Thursday, May 30, 2013

Funny Faces Game Giveaway

Congratulations to Suzanna W. for winning the Double Play XaXa Fidgets!  Please check your e-mail from me!

Therapy Shoppe is providing another giveaway!  I am so excited about my partnership with them and being able to provide you all with giveaways for therapy items that would be great for your classrooms or homes.  I hope you are enjoying it also.

Please remember that I do not receive any compensation from Therapy Shoppe for these reviews and giveaways.  They are my opinions.

Have you ever had a child that didn't show facial expressions correctly?  or even more often there are students that don't interpret facial expressions correctly... have you had any of those??    Teaching facial expressions can be so difficult sometimes because everybody does them a little differently.

Therapy Shoppe has a game for it...


Funny Faces Oral Motor Game is a game that can be used to practice facial expression recognition.  I do not have this game, but it is on my wish list.

This game includes 60 face cards, 30 face tiles, game board, 4 wooden tokens, and a small plastic mirror.

My 2 most favorite things about this game are:

1.  Reading is not required!!   So many times good games to teach Social Skills have reading required.  I feel like I focus more on getting the students to understand what they read or what I read to them many times.  In this game, reading is not an issue because it is not required!

2.  A mirror is included.  I have found it so important that students look at their own facial expressions in the mirror.  I even have students look in the mirror when learning to make letter sounds to make sure their face looks the same way mine does to help make the sounds better.  I love that a mirror is actually included, so you don't have to find your own to help students out.

This game could be used with a variety of ages as many students struggle with facial expressions in some way and the way it seems to be set up is not in a babyish way.  It is just a simple game with cute faces that any child would love... and let's face it... what kid doesn't like the chance to make faces at you!  :-)

Do you want one for your classroom or home?   Therapy Shoppe is offering one.  You can click on the picture above to check it out on their website. I am looking forward to your posts and comments.


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

What Will I Do Differently?

I am linking up with Finding Joy in 6th Grade for her 1st Linky Party.  This Linky Party is to share what I will do differently next school year.  I have 8 more days of school with kids, but one of my wonderful paraprofessionals and I continue to talk about plans for next year... so when I found this linky today.. it was perfect.

 This one is huge for me!  I am horrible at organization and it drives my OCD (not too bad... but enough of one) husband crazy.  I think his OCD is rubbing off on me a little and it is starting to drive me crazy too.  I am looking for ways to be more organized.  I am starting with getting all my materials organized at home this summer, and then hoping it carries in to my classroom next year.
 This goes along with my organization, but I want my students to help keep their own data also.  I had great ideas for doing this before this school year, but I was not prepared for the behaviors that faced me at the beginning of the school year, so things didn't all get put into place.  I plan to make it a focus for next year.

My class has completed some great projects during this last grading period and they have loved it.  I want to find more ways to incorporate projects and technology.  I would love to do some Skyping with authors, virtual field trips, Flat Stanley Project, and much more.

 I teach Social Skills on a daily basis, but I seem to do the same things over and over.  I have searched for good curriculum and there isn't just one that fits.  I want to do some searching this summer and put together bits and pieces of different ones to make an amazing one for next year for my students.

Big goal for me this summer is to make products for TPT and in doing that.. I want to make products that I know my students need.  It is difficult to find activities that directly fit what my kids need.. so I am ready to make them!

Head on over to Finding Joy In 6th Grade to link up and tell us what you will do differently next year.  I would love to hear it.  Let me know if you link up, so I don't miss your post.  If you aren't linking up, you could leave me a comment to tell me something you will do differently!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Turbulence Tip #7 - Celebrations

It is the end of the year and the time that we usually give awards and celebrate accomplishments.  Many of us probably do things at the end of each grading period also... but how do you overly celebrate accomplishments throughout the year?

Students who struggle with behaviors or have low self-confidence need to be celebrated in big ways more frequently.

In my room.. we have share times, in which, we say things about each other that are good.  This really helps because it is coming from their peers.  My students are so good at doing this now.  It makes me so happy when I hear them complimenting each other at other times on their own also.

