Holidays, Special Education Classroom

Halloween Party in a Self-Contained Classroom!

I have always struggled with parties. My class needs structure and hands on activities. Who else can relate? I worked hard to plan my class’ halloween party this past Friday and it actually went really well! Most of the activities we did came from my Halloween Weekly Pack.

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The first activity we did was Halloween Bingo. Students had to fill up the entire board to win. We had been reading the books included in the weekly pack all week to get my class familiar with the different halloween costumes.

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The second activity was a fun activity my Occupational Therapist left for us. It was super simple. The kids thread orange pony beads onto green pipe cleaners. We tied them off and made a knot at the top to make it look like a pumpkin. It was an awesome fine motor task!

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We moved onto a cool ghost balloon experiment. I am terrified of balloons so this was a hard one for me to lead, but it was worth it to see the kids reactions!

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Making witches brew foam was next on this list. This one was messy but so much fun! A mix of shaving creme, baking soda, contact solution, glue and purple food coloring made a weird but fun consistency. Now if only I had plastic spiders to throw in!

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We put the mix in plastic baggies. Not only did it allow students to play without getting even more messy, we were able to send it home too!

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The last thing was the candy corn fruit cups. You can cut up fresh fruit, or use Dole fruit cups. Either works! It is a healthier snack but still yummy with dollops of whipped cream on top.

 

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It took us about 90 minutes to get through all of the activities. It was a very successful party! You can grab my halloween pack HERE. Not only do you get the visual directions and bingo cards in the pack, you get reading, math, language arts, gross motor activities, task cards and more!

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music, Special Education Classroom

Tambourine Visual Directions!

I decided to conquer an adapted music class this year! I consulted with my music teacher and bought Mrs. D’s Corner Music Adapted Work Binder. We have been working on percussion instruments during the first two months of school. After spending several weeks studying the names and sounds of percussion instruments, we decided to conquer making our own!

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The supplies were so simple! You need a plate, string and jingle bells. I used these jingle bells from Amazon. I recommend giving students 3-4 bells. One bag of 18 bells would work to make these instruments with up to 6 students.

First we used markers to color our paper plates. This was a great way to let the students get creative with their tambourine! Afterwards, we folded the tambourine in half and used a stapler to close it. We also used a hole punch to punch holes in the edge of the plates.Screen Shot 2017-10-20 at 11.43.58 PM.png

We used strings to attach the jingle bells to the plates. This was a great fine motor task, and some of my students needed help tying the string. We used that opportunity to encourage them to ask for help!

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Afterwards, the kids had a blast shaking their tambourines! It was a super easy and fun project to bring some hands on experience into our music class.

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Click the image below to grab your free copy of the visual directions!

 

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organization, Paperwork, Special Education Classroom, Tips

Your Organization Doesn’t Need to Be Pretty, It Just Needs to Work!

After drooling over Aly from Just a Primary Girl’s classroom, I impulsively bought the Trofast from Ikea. I had no idea what I was going to do with it, but I just needed to have one.

Cue 6 weeks later. The storage system is sitting in the front of my classroom, begging to be used. When I was trying to figure out how to store all the different pretty workbooks my kids have, it clicked! There are 9 drawers on the Trofast. I have 8 students. I assigned one student to a bin and now we store their workbooks and any other uncompleted work in their drawer.IMG_3019.JPG

I use Aly’s Spelling Activities for Any List, so we pop those workbooks in the drawers. I also put my Fall Writing Journals in the bins, and Delightfully Dedicated Special Education workbooks. Some of the bins have leftover work in them as well. I had a student out for a week, so all the work he missed is in his bin.

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Everyone in my classroom is color coded. I bought a roll of duct tape in each color (such a great investment). Instead of trying to make pretty labels and printing them in color and finding a way to attach them, I stuck a piece of colored duct tape on each bin. Not the prettiest, but everyone knows which bin is theirs and staff can easily pull work.

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Look how easy this is! When my paraprofessional has an extra 10 minutes with a student because his inclusion ended early, she can pull out his orange bin and have work appropriate for him at her fingertips. The silver drawer is filled with generic extras (basic math, cut and paste worksheets, writing journals) that work for several students. If a student bin is empty, my para will know to go to the silver bin to find work.

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Your color coding or labeling does not have to be pretty-it just has to work! How else do you use a Trofast bin in your classroom?

organization, Special Education Classroom, sub plans, Tips

Sub Plans in a Self-Contained Classroom

We all want our classrooms to run smoothly, but it becomes even more important to me when I am not there. It is always hard when you a missing a team member, so I try and do a lot before hand to ensure everything runs well.

The first thing I do is write a schedule. When I’m out, I don’t usually have my sub do my job in it’s entirety. There are some things that are easier to have one of my paraprofessionals do. For example, I opted to have my sub take two students to Adaptive PE on Thursday and I had my paraprofessional run my reading group instead.

Once I have the schedule written out, I create sub plans for each person. Even though my paraprofessionals know the routine, I write out what they are doing that day specifically just to help them

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I did something new this time around. I pulled together all the materials needed and left them in bins. I didn’t want them running around trying to find the materials needed for math. Each bin was labeled with the student names during that group, which day the materials were for (Thursday, Friday or both days) and the time. For example, a bin might say “Nicole Math Thursday and Friday 8:30 am). This was they could just walk over, grab the bin and be ready for that lesson.

