Tag Archives: Christmas

The Nutcracker Ballet


img_2147img_1493We had dreams of Sugarplums—-of the ballet variety—- dancing in our heads this week! Going to the Nutcracker ballet is a tradition for many people this time of year so we thought it would make a perfect theme. Our sensory group explored a variety of colorful boxes related to the ballet, the fine motor groups made Nutcracker art projects, and the language group hosted a holiday party—-like the one in the ballet!







img_1381img_2208One of the first scenes in the Nutcracker ballet is a Christmas party. This box, with its base of plastic pine needles and holly, contained symbols of Christmas.

img_2168Of course we included a little plastic toy nutcracker! It was a squeaky toy too which made it even more fun.

img_2179img_1542Needless to say, the students had a little fun with the santa hat and goofy glasses 🙂





img_2537Lots of fun!!!!!

Associate an object with a person or event is a social studies access point.







img_2178img_2520This box had a variety of shiny garland, tulle, and chiffon squares that reminded us of the colorful costumes and scenery found at the ballet.

The colors and textures were very intriguing to the students—-it was a very inviting box!


img_1502We really addressed the science access point recognize and respond to different types of sensory stimuli!





img_1513img_2237We put one BIG mouse and one LITTLE mouse in these turquoise beans (picked because we thought the color looked a little icy). So…… perhaps our mice looked a little more rat like, but sometimes you have to work with what you have on hand 🙂

img_2501Recognize similarities and differences in size of common objects is a math access point.





img_1680img_2204Our purple kinetic sand became “SugarPlum fairy” sand this week! The purple color made it especially inviting and we added a ballerina crown cookie cutter which turned out to be pretty intriguing as well.

Total fun as usual!


img_2170Recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is a science access point.






img_2438img_1600Since the Nutcracker takes place in the winter we HAD to bring out our snowflake umbrella.

White pompom yarn, foam snowflakes, and silver beads make this ordinary umbrella something pretty cool. When we added some pink craft foam ballerinas it became even more special!


img_2154We also recorded music from the ballet on a voice output device. All in all, a pretty magical winter wonderland!

The science access point track objects in motion can be addressed here.





img_1640img_2485Silver glitter added extra sparkle to this box of Insta Snow, making it extra inviting! There was a spoon and a little measuring cup for scooping fun.

It was also fun to watch as it drifted down while sifting through fingers!


img_2236Apply a push to move an object is a science access point.




img_1682img_2459We don’t get much snow down here in Florida—-so for us it is pretty fascinating stuff 🙂





img_2478                                                                 Let it snow! Let it snow!






img_1488img_2493Our water play helped rinse some of the glitter off the student’s hands—-that stuff gets EVERYWHERE! They also had fun scooping, pouring, and finding a craft foam letter N using the measuring cup and funnel.

img_2171Recognize differences in sizes of containers that hold liquids is a math access point.





img_2251img_2550We used the perfect scent for our water play and lotion—–sugarplum swirl from Bath and Bodyworks! Our students left the group smelling like yummy little sugarplums 🙂

img_1817 The students used communication symbols to indicate whether they “liked” or “didn’t like” the scent—–for almost all of them it was a hit!

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








On Tuesday our students painted a magical snow scene for their nutcrackers. We used this: nutcracker-template-1

img_1885img_1889First they used communication symbols to identify the color of the paper we were going to use—-purple!

Sometimes blocks make excellent pointers 🙂

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






img_1923img_2018Then they spread white paint around their paper.

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








img_2038Glitter was added for some sparkle—–we never pass up the opportunity to use glitter!

The math access point recognize when an object is added from a situation, is addressed here.








img_2065Then the students glued a Nutcracker with their faces onto their paper.

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











img_2008img_2056TA DA! These Nutcrackers are ready to join the ballet!













On Wednesday the students used paper plates to make nutcracker masks. A great big thank you goes out to our interns Rachel and Nicole for helping set up this project! We used this to complete the mask: nutcracker-template-2

img_2346First we discussed the semi-circle we had cut out from the paper plate. We showed the students how 2 semi-circles made a circle and asked students to use communication symbols to identify a circle.

