Saturday, November 30, 2013

Saturday Share - How My Students Learned Sight Words With Music

My students absolutely love Heidi from HeidiSongs.  If you have ever seen her videos, she is the one in them doing the songs and motions for the children to follow.  (Side note: She has other people starting to do them now, but the ones I have, she is the sole person in.)
Picture from her Facebook page!  Adorable!!
We have something called Success groups, which are 3 week periods of time that the whole grade level picks something to work on. We give a pretest, split the kids into ability level grouping, teach them on that thing for 3 weeks and then give post test. I work with my 1st graders who are Special Education, and they are very low.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Therapy Thursday - Fidgeting Focus Kit and Foot Band

A self-contained and pull-out room of students with behaviors is much different than an inclusion group full of behaviors.  This is what I have learned so far this year with my switch to an inclusion teaching position.  I still have students with behaviors who disrupt learning and have trouble focusing.  I only pull them out one time of day, so most of the time I have them in inclusion groups within the general education classroom, along with general education students mixed in.  A new behavior plan has emerged (which will be blogged about soon), but one of the things that is really helping my students are the fidgets that I got from Therapy Shoppe.

When changing schools, I had to leave all of my wonderful therapy items.  I recently bought many things for my new school.  You will see what all I got in a post HERE, but today it is your turn to enter to win some fidgets.  Therapy Shoppe is giving away 1 Focusing Fidget Kit with the addition of a Fidgeting Foot Band

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Benefits of Outdoor Play for Kids with Autism - Guest Blog Post

Perhaps Plato said it best: “The most effective kind of education is that a child should play amongst lovely things.” It’s hard to think of a lovelier environment than the outdoor world, and the outdoor classroom is an excellent place for learning. What’s more, when children are exposed to the natural elements around them, they gain a wide range of rewards—and that’s as true for children with special needs as it is for anyone else. For children with autism, especially, outdoor play can provide the perfect setting for developing skills, finding comfort, and fostering learning.

To illustrate that point, consider the following benefits that outdoor play offers children with autism:

1. Strengthened Nonverbal Communication Skills: Children with autism generally have a hard time communicating verbally—but outside in nature, they have opportunities to exercise their bodies and minds in other ways. Take the four-year-old student featured in this The Star article, for example. After months of watching other kids build structures, he picked up sticks and used them to spell his name. “I’ve never seen [the kids] come around like this, doing things I didn’t know they were capable of,” said Sue Cooper, a special education teacher for 20 years.

2. Physical and Cognitive Development: According to research published by InformeDesign, “All children learn and develop cognitively as well as physically through play, and a growing body of research points to the important role that nature plays in that development.” Taking children with autism outside and giving them controlled environments in which to explore the world around them helps them develop, just as it helps kids in mainstream classrooms develop. Additionally, the playground or park provides a place to experiment with activities and practice physical skills.

3. Sensory Stimulation: “Children on the autism spectrum typically need to maintain a diverse sensory diet,” according to an article published at Outdoor play works towards the fulfillment of this need through the sounds of wind and birds, the smell of fresh grass and plants, the sights of tall trees and leaves, and so on. What’s more, nature engages all of a child’s senses as it engages motor skills—from running and jumping to walking and reaching.

4. Therapeutic Benefits: Everybody knows nature provides the sort of restorative, healing setting that many people find therapeutic—the kind that “can feed the soul,” according to Appalachian State University. For children with autism, playing outside may mean finding solace under the shade of a tree in one corner of a schoolyard or going to a secret place that restores a sense of calm. In either case, however, being outside, surrounded by the natural world, gives the child a sense of healing and restoration.

5. Social Interaction: Children with autism often struggle more with complex imaginative games than they do with simpler, more physically focused outdoor activities. That’s why outdoor play can provide the ideal setting for playing with siblings or classmates.

6. Better Sleep: Because outdoor activity is physically stimulating, it helps hyperactive children expend excess energy. Expending excess energy is one step to take in helping kids with autism achieve better sleep habits, something that is important for autistic patients of all ages.

7. Parental Observation: As autistic children play outside, parents have the chance to observe and notice how those children are responding to and interacting with the world around them. Watching a child play reveals key information about how he or she processes the world, what catches his or her attention, and so on.

To achieve the best benefits for children with special needs like autism, outdoor play should be structured, observed, and consistent. Structure gives the child a sense of safety and order; observation allows parents and teachers to gain insight; and consistency provides sufficient time for kids to develop and grow. While a child may not be comfortable enough to show observable changes through months of outdoor play, in his or her own time table, that can change.

About the author:
David Reeves is Marketing Manager of Playland Inc. ( in Carrollton, GA. Playland Inc., is a total solutions manufacturer and supplier to many industries, with its roots deep in the park and playground markets including churches, schools, and day care centers. It has developed into the only company in its field to offer direct to all of its customers, the ability to purchase outdoor playgrounds, shelters, shade, indoor playgrounds, water slides and site amenities. Connect with SII on LinkedIn or Facebook.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Guest Blog Post: My Organization Work in Progress

It is my monthly visit over to The Organized Classroom Blog.  You will find me there blogging about my stackable organization.   My office has been a complete disaster of boxes.  I finally decided to begin the organization process.

Here is my office prior to the beginning of Operation Organization:

My room is slowly getting better and has progressed to this:

See the stacked crates on the wall in the 2nd picture?  I have started filing away all the lesson activities I have copied and prepared.  See how I am doing that in my post at The Organized Classroom Blog by clicking HERE

I would love to hear how you organize all your activities and things?  Do you have supplies at home or are they all at school?

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Currently

I haven't completed a linky in awhile, so I thought I would link up with Farley for Currently November.

Not to mention that this one contains pins for yummy foods, and I cannot wait to see what everyone links to.  I love finding new recipes, especially for things to take to get-togethers.

Listening - My hubby and I have a normal Saturday and Sunday morning routine.  He gets up with the dogs to take them out.  One of the dogs comes back to bed with me, and we sleep in.  My hubby and the other dog stay downstairs, the dog that stays with him plays and then takes a nap, and my hubby plays video games.  Once I get up, I do some work, while he plays.  So, here I am "working" and he is playing a game.

Loving - Time for me to admit - I was a band geek in junior high and high school!  I couldn't help it... band was a part of me since I was born.  My dad was a band director, while I was growing up.  The marching band from the small town I grew up in made it to State Competition for the 5th time ever, so I am off to watch them.  I get to have lunch with some friends from high school also.

Thinking - I really need to get some blog posts done for Smart Apps for Special Needs and begin lesson planning.  There is always tomorrow, right?

Wanting - We decorated our house for Halloween this year, and I loved it.  I am not quite ready to decorate for Christmas, so I want to do Fall decorations

Needing - Problem with decorating for Fall is that I don't have any Fall decorations.  I need to go buy some.

A Yummy Pin - I have so many that I don't know what I want to choose.  I have been pinning a lot of appetizer type pins because we do a sibling Christmas, where all the siblings get together to play games (without any of their kids) that we all bring appetizers to and there is a tradition in my house to have appetizers on Christmas Eve.  But, this month is my hubby's birthday, and he loves red velvet cake and he loves cheesecake (actually those are the only 2 types of cake he even likes), so I have found a Red Velvet Cheesecake recipe that looks amazing.  The recipe was posted to Key Ingredient.

I am excited to check out the other links over at the link up.  If you link up, leave me your post link below, so that I can check yours out!  

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