Thursday, November 5, 2015

Fall Experience Books

A few years ago I did my first post on experience books.  I have always loved the way my seed book came out and I knew I wanted to do another one.  With that came the idea of a Fall experience book.  To say this went well is an understatement.  The kids had a ball!

First we talked about Fall and listened to a book on Epic(if you haven't checked out this book site, you need to right after you finish reading this post).  We talked about different things we might find outside in the Fall.  Then I showed the kids the book I made with items I found.  The original plan was to go on a scavenger hunt on the playground and little open space next to our playground, but nature had other plans, rain. So to combat this we "planted" fall items on the front porch and the kids had to find them.

We made a list before we started of all of the things they were supposed to look for: leaves, acorns, pumpkin, gourd, and sticks. The kids each had a bag and they put their items in it as the hunted.

After we finished, we went inside and got to work on putting our books together.  I talked the kids through making their bags by all of us putting things in a bag at the same time.  For instance, I gave all of the kids a new bag and told them to put their acorns in it.  We did the same with all of the other stuff.  Just in case you are wondering I used fake gourds that I picked up at the Dollar Tree and die cuts of pumpkins for the kids.  The leaves, acorns, and sticks were real though.

 Next we made a cover.  The kids each had to write their name in the author's space (yes, we always talk about what an author does) which was a way for me to sneak some name practice in there. That page then went into a bag.

Finally we put all of the bags together to make the book.  (You can find detailed directions on how to put together an experience book by going to this blog post)  I picked up some fall themed duct tape at the Dollar Tree and I also pulled out some green that I had.  The kids chose which tape they wanted to use for their book.

Then as the kids went to free play we called them over one at a time to label the pages.  We wrote what ever they told us was in each page and the kids put the label on the book.

The next day each student took a turn reading their book to the class (I think that was my favorite part). Overall, this was a huge hit and I am already trying to figure out how I can fit this activity in more often.  It provided such an opportunity to add in new vocabulary and for discussion.

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Friday, October 30, 2015

MPS information: A post dedicated to a very special "Girly"

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I have blogged about MPS a few times over the past few years and I would like to share that information again, with some modifications of course. 

Eight years ago I was hired at a new school and met a very special young lady whose has touched many lives of both adults and children. Everyone who comes in contact with her, just falls in love. She taught me so much about how awesome my students are. This sweet young lady's name is Mackenzie and she had a disease called Mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS).  Mackenzie passed away this week and I felt that a blog post in her honor was in order. 

MPS was something i knew nothing about when I met Mackenzie, so I made sure to learn more. According to the website for the MPS Society "...MPS and related diseases are genetic lysosomal storage diseases (LSD) caused by the body’s inability to produce specific enzymes. Normally, the body uses enzymes to break down and recycle materials in cells. In individuals with MPS and related diseases, the missing or insufficient enzyme prevents the proper recycling process, resulting in the storage of materials in virtually every cell of the body. As a result, cells do not perform properly and may cause progressive damage throughout the body, including the heart, bones, joints, respiratory system and central nervous system. While the disease may not be apparent at birth, signs and symptoms develop with age as more cells become damaged by the accumulation of cell materials."

  • MPS stands for Mucopolysaccharidoses
  • MPS is a genetic lysosomal storage disease (LSD) caused by the body's inability to produce specific enzymes.(From the MPS Society Website)
  • Affected individuals may have mental retardation, cloudy corneas, short stature, stiff joints, incontinence, speech and hearing impairment, chronic runny nose, hernia, heart disease, hyperactivity, depression, pain and a dramatically shortened life span.(From the MPS Society Website)
  • MPS and related diseases are hereditary. (From the MPS Society Website)
  • There is a big range in the type of MPS an individual can be diagnosed with. 
  • There is currently no cure for MPS or related diseases, research is making great strides. (From the MPS Society Website)

I chose the color purple for this post because it was Mack's favorite. My prayers and thoughts are with her family at this time. Please help remember her by sharing information with others about MPS.
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Monday, October 26, 2015

SPED Tricks & Treats blog hop

Hello!!  I hope you are enjoying the SPED tricks and treats blog hop!  I can't wait to see the goodies everyone can collect.  Special educators always have to have their bag of tricks handy and you can never have too many. 

