Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Take a Break Tuesday-- Best After-Sun Balm

As most of you read this, I will be sitting on the beach enjoying the sun in beautiful Hilton Head Island, SC! As a tribute to my beach vacation, I wanted to dedicate this week's Take a Break Tuesday to this awesome After-Sun Balm from Clinique!

At the beginning of the summer I got a nasty burn! I had been cooped up in my new classroom all summer and so when I finally had a break at the pool I over did it :(. I was miserable for several days (when I say miserable I mean take an advil and sleep with an ice-pack on your check miserable!) and I was really worried about peeling but my mom (who is a Clinique-freak) reminded me of this awesome after-sun balm. It was both soothing (no more ice pack!) and it thankfully kept me from peeling! It is a bit expensive, however I found that you really don't need to use a lot for it to work.

If anyone out there is currently suffering from a burn or is heading to the beach on vacation I highly recommend trying this.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Social Story Saturday #3--Circle Time (FREEBIES!)

Here is the third set of social story FREEBIES! I hope everyone is enjoying the last two FREEBIE story and sort sets: Being a Good Friend and Work Time.

This week I am focusing on Circle Time behavior. Again, the social story is simple and really geared towards my kiddos so if you see a page that doesn't apply to your bunch then I promise it won't hurt my feelings if you just pitch it! Circle Time is very similar to Work Time but it addresses some "whole-group" behaviors that may not apply to work time.

Click on the links below each picture to take you to the pdf... ENJOY! and stop back next week for another Social Story FREEBIE!!

Choices Sorting Mat

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Think About It Thursday--Gluten Free Diets

Today I received an email from a parent of one of my kiddos. She shared that he had been put on a gluten and dairy free diet this summer and that they were seeing great results. This student has always had toileting issues so I am glad to hear they have found a solution, however I am a little nervous about this new diet.The biggest diet restrictions I have had in my classroom are no chocolate/caffeine and no peanut butter. So this will be a big change. I am mostly concerned about adapting our weekly cooking activities to meet this students needs.

Has anyone worked with kids with gluten-free diets? Have you seen a big change? Other than bowel issues, what are other reasons gluten-free is used?

Do you know of any resources our there for teachers that will help with these restrictions? Perhaps kid-friendly cookbooks?


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Take a Break Tuesday-- T-Shirt Frames

When I was in college I studied abroad in Italy for a summer. It was amazing!!! And very expensive! My friends and I all thought we found an awesome deal when we found street vendors selling cute T-shirts for 5 Euro. Little did we know that as soon as we washed our cute T's they would shrink to be toddler size. Eeek!

I held on to my T-shirts for several years. I really didn't want to just toss them because they were some of the few souvenirs that I had from my trip. I really wanted to find a way to preserve them even though I would never use them again.

I had heard about T-shirt frames but I needed 6 of them and they were expensive! So I decided to improvise! Here is what I did:

1. I went to Michael's and just found some basic black frames in a few different sizes. 
2. Then, I used the cardboard from the frames (if they came with a cardboard insert) or I used some old moving boxes and I make cardboard inserts to fit each frame. 
3. Next, my mom helped me stretch and staple the shirt to the cardboard insert (we wrapped the material around to the back and stapled from the back so the staples wouldn't show). 
4. For the bigger frames, we were able to shove the rest of the fabric into the frame back and fasten it on. For the smaller frames, we had to cut the back of the shirt off. Honestly, from the back of the frames it is not a pretty sight so it is a good thing you can't see them!
5. Finally, we hung the frames. I loved the end result and it's a great conversation starter whenever people come to visit!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Social Story Saturday #2-- Work Time (FREEBIES!!)

Here is the second set of social story FREEBIES for all of my awesome followers!

Last week I shared my Being a Good Friend Social Story and Sort.

This week I am focusing on Work Time behavior. Again, the social story is simple and really geared towards my kiddos so if you see a page that doesn't apply to your bunch then I promise it won't hurt my feelings if you just pitch it!

Click on the links below each picture to take you to the pdf... ENJOY! and stop back next week for another Social Story FREEBIE!!

