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Graduating Class of 20__ Craftivity

If you're looking for a cute end-of-the-year bulletin board, this craftivity might be perfect!  It's never too late to think about graduating.  After all, isn't that the whole point of all this school business? 

Your students can make these cute graduating kids for themselves and fill out their "diploma".  There are 7 different hairstyles that students can use as a tracing guide or you can have them just make their own hair.
You can hang up one of these signs as part of your bulletin board.  There are pages for the years 2021 - 2029 and a handy chart to help you figure out which year your students will graduate.  

If you want your students to add a writing piece, I've included 6 different writing pages that would also look super cute on the bulletin board. 

My students will be making their graduating selves this coming week!  I can't wait to see how they turn out.  You can find this in my TpT store by clicking {here}.

Showing Some Teacher Appreciation with a Freebie!

As you guys may know, Teacher Appreciation Day is May 7th and coming up quickly.  And boy do us teachers need to be appreciated!  We work HARD.  I hope everyone's school, parents, students, and PTA does something to make you feel appreciated.

But I know sometimes not all teachers are appreciated like they should be.  I will admit that as a special education teacher, it sometimes was hard to see the general education teachers at my school get a lot of appreciation from their students and parents.  Since I provided pull-out services, it sometimes felt like my students or parents didn't appreciate the work I put into their child's education.  I know, I's not supposed to be about getting pats on the backs by others.  But we're all human and sometimes it just feels good to know others appreciate you.

So I thought about what I could do to help show some appreciation to teachers and staff that might just need a little extra love and I created this FREEBIE for you to use with your students.  Since I teach special ed, I'll be having my students make a card for their gen ed teachers this week.

I've included several different pages, so you can change it up based on the teacher or staff member.  There are generic school pages that would be perfect for a principal, counselor, other teacher, or anyone else at your school.  I've also included some theme pages that would be good for librarians, school nurses, PE teachers, music teachers, art teachers, or lunchroom staff.

If you don't have much time, you can print one of these pages off, have your whole class sign, and add your name to the top.  Easy peasy!

I've also included some cards that you can have your students fill out individually.  There are 4 different insides you can print based off your students' abilities.  Just pick the best one for your students.  You'll need to print the front cover page and inside page and then copy them double sided.  I did have to play around with the copier at work to get them to print right.  I had to put the 2nd page in the feeder upside down.  I don't know if that is what all copiers require but it worked for mine.

I hope these can help show some love to people in your school!

Five for Friday - April 26

I'm finally back with my favorite post of the week, Five for Friday by Doodle Bugs Teaching!

I missed the past 2 weeks, because we moved onto base housing!  Sometimes base housing can be not that great, but ours is really nice and brand spanking new!  Here's my new kitchen.

Which is only 1,000 times better than the very small kitchen in the very expensive, very small house we were temporarily renting before.  

We're still not all unpacked, but honestly, that's going to have to wait till summer.  Until now, we're just enjoying this fabulous view when we drive out of our neighborhood (did I mention you can see the ocean from all of the bedrooms?).

And I have to take a moment to brag, my sweet Kylie was Citizen of the Month.  So proud of her!

We've started working on word families and I'm using materials from this Ready 2 Read Unit by The Moffatt Girls.  I love her stuff!  So many great activities.  We started with just the -at family.  

That was going pretty well UNTIL I introduced the -an family this week!  Oh my!  We're gonna needs lots and lots of practice working on reading these skills.  I decided my students need practice just listening to the words and deciding if it's an -at or -an family word.  Right now, I'm working on this mini-unit to help them out.  I hope to have it done this weekend, because they need to get busy with the extra practice ASAP!

Hope everyone has a good weekend!  I'm mostly ready to sleep.  Sooooo wore out this week.

Needs & Wants

It feels like forever since my last blog post, but we have been CRAZY busy the last two weeks.  We finally got base housing, so I've been moving.  I cannot begin to tell how happy this has made me.  Seriously, the quality of life for my family has drastically improved by moving.  

I figured I would update you guys on a unit we just completed that I LOVED.  Seriously, this was so stinking cute.  We were learning about Needs & Wants, and I found two great resources.

First, I used this AMAZING Needs and Wants packet by Teach It With Class.

My students LOVE the Pigeon and this was a perfect way to talk about what the Pigeon really needed versus what the pigeon wanted.

My favorite part of the unit was a guided drawing lesson to teach them how to draw the Pigeon.  I used the guided drawing lesson from this unit but used the paper from Mrs. Miner's Draw It Now Guided Drawing unit.  

We also read this cute Needs and Wants Emergent Reader by Class of Kinders, but I forgot to take a picture of my kids reading.

We also did some writing at the end about our needs and wants.

