January After Party


IMG_2969IMG_4625Welcome 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.

This post has photos of our middle and high school students enjoying the books and cart during the month of January.



We started off the month with a Frozen theme. Needless to say it was HUGELY popular!

IMG_0436IMG_0439The students loved watching the snowflakes swirl while they listened to “Let it Go” play on the voice output device.




IMG_3332                                                      Some of them even sang along :)



IMG_2933IMG_3299There were more snowy swirls in our discovery bottles.








IMG_5481IMG_5492Everyone LOVED Olaf!






IMG_5471                                                                   He is just so cute!!




IMG_5479IMG_2941The Insta-Snow looked and felt a lot like the real thing.







IMG_0795IMG_3328It was fun making it into snowballs!









IMG_3293IMG_2946They also built snowmen with Floam!






IMG_5491                                                                Pretty fabulous!




IMG_2935IMG_3330Our “reindeer” fur and cute little “Sven” were a hit.







IMG_5476IMG_5480Either for cuddling or wrapping around shoulders :)








IMG_5482IMG_2931There were snowflakes and fun figures to discover in this colorful box.




IMG_5490                           Some of the students got a little creative with the basket grass :)




IMG_5483IMG_3313They had fun counting how many snowflakes they scooped out of the water.










The new year was celebrated by looking back at historic events in the past and wondering “what will happen this year?”

IMG_3517IMG_3532The students sorted hard/soft and red/yellow using the colors of the flag in Queen Isabella’s box.

IMG_5564Both science and math concepts to explore.




IMG_3518IMG_5563Our “rock around the clock” box had the song recorded on a voice output device, a fun maraca AND…..

these super fun finger drums that were a HUGE hit!






IMG_3529IMG_3520The crazy neon rice was very eye catching and so much fun to scoop into our mini funnel!

Different size stars were cut from our Declaration of Independence play dough—-we added foil stars and glitter for a special sparkle!







IMG_5562IMG_5560Green Floam, the same color as the Statue of Liberty, was used to make a variety of sculptures and the students had fun with souvenir hat.

Our water play had a plumeria scent in honor of Elvis’ Hawaiian concert.







Our Properties of Matter theme complimented the Unique Curriculum unit our students studied this month.

IMG_4215IMG_4489The students looked for letters L, G, and S——for solid, liquid, and gas—-in a box of cornmeal.








IMG_4216IMG_4494They explored the properties of different materials in this box—-there were things that were soft, hard, long, short, big, and little.

IMG_4476The bright orange color made is especially eye catching!




IMG_4226IMG_4194Liquids were explored in with discovery bottles. The students also discovered which items sank and which floated in our water basin.

IMG_4500                           Our kinetic sand is not a liquid but it kind of acts like one :)





IMG_4473IMG_4485Gases were explored with bubbles—–always a hit!





IMG_4528We also used another liquid (vinegar) to make gas bubbles in our cloud dough mixture. This was really COOL!





IMG_4259IMG_4266We finished with some scented lotion. Eucalyptus was a very attention getting scent and perfect one to help us remember all we learned about matter!






We learned a lot about the state of Georgia with our next unit.

IMG_5289IMG_5311One of our boxes was dedicated to President Jimmy Carter who was from Georgia. There were letter G’s to find and a picture of the president at the bottom of the box.








IMG_2134IMG_5327Both the honey bee and tiger swallowtail (official symbols of Georgia) are yellow and black.

IMG_4642The students had fun sorted pom poms with those colors.




IMG_4812IMG_4621Grits are the official food of Georgia and we had a box filled with them and 3 different size measuring spoons.

IMG_4632Another box contained Georgia’s “red clay” (we used moonsand as a stand-in).





IMG_4796IMG_5329This box had a whole variety of things related to Georgia including a peace symbol representing Martin Luther King Jr., and a  little girl scout bear representing Juliette Gordon Low who founded them.

IMG_5322                                                        Lots and lots to discover!





IMG_5304IMG_4825Georgia is known for it’s peaches. The students made some using orange Floam and got to smell their aroma with our peach and sweet tea scented lotion.

This was a hit!






We finished the month with a Gasparilla celebration!

IMG_5567IMG_5562The students loved the box of colorful beads—-just like those handed out at the parade!

IMG_6038 (1)                                                                           So colorful!




IMG_5546IMG_6030They searched for treasure in discovery bottles and doubloons in rice.

The rice had the same colors as the Spanish flag—-where Jose Gaspar called home.







IMG_6051IMG_5581We had “pirate” moonsand and “pirate” beans. There were pirates hiding in the beans!








