Assistive Technology: Create a Switch-Adapted Spinner

When it comes to tightening budgets, what better way to stretch the dollars than with a battery operated fan converted into a spinner. The battery interruptor cost about $10 and the fan was about $5.

A speech pathologist came in yesterday with a cardboard cut-out flower and some communication/activity boards she had made for spring. She was having students use seeds and glue them on a flower and use colored cut-out petals for an activity. She asked if I had any ideas for a spinner that was switch-activated.

“Why don’t we make one right now!” I said. (It took about 20 minutes because I had everything already)
Battery operated necklace fan
battery interruptor (see links to get one or make one below)
self-adhesive velcro dots or strips (both the latch and hook)
Sharpie pen and pencil
cardboard or card stock paper
notching file or a small round file
How we did it:
I grabbed a necklace fan that was battery operated I had saved in the closet for just such an occasion and we notched the slide lid on the bottom for the battery interruptor/switch cord, put batteries in and the interruptor. When we plugged the switch in, the switch made it go (We had to slide the on/off switch to “on” first and leave it there). Here is a link to get interruptors ready to go for $10.95. You can make them yourself too with a solder gun, and some speaker wire and plugs from radio Shack. pdf instructions here
A battery interruptor

Next, I took the fan guard screen’s top half off to access the blades inside. I used scissors and cut off the fan blades so we could use the top of the fan as a mount for the spinner arrow. I used velcro dots and stuck a dot on the fan head that spins and the corresponding dot on a spinner arrow I cut out, then stuck them together, pressed the switch and…we had a spinner!’

Now the fun part came:
I took her cardboard flower cut-out and traced it on card stock. I cut it out and cut the center hole out so the spinner and fan blade head would go up through the center of the cut-out. I put velcro underneath, on the bottom fan guard and also the cut-out so it would stay. Now we had a flower spinner, themed to go with her activity.
She can now use boardmaker or other graphics, colors, numbers, etc. to make the spinner fit any activity. Other shapes could be: a pumpkin, shamrock, bug, heart, snowflake, etc. to fit other activities, or just a cardboard circle with divided sections and velcro dots to fasten any symbols you choose on.
I bought the fan, O2Cool Necklace Fan; at Target or Walmart last summer for around $5. I found an Amazon Marketplace seller that sells it for $6.99 plus shipping. I like this fan for several reasons:

O2Cool Necklace Fan

1. The top is flat and facing straight up to put up through a cutout. Most fans are on the side or angle, making it hard to adapt it for a spinner.
2. It has a nice flat base so it can be switch-adapted and stand up without help. I have seen ones that have been mounted up inside a yogurt or cottage cheese container to hold them. This one might need a round cardboard foot under it to help it stand up better, but mine is staying up on its own.
Here is a snapshot of mine taken with my cell phone afterwards…

Hope this inspires you to give it a try…
All the best to you!
Lon Thornburg is an assistive technology specialist and professional development trainer who lives in Oregon and serves 12 districts in 7 counties. He hosts the No Limits 2 Learning Blog and The No Limits 2 Learning Live Talk Show on Blog Talk Radio. He is sharing as a contributing writer on LD LIVE!
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