Columbus Day book


IMG_6329In honor of Columbus Day, we are focusing on Christopher Columbus this week.  Our story tells about who Columbus was and why he is an important piece of history.  On each page there is a little bit of information.  When it is our students’ turn to read the repetitive line we asked them, “what did Columbus do?”  The repetitive line answers, “Columbus sailed the ocean blue.”  We hope you enjoy!




IMG_6114Here is a link to the book: Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue

Columbus Day


IMG_6163In fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue! October 13 was Columbus Day and we spent the week learning a little bit more about the famous explorer. Our sensory group explored a variety of boxes including some colorful ocean blue play dough. The fine motor group made some sparkly crowns and the language group played a Columbus Day game—-what fun! All our activities addressed the social studies access point associate a celebration with an event.




IMG_6024Our first box was filled with red, white, and green rice which are the colors of the Italian flag.

Italy is the country that Christopher Columbus comes from! There were 2 letter C’s—-for Christopher Columbus—– to find and a picture of Columbus hidden beneath the rice.

The social studies access point recognize a person in a story can be addressed in this activity.





IMG_6057Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain helped fund the trip. This box had red and yellow rice—-the colors of the Spanish flag. As the students explored the rice there were some compasses to find and a picture of the royal couple at the bottom of the box. This bright colorful rice certainly invited exploration!

Recognize pictures or artifacts that relate to important people or events is an access point that can be addressed in this activity.






IMG_6363IMG_6389Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand used gold and jewels to help pay for voyage. We didn’t have any real gold but this box filled with gold mardi gras beads made a great stand in——bright, sparkly, and touchable :) Our students loved wearing them or grabbing handfuls and shaking them. Total fun!

IMG_6220The science access point track the movement of objects that are pushed or pulled can be addressed here.


IMG_6446Discovery bottles are always a hit with our students and this one was pretty eye catching!

The colorful jewels looked so pretty floating around. A great way to track objects in motion—-a science access point.





IMG_6430Since our world is round we wanted to include a reference to that in our boxes. We put some beautiful ocean blue play dough in this box and added a circle cookie cutter.

Recognize a common object with a two-dimensional shape is a math access point. Since the play dough can be rolled into a ball the math access point recognize a common 3 dimensional object can also be addressed.





IMG_6107IMG_6182Columbus landed on the sandy shores of the Bahamas. We used some kinetic sand for our sandy shore and believe us when we say that this stuff is TOTALLY cool! It is kind of like this dry oobleck——adults and children were totally mesmerized.

The science access point track the movement of objects that are pushed or pulled can be addressed here.

We are SO getting more of this stuff :)




IMG_6194One of the things Columbus was hoping to find was a trade route for spices from the orient! To add a little “spice” to our oobleck we added some oregano flakes. So ok, oregano is technically an herb but it was what we had and it made the oobleck very aromatic :)

Recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is a science access point that can be addressed here. The science access point recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli, in this case smell, can also be addressed.





IMG_6404We used Bath and Body Works ocean scented water—-it seemed appropriate! We also put in a small boat to float around in our little ocean.

Recognize water as a liquid is a science access point.







IMG_6227Our students really liked the scent of the matching lotion and loved feeling it massaged onto their hands, arms, necks, or even knees!

Recognize one or more external body parts is a science access point.








IMG_6263IMG_6276On Tuesday for our art project we made some cute little sailing ships! We started by asking the students to use communication symbols to choose a color for their ship sails. Then they used adaptive scissors to cut construction paper into rectangular shapes—–1 big and 1 little.

Recognize differences in size of objects is a math access point. The science access point recognize that the appearance of an object or material has changed is also addressed.



IMG_6301The sails were threaded (little slits were cut into the rectangles) onto a straw——with a little triangle flag already attached! Our students needed a little help with this part but it was a great activity for practicing pincer grasp and bilateral coordination skills.

We used some black and brown paper plates folded in half to make the boat. These plates were leftovers from other projects—-it was nice to use them up! The straw mast was slipped through a hole snipped into the middle of the plate and stapled into place.





IMG_6249IMG_6325Ta Da—-our little captains are ready to set sail!









Our Thursday art project was a pretty quick one—–the students made some fun paper crowns. We found this silver and gold bulletin board trim on the give-away table and knew it would be perfect for our project!

IMG_5980The adaptive scissors were pulled out again to snip a length of bulletin board trim.

