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Tips and activities for parents with children at home during Covid-19.

Widgit Symbols © Widgit Software 2002 – 2021

The world is a scary place at the moment, things are constantly changing, and I know that I am personally worried about many different things. However, as a teacher you cannot help but worry about other people’s children and families through this difficult time. So, I thought I would try to be helpful in providing a very quick, and very rough guide of things to do.

I have seen many posts about ‘just let them play’ – which yes, this is fantastic, and I hope to one day write a blog post on learning through play and the impact play has on learning… However, a lot of children and young people with additional needs really struggle to play and need some sort of daily routine and structure. Therefore, I have put together a list of free resources and websites for you to go to find things to support your child at home. As my website is fairly new, I am working super hard in my spare time to make as many resources as I possibly can. However, I am one person, and there are many other great resources out there to discover!

I have a few things I would like to advise on:

  • The first thing I would do is go to Widgit Online (type it in on Google) and sign up for their 21-day free subscription! It is SO important if your child relies on visual cues and supports. If you are not sure what to make yet on their, have a look online, Google it, make a list, get a few ideas of what you want to create and then sign up and create what you think your child will need over the next few weeks. That way, you get the most out of your 21-day subscription!
  • The next thing I would advise is to sign up to Twinkl – it is currently providing a month’s free subscription – download to your hearts content! The great thing about Twinkl is once you have downloaded the PDF you are free to keep it, forever! So, I would suggest (what I have done in previous years) using a USB stick and organising your Twinkl downloads into folders, as that way you will be able to find the resources you have downloaded… But that’s just how I like to organise my Twinkl downloads!
  • I would highly advise following some teachers on Instagram and Facebook. This may seem like a strange thing to do, but a lot of teachers have accounts and they are really useful. I have personally made great teacher buddies through the Instagram teaching community, and I get a lot of ideas from them! If you’re unsure where to start, go to my Instagram page and see who I am following. To narrow it down, search ‘EYFS’ ‘early years’ ‘SEN’ ‘SEND’ ‘special needs’ ‘sensory’ in my followers. This will give you a lot of great accounts with amazing ideas! Plus! At the moment a lot of teachers are providing FREE RESOURCES for you to download! If you find some special needs or early years teachers, this may be more suitable for your children.
  • Try to support your children through general everyday things. For example, getting your children to help do the washing – Can they name the colours of the clothes? Can they pair up the socks? Can they count how many items are going in? Can they find the number on the washing machine? This is just one example of everyday jobs that your child can help you with, where you can also support their learning.
  • Many things that are around the house can support children’s fine and gross motor skills. For example, pegs for pegging the washing out. Are they different colours? Do you have different coloured pieces of paper that your child can match? This task allows your child to match the colours, but also build up their finger strength by squeezing the peg, then they can use their hand-eye co-ordination to place the peg onto the piece of paper. This may seem like an easier task for some of us, but for many of our children with additional needs, this can prove to be very difficult. More tasks like this can include:
    • Sorting anything by colour / number / initial sound
    • Pegging pegs to boxes
    • Poking straws (or other objects) into a shoe box, that has pre-cut holes
    • Posting anything into anything… for example corks (from any empty wine bottles) into an empty coffee tin (from all the caffeine we will need!)
    • Make a sensory story sack
    • Make sensory trays (see my next bullet point on sensory)
    • Turn taking games (I will be posting resources to support this at/by the weekend)
    • Make slime / playdough (I will try to make and post visual recipes for these soon!)
  • Sensory! Sensory! Sensory! Now… I am VERY aware that resources are low at the moment – especially food resources. But, if you can spare two handfuls of rice, add a bit of paint and leave it to dry overnight, then there is lots you can hide in rice to let your child explore and discover things in more stimulating ways. Shaving foam, water beads, flour, gloop (cornflour and water mixed with food colouring)… These are just some of the other bits that you can put into a sensory tray along with other bits to support your child’s learning, but also to support their sensory needs.
  • Get out, get active! Obviously staying within the guidance and advise of WHO and the government, but a walk in the fresh air can do you and your child a world of good. Yoga is also fantastic – Cosmic Kids is my personal favourite! However, I have always been fond of some ‘relaxation time’ – get the beanbags out or put pillows and duvets on the floor, make it dark, have you got anything that glows or lights up? Put on some chilled music – Disney Instrumentals on YouTube is one of my favourite go-to’s when I need some down time! But that’s just because I am a huge Disney fan! There are lots out there, but enjoy the time to reflect, meditate and look after your own wellbeing as well as your children’s. If you’re feeling extra fancy, why not get out some moisturiser and give your child a foot / hand / arm massage, and if you’re lucky, maybe they will give you one back!
  • Lastly, I would like to simply make a list of learning resources. I was planning on making a pretty visual list like many of my fellow Instagram teaching friends, however, as I am trying to be as efficient as possible, this way will be a lot quicker! So below is a list, you can Google these and it should take you to the page… If I am clever enough, and I get round to it, then I will make it so you can tap on the link below and it will take you to the correct page.
    • Widgit Online – Free 21-day subscription to their symbol/visual makers
    • Twinkl – Free learning resources
    • Teacher’s Pet – Free home-learning packs
    • Phonics Play – Free phonics resources and online games
    • Oxford Owl – Free learning resources and online Ebooks
    • White Rose Maths – Free learning resources
    • Alphablocks and Number Blocks – Free games online through BBC
    • Top Marks – Free online games
    • Read with Phonics – Free online games
    • Cosmic Kids Yoga – Free visual yoga for children on YouTube

