Sunday, September 25, 2016

Pete The Cat for the ECC!

Pete the Cat for children with vision impairments

If you haven't heard of or read Pete the Cat, you are MISSING out!!I fell in love with the series a few years ago because it was the first book my son could read by himself (Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes). It a fun series that has grown from one book to many with several activities, songs and Braille copies available. The stories are catchy and kids (and adults) just love them! 
Many classroom teachers have jumped on the Pete wagon as well so many of our kids have  had a chance to hear/read Pete stories. Many of the books have a central theme that teachers can naturally use to introduce concepts to. They are a great balance of core and expanded core curriculums.

I love that the Pete the Cat series also has repetitive passages which helps with anticipation and language support for elementary age students. I have many students that are echolalia (repeats language and doesn't initiate it). The passages repeat in a way that my students can anticipate the passage and will say it. When I know that they know the passage, I stop talking to allow turn taking to occur.

I first started using Pete the Cat to teach the Expanded Core Curriculum with I Love My White Shoes. Pete teaches all areas of the ECC! With I Love My White Shoes, I did a great hands on lesson that touched on all ECC areas:
compensatory (reading in accessible print, interact appropriately with print)
assistive technology (iPad for students, multimedia with video or CCTV use)
 independent living skills (cooking)
sensory efficiency (touch, taste and smell)
social skills (engages in group activity, learning the social skill from the story)
orientation and mobility (Pete steps "in" a pile of..., walking through things, spatial awareness)
recreation and leisure (reading for fun, discussing the activities in the story)
career education (finishing the story, talking about people/places in the community)
self-determination (giving opinion about liking/disliking books)

If you are not familiar with the book, Pete steps into mud, piles of strawberries and blueberries and then water (that turns his shoes white). I used coordinating foods: Nutella (mud), strawberries and blueberries and whip cream (white). We read the story and then used our foods when it came up in the story. I included real pictures of my activity so you can see that although my lesson was successful, it's not always pretty :)

activity for blind children with the book Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes
This is a popular activity with the I Love My White Shoes book. Many teachers have done this activity. I want to point out that this is the ECC in the classroom!

activity for blind children with the book Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

activity for blind children with the book Pete the Cat I Love My White Shoes

Another of my fave Pete the Cat ECC lessons is Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses. I love using this one to teach about feelings. It once again incorporates many areas of the ECC especially helping with social skills. It's a great way to talk about different feelings. I love to have sunglasses as a tactual item to use while we read. 

Other popular Pete books that teach the ECC is Rocking My School Shoes, Groovy Guide to Life and My Four Groovy Buttons. 
I have used the YouTube videos and the free audio track to incorporate more accessibility. You can get videosand audio here: and
I have put it on an iPad by making it a PowerPoint book for my kiddos who have multiple impairments or CVI. I love using PowerPoint because I can highlight things/reduce clutter and add motion to pictures in PP. To do this: I took pictures of the book and imported them into PP then added highlights/motion/other needs. You can import the audio track easily to PP books too! 
I also have multiple copies of the book, manipulatives, buttons, etc. while reading with a small group.  This allows our kids to have a smooth read every time we read. There are the traditional stories and early readers of the Pete series to match reading levels of your students. There are also many new Braille versions that are becoming available. 
Parents you can read Pete the Cat at home and do these activities, too! No need to let the classroom teachers have all the fun. Here's a way that you can support both curriculums at home. 
The sky is the limit with teaching Pete the Cat. As always, look to see how it naturally incorporates the ECC (it always does!). Check Pinterest and the internet for lots of Pete the Cat ideas. He is one groovy cat!

Friday, September 16, 2016

College Success Mentor Program

I was at the AFB Leadership Conference this past February in Washington DC and had the great opportunity to hear about the launch of this new program through Learning Ally. Learning Ally has been around for awhile (formerly known as RFB&D) and provides books to download.

Learning Ally logo
I loved hearing about this new program that provided support, instruction and mentoring for youths with vision impairments as they prepare to go to college or are in college. They have a set of curriculum that include topics such as how to speak to professors and partnering with using the disability resource office. They also have thousands of textbooks to browse through.

blind young man
A young man who is blind stands with a friend in his graduation gown
I highly encourage transition age youth (and new college students) to sign up for this program. I especially like the mentor system that they have. You can read about their bios on their site and then sign up for one. Mentoring is such a powerful tool for our kids to learn the tips and tricks of being successful in college.

Here's the link: