Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Transition - AAARRGHHH!!

If you're reading this, it's probably because you have a student or two who really struggle with transition. This means that they generally struggle trying to go from one thing to the next i.e changing sessions, changing location/classroom, changing type of session - sitting to PE for example and finally for sudden changes in routine. 

Transition is really hard for some students to understand, more so, those on the autistic spectrum. There are so many different ways that we can support our students with transition, it's just going to take you a lot of trial and error until you find the system that works best for your student(s). 

First of all, take a look around your classroom. Picture yourself as a student who speaks a different language and you can't read anything around you, the teacher is talking in a different language and telling you to do something but you don't understand, then you're being directed to sit and work, just as you start to understand the idea of the work and settle down, you're being directed to go elsewhere. 

Is there anything in the classroom that can be used to support you to know what's coming next? Can you work out what's happening throughout the day? How long you have left of an activity? 

If the answer is no then let's get started on some ideas, if the answer is yes and your student(s) is still struggling with transition, don't worry - its just a case of trying to find something more suitable for them and their individual needs, you may just have to find a new way to aide with their transition.

Here are some ideas..


Timelines

Whether you decide to have a whole class timeline or individual timelines or both is entirely up to you. A class timeline is great if every student does the same thing throughout the day and it means you can refer to it throughout the day and it will probably be large enough to be seen from around the room. However, if you have students who access different things throughout the day, go home at different times etc. then your individual timelines are probably best. Each student will have their own timeline catered to their own individual day. With a timeline, you can either leave it full throughout the day or encourage your student(s) to remove the symbols are they complete the task then show them what is coming next. The timeline is also great if an unexpected change happens, it means you can support the student in so many different ways - show them you are changing it, support them to change it to the new activity etc.


Transition Board

This is great in that you can put it wherever you like around the classroom - ours is on the back of our classroom door. We have a few different images of what would be a possible outcome when we leave class i.e houses (for home), dinner table (for dinner), bus (for trips), playground (for playtime) etc. Also on this board are little pictures of each students face, throughout the day the students move their faces to the appropriate image on the board for where they are going next. It helps them to realise where they are going, you won't believe how many times we had students think they were going on the bus only to realise they were going to assembly etc. So this transition board has seriously been a life saver, students already know where they will be going and can accept that before their imagination runs wild and they start thinking of endless possibilities!

Songs

Ok, so in this crazy World of technology you've probably realised now that there is a song for everything you can imagine. We use songs a lot throughout the day and they are really successful, seriously as soon as the students hear a song come on they come running over because they know what it means!

We use songs for; dinner time, play time, goodbye (end of the day), swimming etc. Just look on youtube and see if you can find some songs for different activities that will help you and your students prepare for transition.

Timing Issues

A lot of students just don't realise how long they have for different activities, it may be that time has run out quicker than they thought it would or it feels like the activity is going on foreeeeeeeever for them, so what better way than to show them how to record time. This could be through so many different things that are cheap enough or even free for you to get in the classroom. The following are all great ideas:
  • Sand Timers
  • Kitchen timers - the one that buzzes when time is up
  • Digital timers - on the iPad or computer

Table Mats

I am not even lying here - you're probably sat here reading this thinking, table mats? What?! Well actually, did you know you can get a lot of different theme table mats? We have a table mat for every different topic. The table mat goes onto the table that the activity is going to be on and it works wonders - seriously! You can get ones with cookery stuff on to use for cooking, we have a green spotty one for choice, we have a plain silver one for iPad work, we have one full of food for snack time - it really does help the students with transition.

So, this is just a roundup of some great transition ideas that we find really work in the classroom for transition. What do you find works in your classroom for supporting your students with transition? I love hearing all the different ideas everyone use in their own classes!

Thanks for stopping by,
Nikki 




Thursday, 24 March 2016

Off-Duty Vacation Style!

Well guys, it's that time of year again, I am off on my sunny holidays!



This is just a quick note to let all my fabulous followers know that while I am away, I do not keep up to date with messages etc. so if you need me, please contact me via email and I will get back to you as soon as possible!

If you would like to keep up to date with any of my holiday snaps please feel free to follow me on instagram. (Click here).

