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Resource file

Our reviewers cast their eyes over some of the latest resources for children with special needs, including a kit to motivate reluctant mathematicians and some fun ideas for messy play

They're Driving Me Mad! Running circles of support for children whose behaviour pushes you beyond your limit

Jenny Mosley and Zara Niwano Details: LDA, Pintail Close, Victoria Business Park, Nottingham NG4 2SG Tel: 0845 120 4776, 2007, 172pp, paperback, £19.99, ISBN 978 1 85503 423 5 Nasen members receive a 10% discount with LDA.

This book offers strategies to support and manage children who do not respond to standard positive behaviour management techniques. The authors provide a `circles of support model' intended to reach primary-aged children `beyond' the normal strategies. The aim of using circles of support is to build self-esteem through developing relationships, resilience and resourcefulness. The authors' model is underpinned by a number of theoretical perspectives, including

the person-centred approach, cognitive behaviour therapy and social learning theory. This resource is intended for use by mainstream primary practitioners such as teachers, TAs, SENCOs, learning mentors and behaviour support workers. A key point is that effective wholeschool systems of support need to be embedded before circles of support can be successfully implemented. These systems include whole-school values, rules and policies for emotional and social development, and incentives and sanctions. The authors also note that it is important that there is an open and supportive ethos between children and staff for work with circles of support to be successful. A circle of support should contain a mixture of targeted pupils and other pupils who would benefit from small group work and act as role models. Each participant should be interviewed prior to the group to discuss the issues, what the group is trying to achieve and also to assess areas for development. There should be two adult facilitators, at least one of whom works regularly within the school setting. The sessions are intended to last approximately 45 minutes and to be carried out weekly for a period of at least a term. It can be helpful if the group is run in tandem with whole-class circle time to enable gradual feeding back into the mainstream class after the cessation of the group. A circle of support differs from circle time in that there is a higher level of supervision, faster pace, time-bound activities, greater use of ritual and activities structured to meet the specific needs of individual children. Facilitators can focus on a broad theme, for example self-esteem or specific skills such as anger management, trust or empathy. The

choice of focus is informed by an evaluation of need based on individual interviews, the use of assessment tools and discussion with adults who know the pupils. The sessions are divided into two series. The first series comprises ten introductory sessions and five transitional sessions. The second has 30 five-step session plans. The five steps for each session are meeting up, warming up, opening up, cheering up and calming down. The structured session plans can be used as suggested or adapted in response to children's needs and abilities. The resource is comprehensive. However, although the book is grounded in theory and backed up by case studies and action research projects, these are small scale and not always centred on primary-aged children. It is pleasing that the authors acknowledge that the process of engaging these children is relatively long term and requires enhanced resources in terms of needing two facilitators and the ongoing support of staff, parents and carers. The high level of commitment necessary from management and the wider school, however, could make this a costly resource to implement. A solution to this could be involving workers from outside agencies such as behaviour support to run groups with school staff to reduce resource issues. It is good that the authors make it clear that effective whole-school systems need to be in place prior to setting up a circle of support. Used in the ways suggested the model outlined by the authors should prove to be very effective at meeting the needs of those children who are `beyond' normal classroom strategies. Review by Heidi Nothard, LA behaviour support teacher





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Fun with Messy Play: Ideas and Activities for Children with Special Needs

Tracey Beckerleg Details: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 116 Pentonville Road, London N1 9JB Tel: 020 7833 2307, 2008, 160pp, paperback, £12.99, ISBN 978 1 84310 641 8

Messy play is a familiar activity for young children who may enjoy a variety of experiences at home, in early education settings and at school. It is also a valuable element of a sensory curriculum for children with additional needs promoting a range of learning experiences. Messy play is an activity that is sometimes approached with varying degrees of enthusiasm but Tracey Beckerleg explains in her book that as `you see the children relaxing, responding and having fun, you too will begin to believe that this is fun'. Tracey begins her book by sharing her early enjoyment of messy play activities and how this became an important part of her approach to making the curriculum accessible to her class of children with special needs. She clearly describes how messy play activities can be used to encourage body awareness, motor skills, communication, social skills, concentration and relaxation as well as working on sensory stimulation. Messy play activities are also an important part of developing exploratory play skills while working at the child's own pace. Tracey provides clear guidance for setting up a messy play session. She explains the importance of careful planning for the needs of the

individual child, taking into account the aim of activities and the environment. Throughout the book Tracey uses case studies to illustrate the points she is making and photographs of children engaging in and enjoying the activities. The final part of the book is full of ideas for different media to use for messy play. As a practising Portage home visitor Tracey does not advise or recommend any activity that has not been well tried and tested. She offers cautionary guidance as and when it is needed. The book is clearly set out and Tracey's chatty writing style makes it accessible for anyone involved in the education of children with additional needs, including pre-school practitioners, Portage home visitors, teachers, teaching assistants and, most importantly, parents. In writing her book about messy play Tracey not only clearly outlines the important part this plays in the development of a range of skills, but also shares her wonderful enthusiasm for the activities. This was a book that I not only enjoyed reading but one which made me want to go out and use some of the ideas and have fun! Review by Cathy Ruffles, early years area SENCO

