The Sensory Cart


IMG_9161Each week on Monday morning, a cart filled with the previous week’s sensory boxes is placed in our media center and available to the entire school. Our teachers can use it in their classrooms referring to the posted blog. They can follow our lesson plan OR just use it any way they chose—-pretty great!

It has been a very popular item, used by teachers from the pre-k to post secondary.


Since the older students are not regularly featured in our blog, we thought it would be fun to include some of their photos. Thankfully we had lots of parents who signed permission forms!





IMG_0252IMG_0351Colored rice is always one of our most popular items. The color makes it so inviting to explore, young or old it is kind of irresistible, you just have to put your fingers in!







IMG_9151Another popular item is our colorful homemade play dough.  We made some of this bright blue dough a few times during the year—–that color is just so pretty and eye catching!








IMG_0296Mardi Gras beads are another favorite of all our students—–if you couldn’t already tell by this fabulous smile!









IMG_0243IMG_0262We have used a variety of lighted items in our groups. Recently these fascinating, super cool pool toys were part of one of our units.






IMG_0340IMG_0320We always have lots of fun textural items to touch and explore. This pompom yarn and the vibrating massager have been used in different units throughout the year.









photo copySometimes we have props included in our cart. The students had fun posing with this hat during our Dr. Suess unit.










IMG_0325We have also included sunglasses in different units—–as you can tell, our students can really rock a pair of sunglasses!











IMG_0300IMG_9160Scent is used every week in our sensory groups.

Our students really enjoy exploring the different scents each week and feeling the lotion rubbed on their skin.








IMG_8544IMG_8537Ms. Christy, one of our teachers takes the cart to the next level and adds worksheets for her students to complete while they explore the boxes—–we think that is pretty cool!






IMG_0285Fun AND learning—–that is what we are all about!










IMG_0247Hope you enjoyed seeing our older students having fun with our sensory cart.





Thank You


Now that school is out we wanted to give a quick shout out to the elementary teachers who welcome us into their rooms every week making Group by Group possible.


IMG_0283Our week starts with a sensory group in Ms. Joi’s room. The ladies in this room are so full of enthusiasm and laughter. They also have great ideas and suggestions for our groups.

Thank you ladies for helping us keep the “fun” in learning!





IMG_9629As Ms. Tonja retired at the end of the school year, our time in her room has been a little bittersweet. We will miss her intuitive knowledge and sensory insights.

Thank you to her staff and volunteers who help make it a great sensory group every week.





IMG_9168Our last sensory group class is Ms. Maria’s. It has been a year of contrasts with a sad goodbye to our dear Ms. Nita and a joyful welcome to Maria’s beautiful baby.


Thank you ladies for everything!






IMG_0241We could not do the language group without the ladies in Ms. Robin’s room. They are up for whatever activity we have planned and are great at helping us adapt things so that each student can participate. This is also our go to classroom for props and costumes—–Robin has an amazing array of things in her closet.

Thank you ladies for making it a great year!






IMG_0082Jeannie just wanted to thank her wonderful staff and volunteers for making the fine motor groups a blast week after week.


I also want to thank Ms. Joy (Occupational Therapist) and Ms. Cara (Speech Therapist).  They are the glue that holds us all together. Without there planning and preparations each week the blog would not be possible. Thanks also to Ms. Cleaver (teacher) for her help.  My thanks to everyone and I hope you all have a great summer. See you in August for another great year with Group By Group.



Summer Vacation in Florida book


IMG_0214Summer vacation is almost here and there are so many different places to vacation and things to do while in Florida.  We only touched on a few, though, like Disney World, Lego Land, and the beach to name a few.  All of the pictures in the book this week are from different people who work here at our school.  Enjoy the book and come visit the Sunshine State!




IMG_0232Here is a link to the book:  Summer Vacation in Florida

Summer Vacation in Florida


 IMG_0004The school year is ending and we are all thinking about summer vacation again! Now our first post this year was about Florida vacations but there is SO much to do here that it’s totally worthy of a second post.  Hope you enjoy seeing all the fun things we did and maybe get inspired to visit our sunshine filled state on your summer vacation :)






IMG_9944We have miles of sand and surf in Florida so almost everyone goes to the beach at least once during summer vacation—-it’s like a law or something :)

Our little “beach” box was filled with moon sand. Moon sand is a little dense just like the sand on the shore—-perfect for molding into sandcastles or stamping impressions. We included some fun stampers with handles making them easy for our students to grip. With just a little push cute impressions of a little mermaid or a fish appeared.

The science access points recognize a change in an object and apply a push to move an object are addressed as concepts of changes in matter and force are explored.