My itinerary is as follows;
Dublin 24th - 25th
Orlando 26th - 2nd April
Dallas 2nd - 5th

I arrive home on the 6th April but understandingly will be very very jet lagged so there will probably be a little delay in getting back to you. 

Because of the amount of time that I will be gone for and how I will be visiting different places, I have decided to not spotlight a seller for the next two weeks, the next seller spotlight sunday will take place on 10th April!

Thank you for your understanding! Have a great Easter! 

Nikki 

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Using a Communication Book

If you work in Spec Ed like myself you've probably stumbled upon students who are non-verbal or have very limited speech. This can result in a lot of behaviour problems because the students get so worked up that they can't communicate with us what they need. As you can imagine it's a very frustrating process.

A lot of students may be able to still point out what they are after, however some may not be at this point yet and the students who can point may not actually be able to point to what they want all the time. This is when some professionals think it best to start listing all the options until they see a reaction from the student - this is language overload and the student will have probably lost concentration after a few seconds and haven't had enough time to process all the different requests that are being thrown at them.

So, what now?
How about introducing a communication book.


Yep, you heard me, a communication book. You may not have ever heard of a communication book or if you have, you may not have ever seen one in action to fully understand exactly how it works and how it will benefit your students. 

You literally print out the pages and symbols that you want/need. Cut out, laminate and velcro (I know, all that prep is hard work and really tiring but it's so worth it, I promise!) then bind it together as a book or hole punch and put in a small ring binder file.

I recommend putting 6 symbols to a page just so it's not too over crowded and you don't want to offer too many choices to the student or they're not going to be able to choose because they're so overwhelmed with choices!

Each page is a different topic i.e people, food, numbers, colours (this resource comes in both spelling options of color and colour). 







This is the card that students will put their selected choice on and hand to you/member of staff to request what they want. I recommend using a strip of velcro so that students can velcro their requests onto the card without them falling off or getting lost.

Once you feel your student is ready to progress to the next level you can get them to move on i.e instead of "I want orange" you can encourage them to ask how many oranges they want i.e "I want 1 orange" and also introduce colours i.e instead of "I want blocks" you can encourage them ask "I want red blocks", then you can also encourage them to start selecting the person that they are asking...

All you have to do is make up symbol of the staff that are in class, encourage the student to put the staff/symbol at the start of the sentence i.e 'Miss X I want apple'.

This resource already comes with a wide range of different symbols, if there is something not there that you desperately need you can always request and I will do my best for your needs.

Thanks for stopping by!
Nikki 

Monday, 21 March 2016

EGGcellent Easter Crafts


Can you believe it is almost Easter 2016?! How quick are the years going it's quite scary!! 3 more months and another School year will be all over with. Wow.
As you will know from reading my blog, we LOVE topics/holidays in our class. And we love to do crafts. Here are some Easter crafts we completed last year!


We always make a card and then some crafts to go with it. I think my favorite part of this time was the CD bunny - the small white one in the centre. It literally is just CD's, glue, glitter and foam! We love using foam to decorate in our class! I think the children's favorite were the little baskets because they had little chocolate treats inside! Of course they're going to be the children's favorite! ;) 
We also made these but silly me forgot to take a picture! They turned out absolutely gorgeous they were the cutest thing i've ever seen! So easy to make and such a fabulous keepsake!

Here are some more fabulous Easter Crafts that you can get up to leading up to Easter! 


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Nikki 

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Seller Spotlight Sunday: Believe to Achieve

Welcome to my Seller Spotlight Sunday.
Every Sunday on my blog there is a guest post from another fabulous TpT Seller. They will be sharing one free resource from their store, one paid resource from their store and something that they have been up to that week or similar! 

So, don't forget to check back every Sunday or sign up for my email list to get notifications of new sellers!

Up this week is Anne Rozell from Believe to Achieve! 





Hi everyone! I’m Anne from Believe to Achieve by Anne Rozell. I’ve taught elementary school for over 32 years. I’m retired now, but still working with students to help them to review, reinforce, and enrich their math skills. I’ve been happily married for almost 33 years and we’re the proud parents to two grown children! Life is full of wonderful adventures and I’m enjoying this new adventure with TPT! I believe in helping to build confidence in students by making learning fun!

