Week 21—Black History, Presidents Day and the Letter U


This week the theme for our Sensory Group was Black History, the theme for our Fine Motor Group was Presidents Day, and the theme for our Language Group was the letter U.

Sensory Group—Black History 

We started by reading Cara’s book and learning about some African American inventors. Then we began exploring our sensory boxes inspired by their inventions.

We turned off the lights and shone a flashlight through some plexiglass panels.

We chose red, green and yellow—traffic light colors! The lights really caught our students attention and there were lots of smiles when the light landed on them.

We didn’t have a green panel so we used a yellow and blue one put together, giving us the chance to explore a science access point. This activity also addresses color identification and visual tracking skills.

Thank you Garrett Morgan  for inventing the traffic light!






After turning the lights back on we voted on what color to make our shaving cream. We presented three circles (red, yellow, green) and our students  communicated their choice by vocalizing, eye gaze, or pointing to a circle.








We counted the votes and discussed which color got the most votes, addressing math access points.

It was fun seeing what colors the different classes chose!







Time to add the food coloring and mix it up!

The shaving cream has a nice tactile feel and is a great sensory medium to practice making pre-writing strokes (after you get tired of squishing it between your fingers of course).









We rinsed hands in grape scented water  (to remind us of the grape jelly that would go with the peanut butter we’ll discuss later).

A large syringe makes a great stand in for a super soaker, which was invented by Lonnie Johnson. Operating the syringe addresses bilateral coordination and is lots of fun! Our students also loved it when we squirted the water on their hands to rinse off the shaving cream.

After hands were dried we rubbed our hands with some Cool Citrus Basil scented lotion. The scent reminded us of George Standard who invented the refrigerator  to keep our citrus cool.


Now, more things to explore….



We scooped handfuls of potato chips (actually corn flakes) and crunched them up. Squeezing the chips addresses grasp skills. There is also an auditory component with that satisfying crunch and of course the rough texture adds a strong tactile sensation to this activity, increasing body awareness.

Thank you George Crumb for inventing yummy potato chips!








Our next box was filled with “freshly mown” green easter grass. We added other items related to our inventors including hair curlers, play refrigerator items, red/green/yellow circles, lawn mower and clock puzzle pieces, and a comb. We named the inventors as we discussed each of the items.

We also recorded the sound of a lawn mower (invented by John Burr) on our voice output device and placed it in the box. Our students thought it was a lot of fun to reach it to “start” the mower.

This box had a variety of textures, shapes, and colors to discover and explore—addressing the science access point: differing properties of materials. Reaching for and grasping the different objects addresses fine motor skills. Naming the objects improves language skills.




We scooped some popcorn kernels  and searched for the letter B—for Henry Blair who invented a corn planter.

Our students loved burying their hands in the corn and also watching the kernels as they were dropped from the scoop.

Lots of opportunities for visual tracking, eye hand coordination and finger intrinsic skills with this activity.





We made patterns in cornmeal with a comb (we found this idea on the preschool rainbow website) encouraging visual tracking.

The hair comb was invented by W.H. Sam.

The cornmeal also has a wonderful silky feel that we have explored before, its really hard to resist playing in it.






Then we played with some peanut butter play dough (we made sure to check that no one had a peanut allergy before we made it). This was wonderful stuff and smelled just like a peanut butter cookie—it was really hard to resist sampling 🙂

Using the cookie cutters or pulling the play dough apart helps strengthen hand and finger intrinsic functions.

Thank you so much George Washington Carver, we love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches—YUM!!!




Still one more box! This one contained red, yellow, and green pom poms (traffic light colors). We kept the box simple, with the items all having the same shape and texture, to highlight their similarities and differences.

Reaching for the soft pompoms gives our students opportunities to work on grasping skills and eye hand coordination. Discussing the differing colors helps improve language skills and color identification. Counting the pompoms helps work on one to one correspondence.






Fine Motor Group—Presidents Day

This Tuesday we learned about some of our presidents by reading Cara’s latest book. After we finished the book we started our project.