I make big deals of little things by getting everyone's attention to call out something small.

We set goals with 1 student for the day sometime and cheer on that student to meeting the goal.

I will secretly tell our principals, other teachers, and other people in the school about a child's accomplishments so people will randomly say something to him/her throughout the day.

We also stop what we are doing sometime and take a trip around the school to show a few people our accomplishments if the child needs that instant gratification.

What do you do to overly celebrate accomplishments in your room or home?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Summer Bucket List

I am linking up with A Cupcake for the Teacher, Miss Kindergarten, and A Modern Teacher to share my Summer Bucket List. I also got a very cute template from What The Teacher Wants to use for it so here goes:

Some of the big ones for me this summer:

1. I am planning to spend a lot of time with my hubby this summer.  We are going to Holiday World, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Musicals (Next weekend is The Sound of Music), Indiana State Fair and other fairs, zoo, swimming pool, and Indians and Reds (probably) Baseball Games.  My hubby doesn't like roller coasters, but I am hoping to get him on a couple at Holiday World (fingers crossed..hehe).  We just finished Indianapolis 500 fun... still to come at IMS this summer is Brickyard 400 and MotoGP (and I LOVE motorcycles!!!).

2. I am planning to do a lot with my blog... including my 1 year blogiversary in a week.  I want to really get in to making products for TPT also.

3. I have so much organizing, unpacking, and decorating to do in our house.  My teaching supplies are a mess and our office is filled with boxes.  Time to organize!  I just bought a Teacher Toolbox and I will be decorating it!  Here is my inspiration... you can click on the picture to go to Fun in 4B to read the post and get a free template for it!  (Yes... most people made these last summer.. I am always behind in organization)

4.  I have 2 of the cutest dogs in the world... but the problem is.. they are always in their crates when we are gone.  I feel like a bad mommy so...I am planning to train them to be able to stay in the house this summer.  I hope they do well and we don't have a lot of accidents.

5. Volunteering - We are volunteering at Special Olympics Summer Games, which is hosted at my alma mater, Indiana State University.  I am also planning to volunteer at a horse farm that is not to far from my home that has Therapeutic Horseback Riding for Special Needs Individuals!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Can you find me for a freebie??

Need some summer ideas for your own kids or to give parents to do with your students over the summer?  Do you want a summer themed sight word freebie??

 I am guest blogging over at 1...2...3.. Teach With Me today for Tammy.  Head over to get some ideas, a freebie, and to check out her awesome blog!!

If you have found me from 1...2...3.. Teach With Me... Welcome!!  I have a giveaway going on that you won't want to miss!!  Click here to go to the giveaway for a Double Play XaXa Fidget. I also have had an awesome guest blogger visit me that you should check out. She has a freebie here also. Check her post out here.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Guest blog - Many classroom management programs

I'm so happy to be sharing some of my thoughts here on Heather's wonderful blog. My topic is dealing with behaviour management and self-regulation. I'd like to share several programs and strategies that helped me this year.

This past year was the most challenging year I've had in 20 years as far as management goes. Grade 1 and 2 students are always a bit wiggly and chatty - that is to be expected.  However, even by Halloween I could barely get through a lesson without interruption (or some other drama taking place on the other side of the carpet that took students' focus away from the conversation). To make matters worse, while I normally have 2 or 3 students reading below grade level, this bunch included 14 students reading below grade level! I really felt pressure to get them focused enough to learn to read. I tried all of my usual management systems, incentives, consequences... but none of them seemed to be as effective as in the past. Finally I realized that this group of low readers didn't have a problem with their intelligence; they had a problem with self-regulation! How can you learn to read when you can't sit still or focus on a book for more than 3 seconds? Or when every interaction with peers is misinterpreted and filled with conflict? My support teacher informed me that 3/4th of them qualified under the descriptors for having ADHD. Oh was going to be a long year!

My approach was to try every behaviour management system I'd ever used, plus a few new ones I found this year, layering one of top of another. First, I used an online program called Class Dojo for immediate rewards. The basic idea is that each student is given a cartoon character that collects (or loses) points. It's a very engaging program, especially when projected on the board during quiet work times. I could even add points for on-task students from my phone as I walked around the room!