One of my best selling resource lines are math task cards. These cards are great to use for math centers, partner work, sub tubs, scoot games and more! If you laminate them they can easily be re-used each year! I do include recording sheet and answer key! One of the most popular measurement task card sets is this one shown below. Just click here to see it in my store.


I had so much fun making these task cards! I have many other sets in my store. Just click here to see them!

Another line of products I enjoy creating are No Prep Math products by the month! Here is a FREEBIE sample of the No Prep! Grade 3 for March! So perfect to use for morning work, homework, tutoring, sub tubs and more! Just click here to download from my store for FREE!


My resources are perfect for using in the elementary classroom to add some fun support to your math lessons! They can also be used for homeschooling, special education, gifted and talented, or older students who need some support!

I want to give a big THANK YOU to Nikki for letting me participate in Seller Spotlight Sundays.  I am a big fan of Nikki's and happy to have stopped by!!!

You can find me on: Teachers Pay Teachers,  Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram

Friday, 18 March 2016

Easter Fun!

Who loves Easter? I do! Especially in the Classroom! It's just over a week away!
Here is a snapshot of what we have got up to in previous years during Easter. As you know we love to take it to the extremes and get children really involved in all different holidays throughout the year!


Don't you just love the stuff we make? Our kiddos absolutely love anything to do with art but we also make sure to make our literacy, numeracy etc. all around the theme of Easter for around a week! We also make our cookery sessions all about Easter - so much fun!

My favourite crafty out of this is the smaller bunny in the middle. He's made out of 2 old recycled cd discs, white snow/glitter and foam ! So cute and fun to make!

Do you celebrate Easter? Let me know what you have been up to!

Nikki 

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Pros and Cons of Greeting Books

If you follow my store and instagram you'll notice that greeting books are a big part of our daily routine in the classroom and are a big hit on my TpT.

On my TpT you'll notice that I have so many different levels of the greeting books. It's really important that you use the correct level with your student(s) - you don't want them working on something too easy and not pushing themselves but at the same time you don't want one that's so hard they'll feel self-conscious because they can't complete it.


In this blog post I'm discussing my newest Greeting Books which I just know will be a big hit in your classroom. These are a higher level where students are encouraged to write their answers each day with dry wipe pens. If a student is of this ability but struggles with letter formation you can always write the word for them in a yellow pen and then they overwrite in a black pen.


I feel that the pros of using greeting books in the classroom are:


  • They provide consistency for your students. They know that in the morning before work they will complete their good morning book, when they come in from lunch in the afternoon they will complete their good afternoon book.
  • It helps students become more aware of the World around them. This includes what day it is, what month it is, how's the weather, what season is it, where do they live etc.
  • It promotes independent life skills eg. what to wear in what weather, students are encouraged to pick appropriate clothing to wear in different weather experiences.
  • Their name. Do you know how many students actually never see their name written down or practice their name ? A lot! This is a great way to encourage them to learn more about themselves including using a photo of themselves and seeing if they are able to differentiate between a photo of themselves and a photo of someone else. 
  • It will help your students to get into work mode and help them focus on the  activity they are currently working on and prepare them for the work coming next.
  • The answers will differ day to day so students aren't able to 'memorise' the answers as such. I.e the changes of it raining 20 days in a row are highly unlikely. Every day is a different day and it will help them to recognise when a new month starts, a new season etc.
  • There are great opportunities for students to realise that just because it's sunny doesn't necessarily mean it's warm enough for a vest top and shorts - this will help students come more to understand about temperature etc too.
Well that all sounds great, right? So what possibly could be the cons? 
Well, prepare yourself, there's a few. If you look at the red writing beneath each 'con' there's some helpful information to try and make them a little bit easier to manage!
  • They take a fair bit of prep to put together. We're talking cutting, laminating, cutting, adding velcro, binding together as a book.
Once put together, they're not going to require any more prep really - unless a piece gets lost. Plus if a student outgrows it, you can just remove the cover and name section and keep it for another student - all you'll need next time is those 2 pages to add! For the binding I would recommend either bind together as a book or hole punch them and put them into small ring binder files - this has worked well for us and makes them that bit more durable.
  • After the student has completed the activity every morning/afternoon it does mean you have to reset it all - take all the answers back off. 
You could nominate a member of your support staff to do this task or if you have a high functioning student who relishes on chances to help out they can help a support staff put stuff away or even better, you can try and see if any of your students are able to put away the pieces of their own books at the end of each session - teaching them to tidy up after themselves.
  • Storage - you're going to have to stash them all somewhere safe where your students can't get hold of them.
Take it from someone who knows, you want these kept safe. You could have a 'greeting books' box somewhere and put the ones not in use in the box out of the way each session. I.E in the morning, once you have finished your good morning books, put these in the box and pull out the good afternoon books to set up ready for the afternoon, at the end of the day, put the good afternoon books back into the box and bring out the good morning books!
  • There's lots of little pieces which mean parts may get lost.
I would recommend printing out a couple of extra copies of some of the pieces of these greeting books so that they are always on hand. You can store them in a little pocket somewhere - maybe in the storage box. That way if a piece ever goes missing you can just grab an extra one of out the box - it's much easier/quicker than having to go back through the whole process of making it again!

