What is Gamify? Gamify is when you transform your classroom and/or activities into a game. It isn't all about just fun- games can be about finding solutions to serious problems!
Have you ever thought of how a video game can be brought into the classrooms as an educational aid? Balancing the time students play board or video games requires monitoring, but some reassurance can come in when one realizes that there are studies that show games, both video and board games, can be educational. Adopting old-school games such as scrabble helps with vocabulary and spelling, while bingo helps with visual scanning and social-skills. Video games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon teaches supply and demand and microeconomics. Civilization, another video game, teaches about history and economics. Chess is a great game to teach problem solving, risk, and reward. One thing they all teach is hand-eye coordination. There are many ways to gamify your classroom. Have fun playing!
Kevin Guldner, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
What is Gamification and Why Use It in Teaching?
The holidays can be a very stressful time with all the shopping, traffic, and running around but have no fear! I have found some very simple ways to get rid of stress and actually enjoy the holidays.
First, while I'm out shopping and stuck in traffic, I turn on the holiday music to hum and sing along. This puts me in a great mood and allows me to be kind to others on the road, even when they are not so kind to me. ;)
Second, making the time to drive around and look at the neighborhood decorations and lights is something I always enjoyed as a child and still do today. It not only gives me a warm nostalgic feeling, but it also brings out holiday spirit and joy.
Finally, my third stress reliever is a guided meditation on YouTube. The man's voice, as well as the musical sounds, are both so calming, you just can't help but relax. My students love it! Here is the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vx8iUvfyCY
I hope these activities are as helpful to you as they are to me. Plus, they are free! Happy Holidays! May you relax and enjoy the season!
Jackie Giganti, Teacher, Celebrate the Chilren
Self-regulation is more than sensory regulation. Our sensory kids have several other things that fill them up with challenges all day – emotions, academic and cognitive tasks, physical activities, social interactions, language demands and the ebb and flow of hunger, thirst and tired and alert cycles. There are so many things filling our kids’ cups. So what happens when we add challenges in sensory processing to the mix?
Sometimes it’s obvious – my son is sensitive to smell, sound and touch. If we walk into a busy restaurant full of new aromas, sounds and touch experiences and he has a meltdown this is an expected meltdown as his “cup” is overflowing with sensory demands. However, sometimes it’s not this obvious. We can be at home resting at the end of the day with no noise, smells or unexpected touch and he can have a meltdown. Is this then behavior? It must be, right? There is “no sensory” around. BUT, what is in his cup?
Let’s call it sensory residue. You know, that leftover coffee at the bottom of your coffee cup that you didn’t quite get to finish this morning? What happens if you add more coffee to that cup? It overflows, right?
Our sensory kids’ cups are typically occupied by some level of sensory challenge throughout the day. They experience uncomfortable or challenging sensorimotor experiences that they often have learned to cope with them. These sensory experiences then become the residue on their cup. When they cope with the sensations they aren’t making them disappear, they are pushing them aside for the time being so that they can meet the other demands of the situation.
Sensations then take up space in their cup that would otherwise be available for other demands – unless their cups are emptied (we’ll get to that in a bit). For my son, he also struggles with anxiety, as many of our sensory kids do. In the example above, upon further investigation of his “cup” he coped with all of the sensations throughout the day and now he arrives home to find out that we are having houseguests. His “cup” starts to fill with social demands as well as anticipated sensory experiences (what if our guest wears perfume or tries to touch him) just to find out that there is no room left in his “cup” due to the sensory residue leftover from the day. With the sensory ‘residue’ taking up space, and adding the social and anticipated sensory demands of the moment, he has a meltdown.
So was it a sensory meltdown? I would argue it was. We have to understand that our sensory kids start with a cup that is somewhat full already as compared to children who do not have difficulties processing sensory information. They will be less able to cope with the daily social, academic, emotional, and physical demands as they arise if support is not given to empty their cup of the sensory residue.
However, if our kids have the opportunity to empty their “cup” throughout the day these meltdowns can be avoided. So we need to find a balance for our sensational kids.
When we look at the average day – what is trying to fill his “cup”? Identify things throughout the day that are challenging – certain sensory experiences, social interactions, academic subjects, demands of physical skill, times of emotional tension, times of hunger or tiredness.
