Classroom Spotlight: Ladybugs

The Ladybugs have been very busy this fall, learning and adapting to new classroom rules and expectations and that (much) longer walk down the hallway to the back of the building!

I am so pleased with how well our school year is going. Before Thanksgiving break, we read the book “Stone Soup” and talked about the many different ways we can be good friends to each other—by opening our hearts to one another and sharing what others might not have.

Our Tuesday kiddos went “grocery shopping,” and then each brought in a different ingredient. Together, we made our very own Stone Soup! The kiddos worked hard to prepare their special ingredient brought from home, then added it to the big black pot. Carrots, noodles, and peas were a few of the favorites this year.

We waited, watched, and smelled our soup all the way up until lunchtime. Our soup was very well seasoned, and some kiddos even called it “spicy.” Not everyone actually enjoyed the soup, but most were willing to give it a try.

In addition to our weekly theme, the Ladybugs are learning a lot about letters. Each week is dedicated to a certain letter of the alphabet. During that week, we work on naming the letter, what sound the letter makes, how to build the letter with wood pieces, and then how to write the uppercase letter.

We continue to use the curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears. We will soon apply this knowledge to our daily sign-ins, where each kiddo will begin working on identifying their name, drawing pre-writing strokes or simple shapes, and/or writing specific letters.

I can’t believe it’s already December! We’ve had such a great first half of the school year. I’ve loved watching each child come into their own, showing us their personality, making new friends, and becoming more independent with each passing day.

We're looking forward to what the New Year holds for our Ladybugs!

Mrs. Megan Gallagher
Lead Teacher, Ladybugs Class


News from our O.T.

Sensory Experiences with Winter

That time of year is approaching: winter. It’s a time when we want to cozy up indoors like hibernating animals. Instead, bundle up and brave the outdoors for some sensory fun.

Sensory play and experiences are a wonderful way to support the foundations of growth in many areas such as motor, speech, cognitive, and social. And the winter season is full of great opportunities for sensory experiences targeting vestibular, proprioceptive, and tactile input, for example.

Try these sensory winter activities with your child:

  1. Make Snow Angels: First, show your child how to make a snow angel. Then help your child lay down in the snow on his or her back. Help them move their arms and legs up and down to make an angel imprint in the snow. Afterward, you can color in your snow angel. See below about snow painting.

  2. Build a Snowman: Have your child make a mound of snow using a shovel, pail, or even his or her hands. Help give the snowman shape. Dress your snowman using clothing from the family such as a familiar scarf or hat. Use objects such as sticks, carrots, and buttons to give it more facial details.

  3. Go Sledding and Tubing: Have your child help push the sled up a hill before the joyride down. On flatter ground, have your child sit on a sled holding on to rope or a hula hoop as you pull them around; try changing roles and have your child push or pull you if able.

  4. Snow Painting: Take a spray bottle filled with water tinted with food coloring outside and spray it around in the snow. Create snowballs, structures, and sculptures then decorate them.

  5. Snowball Throwing Contest: Make a target using colored water from snow painting (see above) or hang a winter-themed picture (tree, snowflake, stocking, etc.) on the wall of a fence, house, or garage door. Have your child throw the snowballs to see how many hit the picture or target.

  6. Snow Maze: Make a path all over the yard in different directions, creating a maze for your children to follow. If your child needs visual support, spray colored water to mark the path.

  7. Shoveling: Use a child-sized shovel and provide your child with short distances, such as shoveling horizontally across a driveway rather than vertically. You can also adapt this by using a small beach shovel and pail to scoop and pour to fill a bucket up with snow.

  8. Sensory Snow Bin: Bring the snow indoors. Fill up a small bin or cookie sheet with snow. Hide small toys in the snow for your child to find. Build a miniature snowman. Use cookie cutters to create shapes in the snow.

    Enjoy the winter weather!

    Lucy Lowe, MS, OTR/L
    Occupational Therapist

News From Our Physical Therapists

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At Rise, the first order of business for physical therapy is one that we constantly return to throughout the year: seated positioning. We want all students to be in the ideal position for meal time, circle time, and other learning opportunities. Regardless of which student we are working with, we always look at a few core points when seated on a chair or stool:

·         Feet: should always be flat on the floor when a child is sitting. This gives them a sense of security and a stable base of support that allows them to move their trunk and arms with ease.

·         Knees: should be bent to approximately 90° when sitting. This gives the child the ability to stand up easily from the chair, and it helps place their hips in a better position.