Recognize that pushing and pulling a object—-in this case the scissors handle—-makes it move is a science access point.






IMG_5983Pincer grasp skills were practiced as the students added some glitter stickers as the “jewels” for the crowns. They really liked this part :)

The math access points indicate desire for more of an action or object and indicate desire for no more of an action or object are addressed here.






IMG_6467IMG_6458TA DA—–we have royalty in the classroom!





IMG_6345After reading about Columbus’ travels, we wanted to take one of our own!  We decided to play a Christopher Columbus game using a globe, a small laminated ship, and an All-Turn-It Spinner.

Each of our students took turns playing the game.  They used the All-Turn-It to see how many places they would move forward.  We only used numbers 1-3 on the spinner.  Once they landed on a number, they moved the ship that many places.  Of course, we all counted out loud how many places the ship moved.



IMG_6351IMG_6355While moving the ship, we talked about how the ships sailed on the water and showed our students the route Columbus used on his trek.







IMG_6349Our students had such a great time taking turns, counting, and moving the ship.  They are officially captains of their ship!


IMG_6014IMG_6377Wow we really learned a lot about Columbus this week, hope you join us again next week for more fun and learning—–Group by Group!





Fall book


IMG_5581Although we’re not feeling so much of the cool, crisp air here in Florida and all of our evergreens are still, well, GREEN, it is officially fall!  Our book takes a look at some of the different things we might see when fall comes around, such as leaves changing color, people wearing long pants and jackets, and pumpkins, to name a few.  Our students were back to asking a question as the repetitive line.  The question was, “what do we see during fall?”  The yellow background helped the pictures to pop.  I think after reading this book we are ALL ready for some fall weather to come to us!



IMG_5652Here is a link to the book:  What Do We See During Fall?



IMG_5330We have finally gotten a little relief from the heat down here so it is a perfect time to do our unit about fall. The sensory group had fun exploring scents and colors of fall. The fine motor group made some cool nature inspired art work and the language group made some pumpkin spice play dough! All of our students loved our colorful fall umbrella!

Read along to see all the fall fun we had this week!





IMG_5455The first thing people think about when they think of fall are the colorful LEAVES! We attached tons of silk and craft foam leaves to this umbrella and our students loved it—–it was just like being under a tree. We were pretty pleased with the way this turned out. The bright yellow umbrella made a terrific background for the leaves and the whole thing was quite eye catching.

Recognize a seasonal change in the appearance of a common plant is a science access point addressed here.






IMG_5849IMG_5855Fall also brings breezy weather to help the leaves fall. We made our own wind using a battery operated fan which produced lots of giggles from our students :)

Recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli is a science access point.






IMG_5891More colorful leaves are the base of this box. We added a variety of seasonal items including pinecones, scarecrows, squash, and pumpkins. All over the country, fall means football games so there was a little football in the box. Colorful strands of yarn and a cute plush squirrel were also tucked in among the leaves.

Just a whole bunch of items to explore and discover!

This box had lots of opportunities to address the science access point recognize a model of a real object.



IMG_5886Once leaves fall to the ground they get dry and crunchy. Dry cornflake cereal makes a very satisfying crunch when pounded or stomped, just like fall leaves!

YES we did put a box of cereal in front of children and asked them NOT to eat it——what can we say, we like to live life on the edge :)

Some students crunched the cereal with their hands, and some got to use their feet which they thought was WAY FUN……

…….and a little messy!

The science access point recognize and respond to different types of sensory stimuli—-in this case touch and sound—– is addressed here.




IMG_5171IMG_5203As we said, football is played all over the country in the fall and football is HUGE around here! This box contained a variety of pom pom shakers with colors of some of our favorite colleges teams—–go Gators, Seminoles, Rattlers, and Hurricanes!

Our students always have fun with the pom pom’s, this was a very popular box!

Shaking these pom poms is a fun way to explore the science access point recognize an action as fast or slow.



IMG_5925The students had fun stamping leaves in our cinnamon and ginger scented cloud dough. We made the cloud dough with wheat flour and loved how the color turned out.

It also had a great texture and aroma——it really invited exploration!

The science access point apply a push to move an object is addressed.







IMG_5877This box contained a skein of wonderfully soft pom pom yarn in fall colors—-perfect for a sweater or blanket. Our students really loved exploring it. Some of them shook it, others tried to pull it apart, and still others  loved the feel of it draped around their shoulders.

