Thursday, December 24, 2015

Shopping List Activity

Right after our Thanksgiving week off, my school psychologist gave me a shopping game he thought I might be able to use with my kids. It was really old, but very cool. It had cards with store items on them along with a price, money, and shopping lists. The only problem was that it was from back in the 70's and the items and prices were way off what we would find or expect to pay in today's time. 

I decided to make a few of my own. I had started two separate ones, grocery store and pharmacy. Then one day during our morning meeting we were talking about items the kids wanted for Christmas. They were the normal things most teenagers would want, but I realized my kids had no concept of the cost for these items.

So, I put the grocery store and pharmacy cards on hold and started a new set using the items they had mentioned that morning. I even went to Amazon to get accurate prices. I cut and pasted pictures from the internet along with the prices I found. There are 24 cards in all and 4 numbered Christmas lists. I included four numbered envelopes in the box as well, along with the cash they would need and a calculator.

All the kids had the opportunity to do the activity before we left for Christmas break. I tried to emphasize the cost of the items as I went over their envelopes to check their work. My kids have the same thinking that my own birthed children had, at a much younger age, that all you have to do is "go to the bank" if you need more money! We'll continue to work on that as well! 

Well, I hope you are all enjoying your time off. It's Christmas Eve and I finally finished my shopping yesterday! Every year I say I'm not going to do that, but every year I do it again!

Happy Holidays,

Monday, December 21, 2015

2015 Christmas Card Displays

Here are a few of the displays I received from classrooms participating in the Christmas Card Exchange this year. I love them all!!! I have zero wall space, so had to use my door this year. We tacked all the pictures and letters around the outside of the door. The kids loved getting them in the mail, opening them, finding where they came from on our map, and adding them to our tree!
 Thanks again for everyone who participated. I look forward to doing it again in 2016!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

2015 Christmas Card Exchange!

It's that time of year for our annual (2nd, lol) Christmas Card Exchange! Please send your info to the email provided as soon as possible as the spots will fill up quickly. Please do not sign up if you are not sure you will be able to participate as we want the kids to receive as many of the cards as possible. After entries close, and over Thanksgiving break, I will send each of you a list of 30 other classes and the addresses. During the first week of December your kids will get the cards prepared and mailed off! You don't have to send anything in the cards besides your names but some last year sent small notes about their class (where they are from, the weather there, what their class is doing to celebrate, what the kids are asking for...) and some even included pictures! The kids LOVE this activity and it's a great life skill to boot!

All spots have been filled, sorry :-( 

Friday, October 30, 2015

Community Based Instruction Idea List

Happy Halloween!! We had a "Harvest Festival" today to celebrate the occasion! There was a pumpkin decorating contest (we won the prize for cutest), face painting, a costume contest and lots and lots of dancing! It's hard to believe that we have 3 more weeks of work before the Thanksgiving break, then only 3 more weeks of work until Winter break. The year is just flying by!

I get a lot of emails asking for ideas on where I take our kids for CBI. Last night after answering another email I figured it might help out more folks if I posted the list I use, and linked it to the blog. These are the places in my community that I try to hit each school year. I understand that you may not have all of them where you live, and in all actuality you may have tons more if you live in a bigger city. Last year we were able to get to all of them except 5. Remember, we go out twice a week so it's not that difficult for me to achieve.

Here's the full list -----> CBI Idea List

I hope this helps!

Have a great Halloween,

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Free Resources

Hi guys! Yesterday I used the last of my fire safety goodies I had ordered from the FEMA website a couple years ago, so I headed over to order more for next year before I forgot about it! I didn't know if you guys were taking advantage of these freebies on-line so thought I would share with you some things that I have found and order for my classroom.


FEMA has some great stuff I use every year. Unfortunately they don't seem to be giving out the cute fire safety activity books I usually order, but you can still download it and print the pages yourself HERE. There is some other cool stuff you can order though. There is a limit of 25 per person per year. I usually order the full 25, that way I don't have to order every year.