Recognize parts of whole objects is a math access point.








img_2350img_2389Then they glued pieces of yarn onto their semi-circles.

The math access point solve problems involving small quantities of objects or actions using language, such as enough, too much, or more can be addressed here.








img_2396Next the students glued a mustache onto the middle of the plate.

Match one object to a designated space to show one-to-one correspondence is an access point.










img_2384Then they pulled apart ONE piece of polyester fiberfil to make TWO pieces and glued them to each side of the plate.

Recognize that pushing and pulling makes an object move, is a science access point.









img_2388img_2399Ta DA—-meet our Nutcrackers!

img_2369                                                            Ready for their performance 🙂






We decided to have a Nutcracker Ballet party for our language group this week.  We always love to be able to get together and interact with our friends and coworkers and this was the perfect time.

img_2578img_2563Our language group students dressed up in Christmas and ballerina attire so that we could have a Nutcracker parade.

img_2571                                                       We even had a harlequin dancer 🙂






img_2619img_2603The other classes in the elementary building were the participants in the parade—–some of them got into character also!

img_2612We had so much fun going down the halls and inviting our friends to the Nutcracker party.







img_2691img_2650-1Once we got to the party room, our students got to choose some treats.

We had ice cream with different colors of sprinkles to eat and fizzy lemonade to drink.


img_2707 Our students conveyed if they LIKED what they got or if they did NOT like it.  Usually, their facial expressions are a pretty good indicator 🙂






img_2896img_2797One of the most fun things that we had was the photo booth.  Our students got to choose which prop they wanted to wear/hold for their picture.  We had SO MUCH FUN with this!

img_2835And not only the students had a great time, but the adults did too.





img_2673img_2627While the party was going on, the Nutcracker Ballet was playing on a smart board so that our students got to experience this incredible ballet.

img_2626Some even did a little dancing of their own 🙂





img_2636A big thanks goes to our fabulous interns—–Nicole and Rachel for decorating the room and serving all the guests!

You ladies were wonderful and we will really miss you!








img_2654img_2685It was a wonderful time, filled with good food, company, and music. What a wonderful way to start this holiday season!



img_2724-1We hope your holiday is filled with happiness and laughter. Join us in the new year for more fun and learning—–Group by Group!



IMG_0187We learned a lot of fun facts about the month of December this week. There is actually more to the month besides holidays! Our sensory groups explored boxes related to symbols and events related to the month. The fine motor groups painted fabulous art projects and the language group made delicious hot chocolate—-YUM!






IMG_0344IMG_0621Each month has a special “birthstone” and the one for December is turquoise. The students searched for both upper and lower case “D”s in our box of turquoise beans. Beans are always a hit with our students but when they are this beautiful color they are even more enticing 🙂

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





IMG_0407IMG_0372The flower for the month is the narcissus. In this box we mixed green holly with white silk “narcissus” petals—–actually, they’re white poinsettias from the dollar store, but we think they totally worked! In addition to sorting by color, there were textures to compare.

IMG_0349Identify objects by one observable property, such as color is a science access point.






IMG_0176IMG_0741The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded during the month of December—–how cool is that! In honor of everyone’s hope for peace around the world we added a big peace symbol to our blue and green rice. Underneath there was a picture of our world as viewed from space.

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







IMG_0382IMG_0228This box contained lots of different symbols of December. There were a variety of items representing the holidays of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Christmas. A mountain goat was included to represent capricorn—-one of the zodiac signs that fall during the month. Since many people visit FRIENDS and FAMILY during this month, we added those words to the box as well.

IMG_0414                                           Some of the toys made noise and these were a HUGE hit!

Recognize an object related to an event is a social studies access point.





IMG_0352IMG_0241There were also some fun Christmas tree glasses and as usual, our students totally rocked them 🙂

IMG_0687                                                                                       Too cute!








IMG_0397IMG_0170National Chocolate Candy Day falls during this month—-how sweet is that, LITERALLY 🙂 We made some delicious smelling chocolate play dough that could be cut into little candy pieces with a cookie cutter.