Just delightfully cozy and touchable!

Use senses  to recognize objects is a science access point explored here.






IMG_5223We hid some letter F’s—-for fall—- inside our mixed “bean soup” box. Always a fun media for exploration to practice visual and tactile discrimination skills. Since there were so many different colored beans it was even more tricky this week!

The science access point apply a push to move an object is again addressed in this activity.

With the amount of beans that end up on the floor the science access point track objects that fall to the ground could also be addressed :)





IMG_5162Aspen caramel woods from Bath and Body Works was the scent we chose to help us remember all the fall fun we had in group.

For our water play we also added two different sized scoops which addresses the math access point recognize differences in sizes of containers that hold liquids.

Track objects in motion is another science access point that can be addressed.






IMG_5342IMG_5357The aroma was even stronger in the lotion. Our students gave it a definite “thumbs up” and left the group smelling like some yummy caramel candy—–YUMMY!

Recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli is the science access point addressed here.






IMG_5390For our Tuesday art project our students made some colorful fall trees. We started by painting our students forearms and hands with brown paint and then stamping them on a piece of rectangular paper. As usual, we discussed the shape of the paper before we started.

Recognize a common object with a two dimensional shape is a math access point.






IMG_5417IMG_5432After the paint was washed off we discussed the color of the leaves that were going onto our trees and used our communication symbols to identify the color.

The science access point identify common classroom objects by one observable property, such as color is addressed here.

Then we counted out 3 orange leaf doilies (purchased at the dollar store) for each student to decorate their trees. There were 32 leaves in the package so PLENTY to go around.

We reinforced the number recognition by writing the numbers on the back with the glue—–we get pretty clever around here sometimes :)


IMG_5402                                                                    Ta Da! Some beautiful fall foliage!


On Thursday we made some super fun fall shaker bottles!

IMG_5668We started by looking at different bowls of colored rice—-orange, purple, and yellow. Then we dumped all the rice into one bowl and the students stirred them together.

Periodically their friends would let them know whether it needed MORE stirring using their communication symbols.

We ended up with this beautiful fall rice blend. The picture doesn’t really do it justice but in real life it was FABULOUS!

The science access point recognize a change in an object is addressed here. The math access point indicate desire for more of an action or object is also addressed.


IMG_5680IMG_5714Then we scooped the rice into some empty water bottles. The funnel helped but we still ended up with quite a bit of rice scattered around the table…..and the floor :)

Everyone helped count out loud as each student scooped 5 spoonfuls of rice into their bottle.

IMG_5686In addition to eye hand coordination and scooping skills, this activity addressed the math access point associate quantities with number names.



IMG_5701Next some acorns were added to the bottles.  Pincer grasp skills were really practiced while picking up those tiny acorns!

The math access point associate quantities with number names is addressed here again!







IMG_5734After the lids were hot glued onto the bottles it was time to make some NOISE!

As you can see, the students had an absolute blast with their Fall Shaker Bottles :)







IMG_5627We decided to make some pumpkin spice play dough with our language group students this week.

After reading about all of the different things that we see during fall, one being pumpkins, we looked over the directions on how to make our no cook pumpkin spice play dough.

While going over the ingredients, we went over how “boiling” means HOT.


IMG_5609We also passed around the pumpkin spice so our students were able to smell it——YUMMY!

Recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli is a science access point.






IMG_5620IMG_5625The students helped POUR the ingredients into the bowl, with the exception of the boiling water of course :)

Adding the ingredients gave lots of opportunities to work on the math access point solve problems involving small quantities of objects or actions, using language , such as enough, too much, or more.





IMG_5629We MIXED all of the ingredients up and watched them change into play dough.  The students loved this part!

Our students were able to feel the WARM bowl once it was cool enough to touch.

The science access point recognize a change in an object is addressed here.

Recognize the temperature of items as cool or warm is also addressed.





IMG_5642Look at this playdough!  I bet you can imagine how great it smells :)

Rolling, squeezing, pinching , poking—–lots of ways to play AND work on improving hand intrinsic function, which needless to say the OT really liked!






IMG_5598IMG_5918IMG_5591Well we welcomed Fall with style and fun this week! Join us again for more fun and learning——-Group by Group!

