Dec
14

Living in Florida, many children don’t have the experience of playing with snow. Being that I grew up in Montreal, Canada, I know all about snow and would love to share that experience with my kids. Through the years, I have I have tried many Snow Sensory Bins. This is HANDS DOWN the best Snow Recipe! I don’t know the science behind it but it gets COOL to the touch!!!!

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This is one of my favorite sensory activities. The children can play for hours! Since everyone is obsessed with Frozen movie, they wanted to make Olaf the snowman! I have also used this recipe and had children spray the snow with a mixture of water/paint to make rainbow snow!

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You Will Need:

  • White Hair Conditioner (I used coconut scented, to make it “Florida Snow”)
  • Baking Soda
  • Dry spaghetti for arms
  • Mini carrots for nose
  • Wiggle eyes
  • pop corn kernels for buttons

Note: You can ask use Shaving cream instead of hair conditioner but I prefer the scent selection of hair conditioner.

Directions:

Mix 3 cups of baking soda to ½ cup of hair conditioner. You can change the proportions if you’d like.

Use wiggle eyes for the eyes, a carrot for the nose, spaghetti for the arms (some made hair) and pop corn kernels for buttons.

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Dec
14

I am always looking for easy to make activities for my cooking class. This one was easy and such a hit with the kids and with me….I can’t resist anything that has Nutella on it!

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You Will Need:

Sliced Bread
Nutella or Peanut butter
White icing
Red m&ms or Skittles for the nose
Brown m&ms for the eyes
Small pretzels
Heart Shaped cookie cutter

Directions:

Place to slices of bread in front of your child and use the heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out 2 hearts.
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Spread Nutella on one heart
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Place the second heart on top to create a sandwich

Place 2 pretzels on either side of the top of the heart to create reindeer antlers
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Use a dot of icing on the brown candy and stick it on the heart to make eyes

Use a dot of icing on the red candy and stick it on the heart to make a nose
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These are fun and delicious!!!! I love this one because it looks like my puppy <3
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Sep
30

This is a very messy activity. Be prepared for paint to splatter but the results are beautiful.

You Will Need:

  • 3 white card stock paper
  • Rubber bands
  • Tray
  • Tempra Paints
  • Paint brush

The Activity:

Place a dozen rubber bands around a tray. This works beautifully on your child’s thenar muscle strength as well as bilateral coordination.

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Slip in a blank sheet of paper inside the tray.

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Use a paintbrush to dab paint across each rubber band.

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Remove the blank sheet of card stock paper from the tray and replace by a blank sheet of white card stock paper.

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Use the back of a clean paintbrush (or pencil) to flick the rubber bands and splatter the paint! (If you wish to minimize the mess of the splatter, create a shield with a cardboard box.

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Carefully remove the painting and place another clean card stock paper ON TOP of the rubber bands and press down to create another painting.

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Three beautiful Messy masterpieces! Love it!

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Sep
27

I started a new cooking class  called Little Chefs as part of the Miss Mancy’s Fall Curriculum at the Social Mind Center. The idea is to expose children to a variety of foods, smells, textures and tastes. This is especially helpful for children that are picky eaters. Since our focus at SMC is Social Communication, we utilize this class to teach important social skills during the group interaction as well as teaching children how to host a play date!

For our first class, we made beautiful fruit pizzas!

You Will Need:

  • One medium size watermelon
  • Berries
  • Grapes
  • Melons (1/4 inch slices)
  • cookie cutters

Each child began by cutting out shapes from different melon. It helps if the melon is not cut too thick so that the cookie cutters can cut threw easily.

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We sliced the grapes and the strawberries.

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Each child got a one-inch ROUND slice of watermelon and they were then free to decorate their fruit pizzas with their favorite fruits.

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Therapy Corner:

You would be surprised to see how challenging this activity can be for children who do not enjoy getting messy. The wet texture of the fruit was a challenge to many but they went along with it and asked to wipe their hands several times. I placed paper towels next to each of them and didn’t make a big deal out of it but reminded them that it’s ok to get dirty, we will wash up at the end.

The aroma of the fruit was wonderful to some but overwhelming to others! This is great exposure to foods that they would otherwise never touch!!!

I didn’t want the children using knives for the first class until I get to see their safety awareness, so the use of cookie cutters makes this activity activity appropriate even for little ones.

The results are beautiful and the children enjoyed sharing their pizzas with staff and parents!

Aug
23

Once a week, I work at the Social Mind Center where I teach several classes of Messy  Art. The challenge is to find art projects for children with very different skill sets. The following activities were a great success with children at our center. I hope you enjoy and send me feedback and pictures!!!!

