Monday, December 28, 2015

Money Saving Tips for Teachers

There is this thing called material prep. And every teacher has to do it. There is cutting, stapling, highlighting, laminating, velcroing, sorting, binding, etc. I mean the list goes on and on and on and on and on and on.. I think you get the point.

As I started into this world of teaching and add on my blog and TPT things have gotten pricey.
There is costs of my classroom, costs of the blog, and costs of creating and buying products on TPT. Problem was I needed some other materials to make those products great, sturdy, and versatile in my classroom. I needed velcro, lamination, a laminator, address labels, binders, sheet protectors, etc. For most of you, you know what I'm talking about.

One day, I found the solution to that costing me tons of money. I am hoping by sharing this it will help you too!

A company devoted to helping schools, churches, and other non-profits that support children. Here's how it works:

Seriously! I kid you not! From my own personal experience it is that great! There are so many items you can get from this site and some of them are big brand names like Expo, Avery, Sharpie, Scotch, Post-it, etc. Take a look at some pictures of items teachers have gotten from them! 

There is a specific sign up for teachers with is FREE! You have to wait a little while to be registered while the company confirms you are a teacher. Then you are free to go. I have purchased 3 times from them and each time the items are clean, organized, and in perfect working condition. 

Click here to check out their website.

I have not been compensated to write this. Just wanted to share this awesome organization!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New Growing Bundle Product and a TPT SALE!

I am sure you know.

I am sure you heard.

But, if you live under a rock (which I don't blame you I wish I did sometimes).

There is a sitewide TPT sale November 30th and December 1st!

That's right--- use this promo code ---> SMILE

My store is going to be discounted at 20% off already for those two days so plan to save 28% on everything!

Some of the new products I have gotten out in time for the sale are:

Bathroom Clothespin Task Cards
Bedroom Clothespin Task Cards

Kitchen Clothespin Task Cards 

In these sets you will find cards that have pictures and words related to the vocabulary of that room in a house. You can choose to use the word and the visual or just the visual and have the students clip to visual that matches on the card. 

These are great for one on one instruction, task cards, work tasks, independent work, homework! They have multiple uses. You can also use different methods of selecting the answer other than clothespins, just use your imagination based on what your students can do! 

All 3 sets above included and 3 more coming soon! 

I'm planning on showing real live pictures of these products showing you how I would prep them and use them soon! Just gotta get the laminator warmed up!! :)

Asking Questions

Okay so a while back, well even before school started I went to Target and found all kinds of goodies in the $1 spot. I know I am not the only teacher around that loves some good deals from the Target $1 spot! I am always bee-linng it right over there the minute I walk in the store. If you didn't get to read that post you can do that here

I wanted to share this after my other post though because I saw these and thought they would be great to use in my morning meeting with my students. For those of you that don't know my morning meeting is jam packed with skills. We are hitting all kinds of objectives, IEP goals, and standards based on this little 40 minute lesson. I had the director of special education for my district observed me teach morning meeting last year and she was really amazed at how much I could accomplish and cover with my students in such a short amount of time. If you are curious about what I do during morning meeting you can read that here

I always had a part of my morning meeting where we could answer and ask questions. It has been in different forms as I have fine tuned things to fit my students. We have had cards with random questions on it that someone picks and whiteboards where we write a sentence based on questions asked about a visual picture prompt card. 

Then I found these:

These cards seemed ideal for some of my students. Not sure if you can read on the picture but the blue pack is first and second grade and the yellow box (pink cards below) are third and fourth grade. Since I teach middle school I have some students that function at higher levels in which case I am always trying to find ways to challenge them. 

These cards are the first and second grade ones. Some of the questions on the cards above are: 
If you could have a super power what would you choose? 
If you could be president of the United States what would you do? 

These are the third and fourth grade cards and some of the questions on them are:
If you could bring one thing with you on vacation what would it be and why?
If you were going to start a new restaurant what would it be called and why? 

You can definitely tell there is a difference in the types of questions as they get more challenging. Also asking why can be difficult for any student and I know I even hate having to explain why to someone. 
So, what I have done is had the pile of cards ready for some of my students. They pick a card and read it out loud to a peer( they must use their name to get their attention). Then the peer has to answer the question the best they can sometimes with assistance on wording and grammar from some of the adults in the room. We try to treat it as practice of a typical conversation and these cards make it great! 
These cards are a great addition to my morning meeting routine. They are fun, quirky, interesting questions that my students won't get bored of because they aren't "What is you favorite food?" 

Again, thank you Target dollar spot! You are awesome! 

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Well hello there! I hope everyone is going to make it to Thanksgiving break! Just keep saying..."I think I can, I think I can." I know easier said then done! Well, this might help you out a little bit. Check it out!

