Sunday, June 18, 2017

Sensory TheraPlay Box!-- May Review

Again, I know it's the wrong month, haha but I want to share what came in my box for the month of May and then I will be doing a LIVE opening of my June box on either Instagram or Facebook, but I promise I'll announce where before I do it.

I've been very patiently waiting and waiting to open up that box so I can do it live for you guys. Doesn't seem right to do it before I share what items came in my box for the month of May.

If you've been following along on my other boxes you know that each month the box includes a different amount of items. This months box included 6 items. My favorite thing item in this box was the discovery putty, but let me share the others first!

When I first opened my box I found my item card right on top with details about each item included. I always set this to the side because I like finding the items first THEN looking back at the card.

Once I moved the card to the side and some of the crinkle paper I came across the Squigglets Wearable Critters.

I've seen these before but do not own any that you can put on so I was happy to find this little guy. I'm saving him for next school year when I replenish my bucket of "squishy toys". I threw them ALL away this year. They were nasty, popped, and just needed to go. It takes a while to build a decent collection of these guys so I will be excited for anything similiar I find in my boxes!

Next I found a "squishimal" dinosaur who is squishy AND slightly sticky.

He'll will make a fun sensory toy option in the classroom. I love having variety. The texture is different from most of the squishy options I usually supply so I really like that. I also like that it's a dinosaur. Most often squishy toys are abstract designs or snakes and caterpillars.

Next up is this little robot guy. I moved his arm and leg to show how he works.

His pieces are connected with elastic string that allow you to move his legs and arms around but only into the allowed slots. What fun fine motor practice! Strengthen muscle control as students manipulate into the correct slots, which requires a pull of the leg, arm, etc. and then keeping it pulled while you move it around. I haven't taken this guy into the classroom yet to directly observe the students with him but am looking forward to that. Again, another awesome addition!

Up next: bluberry bath bomb!

This bath bomb is the same as one that came in my first box, but a different scent. Inside of the bathroom is a fun little toy for you to find. As I've expressed in previous posts, I struggle with some of the bath themed items from my perspective of using the items in my box for the classroom. You can easily add this to a water sensory table for sure, but it's not something I've tried yet. My alternative use for the bath items? Once I get a fun collection of them I send them down to my nieces. They enjoy getting the mail and have fun with them in the tub! So this has never been something to deter me from receiving boxes.

Second to last...we're getting closer to my favorite! Was this "to-go" case of 15 stretchy snakes and frogs!

I say that with excitement because FIFTEEN. How awesome! That's a great quantity and I love that they have their own little storage container. I see these types of items alllll the time in the story for different holidays/themes, but always think, well where am I going to put them when the students are done. These things can get dirty fast in my experience so it's important to me for them to have a storage home. These again, a great classroom addition.

And last but not least-- my favorite-- the Discovery Putty! This is a firm putty, you've probably seen your occupational therapist work with something similiar and you can add stuff to it for students to pull out.

I love that this one came with different animals you can add and in different sizes. You present it like they have to save the animals from the mud! I just love that! The different size animals are also great for differentiating the tasks for different learners in your classroom.

Overall I loved this months box! It had so many items I can easily take right into the classroom with me and put to use.

Interested in Sensory TheraPlay Box?! Click {here} to sign up!
*This is not a paid or sponsored post*

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Learning with Craft Sticks!

One of my favorite classroom resources are Popsicle sticks, or commonly found in the store as craft sticks. You can find them in "plain" color or colored sticks, AND in multiple sizes. Not only are they very useful for an endless amount of crafts, but there are so many ways you can incorporate them into learning in your classroom by making them part of your manipulatives!

As a teacher of little guys I'm always embedding learning into play. It's like sneaking vegetables into your toddlers food. They have no idea. (Most of the time- ha!)

I first saw the idea of placing velcro dots on the ends of craft sticks for a STEM activity. Students use the sticks for building, etc. As my students were using these I started suggesting to them, well, let's try and see what letters we can make with them. What a great way to make them think! For some letters this isn't as easy as you might think.

As their gears were turning so were mine! I decided to make letter mats for my younger students to use with the craft sticks for creating capital letters.

