Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Time & Money

I am always trying to find ways to work on time and money every day.  I love these two interactive worksheets that my kids have in their morning binders (see this post).  We do these every day after we finish our morning group (daily weather, calendar, etc.), so my students have time to work on these skills independently.

The first activity is for telling time.  I had a bunch of these mini clocks laying around my classroom, so I Velcro one onto the bottom of the page.  Each day, the kids get to choose a time they want (they circle it as shown below) and then they manipulate the clock to make it say the corresponding time.  Then, the next day, they circle a new number (and so on....until all the times have been circled).  Once all the times have been circled, I can give them a worksheet with harder times (telling time to 5-minute or 1-minute increments), or use the same sheet again (just use some cleaning spray to wipe off the overhead marker).

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sometimes, I need visuals too!

Most of us have tons of visuals all around our classroom for our students.  Sometimes, I need visuals for myself too!  If it works for the kids, why wouldn't it work to make me a better teacher?  At my "Teacher Time" station, I work with 1-2 students at a time on IEP goals.  We do work on IEP goals at a variety of other stations during the day as well, so this station is meant to work on the goals we don't get to as often or that require more time/attention to work on.  Unfortunately, with 12 kids, it is sometimes hard to make sure we get to everything (and don't always work on the same things!).  I do have data sheets and lists of goals at this station to help me with specifics for each child, but I love this visual to help remind me of general goal topics I should be working on each day.    

Friday, April 26, 2013

Some Funny Classroom Moments

TGIF...I love my job...but I also love my weekends.  Here are the top 5 moments of my work week:

1.  My occupational therapist started drawing lines on my students' journal paper to remind them to start on the left side of the paper.  Well, on this day, my student drew his own line, but then proceeded to write his journal in the middle/right side of his paper.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sorting Home and Community

After one of my previous posts about a file folder sorting activity, I received a few requests to sell these materials on TPT...so that is what I have been up to this week.  This product includes two sorting activities.  The first activity is sorting items based on rooms in the house  This covers Bedroom, Laundry Room, Kitchen, and Bathroom.  I made mine in a file folder as pictured below...but with the materials in this packet, you could also just laminate the 2 pages or put them in top-loading sheets.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Money Counting Visuals

When it comes to money skills, I have students at a wide range of levels.  Some students are working on identifying names/values of each coin, others are working on counting multiple of the same coin, while others are working on counting combinations of different coins.  These are some of my favorite visuals to use when working on counting multiples of the same coin.  Everything seen in today's post is also available in my TPT Store (click here to go straight to this product).

Monday, April 22, 2013

Math Facts

I don't know why, but teaching addition and subtraction can lead to some of my most frustrating moments as a teacher.  When I started in my classroom, some of the only "curriculum" given to me was Touch Math.  For those of you who haven't heard of this, it is a math program that teaches kids to add by counting dots on the numbers.  Ideally, you fade out the dots on one number, and then the second.  When there are no dots left, students can still remember where the dots are and use their finger to touch the place where the dots should be.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Healthy Art Project

Our school was one of 34 schools in the country that won NFL Play 60 contest this year.  What does that mean?  Well, we get money to create and implement healthy activities and we got a pep rally with NFL player Tim Jennings!  One of my students even got selected to go to a 60 minute gym class run by Tim Jennings (he had a blast!).  Our school has really been working on upping the health this year, which is awesome!  We finally have Recess(!) and my school hired a second gym teacher to help up student activity levels.  

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Color Matching Work Task

I am currently working on teaching colors to one student (we are up to red, blue, and green!) and with another, we are working on matching in a variety of settings/activities.  So, this new activity I made is perfect for BOTH of them!  I found these clips at the dollar store a couple years ago and they are perfect for working on increasing fine motor skills while addressing academic goals!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Singing Songs and Beginning Reading!

