Thursday, April 14, 2011

Honoring Autism Awareness Month with Move to Learn, Learn to Move

S-O-S Research is hosting an awesome review and giveaway bonanza beginning tomorrow in honor of Autism Awareness month and, while I have hardly been organized enough to get a giveaway together here at THH for it, I somehow find time to put together the Autistic Like one over at OJTA, which is included along with some other great giveaways and reviews there that you'll have to check out.

I also wanted to reprise and update a review I wrote months ago of a book that I keep finding myself taking out of the library -- one that is great for home educators, playgroup leaders, co-op teachers. classroom teachers, and, I believe, even therapists seeking some themed ideas:

Learn to Move, Move to Learn: Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity ThemesLearn to Move, Move to Learn! Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity Themes by Jenny Clark Brack

* * * * 1/2 

Looking for lesson plans for sensorimotor activities?  Brainstorming sensory diet activities to match various seasonal, nature, holiday and other themes?  Just looking for some background and new ideas?  Learn to Move, Move to Learn! might be a good book for you!  Written by a pediatric occupational therapist with over 14 years’ experience in school settings, as well as experience presenting nationally on sensory integration, handwriting, learning disabilities, ADD and learning-related visual deficits, and published by the Autism Aspberger Publishing Company, Learn to Move, Move to Learn! offers a host of tried-and-true concrete, themed ideas for early childhood educators in a ready-to-go lesson plan format that both school educators and parents can draw from.  In addition, it provides information on planning activities and adapting them to different children’s needs, as well a host of useful checklists and resource lists.

Learn to Move, Move to Learn! easily earns a star for Readability with wide margins, relatively large fonts, cute graphics and a great format.  A comprehensive table of contents guides readers easily to just the information they might be looking for.  Chapters on “Overview of Sensory Systems”, “School Readiness Skills”, “Program Structure”, “Adaptations”, “Dynamic Problem Solving”, “Planning” and “Lesson Themes” quickly provide readers with a variety of information they might seek – both theoretical (but easy to read!) and practical (in plenty!).  Also, there is a quality selected Biography and a resource list of companies that provide sensory equipment, supplies, books and website addresses that relate to the books themes.  Plus, an Appendix with a “Signs and Symptoms of Sensory Integration/Processing Dysfunction” checklist, a number of “Progress Data Collection Forms”, a “Lesson Planning Form”, an illustrated list of “Definitions of Positions Mentioned in Lessons”, a list of “Recommended Children’s Books” and over 25 pages of large black-and-white drawings/patterns that can be used with lessons round out browsing pleasure.  Read cover-to-cover or browsed as needed, Learn to Move, Move to Learn! is definitely an easy to navigate and digest book!  (I read it while the kids did activities and/or laid on my lap and shoulder.)

As one can imagine just from reading its chapter titles, this book also provides plenty of Relevant information.  I loved how it helped me wrap my head around how easy it is to make traditional lesson plans and activities into quality sensory integration ones through an easy to follow (and duplicate!) sensory integration, theme-and literature-based, transdisciplinary, inclusive model.  The lesson format the book presents is simple yet comprehensive.  It includes:
  • a Warm Up, introducing the lesson theme and including things such as story reading, simple songs, finger plays and action songs
  • a theme-related Vestibular activity that might include rolling, spinning, galloping, running, hopping, skipping, jumping, crab walking, bear walking, scooter board work, obstacle navigation or the like
  • a theme-related Proprioceptive activity that might include lifting, carrying, passing, pushing or pulling heavy objects, making “kid sandwiches”, jumping or Theraband stretching
  • a theme-related Balance activity to build on the foundation of an integrated vestibular and proprioception system that might include balance beam work, walking on a hula-hoop, jump rope or strip of tape, playing balance games, doing kid yoga or working on balance boards
  • a theme-related Eye-Hand Coordination exercise, such as throwing and catching, using balls, balloons and bubbles or throwing something at a target, to help with mastery of such purposeful skills as cutting on a line, stringing beads and reproducing letters, shapes and numbers
  • a theme-related Cool Down activity, such as a relaxation exercise, simple songs, finger plays or story time, to foster a “just right” alertness level in preparation for the final lesson activity
  • a Fine Motor task, related to the theme, of course, that might include art with a focus on process, making a snack, cutting and gluing, coloring, drawing or some sort of a tactile activity

This plan format, although it may seem “heavy” or “difficult” to put together and carry out at first glance, seems quite do-able after browsing the plethora of concrete lesson examples included in the book.  Truly, after reading Learn to Move, Move to Learn!, planning lessons in the format becomes almost second-nature.  Thus, for the lesson format and concrete plans alone (and, trust me, there was plenty more I found relevant, worthy of “doing now” or “thinking abut later” in the book!), Learn to Move, Move to Learn! earns its Relevance star hands down.  It certainly has helped me see how simple the seemingly complicated task of integrating sensory learning into everyday life with my children can be – formal lessons or none!

With this in mind, Learn to Move, Move to Learn! earns a Practicality star from me, too.  I have already tried out some of the activities included in it with my children, plan to eventually make some activity choice cards based on the illustrated definitions of positions in the book’s Appendix, and have found the book has only added to my “Oo, I can do that!” list, not my “lost in theory jungle” mire.  Truly, I found the book packed with ideas for easy, steps to take towards creating opportunities for rich, fun sensory-integrated activities based on themes with the kids!  In fact, I have used it multiple times since discovering it. 

Among other things, the books inspired the puddle jumping activity that was a part of my Sensory and Skills Spring Activity Bags, was the inspiration for our Sensorimotor Fun for A Snowy Day and is a resource I am turning to in order to plan some upcoming play days and co-op experiences.  I simply love it!

For me, with a five-year-old, a three-year-old and a nine-month-old, the book definitely earns a Longevity star, too, but for all, perhaps it should only get a half-star.  For while I have definitely ordered it form our local library time and time again -- and still have it on my to-buy list -- since the seasonal and typical theme topic for learning activities in it are so great, I realize that for others, once the lesson plan format is digested, the themed lessons culled and the Appendix used, the book might not have as much staying power.  In essence, for homeschoolers and parents with kids leaving their early education stage or educators with classes that rotate in age from year to year, the book might not be so useful in the long run, but those with young ones, like me, as well as for home daycare and preschool owners, early childhood specialists, early elementary school teachers, camp staff and therapists who work with young children regularly, the book would be a great addition to their more permanent shelves.

As for Value, I think for its ease of use, rich information, variety of activities and well-researched and tested ideas the book is one that would be worth a purchase.  Granted, with our budget being what it is, I have simply been trading off with other readers in borrowing it regularly from the library, but, when I get some money together, I would still love to purchase it and other Jenny Clark Brack's other stuff - like her CD which I would love to hear!  
You can learn more about Jenny and her materials and get some great info at her site SPD Connection.

Learn to Move, Move to Learn! Sensorimotor Early Childhood Activity Themes by Jenny Clark Brack is definitely: worth a lengthy look, if not a purchase.  Enjoy it! 

A few more you titles might like that I have reviewed are:

Growing an In-Sync Child, Sensory Integration:  A Guide for Preschool Teachers and Starting Sensory Integration Therapy.

(Just click on the titles above and you'll find the reviews.)

Also, please share some of your favorite related titles in the comments section, so I can check them out.  I am a resource junkie!


Anonymous said...

Wow - you sure liked this book! Thanks so much for promoting a publication by an OT. Our profession is still so misunderstood.

Barbara, OT

Heather said...

This looks terrific. There is definitely a need for this kind of resource at our school - a way of better integrating movement studies on purpose into the day.


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