IMG_9941For animal lovers the Jacksonville Zoo is a great place to visit. We put lots of animals in our zoo box including our favorite sound producing ones. A plush monkey had a curtain ring hot glued to his back making him especially easy for our students to pick up.

We also included the word “ZOO” and a little zoo keeper. Of course, the animals need something to eat so assorted play food could be found—-everyone got a kick out of the “steak”. It was part of a set of coasters found in Target’s dollar section.

As the buttons are pushed on the animals, the science access point apply a push to move an object is again addressed. Another science access point distinguish between a plant and an animal is also addressed.


 IMG_9749Sometimes it is nice to get out of the hot sun and hang out in a nice cool movie theater. We are excited to see the fun summer movies that are coming out. Of course, you would HAVE to have some popcorn! This box was filled with popcorn kernels which are so fun to push hands down into. Our students hunted for the letter S (for “summer”) —–there were 3 of them to find.

In addition to letter recognition, the math access point recognize when 1 or 2 items have been added to or removed from sets of objects to 3 can be addressed.





IMG_9925We went with Mickey Mouse colors for our Disney World box. There were soft red, yellow, black, and white pompoms—-3 of each color. For contrast we included some shiny beads which our students always enjoy. To add yet another math component there were 0 yellow beads, 1 strand of white beads, 2 strands of black beads, 3 strands of red beads to count!

Probably the favorite item was the little Minnie Mouse box—-it had a tiny mirror inside so our students could admire their reflections. They really are a super cute bunch of kids :)

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




IMG_9787Another fun theme park is Lego Land. We filled this box with what else—-LEGOS!  The students had a great time putting them together and pulling them apart, perfect for promoting bilateral coordination and hand strengthening!

In addition to discussing the colors of the blocks, they can be ordered by measurable attributes—-addressing the math access point recognize differences in size of objects.






IMG_9742IMG_9757Some people go camping on their summer vacation. We have lots of great places to park an RV or put up a tent and then roast some marshmallows.

Our shaving cream and cornstarch mixture has a texture just like marshmallows. A fabulous fun texture to smoosh around or practice writing letters.

Recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is a science access point addressed in this activity.




IMG_9958Here in Tallahassee, Cascades Park is a great place to visit during our hot Florida summers. There are ducks to feed in the ponds and fun water fountains to splash around in.  Students had fun rinsing the shaving foam off their hands and playing with the ducks in our little “pond”.

The math access point associate quantities 1 and 2 with number names and the science access point recognize water as a liquid can both be addressed in this activity.





IMG_9999Wherever we go on summer vacation in Florida, sunscreen and sunglasses are a MUST! Bath and Bodyworks aruba coconut scented lotion reminded us of sunscreen and a perfect scent for this theme. It left our students smelling like they were ready for a day at the beach!









IMG_9795IMG_9876Of course our students always rock a pair of sunglasses——we do have the COOLEST kids after all :) Recognize external body parts is the science access point addressed in this activity.








IMG_9834We did a 2 part art project this week. On Tuesday we painted with corn syrup. First we discussed the color blue and asked the students to show us blue with the communication symbols. Match objects by one observable property, such as color is the science access point addressed with this activity.

Then we mixed the blue food coloring into the corn syrup—-our students had a blast stirring them together and watching as the color appeared. The science access point recognize a change in an object is addressed.

We poured the mixture onto a rectangular piece of paper and let our students spread it around with a wide foam brush. Recognize that pushing or pulling an object makes it move is the science access point addressed here.

IMG_9855Then they put a cute picture of themselves onto the water. The students had posed in their bathing suits while laying on their nap mats—–they look just like they are on water floats, totally adorable!








IMG_0105IMG_0155On Thursday we finished our project. We tore some yellow paper and glued it to the bottom of the picture to make a sandy shore. Tearing the paper is another great activity for promoting bilateral coordination. One of our students who has physical impairment used switch operated scissors to cut his paper—–he really enjoyed making them stop and start!





IMG_0145The students then painted on some “surf” using a glue and shaving foam mixture and added either a starfish or some shells. Recognize a change in an object is again addressed here.







IMG_0125                                  Surfs up—-time for summer vacation in Florida!



IMG_0009 In order to go on vacation, you need to pack appropriately for it.  To reiterate what types of things we need to pack to go on a summer vacation, we brought out a plush sun.  We asked our students if the sun was HOT or COLD.  Our little smarties either verbalized that it was HOT or they gestured fanning themselves with their hands.

The science access points distinguish between hot and cold objects and recognize sources of heat are both addressed.





IMG_0023To start packing, we got out our suitcase. We practiced zipping and unzipping the suitcase to open it—-addressing the science access point recognize the change in motion of an object.