That's right a bunch of special ed sellers are going to put some of our favorites on sale for just $1! I love it. All you have to do is type in #SPEDGivesThanks (with the hashtag) in the search bar and all the items that are part of the sale will show up for you! Here is what I have planned to put for sale:

This is my newest product and there are going to be more to come! I have bedroom and bathroom in the works! These are great because all you do is laminate them cut out the strips and use clothespins and have the students look at the word and picture at the top and attach the clothespin the matching picture underneath. Perfect for any student in your classroom. 

 This product is super versatile! I have promoted it as word wall and matching cards but I have seen people do so many different things with it from using it to make file folder activities to cut and past activities for their students. You can pretty much do it all with this. If you are looking for another way to supplement your Edmark lessons this will help you!!

So remember #SPEDgivesthanks!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bouncy Bands Review

Bouncy Bands!

I got this awesome opportunity to check out this product! It is meant to provide another way to help any student or I guess anyone a way to get some of that energy, anxiousness, or nervous tension out when they have to sit at a chair or a desk.  Here are pictures of the two different setups. This gives you great options because you aren't always in a room with a desk. There are some classes my students have (especially in middle school) where they sit at large tables or just in chairs or stools. So the chair option is nice as well!

I have a few students in my room that really needed another option for getting some of their energy out. They would not sit still at their desk and trying to get them to stop moving around in their seat was crazy. He was like a jumping bean, it was insane. So, when I got the opportunity to work with the product I jumped at it because I was willing to try anything that was made for calming those mover and shaker students of ours. I could not believe it! The kiddo got the hang of it in about 10 minutes! And he was bouncing away but in a functional way! 

The bands provide a great way for students to get some energy out and help relax them from all the fidgeting that they want to do. 

Just a few pictures above of students using the Bouncy Bands!

Right now if you use the code "15off"  you can get yourself a set of your own Bouncy Bands at a discounted price. I was really impressed at the cost of this product because there are so many items we use in our classroom for sensory needs that are so expensive! So, use the code and get them even cheaper! 

Monday, October 26, 2015

SPED Tricks and Treats Blog Hop- Freebie inside!

So excited to be a part of this blog hop! I think that connecting with other educators is so crucial in our survival and stamina to keep working with students that sometimes challenge us constantly! I have to say that the group of teachers I have gotten to know through We Teach Sped has been a lifesaver! Enough with the gushy stuff lets get to the good stuff!

I just got 4 new iPads for my classroom from Donors Choose. I am waiting on my cases to get funded so I can actually put them out to be used by the students. If you'd like to help you can click here to donate. Anyways, I know now that I'm going to need a way to store the iPads because I will have a total of 6 mini iPads for students to use throughout the day. I went searching on pinterest and found lots of great ideas but, I definitely wanted a space saving idea too. Here is the picture I found that I am so going to copy as soon as I get those cases!! LOVE IT! 

This one is a simple sensory trick. I had a student who would refuse to sit still at his desk. So you try all the things you can think of weighted vest, blanket, doing some exercises for heavy work to get him "worn out" to sit. Nothing worked! Then one day one of my paras had on a bracelet her grandson made her. It was a pipe cleaner with pony beads on it! The student grabbed her hand and started playing with the beads on the pipe cleaner moving them back and forth over and over. It kept his hands busy for at least 20 minutes! It was awesome, so my paras and I got to making more of these suckers to keep all over the classroom for him in all the places we needed him to sit for a bit of time! Talk about easy, cheap, and a lifesaver! 

LAST ONE!! I have students that needed to work on writing things all the time. And when you are working on a worksheet that doesn't provide you with the way to model how to write the word, letter, or number there I just use a highlighter! It is the perfect way to give that visual without writing it for the student and then they can trace and copy it with the model you provided! Super easy! 

FINALLY TIME FOR YOUR TREAT!!! I had posted these file folders earlier in the month but, thought that most of you may have missed them! These are great to have as a special activity for your parties or festivals for the end of the month as a station students can work at or as a work task for this time of year. Grab it at my TPT store! Oh and BTW I'm having a sale (15% off) from today until the 29th so happy shopping! :)

Keep going on this hop and visit Lola at Preschool Wonders !! 

Friday, October 9, 2015

Social Thinking in an Autism Classroom

Social skills are so very important to teach to any child. They need to know manners when they are out in public for example. I am sure we all know a few people who could be taught them again. I am a firm believer that it is best to teach our students life skills and social skills as much as we can in a natural environment. This doesn't always happen and we have to create those learning opportunities for our students.

I was given the opportunity to look at some products from Social Thinking. If you have never heard of them or their website you are in for a big surprise. They have all sorts of social skills books, lessons, and games for all age ranges. I like that they offer multiple levels for different grades, ages, and scenarios that can happen in life. These materials are really versatile and aren't too babyish for older students. For example this picture below explains how all of our brains work differently!

