DIY Alphabet Stones

Wednesday, June 22, 2016 / Leave a Comment

Having lots of different examples of the alphabet is key to early literacy skills and generalization of letters. For my sensory driven kiddos, I know these alphabet stones will be just the ticket to getting them hooked during literacy groups at the beginning of the year. 

You can use alphabet stones in a variety of ways and activities to teach letters and sounds, and they are perfect for hiding in your classroom sand table for students to discover. 

Mix them up and have your students put them in order alphabetically, or give them a string of numbers with one missing. This fall, I plan on incorporating them during our ABC sorts using the picture cards from this pack. You could even use them to have students practice spelling out sight words, color words, number words, etc. There are so many different ways to use these. 

To make these stones, you just need some paint pens and rocks. I used the sharpie paint pens which usually don't wear from typical classroom use, but it's always a good idea to use a sealer (mod podge) to protect your masterpieces. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time to go rock hunting with a 6 month old, but that would have definitely been the cheaper (FREE) route! The alternative to finding rocks outside is to buy them. I got these ones from Michaels in a bag for 2.99. I'll take it! I also got the paint pens from Michaels, but they had a variety of options. 

I bought a few bags of rocks and can't wait to make more - I'm thinking capital letters will be nice for some matching. My goal is to make stones to go with all of my interactive books (shown below) just to appeal to another sense for my students. 

I would love to hear how else you would use these in your classroom!

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End of the Year Teacher Gift - Freebie Tag

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 / Leave a Comment

After showing off the gift I got my amazing Teacher Assistants this year on Instagram, I had a few e-mails about the tags I made, so I thought I would share! Although most of us are out for the summer, it's always good to get ahead of the game for next year.

I got the blankets from Target, and they had a bunch of different designs and colors. I just printed the tag on cardstock, cut out, and taped them onto the price tag. Click below to grab the freebie. All you need to do is create a text box and write your own name. Enjoy!

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What Goes Together? Association Flipbooks

Thursday, June 16, 2016 / Leave a Comment

Flipbook tasks are my favorite go to task throughout the day. They are perfect for teaching new skills, practicing learned skills, and then throw in a students work system once they have mastered the concept.

Use these books in circle time, reading groups, or one on one with students to help them learn common items that go together. Understanding things that go together is an essential foundation skill for categorizing, discrimination, and early literacy development.

These flipbooks provide students with ample examples of different associations, so students will get LOTS of practice!

What I like most about using flipbooks is that they are one per page; therefore, students are also working on matching 1:1. The less clutter, the better for most of my kiddos.

How do you teach associations in your classroom? I'd love more ideas!

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Organizing Tasks by Skill Area

Tuesday, June 14, 2016 / 1 comment

This year, I decided I wanted to take my love of plastic bins to a whole new level. I love keeping my materials organized in bins, especially when I have to leave everything to collect dust over the summer. 

In my classroom, I have students at all different levels working on different skills throughout the day. It can be VERY hard to keep all the different materials organized, while still keeping them accessible for myself and other staff members that work in my classroom. 

Next year, I plan to have a work area for each student that holds their schedule, behavior systems, work systems, tasks, mastered tasks, etc. I wanted to create an easy way for me to make and store already assembled tasks so that I can quickly switch them out as needed, instead of spending a few days every month created new tasks. Time that could be spent working on paperwork (boo).

Of course, when I got everything organized I had to create labels! If you have an elementary special education classroom, chances are that you work on a lot of the same skills as we do in our classroom. I'm hoping the labels will help you stay organized as well! If you already use my monthly bin labels in your classroom, these look great with them! 
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World Autism Day Blogger Giveaway!

Saturday, April 2, 2016 / 1 comment
All my life I’ve heard the quote, “If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life.” Although cheesy, this quote speaks such truth. Since day one of meeting my first students, I’ve been undeniably obsessed with my job. Obsessed in a positive, can’t learn enough, can’t do enough, way.  I still have so much to learn about these individuals and from these individuals, as does the world. My students have blessed me in so many ways, and I feel honored that I have the opportunity to know and work with them on a daily basis.  For Autism Awareness Month, 8 of us bloggers are hosting a giveaway of some of our favorite products. The best part is that the winner won't have to prep a thing. All prizes will be mailed straight to your house prepped and ready to be used! See below for the prizes and to enter the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Image Map
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Easter Already?

Sunday, March 20, 2016 / Leave a Comment

WHEW did Easter sneak up on me! Here's a little treat for you! 50% off ALL Easter Products today! Use them this week or stock up for next year!

Be sure to grab the Easter Flipbooks FREEBIE by clicking below..

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Oh, The Places They'll Go! Using Favorite Places to Engage Your Students in Reading

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 / 1 comment

This school year, I really wanted to do everything possible to create a literacy rich environment for my students. I've been using tons of online resources, TPT resources, and have even gone old school with some books that discuss how to help my students understand reading. A new book I just recently purchased, How Do I Teach This Kid to Read?: Teaching Literacy Skills to Young Children with Autism, from Phonics to Fluency written by Kimberly Henry, is quickly becoming one of my FAVORITE resources!