Here's the link https://apps.usfa.fema.gov/publications/

Here's what I ordered this year:
Is Your Home Fire Safe? Door Knob Hanger
kids.usa.gov has a lot of resources as well. I love this calendar they have. It gives links to different resources throughout the year .Calendar | Teachers | Kids.gov

I also found this really great PowerPoint presentation on first aid the other day that I plan on using with my kids in the coming weeks. It's long, so I will probably split it into 3 classes.

http://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/school-programs
Scroll down and click where it says "Basic First Aid for Youth Presentation ages 8-10, then click "access digital presentations" it will be the second one on the list.

I used to order a ton of stuff from the Food Pyramid people, but I think almost any of their things now are digital. I printed out 5 of the sheets the other day and we went over them as a class. Here's the link: Parents & Educators | Choose MyPlate

Hope you can use some of these resources. Feel free to post any others you're willing to share :-)

ps... I ordered a bunch of cool stuff on clearance from Oriental Trading last week! I'll share when I get them!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Grocery Store - UPDATE!!!

 Our first lesson in our mini grocery store is complete! My boss was gracious enough to find me the shelving and it's perfect! We also have a grocery store going out of business locally and they sold me the three baskets for 5 bucks each! 
The cards are in three levels, each level containing 3 cards. Green has 5 grocery items, yellow 10, and red 15. They will have to master each level (all three cards) to move on. I also laminated the answer cards and set them in the little tray on the register along with a dry erase marker that has been velcroed on. 

I'm anxious for the kids to begin!

Update: I have posted the lists in my store to save myself some time emailing them. Click HERE!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Vocational Skills - Grocery Store

Look at all these great grocery store items we received in the mail last week from DonorsChoose!! I have been trying to get more activity boxes that are geared towards vocational skills and I thought one working in a grocery store would be fun for the kids. The only downside is that it doesn't fit in a small box like my other activities, and I am desperately waiting for someone to find me some sort of shelving I can keep it on. For now, we will live with it taking up our entire back table. 
Along with the food we also received toy cash registers. Last Friday I stayed after work and took pictures of each of the food items. My thought was to put together picture grocery list for the kids to use to find the items. Then I thought, since most my kids are pretty good at reading or at least sounding out, I would put the picture lists on the back burner and do written lists instead. I still plan to do the picture lists for our lower kids, but for now, this is what my class will work with. 
I found a really cheap price gun on Ebay for 10 bucks and priced each of the items with the sticker. I also made these grocery lists and an answer page as well. Today was the first day trying it out with the kids and they really seemed to love it. I told them they didn't have to do all three of the lists and could put their answer key in their box and come back another time, but each of the 4 that worked on it today wanted to do all three of the cards. 

Here's what I learned. Of the four kids who did the lesson, each of them had different answers on their answer sheets for each list. Though they enjoyed the activity, and it really kept their attention, their accuracy was not that great. So, new plan. I am going to shorten the lists and make different levels. I think these ones I did above will be at the highest, a level 3. So, by the beginning of next week, we will have levels 1 and 2 ready to go. They can start there, and as they master those lists, they can move up to a card with higher difficulty. 

So much going on to fit all this in but we'll make it happen. Friday will be the last of my 5 Freshman IEP's that have to be completed within the first 30 days of school and I should get the keys to my new house two weeks from today!!! Hope everything is going well in your class. No more days off for awhile so we shall trudge along!

I have posted the lists in my store if you are interested in owning a set. You can find them HERE

Tootles,

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Safe and Strong

I wanted to let you all in on these amazing video's I was introduced to at the autism conference. Walking around the first day, I had the opportunity to speak and hear about a program for kids with special needs that was all about safety. Since I have a hard time finding good age appropriate video's for my students I was pretty excited. I put my name into the basket to try to win one of the 4 disc DVD's for my program and was looking forward to seeing their break out presentation the next day. 

Let me say, I was NOT disappointed! These DVD's would be a great asset to any classroom. During the presentation we had the opportunity to watch a variety of the clips the DVD's provide. Each clip is meant to be very interactive, so after each clip we watched, we practiced what we would have the kids do, which was stand up and act out each of the scenes, doing it the wrong way first then the right way. The kids in the video's are older which is great for our kids. 

