Monday, December 31, 2012

Currently: January

I know I am a day early, but figured if Farley can post her January Currently on December 31....then so can I!  Check out Oh Boy 4th Grade to join in!  HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!  Hope you all have a great night saying goodbye to 2012 and ringing in 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Books to Work on Emotions

Over the last couple days, I have shared a lot about my drama activities.  The main focus of drama in my room during my first year was emotions.  We continue to focus on this now, but are also trying to focus on more complex emotions, manners, and social skills (such as personal space, staying on topic, etc.).  Back when I was just starting out teaching my students about emotions, we spent a lot of time practicing/acting out a variety of emotions during drama.  Once my students were able to act out a variety of emotions, I wanted them to work on labeling them in the classroom as well so they could get daily practice.  I also wanted them to see their own faces and what they looked like when expressing different emotions.  I had each student make a book of their emotions.  We used them as a work task where the kids had to label their own emotions.  This was the cover.  Each kid got to label and draw themselves expressing an emotion of their choice.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

And more drama games!

I didn't want to overwhelm you by sharing all my drama games in one day, so I have been trying to spread a couple across each day!  This should be the last of them for a little while.  If you want to read up more on set-up of drama time or other drama games, check out my posts from the last couple days.  Again, remember drama time takes place while all students are sitting on the floor in a circle.  

Hot Potato:  This game is a spin off of the traditional hot potato game.  There is no music though, and no one gets out of the game.  Instead, we choose an attribute for the potato (hot, slimy, stinky, tired, etc.).  Then, we pass the potato around the circle and pretend the potato has taken on that attribute.  So, if it is hot...we bounce him from one person to another so we don't have to touch him very long.  However, if he is sleepy....we cradle him and treat him very delicately.  The kids love this game...especially when we get to act like the potato is smelly or disgusting!  This is a great way to work on developing imagination as well as building vocabulary.

Friday, December 28, 2012

More Drama Games!

Check out yesterday's post about drama time set-up and beginning activities.  Today, I will explain 3 more drama games we play at our weekly drama time.  Remember, for all of these games, we are sitting in a circle on the floor (each kid on their own carpet square).  The first game is Magic Wand.   For awhile, we used this duster from the dollar tree as our magic wand. It worked perfectly for about 2 years, until it's feathers starting falling off.    

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Drama Time Set-Up

So as I was getting ready to leave my classroom last Friday, I was thinking about some things I could share on my blog over winter break.  One of the first things that came to mind was Drama Time, our weekly drama activity where we work on addressing the social and emotional needs of our students.  I attended a training on this from the people at Red Kite (a play designed specifically for kids with autism) who had been doing drama with some students for several years and saw lots of great gains.  A lot of the ideas I will be sharing, came from them.  I have adapted them or added to them with some games of my own to meet my students' needs.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas and a FREEBIE!

Merry Christmas!  I am so excited for today!  I get to spend the morning with my family and the evening with my fiancĂ©'s family...a day full of good food and good company!  As I shared in my goals yesterday, I am gearing up to share more ideas and resources about my weekly drama time.  A couple of years ago, I went to a training on how to do drama with kids with autism.  I remember sitting there and thinking, "There is no way my kids can play these imaginative games (at least, not yet!)"  However, that didn't stop me from trying.  And let me tell you, drama time has been so successful with my kids...I have watched students of all levels develop so many new social/emotional skills after specifically targeting and working on them during drama time!  

Today in honor of Christmas, I want to give away this Freebie from my TPT store.  It will only be available today for free, so hurry on over and get your download.  This product has some basic visuals and comprehension activities about emotions.  Over the course of the next couple days, I will explain the structure/set-up of Drama time as well as highlight some of the drama games we do in my classroom which help work on emotions/social skills in an active way!  