Like I said, I love this because with teaching middle school it is hard to find materials that are appropriate for my students' ages that also works at a level that they can understand. My students range in academic abilities from Pre-K to 4th grade. That's a wide range but, I also don't want to treat 14 year olds like they are in pre-k so that's one of the reasons that these products are great!

I was able to trial the Incredible Flexible You 5 Storybooks.

I was really impressed to find that the topics were so relatable to my students although they were older. We just adapted some of the scenarios to make them more mature! These five storybooks teach: Thinking Thoughts and Feeling Feelings, the Group Plan, Thinking with Your Eyes, Body in the Group, and Whole Body Listening.

When we started the lessons I introduced each topic with the students. We talked about and created anchor charts or what to do and not to do with each topic as best as they could. Then we read the book and as we came up with more ideas to add to the chart we did! Then when we finished reading we even had the adults in the room act out some scenarios that went with the book and this was a riot for the kids. They thought it was so funny to watch the teacher and paras act like "kids".

I would definitely recommend these books for classrooms and at the beginning of the year it was just what my students needed! There is no doubt in my mind that we will use these again a few more times this year as reviews and reminders as we need it!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Halloween File Folder Freebie!

I am kinda proud of myself. I am finding a groove again with blogging, TPT, and all things I have been neglecting. If you keep up on my TPT store, my facebook page, and pinterest you will find that new products have been coming out steadily for about a month now!

So, in celebration of feeling productive I made a freebie for everyone!

Go ahead and grab this product for free! There are two folders. One is just basic Halloween pictures and the other is all candy pictures for your picture matching kiddos! So enjoy and be sure to check back in to see if I am keeping up with it all! Lol

Monday, September 28, 2015

Morning Meeting in a Middle School Autistic Support Classroom Series...

***As I got into writing this post I realized that there is way more information that I want to give then probably what you want to read in one super long post. So I have decided to create a series of posts that go through more details of each aspect of my morning meeting. This post will just serve as a preview of each part with a small description. ***

I have seen a lot of questions posted on facebook teacher pages about how to run an age appropriate morning meeting in a self contained special education classroom. I always jumped to answer these posts because I am confident that I do this successfully in my classroom. I worked my butt off the last two years perfecting different aspects of this part of the school day for my students. Now, it is definitely my favorite part of the day to teach. So check out and read as I break down different components to morning meeting in my middle school autistic support classroom.

Morning Greetings

We always start off our morning with greetings. I say hello to each of the students and expect them in any way that they can to respond back. I have students that are both verbal and non verbal so some may say, "Good Morning Mrs...." and others will use some form of AAC to greet. Then I encourage students to take turns greeting one another. In a way this builds a sense of community among my students and it helps them to be more comfortable when out in the hallway, lunch, or in their inclusion classes to respond to others. I had a student last year that got so good at great that every time someone walked through our classroom door she greeted them, even if she already did 3 times earlier that day. So, then we worked on when we need to greet but, I was still happy with her attempts!

Calendar and Weather
We move right into our calendar and weather. This is done with our morning meeting binders. I have purchased a used a few different pieces that other teachers have created. I have mostly used this from The Autism Helper. I also have used items from the Core materials of Unique Learning System. Adapted Calendar Activities

Lunch Menu
It is exactly what it sounds like. We read the lunch menu for the day and will even count how many people are having the main lunch, pizza, burgers, etc. We also talk about food grouping and what types of foods that are for lunch that day go with the different food groups to compose a healthy lunch. The reason we do this is to help our students understand what a good meal should consist of.

Asking and Answering Wh- Questions
I have altered this part of my morning meeting in many ways many times. I have used multiple resources and I'll share that as the series goes on. Right now, we use a picture and ask questions about it to create a sentence that describes the picture using Wh- questions.

Image result for news 2 you
Last and most certainly not least. I have to talk about how I added News2You into my morning meeting. Every morning we read a few pages as a class of the most current News2You. This is such a versatile part of my morning meeting because you can do so many things with it. The students each have their own paper copy at their seats while I manipulate and have the smart board pulled up with a copy that reads to them.They are in charge of listening, tracking the print as the computer reads and then answering my comprehension questions after we read a page.

Everyone always wonders if doing this is to babyish for secondary students. I always look at it this way. I am an adult and I still use a calendar everyday and I still check the weather to see what I should wear that day so why shouldn't we discuss and practice this in middle school and high school classrooms. I read menus to decide what I want to eat that day and I read the newspaper or go online to read articles. There is definitely a way of making this concept more mature and age appropriate while still helping our students understand these concepts and make them relevant to their own lives.