Thursday, 31 October 2013

Halloween Party!


Today is the day of our big Halloween party. This morning we set out lots of fun Halloween centres for the kids to visit and ran 3 Halloween themed circle times. This afternoon will feature a visit to the haunted house followed by some trick-or-treating.

A lot of our centres today are focused on sensory play. We have some sparkly black play-doh with Halloween cookie cutters. This was made using the recipe from this post but instead of a specific colour of food colouring we just dumped in the whole box.

Some creepy crawlies in orange Jell-O has been a slimy and messy hit with the little hands.

There's pumpkins that can be scooped and then decorated.

Shaving cream with orange paint for squishing, drawing in, or even painting onto paper.

Pumpkins and bats to be decorated and taken home.

We also have lots of squishy sensory buckets for the haunted house. With the lights off the kids won't be able to see that they are reaching into Jell-O instead of slime, or picking up peeled grapes and not gross eye balls, the cold macaroni feels almost like brains. We're very excited to give them a gross little fright after lunch.

The Cat in the Hat, Thing 1, and Thing 2 (formerly known as the ED team) would like to wish you and your family a Happy Halloween! :)

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

A trick-or-treating sneak peak...

Wednesdays are paper work days at STA. We do home programming for half the day and then give our staff a chance to catch up on their paper work and sign practice for the other half. With no kiddos in the building these days can be a little more boring than the fun and excitement that we are used to. This Wednesday has been extra entertaining upstairs though. With Halloween less than a day away the consultants have been taking some time to decorate offices and get in the spirit.

Tomorrow afternoon, after visiting the Haunted House and doing the Monster Mash one last time, all our little trick-or-treaters will get to come upstairs and show off their Halloween skills by trick-or-treating around the offices.

Let's face it, the best part of Halloween for most kids is the part where you get all dressed up and venture out into the cold Calgary autumn to collect candy and treats from your neighbors. For our kids that can be a really complicated and confusing. There are a lot of social rules that aren't normally used and for parents it can become quite the ordeal. We give the kids the opportunity to practice before the big night so that they will understand concepts like waiting on the step (as opposed to going inside like they normally might), yelling "Trick or Treat!" (rather than knocking or ringing the doorbell), and receiving treats but not eating them immediately.

Of course, having the kids visit the offices in all of their costumes will be just as enjoyable for the consultants as it will be for the kiddos. We're all very excited to see what they show up as tomorrow.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Halloween Kids Club

Today, during our craft portion of Kids Club, the children each made a "Mummy Craft". They were all given a black paper cut-out and tape. The children were expected to  rip the tape (working on fine motor skills) and put it on the paper cut-out. The teacher also prepared pieces of tape that the children could use.

For the gym portion of Kids Club, the children choose a costume and wore it to the gym. The children played "Round and Round the Pumpkin", "Pass the Pumpkin" and " danced to the "Monster Mash". We then went into our "Haunted House" to explore and prepare the children for Halloween and our Halloween Party!!

Friday, 25 October 2013

Haunted House

Open the door and step inside the STA Haunted House!

 We've been hard at work creating a spooky surprise room for the kiddos at STA. Going along with our theme of Halloween we decided to make a Haunted House. The kids will have the opportunity to go through with their Kids Club groups leading up to our Halloween party next week when everyone will get to visit it for a fright before going Trick-or-Treating at the offices.

We've found lots of plastic Jack-o-lanterns to put around the dark room. They provide some light and also let the kids interact with smiling pumpkins before the big day.

There are some creepy (plastic) animals hanging from the ceiling and crawling along the floor.
We've even got a spooky spiders nest. This is a book/toy shelf that has been draped in cotton batting and white Christmas lights and then filled with plastic spiders of all sizes. It will likely also feature some sensory play and exploration for the Halloween party next week.

We used some room dividers, sheets, and balloons to make a small labyrinth for the kids to explore.



Thursday, 24 October 2013

Halloween Sing Along

We are in full Halloween swing at STA.

Our pumpkins have been scooped and painted.

We've got Halloween books on our shelves.

And there's this creepy door....

In Kids Club we've altered some of our more familiar songs to fit with our creepy theme. Today's class really enjoyed stamping their paws and giving a "ROAR!" with If You're a Monster and You Know it...

If you're a monster and you know it stamp your paws,
if you're a monster and you know it stamp your paws,
if you're a monster and you know it and you really want to show it
if you're a monster and you know it stamp your paws.
If you're a monster and you know it give a ROAR!
If you're a monster and you know it give a ROAR!
If you're a monster and you know it and you really want to show it,
if you're a monster and you know it give a ROAR!
Other groups have practiced their counting with 10 Little Pumpkins.
1 little, 2 little, 3 little pumpkins
4 little, 5 little, 6 little pumpkins
7 little, 8 little, 9 little pumpkins
10 little pumpkins for Halloween
And we've been finishing the day by doing the Monster Mash in the gym.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Orange Day

Today was ORANGE DAY!!! The children and staff did a great job dressing in the color orange.

