Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Paper Towel Quilt

This post is authored by Anna Reyner, a registered art therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. Anna is a nationally recognized arts advocate that has conducted over 500 hands-on art workshops for learners of all abilities. Follow Anna’s blog at Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Eduation.

Special Needs Application:
Enhances social emotional interaction and cooperation

In the paper quilt shown here we also created circular coffee filter art using the same materials and techniques. Find directions for these in the Smart Art Lesson for Coffee Filter Art shown here. Finished paper squares and circles were laid out onto a piece of white mural paper, ready to be mounted with simple white glue. This simple paper craft shows off the beautiful brilliance of color. Isn't it wonderful eye candy?

I love watching simple paper towels come to life with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor. To create this "eye popping" paper quilt, we filled bingo bottles with Colorations® Liquid Watercolor and dabbed the color onto folded paper towel squares. These detailed patterns were created by school aged children, but younger children will create more free-form patterns with equally beautifully results. For best results use "2-ply" paper towels (better quality versions) since they soak up more color than "1-ply" paper towels and give your artwork a richer result.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Special Needs Topics with Don Peek

This post is authored by Don Peek, a former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools.  To learn more, or to subscribe to the School Fnding Center Grant Database, go to

Don Peek - An Introduction

For at least the next few months I will have the rare pleasure of writing some of the special needs blogs for  In this posting I’d like to introduce myself and explore some of the topics we will be discussing in the months ahead.  I hope you’ll join me often as we explore the world of the special needs students, teachers, and parents and how those students learn and grow.

WHO:  Hi, my name is Don Peek.  I served in Texas public schools for 20 years as a teacher, counselor, assistant principal, principal, and assistant superintendent.  While I was principal of Pittsburg Middle School in Pittsburg, Texas, our school received one of only two awards given by the state of Texas that year for not only mainstreaming all of our special education students but also making them successful.  As a teacher and administrator I attended literally hundreds of ARD meeting and was always considered a strong advocate for special needs children.
After leaving the public schools, I became president of the training division of Renaissance Learning (creator of Accelerated Reader).  Whenever I did district and regional training, I always emphasized the use of Accelerated Reader with special needs children.  The ability to read is a great equalizer.

Currently I am President and CEO of The School Funding Center.  We provide grant information to schools throughout the United States.  Of our 30 grant categories, you can rest assured that grants for special education and students with disabilities are always included in our listings.

And finally, I have a grandson who is autistic.  He just turned 17 a few weeks ago.  Unless we get some drastic breakthrough in the near future to help autistic children, he will probably never hold a regular job, never drive a car, or never be able to live alone. 
Yes, I am very much dedicated to helping those with disabilities.

What:  I will be posting to the blog twice each month.  I will cover a full range of topics dealing with special needs students.  I will also discuss the interaction between teachers and special needs students and the relationship of the parents with their special needs children and parents and the school system.  Special needs students are indeed special, and it is not always easy for either the school or the parents to know exactly what each child needs.  Often these needs change as the child grows and matures.  Most of the decisions made concerning special needs children are best made cooperatively between parents and the school.
Almost any blog is a mixture of fact and opinion.  This one will be no exception.  There are facts available about the various disabilities.  I will include that.  I will also include research information about what works best and what doesn’t, but I will also inject some of my opinions about dealing with students who have disabilities.  My greatest fear is that too often we do what is easiest, but not necessarily best, for these students.

I will also occasionally include notices about grants that are available to schools and non-profit organizations that support special needs children.  Look at the sample below.

When:  My posts will normally be published around the 1st and 15th of each month.  I want you to look for these posts, read them carefully, and respond whenever you get the urge.  You can agree or disagree with me.  You won’t hurt my feelings.   Your opinions are valuable, too.  The research you find may contradict something I post.  I’d like to know that, too.  You can reach me at:  [email protected]

Where:   My blog is original material provided only to  You will find it only on this site.  Obviously, if you are reading this now, you found my blog at least once.  You may want to bookmark this site so you can return easily.  If you are starting from the home page of, you should first click on Visit Now on the Check Out Our Free Resources! header.  Then on the left of the page find Online Community.  Go down until you come to Special Needs Blog.  Click it, and you’re back here.
That’s it.  I’ll expect to see you back here around the 1st of December.