Solo `readers'

Laurie Leventhal-Belfer Details: Barrington Stoke, 18 Walker Street, Edinburgh EH3 7LP Tel: 0131 225 4113, 2008, 54­60pp, paperback, £5.99 Books reviewed: Snow Dogs by Jane A C West ISBN 978 1 84299 560 0 United Here I Come by Alan Combes ISBN 978 1 84299 559 4

Solo is a small collection of fiction books with `real' stories for 11­13 year olds with a reading age of around 6.5 years. I liked both books. The stories were interesting and about the right length ­ it took me about 40 minutes to read each one and I didn't need much help. The contrast of cream paper and black print was fine for me. The font was a serif one but it was clear and easy to read. The double spacing helped me to follow the sentences. The black and white illustrations fitted the stories. The coloured covers are good and make you want

to read the books. I'd look out for more in the series. Review by Aaron Coates,Year 9, Rhodesway School, Bradford





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Mathematics is an abstract subject and can be a daunting area for many pupils. It has been shown that pupils learn mathematical facts and rules better through practical activities and experience. This is clearly illustrated when watching pupils working with Numicon. Numicon kits provide a stimulating and exciting range of resources to motivate the most reluctant mathematicians. The Closing the Gap with materials are bright and colourful and are supported by a structured set of multiNumicon sensory activities with clear, easy-tofollow instructions. This makes it an ideal Details: Numicon, 12 Pine activity for small supported groups and Close, Avis Way, Newhaven, East Sussex BN9 0DH Tel: 01273 individuals in the classroom. There is also a range of assessment activities that 515591, 2008,`One to One Kit': includes enables teachers not only to identify exactly where the pupil is but also to build all pupil resources and 157pp up a profile of the pupil. This information teaching guide, £110 plus VAT and p&p, ISBN 978 1 9553949 7 3 will provide the basis for any (A `Group Kit' is also available: interventions and learning support that may be required and will clearly highlight £165 plus VAT and p&p) progress. Closing the Gap with Numicon is a Nasen members receive a 10% brilliant addition to the range of Numicon discount on this product. materials and can be used with pupils of any age. While a range of activities is set out in the comprehensive teaching guide,

the materials are so adaptable that they become almost limitless in their uses. The enthusiasm with which pupils using Numicon approach the work illustrates the motivational impact of these materials. The most valuable feature of the materials is the way they clarify very basic but difficult to understand facts about number. Like many teachers I have struggled to make pupils recognise the difference between odd and even, not knowing if they really understood or were just making a wild guess. When working with Numicon, pupils readily recognise and explain the difference. Concepts such as larger and smaller also become very simple. The important thing for me about working with Numicon is that it teaches pupils to enjoy mathematics, builds their confidence in their numerical abilities and motivates them to go on learning. It is very rewarding to listen to the discussions that these materials generate between pupils, and how they use them to support mathematical thinking. Review by Yvonne Howarth, recently retired LA support teacher

Everyday Challenges Activity Pack

Peter Clarke

Details: SEN Press, 7 Cliffe Street, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire HX7 8BY Tel: 01422 844822, 2008, 101pp, paperback and CD-ROM, £94.25, ISBN 978 1 905579 56 3 This pack is aimed at young people who would benefit from explicit support in key areas of transition into young adulthood. It is based around six story books, each with its own everyday challenge theme such as

`Travelling by Yourself' and `Moving on to College'. Included in the pack are editable electronic versions and audio tracks of the six books, interactive activities for the whiteboard or computer, photocopiable resources and teaching notes. The site licence enables the resources to be used throughout the school/college and there is also an option to buy additional copies of the story books. There are opportunities to explore the themes through group discussion, individual reading, worksheets and the interactive CD-ROM. The materials are presented in an age-appropriate format for the upper secondary and post-16 target audience and there is a detailed breakdown of the reading ages of the books, approximately 6.5­7 years. The written materials are targeted at pupils working at entry levels 1 and 2. The resource would be very useful in a range of different settings ­ special schools may find it of value for both

PSHE and literacy. A number of the themes are covered in the Adult Literacy qualification and the materials would be a useful supplement to practitioners delivering this course. The CD-ROM is a very user-friendly element, with carefully thought-out icons to support the learner. A real strength of the pack is the way the resources interweave to allow the learner different ways of approaching the work. This could be on an individual basis or, as the teaching notes suggest, as part of a whole group. A clear assessment frame for teachers to evaluate their students' work may have been a useful addition to this generally comprehensive pack. I would recommend the pack ­ the overall presentation is very clear and well thought out. The challenges presented are well chosen and of key importance to the young people using the materials. Review by Kathryn Shaw, LA support teacher and teacher of the deaf

Reviews are compiled by John Perry. If you have material for review please send it to John at Special, PO Box 42, Skipton BD23 9BF.




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