Matching Rainbow

by Katy

This post is about a learning activity I did with my son, Charlie, but it’s also about working with special needs kids in general and how sometimes you might have to look at something differently to get the desired result. I wanted to share this activity with you all because it involved some problem solving, but in the end it was completely worth it. Working and teaching a special needs child can have it’s challenges, but when you can it right, you’re on top of the world.

For this activity we used:

  • A piece of poster board or card stock
  • markers
  • colored dot stickers (Available on the stationery aisle almost anywhere)

For this activity, I wanted to do something with a rainbow and colors. After spotting some “dot stickers” on the stationery aisle, I knew exactly what I wanted to do.

I drew a rainbow with a black marker on half a sheet of poster board. I then used those markers to color it myself–my son hates markers. Did spend a lot of time on it–just enough to make it very clear where each color should be.

We then took out the stickers and began places the stickers in the matching section of rainbow.

We started off guiding Charlie through the motions, waiting for him to start initiating some himself, but we weren’t getting a whole lot out of him. Then my husband remembered that Charlie has gotten very interested in other people’s hands–he likes to touch them, move them around, etc. So we switched things up. My husband held the sticker and asked Charlie where he should put it. Charlie immediately grabbed my husband’s hand and moved it to the correct place.

He did this nine times in a row–until it was clear to both of us that he had no trouble understanding matching. We were so excited to see that he not only understood the activity, but that he was pretty good at it too!

Working with a special needs child sometimes forces you to think outside of your comfort zone–consider different ways. Would it be great if my son could do this activity with no help from his parents? Of course, but in the mean time I want to keep stimulating his brain until his body catches up.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Southern Snowman

by Katy

We live so far south that we very rarely get to experience actual snow.  When we do get snow, it’s often not enough to make a snow man. Even so, there are lots of holiday songs and stories about snowmen, so I thought I’d show my son how snowmen are made with a little play doh.

I used black and white play doh for this activity.

I went ahead and rolled all of the pieces in advance. My son has a lot of sensory issues, so he’s not a big fan of play doh. I still run him through the motion of rolling the big pieces, but if he had to do it all himself, we’d have a meltdown before we finished.
So, we took each white ball, rolled it once or twice in his palm, and then stacked them. He was extremely resistant to the play doh with his left hand, so we switched it up and used his right–much better!

We then took the smaller black balls and helped him use his pointer finger to press them into the snowman creating eyes, a nose, and some buttons. We’ve worked on using pointer finger before, so this is a good  way to reinforce that skill. Overall, using one finger was much better than using his whole hand.

When you’re finished, you have a snowman guaranteed not to melt.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Fine Motor Apples

by Katy

This is an extremely simple activity that helps children address two important areas of development: fine motor and sensory.

You will need a plain sheet of paper, a piece of card stock, a hole puncher, and a green crayon or marker.

Punch as many holes as you can in the card stock.

Place the card stock on top of your white sheet of paper.

Take red finger paint and guide your child to work it into each hole. Help your child isolate their pointed finger as they do this. The slippery/slimy texture of the paint is one that often poses a problem for kids with sensory issues, so don’t be surprised if they resist. Try to finish the activity, though. While we were doing the activity, Charlie, who often strongly resists finger painting, took such an interest in those little holes that he seemed to forget that he was touching his nemesis: finger paint.

Lift the card stock and wait for all your circles to dry.

Once the paint is dry, allow your child to draw green stems with the crayon/marker. Let them do it alone if they can, guide them if they are unable.

I you do have to help your child draw the stems, be sure to guide them in the most natural way possible. Show them a downward stroke even though it might feel strange depending on where you are standing while you help them.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

Working With Sensory Issues

by Katy

There are a lot of kids out there with different kinds of sensory issues–sometimes it’s related to another condition like Autism or Brain Injury, but some children deal with only sensory issues. In any case, it can be hard to know where to start, and recently a reader here at No Time for Flashcards asked about the types of things I do with my son to work on his issues.

I’m not a doctor or a therapist, but I learned this activity from one of the many fantastic Early Interventionists that worked with Charlie when he was young.

First you need to collect several things that have different textures and a piece of cardboard. For this activity I sent my husband to the dollar store with five bucks and told him to buy red things with different textures. He came back with some interesting choices, but I won’t complain because I took a nap while he was at the store.

We’re studying fruit right now, so I cut out my cardboard into the shape of an apple. Then I glued down all of our different textured stuff. You don’t have to do a particular shape for this project–you can just use a plain piece of cardboard.

After everything is dry, present your child with the board. Take their hand and gently guide them through touching all of the different textures. Note which textures upset them. If a texture seems especially horrible, try having them touch it with the backs of their hand. You might also try both hands and see if one handles textures better than the other. My son is more experimental with his right hand than his left.

If you notice that some textures are tough, remember them because these are the ones that you will have to work on with your child more and more.

Present the board to your child several times. See if some textures improve with more exposure. These are all hints that will help your child get more comfortable with new and different textures.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.

DIY Eye Spy Bag

by Katy

Have you seen Eye Spy Pillows? They are these little pillows that have a clear window in them that allows you to see the stuffing. Inside, the pillow has all these tiny objects floating around inside the stuffing. They’re really great for younger kids who are still considered a choking risk because they can see the little pieces, but they can’t put them in their mouth.

Well, we do a lot of activities around here, so I didn’t want a special pillow for just one segment. Also, I’m cheap (you guys should know this by now), so I decided to make my own.

For this project you will need a zip lock bag, some small plastic items, duct tape, and bottle of clear body wash. For my plastic items I chose bugs because that’s what we were studying at the time. I found the clear body wash at Walmart.

So you fill your zip lock bag with the plastic items. Note: I chose slightly larger plastic items because my son has some vision issues. If your child doesn’t have vision issues, I’d encourage you to do many more small items.

Then you add a LOT of clear body wash.

Next, seal the zip lock.

Then, place the duct tape over the zip lock seal for extra protection (that sounds like a deodorant commercial).

Allow your child to explore bag and find all the different plastic items inside.

My son has some sensory sensitivity, so he found the bag especially disgusting. His mom is mean and made him play with it anyway.

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Katy is a mom of one who loves art, mystery novels, and anything involving peanut butter–she blogs about raising her little miracle at Bird on the Street.