Thursday, January 19, 2017

Alphabet Fun!: Part 2

I am knee deep in the alphabet right now and I wanted to share some of the activities that we are working on.  My students have moved on from learning the uppercase letters to now focusing on the lowercase letters and matching upper to lowercase letters.

Letter Match:

I introduced this activity last week and my student caught on really well.  I start by only giving him 3 choices.  As students become more confident I give more choices.  I put the cards that need to do cards in one basket and as the student matches the letter they then move to the card to the other basket.   To make this activity I made the board out of cardboard, styrofoam containers, and Velcro.  I then printed out and laminated the cards and then added velcro.   You can find a few more details and the cards (a freebie) for this activity by going to this blog post.

Alphabet Sensory Bag:

I made this bag using my Food Saver, hair gel, food coloring, and letter beads (You can find out more about how I make these in my http://www.learningahoy.com/2016/11/multi-sensory-learning.html.  I put one of each letter in the bag.  The student then needs to find a letter and color in the matching letter (upper or lowercase) in the same color as the letter is (if they are ready for this, otherwise, they just color the letter).  I use various sheets for the matching part that I get from Make Learning Fun.  

Erasers and the Alphabet:

This activity I learned about from one of my fabulous co-teachers.  To play, use seasonal or fun erasers (in this picture we are using snowflakes) and then a fun alphabet board.  Again, I get these from Make Learning Fun.  I vary the board by time of year, do upper or lowercase, and change the order the letters are in.  The teacher can call out a letter, letter sound, or show a letter and students have to find the matching letter.  Students can also play this in pairs.  My students love to be the "teacher" during this activity.     



Trace Letters:

I shared in my inclusion box post about my binder and dry erase markers that students use to practice tracing letters.  This is great to work on proper pencil grasp, letter formation, and fine motor skills.  I printed out the letters one to page and then put them in page protectors.  I then just use a zipper pouch in the front to add a few markers to choose from and an eraser. 

You can find other alphabet ideas by checking out all of my blog posts about the ABCs or checking out my Alphabet Activities Pinterest board.  



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Friday, January 6, 2017

Inclusion Box


I have talked before about what I carry around in my inclusion bag, but I also keep an inclusion box in some of the classrooms I work in.  This box is usually for students who are working below grade level, have 1:1 adult support, and in larger districts may be in a self-contained classroom.

The contents of the box are various activities that the student can work on while in the inclusion classroom,  when the work being done by the class may be too much or when the class has some free choice or independent centers.  The items are often review and activities that I have already provided direct instruction with.  The box I currently have set up is for a Kindergarten student so that activities I am going to share are based around that particular students needs.

The Essentials:

The first thing I always include is a pencil box (or a zipper pouch) with dry erase markers, an eraser, a die, and sometimes pencils/crayons. I also may include fun erasers or counters.   I try to make sure that everything needed to complete the tasks is in the box.   This makes it easier for the adult working with the student and the student to stay on task.


Math activities:

The first thing I have is a number puzzle.  This is just a basic puzzle that I bought at the dollar store.  Sometimes my student does this for fun, sometimes to practice their number identification. 

The next activity is self-correcting puzzles that I found on the giveaway table a few year ago.  The student has to count the dots and match with the correct number.  At this time, we do hand over hand to help the student count the dots. 

Another number activity is simply the numbers 1 - 10 that can be traced with dry erase markers.  The numbers are printed 1 to a page and put into sleeve protectors.  I then put all of the pages into a binder. 

Other times during the year I may include shapes, count a clip cards, and simple addition activities.


Language Arts Activities: 

This particular student is still working on letter recognition so they have a letter puzzle, again from the dollar store. 

There is also 2 sets of uppercase letter cards that allow the student to match letter to letter. 

Another activity is the prewriting pages.  I have various levels of difficulty of these and I have ones for different themes and times of the year.  

The last thing includes is another binder.  This one has all of the letters of the alphabet for the student to practice tracing.