Here's what each video contains:

Part 1: SAFETY IN THE COMMUNITY
Introduction
1. Confidence and Bearing
2. 911 Be Ready
3. Your ID/ Safe Person Card: Never Leave Home Without It
4. Your ID is for You, Your Money is for You
5. At The Bus Stop
6. On The Bus
7. ATM Awareness
8. Stranger Danger
9. If You Are Confronted
PART 2: SEXUAL ASSAULT: VICTIM/WITNESS
CAUTION: OFFER AND PROVIDE RESPECT AND SENSITIVITY TO
YOUR VIEWERS, MANY OF WHOM HAVE ALREADY BEEN SEXUALLY
ASSAULTED AND MAY EXPERIENCE FLASHBACKS AND REIGNITED
TRAUMA.
Part 2 requires trained counselors on board at time of showing
STRONGLY CAUTION your viewers.
1. Review/introduction
2. A Friendship Blossoms
3. Sexual Assault: Dorien’s Apartment
4. After the Assault: What To Expect:
Call 911
First Responder: Interview with
Law Enforcement
SART: Sexual Assault Response Team
Forensic Interview with Medical Nurse
interview With Detective
Forensic Medical Exam
5. Victim/Witness Advocate:
There Is Help for You
I Believe in You
6. Courtroom Orientation: What to Expect:
Prosecutor
Other people in the Courtroom, including the offender
Hard Questions in the Witness Box.
7. Sexual Molestation: How to Make It Stop!
Reporting sexual molestation
What to Expect
PART 3: HOME ALONE: SAFE AND STRONG
1. Introduction and Review
2. Home Security
3. Telephone Safety
4. Telemarketing: No Thank You, and Hang Up The Phone
5. Strangers At Your Door: Never Open The Door
6. If You Believe You Are In Danger: Call 911
7. Home Invasions: Get Out, Get Away, Get Help. Call 911
PART 4 ENCOUNTERS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT
1. What To Do
2. *Safe Cards and ID
3. Who To Call
4. What To Say And What Not To Say
We will not be offering Part 2 in my program for the time being.
So far we have only done the first 4 chapters of disk 1 and the kids (and me) are loving it! Oh, I forgot to mention, I won one of the DVD sets while at the conference!! It's really weird because I knew I was going to win, I don't know how I knew, but I knew. 

So, how do you get your own DVD set for your class or program? I have good news and bad news. The good news is, if you live in the state of California you can borrow a copy from your regional center for free, (apparently they were all mailed quite a few) since this was a collaboration of departments throughout our state. If you don't live in California I believe the set is around 300 dollars, but if you can get your school to pay for it, I would say it is well worth the cost. 


She did state that all regional centers in CA have them, and if for some reason yours does not, they can contact the company to get a copy. Here is the link if your interested in learning more about the program. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Identification Cards


I made these cards up a few years ago and tried to pitch them to a few teachers and got some pretty bad reviews, so I put it on the back burner and didn't give it much more thought. They thought parents would not want their child to carry such cards. So, at the conference I went to in August, during one of the break out sessions, the speaker talked about how all the kids should carry some sort of identification card with them at all times. She suggested in their wallet for more verbal kids and in the shoe for non. Though, seems it would be a long time before someone checked a kids shoe to be able to find it. My kids are in the 18 to 22 age range. I took a poll today and only 25 percent of them actually have a California identification card (probably lower for our emerging kids). So, I'm going to bring it back to the table again and see if any of the new teachers want to bring it up the parents as an option and we can easily print them and laminate.

The ones posted here were for our kids with autism, but we can change the disability to anything and even customize it depending on the child (or the parent). Do you think parents would be interested in something like this? Do your kids carry ID? Where do they carry it? 
We've been watching this great video I won during the conference (i'll tell you about that this weekend), and during the video's it talks about the kids having their ID on them, so I think my kids would think it's really cool to have it. Alright, just a thought, I'll let you know if I get shot down again, lol.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Morning Meeting Update

My first full week with the kids is complete! After having a couple tough kids the last few years, this year I have been majorly blessed with what appears to be a pretty amazing group of individuals! This is also the first year that I have had all readers! The kids are so close to the same level both academically and socially which is great. They all seem to be completing their work right about the same time too.

