19 Sep 2013

Educational SEN Resources

Educational SEN Resources

I am a Lecturer in the SLDD Department of South Staffordshire College, I teach Life Skills, Literacy and Numeracy to a wide range ages all with different needs.

Recently I have been planning my resources for the coming academic year and looked around for new and innovative products that would stimulate my learners.

Bananagrams  PEARSinPAIRS (rrp £15.99)

Pears in Pairs is a word game consisting of good quality letter tiles in a pear shaped bag.  The letter tiles are fun way for children to develop cognitive skills while learning word construction.

We used the game in groups of 2 - 4 learners for a variety of games.

The aim of the game is to create words that cross through each other from the tiles that you have been given, the first player to create so many crossed words is the winner.  You can gain points by only using tiles with the same pattern on them, although we haven't used this part of the game yet.

I have also used these tiles in the classroom to play 'countdown' style games by giving the learners 11 tiles that they can move around to see how many words they can make out of the letters.  I found that by using the tiles they were more inclined to join in as some find it difficult to just have the letters written on paper.  It also gave me an opportunity to give different learners different letters to prevent 'cheating'.

The tiles are sturdy and well made, my learners said that they liked the feel of the tiles and how they clink together.  They were also very impressed with the pear shaped bag, although they did sometimes struggle a little to fit all the tiles back into it.

We have also used it to help with letter recognition and pairing for lower level learners, plus creating words such as their name with or without prompting.

Aimed at age 3+ This is the kind of resource that can be used over and over, it is stimulating and educational.  The word building game has appealed to learners from age 16 to 50 in my classes, all enjoyed the game, or gave the game their own twist if they were struggling.

All products in the Bananagrams range are available to on the High Street at independent toy and book stores as well as John Lewis, WH Smith, Waterstones, a range of supermarkets and www.winningmoves.com/shop. 

For more information, visit www.bananagrams.com

SeeSaw IPad Stand from Griffin 

We are encouraged to use ILT in the classroom, we have the interactive white boards but for some learners it is too far away for them to see.
Computers are good in the classroom but learner in wheelchairs (unless sitting at specially adapted desks) cannot always reach the mouse or keyboard.

IPads are a valuable resource to the classroom, their are Apps for all ages and abilities plus with the touch screen nearly all learners can interact with them.

There is one massive problem with IPads and that it they are very easy to drop, break and they lay flat on the desk unless you have a stand for them to sit on.

The SeeSaw Stand from Griffin fits the bill for solving a number of problems for the IPad.  The IPad fits snugly inside the tough foamy-plastic case.  This is soft to the touch and brightly coloured.  It has a space that can be used as a handle and even while inside the case you can reach all ports for charging, volume, headphones etc....

Inside the case is strengthening sections, it is very lightweight but not hollow.  I haven't chucked the IPad and SeeSaw case on the floor as although sturdy the IPad isn't mine to throw about, but I feel the SeeSaw would protect the IPad if dropped a little more than if dropped without a case.

An excellent feature of the stand is that it can be sat on a desk portrait or landscape, this helps with all learners as bending over the desk to read or play can make your neck ache after a while, plus pairs or groups of learners can all see the screen at the same time.

At the back of the SeeSaw is also a space to fit a stylus, this is useful if your learners prefer to use a stylus rather than their finger and it stops sticky finger prints all over the screen.

SeeSaw (compatible with iPad generations 2, 3 & 4) is available in pool blue or citron for £29.99 at store.griffintechnology.com/seesaw-for-ipad-2-3-4th-gen

Pencil Stylus No.2

For years people have used the No.2 yellow pencils at school and home, if you asked someone to draw a pencil they would probably draw you a hexagonal shaped yellow pencil.

The No.2 Pencil Stylus feels like a pencil, it is the same weight and size.  Like any good stylus, Griffin's No. 2 Pencil Stylus gives you more than just fingertip control as you write, sketch, tap and gesture on your iPad, iPhone, or other touchscreen. The soft rubber tip is designed to mimic your finger, but, unlike your finger, it keeps your touchscreen free of fingerprints and smudges.

The Pencil Stylus will not fit into the back of the SeeSaw stand from Griffin, but because it is hexagonal it will not roll off the desk and looks cool in your pocket (or behind your ear like a builder!).

My daughter loves the No.2 Pencil Stylus as she loves to draw, she said that it gives good control when drawing on the IPad (she has the IPad Mini), better than regular styluses.

No. 2 Pencil Stylus is available for £19.99 at store.griffintechnology.com/no-2-pencil-stylus-for-touchscreens.  

