Hello Summer


IMG_4342We can’t believe another school year has come to an end—- it always amazes us how fast the year goes by!

There have been a lot of exciting things that have happened from snow days and book parades, to a hot air balloon. We also had special visitors including Taiwanese acrobats, the FSU marching chiefs and Governor Rick Scott—-how cool is that!



Since this is our last post until the fall, we wanted to take the time to spotlight some of the special teachers, staff, and volunteers that are usually “behind the scenes” so to speak. Group by Group would certainly not be what it is without them :)

IMG_4770Thank you to Joi, Frankie, Michelle, and Grandma who are always full of fun ideas and make sure our week starts out with a smile!









IMG_4446Thank you Maria, Yvette, and Dontrel who go with the flow and don’t mind the mess week after week :)










IMG_4447Thank you to Jen, Mary, Sonja, and volunteer Hope who keep us laughing :)









IMG_4449Thanks also Lori who takes time out of her busy schedule to help us each week!











IMG_4894IMG_4771Thank you to Robin, Ellen, Candy, Arlene (happy retirement but we will miss you) and Grandma who are up for anything week after week!








IMG_2099Thanks also to all the enthusiastic interns, practicum students, and OT volunteers who are always such a huge help!









IMG_4444Thank you to Melissa, our retiring vision teacher for all her support through the years.











Thanks also to volunteer Robert who makes sure the sensory room is well taken care of week after week!











IMG_4529Finally thank you and a great big TA DA to the fabulous Jeannie, Katie, and Celeste!









IMG_4779Happy summer everyone! Don’t worry we will be back in the fall with more fun and learning Group by Group but for now———- see ya later alligator :)



May After Party


IMG_3831Each 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.

This post has photos of our middle and high school students enjoying books and activities from some of our May themes. It was a short month but we packed a lot of fun into it!




IMG_3412IMG_3835We celebrated the Kentucky Derby by learning about the State of Kentucky.

IMG_3990Horses of various textures, sizes, and……even some that made noise were included in our “run for the roses” box.



IMG_3415IMG_3994All sorts of items associated with Kentucky could be found in our box filled with “blue grass”. There were even some Lincoln Logs—-Abe was born there!








IMG_4041IMG_4011Black beans represented coal……….. the state mineral of Kentucky.










IMG_3440Rice in the colors of the University of Kentucky gave a nod to the winningest NCAA basketball team.









IMG_3991IMG_3428The students had a lot of fun with our mini Fort Knox.

IMG_3410                                                                           That sparkle is just SO enticing!




IMG_3494The Kentucky Derby has one of the largest fireworks displays! Ours was a lot smaller, contained in a little baton but it was still big on FUN!










IMG_3502IMG_4046Two Louisville sisters wrote the Happy Birthday song and that had us thinking about parties!  Since soda is often a party treat, our students got to choose between 2 different soda scented (Sprite and strawberry Fanta) lip balms to rub on their wrists.







IMG_3477IMG_3468We turned a mammoth umbrella into Mammoth Cave and let our students hunt for cave animals with a mini flashlight.

IMG_4030                                                                                           Very cool!



IMG_4662Our next unit took us to North Carolina! Some of the pictures in the book were taken by Susan, one of our teachers!









IMG_8189IMG_8190The students had a lot of fun with our Wright Brothers box.

IMG_4684                                                    They thought the “airplane goggles” were pretty goofy!



IMG_4450IMG_4610The propeller fan felt really cool……

IMG_4624                                                                             and elicited giggles…….



IMG_4451IMG_4695………………..lots and…..

IMG_8191                          ………………lots of them :)




IMG_4459IMG_4614We used a massager to give the feel of airplane vibration.

IMG_4464                                                                                 This was a big hit also!




IMG_4681IMG_4705Apples were picked out of corn kernels—–both grown in North Carolina.









IMG_4613IMG_4678The state flower (dogwood) and insect (honey bee) were sorted.









IMG_4634IMG_4687There was lots to discover in this box which was IMG_4703filled with things related to  North Carolina—including the state song on a voice output device.




IMG_4647IMG_4664The students had a blast with our Sir Walter Raleigh mud :)









IMG_4643Then rinsed their hands in water that smelled like Krispy Kreme doughnuts (first served in North Carolina)!

The students also had fun using a scoop to catch some trout :)










IMG_4786IMG_4735We finished our year with a Purple unit in honor of our Jeannie who is retiring! There were lots of fabulous purple things to explore—-including cute little Beanie Babies, a piece of soft fun fur…..







IMG_4756IMG_4864……..and some shiny pom poms!










IMG_4800Our purple beans were very eye catching and had an interesting texture.










IMG_4809The purple Kinetic Sand was a hit with both students AND staff—-pretty amazing stuff!









