For Nate’s fourth birthday wish in May, you awesome Nater Tater fans generously gave us $560 to give to Nate’s school therapists. We initially thought we’d raise $100, which we planned to give to Ms. Susie, Nate’s lead therapist. But that’s how much we raised in the first hour! As the tally grew and grew, Chad and I felt that we needed to share the giving with Ms. Mollie, Nate’s speech and language pathologist, who works with all types of kids who have language and communication disorders and/or delays.
Let’s take a moment to talk about Ms. Mollie, shall we? (Mollie is the cheery gal on the left, above, holding the envelope of gift certificates from all of you!) She’s a mom of four under the age of 11. Four kids. She shows up to school every day showered, nicely dressed, and, to boot, perky. Not the annoying kind of perky – but the kind of perky that lifts your spirits and makes you happy, too. She’s developed special names for Nate, often singing “Nater Taaaaaa-ter!” when she sees him in the hall or hollering “Nater Tater Tater Tot!” Nate has five half-hour sessions with Mollie each week to work on isolating sounds and syllables, and building communication skills through approximating sounds and on his iPad. Nate loves his Ms. Mollie time. And we adore Ms. Mollie, too!
On Nate’s birthday, we surprised Ms. Mollie with $200 of Nate’s birthday wish money. There were two rules. One, Mollie needed to use it to buy things above and beyond what she needed for her classroom. The money is intended to purchase the fun things, the things that school budgets don’t allow for, and the items that will most connect with the kids that she currently has in her roster. Second, she had to share what she bought with all of us because a) they’re great toys that are off of the Toys R Us radar and b) so you all can see how inflated the cost of “educational” or “special needs” items are. You might think that $200 will fill your basket. Ms. Mollie spent most of the gift; it got her six things.
But the six things are AWESOME!!! While we asked that Mollie pick out items that would appeal to all of her kids, she admitted that she kept Nate in mind as she selected each thing — and I know exactly how Nate will enjoy each one! Here’s what Ms. Mollie picked out with your generous gifts!!!
What Goes Together? Sorting Board by Lakeshore Learning Materials ($24.99)
This is a tricky matching game that makes kids think beyond matching colors or shapes. The cards are magnetic and stick to the board. To help promote matching success, the borders of the word families are the same color. Nate’s mastered sorting by color and sorting by shape but this will take it to a whole new level.
Fill It Up! Fine Motor Jars by Lakeshore Learning Materials ($39.99)
These three jars help build sorting, matching, and fine motor skills. Nate loves lots of little things in an activity and this one has 79 wee items! He will be saying “puh-egg” for that peg in no time!!!
Farm Sorting Center by Lakeshore Learning Materials ($19.99)
This one I love love love because it keeps the game fresh and new. It’s a sorting game that challenges kids to classify the items by size, style, color, hair/feather type, and how they move (flying, walking, running etc.). Nate tends to silo how an activity is done so this will require him to work on adjusting to change while practicing syllables and sounds as he endeavors to say the items’ names!
Color-Changing Magic Board by Lakeshore Learning Materials ($39.95)
This one is SO AWESOME that we’re sending a note to Santa about it. It’s a heat sensitive board that changes color when you touch it with your hand (or lips…I’m sure Nate’s going to try to kiss it). We went to a kids’ museum that had a wall of this material and Nate was mesmerized. This type of item can be used as a motivator for Nate to work; if he accomplishes what Ms. Mollie requests of him, then Nate can get to play with the board for a bit.
Attribute Apples by Learning Resources ($19.99)
First off, Nate’s got one solid word: apple. It is his most favorite snack, meal, dessert: if you have an apple, he will say it, sign it, point at it, or tell you about it on his iPad. So this basket of apples just might make his little head explode with joy! It has 27 apples, all of which can be sorted or classified by different qualities: color, size, and features. Some have leaves, some have worms (oh no!), and some have stems. I know Nate will work extra hard for the chance to get his hands on one or two or all twenty-seven of these toys!
Mollie also picked out Ruff’s House Teaching Tactile Set by Learning Resources ($21.05), which Ms. Susie also got!
Ms. Susie split her money in two: one half to spend last spring and the other half to spend this fall when new students joined our class. You can see what she purchased last spring here. She’s working on figuring out what to get this semester and we’ll be sure to share the items as soon as they’re ordered!