·         Thighs: about two-thirds of the thigh should be supported by the seat, meaning the hips should be all the way back on the chair or stool. This gives the child more support, so their trunk and arms are free to move and participate in activities.

·         Hips: should also be bent to approximately 90°. If the hips are bent too much, the pelvis will tilt backward and the child will be in a slouched position.

·         Arms: if positioned at a table, the top of the table should come to about mid-torso height on a child (just above elbow height). This position allows them to put their hands and forearms on the table for eating or playing.

When placed in the right position, a child is able to sit up straight and better able to use their arms and hands for eating and playing. This also puts the child in the ideal position to be able to learn and pay attention, in addition to providing better positioning for speech production.

As children grow and change, we are constantly re-evaluating their seating at Rise to make sure it works best for them. A chair that fits them at the beginning of the year may not work for them at the end of the semester, or even after only a few weeks.

How we sit is just the start of how we organize ourselves and learn, which is why we consider it so important!

If you are wondering how to create better seating and positioning for your child at home, some options are to purchase a low-cost table (Ikea, for example, has a small pine wooden table and two chairs) that could be cut down to a smaller size to suit their height. A simple bench or stool could also be used as a seat at a small table if your child does not need a lot of support. You could also place a block or book under your child’s feet if their feet do not reach the floor in their current chair.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us:

Sam Sawade, PT, DPT     
[email protected]

Lisa Swenson, C/NDT
[email protected]


Classroom Spotlight: Bears!

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The Rise School’s newest and youngest students are already hard at work transitioning into their brand-new classroom. This group of kiddos has surprised us daily with how quickly they caught on to their new schedule, and how much love they already have for their new friends. We’ve been seeing some pretty special friendships start to blossom and a lot of excitement, waves and “hi!” when friends arrive to class each day.

In the first two months, we’ve witnessed some pretty amazing milestones—first words and fun new skills—and we cannot wait to see what these students will achieve throughout the year.  

Now that the Bears have had time to adjust to their new school schedule, we are currently in the middle of the classroom favorite Apple Unit. The kiddos are exploring a simple, familiar object that allows for creativity and teaches a variety of skills.

The classroom has been apple picking, eating apple snacks, and throwing apple shakers to make fun sounds. During art, the Bears worked on their first two-step project. They painted a green tree using multiple textured paintbrushes, and then they used their fine motor skills to peel and place apple stickers all over their painting.

Our apple-themed sensory table has also been a favorite among the kiddos as it focuses on almost all of their senses: bright red colors, metal buckets for loud clangs, textured oats and cinnamon seasoning that the kids helped mix in.

This theme always reminds us how much something so seemingly simple can make a huge difference in learning.

Here’s to a fun school year full of laughter, excitement, and a bunch of love and friendships.

Therese Marucci, M.Ed.
Lead Teacher, Bears Class

News from our Music Therapist

What Music Therapy Looks Like at Rise
Depending on the setting, a music therapy session will look vastly different. That said, certain components are inherent to a music therapy session. But as a general rule, the format below can be spotted in almost any music therapy session.

Hello Song
Singing the “hello song” helps the children transition to the music therapy space and sets the tone for the session. Typically, I use the same opening song each week to provide familiarity for the children and, after time, can prime them, so they know that music therapy starts when I sing that song.

Music Therapy Interventions
The bulk of the session will consist of the music therapy interventions. I facilitate these experiences to target the children's non-musical goals and objectives. Some interventions include moving to the music (which helps body awareness), intensifying body parts, singing songs (familiar and new to keep things fresh), and exploring different tactile musical instruments such as chimes, drums and shakers. Each music therapy intervention is designed to target a specific therapeutic goal and objective—and to have fun, of course!

Goodbye Song/Closing
The closing is similar to the opening; it is a major transition point that gets the children ready to leave the music therapy space and move on to the next classroom activity. Although the closing and opening are the main transition points, other transitions that happen during a session are key to its success.

A transition generally occurs in between music activities and is meant to help the children move seamlessly through various points in the session. It can include the “clean up” or “listen for your name” when it’s time for a turn playing a particular musical instrument. A classroom favorite is singing “tick-tock like a clock” as they move their bodies side to side like a ticking clock.

Music has so many benefits, and I’m happy to be part of the Rise community and grateful to work with each one of the children. 

 -Laura Ganguli, MA, MT-BC
Music Therapist, Board Certified

News from Our Speech Therapist

Throughout the school year, Rise students participate in speech therapy groups, focusing on the development of literacy, listening and language skills through music, movement, shared reading and play.

