Adventures in Tutoring

Contact: Erin Jackson 801-376-9765
Located in Spanish Fork, UT

Individual and group tutoring services for students with mild (resource)-severe disabilities.

Speech Therapy for students of all ages.

Preschool services available for children with or without disabilities. Sign up now for fall preschool sessions. Monday, Wednesday, & Friday $75 a month (2 days) $100 a month (3 days). Ages 3-5
In preschool we will work on Zoo-Phonics, beginning numbers, shapes, colors, social skills, behavioral skills, language, communication, fine and gross motor, coloring, writing, cutting, crafts, and music.

Are you worried about your child's progress or regression over the summer months sign up for tutoring to give your kiddos that extra help to put them on the right track for the next school year

Group tutoring with 2-6 students is $15 per hour
Individual tutoring is $25 per hour
Individual tutoring at the child's home starts at $45 per hour
Half Hour Individual tutoring - $15 per half hour

Services Available: Academic Tutoring, Social Skills, Motor Skills both fine and gross motor, Language Skills (speech background), Behavioral Skills (including behavior plans for home/school), Augmentative Communication (PECS-High end Technology) IEP help and support

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Note Must be Written

I had a student that went through a phase of "the note must be written" Each day when he arrived at school he would go over to the drawer with construction paper and pull out pink, always pink. Then in a loud voice say "The Note Must Be Written!" He would write the note and then deliver it to me. The notes varied a little but had the same theme. One said "Miss Jackson to Mars" I read this note aloud and he said "yup" I asked are you sending me to Mars? "yup" I asked why are you sending me to Mars? He laughed maniacally and then said "you need to teach the martians" and looked at me as if he was saying "duh" Another note said "Miss Jackson is an alien" I received this note frequently when he was upset with me. I should have been an adult when I received a note like this was... Nope I then pretended to have antenna coming out of my head and I chased him around the room. What can I say maybe I am an alien... The sweetest note I received was when I was having a difficult day. He wrote, "Miss Jackson sad" He was right I was sad. I read it and about cried he gave me a quick hug and then ran off.  

Ladybug & Smile Face Counting

TEACCH Math Task
This is another task that I placed in the TEACCH system but can easily be used for a math group. You can find colorful notepads at teacher supply stores and office stores. The counters I found at party stores. The smiley face objects are erasers. Stickers can be found at any of the above and also grocery stores and dollar stores. There are 2 ways to increase or decrease the difficulty of this task. Most challenging simply write the number on the paper and then the student places the correct number of objects on the paper. This works on object counting and shows that the student understands that each number actually represents so many items. The second way to complete this task is what is shown in the pictures. Place stickers on the paper for each item. Then the student will match, one sticker equals one object. I always had them point to the number and say the number if they knew what it was before placing the objects on the paper.     

Describing Objects

I forgot about this activity but Susan a prior paraprofessional reminded me. With a small group choose an object something highly common such as a pencil, straw, coin, shirt, paper, desk, TV, couch, etc. Then as a group you come up with ways to describe the object. For example if you chose pencil your list might look something like this: yellow, hard, 5 sides, made of wood, metal, rubber, & lead, sharp, can be colorful, 8" long, used everyday in school, used by students and teachers, helps you complete your work, it becomes shorter the more you use it, it can break, etc. Your task as the adult is to help them through the process. When they say something like the pencils are yellow, write it down but ask are all pencils yellow. This will lead to more clues. Ask the students where and when the items are used. Ask who would use the items. If they become stuck start demonstrating/pantomime different tasks with the items. The pencil is hard so tap it on the board, poke yourself lightly with the sharp end, these will help them generate the language to add to your list. Once the list is complete then pull someone in who was not a part of the group and give them clues. You can have them written on the boards or the students could say them independently or with prompting. If the person is able to tell you what the item is then you did a great job. Describing objects can be challenging because many times students only cover color and texture. This is a way to have them dig deeper. You can bring in things like bigger or smaller than, heavier or lighter than, or other opposites.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


TEACCH stands for "Treatment & Education of Autistic & related Communication Handicapped CHildren"The environment is highly structured with an area designed for independent tasks. Essentially the child has a schedule of tasks that are defined by a picture that they then match to the actual task. Once the task is complete they place the task in a bucket that means finished. This continues until they reach a "star" or other marker that means they are finished and have earned a reward. The program relies heavily on visual learning. This is a very brief overview of TEACCH. Many students in self contained special education classroom settings where the ratio of teachers to students is high become highly prompt dependent and do not learn to work on their own. TEACCH helps to create a structured independent learning environment. The tasks vary depending on the students needs in your classroom. I will continue to show a variety of tasks that range from fine motor, reading, matching, math, and other skills. The first picture is an example of my TEACCH system in my classroom. The second picture is an example of a task. The cards were based on the "ack" word family. Some students were working on reading the words, while others worked on matching the clothespins with letters to the letters on the cards.   

