Saturday, October 29, 2011

Tapestry conference!

I just got back from a super-fun day at the IBC conference. It was so fun getting to meet and talk with people who are trying to be equipped as they can be to nurture and support the children in their home, whether they arrived there via adoption, foster care (or biology :)). If you came here from there - welcome! I have lots of things I'd like to post... later. Speaking gets me jazzed about posting but obviously I haven't been very jazzed lately. I'm planning to post info. on age specific sensory issues, sensory issues specific to international adoption, foster care and domestic adoption, as well as tips and tools for home, public, school and homework. I'd also love to cover any questions and am going to post about making your own weighted blanket (just need to try it out first). Now... to go play with my kids - it's too pretty out.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Connecting/Organizing Game of the Day

Hidden Hearts and Treasure Touch Table Game

This is one of the very favorites of my younger three kiddos (4,5 and 9, S (4) pictured above).

tub or sensory table
rice, sand, noodles, or beans, etc.
hearts, jewels, or coins(treasure)

Have your child find the hearts (or coins/treasure, or jewels). Each time they find a heart have them hand it to you (across midline if possible), tell them something you love about them. If you're using treasure or jewels you can say "you are my treasure/gem - I love your ____". Think ahead!! It may seem like a LOT of hearts/jewels/coins. :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Connecting/Organizing Game of the Day

Ping Pong Table Soccer

4 non-breakable cups (for goal markers)
1 ping pong ball
a table

Blow the ping pong ball in between the two cups to score. Using hands is illegal until it falls off the table. There is calming input from the blowing, visual input from the tracking, as well as almost constant opprotunities for great eye contact. This is a game that "levels the playing field" - a child is just as likely to be great at it as an adult and can provide lots of opprotunities for praise, giggles and just the opprotunity to flex and try something new.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

How to Make and Use a Touch Table (without a huge mess)

Yes, you can use any container in lieu as a "sensory table", sand/water table or, as we like to call it, a touch table. It's also very nice to have it up a little for toddlers to stand at and for parents and older children to sit on the floor at. I came up with this very cheap, very easy way to make touch tables for our church preschool. They are light, portable, pretty sturdy and easy to use.
First we took Ikea end tables - (cost 7.99) we like the red but they come in a lot of colors. Then we bought this set of tubs. (cost - about 12.oo/pc.) These are a great size - plenty big for several children and an adult to play at the same time. It sounds pricey but you get 4 and they've held up great and are big enough for a toddler or two to get inside and play. Something similar would be great. You can then attach the tub to the table with two strips of sticky back velcro (using the soft side on the tub in case you want to use it on the carpet as well). You can also make a "table top" to put on the end table when you're not using the touch table (cheap foam board - $ store or laminated poster board cut to fit). You could even attach a checker board/chess board (or draw on to the "table top" a particular game).
I think the best way to cut the mess is to train kiddos that what's in the touch table has to stay in the touch table or it has to be put away or they have to walk away for awhile. It also works best to start with something fun but low mess and work up. Using large pom-poms or blocks first and then trying a small amount of water (with eye droppers, funnels, spoons, whisks and/or measuring cups and spoons) seems to work well for preschoolers. The sky is the limit for what you can put in it. My faves are rice and beans (at Aldi I can buy enough of either to fill it for $5). I've also used cheap salt in place of sand (it's fun to write in).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Other Potentially Helpful things

These were in the hand-outs for the Tapestry Conference and I didn't get to them. Time goes so fast when you're having fun.

Other Potentially helpful things

Alert System - a "self regulation" "training program"
It's very helpful to borrow the idea (even without the program) and teach children they are like a car - sometimes the engine is too cold and sometimes it is too hot and sometimes it is just right. We also teach them things that we all can do to help our engine run just right.
This website lists a chart.

Weighted items - blankets, vests, weighted stuffed animals that can be used around the shoulders or over the lap, even weighted hats.
Check here for the widest selection, but not necessarily the cheapest

Fidgets - a fidget (known in the adult world as stress balls or desktop toys) is usually a small toy or object that can be manipulated quietly to help a child calmly attend - my favorites come from dollar stores and the best ones can be described "just plain cool" in a sensory-rich way.

