Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Circuit Maker

It's surprises me every year how my whole classroom shifts on what they like and what they don't like to do. The last two years, not one student has touched the puzzles on my shelves. This year, it is like the hot ticket activity. I even had to buy a couple extra so there was enough to go around. I remember about three years ago my box of pattern blocks was what everyone wanted to play with. The last couple years no one seems to care for them at all. 
Last week a co-worker of mine bought a Circuit Maker set for his students and called me over to check it out. I was pretty sure my boys would love it as they are really into putting things together this year. I picked it up over the weekend and introduced it to the kids yesterday. I don't know who is enjoying it more, the kids or the staff (me included). It starts out pretty easy and will build as they start making more.
It says ages 8 and up on the box and so far a couple of my boys were able to do it on their own. some of them needed help with the layering (which is clear on the instructions) but they were able to snap them together fine and follow the grid. I have only allowed them to each do two as I wanted everyone to get turns making them. So far we made a circuit board that turned on a light and one that made a buzzer sound! I can't wait to see what the next pages will bring!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Holiday Activity Worksheets

Lately every time I click on Pinterest, I keep seeing my Columbus Day Activity Worksheet I put together last year. Every time I see it, it reminds me that I have 9 other holiday worksheets patiently waiting in my "need to work on" folder. It's one of those things I have been trying to get to for the past few months and then just forget about. So much so that I have even missed the holidays they were meant to be used for. So, I have spent the last week finishing them up and this morning I finally posted them in my store! Each worksheet has 4 -5 activities for the kids to do. I hope your kids enjoy them!

You can find your copy here in my store!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Just Dance!

Can you believe there are only 2 weeks left in the first quarter!!! OMG where does the time go?? We are still school bound except for 1 day a week when we are getting to leave campus to attend PE. I am still hopeful that CBI will begin the week of the 6th and am keeping my fingers crossed. 

To try to fill up some time with the kids we decided a few weeks ago to turn the music on in the quad, get a DJ (one of my aides, who btw is fabulous at this) and let the kids dance. What started out as a one time thing has now been repeated the last two Fridays and the kids are just having the best time. We play the music for an hour, and let me tell you, they dance the WHOLE hour! They slide to the left, they slide to the right, there's hopping, stomping, cha cha-ing.  I even learned me a little gangnam dancing today! What a bunch of happy faces! I was trying to get a pic to show you,  but with over a hundred kids out there boppin I would have had to apply way to many happy faces to cover up their own beautiful ones that I can't show on here.  Every time a new song came on they screamed like they were at a concert, I couldn't help but just stand there and watch the joy they were having. Even our students who are deaf were up front center dancing to the music they could feel coming from the speakers. Don't you just stand there sometimes, looking at your kids and say to yourself..... "Yes, this is why I come here everyday." Well today I had one of those days.

Hope you have a safe and fantastic weekend,

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Personal Information Activity

Twice in the last couple of days I have ran across activities where the kids need to match their name or their phone number from paper tiles onto a sheet of paper. I decided to come up with something similar for my two boys who are still working on this skill and add all their personal information into one activity. 
I have them printed and have cut out each of the letter and number tiles so far, but haven't had time yet to laminate them and add the Velcro dots. I am hoping to get that done sometime this weekend. Here is a how they should work when I am finished with them. These boys are pretty sharp so I am pretty sure they will be able to master this in a short amount of time. Since I only have 2 kids I am doing this for it's pretty "doable". Not sure I would want to do this for 12 of them though. 

Will update on our progress! Tomorrow's FRIDAY!!!! Have a great weekend if I don't talk to you before then!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Getting Organized - Curriculum By Subject

Every year I tell myself "self, you need to be more organized this year". As my curriculum grows I find it harder and harder to keep track of what I have done and what I need to do. 5 years ago I would just create a worksheet when I needed one, then save it in my computer in the hopes of remembering I had it for the next year. I was so overwhelmed with having to create everything I used that organization was out the window. 2 years ago I started printing out everything and placing it inside binders by subject. Last year I tried teaching in the order of the binders, but then I would get pulled, or the school would plan something during my class time, or some kid would keep picking his nose and the lesson on food storage was put on the back burner as we worked on Nose Picking 101. By the middle of the year, I couldn't remember where I was or what I had done. 

This year I have created a worksheet with all the lessons I have and taped it to the wall next to my desk. So far, 4 weeks in, I have done an amazing job at marking off each lesson after I teach it. I am going to try REALLY hard this year to STAY ORGANIZED! Does anyone else do something similar to this? How do you keep yourself organized? I would love to know.

Here is what I have been using. I am sure I will add to it when some new issues arise, but for now, this will have to do. Wish me luck :-)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Pledge of Allegiance

Happy Tuesday! I am going to admit right now that I have been doing a terrible job at having the kids recite The Pledge Of Allegiance each morning. It was one of my plans this year and so far I have been slacking. My new boss has decided that we are going to start doing it every morning as a whole and have different kids lead it from the office onto the speakers in our classrooms. I was super excited as now it can get done even if I'm busy with something else at the moment. So, yesterday I got the kids all up one at a time and had them recite it in front of the class. Even though 2 declined to even try the others knew it by heart. Even one of my autistic boys who really only repeats what I ask him with a "yes" or "no" added at the end recited the whole thing????? Crazy. After listening to them I got to thinking if they really even understand what it was they are saying? There are some pretty big words in the Pledge of Allegiance. I went home last night and put together this little slide show and today I handed out this worksheet and we got to work dissecting The Pledge. I think the kids have a much better understand of what they have been saying all these years. I used very basic definitions and did elaborate and give examples as we went over each word. A very successful lesson if I do say so myself  :-) 

Monday, September 15, 2014

ASL - Finger Spelling Our Names

We have one classroom in our program that accommodates the deaf students who attend. One of my good friends is the teacher in that class so we get the kids together often for fun activities.
I think it's important to try to teach my kids some sign language so they can try to communicate with the others kids when they are together. My friend does "Sign Time" with a few of the classes during the year and last year it was even an elective the kids could sign up for. Today we learned how to finger spell our names doing this fun activity. 