Friday, October 22, 2010

Welcome to Holland

“Welcome to Holland”
by Emily Pert Kingsley

            “I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability–to try to help people understand it, to imagine how it would feel.  It’s like this . . .

            When you’re going to have a baby, it’s like planning a fabulous vacation trip–to Italy.  You buy a bunch of guidebooks and make wonderful plans: The Coliseum, the Michelangelo, David, the gondolas in Venice.  You may learn some handy phrases in Italian.  It’s all very exciting.

            After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives.  You pack your bags and off you go.  Several hours later, the plane lands.  The stewardess comes in and says, ‘Welcome to Holland.’

            ‘HOLLAND?!?’ you say.  ‘What do you mean, Holland?  I signed up for Italy!  I’m supposed to be in Italy.  All my life I’ve dreamed of going to Italy.’

            But there’s been a change in the flight plan.  They’ve landed in Holland and there you must stay.

            The important thing is that they haven’t taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine, and disease.  It’s just a different place.

            So you must go out and buy new guidebooks.  And you must learn a whole new language.  And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

            It’s just a different place.  It’s slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy.  But after you’ve been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills, Holland has tulips.  Holland even has Rembrandts.

            But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy and they’re all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there.  And for the rest of your life, you will say, ‘Yes, that’s where I was supposed to go.  That’s what I had planned.’

            And the pain of that will never, ever, ever go away, because the loss of that dream is a very significant loss.

            But if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn’t get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things about Holland.”

You have made Holland a much more beautiful place!

Hot Glue & Coloring

Coloring within the lines can become a frustrating skill. Some students have greater difficulty seeing the difference in space. Other students have difficulty with controlled wrist movements. No matter the reason there are techniques that can help. Select coloring pages that are simple with thick lines. I would suggest 1 large item on a page work towards 4 items on a page. If the lines are not thick go over them with a marker. Next go over the lines with hot glue. Now when the child colors they will bump into the a physical barrier which over time will slow them down and make them pay more attention to the lines. You can also use hot glue for students that are learning to write. On the lines for writing create hot glue lines. Begin practicing simple lines or zig zags and work up to letters.   

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Trick or Treat

Kids that need practice in social skills should practice trick or treating. You can set up ways to practice by sending your child outside and having them come to the door as if it were Halloween. In school we practiced by visiting other classrooms and the office. Practice various sayings such as "trick or treat" Make sure they remember to say "thank you" Go over other options such as what do you say when somebody comments that they like your costume. This will help your child on the night of Halloween so that they are more prepared socially and with verbal responses.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Five Little Pumpkins

The story "Five Little Pumpkins" illustrated by Dan Yaccarino is a picture book that allows the child to participate in the telling of the story. The text is simple and easy to sequence since you count down from 5. I would recommend reading through the story once. Then have your child create 5 little pumpkins out of paper. These can be glued onto Popsicle sticks to help the child hold them. Together read through the story and act out each page using the pumpkins you have created. Later see how much of the story your child remembers without looking at the picture book. Can they retell using only their pumpkins?  

Crazy Straws - Oral Motor

The ability to suck through different types of straws increases the breath control and general oral motor skills. There are many types of straws from straight to crazy and curvy. A straw that is wide and straight is going to be easier to suck up the liquid, than a straw that is narrow and curvy. Begin with simple and work towards the more difficult straws. Consider the width, length, and amount of curves when buying straws. Another way to create more of a challenge is to change the thickness of the liquid. Things like a milkshake are also more challenging to suck through a straw than water. You can find fun straws at places like party supply stores and grocery stores. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

Vacuum Worship Dance

It is always intriguing the things kids adore. I taught a student for several years that loved vacuums, not loved, worshipped vacuums. He knew where every vacuum was located in the school. While walking down the hallway we would frequently turn around to find him stopped and performing the vacuum worship dance. The vacuum dance was priceless. He bobbed up and down, swayed back and forth, all while making tribal grunting noises. He was a kid that would choose to dance at the vacuum for a prize. He also knew where every vacuum was located in his neighbors houses. He was found many times in neighbors homes performing the vacuum dance unbeknownst to the neighbors.   

