Saturday, August 27, 2016

Visual Perceptual Find and Color – School

School Doodle Find Freebie YTS

Here is a visual perceptual freebie Find and Color for back to school from the School Doodle Find packet.  Challenge your student’s visual scanning and visual motor skills with this activity.  Can you find and color the 7 different school items?

DOWNLOAD the School Doodle Find freebie.

This freebie is from School Doodle Find, a visual perceptual game that includes 4 different game boards, 6 recording pages and 5 Find and Color pages. This game requires no preparation – just print and play! In addition, there are directions included to create a travel version of the game. This activity challenges visual tracking, visual scanning, visual discrimination and visual motor skills.  Print off multiple copies for your students and your activities are ready to go! Find out more about School Doodle Find.

School Doodle Find Game

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tips for Positive Communication with Parents

Tips for Positive Communication with Parents

Parents are an integral part of the special education team. They know the most about their children’s strengths, weaknesses and personal preferences. Therapists and other school staff need to include parents in all decision making for children. Here are some tips on improving your communication with parents:

1. Always start off a conversation stressing a child’s strengths. No one wants to hear only negative comments.

2. Be very specific about your concerns for their child without using any medical terminology.

3. Do not be judgemental. If the child is the firstborn in a family, parents may not always recognize delays in the child’s development.

4. Be patient. You may be the first person to tell the parents that their child may need some extra help. Give them time to digest the information and schedule a time to talk again.

5. Allow plenty of time for questions. Make sure you have the time to address any questions the parent may have. Do not run off to your next scheduled appointment with unanswered questions.

6. Listen! Make sure you listen to the parent’s comment or concerns. They usually have the best insight into their own child.

School and Home Communication Forms for Therapists

Keeping the lines of communication open with parents will help your students to achieve their goals!  School and Home Communication Forms for Therapists will save you loads of time. Therapists can review schedules, report on daily or weekly progress, track behavior, review IEP goals, track communication and more. It is suitable for all school based therapists. Parents can request therapist to complete daily or weekly updates especially beneficial for non-verbal children.  Bonus – you can EDIT the forms!

There are 21 forms including:

Therapy Schedule
Therapy Update 1
Therapy Update 2
Therapy Notes
Behavior Form
Teacher Communication Log
Parent/Guardian Communication Log
Weekly Log
Daily Log
Great News
Letter of Concern
Getting to Know You
Pre-IEP Input
Goal Review with Student
Goal Review for Teachers
Goal Review for Parent/Guardian
Therapy Lesson Plan
Communication Checklist
Therapy Survey for Kids
Therapy Satisfaction Survey for Parents/Guardians
Therapy Satisfaction Survey for Teachers

Find out more information at School and Home Communication Forms.  

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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Electronic Medical Records – Pediatric Therapy

Fusion Graphing Goals - Your Therapy Source

Are you familiar with electronic medical records abbreviated as EMR?  For most school based occupational and physical therapists, electronic medical records are not being used in school districts.  Some school districts do run software programs to generate and monitor progress for students’ IEPs. I recently had the chance to view a demonstration of an EMR system specifically for pediatric therapists called Fusion.  I have to admit I was quite impressed.  My background is as a school based physical therapist so my perspective is based on my experience from working in school districts and not as an outpatient therapist.  I will say this though, after seeing how easy it was to use this EMR system (which is ICD-10 & HIPAA Compliant), it made me want to open my own practice since the software seemed so streamlined, efficient and easy to use.  (There are affiliate links in this post).

In my opinion, here are the benefits of using Fusion for school based pediatric therapists:

  1. Documentation tools – need to write up an evaluation?  This has 80+ therapist built evaluation templates and standardized tests.  No need to copy and paste information on each standardized test – it is all done for you with a simple click.  A SOAP note format is used for documentation of individual sessions.
  2. Access –  it is web based software therefore you can log in from any device to use it.  Home computer, school computer, tablet, etc – just log in and start documenting.
  3. Easy scheduling – the scheduling feature is amazing if all the therapists that you work with are using Fusion.  You can view a client’s schedule including other services. No more running around to check if you can schedule a make up session at a certain time or day – just log in and see what Johnny’s schedule is for the week and add in your therapy make up session.
  4. Automated progress graphing – this is my favorite feature!  You can visually graph goal progress tracking data in percentages, trials (x of y), feet, reps, assistance levels, and any other metric you use!  This is an amazing feature for RTI data collection, quarterly and annual progress reports.

If you are an outpatient therapist or you own a clinic the billing and management tools are also amazing!

I highly suggest scheduling a demonstration for yourself.  Each therapist has different tools that they need so when they walk you through the software you can ask any questions you may have specific to your situation as a pediatric therapist.  Fill out the form below to request a demo.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

5 Reasons to Use Student Generated Data Collection

5 reasons to use student generated data collection

Do you struggle to keep up with data collection when it comes to tracking progress for school based therapy services?  Why not encourage the students themselves to help with data collection?  Here are 5 reasons why student generated data collection is beneficial:

  1. students learn to take ownership of their own progress and set appropriate goals.
  2. motivational levels may increase when students organize and collect the data.
  3. students learn to organize information and graphically represent the information.
  4. data collection becomes part of the routine to make it more efficient.
  5. therapists get help with data collection to indicate goal attainment.