My friend turned me on to the Enchanted Learning website where I was able to find the fingered letters. I saved each one to my computer and pasted four to a page so I would have the whole alphabet for later uses. After counting how many I would need of each, we made copies and cut them apart. I laid the letters out on the table and had the kids walk around finding each letter in their name. They colored and cut them out, then pasted them onto a piece of large white paper. My friend had a sheet of the regular alphabet available for them to color their letters and they cut those out and pasted them below their finger letters. 

Everyone had to go up to the front of the room and practice signing their names before we hung them up for all to see. This was actually a pretty long activity. From start to finish it took them about and hour and a little longer for a few of them. All in all, a great time was had by all!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Changing Curriculum & Coin Stamping

 Every year my classroom has a little shift in the students I spend my day with. Last year I had a lower academic group of kids join us, even to the point that I had to go out and purchase a few Melissa and Doug items for them since we weren't much above counting and colors. The information we get from the high schools that the kids are coming from is not always accurate so where they get placed is sometimes a little off. Occasionally we can make small shifts at the beginning of the school year but other times I just like to think there is a reason I was chosen to spend the year with them. This year brings me a couple new kids who are a bit higher then those I have had in the past. So, I am needing to change up my curriculum to adjust to them. 
 I am changing out some of my activity boxes to add ones that are a bit more challenging for these guys. Here is one I added this week. Since I will put a huge emphasis on money I thought these coin stamps, (which by the way have gone down in price since I bought them a week ago!) would be a great addition. I made up a couple worksheets for them to use the stamps with and so far the kids have really enjoyed working with them. If you can see in the picture, it says the coins and the amount needed (ex. 2 dimes, 2 nickels, 3 pennies) and the kids stamp the correct coins then add the total to the page. 

I am on the lookout for more, so if you know of any other good money activities please share.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Putting Away Groceries

Here is a fun life skills lesson on putting away groceries. I have this lesson in a cut & paste worksheet already but since Velcro is my new best friend and any cut & paste worksheet can easily be adapted into a Velcro book, here you go! There are 33 food pieces and three options of were you can put them, 12 pantry, 9 freezer, and 12 refrigerator. I used clear Velcro, cause it's my favorite! I am giving this away for free in my store to anyone who promises to comment on my blog at least once in the next year. No pressure, lol. Here is the link to pick up a copy for our kidoes. I would love to hear how they liked it.

The Specials - Update

Has anyone had the opportunity to watch this show? I am in LOVE! I only caught one episode that was on the OWN channel over the weekend so I went ahead and bought Season 1, for only $27 bucks (10 episodes)! I really think my kids are going to enjoy this. A reality show with people just like them?? Fabulous!

Here is an excerpt from their website:
In-depth documentary telling the story of how Carol and Dafydd Williams set up "The Specials" home & helped their daughter Hilly realize her dream of living with her friends.

And here is what the OWN site has to say about it:

There is also a season 2 available~ I'll give you a good review after we are able to watch them. It will take a bit to watch 10 episodes but I promise to keep you up to date!

Here is the link to their site.

*UPDATE* I just received an email letting me know they have refunded my money for the video. Apparently Oprah owns all the rights to the shows for the next 5 years and they are no longer allowed to sell them to buyers in the USA. I will keep you up to date if Oprah starts selling them. So bummed :-(

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Community Based Instruction

A very essential part of my programs is community based instruction (CBI). This year we are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn in the community 3 times a week. One day we will work at our job sites which at this time include Subway, McDonalds, a nursery, a pizza place, a Mexican restaurant, Burlington Coat Factory, both of our local colleges and major car dealership. Another day we will do physical education. We go bowling, or to one of two recreation centers or to a local park.
The final day we will spend at a variety of destinations in our community. This year because of all the new rules that were implemented, I have had to come up with some additional worksheets to use during these outings. Now, we won't do a worksheet each time but they are good for my kids to keep them busy for the hour+ we are at our destination. While we will still take our yearly trips to the zoo, the planetarium, a couple museums, the library, newspaper etc. I love doing instruction in stores. ANY stores for that matter! It's like a HUGE classroom right at our fingertips!

I am slowly trying to put all of the worksheets together (I know i have more somewhere) so I can post them for you, hopefully soon. Most of them I have done in the past and a few of them are new ones that I plan to work into our schedule this year. These worksheets have a variety of activities and most all of them fit into the goal of "finding an item in a store". Hopefully I will have it posted by the end of the week and I can just add to it as I make more. 

I would love to hear your ideas of what you do for CBI with your class. Do you do worksheets? Must you have a lesson planned? Let's share. You can pick up a copy of my worksheets HERE.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Social Skills Packet COMPLETE!

Well I finally did it! After months of work (and periods of no work) I finally finished the last of the social skills worksheets this weekend,Yeah to me!!!! I had to add an additional one on "Public vs Private" at the last minute but got that done too! So, here it is, the complete volume of 27 social skills worksheets! I am sure I will continue to add as problems arise, but for now this is it. Here is a sneak peak at the new entries!
HERE is the link to the entire packet