Thursday, October 31, 2013

HeidiSongs Has Helped My Class A Ton

Have you heard of HeidiSongs Resources?  If you haven't, I can definitely say that you are missing out!  I "met" Heidi in blogging land when I was first beginning my blogging journey.  She helped me out significantly.  I loved all the resources that she makes, but was very sad that I was not in a position that I could use them.

During the past 2 school years, I have taught students with emotional disabilities and other behaviors, and I had children that hated educational music.  If I turned on songs for my Kindergarten students, such as a color song, I was met with hands over the ears and no participation.  I was devastated.  Music has been such a big part of my life and my teaching.  So, when I started in a new position this year, I was excited to find out if music would work with these students.  It did not take long to find out that they LOVE music!!  I started searching for what videos I wanted from HeidiSongs first.  Heidi worked with me to help me decide and to provide me with the best resources for my students.

My students and I have our favorite songs already, and we absolutely love all the Sight Words DVDs.  With that said, there is so much to tell you about my students and those videos that I am going to do a separate post all about the sight word videos soon.  I want to highlight some of the other videos that are going well in my classroom.

My 1st grade students were working on Nonsense Word Fluency earlier this year, and I quickly realized that many didn't know the letter sounds, so I had to find ways to help the kids remember them.  Heidi's Letters and Sounds DVD did just that.
I am happy to say that after 2 straight weeks of these songs and other Nonsense Word Fluency activities, every single one of them increased their score.  My students love the hand motion for V, so I thought I would share the V song.  We are currently doing the Alphabet Action song from this DVD to have a daily quick practice of the letter names and sounds.

Our reading program is flying through blends, which my kiddos are struggling greatly with.  Some of them are still learning letter sounds, and we are already doing blends.  Heidi's Phonics songs have been great to help with the blends.

Here is the song for 'sh' that we have been working on in my classroom:

Language Art is not all that we sing about!  Heidi has us singing in Math also.  I have even had my 6th graders and other teachers joining in on the 1-100 song.  It is so catchy and so much fun.

Here is an absolutely adorable video of a class doing the 1-100 song.  Be careful.. it will be stuck in your head!!  It is wonderful!

As you can see, the songs are very catchy, and adorable.  They are easy to use for 1 song at a time or for 10 at a time.  I love that it gets the kids up moving also.  Heidi is in the process of doing more videos with different animated backgrounds and a variety of people leading them.  I will be posting soon about the Sight Word DVDs and a very cute story about how much my students love Heidi already.

What are your favorite songs by Heidi?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

10 Things People With Down Syndrome Would Like You to Know

In honor of Down Syndrome Awareness Month, I wanted to share this video of 10 things people with Down syndrome would like you to know.  There is no sound in this video, but it is a short video with great information!

The students with Down syndrome that I have worked with in the past hold a very special place in my heart.  I really enjoyed getting to know them and learning more about them.  The points made in this video are definitely ones to remember!  

What experiences do you have with individuals with Down syndrome?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Therapy Thursday - 2 Winners This Time

Therapy Thursday is here again!!  I am loving being able to bring these giveaways and ideas to you all.  Today's giveaway is for something that I hadn't heard of before --Shoezooz Stickers.  When Therapy Shoppe asked if I would want to do these for a giveaway, I wasn't completely sure at first.  I know that many of you may not have reason to use these in your classrooms, but once I looked into them more, I thought about the many kids that could benefit from something like this.  Then, they sent me some to try out, and I really liked them.

There are so many little tricks that we use to teach kids their left and right, which is very important, but many kids are putting on their own shoes long before they figure out their left and right and more specifically which one goes on which foot.  These stickers are placed inside the shoe.  When the child has the shoes beside each other in the right order, they will see the animal in the correct order.  

I love that these go inside your shoe instead of on it.  For one, they will last longer inside.  2 - the child doesn't look any different.  