I'm proud to say, I have been diligent with my morning meetings and they seem to be going really well (hey it's been 8 days!). I have been brainstorming and pinning ideas so that I can keep them interesting and engaging. Up until Friday I was just ending each morning message with a question. Since all my kids are readers and can write with minimal help this has been working. One day I mentioned the weather as it was going to be over 100. So I ended the message with "do you prefer when it's hot or cold outside? Why?" They are to answer their question in their journal and when we meet after breakfast I have one student read the morning message then we go around the table and everyone answers the question verbally. 

Friday I changed it up a bit and we used these pretty sturdy paddles I ordered last year from Oriental Trading. After asking everyone how they feel today (which by the way is so much fun because they are changing their word everyday and I'm loving the variety!), read the morning message (no question this day), did our calendar skills, counted money, and talked of our day, I passed them out. I then asked them 10 questions which they had to answer using their paddle yes or no.

 I can't remember them all now but here are some: 

I have built a snowman
I have been to another country
I have swam in the ocean
I was born in Bakersfield
I have been ice skating

Some of them we discussed after each poll, asking which country they had visited or where they were born if not here.


So, new plan. I think we will be doing two individual board questions a week, one team building activity, one similar to this one I did Friday, and one challenge (hold the door open for someone, introduce yourself to someone you don't know, ask someone to dance, invite someone to sit by you for lunch or on the bus). I want it to coincide with a lesson we worked on the day before. We can quick discuss it again and even do a couple role playing. After lunch when we come to group we will discuss if anyone was successful.

I am really hoping that with my kids all being on the same level, and me not having to differentiate their lessons too much AND freeing up my aides who no longer will need to work 1 on 1 with them, we can come up with some new exciting ideas for our class. I am excited, and can't wait to see what lies ahead for us this coming year!

I have pinned a few ideas on a Pinterest board HERE for the team building activities if your interested. If you have any you would like to share, please do so below!

I hope you have a great weekend,


Monday, August 24, 2015

Autism Update

With the new school year arriving, I have had little time to get out this plethora of information I hold from the conference I attended in Southern California. So, I thought I would start with a few facts and figures which headed off the keynote speaker on day one.

Facts & Figures

  • Over 1.77 million cases of autism in the US
  • New cases are diagnosed every 20 minutes
  • Estimated 1 in 68 children, possible as high as 1 in 50
  • 1 in 42 boys on average as high as 1 in 12
  • Boys are 5x more likely than girls
  • Autism is the fastest growing disability in the US
  • Costs of 126 billion annually
  • 2.3 million dollars to care for an individual with autism over their lifetime

Staggering isn't it?

****If you know anyone planning on getting pregnant in the future, you may want to pass on this bit of information too:

Folic acid taken pre-pregnancy and for the 1st 2 months of pregnancy can reduce autism rates by 40%. Also ASD moms should have their homocysteine levels taken. Mothers of autistic children show higher levels. They should have blood workup done before getting pregnant again. Elevated levels also showed a risk factor of heart disease and blood clots.

There was also talk of a medication that seems promising in reducing autism like symptoms in mice (for up to 8 weeks) and according to our key note speaker they will begin human trials in the next few weeks. You can Google Prof. Robert Naviaux if you want to learn more on this.

Is anyone else worried about the rise in autism and what this means for the future? 1 in 68 children??? The amount of kids with autism that have entered our program alone in the last 5 years is staggering. Are there enough adult programs set up for them? What's the plan? I don't feel like this is being taken seriously and I worry that our kids will not have the adequate resources available to them as they age out of the school system. Who's going to fit the bill? 

So many questions, so very few answers. 

I have many more things I want to talk about regarding this conference and will try really hard to find time in the next couple weeks to get it down in writing for you! I feel like there are not enough hours in the day lately!

Hope you year is starting out amazing!! I know mine is!



Saturday, August 15, 2015

New "school" Years Resolutions!

It's that time of the year again folks. The time of year teachers make our new school year resolutions. Whether it's new things we are going to implement or old things we are going to stay more diligent towards, the commitment is there!

I have two things this year I am going to work on. The first one, which I heard about at the autism conference I just attended comes in two parts. #1 I am no longer going to say the words NO or Don't to my kids. I don't think I say it often, and when I do, I back it up with reasoning "NO, we don't have time to play with that now, but later, after lunch you will". So, I am going to try to leave the "NO" part off. Be more positive. Instead of saying "don't slam the chair down" I will say something more like "I understand you are upset, but let's think of other ways to get out our frustration". Or maybe instead of "NO we can't go to the snack bar now" I can say "now is not a good time, let's see if we have more time later".

