Thursday, October 30, 2014

Autism and Halloween

I think it's very easy to take for granted the amount of sensory experiences celebrating various holidays bring for our students on the spectrum. Since Halloween is on Friday, let's think about this holiday specifically.

For starters- the costumes! My goodness, we all know a child on the spectrum I'm sure, that has sensory issues that stem from their clothing. Whether they are too tight, too loose, too itchy, maybe the tag is irritating or the seams in their socks just do not feel right along their toes. Imagine the sensory experiences that come along with a costume! The masks, the hoods, the tight clothing, most costumes are 1 piece suits- SO different than every day clothes. And what about the costumes with the fancy attachments? Or the dinosaur suits with spikes down the back. Those spikes might be so annoying! That added weight on the back, pulling down on the costume. One of these sensory experiences might send your student or child over the edge. Imagine the combination of multiple disturbances!

Now, the decorations! This one I don't think of immediately as I do the costumes. It's easy for small children to be frightened by Halloween decorations, but a child on the spectrum may be startled by the simplest form of a decoration. I've met children who are petrified of a Jack-o-lantern. Added to that, the idea of pretend and make believe is so abstract to our learners on the spectrum so much of Halloween could be hard for them to understand. Such as ghosts and vampires, all these visuals and costumes that aren't real- just pretend.

So what can we do to help? I want to provide more resources to the families of children in my classroom. This holiday season I have put together a helpful packet to send home with my students. I have included 2 social stories, 2 articles, and trick or treat tags for our non-verbal students. None of this is original. In fact there are numerous options for social stories and trick or treat tags available for free online. However, what I came across social story wise did not fit my needs so I created my own. And I want to offer those to you for free to use with your families too!

You can get the free download here. Is there anything special you do to help families with holidays?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Just Call Me Butter, Cause I'm on a Roll!

haha! I can't help stay away from all things corny, but seriously, since Friday I've gotten so much done TpT wise that my own mind is blown! I mentioned 1 of them on my Facebook page over the weekend, but I want to make sure the others are brought to your attention too!

I mean, come on, what kind of teacher blogger would I be if I wasn't posting about my products ;)

Let's start with the facelifts.

I updated my Pumpkin Patch Dramatic Play Kit and my Frog Themed Birthday Bulletin Board. Both packs got a facelift with new clipart and design styles. Updating the Frog Themed Birthday Bulletin Board was totally random and on a whim. I scrolled past it in my TpT store and the product didn't even have a cover! I'd always thought the images I used for the months were hard to cut out so I simplified that too.

Next on the agenda- I revised my Editable Daily Parent Communication Pack to include a half day option. There is now an editable sheet for half day morning students and half day afternoon students. I decided I needed that this year in my life to simplify things. I have 3 AM half days, 3 PM half days, and 3 full day students. Today was my first day using the half sheets and I much preferred it! Hopefully they're a helpful addition to the file for you!

THEN there are NEW products that I got uploaded. Seriously. I wasn't joking when I said I was on a roll. I had a customer request for specific visual conversation supports that covered the various animal groups. Since this was very specific I decided to group them into their own product. If this at all interests you, it is available!

AND last but not least, how about some HALLOWEEN themed cookie tray activities! I managed to squeeze 2 and a half weeks worth of activities for my own classroom out of my Fall Cookie Tray Activities with some sheets left over. I've put together a pack of Halloween Themed Cookie Tray Activities to get me through the final weeks of October. If you loved the fall ones, you'll need to add these to your collection too! 

Looking to snag a deal? Get each one of my cookie tray packs on sale through Thursday only! Click the links above to check them out!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

{MEGA} Giveaway from Freebielicious- CUSTOM Class Tees!

Every once in a while,  the girls at Freebielicious discover a really awesome product for classroom teachers that is so amazing, we just have to share it with you! Today is one of those days! Get ready because we are hosting a super cute giveaway for custom classroom t-shirts from We will be giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to THREE lucky Freebielicious fans! Isn't that amazing? 

These are NOT your average t-shirt designs. The people at ClassroomFaces are so creative, they found a way to print a collection of drawings from every child in the class on the set of t-shirts, to create a truly custom design! Nobody else in the world will ever have a t-shirt exactly like the one your class designs. The website may be called "Classroom Faces" but there are SO many more options for children to draw than just their face. Sample designs on the website show creative ideas using student handprints or drawings of the school mascot.

