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Magnet Round Up!

I use magnets a lot. I have a magnet center in my classroom and I'm using all different kinds with my cookie tray activities. I wanted to put together a post to show you what magnets I use for all of this and to showcase some different options to you.

For most activities this is what I'm using. It's strong enough to hold pieces in place while doing cookie trays, and sufficient enough for small-medium sized pieces in my magnet center. The tape is quick and easy to apply so it was a no brainer to start using.

On other occassions I use this. This magnet is a little bit stronger than the tape. It's actually what I used for everything before I learned about the tape. You can purchase this pack for only .97 cents at Walmart, which is an awesome deal. It's already in pre-cut strips with an adhesive back. I would cut the strips into smaller pieces. Now I use this mostly on magnet center stuff that might be a larger piece, or if I'm looking to match a magnetic piece on top of a piece of paper in my magnet center.

Then there are these magnets. These are the strongest of the 3 I use. I use these to attach to materials other than paper. For example, I attached them to shape pieces for puzzles. Or to the back of gems to create larger magnetic pieces for students with fine motor needs.

Then I have these. I use these as manipulatives for filling in circles on lower level activities or for completing an activity with two circle choices for the answer. I order them from Amazon. They are awesome, however, I find it only fair to share that over time the magnets will fall out of the plastic piece. A little hot glue and you're good to go, but still a little frustrating at the same time. Despite this, I still can't pass on using them.


What are your favorite magnets to use in the classroom? I use these all the time for prepping my cookie tray activities and my magnet centers. I don't know how I'd make it by without them! Click {here} to check out all the cookie tray activities in my TpT store.

Teaching Autism K/1

SO. I wrote a while back about how I had NO IDEA what I would be teaching in the fall. Well, thankfully an amazing position opened up and I am now teaching a K/1 Autism classroom! So far I am loving it. It has it's challenges, like all classrooms do, but we're slowing getting there.

I had applied for an Autism grades 2-4 classroom with this district and some time had passed and I hadn't heard anything, so I thought I'd give them a call. I am so glad  I did! Seriously, if you're looking for jobs, follow up!

The position for the 2-4 classroom had been filled internally. Now there was an opening for a K/1 room. I knew I had applied to the district so I wasn't re-checking their open positions frequently enough to have noticed this availability. Their HR person asked if I'd be interested in interviewing for that position and I said yes, even more so!

2 hours following my interview they called to offer me the job. I was pumped and of course said yes!

I have 7 students on my caseload, 6 in my classroom all day, and 1 who is majority inclusion. Of the 6 with me all day, 1 is a pre-k kiddo, 2 are kindergarten, and 3 are first grade. I was so ready to do something at a different pace from pre-school after 6 years, so I'm loving that part!

And as always, there's LOADS of differentiation happening. We've been focusing mostly on just classroom routine and expectations. Each day gets a little bit better though. We've only been in school 9 days and I don't think my usual wine consumption has increased--yet.

I just wanted to bring you up to speed on my new position! I'm hoping this is going to get the creative juices flowing for some new classroom products/ideas/resources since I have a different age group this year! :)

{Oriental Trading} Wishlist!

I don't know about you but I think Oriental Trading has become just as awesome for teachers as it is for planning the most thematic party ever. Over the years of teaching I would head to their website and type in whatever the theme was that I was planning around in my pre-school classroom. This would lead me to great ideas for dramatic play, cool manipulatives to use, and my favorite-- planning really cool sensory tables.

Now they have more and more teaching supplies with a section to browse on their website just for teachers. I've been looking around their website a lot over the summer as I've been preparing to enter a new district, new school, and new grade level. I knew there would be some materials I would need to add and sure enough, now that I've had the opportunity to see what's in my room I know exactly what I still need or what I would benefit from.

I created a wish list on Oriental Trading of what materials I think would be awesome to have in my classroom. I wanted to share my list with you so you could see what awesome teacher resources they have! Some of these items may seem questionable so I also want to explain to you how I'd use them in my classroom if I had them.

Here's my first screen shot of my wishlist. I LOVE mini erasers. I think we all do. They make awesome manipulatives to use for counting or even matching. And now that I'm teaching a K/1st classroom and planning literacy and math centers I can see myself using these even more. I added these two to my wish list for planning ahead. Light bulb erasers can be found here and tooth erasers here.

The shape matching cupcakes are awesome for work box/task box activities if you do those in your classroom. I also decided to put some work dividers on my wish list. It's easy for students on the spectrum to be distracted by other stimuli around them so I thought it would be great to have these handy if a student needs help to cut out distractions.