#2 Instead of telling the kids what to do "go wash your hands", "go get your folder", "sit in your seat" we will say "what would be the proper thing to do after we sneeze?",  "what do we need to have to start out our day?", "where should we be if we are ready for our lesson?". Does that make sense? The speaker expressed that we feel the need to rescue them. While he was talking I totally saw that this is what we were doing all day in my room "go sit there" "go get your book" "get your jacket" "line up for breakfast". Not that these are bad things, but we are not allowing them to make any of their own decisions or to even think about what it is they need to do. We need to be teaching them self-regulation.
  1. Self-regulation is the ability to monitor and control our own behavior, emotions, or thoughts, altering them in accordance with the demands of the situation.
I am going to really make this a priority in my room and model it for my aides so I can get them on board as well.

Ok, my second resolution is to hold a morning meeting with my kids everyday. It's so hard to find the time mostly because my kids arrive separately over a 45 minutes period. So here's the plan. When they arrive (7:30 - 8:15), they write their brief morning message, and work on one functional academic page in their folders. Then off to breakfast (8:15). When they come back (8:45), I am going to take this time for no more than a 15 minute meeting. I am going to really try to not go over that time frame as they will still need to finish their work and be out at the buses by 9:30.

I want it to look something like this:

Good morning ..... 

Ask students how they are feeling this morning and let them share that.

Go over the calendar for the day.

Count coins together from the wall (nickels, dimes, quarters)

Include a question: ex. "if you could go anywhere in the world where would you go?"

or 

short teamwork activity ....  ex. block tower, ball toss

"I hope you have a fantastic day".

So, that's the plan and I'm sticking to it (fingers crossed)!
Do you have any new resolutions for your classroom this year? I would love to hear about them!



Saturday, August 8, 2015

GPS For Our Kids

I have sooooo many things I want to tell you that I learned at the conference I just attended!! But, before I get to all my notes and try to rewrite everything to where it makes sense to you, I wanted to ask you about this device that a mom talked about today right before the conference ended. The topic was about safety and our autistic children. A mother raised her hand and told us about this arm band called a GizmoPal she uses with her son. It's from Verizon and costs about 75 dollars with a 5 dollar monthly fee. It can call two preset numbers with one touch and receive calls from those same two numbers. You can also set it to auto answer which means if the child doesn't answer it within 10 rings it will automatically answer. Now for the best part.... it has GPS on it!!! 

So I'm curious, do you know any kids who are using these? Any that could benefit from it. Pros, cons? I think the GPS is great. I assume the student would have to be above a certain level to understand that you can't be calling mommy and daddy all day long.

Let's chat....

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today Is A Good Day For A Good Day

Sorry for the quiet this summer I have a lot going on! Got the news that my classroom would be moving during ESY(packed a lot of stuff). I sold my house (packed a lot of stuff). Bought a new house (but am currently homeless because apparently shorts sales are very unpredictable) and took a small family vacation. 

I was really hoping for this time off to get the new house in order and am so bummed that though I feel I have SO much to do, I can't really do anything but sit and wait. Then 2 weeks ago my boss emails me saying they will NOT be moving my classroom this current school year, which means I will have to UNPACK EVERYTHING back into the same room (did I mention I have a lot of stuff)! 

So, here I sit, waiting for my realtor to give me some sort of information "any day now" he says over and over. Waiting for my classroom to be available for the unpacking (did I mention all my work clothes are sitting in a POD somewhere!). Next week though, I head to Pasadena for the "Autism West Conference" that I have attended the last 2 years and love. Then I have one more week off before the new school year begins. I am looking forward to a little structure that's for sure. I'm finding it harder and harder to trick myself everyday to get up, shower, put on make-up and curl my hair just to go to Walmart for a roll of paper towels.

I hope everyone has enjoyed their time off and are looking forward to the up and coming 2015-16 school year!

Yours Truly,

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Movie Trailer Monday!!!