Extras:

I also include a folder that has simple worksheets in it that can be used as needed.  These include tracing practice, cutting practice, number identification, letter identification or anything else that I may add in there. 



Do you keep anything particular in classes where your students are in the inclusion setting?


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Thursday, December 29, 2016

8 Freebies to Jump Start 2017

Start 2017 off right with some great freebies from myself and other special educators that can help make your transition back to school after winter break a bit smoother.



1.  Color Snow Flake Matching

I love using this activity with my students who are learning color words! Students match the color word with the correct snowflake.  Check it out here!

2. January Work Tasks

Mrs. P's Specialties has  3 work tasks that are perfect for January!  Matching, labeling and how many. Check them out here!

3. Editable Activity Matrix

 Erin from You AUT-a Know has a great activity matrix that will be perfect to use with embedding instruction.  It enables you to make activity matrices to plan out how to work on student IEP goals throughout the day.  Check it out here!

4.  Counting Snowball 0 - 20

Traci from The Bender Bunch has an awesome count & clip task card freebie that practices numbers 1-20. The clothes pins allow for extra fine motor practice, but you could also use dry erase markers.  Check it out here!

5. Social Story

 All Things Special Ed has a Being Good Friends Social story that will be great to remind some of our friends what it looks like to be a good friend.  After about 2 weeks of possible unstructured activities at home, our kids may need those gentle reminders.  Check it out here!

6. Winter Hat Glyph

Delightfully Dedicated Special Education has this adorable hat glyph that uses Smarty Symbols. The students design their hats based on the answer to the questions.  This is a great way to work on IEP goals that focus on answering questions wth 2 choices.  You can find it here!

7. New Year Goal Writing

Teaching students to develop goals is an important skill.  Autism Educators has developed this goal setting for visual learners. You can find it here!

8. Short A practice

Need some easy phonic practice for your students?  One Room School House has a no-prep freebie for short A practice.  Directions to use the file on the ipad are also included.  Find it here!

If you have another freebie that you would like to share please leave it in the comments!!

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Embedded Learning


Working with students with special needs we need to make sure we give every opportunity to learn that we can.   This means we need to embed learning and instruction into daily routines and activities.  We need to make conscious decisions that we are going to address a certain skill during a certain time period.  In order to do this we need to go through a few simple steps.

1. Determine what IEP goals or skills you are addressing for an individual student. 
 For example ,right now one of my student's (A) goals is to identify numbers 1 -3. Another student, (B) is working greeting adults and peers appropriately.

2.  Determine what routines/activities these goals can be embedded into.
This is where the planning part comes in.  Depending on the type of classroom you have, this can be done in various ways.  If you have a self-contained room where all your kids are on the same schedule, you can develop a matrix of your schedule.  There would be a column for each student and their goal.  You then go through the schedule and see where you can work on the goals.  You can do something similar if you have students in various classes or  go between buildings.  Your matrix, just might look a bit different.  Using the matrix also enables you an easy way to collect data on the goal.

To work on B greeting adults, I prompt him in the hallway on the way to class when an adult greets him.  I have planned with one of the paraprofessionals that she will greet him daily.  I am working on fading my prompts so that he can become independent in this task.

If I was in preschool and focusing on building vocabulary with my students, I may make sure that my snack includes various farm animals such as having animal crackers.  This way we can talk about the animals as we eat them!

In this post you can see how I used our science lesson to work on sight words.


3. Use your matrix!
Now that you have determined where your teaching and instruction is happening, get to it!  This part should be easy.  If you can, take data on your matrix show that you can demonstrate progress and note what you need to change.

4. Change your matrix as needed.
 You will need to update your matrix when a student masters a skill, a unit changes, your schedule changes, or for a variety of other reasons.  I keep a template on my computer so that I can easily change it.

