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    Sunday, March 19, 2023

    Spring Activities in the Special Education Classroom

    As an elementary special education teacher, it's important to create a learning environment that is engaging and meaningful for all students. This includes incorporating hands-on activities that not only help students develop academic skills but also foster their curiosity and love for learning.

    One way to achieve this is by exploring the natural world around us. Spring is a perfect time to focus on plants, flowers, and insects, as the warmer weather brings about new growth and activity. Here are some activities that can be incorporated into the classroom to help students learn about these topics:

    • Flower Dissection: To learn about the different parts of a flower, students can dissect one and label its various components, such as the petals, stem, and roots. This can be a fun and interactive way to learn about the anatomy of a flower. Then, assess what students remember using this flower labeling cut & paste activity from my Plants & Flowers Thematic Unit

    • Vocabulary Fun: For each of my thematic units I use a pocket chart for students to match vocabulary words to the corresponding picture icon. For students who are not yet reading, we work on receptively identifying the corresponding picture icon after staff reads the word for them. For students who have easily mastered reading the vocabulary, I ask them to provide a definition or use it in a sentence. BINGO is another fun way to practice vocabulary each unit! Both of these activities are also part of my Plants & Flowers Thematic Unit

    • Butterfly Life Cycle: Provide students with caterpillars or butterfly larvae and have them observe the changes that occur as they grow and transform into butterflies. Or if you are on a budget, YouTube has some great videos too! Encourage students to make observations, discuss them, and also assess their ability to sequence the life cycle using this cut & paste worksheet from my Insects Thematic Unit

    • The Very Hungry Caterpillar: Another fun way to study the life cycle of a butterfly is by reading Eric Carle's The Very Hungry Caterpillar. This is one of my all-time favorite stories to read each spring and it is actually one of the first stories I made communication and comprehension supports for including basic wh-question worksheets, sequencing, fill-in the blanks, vocabulary, and progress monitoring. 

    I also create sentence building boards with all of my Picture Book Communication and Comprehension Supports. These can be used for students who point as they create their sentences or if you print and laminate two copies of the sheet you can make an even more interactive velcro board that kids can use to create sentences on a velcro strip like the picture below. 

    • Water Cycle Exploration: Each spring we bring in an electric kettle to show students how the warm air turns to vapor, then we watch as it cools to create drops and make the comparison to raindrops. This simple experiment starts our exploration of the water cycle. We also read stories and watch videos and songs on YouTube. Then, we assess what the students know using this cut & paste worksheet from my Spring & Weather Thematic Unit

    • Measurement Fun: Spring also provides plenty of opportunities to teach students about measurement from measuring growing plants that students have planted to measuring caterpillars (like this worksheet found in my Insects Thematic Unit). I also have a fun plant measuring worksheet in my Plants & Flowers Thematic Unit too!

    • Insects Class Book: At the end of my Insects Thematic Unit, we created a class book of each student's favorite insect and a fact about that insect. I adapted the activity for some by printing off coloring sheets for them to use as their insect drawing while I extended the activity for others who came up with an original insect fact rather than choosing from the bank of options I created. 

    Incorporating activities related to plants, flowers, spring weather, and insects can not only help students develop academic skills but also foster their curiosity and love for learning. As a special education teacher, it's important to create a learning environment that is inclusive and engaging for all students, and these activities can be a great way to achieve that. These units certainly meet that need! And if you are interested in implementing them all, you can grab my Spring Bundle and save 20%!

    Sunday, January 15, 2023

    About Me


    Hi! I'm Allison. I am a SpEd Teacher who is passionate about creating resources to help every special education teacher succeed!

    Sunday, January 8, 2023

    Cooking in the Special Education Classroom

    Each week in my special education classroom we do cooking and craft extension activities related to our thematic unit. We have had a lot of fun over the years with all of our different projects!

    Each week, we use a visual recipe for students to follow along. On the front, are icons for all of the ingredients and supplies. On the back, are picture-supported directions for each step of the recipe. 

    Are you interested in implementing some thematic cooking activities in your classroom? My Visual Recipes for the Entire Year resource has 50 different visual recipes that can be printed and ready to go each week! 