 We are down to the last 5 days of ESY!! I found out last Wednesday that I will be moving into a new classrooms next year. So, not only am I having to pack up my house, I am also having to pack up my classroom. And to make matters worse, the air conditioner went out last Thursday so by 9 a.m. it hits about 85 degrees in the room and 
we have to vacate to a cooler classroom for the rest of the day. I'm hoping it gets fixed as soon as possible so I can stay late a couple days and get it finished. Friday we will be at another school for graduation, so I really only have 4 more days to get it done. I'm trying my best to pitch a few things that I no longer use. I tend to "hoard" things at school "just in case" I might NEED it again. It's funny, at home I don't keep anything. I try to live as simple as possible and have no problem dropping things off at Goodwill if I stop using it. Unfortunately, my classroom has a whole separate list of rules.
A few months ago one of my kids was talking about a new movie that was coming out. So, we went to Youtube and checked out the trailer. While we were there we went ahead and watched a few more. The kids were totally into it! From that day on we now enjoy "Movie Trailer Monday's" every week. 
After my kids come back from lunch, they have about a half hour of free time. They can play games with staff, use the ipad or computer, read books, draw or just hang out outside with their friends. Then we come back for our final class of the day before our day ends. On Mondays, we meet back ten minutes earlier now to watch the trailers.

 We do three trailers each week, and even though I take requests, which I add to my list, I like to make it a surprise which ones I will show that particular day. After each trailer we have a little discussion and ask who thinks they would be interested in seeing that movie and who thinks they wouldn't be. I only show them movies that have a G or PG rating as I don't want parents upset that now their kid begs to see a movie they deem inappropriate.
Tomorrow will be our last showing of the year. We are going to see "The Secret Life Of Pets", "Daddy's Home", and "Born In China".
This has been such a fun thing for all of us, that I am going to continue it in the fall. The kids look forward to it and I get multiple reminders every Monday so that I don't forget! And, we have so many left on our list that we want to see!

ttyl,

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Circles Activity

Summer school (ESY) is in full swing. 12 days down 8 to go! So much has been going on in the last two weeks. I sold my house and bought a new one (which really is a very old one). I have to be out of the house I live in now by July 8th which just so happens be day 3 of my out of town vacation so I will have to move out 4th of July weekend instead. The new house doesn't close escrow until the 22nd of July which leaves me homeless for about a week when I get back. Luckily I have great friends who are willing to house me and my dogs until the new house closes, is repainted inside, and the new floors put down! I will be off work until August 19th, so will have plenty of time to put everything back together and get unpacked before the new school year starts. I guarantee you it's going to go FAST!

I wanted to post this Circles activity I did with the kids last week. Each day we worked on two circles starting with Strangers and moving to the smallest circle being "me". We talked about each one and the kids wrote a small definition and added 5 people that would fit into each category inside the circle. Then they cut each of them out and we moved on to the next circle. When they were complete we stacked them and stapled them along the top. 

I really enjoyed doing these with them and it really kept their attention. There was great conversation, writing, cutting, and a bit of role play. I have the template of the circles if you're interesting in doing it with your kids. Just shoot me and email (empoweredbythem@aol.com) and I will get it to you.

Take care,

Saturday, May 23, 2015

ESY 2015

Well, we have just about made it through another school year. I have 3 half days to go and I'm sure they are going to fly by. Next Thursday is our last day of the regular school year. We will get a 3 day weekend and then start ESY on the following Monday. All of my class but one will be attending this year and I will keep my same staff so it will almost be just like a regular school year day except the kids will leave to go home around the time they used to leave to go to lunch. Oh, and I don't have to stay for my prep period, soooo I will be done with my work day at 11:30 a.m. Not bad at all!

I teach all the same classes during our extended school year as I do during the regular year with the exception that I try to make them a little more fun. Adding extra cooking classes, extra art projects, outdoor time that might include a water balloon or two, and even a real movie. That still leaves plenty of time for our core subjects like life skills, social skills, money management and so on. I have put their monthly morning workbooks together but this year I added all the pages we will use for the other classes as well to make my life a little easier as every page they will need will be together in one place and I won't have to pass out any other papers all summer!


