Caterpillars, Ladybugs, Kangaroos, and Bears, Oh My!

Lots of friends and families cheered on the athletes during the whole school parade and also during the various sports stations at our eighth annual Young Athletes Program™ (YAP) on April 24.   

Grand Marshal Kristin Kalloch led the parade, which was complete with a torch, flag waving, and banner carrying. Many phone cameras were in use during the event to capture the many smiles on the faces of athletes, teachers, and families.

 Rise events included trike riding, obstacle courses, balance beams, climbing structures, parallel bars, basketball, soccer, ribbon play, and scooter boards. An award ceremony followed the activities. Each graduating Young Athlete/Unified Partner received a certificate and medal for their years of excellent participation.

 Mandi DeWitt, the director of YAP for Special Olympic of Colorado (SOCO), also spoke with parents before the parade about the participation opportunities through SOCO Unified Sports for all children.

 It is so very important for all children to develop a liking for sports and team-like activities. When children learn to enjoy these types of semi-structured activities at an early age, they are more likely to continue their interest in sports into adulthood. The Rise School of Denver provides the ideal setting for having all the children work together and support each other in such athletic endeavors.   

Everyone has heard of the growing issue with child obesity in the U.S. Recent research has shown up to 18.5 percent of children 2–19 years of age are overweight. For children with some type of neurodevelopmental disability, the percentage is higher.

So wanting to and being able to participate in outdoor and indoor active play is a step toward better health and wellness. Active children develop important gross, fine motor, and social skills in addition to the expected positive health effects. Learning to throw, kick, climb, and play games help children succeed in school, interact with their peers and teams, and access their communities.

Here at Rise, we are working with your children to develop the foundational skills that are needed to participate in positive activities and sports. The Wednesday PT gross motor group activities and YAP curriculum contribute toward these opportunities. We hope to foster a life-long love of movement and participation!

 Lisa Swenson. PT, C/NDT
Senior Instructor
JFK Partners/University of Colorado

Classroom Spotlight: Ladybugs

The Ladybugs have been very busy over 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 gone on a few springtime walks thanks to the beautiful weather. We always enjoy our time outside, especially now that everything is starting to bloom—the kiddos have been especially excited about the recent transformation of bulbs turned flowers in our garden.

Up next is our Community Helpers unit, which has always been a class favorite! We are excited to welcome back Firefighter Dave to learn about fire safety (and try on all of that really cool, really big firefighter gear!) 

Something else we’ve been working hard on is Collaboration Stations. The Ladybugs and Caterpillars have teamed up for the second 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, and cleanup and closing song. All of the kiddos are thriving during these small group interactions, and it’s become one of 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

Classroom Spotlight: Kangaroos

Hello from the Kangaroos class! It seems like almost daily we are celebrating growth and new milestones. A few of our friends are learning new words every day and using language with more and more independence. We also have a couple of students who are so close to independent steps!

One of my favorite parts about working at Rise is seeing our model really, truly work every day. It’s something special to watch one student help another student who may be struggling with a transition, to hold their hand and say, “Let’s find our stools.”

These Kangaroos cheer their friends on when someone rides a bike with increased independence, and they check on one another if a friend is sad. They are forming special bonds and friendships, and I love watching them be supportive of one another every day. Although they can be a wild crew, we sure do have a sweet bunch of kiddos this year!

A few weeks ago, we wrapped up our Numbers & Counting theme. It was a fun one for sure. I think Megan, Jodi, and I were all surprised by how high a lot of the kids could count—and how many could recognize a lot of their numbers. It was also one of those themes where we could really watch them grow and gain knowledge over the course of two weeks.

Every morning at circle time we count who is at school. During this theme, we heard kids who hadn’t wanted to lead the counting take the lead! We saw their confidence grow, and it’s always fun to see them try something new. One of our friends even counted his friends in Spanish! That was a super fun surprise.

The Kangaroos practiced their pincer grasps by putting pipe cleaners into cups with holes in the bottoms. They got to pick a number, and then count as they put the pipe cleaners in.

A final favorite was practicing counting, along with waiting during music with Ms. Laura. The Kangaroos held onto their own scarves, counted down, and waited for Ms. Laura’s cues to throw their scarves into the air! This was great practice combining several skills together, and it sure did get a lot of laughs.

Now that spring break is over, and we’ve experienced glimpses of warmer weather, we are looking forward to continuing our school year with lots of learning, love, and laughter!