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1- Snack Painting

Who doesn’t love snacks?! For very young children that put everything in their mouths, I like to use edible paints but trust me, the appeal was just as great for older children. Just make sure to check with parents regarding food allergies and restrictions. Depending on the ingredients you choose, this activity can have lots of SUGAR!!!!

You Will Need:

  • White card stock paper
  • Condensed milk (For children that are Gluten Free use heavy cream)
  • Several colors of Food Coloring
  • Popcorn
  • Marshmallows (For children that are Gluten Free leave this ingredient out)

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 The Activity:

This is as simple as it gets. Mix a few drops of food coloring with condensed milk. Set out bowls of popcorn and marshmallows as well as white card stock paper and let the fun begin!

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Children dip snacks into the “paint” and stamp it on their paper…watch the snacks disappear in no time!

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Therapy Corner:

I love crafts that involve food. Many children (and especially those with ASD and SPD) are picky eaters. Using food and art is a great way to expose them to food that they would otherwise never even touch! This is a first step in the right direction.

2- Oil Pastels with a Twist

A new twist on a regular coloring activity!

You Will Need:

  • White Cardstock paper
  • Oil Pastels
  • 1/3 cup of baby oil (or any cooking oil will do)
  • 5-6 Cotton balls

 The Activity:

Place a tray or cover the working surface with plastic such as a garbage bag! Ask children to use oil pastels to draw a colorful picture. For this class I had them draw Kandinsky Circles.

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For some, this was difficult so they drew colorful flowers. The important thing is to have a variety of colors.

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Once the drawing is complete, children dip a cotton ball into a little bit of oil and spread it in ONE direction across the drawing.

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This will spread the colors and create a cool effect! Let it dry completely.

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Therapy Corner:

This activity is simple yet for children with tactile sensitivities, it can be quite challenging. It gets dirty, oily and slippery!

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3- Sticker Art

Here’s a really great way to create a beautiful project with minimal skills needed. I like to use this activity for holiday gifts.

 You Will Need:

  • Small Canvas
  • Variety of Foam Stickers
  • Acrylic/Tempra Paint
  • Sponge brushes and regular paint brushes
  • Blow Dryer/Fan (if you want the painting to be ready that same day)

 The Activity:

Ask children to peel and stick stickers on their canvas. You can have them create a theme ex: Ocean Animals or provide them with letters to create a message to mom for Mother’s Day or create their name for a cool painting they can hang in their rooms!

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Use a sponge brush and different colored paints to paint over the entire surface of the canvas (Paint over the stickers too, you may need a little paintbrush to get into the crevices of the stickers). Blow dry the painting on cold setting just enough so the stickers can be peeled off without leaving streaks. Tada! Beautiful Art!

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Therapy Corner:

Peeling stickers is a great way to work on neat pincer grasp i.e. thumb and index finger working to peel the stickers. This is an important precursor to an efficient pencil grasp and to improve dexterity.

4- Rainbow Oobleck Art!

Ready to get dirty?!! This is a fun twist on oobleck. This really gets messy so get ready for it!

You will Need:

  • White Cardstock paper
  • 2 cups of corn starch
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1-2 drops of food coloring
  • Large bin

The Activity:

I created several bowls of different colored oobleck. The ingredients are quite simple but you will find it difficult to mix. Just be patient. You may start out with a wooden spoon but eventually you will need to mix it with your hands.

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Note: I prepared this activity 30 minutes before my kiddos showed up, the oobleck hardens and looks like wet cement! All you have to do is mix it up once again and it liquefies!!!!

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In a large bin I had each child pour in one of the colored ooblecks. We gently swirled it with a spoon to create a cool pattern and each child had a chance to dip in a sheet of paper to reveal a beautiful rainbow creation! I did not send this project home! Instead, we took pictures of these beautiful masterpieces.

It was then time to have some fun with this fascinating medium! The kids looooved it!

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Therapy Corner:

Oobleck is quite a challenging medium to play with. For those of you who never felt it before, it’s a liquid that solidifies and then returns to a liquid consistency when mixed. It almost feels like wet chalk! For children with tactile sensitivities, this is quite the challenge. There are so many different sensations when using this medium. It feels wet but also can feel hard and chalky and if it dries on the hands it then feels powdery! Pretty cool!

Aug
09

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I just finished putting together the Teacher’s Workshop that I will be giving this week. Click here for the the Power Point Slides! Enjoy!

