In most parts of the country, schools are beginning to open up for the new school year. Students and teachers will be wearing masks and following new safety guidelines to help protect from getting and spreading COVID-19.
Although most students have been wearing masks in public over the summer, it’s a good idea now to start getting them used to wearing masks for longer periods of time.
*Have conversations with your child about wearing a mask! Be frank with them and even discuss the obvious “This feels weird doesn’t it? Do you know why we have to wear it?”.
You might practice wearing a mask during a tv program, playing games or when reading a story.
Use books and videos with pictures to start a conversation and open up feelings about what is going on.
Use appropriate vocabulary to see if they really know what it all means.
Don’t assume that a child knows how to express what they are feeling. Children with limited language skills may be experiencing big emotions that they don’t know how to deal with.
Bluebee Pals are great tools to use to help your child understand reasons for and to practice wearing masks and using safety precautions. Let your child pick a mask for themselves and for their Bluebee Pal and they can practice wearing masks together! Use your Bluebee Pal to “read” Bluetooth connected stories, or read and record your own books in your own voice for your child. You can also practice social distancing with your Bluebee Pal!
*Keep everything upbeat and lighthearted to make them feel safe.
Here are some excellent resources about masks and safety to check out!
Smiling From Ear to Ear: Wearing Masks While Having Fun Paperback – By Kaitlyn Chu Let’s Smile From Ear to Ear! We’re all having to get used to wearing face masks in our daily lives. Let’s see how our favorite animals wear their masks and still have fun! Smiling From Ear to Ear is all about showing kids that they can wear face masks to protect themselves and those around them and still have fun. It was created to address kids’ fears and struggles by normalizing face masks in everyday activities using a playful and imaginative approach.
The Social Distance King: Introducing Queens and Kings to Social Distancing by Eric Desio The Social Distance King sensitively introduces the topic of social distancing to kids. With recent changes in the world, we all find ourselves living…differently. The Social Distance King is a great way to entertain children and also expose them to what social distancing might mean to them. And kids, most importantly, this book helps us learn in a FUN, entertaining and thoughtful way!
Lucy’s Mask – by Lisa Sirkis Thompson Are your kids confused and anxious about wearing a mask? Lucy’s world turned upside down. She’s bored. She can’t be together with her friends. But when she finds out her mom is making her a new mask her boredom turns into excitement. Lucy loves masks! She dives into her toy box full of costumes and opens a world of imagination and make-believe adventure, far beyond the walls of her room. Of course, she doesn’t realize that the mask her mom is making is not a costume at all but one that will keep her safe and make her a real-life superhero.
Before the onset of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the use of teletherapy in speech therapy and education was limited. Most education was done in a traditional face-to-face manner in a set physical location such as a school building. With schools unexpectedly closing across our nation in the spring due to safety concerns, educators were taxed with quickly learning and establishing new and flexible ways to teach their students using a wide variety of technology and teletherapy. Teachers learned to use Google Classrooms, Zoom meetings, created Virtual Classrooms, Boom Cards, and more! Using an internet connection, web portal, and two-way live video, students and teachers learned to interact as if they were in-person sessions. The use of teletherapy is expected to continue to grow as schools develop plans and educational options for the 2020-2021 school year.
Teletherapy opportunities are vast and include hands-on activities, interactive games, and unique educational plans. For the youngest students, a parent, or other adult is on the end with the child providing cueing and any “hands-on” techniques that might be needed.
***Even with all of the exciting new ways to teach virtually, teachers continue to use their most favorite, tried-and-true classroom resources in their online sessions!
Bluebee Pals are an example of a wonderful classroom favorite that are well suited to use during virtual instruction. Use them in your teletherapy sessions the same way you would use them in a traditional education setting!
