Monday, September 12, 2011

Best start yet...

Well, while many of my blogger friends are just starting out the school year, I have already made it through the first six weeks of school and now have a week off for Fall Break!  I absolutely love our school calendar!  I have to say that after 7 years of teaching, this has been the best start to a school year so far.  I have 5 students, but only one is new.   We all fell back into our normal routine, with only a few minor changes to our schedule. 

I plan on spending some of my fall break working on GAA (Georgia Alternate Assessment) activities.  Do I have any Georgia followers out there that have to administer the GAA this year?  It is a time consuming task, but I hope to complete the entire assessment by Christmas!  I have 4 portfolios to do this year... two 3rd grade and two 4th grade.  Maybe I'll get a chance to share some of our GAA activities on the blog this year. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hold on to your...

I have several students in my class that do not keep items in their lap or on the table in front of them.  Two students in particular that I have in mind are capable of grasping and holding on to materials but instead they are constantly dropping things on the floor or pushing items off of the table. I am always looking for new ways to keep the materials accessbile to the student, where they cannot drop them or push them out of their reach.

For paper materials I can tape them to the table in front of the student or clip them to a large slant board that is non-slip.  For toys I have tried using dycem pads to keep them from sliding but students are able to pull the dycem up from the table or move the toy off of the dycem. 

While scanning the aisles at Target the other day, I discovered these in the office supply section: 
Retractable badge reels!!!

Of course, we have all seen these before, but that day it dawned on me... I can use these with my students to attach small toys and other items to their wheelchair or belt loop!!  They are retractable, so the student can easily move the objects, but if they push them off their lap, they won't fall to the floor!  I decided to buy them and give them a try.  I think I got a pack of 6 for around $3.99. 

Here is my first attempt at using them with my students.  During our music/sensory time each student got to choose an instrument to play.  This student picked bells.  I was able to attach the instrument to the badge holder using a rubberband.  I then attached the holder to the chest harness on her wheelchair.  It worked perfectly!  When she let go of the instrument it stayed in her lap instead of falling to the floor every time! 
Use a rubber band to attach the item to the badge reel

Clip the badge reel to an article of clothing or wheelchair strap

I'm excited to use these with other materials in the classroom.  I figure I can attach lots of different items to these badge holders using different sized rubberbands or ribbon.  I'm going to play around with it and see what I can come up with.

If you have any other great ideas for keeping items within students reach and preventing them from throwing/dropping the items to the floor, please share!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Pinterest Addiction!

Yes I am!  I'm sure most of you have heard about the bookmarking site called Pinterest.  You can create virtual bulletin boards on any topic you dream up and start pinning pictures from all over the web.  I'm addicted!  I love finding ideas and inspiration from others online and Pinterest is a GREAT tool to keep it all organized.  Come check out my Pinterest boards.  I have several boards related to classroom ideas, including Special Education Classroom ideas, Arts and Crafts, and Classroom Organization.  Just click my "follow me" button on the right hand side of your screen.

If you have a Pinterest account, be sure to link up to the Pinterest Party at Michelle's Math in the Middle blogsite.

Happy Pinning!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Cheap and Easy Card Holder

I'm excited I finally got around to making card holders for my classroom.  I found this idea several weeks ago on a blog titled, Adapting Creatively!  Rose-Marie has really GREAT ideas for adapting materials for use with our special needs kids.  Check out her site when you can.

Here is the card holder I made following her instructions:

You will need:
A pool noodle and a knife... that's it!!

Everyone knows what a pool noodle is, right!?  You can find them all over the place right now.  I found mine at the Dollar Tree for $1.

Using your sereated knife, cut the pool noodle into 16" sections.  Next, you will slice the pool noodle in half, through the center of the piece.  You should now have 6 pieces of pool noodle.  Set each piece, flat side down, on the table.  In the center of the arch, use your knife, to cut a slit down the length of your noodle.  Cut as straight as possible and be sure not to go too deep!  You're DONE!  Simply slide the cards into the slits to hold them up.  You can make 6 card holders for $1!

Here is my finished product!  For more detailed, photo, instructions, be sure to check out the original idea on Adapting Creatively!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Twins! Baby Shower

Sorry I've been MIA.  This week was my first week at school with the students!  It has been crazy busy, but overall a great week.  I have 5 students this year, 4 of which I had last year, so we quickly got into a routine.  I'll post more about my schedule and some changes I'm making this year in another entry but FIRST, I just had to share about my best friends recent baby shower!! 

My best friend, Jess, is having twins!  I was honored to host a baby shower for her last weekend.  I hosted with 2 other ladies and it was so much fun planning and creating things for her shower. My favorite part was creating the decor.  I created tutu outfits to hang from the mantel and her last initial "P" to hang in the center.  I also hand-painted the "Two of a Kind" frame to put on the mantel, along with the twin poem in the white frame, backed with scrapbook paper.  We used scrapbook paper on the food tables to tie our color scheme together. Take a look:

 The tutu outfits were so much fun to create!  First I found two "My 1st Tutu's" at TJ Maxx and was super stoked!  They were perfect!  Next, I purchased two white onesies from Hobby Lobby.  The pink flowers are actually hair clips I found at Hobby Lobby!  I tacked a a simple thread loop onto the onesie and clipped the flower to it.  It's SO simple!  And the best part is the flowers are removable so when she needs to wash the onesies she can remove the flowers.  Also, when they outgrow the outfits, she can keep the hair clips.  I can't wait to see the twins in these outfits!! :)

The pink frame is hand painted and includes her first sonogram picture of the twins.  The white frame, has scrapbook paper for the backing, which I found at Hobby Lobby, and I printed the poem using Word.

