Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blogging Break, but Write the Room October is Here!

Can you tell school is back into full swing?! I tried squeezing in some mini blog posts the other week, but this week, not so much luck. I was even hoping to have this October Write the Room posted by last weekend, but that didn't happen either! I might be pushing it close, but at least it is in fact posted before it's officially October!

Despite my lack of blogging here recently, I'm at least generating a list of blog post IDEAS that I hope to start getting into once the school year settles down a little bit. I've written six 18 page (or more) IEPs since the beginning of the month and I'm a little pooped!

Okay, enough with the pity party Erin, they don't care to hear it, they've got their own problems! Right! Back to Write the Room!

I'm pretty excited about this one. The idea hit me not long after I finished up my August/September Write the Room and I thought it was pretty great. So last month you were coloring. This month you're going to be... DRAWING!

Sorry my spider looks like a football. That's what happens when you're holding the camera in your left hand with the timer on, and drawing through the lens with your right...

Don't freak out. I've tried to keep in simple. Not to mention that now's about the time you start (or maybe you've already started) encouraging your students to add more detail to their drawings, think carefully about their color choices (not that many people have purple and green hair-- we hope) etc.

For this, the recording sheet has already given the student half of the picture. As they walk around the room, when they find the picture, they need to draw the second half of it on their recording sheet. After they draw all 6 pictures, then they can also color them in.

I've included color pictures for you to hide around the room, like the one above in my example picture. OR black and white ones that you can color in yourself if you're trying to save on color ink. I know some of us don't even have access to color printer if we're printing and planning at school!

If you are interested in purchasing this, you can find it on TpT for $2.50 -OR- you can purchase the Bundle and get months January, February, March, April, May, August/Sept, and now Oct. Individually they would cost you $21.50, but as a bundle they'll cost you $12.50! Huge savings!

I have 2 more months to add to this bundle-- November and December, then it will be complete! If you have any suggestions for those 2 months, feel free to share your ideas! :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Week {Wednesday}

Today we complete an interactive brown bear reader that I found on TpT,  I love it! We completed it as a group, taking turns coming up to fill in the pages, but this would also be great to do one on one with a child to assess multiple skills. Answering "wh-" questions, identifying colors, identifying animals, etc.

The reader actually didn't come with a cover page for the book itself. Or at least for the way I choose to set the book up. So I took the cover page of the product and just chopped it to size. Did the trick for me.

Following our interactive reader, we got to finger paint! I used the images from the adaptive book to create this finger painting page. This was our first time painting and they enjoyed it. I only have 3 students when we did this activity so it was super manageable. Finger painting is a great sensory experience for the kiddos-- especially those guys who are typically less than thrilled to get their hands messy. This can be a fun, quick, activity that helps them cope with that and realize it's okay to get our hands messy.

While we waited for our lunch we also did a sequencing activity on the smartboard while we re-reviewed our adaptive book.

I found this activity on Smart Exchange. If you've never been there before definitely go check it out! People post all kinds of stuff they've made for Smart Notebook and you can download them to use in your classroom.

Tomorrow is Thursday and my students last day of school for the week. We will be exploring a music activity with colors. Each day this week had a different focus. Monday: story/book Tuesday: movement Wednesday: art and Thursday: music. I'm hoping to keep a similiar breakdown for our large group activities each week. It is a little tricky to consider it a "large group" when there are only 3 children during this time of the day. I sometimes struggle with making sure they are each engaged in what we are doing. Finger painting- successful for engagement for sure. What are some activities you do together with small numbers of 3-5 special needs students?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Week {Tuesday}

Today for our Brown Bear activity, we went on a scavenger hunt! 

I made large circles with each story character on them. For the purposes of my group, we only went on a hunt for 3 of the different animals.

Next I taped one picture of each animal onto a paper plate. This was where the animals went once they were found. If a child found a red bird, they would go and place it on the paper plate, then go and look for another animal. My focus with this activity was create a game with movement, where the students could show their ability to follow directions.

They did really well with it!

Following the scavenger hunt, we counted how many of each animal we had by laying them out in a horizontal row on the rug, one animal under the other. I then called a student up to, for example, "show me the animal with 6 circles", and so on until we had collected all of our pictures.

I've actually posted this little product in my TpT store if you're interested. The pack includes all animals in circles for hiding, as well as, some additional pages for a graphing activity at the end. Graphing wasn't appropriate for my kiddos, but it might be for yours! You can see the graphing options that are available in the preview images on TpT! {Click here to find it in my store}

Monday, September 15, 2014

Brown Bear, Brown Bear Week {Monday}

Our first week of pre--school was basically about the routine and getting to know the students. Now that I know my group better and what their skill levels are (aside from just reading about them on paper), I can begin to plan in some more structured activities to our day. This will be a gradual increase.

This week, all of our large group activities will be based around "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?" I say large group, but I'll be honest. We only have 3 kids during large group time. It falls in between our morning kids going home and our afternoon kids coming in. Only the full day kids are still there for large group.

Here is something new we will be doing. On Mondays, we will read the book/story for the week. Tuesday will be a movement activity, Wednesday an art activity, and Thursday a music activity. All following along with the text/theme.

So today we read "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See?" with adaptive text and storyboards for the students to follow along with. I posted on my instagram over the weekend of the book being converted. I found this idea on pinterest and the person who posted it has a few adapted books available on her blog for free. You can click {here} to download the images for brown bear and see the other books she has available.

With the skill level of this years group I am loving this accommodation. I will also pass out storyboards while we are reading. These help the students stay engaged and follow along with the text. Maybe with the same images on the pages of the book itself it will make following along with the storyboard even easier.

