Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Classroom Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Between me and my aides we put together an amazing feast on Wednesday for the kids.  We had been working on table manners so this was a great way to end the lesson. The kids also learned how to make homemade cranberry sauce and pumpkin pies.  
Next week is going to be very busy at school.  We are having a window decorating contest that I am so excited about! My class is making a hand print Christmas tree and also going to be elfing ourselves and turning it all into a North Pole theme! We have to have the window done by Friday for the judging.  I can't wait to see what it will look like all put together.  I will post pics when we have it completed!  

Don't forget Teachers pay Teachers is having their cyber Monday and Tuesday sale this week.  I will have all my products at 20% off and TPT will add to that for a total of 28% off.  Be sure to use the code "cyber" when checking out. Hope you find everything you are looking for!  

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Using Visual Recipes

As you can probably tell from some of my previous posts, I absolutely love cooking with my kids!  We don't get to do in near as often as I would like since we have to finance it with our own money and it can get quite pricey. We still are trying to do it at least once or twice a month, and my aide are great about helping out with ingredients!

Every time we get ready to try a new recipe I like to have a visual to go with it. This way we can go over the recipe step by step before we head into the kitchen to do the actual cooking. We always send a copy home (in hopes that their folks let them try to make it there) and we put one in their binders that they take home when they graduate. As you can see they go from pretty basic recipes to a little more challenging as to try to find things that all my kids will be able to make independently.

You can find the recipe book here:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Community Logo's

I'm having a blast putting together these fun Velcro book for the kids.  Here are two using logos found in the community.  I picked stores in my community that my kids would be familiar with.  I can easily change one or more of them if they don't match stores near you.  I was fortunate to find this clear Velcro at Walmart so the kids can still see the picture through the Velcro.  It was in the sewing sections and came in about half inch circles.  My kids are mostly non-readers so this way they can see where to return the picture when they are done  
with the book.  Kind of like getting two lessons in one!  I added an extra sheet that has no picture, just the word, in case you have readers and thing that will be more beneficial to them. There has been quite a bit on interest in them in my classroom and with a bit of prompting and help all my kids have been able to do them.

Have a great rest of your week!  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Postcard Exchange UPDATE

Happy Monday!  I had work training all day Saturday and a baby shower AND a BBQ!!  So, I only had one day to relax (-housecleaning and laundry) and boy was I feeling it today.  Here is a little update on the postcard exchange I am participating in.  I sent out 29 postcards and was hoping to get that many back but it's not looking good right now.  The kids have been LOVING it though and get so excited each time one comes!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grocery Store Ads

I grabbed a dozen grocery store ads yesterday while I was shopping and put together this fun little cut & paste worksheet for my kids.  If you go to the ad on-line and click on any picture you can copy and paste it onto your document. There are so many activities that can come out of using the ads.  Ads from store like Target and Walmart are great as well. I have had my kids come up with a menu for a day using the ads, we have done scavenger hunts inside the ad, and also have had them shop for a week allowing them a certain amount of money to use.  You can also use the ads to find words that start with each letter of the alphabet or even money lessons! Endless possibilities. 

            Even better, they are FREE!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Life Skills - School Safety/Being Sick

I was a busy bee this weekend putting together some worksheets I have had on my mind lately. With cold and flu season fast approaching I thought it was important to go over this with the kids.  As you can see I added the symptom "diarrhea" as to get the giggling over with as soon as possible so we can move on.  Funny, when I taught higher kids it was the word "ball".  Didn't matter what kind of balls I was referring to or the context it was in, it was the funniest word EVER!
Here is another worksheet on what we can and can't bring to school.  My kids were able to tell about each one and there was a lot of good conversation that came out of this. We have had some interesting items brought to school in the last couple years (some illegal) so this lesson is very important with my group of students.  My sister in law told me a kid brought a kitten to school last year in his backpack!  What are some of the strangest things your kids have brought to school?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Money Cards

 I was working on an IEP for a new student a few weeks and was struggling to come up with a functional academic math goal.  Most of the goals I regularly work on with my kids were all to difficult for this particular young man.  I wanted to pick something that I could actually teach him, since looking at his IEP from high school it seems he rarely ever met any of his goals.

