Saturday, November 23, 2013

Scientific Method songs/videos

When I posted about our seasons unit, I shared some videos/songs we'd used during our unit. A reader, Taron, asked me if I had found any songs to go along with November's scientific inquiry unit. I apologize, Taron, for not getting this post up earlier in the month - though November is almost over, I hope these are helpful finds for anyone who teaches young learners or sped students about the scientific method.

I found a lot of other songs about the scientific method were way too detailed and involved for my students (probably meant for high school science). But these were on our playlist this month:

"Scientific Method Song" by Have Fun Teaching:

My students liked this version of the same song with a class of "real kids" performing the song:

"The Scientific Method Rap" - I like the actual examples of each step.

"Hypothesis Song" by The Science Pirates

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Tasty Tuesday (on a Thursday, again)

Maybe I should just rename this Tasty Thursday...we're still cooking in the classroom on Tuesdays, though. Before I talk about what we cooked this week, and the visual recipe we used, on my last Tasty Tuesday post, Brie from Breezy Special Ed asked me for some suggestions for limiting "down time" during recipe-making/cooking as a whole class. I responded to her on the post, but thought I would share my ideas here, as well - think of this as a continuation to my how-we-do-visual-recipes explanation:

-While each student is "in charge" of a certain step of the recipe, that only means they are essentially the point person - they are responsible for gathering the needed ingredients and figuring out exactly what needs to happen and directing classmates as appropriate.

-Many steps have several components to them, so other students are also involved. A recipe step that may say "add ingredient x, y, and z and stir," automatically involves at the very least 3 students (to measure/add each ingredient). Any time we need to stir, mix well, etc...we pass the bowl around to each student to stir or mix, so we are sure things get mixed well and so everyone gets a chance at working on most steps of the recipe.

-Higher functioning students are also in charge of either cleaning up prior steps of the recipe or prepping future steps while lower functioning students are working on more simple aspects of the recipe.

-When we measure, everyone is involved in checking the "point person's" work. For example, if someone has to add 4 tablespoons of an ingredient, we all count tablespoons out loud together.

-Higher functioning students/readers could be in charge of reading the recipe text steps to non-readers.

-Sensory is also a good way to involve everyone at various steps. As each ingredient is introduced, we look at it, we feel/touch it (if appropriate!) and most importantly we smell it. My students have now smelled cilantro, onion, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc...Many things they do not have much prior experience with. We use descriptive words to talk about what we feel, see and smell which is a nice way to get some literacy work in.

If anyone else who cooks/bakes with their class would like to give any other suggestions, or share what cooking looks like in their class, sped or otherwise, I'd love to hear!

This week, we had fun with a Pinterest-inspired recipe - Mini Tortilla Pizzas! These turned out great, and were fun to personalize for each student. I personally would have added some veggie options to the toppings, but knew I had no students who would choose them. As you can see, most of my students chose to add pepperoni, but some chose to stick with a plain cheese pizza.


You can get the visual recipe from my TPT store by clicking the image below:

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Tasty Tuesday Returns (on a Thursday)

I promised the return of Tasty Tuesday, and we did have cooking class this week on Tuesday. Just getting around to posting about it now, though, since late nights of parent-teacher conferences the past two days meant I didn't even turn the computer on once I got home.

Our wonderful school nurse, Jill, went apple picking with her family last week. She is often in our room during our weekly cooking class, since she does a tube feeding for one of my students at the time we usually cook. She thought of us as she was apple picking, and brought us back a big bag of delicious apples! Thank you, Nurse Jill! We had to make something with apples, then...Apple Bread it was! (The recipe is from one of my fabulous classroom staff members, Lizzie, who is an incredible cook/baker!)

First, I want to share my new way of doing visual recipes for my students (and this is the format each Tasty Tuesday recipe will be in from now on) - they are so successful and more engaged with the visual recipes!

I have each step of the recipe printed on a strip of cardstock and laminated. Before we start, the students work together to put the steps in order numerically in our pocket chart.

Then, we need to get out our ingredients and tools (utensils, equipment, etc.). I have each ingredient and tool on strips, too. Students match each ingredient/tool to its strip so we know we have everything we need.

After we get everything set out on the table, I put each ingredient or tool strip behind the corresponding recipe step in the pocket chart.

Finally we're ready to begin cooking. Each student is responsible for one (or more, depending on how many) step of the recipe. When it's their turn, the student sets the recipe step strip on the table and places the ingredient and/or tool strips below it so they know exactly what needs to happen during their step. When one step is completed, we keep it out of the pocket chart so we know what we have left to do.