    My paraprofessionals are in charge of planning our thematic cooking and craft activities each week. This gives me an awesome opportunity to be on "the other side of the table" assisting students and seeing how they all do with group activities without the stress of managing the group as a whole. I love switching it up like this and giving my paras something special that they enjoy coordinating each week. 

    Each week I choose students to be the Head Chef and Head Artist who will assist my paras during the group. These two jobs are hands-down the class favorites. I think it is basically because they get to do so many of the "teacher" jobs (passing out supplies, modeling the activity, calling on students) and sit in the coveted "teacher" chair at the kidney table.

    Each Monday, we go over who gets to do the head jobs. I like talking about it on Monday because it give the kids something to look forward to and for those kids that need the extra behavior motivation it helps also. I place the students' names under these cute signs (click the link below the picture to print!)

    Head Jobs Signs

    To make the job even more special I made these adorable aprons for the kids to wear. They love them! I even had a little guy that didn't really understand that the jobs were assigned each week and for a couple weeks after his turn he went over to the apron at cooking time and tried to put it on! Thankfully, he was a great sport. 

    These aprons were super easy to make and very affordable. I bought two children's aprons at Michael's and some puffy paint at Walmart. First, I drew the pictures using pencil. I was able to do it free hand but you could look at clip art images if you needed some inspiration! Then, I filled in the pencil drawings with puffy paint (I used small paint brushes to spread). After the paint dried, I used a black Sharpie to draw the outlines. Finally, I added a few details with the puffy paint. 

    I made these last year and they had to be washed a lot this year. I was impressed with how well they held up! At the end of the year, I just retouched a few of the areas with puffy paint. The lettering seemed to be peeling the most. I think this is partially from little fingers picking at it :). 

    Monday, December 5, 2022

    December Activities in the Special Education Classroom

    The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year outside and inside of the classroom! My students and I always have so much fun celebrating the holidays. Check out some of my favorite December activities:

    ELA Ideas

    • Read The Gingerbread Man. I love this version retold by Mary Sandel from the Fountas and Pinnell intervention collection because it is predictable for making picture-supported sentences and easy enough for my emerging readers to read the text. 

    • My favorite Christmas books are:
      • Clifford’s Christmas by Norman Bridwell
      • The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Bell by Lucille Colandro
        • In addition to using picture-supported sentence boards, I also have an old lady doll that I have students take turns feeding throughout the story. I just print an extra copy of the sentence board at a larger scale, laminate and cut out the pieces, and then pass them out to each of the students as the story starts. It is a great interactive activity and really builds joint attention and engagement during the read aloud! 

    Math Ideas

    • One of my favorite math activity for the holidays is a tree decorating craft incorporating money. I print out tree outlines on green cardstock. Next, I gather decorations for the students to glue onth their trees. Then, I give each student a buying menu so that they can purchase the decorations they want. I differentiated this activity three ways by having one buying menu with coin icons for matching the coin to the picture to make the purchase, another option with prices to work on single coin values, and finally an option with prices in multiples of 5 so students can count out nickels or easily use TouchMoney

    Cooking & Craft Ideas

    • I love making special gifts with my students for their families. We always have so much fun creating, wrapping, and sending special cards home. This Santa handprint mason jar is one of my favorites!

    • When celebrating Christmas, we love making Christmas Cookies. Some years I make them from scratch with the kids and other years when we are feeling rushed for time I will get the pre-cut cookies so we can focus on the best part... DECORATING!

    • When celebrating Holiday Traditions like Kwanzaa and Hannukkah, we make sweet potato pie and marshmallow dreidels. 

    • For all of my favorite classroom visual recipes check out my Visual Recipes for the Whole Year on TPT. 

    Social Group Ideas

    • Each year we have a small celebration in my classroom where my paraprofessionals and I give gifts to the students and the kids have fun opening and playing with their new toys. Then we have treats, play games, and dance to some holiday music. Then, my students join their homeroom general education classrooms for their parties as well. 

    Interested in these activities and more? Why not bundle and save!