IMG_4731IMG_4794We had a fantastic purple light box that our students found to be pretty fascinating with it’s soft purple glow.









IMG_4758IMG_4849There were lots of giggles with our box of garland—-

IMG_4775                                                                             flashy, fluffy, feathery fun!




IMG_4818IMG_4791The students hunted for purple letters in grape scented water.









IMG_4748The grape scented bubble bath we used smelled really GOOD :)










P1010337P1010346Like all our other After Parties, May was a fabulous month filled with fun, learning and laughter!

Thanks for joining us :)

Purple book


IMG_4588It is with extreme sadness that we are saying goodbye to Jeannie, one of the classroom teachers who has helped us with our groups and this blog since their creation.  She is retiring!  She leaves a legacy behind her, though.  We wanted to do a tribute to her and all she’s done for this school and the students she has served, so we dedicated this group to the color purple, her most favorite color.  Her past and present students are featured and something purple is incorporated into each picture.  The book is set up differently.  The repetitive line is the only line on each page.

Jeannie: thank you for providing humor, wit, love, and thoughtfulness throughout each week.  Your hard work and compassion for what you do is apparent and no one will ever be able to match it.  You will be sorely missed!



IMG_4225Here is a link to the book: Purple, Purple Everywhere!



IMG_4133Our final theme for this school year is in honor of our dear Jeannie who is retiring! It is a bittersweet moment for us and we will miss her very much! Since she is a little obsessed with the color purple :) we decided that a purple theme would be the perfect send off!

The sensory group explored textures and materials that were all purple. The fine motor group made purple art projects including a special one for Jeannie. The language group conducted some cool science experiments that involved the color purple!






IMG_4051IMG_4125There were lots of fun things to discover in this box—-including little purple plushies, paper shred, chenille stems, furry fabric, beads, and some shiny pom poms!

IMG_4170                                               It was a very enticing box that our students loved exploring.


IMG_4409IMG_4371It also contained a fun purple noise maker that elicited LOTS of giggles!

The science access point recognize and respond to different types of sensory stimuli is addressed here.







IMG_4443We just loved this super cool sparkly purple kinetic sand that we bought at Michaels—–and once we pried OUR hands away from it and let our students play with it, they did too :)

There was a letter P cookie cutter to stamp impressions into the sand but mostly we all enjoyed watching the way it dripped and oozed—-SO cool!

Apply a push to move an object is a science access point.






IMG_4232More sparkly fun with this discovery bottle filled with purple glitter to watch float around.

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








IMG_4157IMG_4084Feather boas, and different kinds of garland filled this box. There were textures to compare as well as different sizes not to mention how completely eye catching the items were!

The students had an absolute blast with this stuff either shaking it or wearing—-so much fun!

IMG_4100                          The science access point use senses to recognize objects can be addressed here.




IMG_4183There were 2 little purple people to find in this box of purple beans. Neon purple food coloring was used to dye the beans and we were pretty pleased with the results.

We also read online that adding a little cream of tartar to the mix after the beans were dried would help reduce color transfer—-and we think it worked!

This activity addresses the  math access point associate quantities with number names.





IMG_4089IMG_4102Since we didn’t have any battery operated purple lights, we hot glued pieces of a translucent purple notebook paper to one of our shoeboxes and voila—–our white lights were now PURPLE! And yes, we were pretty proud of our creativity :)

IMG_4213As you can see—-our students were pretty thrilled with our creation too!

Recognize sources of light is a science access point.




IMG_4245IMG_4424The students mixed blue and red food coloring to make purple shaving cream. Ok, so perhaps it turned out closer to a pale lilac which doesn’t show up so well in the photos but it definitely had a purple tint in real life!

The science access points share objects with a partner and recognize a change in an object are addressed with this activity.





IMG_4094Hands were rinsed in Valuetime grape scented bath gel. The shaving cream ended up coloring the water purple and there were some purple measuring spoons to help scoop out purple letters—–when we go with a theme we really go all in :)

This is a great activity for eye hand coordination and can address the science access point match objects by one observable property, such a color.






IMG_4269IMG_4146We couldn’t find any grape scented lotion but this grape scented lip balm worked perfectly. It had a really strong scent which most of the students thought was pretty yummy! They really enjoyed smelling the scent after it was applied to their wrists.

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







On Tuesday we used a soda bottle rather than a paint brush to paint purple flowers.

IMG_4304IMG_4323We started by discussing the shape of our paper and drawing stems using markers. Some of our students used Crayola pipsqueak markers. Others used a switch to operate our adapted airplane. They ALL did a fantastic job!

The science access point recognize a change in an object and the math access point recognize common objects with 2 dimensional shapes are addressed here.



