What Do You See?

I Spy Safari Theme 2015
During this theme we continued our focus on visual-spatial awareness and discrimination, motor planning, answering “wh” questions, following directions, furthering complexity of sound productions, and working collaboratively with peers.

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Paper towel roll binoculars

Some sessions started with making binoculars (using toilet paper rolls, tape, string) to assist with visual focus – either for items requested/chosen to find or with referencing peers.

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Reading “What Do You See?”

The first week, we read a book from a multisyllabic lesson created by Communication Window called  “What Do You See?” that used three to four syllable animal names (i.e. elephant, dinosaur, alligator, teddy bear, bumble bee, butterfly, ladybug), which targeted sound productions and articulating each syllable. This was supported with clapping hands for each syllable or touching a dot on a pacing card as each syllable was produced.  Clients were asked “wh” questions such as “What animal likes to eat bananas?” or, “What do you use to take pictures?”

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Finding pink objects

We also watched a couple of different educational videos from Super Simple Learning: “I See Something Blue” and “Walking in the Jungle” (and projected the video on wall for increased visual attention).  These videos targeted finding items of a certain color from a busy background, identifying certain animal sounds, and imitation of movements. The carrier phrase “I see” and attributes such as color, were targeted to increase utterance/sentence length and complexity (e.g. “I see a green tree.”) Turn taking skills were practiced enabling each participant a turn to share what they saw, as the other participants listened.

In the gym, we went on a “safari” finding animals (hidden around the room) in locations that required motor planning, balance, attention to auditory direction, and coordination to retrieve (i.e. pulling oneself closer to the animal while on platform swing, zip-lining down to pit and balancing along edge to reach for animal, and walking along a balance beam with animals along the way to pick up).  Clients were either given a request to find certain animals or they made a plan prior to a movement activity.  They were given a template with the outline of animals to match the shape with the target animal they went to find. Additionally, continued practice with the “I see” phrase and production of multisyllabic animal names. Some clients went on a safari outside to find animals hidden around the campus. Having visual support (i.e. pictures or items to find) can assist with increased attention and spatial awareness when clients are traveling/exploring outside.  Having a “mission” to do together also may assist with social interactions and working cooperatively with peers.

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Feeding the puppets
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Hiding the animals with food

During snack, we encouraged increased food explorations by hiding animals using food and feeding animal puppets with various food options. Additionally, we would encourage making requests for foods they like: “I want ___.” and “More ____ please.”

What you can do at home:

“I see ____” can be used during car rides, at the park, and in other new environments to increase awareness and expand utterances and vocabulary.

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Celebrating Friendship and Thinking of Others

Valentine’s Day Theme 2015

During February, the theme for our peer-based program sessions was Valentine’s Day, specifically building friendships and thinking of others.

We began our groups with reading Happy Valentine’s Day Mouse by Laura Joffe Numeroff and I Like Gum by Doreen Tango Hampton.

Sequencing with images from the book
Sequencing with images from the book

The target goals supported by this theme included identifying our own interests, recognizing the interests of others, and finding common interests within the group. During the story, we shared the things we like (drawing or writing out on board) and reviewed our common interests.

Clients then made Valentine’s cards or gifts for their peers.  They were encouraged to “interview” each other to find out what their peers liked (i.e. Ninja Turtles, Princess Sofia, Spiderman, etc.) and then deliver their Valentine to peer “mailboxes” (homemade from shoeboxes).  To assist with the idea that they were giving the Valentine to someone else, we made sure everyone had a photo of their peer under “To:” and a photo of themselves under “From:” as well as corresponding photos placed on the mailboxes.  During some sessions, we expanded on this idea and created our own houses and placed the mailbox out front.

For some groups, we also made “I like” posters using various tools and materials to encourage fine and visual motor development.  For these projects, they were using stamps, stickers, stencils, cutting out pictures, and taping/gluing high interest items to their posters.

For snack, we expanded on this theme by making/eating heart shaped foods (i.e. strawberries, fruit leather, cheese) and placing the food on toothpicks or skewers (for our cupid bow and arrows).  For many clients with food sensitivities, using a tool such as a toothpick can be very motivating.  We can then encourage bringing closer to face/mouth while on the stick (i.e. waving like a magic wand, smelling like a flower, licking your “lollipop”, putting on “lipstick”, blowing kisses, etc.)