The team at Achievement
Products asked our consultant, Occupational Therapist Scott Russo, to
provide some activity suggestions for incorporating some of our favorite items
into daily classroom activities or curriculum.
Scott has provided
some really great and creative ways to use items (that may have been originally
designed for typically developing children), in special needs environments.
These blocks provide immediate motivation for engaging
children across a wide age range. Each block is colored and contains a short
melody from 3 different song selections. Each of the colored blocks plays a
different part of the melody from a classical, world beat or jazz piece. And
the shapes on each block are coded to play a different style of music from
vocals to instrumental to orchestral.So
the blocks can be mixed and matched to create over a million combinations! Even
at its highest volume, the music is played at a level that will be
non-threatening to the sensory challenged child. The blocks are perfect for
developing fine motor, sequencing, and other pre-academic skills. They can also
be used as a calming source for sensory challenges.
Develop grasp and release
skills. For the babies or toddlers, simply have them pick the block up and
try to place it in a square. The musical response of a successful trial
lends the motivation for continued trials.
Work on the in-hand
manipulation skill of rotation. Once the child has the grasp and release
mastered, increase the challenge by requiring them to rotate the block
with one hand to find a specific shape for a different musical
Develop matching skills.
Have the child rotate each block until the shapes are matching. Again, the musical arrangement will
naturally indicate the correct answer.
skills. Identify a target color and have the child find the correct block
for placement or identify a target shape and have him/her rotate each individual block for shape
Develop sequencing skills.
Place the blocks in order so that
the melodies will play in the correct sequence. Have the child listen to the sequence and
then rearrange the blocks. Then
have the child try to re-create the correct sequence.Modify the activity by playing the
correct sequence and then remove all the blocks from the base before
having the child re-create the sequence. For the advancedstage, have the child cover his/her eyes
while you arrange any sequence and then try to re-create the sequence
based on only auditory input.
Develop memory skills. Place the blocks in any order and allow
the child to see and hear the sequence. Then remove the blocks and have the child
try to re-create the original sequence.
These blocks are perfect
for use with children who get
easily overstimulated. Free play
with the blocks in a quiet portion of any room is an excellent method for
calming the sensory challenged child.
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 Funding Center Grant Database, go to schoolfundingcenter.com
New Year’s Resolutions
– Teachable Moments
I have to admit this up-front.I like New Year’s resolutions.I don’t keep as many of them as I should, but
I hope to do better.I like New Year’s
resolutions because they are the beginnings of a plan, and I think we all
should be good planners.As someone with
an interest in disabled children, you should make some New Year’s resolutions,
and better yet, you should teach the disabled students in your life to make
Of course, just teaching young people to make New Year’s
resolutions is not enough.You need to
teach them how to follow through and achieve the goals they set.That takes planning.Many students just skate through school
simply doing what they’re told (or not).Most of their actions really don’t involve planning.You can teach students to set goals and write
plans to reach those goals just as you can teach them to write good paragraphs
by teaching them to narrow their topics, write strong topic sentences, and
outline the bodies of their paragraphs.
Believe me, students don’t learn to set goals on their
own.They don’t learn to plan on their
own.Most have heard of New Year’s
resolutions and that makes for a very teachable moment for you to introduce the
topics of goal setting and planning.
Let’s look at setting good New Year’s resolutions.A popular one at this time of year is to lose
weight.If you set that as a New Year’s
resolution and that’s all you do, I can almost guarantee that it’s not going to
happen.The goal is too broad and has no
time parameter.Are you going to lose
one pound or a hundred pounds?Are you
going to lose some each week, each month, or are you just going to drop that
weight all at once before next December 31st?
A much better New Year’s resolution would go like this:I’m
going to lose 20 pounds.I’ll weigh once
each week to make sure I’m on target, and my goal is to lose five pounds per
month during the first four months of the year.
Really want to make sure you lose the weight?Write in your plan to eat no more than 1,500
calories per day and work out on the treadmill at least 30 minutes per day, 5
days per week.Now that a plan.It’s clear, it’s concise, it’s detailed, and
it’s achievable.It’s hard to beat a
plan like that.You can teach that kind
of plan to almost every special education student you know.
Two other things you will want to teach students to do with
their New Year’s resolutions:a) write
them down, and b) tell all their friends and relatives about their resolutions.
This will increase their chances of
staying with their resolutions by about 1000%.
All too often we believe disabled students are incapable of
setting goals and incapable of extensive planning.Well, they couldn’t read or do any math before
you taught them either.Goal setting is
a skill.Planning is a skill.You must teach disabled students the
rudimentary elements of goal setting and planning, and then you must have them
practice, and practice, and practice until it becomes a part of them.
Remember, riding a bike is a skill.Keyboarding is a skill.They must be learned.They must be practiced.Goal setting is a skill.Planning is a skill.They must be learned.They must be practiced.
Make your New Year’s resolutions.Keep them this year.But more importantly, teach every special
education student in your life to make New Year’s resolutions.And while you’re at it, teach them how to set
goals and how to plan.You might very
well change their lives in ways you can’t imagine.
Description:The MAXIMUS Charitable Foundation is
committed to creating opportunities for young people through youth-oriented
programs. We collaborate with organizations and charities in the United States
that share our commitment in helping the disadvantaged achieve self-sufficiency
and personal growth.
Program Areas:After-School, Arts, At-Risk/Character,
Disabilities, General Education, Math, Reading, Safe/Drug Free Schools,
Science/Environment, Social Studies, Special Education, Technology, Vocational
Recipients:Public School, Private School, Higher