Many of us are teaching or doing therapy virtually, in-school, or as a hybrid mix of in-school and virtual visits. Although we need to limit the use of a stuffed animal for onsite sessions due to infection protocols, we can still use Bluebee Pals during virtual visits. Here are some ways we are using Bluebee Pals during the pandemic.
When my occupational therapy visits were in person and I needed to demonstrate a handling or facilitation technique, we were able do it right then and there – in person. I could monitor and correct the technique the parent was using. Now, things are different and it takes some planning and thought to communicate to parents or caretakers what to do.
As handling techniques are manual, they are very difficult to verbally sequence what to do and where to put your hands. Many parents have anxiety over their ability to follow the directions for multistep or complicated techniques. And when a parent is anxious, their children become anxious. This is where Bluebee Pals have come to the rescue! Having Bluebee up on screen, puts a smile on everyone’s face and immediately calms frayed nerves. Modeling sensory or handling techniques on Bluebee relaxes everyone! Bluebee makes movement fun and less scary. I have also found Bluebee Pals to be invaluable for demonstrating feeding techniques. Now if I would only coordinate a call from me through my Bluebee Pal to make scrumptiously delicious sounds while he is munching! http://bluebeepals.com
We’ve also been reviewing ideas of using Bluebee as a home ambassador to kids in need. We are exploring sending a Bluebee Pal out to children that may need that extra social boost or extra practice for language or reading skills. Kids learning English as a second language will be able to hear and rehearse vocabulary and social greetings with Bluebee at their side. In addition, with the bonus of being able to use Bluebee with the phone, it gives therapists a chance to reinforce all skills learned during visits on preprogrammed phone lines..
Last but not least is having Bluebee teach essential life skills like wearing a mask, social distancing, and rehearsing what to do if someone makes you feel uncomfortable. Bluebee can also be a teaching aid in how to get dressed. Baby sizes 6-9 months and even 12 months fit Bluebee perfectly. Not only is the child looking at the weather and what is appropriate to be dressed in, they are also learning to have an inquisitive mind and look to science for what needs to be done.
Other Ideas to use Bluebee in a home teaching environment are:
- Tea parties to teach social skills/manners
- Bluebee as a means to learn self-calming, and use in high stress community settings – how to give deep hugs and how to talk to someone who knows
- Pushing Bluebee in a doll stroller or shopping cart for heavy work
- Practice going to the doctor, church, post office etc.
- Practice getting haircuts (Play-doh scissors)
- Clipping nails or other hard to perform activities of daily living
- Practice school or circle routines
- Cooking with Bluebee – tasting new foods
- Parties and other social events
Teaching early dressing skills require patience and plenty of practice for little ones. To be successful, kids require a sense of body awareness, the needed motor skills – both gross motor and fine motor, and the ability to sequence steps. Kids begin to express their base knowledge of steps of routine tasks through daily engagement. This simple act of participation takes on meaning and deserves attention because it is relevant. Relevancy facilitates retention.
Any other presentation of material can simply be PLAY. Using PLAY (experiential learning) as a medium is one of the most powerful learning tools because it turns-on the motor system in conjunction with the body’s other systems and THAT promotes active critical thinking, problem-solving, and memory.
Here are some tips in using a Bluebee Pal for teaching dressing skills:
Kids love to play dress up, and what a perfect way to practice fine-motor skills than to dress up Bluebee! We love dressing Bluebee for holidays and seasons. Not only can you demonstrate what clothing is appropriate for the season but also introduce practice on a wide variety of those tricky fasteners (snaps, buttons, and even belt buckles). I buy clothing at our local church’s thrift shop and have found bargains for all kinds of clothing. Six to nine-month clothing usually fits Bluebee perfectly – although I have bought shirts sized up to 2 years for “dresses”.
Onesies are good for left/right, front/back awareness which directly relates to one’s position in space, and the fine-motor abilities to pinch with force in the handling snaps. Socks or booties help kids sustain the ability to stretch and place the sock or bootie, and are one of the harder tasks for kids to perform. As kids gain competency with dressing Bluebee, try altering Bluebee’s position from looking directly at Bluebee to having Bluebee in your lap. In the lap position, it resembles how a child may dress themselves.
Some of my favorite preschool apps for dressing:
The Bluebee Pal App..With an app, or as a stand-alone activity, Bluebee is there to help teach your child through fun and play. Enjoyable activities lend themselves to skill retention and the ability to transfer skills real time – meaning that skills are not produced in exact circumstances.
Sago Mini Babies Dress Up – while this does not have a narrative for Bluebee to play with the Bluetooth speaker, it is a great introduction for what to wear. The added bonus is that Sago Mini updates this app for seasonal variations.
Pepi House or Pepi Bath introduce self-care and has always been a clinic favorite. This is also an app that doesn’t use language. Learning at this level helps kids process and practice the sequence of events rather than have too much auditory input com overloading a kid’s system.
Dr. Panda apps always provide clothing to dress-up your character. They are great games to provide kids choices of what to wear. Their new annual subscription, “Dr. Panda Learn and Play” looks very promising.