Since the Freebielicious girls are such good friends, we designed our very own set of Classroom Faces t-shirts. We enlisted the help of our talented friend (and fellow Freebie gal) Nikki from Melonheadz to create custom drawings of each of our faces. The finished t-shirts were absolutely ADORABLE! I absolutely love my new custom Freebielicious t-shirt from Classroom

Can you find me in the picture?! Nikki did such a fabulous job on the sketches and making each one of us unique!

About Classroom Faces

Creating a class set of t-shirts featuring your students drawings is easy. Each child just needs to create a simple drawing. To create t-shirts with one-color ink on a solid colored t-shirt (like ours) each child needs to draw their picture using a fine point black marker. The ClassroomFaces website has downloadable templates that you can use to guide your students. Full-color illustrations on a plain white t-shirt are also possible. Look how adorable they are!

Extra Savings for Freebielicious Fans

Freebielicious fans that order a class set of tshirts can save $1 on each tshirt and receive 1 free teacher tshirt with their order using promo code FREEBIE14. Orders must include 15 or more paid shirts to qualify and must be postmarked by December 31, 2014

Enter to WIN a Class Set of Custom Classroom Faces T-Shirts

Now that you have seen how ADORABLE these t-shirts are, it's your chance to try and win a set for your classroom. The wonderful people at ClassroomFaces are graciously giving away a class set* of custom t-shirts to 3 lucky Freebielicious fans! Each set is valued at over $250. Stop by the Freebielicious blog for your chance to WIN!

If you're thinking "there's no way my kiddos could draw pictures like that for a shirt" DON'T be discouraged! Guess what, my special needs pre-schoolers ranging in ages 2-5 cannot do that either! But there are SO many options. on  there are multiple templates available for either the sizes of your drawings OR templates available in shapes. My class and I will be working on our shirts this week. (As soon as their indecisive teacher makes up her mind) I'm considering using the puzzle template from their website and simply writing student names in each piece- or having the students write their names. 

OR we're going to do our hand prints. I checked with and for hand prints you do not need to follow on their templates. Simply put their hand print on white paper and send those in. Here is a sample of a shirt done with hand prints from their website.

My other favorite part? They have a HUGE variety of t-shirt colors available, making the possibility of getting a shirt in your school colors fairly likely! I know I will be ordering our shirts in Cardinal Red with golden yellow print.

So what are you waiting for?! You need to enter to win these shirts! {click the photo above}

*Up to 24 tshirts will be included in each prize pack. Winner can choose to order a class set of traditional single-color tshirts or tshirts will full-color illustrations. Additional t-shirts can be purchased for $11 or $13 (depending on t-shirt size and style). Shipping is free for winners that live in the US. If a winner requires shipping outside of the US, the winner is responsible for shipping costs. (Shipping to Canada costs between $5-$20 depending on weight and location). 

Sunday, October 05, 2014

What are these cookie trays all about?

I've had a lot of questions about some recent instagram photos about our "cookie tray activities." Lots of people looking to know more. I am so excited about implementing this in my classroom, but first, I need to let you know, this is nothing spectacular or grandiose. It is exactly what sounds like. Activities on cookie trays. 

In the picture above I was prepping activities for our very first week of cookie tray activities. I have three students during this time so I needed to plan something that kept all three engaged. Each child will have an activity to work on and then we will rotate until they each do all 3 activities.

I wasn't using this amazing M-F organizer from Lakeshore Learning Resources, so I've put to use for organizing our cookie tray activities. I need to plan 3 activities for Monday through Thursday, so that's 12 activities total for each week. I can then use the Friday bucket to store extra materials.

Organizing them in these buckets also really helps my classroom assistants set up and put away the activities too. They know exactly what three we are doing and where to find them. It's very easy in our world for someone to end up preoccupied with another child so I feel it's essential for all classroom personnel to know the plans and where to find the materials.

I've used cookie tray activities before, but typically as choice activities. I needed something to engage 3 students at a time, and activities that would meet all 3 students skill levels. I was trying to think about what I already had in the classroom. Then the light bulb went off when I thought of cookie trays. I took to pinterest and the rest is history.

I started a pinterest board for cookie tray activities. Essentially they are just any activity you can use magnets with. It's easy to take a file folder game that was supposed to be set up with velcro and turn it into a cookie tray activity. I try to stick to one activity page on the tray with pieces that they need to apply-- either matching, sorting, number order, alphabet order, etc. Occasionally I might have one extra page if it's a quick activity that an adult will switch out for the child so they can finish the task. Once they are finished they put the items back into the small container.