IMG_4285Then we dipped the bottom of the bottle in purple paint stamped UP and Down on our paper. We emphasized the motions verbally as we helped our students.

The math access point recognize a movement that reflects a spatial relationship, such as up and down is addressed here.







IMG_4300IMG_4334Ta DA……..

…….Some perfectly pretty purple posies :)








On Thursday we made a special present for Jeannie.

IMG_4532We started by asking our students to show us the color purple using communication symbols. Purple is one color they have had LOTS of practice identifying in Jeannie’s room :)

Identify objects by one observable property, such as color is a science access point.






IMG_4543IMG_4566The we cut strips of green paper to make stems and then used a paper punch to cut out flowers from scrap book paper (thanks so much for the donation Courtney).

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






IMG_4576IMG_4582Then we glued everything onto a picture frame (with a cute picture of the class in the sensory room ball pit) and……..







IMG_4594                                                                                            TA DA!!!





Although our students love it when we do cooking activities, they ALSO love it when we do science experiments.  We got to do 2 of them this week: a Home Made Lava Lamp and Color Changing Milk.

IMG_4469We started out with the Home Made Lava Lamp.  Here are the directions we followed: Homemade Lava Lamp.

We had our students help us pour in the vegetable oil and the water.  We talked about filling the bottle up HALFWAY.  Our students observed that the oil was heavier because the water floated on top of it.






IMG_4517IMG_4527Next, we put in purple food coloring.  Finally, we watched what happened as we put the Alka Seltzer tablet into the bottle.

For our students with visual impairments, we held the bottle up to their ear so they could hear it fizz.

IMG_4514So much fun to see the food coloring bubble up and down the bottle!



For our next experiment, we brought back an experiment we had already done and one that our students (and the adults!) really thought was cool: Color Changing Milk.  Here are the directions we followed: Color Changing Milk.  Our students got to help pour the milk out onto the plate.

IMG_4491We wanted to incorporate another bit of science in this experiment and see if we could make the color purple using blue and red.  We put in 4 drops of red and 4 drops of blue.








IMG_4497Next, we put some dish soap on a Q-tip and stuck the Q-tip into the food coloring.  It is SO neat to see the colors explode around the plate!  Again, we were awestruck by how cool it looks!

After the colors ran into each other a bit, they mixed and mingled into other colors including————–PURPLE!






IMG_4225IMG_4354Thanks a lot for joining us this week. This was our last themed post for this school year but we are full of ideas for the fall when we will be back for more fun and learning——Group by Group!

North Carolina book


IMG_3516We’ve so enjoyed learning about new places in the United States and we’re taking another trip this week.  We’re headed to North Carolina!  We’ve learned so many neat things about the different places we’ve talked about and North Carolina is no exception.  Did you know Blackbeard the Pirate called North Carolina his home?  Did you know that the biggest house in America is in North Carolina?  And did you know that North Carolina is the leading producer of sweet potatoes in the U.S.?  Read the book to find out more cool facts about North Carolina.



IMG_3520Here is a link to the book: Let’s Learn About North Carolina

North Carolina


IMG_3793Well it is almost time for the annual pilgrimage when many Floridians head for the cooler mountains of North Carolina :) so this week we decided to learn more about that fabulous state. We would also like to give a shout out to our North Carolina friend at teachezwell.me (a great blog you should check out) who gave us some ideas for this unit! Our sensory group explored boxes related to some very interesting facts about the state. The fine motor group made art projects related to state symbols and the language group used the official state drink to make a tasty treat!




IMG_3639This box contained tinsel and beads in the colors of the state flag—–red, white, and blue!

There were also some gold beads representing the state mineral and the state song recorded on a voice output device.

The state reptile (turtle) and tree (pine) could also be found. There was a little propeller plane for the Wright brothers, a plush black bear, a sea shell, and some of Blackbeards treasure in a discovery bottle!

The science access point recognize a model of a real object is addressed here.




IMG_3764Underneath our red, white, and blue rice was a colorful map of North Carolina. There were also 2 sets of letters N and C.

The science access points recognize common objects as the same and track falling objects can be addressed here.

The social studies access point associate a picture with a place is also addressed.







IMG_3510The North Carolina state flower is the dogwood and the state insect is the bumble bee. Yellow and black pompoms made perfect little “bumble bees” to buzz around our dogwood petals! There were 2 dishes included so the students could sort the items.

Recognize two objects that are the same size or color is a math access point.

Match objects by one observable property, such as size or color is a science access point.





IMG_3539IMG_3537Our students had a BLAST with our Wright Brothers box! Little battery operated fans spun around like the propellers those early planes—-there was also the “wind in the face” experience like those pilots had! There was a lot of vibration on those early planes so we included a little vibrating massager. Finally we included some “aviator goggles”. You can see by the smiles we had LOTS of fun with this box :)

IMG_3642Recognize and respond to different types of sensory stimuli is a science access point addressed here.