We had a bag full of different things that could potentially be packed when going on vacation; however, some of the things in the bag were not appropriate for a hot summer vacation.  Some of the things presented to our students were sunscreen, sunglasses, winter hat, short sleeved shirt, winter jacket, baseball cap, bathing suit, swim towel, long pants, long sleeved shirt, and shorts.

IMG_0050IMG_0030We went around to each of our students and asked, “would we want to bring this on our HOT summer vacation?”  They had to tell us YES or NO by pointing to a picture symbol, verbalizing, using a head nod/shake, or by eye gaze.  For the most part, our students knew what went with HOT weather and what did not.

Recognize clothing worn by humans in different weather is a science access point related to interdependence.

IMG_0067After each item, we asked our students to put it IN the suitcase.  Although the clothing items weren’t folded nicely, they made it IN!

The math access point recognize when an object has been added to or taken away from a situation is addressed in this fun part of the activity.






IMG_0043IMG_0073Time to grab our hats and put on our sunglasses——it is summer vacation in Florida!







Well this is our last theme based post for the school year! We have had a such great time and have been thrilled with all the growth we have seen with our students. We have a few “extra” posts that we have planned for the summer and are already planning some great themes for the next school year. IMG_0179We hope you all have a wonderful fun filled break and we will see you in September for more fun and learning——Group by Group!

Birthday Party book


IMG_9701IMG_9625We celebrated Birthday’s this week!  We thought that since some of our students have summer Birthdays, they don’t typically get to celebrate with their school friends.  And who doesn’t like to celebrate a Birthday!?  The book goes over some of the different things done at a Birthday party.  After the first line on the page was read, we would ask the students, “where does this happen?”  The repetitive line answered, “at my Birthday party.”  The pictures (found using google images) are so colorful and our students enjoyed looking at them.  We hope you do too!



IMG_9423Here is a link to the book: At My Birthday Party

Birthday Party


IMG_9419IMG_9252Time to blow your horns and pull out your party hats! This week’s theme was birthday parties and our students had a blast with all our activities. Our sensory group explored boxes filled with textures and bright colors. The fine motor group made their own cool party hats and the language group made some yummy cupcakes.

Read along to see all the things we did.





IMG_9546IMG_9533Yellow paper shred was the base for this first birthday box. We added a little ribbon, tinsel, and crepe paper streamers for even more color. Then we put in some cute toys and a noise maker—-like those that might be found in goody bags or given as gifts! What is a birthday without cake? There were 2 cupcakes to be found, 1 big and 1 little. We also added a few little people and the word FRIENDS.

Besides the great textures to compare and contrast, the math access point recognize similarities and differences in size of common objects is addressed.


IMG_9573It’s always fun to get packages wrapped with colorful ribbon. This box was filled with all sorts of ribbon in lots of colors—-a really fun box to dive into! There was a lot of curling ribbon in the box which was especially fun to pull straight and watch spring back into curls.

Concepts of forces and changes in motion are explored as the science access point recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes if move is addressed.

Recognize length of real objects, such as big, little, long or short is a math access point also addressed.



IMG_9376You HAVE to have balloons at a birthday party! Our students eyes lit up as soon as they spotted it and couldn’t wait until it was their turn to pull it up and down. Ms. Kim donated the balloon and she chose a mylar balloon because some of our students and staff have latex allergies. Myler is also a lot more durable than latex!

What a fun way to address the science access point track objects moving up and down.





IMG_9551On a voice output device we recorded some of pre-k students singing the happy birthday day song. This was a huge hit and our students loved listening to their little friends singing!

IMG_9383This addresses the science access point recognize and respond to commons sounds and the language access point respond to rhythm in familiar songs and rhymes.


IMG_9183IMG_9195Birthdays are about numbers and we put lots to find in our rainbow rice. We used the magnetic ones you can find in the dollar store—-a fun colorful way to work on number identification.




IMG_9209We put our Wikki Stix “candles” in this box. These waxed strings have a different texture, slightly tacky that our students always find interesting. Of course, the really cool thing about them is the way they can be bent and shaped.

Since they come in so many colors, the science access point match common objects by one observable property such as color can be addressed.





IMG_9199One of the best things about birthdays is the CAKE—-especially if it is funfetti! We added a bunch of colorful sprinkles to our cloud dough. We also included 2 different sized scoops which some students enjoyed using, while others preferred using their hands to squeeze the dough together.

IMG_9394 Needless to say, things got a little messy but then again that is part of the fun :)

Explore, observe, and recognize common objects in the natural world is a science access point addressed in this activity.






IMG_9519Of course, some of us think the best thing about cake is the icing! Ours was made with colorful shaving cream. We let each class vote on which color they wanted their icing to be —–pink or blue. Blue won each time!

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

As the students mix the color into the shaving cream they are learning about changes in matter—-addressing the science access point recognize a change in an object.