This is all just my personal stand-alone advice, to support people that want and need it. But if you would rather chill with your kids and do whatever, as and when… Go for it! There is no one stopping you, this advice is purely just me trying to help someone that may need it. So, I do hope this post helps at least one person. Stay safe!


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Work in progress…

Finally, after six long months of starting my website (in the Summer of 2019), I am beginning to get my head around the ins and outs of editing a website! It’s taken me a while and it has been a big learning curve for me. But with the help and support of some blogger friends, I have built this website into something I am quite proud of. Even though it is still a work in progress, and it isn’t where I am aiming for, it is on track and I am finally ready to ‘launch’ my website.

This is all new to me and I am sure I will be tweaking and changing things, so please bare with me! My main vision for my website is to provide free teaching and learning resources. The resources I will be providing are resources I have and will be creating for children and young people I work with 1:1 in the school holidays and on weekends.

Thank you for your support, enjoy browsing and I would really appreciate any feedback!


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Welcome to Spectrum Patronum

Hi, I’m Sammie! Welcome to my website – Spectrum Patronum. I am a special needs teacher who works with children and young people in the holidays and at weekends. I love what I do and I have had a focus of advocating and spreading awareness and acceptance for children with special educational needs since I started my Instagram page in April 2017.

I have worked with children and young people with special and complex learning needs since 2010. As the years have progressed, I have wanted to advocate, provide more information, tips and free resources for who ever needs the support. This is why I have started this website. I began my Spectrum Patronum Instagram and Facebook Page in April 2017 (whilst I was procrastinating from a university assignment!). My goal was to share and spread awareness, which I have been doing, but another goal of mine was to share resources. There are a lot of websites such as TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers) and TES where you can upload your items on and share with people across the world, But I wanted to do something slight different, which is why I have created this website where all my resources can be found to download for FREE! As I believe in sharing resources with others! Sharing is caring after all!

I would like to take this time to note that I will not be posting all resources I make on this website. (I make a lot!) I will only be posting resources that I make in my own time, with my own resources. I am lucky enough to have access to Widgit Online thanks to Widgit Software. I also make things for some of the children and young people I work with at the weekends and in the holidays, these are the resources that I will be posting on this website.

So, why now? Well, I have been postponing starting this website due to a few varying reasons…

  • I have, and will always, put my main teaching job first. Any teacher will know how much time and dedication you put into your job. So I have been creating this website and resources in my free time. It has taken me a while, as even though this website is completely separate from my teaching job, I am trying to ensure that I promote a healthy work / life balance. Even though this website is a good hobby, it can be time consuming – which is why it has taken me so long to finally get it to a point where I am happy to share it.
  • I have dyslexia, and this is something that has always discouraged me to read and write. However, as I continue to advocate for children with additional needs, I know that I also need to challenge my own difficulties. This means creating new strategies to deal with my disability, as opposed to shying away from reading and writing.
  • Time. Simply time. As you may or may not know, I am a super busy person, and I love to be a busy bee! I have hundreds of hobbies (mainly crafty ones) and as you can imagine, all of these hobbies, plus being a teacher means that I am a very busy bee!

So, I hope this website can provide answers to some questions you may have about specific learning needs. I also hope that it can help support families of children with special needs. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thank you for reading my first introductory blog post!