The other day when I was cleaning out some old binders of materials, I found these reading sheets I made using Writing With Symbols by Mayer-Johnson (the same people as Boardmaker) back when I taught 1st and 2nd graders.  This program is awesome.  You literally type whatever you want, and pictures pop up above the words.  This is great for social stories, but can also be used for academic activities as well!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

April Showers

It has been so rainy this month...we have seen many April Showers.  Now here's hoping they really bring us some beautiful May Flowers!  With all this rain and the fact that it is poetry month, I decided to target some poems dealing with rainy weather.  We turned this into a little mini unit of reading the poem, writing journals, and doing an art project related to the topic.  I found and adapted the poems from http://www.cceschool.org/hayes/Poetry%20Page-April.htm

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Science Organization

As I have shared in a few other posts, in my classroom we work on a different theme for science every month at our "science" station (see this post for picture of the science station).  In today's post, I mostly wanted to share if with you how I created this station and how I organize my materials.  Creating this station was not easy or quick.  It probably took me one full year to get everything done.  But, now I am so glad I did, because I am able to use the same materials every year (although I still add a few new things each year too).

The first thing I did was brainstorm as many science themes as I could and assigned them to different months that seemed appropriate.  For example, I started with body parts because this is pretty easy (and an important concept) and my students would need to know body parts before working on the 5-senses (which we work on in April).  

Monday, April 15, 2013

Visuals to Promote Independence

This week I asked one of my students to do me a favor and run some papers up to my coworkers classroom.   His response.... "I can't!"  Many of my students have increased their independence in the classroom (i.e. they no longer have to get my approval before and after completing every task), however, independence outside of the classroom is still an issue.  And, if it is an issue at school, I'm thinking it is probably an issue at home and in the community!  If possible, I think it is important to teach my students to be independent throughout the entire school.  They should be able to transition between classes on their own, run errands in the building, ask other teachers questions, and deliver a message.  These are important skills that come pretty naturally to other same-aged peers, so why not expect them of our students as well.  These are skills that can help our students in the work place later in life.  It also aids in generalization of skills and increases opportunities to use communication skills with less familiar people. I went to a training a few years ago that had a great visual to use when encouraging students to be independent in the school.  

The top part says "Go to" and shows the man walking.  In this place, I write where the student should be going in the school.  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Make Your Worksheets Re-Usable

Well, April is all about Earth Day and recycling...so why not carry that over to our classrooms.  I don't know about you, but I go through A LOT of paper in my day to day life as a teacher.  In the land of being earth conscious, this is probably not the best thing to do.  Not only that, but also making so many photo copies is time consuming and annoying (our machines jam constantly!).   And, my school only gives us 1-ream of paper per month....so, over the past couple years, I have begun to laminate more of my worksheets.  I have students use dry-erase or overhead markers that can be wiped/washed off easily.  Then, the worksheets are ready to be used again!

These worksheets (from a workbook...I didn't make them) I turned into a little flip-book.  I didn't have a book binder at the time, so just punched holes and used metal binder clips.  This little book has several dot-to-dot worksheets where students complete the puzzle and circle the picture of what they drew.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Bilingual Flashcard Cheat Sheet!

In my school, we have a lot of Spanish speaking students.  Many of my students with autism come from homes where Spanish is the only language spoken.  Since my students struggle so much with language processing in general due to having autism, I never want them to be "punished" for responding in Spanish.  For most of my bilingual students, answers in any language are counted as correct.  I can understand a decent amount of spanish and am lucky enough to have a Spanish speaking aid in my classroom to help me translate as well.  However, my assistant who helps run my fluency station, does not speak Spanish.  

At my fluency station, my students work on a variety of flash card sets to increase their accuracy and speed.  Click here to read more about the details of this station.  For many of my students, acquiring vocabulary and being able to label common items is a skill we are working on at this station.  For my bilingual students, we count answers in both languages as correct (unless we are specifically targeting english vocabulary).  For my assistant who does not speak spanish, I created a cheat sheet of translations for her to use while working on flashcards.  It has been super helpful to ensure that my assistant does not count spanish answers as incorrect...and she loves it because she feels like she is learning a new language as well!