The Zoo-phonics curriculum provides a multisensory learning experience, targeting pre-literacy skills, such as phonemic awareness, sound imitation and letter identification. Each letter is paired with a zoo animal character and motor movement to help young learners apply concrete actions and images to abstract letter symbols. Our students enjoy singing the Zoo-phonics song while making the animal actions and sounds.

Each month brings a new story that highlights core vocabulary words. Core vocabulary consists of common, simple words that are used most frequently to communicate, such as more, all done, help, stop, want and mine.

Through shared reading, our students are encouraged to use manipulatives, signs, pictures and speech to practice core vocabulary, read along, answer questions, make predictions and retell the stories.

Related small group activities provide opportunities for our students to use new vocabulary in play with peers and teachers. Activities also promote symbolic and collaborative play, problem solving and self-advocacy.

We are starting the school year off by reading “Pete the Cat: Rocking in My School Shoes,” highlighting the high-frequency words, school, where, sing, read and worry. Audio and video versions of the story are available online here and here. Enjoy the story with your child at home!

I am looking forward to a great school year at Rise! Please feel free to stop me in the hall or email me with any questions.

Julie Demes, MS, CCC-SLP
Speech and Language Pathologist

Note From The Executive Director

A few summer updates:

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A big thank you to The Anschutz Foundation for its $50,000 commitment to our capital/renovation campaign!

Save the date of June 21 to go have a beer at Baere Brewing, who will donate 25% of all sales to Rise.

Save the date of July 12 for our annual graduation ceremony. We will graduate 11 students this year.

Our beloved occupational therapist, Lynn Vosbeek, is retiring this year, after 8 years of service to The Rise School. If you had the pleasure of knowing Lynn, please contribute a memory, photo, or words of well wishes/gratitude to [email protected]. Thank you, Lynn, for your tireless work to help our kiddos improve their fine motor skills and regulate their sensory systems. Thanks, too, for your organization and sense of humor. I personally will miss your endless well of strategies, your delicious conference snacks, and laughing with you. I know I speak on behalf of all the staff with whom you’ve worked, when I say you will be dearly missed!

News From The Caterpillars

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The Caterpillars are in the last stage of metamorphosis for the school year! They have been really busy building their chrysalis so they can change into beautiful butterflies just in time to graduate to Kindergarten. We are currently learning all about Bugs. In our bug unit, we are reading books about bugs, searching for real bugs outside to catch in our bug catcher, and learning all about the life cycle of a butterfly. Our kiddos are fascinated by the real caterpillars that we just got in our classroom! Each kiddo chose two caterpillars to

watch grow into an adult as they go through the four stages in the life cycle of a butterfly. Once all of the caterpillars change into butterflies, we will release them outside and watch them fly! After our Bug unit, we will jump into our Ocean theme and do an author study on Dr. Seuss to finish up the school year.

The Caterpillars have also been learning about numbers. We have been doing a number of the week, where we study a number during our morning circle. We learn how to write it, count it, and tally it! The Caterpillars are continuing to grasp the concept of initial, middle, and final phonemes through Phonemic Awareness lessons.

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I am so proud of all of the Caterpillars. They have each made so much growth throughout the school year not only academically, but socially as well. We have gotten to watch amazing friendships blossom! We are so excited to watch our Caterpillars metamorphose into butterflies as we get close to graduation!

Addie Adler, M.Ed.

Lead Teacher, Caterpillar Class

News From Our Music Therapist

Dance the summer away...

Jump, wiggle, bend, tiptoe, stretch, bend and twirl!  All these movements are developing complex physical skills that are essential to interacting with others and the world around us.

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Dancing helps children develop important spatial awareness skills whether they are moving in place or through space alone, with a partner, or in a group.  Spatial awareness is the ability to understand the physical relationship between ourselves and the people and objects around us.  Spatial awareness assists your child in everything from lining up for recess, to running around and playing on the playground, to giving you a hug.

So, on those hot summer days where inside play may be the best option put on a song with a fun beat.  Start by just moving to the music, first slowly, and then faster, using both sides and all parts of your bodies.  Then try moving one body part on only one side and then the other.  Have fun and experiment with different body parts!


- Laura Ganguli, MA, MT-BC

Note From The Executive Director

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Things are abuzz at The Rise School as we wind into our final months of school! We celebrated our Young Athletes program a couple weeks ago. This is our annual parade and exhibition of the pre-athletic skills our students have acquired in physical therapy groups and gross motor time, in partnership with the Young Athletes program through Special Olympics. It’s always a great introduction for the kids to community sports, and of course, a special time for parents to witness the growth their kiddos have made since the previous year. Our Pre-K class just took photos in their caps and gowns in preparation for graduation, which will be here before you know it! Mark your calendars for July 12, when we will graduate 12 more students. We look forward to our last several weeks of sunshine and friendship together.