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





IMG_0437IMG_0192The Wright brothers made their first flight on December 17, 1903. While they didn’t quite make it up into the clouds that day, our little plane is flying around some shaving cream clouds in celebration of that historic day!

IMG_0515                                      Apply a push to move an object is a science access point.





IMG_0180IMG_0714Hands were rinsed in water scented with Bath and Bodyworks winter candy apple scent. There were 2 different size scoops and a giant foam “D”.

Recognize differences in sizes of containers that hold liquids.






IMG_0817The students really liked the matching lotion! Asking if they “liked” the scent and “where” they wanted it was a great opportunity to practice communication skills.









On Tuesday the students made a poinsettia craft in celebration of national poinsettia day which occurs on December 12. We used this:pointsettia template

IMG_0268We started by discussing the color of the paint we were going to use and the students used communication symbols to show us the color RED!

The science access point identify objects by one observable property, such as color, is addressed here.







IMG_0288IMG_0293Bubble wrap was tied with a rubber band around a kitchen scrubber and the students used that to apply the paint to their flowers. We emphasized that we were stamping “up” and “down”. Of course, they all had their own techniques 🙂

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




IMG_0281IMG_0302After the students finished painting we taped their flowers to a large craft stick and TA DA——

IMG_0282                                                                              ——-pretty poinsettias!




On Wednesday the students painted a peace symbol in honor of the Nobel Peace Prize. We found this idea at kiwicrate.com

IMG_0441IMG_0444We started by discussing the paint colors we were going to use—–BLUE and GREEN. Again the students used communication symbols to identify the colors.

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




IMG_0473Before we started painting, we also discussed the shape of our plates and that the painters tape that had been placed on the paint was called a “peace symbol”. Then we squirted paint onto their plates and the students got to work!

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





IMG_0468After they had finished painting, they got to peel the tape off their plates—–they really had fun with this part 🙂 It was also a great way to practice pincer grasps.

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






IMG_0465IMG_0477Sending wishes for…….











IMG_0858Our language group made a tasty December treat—–hot chocolate!

We started by opening 2 packages of hot chocolate mix, making sure that we counted each package, and pouring them INTO a bowl. This was a great activity for practicing pincer grasps!







IMG_0875IMG_0879Then we added 2 cups of water and began stirring it into the chocolate powder. After each student took their turn we would ask them if we needed to stir MORE or if we were ALL DONE.

The math access point indicate desire for more of an action or object is a math access point.





IMG_0887We set the microwave for 1 minute. After we took it out we asked the students to touch the bowl—it was WARM!








IMG_0891IMG_0892To make the hot chocolate even yummier we gave the students a choice between toppings—–marshmallows or whipped cream!








IMG_0904Time to drink up——-YUM 🙂








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

Wonderful Winter Holidays book


IMG_9993There are so many different holidays that are celebrated all around the world this month, so we wanted to expose our students to some of them.  There were so many that we had to break them up between 2 weeks!  This week, our book takes a look at Christmas, Bodhi Day, Hanukkah, Dongzhi, St. Lucia Day, and Junkanoo.  The book has a little piece of information about each of the holidays and also includes a picture of some of the traditions.  We also included a picture of a couple of our super cute students on the front and back of the book.  It was SO much fun looking these different holidays up and all of our students and teachers seemed to love learning about them.  We hope you do too!


IMG_0285Here is a link to the book: Wonderful Winter Holidays 1

Wonderful Winter Holidays


IMG_0436Winter holidays around the world is our theme this week. It compliments our student’s Unique Curriculum unit this month. Each of the boxes in the sensory group represented a different holiday. The fine motor group made art projects related to different holidays. The language group made a yummy treat to eat. One of the most fun aspects of this week was our Bo tree umbrella—-beautifully put together by our fabulous students Charlsie and Skylar.




IMG_0230Our Hanukkah box was filled with blue and white rice which are the traditional colors associated with the holiday. We included the letters H and C for the different spellings: Hanukkah and Chanukah! As we often do, there was a picture to find at the bottom of the box, this time a picture of a menorah.

The science access point apply a push to move an object is addressed as students move the rice around to find the hidden objects.