Native Americans book


IMG_4713We are following the Unique theme this week and focusing on learning about Native Americans.  All of the pictures (found using google images) and information relate to Native Americans from long ago.  On each page there is a piece of information about Native Americans.  After the information is read to the students, we asked them, “what are we learning about?”  The repetitive line answers, “The life of a Native American.”  We hope you enjoy!




IMG_4535Here is a link to the book: The Life of a Native American

Native Americans


IMG_5080Some of our students are learning about Native Americans as part of their Unique Curriculum unit this month. We did a Native American unit a couple of years ago so figured it would be fun to revisit the activities with a few updates here and there. There were some fantastic boxes for our sensory group to explore while they learned some fun facts about Native Americans. Our fine motor group made drums and an awesome totem pole. The language group made comparisons between Native American lives in the past and what lives are like today.





IMG_4525This box was filled with items important for many tribes. Corn was an important food source for  the Apalachee and Ponca tribes so corn kernels were a perfect base for this box. This was a “something for everyone” box with lots of fun things to discover.

We  included other play food such as a corn cob, squash and fish—-types of food many tribes enjoyed. Strands of raffia represented “swamp grass” which the Chinook used to make baskets.

Animals like sheep, which the Navaho raised and horses that the Comanche rode could be found hidden in the kernels. Sioux and Arapaho lived in tipis like the one in our box! Finally we included the word “Family”.

IMG_4779The social studies access points recognize differences in food or clothing from other cultures is addressed with this box and recognize a characteristic of early Native Americans.







IMG_4553The Sioux, Omaha, Comanchee, and Arapaho tribes are known for wearing feathers.  We filled this box with variety of feathers of all shapes and sizes.  Full of ticklish fun, while a little messy—-feathers ended up everywhere—–this really was a great box for our students :)

The feathers have a wonderful tactile feel but they are also fun to toss up and watch drift down addressed the science access point track objects in motion.






IMG_4547IMG_4584We had an awesome jam session listening to some Native American music we recorded on the voice output device. Even some of our students who often need help to press the switches responded to the music—-we were pretty excited! Our students also enjoyed making their own music with shaker bottles  made with acorns which the Yokuts ate and beads used by the Wampanoag, Cherokee, and Kiowa tribes.

The science access point recognize and respond to common sounds was addressed here.



IMG_4769The Pueblo play dough was made using Black Cherry and Orange koolaid. We thought the color turned out pretty perfect! Whether trying to make their own “pots” like the famous Pueblo pottery or using the deer cookie cutter—-the students had a great time exploring!

The math access point associate quantities with number names can be addressed as the deer are counted.

The science access point apply a push to move an object is also addressed.






IMG_4761The Zuni are famous for their beautiful turquoise jewelry. We thought our box of turquoise beans looked pretty beautiful also! Neon blue food coloring was used to achieve the color and while it is a great effect, get ready for some “blue” fingers!

Besides the wonderful feel as they sift through fingers, there were also 4 letter Z’s to find hidden among the beans.

Track objects in motion is a science access point that can be addressed here.

IMG_4795Of course that can be hard to do when your teacher is distracting you with kisses :)







IMG_4620IMG_4588Buffalo and deer were very important to many Native American tribes. The Comanchee hunted buffalo and the Arapaho wore buckskin clothing. This box contained some fake fur “buffalo” hide and ultra suede “buckskin” invited touch. We also included some matching beanie babies for our students to cuddle.

IMG_4622The social studies access point identify practices of Native American is addressed again here.



IMG_4839IMG_4634Many Native Americans gathered around campfires to celebrate special occasions. Our campfire was made by mixing yellow and red food coloring with shaving cream to make orange campfire “flames”.

As always, our messy play was a huge hit :)

Looking at how the shaving cream changes as the colors are mixed addresses the science access point of recognizing that the appearance of an object or material has changed.


IMG_4570We thought that juniper breeze scent from Bath and Body works was the perfect scent to represent the importance of nature to Native Americans. All the shaving cream we used was rinsed off with water scented with this nice outdoorsy aroma—–perfect.

Two different sized measuring cups were added to the water dish. They were great for rinsing and addressing the science access point recognize differences in sizes of containers that hold liquids!







IMG_4663On Tuesday after listening to some Native American drum music we made our own really cool drums! We started by cutting 2 squares into 4 triangles using our paper cutter.

Recognize common objects with 2 dimensional shapes and recognize parts of whole objects are math access points that can be addressed here.