Meghan Klassen, M.Ed.

News From The Ladybugs

The Ladybugs have been very busy the past several months. Recently we dove into our spring unit where the kiddos enjoyed talking about different springtime activities, learning about the lifecycle and the different parts of a flower, and looking at seeds through a magnifying glass. We’ve been fortunate enough to have gone on a few springtime walks, thanks to the beautiful weather. While walking, we stopped to talk about how things outside are starting to look and feel different— the grass is turning green, flowers and trees are starting to bloom, and the sunshine feels warmer! This week we began our unit on Community Helpers, which has always been one of my favorites! This unit allows for the kiddos to engage in dramatic play scenarios with intentionality, which is always fun to watch.


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Something else we’ve been working hard on is Collaboration Stations! The Ladybugs and Caterpillars have teamed up this year to form several small groups with kiddos working together from each classroom. Every week a new activity is introduced based on different developmental domains. With these groups comes routine— opening song, feelings board, thematic song/movement, activity, cleanup and closing song. All of the kiddos are thriving during these small group interactions and it’s become one our favorite parts of the day! 


I’m so proud of all of our kiddos. Each has made such wonderful progress since August. We’re looking forward to finishing these last few months on a high note!


Ms. Megan, Lead Teacher 

News From Our Speech Therapist

Mealtime Routines


Snack and lunch at the Rise School focus on more than just food consumption. These routines help students develop lasting healthy eating habits, table manners and positive relationships with food. Mealtimes are an enjoyable, social time for students, where teachers and therapists encourage peer interaction, food exploration and self-help skills. I’ve shared some strategies below to promote positive healthy eating at home.


Involve your child in meal prep. When your child is engaged in meal preparation, she will be more interested in the meal. Every child can participate on some level. Have your child create a grocery list or help with the shopping. In the kitchen she can pour, mix, break (or cut), and put ingredients into containers. Setting the table is another great child friendly task. Store some plastic cups and bowls in a cabinet your child can reach to encourage more independence. Remember watching and counting while parents cook is helping too!


Establish mealtime routines. Routines should begin prior to sitting down at the table. Be sure to give your child time to prepare for the transition. Verbal countdowns, visual timers and schedules can be helpful. Make it a rule to clean up toys, turn off electronics and wash hands before every meal. You can also add setting the table with preferred placemats, dishes or utensils or helping carry food to the table. Continue the routine after mealtime for bedtime, transition to school, etc. - routines help children feel safe, anticipate what is coming next, and learn independence.


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Set up for success. 90-90-90 seating (as pictured) is ideal during mealtime, so they are fully supported physically and can focus on eating. Provide your child with options for utensils and dishes to promote independence. Rise students use a variety of weighted or shaped utensils, trays, mats (we LOVE the ezpz mats), and cups. Please ask your child’s teacher what he is most successful with here. If your child eats mostly finger foods, provide a utensil for practice or to explore (poke, mix, scoop) less preferred foods.


Model. Model. Model. Modeling healthy and appropriate eating habits is critical to successful mealtimes. Sit with your child and eat and as much as possible, eat the same foods. Model serving yourself, using utensils, and tasting, eating, exploring food. If your child is a picky eater or resists trying new foods it is important to model interacting with the food in a way that does not immediately focus on eating. For example, explore a food by serving into a separate dish and mix, mash, or scoop the food with a utensil without eating it. Sing a preferred song as you do this and invite your child to take a turn. Work up to modeling tasting or eating the food slowly - possibly across multiple meals depending on your child’s willingness to explore.


Socialize. Making mealtime a social time often creates a positive environment and positive attitudes toward food.  Try serving meals family style for more opportunities to exchange dishes and take turns and of course model. Share highlights and lowlights of the day. Keep questions to a minimum and model talking about your day or ask your child multiple choice questions. (Did you play outside or in the gym? Did you see Megan at school today?) Talk about the food you see and are eating. Describe color, shape, taste, temperature, texture, etc. and encourage your child to do the same.  


Julie Demes, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech and Language Pathologist

Note From The Executive Director

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Happy 15 years to The Rise School! It was on April 19, 2003 that The Rise School became a legal corporation and later that fall, welcomed its first class of students. Although I was not the Director at that time, I have enjoyed hearing stories from the founding families, looking at old photos, and hearing updates about our first graduates, who are now high schoolers!