We are going to do a few new things this year. Remember this lesson that was going around a year or so ago? We did these last summer during ESY. This year we are doing something very similar but each page will represent different people and the boundaries we have for them. Strangers, community members, acquaintances, friends and family. Each page getting small than the one before (ME being smallest). I'll post a pic when we are done so you can see the finished product. The plan is to take time discussing each group of people and having the kids write a small definition and a few names that would fit under each one. I also purchased this movie called "When Zachary Beaver Came To Town" that we will watch as well. Seems from the reviews that it has quite a few lessons in it about friendship, empathy, and to not judge others. I'll let you know if it's any good either. My kids this year are not movie watchin kids but I'm going to try just one!

I hope your school years are winding down nicely and you're not to stressed out right about now. Just remember, very soon, we can put our feet up and get a well deserved vacation before it starts all over again.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Microwave, Stove & Oven Practice


 Is everyone enjoying their Easter break? I am halfway through mine and really really enjoying the time off! 

I got an email last week from someone wanting to know if I had any worksheets on using a microwave, which I did not. So, this weekend I put together a fun little cut and paste one for her. Then I thought, "why not add one of using the oven"? Which then turned into "might as well do one on using the stove". Each of these worksheets are cut and paste. I also made each one into a worksheet with the answers on another page so they can be made into work tasks that can be laminated with Velcro attached. I did add another row of questions to make up for the space at the bottom of those sheets. 

The directions on the microwave sheet are the actual directions from each products. I also tried to use a variety of cooking terms on the others (saute, broil, bake, preheat, simmer, fry etc) so you're kinda getting two lessons in one :-) Once the dials are cut they have to be glued/velcro in the circle turning it so the correct temp is on the line at the top. I did use gas and electric nobs on the stove worksheet so the kids will know there is more than one option. 

Hope these are helpful for your kids! Enjoy your time off, it will be over before we know it. You can find the worksheets HERE.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

"They Don't Understand What We're Saying"


Last week I had a new instructional assistant start in my classroom. Since I run my room completely different than 95% of the other classes in my program, retraining them from their bad habits is at the top of my list. Although in the beginning most will miss the freedom they had, it's only a matter of time until they "buy in" to my beliefs. Though I have not been 100% successful in making this happen hence why I'm getting a new aide, I really had faith that this guys was going to work out great. 

First off, I have a list of expectations I hand out and we went over it together. One of the biggest rules I have with myself and my staff is that I run my classroom as if my boss, or a parent is standing inside the door. I run it as if my child or their child were one of my students. Now this doesn't mean we don't have fun, because my kids are great fun and we have great times. But I do want my classroom to be a professional environment all the time. My kids deserve that. 

So does this work? Mostly yes. My work likes to move our IA's around a lot and even though they will deny this, I believe some are put into my rooms because they need "structure" and I have "structure". It seems every year I finally get everyone on board and then the new school year starts and I have to start all over again with new IA's. I do seem to have better success with ones who are also parents as I think they can put their own child in the place of our students and they know what they would want for them. We meet bi-monthly for an hour and because we are a team I really love their ideas and input and we use them often. This is also the time I bring up any issues I see happening. I also bribe them. I bring them little snacks or lunch a couple times a month and send home fun little things my kids do that their kids can as well. All this to make sure they know how much I appreciate them. I also thank them every day when they leave for their help. People who feel appreciated are much better workers.

So, the reasoning for this post was that during a conversation with my new IA last week, while talking about having private conversations in front of kids, he told me that he completely understands since my kids are "verbal" and they know what's going on. But..... the basic life skills class, from which he came from, it wasn't such a big deal he said, since the kids were non-verbal and didn't understand what the staff was saying. Now this is where I wanted to SCREAM! I immediately asked him to set up the projector and screen and went to my computer to find this wonderful video clip I keep on hand for this exact occasion. He sat quietly for 10 minutes and watched the video. He probably wouldn't appreciate me telling you this, but he cried. I saw him wipe tears. He is a father, he understands. I think he's going to work out great.

So, here is the link to the video. It's only 10 minutes long and it should be seen by EVERYONE who works with special kids. This is not an isolated case, I have seen it over and over for many years. It really makes you think.




Father and daughter win struggle with Autism

Take care, 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

College Classes on Campus

I wanted to share with you something pretty cool that's been going on in our program for the last few years. Cal State University is about 10 miles from our school. As you can see from the picture I pulled from the internet, one of the required classes for their Physical Education B.S. degree is a class called "Adaptive Physical Education". It just so happens that my program is full of kids who love physical education! So, apparently someone talked to someone and from there an amazing opportunity was born! 

