Friday, November 30, 2012

Let's Talk About Weather

Everyday, as part of our morning group, we discuss the weather.  Weather is such an important topic and is very meaningful to my students. My students absolutely adore going to the playground every day for recess.  Even one of my pretty much nonverbal students (he says about 10 words) asks me probably 15 times a day "Swing?"
Many of them become really confused and sometimes upset on days when we can't go to the playground due to weather (i.e. too cold, rain, snow, etc.).  The most confusing thing is when it is hot in our classroom, sunny outside, but below zero outside.  We have had several students who ask us to change the weather.  One kids would say "Come on please.  Make it sunny." Haha.  So, we use this visual every day!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Liebster Award

Thanks to First Grade Carousel and Resource Room Rules for nominating me for a Liebster Award.  This award is given by other bloggers to new bloggers with less than 200 followers.  It is meant to help spread the word about new blogs ☺.  I started my blog in August and have been really enjoying posting about my classroom.  I especially love seeing other people's great ideas (and using them in my classroom!) and hearing back from readers who have benefitted from my posts/resources.  

This is kind of chain-letterish...but also kind of fun to learn more about other bloggers!

The rules are:
1.  Post 11 random things about yourself.
2.  Answer the questions the nominator set for you.
3.  Create 11 questions for your nominees.
4.  Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them to your post.
5.  Leave a comment on this post if you were nominated so I can learn more about you and see who you nominate.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Thanksgiving Wrap-Up

I don't know about you, but for my students talking about the past is very difficult!  The day after Halloween, I had some students who still had a few Halloween worksheets to finish and they refused (even though the worksheets had been a huge hit the entire week before!).  One kid said, "No.  It is November.  Time for Thanksgiving."  It was actually pretty funny.  But being able to understand and talk about the past is an important skill, so this month I decided I would make them do a Thanksgiving activity....AFTER Thanksgiving.  The activity involved students interviewing other students about their Thanksgiving celebration and then writing about their friend's Thanksgiving.  This was also very difficult for my students...after they asked the other student a question, they would try and answer it about themselves instead of listening to their friend and recording their answer.  But surprisingly, even though my students faced some challenges with this activity, it went extremely well.  Here is what the interview sheets looked like.

Monday, November 26, 2012


Most of us are heading back to work today after a (hopefully) relaxing long weekend.  I didn't get to do any Black Friday shopping this year, since I was cruising on a ship.  But, I have told myself for the last couple weeks I was going to make up for it on Cyber Monday.  I have actually never participated in Cyber Monday before....hoping I find some good deals!  Any recommendations?? join in the holiday spirit...Teachers Pay Teachers is having a Cyber Monday Sale as well.
So, I am putting my entire store on sale for 20% off and then TPT will take an additional 10% off that (for a total of 28% off every item in my store).  Not too shabby when all the items are already priced below $6 :-).  This sale will last all day today (Monday) through Tuesday night.

The TPT promo code is CMT12

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Great Game for Initial Letter Sounds!

The past two days, I showed you spelling activities for students working on short vowels (although they can be adapted to any level).  The game I am going to show you today is for beginning spellers/readers.  The game is called Alphabet Mystery Box and sells for $35 from Lakeshore (♥).  This game is great for students working on learning their letters and/or their initial word sounds!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Short Vowel Spelling Game

Over the last couple days, I have been on a real spelling kick.  Today, I will continue on that kick as I show you a spelling game my students like to play.  Part of the idea behind Words Their Way and the Bear Spelling Assessment is that people make sense of the world by sorting things into categories.  So, why not do that for spelling as well.  This actually makes a lot of sense for people with autism as well since they tend to be very rule governed and visual learners.  To make categories when working on short vowels, we do word sorts.  I don't have any pictures of my kids doing word sorts on my home computer, but this is kind of what they would look like.  For instance, for sorting "a" and "i" short vowels, one row of words could be (bat, sat, nap, tan) and the other row would be (bit, sip, win, rib).

Friday, November 23, 2012

Short Vowel Spelling Activity

So yesterday, I gave a detailed explanation of the Bear Spelling Assessment.  Once I figure out which area of spelling my students need to work on, I create spelling lists, have students complete word sorts, and create fun hands-on activities/games for them to play.
Currently,  I have a few students working at each level (initial/final sounds,  blends/digraphs, long vowel patterns, and short vowel patterns).  Having students at each level is always a challenge, but a variety of my activities can be adapted to fit all learning levels.  