We have certainly seen a lot of growth at The Rise School since then. And in case you haven’t has Denver. With this growth has come more demand for the type of high quality early childhood education that The Rise School offers. We have always had a strong waitlist, but it has never been as robust as it is now. It seems fortuitous timing to be undergoing a campaign to expand and serve more families. Our Party with a View, held last month, was a great evening and raised $9,000 to help us keep chipping away at our campaign goal. Although I’m pleased that all of our classrooms will be at full capacity again next year, I look forward to the day when I can welcome up to 30 more families to our ever-growing, marvelous program. Happy Anniversary to us!  

Meghan Klassen, M.Ed

Executive Director

News From The Bears

The Bears continue to surprise and amaze us at every chance they get – we now have a room full of crawlers and walkers! The little ones have been working so hard on a variety of skills - friendships have blossomed, routines have been mastered, and the room continues to be filled with silliness, laughter, and so many new words and dance moves. We are so proud of all of their successes, and how eager they are to practice and learn throughout the day.

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The Bears are have just finished up a unit on Emotions, which quickly turned into a class favorite. The week started with the kids making silly faces, color sorting with stress balls, playing in a calming lavender sensory table, and building a “happy or sad” Mat Man with wooden pieces. The kids also got to participate in an “emotions photo shoot,” where they practiced different faces for the camera. We turned the pictures into a flip book full of the Bears classmates showing different emotions!

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During circle time, the Bears read the book “My Many Colored Days” by Dr. Seuss. They worked on recognizing feelings and colors, and matching the characters in the book to the same pictures hanging from the ceiling. The book also paired gross motor movements and sounds to their emotions, so we practiced howling when mad, jumping when happy, and buzzing like a bee when excited! Our art project also correlated with the book, and the Bears got to paint with whichever “color” they were feeling that day in the same art-style of the book.

By the end of the theme, the Bears were starting to recognize their friends’ emotions and tell their teachers and friends how they were feeling. We feel so honored to be able to watch how their excitement with learning develops, and find out what other surprises and successes are in store for us this year. We can’t wait to see how much more they grow and learn!

- Therese Marucci, Lead Teacher

The Young Athletes Program is April 25, 2018!

Join us for the Young Athletes Olympics at Rise 8:45-9:45am



While watching the world Olympic stage in Korea and here at Rise, we have been excited to talk sports and practice for our Young Athletes/Olympic Celebration, which will be held at Rise on Wednesday morning April 25th.  Please join other parents in the gym after drop off for socializing, coffee and the “breakfast of champions”-Dunkin Donuts!  I can answer questions about Special Olympic activities that might be held this summer and have contact information for more detailed information.

The Rise Wednesday PT gross motor groups have been practicing the opening parade with Olympic fanfare, cowbell ringing and moving through various sports themed activities.  They have been cheering for their team mates and learning their own Young Athletes cheer.

Starting around 9 AM, ALL children that regularly attend school on Wednesdays   will proudly parade into the big gym, organized by classroom and wearing their new YAP orange t-shirts.  They will be marching to the Olympic theme song and following the Olympic “torch” held by Kristin (teacher’s helper), serving her third year as Grand Marshall.   Parents can watch from the grandstand-stage and cheer on their children. Each classroom will have the opportunity to show off their skills, rotating through 2-4 different areas.   There will be T-ball, an obstacle course, scooter boards, balls and soccer and basketball nets.  Certificates of Completion will be given out to all of the children after their sports performances. All the graduating children will also be receiving medals following their last sports rotation in the gym.


Please plan to come and show your support for these amazing kids!   The Rise School inclusive classroom structure is ideal for demonstrating how the pairing of a Young Athlete (with a disability) with a Unified Partner (Young Athlete-peer) promotes physical fitness and helps to develop a lifelong interest in sports participation.  Children learn from each other and active participation in sports activities helps to facilitate friendships throughout the lifespan. 

Research also confirms that positive interactions and experiences (e.g. enjoying sports activities, having fun during recess and other social times) help children feel confident and connected to school activities and their peers.

I welcome any parents who would like to be assistants along with the teachers in each classroom (helping the children to participate and to wait their turn).

Please contact Lisa ([email protected]) if you have any questions or you can let your child’s teacher know that you will be able to assist.

And finally, on the celebration day you will have an opportunity to:




Lisa Swenson, PT, C/NDT

News From Our Music Therapist

How Music Therapy Can Enhance Inclusion in the Classroom


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Inclusion happens in a variety of settings that address all aspects of life. Thus, music therapy is a motivating way to integrate into a child’s natural learning environment.  One way this happens at Rise is through singing. Songs that are repetitive and familiar help guide transitions from circle times to centers or when cleaning up an activity. Singing doesn’t only happen in music therapy but throughout the day.


