Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sensory Bin: Left Over Rice Krispies

Our local grocery store sucked me into buying two boxes of Rice Krispies when they were buy one get one free a few weeks ago.  Two pans of Rice Krispy treats later, I swore I was not going to make any more that I would then eat!

I decided to turn the leftovers into a very simple sensory bin for my two year old nephews.  I simply added the Rice Krispies, some sea life manipulatives from Lakeshore, and some left over small containers from individual applesauces.  Cheap and easy!

Since they are two years old, I made one bin for each of them as sharing and turn taking can still be a bit of a challenge at times.  They both started off in their own bins finding sea life, exploring the textures, and scooping the Rice Krispies with their hands into the applesauce containers.

Then something wonderful emerged!  They gravitated towards each other and playing together in one bin.  Scooping, pouring, filling, dumping, exploring and giggling.

Bubbles and Problem Solving

I have 2 year old twin nephews.  They both love bubbles right now and have a lawn mower bubble maker as well as several no-spill bubble containers.  We ran out of re-fill bubbles one day when I was watching them and one of the boys really wanted his lawn mower to have more bubbles.

He kept saying "more bubbles?"  I had to tell him "bubbles all gone.  no more."  He cried (he is 2) and then was able to be redirected to his train for a bit and then went back to the bubbles.

The next thing I knew, he was attempting to fill his lawn mower with the no-spill container.  He knew he had bubbles left in the no spill container and he was doing his best to get them where he wanted them.  I thought that was pretty good thinking and problem solving for a 2 year old! (even if it didn't work.....I loved the process of his thinking.)

(The little guy in the picture has delays in the communication and social/personal domains.  So fun to see his strengths clearly evident, too!)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Simple Visual for Change of Schedule

Sometimes students just need to "see" how the changes of a schedule will affect them.

During our standardized testing window, specials and lunch changed school-wide, which prompted a change in my reading and math blocks.  I had one student this year who mainstreamed for a large portion of the day, but she started her day with me to organize her schedule and any known changes, and then returned to me in the late afternoon.  Under normal circumstances, she knew when she would have time to "hang out with her BFF."

Although she is very bright, she didn't "see" when she was going to be able to have time with her best friend within all of our schedule changes.  This particular child is very high functioning on the autism spectrum and we have found that often writing things down helps her process information.  She was quite anxious about the multiple schedule changes and started to move into her "whiny" voice. This is usually a pre-cursor for more intense behavior (throwing books, tipping chairs, yelling), so if we can catch her during the "whine," we can usually prevent the major meltdowns.

I loved this intervention because it was "quick and dirty."  There is nothing pretty or fancy about it, but we completed it in about 3 minutes during our morning check in and it resolved her anxiety. When she started to whine about when she was going to have time with her friend, I simply asked her, "Would you like me to write down both afternoon schedules so you can see when you have time together?"  She said yes and then added her comments on when they could "hang out."

Quick and simple but very effective!

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Pre-K Again

As this school year draws to a close, our principal has sent out our "most likely" assignments for next year.  She calls them "most likely" because, as we all know, things can change over the summer.  If the needs of our students change, then staff assignments sometimes have to change too.

My "most likely" assignment for next year is back with the pre-k special needs population.  I'm ready for a change again, but I LOVE my school, so I didn't want to change that!  One of our pre-k teachers retired this May, so an opening came up at our school.  I love the language development and developmental play aspects of pre-k, so I"m excited.

I've started culling through some of my old pre-k files and rediscovered a blog from a pre-k teacher, Christi Seward in Cobb County.

She hasn't posted in a few years, so perhaps her teaching assignment changed or something else in her life changed, but she has a WONDERFUL collection of picture books with essential vocabulary and comprehension questions that she discusses.  She also has created many power points to support her lessons.

One of the books she highlights is "Bear Wants More" by Karma Wilson.

In addition to Christi's resources, there is also a YouTube read aloud with the book, too.  (This version is really sweet.  A boy received this as a birthday present and his family recorded him reading it out loud for the person who gave him the book.)


This has been a busy year and I haven't completed too many posts, but hopefully that will change this next year coming up!

Interrupting Chicken: A Social Skills Lesson

Last week one of our social skills lessons started with a read aloud of "Interrupting Chicken" by David Ezra Stein.