If you are interested in learning more about embedded instruction, I originally learned about it from Sharon Raver.  I took a few classes that she taught while working towards my Master's degree.  She has written many professional articles and books that include using a matrix and embedded learning.





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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Alphabet Fun!!

It seems every year I have at least one student focusing on the alphabet.  Sometimes, I am teaching preschool so it is natural to fit into the curriculum and same with kindergarten.  Other years I have 2nd graders, who I have to sneak the learning in on.  This year.... I have both.  I am working with kindergartners and 2nd graders.


I wanted to share just a few ideas that have worked great for me.  Some I have shared before, some are new.  I hope you can use a few and I would love the read about some of things you do, so please leave a few comments below!

So let's jump right in!!


Oh Pumpkin is a game I made a few years ago that is still going strong.  It is simple  to play and the kids love it! You print out the cards, laminate for durability and then put them into a basket (I try to use something seasonal to add to the fun factor).  The kids take turns drawing out one card at a time.  I differentiate by having some kids say just the letter, some kids say the sounds, some even give me a word that starts with that letter.  Then the student passes the basket.  If the student gets "Oh Pumpkin!" They have to put all of their cards back.  This game has been a hit with my kindergarten students this year and I have tied it into our social skills learning by having the kids say to the person before them "May I have the basket, please?".   If you like this game, there is another version here that was requested by some of my paraprofessionals a few years ago.



An activity that I am doing this year that is also with one of my kindergarteners centers around whatever the theme is for the week.  When I took these pictures, our theme was bats.  I printed out a clipart picture of a bat on card stock and cut it out.  On day one, I had my student punch holes around it.  Day 2, he had to lace it.  Day 3, I wrote letters on the bat and he had to match the round stickers with the same letter to the letter on the bat.  This worked out great and I have continued to do this with other shapes. You could also write numbers, shapes, or really anything on the object to have the student match.  It all depends on your needs.

With my 2nd graders I had to sneak in the learning a bit.  I took these spider webs that I made last year and put them on the ground.  I then gave each student a fake spider.  I called out a letter sound and they had to be the first to find the letter and put their spider on the web.  I had strict rules on no pushing or shoving.  You would have thought that I was giving the winner a free trip to Disney World. The kids loved it and have asked to play again.


This next activity is just a simple ball that was on the giveaway table a few years ago.  You could do the same thing with any ball, you would just need to write your own letters on it.  I have used this ball with one student up to 5.  We toss the ball back and forth and where ever your right thumb lands you need to use that letter.  I differentiate by having a student name the letter, sound, or word that starts with that sound.  This is another activity that spans the grade levels.

I hope this gave you some ideas that you can use in your classroom!!
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Friday, November 4, 2016

Multi-sensory learning

Multisensory education is proven to be effective with, no only students with disabilities, but all students.  Multisensory learning is learning that involves two or more sense.  This means children will take in information more than just auditory (ears) or visually (eyes).  They use a combination of the senses to learn new skills and practice previously taught skills.




I know what your thinking, "Caitlin, I don't have time to add in one more thing to my day".  The great part is, you are probably already doing some of this. Other things are just minor tweeks and you are on our way to involving multiple senses.

multisensory learning: smelly markers
One of the easiest things to incorporate are smelly markers and smelly pens.  I use these for the kids to draw and color with, but also when writing their letters or practicing their word sort words.   The kids love to use them and I like to giggle when I see the little dots under their noses.


multisensory learning: sandpaper

Sandpaper is another great multisensory tool.  You can have students place the sandpaper under their paper and then use various writing instruments (Take those smelly markers back out!) to have them write or draw with. The rough texture of the sandpaper provides some additional tactile input.  I found a stack of over 30 pieces of sandpaper at the Dollar Tree.  I have also cut letters, shapes and numbers out of sandpaper so that students can rub or trace over it and form that shape.


multisensory learning: gel board

Another great attention grabber is gel boards.  I have various versions of these.  The first comes from Wilson.  We bought these to use with students when we had the Fundations program and now I use them with my kiddos who have Orton-Gillingham or Wilson instruction.  The kids use the stylus to write and then erase with their hand.