Suspended equipment - is OT for swing :) Many different kinds available for indoor and outdoor use (doorframe swings are cool).

"Quick Calmers" (also listed under "Activities that can help a child calm down, organize and focus") - A quick actvity that can be adult directed or the child can be taught them to use whenever they feel the need

Pulling it together – reach way across your body one hand at a time and pull a pretend rope back to midline

Self hug - best way - arms out in front, thumbs down, then palms together (keeping thumbs down), clasp hands, bend elbows, and bring arms and hands in toward chest , and hug. (so easy to show, harder to explain :))

“Magic Mustache” (Amy Monroe’s kids)- use index finger to give sme steady firm pressure across the upper lip (can also be discreetly by adults or older children in a "thinker" pose also giving some good joint input)

Smell a flower, Blow bubbles - Deep breathing is very calming. the best way to encourage children to take a good deep breath is through imagination. Pretend that you both (or all) are smelling their favorite flower (helps to have them close eyes) - hold it up to your nose in your thumb and index finger and take a great big sniff. Then pretend that you are blowing great big bubbles with a magic bubble wand. For boys or girls who aren't jazzed about flowers, pretend you are holding a plate of their favorite cookies (make mine chocolate chip). You can also pretend that you are blowing a dandelion as well. Have them imagine watching the floating bubbles or dandelion dust for further calming and more fun.

Magic Room (make the room bigger) - Take both hand and press firmly and consistently against the wall for some great calming proprioceptive input.

Pretend bubble gum (Dr. Jean) - I love Dr. Jean. For this one pretend you are tossing or handing the child (or children - works great in a group) a piece of bubble gum. Have them chew (don't forget to unwrap :)) the gum and then blow a huge bubble (using your hands in front of your mouth to show how big the bubble is getting and then clap them together to "pop" the bubble). We like to say the bubble gum has been in my pocket a LONG time and needs lots of chewing. The proprioceptive input of the chewing and the blowing are very calming/organizing.

Note - Real bubblegum can also be very organizing (the more pieces the "heavier the work" and the greater the potential benefit!)

Chair pull-ups - While seated in a chair, lift your legs and try to lift the chair. Also great are chair push-ups - put your hands on the chair beside your legs and try to lift yourself into the air. Great heavy work/joint input activity - perfect for discreet use in a classroom or staff meeting. :)

Sucking/Blowing - We've already mentioned two specific "games" but many sucking blowing activities can be very calming. Sipping smoothies, applesauce, yogurt, or thin pudding through a straw can be very fun and orgnizing.

(Disclaimer – If I remember the source, I have noted it. If I have heard of it from multiple sources, can’t remember or if I (or a child I know) made it up, I have not noted)

Alexander and the Terrible...Day modification

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Sensory Day

(based directly upon the delightful book written by Judith Viorst
and real children I know and love)

I went to sleep and got cold in the night but the only blanket in my room was the itchy, scratchy blanket that always gives me an earache. Then I woke up with my feet tucked in. Mom knows my feet have to have room to move around or they wake up grumpy. Mom says feet don’t get grumpy, just little boys. What does she know, she also says blankets don’t cause earaches. I tripped on the way to the bathroom and hit my head on the counter and I could tell it was going to be a horrible, no good, very bad day.

At breakfast, Mom bought the ooshy, gushy Frosted Flakes that aren’t really Frosted Flakes and do NOT have a tiger on the box. I love the tiger Frosted Flakes. I do NOT like the ooshy, gushy plain box Frosted flakes. Mom says they’re the same and may likely be made in the same factory and just put in different boxes. I want MY kind in MY box.

I think I’ll move to Australia.