IMG_0226IMG_9967In the Bahamas they celebrate Junkanoo by dressing in costumes and marching in parades—-how fun is that! We put some fun animal masks and feather boas in this box full of FUN! We also recorded some Junkanoo parade music (from youtube) on a voice output device.

Recognize one or more external body parts is a science access point addressed as the various props are tried on.




IMG_0030In China they celebrate the winter solstice with a festival called Dongzhi. When families gather together they make and eat Tangyuan dough balls which are made from rice flour. Our students used a melon baller or their hands to make cloud dough balls.

The science access point apply a push to move an object is addressed here.






IMG_0190IMG_0266Plastic pine and holly branches formed the base of our Christmas box.  We topped this with all sorts of Christmas items including Santas, nutcrackers, reindeer, trees, and garland. It was a delight for the senses—-things for touching, looking, and listening.  Some of the favorite items included jingle bells and squeaky toys.

IMG_0024Recognize and respond to different types of sensory stimuli is the science access point addressed in a super fun way here.


IMG_0015St. Lucia day is celebrated in Sweden by children wearing white robes and girls don wreathes with candles on their heads. We mixed red and yellow food coloring into shaving cream to make orange “flames”. The students loved watching the colors mix together and change.

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







IMG_0193Hands were rinsed in Bath and Bodyworks winter candy apple scented water. Since winter holidays involve lots of sweet treats, we thought this was the perfect scent for this week! We put in a big measuring cup and a small measuring spoon.

The math accèss point recognize differences in sizes of containers that hold liquids (capacity) is addressed.






IMG_0071The students really liked the aroma of the matching lotion—–YUMMY! They loved having it rubbed on their hands and arms.

Recognize and respond to one type of sensory stimuli is the science access point addressed here.







IMG_0009IMG_0053We finished the group by turning off the lights and bringing out our Bo tree umbrella. When celebrating Bohdi day on December 8, many Buddhists decorate trees with colorful lights and beads. Everyone LOVED the umbrella—-so bright and colorful!

What a lovely way to address the science access point recognize sources of light.





IMG_0145On Tuesday we made Bo trees for our art project. After reading Cara’s book we brought out the Bo tree umbrella to give the students a feel for what it might feel like to stand under a Bo tree. They loved it——of course!







IMG_0082IMG_0117Confetti flakes were mixed with watered down glue then painted on a tree top shape.

Recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is the science access point addressed.






IMG_0129Then the tree top was glued to the TOP of a LITTLE brown rectangle that had been glued to a BIG white rectangle!

Recognize length of real objects, such as big, little, long, long, or short is a math access point addressed here.

We put 3 dots of glue and the students added 3 sparkly pompoms to the tree as a finishing touch.

The math access point match objects to marked spaces to show one-to-one correspondence for quantities 1-3.



IMG_0096Ta Da—-we are ready for Bodhi Day!









On Thursday we made some festive Christmas candy canes!

IMG_0457IMG_0455We started by asking the students to show us the color RED using communication symbols—-they did such an awesome job!

The science access point identify objects by one observable property, such as color—-totally nailed today 🙂






IMG_0495Then the students used paper cutters to cut 1 red rectangle into 4 pieces.

Recognize that pushing and pulling an object makes it move and recognize a change in an object are science access points addressed in this activity.







IMG_0476The 4 pieces were then glued onto a precut poster board candy cane shape. Although some of them could do it independently, most of our students needed a little help turning the pieces to put the glue side “down”. Either way, they all had definite ideas on where their pieces needed to go.






IMG_0472IMG_0490Ta Da!

IMG_0503                                                             Our artists were pretty proud of their work 🙂



IMG_0304IMG_0324We decorated some pre-made Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies today in the language group and they were delicious!   Once we showed them the tree and went over the shape of them (very similar to a triangle), we talked about what color a tree is.  Each student was given the chance to identify the color of a tree from a field of 2 colors: pink and green—-and most of them were correct 🙂

Identify objects by one observable property such as color or shape is the science access point addressed here.
IMG_0358Next, our students watched as we turned white frosting into green frosting using 3 drops of food coloring.  And of course, we counted out the drops!  Then we passed out the plates, again counting as we went.