Yum!  Pink Lemonade cupcakes made by one of the other ladies helping to host.  We placed scrapbook paper under the cupcakes to tie in our color scheme... pink and green.

 Pink lemonade with green limes floating on top.  Also used scrapbook paper underneath... the same scrapbook paper used in the white frame on the mantel.

The diaper cake turned out SO cute... made by another friend helping to host the shower.  The food table turned out so nice. :)

Everything turned out so beautifully and the guest of honor was so happy!  We had a great turn out and she got lots of great gifts!!  Thanks for taking a look into our party.  I'll be back soon with more back-to-school posts!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Last Day of Summer!

Today is officially my last day of summer vacation!  Faculty and Staff report to school on Monday.  We will have a whole week of pre-planning before the kids start back on August 1st. 

I started the summer with a long to-do list of projects I wanted to complete for the classroom.  I'm ending the summer feeling like I didn't get much accomplished and wondering where did the time go!  The summer has flown!  Next week I'll be back in teacher mode and hopefully will be able to start using my blog to the fullest to share teaching ideas. 

The past 2 weeks I've spent planning a baby shower for my best friend who is having twins!  The shower is next weekend and I plan to post a few pictures of things I've created for the shower.  But I'm going to wait until after, because I don't want anyone peeking. ;-) 

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this GREAT bulletin board picture I found on Mrs. Picasso's Art Room.
I love the simple message.  I will definitely be recreating this one sometime this year for our hall bulletin board.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blog Mixer

I couldn't resist joining in my first link party!  Yearn to Learn is hosting a Blog Mixer Linky Party.

This is who I chose to spotlight:

1.  A blogger who is a "New Kid on the Blog":
Well, that would have to be ME of course!  I've only been at this for a few days. :)  But to be fair I will link up another Newbie... be sure to check out: All I Really Need to Know... I Learned in Kindergarten  She is just starting out and already has lots of pics up of her great shopping finds. 

2.  Post a blogger in your same grade level:

One of my favorite blogs is by a home-school parent of a child with special needs.  Check out all of the wonderful adaptations she's come up with to make activities fun and accessible to her son, Junior.  So creative!   Adaptions 4 Kidz

3.  Post a blogger in a different grade level:

Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs is a wonderful blog, full of ideas for teaching students with severe disabilities.  I love the Wizard of Oz theme ideas that were recently posted.

4.  It's all about the button. Find a cute blog button and post it.

Love this button! 
<div align="center"><a href="" title="Create Teach Share"><img src="" alt="Create Teach Share" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

I had fun sharing links with all of you.  I hope you find them useful.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Technology in the classroom

Well, I have just started my blog and was pondering what my first subject should be about.  I have decided to talk about technology in the classroom.  I am so jealous of teachers who have SmartBoards mounted in their classrooms, I-pods, I-pads, and so forth.  At my elementary school we have ONE Promethean Board to share for the whole school!  I have never used it with my students because I have never been trained on how to use it and quite honestly it can be a hassle to get from the media center each morning, set it up with cords running in every direction across the room, only to pack it up and return it at the end of the day.  However, I really want to experiment with it in the classroom this year to see how my students respond.  I spent some time at the school this summer getting familiar with the board.  My goal for this year is to incorporate the board into a lesson at least once per month, just to get my feet wet and see how my students respond.  My only disappointment is that because it is a Promethean Board, my students won't be able to touch activate it with their hand, they will need to use the stylus pen.  This will be very difficult for all of my students due to their motor limitations.  I'm excited to at least try it though for the auditory and visual stimulation it will provide my students.

I also have a personal I-Pod Nano that I will be using in my classroom this year.  Previously, I kept all of my music on CD's.  But I'm hoping by using the I-Pod, I'll be able to store all of my classroom music in one place. I've been on the lookout this summer for a nice set of I-Pod speakers for the classroom.   I've also been searching the web for new children's music I can add to my collection. I'll make a post another day about some websites I've found with free music.

For now, my technology wish list for my classroom would include an I-pad, a laptop, new computers (I currently have 2 computers in my classroom, both are 8 years old and super slow!), and a mounted SmartBoard (touch activated).

I'll conclude with this great resource I found while searching the web this summer.  I plan on using some of the videos on the SmartBoard this year.  I particularly like the Alphabet videos. Check them out here:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

First Time Blogger

I have been doing lots of reading this summer of other people's blogs and have decided to start my own.  I am currently a special education teacher for students with severe to profound intellectual disabilities.  I love sharing ideas with other special educators so I thought starting a blog would be the perfect way to connect. 

A few years ago I created a website to share ideas from my classroom.  There are so many websites out there for "regular" education teachers, with lots of teaching ideas, printables, pictures, and theme activities, but not many sites that are geared specifically for teachers like me.  So I decided to start my own!   But recently I have been neglecting my website and have not been keeping it updated as I should.  What can I say, life gets in the way sometimes.  :)  I'm keeping it out there because I feel it has some useful information but am hoping I can keep the blog more current and up-to-date as I start a new year of teaching. 

On this blog, I plan on sharing teaching ideas, ways to adapt materials, thematic units, and any other interesting information that comes my way during the school year.  I start back to school in one week and I am anxious to get back in the swing of things and make this a GREAT year for my students!

If any of you are interested in looking at my website, the address is: