Saturday, September 3, 2016

Name Practice

One of the first skills I like to work on with my students is identifying and spelling their names.  I have tons of ways that I do this and way too many for one post, so as I start this school year I plan on sharing the different ways that we practice in the classroom.  I wanted to start off with a few that I have done over the past few years. 

The first thing I do is make sure my student has their name posted all over on everything that is theirs.  Coat hooks, desk, chair, etc. If they are just starting I will add their picture next to their name so that they can identify it with a picture of their lovely selves (I should have a picture of this to share later this week).

Name Necklace:
 This activity I came up with last year.  It incorporates putting the letters of your name in order with fine motor skills.  To make it, I typed up each student's name and printed on cardstock.  I then laminated it for some extra durability.  I cut the letters apart and punched two holes in each card  Students then had to string the letters onto their necklace.  It is hard to see in this picture, but they also added a pony bead between the pictures.

Names in Shaving Cream:
Writing or playing in shaving cream is always fun (and messy!)  To help contain the mess a bit, I use a teacher lunch tray.  This keeps the mess contained.  Also, if I can't clean the trays up right away, I can stack them and wash them later.

 Name Tracing:
As part of our morning circle activity, my students will trace their names.  I simply typed their names and printed on regular paper.  I then put it in a page protector.  The students trace their names with a dry erase marker and wipe it clean with a Mr. Clean eraser.
Watercolor Names:
As you can see in this picture, my students have their name available to them on a small card so that they can refer to it if needed when writing their names.  In this activity we made apples.  The students wrote their name on the back of the plate.  Then they water colored the front. Prior to the start of the activity, I wrote a letter (the first letter in their name) in white crayon on the center of the plate.  When they painted over the letter, it came through the paint.  They just thought this was magic! 

I hope this gives you some ideas to get started.  I have more coming over the next few weeks!  
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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Number practice with spider webs

number practice, fine motor, preschool
Looking  for a fun way to practice numbers and fine motor skills while incorporating spiders?  We made this awesome spider web to do just that!

I used number dot stamps and put numbers 0 -9 in random order around a paper plate.  The students traced the numbers with a smelly marker ( using smelly markers makes the activity jump up in the level of fun) as we counted from 0 - 9.
number practice, fine motor, preschool

 Next, we used hole punches (I like using this brand because they are easier for the kids to use) and the kids each punched a hole for each number.

Then we laced a piece of yarn through the 0 and taped it to the back of the plate.  We then laced through the numbers in order from 0 -9.  All of the webs looked different because I put the numbers in a different order on each plate.  After we were done, we left the sting long and hooked the spiders we made the day before to the bottom (I, of course, did not take a picture of the all of it put together).

number practice, fine motor, preschool

The kids loved this activity and it gave us a lot of practice on fine motor skills, number recognition, tracing and following directions.  One suggestion I will make is that the yarn needs to be a lot longer then you would think.  I made it to short and had to tie on extra for all of the kids.

number practice, fine motor, preschool

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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Teacher Planner: SPED edition

teacher planner in special education
So a few years ago the teaching planner/binder craze really took off.  I started using a teacher binder (check it out here and here.) and I loved it, but it was huge.  I also really like the Erin Condren planners everyone was using, but could not see spending the money for something I could not use all of the pages on.  After some research, I found Plum Paper Planners.

teacher planner in special education
I have been using a Plum Paper Planner for 2 years now and just ordered a new one for this upcoming school year. I love it because all of my lessons and notes are in one spot.  I have places to add professional development, parent contact information, etc.  I use the notes section in each month to record PLC notes. The larger note section in the back I use to record notes from when I am having staffing meetings with the paraprofessionals I work with.  However, I also had a bunch of checklist pages that I never use.  I was also missing some components of the binder that I used to use such as having my standards and IEP information.  Then came the light bulb!

To make this planner work for me, I needed to make some minor adjustments.  I always type up all of my students' goals on one sheet so that I can easily refer to them (and so can the and gen ed teachers). I usually keep them in my data binder, but now I just put them on the checklist pages.  I also added my standards for ECSE (in VA we call them SOLs for grades K-12 and Foundation Blocks for early childhood).  In addition, I added my check sheet for progress reports and annual IEP meetings.  I also just taped in important info that I refer to often such as photo releases and parent contact information.
teacher planner in special education

When it comes to using the lesson planner portion this gets a little tricky.  Plum Paper gives you the option to have your classes pre-printed, but as a SPED teacher I know that my schedule is never set in stone.  This are always changing.  Also as SPED teachers we not only write plans for ourselves, but also for our paras.  Each year I have done things a bit differently.  This year, I put all of my plans (stuff that is for me to teach) in my planner.  I had separate sheets for my paras.  I did have one block on mu plans to jot notes in for what I wanted in my para plans.  This past year I taught 2nd grade in the morning and preschool (ECSE) in the afternoon.  To differentiate between the two in my planner I just drew a squiggly line.
teacher planner in special education

This year I will be making some minor changes in what I am adding to my planner.  I am going to make binder clips so I can laminate and hook in papers that I need to keep all year.  (I will share once I have it done)

If you are interested, there is a Plum Paper teacher planner group on Facebook where teachers share different ideas (more than just PP planners).