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Shaving Cream Fun

Time to get your hands clean...Spray shaving cream on a flat surface like a counter, desk, table, etc. Smear around the cream. You can draw pictures, write letters, spell words, do math problems all in the shaving cream. When playing in shaving cream work on moving all 10 fingers at once, isolated finger movements, try deep pressure along with light pressure. If the child you are working with is resistant to the shaving cream begin with using only one finger and also set a timer so they know when they will be finished. Eventually the shaving cream will rub away the more you work with it, which helps lessen cleanup. Writing in shaving cream is also helpful when learning something new such as letters. The more senses you can bring into learning the quicker a concept will be gained. Writing in shaving cream involves touch, smell, and sight. 

Toothpick Motor

At the grocery store you can buy colored toothpicks. Then save spice containers with the holes in the lid for sprinkling. Now your child can place toothpicks in the containers or sort the toothpicks into different containers based on colors. These skills will help improve dexterity and pincer skills.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rice, Pasta, Beans, and Sand

Sensory needs can be met in many ways and in different environments. In my classroom I had plastic containers that were about 2.5 gallons. I filled these containers with a variety of things you can find at a grocery store. One held rice, another pasta noodles, beans, and finally sand (you can find at craft stores, pet stores, and hardware stores) The students enjoyed simply burying their hands in the various substances, but what made these containers much more fun was burying small objects in each container. You can make a list of things to find in each container such as small plastic figures, animals, dice, pom poms, etc. I have also placed objects in the containers and told the students that the first 5 objects they find they can keep. This is highly motivating and it meets many sensory needs for students that are reluctant to experience new textures. Objects that I place in the containers for prizes include small erasers, stickers, coins, party supply toys, etc. You can add a language component to this sensory experience by having the child place their hands in the container and using only touch, describe what they are touching. They would use words like bumpy, rough, soft, smooth, round, square, big, small, etc. Then they would take their best guess as to what they are feeling.

Runaway Pumpkin

The book called "The Runaway Pumpkin" by Kevin Lewis has fun language to say and to listen to. An excerpt from the story says " 'round and 'round across the ground makin' a thumpin' bumpin' sound" For kids who struggle with language skills this is a fun story to practice speaking. The words tend to roll out of your mouth and yet are challenging. The book has many sounds that work on articulation skills such as "thumpin" the "th" sound is a challenging sound to produce and many times comes out sounding like an "f" This book also includes many rhyming words. You can say the first word of the rhyme and see if the child could come up with a word that rhymes or identify the rhyming word when they hear it read. Clapping the words that rhyme help with identification and even syllable count.   

Leaf Animals and People

The last few weeks in September we talk about why leaves change colors and then we gather up as many varieties of leaves, flowers, grass, and weeds as we can. I read the following 2 picture books: "Look What I Did with a Leaf!" by Morteza E. Sohi and "Leaf Man" by Lois Ehlert. Both of these books show examples of things you can make with leaves. My students enjoyed this activity because they could use their imaginations to create spiders, people, dinosaurs, snakes, fish, dogs, turtles, and much more. To keep your leaves from curling and drying out laminate your art project when you are finished. After the students have created their leaf animal or person I have them write a short paragraph about their picture that is then posted under their project in the hallway.   

Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything

I adore books! Many lessons can be taught with each and every picture book. I do however have some favorites. One favorite book is called "The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything" by Linda Williams. This book has excellent repetition to help kids repeat what they are hearing. There are fabulous words that can become actions such as "clomp clomp, wiggle wiggle, and clap clap" Each year I read this story to my students. Even my quietest students would become vocal trying to say what was happening in the story. We sequenced the story using pictures of the items that followed the little old lady. My art project was to recreate a scarecrow.  

Friday, October 8, 2010

Guess Who - Language Skills

A fabulous game to help improve language skills is the "Guess Who" game. There are now multiple versions of this game available and all are excellent for language. The game allows you and your child to work on asking questions, answering questions, and using deductive reasoning skills. Once a basic understanding of the game is achieved Guess Who is a fun game to play with friends.  