Aug
09

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Working in the schools for many years, I see that teachers have less and less time to work one-on-one with a child that has fine motor difficulties. I therefore try to provide teachers with tools that they can easily incorporate into their classroom stations so that children are working on fine motor skills any chance they get. These simple changes are a wonderful pro-active way to make your stations go from great to AWESOME!

Advice from an OT:

 

1-Add clothespins:

The resistance from the clothespins strengthens pincer grasp. Just make sure that children are using a squeezing the pins with their thumb and index finger (they can also add middle finger if the strength is not there) all other fingers must be tucked in the palm of the hand.

Ex: Pick up pompoms to count or sort, write upper case letters on clothespins and have children match them to a card with its lowercase match.

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2. Add Adaptive chopsticks or tweezers:

The important thing is the placement of the fingers on these tools. We are looking to mimic a pencil grasp. Make sure that children use their thumb and index finger only. All other fingers are tucked inside the palm of the hand. The webspace (space between the thumb and index finger is open and forms an O, not flat. Use for all stations that require picking up items.

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3. Play doh or putty:

The resistance of the dough helps strengthen little fingers. There are so many ways to use dough. Ex: hide items in the dough and have children dig with little fingers, make little balls using the thumb, index and middle finger only to make little balls (these can be used to count), roll the dough to create letters and numbers, use dough to teach cutting, make stamps and imprints.

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4. Tiny items:

Use neat pincer grasp (i.e. thumb and index finger only, all other fingers tucked in the palm of the hand) to pick up tiny items like beads, beans, cheerios and mini shaped erasers (my favorite).

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5. Use coins or buttons:

An important skill to improve dexterity involves Nesting and retrieving small items. Nesting: Use the thumb and index finger to pick up coins and hold them in the palm of the same hand. Retrieving: hold coins in the palm of the hand and “wiggle” fingers to retrieve one coin at a time from the palm of the hand to the tip of the thumb and index finger. Use coins count, sort or stack.

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6. Push pins:

Place worksheets on a cork board and use pushpins. Children use a neat pincer grasp to hold the pin. I like using the extra-large push pins for little kids but you can use a variety of sizes. Ex: Draw a shape on construction paper, have kids push on the outline of the shape to “cut” out the figure, kids make letters using several pushpins, use for counting, use to poke the answer from worksheets.

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7. Use rice or bean bins:

An important skill to develop is tactile discrimination. This means that children use their fingers only to feel for items without visually monitoring what their fingers are doing. (This is useful when fastening buttons on oneself. We are more efficient closing buttons without visually monitoring our fingers). Hide items in bean bins for sorting, counting, categorizing, alphabet games like hiding all sorts of small figurines and asking children to find the ones that begin with the letter A only.

8. Stickers:

Peeling stickers is a great way to use little fingers and improve pincer grasp. Use stickers with numbers, letters, colors, categories etc…

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9. Easels:

One of the best tools to use to strengthen the wrist and position fingers correctly in preparation for handwriting. Put all worksheets on easels.

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10. Use containers with fasteners, twist tops and lids:

Place items such as cards, blocks etc.. in Ziploc bags or pencil cases that have zippers, buttons or snaps. It strengthens fingers to open and close them to retrieve items from inside them.

11. Use Manipulatives:

When picking manipulatives for counting or letters etc… try to pick some that that have resistance such as lego, links etc… (instead of blocks). Learning Resources has some great options.

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12. Use grippers, fat and short writing tools:

When picking tools for writing, choose short and fat markers/crayons. You can also attach grippers to all pencils.

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13. Use a stylus:

When children are using iPads, use a stylus with a gripper on it to mimic pencil grasp. Children are very motivated to use iPads and therefore using a stylus (with a gripper) gives them the chance to practice proper pencil grasp which they can then carry over during handwriting.

 

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14. Use dry erase boards:

Dry erase boards and markers are great for teaching skills. I find that children are so excited to use these tools, more fun and appealing than a pencil and paper. When teaching something new, consider using easels!

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Jun
07

I love balloons and kids do too! Not only are they colorful and festive but they can be used for movement activities as well as art and science! Here are some of my favorite activities.

Painting with Balloons.

You Will Need:

  • Balloons
  • Tempra Paint
  • White drawing paper

This is a very simple activity that can be done with children of all skill levels. There is no emphasis on the outcome but rather on the process.

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First have children blow balloons. Keep them small. Then they can dip the balloons in the paint and stamp them unto the paper to create beautiful art creations.

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Balloon Letter Tap:

You Will Need:

  • Balloon
  • Sharpie Marker

Many children that I work with are challenged by eye-hand coordination. Throwing and catching balls can be a challenging skill. I love using balloons to help them catch and throw. Since the movement of the balloon is slower, they can take more time to motor plan their actions.