Pattern blocks are definitely on my wish list for this school year. The classroom I just moved into doesn't have any. There are so many awesome ways to use pattern blocks at all grade levels. I'm most looking forward to using them in a literacy center for students to make letters out of. I found some awesome letter mats on TpT. I also thought the puzzle piece manipulatives were great building/fine motor practice.

To go along with the pattern blocks, I also added these activity pages to my wish list. Oriental trading is also carries some awesome classroom specific supplies, like the number pocket chart I found. What an awesome visual to talk about numbers with. I think this will be great to add to our math board. AND I can't go without colored masking tape in my classroom. I use it on the tables to divide out work space and it's nice to have it in all the colors so I can keep up with our color coded work areas/tables. It helps make things more concrete for the students if the lines on the yellow table are actually in yellow! :)

And last but not least I couldn't help but add these colored ducks. They have the color words on them and will be great to add to a sensory table with colored pasta. I find so many supplies for my themed sensory tables from Oriental Trading and students love the ducks.

I didn't even touch on all the awesome bins/containers that they offer too! Great prices for bins for organizing materials in the room. I know I'll be making multiple purchases from them throughout the school year.

You can see my actual wish list {here} and also head there to start making your own!

*Disclaimer: I am being sent products to use in my classroom in exchange for this post.

The {Ultimate} ABC Cookie Tray Pack!

I am super excited to share this with you. Not only because I love it, but because I'm excited I finished it. I always struggle with alphabet sets. By the time I get to letter P I'm usually pretty burnt out and can't figure out how to keep going. The last three letters were painful actually, but I did it!


I've had this idea in the back of my head for a while now and I finally buckled down and got it out on the computer screen! This pack includes 4 different activities for each letter of the alphabet. The activities are meant to start easier and get more difficult, allowing you to differentiate for your students as needed. You could always print multiples of each activity page too if you needed. My storage suggestion for this pack (since it's larger than the others) should accommodate page multiples if you choose so.

The first activity is pretty simple. Using some type of magnetic dot/item, students place them inside each of the circles to create the capital letter. (Only capitals are included for this activity at this time)

The next activity is sorting capital and lowercase letters. There are cards with capital on them and cards with lowercase letters on them, all in different fonts--meant to make students think, not be tricky!

The third activity is finding the letters. Both capital and lowercase are included. Students look at all the letters in the circles on the picture and place a magnetic dot/item on top of the correct capital or lowercase for that activity page.

And the last activity for each letter is a beginning sound sort. There are 3 cards that start with that letter (except 'X' only has 2), and then there are 3 cards that do not start with that letter. The cards include both pictures and words.

Now here is how I'm storing this one. I purchased this accordion file from Walmart and it is perfect because it's already tabbed for each alphabet letter.

Behind each letter tab are the activity pages for that letter and the pieces for each activity page, placed in their own baggy.

The one thing I struggled with for this one was placing the cover page on the front. Usually I laminate it to the front of a large envelope for storing everything. With the size of this pack I knew that wasn't going to work. I laminated the cover page first then closed my accordion file to mark on the cover page where I needed to cut it. Then both sides were attached to the cover so that when the folder is closed they come together as a whole. I punched a hole in the middle to pull the rubber band through so that it would still be functional to close the folder.

You might have a different way of storing them but I wanted to at least share with you what I came up with. You could even do a binder and put the activities for each letter into page protectors. Whatever works for you!

If you'd like to purchase this pack you can click {here} or click the cover image above. If you'd like to give this one some practice before you purchase it, then click {here} or click the cover image below to download a freebie! This freebie includes all the activity pages for the letter 'Dd'.


How to Save Money as a Special Education Teacher

I can't possibly be the only who has noticed how much social media is affecting my wallet. And not just in the world of teaching. In life in general. I follow fashion bloggers and interior designers on instagram that make me feel like I need to always be re-decorating my house and stocking up my closet.

I've also noticed how out of hand this trend is getting in education as well. I run an Instagram account for my blog and I follow a ton of teachers also on Instagram so I can get great ideas from them. But it is so easy to get carried away with determining what you ACTUALLY need for your classroom and what is just filled with hype.

I've made a list of 5 money saving strategies I've begun to implement to help my pockets when it comes to the classroom. 

