Monday, March 31, 2014

Science Preview: 5 Senses

Last week, one of my older students told me "In April, we have 5 Senses in Science."  I love that my kids remember  the order of our Science Units and look forward to them from month to month and year to year!  The favorite thing for my students this coming month is our Jelly Bean Taste Testing Experiment!  Check out the unit on TPT here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Beginning WH Questions

With some of my lower verbal students, we have just begun working more directly on differentiating between WH questions.  All year, I have been searching for the perfect photo cards to use when teaching WH questions.  I have several different sets of pictures, but nothing that felt comprehensive enough or that had enough variety.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

11 Products I Can't Live Without!

As teachers, we all have certain items we can't live without in our classrooms.  Today, I want to share some of my favorite items with you.  I'm sure many of these items are on your lists as well!  These are listed in no particular order.
Cute Chevron Border on image is from

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Rainbow Craftivity with Fruit Loops

Since this month's science topic is "Weather" and one of our vocabulary words is "rainbow," I decided to have my kids use their matching/sorting skills to create a Fruit Loop Rainbow.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Simple 2-Part Following Direction Activity

At the beginning of this school year, about 1/2 my class didn't know their alphabet!  Now, some of these students have it down solid, but all have made significant progress!  So exciting!!  

The other day during one of my large group stations, I was all alone (my co-teacher was in a meeting) with a difficult group of 7 students.  I was struggling to think of an activity I could do by myself…but then came up with having the kids follow 2-part directions.  

I drew a basic table on each piece of paper and handed them out.  I told the kids "Write a Red A" or a "Yellow W."  =  They did GREAT!!  Many of these students have lower receptive language skills, so this was a great activity to have the kids work on following auditory directions.  I was also super impressed, because there is no way at the beginning of the year, this group of students would have had the knowledge or behavioral skills to complete this activity.  I love seeing how much my kids have changed by this point in the school year!  

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Assistive Tech Activtiy

I have 2 students who were assessed to get Assistive Technology Communication Devices this year.  In my school district, if the assessors are not sure of the best device for a kid, they do a month long trial.  We create goals for the kids, take data, and monitor their progress.  If they are successful, they then get access to the device.  If they are not successful, they re-evaluate and try a different device.  Earlier this year, we did a month long trial with the Nova-Chat with one kiddo which was super successful, and this month we are doing a trial of the Accent.  

The student using this device is extremely rigid…so at first, he wanted nothing to do with the device.  After one day of using it in morning group, his rigidity starting paying off because now, he will not complete morning group without it!

He is able to greet a peer, find the month, day, weather, etc. on the device!  Most of these are 1-word utterances currently.  So, to start expanding the length of his utterances, I wanted to find a repetitive activity with lots of opportunities to practice.  While looking through my materials, I found these fun spinners from target.  The kid chooses a color and a shape, and draws it on his paper.  

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Advanced Morning Group Re-Vamped!

With the loss of one student, and the addition of a new student last week, I decided it was time to re-vamp and re-structure our morning group for my more advanced students.  

I posted our new AM Group schedule on the board.  

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

SMALL Visuals Making a BIG Difference

Do you have students who ask you the same questions every day? (I do!).  Do you find yourself reminding your students of certain things every day? (I do!).  Here are some quick and easy solutions which can solved these problems QUICKLY in my classroom last week!

I was getting so tired of the question "Where do we have recess today?"  "What time is my break?" "What special do I have today?"  Now, don't get me wrong…my kids have a schedule which answers most of these questions.  But, their schedules are in a binder which is stored on a shelf…I guess the extra step of going to the shelf and opening the binder was too much.  So…to solve this problem, I posted a general schedule on the outside of the bookshelf to make it more accessible.  When I showed my students this, one of my students literally thanked me for it!  I put all of the things my students ask about regularly in color…I also added a recess schedule below.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Leprechauns

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  I had a lovely weekend in my college town having a reunion with some of my college roommates and celebrating a baby shower!  It's always so good to see those girls!  Now, we are starting off Monday running since it is actually St. Patrick's Day and there is a party to be had!