They also say left and right on them, so students are able to see that every day and start to relate it with the correct side (even if they are just relating the L and the R, it is exciting)

As a teacher, we don't take our shoes off much, but I have kids with their shoes on the wrong feet all the time.  Whether they come to school like that or start playing and take off their shoe, you never know.  I barely have time to tie all their shoes, let alone to correct which foot the shoe goes on.  I already have a child that I am planning to use these with right after break.  

There are 2 different types available -- jungle and farm animals.  Each package comes with 3 sets of stickers. 

Although these are made for shoes, I could see them being used for activities in the classroom that need left and right also.  They are super cute and don't rely on the child to read or even recognize a letter.  They rely on the ability to put an animal together correctly!

Therapy Shoppe and I are feeling extra nice.  They have agreed to give away 1 Jungle set and 1 Farm set, so there will be 2 different winners of this giveaway!  1 will end up with a set of 3 Jungle Animal stickers and the other will get the farm animals.

Get those entries in!  U.S. Mailing Addresses Only.  Winner will be announced on Wednesday.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Saturday Share - Alphabet and Number Lines for Reversals

Do you have students that struggle with making their letters the right way??  Lisa from The Lower Elementary Cottage made a product that is an Alphabet and Number Line for Students with Dyslexia.  I haven't been able to use it with my students yet, but I am so glad to have this.   You can go look at them by clicking on the picture.

It focuses on teaching letters as "Left Letters" and "Right Letters" to help kids understand that they don't all go in the same direction.  

Even if you don't have students with dyslexia, this could be a great thing to use.  I have kids that make letters backwards all the time.  This is just a great way to teach kids how to make their letters.

I wanted to share it, because I know many of you could probably benefit from something like this. 

Lisa has a lot of great ideas!  You can check her out at The Lower Elementary Cottage:

Do you have students that these would benefit in your classroom?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Therapy Thursday: Oral Motor - Strengthen mouth for speech production

Today's Therapy Thursday post is about homemade therapy items for oral motor.  These ideas come from Make Your Own Therapy Tools and Toys and are things that you may have around your house already.

Oral Motor Items
Strengthening the muscles in your child's mouth can increase speech production and decrease drooling. Anything that gives the mouth a strong sensory jolt can also improve sensory integration and make your child less likely to finger-suck or mouth objects. Try these around-the-house items to do a little impromptu oral-motor therapy.
  • Straw: Have your child suck something thick -- pudding or yogurt are good choices -- through a regular or twisty straw. 
  • Whistle: Speech and occupational therapy catalogs sell a variety of fancy whistles, but your child can get some benefit from a plain whistle, a plastic flute, a kazoo, or one of those mini-trombone-type whistles where you pull the end of it and the sound goes up and down. 
  • Bubbles: Blowing bubbles is good exercise for your child's mouth. Make sure he or she actually blows rather than just waving the wand around. 
  • Cotton balls: Hold races to see who can blow a cotton ball across a table the fastest. Have your child do it with just his mouth, and then with a straw. 
  • Plastic necklace: Inexpensive aquarium tubing from a pet store makes a nice chewable necklace for kids who need to gnaw. Try knotting some beads in the tube for extra oomph, or putting it in the fridge for a cool bite.

Pictures were taking from Amazon.

What other homemade therapy items can you come up with for Oral Motor therapy?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Recognizing Triggers

Someone requested a post about recognizing triggers with students.  Today, you will find me over at The Organized Classroom Blog with a guest post about ABCs and Functions of Behavior.  This is a start to determining the triggers of behavior.

What are you waiting for??  Head on over to The Organized Classroom Blog now to see what I am talking about... and then come back please for the rest of the post!! :-)

Once you read that post, you can pick up a copy of an ABC chart here.  Go to the middle of the page.  You will find a link to a blank ABC Chart.  I really like this one because it includes a box for putting down a possible function.  There are many other free ones online, but this is my favorite so far.

