Saturday, December 15, 2012

Let's Talk Fine Motor [freebie included!]

Alright, now before we get started make sure you head on over to your Keurig, or walk back up to the barista and top off you coffee, latte, cappuccino, because this is going to get long!

In case you weren't around when I talked about the kids I would be working with this school year, here's a quick refresher. I have 10 students total. 4 of them are with me all day long. 2 of them are AM only, and 4 of them are PM only. If you're confused, it's okay. 2 of my PM students are typically developing peers/role models for my special education students (the other 8). When you break the day in half, I have 6 students in the AM, and 8 in the PM. (remember, 4 are all day!)

3 of my students have an autism diagnosis. 1 student has down syndrome. 1 other student is most likely on the autism spectrum, but no diagnosis yet. 1 fragile x, 1 orthopedic impairment, and 1 developmental delay. 

I should also mention that I do not work in a specialized school. For example, here in the state of DE, we have specialized schools for students with autism throughout the state. I do not work in this program. I work in a public school serving 3 & 4 year old special education students. If we are unable to meet the needs of our students with autism or other disabilities, then special schools are considered. We hope to meet the needs of our students in their "home district" as much as possible. 

Overall we have a lot of needs in our classroom. Fine motor skills are an overall area of need for all of my students. Thanks to the help of a professional autism guru as I like to think, I have recently pinpointed the areas of my routine where I need to adjust instructional grouping, time, and increase instructional trials.

Insert another autism resource who has become a major help to me, Sasha at The Autism Helper. Her blog is amazing. She even posts videos on how to use her TpT items and how she set's up and runs her classroom. Her ideas are amazing and spot on for this population of students. I think she's just about as crazy organized as I am and I want my classroom to run as perfectly as hers appears to. Clearly, I am a fan. She works with older students than I have, but we share some skill focuses, and her general ideas are amazing and I can just adjust to skills my students are working on instead.

So to my point (I promise there is one), I am going to be "re-vamping" some areas of instruction in my classroom over the next 2 months. I hope to share with you my ideas, the resources for those ideas, and how I'm implementing them in my classroom.

I will be using the month of December as my prep/planning for these adjustments. I have a student teacher who will be soloing and I don't want to turn the classroom upside down on him. We will implement all our major instructional changes when we return from Winter Break. The guru agrees.

Insert idea #1: Task Boxes with a fine motor focus.
Overall Resource: Sasha @ The Autism Helper

Sasha's "claim to fame" in her building as she refers to it is their task system. It really is amazing. I watched the post and immediately thought right away, I want to do that. I NEED to do that. You can check out the full post: here. In brief each student has a card with 3 numbers that velcro on. The student takes the number off, matches it to the front of the corresponding container (it velcros on) and then the student completes the task inside the box. When they are finished, they return the box to the shelf, then move on to the next number. AMAZING.

For my little guys I decided to go with colors for my boxes instead of numbers. I can always scaffold up to numbers if need be, but I thought colors would be a good start. Just the simple task of matching their color to the correct box will be an IEP benchmark trial for a few of my students.


 Throughout the month of December we will introduce these bins to the students during center time. This will help them learn the activities in each bin and what is expected of them for each bin. (I'm still planning the details of when we will do the task system. Most likely following arrival)

This is their current storage. I need to find the right shelf for when the students start using them.

Let's review what's inside of each bin, shall we?!

RED: Placing marbles on a golf tee in styrofoam
Source: Pink and Green Mama
ORANGE: One to one correspondence and color matching with bears
Source: Rockabye Butterfly
Freebie: Click here for a freebie printable of these bear counting cards. (Made with permission from Rockabye Butterfly)
YELLOW: Clipping clothes pins onto each dot on the card.
Source: File Folder Heaven
GREEN: Sliding colored clothespins onto the matching color card
Source: Our Country Home
BLUE: Bubble Wrap! How is that not fun?! There are large bubbles and small bubbles
Source: me!
PURPLE: Pushing beads onto a pipe cleaner. The source suggests numbering the amount of each pipe cleaner, but for now, we are going with color matching.
Source: Rockabye Butterfly
PINK: Spooning marbles into a bottle. This one is hard!
Source: Hands on As we Grow
BROWN: Nuts and bolts matching
Source: The Autism Helper
BLACK: Locks and keys. Students have to try the keys until they find the correct lock
Source: Irresistable Ideas for Play Based Learning
WHITE: Pushing pom-poms through small holes in recycled containers. This one is a classroom favorite!
Source: Fun and Engaging Activities for Toddlers

The best thing about the ideas in these bins is, they aren't rocket science! Many of these ideas I have seen before and in all kinds of locations. I listed sources for the pins on my pinterest board. Sasha at The Autism Helper has some of the same activities in her bins, and even more--she has about 50 of these task bins! Her post on them is a MUST read! 

I hope you've made it down to the bottom of this blog post! Don't forget to grab the freebie cards for the color bears before you leave. You're probably needing a snack to go with that latte you just finished! Be sure to follow my blog to keep up with the other changes I'll be sharing! And once I find the right shelf for these, and get our system in place I will be sure to update!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Swallowed a Bell & Swallowed Some Snow!

I hope this is posted in time for you to still use them for an activity or two! I have a student teacher who is doing his solo weeks these last 2 weeks before Winter Break. I'm not getting to do any planning and these cards are a little late!

I got a lovely email request for them and realized, oh yeah, I need to get those posted!

If this is the first post of mine on activity cards that you are seeing, let me fill you in. I like to take songs/stories that have repetitive text, or sequential events and create activity cards. This keeps my students engaged in the text while we are reading and requires them to listen for the card that they have to be used. I use this type of activity all of the time! :) 

You could easily use the cards for There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow after we return from Winter break. That's when I will be using mine.


To purchase these cards, click here to go to my TpT store!


To purchase these cards, click here to go to my TpT store!

Enjoy! If you have any activity card requests, feel free to comment below! :)

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Who's on Your Shopping List?!

Need a quick, easy, and cute way to keep track of your Christmas shopping?! If you answered yes, then I'm here to help! If you answered no, then I'm here to tell you you are wrong! ;)

I always forget who I have and haven't shopped for yet, and more importantly what I've already bought! Now, I'm not shopping for any kids of my own yet, just family members so this list works perfect for me!


I had to print 2 copies, and maybe you'll need more, but just staple them and voila! I filled in names above each box set and then I can fill in what I've already bought. It's easy for me to see who I've bought for and who I still need to find gifts for! 

If you want to snag this little freebie for yourself, head to my TpT store

Looking for classroom ideas? Supply this list in your writing area or even in dramatic play. Students can plan out who they will be "shopping" for and include their mom, dad, grandparents, siblings, etc on their list!

Sunday, December 02, 2012

December Currently & Tis the Season on Sale!

During TpT's cyber Monday sale, I didn't realize until almost the end of the night Monday that my Tis the Season for Holiday Fun unit hadn't been included in my sale listing and was not 20% off! I immediately fixed it, but I want to make up for my mistake!

Today (Dec. 2nd) through Wednesday (Dec. 5th) my Tis the Season for Holiday Fun Unit and my Brr! Winter Activity Bundle will be 20% off. 

Tis the Season for Holiday Fun
Brr! Winter Activity Bundle

Be sure to buzz over to TpT between now and then if you're interested in either item! 

Now, on to what I'm currently doing...


If you're reading my currently and don't know what it's all about, be sure to head on over and visit Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade to find out more!