2014... I promise to be better! {Plus the ladies that helped me through my first 4 months in AU}

Sunday, December 29, 2013 / 2 comments
Well, it's no secret that this little blog has been terribly neglected! This school year has had me through a whirlwind (in a good way) and I have SO SO much to write about now that I've had the time to catch my breath!

This year, I have been working in a classroom that serves students with autism in grades K-3. I was so apprehensive about taking this job because I had always been a resource teacher and I sincerely enjoying working with different grade levels throughout the school and building relationships with all the students, teachers, etc. When my husband accepted a new job that forced us to move several states away, I received several job offers in various positions, but it was the autism classroom (AU1) that really caught my interest. I have always been certified in autism and I have had students with autism in the past, but I knew this position would be a challenge for me. 

Bottom line is.. I've totally fallen in love with my job! I'm sure those of you that work with this population can totally understand where I am coming from. These kids are A-MAZ-ING and sooo interesting! Any who... to start off my 2014 (a little early), I wanted to sincerely apologize to all of my wonderful followers for deserting you! I promise to be a better blogger starting NOW! After reading a blog post where I am listed as a SPED blog to follow by Autism Classroom News, I realized I had to highlight some of my favorites as well. 

Also, I wanted to give a shout out to some of the talented ladies that helped me get through the first 5 months of my position! Two online classes and a few praxis tests for a certification = I was going into this job without a clue of what I was supposed to do. So, for those of you that are like me and need a little help every now and again...

The Autism Helper: Sasha is like the autism teacher whisperer. I am telling you. She has posted on literally EVERYTHING you can think of. After accepting my position, I swear I printed off about 50 of her amazing step by step posts! If you are new to setting up an AU classroom or if you need some sprucing up in the organizational department, you have to check out her "7 Steps to Setting Up a Stellar AU Classroom." She will make you want to RUN to target and buy a million plastic tubs, binders, notecards, and velcro and you won't even mind that you just spent 300 bucks. :)

Autism Classroom News: In my first week of school, my OT offered to let me borrow a book on setting up a classroom that supports students with ASD, and I noticed that the author sounded very familiar. Sure enough, it was Christine from Autism Classroom News! I indulged in her blog many times while trying to prepare for my new position and also knew her from A Special Sparkle, where we both contribute (her waaay more than me). Her blog is a wealth of knowledge that is sure to help you!

The Adventures of Room 83: Melissa teaches students in grades 3-6. Her classroom is so colorful and bright and her blog is sure to give you a ton of ideas on how to work with students with ASD and always students with other various disabilities. She is great with ideas on how to save time and pre-plan. A favorite recent post that has made a major difference in my planning arts and crafts is this one, "Organizing Arts and Crafts.

Now.. I know there are a TON of more Autism blogs out there, I just haven't found you yet! I have searching HIGH and LOW for an AU blogs that focus on younger students (K-3). I mean besides me, the slacker. 

I hope everyone is enjoying the last few precious days of winter break and if you get a chance, leave a comment with a favorite SPED blog or clue me in if you know of any blogs that gear towards the younger crowd.   ;)


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Best Pencil Sharpener for AU Classroom (or ANY classroom)

Thursday, October 24, 2013 / 3 comments
If you teach students with special needs... you know how DISTRACTING pencil sharpeners are.

Last year, I removed the pencil sharpener from the wall and constantly hid my electric one because of all the issues I had with noise.

This year, I am in a setting where a lot of my students have very sensitive hearing. A normal pencil sharpener is just too darn loud for my kiddos.


I am not kidding, I love this little guy.. and so do my kids! They don't overuse, it's quiet, and clean! Plus I just love how you can install it where ever you'd like. GENIUS! I swear people who install pencil sharpeners in classrooms do not have a clue about the cliental that will be working in there.

Here are a few glam shots of my super gorg SHARP neon pencils.

I'm telling you.. you need this sharpener in your classroom! ESPECIALLY if you are a teacher of students with special needs. With our students, the less distractions, the more productivity!

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Pumpkins are my FAVORITE {Freebies Galore!}

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 / Leave a Comment
I simply adore fall.