I also used the Mind Up program, which is based in neuroscience and that teaches mindfulness awareness skills. Our school staff was trained with this program, and it's very useful for teaching self-regulation, optimism, empathy and self-awareness. Interestingly, it was founded by the actress Goldie Hawn. It's truly a wonderful program, although not enough on it's own for me this year. 

I also used "How Does Your Engine Run", which helps students become more aware of their own state by drawing attention to how their body was feeling. For example, when they are excited, their engine is running too high for the situation. It also uses common language, so you can discuss "turning their engines down" by taking some deep breaths and playing soft music before a lesson. This really works! Again - a great program, but not enough on it's own for this bunch!

Noticeable improvement came when I started implementing the Second Step program in conjunction with the other programs. This program contains large picture cards depicting situations that occur often at school. On the back of each card is a teacher's script, guiding students through a discussion about what's going on and how they can relate. 

The topics were just what I needed: impulse control, conflict resolution, anger management, assertiveness, self-talk. Topics of discussion were, for example, how to react appropriately to typical conflicts that arise with peers, how to handle waiting for your turn, and how to count down from five when you are angry. All of these scenarios are role played by student volunteers, and those lessons really transferred when they played later. 
The program also explores important concepts such as respect; what does respect mean, and how do we show respect to others in the class? We did several art and literacy projects to go along with these concepts, and posted them for a constant reminder (as shown below).

To further promote kindness and empathy, I collected many different books that explored these same themes, such as Ordinary Mary's Extraordinary Deed and Have You Filled A Bucket Today? Spending time with these books each day reinforced the importance of these topics, as did the extension projects and class discussions. For example, we set up a daily routine where students write a "Happy Note" for the helper of the day, dropping them all into a paper "Happy Bucket". We read them together and then the helper gets to keep them. It's an easy way to reinforce kindness as the culture of our classroom.

In addition to these programs, I started creating work times during which all students were required to sit quietly, focus and not get up for a few minutes. I know this seems like a normal thing to do in class, but it was a massive challenge for this bunch. I had a silent visual timer on the wall (a red section slowly shrinks as time runs down), and just for two minutes they had to focus on their work without distraction. They'd use self-talk to stay focused, and we created personal offices to help prevent distraction.  

If they were successful in focusing attention for that few minutes, they were allowed to go outside for 10 minutes to play. (My class borders the playground and forest, so it's easy for me to send them out.) I realized how much benefit there was to taking those small "brain breaks" with fresh air and movement.

Going outside for short periods was a meaningful incentive for them, and as they all became successful, I gradually lengthened the quiet work time. It's true that some of the squirmy ones were simply so bored sitting there that they just started reading their book because there was no other option! Still, after much practice and praise for "being good concentrators" and how great it was "that their brains were growing every time they read their whole book"...soon every one of them could sit through a twenty-minute seated activity and get it done. 

Another routine involved using ipods in class. Oh, how they love to play educational games on my six ipods! However, they had to read their levelled book with me first. Once again, a meaningful incentive kept their attention focused; you've never seen students working so hard to decode text! Here is a picture of them finishing their books before playing.

Another detail that I found increased students' attention this year was bringing the written text down to their level so that they could touch it or manipulate it. Along with many different tactile sight words centers each day, I made a set of sight words that hung down right in front of them as they sat at the carpet together, below the white board. This set has words with raised surfaces (I traced each word with thick white glue, so when it dried, the letters were bumpy). Students loved to trace their fingers over the letters as they practiced their words.

I'm happy to say that 12 out of the 14 are now reading at grade level because they learned, bit by bit, how to focus. After a while it became a habit for them, and as long as they had some sort of release at the end, such as free play or even running around the field, they could "hold it together" for the short amount of time required. It took a long time and a lot of patience, but we got there. 

As far as group lessons sitting together at the carpet, they're much better, but still quite chatty. I'm still searching for the solution to that one! 