Here's how it works. The first half of the year the college students are on their own campus learning about adaptive PE and planning fun and exciting activities that kids with special needs might enjoy. The second half of the year the teacher and her students use our quad area as their classroom. We send out 4 classes a week (40 kids) and let them take over. They are there for a full hour and every week there are new, fun activities they rotate the kids through. From freebie's to obstacle courses, beach balls and bean bags. They bring a TON of stuff and the kids always have a blast!

The college kids are just amazing and they are so sweet and kind with our kids. I stood and talked to their teacher yesterday when they were there and she said that her students brainstorm and come up with all their own ideas for the activities and that's why they are never the exact same each year. I thought I would share this on the off chance that your school or class may have the same opportunity available to you in your community. I hope you look into it as it is such a great experience for all of the students, ours and theirs.

Take care,

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lego Therapy

Here is another great activity I heard about at the teacher in-service I attended last month. Lego therapy! Here is an excerpt from another site "Research has shown that during play therapy, Children learn to communicate with others, express feelings, modify behaviour, develop problem-solving skills, and learn a variety of ways of relating to others". 

Of course I went to Target the next week and puchased 3 boxes of the small 50 - 60 piece Lego puzzles to do a little experimenting with my own kids. I explained to the kids what it was we were going to do. I explained each job title and the job duties of each of those people. I then assigned 1 box of Lego's to each table of 3 students and one staff. As you can see from the picture above 

Each table consisted of:

A Supplier - He is in charge of the parts
An Architect - He is in charge of the plans
A Builder - His job is to build the model 
And of course an aide who's job was to gently "guide" them.

Here's how it works:

The architect (he's holding the directions) is to explain the part he needs to the supplier (white flat piece with 4 dots) who then provides the part to the builder. The architect then explains to the builder where the piece needs to go according to the directions. Some of it really took some explaining and I think it's important that your architect be pretty social. My aides were only there to step in and inform one of them of maybe a better way to give directions to their group. I also put my lower boys as the suppliers as I am pretty sure they wouldn't have been able to do the other jobs our first time out.

It was amazing how much better the kids got as the time went on. It pretty much came to the point where my aides weren't having to speak at all. The kids were able to finish each of the boxes within about 40 minutes and were really proud of what they had built! 

My plan is to do this every 2-3 weeks rotating the boxes in their groups and possibly some of their jobs. I love their team work and the fact that they are verbally having to relate to each other in order to finish the task. I am curious to see how it goes each week and how the are progressing. I'll keep you up to date.

Have a great weekend,

Monday, February 23, 2015

Cooking Eggs, 5 Ways!

I haven't done any real cooking with the kids due to the new rules laid out for us at the beginning of this year. Last week during a conversation about table manners and the importance of thanking the person that cooks for you, I noticed that even though I have had parents telling me their kids help cook at home, according to me kids, and what they know, they do not appear to at all. Another reason why I wish I could continue the cooking classes we used to have. 

So today I taught a cooking class. I didn't allow them to help, they sat in a semi-circle in front of me and we talked about what I was doing in each step. We would also pause to write the steps on the board. First we hard boiled, then fried, then scrambled, we made a cheese omelet, then made deviled eggs with the eggs we had hard boiled. You will have to forgive my omelet, I am totally out of practice and it probably could have used another egg for the size pan I had as there was NO flipping that thing!

We have been watching Youtube videos of people cooking all year when I find a good one that's appropriate. This was so much better as they were right up in there and we could talk about each step and they could ask questions.  Luckily no one even asked to try anything which made it a lot easier for me to not have to say no. Apparently eggs are not a hot ticket item with my kids. Oh, and my two female aides guessed 20 and 30 minutes on how long to boil an egg!!!! One said she was even going to go home tonight and do it for 3 minutes to see for herself, lol.

Now, I am going to ask this which I know is going to make me so jealous, but.... Do you do cooking classes with your kids at school? Do they/you have a favorite thing to cook?

FYI... I put a bulletin board up in the kids lunch room today that count's down the days left of school this year, and guess what?  We have 60 more days!!!!

Have a great week,