Saturday, December 26, 2015

Differentiated Lesson Plans

Two weeks ago I shared this photo on Instagram and it immediately inspired this blog post.

Just like most of you, I am CONSTANTLY changing my lesson plan format, or so it feels. I'm pretty positive that at the start of every school year it takes me 3-4 format drafts before I finally get to 1 that is going to meet my needs for that school year and that group of students.

The biggest hurdle being that I have to differentiate for each child. Different work boxes, different cookie tray activities, different work binder pages (when we get there), and then during each part of our routine each child needs something different, such as sticker reinforcements for sitting, a hand fidget, or even an edible reinforcement schedule.

How do you put ALL of that into your plans each week without driving yourself mad over the oh so little details that are so very important. On top of that, I REALLY prefer to be able to hand write some things into my plans. It's just easier that way to be able to flip around, or set 3 weeks worth of planning pages out in front of me at a time and fill in activities as I come to them.

A lot of you wanted to know more about this set up. I've snapped a few more of the other pages so I can show you my whole set up and at the bottom of this post you can download the same template for free.

As you can see my plans are set up with the daily schedule/routine to the left where I've typed some specifics if they apply. Then I have the student names across the top and in each box are the accommodations/specifics for that child during that part of the day.  What's so great about this set-up is that I only have to adjust these sections maybe 1-2x per month as reinforcers, etc change for students.

This is the next page, continuing our morning routine. I have the box at the bottom for the mid-day routine and then the next two pages of my plans continue with the afternoon group of kids, but the routine repeats. The next few pages of the plans are what changes frequently and I hand write those parts in.

I will print my plans out for the whole month at one time. This way as I'm planning activities if I find something I want to do, but maybe not for another week or so, I can go ahead and write it in for that week.

In the photo above Smartboard #3 is typically something planned from Starfall, I just had not written it in prior to taking this photo. Smartboard #1 is always a book, or an adapted book and then I look for something online to pair with it, either a re-telling on YouTube, or a song.

In order to share this with you, I've basically just left you an empty grid with some direction of what to fill where. It's still in power point format so you can add more boxes if you have more students. That could mean having to put cookie trays on one page and work boxes on page versus having them together like I do. (Not to sound cold, but I am not willing to make any changes to this template for you. You can download it and tweak it as you need it.) Click {here} to download this template to give it a try!

Monday, December 07, 2015

Magnet Center Activities

Ever since I put up an oil drip pan in my classroom I've been intending to make some activities to use at this center. In the meantime we've had a combination of magnetic letters, numbers, farm animals, Mickey Mouse, etc.

Last year I wanted to add a magnet center but wasn't sure where to put one. This year I re-arranged my classroom and the perfect spot presented itself. I used industrial strength Velcro to attach my oil drip pan to the back of a shelf and voila- magnet center created.

I {FINALLY} got around to creating some center activities to use in this area that are a little more structured than free play magnets. This first pack is great for the month of December with a holiday theme, and the next pack will include a winter theme. The pack includes 4 different activities that I rushed to prep so that I could share photos of what they look like set up in person.

The first activity is letter matching. Line the presents up on your magnet board and have students sort either capital, lowercase, or both under each of the presents. I am just using capital letters with my group and in hind sight from looking at this photo I would probably cut the alphabet in half. The board looks very full and busy with this many letters. That's just my opinion, and some older kiddos could probably handle it just fine.

I snagged an action shot with this one today and 2 of my kiddos.

After I snapped the photo he realized his R did not match the P and moved it :)
The next activity is for number matching. There are 4 trees, the first 3 including numbers 1-20. The 4th tree has random numbers on it. I lined up the number ornaments along the bottom and students match them on top of the tree. My only suggestion for this one would be to use a stronger magnet on the ornaments so they hold onto the board through the tree. You could also place the ornaments in a small container nearby.

Activity number 3 includes stocking shape sorting! Place each of the stockings along the top of your magnet board. Have a container nearby with all of the ornaments. Students sort the ornaments out by their shapes and place them under the correct stocking.

The last activity is for color sorting. Place the color words on your magnet board. Put the light bulbs in a container nearby and students place them under the correct color word. I have this activity set up to use for tomorrow and have it started with 1 light bulb under each word to give students a cue to get going on their own.

I'm SO excited for this and can't wait to keep the ball rolling to have engaging and structured activities for my kiddos at the magnet center! You may have also noticed in each picture that there is a PEC For ABCs above the magnet board. Students always have the option to request the magnetic letters if they like. Nothing like adding in additional communication opportunities where you can. And hey, as long as they're engaged meaningfully, I don't mind if it's with the activity I suggested, or the one they chose!