My trick is all about metallic sharpies (and this will lead right into my treat)!  I love metallic sharpies.  They show up great on dark paper (especially black) and look so much better than a white crayon or colored pencil.  I have been able to get them  almost anywhere sharpies are sold and they come in gold, silver, and bronze. I used these twice this past week to make the activity I am about to show you and also to make dots on a black circle (that activity went with my letter F week, I will share it it soon). 

Last weekend, The Printable Princess  posted about some activities she made for her kindergarten classroom.  I just loved the spider webs!  However all I could find at the dollar store was black plates, which I ended up loving even more.

 I used the silver sharpie to draw the webs.

1.  I started by adding the targeted skill in the middle, for example the letter Y. 
2.  I then drew a circle around the Y 
3. Next, I added lines going out from the A to the sides of the plate (I usually did 4 or 5 lines on each one). 
4/5/6.  Last I connected the lines to make  spider webs.  I found it easier to start on the outside of the plate and work my way in.   

I made these adorable spiders to go with the webs.  I used graphics from My Cute Graphics and added letters, shapes, and numbers to the back to make a matching game.  I also picked up some spiders at the grocery store that my kiddos who are practicing 1:1 correspondence can count out the number of spiders to match the web.  This week with one of my kiddos we matched the letter spiders to their webs.  She loved it!  I told her the spiders were sad and needed to go back to their homes.  This worked like a charm (sometimes she is tough to get started )!  She was practicing identifying upper and lowercase letters, I was able to sneak some letter sounds in and we even practiced counting by counting how many spiders we had matched to their webs.  I can't wait to do this with her again this week.  

So this leads me to my freebie!!!  I am sharing the cute spiders I made to go with these webs.  I have included all of the lowercase letters (you would write uppercase on the web), shapes, and numbers.
 You can get them by clicking on the graphic below!

I would love to hear how you use these spiders or any of the tricks I shared with you.  Please leave a comment below!

If you are not already make sure you follow me on Facebook, on my blog, and on TpT so you never miss another freebie!

Now hop on over to Breezy Special Ed to see what tricks and treats Brie has in store for you!!

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Monday, October 5, 2015

Cutting out heads and bodies!

Well change of plans.... I was supposed to blog about my morning circle routine today, but all of my pictures are on my ipod.  I had planned on bringing it home Friday (I use it daily in my classroom), but then we ended up having a flood day.  Yes, I said flood day.  I grew up with snow days and then when I moved to VA I learned about flood days.  Right now I have lots of friends who currently are on water front property and waiting for the tide to go out.  A nor'easter combined with hurricane Juqain, made for a wet combination. So, my morning circle routine will have to be another day.

Now I am sure you are thinking, "Cutting out heads? Has she finally lost it?". I promise you I have not.  I actually have a folder on my google drive label preschool heads.  This is a folder of pictures of just the kids heads or whole bodies that we use for various projects. I have used this file when making scarecrows a few years ago and most recently I have used these to make our How many Apples up on top book.

Today I am going to show you a quick tutorial on how to cut out your own heads. I promise that it is so much easier then the days of going into paint and taking out pixel by pixel.

First open up PowerPoint or Word(the process is the same in both).  You do need the latest version of Powerpoint to utilize this feature.  You will start with a blank presentation.  Add the picture you want.

Now click the remove background button.  Don't panic when your picture turns purple!

The part of the picture that is purple is that part that is being removed.  If you want more gone then click the - button and then click the parts you want to disappear.  When you click those parts they will start turning purple.  Sometime it is finicky so you may need to play with it a bit.  Keep gong until you have everything gone.  You can click keep changes and if you don't like it, go right back in and make adjustments. 

Now the background is gone!  Save the picture as a jpeg or png (right click on it and then click save as picture).  Now you can add it to other pictures or go to PicMonkey and add some other images like I did with the Pumpkin head one 

 Just think about all of the creative writing you could get out of this picture!!! 

What will use your cut out heads and bodies for?

Just in case you missed it, I posted a new freebie over the weekend.  Check it out!

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Friday, October 2, 2015

Wheels on the bus! (freebie)

Well we are getting ready to roll into week 3 of school, so I thought maybe I should share what we did our first week!

