Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Boxes

Happy Valentine's Day!! I hope everyone lived through the sugar and chaos every class party seems to bring!

This year my team has been sending home monthly "home projects" to have the students work on with their families. We have found this to be important because many of our students do not recieve homework so we wanted to make sure they still sat down at least once each month to work on something with their parents. This gives them a chance to show off how hard they have been working on those fine motor skills!

This month we had the kids make Valentine Boxes. I used this great letter from Jennifer at Empowering Little Learners which cut down on the prep time on my end (what teacher doesn't love that?!).

I was so pleased with a lot of our boxes and the kids were super excited to share what they made.

Here are some pictures of their creations:
Here are several of our boxes.

This student had the cutest dog house box complete with a life-size replica of his best friend (his dog Sky).
Here is a great box for a LaLaLoopsy Lover!
This is an adorable hugging monster box.
Complete with handy trap door (This student was ecstatic about this feature)!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Valentines Day FREEBIE

Happy Manic Monday and Happy (almost) Valentines Day!!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

I never used to make a big production of Valentine's Day in my classroom. We always focused on Feelings and made Valentine's Day more of a secondary theme. However, then I found this super cute book from the "If you give a...." series and now we do a whole unit on it.

This super cute book is great for talking about Valentine's Day but it is extra awesome for talking about friendship and why we love our friends because in the story Mouse makes different valentine cards for each of his friends based on what he loves about them.

To go with this theme, last year I had the idea to have the kids go around and say something they loved about each of their classmates. At first, I thought this may be a little difficult for some of my kids with poor verbal skills to do but in the end I was very touched with their thoughtfulness! It was a great activity to take a break to show our appreciation for our friends and at the same time it really made each student feel good about themselves. What is a better lesson than that?!

For this activity, I write the student's name on the line and then fill in each heart with something kind a classmate shares like in the example below. 

Click HERE for your copy of this cute group activity FREEBIE!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Teaching Shape Identification--A Multisensory Approach

I have shared many times how important I feel multi-sensory teaching is and my little group of needy learners reinforces my belief in this more and more each day.

Today we had a fun shapes review lesson and the kids did great!

We started off with this cute youtube video from KidsTV123:

I LOVE teaching with YouTube!! It is a great way to start off a lesson and get the kids engaged. I am beginning to use some of these KidsTV123 videos but I REALLY like the Super Simple Songs  youtube page... (for more about these songs and for free resources visit their website HERE)

For my the rest of my lesson, I actually used Super Simple Songs Shape Song and Shape Song 2. But I only have the audio. I haven't been able to find a video for these songs but they are simple and slow enough that my kiddos do just fine listening. I also make some manipulatives to go along with the song and reinforce shape identification.

For each student, I made a shape mat using Boardmaker clip art. I laminated each board and then traced the shapes with glue to make the lines raised. During the song the students used their fingers to trace the shapes (I tried this activity prior to making the lines raised and they just could not trace them!! The raised lines made a world of difference!!).

Then, I gave students foamie shapes to match during the song. The foamies were a variety of sizes and colors which made this a little tricky but they did great.

The combination of auditory, tactile, and visual input kept the kids engaged and they did much better on their assessment after the review than they did before the lesson! Wahoo!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Sensory Folders FREEBIE

Happy Manic Monday everyone!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

As I promised on Saturday's Sensory Folders post today's freebie is the print materials needed for creating your own sensory folders. All you need is two file folders and some velcro and you are all set! I used a calming color (blue) for the calming folder and an alerting color (yellow) for our altering folder.

If you want more icons I recommend using Stickids. They have great color-coded sensory processing icons.

Click HERE for your freebie!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Sensory Saturday--Sensory Folders

Wow it has been a while since I have had a Sensory Saturday! But my classroom has been a sensory hot mess lately so I wanted to share the great strategy that I have began to use in the classroom that is both quick and easy--Sensory Folders.

 My sensory folders take into account two basic sensory needs: Alerting and Calming. To learn more about these sensory needs check out my handout on Sensory Supports for the Classroom. Unfortunately I cannot take full credit for this idea because my wonderful teaching partner also uses something very similar based on one of her student's needs.

I created sensory folders for two students in particular who have completely opposite sensory needs. The first student is typically a lump on a log! He is very low-tone and not really engaged in our activities most of the time. For him I made the yellow "alerting" folder.

In the folder, I provided a variety of alerting choice options such as spinning in the teachers chair, tactile brushing, or frog jumps.

The second student is a live wire! She is in constant motion all day--bouncing, rocking, flapping. Just watching her wears me out so trying to teach when she is so wound up is totally exhausting! She got the blue "calming" folder.

In the folder, I provided calming choice options such as joint compressions, body sock, or weigthed ball toe touches.

You may notice that the same items can be used on both charts. This depends on the way you use them. For instance, I use a therapy ball to alert a child by having them sit on it and bouncing them while it is used to calm them by having them lie on the floor while I roll it over them providing deep pressure input. A hand massage with peppermint lotion is alerting while vanilla is calming. And while a student is lying prone on a scooterboard and using their arms to move forward provides calming, heavy work input having them lie prone and hold a jump rope while you "whip" them around in circles or in a erratic zig-zag motion is very alerting (but tiring for the teacher!!!).

Hope these folders gave my readers some good ideas about practical sensory supports. Stop by on Monday for a Manic Monday FREEBIE for everything you need to make some folders of your own!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Mailbox Theme Kits

Last weekend I got a fabulous email from The Mailbox with an awesome 40% off deal on their already on clearance theme kits. I was able to get 3 kits for a total of $18 plus shipping! What a great, great deal!

Although the deal is no longer good. The theme kits are still available for 50% off so they are $10 each. I definitely recommend these kits for any Preschool-Kinder-1st Grade and/or Elementary SpEd teachers. They come with 2 themes per kit with 4-5 activities per theme. All of the materials are full color, sturdy and LAMINATED! If they came pre-cut I would be in heaven but they don't and I am still pretty darn excited!

Check out all of the kits and themes HERE!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Polar Animals

We had a hard time this week finding a cute, predictable story to use for our polar animals theme. It was my first time doing this theme so I did not have my usual bag of tricks! We ended up using a Scholastic mini-book called, Are You Cold?, with lots of new polar animal names that my kiddos surprisingly didn't know. The walrus was called an ostrich more than once! Like I said it was our first time covering polar animals!

The best part was the last page of the book had a slot that I could slip their pictures in to make them a part of the story. They LOVED this surprise ending!

This week there was definitely no shortage of ADORABLE polar animal crafts! There were so many that all of my teammates chose something different. My two favorites were this too cute walrus craft made from painted paper plates, yarn, and plastic knives.

Then, my students made this great ink blot penguin painting. Didn't they turn out so cute?!

To give a visual for the kids so they knew where to paint we used this example outline and provided an outline with marker matching the color paint they needed to use. Visual guides in art is SO important for my kiddos because most of them rely much more on their visual skills than their auditory (listening) skills. 

Finally, we filled empty glue bottles with tempra paint in order for the students to get a fine line to trace the outline provided. 

This was definitely one of my favorite projects! I love how each student's penguin turned out unique just like them!

We also made yummy polar bear bagel treats with our leftover bagels and cream cheese from last week's cooking activity and GIANT marshmallows! The kids were so excited about the marshmallows but they all enjoyed the bagels more :)