Look again for things that help to empty his “cup”. Identify things throughout the day that are joyful and calming – listening to music, getting big bear hugs, hearing the schedule of the day, playing with his favorite friend, eating his favorite snack, playing in the fidget bin, drinking from a straw cup, running an errand for the teacher, jumping on the trampoline, choosing 2 of 4 center activities, resting on the couch with a show.
Now how do we keep the “cup” at the just right level? Determine how full each challenging activity makes the “cup” and how much each joyful/calming activity empties the “cup”. Play the fill and empty game by interspersing these activities in the best way possible to keep the “cup” from overflowing.
Teach your sensational kid about their cup and let them play the fill and empty game with you! Use this example to bring light and play to self-regulation. You can even get a cup and fill and empty it as you have this discussion with them. Most importantly, try to make this a fun activity!
What is in your child’s cup?
Michele Parkins MS, OTR
Owner at Great Kids Place
Michele Parkins is an occupational therapist, specializing in working with children with autism and sensory processing disorder. She is also a parent of two sensory kids. She works and lives sensational kids! Michele is a fellow of Dr. Lucy Jane Miller, OTR and faculty of Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation. She is faculty of Profectum academy, educating professionals on cognitive, social and emotional development using the DIR-FCD model.She co-developed a unique handwriting program – Connect Experience Write® – that highlights the importance of affective engagement in learning as well as sensory integration using music and movement to teach letter formation and pre-writing skills. Michele is passionate about working with families and other therapists and she continues to do so as a clinician and educator. She also continues to provide consultation to schools as she has done for over 10 years. Follow her on Facebook for updates and tips!
In September, my class decided to be adventurous and plant a garden. Keep in mind, I do not have a green thumb whatsoever. The students researched vegetation that was safe to plant in September, including lettuce, collard greens, spring mix, and white carrots. We voted as a class and decided that we should try lettuce, collard greens and carrots. The students placed an order on Amazon and patiently awaited their arrival to our classroom (thank goodness for prime shipping). After our seeds arrived, the students walked out to the garden where we were in charge of caring for a garden bed. The bed had weeds in it so the students independently needed to weed and rake out the bed and prep it for our seeds. The students prepped the area, dug little holes, poured the seeds in and covered them up with soil. The students marked the seeds using popsicle sticks and watered the seeds. We waited and waited and checked on the garden. After 3 weeks, no signs of life were showing and I told the students we tried our best, but it was unsuccessful for our first attempt so we will try again in the spring. We kept positive and a few days later, it was brought to my attention that there was some greenery growing in our garden.
In amazement, our class went outside and did indeed observe some growth in our garden! Since that day, we have been working hard to maintain our garden. Our class has been taking turns watering the garden and raking out the leaves and weeds. The class has gone outside and collected lettuce leaves and white carrots, brought them into the classroom where we learned and discussed how to clean them, and sent them home to share with their families. My class and students love to work in the garden, and it can be a hands-on and fun way to teach concepts from early literacy to math. All of the details that have been put into our growing garden have been a success in our classroom community! -Jamie Klimek, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
As we embrace the cooler weather and prepare for the season, this article, "Gratitude Wheel" Art Project by Betsy Hanger published in Mindful Schools, resonated with us. SFSS is eager to weave in mindfulness in our daily school life for both the staff and students, and we thought this would be a perfect November activity.
Betsy Hanger guides with the following instructions of putting in a center circle filled with the words "I am grateful for...". Next, divide the wheel with spokes making pie sections. Record what you are grateful for. Finally, Betsy Hanger encourages reflection of self by taking notice of our feelings by the following: "After a few minutes of work, encourage your students to slow down and notice if they feel their gratitude growing as they make the wheel."
So our challenge and hope is to provide opportunities of mindfulness for our students but also their families. As we will be doing, we ask you to make your gratitude wheel. Reflect. Make one for yourself and then make one with the whole family. I know I will be incorporating this into my Thanksgiving festivities for myself and my family. However, no holiday is needed; just a few moments in a day, any day.
In the end, Betsy Hanger concludes, "to end, send three kind wishes to someone on your wheel."
So in closing, SFSS wishes you and your family:
SFSS would like to express our gratitude for the support, ideas and materials provided by Mindful Schools. Thank you for being our reference in this article and for the inspiration. We would also like to thank our students and families who enrich our lives daily and allow us to be part of their special journey.