IMG_6034IMG_6072There were pop rock firecrackers to listen for in the shaving cream sea foam.

IMG_6033The pop rocks continued to crackle in our basin of water—-complete with shipwreck—– for added fun!




IMG_5604We finished with orange scented lotion—-yummy!






Hootie Visits China book


IMG_5862Our students got to learn a little bit about China this week.  A friend of our PE teacher went to China and got to take a miniature of our mascot, Hootie the Owl, with him.  He got to visit lots of different places while there, including the Great Wall of China as well as Shanghai.

Take a look at the book and see all of the different places Hootie and Jim visited!



IMG_5492Here is a link to the book: Hootie Takes a Trip to China

Hootie Visits China


IMG_6014Our little friend Hootie the Owl just got back from a visit to China—–how cool is that! He took lots of pictures while there and since February 8 is the Chinese New Year we thought it would be the perfect theme for this week. The sensory group used senses of hearing, sight, touch, and smell to explore China. The fine motor groups made some fun art projects and the language group made a tasty Chinese snack.






IMG_5625IMG_5853You have to spend a long time on an airplane to get to China! We brought out a vibrating massager and recorded some jet sounds on our voice output device to simulate the feeling of flying.

Ready for take off!!!

IMG_5653Recognize and respond to different types of sensory stimuli is a science access point.





IMG_5863IMG_5822The Chinese flag has 1 big yellow star and 4 little yellow stars. We made some bright yellow play dough and our students used cookie cutters to cut out different sized stars—-just like the flag!

Recognize differences in size of objects is a math access point.







IMG_5817IMG_5620The Great Wall of China is one of the 7 wonders of the world and Hootie got to visit it! Our students got to make their own wall stamping brick shapes into play sand. There was also letter C and star cookie cutters to add to the fun.

IMG_5608The science access point recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is addressed with this activity.






IMG_5664IMG_5832China is famous for its tea just like the kind we put in this box.  Hmm, wonder if Hootie drank a cup while he was there? Our students loved running their fingers through the fragrant tea. There was a picture of Hootie at the Great Wall at the bottom of the box and lots of letter “C”s to find.

The science access point match objects with similar observable properties, such as shape can be addressed here.





IMG_5827IMG_5677There were lots of things to discover in this box of red paper shred—-red is considered a lucky color in China. We included a Chinese flag, stars (like ones on the flag), people, a panda, and a little Hootie!

Since 2016 will be the year of the monkey, there was also a cute little plush one in the box—-and it made monkey sounds when squeezed :)

IMG_5868Recognize a characteristic of a culture is a social studies access point.





IMG_5662IMG_5615One of the places Hootie visited was the famous Birds Nest Stadium from the Beijing Olympics. We put some red and yellow food coloring into our shaving cream and had the students mix it together to make their own “olympic flames”.

IMG_5858Recognize that the appearance of an object or material has changed is a science access point.





IMG_5836IMG_5850The students rinsed their messy hands in Essence of Beauty jasmine ginger scented water. We put a funnel and scoop for added fun!

Recognize water as a liquid is a science access point.
IMG_5892The matching lotion had an aroma that was different from many of our other scents. It was very attention getting and intriguing to our students.

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





IMG_5697IMG_5700We finished our group with some “firecrackers” (AKA bubble wrap)—–to celebrate the Chinese New Year!

IMG_5890                                                                 It was a blast :)






On Tuesday we made Chinese flags!

IMG_5450IMG_5446We started by discussing the color of the paint we were going to use. The students used communication symbols to identify the color yellow.

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





IMG_5464IMG_5481Next we used yellow paint to stamp 1 BIG star and 4 LITTLE stars onto a red rectangle shaped piece of paper.



IMG_5503Recognize a movement that reflects a spatial relationship, such as up and down is a math access point. Recognize differences in size of objects is also a math access point.





IMG_5472IMG_5499Ta Da——

IMG_5460                                                             ——–we love China!





On Wednesday we made our very own Hooties out of toilet paper tubes!

IMG_5715IMG_5717We started by asking the students to identify a rectangle using communication symbols.

Recognize an object with a 2-dimensional shape is a math access point.






IMG_5781IMG_5743To decorate our Hooties we used some wallpaper samples. We actually found some that had monkeys—–pure serendipity!

The students used paper cutters to trim the paper into rectangles. Of course, we counted each side as the cut was made!

Recognize that pushing or pulling an object makes it move is a science access point.




IMG_5769IMG_5750The students squeezed glue onto the back of the paper and rolled it around the toilet paper roll. This was a little tricky and most of our students needed help with this step. We found that a little bit of tape was helpful and securing paper until the glue dried.