What IS a Bluebee Pal? The Bluebee Pal Pro 4.0 is an interactive plush learning tool with a FREE companion (life skills /educational) app that connects to all iOS and Android Devices and pairs with all apps with a narrative. The patented technology allows Bluebee’s “mouth and head” to move while reading stories, teaching through educational games, communicating through speech/AAC apps, learning a language and singing songs. The FREE Bluebee Pals Learning App is a robust life skill and cognitive development tool for children ages 3 to 7. When connected with a Bluebee Pal, children can immerse themselves in activities in five life skills rooms and play 9 educational mini-games. In addition to their app, Bluebee Pals pair with all apps with a narrative providing endless entertainment and education for all mainstream and special needs children.
* Bluebee inspires learning with educational apps.
* Bluebee reads any storybook apps.
*Your Bluebee Pal can become the teacher with your favorite text-to-speech app.
* Bluebee teaches with language and AAC (alternative augmentative communication).
* Bluebee sings with your favorite music apps.
* Bluebee acts as an educational tool with voice recording apps.
Bluebee Pals can easily be transitioned to use in teletherapy!
***Please visit the Bluebee Pals website to learn more about these excellent teaching tools.
Hooray! It’s summertime! School is out and kids are free to play and just be kids! But wait…this is not just any summer! This is the summer in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.Why does that matter? This school year was cut short for almost all students by at least 3 months. That is 1/3 of the school year! Although the schools and teachers scrambled to offer some type of educational services virtually and/or through packets mailed to students, educational instruction and progress took a major hit and a significant number of students will show skill regression in the fall when school begins again.
Even in the best of times, 100% of students experience summer learning loss if they don’t engage in educational learning activities over the summer. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 25% of academic learning is lost by children over summer vacation. This number would be expected to increase following the tremendous loss of instruction this year.
The “Summer Slide” is the phrase used to describe the slide backwards that many children normally make in reading and math skills over the summer months when school is not in session. Numerous studies show that kids who don’t practice educational skills during summer vacation actually lose up to 3 months by the time autumn rolls around. It takes teachers 4-6 weeks to reteach material that has been lost over the summer.
**You can combat summer slide by encouraging your child to devote a small bit of time each day to keeping up skills. Just like with playing a sport, Reading and Math are skills that must be practiced… It is important to keep your child’s mind engaged over the summer so they will not fall victim to the summer slide.”
Read EVERY day! Read non-fiction, fiction, ebooks, poetry, newspapers and read out loud! For most children, twenty minutes is an appropriate amount of time to read for a child who is an independent reader. Most libraries have a wonderful summer reading program with incentives and rewards for books read over the summer.
Cook with your children. This is one of the best ways to integrate math, reading and following directions. Let your child design the menu too! Help your child put together their favorite recipes in a cookbook.
Plant a garden. Your child will gain responsibility and pride as they watch their plants grow and thrive.
Take a field trip to a museum, zoo or local park with walking trails. Keep a journal about your travels.
Learn a new word each week! Hang it on the fridge and see who can use it the most times throughout the week.
Enroll in a quality summer program that will provide your child with opportunities to build their critical thinking skills.
Play quick games with flashcards like Math War or Concentration to keep math skills sharp.
Listen to Audio Books during your road trip.
Take pictures and make a summer scrapbook.
Did I mention READ?!If your child does nothing else this summer make sure he/she is reading!
Great News! Bluebee Pals are a wonderful way to encourage summer reading and combat the Summer Slide! Kids love to be connected! By reading their favorite book apps with Bluebee Pals and online reading sites for 20 to 30 minutes a day, your child can maintain and improve reading skills over the summer! They make excellent reading buddies! www.bluebeepals.com
Suggested Summer Reading Sites:
*Storyline Online by SAG-AFTRA Foundation is an award-winning children’s literacy app that features celebrated actors reading children’s books.
*Epic! – Kids’ Books and Videos by Epic! Creations Inc is a leading digital library for kids with instant, unlimited access to 35,000 high-quality ebooks, audiobooks, learning videos and quizzes for children 12 and under. There is a monthly subscription plan for home and a free plan for educators.
