Modifications

The other night I was doing my regular presentation with a college PE class when I remembered these awesome tips from one of my newest favorite APE teachers. I can't believe I forgot to share this! He was helping me with ideas for adapting PE games for a student who is totally blind. Without further adieu, here's some easy peasy PE modifications from the awesome Alexander Specht (look for him in my soon-to-post PE tutorial videos).

-they do have beep frisbees that are light weight and foam. Super cheap as well.
-allow the frisbee to hit the ground/ offense is allowed one drop while in possession.
-allow hand offs during the game

-start off with a game like "newcomb" where the ball can hit the ground and you can play it off the ground.
-obviously if a lightweight beeping ball is available. 
-catch the ball first then work on returns to the other team.
-designate one player on each team to call out who should hit the ball.
-multiple hits beyond three per side
-allow for underhand passing without calling carries

Flag football:
-allow to play the line and rush the quarterback. Quarterback should wear a beeping pinnie to assist with positioning.
-visually impaired athlete could be qb and pass to one person, who can then make one more pass before the defense can defend.
-handoffs etc.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Store Finds

Hey friends,
I have some fun finds that I thought I would share as this is the beginning of  the "stock up" sale of all things vision education (the shiny wrapping paper, bells, embellishments, the CVI buying extravaganza....). The first of the two comes from Ikea:

Technically they are door mats...but are you seeing what I am seeing: there's some hidden potential!! Look at that shade of red! They are perfect activity areas for younger children. These aren't the typical thick mats either. They roll up pretty easily (people did eye me a little strange as I was rolling up and using a door mat unconventional ways....). They are sturdy and easy to clean. The best part: the price!! A steal of a deal at $3.99!!
The next store find came just this past week from my home away from home: Target! 

I liked this wall art display because I thought it has potential for our visual kids. Perhaps you could put sequence steps in it at centers or use it as a type of calendar box. I also thought the frames were large enough that you could put a velcro mount on it (in the corner) for a corresponding tactual object. The display can hang vertical or horizontal (I like the horizontal the best but maybe I haven't seen the right vertical idea yet!). Not too bad for $10. Let me know if you discover another great idea/use!

The BEST idea EVER for going to the zoo!

I was perusing recently and was catching up on the preschool world. posted this super cool article that I immediately started telling all my colleagues about: touching LIVE animals at the zoo!! I have the resource link:

 I won't retype the article but just know that I am curious to see what other zoos do this OR would be interested in doing it. The Oregon Zoo has been running this program for fifteen years. I just love this idea!!! It really brings the "zoo experience" to all of our kids!  Check out this article and if you are like me, by the end you will be looking up your local zoo and making a phone call. If you end up getting lucky with your local zoo, let me know! I would love to spread the word about other zoo programs. Too bad Oregon was so far away from my students, shucks!!

touching a tiger