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




IMG_5729Time to add Hooties face (prepared ahead of time by one of our volunteers) which was a different shape—-this time a circle. We also noted that his beak was a triangle!

Recognize an object with a 2-dimensional shape is a math access point.






IMG_5775IMG_5736To finish 2 feathery wings were added, and…………

Ta Hootie Da!!!!








IMG_5799IMG_5801After we finished our Hooties, we decided to have a little more firecracker fun—–

IMG_5806                                                      —–Happy New Year China :)







To celebrate the Chinese New Year, our language group decorated some sweet treats to eat!  Cara made some butter cookies, one of the desserts that are common around this time of year in China, and brought them for the students to decorate.

IMG_5898Since we didn’t buy any frosting, we had to make our own.  We started by putting some butter into a bowl.  Then our students took turns measuring out the confectioners sugar added it to the bowl.

The science access point, share objects with a partner is addressed with this activity.






IMG_5957IMG_5937We hooked our mixer up to a power link so the students could use a switch to could mix up the ingredients.  They had fun listening and seeing what happens when the switch was pressed :)

Recognize that electrical systems must be turned on in order to work is a science access point.





IMG_5946IMG_5943Once the butter and sugar was mixed up, our students got to see how the DRY ingredients were now WET after we added some red food coloring, vanilla and milk. The vanilla had an interesting aroma!

IMG_6008Recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli is a science access point. The science access point distinguish between items that are wet and items that are dry is also addressed.




IMG_5997IMG_6004When our frosting was ready, each of the students got to spread some of it on their own cookie—–fun! Then they sprinkled some yellow sprinkles on top.  IMG_5999We had tried to make the frosting a little more red to signify the red for the Chinese flag, while the sprinkles were yellow to signify the yellow stars on the flag.




IMG_6006IMG_5953Ok, so our frosting wasn’t exactly RED but pink is actually LIGHT red—–right? :)

Either way, this was the tastiest rendition of a flag that we’ve ever had!






IMG_5691Well that wraps up another week! Be sure and join us next time for more fun and learning—–Group by Group!

Gasparilla book


IMG_5276IMG_0508Arrrr matey’s!  We be talking about pirates this week because it’s Gasparilla time in Tampa.  Our book discusses some of the different things that happen during the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.


Do yer’self a favor and take a look!

IMG_5107We’ve even spotted some of our own pirate students on the front and back of the book.




IMG_4878Aye!  This here’s a link to the book: At the Gasparilla Pirate Festival



IMG_4853IMG_0504Arggg there was lots of piratey fun to be had this week as our students turned into scurvy pirates to celebrate Jose Gaspar’s invasion of Tampa Bay!

Our sensory boxes related to various aspects of the festival. Our fine motor groups made pirate themed art projects and the language group led a parade through the elementary building for our own Gasparilla festival!





IMG_5099IMG_5050Jose Gaspar came from Spain and our nod to him was rice was made with the colors of the Spanish flag. There was a treasure map at the bottom and pirate booty to find hidden in the colorful grains.

IMG_4841Counting found doubloons addresses the math access point associate quantities with number names.




IMG_5037IMG_4848There were lots of little pirates to discover in this box of black beans. A great activity for visual discrimination—-the red pirates were pretty easy to find but the black colored pirate figures really blended in with the black beans! We also put in a little pirate finger puppet just for fun.


IMG_5047Identify objects by one observable property, such a color, is a science access point.





IMG_5091IMG_4900Pirate ships  fly the Jolly Roger flag which has a skull and cross bones decoration. Our students used  a bone shaped cookie cutter to make “crossbones” in our cool black kinetic sand—-very piratey!

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






IMG_4695IMG_4652Of course pirates are always looking for TREASURE—-so we had to include some!

There were 3 different bottles filled with gold and jewels——-very sparkly and VERY eye catching!

IMG_5148The science access point track the movement of objects that are pushed or pulled is addressed here.




IMG_4687IMG_5063The Gasparilla festival always has a parade complete with floats and people throwing beads—–just like the shiny beads in our box. Beads are always a hit with our students and a box this colorful is pretty irresistible!

IMG_5138Since the senses of touch, hearing, and vision are used to explore the beads, recognize and respond to different types of sensory stimuli is the science access point addressed here.




IMG_4646IMG_4691Pop rocks gave a snap, crackle and pop to our “sea foam”——kind of like firecrackers in the distance as the pirate ships approach Tampa Bay. We encouraged the students to practice writing shapes such as letters or circles in addition to making “waves” as they pushed the foam around.

