It's been a while since I've done one of these, but I've got a couple of goodies to share.
The first one is a huge hit, and has been rather a long time coming. It's a 3-ring binder full of laminated photos, for picture communication. I first talked about laminating photos back in October, in a post called "Choices". That's when we started using photos of everyday objects (mostly food and playthings) to offer an alternative to spoken language for labeling things. We've been moving toward having Joy be able to select and give someone a photo card as a form of request. But for several months, we just had the cards in loose piles at home. At daycare each card had a hole-punch in the corner, so they could be threaded onto a ring and kept together in that way.
The photo communication has now become a more central part of Joy's formal House Blend goals, so over the holiday I put the binder together. It's a velcro-and-manila-folder project (see Both Hands and a Flashlight for some games based on a similar concept!) Each laminated photo gets a little square of stick-on velcro tape (the soft fuzzy side so it doesn't stick to carpet and clothes) on the back. Each page of the binder can hold four photos on a side, so four corresponding velcro bits (the prickery-burr side).
The binder pages are organized by categories: Food & Drink, Upstairs Toys, Downstairs Toys, Outdoor Toys. Next addition will be an Actions section: jumping, tickling, pillow squish, etc.
Then the front of the binder has two strips of the burr-side velcro. Here's how it looks at snack time:
As you can see, there's a lineup of three cards stuck to the binder, corresponding to the three parts of snack that are sitting before her: bunny crackers, drink, and raisins. To get a small helping of any of the three, Joy has to grab the corresponding photo, rip it off the velcro, and hand it to an adult. At the beginning of snack, I also use it with just two photos to give her a choice of which grain-option to have: bunny crackers or pretzels? Kix or Cheerios? Then once she's made that choice, we go to the three-card setup.
Joy is really shining with using the photos, particularly at snack-time. She does love her food, and will make requests again and again. Often we have to cut her off when the number of helpings gets ridiculous, which sometimes even prompts her to make a "more" sign or say a "mah" word! (Yes, we do reward her for that. One final helping before the snack goes away for real.)
I made a similar binder for daycare, velcro-ing all the photos from the rings into a binder so she'd have similar structure for photo choices. This, so far, has been a bit of a miss, in that the photos-on-a-ring were such a useful handy way of using the photos (at least for labelling), that they miss it now that I've slapped all the photos in the binder! Perhaps a duplicate set of photos is in order, at least for the most useful of the ring photos.
Next up is a common kiddy toy, cardboard box-blocks, that we got handed down to us from a friend. Joy is still learning the whole tower-stacking thing, so these were a neat find. What makes them "home-made" was a suggestion from Joy's lead therapist, who observed that the boxes can be opened up, and if you fill them with some weight, you can get a bit more sensory bang out of them.
So here's what we did.
There are two usable compartments within each block. We filled each compartment with a ziplock sandwich baggie full of wood fuel-stove pellets, two eight-ounce baggies per block for a finished product with an extra pound of weight in a block. Rose helped me fill the baggies and weigh them on a kitchen food-scale. We had the wood-stove pellets easily available because we use them in the bunny litterboxes, but dried pinto beans or gravel or such would work well too.
Hmmm. Have I ever posted about bunnies? I may need to do that at some point.