*HOMER Reading: Learn to Read by Homer is a personalized reading program for kids 2-8. This award-winning app has been proven to increase early reading scores by 74% with just 15 minutes a day. There is a monthly subscription plan for home, and a free plan for educators.
Some children just love reading; however, others may find it difficult or even boring. They may be missing foundational skills or have difficulty sitting for long periods of time.Reluctant readers can learn to enjoy it! With schools currently closed, parents have an increased need to help make reading fun at home! By making reading fun (instead of frustrating), as well as improving reading skills, your child can develop a lifetime love of reading……Be sure to keep reading over the summer!
Bluebee Pals and the Bluebee Pal Program are excellent instructional tools for early reading skills! Due to their endearing appeal, Bluebee Pals and The Bluebee Pal Program, Bluebee app, Techie Rangers E-book and free Activity Guide are uniquely suited for use with reading support. The Bluebee Pal Pro 4.0 interactive plush learning tool connects via Bluetooth to all iOS and Android devices and pairs with all apps with a narrative, which provides endless educational opportunities. Each Bluebee’s “mouth and head” realistically moves while teaching curriculum through educational games, activities, and apps.
* The Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers E-book with Activity Guide takes readers on an adventure with Andy and his Bluebee Pal Techie Ranger friends. Andy, a student with complex communication needs, uses an augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) device or “talker” to speak to the Techie Rangers as they help him return to the Rainbow School. The accompanying free Activity Guide provides fun extension activities focused on literacy and math. Don’t forget to check out the Bluebee Pals Curriculum for a lesson plan made especially for the Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers E-Book and Activity Guide. You can find the E-book and activity guide here: https://www.bluebeepals.com/bluebee-pals-techie-rangers-book/#
*The Bluebee Pals Curriculum, Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers E-Book and Activity Guide, app recommendations, numerous video tutorials, and extensive professional development resources are all available at www.bluebeepals.com
Empowering struggling readers by making reading fun at home:
Use technology! Use Bluebee Pals along with any available technology to increase engagement with reading. Kids love tablets, computers, and phones! Use colorful book apps with Bluetooth devices to encourage reading. A set of personal earplugs or headphones would improve attending skills and give great auditory feedback.
Pick the right books– Select books your child will enjoy according to interests. Let your child help choose books. This will make reading less of a chore and more of a fun activity.
Read aloud– Take turns reading aloud to add excitement to the story using fun, different voices.
Encourage all forms of reading– In addition to books, magazines, graphic novels, road signs, recipes, and newspapers are also great reading materials.
Create a reading space– Make a fun reading area or fort where your child can read on his or her own. This is especially fun with a Bluebee Pal!
Make connections between books and life experiences– Read adventure books before you take a camping trip or dinosaur books before a trip to a museum.
Offer developmentally appropriate reading through audio books– They are a great way to make reading more enjoyable while helping to improve comprehension skills. Providing human-read audiobooks allows struggling readers to focus, visualize, and become engaged in the story. Audiobooks help build vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills. Students can gain access to grade-level content so they can participate in class and work along with their peers. This builds more confident and engaged learners. Taking away the mechanics of reading and allowing students to work at their ability lowers stress, allowing them to succeed.
Read a series– High interest book series help keep your child engaged. Also read multiple non-series books by favorite authors.
Have a daily “reading hour”– Have a scheduled reading time every day. During this time, ask your child what is happening in the book, what his or her favorite part was, and what he or she thinks might happen next.
Take trips to the library– Let your child get a library card and select books that catch his or her attention. Participate in age-appropriate story hours at the library, as well as any summer reading programs offered.
Teach reading strategies– Lots of kids don’t like reading because they don’t have the necessary skills. Talk to your child’s teacher about strategies to help improve reading motivation.
If your child’s teacher has assigned an online reading program via your school system, be sure to complete assignments as scheduled! This extra reading help will be tailored to your child’s needs and is scientifically-based instruction.