If you are interested in the storyboards you can check them out {here}. I didn't make them myself. I found this amazing file about 2 years ago and it has a decent amount of books included. I've since made a few storyboards myself to go with other books. It looks like she no longer has them as one large bundle, and instead is selling them in groups of 2. BUMMER! But the link will still take you to all of the options she has. {Yes, the black sheep is missing from the boards. Maybe she's since corrected that--I should probably check!}

And lastly, we will re-tell the story using these little "puppets". They aren't actually puppets, but I don't know what else to call them. I have a few sets of these in my classroom for a handful of books and our library has about 20 sets that we can check out. I know "back in the day" these were super popular with felt boards. I'm pretty sure felt boards are a thing of the past in most classrooms, but I'm taking it old school! I made myself a felt board this weekend and plan on using it a lot with this years group!

I hope you'll come back tomorrow to see what we did for Brown Bear Week on Tuesday! Have any fun ideas/activities you like to do with your group for Brown Bear, Brown Bear?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

2014 Classroom Reveal!

Ready or not, here they come! AND that they did! I've been back to work for 3 weeks now, but our pre-schoolers just did start this past Monday. The first hour of day one was a little hectic. We quickly realized the classroom is understaffed during that hour. 2 adults just won't cut it-- we've got to have 3.

My wonderful admin tackled that issue and we started off day 2 with 3 adults. Everything went SO MUCH smoother! We've definitely got our hands full this year, with a much, much, younger group of kiddos, but I think it will be a great year!

Now, are you ready for that classroom tour? There are still some things on my to do list, I'll certainly admit that, but here's what we looked like on day one!

Here's is the view of the room standing in the door way. Please ignore my crooked (and in some cases- missing) letters from around the ceiling. They won't let us use the ladders anymore, so asking a custodian to fix them the way I want is more work than I feel like addressing at the moment.

The table top with the polka dots is basically my daily "command station" if you will. This is where I keep the students' daily sheets to fill in throughout the day, my lesson plans, their communication books for parents, etc.

Then we turn to the right and look down the cubbies where students hang their stuff during our arrival routine. This view isn't really that exciting. And the picture came out lousy. But it will help give you an idea of the room set up.

You can see my desk at the end of the picture above by the window. The next view is from standing in front of my desk. We randomly have a mirror on that end of our cubbies and it is the BIGGEST distraction. I've even had children self-stim off of their reflections! So I've covered it up. With a poster that has since faded tremendously from the direct sunlight all day.

The small table above will be used for our morning sign-in when students arrive. I don't start this until week 2. We have enough going on during week 1 and with so many new students learning the arrival routine for the first time, sign-in can wait! Now...let's turn a little bit more to the right!

When students arrive we have table time (the toys on the table). It takes time to work on getting the students to stay in just this space. We made good progress during week 1. By the last day we were all staying at the table. :)

Behind that you can see where we keep our task boxes. There are names and spaces for task schedules on the table in front of them and the table to the left. The hanging trays will be used to write down each child's task schedule for the week so set up will be easy at the end of each day. I also have my data board by the smartboard. A clipboard with each students name where I will keep the data sheets for their IEP goals. Here's a close up of the data board.

I've since gotten another new student {of course} and now have nine kids. NINE! How am I supposed to add a ninth board to this set-up with my OCD?! I'll think of something. Eventually.

Next stop on the tour train: our circle time/greeting time/large group time/carpet time area. The angle on this picture is funny. I'm actually taking you on the tour in backwards order to how I took the photos.

I've had these cube chairs for years. I've never used them in my greeting area before. With this particular group of students they are perfect! It provides the young ones with more defined boundaries of where they need to be when we are on the carpet. I have students who I didn't expect to even be able to stay with us on the carpet during this first week, sit in these cube chairs and stay-- with edible reinforcement of course!

The only down side is they slide REALLY easily on the carpet. So we have had issues with the kids pushing them back. Intentionally and unintentionally. I added a strip of rug tape to the bottom of them on Friday. We will see how that works to stop the sliding.

Right now our greeting time is quick. We sing our Hello song and pick a song from the song book. Music really holds their attention the best right now. This week we are going to try stopping to spell our names too.

To the left of our greeting area, we have the house area.

I debated a lot with this center over the summer. I'll be doing a more detailed post on it with better pictures in my next installment of saving dramatic play. You can get caught up on those posts by clicking {here}.

Next to dramatic play we have the toy area and the block area. I liked having these centers together this year. A lot of times there are toys in each center that the students love to combine. So instead of bringing something across the room, we have them right here together.

Another bonus to having most of the play areas this close together is that when we start tightening up our routine a little bit, it will be easy to monitor the children at centers with 1 one adult when they are all together. On the other side of the block shelf we have our cots, then the sand table. The sand table has been closed for week 1, and will be for week 2. We have a lot of "throwers" in this group and we're not quite ready for sand. We'll get there. Just not yet!

And last but not least, I think I skipped this area in the tour. It would have fit better following picture 2, but oh well. I went right instead of left. If I had gone left this is what you'd see.

This is a multipurpose area. Mostly because it's the only table we have on the tile floor. We need to use it for certain things that would otherwise be a huge mess on carpet. This is where we have breakfast, lunch, and snack. It's also our art area. You can see that students have name tags on this table. This is based on the amount of support they may need during meal times. You can also see in this photo that our bathroom is to the right.

Well, that's about it for the classroom tour. I have extra photos of some areas so if you have more questions about what you see it may be something I either can elaborate on in another post. Thanks for following along!