Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Five Little Men

Number rhymes can be great to encourage children to engage in using number words in correct order and developing an understanding of "take one" "one less" (most are minus). Using props alongside rhymes will encourage children to fully understand the mathematical concepts and aid transference to spontaneous use and experimentation play, especially if props are freely available during play.

Props can be made from everyday items, with or for children, or simply gathered from environment. Props are particularly suitable for children who need support in maintaining attention and or need support with receptive (understanding) language, such as those with Autism, Speech and language disorders, hearing impairments, visual impairments or English as and additional language.

These Props were simply made by covering a cylindrical tub in foil, sticking to a CD. Alliens made by cutting out shapes from funky foam and sticking to CD's to attach to flying saucer.
Printable props and words can be downloaded here.

"The only thing better than singing is more singing." Ella Fitzgerald

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Sensory Play

I love sensory play!! (Except Mashed Potato, and possibly tinned peas mashed, if you introduced me to this you know who you are!!!) Anyway, it has so many benefits, to name a few:

  • Encourages creativity, there is no particular purpose so motivation, engagement and play is entirely intrinsically motivated and is process driven rather than product.
  • Children often feel confident to experiment when there is no obvious adult directed purpose.
  • It can be therapeutically engaging, relaxing or releasing aggression (e.g. large amounts of playdough)
  • It can help alleviate anxiety around getting messy (including difficulties around eating/ mealtimes) if handled sensitively.
  • Encourages imaginative play, so often shaving foam becomes food, spaghetti becomes...
  • Teaches children about properties of materials and if children are included in the setting up of several types of sensory play materials e.g. cornflour (cornstarch to American friends) and water, children will learn about changes.
  • Supports early communication skills e.g. Ready, steady...splash, requesting more or rejecting as case may be.
  • Supports descriptive language development particularly creative, rhyming, onomatopoeic and alliterative vocabulary e.g. squelchy, melchy; squiggly, squirmy, spaghetti.
  • But most of all it is inclusive, it engages all at equal levels.
One thing to note though is that some children are defensive to sensory materials this is particularly common in children with Autistic spectrum disorders, visual impairments and specific diagnosis of sensory processing disorders. When children have difficulties in this area it is important to present sensory opportunities sensitively e.g. incorporating interests: Thomas is the snow (shaving foam), presenting in small quantities, providing tools to reduce need to touch in initial stages, supporting child with hand under hand approach (rather than over), presenting messy materials in ziplock bags etc.

Regarding children with severe visual impairment it is important to remember that touch can be their "vision", therefore reticence to engage in messy play can be due to this interfering with their ability get precise touch feedback from thier environment (like fogging up ones glasses when opening the oven). Also their fingers are likely to be extra sensitive, when this is the case start with dry sensory materials and again present in small quantities.

I have created a Sensory Play booklet of ideas, to download Sensory Fun click here.

Preschool Education also have a nice range of ideas (be aware of risk assessing some of the ideas, using common sense).
"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play" Heraclitus (Greek Philosopher)

Monday, 26 April 2010

Duplo cards

Older kids often love those lego sets where you follow instructions. Why shouldn't little ones too. Great for following visual instructions (early reading) and identifying position and colours and following pattern (numeracy and reasoning). Also great as play cue cards to assist children with Autism who find open ended activities and free play difficult. Also good for use in structured workstation situation (TEACCH).

Also great to support children to communicate with each other by giving each child a card and a shared box of bricks, on their turn they ask other child to give them a specific brick. Encourages colour and size language, which also lend it to a good PECS activity when teaching attributes.

Make your own cards by photoing creations or printing cards, from alljoinin printables.
Black and white cards for you to colour or for children to create own.

"We must have reasons for speech but we need none for silence." Proverb

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Flower bag

Saw this wonderful, but "plain" pink shopping bag whilst in M&S today £3.99 and saw customisation potential!