Friday, April 12, 2013


We definitely LOVE bingo games in my classroom.  I split up my students into 3 different social groups (each having students at a variety of levels).  I work with each group 1 afternoon a week on playing a variety of board games (Bingo games included).  I have been slowly collecting a variety of bingo games to help my students work on developing vocabulary and social skills at the same time.  Bingo is a great game that my students can play on their own.  I assign a student to be "in charge" of being the Bingo caller.  They are also in charge of checking the other students' boards to make sure they put the tokens on.  The only tough part of bingo-like games is that many of my students don't understand how to win (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, etc.).  So we always play full board "blackout" bingo.  Not only does this make it more clear to my students who "wins," it also takes up more time so the games last longer than a few minutes!  

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Work Task Ideas

Probably pretty similarly to most of you, when I started in my classroom 6 years ago, I had no materials.  I was thrown into a chaotic classroom in the middle of the year with no curriculum, school supplies, or idea of what I was supposed to do!  Luckily, shortly after I started, I was moved into a classroom that had been used for an after school program.  In the closet, I found a bunch of miscellaneous junk, that I used to put together some of my first work tasks.  And, these are still in pretty good shape still today!

In my closet, I found a ton of pattern blocks, but nothing to do with them.  I went out to a teacher supply store (although, I'm sure there are plenty of online versions available now) and bought some pattern block design sheets.  I laminated them and put velcro on them.  Then I put velcro on the back of the pattern blocks and used them as independent work tasks!  Pretty easy way/cheap way to make a quick work task.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Autism Awareness Sale

In honor of April being Autism Awareness Month, I am throwing a TPT Sale.  Everything in my store will be 20% off April 10-12th.  

Monday, April 8, 2013

Little Critters FREEBIE

There are a bunch of these "Little Critters" books out there which are great for beginning readers.  While I was gone for my wedding, I made a mini reading lesson for my sub  to use during our guided reading time using the book Just Helping My Dad.   I felt like this book was at a level that all of my kids would be able to access in some way or another.  The non-readers could understand parts of it if it was read aloud to them, while the highest readers could work on real life comparisons and/or sequencing.  

Sunday, April 7, 2013

April Currently

I'm Back!  I had an amazing time celebrating my wedding in Mexico and, although I am sad it is over and I have to go back to reality, it is also nice to be home!  Sorry to those of you who sent me emails or left questions on my blog over the last month...I have been a little MIA.  Now that I have the wedding off my plate, I am hoping to get back to my regular blogging schedule!  And, since I was in Mexico when this month's currently was posted, I am adding it a little late! To join in, go to Farley's blog Oh' Boy 4th Grade

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Autism Awareness Freebie

April is Autism Awareness month!  I like to take this time of year to help spread awareness around my school about autism.  Over the past 5 years, my coworker and I have presented a brief autism lesson to general ed classes in our school.  We then follow up our lessons with school wide projects.   Check out this post for some ideas for activities you can do with your school.  At this point, most of the students in our school have been involved in at least one of these presentations/activities, but I think it is still important to remind students about what autism is and how much our students are capable of every year!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Weather Test

As I mentioned in my last post, during March, our science theme was Weather.  At the beginning and end of each month (which is the length of our science units), I have my students take a little test to see how much they have learned over the course of the month.  I have really enjoyed giving "tests" to my kids for science because I am amazed at all the weird behaviors I encounter that I have never seen before.  The behavior I see most often is cheating....and crying (lots of crying!).  My kids canNOT handle getting things wrong so they cheat and/or cry when they have to mark an answer as wrong.  Well, I actually find this awesome...because they CARE about getting things right.  This means that, most likely,  getting a good grade is reinforcing!  And, as most of you know, conditioning a "good grade" to be a reinforcer is not always easy with our students with autism!  Well anyway...enough of my ranting about grades being reinforcing and onto another FREEBIE.