Student & Family Support Services, Celebrate the Children
Hanger, Betsy (2017, October 28) Retrieved from:http://www.mindfulschools.org/inspiration/gratitude-wheel/)
Photo credit: Mindful Schools
The “W” sit is a position that is normally used as a transition in children during activities of play. Transitioning in and out of this position is ok, but the issue comes when children get “fixed” or stay in that position during seated activities on the floor. The W-sit position allows the child to have their trunk and hips “fixed” so that playing only happens in the front of their body, therefore avoiding trunk rotation and weight shifting. Trunk rotation and weight shifting are important for appropriate bone and muscular development, core strength, balance control, and crossing midline that all help ensure that both sides of the brain are communicating effectively for proper development. Positions like crisscross ankle sit, ring sit, side sit or laying on their stomach or side are all better positions for play! -Physical Therapy Department, Celebrate the Children
The Trees are starting to change color, the weather is starting to get crisper in the morning and the smells outside are changing. Every year I enter this new season with expectations of how to spend my free time, or things I want to do. Having a 2 year old little girl makes me want to go out and experience things with her, to stop and take a step back and see it through her eyes.
This Fall I've created a Bucket List and I challenge you to do the same
Make a bucket list, and use it to enjoy time with your family and friends. We get so wrapped up in the day to day and forget to stop, and just take it all in....
-Tiffany Martino, Teacher, Celebrate the Children
Photo Credit: Pixabay
You’ve got a knot in the pit of your stomach and no matter how hard you try, you can’t seem to hide the fact that your palms are sweating. Does this sound familiar? Anxiety affects 1 in 8 children just like you, so rest assured that how you are feeling isn’t abnormal. What is it exactly that you are experiencing? How can you feel better? Keep reading to understand your body’s reaction and learn some tips to calm it down.
Why Do I Feel Like This?
Believe it or not, the anxiety you are experiencing has a specific purpose: protection. Unfortunately, this survival mechanism can sometimes go a little too far. When you are in danger, your body triggers an alarm to alert you to the situation. This is why you might feel uneasy walking home from a friend’s house when it is getting dark. Sometimes the alarm goes haywire, and you feel anxious when there isn’t any immediate danger. Something as small as a thought, such as worrying about your math test or having to present a project in front of the class, can trip the anxiety alarm. When there isn’t anything to fight or run away from (think the fight-or-flight response), you are left with physical symptoms such as sweating, fast breathing, shaking, queasiness, racing thoughts, and an overall feeling of panic.
Anxiety isn’t a fun experience, but thankfully there are several ways you can calm your stress and keep your anxiety at bay.
Relax Your Mind and Body
There are several ways to combat anxiety, but the best place to start is with the culprit – your mind. You probably have several TV shows that you love to watch as you lounge on the couch or a favorite video game, but all the action and stimulation could be making you more tense. All that screen time can leave you feeling revved up rather than relaxed. You don’t have to completely unplug from the world of electronics, but on those days when your anxiety is taking its toll, opt for relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or yoga. You might feel a little silly, but deep breathing relaxes one of the major nerves that run from your diaphragm to your brain, giving your body the message that it needs to loosen up and relax.
Take Care of Yourself
While it’s important to take care of your brain, don’t forget about the rest of your body. Make sure you are getting enough sleep, nourishment, and exercise. There will be times when you feel anxious, so the key is make sure you are strong enough to face your anxieties head on. Try to get 8 – 11 hours of sleep each night, and limit your screen time right before bed to help you wind down. Although bedtimes aren’t fun, do your best to go to sleep, or at least be in your room, at the same time each night to get your mind and body on a sleep cycle. Pair a good night’s rest with healthy foods and exercise. Tap into your favorite activities to get your heart pumping such as sports, playing with your pet, or fun games like tag or hide-and-seek.
Don’t forget to spend time with friends and family, as doing things with people you are close to not only strengthens those bonds, but also makes you feel supported and safe. Whenever you are feeling anxious, talk to someone you trust who can listen and help you cope. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. If your anxiety is stemming from test anxiety or a hard time understanding certain concepts, talk with your parents about the possibility of hiring a tutor. Perhaps the anxiety you feel before a big sports game leaves you feeling unable to participate. Talk with your coach about how you are feeling, and ask for some pointers. They are there to not only support you, but also help you be the best athlete and person you can be.
If you feel like you can’t manage your anxiety on your own, talk to your school guidance counselor as well as your parents about how you are feeling. They will be able to put you on the right path to the treatment you need. In the meantime, continue using coping techniques to calm your anxiety and tone down that anxiety alarm.