Luckily our program has some wonderful level one teachers I could go to for advice.  One teacher had these neat money cards in a basket she uses for her kids.  Each card is neatly laminated, very colorful and age appropriate for our kids.   

 What she does is hand the student some one dollar bills then lets them pick a card of something they would like to buy.  The student then has to hand her the right amount of dollars bills to make the purchase.  I am sure there is a lot of prompting and praise involved as well.  She says by the end of the school year all her kids have mastered the task!

She was going to try to find the cards to email me but hasn't been able to locate them so I made some of my own. I made 12 task cards only using one dollar bills.  There are copies of those task cards using dollars and quarters (12 cards) and some using the dollars and a variety of coins (12).  I also made 12 cards that use larger bills and another 12 cards with larger bills and coins.  I can't wait to start using them in my classroom!  I think all my kids will benefit from them!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Student Led Projects

There are twenty three classrooms in our program grouped into four different levels.  Most of our classrooms/levels have student led projects they have started to help earn money to pay for activities for the kids. Other classrooms have projects that don't generate income but help with things we need done for the program like filling our classroom water jugs, maintaining the vans, and keeping our campus clean. Here are some of the income generating projects we have:

A gardening service
A house cleaning service
Jewelry making
Car washing
Hair Clips

My classroom, for the last 3 years, has provided a food delivery service for students and staff in our program.  Currently we are doing this every other Friday.  The fee we charge is usually around one dollar per order (not item).  We deliver pizza, burgers, Mexican food, sandwiches etc.  Monday mornings we start by putting up flyers around campus announcing what restaurant we will be serving that week (I also send out an email to each teacher with the restaurant flyer attached).  I don't offer every item on a restaurants menu so we can keep it simple for the kids. Thursdays we pass flyers out to students as they are leaving school.  

Friday mornings from 8:00 to 9:30 my kids, with help from staff, collect all of the orders and money. We then fax or email the order in to the restaurant.  Before lunch some of the students go with my aides to pick up the food while the rest of us prepare for it's arrival.  Once the food comes we separate the food by classroom, put each classrooms orders into crates, and add any chips or sodas that have been ordered (we purchase these separately). The kids then deliver the food to each classroom.  We have gotten so good at this we can do it in about 15 minutes. The kids love doing this, it gets crazy and everyone is yelling out orders, but they really get a sense of accomplishment when they are done.  Costco pizza is one of the favorites. We have sold over 75 orders, up to 200 slices, in one day!  

Do any of your programs run student led projects?  I would love to hear of other money making ventures students are participating in!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Folding 101

I try not to post everyday so that I can bank posts up in case I ever run out of things to say.  But, when a girls got something to share, A GIRLS GOT SOMETHING TO SHARE!  So, I have been thinking about putting together some folding activities for my classroom and slowly this year I have been buying things to add to it.  I FINALLY bought the last few items I needed and today in class I introduced it to the kids. Meet my folding activities!

 Socks~  I added some of my old socks that looked pretty new and bought some new ones to add as well. I bought 4 different styles of white ones to make it a bit more difficult.  After they matched we worked on folding them into themselves.

Towels~ I have 4 of each, bath towels, hand towels and washcloths. We pretty much folded in half, in half, in half.  The kids did great and some had to really concentrate to get them neat.

T-Shirts~  I bought 9 t-shirts from a local t-shirt store in our town.  I did 3 white, 3 grey and 3 black.  This way after folding they could group them by color.  We had 3 students at each table and rotated the baskets every 10 minutes.  