These excellent reading sites for pre-K and elementary children are backed by a tremendous amount of research into how kids learn to read and how they become fluent readers.
With children out of traditional school due to the current virus pandemic- homeschooling, online schooling, and social distancing are the current new normal. Children are missing their teachers, classmates, friends and social activities. Parents are trying to supplement educational assignments to prevent loss of prior learning. This has all been such a big adjustment to our daily lives!
Bluebee Pals make perfect friends and educational tech companions.
Family Pack Bluebee Pals
Bluebee Pals make great social distancingfriends! Even if you can’t have human friends over to play right now, you have an instant friend with your Bluebee Pal! They are soft and snuggly, and instantly loveable. They make a perfect friend! Here are some suggestions to help you and your child enjoy playing with a Bluebee Pal friend:
Have a tea party. Have one every day! Invite your Bluebee Pal, mom, dad, sisters and brothers. Set the table, enjoy some snacks, and talk about your day. This is a nice way to schedule some family time and reconnect.
Your Bluebee Pal can receive telephone calls through it’s Bluetooth connection! Show your child how to answer the call by pressing on Bluebee’s ear. Then, go to another room and call your child through their Bluebee Pal. Have a conversation, sing some songs, ask and answer questions! Now, change places and let your child call you on your Bluebee Pal! This is wonderful for practicing conversational and social interactions.
Be sure to include Bluebee Pal in daily activities! Let him sit next to you while watching cartoons or movies, and let him sleep with you at night. He will help keep your child from feeling lonely and isolated.
Play games! You can play your favorite board games together and/or with other family members! Pick a game, set it up and get started. Help your Bluebee Pal take turns playing with you! Bluebee Pals love playing games!
Play-pretend! Help your child learn to engage in pretend play with Bluebee Pal! Play pirates, princess, dress-up, take a trip to the moon or act out your favorite books! Imaginative play fosters creativity!
Help your child make Face-time calls with your child’s friends with your Bluebee Pal! Let your Bluebee “read” your favorite book apps with your child’s friends over the phone! This is an awesome way to keep friends connected.
Practicing responsible social distancing is imperative for all us….and, with Bluebee Pal friends, can be fun!
Bluebell Pals are NOT just your average toy! Oh no! They go way beyond that! They are excellent educational tech companions! Bluebee Pals can easily be utilized to address educational needs with young children and make learning fun!
Their patented technology allows Bluebee’s mouth and head to move while reading stories, teaching through educational games, learning a language and singing songs.Bluebee Pals come with a FREE educational app, free resources, lesson plans tied to the Common Core Curriculum, video tutorials and ideas for educational uses, a fun activity guide and a downloadable book!
Click the links to learn about Bluebee and Free Resources
Life skills have been defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as abilities for adaptive and positive behavior that enable individuals to deal effectively with the demands and challenges of everyday life. Skills that function for well-being and aid individuals to develop into active and productive members of their communities are considered as life skills. Educators are increasingly supporting the development of life skills, in addition to academics, in order to enable students to function effectively in society. Teachers sometimes describe these skills as “learning to learn skills” which can be developed through intentional daily activities.
Life skills go hand in hand with development and can help your child succeed later in life.
In the book, “Mind in the Making,” Ellen Galinsky, a leading authority on child development issues, organized the essential life skills that children need to be well-rounded, ready for school, and life.
What Are the Most Important Life Skills for Kids to Learn?
Focus And Self Control: Children need this skill in order to achieve their goals. It involves paying attention, remembering the rules, thinking flexibly and exercising self control. Children thrive onschedules, habits, and routines, which not only create a feeling of security, but also help children learn self-control and focus.
Perspective Taking: Perspective taking goes far beyond empathy in that it involves figuring out what others think and feel, and forms the basis of children understanding their parents’, teachers’, and friends’ intentions. Children who can take others’ perspectives are also much less likely to get involved in conflicts. Thinking about another’s point of view doesn’t come naturally to most children, but it can be developed by making observations with children about how others are feeling.