-Cate Camacho, M.S.Ed., Kangaroos Class Lead Teacher



News from our O.T.- Big Fun with Simple Objects

When we’re away from school or work, we spend a lot of time at home. Home is a comfort zone for our kids, and there are several ways to incorporate and continue occupational therapy at home.

Therapy play does not require you to buy expensive toys and gadgets. There are several inexpensive, commonplace items and toys that you may already have in your home that your child can use in a multitude of ways to support child development skills such as strength, fine motor coordination, finger prehension and manipulation, and hand-eye coordination, to name a few.

Here are some ideas for using these objects for sensory, gross motor, and fine motor play.  


·         Push and hide beads and buttons and then find them.

·         Use kitchen items such as forks, spoons, and potato mashers to squish and poke patterns into the dough.

·         Push birthday candles or toothpicks into the dough.

·         Roll into hot dogs and cut using a plastic knife.

·         Roll into small grapes then squash them by pinching or smashing with isolated fingers.

·         Use cookie cutters or shapes from toys around the house.

Water Beads

·         Hide plastic toys within the beads in a bin for a treasure hunt.

·         Use large kitchen spoons, bowls, cups, and measuring cups to practice scooping and pouring.

·         Get messier by adding shaving cream in the bin with beads.

·         For a less messy play approach, put some water beads in a balloon with a funnel for a squish ball.

Gross Motor:

·         Challenge the core and prompt upper body movement and strength by reaching up while lying on the tummy, sitting on a stool, or standing on a large pillow cushion.

·         Get into the hands and knees position or lay on tummy and encourage popping bubbles with alternating hands to build strength through the whole body.

·         Use two hands together to clap and pop bubbles this way.

·         Work on finger isolation to point and pop bubbles.

·         Have older children blow and then try to catch a bubble on the wand.


·         Play balloon volleyball using your hands.

·         Start a game of balloon tennis by taping a ruler to a paper plate to be a tennis racket.

·         Tie a balloon to a string and tape it up between a door frame for batting.

·         Try catching a balloon in a mixing ball or, for more challenge, a plastic funnel.

Fine motor:

·         Peel and put stickers on body parts (cheek, nose, hand, for example) for your child to pull them off and put on a sheet of paper.

·         Have your child peel and match stickers already on a page.

·         Randomly place stickers on a paper. Practice coordination skills to scribble and color on top of the sticker. Older children can practice circling stickers.

·         With Yard Sale stickers, draw shapes, letters, numbers on them. Draw the same shapes, letters, or numbers on paper. Have your child peel the sticker and put it on the matching item.

Squeezing Objects with Water Play

You can often find these common items in your home. Use food coloring to decorate water. Try mixing them up to create new colors. Also, throw them in the bathtub to mix up the fun.

·         Water guns

·         Squeezable water toys

·         Turkey baster

·         Medicine dropper

·         Washcloth and sponges for wringing

-Lucy Lowe, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist

Teething: Facts & Fiction

Teething frustrates many parents. You want to provide relief for your little one when their incoming teeth are bothering them, but it is difficult to know how to do this safely and effectively.

You may have read articles or talked to family members about this subject, but sometimes that information isn’t necessarily correct. Here’s some factual information so that you can provide practical, safe, and evidence-supported care to help your child.

Fiction: Teething gels and tablets are a safe option for teething discomfort.

Fact: The FDA warns against products such as Oragel, Cepacol, or Topex that contain local anesthetics like benzocaine and can cause a serious condition in infants called methemoglobinemia, which can be fatal. A plant compound called belladonna has been found in some teething tablets and can also be toxic.

Fiction: If my baby is teething, I should give him or her Tylenol around the clock.

Fact: Liquid Tylenol (acetaminophen) is a safe and effective medication for teething, but teething is often not painful. Don’t misinterpret chewing behavior for pain. The urge to gnaw may mean your baby has “itchy teeth” but is not uncomfortable. Don’t reach for the Tylenol until you’re sure they’re uncomfortable.

Fiction: Increased drooling always means my child is teething.

Fact: Drooling does not necessarily mean your child is teething. Drooling increases in infants around 3–4 months of age as a result of your baby’s increased exploration by mouth (gnawing, putting hands in mouth) and to facilitate digestion. Most children start teething around 6 months of age; you may see swollen/tender gums and increased drool at this point as teeth appear.