I'm loving this new way of doing visual recipes. We used to just have everything on one page - and that basically meant staff were reading and directing the entire thing. Now, staff do still read the recipe steps and ingredient names, because all of my students are non-readers. But, the students can do so much more and be so much more involved this way, because they begin to recognize the pictures for both the actions and the ingredients. It's much more engaging!

I forgot to take photos of our completed apple bread, or even photos during cooking (the above photos were taken in my own kitchen as I reenacted the process, haha). Conference week does that to me! But trust me, it was fun and delicious!

I decided to put our visual recipes on my TPT store, so if you'd like them, they're available! I also included a recipe review worksheet and a worksheet for students to recall ingredients that are and aren't in the recipe. If you want visual recipe for apple bread, check it out:

Friday, November 8, 2013

Four seasons in a year...

October's ULS unit was all about the seasons. Of course we did focus, by default, on fall - but we did talk all month about each season, why we have them, the differences between and features of all four seasons. (Thanks to Michigan's crazy weather, we pretty much got to experience the 'typical' weather of all four seasons throughout the month, too!)

I wanted to share a quick art activity we did last month. It's the typical "four seasons trees" project; here's what we did:

Each student got two large pieces of white paper, and a sheet of brown construction paper to start. They folded each white paper in half and essentially got four quadrants, one for each season. Art is always a great place to incorporate some fine motor work, so to make the trunks and branches of the trees, the kids had to use pincer grasps to rip and tear strips of their brown paper. You can see some students have more advanced skills in this area and can be more precise than others - I think the variety makes each tree look so unique!

I also like to use somewhat unconventional mediums/tools in our art. We decorated each tree according to the season:

Winter: painted glue with fingers (sensory!) and attached pulled-apart cotton ball "snow"
Spring: used the bottom of empty 20-oz. pop bottles to stamp "flowers" in pink paint (a pinterest idea)
Summer: used dish scrubbers dipped in green paint to stamp "leaves"
Fall: Dollar Tree fall leaf foam stickers (incorporating math - kids rolled two dice, found the sum, and used that many leaves on their tree - and yes, I just noticed one of kiddos in the photo I took added a few more leaves than is possible with two dice - whoops)

We also love music in our room and I often make a youtube playlist that pertains to our unit that we watch on our projector during arrivals/breakfast time. The youtube channels "Harry Kindergarten" and "Have Fun Teaching" are great resources to find videos. I always look for videos that appeal to my middle-school aged students. We don't do Barney, typical "kids' songs," or other cartoons in our room. Songs with a rap beat always are big hits! Our playlist for October included:

"If You Need to Know the Seasons" - the kids' favorite! This one is still in my head.


"Seasons of the Year" - another favorite.


"Four Seasons in a Year" by Harry Kindergarten


Ronda Crigger's "The Seasons"


"Four Seasons" - breaking my "no cartoons" rule for this one, but I liked the "tell me what season it is?" combined with a visual/scene of the season - several of my students really got into that.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Currently

It's hard to believe it's already November! We are finally done with state testing at work, and now we're approaching report card and parent-teacher conference time...Anyone else feel like this school year is going slower than molasses in January and faster than ever, all at the same time?

Listening - While everyone else in my area is all excited over a certain football game today (Michigan vs. Michigan State), I really couldn't care less, and am happily running old episodes of Gilmore Girls as I get some work done today!

Loving - We have an entire day of records on Monday, and Tuesday is election day - I don't have to go in at all on Tuesday! My entire district's schools are polling places, so we cannot be in buildings on November election days. Love that little gift of a bonus day off!

Thinking - Our November unit is called "Science Fair," so we get to spend the month being scientists and doing all sorts of fun experiments! I'll be sure to post details! Soup is also on my mind, as it's a chilly, damp fall day. Soup is one of my favorite things to make in the winter. This weekend I'm going to make a bunch to freeze and have on hand. And going for the alliteration trifecta...I know a secret that I'm very excited about...just waiting for it to go "public/official" and I can talk about it finally!

Wanting - Soup again...Might have to be soup for dinner, instead, because...

Needing - I desperately need to go grocery shopping. It might be time to get out of the sweats and venture out to the store. I just love lazy Saturdays snuggled up with a blanket and the puppy on the couch but it's time to join the land of the living and be productive!

A Yummy Pin - In keeping with the soup theme, this pin is one I haven't tried yet, but is on my list to make this weekend (after the grocery shopping, of course). Click the picture to go to the source/recipe:

In other news, my plans for the near future of blogging/teaching include reinstating Tasty Tuesday and redoing how I create visual recipes both for my students and the blog. Here's a preview of a recipe I'm working on for next week (which might end up being the week after, because of our days off this week):

So, stay tuned! And go link up with Farley's Currently, if you haven't already:
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