This blog post was written by Noah Smith. Noah loves sharing his travel advice on WellnessVoyager.com. He tries to take one big trip each year. He’s currently saving up to backpack through Europe.
Good news! It seems as though lawmakers in Trenton have added a budget resolution to delay implementation of the new fiscal code directly impacting special education private schools until July 2018.
Please show your support once again and contact Gov. Christie TODAY to support this resolution. He has the power to veto this and we can't let that happen. A phone call, tweet, or email showing your support for the delay is critical. He has until JUNE 30 to sign it so we need your support today! The information on contacting Gov. Christie is below.
Thank you once again for your support of Celebrate the Children!
CONTACT THE GOVERNOR TODAY TO EXPRESS SUPPORT FOR BUDGET RESOLUTION 1163
WHEN: NOW!! Not later than Friday, June 30
1) call: 609-292-6000
2) E-mail: use this form: http://www.nj.gov/governor/contact/
STEP 1 – TOPIC: Education
STEP 2- SubTopic – Special Education
SUBJECT LINE: Support Budget Resolution 1163
3) Tweet: @govchristie #support1163 #specialeducation Support budget res 1163 to delay fiscal code for private special education schools.
WHAT TO WRITE/SAY: (you can copy and paste this message)
Dear Governor Christie:
I am the parent of a child with severe disabilities who is placed by my school district at a state approved private special education school.
I am writing to you to urge you to support Budget Resolution 1163, which delays for one year the implementation of new fiscal code designed to reduce funding for more than 150 state-approved private special education schools.This month, the State Board of Education adopted 82 pages of complex fiscal code for special education schools that serve roughly 10,000 children with disabilities so severe and complex that public schools cannot provide an appropriate education to them. The implementation date of this code is slated for July 1. This gave schools just 17 business days to review the new rules and make necessary changes to come into compliance.
Governor, my child’s school needs more time for a careful transition.
I urge you to support budget resolution 1163 calling for a one-year delay in the implementation of the fiscal code affecting state approved private special education schools for students with disabilities.
Dear Senator Pennacchio,
I am your constituent living in Montville, NJ.
My developmentally disabled daughter, Rose, is only 17 years-old and therefore unable to vote, but she too is your constituent. It is the highest calling of your responsibility as an elected official to take care of our society’s most vulnerable, and this includes developmentally children.
Sadly, while Montville Township can rightfully boast of the quality of the education provided by its school system – it cannot provide for the extraordinary needs of my daughter. I look to the positive and recognize what a great leap it is for our society, and humanity as a whole, that we now see the potential waiting to be unlocked in children like my beloved daughter. Our efforts to educate them elevate all of us as a society.
I’m grateful to live in a community like Montville where education is so highly valued. Montville Township pays for my daughter to attend an exemplary school for children with neuro-cognitive disorders, Celebrate the Children in nearby Denville, NJ.
At this time I must reach out to ask you to help my daughter, and all the vulnerable children in her private special education school. The children, and we their families, are alarmed that the new fiscal codes implemented for private special education schools will effectively force them to close their doors forever. These codes, (N.J.A.C. 6A:23A-18) will negatively affect the quality of the services my child must have in order to learn and become a productive citizen in the longterm. As a community we can’t lose sight of this imperative longterm goal of education.
Further, these code were adopted just this June 8 – with the demand that the schools see they are implemented by July 1st. This is patently unfair. Just 17 days, in one of the busiest school months of the year, to implement more than 80 pages of changes - is simply impossible.
Dozens of organizations opposed these new codes. Scores of parents drove to Trenton to testify; more than 800 individuals wrote to the Board to express their concern, and more than 2,000 signed a petition for the implementation of the rules to be postponed. Given that we are all not just parents, but caregivers as well, this an extraordinary amount of time and effort.
As your constituent, and the voice of my daughter Rose – I implore you Senator Pennacchio to demand more time to see these codes implemented.
I join thousands of other advocates across New Jersey in asking you and all your colleagues for more time. Please support the budget resolution calling for a delay in implementation. This will give schools time to make necessary changes, and prevent avoidable disruptions. Please understand, “disruptions” for children like my daughter Rosie are major issues for them and therefore, us, the families.
In advance, I send my profound thanks,
Jeannie M McGuire
Montville, NJ 07045
Printed with permission. Please feel free to share or copy, paste, and personalize for your Senator.
Contributions to this blog are made by Celebrate the Children's highly talented, interdisciplinary team and wonderful families.