Thursday, March 15, 2018

Fruit-Themed Bulletin Board...

Teacher, pals... I am obsessed with bulletin boards!  Since I have less than 5 students in my special education class and we run the whole spectrum of abilities, I have to use several projects to completely fill my board.  In my current school, we have themes and deadlines and the theme for this deadline was "writing."  Since we've been studying food groups, I decided to focus on fruit.  We spent 6 days creating projects and working on differentiated writing assignments to fill our bulletin board.  I differentiated by having some students simply trace words (i.e. RED STRAWBERRIES), some students write on lined paper from a model (i.e. Yellow Bananas), and some students wrote a paragraph about fruit using complete sentences.  I have included some photos of the projects we created!  I hope that you can find some of these useful! 

1) Handprint strawberries

2) Shape oranges

3) Marble painted bananas

4) Folded/textured green apples

5) Thumbprint blueberries with popsicle stick baskets

6) Bubble wrap grapes

Note: Because I'm hooked on conservation and being as eco-friendly as possible, all projects were painted on the back side of worksheets that I may have printed too many of or printed wrong, etc.  The letters for the board and pieces for the oranges were all made from scrap paper.  Even the bubble wrap we used on the grapes was recycled (we actually popped the bubbles as an OT center and then used the empty bubbles for the grapes)! 

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Fine Motor Tasks With Recyclable Items

It may be because I've been drinking way more coffee than usual lately or maybe I'm just operating on a super energetic wavelength, but I have been all about keeping things fresh in the classroom.  While I only update this blog every few months (if I'm lucky), my other side gig is a sustainable lifestyle blog (check it out HERE) and it's got me thinking about all of the different ways I can make the smallest footprint on the earth as possible.  Since my apartment complex doesn't recycle, I often have a stash of recyclable items laying around and over the last few days, I've turned them into all sorts of fine motor/OT activities for my self-contained intermediate autism class.  Many of these activities would be great for toddlers or pre-k classes, as well!  Scroll through and enjoy! 

1) Starbucks Put-In Task- I was bad the other day and forgot to bring a re-usable cup on my coffee run, so when I got a plastic cup, I knew I had to re-use it.  All I did was cut straws into different lengths and I have the perfect put-in task!  

2) Hand/Eye coordination: Poke some holes into toilet paper/paper towel tubes and have your students feed straws through them.  

3) Tissue Box Match-Up: Tissue boxes come in such cute patterns these days that I like to save them (usually for token boards and tokens... they are extra durable, especially when laminated)!  I had a huge stockpile and my students love to match, so I turned them into a file folder game! 

4) Tissue Box Clothespins: I used some of my other tissue box pieces to create a matching activity that also requires fine motor skills.  Just glue swatches to tag board and matching swatches to clothes pins and have your kiddos match them up! 

5) Money Put-Ins: So many containers that you'd just toss out are great for put-in tasks.  I love to use empty Play-doh cups and this old fried onion container for a money put-in task.  Poker chips also work well with these containers! 


6) Magnetic Letter Put-In: Yep... that's an old sour cream container!  I use magnetic letters/numbers with this task and it's a classroom favourite.  It's also a preferred calm-down activity! Another way to use sour cream containers and make things a bit more academic is to paint them and give your students buttons in matching colours.  

7)  Button Book: Speaking of buttons, I used some old felt and my collection of mismatched buttons (you know... the extra ones that come on clothes that never get used and stockpile up over time?).  I have a sewing machine so I was able to sew my book together and add pockets, but felt is so versatile that it could be hot glued together.  The other great thing about felt is that you can just cut slits for the button holes and don't need a machine to make actual button holes!  You could also cut felt strips, hand sew one button onto the end of it, cut a button hole and have students button them together to make a chain. 

8) Pom-poms and Egg Carton Put-In Activities: These were so easy to make!  Paint one egg carton and have students use tweezers to put-in matching pom moms or write numbers in each egg slot and have students use tweezers to count out the number of pom moms for each slot. 

9) Pom-Pom Tubes: I painted a few toilet paper tubes and hot glued them to the inside lid of a shoebox.  Students use tweezers to pick up and drop pom-poms down the tube with the matching colour.  Even my higher functioning students like to use this for imaginative play! 

10)  Cart Put-In Activity: I glued scrap paper to the outside of an empty oatmeal container, used a box cutter to put a slit in the top, and swap out different flash cards as a put-in task.  I make it more academic by having students label what is on the card (higher functioning students have to answer math facts on higher-level flash cards).  Once they've labeled/answered, they drop the card into the slot.  This is another favourite calm-down activity in my classroom! 

11)  The Spiderweb Maze: I happened to have an empty bin lying around, I wove scrap yarn through the holes in the sides of the bin and students use chopsticks with cheaters to pick up pipe cleaner "worms" without touching the spider web!  What a fun way to use stuff that I already had hanging around the classroom! 

12)  Lid Match-Up:  This one is literally the easiest thing to put together and is something that my school occupational therapist says she's continually shocked that students don't know how to do.  Just acquire bottles and jars that all have different types of lids (I'm still working on my collection), have students match the container to the lid, and help them learn how to open and close them!  

Happy fine-motoring!  I hope that you and your students enjoy these ideas!  