Additionally, inclusive music therapy at Rise involves active participation through playing musical instruments, singing, moving and dancing.  Music is multi sensory which means it involves lots of different senses (visual, auditory and tactile) to process information.  Regardless of each child’s ability they can participate in a variety of activities that encourage learning, growth and development.  Music is used intentionally to promote gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, social communication and language skills in a successful and organic way.


Here are some other ways music therapy is used to enhance inclusion at Rise:


-          Music is naturally an enjoyable activity and provides practice and social engagement with others by sharing a common interest.


-          Taking a leader role during music therapy might mean conducting peers through playing the drum and other times they may use their AT (Assistive Technology) device to tell the group to “GO!”


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-          Sometimes children have medical or surgical needs which may prevent them from always attending preschool on a regular basis.  Music participation is an engaging process and creates a sense of belonging in a community with peers.


- Laura Ganguli, MA, MT-BC

Music Therapist Board Certified

Note From The Executive Director

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Spring has not sprung yet, but we have gotten a nice “springboard” to our campaign from several individuals and foundations, whom I’d like to recognize. The Tracy Family Foundation, the Gates Family Foundation, the Qualistar Colorado Capital Fund, and Larry H. Miller Charities have all contributed or made pledges to our campaign to purchase, renovate and expand our building. We also have a lovely group of women, led by Joanne Fisher and Tracy McCarthy, who are volunteering their time to bring us some fun and different events, including our “Party with a View” event on March 10. (Tickets still available!) All of these contributions have created great momentum to carry us into the next phase of our campaign, with a remaining goal of $2 million. Thanks one and all for your support!

- Meghan Klassen, M.Ed.

News From The Caterpillars


The Caterpillars have recently been learning all about Kindness and Friendship! We have also been doing an author study on Ezra Jack Keats this month. One of the Caterpillars favorite Ezra Jack Keats books was “A Letter to Amy”, which is about a little boy who writes a letter all by himself to his friend inviting her to his birthday party, and he mails the letter to her. The Caterpillars learned how to write post cards and stamp them with real stamps. These postcards are currently in the mail right now! The Caterpillars also recently celebrated Valentine’s Day! They each decorated a Valentine’s bag, made individual valentines for each of their friends, and distributed them on Valentine’s Day. For the month of March, the Caterpillars will study a new author, Mo Willems, and learn all about his unique writing style and illustrations!



In addition to our weekly theme and author of the month, the Caterpillars are also learning about letters, phonemic awareness, math, and how to write All About Books. We have a letter of the week, where we study a letter of the alphabet during our morning circle. We also have a Handwriting Without Tears letter once a week, where the class learns how to write uppercase letters by building the letters with wood pieces, practicing the letter on a chalk board, and then writing the letter on paper using crayons. Phonemic awareness accelerates the reading and writing growth of the entire classroom. During phonemic awareness lessons, they learn about rhyming, they play listening games, learn how to build words and sentences, become aware of syllables, learn about initial and final sounds, and are currently learning about phonemes. Math lessons are built into their everyday routines- number of the day, attendance routine, and building the monthly calendar. We have also learned a lot about numeration and will learn about measurement, geometry, operations, patterning, and money activities in the near future!


We’ve had a wonderful school year so far, and are so pleased with the progress that our kids are making everyday! 


Addie Adler, M.Ed. 

Lead Teacher, Caterpillar Class

News From The OT


Every OT group at Rise begins with a sensory activity. A favorite activity in all the classrooms has been using two large bed pillows to provide “squishing” or deep pressure input to the kids. We play “Bumper Pillows” – adult and child each hold a pillow in front of their body and bump each other like bumper cars. Another favorite is “Making a Sandwich” – one pillow is on the floor as a slice of bread, a child lays on top of that pillow and adult applies sandwich contents by squishing pillow onto the child. The kids also enjoy having pillows dropped onto them as they lie on the floor. Another fun game is piling pillows and cushions on top of children and then each child has to push the pillows off to climb out.

 Besides being a lot of fun, these games do have a therapeutic purpose. The deep pressure provided by the pillows is calming and organizing input. It also provides proprioceptive input (the sense that uses receptors in joints and muscles to tell us where the body is and how it is moving in relation to objects and space) to help the children learn body awareness in space for motor planning movements.


