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 :)

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Snowy Winter fun

Since we have returned from break we have been enjoying lots of fun snow-related books and activities.

The first week we studied The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I love talking about Peter and all the fun snowy day adventures he goes on. My favorite activity with this story is our snowball experiment. The kids LOVE getting on their mittens and making big snowballs to place in their pockets (inside plastic baggies). Throughout the morning we check on our snowballs to see what "state" they are in: snowball, melting, or water.

We have a recording sheet that we use with 6 boxes for 6 different observation periods (put in my pocket, after 5 minutes, after 15 minutes, after 30 minutes, after 1 hour, after 2 hours). I did not make the recording sheet and after searching all over the internet I wasn't able to find it so I am not sure where it came from!!

To go with our sheet I made Boardmaker picture options for my kiddos with limited writing and verbal skills. It was very easy. Unfortunately I was short an aide the day we did the experiment so I had my hands full and did not get a chance to take pictures :(.

However I do have some pictures of a couple of the other activities we have done during our snow unit:

After several weeks of holiday treats it was nice to have a healthy treat! We made these cute snowman faces out of toasted bagels with cream cheese, olive eyes, carrot noses (of course), red pepper lips, earmuffs made of broccoli and spray cheese.

How cute are they?!

Also, I have a student on a gluten-, dairy- free diet and he was easily able to make a similar treat with a gluten-free waffle. Usually we use powdered sugar to make it while but on this day he did not feel like it. He did however enjoy making vampire teeth on his snowman!

Another activity we did were these cute salt dough snowmen. The recipe for the dough did not go very well and they ended up very dry and then we added too much water and they were too mushy so we tried more flour and we never really perfected the measurements BUT the kids still had fun and it was definitely a learning experience! A few days later one of the other classrooms tried this activity and they added more water gradually using a spray bottle (a trick for pie crusts apparently!) and theirs had a much better consistency! After making the dough and creating the snowmen, the kids used yarn, pipe cleaners, sequins and buttons to decorate them.

After The Snowy Day, we read The Jacket I Wear in the Snow by Shirley Neitzel. Our focus was winter clothing and we had fun dressing up in different winter clothes and making this cute class clothesline of clothing that the kids painted with watercolors and decorated with anything they could find in our art cabinet (buttons, cotton balls, foamies, glitter glue, etc).

We also made these cute flip posters. All of the kids colored the poster of the boy or girl any colors they wanted. Then, my kids who were writers used a color word bank to complete the sentences and my kids who are non-writers used my modified sentences where they had to just color in the circle to match the clothing item named. The kids really enjoyed this activity and they turned out super cute!

 Next week we are learning all about polar animals so check back then to see our cute polar animal activities!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Liebster Award

Brie from Breezy Special Ed and Hailey from The Autism Tank both nominated me for the Liebster award! Thanks girls, and sorry it's taken me so long to accept! :)
Here are the rules:
1. Post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.

11 Random Things about myself 
1. I am originally from Cleveland, Ohio
2. I just got 3 different personalized bags from Thirty-One and I am obsessed!
3. I love cream cheese jalapeno poppers, vanilla bean ice cream, and tacos
4. Martha Stewart is my organizational, entertaining, cooking, and decorating idol
5. I love Big Bang Theory-- Sheldon and Amy crack me up!
6. I hate snow.
7. I love reading.
8. I LOVE pink!!
9. Getting my hair cut is my favorite "me" activity. 
10. Taking a hot bubble bath while reading Real Simple or my Kindle is a close second.
11. I desperately want to go on an all inclusive tropical vacation this summer
11 Questions: 
1. What made you start a blog? My friend Megan at Mrs. Wheeler's First Grade did a presentation about her awesome blog last year at the school we both taught at. I knew nothing about blogging but loved it as soon as I started!
2. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends? Relax and spend time with my boyfriend and friends. 
3. Name one person you admire and why. My mom because she rocks and she's my best friend
4. Do you like sports? If so, what’s your favorite team? I like watching sports! Football is my favorite. Go Browns!
5. Why did you choose to be a teacher? While in college I started doing in-home ABA therapy with two little boys with autism and I fell in love with working with kids with autism. Then I worked at a summer camp for kids with multiple disabilities and from that point on I knew I wanted a self-contained special ed classroom. 
6. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do with your money? Buy a house and then fly to Europe. 
7. What is your most memorable moment so far in your life? Good question. 
8. What (DID) you want the most for Christmas? a nice relaxing break!
9. Do you like to shop? Where’s your favorite place? not really but I love Target and Pier 1
10. What are three blogs you constantly read? I'm cheating on this one.... I couldn't pick just 3!!! say The Autism HelperSped-ventures, Keeping it True in K-1-2Simply KinderWe are ALL Special!
11. What are your future goals? Professionally - eventually get an ABA or similar masters degree. Personally - eventually get married and start a family

(Feel free to answer the same questions I answered!)
Blogs I am nominating:

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Take a Break Tuesday- I hate Windows 8!!!

As I mentioned in my post yesterday my boyfriend bought me a new laptop for Christmas. I LOVE the laptop but I HATE Windows 8!

Is anyone else using Windows 8? What are your thoughts? I am usually pretty tech savvy but I am really struggling. Plus I got a new computer for my parents too who are in no way computer literate so the transition has been a big struggle for them as well!

My biggest pet peeve is the whole app concept and the on screen shortcuts. I just can't figure out how to make them more user friendly.

Any tips would be appreciated!

Monday, January 7, 2013

I'm Back!!!! and with a freebie!!

I know! I know! I have been a bad blogger this quarter! Between some changes at school and the holidays I have just been swamped and have hardly made it to my computer each night let alone onto Blogger!But I am back! My wonderful boyfriend surprised me with a laptop this Christmas so now when I am zoning out after a long day I can still log on so hopefully you will all be seeing more of me this winter! I would like to start the year off with a freebie :) And I have linked up with Classroom Freebies for their Manic Monday.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
I made these cute number cards to post next to our classroom calendar to help the kids remember which number to use when writing the date. This has been very helpful this year so I hope someone else finds them useful as well. If you don't need them for your calendar you can always use them for number ID or sequencing too!

Enjoy!! :)