I have one student with some pretty serious behavior issues.  Some days, I need a whole bunch of patience.  Since coming back from spring break, I've listened to a lot of tantrums, experienced a lot of defiance, and had may things thrown at me.  :(  However, his I Want writing was probably my proudest moment of the year.

My student came up with this all on his own!!!!  And he drew a picture about his personal sticker chart {which you can read about here}.  You can only imagine the amount of positive praise I gave him over this writing.  This student has come leaps and bounds since I started in January.  So the next time I have objects thrown at me, I'm going to try and remember this writing.  I must be doing at least something right.

Guess Where I Am Today....

Well, I'm actually at school today, but I'm guest blogging over at The Lower Elementary Cottage!

I'm talking about sight words today, and you'll want to make sure you check out my post.  There may or may not be a freebie attached!  ;)

Autism Awareness Blog Hop

I'm so happy to be posting as part of the Autism Awareness Blog Hop.  If you haven't had a chance to see the great posts so far, click on the picture below and go to the first post.

As a special education teacher, I've had the privilege of teaching several students with autism.  I can honestly say that these students have been some of my favorite students ever.  If you will be teaching a student with autism, the biggest advice I can give you is to take the time (and it may take awhile) to get to know the student.  Find out their likes and interests.  It may take longer to build a relationship with this student, and it may be different than the relationship you have with other students.  However, the time you invest into the relationship will be worthwhile in the end.

I alos want to emphasize that if you've taught one student with autism, you've taught ONE student with autism.  People with autism are so different from each other.  What worked with one student, may not work with another student.  However, there are some characteristics that many students with autism share and you may notice.

1.  Figurative language can be difficult for students with autism to understand.  One of my favorite girl students had autism and was just adorable.  But she didn't understand figurative language and was very literal.  I would tell the class that we would need to finish an activity so we could "move on".  She always thought we were actually moving.  LOL.

2.  Eye contact can be difficult and uncomfortable for people with autism.  I have a student with autism now and he has a hard time even looking into the camera if I take a picture.  He's always looking off to the side in every single picture I've taken so far.

3.  They may insist on talking about a topic of interest to them even though no one else is interested in talking about this topic.  You might want to consider some social skills instruction and practice if this is an area of concern.

One thing that can be helpful as a teacher of students with autism is to learn what the students are and use those interests in your instruction.  My first student with autism LOVED Star Wars.  I was able to take this interest and make an academic game for him that he loved.  

The best part was he was engaged and interacting with his peers.  You can read that blog post {here}.

An easy way to learn your students interests is by getting parent input.  Really, they know their child best and can give you great information that you can then tailor to your classroom.  I use this Reinforcement Survey to help me learn about students' interests.  Click on the picture to download your free copy.

You'll also want to stop by The Corner on Character to see her blog post today about students with autism.

Make sure you check back tomorrow to go to the last post of the blog hop at Teaching Through Turbulence.  There's going to be a giveaway that you'll want to enter!

Pass the Torch Linky

Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!

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Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

As many of you know, I teach special education in a resource setting to Kindergarten students.  When I first opened the Kindergarten program, I was worried that it would be over my students' heads.  Anything abstract is pretty tough for them to understand, especially if there aren't visuals.

We started by reading the book that discusses how we can use prefixes and suffixes to change the meanings of words.  

My students have a difficult time expressing themselves orally and through writing and most receive language therapy.  They have a hard time using the plural form of words, and I knew this is where I wanted to start.  I showed them some pictures of common items and we discussed how to say the word (cat or cats) based upon how many objects were in the picture.  

We attempted to do to the worksheet page in the unit, but it requires cutting out some intricate (at least for my students) puzzle pieces.  It looked like they cut the pieces with a chainsaw.  :/ Luckily, my 1st grade daughter LOVES anything related to school and was happy to make me an example.

This also showed me the difficulties my students faced is probably not typical of a general education student.  I feel like this would be something most Kindergarten students could easily do, but my own students just don't have the developmental skills yet.  

So to help my students out and give us more opportunities to work on this skill, I made this Plural CVC Words - A Mini Unit for Using the Suffix -s and it's a limited FREEBIE for the next 3 days.  

I would have loved to try the Reading Olympians in a general ed class and see how the students would respond.  I think other Kindergarten students would be very successful with this program. The Kindergarten level would also be appropriate for struggling or special education students in 1st or 2nd grade.  You'll definitely want to see how other classes were able to use the program by checking out the links below.

Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner : Gold Medal

  Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program
            $50.00 Amazon Gift Card
            50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

   Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
              40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal

    Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Pass the Torch!!!
Click the image below to visit the next blog


Grade 1 & 2

Grade 3 & 4

Grade 5 & 6

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

Five for Friday - April 5th

Another week down means it's time to link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my favorite linky party!