The month of waiting to get it all together was well worth the wait.  The kids were really engaged. Even my two autistic boys, who I usually have a hard time getting interested in activities, were folding right along with the others.  I love when something comes together as planned!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Preposition Books

I got this great book idea from Kara over at Sped-ventures.  She has a couple cute ones that she has put together that I absolutely loved.  I decided to make a few of my own to use with my kids.  I tried to make them relevent to things we have been working on. We have one on personal hygiene, one on kitchen foods and another on clothing.  So far the kids love them!  Some of my kids breezed right through them and others really struggled. I put the velcro in more then one spot (3 on some) so the answer is not so obvious.
My co-worker has this neat machine that binds the books and she was kind enough to do that for me. (I think I will be using some of my teacher budget money to get myself one soon).  The options of making your own books are endless!  Kara has many on her blog that would work great with a variety of students.  I suggest you go check them out!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Body Boundaries

I hope everyone had an exciting week!  We had a two hour late start on Tuesday so didn't get to have a community outing this week :-(  My class also changed our job site this week. We were working at a pizza place but are now working at the local city collage in the snack bar taking out trash and cleaning tables. Have I told you how much my kids love going to their job sites?  I have one students who is working at Subways with another teacher and he takes his job very seriously.  He gets to wear a Subways shirt and hat and is such a hard worker.  We also resumed our electives this Friday and it went very well.  Each teacher (sometimes 2) had to pick an elective to teach.  We ended up with some great ones, photography, cooking, sign language, leadership, fitness, and drawing among a few.  I love the fact that I get to get acquainted with other kids who I didn't know. We also worked on our body boundaries. Here is the worksheet we used.  I was going to do the boys and girls separate but ended up doing it together and they had their own gender page.

I hope everyone has an amazing weekend!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Postcard Exchange

 I signed up to do a post card exchange back in August and have been so excited for it to get started.  There are 30 different classrooms in my group from all different parts of the United States.  I even have recruited some of my friends who live in other states to participate because I figure more is better, right?  We had until the end of October and it appears I am not the only one who waited till the last minute since I haven't received a single on yet!  Since my students are very basic writers we had the help of a couple aides and even the school psychologist stopped by to help us fill some out (the kids did the stamps).  I have had this area of my wall ready since before the kids started.  I want to tack the postcard on the wall than run a string to the map where it came from.  I will post again when the postcards all arrive!!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Doing Chores Slide Show

 I put together a cute little slide presentation to show my kids this week when we talk about chores.  There are 19 slides, each showing a different chore.  I added a couple "non chores" pictures just for fun.  I posted it in my store because frankly I don't know how else to get it to you!  Enjoy!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Pedestrian Safety

It's been crazy busy at my work the last few weeks.  We started a new billing system that has been having issues from the get go, grades and benchmarks were due for the first quarter, and I finally finished the last two IEP's of all my incoming freshman.

Sooooo, to celebrate this amazing weekend we are about to have (it's going to be in the low 80's) I would like to give away this worksheet I put together last week for my class on pedestrian safety (I split it into two classes).  I hope it can be of some use to you.  

Have a great, RELAXING weekend. (I have plans to stay in my jammies the WHOLE time!)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Giving Grades

It's that time of year again when I need to grade my students on their abilities while in my class.  I used to find this task somewhat difficult.  What kind of grade do you give to a student who still can't count to three at the age of 20 in math? A lot of my colleagues at work give straight A's down the board.  This just didn't seem right to me since not all kids try to do their best. In the past few years I have come up with a system that seems to works for me.  Here's how it goes:

A = If you try your best you get an "A".  How can I give any less if they are working to the highest of their ability?

B = If I know you can do better (because you have showed me) and don't because you would rather talk or play you get a "B". (symptoms of your disability will never lower your grade).

C = I rarely give C's and if I do it is in either in PE or work skills.  If you refuse to participate because you would rather be doing something else, or are being lazy (yes my kids can be lazy) than you get a "C".  

I have never given a "D" or an "F".  Frankly I think If I was having to do that I would have to re-evaluate myself and my teaching.  

We also evaluate their citizenship.  1, 2, or 3 for each grade.

So, I'm interested in knowing, how do you grade your students?    

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Grocery Store Math

I put together this fun packet to fill in some of the community outing time we get each week.  Some of the worksheets are a bit higher than others to accommodate students at different levels.

