Make Gel Pads with Timber Joey

Make Gel Pads with Timber Joey

Want to make a gel pad like Timber Joey, Portland’s soccer team mascot? Sensory items like gel pads help kids with ADHD, autism, and other processing disorders take a calming break, which allows them to focus on learning.

Large spaces like schools … and stadiums … can be particularly over-stimulating for kids with sensory disorders because of the lights, noise, and action that come with being around lots of people.

To make a gel pad for your classroom, or home, you’ll need:

*Clear pencil pouch that zips

*Hair gel

*Sequins, beads, or small toys


*Duct tape

Fill the pencil pouch with hair gel, about half full. Add two pinches of glitter, three pinches of sequins, and other small decorative toys. Super glue (E6000 recommended) the side of the pouch extensively, especially the area around the zipper. Then, seal the pouch on all four sides with duct tape.

Timber Joey, along with Timbers players and staff, in collaboration with The Shadow Project and two Portland Public Schools occupational therapists, recently made gel pads as part of Major League Soccer’s Week of Community Service. Dozens of the gel pads are on their way to Shadow classrooms. And the remaining pads are now available in PGE Park’s guest services center for anyone who needs a time out.

“I think it’s important that we provide this kind of comfort to anybody coming through our doors who needs it so they have a fuller experience at the stadium,” said Timber Joey.




Nike Visits Shadow Kids at Chief Joseph

Nike Visits Shadow Kids at Chief Joseph

The Shadow Project students in Mr. Dale Williams’ room at Chief Joseph Elementary were visited last week by one dozen Nike and Oregon Community Foundation employees. Mr. Williams’ fourth grade students gave their visitors a tour of the sensory space in the learning center, designed by The Shadow Project, and talked about how the fidgets and nubby cushions available help them find focus.

“This is my favorite book,” said fourth-grader Giovanni, opening the print version of Diary of a Worm, and reading a short passage. “I use the fidgets to squeeze to help me concentrate.”

Classmate, Mia, demonstrated the Learning Ally audiobooks that are part of the sensory space.

“Learning Ally helps,” said Mia, as she demonstrated to the visitors how to highlight words and make them bigger on the screen while following the story with her ears. “All of my favorite books are available on these audiobooks. This gives me practice with reading, and helps me in life.”

Mr. Williams noted that all of his fourth graders have made great strides in reading since the audiobooks were made available. “Many of my kids are now reading at least one grade level higher than they were when we started on the audiobooks at the beginning of the school year,” he said. “For my kids who struggle with reading, the impact of having access to audiobooks is extremely powerful.”

All of the students in Mr. Williams’ class have increased their reading fluency since the start of the year, according to recent Diebels test scores.

There are 20 students at Chief Joseph who use the audiobooks to read with their ears, and they have read 9,183 pages, the third highest in Portland Public Schools between the start of school through February.



Shadow Talks Equity at Bridger School

Shadow Talks Equity at Bridger School

The Shadow Project recently teamed with Portland Public Schools’ Bridger Elementary to coordinate a bilingual Family Equity Summit for 75 families on growth mindset, offering tips for how to motivate children in the classroom.

Growth mindset is a way for teachers to encourage struggling learners to keep trying even when the work is challenging. Praising hard work and effort instead of intelligence cultivates productivity and ultimately success in the classroom.

The Shadow Project’s unique goal setting sheets are designed to instill a growth mindset in children with learning challenges such as dyslexia, ADHD, and autism. Setting small goals, and then celebrating the achievement of those milestones motivates kids to learn. Sensory tools are integral to helping children with learning challenges.

“This year at Bridger, we are all learning about mindfulness and how to achieve a growth mindset,” said Principal Lydia Poole. “The Shadow Project has provided us with a sensory space that has mindfulness tools to help us meet the needs of our students. The tools help our students be more productive in class and have less anxiety.”