Not sure how to get started with student generated data collection? Check out this video to get more information on student generated data collection using My Goal Tracker

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Monday, August 22, 2016

DIY Scratch Art

CD Scratch Art

I love scratch art and always have even as a child.  Now as an adult I am way too cheap to buy all the expensive papers.  You can make scratch art paper using crayons and paint but it is labor intensive.  When I came across this blog post from iCreativeIdeas on Pinterest I knew I had to try it.  It looked too good to be true.  The part that I was skeptical about was being able to use regular acrylic paint.  But guess what it works!  This is a super simple way to make DIY scratch art.  You can add some pizazz to prewriting skills and drawing skills when you do scratch art.  Bonus tip – may help some students to increase pressure on the pencil when writing since you need to press hard when doing scratch art.

First grab some recycled CDs.  If you don’t have any ask anyone born in the 70s or 80s for some, they most likely have some.  Another option is to check with your school’s IT department – they probably have some old ones hanging around.  Paint the shiny side of the CD with acrylic paint.  Let it dry completely.  I do recommend you use dark colored paint so the reflective mirror part of the CD shows through and shines.

CD Scratch Art 1

Once it is completely dry which does not take long you can start using it for scratch art.  Grab a sharp object to draw a scrape away the paint letting the mirror like CD shine where you draw.

CD Scratch Art 3

Create whatever design you like.  You could even draw lines in pencil first if you wanted the student to practice drawing particular lines or shapes.  I even found it to be less messy than purchased scratch art paper.

CD Scratch Art 4 CD Scratch Art 5 CD Scratch Art 6

You could make it a collaborative, group project and make a mobile to hang when done.  So, this project actually was as easy as it looked on Pinterest.  Woohoo!  And I found a cheap way to make scratch art!

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Self Regulation Skills at School

Self Regulation Skills at School

Self regulation skills at school require the ability to tolerate sensations, situations and distress and form appropriate responses.  Simply stated, it is the ability to control emotions, thinking, behavior and motor actions in different situations.  In children, self regulation matures just like other developmental processes. Children get older and learn to think before they act. Research indicates that self regulation in children is a predictor of academic abilities. Children with higher levels of self regulation have achieved higher scores in reading, vocabulary and math. In addition, some research has shown that the ability for young children to self regulate is associated with higher, future education levels.

Obviously, self regulation skills at school is a super hot topic when school begins.  Students are expected to control their actions in large group settings, small groups, transitions, independent work time, recess, the lunchroom and more.  When students struggle in the area of self regulation it can result in loss of instructional time due to unacceptable behaviors.  Teachers frequently rely on school based occupational therapists and school based physical therapists to help students learn how to self regulate.  The Self Regulation Skills Curriculum – Move Work Breathe was created by a pediatric OT to help school wide in the development of self regulation skills.  It includes everything you need to start a school wide self regulation skill curriculum.  This will help to put all providers on the same page when teaching self regulation skills.  Start the school year off with everyone working together rather than fixing it after the fact.   This curriculum is all set to go to help you train staff, develop goals, collect data, create self regulation plans and more!

Self Regulation Skills Curriculum 5. Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 3.00.16 PM 3. Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 2.59.24 PM 2. Screen Shot 2016-02-06 at 2.58.57 PM

Here are 6 simple tips to encourage self regulation in all children:

1. Therapists, teachers and parents should model good self regulation and self control. Use a calm tone in stressful situations. Model self control during disruptive classroom or   home time.
2. Partner children who lack self regulation with children who exhibit better control to act as appropriate role models.
3. Play fun games that require children to wait for directions before they act (i.e. Simon Says).
4. Play fun games that require turn taking.
5. Keep activities structured and predictable.
6. Students respond to opportunities for self-regulation significantly more often in small group and play contexts.


Flora, I. Developing Young Children’s Self-Regulation through Everyday Experiences. Young Children July 2011 pp 46-51.

Ponitz, C. et al. A structured observation of behavioral self-regulation and its contribution to kindergarten outcomes. Developmental Psychology. Vol 45(3), May 2009, 605-619.

Timmons, Kristy, Janette Pelletier, and Carl Corter. “Understanding children’s self-regulation within different classroom contexts.” Early Child Development and Care 186.2 (2016): 249-267.

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pretend Play Mask – Free

Pretend Play Masks Freebie

Practice scissor skills, coloring and imagination with this freebie to create owl and peacock masks with these pretend play masks for free!  Combine fine motor skills with gross motor skills with this fun activity.  Print the black and white versions of the masks, color the masks and cut them out (an adult can help cut out the eye holes).  Laminate them for durability or print them on heavier paper.   Then start moving around the room like an owl or a peacock.

Check out the complete Pretend Play Mask download which  includes 20+ masks to print and role play. The download is in color and black and white (color it yourself). Play pretend, retell stories or use with different classroom themes. The masks included are: owl, peacock, fox, bear, goldilocks, little red riding hood, wolf, pig, superheroes, princesses, pirates, clowns, firefighter, police officer, boat captain, chef and construction worker.

Pretend Play Masks

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