See you then,
[email protected]

Grant Notice
Grant Name:  Tommy Wilson Memorial Grant
Funded By:  American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation

Description:  The Tommy Wilson Memorial Grant supports recreational programs for individuals with disabilities
Program Areas:  Disabilities, Special Education

Recipients:  Public School, Private school, High Ed, Other
Proposal Deadline:  December 1st each year

Average Amount:  $500.00 - $1,500.00
Email:  [email protected]/aapar/

Availability:  All States

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Art Share: Paper Plate Faces

This post is authored by Anna Reyner, a registered art therapist and licensed marriage and family therapist. Anna is a nationally recognized arts advocate that has conducted over 500 hands-on art workshops for learners of all abilities. Follow Anna’s blog at Art and Creativity in Early Childhood Education.

Special Needs Application:
A good way to reinforce facial expression cues.

Try this whimsical paper plate mask:

1) Cut face holes in plate.

2) Paint with BioColor® or another bright paint.
3) Collage with tissue paper on top .

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guest Blog: Children with Food Allergies – Play Dates Encouraged, with Precautions

Guest Blog Post: from our friends at FAAN

Children with Food Allergies – Play Dates Encouraged, with Precautions
There’s no question about it -- children love to get together with friends, whether at the playground or at home. For the parents of children with food allergies, playgroups and play dates can be a source of concern, and that’s understandable. But these rites of passage are manageable – with some extra precautions.

Lessons learned from being around other children are important to a child’s social development. Balancing food allergy safety and social skills in a playgroup or play date environment takes planning.

Concerns that a child with a food allergy could have a reaction under the care of a classmate’s parents are valid. You don’t know whether they know how to recognize symptoms of an allergic reaction, whether they understand the seriousness of food allergies, how to read labels, or how to administer life-saving medication.

With advance planning, however, you can address each of these concerns and have successful play dates.
·        For younger children, consider hosting the play date at your house, so that you are better able to control the environment.

·        Plan for play dates to occur outside of mealtimes, or work with the play date host to plan “food free” playtime.

·        Teach a play date host about food allergies prior to a scheduled play date. Regardless if food is being served or not, the host should understand the symptoms of a food allergy reaction, how a reaction could occur (accidents happen!), and how to help your child if he or she has a reaction.

·        Pack a safe snack for your child so that you are not relying on the play date host to read food labels and determine what is safe to feed your child. Teach your child not to accept any foods that you have not approved.

·        Pack your child’s medication, including epinephrine auto-injectors, in a bag that also contains emergency information. Include a copy of your child’s Food Allergy Action Plan (see FAAN’s website for a free copy). Be sure the adult supervising the play date understands how to use all medication and the steps to follow should a reaction occur.
While it may seem easier to keep our children close to home, we have to remember the importance of balancing our child’s social needs with their emotional and physical development. 
The efforts on the part of parents of children without food allergies to keep our children safe are much appreciated.
FAAN staff member Nancy Gregory, whose 8-year-old son has a peanut allergy, says she has been lucky that parents have been so accommodating when it comes to hosting play dates.

“One mom went to the grocery store before my son’s play date to make sure she had safe snacks for him, even though I would have sent him something safe to eat,” Gregory said. “I was grateful that she took such genuine care to make sure he was safe.”

This post was contributed by the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN). FAAN is a nonprofit organization, supported in part by membership dues. For more information about food allergies, as well membership, contact FAAN at, or call (800) 929-4040.

Did you know that Achievement Products for Special Needs has a wide selection of allergen-free items? Check out the full list by clicking here.