December 24, 2014

Icicle Christmas Ornaments

The completed ornament.
Around the holidays, I always like doing a craft project for the students to bring home and give to their parents as a gift. Of course, with 50+ students on my caseload, it is always challenging to find something that is within my personal budget (i.e. under $30) and at the same time looks nice (i.e. won't go in the trash as soon as students come home). This year I opted for some neat beaded icicle ornaments. Fortunately I still had some beads left from last year's project, so the main investment was the tinsel pipe cleaners. You will need one pipe cleaner per student and aim for 20-30 beads per student.

Step-by-step instructions.
In order to make this activity therapeutic, I had students "earn" their beads. My artic students had to say a target word 10 times to earn a bead, and my language students had to complete a task specific to their goal (e.g., solve a problem solving scenario, formulate a grammatically correct sentence about a picture, tell a descriptive detail about an object, etc.). Students then got to string their beads onto the pipe cleaner until they had a decent amount. I found that even if we did not have enough time to fill the pipe cleaner to the top, the tinsel gaps still made it look beautiful. This was good, because students didn't have to feel pressured to complete the whole thing. Of course, I had some kids who tried to set the record. In the end, one of my artic students practiced her sound 52 times (that is 520 productions in a single session!). To save time, you can also have students who are working on the same sound practice their words chorally at the same time.

The rainbow versions were particularly striking!
Most of my students had no problems with the fine motor component of this task. If you work with younger students, I would recommend using pony beads (versus tri-beads), since they have bigger holes and are easier to string.

Once we had enough beads, we curled the pipe cleaner around a pencil, tied the tip, attached wire, and a gift tag. The tags read either, "For each bead I practiced my Speech sound 10 times" (Artic) or "For each bead, I practiced one of my Speech targets" (Language).

My students (and I!) were impressed at how well these ornaments turned out. Some kids opted for a pattern and others just strung random beads together. In all of the cases, the ornaments turned out beautiful. In addition, they were easy, fast, and affordable. I can't wait for next year's project! Happy Holidays!

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