Add caption

Choices Sorting Mat

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Think About It Thursday--Vision Problems

I saw this picture today on fb and it really hit home! I have always thought a majority of my kids have undiagnosed vision issues that no one ever does anything about. I have expressed concern to parents and they think everything is fine because the doctors haven't said anything or because they pass the vision screening Half of my kids cannot even understand how to do the screening test and none of them would be able to express if they couldn't see correctly. How many of us have gotten new glasses or contacts and thought "WOW! I didn't know what I was missing!". I can only imagine how clueless my little ones with special needs are especially if it's a condition they've had their whole lives.

Do other teachers have this issue? How do you address these concerns with parents who think everything is fine? Do you think vision issues are more prevalent in kids with special needs, particularly Autism?

Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Take a Break Tuesday-- Cheesecake Filled Strawberries

My new summer dessert obsession are these cheesecake filled strawberries that I found on Pinterest. I made them at the beginning of the summer for a girl's night and have made them several times since (mostly because my boyfriend begs me on an almost daily basis!). Not only are they SUPER yummy, they are also very easy! The trickiest part I found was hollowing out the insides, however I am getting pretty good at it! 

Recipe from Sugar Derby
2lbs strawberries
8oz. 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 full sheets graham crackers, crushed
1. Cut the tops off the strawberries and, using a paring knife, hollow out the insides.
2. Combine softened cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together in a bowl, then transfer to a piping or ziploc bag. Snip the corner off the bag and pipe filling into the strawberries, allowing the filling to come a little over the top of the berry.
3. Pour the crushed graham crackers into a shallow dish or bowl. Dip the exposed top of the cheesecake stuffed strawberry into the crumbs.
4. Place into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before serving.

After the last time we made a batch, my boyfriend and I started coming up with some alternatives that we thought may be tasty. As you can see it mostly involves adding chocolate :)! By the end of it I really think he wanted us to start up some sort of sweet shop. I'll stick to teaching thank you very much! Anyway here are some of the ways we thought to change it up (if we ever make an alternative I will post the pics!).
  • use Oreo crumbs instead of graham crackers (this is my favorite idea)
  • dip the strawberry in chocolate
  • add chocolate syrup to cheesecake mix

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Social Story Saturday #1--Being a Good Friend (FREEBIES!)

I previously posted about my timeout sorts that I use in my classroom. Now that I have more time, I have been able to put together some FREEBIE sorts for all of my followers so stay tuned each week for Social Story Saturday where I will be posting a social story and sort.

For my first Social Story Freebie I have chosen to share my Being a Good Friend Social Story. This one was especially important a couple years ago in my classroom because I had several girls who could be quite catty! You will find that my social stories are very simple and just outline the basic do's and don'ts related to that topic. Feel free to toss any pages that you feel don't apply to your kiddos. 

For each social story I also made sorting cards. The sorts then give a bunch of "good" and "bad" choices for students to sort. I typically have them sort them during timeout. I have included a free sorting mat where students can cut out the sorting cards and paste them in the correct area. However, I use these often and I prefer students do the sort quickly so they can return to class so I made reuseable sorts.

To make the sorts reusable, I printed the sorting cards on cardstock and laminated them. Then, I attached velcro to the back of each card. Next, I used a long file folder and made one side "good choices" and the other side "bad choices" (you can use the sorting mat headers below as the folder headers... that's what I did!). I made an extra copy of the social story book cover and used it as the sorting folder cover. Then, I laminated the file folder and put velcro dots on the inside under each heading.

Click on the links below each picture to take you to the pdf... ENJOY! and stop back next week for another Social Story FREEBIE!!

Being a Good Friend Social Story

Being a Good Friend Choices Sorting Cards

Choices Sorting Mat

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Head Chef and Head Artist

My paraprofessionals are in charge of planning our thematic cooking and craft activities each week and each week I select two special students to assist my paras. These students are the Head Chef and Head Artist. These two jobs are hands-down the class favorites. I think it is basically because they get to do so many of the "teacher" jobs (passing out supplies, modeling the activity, calling on students) and sit in the coveted "teacher" chair at the kidney table.

