Week 18—Chinese New Year and the Letter R


This week our theme was Chinese New Year for our Fine Motor and Sensory Groups. Our Language  Group looked at words starting with the letter R.

Sensory Group—Chinese New Year

We started by reading Cara’s latest book “Its the Chinese New Year” with its really colorful pictures. Our students are getting very good at reaching for and activating the voice output device for the repetitive line.

Our first sensory box was filled with red paper shred (we just ran some red paper through the shredder). Its a Chinese custom to give monetary gifts in red paper envelopes.  We added some of the animals from the Chinese zodiac to the box, including a dog, monkey, snake, pig and a DRAGON! We  added a little plastic moon, since the calendar is based on the lunar cycle.  We also included some red and gold mardi gras beads, red pom poms, and a play food lettuce leaf (lettuce wraps are frequently served at new year parties).

This box was so much fun and our students loved the grabbing and shaking the paper shred.



Tea is very popular in China, so our next box was filled with the aromatic leaves. We buried 2 red circular  puzzle pieces (shape identification a math access point) in the box.

Red is considered a lucky color in Chinese culture.

We also put a little spoon in the back to allow our students the opportunity to practice their scooping skills.






Fireworks are also a big part of the Chinese New Year celebration. We brought them into our classroom in two ways. First we used our toys with flashing lights, which are very visually appealing to our students. We turned off the over head lights to enhance the effect.







We also included the sound of fireworks by laying bubble wrap on the floor. When the wheelchairs were rolled over the bubble wrap it sounded just like fire crackers—way cool!

One of our students, who has just learned to self propel, kept rolling herself back and forth across the wrap. The smile on her face was priceless.

Of course, our ambulatory students also got the opportunity to walk and jump on the wrap. We found that the wrap with the bigger bubbles was easier for them to pop.

And yes, the adults joined in—-we couldn’t help ourselves 🙂



Our next box was filled with white rice, which is often eaten during Chinese meals. We hid the letter C—for China, of course!

Rice is always so much fun to sift through and scoop. Our students love it.








We made a goo bag by mixing red food coloring and hand sanitizer in a zip lock freezer bag. It turned into this beautiful, almost iridescent color. We double bagged it (making sure to place the bag openings at opposite ends)—if quick little hands can open one end  we are quick enough to stop them before they get to the other!

Our students were able to practice their pre- writing patterns, letters or a Chinese character, using their fingers (also giving them opportunities to practice finger individuation).





We finished up with our water and lotion play. This week we used the White Tea and Ginger scent from Bath and Body Works.

As usual, our students really enjoyed playing with the water, which is wonderful for tactile awareness as well as calming for some of our students. They are all starting to anticipate the hand lotion experience and it is so cute to see those little hands reaching out for their turn. For the ones that can apply it themselves, they are getting the opportunity to practice bilateral hand skills and crossing midline. For our students who do a lot of hand mouthing we apply the lotion on their upper arms or on the back of their necks.




Fine Motor Group—Chinese New Year

We read Cara’s awesome book and took turns stomping or rolling over some bubble wrap when we got to the page about the fireworks.  Then we proceeded to make a chinese dragon mask (thanks to Martha the OT intern for coming up with this idea).

We pre cut the masks and taped on some dragon teeth. Then our students tore and crumpled tissue paper to glue onto the mask. This is a great way to recycle all that tissue paper that you get with presents! Of course, we talked about all the different colors and gave our students opportunities to practice choice making.

Tearing and crumpling the tissue paper is good for bilateral and hand intrinsic functions.

Dipping the tissue paper into the glue (a recycled lid makes a great dipping bowl) is great for promoting pincer grasp skills and placing the tissue on the plate addresses eye hand coordination.




Next, we counted out 1 piece of white paper for each student. Then we counted out 2 black circles for each of them (addressing math access points, of course).

We put 2 dots of glue and placed the circles on top.

Then we glued the “nose” onto the plate.




We stapled some paper streamers to the side and our absolutely fabulous chinese dragon mask was finished.

This deserved a big Ta-Da, don’t you think!

Our vision teacher placed one on the light box for her student and it looked so awesome we had to include it.









On Thursday, we continued our celebration of Chinese New Year by reading “Its the Chinese New Year” again and then making a dragon puppet.

First, we found a chinese dragon picture on google images and enlarged it. The images were glued on to poster board (we found that using a glued stick works best) and  had Jeannie’s practicum students cut them out.







Then our students used markers to color them. We  like using markers because of their low friction component and intense colors. This makes it easier (as opposed to crayons or pencils) for our students to make marks.

Joy the OT just has to comment on this lovely little functional grasp of the marker 🙂








Because our students had differing abilities for holding writing utensils, we made sure to put out a variety of shapes and sizes, all of which were picked up at places like Walmart or Target.

We particularly like this little tripod marker that works perfectly for this student.







After coloring, we added some glitter, sequins and a great big googlie eye! This addresses eye hand coordination as well as grasp and release patterns.

Of course, we never pass up an opportunity to add glitter and googlie eyes 🙂








The adults then hot glued a head and 2 tongue depressors to a 12 inch length of christmas garland (picked up on clearance at Target).

And here they are—-some pretty spectacular chinese dragon puppets!

Happy New Year!!!!!







Language Group—Letter R

First, we Raced on the Round Red Road.

The students used a car shaped eraser (too cute) on the dry erase board. We drew a large circle to encourage crossing midline and placing it on a vertical surface promotes shoulder stability.







Then we used Red tongs to pick up some Red Radishes.

Tong activities are great for hand strengthening, eye hand coordination, and developing the graded motor control needed for scissor skills.








Our students with physical challenges helped the Rabbit eat the Radishes.

We hot glued a shower curtain ring to the back of the toy and some hook velcro to its mouth. When the velcro comes into contact with the pompoms, they stick pretty well.

We counted how many Radishes each student gave the Rabbit to eat, addressing math access points. Discussing the spherical shape of the pompom also addresses math access points.







Then we painted some Rad Robots! We picked from the Rainbow of colors at the bottom of each page. This booklet was picked up at the dollar section at Michaels—we love the dollar section 🙂

Some of our students used standard water color brushes but others needed ones with larger handles. We were so proud of this student for really staying on task—nice job!

We counted how many Robots were on each students page and named the colors as the students chose them.

We found putting just a little water in a plate helps cut down on spillage and water logged papers.



We finished by playing another of Cara’s sound game. It was Really fun.








And , of course, looking at some of the R words we found today—there were quite a few!

What a great week, we had so much fun! Please come back next week for more fun Group by Group!

2 responses »

  1. Love your ideas! Especially the bubble wrap idea. What a motivator. I might have to go invest in some! I was in a pre-school classroom working with a kiddo and they had the coolest idea for fireworks. You take old pantyhose (not sure if you have to double them or not) and you put sand in the toe and tie it off. Then you dip them in paint and let the kids drop them onto paper. It makes a really cool fireworks picture.

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