Begin by blowing up a balloon and use the sharpie marker to write letters on the balloon.  Throw the balloon in the air and name a letter or name a letter and name a word that starts with that letter. Ask the child to do the same as they tap the balloon back to you. This can be very challenging for children that have difficulty combining movement (tapping balloon) with a cognitive skills (name letter or word).

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Balloon Volcano

You will Need:

  • Parachute
  • 5-6 Balloons

This is a wonderful group activity. Kids hold on to the parachute and work as a group. You place a balloon in the middle and as children raise the parachute, they have to make sure the balloon does not fall out. Once they master the one balloon, you can add more and more balloons. I like to tell the kids that we keep the volcano dormant and then at the end we let the volcano erupt by lifting off all the balloons in the air!!!

Don’t Let the Balloons Drop with a Twist

You Will Need:

  • Balloons

Another great group activity is the infamous Balloon Drop! I like to play it with a twist. We start with one balloon and gradually I add one balloon at a time. I like adding up to one more balloon than the number of children playing. (if 5 children play, I will slowly add up to 6 balloons) Warning: This becomes a very loud, energetic game!!!

Sensory Bean Bags

You Will Need:

  • Balloons
  • Funnel
  • Dry Rice
  • Dry Beans
  • Dry Chickpeas
  • White Glue
  • Water

Fill balloons with the above ingredients and tie a knot. You can then use them as hand fidgets or bean bags for a toss game. The different ingredients result in bean bags of different weight. They can then be used to work on graded hand control. ie. children have to decide how much force needs to be used to throw the different weights into a set target.

Apr
19

Spring is here and although it’s been cold around the country, we have been blessed in Florida! Spring energy is in the air. It’s time for color and flowers and outdoor activities! Here are 2 fun crafts that we did in MissMancy’s Messy Art Class for Spring!

Textured Birds:

You Will Need:

  • Cutout of a bird
  • Colorful feathers
  • finger paints
  • white glue
  • Wiggle eyes

I like giving the children sponge brushes as an option to begin their project especially for those that have tactile defensiveness. My experience has been that once they see other children using their fingers to paint, they usually try it themselves!

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I purchased these foam cutouts in the shape of birds at Target (but you can draw your own on card stock). The kids used bright neon finger paints and added colorful feathers! It’s fun watching the kids play with feathers. This is a wonderful tactile experience with both the paints and the feathers.

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Cupcake Liner Flowers:

You Will Need:

  • Different colored Cupcake liners
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers
  • Construction Paper

Another fun Spring Craft. This one focuses more on fine motor skills such as cutting and drawing. This activity also requires children to follow a certain sequence. It’s an easy activity for children with lower fine motor skill level. You can increase the level of complexity by asking them to draw a scene around the flowers or to draw and cut out their own flowers to add to the craft.

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I found these really cool felt flowers at Target that some children stuck on their creations.

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Mar
15

Here are some fun St-Patty’s Day activities I found while searching on line.

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Golden Coins Shaving Cream Search

Kids  absolutely love getting messy with shaving cream.  Just add green finger paint,  glitter and shiny coins to create a St- Patty’s theme. The children use tactile discrimination to find hidden coins. This is a a great skills to teach so that children learn to use the tactile information they get from touching without using their eyes to monitor what their hands are doing.  This comes in handy when opening/closing fasteners on their clothing.

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Rainbow Painting

This is a great sensory craft for all skill levels. I found this activity on www.sassydealz.com but adapted it for lower level skills. I cut out black pots from construction paper and stuck it at the bottom of the paper. Then using a pencil I drew 6 curved lines to create a rainbow. I numbered each line and marked it with the matching color pattern of a rainbow.

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I also put paints in small bowls and used a dry erase marker to mark the bowls with the corresponding numbers for the order of the colors.  Children dip their fingertips in the paint and make dots to create a rainbow! We also used silver foil to make shiny coins.2014-03-15 06.46.06

Leprechaun Activity Hunt!

I have yet to meet a child who doesn’t love the excitement of a treasure hunt. I got this idea from www.spoonful.com. I created clovers with activities on each of them ex: 10 sit ups with a partner, 10 jumping jacks, hold hands with friends in a circle and stand on 1 foot 10 sec. Each child had a chance to pick a room on our map and go find a clover. Each child reads out loud the activity that is on their clover and we complete it as a group. I like sending out one child at a time and doing the activities as each child brings back a clover. It helps with maintaining attention and excitement in the group!

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Miss Mancy’s 2 Cents on AUTISM

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