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? 

Friday, November 06, 2015

Sensory Table Visual Support {FREEBIE}

Do you work with students with low verbal skills? I have students in my classroom who are completely non-verbal, communicating with only pictures, students who use an AAC device, and some students who use verbal speech, but still benefit from some visual supports here and there.

The other thing about my students? They LOVE the sensory table. I think some of them would put their whole bodies inside of it if I'd let them. I try to change the table each month to provide different sensory experiences and build in some thematic vocabulary.

This month, for November, the base to our table is hay and I've added fake leaves, acorns, feathers, and some pine cones. You can also find pom-poms, some glitter foam leaves and plastic acorns/leaves.

I've created a visual support to use while working with kiddos at the sensory table. It is great for labeling, commenting, and in some cases even matching. We can practice identifying the colors we see the table, the objects we see and also placing items on top of the pictures to match the real item to the picture.

You can snag this visual support for {free} in my TpT store. I also had one created for the month of October if you want to grab that one for next year you can find it {here}.

I can't remember exactly what is in our December one, I know the base is green and red noodles with I believe tiny presents and pom-poms. There are other items as well, but I can't remember them right now.

Hope this freebie is something you can use!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Sped Tricks & Treats {including a FREEBIE}

Are you looking for some tricks and treats this Halloween?! You're in the right place! If you're just reading my blog post to start, be sure to keep hoping along at the end of this post until you've come back to my blog. Myself and many other special education bloggers are sharing with you tricks we use in our classrooms and some freebie treats too!

I had a hard time deciding exactly what trick I was going to share with you from my classroom. I often feel like all the things I'm doing in my classroom are all things everyone else does too and therefore it's not really a "trick" if everyone knows about it already.

Hopefully I've got something you're not already doing in your classroom & something you'll be interested in trying!

To help keep myself organized with all of the visuals we use in the classroom I color code them. I like putting our visuals on construction paper before I laminate them. Then I don't have to run to the color printer to put in card stock, then back to the classroom, blah blah blah. I just put them on construction paper for added durability.

By color coding them I can quickly remember what visuals go where in the classroom and it's also helpful for my aides too. For example I snapped some photos of the visuals we use when we are sitting on the carpet. All of these visuals are on yellow construction paper.

Sand table visuals go on blue construction paper, work box visuals on black construction paper, etc. Two of these visuals are actually taped to our message board so there isn't exactly the need to remember where they are used in the classroom; but that will be nice at the end of the year when it's time to pack everything up for the summer.

Hopefully that's just a simple small trick you can take back to your classroom. It comes in handy the most with smaller visuals that can easily be placed in an apron pocket or left on a table and misplaced. And now for the even better stuff; THE TREAT!

I can only image that a few of you looked at the pictures I shared from our greeting/carpet time and thought to yourself- "Hey! I want that for my classroom!" The schedule that I use for the things we do during our greeting time would be a little more challenging to share with you seeing as that probably looks very different in a lot of classrooms. But what I can share with you is the visual board for choosing where you want to play. There is enough space for 10 different options and these options will always be changing depending on what toys/games are available that week. Students simply move the picture to the bottom to create the sentence and then point to each picture as they repeat the sentence or an adult repeats it for them.

The freebie includes some images of possible toy selections & choices you may have in your classroom, but you can obviously use pictures you have existing in your classroom already. I CANNOT share the pictures shown in the image above that are for block area, toy area, etc. because those are images from our High Scope curriculum so they will NOT be apart of the freebie.

Click the image below to download your freebie!


Don't forget to keep going! Find more great tricks and treats by clicking below and heading over to the next blog!


Monday, October 12, 2015

October Themed Task Boxes {and a Giveaway!}

I don't typically dedicate many task boxes to theme specific activities. Because I keep such a large amount of boxes available to myself for planning I'd have to find storage space (that I'm out of) for activities when I swap them out for themed ones. This has always seemed like more trouble to me than it was worth.

HOWEVER. Yes, there is a however. At the start of this year I added an "art cart" to our classroom. One side is for our art projects and the other side I put more task boxes on. I've decided to dedicate this section of boxes to themed activities. This way I have a designated section where I can swap out activities and then store them in my seasonal tubs and take them out each year as needed. The photo above is said cart. Not all the bins were full when I snapped this photo, but now they are.

Now I'll share a photo of what is in each box-- these posts tend to get a little lengthy, but perfect for getting ideas for your own classroom. They ended up being mostly sorting tasks, but you could also make modifications to turn these into matching tasks as well.

I was super excited about this idea when it dawned on me. I always see awesome stickers/felt objects for holiday themes but never know quite how to incorporate them into task boxes. Then it hit me- bottle caps! You could also use water bottle caps too. Just stick them on top and then place one sticker in the bottom of a container for sorting. The two boxes below are both sorting by color; green eyeballs vs. blue eyeballs and orange pumpkins vs. yellow pumpkins.

I forgot that this one was a put in task. You could make it a sorting task by adding hole protectors around the holes in the lid and coloring them for the colors of the pipe cleaners. I kept this just simple, they have to place the pipe cleaners into the holes in the top of the container.

I've since added more white pom-poms to this sorting activity, I needed to borrow some from another teacher! I found these small containers at Family Dollar and was so excited-- perfect for Halloween sorting! AND they were 3 of each color for $1. Great deal!

I also found these Halloween colored containers and erasers at Dollar General. Seriously, if a store carries anything Halloween scope out those isles! These containers have Halloween pictures/words on the sides so I probably won't re-purpose them like I can the others from the previous picture, but again 3 of each color for $1!

I took some existing materials I already had, ice cube tray and ghost erasers, and this box was super simple to put together. Simply place one ghost in each spot. I have another box like this with pom-poms. I think it's a great "pre-cursor" for one to one correspondence.

For these next few boxes I used cards from my shape sorting packs. I just did 2 shapes for each box, but the great thing with these are you can increase the amount of shapes students are sorting depending on their stamina for the work.

These last two boxes are also from an existing {FREEBIE} I have. Sorting pumpkins by color. I did 3 colors on this one because I know my kiddos can sort colors a little faster than shapes.

If you are interested in grabbing the shape sorting cards, click {here} to go to the bundle. If you want to download the free color sorting pumpkins, click {here}.

AND while I still have your attention (I hope) I'm also going to share with you about a great giveaway! Mrs. D's Corner is giving away her fall favorites and we all want you to win!
Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter!