People often ask how we got started with our groups and so we thought we might run a few posts describing “our history”, so to speak!
I (Joy the OT) came up with the idea for the sensory group a couple of years ago in Danni’s classroom. She had two students that had significant physical and intellectual challenges. In addition, one of them was also visually impaired. We just felt like there was something more we could be doing to better engage them in the learning process. We’ve all been there——————-you KNOW there HAS to be a better way!
Thinking from a developmental perspective, I came up with the idea of bringing in a “fluid play” activity and Danni was all for it. I found some pumpkin scented body wash and hand lotion, then picked up a couple of cans of pumpkin pie filling and we were ready to go.
I showed up on Thursday morning and we gathered her students around the table and together with Nita and Metra (classroom assistants), we helped the students finger paint in the pie filling, splash around in the scented water and finally rub their hands and arms with lotion. Danni and I continued in a similar fashion week after week finding new items to explore from chocolate pudding to grape jelly we dove in—the MESSIER the better!!!!!
After the winter holidays, Cara (speech therapist) came on board and switched her schedule to be there during the group time. She thought it would be a great idea to include a book related to our theme and we started looking for books to use. Very shortly we discovered that many of the books were “too wordy” or the pictures “too busy” to engage our students interest, so Cara started writing her own books. Each book was made with a repetitive line so the students could help “read” the book. Having a repetitive line also helps with expanding language as well as turn-taking as the voice output device is passed around.
Our group really started to come together—everyone was enthusiastic, having fun and the students were ENGAGED. Cara and I even got stopped in the hallway one day by another teacher who had heard about what we were doing and wanted to know what she had to do to get us to start doing a group in her classroom!!!! When I excitedly shared that information with Danni, Nita and Metra to thank them for their endorsement I learned a secret…..
Metra told me that initially she and Nita would dread OT day because of the mess I created—in case you didn’t know, fluid play tends to be a tad messy, ha ha!
The ladies went along with the chaos anyway and as they saw the changes in the students and how engaged they were, well ——–
the mess just didn’t matter anymore! In fact, they realized not only were the students having fun but THEY were also 🙂
So there it is, we started small and have gradually evolved to where the sensory group is today. Thanks to Danni, Metra, and Nita (a little too camera shy for the blog) for being willing to try something different and for their continuing support and great ideas.
P.S. did you notice all the cool colorful rice they made 🙂