So, below is my Greeting Book Bundle where you can see images from both the good morning and good afternoon books in action. 





Below you will find examples of what different pages look like when completed. This student doesn't cope well with it put into a book and prefers to have it all laid out individually but 99% of students prefer it to be bound together into a book format. 

The layout that I use with my students for the Good Morning book is:
  • My Name
  • My School
  • How do I feel?
  • What day is it?
  • What month is it?
  • What season is it?
  • How's the weather?
  • What should I wear?

The layout that I use with my students for the Good Morning book is:

  • My Name
  • How do I feel?
  • Where do I live?
  • When is my birthday?
  • How's the weather?
  • What should I wear?
You can pick and choose what order you would prefer the book to be in and you can choose if you want to leave anything out - it's entirely up to you.

Please note that this is the hardest option of greeting books, if you would prefer to look at my easier options please click here to be redirected.













Thanks for stopping by!
Nikki 


Tuesday, 15 March 2016

St Pat's Crafts!

So St.Patrick's day is fast approaching on March 17, 2016. 

If you and you're students are anything like us, you love getting into the theme of different holidays/topics throughout the year. We love doing St.Patrick's Day and here are some crafts that we got up to last year..


We have a hugely talented arty teaching assistant in our class who is always coming up with fab new ideas. Our favorite craft was the rainbow mobile. All we did was make a rainbow, laminate it, cut it out, hole punch the clouds, string through it and then made some 4 leaf clovers and pots of gold. We laminated these and attached them to the end of the string. When it's held up it looks fantastic!! And it's so quick and fun to make!! We love having lots to take home at the end of the term for our holiday activities! 

If we are stuck on ideas for a topic I always go to pinterest. It is my one stop craft place! And cooking.. yes we do cook to the themes as well! What can I say - we take it to the extreme!!!

Here are some fabulous crafts for you to get some ideas ready for St.Patrick's Day!

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Have a fun filled St.Patrick's Day and may the luck of the irish be with you!!
Nikki 



Sunday, 13 March 2016

Seller Spotlight Sunday: Penelope's Portfolio

Welcome to my Seller Spotlight Sunday.
Every Sunday on my blog there is a guest post from another fabulous TpT Seller. They will be sharing one free resource from their store, one paid resource from their store and something that they have been up to that week or similar! 

So, don't forget to check back every Sunday or sign up for my email list to get notifications of new sellers!

Up this week is Jennifer Jones from Penelope's Portfolio! 




Hi there!  I'm Jennifer from Penelope's Portfolio.  I have taught elementary school, and worked within the psychology and social work fields.  I am blessed with 3 cute kiddos that occupy much of my time!  When they are in school/preschool, I get to make educational resources focusing on character education and social skills.  I believe creating a solid foundation in respect, responsibility, kindness, and other virtues, is the key to a happy and successful life.

My best selling resource is My Respect Packet.  Teaching children to be respectful, and understanding the effects of disrespect is extremely important in school and in life. Therefore,  I created a packet filled with activities, printables, posters, awards, vouchers, and reading suggestions.  It comes in color and black and white, and may be found here.  I wrote a blog post on respect which may be found here.