If you want to purchase this item click {here} or click the cover photo below.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

New Product Round Up

With Cyber Monday quickly approaching I wanted to take a few minutes and do a round up post for my recently posted products. I worked non-stop to get some new products completed and in my store before Monday so you could shop til you drop and take advantage of some sale prices {hint hint}

That also means that for once I'm ahead of the game for holiday activities. Usually I'm creating as I plan, not creating and then having items to plan with a few weeks later! 

I've recently added Gingerbread Cookie Tray Activities to my store, which include 27 activity sheets with a gingerbread theme.

If you've never purchased any cookie tray activities from me before, they are activity sheets that you place on top of a cookie tray. The activity sheets either have included cards that you print, laminate, and add magnetic tape to the back of, or simply use magnetic letters or numbers to complete.
I also added 3 holiday themed shape sorting card sets; Santa, gingerbread, and holiday candy. These 3 sets were also added to the Seasonal/Holiday bundle and they are listed individually.
{Click each cover photo below to go to the individual listings, click the link above to go to the bundle}

Image HTML map generator

You can also grab those three shape sorting sets as part of a new Shape Sorting Christmas Bundle with 9 different Christmas/holiday themed shape sorting cards.

A few weeks ago a colleague was in need of a social story for a bed time routine. They asked if I already had one, but I did not. I worked on putting one together for them. I made a few tweaks to it to make it more generic and added it to my store as well for just $1.50. Should be pretty versatile to meet most bedtime routines!

Don't forget to shop with the promo code SMILE on Monday and Tuesday for up to 28% savings on all items in my TpT store!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

How I'm Using Cookie Trays in 2015

It dawned on me today that I should I share with you how I am using my cookie tray activities for the 2015-2016 school year because it's completely different than how I was using them when I first posted. If you never saw the first post, you can catch up by reading it {here}. (The picture below is last years set up)

Last year when I started making cookie tray activities a part of daily routine we completed them as a rotation through 4 trays where each child did all 4. This year my classroom is much different and completing that kind of activity is not ideal for this group.

Instead we now use cookie tray activities as part of our arrival routine. Instead of planning activities that all the students will rotate through, I plan a specific activity sheet for each child for each day of the week. After students unpack their belongings, sign their name in, they comes to their spot at the table to complete their cookie tray. You can't see them in the photo, but there are name tags under each tray so each student knows where their spot is and what tray they will be doing.

When it comes time to sit down and plan this out it actually happens quicker than it sounds. It is a little time consuming to prep the bins for the week, but once it's done it's done. And again, this days of the week set is perfect! My paras know right where to look to either put away a students activity or set up activities for the next group of kids.

I keep an extra bucket at the end of this rack (the large orange one) that stores our non-seasonal activities like the one pictured above for the letter. I like to keep these handy if I need to fill in a gap here and there for a student with an activity outside of what our theme may be that week.

When it's time to plan activities I have students on similiar skill levels who I can just flip flop their activities for the following week, which makes planning that much easier and quicker. It's also helpful to keep a designated area in the classroom where all the activities and the extra materials can be stored together. Of course when we finish a theme I store all the activities in an envelope and that envelope gets placed in our theme container.

If you are looking to check out my cookie tray activities you can see all available theme sets by clicking {here} to go to my TpT store. 

What creative ways are you using cookie tray activities in your classroom? I know Gabrielle from Teaching Special Thinkers incorporates some of the activities into her magnet center! Love that idea!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Art Project Organization

I'm in the process of making a slow recovery from a computer crash so you might have to bear with me on this post. Thankfully I still had the photos available and Carbonite had all of my files backed up. (If you don't have Carbonite I strongly encourage it!- Thanks to Mary from Sharing Kindergarten it saved me from a two year old temper tantrum meltdown.)

I suppose the only silver lining in any of this is that my computer did need a good cleaning out :) But any who, let me get back to sharing with you why you came here in the first place. ORGANIZATION!

This idea could apply to any art projects you do in your classroom, but my photos show it with the Easy Art Packs created by Gabrielle from Teaching Special Thinkers. These packs are seriously awesome, or you can buy the bundle. She's taken all the work out of it. All I do is look at what's included, add it to my plans, and then prep the pieces. She's given you the stencils, photo direction cards- it's awesome!

But then I had to rack my brain about the best way to store these awesome packs. I love putting stuff in binders, it's easy to grab them. I didn't want to use page protectors because I felt like the stuff would fall out easily or not be large enough to hold everything.

I thought about zipper pouches, but the opposite, they would be too small. I knew a large sealed folder that fit inside of a 3 ring binder had to exist. So like most innovative teachers I went to Amazon. Voila! There they were, Zippered Binder Pockets. They are perfect. I do have to order quite a few of them though to put all the art projects from her pack in them. 

I use the large photo from her individual steps to put in the front and then put the stencils, extra pieces, sample, and photo direction cards inside each pocket.

You can click the links above to get her art packs AND to go to amazon to find these same files. Both binders I used in the photo are 2 inch. Now we just have to convince Gabrielle to start adding binder spines to her packs, right?