Sewed some cute little felt flowers, made a button hole in middle. Sewed some buttons onto bag (I used same colour as bag so I could remove flowers for when I wanted a mature plain look!). Hey presto a customised shopping bag with removable/ changeable embellishments, which can double as an activity for fine motor for kids should the need arise.
This idea would be perfect for a Mary, Mary quite contrary rhyme sack. Of course if you added buttons in matching colours to flowers you could use it for colour matching, or make additional flowers so kids (or you) can change the flowers around.

"Much education today is monumentally ineffective. All too often we are giving young people cut flowers when we should be teaching them to grow their own." John Gardner

Thomas the Tank

Thomas the Tank is popular with so many young children. Add Autism to the picture and often it's even more popular! I have actually had friends say to me "Well he doesn't like Thomas so he can't be autistic?", Obviously not true but it is certainly very common. Which makes activities and resources with a Thomas theme particularly useful when extending and promoting children's learning, which will include all children who like Thomas.

So here's a few ideas to get you started:
  1. Create a box/ bag full of Thomas resources, as above (the paper, scissors, crayons and hole punch are for making tickets)
  2. Paint a cardboard box blue and add features of Thomas for encouraging imaginative play, make another box to be one of his friends so you can engage in paralel/ joint imaginative play.
  3. Collect Thomas wrapping paper and use to encourage children to use scissors.
  4. Collect or save Thomas birthday cards, cut up into simple jigsaws that perfectly meet the child's ability (laminate before cutting for durability)
  5. Use train track for stage one PECs with the child requesting pieces of track, later on a child can request individual engines using attributes e.g. "I want red train"
  6. Use Thomas to model positional language e.g. "in tunnel" "on track" "up bridge"
  7. Introduce little people to encourage extension of imaginative play.
  8. Create engine sheds out of boxes painted the same colour as the engines and match engine's to thier correct shed. For further extension draw dots on sheds for children to match the numbered engine to the correct shed.
  9. Play Thomas lotto, made bought or download card from TES.
  10. Match pictures/ toys of engines to correct numbers, download cards from TES.
  11. Create Thomas using this cut and stick activity, download from TES.
  12. Recreate Thomas in this cut and stick puzzle activity, download from TES.
  13. Stick laminated pictures of engines (or carriages for Thomas) onto pegs, attach to think piece of elastic/ card to make a number line (incorporating fine motor skills)
  14. Find some pull back or wind up Thomas' so you can use for anticipation and early communication saying "Ready...steady...." pausing for child to indicate go.
  15. Match engines/ pictures to correct colour cards/ words, simple download available at TES
"The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest." Albert Einstein

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Lego people

I found this wonderful idea at FlithWizardry for making paper creations with the help of lego. All you need is some thinish card, hole punch, lego and of course drawings.

As you can see we weren't as accurate as filthwizardry with hole punching skills, but it still worked. I had planned to make lego people of the children by printing images and laminating them. I have now realised that the laminating part would not work as it would create too large a gap between lego connections making them fall apart (very frustrating). So will have to settle with no laminating!

"It is better to create than to be learned, creating is the true essence of life." Barthold Georg Niebuhr

Friday, 23 April 2010

Rainbow blocks

Aren't kids creations wonderful, I would have never thought of doing this! This is an absolute plus for child initiated learning, however I would defiantly recommend this for an adult initiated/ led activity. All you need is a ray of sunshine and some of these rainbow blocks, build them up and watch the wonderful patterns projected onto the ground!! A great outdoor activity for a sunny day.

"The work will wait while you show the child the rainbow, but the rainbow won't wait while you do the work." Patricia Clafford

Position matching

I found this wonderful activity at which inspired me to create pritables for you to re create this activity without any drawing skills. I must admit though I do prefer the cutouts in felt. Consider also using the cards for lotto.

"Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in the seed." Robert H Schuller

Alljoinin Blog (NEW)

Hey Guys
In an effort to keep more up to date with my blogging for alljoinin, in an attempt to save web site space, make it easier for you to comment and to allow you to search blog info I am going to blog from this site rather than directly on to Please do comments!!!

"The best way to keep an idea is to share it." Me! (inspired by someone else I'm sure.)