One section of this book discusses using Environmental Print to create books for non-readers. For example, students will be able to identify the golden arches as "McDonalds" before they will be able to actually read the word "McDonald's." This gave me the idea to create books for my students with pictures of things or places they are familiar with.

These are SUPER cute and so easy to make with the help of google images. To prep, just write a letter home to parents asking for about 10 of their child's favorite places to go - i.e. Target, Starbucks, park, pool, etc. If it is a personal place you might not be able to get online, just ask them to snap a picture to send you (e-mails and texting make this so quick and easy).

If you want to use the template I made, just click to download below. There are even some images already completed for you! Who doesn't LOVE Target and Starbucks? I'm sure these pages will already work for some of your kiddos. If you want to use the same fonts I used, go to Dafont and download Doctor Soos for the title and KG fonts - Neatly printed for the rest of the text in the book.

I decided to go with the theme of Dr. Seuss's Oh, The Places You'll Go! for the book covers and you could even read the book to your students before creating their own books. To make the books more personal for the students, you could have them create the books on their own using pictures and stamps to spell out the words of each place (unless your kiddos can write). I know right now Target has already made blank books in their dollar spot.

I am loving how these turned out! I prepped two copies for each student. One to keep at home and one to go home for parents to "read" with them. I love incorporating more literacy activities into our day!

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Spring Storytime Book Lists

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 / 7 comments
Below are the books I will be using in my spring story time packs. Even if you don't use the packs, these are some great books to read to your students to celebrate all things spring!!

S = Can be found on Scholastic

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Chick by Lucille Colandro (S)
The Night Before Easter by Natasha Wing

and then it’s spring by Julie Fogliano (S)
Spring Is Here! by Will Hillenbrand
The Thing About Spring by Daniel Kirk (S)
Finding Spring by Carin Berger (S)
Poppleton in Spring by Cynthia Rylant

My Spring Robin by Anne Rockwell
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCluskey (S)
Mossy by Jan Brett
Bear Wants More by Karma Wilson (S)
999 Frogs Wake Up by Ken Kimura
Click Clack Peep by Doreen Cronin (S)

Where Does Kitty Go In The Rain? by Harriet Ziefert
Puddles by Jonathan London
Rain! by Linda Ashman
The Rain Came Down by David Shannon (S)

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Lamb by Marion Dane Bauer (S)

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Frog by Lucille Colander (S)
Grow Flower Grow by Lisa Bruce
Gus Grows a Plant by Frank Remkiewicz (S)
Lola Plants a Garden by Anne McQuinn
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Elhert
The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle (S)

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How to See Summaries of Data Collected Through Google Drive

Saturday, February 27, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Last week, I posted on Using Google Drive to Create A-B-C Data Collection Forms and received a lot of questions on how to see summaries of the data collected through Google. Asked and answered, friends! It's amazing how easy Google has made data collection for us, as long as we know how to use it to our benefit. If you haven't already, be sure to watch this video first, so you can see how to create a form that you will use to collect the data used to create the graphs.

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St. Patrick's Day SALE!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016 / Leave a Comment

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Using Structured Work Systems To Build Independence in the Elementary Classroom

Monday, February 22, 2016 / Leave a Comment

Last week, I wrote a post on Using Structured Work Systems to Foster Student Independence. Work systems are structured sequences that provide students opportunities to practice mastered skills through the use of organized materials, including containers, bins, drawers, checklists, folders/binders, among many other materials. Adult support can still be used to guide students when using work systems; however, their purpose is to promote independence in students.

Structured work systems are perfect for helping a disorganized student stay focused in the classroom. Although originally developed through Division TEAACH for individuals with autism, structured work systems can be used with all types of leaners, in a variety of elementary school settings, to help improve their independence throughout the day. Much like learners with autism, a lot of students thrive off routine and structure. By using this left to right type of system, students are able to see how much work they must do, how long it will take, and when they are finished. For a lot of learners in today’s early elementary classrooms, these 4 guidelines can go a long way in helping ease student distress about working independently and can cut down on behaviors that tend to arise when students are off task.

To piggyback my post from last week, I got together with a website called Bloomboard to create a collection of resources that are helpful when starting structured work systems in the classroom. BloomBoard is a place where educators can learn, share, and discuss the best teaching ideas to solve everyday classroom challenges and improve their practice. I'm so excited to start using this site to create more collections on topics to share with you! It kind of reminds me of gathering info for a research paper, but you never have to actually write the paper. It's awesome!

Be sure to check out tomorrow's blogger on BloomBoard, Nardi at Classroom Strategies and Things. Below is a little bit about her!

Beginning her eighteenth year of teaching, Nardi Routten is a fourth grade teacher at Frances K. Sweet Elementary School in Fort Pierce, Florida.  After being recognized as a Teacher Leader for her school and District, she has been invited to be part of The Florida Teacher Leader Fellowship.  In the classroom, Mrs. Routten typically has students with a wide range of abilities, including special education students. Even with this challenge, Mrs. Routten’s classes routinely score among the highest in her school and district.  Last January (January 9, 2015), Mrs. Routten received the Milken Educator Award, the highlight of her career."

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