Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Party

This year, our Halloween party was a little different because my coworker was out of town.  We started in the morning by trick-or-treating around the school.  We practiced saying "trick or treat" and my nonverbal students exchanged a picture for "trick or treat."  I think this is helpful for kids to practice at school.  That way, if their parents want to take them trick or treating at night, they will be prepped and ready to go.  Also, for those kids whose parents cannot take them trick-or-treating (do to safety of the neighborhood or behavioral issues) they still get the chance to experience this fun activity that is such a big part of the Halloween experience for kids!  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Monopoly and Math

Yesterday, I showed you an activity I was working on in math with my mid-level and low-level math groups.  Today, I am going to share our new favorite activity in my high-level math group!  One day, in the beginning of the year, we were trying to figure out what to do in math before we had our monthly plans put together.  We decided on playing a game...and since we were all so tired of Bingo, we went digging in the game closet for something different.  We came out with Monopoly.  

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Themed "More and Less"

This week in my mid-level math group, we are going over the concepts of more and less.  I found this FREE activity on TPT from Andrea Wells (check it out here!)  I actually ended up using this with my low-level math group too to work on basic counting.  A lot of my kids in this group also receive occupational therapy to work on fine motor skills like cutting and writing.  So, we started this activity by having the kids cut out all the pieces.  

Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween Party Planning

This is an old post that I did last October, but I find very fitting since we all have Halloween coming up this week!   I have updated this post and added in some new ideas that we completed last year.  This will be our first holiday party of the school year and we will be having a party pretty much every month of the year from here on out.  When approaching a classroom party in an autism classroom, it is super important to have structures in place before hand to make your party a success. 

I have tried every type of set-up for parties on my classroom (whole group, small group), and most left me leaving work frustrated and vowing I would never have another party again.  Finally, I have found a set-up that works!  It works so well, actually, that we use it for every holiday party we have.  Basically, we split up our kids into small groups and have stations set up around the classroom with different types of activities (art, cooking, games, etc.)  During parties, we combine with another autism classroom.  This allows us to have at least 6 adults running stations (usually some of our therapists help run a station as well). 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Setting Up Inclusion

My classroom is a self-contained classroom for students with autism.  My 13 students are with me for pretty much the entire day.  Even the service providers (like speech and OT) usually push-in to my classroom.  This is great for helping my students maintain their structure and routine.  However, it doesn't give them many opportunities for participating in activities with other students or experiencing "changes" inherent in real life.  In order to facilitate inclusion in a way that works for my students, they go to gym, music, and library with their gen ed peers.  Since I teach 3 grades (and I want my students included with their appropriate grade), this can be quite confusing and complicated to add to our daily schedule.  My students also need an aid to go with them, so this adds another layer of complexity to making inclusion work.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I have a group of students who are working on following 2-step directions and identifying multiple attributes of objects.  This game, COLORAMA, is perfect for working on these skills while addressing social skills involved with playing a game (such as turn taking, waiting, and rolling dice).  Today, I found it at Walmart (online) for $14.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Wh Questions: Who, Where, and WHAT

Well, we are continuing along our way with learning how to answer "Wh" questions.  The past couple weeks, we have been working on "What" questions.  I used a lot of the same activities as I did for Who and Where (see this post).  

 This is a really interesting concept to teach our students.  When teaching "who" and "where" it was easy to say the answer is almost always a "person" or a "place."  What is a little harder to explain.  I decided to tell me kids what is usually "actions" or "things."  (I feel like all of this is going to lead in very nicely to learning grammar concepts such as nouns, adjectives, and verbs later on this year!).  The first day, we brainstormed a list of things and a list of actions.  We also created sentences with a "who" "what" and "where" about our trip to the zoo.  I forgot to take a picture, but here is an example.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Five for Friday

It's been awhile since I did a link-up!  So, I figured this week, I would join Doodlebugs for her 5 for Friday linky!  Basically, you just post about 5 random things from your week.  Hop on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to join in!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

ABLLS Assessment

Many people have asked me what type of assessments I use in my classroom.  For my students who are reading, spelling, and writing, I use similar assessments as the rest of the school (such as Bear Spelling/Word's Their Way and the Rigby Reading Assessment).  With my kids functioning below a kindergarten level, I use the ABLLS.  This stands for The Assessment of Basic Language and Learning Skills.  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Letter/Number Identification!

Every year, I have some students who need to work on letter and number identification.  Before this year, I addressed this need mostly through flash cards and a few random worksheets/file-folders I had collected.  This year, I have a larger group that needed help learning letters/numbers, so I decided to come up with a more comprehensive list of activities.  So, now you are in luck...I have compiled this list of resources for you in this post.  Some cost money and some are free....but all have been extremely useful in my classroom so far this year!

I have found a way to incorporate these activities into a variety of stations in my classroom, so my kids have the opportunity to work on these skills multiple times a day.

During our morning group we complete "Practice" time, where we say (and/or point for nonverbal students) to each letter/number as we say them.

Friday, October 11, 2013

PREVENTING Problem Behavior: FCT

This week, I am discussing antecedent interventions.  These are strategies you can use to prevent problem behaviors from occurring in your classroom.  Check out my posts on this topic all week long! Today, I will be talking about Functional communication training!

