Saturday, September 22, 2012

Apple Pie Sensory Bin

Starting Monday we will be rowing our first Five In A Row book: How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. We have a week chocked full of apple fun, science experiments, math, continents, and more. I can hardly wait to begin our first full week of homeschooling. This past week we introduced some routines and I assessed him in reading, writing, and math.

If you haven't heard of Five in a Row you should check it out (even if you don't homeschool). FIAR is curriculum where they chose some quality picture books that you row for a week. What is rowing? Well, you read the same book each day and focus on a different core subject for each day. One day you focus on literacy, another math, science, social studies, and art. You can do the days in whatever order and the books have excellent suggestions of what to do for each book.  I am kind of bitter that I didn't write this curriculum because I pretty much have been doing this exact same thing with my boys for years. When researching what other bloggers do with FIAR I came across some amazing gurus. My two favorites are Aussie Pumpkin Patch and Delightful Learning. Delightful learning has a blog roll for each book so there is amazing resources available.

Delightful Learning had a great idea of making a sensory bin to accompany How to Make an Apple Pie. You know me-I'll take any excuse to make a sensory bin. Her's is truly great and she did some great social studies activities with the bin that we will be doing next week. Here is my take on the sensory bin to go with the book.

What is included:
Apple Cinnamon Cheerios (for filler)
Chicken & an toy food egg
Cow & toy food milk
Sugar, Allspice, Salt, and Cinnamon
Toy apples
Apple block from Alphabet train
Apple tiles from Zingo game
Apple and Tree from Guidecraft Feel & Find
Felt Apple Tree
John Deere tractor and combine
Vermont state card (where she gets apple in the book)
plant from my backyard to mimic wheat (don't have any up in Anchorage)
Measuring cups & spoons

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


So it is official.... as of next week I will be a homeschooling Mama/Teacher. Wow! That is weird to say. I am a public school teacher! I Triple Heart Love public schools. Let me revise that to say I triple heart love schools that follow a social constructivism style of teaching. I want the student to take an active role in their education, rather than passively listen as they are being lectured to.

My 1st grader son has been having a hard time since the move and struggles with irrational fears, explosive outburst, negative feelings about himself, and inability to be still and focus. He is also funny, kind, social, and smarter than any other child I know (seriously). Everyday I was seeing a spark go out as he went off to school to sit at a desk that he was unable to get up from ALL day, except for lunch and his one and ONLY recess. He cried with happiness whenever I picked him up and exclaimed,
"Having you get me is the best part of my day."

I have had to stay home this year to take my youngest to FIVE therapies a week. He was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder four months ago. We have found a great pediatric therapy clinic and he sees an Occupational Therapist twice a week, a Speech Therapist once a week, and a Feeding/Speech Therapist twice a week as well. I am home anyway, I am qualified to teach, and my oldest son needs me right now. It isn't what I intended, but it is what needs to be done.

The good news is since I will be forced to do AMAZING and AWESOME activities with my boys my blogging will INCREASE tenfold. I am really excited to start blogging again and have some amazing things to share with you all. So next week in-laws are visiting and my curriculum is arriving. I am excited to start Five in a Row among other things. Our first theme will be apples and I have TONS planned.
Getting the classroom set-up (will share pics later)
Amazing school desk I got at a garage sale for $10-Wahoo!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

1st Day Apprehensions

We have moved to a new state, new school district, and new school. I am a little hesitant this year because the kids are forced to sit in a desk all day. As many of you know I having my elementary teaching degree and I thought we had moved away from the idea of direct instruction with kids listening to lectures at their desk to more active learning. I think it is imperative for students to be able to move, have choice in books and what they write about, working in small collaborative groups, and an environment that encourages meta-cognitive thinking. Evidently, not in the AK.

On top of the classroom environment the school days are about 30 minutes longer than his other school (which I don't mind), but he only has ONE 20 minute recess ALL DAY. Also he can't have any snacks. For my little active sensory kiddos I feel like this is just setting him up to fail. So what can I say-I am remaining hopeful (although not positive). I am also making contingency plans to pull out for homeschool if it comes to that. But anyhoo, here it was "A's" first day of first grade...

For the adorable first day of school signs you can go to Super Mom Moments blog. I am so grateful for creative people out there to help me make memories with my little ones.

