Fundanoodle and Autism

In honor of National Autism Awareness Month AND National Occupational Therapy Month we’ve asked our Occupational Therapists to tell us how Fundanoodle can be used with children on the Autism Spectrum. We’ve had such amazing feedback from the Autism community and hope to continue to develop those relationships!

“If you’ve met one person with Autism, you’ve only met one person with Autism.”

I love this quote, because we are all individuals with various strengths and weaknesses, it’s what makes the world go around. With that said, while no one person is like another, individuals with Autism do share some of the same strengths, preferences and learning styles.  Keeping that in mind, we are going to explore Fundanoodle, and discover why children who have Autism love it!

We know that children with Autism are better taught visually, because they tend to think in pictures or symbols.  As well, they thrive with consistency and structure.  And, we cannot forget that they are children, so they love to play! Play is an essential part of learning, but sometimes they may need our help interacting, organizing and planning.  Remember, a multi-sensory approach works best.

“If you tell me, I forget

If you show me, I see

If you involve me, I remember.”

Now, let’s explore how Fundanoodle provides these key components, making learning fun and engaging for children who have Autism.

Visual Supports:

  • Colorful pictures and symbols – From the colorful bead patterns and Magna Stix, to the appealing pictures of Max and Alphie’s adventures in the writing tablets, the visual stimuli is engaging, yet not too busy.
  • Familiar symbols such as “Stop” and “Go” signs provide starting and stopping points for letter formation.
  • Some children with Autism read very well and use Max’s written directions to form the letters, thus promoting independence with handwriting.

Structure and Consistency:

Our recommended multi-sensory approach to handwriting includes three steps:

  1. Build the letter with the colorful, resistive MagnaStix.
  2. Write the letter on the dry-erase board or in a tactile media such as cornstarch or flour.
  3. Perfect it on paper using the visual supports and guidelines that progress from boxes, to green and red top and baselines, to traditional, three-lined paper.

The Action Words used to depict the strokes are carried throughout the program, from the large floor pads designed for three year olds, all the way through upper case, lower case and cursive instruction.

Play:

Make time for fun and learning! Fundanoodle affords the opportunity to play for kids of all ages!

  • Get their “wiggles out” and promote proprioceptive and vestibular input, with Fundanoodle’s Muscle Mover Cards.  This is a great multi-sensory activity to address both large and fine motor movements.  Once your child performs the action on one side of the card, she can flip it over and write the letter on the opposite side of the card with a dry-erase marker. The Muscle Mover Cards are great to use in conjunction with the “letter of the day”.  So, if you are working on the letter S, she’ll slither like a snake over to the table, where she’ll then form the letter S with the MagnaStix, write it on the dry-erase board, and then in the writing tablet.  Some of the animal actions are great for your sensory seekers, while others work to calm and organize those children who may have sensitivities.
  • The I Can Bead, Lace, Rip, Trace Kit is full of hours of fun!  They won’t even know that they are hard at work improving their visual motor and fine motor skills, as well as organizing, planning and sequencing! It promotes nice tactile exploration, too!
  • I Can Pound Activity Block is the ultimate experience for promoting play, while developing critical skills! This is a favorite among the children that I work with!  The patterns range from pictures, to letters of the alphabet to numbers.  Demonstrate pounding a colored peg into the “dot” on the pattern and then have him pound away to create a colorful picture.  Many times, I will use this in an obstacle course or during a sensory break.  The pegs might be placed at one side of the room and the block is placed at the other side of the room.  He might get a peg, and crawl like a worm over pillows and through a tunnel to get to the board, where he then pounds the peg into the pattern. Or, because children with Autism do respond well to pictures, we might use the Muscle Mover Cards to imitate an action as we move from one side of the room to the other to get to the pounding block. The rote action of pounding, combined with the resistive nature of the block tends to be very calming for children with Autism.  This is a great activity to put in your cozy corner at school or home.

No two children are alike, but all children love Fundanoodle!  We make learning FUN!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Don’t forget to enter our Favorite OT contest on Facebook. Michelle has our vote! :)

Come Play With Max & Alphie This Summer!

We know many of you parents are busy planning your summer already and what better way to get your little monkeys back in school mode than with our FUN and interactive Handwriting Camps?! Held in early August, our camps are the perfect transition back to school while still being a fun Summertime experience your kids will love!

Come-Play-the-Write-Way_Summer-Camp2014_Ad I-Can-Write-Cursive_Boot-Camp2014_Ad

You can register for both camps on our website or by downloading the forms below:

Come Play the Write Way_Summer Camp2014_Flyer
I Can Write Cursive_Boot Camp2014_Flyer

For more information please fill out the form below!

