Saturday, May 10, 2008

Favorite Materials

It's that time of year to think about.....

Transitioning students to the next grade level? (yes, but not in this post.)

Progress reports? (yes, but again, not in this post)

Graduation and end of the year celebrations? (yes, but yet again, not in this post)

Preparing summer vacation travel plans? (yes, yes , yes! but, alas, not in this post)

Now is the time to prepare materials orders and purchase orders for next year. (Even if you still have a list of things that need to be completed for this year. ughh!).

The following is a list of materials that I use year after year. They are primarily supplementary materials (not core curriculum materials). Most of the items on the list are under $50 and could be paid for out of a classroom budget.

Materials for any grade level:

Velcro and lamination Velcro and lamination make teacher created materials durable and interactive. They help to make the materials individualized to the strengths/needs of the student. I prefer velcro dots for most materials. They reduce the amount of cutting and make creating materials more time efficient. I order velcro dots from
Fortunately, my school has a laminating machine and the laminating film comes out of the school's budget. However, I like to have some pieces laminated in thicker film to make them more durable. When I purchase my own lamination film, I typically buy from Sam's Club.

Boardmaker Boardmaker is a software program that has thousands of visual cues stored in an easy to use database. The initial cost is approximately $300, but is well worth it. I use my Boardmaker program on a daily basis to create home/school questions, visual schedules, recipes, classroom rules and procedures, interactive books, etc. Visit for more information.

Scholastic Book Clubs No cost to the teacher or school! Just register and this is an easy sytematic way for families to purchase inexpensive books for home. As families purchase books, that classroom earns "bonus points" that can be spent on new materials for the classroom. This is also an inexpensive way for a new teacher to build up a classroom library.

Reading A-Z This is website of thousands of leveled readers. I use with my current pre-k students, as well as the 2 intermediate students I tutor. I have used it in the past with my K-2nd grade class and also my 3rd-5th grade class. The website is user friendly and is a valuable resource in providing students with reading material at their instructional level. The books can be printed and sent home, so it is also a great way to get instructional/independent level passages for students to read at home. It costs about $50 per year.

Materials for primary grades or pre-kindergarten:

Matt and Molly This series includes a set of simple stories paired with 4 visual cues that sequence the story. The teacher's guide includes a set of yes/no questions and a set of "wh" (who, what, where) questions for each story. It was created to work on language skills for students with autism, however, I have found that the structure and the simplicity of the visual cues are beneficial for all of my students (especially those with autism or language impairments). There are 5 sets in the series and each set is $31.95.

Jack Hartman CDs Jack Hartman has many, many, many CDs that incorporate music and movement to promote skill mastery and understanding of concepts. I like all of the CDs. If you are just starting out, I would recommend I've Got Music in Me, Vol. 1. or Shake, Rattle and Read.

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