In the car, I couldn’t get my seatbelt buckled because everytime I pull on it it pulls back and gets stuck. Mom says to not pull so hard and just go easy. It kept getting stuck and then my brother had to buckled it for me and then he giggled. I was wiggling me feet and then my mom got mad and said to quit kicking her seat. I wasn’t really kicking it but she used my middle name and everything.

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

At school, Mrs. Dickens wore her squeaky shoes and her stinky pra-fume. I guess she doesn’t agree. She said if you can’t say something nice to not say anything at all. My mom says that too, especially when I tell her how stinky other people’s houses are and exactly what they smell like. At singing time the music teacher said I sang too loud. Didn’t sound too loud to me.

I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

Danny was breathing on me in the line for recess and crowding me. At our school you can’t punch someone, even if they’re breathing on you and taking all your air. You’re also not supposed to yell “I hope you sit on a tack!” I could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good very bad day.

My milk was too warm and the sandwich was too cold and the blueberry muffins had real ishy, squishy blueberries in them – YUCK! - and Albert’s apple munching was very, very loud. And I’M the one who got in trouble for putting my hands over my ears and yelling “be quiet”. Phillip’s mom packed him pickles again. The smell of his icky pickles made my ham sandwich taste like pickles smell. It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

That’s what it was, because after school my mom took us all to the dentist. Those awful sounds made my teeth hurt and my eyes hurt and even my fingernails and my hair hurt. I told them I didn’t like mint but they used mint to clean my teeth. The lady with the stickers said no one had thrown up on her shoes before and didn’t give me a new toothbrush or a sticker. They said I also had a cavity and to come back next week and they’ll fix it.

Next week, I said, I’m going to Australia.

On the way to the mall, I stubbed my toe. My brother said “smooth move, ex lax” and when I tried to kick him, he moved and I fell down right in the sticky icky mud puddle.
I grabbed his shirt to make him apologize and mom came back and scolded me for being all muddy, like I LIKE it, and for fighting.

I am having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. I told everybody. No one even answered.

Mom said I needed new clothes and shoes. I don’t want new clothes and shoes. At the shoe store, mom forgot my special socks and I had to try shoes on with new socks with huge-mongous seams.. Mom wanted to know how the shoes fit. I couldn’t tell, all I could feel were those huge-mongous seams. I hate new shoes and we weren’t done yet. Mom said if any of my clothes still had tags they would say “two sizes too small”. Mom found some sweat pants she said are EXACTLY the same and the ones I like to wear every day. I don’t know what planet SHE lives on but they are NOT the same. She can buy them but she can’t make me like them.

When we picked up my dad at his office he said not to touch anything. And I didn’t, except for that really cool shiny stapler and that blinking button on the copier. He said be careful and I kept thinking “be careful, be careful”. And I was very careful except for my elbow and my big toe that still hurt got tripped up on the rug. My dad said please don’t pick him up anymore. And real quietly he said something, I think it was about Australia.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

My meat was touching my vegetables and my brother was kicking his chair and my chair was too far back and I spilled soup in my lap. I hate spilling soup in my lap. When I scratched my nose I got food all over my face. Then when I wiped it off somehow food got in my hair. My mom said to try not to eat so messy. She sent me to the bath. I hate taking a bath. I also hate taking a shower and the way the water gets in my ears and the shampoo gets in my mouth. Mom says it’s my choice but that not taking either is not a choice. She likes to pretend to be fair.

The bathtub was too cold and the water was too hot. The towels were itchy, scratchy as always and I couldn’t use them. She said not to dwaddle and made me put on my pajamas before I was totally, absolutely dry. Mom said they weren’t wet but that my back was just a little damp. I hate soaking wet pajamas.

The insects outside were making noise and my brother’s creak, creak bed kept me awake. Mom said not to yell and that she couldn’t hear anything except my complaining.

It has been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

My mom says she may move to Australia.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Attachment is a Sensory Game!

I've started this blog primarily to provide a way to share my passion about attachment and sensory issues. I am hoping to regularly post connecting games as we discover them and develop them. My kids and I (and my sister and her kids) are having a lot of fun with this! Please join us!