Let’s face it. The world is in crisis mode right now! The COVID-19 global pandemic has changed our lives for the foreseeable future. As of the end of April 2020, 3,275,475 coronavirus cases have been reported worldwide, with 1,078,476 cases reported in the United States. Medical professionals are fighting daily to save lives while families remain unable to visit their loved ones. Businesses are closed with many employees out of work or furloughed. Families are trying to manage staying at home while working remotely AND educating their children who are unable to go to school. A household full of people “Zooming” (the crazy popular video conferencing tool being use for everything from staff meetings to happy hours), trying to work, trying to learn, trying to cook and clean is enough to break any of us!
Our children are affected too. They can tell that things are not quite right and that the adults in their lives are stressed. They hear us talking about the virus, or “big germ” as some moms have nicknamed it, and may not understand why they must #stayathome and #keepadistance! More time at home with this heightened level of stress can inevitably lead to increased anxiety for our children. You may be noticing more whining, tantrums, and sibling rivalries no matter how attentive you are trying to be. We are social beings that thrive on interactions and variety. Living this way is HARD!
Thankfully, organizations are providing FREE access to some amazing educational and fun resources. Bluebee Pals work exceptionally well with these activities via Bluetooth connectivity. Check out the list below and connect your Bluebee Pal today!
Not only can you connect your Bluebee Pal to read and sing along with any of these resources, but our plush friend is there for hugs and cuddles too! Hug your Bluebee Pal today for a break from the COVID-19 emergency we are all dealing with. Bluebee Pals and Kayle Concepts are thinking of you during this time!http://bluebeepals.com
The Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing creative programs and partnerships to facilitate opportunities for people with Down syndrome and their families. They offer innovative services including iCan! The Learning Program focused on providing parents with the tools to strengthen the educational potential of their child. Developed by Dana Halle, founder of the Down Syndrome Foundation of Orange County, the program consists of monthly workshops for parents and their children with Down syndrome. The caregivers learn how to teach reading, introduce math and create effective learning session.
While the parents are hard at work, so are the kids! Alaine Miller, a partnering speech-language pathologist, runs the children’s sessions during this 9-month program. Alaine found another partner to join the mix as well. You guessed it – Bluebee Pals! The Down Syndrome Foundation is a Bluebee Pals Project donation recipient and the kids have been having a blast with their new cuddly friends!
Alaine uses Blubee Pals to Model Social Skills, Speech-Language Skills, and Positive Behavior.
Using voice recordings, text-to-speech apps and educational songs, the children interact with Bluebee and their friends each month. Greetings, turn-taking, appropriate sitting, encouragement and listening comprehension are just some of the things Bluebee assists the students in learning. Alaine stated that the educational tech tool has “maximally increased engagement and progress” amongst her students.
“The children were eager to interact with Bluebee and thought it was great to answer a question Bluebee asked. They also loved hugging Bluebee and giving him high fives when they were working hard!”
The children of the iCan! Learning Program also helped Bluebee by fix any silly mistakes he made – “allowing the children the opportunity to correct him, which they thought was silly and fun”!
iCan! The Learning Program is filling in much needed gaps in the education of children with Down syndrome and providing essential parental support. Check it out along with the numerous other services provided by the Down Syndrome Foundation of Florida here: http://www.dsfflorida.org/http___www.dsfflorida.html
Laura Jiencke, Bluebee Pal creator is at it again – making meaningful connections with educators everywhere she goes! She recently attended the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 2019 conference in Philadelphia and met Melissa Stark, a special education PreK teacher in New York City.
“As a special education teacher, you are always looking for ways to help increase your student’s love of learning. At ISTE in June 2019, I presented on Technologically Applying the Communication Bill of Rights toAll Learners. Giving all students a voice should be a goal for us all. While walking the conference floor, I had the chance to find Bluebee. As summer school was approaching I decided to give it a try and buy one for my classroom. “ – Melissa Stark
She hit the ground running and began using her Bluebee Pall in the classroom right away! “I love that my student’s AAC devices can be modeled through Bluebee. I also love that my students can read books or share items they completed for classwork on Bluebee. Bluebee gives my students that voice. They integrate with so many different apps and programs. I also love that Bluebee has its own individual app that focuses on life skills such as what you do in different places in your home (i.e., kitchen, bathroom). I am so happy to have found Bluebee and cannot wait to continue using it in my classroom!” https://www.schools.nyc.gov/special-education/school-settings/district-75
7th Annual New York City Schools Technology Summit.
Melissa’s desire to share Bluebee Pals with her entire district lead her to suggest they make an appearance at the 7th Annual New York City Schools Technology Summit. The Bluebee Pals were out in full force at the NYC Tech Summit where over 1,200 leaders, technology staff and teachers learn about the district’s latest technology plans and priorities. As the largest school system in the nation, the NYC Department of has a budget of nearly $500 million and serves over 1.1 million students and 1,800 schools. Solutions, such as the Bluebee Pals plush educational technology tool, were on full display allowing technology and education enthusiasts immerse themselves in the lasts technology for their students! https://www.bluebeepals.com/special-needs/
Many thanks to Melissa Stark – an exceptional teacher serving exceptional students in NYC! Keep on helping kids find their voices!