Bridger’s sensory space has tools such as handheld fidgets for calm and focus, kinetic sand, nubby cushions, and building blocks. It also has popular print books, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and a massive audiobook library for kids who read with their ears.

Shadow Project Program Coordinator Alejandra Gurrola gave a bilingual presentation at the Family Equity Summit to help kids and parents access the audio library throughout the school day.

Sixth grader, Frank, says he prefers science to reading, but he’s giving the audiobooks a try. “Reading is a struggle,” he said. “I don’t really like it because it’s hard.”

To help kids like Frank catch up with their peers, Bridget Speech Language Pathologist Betsy Shaughnessy has provided access to audiobooks for 50 kids at Bridger this winter. “I love the audiobooks,” said Betsy, whose professional goal through the district is to ensure all of her students on IEPs (Individualized Education Programs) have an audiobook account and read at least one audiobook.

“They are another tool for students to get excited about learning,” she said. “For students who are strong auditorially, all they have to do is listen to the books to gain the knowledge and vocabulary skills that can advance their reading level.

“We love them.”


Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank You, Donors, for a Great Year!

Thank you to our donors whose generous support over the holiday season raised nearly $35,000 to equip our children with tools for success in the classroom, and a big thank you to the Willamette Week Give!Guide for a fifth year of successful fundraising!

“Our donors’ generosity will put essential literacy tools into the hands of our struggling students,” said Shadow Founder/Executive Director Christy Scattarella. M.A. “With gifts from the Give!Guide, our end-of-year campaign, corporate matches, and a match from the deLaski Family Foundation, we can provide children in special education innovative ways to succeed in the classroom.”

Thank you also to The Shadow Project’s recent foundation donors and corporate sponsors:

*Nike Community Impact Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation
*Robert D. and Marcia H. Randall Charitable Trust
*OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation
*Spirit Mountain Community Fund

A volunteer initiative piloted by Shadow in the fall of 2016 with the University of Portland, garnered more than 130 classroom hours that benefited Shadow students. Special thanks to Dr. Eric Anctil’s sophomore education majors: Nick, Kiana, Jordyn, and Kimberley, for their help in reading with kids on audiobooks, outfitting sensory spaces, and preparing goal setting materials for teachers.


Said Nick: “I found out recently that I have ADD and I can relate to kids with sensory issues because school never really suited me. I wanted to see what it’s like for other kids who are struggling in school, and how sensory tools help with reading and focus.”


Sensory Tools Go Mainstream at Rosa

Sensory Tools Go Mainstream at Rosa

Students with learning challenges at Rosa Parks Elementary are reading and succeeding in their general education classrooms after The Shadow Project provided sensory tools to all teachers, along with five hours of professional development, to increase equity.

Fifth-grader Magali has learning challenges, but spends most of her day now in a general education classroom. When testing, she wants a fidget to squeeze to stay focused, and now they are readily available to her so she doesn’t have to spend valuable class time looking for what she needs to be productive.

“She feels more confident and asks for what she needs,” said Special Education Teacher Kim Giarelli, M.S. “Her spelling has already risen two levels this school year, and she is now handling two lessons a week.”

tay-and-audio-bookThird grader Tay was several grade levels behind in reading and used to say, “I’m not smart,” until he began using sensory tools from The Shadow Project.

“Tay has been hyperactive since birth,” said his grandmother, Janet Waddy. “He just can’t be still, he always has to be moving or doing something.”

Now, six months later, Tay wears headphones when doing schoolwork to “block people out,” and he has stretch bands to kick on the bottom of his chair, releasing excess energy in a positive way while staying on task.

“Whoever came up with fidgets, that’s the best idea ever,” said Janet, who has bought sensory tools for home, including chewable erasers, squishy handheld balls … and several pairs of headphones.

“He’s got more confidence and motivation,” said Janet. “Tay actually likes to read now, and he reads every night to his four-year-old brother.

“I’m all for anything that’s going to help him succeed and grow,” she said. “I’m a happy grandma. It makes my heart proud to see this change in him.”