Fiction: My child’s runny nose/diarrhea/fever is just because they’re teething.

Fact: While low-grade fevers and runny noses are often blamed on teething, be on the lookout for other causes, like viral infections or ear infections. Research has not found any strong links between diarrhea, vomiting, fevers, and teething. If your baby’s temperature is over 100F, call or visit your doctor for help.

Fiction: Teething necklaces and bracelets are good non-medicinal options for teething relief.

Fact: The FDA released a new warning in December 2018 against teething necklaces, bracelets, and other jewelry due to a risk of serious injury (including strangulation and choking) or death. There’s also no evidence to support the effectiveness of such jewelry, regardless of whether it’s made of amber, wood, marble, or silicone. If parents choose to use these products anyway, the child should never be unsupervised or sleeping while wearing them.

Fiction: I should be worried if my baby has no teeth by their first birthday.

Fact: Most babies will develop teeth between 4 and 12 months of age, but there’s a wide range of variability. No teeth by 14–15 months is more concerning and should be discussed with your doctor. The lower front teeth (the lower central incisors) are usually first to appear. Most children will have all of their baby teeth by age 3. For children with genetic syndromes (for example, Down syndrome), teeth may appear in a different order or later than average.

 Safe Options for Teething Relief

Try providing symptom relief without medications first, using the options listed below. If your child still seems uncomfortable, then try Tylenol (acetaminophen). Check with your pediatrician to make sure you’re giving the right dose for your child’s size.

1.      Find something that’s cool to touch but tough to chew on, such as:

·         A wet washcloth or rolled up cotton sock chilled in the freezer for 15–30 minutes

·         A frozen banana or frozen bagel (if the child is safely eating solids)

·         Solid teething rings chilled in the fridge or freezer but not frozen solid. (There have been several recalls in the past due to the potential for bacteria growing in the liquid of liquid teething rings and the solid ones can be too hard when frozen completely.)

·         A silicone, rubber, or latex chewy toy

2.      If your baby doesn’t have any teeth yet, let them gnaw on your fingers or massage their gums with your fingers for comfort. Make sure your fingers are clean first.


·         American Academy of Pediatrics/



-Sara Williams, MD
Developmental Pediatrics Fellow
University of Colorado

Four Songs to Encourage Language

What is it that makes music such an excellent tool for learning language?

Singing is simply joyful, and kids love it. They aren’t concerned about what they sound like; they are just eager to let their voices roar!

Kids love songs that repeat words, melodies, and rhythms. In addition, it’s a great medium that allows each child to experience success.

Here are some reasons why music is a beneficial tool for language learning:

·         Music is fun and motivating; it’s important to keep it simple

·         Our brains love the rhythmic and melodic components of music

·         Music is made of patterns and sequences that are easily detected

·         Music has lots of repetition, making it a great tool for learning sounds

·         Nursery rhymes are songs about familiar themes like animals, toys, and people

·         Music can enhance language, communication, and spontaneous sounds

Here are a few songs that touch on how music is a fantastic avenue for language-rich learning:

I’m a Little Teapot. This song works on imitation as well as rhyming. Rhyming is a skill that helps with phonemic awareness and reading skills.

Old MacDonald Had a Farm. This classic song is great for working on easy imitation and learning first words (baa, moo).

Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes. Learning body parts is a great receptive skill. This particular song also adds a bonus motor and coordination component too!

Five Little Speckled Frogs. This song has lots of repetition to practice a target word or sound. Adding a musical shaker is a fun way to teach cause and effect, which is a prelinguistic skill. It also provides lots of opportunities to develop a sense of rhythm and helps hand-eye coordination.

- Laura Ganguli, Music Therapist                               

Classroom Spotlight: Bears

The Bears classroom has been celebrating a lot of big milestones lately: from first steps to new words, we are so proud of how much these students have accomplished in such a short period of time.

Friendships and empathy have started to emerge, and these kiddos are really showing us why inclusion is so powerful. I’ve watched our youngest students make sure that all children have had a turn in a game, hold the hand of a friend who was learning to walk, and cheer for another’s feeding successes.

One friend even ran over to tell me “I did it!” when he shared with a friend. These Bears are so excited to see each other every day, and so happy to learn and play together; we can’t wait to continue watching their friendships blossom.