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bear Spelling Assessment

Happy Thanksgiving!  I am currently getting ready to go on a cruise...never thought that would be how I spent my Thanksgiving...but should be a welcome break!  Mostly, I am looking forward to warm weather...I miss summer already.  So over the next few days, I have some posts ready to show you how I assess spelling in my class as well as some fun hands-on activities my kids do to work on their individual targeted spelling goals.  Today, I will focus on assessment.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Party

Today's party was a great success!  Well, we did have one kid with pink eye who was exiled to sit at his own desk all day....but last year I had a kid projectile things are looking up!   Yesterday was our final grocery shopping trip where we bought all the rest of our ingredients.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Are You Thankful For Project

Today, we made these cute little turkeys that say what we are thankful for.  This was not an easy task for my students.  I couldn't just ask them "What are you thankful for?", have them make a list, and then do the project.  With our students' language deficits, this is not an easy topic to address.  I don't know if you can read what this student is thankful for, but they are T-Trains, H-Hamburgers, A-April, N-Nurses, K-KMart, and S-Sunshine.  I love the variety...haha.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Worksheets

Last week, I made each student a packet of Thanksgiving worksheets at their level so we could work on some Thanksgiving vocabulary and concepts.  My kids LOVE LOVE LOVE working on their thematic packets!  We work on them during small groups (teacher time) or during our morning group time.

First off, we read a one-page explanation of Thanksgiving from News-2-You and complete a comprehension worksheet.  (This is an old one and has the wrong I had to white it out and switch it).

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Thanksgiving Party

Woohoo! It is almost Thanksgiving!  I don't know about you, but Thanksgiving really came up quickly this year.  We only have three days of school this week, and one day is pretty much devoted to our lavish (haha) Thanksgiving party.  Our party is a very similar set-up to our Halloween Party, but all of the stations are cooking activities and students do not go to every station.  

So, kids get split up into groups of 3 and take turns going to a few of the stations.  We cook/prepare a Thanksgiving feast consisting of pumpkin pie (no bake version), mashed potatoes, stuffing, green beans, cranberries, yams, and turkey/gravy.  Once all the food is prepared, we set it up buffet style and send the kids down the line (this allows lots of practice for requesting politely for food!). As you can see we have PECs available for our students who are nonverbal to use to request each food item.  


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Inclusion Data

Obviously, in our field data is super important for a variety of show academic/behavioral growth, make changes to our teaching methods/interventions, and figure out functions of behavior.  Another important reason for data is to promote independence in inclusion classes! 

Friday, November 16, 2012

Social Time

Social time is one of my students' favorite parts of our morning group.  Each week, we change our question.  The weekly question is written on a sheet of paper and each question has picture choices available to aid in responding.  There is also a place to record answers on each sheet.  The questions I ask range are mainly yes/no or multiple choice.  The questions cover a range of topics mostly focusing on physical attributes (hair color, eye color) and favorites (foods, seasons, holidays, sports, animals).   This week, our question is "Which season do you like best?"  For most students simply responding is the goal.  But for students with higher social skills, I like to throw in a "why" question here and there for  a little challenge.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

All About Me Book

As I talked about last week, we are getting ready to start our All About Me Unit this month.  Last week, I sent home a note to all my students asking their parents to fill out a current phone number and address that their child could learn.  When I tested all of my kids, only ONE knew his phone number and address (part of this could be because my kids didn't understand the questions, but still...we obviously need to work on this!) Back when I first started teaching, I used to teach my students their home phone number, but lately I have been thinking that knowing a parent's cell phone number might be more appropriate if a student is ever needing to get ahold of their parents (I mentioned this in the note as well for parents to consider when providing a phone number for their child to learn).  Once I got all the information back from the parents, I created these cute re-usable books for each student so we can work on learning their personal information every day!

Here is a sample cover (of me!)

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Homework Binders

Well, today is our first day of home visits!  We are going to over 10 houses today and splitting the rest over the next two afternoons (after school).  One thing I really wanted to get done in time for the home visits were homework binders.  For most of my kids' homework, I send home a packet of worksheets at their appropriate level in a home work folder each day.  But, for my kids who can't write, this system doesn't work.  So, what I have done in the past, is make a binder of work (similar to their morning group binder) for these kids to keep at home.  This is a great way for students to get extra practice and for parents to see what their child is capable of doing independently.  Here are some pictures of the binder I put together last night and I will be delivering to my student's house today! 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Life Skills Logistics

Yesterday, I posted some pictures of our Life Skills Classroom. Today, I will discuss more about how it works.  We started by creating a list of each task in the Life Skills Classroom.  We numbered the tasks 1-25.  Then we created large (different colored) numbers to post at each task which corresponds to their number on the list.  On the list,  I highlighted tasks yellow that an adult would need to take apart and left the others white (some tasks work both ways...they can be educational when being put together or taken apart, while others are only educational when being put together).  Also at the bottom of this list (not pictured here), I have each student listed with the tasks they are able to do independently/with assistance to help out whoever sets up the schedules.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Life Skills Classroom

A couple years ago, our principal gave my coworker and I an empty classroom for us to use as a life skills classroom.  We both wanted to incorporate these tasks into our classrooms, but many of them just took up too much space!  So, once we got the empty classroom, we combined some materials we already had with a trip to the dollar store.  I think we spent about $75 on that first trip to the dollar store, but that was enough to get the room up and running.  We also collected donations from friends (mostly clothes for our laundry area).