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Once I had the bins set up, I printed off a copy of the sub plans. I read through each sub plan to ensure they had all they needed. Once I confirmed a box was done (i.e. all the materials for music class were in the bin) I crossed it off. If I found something I had forgotten (like printing the cut and paste books) I highlighted it. This helped me make sure everything was accounted for.

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I stocked up on some independent work to do during some of the centers. I prepped the Fall Cut and Paste books from Especially Education and the Camping Math and Camping ELA books from Delightfully Dedicated Special Education. I also left copies of the Fall Sentences with Visuals and Fall Comprehension Sheets from School Bells N Whistles and Phonics Based Writing Journal from Teaching is a Royal Adventure.

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I also always leave a fun activity for the substitute to do with my class. This time I left a moon sand experiment. The visual directions came from Mrs. D’s Corner Visual Sensory Experiments. I got pictures of my class completing the activity, it looks like they had a lot of fun!

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It takes a while to get sub plans like this set up, but it was completely worth it to me. I was able to relax on my vacation because I knew everyone knew what to do and where to find the materials to do it. Here’s to taking back our personal days, using them and enjoying every second that we have!

Special Education Classroom

And you thought it was just a bag of cookies.

I’m lucky to work at an amazing school with a staff that cares deeply about my students. When I first came around and pitched the idea of a treat cart to them, they didn’t hesitate to jump in. Over the course of a year, I had over 60 different staff members participate! That’s unbelievable to me!

I don’t always explain the background of my classroom initiatives well. In my self-contained program, we participate in Community Based Instruction (CBI). This allows my students to take the skills they are learning in the classroom and apply them in a hand-on skills. In my four years of teaching, the treat cart was hands down the best project I ever implemented.

It’s one thing for my students to role play in my classroom. It’s a complete different story when they get to run a snack shop themselves. It wasn’t boring Ms. Morris who wanted the fake cookies. It was the real music teacher who wanted a ginger ale and their beloved 5th grade general education teacher who asked for cookies each week. My kids had the food, and everyone wanted it. They became the suppliers and everything became real.

As the person buying from the treat cart, you see a cute kid offering you cookies. I see so much more. I watched children who couldn’t count mixed coins count more than $100 in bills. I watched children who couldn’t use one-to-one correspondence count 20 bags of chips to put on the cart. I watched children go from one word phrases to asking a question in a complete sentence.  I watched the confidence grow and shine through each of the students. And you thought it was just a bag of cookies 🙂

If you don’t know what a treat cart is, check back next week. I’ll post a lot of pictures to show it in action. If you work at a school where a special needs class runs any sort of store, just know they aren’t looking to make money. They are looking for so much more.

 

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organization, Special Education Classroom

Color Coding Independent Tasks in a Self Contained Classroom!

If you have been around my Instagram this summer, then you know that both of my paraprofessionals have left my classroom and I have been really stressed about training new staff. One huge benefit, however, is that I know all of my students. The new challenge was helping my paraprofessionals get to know them as well. My solution? Color coding!

I found these color coding stickers on Amazon. The pack had all 8 colors I am using in my classroom. I loved that the company supports Ability First, which employs adults with disabilities and special needs. Win-Win!

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The first thing I decided to use this color-coding set with was Especially Education‘s Language Arts Task Boxes. I keep Level 1 in the Iris Photo Boxes, and Level 2 in Sterlite containers. I made a template in Powerpoint that listed all of her task boxes on the left and had space on the right. Each child is assigned a color. If the task is appropriate for the child, I out a sticker with his or her color next to the task

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I did this with file folders as well. I used the Adhesive Label Squares from the Target Dollar Spot and place one on the back of each file folder. I slipped a small square of cardstock with the corresponding stickers into the pocket.

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What I love about these pockets is that I can easily switch out the slips each year to update with each new group of students!FullSizeRender-7.jpg

I am so excited about this new color coding system. Now my paraprofessionals will know which tasks are appropriate for which students, which will help them be successful in the classroom from day 1!

This post contains affiliate links for Amazon. By purchasing an item on the Amazon site using these links, I will receive a small commission on your purchase, at no cost to you!

organization, Special Education Classroom

Back to School Finds at Walmart

I love Target as much as the next teacher, but sometimes Walmart does not get the credit it deserves. I found some incredible deals when I went shopping today, and I wanted to share!

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Seriously, I’m loving the mint green theme Walmart has going on this year!

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The first thing I found were these mainstay latch lid boxes. Let me start by saying I LOVE Sterlite (clearly, majority of my purchases were Sterlite brand) but I know that sometimes we need cheaper options. The mainstay bins were roughly $3.50 in store, which was $1.50 less then Sterlite. They seemed to be sturdy and will be perfect for sensory bins. FullSizeRender-4.jpg

I also got rainbow book bins similar to these. The ones I found in the store were about $10 for a set of 5. I will be using these to organize file folders on my bookshelf.

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I love these Sterlite shoe boxes with the colorful lids. I found these value packs of 10 for $7.98 at my Walmart! Cheaper than anywhere else I saw. I will be using these to set up my new work task system, store task cards, hold toys and more. In fact, I might go buy some more tomorrow!

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I bought one of these mini crates from Sterlite because it was cute and cheap (under $1). I ended up loving it and getting 2 more. I grabbed 4 additional mini crates today. I got rid of my teacher desk so these will be perfect for storing supplies on a table in the back of my classroom.

Don’t be afraid to shop around! Pinterest pretty classroom are fun to look at, but it’s okay to save money and get other materials. Whatever helps you stay organized!