Triggers are so unique for each child and it takes a lot of taking data, analyzing the data, and trying different things to see what will work for a child.  Once you determine the patterns and the function, you should be able to start making progress with helping a child.

I have some more ideas of how to expand on this in later posts, but leave me a comment with your answer to the following question:

What else do you want to or need to know about triggers?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

My Personal Goals in My Blogging World

When I started this blogging adventure in June 2012, I had no idea where it would take me.  My hubby and I kept saying that I needed a hobby... which I did... and I was a stalker consistent follower of many teaching blogs, so I thought... why not??!  I will try this whole blogging thing.  I sat down and started the design and planning.

Little did I know that there was SO SO much that went into it.  It isn't like you can just write blog posts (well, you can...but not to really get your ideas out there well); you have to be working the Social Media to help get your posts and ideas out there.  WOW!  Social Media has been an experience within itself.  Here were some of my first thoughts:

Facebook Fanpage - Sure!  No problem! I've got that.  I spent enough time on Facebook anyway.  
Twitter - Uhhh... my friend, Michelle, uses it all the time and says how wonderful it is.  I have an account... okay.. I will try this.
Pinterest - I love looking for ideas, but I am not as crafty as all those people on there - and I am definitely not a good cook.  Hmmm..  we will see how that goes. 
LinkedIn - What do I do with this?
Google+ - Another one??  (I still haven't figured that one out)
I am probably forgetting some... oh!  and then Instagram comes out and I wanted to scream!  NO TIME!

Then I realized, Teacher Bloggers = Teacher Pay Teacher Sellers!  I buy a lot from there, but do I have the ideas for things to actually sell.  I started that adventure and quickly realized that yes, I have ideas, but I have no time!

Which, brings me to the present and the reason for this post.  I wanted to share with you all, where I currently stand as a Teaching Blogger and what my goals are.  I have tried a lot of different things, and I think I finally have found the parts that I enjoy.

1. Teaching Through Turbulence is my baby!  I love giving advice and helping everyone out, especially with behaviors.  I set a goal to blog 3 times a week.  That doesn't always happen, but it is still my goal!  I am not teaching in a setting that has the extreme behaviors anymore, but I think what I am seeing with my current students and in the general education classrooms are even closer to what most of you deal with on a daily basis.  I was nervous with my job change that I wouldn't have things to blog about, but I still do.  The requests from you all still come in, and I love it!  I am so glad that I can help.

2. Facebook Page - Facebook is the 1 form of Social Media that I have decided to use the most.  I like to keep in contact with everyone through this and promote my blog posts in this way.  I currently have my Facebook posts pushing to my Twitter page, so if you prefer to follow through Twitter, go for it.  I do check interactions through Twitter, but I just don't post separate things to Twitter.  As for the other forms of Social Media, I pop in and out of Pinterest and Linked In.  I know that from a blogger stand point, Pinterest and Twitter are great forms of traffic, but I have decided to focus on helping others and growing slowly... and not so much about numbers.

Smart Apps for Special Needs

3.  Smart Apps for Special Needs has become my 2nd baby -- that actually takes more time than the 1st.  When I saw that Smart Apps for Kids was looking for new staff members to start a page for those working/living with individuals with special needs, I immediately messaged them about it.  I was very excited to hear back from Ron.  This page has grown faster than we thought it would. I have learned so much from the other writers and the community there.  I currently oversee the organization of it all, so I am editing and scheduling posts, doing many other organizational tasks, and writing here and there.  I have always loved using my iPad in the classroom, but I do even more now that I have the opportunity to learn about so many more apps.  If you are involved with individuals with special needs in any way, I highly recommend that you check out this site.  There are always so many great things going on and so many great people to hear from.  You will also see me writing for Smart Apps for Kids and Smart Apps for Android sometimes.