Lack of communication skills can be a huge part of why problem behaviors occur for kids with autism.  To prevent these behaviors from occurring, we need to pro-atively teach communication skills.  This is called Functional Communication Training.  Again, with this type of training, knowing the function of the behavior is essential. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

PREVENTING Problem Behavior: Reinforcement Systems

 This week, I am discussing antecedent interventions.  These are strategies you can use to prevent problem behaviors from occurring in your classroom.  Check out my posts on this topic all week long! Today, I will be talking about Reinforcement systems!

Even though reinforcement occurs after a behavior occurs (a consequence), setting up a reinforcement system can be a preventative measure for problem behavior.  Most often, I use an "I am working for" card with my students.  They earn stars as they engage in appropriate behaviors.  When they earn all of their stars (the number of stars can vary based on the child), they earn their chosen preferred item or activity.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

PREVENTING Problem Behavior: Schedules

This week, I am discussing antecedent interventions.  These are strategies you can use to prevent problem behaviors from occurring in your classroom.  Check out my posts on this topic all week long! Today, I will be talking about SCHEDULES!

Schedules are also ridiculously important in helping prevent problem behaviors.  Again, with the lack of language skills inherent with autism, visual schedules are essential to helping create a predictable environment.  It helps students understand how events are sequenced (and therefore help simplify the concept of "time").  They also help students understand that preferred activities will occur (even if they are a few activities away). 

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

PREVENTING Problem Behavior: Structured Environment

 This week, I am discussing antecedent interventions.  These are strategies you can use to prevent problem behaviors from occurring in your classroom.  Check out my posts on this topic all week long! Today, I will be talking about creating a structured environment.

Due to language difficulties inherent with a diagnosis of autism,  students require a TON of structure to help them make sense of their environment.  This structure needs to be provided in a visual way, since verbal language can be so hard for our students to understand.   Two main ways structure can be provided is through the physical environment and schedules.  This allows the environment to be predictable, which makes it easier when  

Monday, October 7, 2013

PREVENTING Problem Behavior

Wouldn't it be amazing to prevent problem behavior from occurring?  People often come into my class to observe and ask what my behavioral intervention strategies are.  I have such a hard time answering that question, because the way we do everything in my room is "an intervention" of some sort.  I spend a lot of time setting up my classroom and putting structures in place so that we can be PRO-ACTIVE in preventing problem behavior, and so that I can spend less time later on being REACTIVE to problem behavior.  It is so much harder to deal with problem behavior in the moment...I would much rather prevent it in the first place.  

Throughout the rest of the week, I will be sharing some techniques for preventing problem behavior (also called antecedent interventions).  Antecedent interventions allow you to spend more time teaching (and kids learning) while spending less time dealing with classroom management and problem behaviors. 

The main preventative strategies I will discuss are:
Structured Environment
Reinforcement Systems 
Functional Communication Training

Friday, October 4, 2013

WH Questions: Who and Where

In my guided reading group, we have been focusing on answering "WH" Questions.  I thought we would fly through a brief review of the different questions types, but it is proving to be a bit more challenging!  I found this great "WH" visual from Lisa Geary (FREE ON TPT)  which I used to introduce the topic to my group.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Science Preview: Insects

This month in science, we will be working on our insect unit!  I also recently got this posted to TPT, so this will be a preview of what we are doing this month as well as some of the worksheets included in this product!

This month's unit revolves around 9 vocabulary words related to insects (bee, ladybug, spider, web, thorax, abdomen, antennae, butterfly, and wings!)

The packet includes:
-3 Levels of assessments
-Materials to create a vocabulary velcro-matching activitiy
-17 Different worksheets
-2 Games (Insect Bingo and Insect "I Have, Who Has?"
-2 Sorting File Folder activities (1) Sort insects vs. Not insects (2) Sorting insects by color.

This unit has materials for learners at different levels.   Also, it includes a variety of worksheets which allow my students to work on their science IEP goals as well as a variety of other goals (language arts, math, speech, and OT).  I use this unit over the course of an entire month.  The kids repeat some of the work, but the repetition seems to help them learn the concepts as well as work on becoming more independent.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Currently October

The second September ended...actually a few days before, all my students could talk about was Halloween.  I mean, I know it is October now, but Halloween is still 30 days away!  It is actually pretty awesome that my students are understanding the change in months and to see them so excited for the upcoming holiday!  I mean, I am too...maybe not for actual Halloween, but for everything pumpkin!  I will finally allow myself to decorate the house with fall decor, pull out my fall-scented candles, and start baking some fall-inspired recipes!  So anyway, onto this month's currently!  

To link up, go over to Farley's page and join in!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Classroom Tour: Hallway/Coat Room

Today, we will continue along with a tour of my classroom.  I am going to cover my hallway/coatroom today.  Maybe not very exciting to you...but I spent a good chunk of time organizing/creating all this stuff, so figured I would share it with you.  Many of these little tid-bits really help me save time!

Starting out with my closet...I use my closet for my students backpacks/mailboxes as well as storing my teacher supplies.  

Here are my student coat hooks, I label each child's hook to help work on name-identification, and to help keep coats/backpacks organized.