Monday, December 24, 2012

Winter Break Goals

Merry Christmas Eve day!  Today, as I was looking through the blogs I follow, I noticed people linking up with What I Have Learned  to discuss your goals for winter break.  I have so many things on my to-do list over this break...and I have a feeling my week and a half off is going to go by much too quickly to get it all done!  So, here's the brief version of my list:

1.  Post more things to my TPT store.  I have quite a few ideas, just haven't had the time to sit down and get them done!
2.  Post more on my blog about my drama games/ideas for kids with autism (to work on emotions and social skills).
3. PLAN MY WEDDING!  I figure while I have all the family together, this would be a great time to get opinions and make some final decisions.
4.  Paper work for grad school.  I have loan papers to fill out and a thesis proposal to submit!
5.  And of course, find plenty of time to relax, spend time with family/friends, and work out!  

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Crafty Wrapping Job

Well, we are officially on winter break now...and I didn't even sleep in on my first day of vacation!  We are driving to visit my parents for the holidays so I had to get up early to get everything packed and ready to go.  So why not do a little blogging before we leave too?  Today's post will be short and sweet since I have a lot of road time ahead of me! This past week, I was trying to think of a creative way to wrap the presents for my students' parents.  I finally came up with putting these cute Santas made from my students' handprints on a brown paper bag.  These were pretty easy to do.  We did the hand print the first day and then added the details the second day.  Inside were the ornaments we made as well as a foam frame with a picture of their kid glued in. I really hope the parents like them!    

Friday, December 21, 2012

Wheel Of Fortune!!!

One of my students is OBSESSED with Wheel Of Fortune...for instance, he wanted us to have a birthday party for Pat Sajak...and he plays Wheel of Fortune every day on the iPad during his break.  So, one day, we had some down time and I thought about introducing the game Hang Man to my class.  I figured they all know the letters (and a majority are reading at beginning levels), so why not?!  It turns out, Hangman (referred to in my classroom as "Wheel of Fortune") is now a HUGE class favorite.

So, here is our beautiful game board.  My Wheel of Fortune Fanatic refers to me as "Vanna" during the game and when it's his turn he often says "I'd like to buy a vowel, Vanna."  Haha...cracks me up every time.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Holiday Party

Phew...another exhausting day and another (somewhat) successful holiday party!  So today, we followed our traditional party set-up where we have 7 stations (with 7 different activities) and students rotate around the class in groups of 2-3.  Here is why today's party was only somewhat successful in my mind...I totally messed up my groupings of kids.  I did some last minute switching around of groups and ended up pairing two kids together who DO NOT get along.  They lasted 3 stations until one of them starting crying (too much change in his routine) and then the other started crying as well.  They both cried for the remainder of the party.... Whoops!  Definitely won't make be pairing them up together again in the future.

We started today with a sing-along assembly in the auditorium.  My kids did a great job singing along to all the fun holiday songs!  Next, we played some games in the class and made some cards for our parents.  For lunch today, we had a pizza party and then started our holiday party.  Here are some pictures of our activities!

 We used torn paper to decorate a Christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gingerbread Literacy Sequencing Activity

This activity was so much fun!  I bought these little mini gingerbread men cookies at the grocery store this weekend and we used them along with these great FREE Teachers Pay Teachers Worksheets.  We discussed what order we like to eat our gingerbread you eat the head first?  or the feet?  Then we took that conversation, put it on paper, and made it come true by eating some cookies!  Check out my students' great work!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Ornament

We have really been crafting it up in my classroom over the last week getting ready for the holidays.  I like to be able to send home a couple little crafts as gifts from my students to their parents.  The craft we made is a little ornament.  I drew the outside shape of Christmas trees and Snowmen in the cirlce of the ornament.  I let each student choose which type of ornament they wanted to make (Snowman or Tree).  Then, using Q-tips, my students had to fill the shapes with lots of little dots.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Winter Fingerprint Craft

For those of you already on winter break...I am insanely jealous!  But, I can handle 5 more days of school, right?!  I am so looking forward to a week and a half off of RELAXATION (and probably some blogging too!).  Well today I have been super busy crafting, baking, and wrapping all the Christmas presents we bought yesterday...but I wanted to take a brief moment to share this cute craft we did last week.  It is a fingerprint tree.  I found something similar on Pinterest that was an idea for a wedding guest book, but I thought it would be cute to do with my classroom.  Each kid put their painted fingerprint on the paper and then I wrote each kid's name by their fingerprint.   My speech therapist just announced she will be leaving us after winter break.  She has been amazingly supportive and helpful in my classroom.  Plus, she is fabulous with the kids.  We will miss her!  So, I had the kids make this for her as a going away gift.  I think it turned out super cute...I may need to do another one so I can post it in my classroom!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Memory Game Turned Work Task