This is what we all wish for not only our children but also all children. It is the gift to problem-solve and think through multiple strategies.
Mindfulness is an essential skill for kids to be successful learners. But what exactly is mindfulness and why is there such a fuss in teaching mindfulness to young children? Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment and allowing all thoughts and feelings to occur without necessarily taking action. This ability to stop helps to reset and reorganize the body’s systems and is tied in with the ability to self-regulate and self-calm. The present overstimulating and rushed pacing of today’s world lends itself to disorganization. Disorganized kids usually have difficulty with attention, managing needed tools, and completing tasks. Calm kids can focus on the task at hand, see their options, and make better choices.
Kids don’t always need to sit or be still to practice mindfulness. Yoga or other rhythmic movements (rocking or swinging) done in coordination with the breath can also be practiced. These children are holding Bluebee Pals practicing relaxation with Bluebee Pals.
Apps for Lessons in Mindfulness with Bluebee!
One of the best introductions to mindfulness training for young children is Stop Breathe Think with Sesame Street. Although the app does not support Bluetooth technology and cannot be played through a Bluebee Pal, by having a child hold Bluebee while playing they will receive valuable body input in learning to calm. By hugging Bluebee children will not only benefit from emotional support but also receive nice deep pressure hugs that will help a child focus and calm when viewing the app. The app contains 5 vignettes that are stressful to young children and the stories are all told with vocabulary that is familiar to a young child. In the app, children help a little monster apply strategies to cope with everyday struggles. It’s very reinforcing to help the little monster and it facilitates the desire to try the techniques within Stop, Breathe, Think.
Super Stretch Yoga is a classic app for teaching mindfulness of body. Using storytelling and video, kids learn to imitate motor acts that coordinate with the breath to quiet and focus. In the Adventures of Super Stretch, the emphasis is on trying and being in the present moment and not on perfection. This is a subtle but wonderful message for kids to begin to understand. The app contains 12 poses that are modeled through both animation and viewing real kids doing the poses. The app is free and there are tangible additions such as flashcards and books that can be purchased through the website: www.adventuresofsuperstretch.com. Try having your child teach Bluebee the Poses for some extra fun.
For a more traditional app for meditation, check out Mindfulness for Children. It contains 5 guided meditations and 4 meditations that serve as stories in helping kids to relax in order to go to sleep. Most of the meditations include a body scanning component that serves as a ground or central point of focus. This helps kids stay centered so as to increase awareness of both body and mind. In addition, With this app, Bluebee can act as a facilitator for mindfulness and the screen can be put aside. With Bluebee whispering in your child’s ear, what better way to let go of the day’s struggles and challenges.
It is a subscription based service that has excellent resources for adults and children. There is both music and sleep stories that help tuck little ones in for a nap or at bedtime. Bluebee can lead the way for finding a state of calm for kids and parents.Calm radio is a free standing extension of the calm app with its own subscription service.
One of the best features of the Bluebee Pal is its ability to suspend reality and bring the written word alive in a book. We all know that reading is one of the best ways to engage children in interactive play and it also gives them an edge up on learning. Current research shows that babies benefit tremendously from listening to stories, and the earlier this routine is established, the better. By reading to Baby, he or she begins to pick up the nuances of language, its sequence, and structure.
Most important of all, however, are the bonds that deepen because of shared experiences through stories. Stories inspire, they make us laugh, and they also tell us what to do. Reading stories with diverse characters informs kids of not only the experience of others but also to appreciate the idea of how family traditions across cultures may, on the one hand, be different but are so very much the same. All teachers care about their students and want them to succeed.
Joint attention is the cornerstone of communication. Joint attention is the ability to share experiences and to acknowledge another person as a witness. It can be as simple as pointing to a plane with a quick glance to see if the other person notices or sharing a laugh at funny faces. And it is through joint attention that the ability to imitate emerges and is strengthened. Books for early learners that can be used with Bluebee include hardback books, audio books, a combination of the two, or a digital version via a phone or tablet.
One of the most overlooked features to using Bluebee is using a phone or a voice recording app. Parents with can phone into a classrrom to read a few sentences from a story…Teachers can utilize a voice recording app to record a book and ask a sequence of questions…Often when recording a familiar tale, try leaving off a keyword and see if the child throws it in at the correct time. This will help synchronize memory, comprehension, and communicative intent.
Another lesson from reading books is the ability to wait and listen. Once the sequence of a story is established, welcoming kids to interrupt, stop and ask questions, and ponder what if…allows for the imagination to take flight. I love when kids both anticipate and then try to come up with alternative twists within a familiar book. https://www.bluebeepals.com/apps-bluebee-pals/
Recomended Reading With Bluebee Pals
Here are a few resources for great story finds. Remember to use the Bluebee app for any further questions on the use of its features. We would also love to hear from you, what stories do you like? What are kids responding to?… and until then sweet play in the land of make-believe and crossing that bridge of the possibilities of imagination.
Goodnight Moon – the classic book by Magaret Wise Brown is ripe for learning the labels of common household items. This classic book can be found on almost any digital format. I do love having the book in conjunction as many kids will “read” the book to themselves, and sharing that recitation is priceless. In my clinical practice, I use this book every week.
