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Jun
02

Banana Bird and The Rubber Chicken

Banana Bird and The Rubber Chicken Banana Bird and The Rubber Chicken

QR code to voice recording of blog text.

Artist Name - ruchick.mp3

My daughter just completed her first year of college and while chatting about papers she had to submit, we revisited the time when she was immersed in her writing creation of Banana Bird in elementary school. She used to walk around the house singing, “Banana banana banana bird, it makes the monkeys herd!” It definitely became an earworm tune and still is until this day when a banana is opened. It’s been nearly 10 years ago.

Meet the Banana Bird by then 9 yr old, Natalie Suding
Meet the Banana Bird

 

One day there was a Banana Bird. He sang this one morning: “Banana banana banana bird, it makes the monkeys herd!” He heard a noise. What was it? A monkey heard it! He started to climb a tree. “Shoo!” he said, but it didn’t work.

So, he jumped to a vine and so did the monkey. That didn’t work. Mr. Monkey was very bad. His name was Sam. So, he flew but Sam didn’t. He went down and went to the tree. He climbed a banana tree. The monkey was confused. “Which one was the Banana Bird?”

So, the monkey ate all of the bananas but the Banana Bird flew away happy. The end.

Binder of banana bird ideas

Ah, the creative storytelling of young people. She had a binder of ideas for future Banana Birds. I think my favorite one I looked forward to was “Monkey Attak” as she has written in her notes.

She wrote that story around the same time that I was making my first switch with a rubber chicken. That’s right, a rubber chicken toy. 
rubber chicken
She had a lot of questions as to why I was cutting open a rubber chicken to place wires and coins inside. This began a wonderful conversation about disabilities, access and accessibility. She decided that she wanted to make Meet the Banana Bird her first attempt to make her book more accessible for her friends. So, she did. 

I recently saw a sign in front of a rural school that said: “Small and mighty.” That is right…small and mighty. There is no but in what we typically hear people say, “small but mighty.” That statement within itself busts through mightset change, making it clear that there is nothing wrong with being small. It builds upon the word small and makes it as grand as the word deserves. 

Try not to underestimate not only your own power of change toward accessibility; but those we can facilitate with even the youngest of students. Model accessibility and inclusion. Talk about accessibility. Teach accessibility. Consider giving Book Creator a try in your classroom for student projects. The earlier our students understand the why and how of access for all, it can become the only way they know how and then ask a lot of questions when things are not accessible. Our students can be small and mighty.
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May
29

That’s a Wrap! What’s Next?


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The school year is wrapping up for my children. The hustle and bustle of the end of the school year is an exciting and stressful time for many of us. As we consider the growth and successes of the school year, it is great to also regroup and plan for what is next. One hopes that the skills they have learned up to this point, will prepare them for the next season. 

My oldest son is graduating from high school next week. I am an admittedly proud and grateful mom. The journey from preschool to high school has been so quick and yet so long. We have had no less than one or two yearly IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings since he turned 3 years old. He has had numerous goals met, triumphs, and a few failures as well, but he was steadily learning. It took a village of caring adults to teach and encourage him along the way. We worked so hard at home to make sure he had everything he needed. He had many services for years including occupational therapy, speech therapy, physical therapy, special education, instructional assistants, counselors, assistive technology supports, and other service providers along the way. When I say he had a village, I truly mean it! As soon as he gained more skills and became independent, some services were discontinued and new ones were added when we realized there was a new area for improvement. We all worked together and that teamwork is about to pay off. As he wraps up his K-12 career, he looks toward college now.

With one season ending for him, a new season of life is beginning. As we make the transition to summer and prepare to go to college, I hope he remembers what the village has taught him thus far and he will continue to advocate for himself. One part of the village has been the PATINS Project for Assistive Technology support for his providers. As the transitions continue for my children, I am grateful for the village that ensures student success through the educational process. Here's to the next season and new adventures!

1
May
18

Summer Activities!

Summer is almost upon us once again and one great thing about summer is that it allows extra time for families to spend time together. Activities such as cooking can teach many skills while being fun and educational at the same time.

Families can start small and build up to bigger and better creations. While cooking students can learn many skills. The following list was on the Norton’s Childrens Hospital website entitled “Cooking activities for kids can teach confidence and skills that can prepare them for a lifetime of healthy habits.”