One thing our OT’s cannot live without!

My Favorite Activities in Max & Alphie’s Adventures! Activity Book 3

I spend a good portion of my time with school-aged children, both at the clinic and at schools throughout Charlotte.  My Tuesdays are spent outside of the clinic at four different schools. Going into and out of schools all day long, requires compact packing and planning ahead.  While I’m always look for fun and complex treatment activities, I must also be able to carry my bag into the schools, and I make it a point to do it in one trip!  You can be assured that my bag is full of Fundanoodle, but lately, there’s a standout that I just love using!!!

15293 Adventure Book 3

There are two activities within the Activity Book 3 (intended for Kindergarten to first graders) that are so important for children’s development, and I use them with most of my kids!

The first are the pages that have the children draw the other half of the picture. While this seems like a “paper and pencil” task, or what we might call a visual motor skill, it also develops math skills!  The student learns symmetry, equal parts and understanding the concept of “half” as they work to finish the picture.  As well, as an OT, it helps to develop an important visual perceptual skill that we call visual closure.  Visual closure is the ability to visualize or identify a whole picture or object when only a partial representation is given. In writing, visual closure is important for spacing letters and words.  It also helps us identify an object when it is partially covered up.  For instance, when we’re looking for a particular item of clothing in a drawer or a piece of paper in a messy desk.

The second activity that I love is Connecting the Dots to copy a design.  Each square contains 12 dots that are connected in different ways by straight vertical, horizontal or diagonal lines to form a design.  Next to it, is a box of 12 dots, and the student connects the dots to form the same picture.  This is a great activity to promote visual motor coordination and visual spatial relationships.  The student gains an understanding of directional concepts such as up, down, left and right as she finds the spatial coordinates of where to start and stop her line.  She must visualize and motor plan where to start and stop and guide her pencil.  If you find your student struggles with this activity, a geoboard could be another fun way to address these skills.

Oh, and I can’t go without mentioning the visual scanning pages, too.  You know, the ones where they circle some items and cross out others?  So good for learning to move the eyes smoothly from left to right, like we do when we read.  Let’s be honest, I’d be lost without my “green” Activity Book 3!

Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

Buy Max & Alphie’s Adventures Activity Book 3 HERE!

Muscle Mover Monday…Uppercase V

Start your week with Fundanoodle’s award-winning Muscle Mover cards! Children can act out the movement from the cards to get the wiggles out, and then the fun continues by tracing the letter on the back of the dry erase card. Make sure to continue the blended learning by encourage the child to say the stroke movement out loud when they practice forming the letter.

Today’s letter is Uppercase V!

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Fly like a vampire bat!

V_Vampire bat

Therapist Thursday……SNOW PLAY

This is a re post about fun snow activities from January 3, 2013.

by: Amy Bumgarner, OTR/L

This is part one of a Therapist Thursday blog about fun sensory and fine motor activities. Whether or not you have the white stuff on the ground, let’s talk about ways to bring S-N-O-W inside!   This activities are great if you have little ones home under-the-weather, are going stir crazy indoors or just do not get the chance to see the snow for real! Who’s ready to play in the snow????

*Pour some salt on a cookie sheet and let your kids have fun drawing pictures, practicing letters, or writing words.  This provides a great sensory experience and a different way to get those hands ready for writing.

snow pic1

*Insta-Snow! Buy this product online here, at a dollar store, or in a toy store, and have snow in minutes! To make it feel more like snow use super cold water in the mixture.  Then, let your kids have fun digging for treasures (e.g. bouncy balls, jacks, Little People, miniature animals, coins etc.) in the snow, scooping the snow from one container to another (provide different sizes for added challenge) an, or writing in the snow.

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*A sensory bin with snow balls!  Fill a plastic bin with cotton balls and then add some fun trinkets (cookie cutters, glitter, colored pom poms, ornaments, small figurines) and some scoops (an ice cream scoop is fun).  Let your child have fun playing in the snow village.    See what he or she can find in the sensory bin and then ask your child to create a story from the items discovered!
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And you didn’t even have to put on a snowsuit to have this much fun in the snow!

Did You Know?

7 Fun Facts About Handwriting
by Michelle Yoder, OTR/L

  1. Four year olds who have strong handwriting skills are more likely to succeed academically in elementary school.
  2. Experts recommend 15 minutes of handwriting instruction every day!
  3. The Declaration of Independence is written in a type of handwriting called “Roundhand”.
  4. Cognitive development and motor functioning are enhanced during handwriting instruction and practice.
  5. Cursive writing is on the moon!  The signatures of Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins, Edwin Aldrin, Jr. and President Richard M. Nixon are on a plaque on the moon!
  6. Handwriting instruction shouldn’t just be for young children because the fine motor skills associated with handwriting are not fully developed until the age of 10!
  7. 30-60% of an elementary student’s day is spent performing fine motor and handwriting activities!