Each Monday, we go over who gets to do the head jobs. I like talking about it on Monday because it give the kids something to look forward to and for those kids that need the extra behavior motivation it helps also. I place the students' names under these cute signs (click the link below the picture to print!)

Head Jobs Signs

To make the job even more special I made these adorable aprons for the kids to wear. They love them! I even had a little guy that didn't really understand that the jobs were assigned each week and for a couple weeks after his turn he went over to the apron at cooking time and tried to put it on! Thankfully, he was a great sport. 

These aprons were super easy to make and very affordable. I bought two children's aprons at Michael's and some puffy paint at Walmart. First, I drew the pictures using pencil. I was able to do it free hand but you could look at clip art images if you needed some inspiration! Then, I filled in the pencil drawings with puffy paint (I used small paint brushes to spread). After the paint dried, I used a black Sharpie to draw the outlines. Finally, I added a few details with the puffy paint. 

I made these last year and they had to be washed a lot this year. I was impressed with how well they held up! At the end of the year, I just retouched a few of the areas with puffy paint. The lettering seemed to be peeling the most. I think this is partially from little fingers picking at it :). 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Families in Need...please help!

I don't typically do things like this but last night I read about two events that really touched my heart and I felt compelled to spread the word through Blogland so that at the very least my followers can send a thought or prayer to both of these needy families.

The first family I learned about through friends from the University of Dayton (that's where I went to undergrad). A man and his sister survived a horrific home invasion which left the man needing several brain surgeries and intensive therapies which are not fully covered by insurance. You can read more about this family on the mother's blog.

The next family is searching for Lynn Jackenheimer, a mother of two young girls, who went on vacation to the OBX with her girls and her ex-boyfriend and never came home. My friend Kady is a friend of this family's. The ex-bf dropped off the girls on Sunday, alluded to hurting Lynn, and then disappeared. Now the family is looking for Lynn, the ex (Nate Summerfield), or any information that could be helpful in this search. Please send lots of prayers and thoughts their way.

It's so sad to hear of such tragic events impacting families so close to home. These are the types of stories you see on Law and Order shows and 20/20 and you never think it could happen in your own "backyard".

Think It Over---UPDATED with FREEBIE!!

I use the Think It Over sheet below for students who are working on making better choices and frequently engage in impulsive behaviors. Typically after engaging in an undesirable behavior, I ask a student to complete a Think It Over. This tells me if they understand what they did wrong, and what they should do next time. The Think it Over sheet is a great way to communicate behaviors with parents because they have to sign and return them. Additionally, it has been a great record keeping tool for seeing what environments my students are struggling in or which problem behaviors are most frequently occurring.

***UPDATED: Click the link below the picture to take you to the Think it Over pdf FREEBIE!!***

Many colleagues and fellow bloggers have asked for me to share this sheet. To share it with more educators (and parents!) I wanted to also share this Think It Over for Classroom Freebies Manic Monday! A great big welcome to any new followers. I hope you find this Think It Over sheet to be a useful positive behavior reinforcer as well as a good behavior tracking tool!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Take a Break Tuesday-- Recipe Binder

This summer I have been giving a lot of thought to starting another blog that is not teaching related. However, the hassle of redesigning a new site did not seem like a fun summer "break" activity for me. So I have decided to implement Take a Break from Teaching Tuesdays where I will share non-teaching related tidbits about cooking, decorating, or other fun stuff I find along the way.

For my first Take a Break Tuesday, I wanted to share one of my favorite home projects... my recipe binder. I love pinning new recipes on Pinterest, reading about new recipes in Everyday Food, or getting new recipes from family and friends. However, I found that every time I wanted to make a favorite dish I was re-looking it up online or digging through a pile of recipes. That is how the recipe binder was born.

Here is the super cute cover.

I use the front cover for any new recipes I want to try out.
I have tabbed dividers for different types of food (sides, appetizers, breakfast, main dish, soups and salads, dessert, etc.).  Any recipes I find in magazines or online I simply hold punch and file in the correct category.
This is my favorite feature... under each tab I also have photo inserts where I can fit recipes on index cards, recipes cut off the back of a box, or found in the grocery store, etc. and nothing gets lost or buried!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Choice Labels...FREEBIE!