Students can either look at the mat and make the letter next to it, OR place the sticks on top of the mat to make the letter. The velcro dots aren't necessary for this, however, are very helpful to keep the sticks in place where they need to be.

You can purchase these letter mats in my {TpT} store by clicking the photo below.

I've also used craft sticks for other activities in my classroom this year--

Sight Word practice! 
Students picked a sight word from the box, then found the letter stickers and spelled the sight word on their recording sheet with stickers. Not only are we practicing sight words here, but we're also working on fine motor skills with peeling and applying the stickers.

STEM Activities!
This was one of my favorites and my students even asked for it months after we had wrapped up our time spent with apples. This idea comes from Hand Made Kids Art and it's pretty self-explanatory set up wise. Just a little prep work with painting the tubes and I differentiated this by cutting some of the tubes in half so the students also had to work on stacking the tubes before creating their tree.

There are so many awesome ideas out there! I created a Pinterest board just for craft stick LEARNING activities. Like I said before, there is an abundance of craft activities out there, but I wanted to focus on just the learning ones. How we can use or incorporate craft sticks with play and learning. Click {here} or or on the image below to check out the board!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

To BCBA or Not to BCBA?

What a loaded question.

At least in my opinion it is. When I finished my Masters in December 2013 I was certain I was finished with school forever. I knew I had zero interest in getting my Doctorate because I have zero interest in writing a dissertation.

Fast forward to about late 2015. I've been working with an autism pre-school class for 4 years now. I have students receiving Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) supports both outside of the classroom and in the classroom, and if I didn't already realize what an integral part functional behavioral analysis played into programming for students with autism, it's now even more crystal clear. In fact, I think the coursework in preparation for my autism teaching certificate should have incorporated WAY MORE on an ABA approach than the little scratching the surface on behaviors that it did.

As the value of this instruction was becoming clearer and clearer to me I was starting to feel that I NEEDED to be better equipped with this knowledge to better meet the needs of my students. I needed to go deeper than my current understanding.

But what did that mean? What would that look like? Where could I take the classes? And what were they going to cost me?

As with any other unknown in my adult life, I took to Google.

I searched "ABA coursework" and the results gave me various Universities offering programs. A majority of which are online programs-- perfect! Truthfully, I didn't look into them all. Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) came up at the top, and I may have clicked around 1 or 2 others after that one. This kind of stuff can easily overwhelm me so from there I thought to seek recommendations. FIT was recommended to me based on quality and affordability. I now knew that when I was ready to start, FIT would be my choice.

Time passed. And passed, and passed, and passed. I never enrolled. I almost enrolled, then we were moving and I decided not to enroll. September 2016 I began teaching in a new school district with students with autism grades pre-k, kindergarten, and first all in the same room. {My current teaching position} and we have a contract with a company where a BCBA comes to the classroom weekly, to support myself with what's going on the classroom. What a resource we're lucky to have! She'd continually nudge me about the exam and what success she thought I'd have with it, but I had to continually remind her that I needed the coursework.

WELL she finally nudged me one last time and I did it. I registered for class. What felt like out of the blue one weekend before registration ended, but really was something that had been building for quite some time.

My initial searches started out as simply completing my ABA coursework and stopping there. Now that I have a better understanding of what all of that means I have decided "to BCBA"! Why spend all the time and effort in the courses and not sit for the certification exam. It will be a long road---hopefully not too long though!

So far I'm very satisfied with the course structure of FIT and while at moments I feel like I'm drowning with coursework and paperwork for school I know I'll manage through.

Are you a BCBA or in the process? What was your experience like and where did you take your classes? I'd love to know!   

Friday, May 26, 2017

Sensory TheraPlay Box! -- April Review

Now that I got the introduction post out of the way I hope to share the contents of each of my Sensory TheraPlay Boxes with you for each month. 

I thought I would have had April's review posted a long time ago but lots of busy stuff in life got in the way! So again, I'm off with my months!

As I shared in my first post {that you can read here} each box contains a different amount of items all geared toward sensory and/or fine motor play. My first box included 8 different items, and my second box for April, included 5.

Despite this months box having fewer items than last, I really enjoyed all that was included.