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back-to-School Bulletin Board

Wow!  The back-to-school rush is a seriously real thing!  Last year, my first year as a full-time special education teacher, something that I didn't realize I needed to do was put up a bulletin board.  You may be thinking, "Duh!  Of course you do," but let me explain.  My current school has pods.  There are computers all around the pods and in the hallways that connect the pods, there aren't actual bulletin boards.  Also, since I was piloting a new special program for the building and no one had mentioned anything about putting up some sort of display in the hallway, I figured I was off the hook.

Well, that was not the case.  And this year, the same thing almost happened again!  More gen. ed. classes were added, and the wall space that I had last year had been assigned to someone else.  Turns out, I just moved to a new spot, but because I couldn't find that spot, I had to scramble to put up my board again!

That being said, I wanted to do something other than our building's standard "Welcome Back" with pre-made cutouts with each student's name on it, but I also didn't want to spend a ton of time on something when I know I need to change it in a month.  I opted for an under-water theme with the banner "In this school, we swim together."  I'd considered saying "We may all be different, but in this school we swim together," since I do run an autism classroom, but I opted for less words.

On the first day of school, each of my kiddos, myself, and my aide painted 2 paper plates which we turned into fish, seahorses, seashells, jellyfish, and a "zombie worm."

The kids loved painting, it was a great "first thing of the first day" time-filler/ice-breaker while we were getting to know one another and I've gotten a TON of compliments!

Here's the finished product:

Feel free to make your own!  Just tag "in a school daze" if you do!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fall Nature Walk and Art Project...

Hello, all!  I'm back at it again!  As you may have read, I'm in between teaching jobs, but am teaching dance and gymnastics, am tutoring, and am doing quite a bit of babysitting.  I've decided that since I miss teaching early childhood special education so much, that the kids I babysit are going to start getting the teacher treatment from me!

The other day, while watching a rather precocious 3-year old and his 18-month old brother, inspiration struck and we managed to turn 30 minutes of fresh air into a lesson on the changing season/conservation, followed up by an art project that even the 18-month old was able to work on to some degree. If used in the classroom, the finished product would make for an adorable bulletin board or portfolio item.

 If you'd like the full lesson plan (including science, conservation, sorting, and the art project directions), you can grab it on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Just click below!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

: Back to School

Hi, all!  It's that time of year again… Back to school!  I am not actually going back to school, but this year, I am preparing to move back to the US from Germany and am getting ready for knee surgery (woo hoo)!  Since I'm going to have a ton of downtime, I want to put together some curriculum, classroom handouts, and other teacher-ly goodies (oh my)!  Please let me know what you're looking for and let me do the work for you!

I love making reading units.  Check out my units for "Wonder" by R.J.Palacio and "The Graveyard Book" by Neil Gaiman and my super fun dodecahedron book report template.

I've got classroom activities like the ever-popular "Can You Follow Directions?" and "Can You Follow Directions? (Spring Edition)" in which students who do not follow directions, actually end up drawing you a lovely little picture.  These are great ways to start off the year!

Looking for classroom management or incentive charts?  I've got plenty!  Click through for a fun debit/credit tally chart, desk schedule for pull-out students, invitation for lunch with the teacher.

If you need reference sheets or review activities, I've got those as well!  Click through for a QAR Reference SheetAffect vs. Effect Reference Sheet, and Blank Jeopardy Powerpoint Template.

Please, oh please, let me create some more classroom materials for you!  Leave me comments, send me emails, or shoot messages to me via Teachers Pay Teachers!  I hope to hear from you soon!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Can you follow directions? Spring ed.

Hi, everyone!  I've had a sudden spike in page hits and Teachers Pay Teachers sales!  Thank you so much!  Since I am not currently working in a classroom, my brain hasn't been too focused on creating new curriculum… but I would like it to be!  What kinds of things are all of you wonderful teachers looking for?  More direction-following?  Organizers?  Book reports?  Reading anything great and need a novel unit plan?  

Let me know!  I'd love to create some wonderful new downloads for you!  

To tide me over until I hear from you, I've created a special spring edition of "Can You Follow Directions?" This one is fancy.  The kids will actually end up drawing a spring photo (if they don't follow directions), so even if they aren't following directions, they'll still get a chance at some creativity!   This one is a bit trickier than the original, so it would be best for grades 3-5.  Click the button below to download! 


Friday, February 21, 2014

The wonder that is homeschooling…

Hello, all!  It's been an eternity since I was last able to post!  I've been so busy teaching dance and gymnastics (yes, 40 hours a week) that I have hardly had time to create anything new for school!  I did; however, recently begin tutoring a student who is home schooled.  I am actually helping teach her mother how to home school while also going through home school lessons with the student.  I've never worked with an online curriculum like this, but they are using the k12 program and I'm finding that it is super easy to use as long as you are computer savvy.

The big issue with this particular situation is organization and expectations.  Because this student has some special needs (attention-wise and works best when expectations are clearly laid out), I created this sticker chart to ensure that everything that needs to get done during the day actually gets done.

Every subject utilized in the k12 program is listed along the top of the chart, with each day of the week along the side.  When printed, it will be two pages wide.  Here, I have listed the simple chart in black and white with one font, but I let my student choose fonts and colors (during timed breaks between lessons).  If you'd like it unlocked so you can alter font/colors/subjects, please let me know and I can get you that file!

As a reward for filling up the chart, my student has chosen an afternoon at a local museum!  Letting the student choose a reward will usually drive work completion!  We are flying through our first chart!  Good luck with yours!