 Students will have to look through each individual section or aisle of the grocery store to find the answers to each question. I hope this will be helpful to your kids!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Something About Mary

I purchased this Mary on the Move series about 5 years ago after borrowing one of the videos from a co-worker. There's something about Mary that is so captivating to the students who watch it. The videos follow Mary, who is a young down syndrome girl living on her own. The videos are both serious and funny as Mary and her friends tackle everyday tasks like cleaning house, getting to where you need to be on time, and planning a dinner party for friends. I would highly recommend this series to your video library.

You can read more about it here.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Emotion Cards

I have been searching for affordable emotion cards for ages now for my classroom and couldn't seem to find what I was looking for. I have no problem finding ones with little kids but none with adults. I wanted them large and realistic looking.  I told my co-worker yesterday that I was finished looking and was going to go on-line this weekend and find my own pics to make a PowerPoint presentation.  Her reply "Why don't you just take pictures of our staff?"  OMG why didn't I think of that!  
So, I spent yesterday and part of today trying to convince my co-workers what a "GREAT IDEA" this was. In the end I ended up with 23 emotion pics! They are absolutely fantastic and I can't wait to do a class with them!  I have each picture twice in the presentation.  The first one just showing the face (I blocked out my co-workers face here, but believe me it was priceless).  I figure we will use this slide to talk about what emotion we think it might be and why someone would have that emotion.  When they click the next slide (PowerPoint novice) it will give the answer of what emotion the teacher was going for.  The kids are going to just LOVE this!!!!  I will update you next week and let you know how it went.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Teaching Moment

One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give someone living or working with a person with special needs it to let them do as much for themselves as they can. I know sometimes it's easier and faster to do it for them, but we are not teaching them to be the independent young adults that we want them to be.  

Last week I was standing in line with one of my students at Starbucks.  In front of me was another of the students from our program with an aide waiting to order. I know this young man and was anxious to watch  his exchange with the cashier.  He is autistic and very quiet but I knew he could do it!  What happened next caught me off guard. When the barista asked him what he wanted the aide turned to him and asked him. When the young man told her what he wanted she turned back to the barista and told her.  When the barista asked what size the same exchange happened  (from this point on the barista only exchanged conversation with the aide and not the student).  When given the amount owed the aide removed it from his wallet and put the change back in.  When the barista asked his NAME the aide told her!  I was so sad to see such a perfect learning experience had just been wasted. 

What is our long term goal?  Do we want them to be able to do their own laundry?  Make themselves a snack?  Order their own food?  OF COURSE!  Just because someone has a disability it doesn't mean that they can not learn.  It may take them longer.  They may do it differently.  But with time, love and patience these kids can do things that most people didn't believe they could. I couldn't even count how many "teaching moments" happen during my day.  I too need to be reminded sometimes to slow down and take advantage of these times. What better way to teach a skill than to do it hands on while it's happening!

Hope everyone had a great 3 day weekend!

P.S. check out this guys clip art depicting kids with disabilities. I love them!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Fire Drill

We have been back in school for exactly 2 weeks and I am exhausted! I think we have ironed out most of the glitches our main one being getting 175 kids on 22 buses at two different loading zones at the end of the day! Thursday our office staff color coded each route and we made tags for each students to wear showing their color, name, and route number.  Yesterday was only our second day trying the color coding and I actually think it went pretty smooth.  Now all we need to do is get the teachers to REMEMBER to send the kids down to the cafeteria with their color tags!  Here is a worksheet we will be using in the next couple weeks about fire drills.  Let's hope that goes smoothly as well. 

Hope everyone is enjoying the new year!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Community Based Outings

 Our program does a lot of community based outings. As much as we are trying to get our kids used to being in the community we are also trying to get the community used to being around our kids.  Once a week I have to arrange some sort of hour long outing for my kids to attend.  With limited "free" attractions where I live. Coming up with new, entertaining, educational and interesting outings to do can sometimes be difficult especially the later in the year it gets.  
 So, to avoid trying to find "101 ways to entertain yourself at Walmart" I have started putting together activity sheets for a variety of stores in our community.  Last year I posted some that could be used at the pharmacy, grocery store and Walmart or Target.  Here are the links if you missed them.