4.  You will also see me writing for a couple other pages sometimes.  I am a guest writer for Charity Preston on The Organized Classroom Blog 1 day a month, and I am still trying to keep up with A Special Sparkle.  A Special Sparkle is a Wonderful group of blogger that I learn a lot from.  
The OC Blog Button         A Special Sparkle

5. So what does that mean for Teachers Pay Teachers?  I may make things here and there, but I have decided to focus more on blogging and helping others than on making money.  I will definitely continue buying from all the wonderful creators out there though!! ;-)

Long story short - I am here to help!  I enjoy helping way more than creating and trying to make my numbers grow larger and larger.  I love the followers that are here and hope that more do come along, but I want to just focus on getting ideas out there for you all through Teaching Through Turbulence and through the other blogs I am a part of.

Thank you for continuing on this journey with me.  I wanted to just be open and honest about where I stood and what my goals were, as I have started things, like Teachers Pay Teachers, but have stepped away.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Oh Pumpkin!

My friend Caitlin at Learning Ahoy has made another adorable game that my kids love.  Caitlin has made a variety of games that have the same concept to them, but with a variety of themes.   My kids love them!  When Caitlin asked if I wanted to try her new Oh Pumpkin games, I couldn't pass up the opportunity!

My students have been working on Sight Words during our Success (Intervention) Time, so I was excited to implement her Oh Pumpkin Sight Words immediately.  Then, she told me she had ones for numbers and letter recognition -- be still my heart!!  YES PLEASE!!!  

I found a quick basket and implemented the games immediately.  They are super easy to use.  Students pass around the container, pull out a card, and read it.  If they get it correct, they keep the card.  If they get it wrong, they put it back in.  

Be careful, don't get a "Oh Pumpkin!" card because if you do, you have to put all your cards back in.  This is a great time to teach about sportsmanship..  I had a child that even said when he got that card, "It is okay, I am not playing to win, just to have fun."   Yes, that was a 1st grader with autism.  I was so proud of him.  

Another fun card is "Trade cards with another player."   If you get this card, you get to trade cards with any other player you want. Obviously, they usually go for the person with the most cards.

This is a great game to use in a small group setting to be able to see how the kids are reading or in a center for them to practice.  If you print off 2 sets of the cards, you can make a memory game or a Go Fish game out of it.  They can also be used as flashcards.

I have not used the letter one yet, but I will be.  I want to use it not only for naming letters, but for naming sounds!  It will be great for a child to have to say the sound when they pull it out or to say a word that begins with that sound.  So many possibilities.

If you want to grab the letter one, it is FREE!!  Click on the picture to go get your copy.

The numbers one can be found by clicking on the picture below.  It is only $1.50.

And my favorite - The sight word one that covers Fry's First 100 Sight Words is $2.00.  Great value!!

How could you use these in your classroom?  Check out Caitlin's blog to keep up on other great things she is doing:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Therapy Thursday - Puppy Hugs

Where to even begin writing about these wonderful weighted pets.  Well, let me start with... you might want to stay tuned, because this is a giveaway from Therapy Shoppe!  If that didn't get you hooked, keep reading, because hopefully you will fall in love with these things as much as I have.

Weighted animals are wonderful for kiddos that need pressure and sensory input.  There are so many types out there, and you can even make your own.  When I was presented with these awhile back, I absolutely loved that they can go around your neck; therefore they are not in the way.

My kiddos, Kindergarten through 6th grade, all loved these and would ask to wear them while doing work.  My students quickly learned that these are not to be played with.  They sit on your shoulders.  For my Kindergarten students that moved around a lot, they had to be extra careful to sit still so the dog did not fall off.  They knew that if the dog fell off, I would wear it to make sure it wasn't "hurt".  We cared for these like they were our class pets.  We even named them - Uppa and Rachel.

There is just something relaxing about the pressure that these provide on your shoulders.  They help kids calm.  They help kids focus.  They help them even sit still.  They are wonderful! 

These can easily be used in a child's lap with a similar effect.  I just always kept them on shoulders because they couldn't be played with as easily then.