Here are seven skills that your children can develop while helping in the kitchen:

  1. Explore their senses. Invite children, especially younger ones, to experience the activity of the kitchen. If you’re baking bread, for example, kids can listen to the whir of a mixer, pound dough and watch it rise, smell it baking in the oven and finally taste the warm bread fresh from the oven. If it smells good, looks appealing and is easy to eat, they may just be willing to try it! Seeing you enjoy the process of cooking healthy meals can help them see cooking as fun and not a chore. Processed foods are readily available and fast; watching you take the time to make a quick, healthy meal instead of something fast can help reinforce the behavior as they grow and start making food choices on their own.

  2. Expand their palate. If you have picky eaters, bringing them into the kitchen to help cook can help open them up to new foods and flavors. Introducing new foods to children may be more successful if you introduce only one new food at a time along with something that you know your child likes. Consider trying healthy recipes from different countries and cultures to not only expand the palate, but your child’s worldview.

  3. Working in the kitchen provides kids and teens opportunities to gain a sense of accomplishment. Even if the end result is not exactly what you expected, praise your kitchen helpers for their efforts.

  4. Making healthy choices. Planning a menu and grocery list is an opportunity to explain smart food choices. Talk to your child about different food groups and encourage him or her to try new foods. Kids who have a hand in making the vegetables may be a little more willing to try a sample when they sit down at the dinner table.

  5. Responsibility. From following a recipe and learning how to safely handle kitchen equipment to cleaning up spills and putting things away, helping in the kitchen provides ample opportunities for children and teens to learn responsibility.

  6. Sharing good conversation. Share with your child or teen family stories and recipes. Or ask thought-provoking questions about food choices, school, friends and other activities. Developing these conversations while preparing dinner teaches your child how to carry on a thoughtful conversation and can enhance your relationship.

  7. Basic math, science and language skills. As kids learn to crack eggs and stir sauce, they also gain new science, language and math skills. Basic math skills (“How many eggs do we need?”) and sequencing skills (“What is first … next … last?”) give way to fractions (“Is this ¾ of a cup?”) as your child gains confidence in the kitchen. Reading recipes helps improve reading comprehension, and you can demonstrate basic science principles with something as simple as salt sprinkled on an ice cube.

I also wanted to share the following which I shared last year at this same time and it follows.

Summer is almost here,and I’m excited to share some outdoor time with my cousin who will be in 9th grade in the Fall. I work with him during the school year, helping out with his homework and studying for quizzes and tests. We work especially hard on Math, and he has shown tremendous growth and I want to keep it going. So I have been looking for ways to incorporate Math into the activities he enjoys. Here are a few ideas I have come up with so far:

  1. Having him pay with cash when we go somewhere, and then checking to see if he receives the correct change.

  2. Letting him help with navigation to the places we go. Which direction are we going? How many gallons of gas do we need?

  3. He enjoys baseball, and there are many statistics that we can talk about and how they are figured.

  4. Cooking may not be his favorite activity, but occasionally I can get him to help out. We talk about measurements and conversions. When we have cookouts, he gets to figure out how many hotdogs, hamburgers, etc. we need for everyone.

  5. When we go shopping for shoes or something he truly wants, we get the opportunity to compare prices and to figure out how much 20% off saves us.

  6. I am hoping to build a project with him, and we can use the tape measure and figure out the amount of materials we will need.

  7. I take him out to eat, and I have him look at the calories we will consume. He can also help me figure out the tip.

  8. We play board games like Monopoly, and this includes money skills and budgeting. Battleship helps with graphing and logical reasoning. Connect 4, Clue, Chess, and Checkers help with planning strategy. Yahtzee and Rummikub are fun ways to work on math skills as well.

  9. He spends much of his time playing video games, so I encourage him to play games that involve strategy and planning.

I also encourage him to read all year long, but especially in the summer. I must admit, this has undoubtedly been a challenge! These are some ideas that I have used, or that I am planning to use over the summer.

  1. I take him to the library. I can’t always get him to read while we are there, but they always have a puzzle out so we work on it, and I encourage him to find something to check out.

  2. I am also going to encourage him to listen to audiobooks over the summer to see if he would enjoy them.

  3. I buy him used comic books which he seems to genuinely enjoy. They are inexpensive, and he will usually read them. I try to ask lots of questions about them when he has finished, so we can work on comprehension.

  4. When we build our project, I will have him read any written directions that we come across.

  5. I will also take any chance I get to have him read in any activity that we do. He can read directions when we are playing games, and he can read recipes or the grocery list when we go to the store.

These are just a few ideas that I have come up with. There are many other ideas, activities, and a wealth of information available with a search on the Internet. What ideas do you use with your students or children that you have found to be successful? Please share with me via the comments section.

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