Monday, 30 January 2012

Motor work activities

A lack of motor skill refinement can really frustrate a child who is trying to achieve a task or target. 

By providing controlled activities you can help them develop fine motor skills and build confidence. The activities do not need to be target based but more about having fun, learning what fingers do and sharing experiences. The opportunities for learning are endless, bring in numeracy, colour or conversation skills for a multi-faceted learning experience!

1.) Hide small objects in playdoh.... Kids love Playdoh, we all know that, but it acts as a brilliant resistant material to help build muscles in the fingers and hands. Hide beads or coins inside fist sized lumps and encourage the children to search for the treasures. They could make piles of like items, by colour or size. Then swap over, let the children enjoy burying things for you to find. One of the things that I have noticed, is that children with reduced motor skill ability struggle to make round balls out of Playdoh or similar materials. Help to develop this skills by having a ball race! Make as many balls as you can and lay them side by side to make the longest run, enjoy counting your balls and working out the difference :)

2.) Beading.... Girls will especially love this one! Use laces of different thicknesses, beads of different shapes and sizes and get beading. Create bracelets for friends or family. Encourage team work by working in pairs. This activity really helps develop hand-eye coordination and is fab for developing pincer control.

3.) Finger and cotton bud painting.... Let's get messy! Have a ruless painting session (just cover your best sofas first!) Use fingers and hands to paint words or pictures. Develop finger control by using small items, such as cotton buds, to make marks with. Sensory seekers will love this opportunity to explore textures.

4.) Counting songs.... Putting down one finger at a time is harder then you may think. By engaging children in counting songs such as 3 little monkeys, you will be helping to develop digit isolation, strengthening fine motor skills. Other good songs include Tommy Thumb and 5 fat sausages.

5.) Lego.... brilliant for pincer control, force and helps with the identification of shapes and colours. Use large or small Lego pieces to suit ability and age. Build towers, form names or buildings to enhance hand-eye coordination. Lego is a brilliant way to foster sharing and manners, encourage conversation and discuss their builds.

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Facebook page

Hop over and join Special Educational Matters on Facebook. 

It's the best way to stay up to date with our latest postings and resources. We re-post articles from our associates that we think you will be interested in, so you are always in the know

Motor skills development for iPad users

As promised here is my first educational iPad recommendation. 

Dexteria motor development
  Dexteria by BinaryLabs features specific activities developed to help promote the development of fine motor skills. The iPad has a wonderfully sensitive touch screen, making it highly usable. 

Through the use of engaging activities children will be unconsciously fine-tuning their hand-eye coordination, fine-motor skills and, when engaged in conversation about the task, language skills as well. 
Sample activity for fine motor skill development

Activities include finger isolation, for either hand, stoke development and finger control. The app also records progress and time spent practicing. Even very young children will enjoy these activities, feeling much more like a game then work, you shouldn't have any trouble getting youngsters engaged with the task.

Stroke development and letter formation
The app is available on both the iPad and iPhone. Click here to visit the app website and download.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Name grids

Some children begin school already  knowing how to write their name, some do not. For some it is the first real hurdle they will face in their school life and can become a stressful experience. Use these guides to help build confidence in letter formation, spelling and pencil grip, in a fun and accessible way.

Example name grid
I've added a set of three name grids to the printable resources section. To make the most out of these, print all three on A4 paper, write the desired name in the appropriate font (the best colour for tracing over, I find, is grey). Laminate each sheet so they can be used over and over again. Encourage the child to trace over the letters of their name before attempting to copy it free hand in the space provided.

Start off with the largest font and only move on once confidence has been gained in letter formation and spelling. For added practice, print off and laminate an extra copy to send home, children will love to demonstrate how well they are doing to their parents. Build their confidence by photocopying the sheet, for them to keep, when they have done well.

Click here to visit the printable resources section.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Communication methods

More and more children are being diagnosed with speech and language difficulties, ranging from mild impediments to total language delay. Luckily they are so many wonderful methods of communication being developed and added to, we are well placed to help foster the development of their speech and language skills.