Some students just like the feel of the soft fur on them.  I had students that would ask to pet them.  The petting would provide a calming sensory input for some students.

As if that is not enough good things about these, you can also heat them up!  90 seconds in a microwave and you will have a hot dog that will provide a different calming effect.  Have a student who gets tight muscles?  This could help them! 

Our giveaway today is for 1 Puppy Hugs, but in case you don't win and want to buy one -- There are also other animals!  They have a cat, a snake, and a dolphin. 

Time for today's giveaway.  One person will win a Puppy Hugs for their classroom.  Will it be you?  
U.S. Mailing Addresses Only Please. 

This giveaway is being promoted to both Teaching Through Turbulence and Smart Apps for Special Needs.  You do not have to follow my blog to enter this time, in case you are coming from Smart Apps for Special Needs.  If you like what you see though, I would love for you to stay around.

Good luck!! Winner will be announced on Tuesday,  October 15, 2013.


Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Look What I Got (and where is Jennifer Taylor)

First of all, I am still looking for Jennifer Taylor.  She is the winner of the Tongs and Tools Kit from Therapy Shoppe.  I may have to pick a new winner...but would really like for Jennifer to have it.

Another giveaway is coming on Thursday of this week, so make sure you check back for that! 

In the meantime, I wanted to share what I have recently bought and ordered for my own classroom.

I had so many therapy resources at my old school, and I have really been struggling with not having therapy items at my fingertips this school year.  I begged my hubby to let me get some things to get me going.  (I am also hoping to figure out Donor's Choose soon to get even more... I know.. I know.. I keep saying I want to do Donor's Choose and haven't...)  

I am doing a lot more co-teaching this year than pull-out.  I really needed to find things to help my students stay focused, but also things that wouldn't be a distraction.  The search was on... and of course I went straight to Therapy Shoppe, since I know their products hold up well.
So here are some of the things that I consider must haves for my classroom and for my students and I am so super excited to have them again:

Puppy Hugs - A weighted dog that a child can wear on their shoulders. I blogged a bit about them here.   These can become a distraction for some kids, but the benefits in my previous classroom far outweighed the negatives.  I am hoping for the same this year.  I have a feeling I will need more though because I may have some fights over it.  :-/

Spiky Glove is one of my favorites because a child can put it on their hand for the sensory input, but still write.  It is not something that they can throw around or drop.  We practice on keeping our hands down in our lap, so they can play with the glove with their hands, but they do not have to look at it.  The one I received in the picture above is blue.
Fidgeting Foot Bands are wonderful for those that cannot sit still.  I only got a couple, but I am sure I
will be going back for more for my classroom.  They really help kids stay focused by just moving their feet against it.

 I looked for quiet fidgets that can be used in a variety of settings.  Some of these I have tried and some I haven't.  These are all pictured in my picture above:

Spiky Fidget Rings - I love that kids can have these on their fingers and still do their work.
Massager Grip - Provides a fidget even when holding their pencil.
Squiggle Sensory Bands - Do you notice my theme of things that are attached, so they cannot throw or drop??
Brain Noodles - So fuzzy and so quiet!  Love these things!
Zipper Necklace - I haven't tried these yet, but I thought they were super awesome looking, and I love them even more when I got them!  We will see how they work in the classroom.
Wikki Stix - I wanted these for activities also, but may use them for fidgets. 

Therapy Shoppe also sent me some additional items of things to try out for upcoming giveaways  (Thank you!!).  So if any of these look good to you, make sure you check back!

Focusing Fidget Kit - LOVE LOVE LOVE this kit!!  So many great fidgets!!
Shoezooz Stickers - I had never seen these before, but they are wonderful!  Put them inside shoes to teach right and left.  How many preschool and kindergarten students could benefit from these??
Printing Practice Greeting Cards - I really like these for the classroom!  More information to come on them! ;-)

I am ready to face my students after break!!  What fidgets have been successful for you this year???

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