I hope this gave you some ideas on how you can still use the "cute" planners as a special education teacher. I would love to know how you use your planner. Please leave your blog posts or ideas in the comments below.

**This post is not sponsored by  Plum Paper.  I did not receive an compensation of any type. All opinions and ideas expressed are my own**

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Animal Hospital

ECSE, preschool, animal hospital, center

Today I just wanted to do a quick post to share my favorite dramatic play center from the school year.  During our animal unit, I turned our kitchen into an animal hospital.  I wish I had taken more pictures, but, hopefully,you will get the idea.

ECSE, preschool, animal hospital, center
To start, I gathered (stuffed) animals that I had in my classroom and at home.  Next, I went to thrift store and picked up a few animals that I thought would be good additions (snake, owl, hedgehog).  While at the thrift store I also looked for animal cages.  I found a cat carrier for $6.  I ran it through the dishwasher at home and it was good to go.  I also was able to get a few more small animal cages by asking friends on Facebook.  I also added scrub tops, stethoscopes, masks (I asked our school nurse for these) and other "doctor" supplies that I had.

I knew I wanted something more for out little hospital.  After thinking, I knew that last thing we needed was x-rays.  To make my x-rays, I used Google images to search for x-rays and printed them out on regular paper. I labeled each x-ray so the kids (and adults) would know what it was.  I then laminated the x-rays and put them in the center.

The kids loved this center (the ones in my classroom and my own kids before and after school)!

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Sunday, June 5, 2016

Managing Related Services

The common question this time of year is "How many days do you have left?".  Well, I do know the answer (9, including the teacher workday) however, I also know that I am already planning for next year.  Knowing that I am not alone in this, I thought this post about how I remember who goes to which related service may help you get a head start in getting ready for the 2016-2017 school year.

                                                                                                                                               One of the more confusing things for me is figuring out and remembering who has which related service (OT, PT, speech, Vision, etc.) when.  I also have a few students who go to services outside of school so I need to remember when they might be leaving early or come in late.

To combat all of this confusion I made this chart.   On the left are the days of the week and on the top are the different services.  Each student is assigned a different color sticky note.  We put the student's initials and the time of the  service on the sticky note and then just stick it to the chart. 
related services chartThis provides a quick reference for me when setting up for the day.  This chart also allows for related services to come in and see if they could work with a student during another time to make up a service or rearrange the schedule.   I use sticky notes because I can easily change them out as needed. 

To protect confidentiality this chart does not hang out when it is visible by anyone.  It is in my desk area black cubby hole where no one dares to enter, but myself unless they really need to look at this chart. 

Related Services chart freeIn addition to the large chart, I have made a smaller chart that I can stick in my plan book.  I can laminate it and then write on it with a permanent marker.  When things change, a little bit of nail polish remover will take the marker right off.  Then I am able to write in the changes.  If you have a poster maker or access to a poster maker, you could also print this page out as a poster instead of hand drawing your page like I do.    If you would like to check it out, just click on this link and download it from my google drive. 

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Label and write

Each school year I find myself with a different type of caseload than the year before.  Last year, I worked mostly with kiddos on adapted curriculum ,where this year I work with 2nd graders who are in the general curriculum along with preschoolers.  Talk about a brain shift!

I have a group of 2nd graders who are working on writing.  They also were really struggling with the parts of speech that were being introduced.  So we reviewed, made anchor charts, played games and lots of other fun stuff.  Then, I went to the Virginia State Reading Conference and one of the presenters was talking about labeling a picture and then writing about it.  I thought " How perfect for my 2nd graders."  I modified it to fit my needs and the kids took it hook, line, and sinker.

I used the book Here Comes T. Rex Cottontail.  We talked about the cover and made a quick anchor chart about what we saw that fit into the three parts of speech we had been working on; noun, verb & adjective.

Next, I pulled out a teacher favorite and the kids went bonkers.  All it was was sticky note flags.  You would think I gave them the coolest new video game.  The students used the flags to label the cover of the book with all of the different things they saw.

Next, we started reading the book.  I stopped part way in and asked for a prediction. "Where do you think T. Rex is going to get more eggs?"  We then had to stop for the day which caused an uproar of suspense.

The next day, they were ready to jump right in.  However, first, I asked them to write their prediction of where the eggs were coming from.  One referred to all of the labels we had made so she could spell words and to help her brainstorm.  After they finished, each read their prediction.

I continued reading and at the end of the story, I stopped again.  This time, I asked, " What do you think was in the eggs?" Again, the students had to write down their prediction.  They each read their prediction and then I finished the book.

Now, I know this sounds so simple and it was.  I was able to get lots of writing practice in (including correct capitalization and punctuation) and the kids did not even realize they were learning.

Do you have any fun activities you do in your classroom to practice writing?  I would love to hear about them!!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Sight word game: Oh Shamrock!!

I just wanted to share a quick picture of my kiddos playing on of my favorite sight word games, Oh Shamrock!! This is one of my favorite games and I have a bunch of different versions of it.  I have recently added some movement cards because we all know that our kiddos need to move more.  You can find this game in my TpT store and if you want to try one out I also have a version of the game up for free.

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