Most of all this year I've learned that there will be new challenges even after 20 years of teaching, and that as teachers we have to continuously adapt to new situations, constantly search for new resources, and most of all share our discoveries! So that's what I'm doing here today.  :-)

Do you use any of the programs I've mentioned, or do you have others that have worked well in your class? I'd love to hear about them. 

I can be reached over at Whimsy Workshop, and also through my Facebook page and my Teachers Pay Teachers store
I even have a freebie for you over at my TPT Store for Random Acts of Kindness. Feel free to go grab it.
I look forward to hearing from you!

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Therapy Thursday - Giveaway Time!

Do you have fidget toys that your students are tired of?
Do you have fidgets that are great for some students but just not quite right for others?
What if I told you there was a fidget that you could change it a little bit?  What if I told you that you could change the weight of the fidget?  What if I told you that you could change the sound of the fidget?

I am sure you guessed it... Today's giveaway from the Wonderful Therapy Shoppe allows you to do all of these things.

Therapy Shoppe read your comments from the last giveaway and offered to giveaway 1 Double Play XaXa Fidget because a couple people said they would love these for their class!  MissMath and Michelle.. thank you for your comments that brought this giveaway to us.

So here it is.  You can click on the picture to go straight to Therapy Shoppe's site and description of the Double Play XaXa Fidget.

Please remember that I receive no payment for these reviews/giveaway.  These are completely my opinion of the products.

This is a double ball that comes apart and different things can be placed in it.  Do you see the pink ball above??  That pink ball is super stretchy... so stretchy that the yellow ball fits through one of those holes and goes inside of it.  So it can be 2 different balls or all in one.

Look at the pink ball in the picture above...  if you leave the yellow ball out of it... you can place things inside it that a student can stick their fingers through to feel.  I think this would be great for those students that have favorite small items but they tend to put them in their mouth when holding them.  Yes, they can get them out of this ball easily, but it is harder and slower for them to get it to their mouth so you can intervene hopefully.  It could also be good for getting a student use to different textures or even giving them access to textures they don't enjoy.

Let's put it all together.  You can put a variety of materials in the center ball (yellow one above) and then place it into the stretchy ball.  You can make the ball heavier by adding in coins or rocks.  You can make it lighter with cotton balls or pom poms.  You pick the weight.  You also pick the sound.  Do you want it to be loud or soft?

Rewards/Incentives??   Why not put something on the inside that the child would want to earn... like a toy or a piece of candy.  If the child can use the fidget appropriately to help them stay calm through an activity.. they can open it and get the reward at the end.  

There are so many uses for this and I love how you can change it. 

How would you use it in your classroom?  I would love to hear your ideas in the comments.

Time for the giveaway!!  Enter below on the Rafflecopter.  Therapy Shoppe will be sending the prize straight to you. U.S. Addresses OnlySorry for any inconvenience.  By the way.. the porcupine balls are NOT included with this, but you can find those on their website if you want some for your classroom.  I have porcupine balls on rings from them that my students love.

Good luck! Winner will be posted on May 29th.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Turbulence Tip - Change Negative Thoughts

This can be one of the hardest things to do because once a child has proven to be a behavior issue, everyone seems to see the child in that way and may be quick to jump to conclusions.  If you want to see me get very protective of my students, question them or blame them for something just because you have no idea who did it and guess it is one of the "behavior" students.  

My students and I have had many conversations about changing the way others look at them.  We discussed how others see them handle their anger in a different way and they see them come to my room and work with me... and others may make judgments, but they know that our room is a family and that they need that support.  They are excited to do little things to show others that they have big hearts and just as much smarts as everyone else.

Last year, my class learned about Deaf Culture and made Christmas gifts and cards for students at Indiana School for the Deaf.  For Thanksgiving, the students wrote thank you notes to every adult in our building and hand delivered them.  Currently, we are working to put on a Wax Museum... something that no one else in our school has done (at least in the last few years).  They are so proud of themselves.

How do you help your students change the negative thoughts about them?


