Peaceable Kingdom's cooperative game Engineering Ants is a great game for small groups (2-3 students) and a really good fit for twice exceptional students who are good with their hands but struggle with games that require cooperation or extended attention. The sweet spot for age is second through 4th grade. This is a game that students will play multiple times, but not typically in a row.
This game is centered around the concept that the ants need to invent gadgets to avoid a series of obstacles while they outrace the anteater. There are three ants that need rescuing around the board and the players roll a dice with numbers or an anteater head on it. If you get the anteater, he moves closer to the ant hill (if he makes it there you lose as a group). If you get a number, you move that many spaces- but watch out for obstacles like snakes, spiders, or poison ivy! If you hit an obstacle you must create an invention to get over, under, around, or through.
You can make your speech therapy friends happy and have each player explain their invention and convince the other players that it is the appropriate solution for the obstacle. Or, if you are working on self regulation with peers you can have each player add something to the invention, then pass it on. The therapist gets to be the final say on if the invention would work in that scenario.
I have thought about replacing the cardboard and plastic pieces with real items like Lego wheels, springs from pens, batteries, string, etc for my older students. What would you include in an invention kit? Tell us in the comments.
This game says only available at Target, but as with most things, you can purchase it on Amazon if you click here (affiliate link- meaning if you buy through this link we get a small profit at no extra cost to you).
This escape room was co-facilitated by our favorite speech therapist, Ms. Sweet of Sweet Speech Therapy. This one was a very quick concept and set up- we grabbed the supplies and thought it through for about 15 min beforehand, and then one person set it up with the other went over the two topics with the group. We completed the activity with a group of eight 3rd-5th grade students. The goal was to introduce them to the concept of the 4 color zones, introduce the concept of expected and unexpected behaviors, and have them practice by placing examples of faces/emotions (from the Zones workbook) and behaviors (from teachers pay teachers based off the Social Thinking program) into the proper category.
We set up the gym with an area of "the river" (cones surrounding unrolled blue yoga mats) that they had to travel on "boats" (scooter boards) to collect social skills challenges, keys in a few easy screw open containers, and the face/emotions and behavior cards. The other area was the "plains" next to the river where they could go freely doing an animal walk of their choice (they chose mostly bear walks, frog jumps, or crawling) to collect scattered face/emotion and behavior cards. They could bring back only one at a time. We passed out keys to students who were placing items in the right category, we saw working as a team, or if they completed a social skills challenge. (Pink post it notes)
From left to right: plains for animal walks with scattered cards, river for scooter boards, and sorting emotions into category of "green zone"
below: social skills challenges (these were hidden in easy to open containers around the room, like a fake hollow book)
left: treasure chest with Lakeshore Learning Locks
right: thought bubbles and expected/ unexpected/ zones categories
Everyone is headed back to school, but summer colors are still out in the forest.
Here is a short mindfulness activity that can be done during any transition. The goal of this activity is to observe and notice things around you that are the colors of the rainbow, in rainbow order (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet). When I do this on my own walks, I repeat as many times as the walk allows. With children three times through the rainbow without repeating objects is a good start, and can be expanded or shortened depending on age and diagnosis/attention span.
These pictures are from a rainbow walk in the woods, but this can be done in hallways, the car, or walking to school.
Today with 4 middle school students and 30 minutes we were able to successfully complete a second round of a handwriting heavy escape room- this time with a Zombie theme. If you are interested in a free detailed tutorial to create your own OT escape room, please see our resources page.
Easy activity to develop fine motor dexterity and use up your piles of silly bands. Put some silly bands in a clean plastic jar. Sit in a circle with the children you want to participate. Have the first child unscrew the lid of the jar, reach in and get a band, loop it around the outside of the jar, screw the lid back on, and then pass it to the next person in the circle.
Make an Ocean Bottle (blue) or a Lava Bottle (red)! Pick an empty bottle (we used the baby oil bottle because it has a kid resistant lid, but any bottle will do) and fill it halfway with baby oil. Next, you will fill it close to the top with water. We made the kids do this part with an eye dropper to work on their pincer grasp. When they started to complain we gave them a “boost” with a turkey baster. When they got enough water in their bottle, they were allowed to pick red/yellow food coloring for a “lava” bottle or blue/green food coloring for an “ocean” bottle. The adults put the food coloring in or heavily supervised the kiddos putting it in. Then you put the lid on, or hot glue it on if it is not a child resistant lid, shake it up, and enjoy!
Important note: Baby oil is VERY DANGEROUS and OFTEN DEADLY when inhaled or ingested. Please supervise children when working around baby oil. The adults handled all of the baby oil and insured that the lids were closed and sealed, and that the kids understood that they were not to open their bottles.
Brain Break List
Spin x 3
20 Jumping Jacks
Follow the Leader
Repeat after me song
10 Ball explosions
Sign Language ABC’s
Shake your Blues Away
Hop on one foot
Over, Under, around and Through
Jumps x 10
Shake your body Song
Jog in place
Stop Drop and Roll
Play air guitar
Knee Lifts x 10
March in Place
Yoga Do Nothing Doll
A homemade chart for helping children self-regulate, based off of the excellent Zones of Regulation and Alert Program.
* The child this chart was done for a young child who mainly has problems with a “high engine”. You could include a ’ ___ makes my engine higher’ section for a child with different needs, or "tools to change my zone" with older children.
Ms Amy has 10 years of experience as an OT and believes in educating the community to empower parents and teachers to recognize the difference between typical and atypical development and sharing creative ideas to facilitate age appropriate skills. She wants to be a resource for children and families of all abilities.