I put together these three worksheets over the weekend that I plan on using this year. It's a good idea to go over the worksheets before you leave for the outing in case there is any explaining to do.  I think it also gets them excited to get there and start working.  I keep my kids in small groups (2-3 per staff) so that we don't clog any aisle with our presence.  I am sure when these stores see a bus unloading a bunch of kids out front of their doors they might be a little concerned. Remember we want this to be a great experience for EVERYONE involved!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Ready or Not Here They Come!

 Well here it is, my classroom, ready for another year!  We have a new teacher this year that referred to my classroom the other day as the "Pinterest" room.  She says it was a compliment, so I am going to take it as that, lol.
 I am not quite done with this one yet (I had to print more coins), but this year everyday after reading the morning message we are going to practice counting coins.  I'm hoping by doing it daily, it will make it easier to remember.
We will continue to work on our timeline which I loved doing last year. I also have a couple NEW ideas up which I am keeping a secret until we start working on them so you will get a better picture about what we are doing.  Can't wait!!!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Gift Cards and Special Education

I am not a huge fan of gift cards when it comes to my students.  I understand that they are more convenient to add funds too and using them prevents the students from spending their money on things other than what it was intended for. The problem with gift cards, in my opinion, is that's keeping the kids from learning the real concept of money.  Most of the time they have no idea how much is even on the card.  They just use it until someone tells them it's no good anymore.  Nothing like waiting in line for 10 minutes at Target with a student who is waiting to purchase his lunch with a gift card he has with zero balance, right? 

I try to encourage my parents throughout the year to send cash with the students when we go on our outings.  No better way to teach kids about money, making purchases, and getting change than letting them actually do it themselves!

I did go ahead and put together a worksheet on using gift cards. I know we will continue to see them throughout the school year so we might as well be prepared.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Activity Box Contents

I started back to work yesterday calling my parents and adding a few fun things to the walls.  I have so many great things I am going to be doing with my kids this year I can hardly wait!  I had a request from a couple people wanting to know what the contents of my activity boxes were, so I took some pictures to show you.  Currently we have 22 activity boxes on our shelves. If you have any questions about a box just leave me a comment and I will get back to you.  A few of these items I found on Pinterest and I'm sure I can find the links if you need them.
L - R *Students have to separate money by denomination, tall the amount of each coin, write the amount of money they have of each coin, then graph each coin.  *Pattern Blocks - especially loved by my autistic students * For each number on the card the students have to add that many mini clothespins. * Sorting by colors into the corresponding bowls.
L - R * Make each pattern using the blocks * Link the amount of clips to each number so they match * Stamping out their personal info * 100 chart (my higher kids use the other side that doesn't have the numbers
L - R * Money eggs - open each egg, add up the amount of coins and write it on the corresponding number on their answer page * Playdough measuring - Students roll playdough into snake like figures to match the measurement shown on each card * Roll two dice add the numbers of each dice to the worksheet and add * Dice in Dice - Roll two dice, use the outside number first and write that amount on the first line, do the same for the second dice, then add the amounts.
L - R *Place the proper nut onto each bolt sort into buckets (not shown) * Make a clock - students much add numbers, cut, out clock and hands, punch holes and put together * Roll 1 dice in dice, use the outside number than the inside number to get your total.  Then do 10 more and ten less of that number * Students must weigh each of the items on their worksheet (lbs and oz) for example, 3 books, 10 markers, then find three more things they want to measure and add those to their answer sheet as well.
L - R * Geoboards- follow the patterns on the laminated cards to make a matching pattern.  * Students put their color blocks randomly on the card.  Taking turns, roll 2 dice and if one of the numbers matches a number you have a block on you can remove 1 block from that number * Counting Coins - there are 5  cards up to 41 - 50 place the amount of money asked for in the row provided * Match the time on each block to the time on the sheet.
L - R * students need to add the proper amount of each item into each first aid kit according to the paper.  * Peg blocks. - for my lower kids I may only bring out one box and pegs, my higher kids like to bring them all out and see who can do it the fastest.