IMG_3503A really fun thing to do when visiting North Carolina in the fall is to go apple picking and there were 2 to pick in our box of corn (another NC crop).

Our students love dry fluids such as this corn. It feels really nice to bury hands into and searching for objects in it addresses visual and tactile discrimination.

The math access point associate quantities with number names can be addressed here.







IMG_3581IMG_3815So there is a tale about Sir Walter Raleigh that says he once pulled off his cape and spread it over a mud puddle so that Queen Elizabeth would not get her shoes dirty—–what a gentleman! Even though the story isn’t true we made some Sir Raleigh mud anyway since we certainly couldn’t pass on the opportunity to make MUD again :)

IMG_3522                                   Apply a push to move an object is a science access point addressed here.




IMG_3609Those muddy hands were rinsed in water as the students went fishing for trout—-the state fish! This is a great activity for improving eye hand coordination.

It also addresses the science access point recognize a model of a real object .






IMG_3673IMG_3679We used Bath and Bodyworks vanilla sugar gel in our water and then used the matching lotion to leave our students smelling like sweet, YUMMY Krispy Kreme donuts—-first served in North Carolina!

IMG_3675The science access points recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli, in this case scent, and recognize one or more external body parts is addressed here.





Since North Carolina is the number one producer of sweet potatoes we thought it would be a lot of fun to do an art project with them on Tuesday!

IMG_3686We started by counting the number of papers we needed and discussed their rectangular shapes. We also used communication symbols to identify the colors we were going to use—-blue and red!

Identify objects by one observable property such as color is a science access point.

Recognize objects with 2 dimensional shapes is a math access point.




IMG_3723Then we began SWEET POTATO stamping! A fork was put into the potato to make it easier to hold for our students as they stamped with UP and DOWN motions.

Recognize a movement that reflects a spatial relationship, such as up and down is a math access point.








IMG_3693IMG_3735TA DA!

IMG_3705                                                                                              Just fabulous!!!!!




On Thursday we made a cute little grey squirrel—-the state mammal—-for our art project! Here is the template for the squirrel which we cut out of poster board:squirrel

IMG_3935IMG_3946We started by painting a mixture of grey paint and glue. The students needed a little assistance now and then but they really did a pretty good job!

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




IMG_3956Then little pieces of yarn were sprinkled on the tail and a googlie eye was put on—–now you know why we added GLUE to the paint :)

We found this fuzzy chenille yarn at a thrift store and knew it would be perfect for our project. The students had a great time picking handfuls of this stuff and dropping it onto the tail. Picking up the stray pieces was a great activity for practicing pincer grasp skills.

The science access point recognize a change in an object can be addressed in this activity.




IMG_3963IMG_3975Ta DA—–better hide your peanuts!!!!!












Did you know that the state beverage for North Carolina is milk?  We decided to make milk the focus of language group for this weeks’ language group and made MILKSHAKES——-yum!!!!

IMG_3839IMG_3844To begin the group, we had our students vote on what kind of milk they wanted in their milkshake.

Their choices were  white milk, strawberry milk, and chocolate milk.  We had 2 votes for white milk, 2 votes for chocolate milk, and 3 votes for strawberry milk so we talked about which milk had the MOST votes.




IMG_3854After we confirmed that strawberry milk was the winner, our students helped us pour it into the blender.









IMG_3873Next, we got ice cream out and asked our students to predict how it would feel: COLD or HOT.  We passed the tub around to each student and let them feel how cold it was.

Some of them liked it and some definitely did not!








IMG_3875We scooped out 2 cups of ice cream and put it in the blender as well.









IMG_3886Then came the fun part!  We hooked the blender up to a power link and used a wireless switch so each of our students could turn the blender on.

They all absolutely LOVED having POWER in the palm of their hands :)







IMG_3912IMG_3928Finally it was time to pour the milkshake into cups.  We counted out our students and cups and poured a little bit in each.  Then our students got to choose if they wanted whipped cream and a cherry on top.

IMG_3922                                                                                     DELISH!!




IMG_3656IMG_3526Well now we really want to take that trip to North Carolina :)

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

Kentucky book


IMG_3192Since the Kentucky Derby was last weekend, we decided to have a unit on Kentucky.  The front and back covers of the book feature a few of our awesome students–2 of them ready to watch the Kentucky Derby with their ornate hats and 1 of them ready to participate in the race as a jocky.  The book covers some facts about Kentucky, such as the state mineral, Mammoth cave, and Fort Knox.  And now, let the race begin!




IMG_3246Here is a link to the book: Let’s Learn About Kentucky