Podcasts are also invaluable to a reading experience. Nosy Crow’s Stories Aloud series have narrations to many of their published books. I love these podcasts in that they teach children to wait and listen for auditory cues to turn the page. Thus pairing the storyline with the written material.
Oceanhouse Media has a catalog of children’s favorites from Dr. Suess to nonfiction books by the Smithsonian Institute. They are one of my go-to developers when searching for books.
For Social-Emotional Lessons, you can’t fair better than Peppy Pals. These books for preschoolers are engaging and invite discussion. They are magically matched to a young child’s attention span.
Pairing a book with audio versions (audio versions of books can be purchased on Amazon, or a book can be read by yourself through the voice recorder on the Bluebee Pals App is sure to make cherished memories
Epic is the world’s leading online children’s subscription book service offering immediate, on-demand access to over 35,000 high-quality illustrated books and chapter books for children ages 12 and under. … In a world of unlimited screen time, Epic! is a smart and safe alternative to generic games and videos.
New Bluebee Pals Techie Rangers Book !
My mother knew the importance of using stuffed animals in times of trauma. She made and donated thousands of stuffed animals over 45 years as a volunteer at our regional hospital. The stuffed animals she made were simple dolls, and kids were encouraged to draw on them or just hold them close when stressed. They proved to be invaluable when working with kids and helped caregivers and first-responders to not only identify the problem a child might be experiencing, but also know what path to take in diagnosing and treating a child who has experienced upheaval in their life.
Stuffed Animals Utlized in Times of Trauma.
What is trauma exactly? Trauma is defined by the American Psychological Association as an emotional response to a negative event. It can vary in its intensity amongst individuals, and a person does not have to directly experience an event but can witness it from a distance. This makes trauma both elusive and deeply personal. The effects can be immediate or manifest days, months , or years after an event. Identification is the first step in giving kids the help they need.
Bluebee Pals can be an essential tool in the classroom or the clinic in discovering kids who have experienced trauma or distress. Sometimes talking to an inanimate friend provides the space and unconditional support in which to express oneself. Kids can project any attribute onto a stuffed animal through that thinly veiled line between reality and fantasy to make it so
– “Leo is a good listener, Lily loves me, or Parker gives good hugs and keeps me calm.”
There is also a foundation of science in support of using a stuffed animals such as Bluebee Pals. When we hold something tight against our body, we activate our core. Try it – hold onto a pillow or stuffed animal tightly – feel it? Do you feel it in your belly? That “gut level feeling” comes shining through when activating our core. This posturally supported position can give rise to wakening our awareness as well as a sense of confidence when sharing or speaking. The deep pressure and proprioceptive benefits also release neurotransmitters that help us calm and focus.
Bluebee Pals are an assistive technology device that provides children with the confidence to try something new. And because of Bluebee Pal’s adaptability, he speaks the language of children. Whether it’s learning a new skill from playing an app or the chance to communicate through an AAC program or a phone call, he is a loving and consistent presence that supports children everywhere.
Most kids love to listen to music and sing. Singing is one of the best activities during the holidays for young children and can be done anywhere – in the car when out and about or to reinforce everyday routines at home or school. Singing promotes development on so many different levels. Not only does it build language and vocabulary skills, but also teaches kids about social and cultural traditions, enhances thinking skills and provides an overall sense of well-being. And if fingerplays or movement is added, it helps kids retain the material by synching speech and other sensory systems with the body. Did you know that your Bluebee Pal comes ready right out of the box to help your children learn the joy and comradery of singing with others?
Finding appropriate music can sometimes be hard or frustrating. Here are a few of our favorite ways that bring our Bluebee Pals to life. Follow these easy steps to get started.
- Turn on your Bluebee Pal and pair it with a device. Usually, this is found under “Bluetooth Devices” within the settings tab. Devices such as a phone, tablet, or even an AI device such as Amazon Kids or Google Home can be paired with Bluebee.
- Select your album, playlist, or app, and tap the play button. Like magic, Bluebee will automatically begin to sing. The realistic head and mouth movements will transform Bluebee into a real-life friend.
- Set back and enjoy yourself! You can add microphones to make it authentic. We have found the plastic dollar store type microphones work well as they help amplify voices – but not too loud.
Spotify is one of our favorites as families can search for music or songs, make playlists, or explore playlists made by others. Spotify can either be used as a free service or as a subscription service. The difference being that the subscription service offers the options to download music to your device, listen offline, and to eliminate pop up ads that may interrupt or be inappropriate for kids in play.
Amazon Music, Google Music, or iTunes are all subscription services that function much like Spotify. There are free options to use in home or with a hotspot, but to download music, create playlists to listen offline, and to eliminate ads you’ll need to subscribe.
YouTube is a favored and universal hub for children’s music and educational videos. Be sure to view any music video to check out its content before playing it for a child. Even You Tube Kids may have some content that is inappropriate slip through YouTube’s filters. Report anything that seems off putting.
Whatever your choice, remember that holidays are a time to connect, share, and enjoy each other. Happy Holidays!