Do you have any old memory games that are missing pieces?  I do!  And this one version was missing so many matches that it wasn't even worth playing as a game anymore (I had a student who liked to collect sets of I'm thinking my memory cards have made themselves comfortable somewhere in that student's house). So after looking at the box for a while trying to decide whether or not I should toss it, I decided why not make it into a work task!  I (kind of obsessive) taped on this picture of "work" so my kids wouldn't try and put the game back on the game shelf (we like to stay organized).

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Cards

Well, December really has been flying by.  All of a sudden yesterday,  I realized I better get going with my Christmas preparations! I still need to shop for family (and a little something for my students), put together some home-made gifts,  and make Christmas cards with my students! First things first, our Christmas cards! Last night, I found this cute activity on pinterest.  Click here for the FREE printable from Contented at Home.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Phone Number Practice

We have been working away on the All About Me books I made back in November (Check out my post here).  My kids really like these books.  We have been completing them about 3 times a week.  Eventually, I want them to work on them independently, but for the first couple weeks, we have been completing them during a small group activity.  To work on learning our phone numbers, I began by writing in their phone numbers and having them match each number in order.  I also had to create a master copy of everyone's phone numbers so I don't get confused and teach them the wrong thing! After the first couple days, I erased the last number (I used overhead markers on the laminated page, so they wipe off easily). 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Restaurant Dining Experience

We often take our community trips to food-related places (my kids love to eat!).  But seriously, you can practice so many skills on these kind of trips (i.e. $-skills, social skills, communication with strangers, manners, etc.).   Not only are these trips a blast for the kids, but the parents appreciate the help as well.  We have had so many parents tell us how the skills we work on during our community trips carry over to time spent in the community with their families.  This allows our students' families to do more activities that typical families go out to eat.  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Beginning Readers and FREEBIE!

I always struggle with how to teach reading to my nonverbal or low-verbal students.  Once they can use picture to communicate as well as match letters to letters, pictures to pictures, and words to words (especially words that only differ by a couple letters), I feel like they are ready to learn how to read.  One of the best ways I have found they can demonstrate reading is through matching words to pictures.  This takes an activity they are familiar with (matching) and takes it to the next level.  I also try and use functional words to begin with (food, colors, animals, etc.) so that they are motivated to learn them.

At first, I had a ton of file folders for matching words to pictures...but I quickly realized my smart little students were just memorizing them!  For instance, I had a file folder where the students had to match the color word to the appropriate color.  They could match it 100% of the time on the file folder, but if I gave them a flashcard with a color and the corresponding color word, they wouldn't get any correct.  

So I decided to make some re-usable worksheets that could be mixed up, so my students couldn't memorize where each word was supposed to go (and it worked!).  So here is the little worksheet I came up with.  I plain looking!  I just slid this into a top-loading sheet because I didn't feel like laminating and threw on some hard velcro.  

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Yummy? OR Yucky?

I used to ask my kids about their preferred foods, "do you like ___?" Most of them would say "yes" to everything.  Even when I had food to offer in the classroom, many of them would say "yes" to everything (even if they didn't like it).  So, I decided we needed to work on talking about the concept of "yummy" foods and "yucky" foods.  I made this book about different ice cream flavors.  Each page is a different flavor and kids have to say (or match a picture) whether or not that flavor of ice cream is "yummy" or "yucky."  I tried to make them pretty obvious (i.e. dirty sock ice cream is yucky) since the point of this book was more to help them discriminate between the terms "yummy" and "yucky."  Once this is mastered, I was able to offer food items to my kids and have them say "no thank you."  Also, at lunch or during cooking, we always ask "is it yummy? or yucky?"  Now they are able to answer! 