If I had to guess, the value of the items in your box might play a roll in the amount of items inside each box. For example, Crazy Aaron's putty retails anywhere from $10-$15 each depending on the putty chosen.

When I first opened my box I found the Hoppy Floppy's Happy Hunt game.

The timing for the game was perfect with Easter right around the corner and it's a great way to practice fine motor skills and reinforce color recognition. I actually planned to take the game with me on a trip to South Carolina to visit my nieces, but I forgot it! Whoops! This is definitely practical to apply in my classroom and really can be used anytime of the school year.

Next I found these scented bubble bath soaps!

My oldest niece put these to the test and she said they smell great! She also said she was covered in glitter afterwards and I didn't even know they had glitter in them, haha!

This alligator "squeeze head" was next-- what an awesome sensory toy!

This little guy is fun. His texture is rubbery and when you squeeze him you get red to pop out of his eyes or his mouth! He's also a little stretchy too. The other thing I have to note about this guy is that when you squeeze him, there is a definite sense of durability in material, which is important. I've had so many sensory items similiar to this that have popped pretty quickly.

Have you ever heard of a Jeliku?! I hadn't, but it's actually pretty cool! 

I had to open this one up and play around with it a little bit. All piece are connected and you can move it all around to make different shapes. The pack even shows you can set it up to hold your phone! So cool. I thought the best way to show this off was to share this YouTube video from the brand.

And last but not least, my favorite item from the box, Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty

I never knew how much I needed this as an adult, haha! I am TERRIBLE about just sitting. I cannot just sit and watch TV. I cannot just sit and watch my lecture videos for online classes-- which is bad! I end up missing content because I find myself picking up my phone to keep my hands busy. Now I grab my glob of putty to keep myself focused and on task. This putty has great consistency for building muscles for improved fine motor control, it's also really awesome to place on random objects and watch it mold around it. I keep finding it on random stuff around the house as my husband keeps moving it. It's actually pretty funny. I see more thinking putty in my future for sure! They recently came out with a clear that I REALLY want, but will be REALLY sad if it gets dirty.

Interested in Sensory TheraPlay Box?! Click {here} to sign up!
*This is not a paid or sponsored post*

Monday, May 08, 2017

The Fraps Made Me Do It!

Did you catch the magic of a Unicorn Frappuccino? Can't say that I did, nor did I try to. I do however know that our local Starbucks (I do sit there a lot to do work) had enough ingredients to last 4 days, and they were completely sold out in 8 hours. This has also come to been known as an indicator level for the "basic-ness" of your town. I kid. But hopefully you chuckled.

In the spirit of unicorn Frappuccino and the abundance of unicorn images on my Facebook feed thanks to my wallet's relationship with LuLaRoe, this clip art really caught my eye and I thought, why not?

My classroom full of boys are about to become acquainted with all things unicorns for their last weeks in school! HA. 

I started with a good ole tens frame counting book AND a counting book with 20 frames for numbers 11-20. I LOVE using counting books in my classroom. It's excellent independent practice to reinforce mastered skills. I can have a student complete this independently while I work 1:1 with another student and then always go back and check their answers when they are finished. I've been in dire need of some of these books for numbers 11-20, so voila! They happened. They happened with unicorns, but they happened.

You can grab the 1-10 counting book {here}
You can grab the 11-20 counting book {here}

It's also been a super long time since I created a new cookie tray pack. Like, almost a year super long time! Soooo..I got crazy with a set of Unicorn Cookie Tray activities too! There are 24 activity pages, good for 1-2 weeks depending on how you use them with your students.

You can grab them {here}

And how could we forget shapes?! Trioriginals (the amazing clip art designer) made unicorn shapes too, so uh, why not make shape sorting cards?! It's also been a really long time since I've made a set of these too!

You can grab them {here}

Really the only other resource I use regularly in my classroom are file folder activities, but I leave the file folding making to Gabrielle from Teaching Special Thinkers. She rocks the file folder department and I do not- ha!

The best part about these unicorn activities? You can use them ANYTIME! Unicorns are magical and always appearing and disappearing so there's no telling when you might want to grab them to use in the classroom with your students! Now? Summer school? Start of school? Doesn't matter because *poof* they're here, then *poof* they're gone!

Happy unicorning!