We split the room into four areas:  KITCHEN,  LAUNDRY,  OFFICE, and BATHROOM.  Then we created tasks that had something to do with these general topics (we currently have about 25 tasks).

Today I will show you some pictures of the tasks and tomorrow, I will show you how the room works (how it is scheduled, data collection, etc.)

This is from the KITCHEN area.  This task is setting the table.  The dishes we use are in the clear plastic bin sitting on the "table."

Friday, November 9, 2012


Listening...I am so behind on TV since I had been trying to watch all 4 seasons of Damages on Netflix before we canceled our subscription (I was successful)!  So My newest TV marathon is Revenge on ABC...catching up on season 2.

Wanting...I just really am tired of my closet!  I am craving a good shopping spree!

Music...Over the last 2 weeks,  I have had two parent meetings where parents told me how much their children LOVE listening to music in the home...and I was so surprised at their musical preferences.  One boy loves blues and jazz while one of my little girls loves the cha cha slide...looks like I will be updating our ipods this weekends with some new tunes!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Home Visits: Part Two

Yesterday, I posted about the idea behind our yearly home visits.  Today, I wanted to share some materials I have created for students/parents to use at home.

First off, some behavior resources.  I have given parents a copy of this "Good behavior" and "Bad behavior" list we keep posted in our classroom.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Home Visits: Part One

Every year, our school has Report Card Pick-up days at the end of the 1st and 3rd quarter.  These are basically parent conference days.  We (my coworker and I) have decided that since we already meet with the parents for the students' IEPs once a year, that we will utilize the Fall Report Card Pick-Up day to do home visits. For our home visits, we go to each child's house for 20-30 minutes.  We discuss school progress as well as needs in the home.  We often bring materials that have been successful at school for behavior, bring homework tasks for the parents to utilize, bring materials to set-up routines in the home, as well as provide materials for parents to utilize in the community (SEE Tomorrow's Post for Examples).

I have found these home visits to be very enlightening. So often, we make parents come into schools and have them sit around while a team of people tries to tell them all about THEIR child.  Going into the homes allows the parents to be the expert and makes us a guest...and let me tell you, I have learned SO MUCH about my students from doing home visits!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Since it is ELECTION DAY, I figured, why not throw a sale.  Well, I guess election day has nothing to do with it, I just realized I haven't had a sale since back to school, so it is about that time!  My entire Teachers Pay Teachers Store will be on sale starting today, November 6 and lasting until Thursday, November 8th.  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fluency Timings

**POST UPDATE (08/27/2016):  This activity is now available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.  Click image below to be redirected to my store.

Every day when we get back from lunch, half of our kids do guided reading (we combine with another class so the other teacher and I are both running guided reading groups) and the other half of our kids complete independent stations.  After 30 minutes, we switch.  But before we get started with guided reading, our kids independently complete a couple 1-minute fluency timings while we get the other kids settled into their independent activities.  This activity is a great, structured way, to keep kids busy with independent work.  It also works on increasing their ability to think of items (quickly) that are related to a variety of topics (which can be helpful for journal writing, building vocabulary, and increasing conversational skills).

For most of the year, I have just been writing our topics on the white board...but this was a pain and made it hard to think of a new topic each day.  So just last week, I created this great little pocket chart of timings that is set up for a week at a time!  I am super excited about it if you can't tell!  It only took me about 20 minutes to put together and it has already made our transition a lot smoother!

Friday, November 2, 2012

All About Me Book and Worksheet

I usually like to do an "All About Me" unit in September, but this year got off to a rocky start, so we haven't gotten to it yet.  I am planning on starting this unit in November and just found a super cute FREE book to print!  Here are some pictures of the book.  We will also be playing a lot of The Listening Game (see my previous post to find out how to play) using our favorite things!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Quick Assessment for Letters

So many of my students have crazy gaps in their learning.  Some are already reading, but don't know their letters.  Some of my students are reading, but can't write anything. I developed a couple quick assessments for writing uppercase/lowercase letters, matching uppercase to lowercase letters, and a test to write the letters from memory.

Here is a worksheet I use to assess writing uppercase and lowercase letters from a given model.  For some of my students who need practice writing, I laminate a copy of this sheet and put it in their daily work binder.  They use a dry erase marker to practice writing in the empty box.  Then, my assistants wipe it clean at the end of the day and it is ready for use again the next day.