I finally was able to get my classroom "choice" time labels up last week. In my room, choice time can occur during transition time (if students finish an activity early), during recess, and during behavior reward time at the end of the day. Check out this post about using choice boards to help students decide which activities are appropriate during a particular time of the day. In my room, I label each toy bin and the spot on the shelf where the bin belongs. This makes for easy clean up for my kiddos. As I mentioned in a previous post, I use self-adhesive card holders on each of my bins to hold the labels. So each of the labels below are about the size of a business card so they can fit in these holders.

I still haven't figured out how to make a pdf multiple pages, but below are several pages of labels that I am giving as a FREEBIE to all of my followers. Click on the link below each picture to get the pdf!

Enjoy! :)

Choice Labels 1

Choice Labels 2

Choice Labels 3

Thanks to Karlie at We are ALL Special! for the great tip on linking up with Classroom Freebies for Manic Monday! I hope any new visitiors from Classroom Freebies enjoy Choice Labels FREEBIES!

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Sunday, July 8, 2012


While I was making some new FREEBIES to release this week I realized why some of my previous FREEBIES were not working. Apparently I still had them set to private on my google docs. I didn't realize it before because when I clicked on the links they worked perfectly since I was the author. DUH! 

Anyway, follow the links below to the posts for the the updated forms. If anyone has any additional problems let me know!

SORRY! and Enjoy!

The Versatile Blogger Award!

I want to give a special THANK YOU to Karlie over at We are ALL Special! for my newest blogging award! Karlie is a fellow SpEd with a fabulous blog so I highly recommend everyone heads over to check it out!

Here are the seven rules to follow when receiving this award:

  1. Thank the blogger who nominated you. 
  2. Include a link to their blog.  
  3. Include the award image in your post.  
  4. Give 7 random facts about yourself.  
  5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.  
  6. When nominating, include a link to their blog.  
  7. Let other bloggers know they've been nominated.  

Here are the 7 random facts about me...

  1. I love to cook! However, I really only cook during the summer because I am never home during the school year. 
  2. This is the first summer I have taken "off" since I was 15 and I am going crazy! I don't know what to do with myself!
  3. I am almost always the last person to leave school... I am a perfectionist (not a workaholic contrary to what some may believe!) and want everything to be perfect for my kiddos because I think it is what they deserve!
  4. I live with my amazing boyfriend, Andy. He is very understanding of #1-3 and I am lucky for that!
  5. I love to travel. Next week I will be in Philly, NYC, Cape Cod and Boston. Then at the end of July I will be spending a week at the beach in Hilton Head, SC... SO EXCITED!
  6. I love to read. However, again this only happens during the summer :(. My favorite author or SpEd related stories is Torey Hayden, for romance I like Nicholas Sparks, and for a page-turner I go to Jodi Picoult. 
  7. During the school year I do try to make time to read my two favorite magazines: Real Simple and Everyday Food (I am sort of a Martha Stewart nut!)

Since I recently nominated 15 fellow bloggers for the One Lovely Blog award I wanted to find a fresh bunch for this award. There are so many awesome blogs out there! I set out to my extensive Pinterest boards to find some "new" (to me) blogs!


Blog Title

Friday, July 6, 2012

Grab My Button!

I have been working hard this week to design a button for my blog. With ZERO graphic design background this was a bit tricky! However, thanks to FotoFlexer and Phillip Martin Clipart I was able to create a button I love! I love primary colors, special needs kids, and autism awareness so this button represents me well! Hope you love it as much as I do and grab it on my sidebar to share on your blog!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

One Lovely Blog Award

I was super excited this afternoon when I logged on and saw that Lacey over at Challenges Make Life Interesting gave me my first blog award!

Thanks, Lacey! I am thrilled to have new followers and I am glad to see others appreciate what I have to share about my classroom and teaching experiences.

Now this award has some rules:

1.  Follow the person who gave you the award.
2.  Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3.  Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.

Since I am new to the blogging world I tried to find some newbies out there and also share some of my favorite blogs I have found along the way. Most of them are teaching blogs and some are blogs from friends that I love to read. Here is my list:

I encourage all of my readers to check these blogs out. There are lots of freebies, tips, and great reads!