Communication: Communicating is much more than understanding language, speaking, reading and writing – it is the skill of determining what one wants to communicate and realizing how our communications will be understood by others. Children need to build healthy social-emotional skills, including the ability to understand and communicate with others. Children need to learn how to “read” social cues and listen carefully. They must consider what they want to communicate and the most effective way to share it.
Making Connections: Making connections is at the heart of learning—figuring out what’s the same, what’s different and sorting these things into categories. Making unusual connections is at the core of creativity. True learning occurs when we can see connections and patterns between seemingly disparate things. The more connections we make, the more sense and meaning we make of the world. Young children begin to see connections and patterns as they sort basic household items like toys and socks. Simple acts, such as choosing clothing appropriate for the weather, helps them build connections.
Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the ongoing search for valid and reliable knowledge to guide beliefs, decisions, and actions. We live in a complex world in which adults are required to analyze information and make decisions about myriad things every day. One of the best ways to build critical thinking is through rich, open-ended play. Make sure your child has time each day to play alone or with friends. Through play, children formulate hypotheses, take risks, try out their ideas, make mistakes, and find solutions—all essential elements in building critical thinking.
Taking On Challenges: Life is full of stresses and challenges. Children who are willing to take on challenges instead of avoiding them or simply coping with them do better in school and in life. One of the most important traits we can develop in life is that of resilience—being able to take on challenges, bounce back from failure, and keep trying. Children learn to take on challenges when we create an environment with the right amount of structure—not so much as to be limiting, but enough to make them feel safe. Encourage your child to try new things and allow reasonable risk, such as climbing a tree or riding a bike. Offer a new challenge when she seems ready.
Self-Directed, Engaged Learning: It is through learning that we can realize our potential. As the world changes, so can we, for as long as we live—as long as we learn. A child who loves learning becomes an adult who is rarely bored in life. To encourage a love of learning, try to limit television and encourage plenty of reading, play, and open-ended exploration.
Bluebee Pals are excellent educational tools that can easily be incorporated in the classroom or at home to help model and build age-appropriate essential life skills. Use one-on-one or invite a Bluebee Pal into life skills learning or peer groups to practice skills. Paired with story books and educational apps, Bluebee Pals offer children a special learning friend who makes life skills practice fun…and therefore, more meaningful. By “speaking” the audio in connected apps, a Bluebee Pal adds just the right touch of warmth and humanity to motivate children. Just connect your Bluebee Pal and get started!https://www.bluebeepals.com
A few examples of apps that can be used to help develop essential life skills:
First Then Visual Schedule HD by Good Karma Applications, Inc allows you to create first-then boards, visual schedules, task analyses, social stories, choice boards, and video models, and even has a timer for task completion.
Peppy Pals Family Play Bundle by Peppy Pals AB is a set of three apps featuring engaging animal friends that enables children to learn and explore emotions in an relaxing, interactive environment while developing emotional intelligence.
Peppy Pals Social Skills by Peppy Pals AB features gender-neutral animals in story scenarios as they take care of each other and solve problems. Helps build social emotional skills such as self-esteem, resilience, empathy, problem-solving, managing emotions, managing stress, and creating healthy relationships.
10 Ways – a Social Skills Game by Everyday Speech LLC teaches through a familiar game format with categories of questions that include conversation skills, perspective taking, asking and answering questions, friendship skills, and more.
Categories Learning Center by Smarty Ears fosters categorization skills by sorting similar and dissimilar items, placing objects in the correct category, naming members of given categories and identifying which category name a group of objects belongs in.
Thinkrolls by AVOKIDDO is an addictive, award-winning logic, brain power, and problem solving app for kids that uses mazes to master the art of thinking. Provides for penalty-free and stress-free trial and error problem solving.