Umm—-did we mention it gets a little messy :)



IMG_9407IMG_9595Philosophy makes “wedding cake” scented bath gel and since we figured birthday cakes and wedding cakes are both cakes it was perfect for our theme! The students enjoyed rinsing their hands (and arms and faces) in it’s very yummy scent but they especially enjoyed finding this lighted pool toy in the bowl! We found it in the Target dollar section—-thanks again Ms. Kim.

Recognize sources of light is a science access point addressed with this fun toy.



IMG_9415Lemonade is a perfect party drink so we finished our group with some lemon scented lotion.  Our students really liked this light citrus scent rubbed on their hands and arms. It was a great scent to help us remember all the fun we had talking about birthday parties!

As usual, the science access point recognize one or more external body parts is addressed.







IMG_9265Our Tuesday art project was a birthday cake made from a pool noodle. We just love pool noodles, they are so inexpensive and versatile!

We started by discussing the color of the paper we were using. The students were given a selection of 3 color symbols and were asked to show us the color yellow—–they did an AWESOME job!

Identify objects by one observable property such as color is the science access point addressed here.




IMG_9351IMG_9273The strips were cut using either our paper cutter or our switch adaptive electric scissors then taped around a piece of noodle—–to make the filling of course :)

The science access point recognize that pushing or pulling an object makes it move is addressed here.

We noted that our noodle was a cylinder addressing the math access point recognize a common 3 dimensional object.




IMG_9305We discussed each students age and pointed to it on a number board. Then we asked them to point to the number—working on number identification!

After they pointed to their age, we counted out the same number of popsicle stick “candles” and helped them push their candles into the noodle.

Associate quantities with number names is a math access point.





IMG_9347IMG_9361TA DA—–time to blow out the candles!









On Thursday we made some pretty fabulous party hats out of paper plates. We saw this idea through Pinterest at

IMG_9637We started by discussing the shape of the plate addressing the math access point recognize a common object with a 2 dimensional shape.

Then we discussed the 3 different colors of glitter glue we planned to use and counted the bottles.

Match objects to marked spaces to show one-to-one correspondence for quantities 1 to 3 is a math access point.




IMG_9643Squeezing the glue onto the plates was lots of fun and great for hand strengthening! It was also a lot of fun to watch the sparkly glitter glue drop down onto the plate :)

Track objects that fall is a science access point related to concepts of earth in space and time.

When we changed colors, we asked the students to let us know if they wanted “more” using their communication boards.

Indicate desire for more of an action or object is a math access point.




IMG_9657IMG_9694Ta DA, we have our hats—-let the party begin!









IMG_9429Since we’re celebrating Birthdays this week, we HAD to celebrate with some cake!  The language group made some cupcakes earlier in the day.  After the cupcakes were baked, they HAD to be decorated and that is what we did in our group!

We put some vanilla icing in 2 bowls and put blue food coloring in one of the bowls and pink food coloring in the other.  We had our students STIR in the food coloring, turning the icing into that color.

They really loved watching the icing change—-and recognizing a change in an object is a science access point.




IMG_9450After stirring the icing, we counted out cupcakes for each of our students. Counting from 1 to 5 using objects is a math access point.  They are getting to be such great counters—-of course who wouldn’t want to count cupcakes :)

The students got to choose which color icing they wanted on their cupcake using words, gestures, or eye gaze.  One of our clever students chose to have BOTH colors on her cupcake.

Communicating a preference is a language access point.




IMG_9469After choosing their icing color, some (not all, due to oral motor concerns) of our students were able to choose a topping. The choices were between sprinkles and Birthday cake M&Ms.  Of course, if they chose M&Ms we counted them out!

IMG_9478If they chose sprinkles they got to shake them onto their cupcakes—-with a little help, of course :)

Again, communicating a preference is a language access point.





What’s a Birthday without singing the Birthday song?  We all sang the Happy Birthday song and then dove into the cupcakes.  YUM!

IMG_9483It was a day for choice making for our language group and they are getting so good at effectively conveying their wants and preferences :)

IMG_9521Hope you enjoyed seeing all our activities this week and got some good ideas for your own students.

Please join us again next week for more fun and learning—–Group by Group!

Mother’s Day book


In anticipation of Mother’s Day coming up on Sunday, we decided to dedicate this week to our mothers.  The Unique theme for this month is baby animals, so it was easily able to be tied into a more Mother’s Day type theme because all babies have mommies.  The students ask the question this week, which is “who has a mommy?”  The book has different pictures of baby and mommy animals (all found using google images).  Take a look at who has a mommy, and Happy Mother’s Day to all the mommies out there :)



IMG_8880Here is a link to the book: Who Has a Mommy?