First some of our students cut out some squares with a circle penny (math access points).

We used our mounted table top adaptive scissors.








Others cut out orange rectangles

—-with a little help from their

friends 🙂









And still others cut out some brown triangles (yet more math access points!)

We did go ahead and  precut some triangles.








We set all these shapes aside and counted out rectangular pieces of paper. A small rectangle was drawn on the paper to help our students see where to place their glue.

Of course, squeezing the glue helps increase hand strength and eye hand coordination.








Then we placed stacked popsicle sticks on the glue and put the brown triangle on top…

can you tell what we are making yet?

We have a couple more pieces to add 🙂

This activity promotes eye hand coordination, following directions and spatial concepts. Counting the popsicle sticks can also add a math component.







Here it is, Lincoln’s Log Cabin

…we think its move in ready!












On Thursday we read Cara’s book again and started our next presidential project. First we put on paint shirts (old t-shirts) which gave our students an opportunity to work on dressing skills (Joy, the OT, really likes this!).

We used 2 different colors of blue to paint a large poster board. Since our students have emerging skills we have a variety of tools for them to use.

This student is using a kitchen scrub brush which has a handle which works perfectly for him.  And, incidentally, adds great texture!









We also had a variety of other brushes for our students to use. Since we were trying

to cover a large area, these foam brushes (or surgical scrub brushes)  work perfectly!

The large area also allows for larger arm movements addressing shoulder stability. Working together on the same project also encourages social skills.








Our student with a visual impairment added some fluffy cotton ball clouds.He really enjoyed pulling them apart and patting them down onto the glue.

Hmm, looks like we need to add a little something…









How about George Washington crossing the Delaware, with Jeannie’s


Joy drew the figures and cut them out of poster board, adding photo faces of the students and staff. Our students took turns putting glue onto the back of the boat and patting it down.

We have to protect our students privacy, so for this  picture we covered our students faces—- but they are so cute!!!  The staff members are really quite good looking the bunch also 🙂

The students had so much fun finding their pictures and also pointing to the staff members.




Language Group—Letter U

We started by pulling some Unusual animals out of a shopping bag. Each student’s animal was Unique.

The words Up and Under were written on an index card and when presented with the word, the students had to follow the directions.

Either by holding their animal Up or Under the table!

Look at us, working on shoulder stability, fine motor, language and literacy skills at the same time!







Next, we guessed which cup the Unicorn was Under. We found that  Unmatched cups do not work well for this game 🙂

This was so much fun and all the students had to have a turn moving the cups around (addressing bilateral coordination and visual tracking and spatial skills). This was also a really good activity for practicing turn taking and following directions.

The Unicorn was made by placing a sticker on a bottle cap.






Moving on to our next activity, we cut out 3 Ugly bugs! The bugs were just clip are pictures we put on a grid.

As Usual, our students Used a variety of scissors according to their skill levels. We really like these adaptive squeeze scissors as they are relatively inexpensive, durable, and available from a variety of catalogs.





Then we crumpled some scrap paper and put it into an Utterly plain brown paper lunch bag to make a rock. We just rolled it closed.

This activity helps to work on bilateral coordination and strengthening hand

intrinsics, as well as eye hand coordination—-and its so much fun to crumple paper!







We then glued our 3  bugs to the bottom of our rock.

Be careful when you pick up that rock—-UH-OH Ugly bugs!!!!

Our students (all boys in this class) thought it was great fun to pick up the rocks and “scare” the adults. Needless to say, lots of eeks and laughs ensued 🙂






We did stop playing with the bugs long enough to

play Cara’s sound game. Some pretty Unusual

sounds today!






And, of course, we looked at the U words we found today.

What a great week! We hope you are enjoying the activities as much as we are, and please join us again Group by Group.

One response »

  1. LOVE the idea of ‘clouds’ for the students with visual impairments so they can help make the poster too. Great idea! Love the scrub brush for painting – great way too to color more surface area. 🙂

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