This is a great book to help children learn about controlling those impulsive moments of wanting to interrupt or blurt out during our whole group time.

We completed our read aloud, had a class discussion and then also completed some activities similar to those found at Happy Teacher, Happy Kids.

I can also be a little bit goofy and I want our social skills lessons to be fun, so the kids can really practice the skills and enjoy the results of prosocial behaviors.  Not just dread one more lesson with a bunch of rules that are hard for them to follow.  So as a result of my Pinterest addiction, I found a link to "Chicken Names" from Tilly's Nest and thought it would be fun to pair with this book.

The rules of the activity were pretty simple.  We were going to practice NOT being interrupting chickens.  If we could work on that, we could make a list of everyone's chicken name.  (I'm Yolko Scrambledore, by the way.)  It was fun.  One of the little girls in my class has the same birthday month as my assistant so she dubbed my assistant as her "Chicken Cousin."

There is also a YouTube video that has a read aloud.  I like to use the videos in addition to my read aloud because it gives my students one more way to access the text.

With a simple Google search, you can find many, many online resources and ideas that support this book.  These were just a few of the ones we used.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Rainforest Riddles...So Fun!

My class has been working on a unit that revolved around a Rainforest theme.  I chose this particular theme at this time because:

a) Students are usually very interested in the Rainforest theme and can be easily encouraged to read and write.
b) We have an expository text on the Rainforest in our reading series and I am required to base lessons off of our core curriculum materials.  (So I would have to do this anyway.)
c) There are hundreds of free resources and extensions available online.
d) Our school was in the middle of FSA testing.  Although I don't have any students testing this year, the resource teacher next to me is testing every day which means my class needs to be close to silent for the entire morning block.  Brutal (for the kids and me.....so I held out the carrot....if we were super quiet in the morning then we could do some fun, noisy rainforest activities in the afternoon.)

One of my favorite things we did with the unit was to write our own Rainforest Riddles.  I found a free pdf from First Grade Hip Hip Hooray on Teachers Pay Teachers.  The set gives several rainforest riddles already written that the students have to solve.  It has a nice set of graphics for a simple read, then cut and paste activity.  Finally, it also includes graphic organizers to help students write their own riddles.

My class really loved writing their riddles "in secret" and creating their animal from pieces from our arts and crafts scraps/materials.  We then combined all of our animal creations to make a rainforest bulletin board.

Here's our bulletin board.  Sorry!  The picture is a bit fuzzy and I still need to add "forest floor" to our layers.

Below are some close up examples of the writing samples they did.  You can see the different levels within the writing samples, but this was an activity that all of my students could participate in.  I like these types of projects because it brings our class together as "a whole."

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Telling Time

My class is currently working on telling time to the hour, half hour, fifteen minute interval and five minute interval in math.  We always need lots of different ways to practice a skill.  Below are a few of the resources we're using in addition to the materials that came with the unit in our district's math series:

Touch Math Time  (I looked for this on google.  It used to be part of the Upper Grades set, but I can't find it anymore.  I really like it because it's visuals are clean and simple with a lot of white space.  It also integrates time before and time after within each interval.)

Clocks from two paper plates from E Is for Explore

Simple morning work worksheets from Math Fact Cafe.  This site has a worksheet generator that shuffles the problems and you can also set the parameters for what skills you want on the worksheet.  Love that!  Again, the visuals are clean and there's a lot of white space so it's not really busy and overwhelming.

I also have quite a few file folder games that I have made and collected over the years.  Those are coming out too.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

You won't believe it.....

When we have problems with technology in our classrooms, we submit a help ticket to our central office and then based on the filters, it is sent to the tech that can best help us resolve the problem.  I recently had one that our tech said she was going to frame.....she had never seen this request before:

Additional Info: Have you ever had this one???  A student had a nosebleed at the computer and there is blood in between and underneath the control key and the key next to it.  I've unplugged the keyboard from the computer and set it on the gray counter.

Categories:      CompDev : Other

I knew the keys needed to be popped off and the keyboard sanitized, but I didn't know what was safe to use to get rid of the blood and what was safe that would not ruin the keyboard.  She gave me a new keyboard for the time being......she didn't know either!