30 January 2007
National Storytelling week is an annual event which aims to raise awareness of this ancient form of entertainment - check out The Society for Storytelling for more information. Storytelling is the ancient tradition stretching back for as long as humans have had speech, known as the 'oral' tradition where stories are shared in groups. The storyteller is an artist, an entertainer and an educator who uses words to take you on a journey of the imagination. Each person will hear something different as the story is created in the space between the teller and the listener.
Storytellers tell traditional folk tales, written tales, anecdotes, urban myths, stories from history, religious or moral tales and stories they have created themselves or which have been created for a specific event. Some storytellers will create a story spontaneously to suit the audience. They tell stories from memory rather than reading them from the book, memorising stories image by image not word for word and may tell a story differently each time they tell it, interacting with their audience, choosing stories and images to communicate with them and some use music, dance, song, pictures or puppets.
Storytelling supports literacy development, storytellers can improve concentration, listening skills and help develop and enrich spoken and written language. Hearing and retelling traditional tales can provide scaffolding for children’s own imaginative stories, giving the child a variety of frameworks to work from.
29 January 2007
It has been started by parents who had to take their Local Education Authority (LEA)to tribunal (SENDIST = Special Educational Needs and Disability Tribunal) twice to try to get their 12 year old autistic sons needs assessed and met, becuause of their experiences and others they have spoken to they started this petition, as it is via 10 Downing Street website it will go directly to the prime minister after it closes on FEBRUARY 20TH 2007
Read more details or to sign the petition here.
23 January 2007
Firstly I thought we should look at the correct letter formations. Different settings use slightly different standard formation so if your child is attending nursery or school it is worth checking with their teacher or key worker how they are teaching the letter formations.
A sample alphabet with formation arrows is shown here:
This is a cursive formation (in preparation for 'joined up' writing) therefore there are flicks on the letters, these may be omitted by younger children (in particular the ones on the o, the v and the w). Other letters that may often formed differently are f, k, t and y.
20 January 2007
My first experience of signing was when I learnt the finger spelling alphabet when I was about six, I then learnt a few songs with sign during my time at Brownies and Guides but that was all just for fun rather than specifically about communicating. I then learnt more about using sign to support the spoken word when working on abstract concepts with a child with autism - the theory being that as he was a visual learner giving him the sign whilst giving the receptive instruction would make it more concrete.
In January 2005 I did a two day Makaton course and learnt a lot more signs, and a lot more of the research / theory behind signing. My new enthusiasm for sign supported speech led me to investigate baby signing (hence the DVD as my 'baby' was too old to start the classes) and we started signing at home. We also used the popular Makaton based children's television programme Something Special on CBeebies with Justin and Mr Tumble to increase our signing reportoire.
As a part of typical child development babies naturally use gestures and sounds before speech is well established to help their parents understand them, for example they point, clap. shake their heads and wave. Baby signing involves introducing extra gestures to help your baby communicate. It's easy to do first signs often include milk, more, change nappy, and tired plus favourite animals and vehicles. Sing and Sign classes are one of a number of baby music classes that involve a mixture of teaching parents signs and music activities to entertain the babies.
Sign Supported English
Signed English (including systems such as Signalong and Makaton) have been developed for the same reason as the now popular mainstream baby signing - to assist those with speech and communication difficulties to communicate their needs alongside developing their speech. Signalong and Makaton were developed using British Sign Language (BSL) signs matched to the key words in a sentence, so that as you speak you sign and speak at the same time. Signs are often pictorial and convey the meaning more easily than words, which are more abstract.
For More Information
Sing and Sign
Chelltune’s Baby Sign Language Store- Books, DVDs, interactive ebooks, keepsake charts, etc for signing babies and children.
18 January 2007
This Bill will have its second reading in Parliament on Friday 23rd February and this debate is crucial to the chances of the Bill becoming law. All the information about the Bill can be found here. It is important to get as many MPs as possible to support the Bill and to commit to turning up to the debate on 23rd February. Thanks to people like you and me contacting our MPs, pledges of support for the Bill from MPs are starting to come in, and the campaign now has 230 MP supporters. If you haven't yet contacted your MP you can contact them here. If you have already contacted your MP pass on this information to get as many MPs as possible to support it.