I had a lot of fun making that packet!  Another resource I enjoyed making was by My Behavior Charts Freebie.  These charts are great for keeping kids on track with responsibilities, chores, behavior, and more!  They come in color and black and white, are free and can be downloaded here.



My resources are intended to be used by general education and special education teachers, school counselors, social workers, speech therapists, homeschooling parents, and other specialists.

I want to give a big THANK YOU to Nikki for letting me participate in Seller Spotlight Sundays.  I am a big fan of Nikki's and happy to have stopped by!!!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

St. Patrick's Day Digraph Sorting

I love St. Patrick's Day in the Classroom because there are just so many fun learning opportunities that you can link in to fit the theme of the holiday!

Not to mention all those cute leprechaun masks you can find on pinterest to make with your students - they look amazing when completed!

Today though I'm going to share with you how we practice our digraphs and still manage to link in to the St. Patrick's Day theme which helps keeps students engaged and enjoying the task.


So, this activity does require a little bit of prep, but trust me it's so worth it once it's all put together - plus you can put it away to bring out again every year!

I do recommend cutting out and laminating each of the individual pieces of this activity. It comes with 2 options - with or without word prompt for your preference. Just click on the image below to be re-directed to the page for more info on what's included.

So, we lay all the pots of gold out across the table and then hand the students coins to match to the correct digraph pot of gold...


This student prefers to use the coins with word prompt. He is encouraged to say what the picture is of i.e whistle then match it to the correct pot of gold.

However, this student below is progressing well with his digraphs so we remove the word prompts..


He is also encouraged to name the picture and say this out loud and then sort all the coins into the correct pots of gold.

There are 6 coins included for each digraph.



Students will have so much fun with this activity, it's a great time filler, easy to put together and you can pull it out year after year. It's just perfect to use during the lead up to St. Patrick's Day!

If you like it, don't forget to check it out on my TpT! 

Thanks for stopping by,
Nikki 




Monday, 7 March 2016

Math Tip Monday; Spring Math Ideas

This is my favourite time of year - Spring! I also have a love/hate relationship with March. You see, in 2 days time it's my birthday, now this year I'm not too bad, I don't mind, I'm looking forward to it, although my dream this year was to go on the Disney Cruise in Florida it just couldn't happen - but there's always next year, right? And we are off to Dublin, Florida & Texas in the next few weeks so I can't complain too much!

So, here is another great Math Tip Monday linky - don't you just love looking at all the fabulous teachers brilliant ideas for teaching math? I know i've sure picked up on lots of new ideas, strategies and just fun ways to introduce math to our students that I just didn't think was possible! It just goes to show, there's always something new you can learn each day when you work in education!


So, the topic is what are we teaching now and what do the students need more practice in. Hmm, this is a tricky one. 

As some of you may know, I live in Wales, which means a lot of what we do the first week of March tends to be St. David's day related so we haven't been doing a HUGE amount of math because it's all very much about celebrating this week! But, soon we will start working on our Easter Math. Now, I have all the usual stuff set up - worksheets, activities, non verbal books, counting practice etc. BUT there's a few more things that we want to sink our teeth into, which we have obviously come across on pinterest! But i'm telling you - there's also some great ideas on Facebook these days!

So, we stumbled upon this great math idea;
(Click image to be redirected to the link)

So, we aren't completely doing this idea, but we got ideas from the idea. If that makes sense? 

So, we are going to have little paper chicks with a ten frame on their belly. Then the eggs will have the number on the bottom - like above, then the top will have  tallying maybe - we're not too sure on the dots. We are also wondering about venturing into the simple sum side of it instead. The opportunities are endless - right? So much fun and will keep the kiddos interested!

Another idea we have is for the kiddos to count out mini chocolate eggs and put them into the correct ones - although, this might be tempting the chocolate devils and they may eat them all before we finish the activity !! 


Now, next up was what do our kiddos need more practice in... Hm. I think it's very much like the egg activity that we want to work on - a lot of our kiddos can't see that numbers mean the same yet look different, for example a number 2 is the same as the a ten frame with 2 squares filled in. So, I think this activity would just be perfect for them!

What about you? What are you working on in class at the moment? Anything seasonal? Or what are your kiddos struggling with at the moment?

Nikki 


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