These activities are also great to do at home, especially since pillows are the only equipment needed. “Squishing” with pillows (“Making a Sandwich”) is a good activity to add to your bedtime routine as it can be very calming. “Bumper Pillows” is a good activity to play after school or after a long car ride or before going to an event requiring long sitting times as it gives your child a chance to be active without becoming “wound up”.  It is important to structure these sensory activities so your child knows when the game will end. Count the number of turns for Bumper Pillows, determine how many sandwich contents you will apply or how many times you will pile pillows on top of your child. These games also work for the whole family and provide the same benefits to older children as they do for preschoolers. It is also fun to see what games your children invent with the pillows! Just remember that the goal is providing pressure input with the pillows AND having fun!

Helpful Information / March 2018 Newsletter

Find Support With These Groups for Special Needs Families!

1. The Mighty – While this isn’t exactly a “group” it’s an incredible supportive and encouraging page. I find so many posts I can relate to on here and have even wrote some for their site myself!

2. Mommies of Miracles 

3. A Very Special Needs Christmas – A group to provide AMAZING Christmas ideas for your special needs children.

4. Tips for Special Needs at Disney 

5. The Wolfpack  – The Wolfpack is a closed group for families who have 2 or more children with special needs and/or super powers.

6. Special Needs Swap Meet – This is a place to list any items you may have around for your special needs kids. Do you have items you want to sell, give away, or swap that has to do with special needs? List it on here.

7. Special Needs Swap 

8. Special Needs Equipment for Sale 

9. Special Needs Parenting Bloggers – This group is for bloggers who post about special needs parenting or disability issues. Share, discuss, and ask questions about blogging and specific issues about special needs parenting and disabilities.

10. IEP Assistance and Special Needs Parenting Advice – A place for special needs parents to connect for IEP advice, special needs parenting tips and more.

11. Special Needs and Disabilities Ministry Leaders Forum – A discussion forum for special needs and disability church ministries leaders and volunteers! This is a site where we would love to have you post your questions, offer your insights and encourage one another in our day to day effort to help meet the needs of all God’s people.

12. Special Needs Moms Organizing and Cleaning Support – The life of a special needs mom is very demanding mentally, emotionally and physically. Our home often falls apart around us whether it’s the messy kitchen or the hoarded closet or basement or mountain of laundry. We often go unappreciated and sometimes all we need is the motivation and to be cheered on!

13. SWAN USA (Syndromes Without a Name) – This is a Closed group for families with children who remain undiagnosed. The children are often refereed to have one of the following; Undiagnosed Syndrome, Mystery Disease, Unique Condition, Unknown Diagnosis, Mystery Illness or a Syndrome Without A Name. This group allows families to connect with one another across the country.

14. Loving a Miracle – Special Parents Supporting Each Other – This is a group designed for parents of micro preemies, & special needs children. It is intended to be a place to connect with other parents who “get it,” whose experiences go beyond typical. It allows us to give, and receive support, as we face the unique challenges we share, because we happen to love a miracle.

15. Make It Tips for Special Needs – This is all about ways to MAKE IT work for our kids, homemade, re-purposed, new, used in a new way. The focus is physically challenged and developmentally delayed, and all special needs are welcome if you think you can benefit.

16. Pediatric Medical Supply Exchange 

Special Needs Military Families

17. American Military Families Autism Support (AMFAS) – Find your local chapter by typing in AMFAS and the city you are stationed at. A great support!

18. EFMP Support Group – For military families who are in the EFMP.

19. Military Families With Complex Kids 

20. Military Special Needs Network


21. Autism Discussion Page – Helping children feel safe, accepted, and competent.

22. Parents of Autistic Children

23. Autistics Worldwide 

24. Autism Living on the Spectrum – This groups purpose is to create greater Autism Acceptance through providing support and guidance for parents and/or carers of children living with Autism through inspiration, experience, training and knowledge along with providing information for professionals and community members.

Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD)

25. Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) Support

26. SPD Parent Support with Positive/Gentle Parenting

27. Sensory Processing Disorder Parents – A group for parents and families of children with sensory processing disorders. A safe place to vent, ask questions, and offer support.

28. Sensory Wonderland – A group to share ideas on sensory play, fun sensory play space ideas, and sensory diets to address behavior.

29. SPD Connect – Solutions to the daily challenges of Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) also known as Sensory Integration.

30. Raising a Sensory Smart Child – Inspired by Raising a Sensory Smart Child, the award-winning book and resource for parents, this community is about helping kids with SPD.