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Start Your Engines Blog Hop

It is that time of year... the time where we can hear the sweet sounds of car engines revving up and cars flying around a track at 200+ miles per hour.  Are you ready for The Greatest Spectacle in Racing??  I am!!!  Indianapolis 500 is next Sunday, May 26th and Indiana Bloggers have joined up to make a blog hop full of freebies to get you ready also.  The IndyCar Series races all over the world.  Do you have a race near you???

Thank you to Brenda from Primary Inspired for organizing this wonderful blog hop. 

Did you visit Run Teacher, Run! before coming here?  Thank you to Mary Beth for the great post and freebie!  Click on the picture to go backwards or continue forward and go until you make it back here.  It is a circle oval, like the track.  *wink*

My hubby and I try to attend qualifications for the Indy 500 every year.  Unfortunately, we didn't make it today due to the rain postponing the start for 2 1/2 hours.  My hubby will be enjoying a ride around the track this week though in a 2-seater car.  (He has the best wife for getting this for his birthday... right?  I think so... except now I am wishing I got to go also)

I have made a Racing to Learn game board for you to pick up free.  You can use it for any type of activity.  As things are winding down for the school year, pull the cards out from an over used game and give them the new game board.. it will be like a new game for the kids.  Use flashcards as the questions for an easy review.  This game board is made so it can be put into a file folder game for a longer lasting durability. 

Click the picture to get your copy of the game board.  Aren't the graphics adorable?  They are from Kady Did Doodles.. which you will get to visit later in the hop!

Don't forget to hop on through all the stops.  I hope you find lots of great freebies.  Your next stop is Second Grade is Out Of This World.  Click the picture to get there:

Thanks for stopping by!  If you like my blog, don't forget to follow me through Google Friend Connect, Bloglovin' or e-mail (all on the right sidebar) to read future posts!  Lots of big things coming up soon.  You don't want to miss it!


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Saturday Share - Idea found on Pinterest

Did you see this awesome idea on Pinterest?  I pinned it to my board here.  This picture is from the original website that the pin was hooked to.  Click on the picture to go visit.

You have a student sit in front of a white board.  Other students then come up and write good things about the person on the board. Take a picture of the person and the white board.  Do not let the person look at the whiteboard. They will get to see them all when they see the photo.

I am going to do this before the end of the year with my students.  My plan is to hang them in the hallway and that will be where the students read them for the first time.

It is a great confidence/self-esteem booster and also a great thing for teamwork and kindness. 

What do you think of this idea?  Would you use it in your classroom?

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Therapy Thursday - Field Trips

During Therapy Thursday today, I wanted to touch on how to help with sensory issues on field trips.  As we all know, some field trips can be very overwhelming for certain kids.  Some kids cannot handle not having a set schedule.  Some kids do not like the amount of people or things to look at.  It can be a very difficult time for certain students.
Peppermints and gum (I used bite-size twizzlers for those that don't like peppermint) are my favorite things for field trips!  Last year on a trip to the Children's Museum, I kept a ton of peppermints with me.  Any time I saw a student start to get overwhelmed or overloaded with sensory, I would give them a peppermint.  I cannot tell you why exactly it worked, but I think it gave them something to focus on.  It helped so many times with many different students.
Fidgets....  Take them with you!  My students play with fidgets during the entire bus ride.. because let's all be honest.. those bus rides can be very overwhelming for even teachers!  My favorite fidget for field trips is the spiky glove.  I bet you will never guess where I got this from.. hehe.. Therapy Shoppe! 

I love it because the kid does not have to carry something around.  They wear it, play with it as needed, and have something sensory with them all day.

Take your visuals with you.  Put them on a lanyard or on a clip.  Have a visual for behavior.  Mine are simple little cards that have the kids name on it and tell what happens if they get no strikes, what happens with 1 strike... 2 strikes... and then 3 means they don't get anything (in our case.. no extra points and on red for the day).  I laminate them and use a wet erase marker to mark the strikes throughout the day.  It is much more effective than just telling the student they are in trouble.  If they are used to a chart or some type of color visual at school... then you need to take something with you!

What do you use to help your students with behavior on field trips?


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