Finally the Every Disabled Child Matters group have set themselves a new supporter target of 25,000 supporters by July 2007. This is the reporting date for the comprehensive spending review, which we hope will bring new money for disabled children's services. To help them reach our new supporter target, please continue spread the word about Every Disabled Child Matters.
17 January 2007
The Chatterbox Challenge calls on children across the UK to practise and perform a rhyme or an action song to raise vital funds for I CAN , the charity that helps children communicate. Our 2007 Challenge has a jungle theme so your cheeky monkeys will have fun practising jungle jingles, roaring like lions and hissing like snakes!
Sing and perform your favourite songs and rhymes and join thousands of children across the UK to raise money for children with a communication disability. It's easy to join in, our free activity pack will give you everything you need, including sponsor forms, songs sheets, stickers and colour in certificates for all the children taking part. Register online today to receive your FREE activity pack.
I CAN is the children’s communication charity, they work to foster the development of speech, language and communication skills in all children with a special focus on those who find this hard - children with a communication disability.
For more information visit:
16 January 2007
We've recently been undergoing hospital appointments for our eldest son due to a long term ear infection. At our last appointment we were told he had "glue ear" so I thought as this is the most common cause of hearing loss in children some information may be useful. Glue ear affects about 4 in 5 children have had glue ear at some point by the time they are four years old and that glue ear remains common among children up to the age of six years old and it causes long-lasting hearing problems in about 1 in 20 five year olds.
What is Glue Ear?
The ear is divided into three parts - the outer, middle, and inner ear. The middle ear behind the eardrum is normally filled with air. The middle ear is connected to the back of the nose by a thin channel, the Eustachian tube. Glue ear is a condition where the middle ear becomes filled with fluid that looks like glue instead of draining away down the Eustacian tube - it can affect one or both ears. The fluid dampens the vibrations of the eardrum and bones (ossicles) made by the sound waves, the cochlea receives dampened vibrations, and so the 'volume' of the hearing is 'turned down'.
What are the Symptoms of Glue Ear?
Dulled hearing is the main symptom of glue ear. The hearing does not go completely and the loss can vary from mild to severe, and can vary from day to day. Pain is not usually a main symptom, but ear ache may occur from time to time as the gluey substance is a good food for bacteria, and ear infections are more common in children with glue ear. Delopment and behaviour may be affected in a small number of children.
Teaching Children with Glue Ear
First off if you are a teacher / teaching assistant you may be the one who spots a child with hearing difficulty. Children with glue ear can experience different levels of hearing loss from day to day even from lesson to lesson, so it is sometimes tricky to notice.
Common signs are:
- ensure they have the best seating position (e g. away background noise where possible.)
- make sure that they can see your face (many children quickly learn to lip read and read facial expressions)
- attract the childs attention by saying their name before asking a question or giving a instruction
- be prepared to repeat points
- when talking to the child speak clearly using a normal voice at normal speed but use gesture / signs to reinforce what you say and keep instructions short
- if appropriate provide a list of vocabulary, context and visual clues especially for new subjects
- during class discussion allow one pupil to speak at a time and indicate where the speaker is - allow the child to turn around to see other children when they are talking
- be aware that difficulty with spelling / phonics can result from hearing loss
For more information contact:
Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID)
The National Deaf Children's Society
09 January 2007
Whilst reading that article I remembered some of the other resources I've used with children with autism to look at emotions so I thought I'd post them here...
Thomas the Tank Engine books are great as the trains faces are used to show the expression and the stories can be used to explain why the character feels as they do. How do you feel, Thomas? is a specific emotions book with the royalties being donated to The National Autistic Society. The new Underground Ernie trains might also give another opportunity for studying faces. Pingu cartoon are good too as the lack of language in them means that children need to infer the feelings of the characters from their intonation, volume and their facial expressions / non-verbal communication.
Another fun ways to look at emotions are acting out scenarios using puppets, this helps to cement how people feel in situations - a good activity is making puppets with different facial expressions using wooden spoons.
02 January 2007
We are pleased to announce that the winners are:
Eloise from Bolton and Kate from Milton Keynes
Look out for further competitions at Littlesheep Learning later in the year.
I've made some New Year Resolutions for both this blog and for Littlesheep Learning so watch out for what's new! I've got lots of educational and teaching ideas to post - let me know your favourite teaching and learning ideas, your top tips for keeping your children enjoying learning or about their favourite toys.