Makaton - Makaton signing and symbols are becoming more and more popular and is now a recognised form of communication in all corners of the UK. Their website provides advice and guidance on the implementation of signing, free printouts and an online shop to source all your Makaton needs. As a child's language and comprehension develops they may begin to drop the signing, only using it for new words and phrases. By teaching the class Makaton signing, through the use of rhymes and songs, you will enable Makaton users to communicate fully with their peers. Visit the Singing Hands website for inspiration.

PECS - The picture exchange system serves as a communication platform for children who struggle to communicate. In order to receive the desired item or activity the child must first exchange the correct picture card. This system eliminates the pressure children may feel when trying to express their needs and desires, leading to more confident communication. Visit the PECS website for more information.

The Quia website has a comprehensive list of activities and exercises to help develop phonological awareness and pronunciation.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Modern posting

Look out world I've given in to technology... I am now the proud owner of an iPad! Proud and slightly confused that is.... Never the less over the next few weeks I will undoubtedly be delving deeper into the technological abyss to see what educational must haves I can dig up for this little beaut....

So far I've stumbled across some great baby pacifiers, panic searching the apps forum for something to keep a wriggly Ten month old still whilst mummy conducted operation nappy change. I have also found some great tools to help with my university assignments and organisation so I'm sure there are some great apps for the age range in between.

Stay tuned ipadders!

(I wrote this post using my iPad )

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Team Teach

For the last two days I have attended a Team Teach training seminar, and although a lot of what was taught comes as nature to me, I met people and heard stories that really opened my eyes.

Team Teach are responsible for providing schools and services with positive handling techniques and training but the emphasis of the training is on developing your deescalation skills, minimising the risk of physical intervention being required and helping to build consistent and positive relationships between staff and pupil.

Dynamic situations with volatile pupils could, at least some of the time, be avoided if all staff were provided with deescalation training as a matter of course. The behaviour of some staff in schools is, in itself, a catalyst to further poor behaviour or crisis and it' the children and young people we work with who suffer the consequence of poor behaviour management by adults.

Visit the Team Teach website here for further information and training opportunities.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Inspirational Parenting

Every so often I come across somebody who consistently amazes me with their selflessness. Hayley is one of those people.

Making waves in the blogging community, she has set out with a goal in mind, to change peoples perception of learning disabilities. Her honest and inspirational blog is reaching out to people all over the world and now her gorgeous daughter, Natty, is set to take the modelling world by storm, already snapped up by two high flying clothing companies, it seems the offers will come flying in!

Not only is Hayley responsible for creating a fantastic network for parents and educators of children with Down's Syndrome but she also tirelessly devotes herself to preparing learning resources for Natty to use at home and at school, and Natty's progress speaks for itself.

Featured in The Sun newspaper today it seems the only way is up!! Click here to read the article.

Truly inspirational parenting and proof that there is never a bench mark. Take a moment to read Natty's amazing story by visiting


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Numeracy footstep fun

I've created a footsteps number line which you can find in the printable resources section.

There are so many varied and fun games to play with this resource. It's a wonderful visual aid to learning number order. Put your thinking caps on and create interactive games such as sit on odd numbers and hop on evens. Simple activities can be turned into wonderful learning experiences for our visual and kinesthetic learners. Use activities such as placing the correct amount of bricks or toys on each number, to develop number awareness. How about placing the right number of counters on the toes for a little fine motor skill refinement?

The number line runs from 0-10 and features foot step prints to aid motor skill and balance.

Visit the printable section for more useful resources.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Government plans to scrap Ofsted Satisfactory grade

Controversial plans to do away with Ofsted's satisfactory category for schools have been reported in the news today, with stiff opposition from some unions. Ofsted have recommended a category of "Required Improvement" in place of the satisfactory award, stating that satisfactory did not highlight the need for improvement in schools awarded such a status. 