Another week down means that I only have 30 teaching days left this year.  Not that I'm counting on anything.  ;)

Last Sunday, we spent Easter at my favorite place.....the beach!  It was a little untraditional, but we had a great day.  We brought our eggs to the beach and did an egg hunt there.  Old coconut shells make great places to hide eggs. :D

Did anyone else feel like pulling their hair out this week?  I've had pencils thrown at my head, an aide that can't come to work on time or even at all (what's up with that?), students rolling around on the floor for 40 minutes in a temper tantrum, and sat through too many hours of meetings. :(

So the only solution some evenings was to take this giant dog to her favorite place and let her chase a ball.  She's a maniac and loves playing fetch.  If you don't bring her ball, she'll find a nut and actually fetch a nut.  :/

Does anyone else play Candy Crush?  If you don't play it, don't start!  It will suck you in so quick and then you'll want to pull your hair out even more. But it is fun! :P

Meanwhile back at school, we actually did work on some skills this week.  We've been working on segmenting sounds in words.  Boy is this a challenging skill!  The Elkonin boxes with chips are definitely helping.  I'm hoping to make some progress next week with this skill and move onto word families the following week.  Wish me luck!

I hope everyone has a good weekend!

Teaching Social Skills

Hey blog readers! I'm Lisa from The Lower Elementary Cottage and I'm thrilled to be a guest blogger on Extra Special Teaching! Angelia's blog is always my favorite because we work we such similar students that I always know her ideas will work in my classroom. I'm here to share some activities and strategies for teaching social skills in the classroom.

Struggles with social skills are especially common in special education classes, but you often find average kids who struggle too such as an only child who doesn't have to share toys or games at home. Every kid can benefit from these simple activities!

Board Games and PuzzlesThis is by far the best way to help kids learn social skills in a controlled activity. My student have often resorted to tantrums from playing a board game because they struggle with winning and losing. I sit right next to the kids and prompt them with appropriate things to say and ways to react to winning (a smile and "good try" in a polite voice) and losing ("oh well, good game!"). 
This is also a good time to practice turn taking. Students need to learn how to keep track of who is next. I often encourage them to go "clockwise" or "counter clockwise." My kids also tend to "space out" and I prompt them to pay attention to the game and help the other student count spaces on the board. This gives them a reason to focus on the game.

LegosThese are the best toys I have ever added to my classroom! The kids are forced to talk to each other and ask each other for pieces when they need them. This helps them learn to ask appropriately instead of just grabbing for things. I also like to encourage team work by giving them a building project to do together. For example, I may tell a pair of kids to create a house together and they have to compromise to decide on how it should look. I know they can be expensive, but you can buy a small mixed bucket (like the one below) for under $30 at Target and they last forever. I've also gotten some from Freecycle. It's like craigslist but FREE! You can request or off to pick up items from people who don't want them, but don't want to throw good things away. I got a FULL SET of Mega Blocks for FREE! Just post that you are a teacher and looking for something and you may get just what you ask for.

Ball/Bubbles/ChalkGive a lonely student a fun outdoor toy and give them the task of asking a friend to play with them. It's a great way to let the student have an opportunity to play with a peer. A student who may otherwise not have people who want to play with him/her may suddenly be the best kid to play with because they have a cool toy to share. Practice ahead of time with the student so they know what to say when they approach a friend. Then stand near by to coach them on things they could do *together* with the toy such as one kid blows the bubbles while the other kid pops them, then switch roles.

Scripts!Some students are rigid and need explicit directions and scripts to follow in order to hold an appropriate conversation. I love to make social skills cartoon to meet specific student needs. I've found a couple of great programs to do this only FOR FREE! Can you tell I love freebies?! One is ToonDoo which has great colors and you can make all sorts of different facial expressions and backgrounds. Click here for a couple I've made. Another option is Make Beliefs Comix. This one is super easy and older kids could even write their own. Here is a link to how you can use them in special education.

Now I wouldn't be a great guest blogger if I didn't give you a great *FREEBIE* printable! You get a brand new social skills prompting chart! A mom of one of my students is very concerned about her child's conversation skills, so I told her I could make a reward chart with conversation prompts on it. My plan is to give the kid tally marks for every step he uses on the chart. Then he'll get a reward for every 5 times he makes it all the way to the bottom (5 tallies on the last section). I use these by cutting them in half (save paper & desk space) and laminating them. Next I tape it to their desk and use an overhead marker to give tally marks. They don't wipe off as easily as a whiteboard marker, but wipe super easy with a wet paper towel so the chart can be reused! If you don't want to use it as a reward chart, I also made a version without the tally mark column. Click here to download your freebie.

I'm so glad I had this opportunity to be a guest blogger on Extra Special Teaching! Stop by my blog The Lower Elementary Cottage for more ideas, freebies, and tips for working with special education students!

What's your favorite way to work on social skills?