31. Learning the Sensory Way – Discovering DIY ways to create a sensory learning experience.

32. The Sensory Spectrum

33. Voices of Sensory Processing Disorder Discussion Group – This group is an extension of The Sensory Spectrum website. ( This community is a place for parents to ask questions of other parents and share their own insight/experience to help other sensory parents in our group.

Cerebral Palsy

34. CP Mommies, Daddies, Grandparents, and Caregivers – This page is for all to vent, brag, tell all our amazing stories about your munchkins living with CP.

35. Cerebral Palsy Parents Information Group

36. Spastic Quadriplegic CP

Mitochondrial Disease

37. Mito Families – This is a group for ALL people affected by mitochondrial disease. Whether that is your child, you, a grandchild, niece etc. We are a non-medical group designed to share our experiences, encouragement, and HOPE for a brighter, healthier future.

38. MitoAction – MitoAction is a nonprofit organization that exists to improve quality of life for all who are affected by mitochondrial disease. We provide support, education and advocacy tools for adults, children and their families. Our mission is to help patients LIVE with mitochondrial disease.

Cystic Fibrosis


40. Cystic Fibrosis – This is an open group for people with CF, people with family members who have CF, or doctors who treat it.

41. Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

42. CF Parents Group – This is a support group for parents/grandparents/carers who have a child/children/grandchild with Cystic Fibrosis or look after a child with this condition. Please note this group is not suitable for people with CF due to some of the subjects discussed


43. Dyslexia Support for Parents of Dyslexic Children – Dyslexia Support, is an international group for parents of Dyslexics.


44. Hypotonia Parents Connection – A discussion and support group for parents of children with hypotonia.

Reflux / GERD

45. Infant Reflux: Support for Gerdlings

46. Reflux Rebels – The Reflux Rebels are volunteers who share the common thread of infant reflux and are here to provide emotional support as other families advocate for the most effective treatments for children.

47. Pediatric Feeding Disorders /FTT/ GERD/ and Kiddos With Feeding Tubes – A place for parents of infants/children with feeding disorders, Failure to Thrive and GERD to offer each other support and advice. Many of us mom’s also have kiddos with feeding tubes or are in the process of weaning.

Feeding Disorders and Feeding Tubes

48. Pediatric Feeding Disorders /FTT/ GERD/ and Kiddos With Feeding Tubes – A place for parents of infants/children with feeding disorders, Failure to Thrive and GERD to offer each other support and advice. Many of us mom’s also have kiddos with feeding tubes or are in the process of weaning.

49. Tubie Friends – For parents of kids with feeding tubes.

50. Feeding Tube Awareness

51. Home-Based Feeding Tube Weaning – This group offers support for weaning children from feeding tubes once those tubes are no longer medically needed. We focus on methods that respect the child, use appetite, and support *parents* in our own “tube weans.” We invite you to share your stories and experiences with home-based weaning!

52. G-Tube Babies (G/J),(J),(N/G), and (N/J)

53. Feeding Matters 

54. Real Food for Tube-Fed Kids – This group is to support parents and caregivers in their quest to feed their tube-fed children the very best real food! We are here to share information and ask questions in a positive and helpful way about food, supplements, nutrition, getting started with a BD, challenges, successes, new products, personal experiences and more.

55. Blenderized RN – This page is run by a registered nurse that does real blended food consulting for children and adults with a g-tube. Discussions are only about real food and blending topics.

Global Developmental Delay

56. Global Developmental Delay

57. My Child has Global Developmental Delay – There isn’t much help or support for parents of child with global developmental delay. It is such a wide spectrum disability with various other health problems and disabilities thrown into it.

Genetic Abnormalities

58. The Unknown: Chromosome 22: Duplication – This is a place for those navigating the world of the chromosome 22:micro duplications to come, meet, share experiences, ideas, and suggestions.

59. Chromosome 22 Central – For members of, families who are dealing with all chromosome 22 disorders, such as trisomies, translocations, deletions, rings, infant loss, miscarriage, etc.

60. Mass General Hospital 22q11.2 Clinic – The 22q11 Deletion Syndrome Clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital provides expert and evidence-based health care for patients with 22q of all ages!

61. Unique – Understanding Chromosome Disorders

Apraxia of Speech

62. Apraxia Kids: Every Child Deserves a Voice – This is the Facebook group for CASANA and Apraxia -KIDS – helping children and families affected by apraxia of speech (childhood apraxia of speech, verbal apraxia, verbal dyspraxia). Information on speech-language therapy, diagnosis, and events related to apraxia.

63. Apraxia Kids Learning Activities and Support – Parent Led Group – A parent led support group. A positive place for families to network, connect, and share resources.