Here's the link to my pinterest board if you want to check it out!
 Follow Erin's board [classroom: cookie tray activities] on Pinterest.

Here's an example of an activity that I already had in the classroom, I just simply attached magnetic circles to the back of the foam shapes and voila! Cookie tray activity created.

I'm lucky that 2 of the 3 students work at a very similiar pace. The third is a bit slower, but we're working on it :) Start to finish this takes us at most, 10 minutes. When we complete our trays we then transition to the carpet for the smart board until our lunches are ready.

These first two weeks I've pulled activities from all over the internet to use-- no specific theme to them. Then, when I've had the chance I've been working on my first "Fall Cookie Tray Activities" pack.

I'm excited to use these new activities this week (and probably the following since there are so many in the pack) AND also to share the new product with you too!

There are 13 different activities included, however, some activities have more than one page option so you can really stretch your use of what is included. For example, if I were planning my activities I would only pick 1 pumpkin counting page to use that day. The pack includes 6 different pages for pumpkin counting, so you could use 1-2 pages a week and really get a lot of use out of the pack! For me, that's either 6 or 3 weeks worth of contributing to 1 out of 3 activities I need.

Then there are also some activities that do only have one option available. For example, I would use the page of puzzles for one activity. I would either put all the pieces into a container for the child to do the puzzles, or split them, 2 piece puzzles or 3 piece puzzles. Find the 'P' activity also is a one page option.

For several activities I suggest using these magnetic circles. I purchased mine off of amazon. If you don't have these it's very easy to make substitutions. You can attach magnets to the back of small glass gems as an easy solution. 

Below are some of the activities included that I suggest using the magnetic buttons with.

Here is a list of all 13 included activities:

1. Pumpkin Counting
2. Alphabet Matching Capital to Capital
3. Alphabet Matching Lowercase to Capital
4. Color Matching 
5. Counting Cards
6. Scarecrow Puzzle
7. Picture Matching
8. Magnetic Fine Motor
9. Spelling Fall Words
10. Which Lowercase Letter?
11. Fall Puzzles
12. P is for Pumpkin (find the letter P)
13. Missing Letter (capital or lowercase)

I don't know about you, but, uh, my lesson plans for next week still aren't done. I wish they'd just write themselves but you and I both know that never happens! I'm off to write mine AND prep all these activities for the next few weeks! :)

If you are interested in checking out the pack on TpT {click here}

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Blogging Break, but Write the Room October is Here!

Can you tell school is back into full swing?! I tried squeezing in some mini blog posts the other week, but this week, not so much luck. I was even hoping to have this October Write the Room posted by last weekend, but that didn't happen either! I might be pushing it close, but at least it is in fact posted before it's officially October!

Despite my lack of blogging here recently, I'm at least generating a list of blog post IDEAS that I hope to start getting into once the school year settles down a little bit. I've written six 18 page (or more) IEPs since the beginning of the month and I'm a little pooped!

Okay, enough with the pity party Erin, they don't care to hear it, they've got their own problems! Right! Back to Write the Room!

I'm pretty excited about this one. The idea hit me not long after I finished up my August/September Write the Room and I thought it was pretty great. So last month you were coloring. This month you're going to be... DRAWING!

Sorry my spider looks like a football. That's what happens when you're holding the camera in your left hand with the timer on, and drawing through the lens with your right...

Don't freak out. I've tried to keep in simple. Not to mention that now's about the time you start (or maybe you've already started) encouraging your students to add more detail to their drawings, think carefully about their color choices (not that many people have purple and green hair-- we hope) etc.

For this, the recording sheet has already given the student half of the picture. As they walk around the room, when they find the picture, they need to draw the second half of it on their recording sheet. After they draw all 6 pictures, then they can also color them in.

I've included color pictures for you to hide around the room, like the one above in my example picture. OR black and white ones that you can color in yourself if you're trying to save on color ink. I know some of us don't even have access to color printer if we're printing and planning at school!

If you are interested in purchasing this, you can find it on TpT for $2.50 -OR- you can purchase the Bundle and get months January, February, March, April, May, August/Sept, and now Oct. Individually they would cost you $21.50, but as a bundle they'll cost you $12.50! Huge savings!

I have 2 more months to add to this bundle-- November and December, then it will be complete! If you have any suggestions for those 2 months, feel free to share your ideas! :)