1. Sleep on It

As exciting as a lot of the things other educators may share on Instagram are (hello light boxes), as a special education teacher there are A LOT of things that really just aren't practical or necessary for our classrooms. When there's a lot of hype around a product being shared a lot on instagram, blogs, facebook, etc. It's hard to resist. Everyone has made it seem so fun and exciting and you want in on the action. I can't help but compare this to the recent light box craze. Don't get me wrong-- light boxes = awesome. The signs teachers are making for them = also awesome. BUT how would I realistically utilize this in my classroom? Just as a decor piece? If so, it's not something that I NEED. Could I use it during instruction with my students to make it fun and engaging? If so, then maybe I can score it on sale. But first, let's sleep on it. Before jumping in the car and running to closest craft store, sleep on the idea. Really give it a lot of thought. How can I use this item and what can I use it for? Is it going to be that beneficial to my instruction? If you end feeling like yes it is, then you know it's a purchase worth your money. If you just want one because everyone has made it seem so fun and exciting, then do yourself a favor and save that cash.

2. If It's Not Broken, Don't Fix It

Just because someone shares about something really awesome they've found, again, doesn't mean it's something you have to have or do. I LOVE containers. My para told me the hallway looked like the container store when I was moving out my classroom this year. I love containers so much I will passionately share with you my favorite ones on Instagram. BUT unless you're in NEED of new containers don't run out and by them because I said how great they are. If you already have bins for your books, use what you have! For example, I LOVE the magazine boxes that everyone keeps sharing from Big Lots. They would be awesome to put my books in. They look sturdy and they look like they hold books that are a little larger too. But I don't NEED them. I have containers for my books, and plenty of them. I have found great bins at the Dollar Tree for my books and I've had a lot of these bins for 6 years and they are still intact. It would be frivolous of me to go out and buy all new book bins at $3 a pop just because I liked the style or color. As my existing bins begin to break, THEN I can consider switching to this new style everyone raves about. But for now, I'll save that cash.

3. Donations

Asking for donations can actually be tough for some people. You feel like you're asking for handouts, but as a teacher you should never feel this way! You're asking for others to help you shape and mold the minds of our future! When I first started my toy boxes for my students to help increase picture exchange communication trials I was in need of A LOT of toys, and a lot of character toys. You know, the ones that usually cost twice as much as the store and are sometimes hard to come by at a thrift store, but these items are SO motivating for most students so I knew I had to have them. I sent out an email to my entire district. Explaining to them what I was doing and asking if their children had any small toy items they no longer played with. I gave them an option of where to drop them off or even offered to pick them up. I had an amazing turn out! Enough toys to start my new project and I knew that I could continue to shop yard sales, thrift stores, and clearance sections to work on adding boxes over time. What could have been a very expensive project to get going became very reasonable.

4. Donors Choose & Reddit Gifts

I know Donors Choose is probably something most of you have heard of. You've maybe heard of Reddit Gifts. That one is new to me and I used it back around Christmas time for the first time. And don't be discouraged with Donors Choose! I've had some projects funded and some haven't made it. But you never know until you try so why not give it a go! I've found these outlets to be great for getting that special item for your classroom you don't realize you need until that one particular kiddo walks through the door. Or maybe it's November and you realize you need some new sensory toys/fidget items and those can add up VERY quickly. With both groups, if they supply you with the materials they MUST remain at that school you are at the time they are given. I'm okay with that. Yes I did the work to get them, but at least I didn't have to pay my own cash for them and they're a benefit to my students. I had table tops for my cube chairs funded through Donors Choose and sensory toys purchased for my classroom through Reddit Gifts during their Secret Santa exchange.

5. Plan Ahead 

This one can be tricky depending on the time of the year and how much time you have to devote to lesson planning. But I always try to plan a few weeks ahead. If nothing else, at least plan any "themes" that I have in mind for the time ahead. How can this help you save money? Well, we are all huge fans of Teachers Pay Teachers, but we know sales don't happen that often, especially site wide sales where you save the bigger bucks. By planning ahead with your lesson plans can buy ahead of time during these sales to save on your must have resources. AND don't forget about your TpT credits! TpT gives you credits for leaving feedback on items you have purchased. Buying during sales always leads to a lot of credits for me. THEN when I realize I need something last minute I can use my TpT credits to purchase it, versus opening my wallet.

I hope these are some tips and strategies you can use to help keep that wallet a little tighter before the school year gets here. It's easy for stuff to get out of hand in the summer. So many people are sharing about so many awesome finds for their classroom-- eh hem, Target Dollar Spot. But don't let yourself get carried away. Make smart purchases and sleep on them! I promise you you can live without the rainbow colored file folders and cute pencil felt banner from the Dollar Spot :) Do you have any money saving tricks you use? Share them below!

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