Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Halloween Peer Buddy Event - Carving Pumpkins

I won't lie, I was so nervous to carve pumpkins with a bunch of special education students! We had the most students signed up ever (20! And one signed up today, the morning of the event) and only 4 confirmed buddies. I was feeling a little nervous how everything was going to end up...and then over 20 buddies showed up to help us! AH-MAZING! We had a blast getting to know each other while carving pumpkins! Here's a few tips for carving pumpkins with a group of special education students that made today run smoothly. 
I lined totes with garbage bags for all of the pumpkin guts. Put plastic tablecloths from the dollar store on the table - made clean up so much easier! I had gloves available which helped some students to be brave enough to dig in and get all of the guts! I had the pumpkin scrapers that came in the kits and also large kitchen spoons to help spoon everything out!
I printed off templates that the kids could then attached to their pumpkins with push pins or tape. Both seemed to work well but tape (just regular scotch tape) seemed to be the easiest. Here's one of the packs of face templates I printed. This one is good too, but you have to click on each one you want to print. You can also find a ton of these on google!

I got a few sets of the pumpkin master carving tool sets - like this one - and they were crap! About half of the knives broke. I will be looking for larger, more sturdier ones at the end of the season this year to get them while they are cheap to stock up for next years event!

So, didn't these turn out awesome or what?! This event really was just one miracle after the other, from the pumpkin (requested 17, 20 were delivered), to the amount of buddies showing up! I am so thankful for how well it turned out and for all of the fun that my students had!!
The pumpkins took us a good hour to complete. We also used this get-to-know-you question page in the very beginning to help encourage conversations. Then at the end we had dirt dessert pudding with chocolate pudding that my daily living skills students made, with crushed oreo "dirt" on top, complete with a gummy worm!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Addressing envelopes - a simple yet effective trick

I decided to work on addressing envelopes in my consumer economics class today. We were practicing writing a check for something in a catalog (I know...outdated...but we focus on the basic ideas, items cost money and we need to take money out of our bank account to buy them). So I figured, why not work on addressing envelopes as well.

Some of my students were all over the place, writing to the very end of the envelope and/or putting info where it fit instead of where it belongs, so I started to highlight some envelopes.
It worked! Students used smaller letters to fit in the spaces and the right info is on the right lines! Winner winner!
Some students do great with just 3 simple lines which is obviously the direction to move in. I've also thought about creating a cut out to put over the envelope while students write to help them stay in the right spots. Any other suggestions or strategies you've used?

Friday, October 3, 2014

October Currently and FREE file folder activity

It's October already and here's what is going on currently. Link up with Farley to add your currently!
Listening: At the most when I was filling out the graphic I wasn't listening to anything, but now Shark Tank is on and I love Shark Tank! :)

Loving: My paraprofessionals are amazing! It's true, life isn't always perfect, but I had to have a conversation with two aides today about distracting conversations going on during class, and they both responded so well! I'm not good at all with confrontation, but they were both so sweet and actually thanked me for bringing it to their attention and came up with a strategy to prevent it in the future. So thankful for them.

Thinking: It was one of my student's last day today. So sad!!! I sent his new school a ton of stuff and tried to prepare him as best as I could. I'm still not sure if he understands, but I'm sure he'll be fine. He's such a good kid. I will really miss him, but he needs a self contained classroom which my school doesn't offer.

Wanting: Tomorrow I'm running in my first 5K ever. It's a color run, so it's not too hard core and should be fun, but the weather is a high of 46 and raining...which wouldn't be so fun, so I'm really hoping that changes!!

Needing: I love making pumpkin desserts and need more pumpkin to make more pumpkin muffins. Easiest recipe ever, a 15 oz can of pumpkin and any boxed cake mix makes muffins! Find the recipe here, but you can add any type of cake mix. AWESOME!

Treat: I created a product for my classroom/TpT earlier this school year, but haven't put it on TpT yet. Not sure if I like it enough, so I'll leave you with one of the file folders and you can let me know what you think and maybe look for the whole product on TpT later!! Download the freebie here!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

School Assembly / Pep Rally BINGO Freebie

Our homecoming was this past week, and while it's a ton of fun and full of great experiences for our students, there's lot of new experiences. One of those being the school assembly! It's loud, different, and new! We prepared for the assembly in the funnest way I know how....BINGO!
pep rally bingo
I went though all of the cards as I would in a social story type of way. If that doesn't make sense, here's an example. "Today after class we are all going to go to the...'GYM!' In the gym we will sit on the bleachers and Mrs. Holtrop, Annie, Megan, and Kathy will all sit on one side because they are all....'GIRLS'. The 'MARCHING BAND' will play and it might get kinda 'LOUD.' If it's too loud for you, you can wear...'HEADPHONES'. You kinda get the progression.

I uploaded the school assembly boards and calling cards to BoardMaker Online, so if you want to download it and edit to fit your school you can do so! Just switch the school, principal, and colors and you should be good to go! Our school does competitions between girls and boys, but you might want to switch those to grades with a couple others if your school does something different.

I hope this Bingo game will help your students prepare for a pep really or school assembly as well!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Fast Food Community Trip to McDonalds

Our first community trip of the year was a great success and that came with a lot of planning! And it doesn't hurt that fast food is extremely motivating...and I allowed my students to eat ice cream for breakfast. I won't lie, I had a hot fudge sundae before we left, because, it's not everyday you get to go to McDonald's during school! :)

Anyway, let's start at the beginning. I sent home this parent letter in order to inform parents of our upcoming trip as well as give them the words to practice at home.

We did these worksheets pictured below and these ones here scattered throughout the month to work on our regular skills while including some fun fast food trip prep!

There are a few different ways I like to play this "game" with my students. I usually introduce the activity as a class and give each student a red card (a couple students may have to share). I then read the yellow card and asks who has the right response. After going through all the cards like that, each student goes through these on their own and matches them appropriately. You can also do this activity without the red cards and the student actually has to respond like they would in that situation with the clues. 

The social story / coloring book is definitely my favorite part of these vocab units. It goes through each step very simply and tells you what to do. We read this together as a class. I give directions like "color the tray green" in order to practice some following directions / listening skills. And we also practice and role play each step.

Here's our vocab cards on our pocket chart on our whiteboard. We did a few activities with these, such as taping them to the walls and going on scavenger hunts to find all the symbols. And of course...
We also played BINGO. I love Bingo, my kids love Bingo. It's a win-win all around! I store all of my Bingo boards in sheet protectors in a large binder. It's the best system ever.

We also working on recognizing logos of other fast food restaurants using this adapted book and these flashcards.

We did a lot of role playing and practicing ordering our food, as well as getting our money out of our wallets and handing it over to the cashier. I tell my students if they can't order, they don't get to eat! We aren't going to do it for them, so they have to do it! We also had a countdown going on our calendar. Oh my, my class would be so excited and giggly whenever we were talking about that!

So, even though we spent all month working on saying and recognizing typical food at fast food restaurants like McDonalds....we had to order off the dollar menu since our trip had to be scheduled in the morning! Since many of my students are non-verbal (and our iPads aren't loud enough to be used as communication devices in the community, I've tried), we used these sentence strips to order our food. It was a great way to allow my students to be independent!

And look how well she's doing ordering her food with her sentence strip!

I was so proud! I love a good, successful community trip! Get many of the resources mentioned above in this fast food community unit!
Fast Food Community Trip Unit (special education, multi-ne
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