3M Post-it Notes

3M Post-it Notes have been around for years, they used to be used to take notes by the phone or to stick on the fridge when you run out of milk.  These days 3M Post-it Notes are used for all sorts of uses, particularly in the classroom.
3M Post-it Notes come in all different shapes and sizes.   I like to use these shapes to liven up my marking and feedback on the learners work.  The shapes and colours are striking and are very positive for the learner to receive on their work.  We used to give stars and stickers for good work, now we can write on a star shaped post-it note to show how good the work is, or if more needs to be added then an arrow shape or speech mark can be used to give tips and hints.
I also like to use 3M Post-it Notes during class discussions.  I hand out blocks of Super Sticky Post-it Notes around the room and ask the learners to discuss in small groups different topics.  I use the Super Sticky as these stick better on the white board when they group comes back together to share their answers.
I also like to photocopy their answers and give all learners a copy for their work book.  I find the Super Sticky can be stuck onto paper after being displayed onto a greasy board so that they can be moved to the photocopier.
Thought showers, ideas, quiz answers and even a 'voice' to shy learners can all be enhanced with 3M Post-it Notes.  Some learners do not like to call out answers, they prefer to write down their ideas.  3M Post-it Notes are brilliant for showing if a learner requires help or support by sticking different colours to the edge of the desk (Pink I need Help, Orange I am OK, Green I am fine), this gives a visual insight for the teacher or support worker without having to ask, check or miss a learner who doesn't like to show they are struggling.

I love 3M Post-it Notes!!  They are a major part of my lessons.  I even allow the learners to use the shapes on posters (sometimes they need a little glue on the back unless you use the 'full adhesive' styles) to give their work more pizazz!! 

For more information and ideas please visit www.3m.co.uk  or follow @3m_uk on Twitter.

Command Brand Damage Free Hanging

In my classroom we have a lot of displays and wall space.  Some are on pinboards where I can attach work with a staple gun, but other areas are smooth surfaces.

In the past I have refrained from using these areas as if the items fall off in the middle of the night (which is what happens when using sticky tack) the falling item will set off the alarm calling the police.

Command hooks and picture hanging kits are different.  They are really strong and unlike sticky pads they do not mark the surface if you want to remove them.

I have used the hooks on the back of the classroom door to allow the painting aprons to be hung up, this makes it easier for the learners to fetch their apron, they dry quicker (even after being washed, I just hang them back up to dry) and also as they are always in the classroom it reminds the learners to actually wear them.

I am planning to use the picture hanging strips on clipboards.  On the clipboards we can display ideas to create a daily changing display area or just store the boards for use during lessons.  I haven't had chance to clear a good sized area or buy 'nice' clipboards yet, but this is in the pipeline.  

The strips are strong enough that the learners will be able to take down and replace the boards without the worry of the whole lot coming down or the learners catching themselves or clothing on nails hammered into the wall.

When I have created my clipboard display I will post a photo to show what it looks like and update on if it has worked the way I wanted it too.

Command products are available from: Amazon.co.uk, Asda, B&Q, Homebase, Robert Dyas, Ryman, Sainsbury's, Staples, Tesco, WHSmith and 3MDirect.co.uk

Please visit www.commandstrips.co.uk for more information and ideas for uses.

Dockside Reading Scheme

Dockside is an accessible, but tightly structured, new reading scheme that builds confidence and motivates even the most 'switched-off' beginner or catch-up reader.

Each level has a set of books and worksheets that compliment the stories. They look at word matching, word building, repeating phrases and words to build confidence.

I gave three of my learners a book each and the sheets that went with the book.  Two of the learners go stuck in and started reading, a little slow, but they managed it.
The third was really trying to not do the work, making up excuses etc.... about reading the book "Its for babies!" and "Urrggghh reading! I had enough of that at school!".
I took the learner aside and sat in another room with him, it turned out that he could barely read (do not fear, this is a new lad who has only just joined the college).  Together we read the book and I talked through the worksheets with him until he was happy to continue alone.
At the end of the session I collected in everyone's work and he was still scribbling away, he wanted to finish the sheet before the end of the lesson!!

 The books are based on teenagers and the antics they get up too.  The illustrations are like large comic style, one scene per page with little text and repetitive words.

Each set of books come with a set of worksheets and a CDRom.  The worksheets are literacy based and have good sized text with simple instructions.  The company have remembered that if the learner is struggling to read then its not worth filling the worksheet with tons of difficult words. 

I am really impressed with this set, so far all 3 of my groups have read the books that I had to review and have enjoyed them.

For more information please visit: www.risingstars-uk.com  

Royal Mail in association with iChild.co.uk

The Royal Mail in association with iChild has created some wonderful work packs full of stimulating lesson ideas, plans, worksheets and resources.

I have been using the Doctor Who education resources and the Sporting Dreams (based on the Olympics) in my tutorial lessons.  

Each pack has blanks for learners to design their own stamps, games, worksheets to make them think or use their imagination etc...

Each pack can also be downloaded for FREE here:



Both packs are highly recommended by my learners, they have created some lovely ideas and work based around the themes.

There is also a Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom pack but I haven't used this as it is a little too low for my level and age of learners, however its great for younger children.

Please visit www.ichild.co.uk for more information and other educational ideas.

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