Share these fun facts with your children and ask them what they would write on the moon! We would love to hear their answers…share them here, on Facebook or on Twitter at @Fundanoodle! And check out the moon story papers we pinned on Pinterest!

Muscle Mover Monday…Uppercase X

Start your week with Fundanoodle’s award-winning Muscle Mover cards! Children can act out the movement from the cards to get the wiggles out, and then the fun continues by tracing the letter on the back of the dry erase card. Make sure to continue the blended learning by encourage the child to say the stroke movement out loud when they practice forming the letter.

Today’s letter is Uppercase X!

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Hop to the Top

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Fundanoodle by Carolina Pad Upper Case X letter writing.

Swim like an x-ray fish!

Fundanoodle by Carolina Pad muscle mover Swim like an X-ray fish.

Teacher Tuesday…..National Handwriting Day

As you know, Thursday is National Handwriting Day.  (Don’t forget today is the LAST day to enter our contest.)  Here are a few of our favorite tips to helping your child or student improve their handwriting or make practice more fun!

1-PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!!!

Your child can practice handwriting ANYwhere!  While driving from one after school activity to another use the Fundanoodle Muscle Mover cards for your kid(s) to trace letters.

Have your child spell his/her spelling words in the air, practicing the correct way to form each letter.

 

2-Use fun writing utensils.

Is it a battle to get your child to practice handwriting, or do you hear groans from your students when it’s handwriting practice time in class?  Try using “new, special, or fun” writing utensils.  It’s very easy to find fun writing utensils at discount stores that can make handwriting practice FUN and not a chore!

 

3-Give your child a choice.

Let your child choose from 3 or 4 different handwriting activities.  Giving your child some ownership in the activity will make it easier for him/her to want to complete the activity.  If you don’t have several activities to choose from, have them choose the order on the worksheets.  (Who says you HAVE to start at the top and go to the bottom?)

 

Muscle Mover Monday….Uppercase U

Start your week with Fundanoodle’s award-winning Muscle Mover cards! Children can act out the movement from the cards to get the wiggles out, and then the fun continues by tracing the letter on the back of the dry erase card. Make sure to continue the blended learning by encourage the child to say the stroke movement out loud when they practice forming the letter.

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Buzz Up

Zip up

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Gallop like a Unicorn.

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Therapist Thursday…..Why WRITE?

by: Amy Bumgarner

In prep for National Handwriting Day, I could not help but think about why Fundanoodle is here.

So why teach handwriting? Is it really necessary for children to have the “best” handwriting, when so many schools are providing tablets, computers, and homework is done online? Of course, the occupational therapist in me, says “YES!” But, there is more to handwriting than just it being a motor skill that is important for development.

I was talking with a co-worker this week about the importance of teaching prewriting strokes to toddlers.  There are so many different schools of thought on what early intervention (including occupational therapy) should look like.  Some believe that early intervention should focus on the child in his/her natural environment and the daily routine of the family.  LOVE this concept, but unfortunately it can cause some skills to fall through the cracks.  If a parent is focused on communication and feeding, then when do we address the other skills of development.  It can leave an occupational therapist in a sticky place.  I firmly believe that children should be exposed to and master the basic prewriting strokes including, horizontal lines, vertical lines, circles, diagonals, and then begin putting these strokes together to form more complex shapes.  And, a lot of parents look at me and say “why.” In my mind, it is simple…

These strokes are the basis of drawing. How many of you have your walls and refrigerators covered with your children’s art work?  And, we always think it is more beautiful than do.  So, why not teach basic prewriting strokes just to facilitate creative expression.

These strokes are the premises of every letter of the alphabet.  So, maybe your child can type lengthy stories, but I want to see my child write his or her name on his artwork.  It is their signature, it is who they are.

And beyond just basic drawing and writing, handwriting is so important for

  • Increasing your child’s confidence in the classroom
  • There are actually still jobs that require handwriting
  • Technology does fail us at times, and our children need to be able to keep up and have a backup plan
  • Fostering self-expression.  I can remember every year of middle school and high school my handwriting changed.  It was just another way to show I was changing.  I loved playing around with the letters and putting my special touch on it.
  • As a child is more fluid in handwriting, it makes retrieval of knowledge much easier because he/she is not focusing on the actual formation of the letter.

So, have fun teaching your child all the skills he or she needs for handwriting.  Fundanoodle is a great resource for kids of all ages!