The math access point associate quantities with number names and the science access point recognize a change in an object are both addressed in this activity.





IMG_0374IMG_0383Then came the fun part!  Decorating the tree!  After the cookies were frosted, students were then able to pick what they wanted to go on their trees.  We made a choice board which showed their choices: M&Ms, marshmallows, and colorful sprinkles.

Our students made their choices by pointing to the picture, using eye gaze, or using yes/no.





IMG_0396Finally, our students were able to eat their creation!  We had lots of green faces and lots of smiles.

A Christmas tree cookie success!






IMG_0443What wonderful winter holidays we learned about this week! Join us again next week for more fun and learning——Group by Group!



Christmas Traditions book


The holidays are in full swing now, and continuing to follow the Unique curriculum for this month, we are talking about Christmas traditions.  The pictures in the book this week were given to us some of our co-workers as well as some by Joy and Cara.  There are so many different things that people do as their Christmas traditions, but we only touched on a few of them.  After reading what the tradition was on each page, we asked our students, “what is this?” to which they replied using a voice output device, “this is a Christmas tradition.”  We have to say that the last tradition is probably our favorite—- you’ll have to read the book to see what it is 🙂

Have a wonderful holiday season!

IMG_9128Here is a link to the book: Christmas Traditions

Christmas Traditions


IMG_9092It was a busy week with a special program affecting our group schedule a little but we still had fun exploring our Christmas Traditions theme!  Cara used pictures submitted by staff members for her book and our students really enjoyed looking at the pictures and labeling things they saw—-such as the Christmas tree and Santa Claus. Our sensory boxes were bright and colorful with lots of Christmas related items to explore. The fine motor group had two cute projects and the language group went on a Christmas parade!




Sensory Group

IMG_9058Colorful lights are a Christmas tradition that we find decorating trees and houses. We  put 2 sets of colorful battery operated lights and some shiny garland in this box. The garland reflected the lights and made the box even more eye catching—–and mesmerizing 🙂

This one was a favorite!

This addresses the science access point recognizing sources of light.






IMG_8848IMG_8877This box was filled with plastic pine branches and holly leaves. We also put in some red garland, shiny beads, and a little Christmas stocking. All sorts of fun textures and items to explore! Of course, we had to include a couple of Santas, a little elf, a wrapped present, a nutcracker, and some jingle bells—all traditional Christmas symbols.

We also included a voice output device with the song Jingle Bells—-it got played ALOT 🙂

Science access points addressed include recognizing common objects related to science by name, such as plant and recognizing a model of a real object.

This activity also addresses the social studies access point, associating a celebration with an event, such as a holiday.




IMG_9018Red and green are considered Christmas colors. We put shiny, hard beads and soft, round pom poms in this box.

Lots of opportunities to compare and contrast materials. It addresses the science access point identifying common objects by one observable property, such as color. It also addresses the science access point recognizing two objects that are identical to each other.

The math access point recognizing a 3 dimensional object (sphere) is also addressed.





IMG_8868Red and green are also the colors of our rice box—-red rice and green split peas! Wow, this was such a pretty  box—so eye catching! Hidden in the box were 3 letter C’s to find. We also taped some Christmas tree wrapping paper to the bottom of the box—-a fun picture to find as the rice was pushed aside.

In addition to tactile and visual discrimination skills, the science access point of applying a push to move an object is addressed.







IMG_9068A giant Christmas tree cookie cutter was used with our peppermint scented green playdough. Although is smelled pretty yummy, our students did a really good job of refraining from tasting it!

Recognizing that pushing and pulling an object makes it move is a science access point addressed in this activity.

As more than 1 tree is formed, the science access point recognizing two objects that are identical to each other is also addressed.






IMG_8825IMG_9065We swirled red food coloring into our “candy cane” oobleck. It turned out pretty cool—starting out with swirling color and ending up a delightful pink!

As usual, our students loved playing with it—oobleck is simply amazing stuff 🙂

The science access points recognizing a change in an object and recognizing that pushing and pulling an object makes it move are addressed here.




