1. Field Trip to New Building: This was a great opportunity to meet new teachers, the principal, see the building and classrooms, and most importantly (to the kids) play on the playground!
2. New Building Social Story: During our field trip, we took pictures of the new building which I used to create a book about the new school. I included important places like the office and cafeteria in addition to the smaller stuff that the kids found important like the bathroom and cubbies. During the last few weeks of school I gave the kids plenty of opportunities to review the book and I made copies for them to take home over the summer.
3. New Teachers Social Story: Unfortunately, very few of the faces will be familiar for my kiddos next year and learning new names can be tricky for them. So we made a book all about the new "teachers" they would have at the new building. We included the three lead teachers and our aides, the principal, school therapist, specials teachers, and related service therapists. For the teachers and aides, we included a special interest. I was very impressed with how well the kids remembered these. They also loved making connections between the teachers and their friends. Again, I provided lots of opportunities to review before school was out and I sent a copy home for the summer.
4. New Friends Social Story: This was definitely their favorite! They loved seeing pictures of all the kids that would be with them next year and they really enjoyed the special interests of each kid. It was especially exciting when two kids had the same interest. I was so impressed on how quickly some of the kids were picking up their new friends' names. Hopefully, this will generalize next fall. How cool will it be for our kids to be able to start off the year already knowing their classmates name and a little about them? That could save us teachers some time in the fall :)
5. Group Packing: I really tried to involve the kids in the packing process. This was partially because I couldn't bear to wait until school was out to get starting and mostly because I wanted them to realize all of our "stuff" was coming with us. There were many questions during the last week about the location of important toys. The kids seemed glad when I assured them I had packed everything up for "the new school" and we could play with our toys there.
6. Special Item Craft: We wanted to make something special for the kids to take with them to the new building. My MD team and I agreed on pencil pouches to put in their take-home binders next year. We gave the kids the opportunity to decorate them with stickers and we wrote everyone's name in puffy paint. Then we packed them up to take with us. I am excited to see who remembers our special craft next year when I "unwrap" our box.
I have used some of these ideas for students who were transitioning to a new building (elementary to middle school) before. I think it is SO important for us to do everything we can to prepare them for the transition. This is especially important for those students with autism who have difficulty with change.