Here are some picture of the copy of the book we use in my classroom.  Here are the cover and first page.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Gingerbread Man Activities

In November, I totally spaced and my kids didn't finish their turkey art projects until the day before Thanksgiving, so we never got them out in the hall for display!  So this month, I am starting EARLY.  This week, we have been focusing on gingerbread men!

First off, we watched/listened to this version of the gingerbread man story.  I liked it because it has the words on the bottom for the kids to read along, but has enough pictures/action that the kids stay engaged.  The kids really seemed to like it.  I created a short quiz here for FREE about the video.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Just Little Something I Whipped Up

So today I had one of those days where you finally think everything is on track in your classroom, only to find out you are wrong!  The day even started out poorly...I overslept, then forgot I had a meeting first thing with my principal (which I hadn't started prepping for yet!).  So I raced to school (with barely combed hair!) just in time to have some run-ins with parking wars in my school parking lot.  Then, finally in my classroom, I got my prepping done for the meeting.  But then, enter the children...I don't know if my morning attitude brushed off on them, but they were ALL cranky and rather naughty today. Luckily we survived with only a few time-outs and scoldings. what do I do once I get home?  Well, I wanted to come home and be a bum on the couch...but my Random Act of Kindness I committed to in this month's currently was to cook my fiancĂ© dinner every night this week!  He kept offering to help cook (so kind!) but I refused him (he put up the Christmas lights instead!!) and proceeded to spend 2.5 hours on making a pin-spired recipe for a vegetarian pot pie.

So here is a picture of the pinterest recipe.         

...And, here is how mine turned out (not quite as pretty...but very tasty!).  I used my Wisconsin "W," badger, and football cookie cutters incase you are wondering!!  So that's it for me tonight people. I'm off to eat my dinner, spike some apple cider and watch some Game of Thrones.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Special Olympics Med-Fest

How many of you guys do Special Olympics?  We have been doing it for the past 4 years now and my kids ABSOLUTELY love it.  We do a basketball skills competition (where kids compete individually in shooting, dribbling, and passing) as well as the track and field events (3 days of running, long jump, and relay races!).  Special Olympics is an awesome way for my kiddos to get exercise as well as work on building self-confidence.  I have never seen my kids look prouder (seriously brings tears to my eyes) as when they have receive a medal at the Special Olympics.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Don't Squeal Unless it's a Big Deal

Do any of you have problems with tattling?  I have a student who tattles all them time for everything...and gets super emotional about everything too!  And to be honest, I think about half the time, he is getting kids in trouble on purpose so he can tattle.  For instance, last week I saw him step in front of a kid (who has problems with his vision) so that he would get bumped into.  Then he instantly tattled to me that the other kid pushed him.  Hmm...I'm thinking this is a combination of a couple things.  First of all, I'm assuming some of these behaviors are serving the function of wanting attention.  Also, I'm thinking this student doesn't have the skills to know how to 1) problem solve with other kids and 2) how to ask appropriately for attention.

If you work in special ed, I'm sure you have seen this over and over.  So many of our kids are lacking in basic social skills and the only way for them learn these skills is through explicitly teaching each skill, providing tons of practice opportunities, and of course lots of reinforcement! 

So this past week, I started a little mini-unit with 2 students who tattle often.  We read this book about tattling.  The two kids I am working with had enough language to be able to understand what "tattling" means. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

December Currently

Happy Sunday!  And in honor of the second day of December, I am posting this month's Currently from Farley's Blog Oh Boy 4th Grade.  Click the link to join in!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mr. Potato Head Language Activities

I love using Mr. Potato head with some of my beginning talkers!  I started this when I had 1-3 graders and am thinking it is on the verge of not being age-appropriate for my current 3-4 graders.  But, I still love whipping it out every once and awhile.  Over the course of one Christmas season (sales!), I collected about 3 different potato heads and accessories.  I store everything in this big plastic tub.  Basically, the goal is to get the child to request each item they want for their potato head.  For some students, I have them ask for the items vocally, while with others, I use PECS.  Not only does this work on developing complete spoken sentences, but it also works on learning body parts, taking turns, and increasing vocabulary.