Friday, January 25, 2013

"Trashy" Snowmen

Happy Friday, everyone! I finally remembered to take photos of our "trashy" snowmen we made out of recycled materials!

We always decorate our hallway bulletin board as a class. The kids voted on green butcher paper as a background. I would have chosen something different (I campaigned for blue), but it wasn't my decision! I still need to get a title up there...we talked about cutting the words "Trashy Snowmen" out of newspaper, but we haven't had the chance to do that yet.

We made the bodies out of three coffee filters - which were admittedly the only part of the snowmen that weren't recycled (though they are recyclable) - I did not relish the thought of reusing old coffee filters, not to mention they'd be brown.

Hats - recycled cardboard (cereal boxes, etc) cut into hat shapes, covered with recycled aluminum foil.

Eyes - caps from milk containers we get with the kids' hot lunches. Nose - broken pencil stubs.

Arms - crumpled/twisted newspaper. Mittens - recycled cardboard (cereal boxes, etc) cut into mitten shapes, covered with torn magazine pages.

Snow - shredded paper (one favorite job in our classroom for students is running the paper shredder, so we always have tons of shredded paper...the kids had fun actually using it, instead of just bringing it out to the Paper Gator recycling dumpster).

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Still here...and Me on the Map

Wow...so, my New Year's Resolution to be a more involved blogger is not exactly off to a great start! I'm still here, though the startup of school after winter break has left me rather exhausted. I have a new student who started the first day back, and he has never been in school even though he's 7 (yes, also too young for my classroom) so I feel like we have spent two weeks practicing and learning basic procedures (this is how we sit in a desk...this is how we walk in the hallway...this is how we do not pull out our friends' hearing aids or unbuckle our friends' wheelchair seatbelts...this is how we have quiet mouths when someone else is talking...) - all things my students have known for years. It has kind of felt chaotic in my room!

But we have still managed to do quite a bit with our January unit on recycling. I keep meaning to take photos of the great "Trashy Snowmen" we made all from recycled materials, but I haven't yet (see: chaos, and my feeling exhausted, and any other kind of excuse you want, but really I just keep forgetting). Instead, I'll share photos that have been sitting on the camera from our November unit on travel/transportation - our culminating activity was the "Me on the Map" project!

First, we read "Me on the Map" by Joan Sweeney. I pulled up this youtube video on our iPad and put it through our projector...I muted the volume and read it myself so I could easier pause and discuss the pages as I wanted to (and because the audio is a little quiet on the video).
We loved this book - such a great, basic illustration of the various places we live. My kids definitely started to grasp the difference between city, state, country, etc.

Then, of course, we did the great "Me on the Map" activity:
I used the circles from Teach Mama and edited the text a bit (we did not cover continents, and used our school instead of home). I printed off photos of most of the locations online...got the street photo from Google maps and took the photo of our school myself. The "me" circle got adorned with the little stickers we always get from the kids' school pictures. The kids had to decide which photo went with what circle...they did great!

(This project happened to occur during an observation with my principal...he still talks about how fun it was, how great my kids did...he assisted one of my girls with the project during the observation and told her later, to much hilarity, that he was going to take it home himself!)

Of course, we had to display these projects. We are in charge of decorating the bulletin board in our hallway...the kids did this themselves:
Their Me on the Map projects surrounding a painting of the world...yes, we are aware we have an egg-shaped world! I don't care - the kids painted it themselves (with assistance but not total guidance) and I'm so proud!
Painting the world...we put the butcher paper up on the bulletin board first so the kids had to stand (some in pacers/standers) to paint their part of the world. Some great gross motor work in the process!

The papers decorating the rest of the bulletin board are coloring pages I created from fabulous clip art from KPM Doodles and Charlotte's Clips. I made coloring pages for each section of the "Me on the Map" project - ie, To travel to a different school, you can take a bus; To travel to a different country, you can take a plane, etc...each student colored a different page and we made sure there was one of each location on our bulletin board.

Today I also added the image hover Pinterest button! I used the tutorial and button from Blogger Sentral. Hover your mouse over any image on this post and see how it works...you will see the Pinterest button at the lower right of the image, and if you click it you will be able to pin the image! Try it out - and let me know if some reason it doesn't work.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

winter clothing social stories - freebies

As many special education teachers do, I'm sure, I have several students who struggle with selecting appropriate clothing for the weather. I'm not talking about a little kid forgetting to wear a coat or not bothering with mittens when they go outside in the snow - that is generally pretty ingrained by preschool and lower elementary teachers by the time they get to my class.

No, I'm talking about the pre-teen and teenaged kids who come to my classroom in 20-degree weather, take off their coat and boots to reveal shorts and a tank top....and then proceed to complain all day about being cold! I keep a stockpile of track pants and sweatshirts in my room for that reason, but at some point my students need to learn to dress themselves for the weather. They are at the point that it is age-appropriate - not to mention an essential pre-adult life skill - to choose their own clothing.

I had a social story in my room for a long time about choosing weather-appropriate clothing, but it was getting too "little kid" for my tastes as my students get older, and it wasn't all that great-looking, either. Ah, the days before  fonts other than Comic Sans and clip art other than Boardmaker images...

I re-did two versions of this social story this weekend, one more appropriate for boys and the other for girls. I put them up for free on my TPT store; you can snag them by clicking the cover images below:



A couple more notes about teaching to choose appropriate clothing: Some students may have sensory issues that cause them to need to wear clothing that you or I would think is too warm or too cold. I do not suggest attempting to use these stories with these students. As long as they are safe (ie, they are not going to get frostbite if they go outside!) my inclination is to let sensory reasons go.

These stories are for those students who just do not understand - or who need a more scripted/list-style instruction to be able to select appropriate clothing. These students will often complain about being too cold, even if they have chosen their own clothing. Even if they can answer the question, "What should you wear in the winter, shorts or pants?" correctly, they may need a more explicit script in their minds to make it "stick." I made the text in these stories simple and repetitive: "If I wear _________ in the winter, I will be cold and uncomfortable." or "If I wear ____________ in the winter, I will stay warm and comfortable." etc.

And with that...I'm off to bed! First day back to school after break tomorrow...hope I'm ready. I'm looking forward to seeing my students, but not looking forward to getting up early! Best of luck to everyone else who is starting back tomorrow, too!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

first Currently of 2013

Today in 2012, I began this blog! Thank you to all of you who have made this past year such a wonderful one, by being so supportive, encouraging, and inspiring...Here's to a great 2013!

Of course, I'm linking up with Farley's Currently - over the past year, this is the linky I look forward to at the beginning of every month!
Listening - I love "LOST" - I watched it all the time when it was still airing. I found a four-episode marathon on tonight and was so excited to watch some of the early episodes (back before the show got absolutely crazy) again! And of course, I'm prepping for the return to school so the laminator is working overtime today :)

Wanting - I grew up with a dog and have always been a "dog person," though I have two cats right now. I have always said I will have a dog again...I'm to the point where I'm getting serious about making that happen this year. Probably this summer, when I'm home more to devote to a new-to-me dog. I've been researching, and think I want to adopt a rescue greyhound.

Needing - I was rear-ended on Friday. Big ol' hole in my bumper with the rest of it falling off...I am very thankful that neither I nor the woman who hit me were hurt. So now it's just a hassle...the body shop has free loaner cars but I have to wait until they call and say one is available...But it could definitely have been worse!

OLW - In addition to my resolutions of working out more and commenting on blogs more regularly, I am resolving to be more deliberate and regular in my devotions this year. Which means making time for a lot more regular prayer than I've been doing the past year.

So go ahead and link up with Farley - and remember her Rule of Three:
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