In a classroom full of silly, active Bears, we decided to try out a “Music” theme so the students would move and dance throughout the day. The class has been exploring a variety of musical instruments, but the favorite has been the drums and mallets. We’ve used their excitement to learn about opposites, such as “slow and fast” and “stop and go” while they are playing, and have them notice the difference between the big and small drums.

 “Slow and fast” has also been a fun concept to learn while playing instruments (and very challenging when you’re learning impulse control). To continue their eagerness in drumming, we did a painting-to-music art project where the children listened to fast-tempo music while banging their paintbrushes or hands on to the paper.

Another class favorite was “composing music” on a vertical surface. The Bears used dot markers to make music notes on the paper by reaching as high as they could or squatting low to reach the bottom.

 The Bears will finish up the “Music” theme this week by color-matching with colored bells, using their pincher grasp to create shakers and rainsticks, matching instruments in a book to our music puzzle, and, of course, singing their favorite songs throughout the day.

 Here’s to a fun rest of the school year full of silliness, movement, and lots of love!

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

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News From Our Speech Therapist

To effectively communicate, a child needs an interaction, a reason, and a way to communicate. The Rise School’s team of teachers, assistants, and therapists keep this in mind as they encourage speech and language development throughout the school day.

Here are some strategies you can try at home too.

Set up the Environment

·         Keep developmentally appropriate toys and books in play areas. Free play and exploration provide great language opportunities and promote global development.

·         Place some preferred toys out of reach, but visible. This provides a built-in opportunity for your child to communicate to gain your attention, request help, label, or describe objects.

·         Rotate or change toys occasionally to encourage requesting, problem-solving, ideation, and play expansion.

·         If your child uses picture communication systems, make sure they are accessible. Have extra or backup copies available and post them in various locations around the house, and model using alternative communication strategies (e.g. pictures, signs) with your speech whenever possible.

Create Reasons to Communicate

·         Offer choices when possible. The options can be small and simple, like “blue cup or green cup?” or replace a demand (and decrease opportunities for a power struggle), “What should we clean up first? The books? Or the cars?”

·         Pause often to allow your child time to process what you’ve said and to cue her that it is her turn to communicate. For example, offer a choice or present a toy and wait. If your child does not respond, count to at least five before prompting your child. I usually adjust my facial expression and give a gestural prompt (e.g., point, show or tap item), before repeating myself.


·         Initiate an interaction. Watch your child in play and imitate, comment, and describe the play. By following your child’s lead, you are modeling great skills like speech, motor imitation, and following directions.

·         There is more than one way to play with a toy, read a book, color, etc. Allow your child to teach you new ways to play.

·         Ask questions to encourage play rather than quiz or redirect. For example, “Hmm. What color should I use next?” Answer your questions if your child does not. Again, this is great modeling! Quizzing or challenging questions can halt rather than develop play and communication.

·         Have fun! Our children learn by watching and imitating what we do.


·         Forget a step in a routine and pause. Wait to see if your child initiates an interaction and communicates. If not, you can always narrate your mistake and model problem-solving to fix it.

·         If your child requests a snack, give it without opening it, requiring her to request “help” or “open.”

·         Play with toys in a silly or unusual way (e.g., push animals on the train track, pretend to rock and feed a toy car or book). This may prompt your child to communicate to correct your play.

·         Model language to identify and correct silly play (e.g., “uh oh” “that’s silly” “like this”).

Model Many Modes of Communication

·         Model using many ways to communicate: speech, signs, gestures, pictures, communication devices.

·         Communicate with your child how you want them to interact with you. If your child is not yet using speech, continue to model speech, but pair it with simple signs, gestures, and sounds to increase your child’s success with imitating you.

·         Talk with your child’s teacher or therapist for specific ideas about activities your child enjoys and ways to model and encourage communication at home.

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


Classroom spotlight: Caterpillars

The Caterpillars have been learning all about color mixing and Groundhog Day! We have also been doing an author study on Eric Carle this month. We read several Eric Carle books such as “The Mixed-Up Chameleon,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” “The Very Busy Spider,” and “Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?” We studied Eric Carle’s illustrations, rhyming, and recurrent themes and characters.

The Caterpillars will celebrate the Love theme in honor of Valentine’s Day over the next two weeks. They will each decorate a Valentine’s bag, make individual valentines for each of their friends, and distribute them on Valentine’s Day.

During 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 chalkboard, and then writing the letter on paper using HWT crayons.


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

Lisa Swenson, C/NDT


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 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.