This year I am back to teaching K-2 1/2 day and preschool 1/2 day.  That means you may see more preschool posts since I do not have a self contained K-2 class this year.  We started off the year in Preschool talking about the Wheels on the Bus. This turned out to be a great opener because the kids all knew the song and could immediately relate as they rode the bus to school.  We read the book, Pete the Cat: Wheels on the bus.  Huge hit!  The kids are still reading it during "library" time.   To follow up on this book we painted buses.  Before we could paint the bus though, we talked about who rode the bus with Pete and who we ride the bus with.  The kids then drew in the bus driver. Then they drew themselves.  After the drawing was done, we painted.  Oh how they loved to paint!

Later in the week we read, Don't let the pigeon drive the bus.  This was another hit!  We made buses using different shapes.  I modeled, but the kids were able to put the windows, doors, and wheels wherever they though was appropriate.  I feel that kids should be able to express themselves through their art work and that everyone's final product does not have to look the same. I will say, all of the buses were different.  One is even upside down!  I added the kids pictures to the front of each bus as the driver with a sign on the wall that says "Don't let the Preschoolers Drive the bus!".

Once a week we have Talk & Stir with our speech therapist.  She does a "cooking" activity with the kids that goes along with our theme.  This week they did buses made out of graham crackers, Oreos, chex, and icing.  The kids said the buses were delicious!!

To round out our week, I taught the students a special version of Wheels on the Bus.  I am sure you have heard of this before, but if not, I will tell you it is a hit with all primary
 ages.  So here is how it goes (to the tune of the Wheels on the Bus)

The letter on the bus is A, A, A, 
A, A A,
A, A, A
The letter on the bus is A, A, A
All through the town.  

Cute, right?  You can change it up by changing the letter, changing it to shapes, numbers, or anything else you can get to fit in there.  I also do this song with sight words.  That is huge hit with my older kids.  I have a book with the words one to a page and we read the word, then sing the song. 

We have been using this song to review while waiting for the bus.  To make it work, I whipped up these buses that are programmed with letters, shapes,and numbers.  As we introduce each concept, we add it to the ring. Then we can easily grab the ring and review.  You can get your copy by going to my TpT store.  While you are there, be sure to follow me so you never miss another update and leave feedback so I know what you think!

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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Making Visuals Stick

I have been planning this post in my head for almost a year now, but never wrote.  When the #WeTeachSPED calendar was being put together and I needed a topic I knew this was perfect.

I am sure by now you know I have a love for interactive books and interactive pieces. This also includes the various visuals I use in my classroom through out the day. I end up having pieces all over the place and trying to juggle them is ridiculous!

In came a clipboard and Veltex fabric. This has been almost magical to me.  Veltex is like the soft side of Velcro.  The hard side of Velcro sticks to it, so all of those interactive pieces and communication cards etc stick to it. I have a board with veltex on it to keep choices on through out the day, but I was trying to figure out how to coordinate this all in a smaller in manner. A few days later someone had left some old clipboards in the teacher lounge for giveaways.

I pulled out the glue gun(although next time I think I may use spray adhesive) and got to work   I wrapped the Veltex around the clipboard like a present so that both sides were covered.

I did a lot of folding and gluing.   Having both sides allows me to only put the pieces I want visible to the students out and not have to juggle the rest.

If you need to buy veltex, I found a few different websites by searching on google and all seemed to be the same price.

We now use the clipboards during opening circle to display song pieces or to hold the pieces for an interactive book.  The students then can pull off the piece they want with out having to get up (Although when they need the movement, then I can have them get up just by moving the board back).  The paraprofessionals I work with will also take the little boards with them to easily present choices to our non verbal kiddos.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

The welcome letter.....

It came in the mail last week..... the letter.  The welcome back to school letter.  I have not been excited about it's arrival this year.  I have so much more to do in our new house and feel like the boys and I barely checked anything off of our summer bucket list.   One of my school BFFs got a new job also (Yay to C for being names Principal at her new school!) so that bums me out a bit also even if I am excited for her

Back to school time means getting some of my stuff ready to go.  I received my new planner from Plum Paper last month, but have not really dove into it yet.  I do love the larger size though and plan on pulling out the washi tape to color code a bit.

I also updated my IEP cards.  I needed a new font and I wanted to make it so that a teacher could edit them in Power Point and use various fonts and font sizes to fit in the needed information.  I am very happy with the way they came out and plan getting them set to hand out in 2 weeks.

Do you get a letter before you go back?  What things do you do to prepare at home before going into your classroom?

 I almost forgot to mention the our VA is for teachers collaborative blog is now live!! Lots of giveaways to enter.  Open to teachers anywhere (not just VA!).  Check it out here!

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