I love the clothes, the weekend festivities, the holidays, & all the fun things we do at school to celebrate!

This week, I have been totally infatuated with pumpkin everything.

Here's a run-down of what we've done so far.. Just click on the links to download your freebies!

Paper Mache Pumpkins - In the works!

Pumpkin Math Tubs

Pumpkin Manipulatives - Compliments of Target Dollar Spot!

Pumpkin Measurement (From Unique Learning System)

Pattern Cards Using Leaf/Pumpkin Manipulatives (Target)

Pumpkin Themed Centers
After students finish their work, they are allowed to pick a center. I put together these tubs to stay organized and help them focus on just one task at a time (i.e. only work on the uppercase letters with one color of playdoh)

Halloween Playdoh Shapes!

Stamp the Missing Number (freebie online - i'll try to find the link!)

Push Pin Halloween Shapes (Great for fine motor!)

Credit for font: KG Fonts
Credit for Clip Art: Fun Classroom Creations

Enjoy the freebies! :)

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A Camping We Will Go!

Monday, October 21, 2013 / 4 comments
I'm playing catch up so please forgive me!

Last month, we did a fun camping unit instead of the usual September units.

Here are lots of pictures :)

All of the file folder activities are from my Basic Skills Camp Packet.

My living room looked a little bare for a few weeks during this unit - the curtains matched perfectly though!

Letter Pond!

Our campfire


Spelling our names with twigs from our nature walk!

Science Center Sorting Activity with items collected from outside.
(don't worry - all was returned to nature! :)   )

 File Folder Activities:

I love themes, but I still have to work on my student's IEP goals. 
File folders are easy to make and they are perfect for independent work that I can quickly assess.

We loved all the songs that could go with this unit.

Click here for my Camping Youtube playlist.

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Splat! Interactive 100s Chart

Thursday, September 19, 2013 / Leave a Comment
Just discovered this and it. is. fantastic.

If you have a smartboard/promethean in your classroom, imagine all the possibilities!

BTW-my new classroom has a promethean! THE BEST EVER!

Counting by 2s, 5s, 10s, etc..

Adding/Subtracting Practice 

For subtraction, have the students splat the bigger number, then click away the amount being taken away (It makes a different slurping sound and the color goes away).

Counting to the 100th day during morning meeting! 

Love the sound effects!

Tomorrow's Friday! Woop Woop!

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I'm back.... finally!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013 / 1 comment
Sorry for going AWOL on everyone! I've been a terrible, no good, very bad blogger.

I have a good excuse :)

2 weeks before school started, my husband got offered a new job, and we moved to North Carolina! This is the first time I've ever lived outside of WV. So far, I looooove it!

In a matter of days I had to pack, interview, move, house hunt, interview, unpack, accept a job, set up a classroom, etc, etc. Needless to say, I've been quite a busy bee!

I totally intend to blog regularly again and I'm looking for some ideas on future posts!

I'm still working in special education, and I will still be writing about all things related!


I'm in a totally different job this year, and getting to know A LOT more about students with autism. It has been a ball so far and I can't wait to write about it! They are so interesting and fun! I leave work with a smile on my face everyday.

Anyone else teach in an Autism classroom setting? I'd love to meet other AU teachers on here!

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winner winner chicken dinner

Monday, July 29, 2013 / 1 comment
this is gonna be short & sweet because my entire life has just about turned upside down.

more on that soooooon :) :) :)

Congrats Rae from Mindful Rambles on winning the giveaway!

Need your e-mail, girl! :)

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Phonics Interactive Notebooks for Short Vowels {Follower Giveaway - enter to win!}

Thursday, July 25, 2013 / 13 comments
I love love love teaching phonics to my littles and struggling readers, but it can be super boring for them sometimes unless we play games or make it hands on somehow..


My first installment of my Phonics Interactive Notebook!


Click any of the pictures to view on TPT!

Scroll down to here about the giveaway!

Giveaway: Comment telling me one of your fav strategies for teaching short vowels!

I will be picking a winner on SUNDAY, July 28th {my wedding anniversary! 1 year!}

Check out my facebook and instagram {@teachingspecialthinker} for other chances to win!

Good Luck!

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