Last week, we made these cute Leprechauns using a paper plate.  These would be great for a station at your party.   

The kids had to color the outside ring of a paper plate orange.  Some of my students struggled to stay on the outer edge, so I cut out a black circle to keep in the middle (so they could color there).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Nouns, Verbs, and Adjectives: FREEBIE LINKS!

This is week is crazy busy!  I'm getting a new student and it is state testing (my kids take the alternate test).  I don't know about your alternate tests, but mine take at least a week to implement since my kids can only attend for about 10 minutes at a time!  I feel like it is such a waste of time since we have to take so much time and therefore are missing out on learning more relevant skills!  Oh well…I'm pretty sure some gen ed teachers may feel the same about their tests…so I will just administer our test and be thankful that this test was created for me and that I don't have to create my own!

Unfortunately, due to testing, our first week of March was a wash…so I am posting my March activity ideas a little late!  

With my advanced guided reading groups, we are going to start tackling nouns, verbs, and adjectives this month.  Here are some cute (and FREE) activities to check out.  Most of these Freebies seem to be sorting activities…which I think help my very visual students understand new concepts!  We will, of course be doing other types of activities as well.  I will keep you posted later in the month with some of those!

We will be starting with only nouns and sorting "people, places, and things."  Then, we will add in verbs, followed by adjectives.

Here is a Free Noun vs. Verb sorting activity from 1st Grade Salt Life.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Donorschoose for Supplementary Science Activities

I  love my classroom science station.  I have posted about science at least once a month this year as I have been posting all my science units on TPT.  From food groups, to landforms, weather, and body parts, there are so many awesome topics to cover!  These topics are especially great, because they cover a lot of functional vocabulary our kids need to learn to talk about every day happenings.  

When I began setting up this station in my classroom 5 years ago, I actually started by posting a project on Donorschoose to get hands-on science activities (for more info on Donorschoose, read this post)!  

After brainstorming my topics (1 for each month), I went shopping online on  Nasco, Lakeshore, and Kaplan for any hands-on activities related to my topics.  I also asked for general science materials like scales, measuring tapes, calculators, and general science file folder activities to be used year-round.  Then, as I waited for my projects to be funded (which they were!), I started creating my own worksheets and activities.  

I definitely recommend using Donorschoose to supplement your science units.  Unfortunately, since I wrote these projects about 5 years ago, a lot of the materials are no longer available.  Here are some of the items I found still available:

Inflatable Solar System (for your solar system unit).  We hang this in my classroom every year and the kids love it!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Seasonal Tree Art Projects

In the fall, we used our fingerprints to make these fall colored trees.  I have kept this hung up in the classroom all year, and wanted to add a tree for each season.  

Here are the winter trees we made just last week.  I traced the kids' arms/hand and had them color it with brown paint or brown marker (the marker was much easier!).  Then, we put cotton balls, q-tips, and/or fingers into white and blue paint to make the rest of the tree.  For some students, it helped when I drew a circle for them to fill with the white/blue paint.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

New Work Tasks

One of my students has really been struggling lately with "down time."  He acts perfectly during breaks and requests them constantly throughout the day.  However, if he stays on break too long, he becomes very agitated and aggressive.  He also works incredibly fast.  So, to help keep him busier for longer periods of time, I went on a task making spree last week!  

I made 10 tasks utilizing mostly things already in my classroom.  The only things I bought were the tubs to hold the tasks ($1 each at the dollar tree), colored plastic silverware, and some socks!  Check out my new work tasks below!  Included are some tips on making your own work tasks as well!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Simple Trick for Adapted Books

Running low on laminating sheets?  Don't have a book binder?  Check out this simple (and cheap) way to make an adapted book.  All you need are top-loading sheets and binder clips!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Currently: March

I know I saw this every month, but seriously….February went by so fast (even despite all our crazy weather!).  I am so excited it is March…because that means Spring is just that much closer.  I am trying to stay very positive about the weather this winter….but that doesn't mean I am not dreaming of warm weather, sunshine, and flowers!  

Today, I am linking up with Farley's Currently link up!