IMG_4894Recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is a science access point.




IMG_4846IMG_4854Hands were rinsed in our miniature Tampa Bay, complete with a shipwreck and 2 different size scoops. We discovered that as the pop rocks got washed off hands they continued to make noise——–bonus! :)

Recognize similarities and differences in size of common objects is a math access point.






IMG_4723IMG_4720Tampa is located in the state of Florida. Since oranges are a symbol of the state, that fruity scented lotion (from Bath and BodyWorks) was the perfect scent this week! As usual, after we asked the students to let us know if they liked the scent, we then asked them to show us where they wanted it applied.

IMG_5171Recognize one or more external body parts is a science access point.







On Tuesday we made some pirate ships! The templates for the pirate flag used in this art project and the bandana used on Wednesday can be found here: pirate template

IMG_4732IMG_4728First we discussed the shape of our paper plate and asked the students to use communication symbols to show us a “circle”. Then we showed them how we were using a half circle to make our ship.

Recognize objects with 2 dimensional shapes is a math access point. Recognize a half of an object as part of the whole object is also a math access point.





IMG_4733IMG_4736Next the students painted their ships using brown paint and foam brushes.

IMG_4760Recognize a change in an object is a science access point.





IMG_4763IMG_4743After the students finished painted we taped a mast (made from a straw) with a little Jolly Roger flag to the back of the boat and……..

IMG_4770                                                      TA Da—–avast ye’ mateys!





On Wednesday we made some fun pirate masks!

IMG_4933IMG_4940The students started by using communication symbols to indicate  which color they wanted to paint their “bandana”. We gave them a choice of blue, orange, and green but most of the students chose blue—-maybe it reminded them of the high seas :)

IMG_4948The science access point recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is addressed here.





IMG_4965IMG_4990While their paint dried, the students applied glue to the BOTTOM of their paper plate and used black paper shred to make a “beard”. The paper got everywhere but the students really had fun with this step.

Recognize that the appearance of an object or material has changed is a science access point.


The students glued their bandanas to the TOP of their paper plate and……

IMG_5023                                                                TA Daarrrgggg!






IMG_5178IMG_5183 (1)We had a grrrrreat time during our language group this week!  To keep in stride with Gasparilla, we decided to have a pirate parade and follow that up with a pirate festival of our own :)

IMG_5181                                      Of course our students HAD to dress the part!




IMG_5177IMG_5196Once everyone was dressed, we added pirate flags to our wheelchairs.

Then proceeded down the hallway to the sounds of  “A Pirates Life for Me” recorded on a voice output device.  We made sure the volume was LOUD!






IMG_5213IMG_5222Since beads are one of the highlights of parades we made sure to have plenty to share with our friends!

IMG_5205We invited all of the other elementary classrooms to be the audience, so our students got to parade around the building while their peers cheered them on.  A lot of the parade-goers were also dressed in pirate attire!





IMG_5259IMG_5243On our second go-round of the elementary building, we had the rest of the classrooms join the parade.

IMG_5238We all ended up at the pirate festival for some socialization, games, and music videos—–PIRATE ones naturally!




IMG_5256IMG_5250Grog and provisions—–otherwise known as punch and ice cream—–were available of course! The students had to request the ice-cream using verbalizations, gestures, picture symbols, or signs.

Needless to say, this was a hit :)






IMG_5261IMG_5283Our volunteer Ali made us a fabulous photo cutout that turned out to be a lot of fun—–say “treasure”!

IMG_5282                                            It was a jolly time, matey!  Arrrrrrg!!!




IMG_4662IMG_5079What more can we say, this week was a BLAST :) Join us again next time for more fun and learning—–Group by Group!

Georgia book


IMG_4062Because we celebrated Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday this week, we’re talking about Georgia since he was born in Atlanta.  The book touches on several different facts about Georgia, like the state food (grits), the state insect (honey bee), and some famous people who were born in Georgia.  We incorporated a couple of our students on the front and back of the book “visiting” some famous locations in Georgia.  Read it to find out all of the neat facts!





IMG_4430Here is a link to the book: Let’s Learn About Georgia



IMG_2053 (1)Since we honored Dr. Martin Luther King this week, we decided to learn a little more about his home state. We always enjoy finding out cool things about other states but this was especially fun because Georgia is our neighbor!

This week each of the sensory boxes represented a fun fact about Georgia. The fine motor groups made colorful “stamping” projects and the language group got cooking—–again :)






IMG_4114IMG_2056This box had lots of interesting things to touch, look at, and listen to!  A big shiny peace symbol reminded us of MLK’s message of peace. There were Thomasvile “Rose Festival” petals, play food peanuts, Girl Scout cookies and a cute Girl Scout teddy!

