Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Teachers are Heroes Sale!

I'll never turn down a TpT sale-- my cart is stocked and I've submitted all of my feedback to get those points! But I must also say I love the theme of this sale. Teachers rock! We wear so many different hats in one given day. Hey, maybe I'll start wearing my cape every now and then!

You can click {here} to head to my TpT store to snag some goodies for 20% off. Don't forget that promo code "HEROES" for an additional 10% off from TpT, bringing your savings to 28%!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Assessment Rings and a {FREEBIE}

I'm so excited to show off this new product to you. I couldn't wait to get it done and I can't wait to continue to make more. I'm kind of obsessed with binder rings at the moment so voila! Assessment rings have been created!

I have taken basic skills and created an assessment ring for each one. The first ring set assesses on colors and includes seven different question sets. I have quite a few students that require receptive assessment and using these rings makes it so easy to quickly assess them, gather my data and move on.

I chose to combine all seven question sets onto one ring and used tabbed cards to separate each section. This product allows you to do just that as well, OR you can create a ring for each question set and use the cover cards without tabs on them.

The colors ring has the following question sets:
1. Naming colors
2. Identifying colors from a field of 2
3. Identifying colors from a field of 3
4. Identifying color words (with words in their color)
5. Identifying color words (with words in B&W)
6. Identifying a color object from a field of 2
7. Identifying a color object from a field of 3

If want to try this product before you buy it, download the freebie! The freebie includes 1 question set for naming colors. There is also a cover card with and without tabs.

Hopefully you're still following along in this monthly hop from some pretty awesome special educators! I'm excited to bring you the freebie above for my day and am looking forward to seeing what else there is to come! Keep hopping along with us!

The next set of Assessment Ring cards will be on shapes. I hope to have it finished up soon!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

What's in my Work Boxes?

I could never say enough positive things about using a work box system in the classroom-- for any child. I've used them with typically developing peers in the classroom as well and it's an amazing way to in-bed practice and skill maintenance, all while working on attending to a task as well.

Over the summer I did a whole post on how I structure this system in my classroom. You can check it out {here}. But one thing I've never done is actually post photos of the activities I have in my boxes. My boxes have grown since I last posted a photo this summer. I have 83 work boxes available in my classroom at all times. I know that sounds like the only thing that make up the shelves in my classroom are work boxes, but I promise it's not. It might be close, but it's not!

I don't have a lot of remaining storage in my classroom. So to constantly be changing out activities and finding a storage system for previous activities is a little challenging for me. So I prefer to just have a lot of boxes available. We also need a high number of boxes to complete each day. Let's break it down.

I have 10 students total, 8 of whom complete work boxes at some point doing the day. Children complete anywhere between 1-10 boxes a day. Right now, as a class, we are completing 28 boxes a day. We come to school 4 days a week, so that's completing 112 boxes a week. And planning so strategically that a child doesn't repeat a box during the week. It's a huge planning challenge. And my paras are awesome at catching my goofs!

I'm hoping to come across some appropriate shelving between now and the end of the year to expand our boxes even more. Sounds crazy I know, but it will make the planning challenge so much easier when there is a larger amount to pick from.

So the whole point of this post-- what's in the boxes?!

I use a combination of handmade activities, printable activities, and existing manipulatives from my classroom to make up my boxes. Our lowest tasks are simple "put-in" activities and our higher tasks include activities like capital and lowercase matching using clothespins and sight word matching mats.  I've been trying to come up with more and more put-in activities so that's what I'm going to share with you today. In another post I'll share another category.

 For this activity I saved a small peanut can from the grocery store. (Yes I washed it out) I simply cut slits in the lid--these lids are super easy to cut into which is nice. It's the perfect height for dropping these mini popsicle sticks into.

This activity is another saved container- an almond one. I have saved a ton of these! They are a great size and again, the lids are easy to cut into. This one has a circle in the middle of the lid and heart erasers to put into the container.

This activity I found on pinterest. I simply saved a Parmesan cheese shaker, washed it out and added q-tips. When students open the box the cheese shaker is already open. (It would be too challenging for my little guys to get open independently- it's tough!)

This task I clearly didn't make. It is courtesy of Lakeshore Learning. Students simply place the buttons in. This jar is one of three included in the pack and can be purchased by clicking {here}. If you wanted to make a more challenging task for a student you could place two jars into one task box so the student has to sort as well.

This is the second jar included in the Lakeshore pack.

I used another almond container for the activity. And obviously a hole punch to put the holes in the lid. Students have to put the beads into the container through the holes.

I saw someone else blog about these small paint containers they found at the Dollar Store. They really are great! I bought four of them and used one for this work box. Students simply push the pom-poms into the container.