Announcing a new partnership with The Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida (DSACF)! DSACF is an accredited not-for-profit association founded in 1991 by parents of children with Down syndrome that serves over 1,200 individuals with Down syndrome and their families over 10 counties. DSACF offers a starting point for new or expectant parents as well as “programs for every age and stage” including adulthood. In addition, they provide support groups, host fundraising events and provide legal support.
Bluebee Pals have partnered with the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida with support of their acting interim executive director, Amy Drow. Amy has “always loved kiddos with something a little extra since her older brother is blessed with Down syndrome!”. She was eager to include the DSACF in the Bluebee Pals Project and add the pals to their lending library. The lending library houses items and resources available to their members for FREE. We had a grand time demonstrating the many ways Bluebee Pals could benefit those with Down syndrome. https://www.dsacf.org
Individuals with Down syndrome have many special talents as well as a specific areas of needs. Bluebee Pals and it’s accompanying Bluebee Pals app are a perfect tool for increasing these skills. See the chart below for skill areas paired with Bluebee Pals activities! Simply download the app suggested app and use the Bluetooth connection on your device to pair your Bluebee Pal! https://www.bluebeepals.com
Communication and Cognitive Skills with Down Syndrome Children
Bluebee Pals App
Wh? By Autism iHelp
Splingo’s Therapy Bundle
WH Question Cards
Fun Deck Following Directions
Things That Go Together
Listen to Bluebee Pals name, read and ask questions to increase vocabulary, following directions and basic concept skills. Use text-to-speech app to help Bluebee talk, ask questions, make comments and more!
Minimal Pairs for Speech
Listen to Bluebee articulate target sounds and practice your sounds too!
iSequences Therapeutic Functional Skills
Let Bluebee Pal read you social stories and teach you social skills with these functional apps!
Gross and Fine Motor Skills
Bluebee Pals App
Physical Therapy for Kids
AIMS Improving Motor Skills
Increase fine motor skills by engaging with fine motor/handwriting and gross motor apps. Use text-to-speech apps to help Bluebee give directions for fine motor and gross motor activities!
Bluebee Pals App
Let Bluebee Pal teach you letters, numbers, spelling and more by connecting Bluebee to these learning apps!
Daily Living Skills
Bluebee Pals App – Bathroom
My Play Home
Help Bluebee with daily living skills such as showering and brushing teeth!
Once in a while stars collide and sparks fly! Such was the case when Bluebee Pals met Dr. Eleazar Trey Vasquez III, director of the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute (TJEEI). In just over a year, Dr. Trey, as he is often called, has brought in over $8 million in funded research to the institute that is located at the University of Central Florida. At the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute Dr. Trey and his ever growing team of special educators and behavior therapists are focused on providing research-based practices, professional development, and partner collaborations to individuals with disabilities and their families. https://tjeei.ucf.edu
Dr. Trey credits his college experience with Special Olympics for guiding him on a path to an exceptional education. He has worn many different hats throughout his career including teacher, school psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D), associate professor, and Principal Investigator of research focused on the use of technology to increase academic and behavioral outcomes for students with autism. In addition, Dr. Trey is an expert at increasing interdisciplinary collaboration evidenced by his partnerships with UCF’s PedsAcademy at Nemours Children’s Hospital (hospital-based pediatric school program) and CAST (nonprofit education research and development organization focused on Universal Design for Learning).
Now to the fireworks! Bluebee Pals were introduced to the Toni Jennings Exceptional Education Institute in 2018 and quickly became part of their technology-focused research. Dr. Trey and his team recently completed a Single Case Research Design on the use of the Bluebee Pals to teach children with autism early social skills utilizing the VP-Map curriculum. Preliminary results of the study demonstrate early social skills can be increased with the use of robotics and good pedagogical curriculum. We are thrilled that Bluebee Pals were part of this important research focused on increasing crucial social skills in children with autism! We can’t wait to learn more about the use of robotics and technology for learning and thank Dr.Trey and the entire TJEEI team for their innovative research and dedication to persons with disabilities! !https://www.bluebeepals.com/autism/
Check back soon to stay informed about TJEEI’s publication and future research projects!
I have had the pleasure and privilege of sharing the power and fun of Bluebee Pals with many educators, therapists, caregivers and clients. Even then, it can be tricky to connect with the many people that could benefit from Bluebee Pals and empower them to use this educational tool with success. Thanks to the University of Central Florida Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD), I was able to provide a free webinar to help others get their “degree” in Bluebee!
With a little help from IT support and the guidance of Dr. Daly, UCF CARD Director, we were able to provide a live Bluebee Pals Tutorial webinar for caregivers and educators! https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/ This live webinar was recorded and shared on the UCF CARD and Bluebee Pals Facebook pages for anyone to view at their leisure. Webinars provide an invaluable resource to us all as we try to stay informed about topics that affect our home and work lives. We are so thankful for the opportunity to educate caregivers and service providers about the many possible ways they can use Bluebee Pals as an affordable assitive technlogy tool to enhance learning and communication.