IMG_4696Then we glued them onto a piece of rectangular paper. We started with a blue triangle then placed a red one.

Next we asked our students which color came next in the pattern—–this addresses the math access point recognize the next step in a simple pattern or sequence of activities!







IMG_4716IMG_4718After the paper was taped around a coffee can it was time for our drum circle! We put on some Native American music and the students joined in. IMG_4731                                                       They LOVED making their own music——so much fun!!!



IMG_5019On Thursday we made a super awesome totem pole! We covered some cereal boxes with art paper and let our students choose which box they wanted to decorate.

Use body movement or nonverbal expression to communicate preferences is a language access point.







IMG_5025Then we discussed body parts and asked the students to point out their eyes, nose, mouth, and ears.

Recognize one or more body parts is a science access point.

We also counted the pieces—–1 nose and 1 mouth, 2 eyes and 2 ears. The students used communication symbols to indicate their understanding of associate quantities 1 and 2 with number names.

They totally rocked this—–our students are so awesome!






IMG_5062IMG_5073Our wonderful volunteers had made a selection of stylized facial features for our students to choose from to decorate their totems. We placed glue on the boxes to reinforce the concept of one to one correspondence and eye hand coordination.

Match one object to a designated space to show one to one correspondence is a math access point.






IMG_5100TA DA!!! Our students were so excited about their totems and they loved when we stacked—–while counting, of course :)  them on top of each other to made a totem pole.

IMG_5106This is going to look SOOOO cool outside Jeannie’s classroom!












IMG_4924This week was all about comprehension for our language group.  Before reading the book, we reminded our students to pay close attention to what was being read.  We also reminded them to look closely at the pictures included.

After the book, we went around and asked our students a yes/no question, one-by-one.  We printed out the pictures that were included in the book, along with modern items seen today that would contrast things Native Americans might have used a long time ago.  For instance, with the canoe we put a car, with the headdress we put a baseball cap, with the breechcloth we put jeans, etc.

Use technology resources to support learning is a language access point.


IMG_4940We presented one picture at a time to each student and asked if it was something a Native American from long ago would have used.  They had to indicate YES or NO using a pre-programmed voice output device with the Boardmaker symbols for yes/no located on it.  If they answered incorrectly, we referenced the book to check our answers.

Listen and respond to stories and information text is a language access point.



IMG_4972IMG_4959After the comprehension check, we got the voice output used in the sensory group with Native American music on it and turned it on.  We passed out the shakers used in the sensory group as well as drums and bells.

IMG_4991                                                      Our students played along to the music——so much fun!


It was another great week of fun and learning—–join us again Group by Group!

September After Party


IMG_3773Welcome to the After Party! Each week after the weekly blog featuring activities in the elementary department is posted, our sensory cart is parked in the media center where it is available for check out by the rest of the school. During the summer in our post about the sensory cart we included some photos of our middle and high school students enjoying the items. This was so popular that we decided to do monthly posts showcasing the fun!




IMG_2055IMG_2076Our unit on the Soccer World Cup was a lot of fun—– the fabulous Brazilian rainforest umbrella and the wacky fan were student favorites!



IMG_2244IMG_2156They also loved sifting through the red, white, and blue Team USA rice to find letters and hidden pictures!








IMG_2951 IMG_2315Labor Day brought more fun activities!





IMG_3756IMG_3111The Goldilocks and the 3 Bears unit had lots of fun textures to explore!










IMG_3107IMG_3751There were also activities to promote a variety of fine motor skills…….










IMG_3732……including seeing which scoop could pick up more oatmeal……

IMG_3109                                                 ……and which numbers could be found in the rice.




IMG_0597IMG_4466Everyone had a blast celebrating Elephant Appreciation Day!









IMG_4468There were interesting textures to explore while working on learning access point science and math concepts.

IMG_4476The students also loved finding the elephants floating in our discovery bottles!







IMG_4491We finished September with our Comic Book Superhero unit which everyone enjoyed——especially the cool glowing Ninja turtle ooze!








IMG_4508As with our elementary students, our older students enjoy smelling the different lotions that go along with each unit—-think we have a winner here :)

Well, we hope you enjoyed seeing all the fun our older students have been having with the sensory cart! We will be back with another After Party post in October. As usual, it will be filled with more fun and learning—–Group by Group!