Story - Field Trip Nightmare

I had just started my student teaching, in a high school in Salt Lake. After I had been in the classroom for a few weeks the special education teacher sent me alone with our students, all 16 of them to their job site at Target. These students knew their jobs and worked hard. When it was time to leave we piled on the bus and headed back to school. Once in the classroom I realized that I was missing a student. Oh my stars! How could I have left a student. I was certain that this action alone would get me thrown out of the education program. I told the special education teacher what I had done, she laughed and told me to jump in my car and get back there to pick up the missing student. By now I am freaking out, sweating, and about ready to scream. I walked into Target and there she was still bagging up products. She hadn't even moved. Bless her work ethic and focus. This was the experience that taught me to do multiple head counts on field trips. I never lost a student again.

Pumpkin Carving/Drawing - Fine Motor Tip #3

For some kids it can be difficult to engage them in repetative practice of fine motor skills such as writing. However, carving a pumpking, drawing on a pumpkin, or paintnig a pumpkin is an excellent way to work on fine motor skills and make it seem fun.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Story - Footprints in the Snow

I taught students with significant autism. Just when you think you have things figured out they throw you for a loop. In Utah the snow is unavoidable but most kids like playing in the freshly fallen snow. The first snowfall of the year arrived and with it fear. One student refused to go outside. His communication skills were limited and I could not figure out why he did not want to play in the newly fallen snow. After several days we realized that he was terrified of footprints in the snow. Now tell me how in the world I can avoid footprints at a school all winter long? Lets just say we ran fast.  

Pumpkin Fun - Sensory

Each year my class carved several pumpkins. This was an excellent way to incorporate sensory therapy into an activity.
1. Using only your hands scoop out as much of the inside of the pumpkin as possible.
2. After all the pulp of the pumpkin is on a table squish the sliminess around in your hands.
3. Kids that have a more difficult time touching things like this have them try to sift through the pulp to gather all the pumpkin seeds.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Story - Birthday Candles and Snot

Oral motor skills give us the ability to do many things one of which is the ability to blow through our mouth for things like bubbles or birthday candles. I had a student that had been working long and hard at learning to blow through her mouth. She was making great progress. On her birthday we placed a few candles on her cake and sang "happy birthday" at the end of the song she went to blow out the candles but instead of using her mouth she decided to use her nose. Lets just say more than oxygen came out her nostrils. She was thrilled because at that moment all the cake was hers. Maybe that was her plan all along. 

Crayon Etching Fine Motor Tip #2

October is here and with it comes fun Halloween activities. My favorite art project is crayon etching. Pick some halloween colors such as orange and black and color your art paper from corner to corner. Make sure you color dark and do not leave any white spaces. Then using poster paint (I use black) and 1-2 drops of dish soap mixed in the paint, cover up all the coloring. Once your paint has dried use a paperclip, stick, pen without ink, or other tool to scratch a design into the picture. You could make a haunted house, pumpkin, spider, bat, witch, etc. This project helps strengthen hands and isolates wrist and finger movements.

"Ask me about" Social Skills Tip #1

Social skills are critical for achieving success in life. Make a visual way for others to ask your child questions. For example create a 3x5 card that says "Ask me about..." Or create communication bubbles (you can find the bubbles in the drawing tools in Word) these bubbles would have quick references for topics of conversation. Or you could use photographs to help prompt conversations. Once the above is created work on prompting your child and those he or she interacts with to look at the social prompt for communication. Over time this should increase the success with communication partners.    

Sticky Licking Oral Motor Tip #1

Building oral motor skills is critical because these skills help us talk, eat, and of course pull faces at each other. Spread a sticky substance such as peanut butter, marshmallow cream, Karo syrup, or honey onto a cookie sheet and then using only your tongue lick the yumminess all gone. This will help develop strength along with tongue stability.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Candy & Toothpicks Fine Motor Tip #1

Snack time eat small soft candies such as marshmallows, jellybeans, licorice, gumdrops, etc. Then either pick up the candy using the pointer finger and thumb or hold a toothpick and poke the candy. This will develop stronger isolated finger movements. 

End of an Era

I am embarking on a new adventure. I have quit teaching and will now be moving onto private tutoring along with part time teaching at the University of Utah. Change is scary and wonderful all at the same time.