2015-16 Annual Review

2015-16 Annual Review

The Shadow Project 2015-16 Anuual Review (PDF) is now available. Take a look inside to learn more about our recent initiatives and successes in the classroom.

VOICE features SuperSensory Literacy Space

In the October edition of the Rosa Parks Voice, learn how students are finding a safe, calming space in the SuperSensory Learning Space, installed by The Shadow Project in the counselor’s office. View the PDF here.

September 2016 Newsletter

In the September edition of our newsletter, find out about sensory tools and other classroom news:

  • Rosa Parks Goes Sensory
  • Shadow Expands to Head Start
  • Top Three Sensory Tools
  • Shadow Unveils Online Store for Teachers

View the full newsletter.

Shadow Unveils Online Store for Teachers

Shadow Unveils Online Store for Teachers

Special education teachers in The Shadow Project were able to access online the organization’s extensive warehouse of student reinforcers–books, pencils, fidgets, gifts–for the first time this fall.

“The move to an online store is a huge milestone for us,” said Christy Scattarella, M.A., Shadow founder and executive director. “For many years, our teachers have physically visited our warehouse to pick up reinforcing motivational materials for kids with learning disabilities in The Shadow Project who meet their academic and behavioral goals. However, with their busy schedules, teachers have been asking for an online presence.

“When we moved our physical warehouse this summer from Portland Public Schools to Madison High School, which is a longer driving distance for many of the teachers in our program, it made sense to transfer all our operations online,” she said.

Top Three Classroom Sensory Tools

Top Three Classroom Sensory Tools

What sensory tools are most needed in today’s classrooms for wiggly learners? Veteran Portland Occupational Therapist (OT) Martha Thomas recommends stuffed balloons, fiddly connectors, and crayons.

“Many children do better when they have something to do with their hands while learning,” said Martha, who has been an OT in Portland Public Schools (PPS) for 30 years. “For many kids, fidgets–handheld squish-ables–are the perfect solution for jumpstarting kids’ attention so they can focus in class without disruption to themselves or others, often without adult intervention. They can even help kids develop hand skills.”

Martha Thomas
Fidgets can be inexpensive and made with household materials. Here are Martha’s top three fidget picks:

#1. Balloons filled with Play-Doh, corn starch, rice, lentils, sand, bird seed, or white flour.

“Filled balloon fidgets are quiet and not too distracting. Students can usually keep their eyes/ears on the teacher when using them. It is important to choose fidgets that don’t promote play. I tell kids that fidgets are tools, not toys. If they become toys, consider choosing a different fidget. Flour balloons are a good choice because they don’t roll our bounce,” said Martha.

#2. Fiddly connectors like two Legos, a piece of Velcro on two small wooden blocks, or anything handheld that connects/disconnects easily.

“These can be great for kids who are overwhelmed and need to take a break,” said Martha. “Fiddly connectors require ‘heavy work’ to get them together and apart, and these repetitive actions can be very calming because they don’t require much thought while the movement can help release some nervous energy.”

#3. Coloring and drawing are old standbys, so having art materials and paper at the ready is important.

“Coloring and drawing help the central nervous system become more organized and calm because they provide an easy task which allows the brain to rest for a few minutes,” said Martha. “It’s quiet work, and anyone can do it, so no one stands out as different, which is important to some kids, and creativity can be very empowering.”

All schools within PPS have an OT assigned to them, and Martha said OT’s are a great resource for teachers who need tips on how to handle fidgety kids.

“We are all sensory beings,” said Martha. “It’s our only way of interacting with the world. It’s important to recognize that children’s sensory needs are  part of who they are, and need to be acknowledged for best success in the classroom to minimize disruptions.”