multisensory learning: gel bag


I have also made my own gel boards. My students use gel bags to practice writing letters, words, numbers, shapes, or just to play around with.   Last year I shared these boards that I made with freezer bags, hair gel and food coloring.  They are great, but leak easily.  At the beginning of the school year I stumbled across this blog post from Capitals First! about making durable gel bags.  Well, I wrote a grant to get the food sealer and I am in love.  These bags are not only easy to make and hold up to more love from students, they provide additional sensory input.  The seal-a-meal bags have a texture to them on both sides, but I found a roll of bags on Amazon and those are textured on one side and smooth on the other.  My students just can't get enough of them!


multisensory learning: boogie board

The last tool I am going to share today is Boogie Boards.  I was first introduced to these little devices a few years ago by an awesome PT we had.   They have gained popularity in our school and no the company has come out with all different types.  The new ones have a place to store the stylus, you can change the battery, and they have magnets on the back so they can stick to your white board or chalkboard.  To use you simply write on the board with your stylus and then press the button to erase.  I took these out today use my students to introduce and get the play part out of the way.  I didn't even have to ask them to write their alphabet, they just jumped right in.  These boards can be used writing letters, words, numbers, math problems, answering questions and the list goes on.  Yes, they are a more expensive white board, but they add to the engagement factor for some kids.

There are a lot of other ways that you can add multisensory learning into your day (shaving cream, move & sit cushions, wobble stools, etc) and this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I would love to read about the various tools you use in your classroom.  Please share in the comments section below.


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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

What's in my inclusion bag...


Working in a small district has it's positive and negatives.  One thing is that I never know what to expect every year.  Some years I am teaching a self-contained class for K-2, some years I have preschool and 2nd graders, and this year I have Kindergarten and second grade.  I have students who I do pull-out services in my room so all of those supplies are handy.  However, I spend a lot of time in other classrooms, so I carry a bag of stuff with me wherever I go. I thought it might be helpful for me to share all of this stuff.



Here is all is.  You can see my chrome book sticking out there.  Carrying my Chrome book has become a major plus for me as I use it for data collect. There are times that I am sitting behind a student helping him to complete work with one hand, while filling out an A-B-C form on another.  Not ideal, but it gets the job done 

Coffee and my water bottle are a daily essential.  I keep an extra k-cup just in case I need a pickme up when I am not near my classroom.  I usually only carry one of the cups at a time and sometimes I leave them somewhere.  Such as today I finally found my water cup in a classroom cubby. 














I carry two types of timers because I never know which one is going to be needed.  I also carry my cell phone to use as a timer when needed

I have pencils and pens along with a hole punch to add visuals to keychains on a whim .

Stickers for rewards and the tape is used to make places on the floor where a chair should be, a line should start, giving borders on a table, and lots of other little things.

I often use the round stickers for students who need to answer questions or spell words, but do not have the ability to write.  I will put their answer choices or letter, numbers on the stickers and then they can put the sticker where it is needed.  You can find out more about that at this post.

The index cards are to write notes one, make quick flash cards, etc.  I usually have sticky notes thrown in there somewhere also.
















I carry various visuals.  The one on the left is a copy of one of my student's core boards, the middle is a behavior strip for carpet expectations and the right is a bathroom sign that has jumped off of a set of lanyard visuals.



The last thing I include in my bag are some of the intervention materials or assessment materials I may need for the day.   Today I wanted a student to try a quick comprehension sheet.  In the zipper pouch, I have a dry erase marker, and eraser and a laminated name card so a student can practice writing his name.

So now you have a pretty good idea of what I carry in my inclusion bag (the ones my paras carry have all kinds of different stuff), so I would love to know what you carry around with you.

If you love this bag, you can get your own by going here!! (Thank you for supporting my side gig)

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