During Kids Club today, the children had a blast using their hands to clean out the pumpkin. After pulling out the guts and seeds, the kiddos took part in decorating the pumpkin with paint. They used their hands, fingers, and brushes to create this master piece.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Arts and Crafts

There is an important and fundamental difference between art and crafts. Craft implies instructions, steps, directions, and somewhat uniform final product. Art is more freeform and creative with something unique being created. We try to balance these two with our daily arts and crafts activities. Because we are working with children that have been diagnosed with ASD it is important that we teach skills like following another's agenda, copying and imitating actions or sequences, and the always important skill of coping. That being said, while it is important for our kiddos to have an opportunity to be creative, it's also important for them to have opportunities to follow instructions and imitate.

Facilitated craft doesn't always turn out as we imagine.
Now, our crafts don't always turn out as carbon copied master-pieces. Each kiddo glues, cuts, and colours as independently as they are able to and even the most facilitated crafts can turn out entirely unique products. 
Paper rolls on the wall always garner lots of attention
We have an "art table" set up in our Tree Room classroom with different supplies put out daily. You can read about it in the White Picket Fence post. This table allows the kids to express their creativity. Sometimes we will set out idea lists or visuals to help get the imagination going but it is largely what the kids (and their Early Intervention Therapists) want to make. We see lots of scribbling, some printing, a ton of MatMan, and sometimes we end up with something totally different and inspiring. 

Some Halloween Art - a witch and her broom
 Across the hall from Tree Room you will find our organized craft wall in the Sun Room classroom. This is a hanging organizer that we rotate pre-prepped crafts through on a regular basis. Right now you will see tissue paper covered pumpkins, puzzle piece collage trees, pre-drawn trees that can have apples and leaves glued on, and paper bag turkeys. The crafts target a lot of important crafting skills (cutting, gluing, orienting, drawing, etc.) and play into our current themes.

Our organized craft wall.
Thanks to our crafty kids at STA we always have the best artwork on our walls.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Spider Webs

If you walk through the classrooms at STA right now you will likely run into a group of 3-foot-ish dinosaurs. Some of them wear neon pink ties, others rabbit ears, and the odd few have some combination of clown shoes and witch hair. This can really only be explained by one thing; it's Halloween at STA.

We have started to talk about Halloween in Kids Club. Our calendar is counting towards a big orange pumpkin, we're reading Halloween books, singing Halloween songs, and doing Halloween crafts. This week the kids have really enjoyed Click, Clack, Boo! By Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin.

Click, Clack, Boo! By Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin
Our craft this week is allowing us to target a lot of different skills and the kids have been really excited about it. We're making spider webs! Each of the kids is given a starting point which is a circle with holes and yarn. They then lace the yarn through the holes in whatever pattern they desire and finish it off with a spider. This craft encourage the development of fine motor skills that are required in pinching, lacing, and pulling, and also the hand-eye coordination that allows them to lace the yarn through the holes. We also always make an effort to use craft time as an opportunity to practice requesting and sharing supplies and showing completed work.

The starting out point -
We cut large circles out of black construction paper then
laminated them and punched holes around the edge
and finished by taping a piece of yarn to the back.
Many of our kiddos at STA use lacing as a neutral activity for those times that everything is just too overwhelming. It helps them to calm down, attend to a task, and eventually transition back to the activities. With this in mind they have had a lot of practice with the skill and really enjoyed using it to create something wonderful this week.

The final product, complete with pipe cleaner spider.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


Calm and quiet are not words that one would often associate with the classrooms at STA. Our building is filled with the many sounds that accompany pre-schoolers - laughing, crying, talking or getting closer to talking, singing, music, banging, stomping, clapping, and the sound effects of so many toys. When it's time to calm down and sit quietly for circle it can often be a difficult transition for our children. We've tried many techniques, some are met with success, others with absolute (and loud) failure, but our latest attempt seems to be doing the trick.

This is our Tibetan Singing Bowl. Traditionally, singing bowls are used in meditation practices. They work either by being struck with the mallet to make a tone (similar to a tuning fork or bell) or by running the smooth edge of a mallet around the outside rim to create friction and long "singing" tones. The tones created from friction carry vibrations that are typically very calming thereby aiding in the creation of an environment that is both peaceful and relaxing. Our children are very in tune with their environment and sensitive to surrounding sounds, lights, and movements. The singing bowl can't eliminate all stimulus or distraction but it does aid the children in focusing in on the one sound and calms the room.

I have included a video of interest with this post. It focuses on a teenager with Autism who uses singing bowl therapy.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013

I spy with my little eye... Circles at STA!

In addition to celebrating a new colour every month we learn about a different shape too! This month we are looking at circles.

Most of our kiddos know about circles, but for those who haven't quite grasped the concept yet it's mostly a question of exposure. So, like our colour orange, now you can find circles all around STA.

We have circle themed crafts and art like trees with fruit, orange pumpkins, and Angry Birds. There are soccer balls, bouncy balls, whiffle balls, therapy balls, even magnetic balls for building. Everything from the clock on the wall, to the carpet we sit on for circle time can give us an opportunity to explore circles.