As far as I'm concerned this can only be seen as a positive, I'm from the era of pushing all pupils and schools to achieve at their best, so making improvements to schools and staff seems only a reasonable and logical sequence to follow. Time after time I have heard teachers moan about Ofsted standards, paperwork and workload, all things that were in existence before their qualification, certainly for the recently qualified.

I do love to come across a teacher or teaching assistant who accepts "It comes with the job."

                                     Click here to read the story in full.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Interactive whiteboard whizz

Up, up and away! Today the children in my class LOVED playing on these space games I discovered. They are so versatile and can be used with the mouse or (in our case) the "White Board Pen" (said with an air of authority!) They were easily accessible to every child in the class and encouraged working in teams or pairs, which opened up endless opportunity for discussions about size, colour, and direction.

Space Hunt
Click here to play the Space hunt game. The aim of the game is to navigate your space craft around a series of space rocks, collecting the fuel on your way!

Alien Teleport
We also tried out an alien abduction game, we had to order the aliens in the pattern they arrived, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, giving them the appropriate rosette. The children really loved this one and worked brilliantly in pairs, discussing and debating about the order of arrival! Click here to play Alien Teleport.

It just so happens that these games fitted in perfectly with our space topic! See the printable resources section for more space themed classroom freebies!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Brain boost

Brain boosting fun
Are you a parent wanting your child to achieve at their best? A teacher determined to create a class of brain boxes? Or do you want to help a child develop a positive relationship with learning?

If the answer is yes to any of the above questions check out this fab link.

Got To Dance Magpie audition

Magpie Dance provide dance classes for adults with learning disabilities and their carers. View their audition for the popular television show below.

Magpie perform on Sky 1's Got To Dance 

To find out more about the work of Magpie Dance or to make a donation, visit their website here.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Pupil teacher contracts

Encourage pupils to take responsibility for
their own actions  with a behaviour contract.

I've already written a post about behaviour contracts for primary aged children (click here to view) but here is a little article, from TES, about implementing contracts for older children.

Take a look

Sunday, 8 January 2012

New resources added

New resources added to the printable resources section.

Click here now to view!!!

Punctuation comics

Children are rewarded in SAT's for the appropriate use of punctuation but it can be difficult to teach the appropriate use for each. Yesterday I was in the grip of writing a piece for my coursework when I couldn't, for love nor money, work  out if my semicolon was in the right place.... I stumbled across a fantastic little site, perfect for years 5 and 6 in the run up to Sat's.

How to pause - The Oatmeal
The Oatmeal use cartoons and comedy to define the appropriate use of punctuation, if it works for me it'll work wonders for our KS2 children! Click here to take a look at their comic strips.

Keep an eye on the printable resources section, I'll upload my punctuation pyramid soon.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Hi tech teaching

The development of technology available for use in the classroom is astounding but from what I've seen so far, slow to filter through in primary and infant schools. It would be fantastic to push these mod cons into all classrooms and promote active engagement. This post provides links to all the latest releases concerning the latest breakthroughs in interactive learning.

Education iPad
Learning with the iPad has been improved with a series of apps designed with the sole intention of interactive and inclusive learning. The iPad helps improve motor skills and is accessible and adaptable to most. The iPad features fast internet browsing capabilities making it a fantastically resourceful study aid. With its ability to download E-books gone are the days of lugging bags of heavy books around. The slim compact design means there is ample desk space in even the smallest of classrooms. Visit the website here for more information.

Plasma screen technology
The interactive plasma screen is a technical alternative to the already widely implemented interactive whiteboard. The immense amount of software and hardware available to support the plasma package makes the system completely inclusive and the team at Inclusive Technology provide advice and guidance for a range of disabilities. Click here to visit their article database. With a range of material from early years to secondary and even college age, the plasma screen is surely to become a must have for every classroom.

Nowadays a lot of games consoles are creating games using the body as a controller. Creating a more active gaming nation. What about using this creativity in the classroom? Using the body to engage in interactive learning? KinectEDucation are doing just that, connecting with kinesthetic learning. Take a look at the following related blog for the latest developments