Sensory Diets for Seekers

My son is a sensory seeker. His OT recently described it this way: "You know how when you are driving and you are getting sleepy. We roll down the window, turn the radio up high, fidget, eat, etc to stay awake. Well that is how he is ALL the time. He needs the extra sensory input." So what do you do for little sensory seekers = GIVE THEM MORE!!! Even if that means he goes outside in the cold and plays in only his diaper (CRAZY RIGHT). Well, since he can't do that all the time the goal is to give him some safe ways to get his sensory output throughout the day so he can be balanced and "normal" the rest of the time.This is called a sensory diet! A set of sensory activities done at specific intervals through out the day built into his routine. We do it for about 30 minutes three times a day.


First we do some vestibular activites. Vestibular activites are movement of his head in space (one of our senses-outside of the 5 we typically know). Some ideas are riding a bike, swings, rocking chair, roller-skating, somersaults, and scooter boards. While we do vestibular activities we listen to music. My son prefers arhythmic music like: rock, techno, latin/salsa, and jazz. So we do one or more activities the length of a song.

Spinning (Vestibular)
This Sit-N-Spin was bought at a kid consignment store for $4-score!!!
Another favorite thing to spin around in. This is what he did most of the summer-besides water play. This coup was at a yard sell for $1-can't believe the steal!!!

Rolling (Vestibular)
We gently roll him in our tunnel. These are inexpensive and great to set up an obstacle course.
We also roll him in a mesh laundry basket that has a lid

Secondly, we do a proprioceptive activity. Proprioception is another sense outside of the typical 5 senses. Most sensory seekers struggle with these two (vestibular & proprioception) senses especially. Proprioception is the movement of our limbs in space. One of the biggest proprioceptive areas is in our jaw so oral can be a huge activity on its own (one reason kiddos with SPD have feeding issues outside of food aversions). Food recommended for sensory seekers is sour, bitter, crunchy, hard, chewy, rough, and cold. Other great activities are blowing bubbles, whistles, swimming, theraband exercises, wall push-ups, pushing/pulling, and vibration

Jumping (Proprioceptive)
This trampoline was bought at Sam's Club for about $120.
We also have this bumblebee hop toy.
We use to have this type of trampoline but with no handle or safety sides he used it for other interesting purposes. I have seen people turn these into swings (another huge sensory activitiy) so I am saving it for that.

Heavy Work (Proprioceptive)
Push & Pull play is huge (shopping carts, strollers,  
wagons, laundry baskets,etc)
Heavy Work "blocks" (telephone books wrapped in duct tape) To provide extra weight . Could also use juice jugs, water, cans, make them carry groceries, and put diaper items in a backpack for them to carry.
Thirdly, we do a tactile activity. Pull those sensory bins out!. It can be playing tag, crashing, vibration, sensory balls rubbed over their back, bubble wrap, water play, jumping on textures, play-doh, fingerpaint, etc. I have MANY posts on sensory bins. For bins for kiddos that don't put everything in their mouth you can get ideas here for my sensory "bins". If you have a toddler or an oral fixated child you can get ideas here for my sensory "baskets".

Some tactile play:
painting with ice (colored with food dye)
Dry spaghetti bin

Playing with Dirt/Mud
Playing with jello
water play (this was like $10 at a grocery store) 

Lastly we do a passive proprioceptive activity. This would be squeezes (bear hugs), weights, and joint traction/compression. This is when I usually do the Wilbarger Brushing Protocal (see pic). This has been HUGELY helpful in calming down my boys but doesn't work for everyone. It is a brushing technique followed by joint compression. YOU MUST HAVE YOUR OT SHOW YOU THE PROPER METHOD BEFORE DOING THIS! 

Squeeze/Compression (passive propreceptive):
Boy sandwich :0) Bean-bags or pillows and then we lay gently on him. 
Burrito Boy. We use a thick blanket for extra weight. I gently roll them back and forth to add a little vestibular but this is suppose to be the calming portion, so be careful not to overdue it.

Other Propreceptive tools:
Zo-li (about $2 each) are great to wake-up the mouth before feeding. Also we use a vibrating toothbrush-a huge hit in our household. The white brush is a special medical brush for the Wilbarger Brushing Protocal. 
Few! Then we are done!!! Keep in mind this is a huge list of ideas. The whole sensory diet shouldn't be longer than about 30 minutes. We about 5 minutes for each of the four steps (give or take). Also these ideas are fun for all children (except maybe the last photo). If you have stuck with me for this ENTIRE LENGTHY POST you are my hero.

Coming up soon will be our bedtime routine-you can hardly wait I know!