This activity is similar to the Lakeshore bucket with buttons. I found the small yellow containers at the Dollar Tree in the baby section. They come in a multi-pack which is nice, BUT, they are a pain to cut holes in the top. It's a much harder plastic than I thought, and it cracked in the corners. If I hadn't gone through so much trouble to cut the slot in, I probably would have used another almond container.

This was one of the first work box activities I made. I recycled a cookie dough container and cut holes in the lid. Then students just have to put pom-poms into the holes. I'd like to re-do this container at some point because most students catch on that the middle hole is big enough to just drop the pom-pom in versus pushing it through the hole.

I don't know if you would call this a "put in" task, but I do. They're putting pegs in a peg board! I can also guarantee you that this peg board is older than I am.

For this activity students push down the lever on the gumball machine to get a stone out, then they have to place the stone in the container. I liked the idea of students using their index finger to get the lever done-- additional fine motor practice. Sometimes more than one stone may come out, but that's okay. 

So there you have it. Those are our current "put in" activities. I hope you get some new ideas for your own work boxes from these. Next I'll share our sorting activities.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Valentine's Themed Cookie Trays

I'm kind of moving at a snails pace with these cookie tray activities. Not because I don't love them or don't need them in my classroom, but because I'm also working on some other items that I'm just a wee bit more excited about. So of course I want to get them finished too so I can share those with you.

Cookie trays are a crucial piece to our classroom routine, BUT I feel like that is ALL I've been creating lately because they are time consuming. I posted the pack to my TpT store last weekend at the low price of $3.75 because the pack only had 14 activities. I've added 14 more and now it is $4.25. I'll probably be adding to this pack on a weekly basis. As I add more activities, the price will continue to go up. The sooner you buy the more you'll save! You just need to download the revised version each time more activities are added!

I just revised the file to include 14 more activity pages. If you already have the file, just head to TpT to download the revised version. If you haven't bought these cookie tray activities yet, what are you waiting for?! 

Have some activity suggestions you'd love to see included? Let me know!

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Potty Training {In the Classroom}

Yes, you read that title correctly. Potty training. In the classroom. 8 out of my 10 students require assistance with the bathroom routine. Which is fine and to be expected given the nature of my classroom. But as soon as the students are ready, we do practice the steps of using the potty; whether or not they go.

As soon as we notice that students are staying dry more frequently, that's a good time to step up the amount of trips they make to the bathroom- hopefully so that you catch them in time to use the potty. Once they start using the potty, then voila-- you've got bathroom steps already taught and NOW they're using the potty too.

Don't get me wrong, I know that just made it sound like it's 10x easier than it actually is. Bathrooming in the classroom is time consuming and exhausting. By the end of the day I know my classroom paras and I are so OVER handing off that bathroom PEC. But you are teaching such an important skill and I try to make it my goal that students are potty trained before they go to Kindergarten. That doesn't mean they always are--but if they aren't, they should at least be able to do the steps of taking off their pull up and putting on a new one by the time they go to kinder.

I also LOVE bathroom visuals. I've always had a visual schedule posted in my bathroom for the steps. Boys and girls schedules-- whether needed for both boys and girls or not, the schedules are always available. For the longest time these were the schedules I was using...and I honestly thought I had a picture of them, but it turns out I don't. They are available from though! I would just print them out, cut out the images I wanted to use and create a long "strip schedule", using the blue and pink headers at the top of the schedule. Click {here} for the boys schedule and {here} for the girls schedule. If you are not a member of boardmakershare you may have to sign-up to download these.

They were great. We had a clothespin on them and students would move the clothespin down through the steps. I had to tweak them for some students who do not wear pull-ups with adjustable sides. For those guys we have to add in taking off and putting on shoes in the sequence.

The problem I ran into with this schedule recently were students who did not have the fine motor skills to manipulate the clothespin on the schedule. Yes-- pre-reqs for potty training--using a clothespin!

So I came across these bathroom visuals from Creative Learning 4 Kidz on TpT. Click {here} for the boys schedule and click {here} for the girls schedule. I love their store! I purchased these bathroom schedules and taped them to the wall in the appropriate places. I added velcro and laminated red circles that students place on top of each step after it's done. No clothespin. No problem.


It was really distracting for some students; either they loved putting the dots on and would move ahead, requiring additional prompting to take off the dot. OR the student moved at the speed of molasses and we were in the bathroom EVEN longer.

I've decided to go with some prompt rings instead. I've made them for boys and girls. On each ring are all the visual prompts for each step that I will need. I basically took a visual schedule and put it on a ring. This way the child has nothing to manipulate, but they are getting the visual they need to complete the step.

If you want to try out these prompt rings you can find them in my TpT store. Just uploaded last night! Click {here} to find them, or click the image below.