I have worked and talked with many teachers that have used my books to help kids with special needs. As well, I have done many plays with kids with special needs, and the change and awareness that is created during the process is amazing! Knowing this, I wanted to share an idea that I just received from a teacher. Here is what she wrote:
I used your Midsummer Night’s Dream for Kids as reading material. I couldn’t get my high school special ed students to reread anything. Their thinking was I have already read that once and do not need to repeat. But by introducing this as a play that needed to be word perfect and beginning on page one each day, they were willing to participate. They were rehearsing for a show not simply earning a grade for the reading class. Your materials made all the difference. Most important, reading skills improved.
A clever use of my books, or plays in general, to get special needs kids more engaged in reading! Just a lesson idea from a teacher in the world. I hope this helps, as well as I’m always here to help if you need it, just reach out to me!
The Skinny: Where is the Cake? and its sequel Where is the Cake Now? are wonderful illustrated books without any words. Taking away the text can be great for some children who are nervous about reading, and prompt them to create their own narratives about the pictures. What it is: Where is the Cake? and Where is…
The Skinny: This is a nice, simple visual timer system for kids to see how much longer they need to work on a task and get a break, or even as simple as how long it takes to bake the cookies. It helps my kid understand when I say, “Give me 5 minutes” and he is…
The Skinny: This particular app has already been given Apple’s “App store Hall of Fame” status. So you know it’s pretty good. Toontastic is an amazing game that you can use to build language and story sequencing. It is simply designed to show how a story goes from beginning to climax to the end. They even integrate music so…
The Skinny: Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head are great open-ended activities prompting language, learning about body parts, and practicing pretend play skills. What it is: Mr./Mrs. Potato Head (any version) What it’s used for: Language – teaching requesting,”more”, body parts, and colors, following directions Ways to use it: Language: Withhold Potato Heads parts momentarily to prompt your kid to…
The Skinny: Okay, I think this is one of the simplest, yet coolest products out there! It’s very simple in the sense that your kid can wear a different message every day. But, the best part about it is it allows your child to enjoy playing with language. See some of the pictures I took just playing…
The Skinny: I came across this very clever toy that is great for motor planning and hand-eye coordination, as well as it is really fun to play! It is called Djubi (pronounced Joo-bee). As you can see from the picture, it’s a net with a hook on it. You simply shoot the ball (similar to a sling shot, but easier) to your friend and they catch it with their net. The ball is soft, so it doesn’t hurt if it hits you, and you can do it very softly to build confidence.
What it is: Djubi (Joo-bee)
What it’s used for: Motor Planning and Hand-Eye coordination
Ways to use it:
As you can see from the photo on the lower right, it takes a bit of motor planning to launch a Djubi. And with this game, I would build up to it in two steps:
Just throw the ball to your friend, and let them catch it. Start with the simple piece of underhand and then progress to “step-and-throw” overhand.
After they have that figured out, then move to the sling-shot action. On the top of each of the nets is a little hook. This hook is used for hooking the rubber band from the ball on. Then, pull back and let go! It’s pretty simple, but can be a bit tricky if you have some challenges. Keep going until you get it!
This is the other side of the game. Catching the ball.
Start off slow, just underhand it to your kid to have them watch the ball into the net at slower speeds.
Increase the distance until they can catch it from across the yard. Many kids have a difficult time with items coming directly at them. Teach them to catch it off to the side, to alleviate some of these challenges.
Once they have the underhand in control, then move to sling-shotting the ball to them. It will be farther distances and faster speeds, so it’s important to progress up to this level.
The Skinny: This is an inexpensive, yet very fun toy for kids to play with. It may take a bit of practice to get the coordination to get the propeller to lift off. But, once you have it down, it’s a lot of fun. It’s also a great feeling to know that your own power can get something to fly! (You can see my kid doing it below…)
What it is: Hand powered propeller (dragonfly)
What it’s used for: Motor planning and hand-eye coordination
Ways to use it:
You can start with either 2 or 3 below, depending on where you feel your kid is developmentally ready.
I would start off with mom or dad just flying the propeller in the air and having your kid catch it.
Have your kid just spin the propeller to get it to lift off, don’t worry about catching it till later.
Lastly, have them both spin and catch the propeller. It takes a bit of practice, but it’s a lot of fun, and once you do it a few times, it’s very rewarding to know you have accomplished it.
Where to find it: With over 180 ratings at over 4 stars, here on Amazon
The Skinny: This is a fun Rube Goldberg type game that really works on your motor planning. It’s a cross between a marble run game and the board game Mousetrap. There are 7 obstacles to move your ball through. Each one has its own joystick or button to maneuver the ball with. The goal is to move the ball through the course.
What it is: Screwball Scramble
What it’s used for: Motor Planning and Language
Ways to use it:
I would start with just successfully doing one task, then move up from there, one at a time.
I would progress to setting up sequences to solve, to encourage their constant accomplishments
Lastly, once they have solved the entire board. I would pull out the timer. For some kids, competing against their own time or that of a friend, is a great motivator. The goal with having your child do this task faster and faster is that they are working from muscle memory, versus thinking through every step. Similar to breathing, you don’t realize that you are doing it, but you are. You don’t think about it, you just do it. Like walking. We want the fingers and the brain to work simultaneously.
For language, I would be constantly describing all the different segments with unique descriptive words: Lever boards, rails, tubes, ringing bell, etc. There are several different areas to describe that you can build multiple new words into your child’s vocabulary.
Then, if your child is ready for it, and the game motivates them, you can have them name pieces of the game with the new words you have just taught them. “Label 3 items to the get the next ball to play with” It’s a bit ABA, but it does get the repetitive practice in.
The Skinny: This is a quick, easy, and fun activity that works vision convergence simply because you need two eyes to focus or you can’t do the challenge. It’s balancing dice on the end of a tongue depressor or popsicle stick that you are holding in your mouth. (see photos) If someone didn’t tell me, I would have thought it was a birthday party game! (oh wait, I think it is!)
What it is: Dice balancing on the end of a popsicle stick or tongue depressor
What it’s used for: Vision convergence
Ways to use it:
First, just start with holding the popsicle stick or tongue depressor in your mouth. The tongue depressor is wider and easier to work with, or, to make it more challenging, use the popsicle stick. Place one die on it, then two, and so on. We were working with five.
Once your kid has figured out how to balance all 5 (or more!) then ask them to count the dots that they see. It forces longer convergence and more attention to detail.
Once your kid has mastered that piece, raise the challenge, give them an order to put the dice in. 1-5 or five random numbers to work on their short term memory as well. They have to then look at the die they are grabbing next and then to the dies that are on their stick. Forcing some natural convergence and divergence!
Where to find it: Typically, you can find this around the house. But, you can get the dice and tongue depressors or popsicle sticks (more challenging) on Amazon. Please remember, if you buy it through me you don’t pay any difference, and I get a small percentage. Thank you.
The Source: Dr. Major – Central Coast Vision and Learning – 805.431.1050