IMG_9039IMG_8895This week, we found our scent at Joann’s—-Gingerbread!

We used the water to rinse the oobleck off our hands AND address the science access point recognizing water as a liquid.

As well as the science access point observing and recognizing that people need water —to clean off oobeck, of course 🙂

The matching lotion smelled very yummy and after the students had smelled the lotion, we asked them which body part they wanted the lotion rubbed on. This scent was a real hit, ALL our students loved it!

This activity addresses the science access point recognizing external body parts and the language access point communicating a preference for a familiar action.




Fine Motor Group

IMG_8923On Tuesday we made some super cool reindeer using floor puzzle pieces. We have done this before and we liked them so much, we decided to do it again! Our super volunteer, Sarah, glued the pieces together for us.

We started by using our sponge brushes to paint the reindeer brown.

Recognizing a change in a object is addressed as the white puzzle pieces become brown.





IMG_8949 IMG_8951Next we asked our students to find their eyes, then put 2 round googlie eyes on their reindeer. Placing the googlie eyes helps to promote pincer grasp skills.

It also addresses the science access point recognizing external body parts.






IMG_8948IMG_8975Rudolph needs a bright shiny red nose, of course! We added a cute pompom noses after asking the students to find their own nose.

Again, this activity addresses pincer grasp skills and identifying external body parts.







IMG_8990Our students were thrilled with their reindeer!

Time to run, run Rudolph—-









On Thursday, our students turned into little elves!

IMG_9188We started by discussing the color of the paper we were going to use. Our students did a great job of finding the color green. We were so excited when we realized that everyone had answered correctly!

Identifying classroom objects by one observable property, such as color is a science access point addressed here.






IMG_9226IMG_9211Then we used our paper cutters and electric scissors to turn our green rectangles into triangles!

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

The math access point recognizing 2 dimensional shapes is also addressed.





IMG_9279Time to add some decorations—working on pincer grasp and eye hand coordination skills!

Of course, we counted each decoration as it was added to the hat.








We glued the hat onto our pre-made faces, made from paper plates (thanks again Sarah!).

IMG_9241IMG_9250IMG_9275Elves ready and reporting to work 🙂

IMG_9289IMG_9307                                           HO HO HO








Language Group

IMG_9099After reading Cara’s book, we made Christmas cards for the other elementary classes.  The students got to pick what they wanted on the front of the cards by activating the All-Turn-It spinner.  The pictures on the spinner were: Christmas tree, Santa Claus, bells, angel, reindeer, snowman, and an elf.

Our students did so well watching the spinner and they are also learning not to hit the switch but to push it to activate it.

The language access point, use technology resources to support learning is addressed here.




IMG_9139After finishing up the cards, we dressed our students up with different Christmas props.  We let them look in the mirror to see themselves which is always fun to do.  The different props we had coincided with the different pictures that were on the spinner.  We talked about putting things “on” and trying not to take them “off”.

Responding to specific information about familiar objects and routines is a language access point addressed here.






IMG_9133We also made sure everyone had some jingle bells 🙂








IMG_9160IMG_9143Time for a Christmas parade!  We went over who was “first” and who was “last” then we turned on some Christmas music, rang bells, and paraded through the halls to deliver the cards.  SO FUN!

Surprisingly, the props stayed on our students the entire time!  The students in the other classrooms loved watching our language group parade around their room!

The math access point, recognizing the next step in a simple pattern or sequence of activities is addressed here.

Responding to familiar persons is a language access point addressed.




IMG_9171It’s been a great celebration these past 2 weeks, but now we’re all ready for a break!  Since next week there are only 2 full days of school, we decided not to have groups.  We’ll see you in 2014 with some more fun Group by Group!

Winter Holidays (part 2) books


As we are continuing on with learning about winter holidays (which is the Unique Curriculum theme this month), we read the same book as last week.  Since we have been keeping this blog going for a year, though, I have some books I had written last year which I’m posting for you all this week.  It doesn’t go over all of the same winter holdiays, but the ones that are included go a little more in depth about what happens during each holiday.  We hope you enjoy!

Here are the links to the books:  Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Kwanzaa

Merry Christmas!