IMG_4126Honey bees, right whales, tiger swallowtails, and gopher tortoises are official state animals of Georgia so we included them in our box. We even recorded the official state song—–Georgia on My Mind—-on our voice output device.

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





IMG_4276IMG_4283We filled this box with grits—— the official state food! A state map was taped to the bottom and it had pictures of other plants that are grown in Georgia. There were also 3 different size scoops for measuring fun.

Recognize differences in size of objects is a math access point.






IMG_4058Our moon sand made a perfect stand in for Georgia’s famous red clay and was very eye catching. We included a letter G and flower cookie cutters—-to make some of those famous Thomasville roses!

Recognize that the appearance of an object or material has changed is a science access point.







IMG_4327The students squeezed the orange Floam into “peaches” and other fun shapes.

Recognize that pushing or pulling makes an object move (contact force) is a science access point.








IMG_4088IMG_4330The sorting fun in this box was based on the fact that the honey bee and the tiger swallowtail butterfly which are official animals of Georgia are colored yellow and black! We had yellow pompoms, black pompoms AND pompoms with black and yellow stripes!

Match objects by an observable property, such as size, shape, and color is a science access point. Recognize a common 3-dimensional object is a math access point.





IMG_4297Jimmy Carter, our 39th president hails from Plains, Georgia! We used some patriotic red, white, and blue rice for his box. There were some letter G’s and a picture of President Carter to find at the bottom of the box.

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







IMG_4315The Georgia Aquarium is the largest in the western hemisphere—–how cool is that!!! We made a mini version with lots of fun fish and dolphins swimming about. Lots of splashy fun that the students really enjoyed!

The science access point match common living things with their habitats can be addressed here.







IMG_4354IMG_2076We found peach and sweet tea scented lotion at Bath and BodyWorks so we HAD to buy it—-what could have been more perfect! The students really liked the scent and definitely left the group smelling like they had taken a trip to the peach state!

IMG_4365Recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli is a science access point.








On Tuesday the students painted white cherokee roses—-the official flower of Georgia.

IMG_4140We started by discussing the shape of our paper and then asked the students to identify the color red using communication symbols.

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






IMG_4143 (1)IMG_4166To paint our roses we used the end of a celery bunch with a fork stuck into it for a handle—-making it much easier to hold!

After we applied white paint we told the students to stamp UP and DOWN to make their roses.





IMG_4147IMG_4157Recognize a movement that reflects a spatial relationship, such as up and down is a math access point.








IMG_4178IMG_4154Ta Da—-

IMG_4159                                                              —–it’s a rose garden!





On Wednesday the students made friendship posters that honored Martin Luther King’s wish for us all to join together in friendship. Each student ended up with a poster that had all their friends handprints on it!

IMG_4373We started by giving each student a different colored stamp pad and then asking them to identify the color of their stamp pad using communication symbols. We initially gave them a choice of 3 and took away incorrect answers if needed.

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






IMG_4428The students then took turns stamping their handprints (with a little help from the adults) on their friends posters.

Then they glued pictures of MLK onto their posters.

Recognize that the appearance of an object or material has changed is a science access point.




IMG_4412IMG_4424TA DA—-thank you Dr. King

IMG_4439                                         for teaching us about peace and friendship!





Since Georgia is known as the peach state, we decided peach smoothies would be the perfect treat for this week!

IMG_20160121_131143IMG_20160121_131431We started by putting some yogurt into our blender. Frozen peaches came next but before we added them we asked our students to touch the bag and tell us whether it felt HOT or COLD.

IMG_20160121_131317Distinguish between hot and cold objects is a science access point.




IMG_20160121_131856IMG_20160121_131933The students really liked the aroma of our next ingredient—–cinnamon!

The science access point recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli is addressed here.






IMG_20160121_132126IMG_20160121_132519After the cinnamon was added we put in some milk, sugar and ice and started the blender. Our students always love pressing the switch to activate the blender—–it was pretty exciting to watch all the ingredients whirl around :)


IMG_20160121_132603Recognize a way to stop an object from moving is a science access point that can be addressed in this activity.



IMG_20160121_133023IMG_20160121_133114Finally, time to sample our peach smoothie——-YUM!!!!!









IMG_4284Hope you enjoyed learning about Georgia as much as we did this week.  We would like to give a shout out to our awesome volunteer Ali—-she took most of the photos for this post :)

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