The Bluebee Pals Project Donates to New Jersey School District

I am an occupational therapist in New Jersey who, through my colleagues and research, discovered the Bluebee Pals Project. I currently work for Parsippany Troy-Hills School District in Morris County, New Jersey, which includes ten elementary schools with various special education classrooms, ABA programs, preschool disabled programs, and many more. Our school district is currently enrolling students for in-person as well as virtual schooling. The Parsippany Troy-Hills School District is a K-12 district with fourteen schools serving approximately 7200 students in ten elementary schools, two middle schools, two high schools, and an adult education center.

As a therapist, my responsibilities include treating my students both in-person and via teletherapy. I have been struggling to create new and engaging sessions for my students. After researching Bluebee Pals as an assistive technology tool,  I focused my efforts on an opportunity to request a donation from the Bluebee Pals Project for our special needs classrooms containing a large population of children with autism. Thinking outside the box versus conventional educational channels is essential when working with special needs children at an early age. Bluebee Pals ability to connect to children as an educational tool perpetuates positive results in communication and literacy.

The Bluebee Pals Project donated 10 Bluebee Pals for our occupational and speech therapists for ten districts to implement in school and remote therapy. The Bluebee Pals website provides a host of practical resources for educators and therapists on their tutorial page and free educational materials to promote user-friendly applications. http://bluebeepals.com

Specifically, I have started using Leo the Lion with my preschoolers with disabilities and see the incredible results with engagement in our programs.  We are honored to be a participant in the Bluebee Pal Project and grateful for this special gift to our students!

How often is Bluebee Pal used daily/weekly?

Bluebee Pals is used approximately three to four times throughout the week in our school setting. Typically our Bluebee Pal is used with preschoolers with disabilities, general education preschoolers, students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as well as students in the Language Learning Disability (LLD) program.

What activities is Bluebee Pal used with?

Our Bluebee Pal is used in a variety of activities. During sessions, the Bluebee Pal can be used as a motivational factor during fine motor, visual-motor, and gross motor tasks. Typically the student can engage with the Bluebee Pal by having him participate in the task as well, or by waiting until the end as a reward. The Bluebee Pal acts as an additional support during sessions which is both fun and educational for the student.

Who is using the Bluebee Pal (teachers, therapists, teacher assistants and students?

In our school, the Occupational Therapist, Physical Therapist, Speech Therapist, and students use the Bluebee Pal.

What goals/objectives are you targeting when using Bluebee Pals (educational, speech/language, occupational, behavioral, physical) ?

While using the Bluebee Pal, I am targeting occupational therapy goals which include fine motor, gross motor, prewriting/handwriting, visual-motor, and behavioral goals. To specify, if the student has a prewriting or handwriting goal to trace/print specific letters, the student will have the opportunity to work on an app (ex: Writing Wizard) to trace the letter and then carry that skill onto a whiteboard or paper. Having the Bluebee Pal say the letter while the student is tracing, adds both a fun and educational aspect to achieving the specific goal.

How does Bluebee Pal effect the activity and student progress/engagement?

Specifically for preschool aged students, Bluebee Pals add a large motivational component while also working on achieving goals in their Individualized Education Plan (IEPs). The students appear more engaged, are interacting more during the session, and also seem happier when the Bluebee Pal is used. Specifically, students with social skills goals benefit from using Bluebee Pals. These students typically present as calmer and more comfortable when interacting with Bluebee rather than an additional student. When working with these students, the Bluebee Pal will ask them a question and the student will have the opportunity to answer, engaging in a social conversation. The student is almost always more likely to engage happily and independently in the social interaction.

What are your most favorite and least favorite things about using Bluebee Pals?

My favorite aspect of the Bluebee Pal is linking it with the text-to-talk application and watching the joy the students get while engaging with it. The Bluebee Pals have also provided my students something to look forward to on their way to each OT session. My preschool students will be walking to the OT room and become excited to check on Leo the Lion or Parker the Puppy. In addition, the Bluebee Pal assists in working on achieving my students goals using a new and fun approach. If a child has a certain area of weakness, I will use the Bluebee Pal more during those activities with the hope to have the child participate more.

What are your favorite apps to use with Bluebee Pals?

The apps I utilize with my BlueBee Pal are Writing Wizard, Text-To-Talk, and the Bluebee Pals App.

I am so happy I had the opportunity to partner with Bluebee Pals and introduce this concept to my students. Our Bluebee Pal provided my students with an innovative and fun aspect to each treatment session. I will continue to use this creative and engaging tool with my students each session! https://www.bluebeepals.com/tutorials/

Kendall Edwards, MSOT, OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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