Monday, January 13, 2014

Creating a YouTube Playlist

A sweet reader, Michie, left me a message on my last post about my "Rights and Responsibilities" playlist. (Thank you, Michie - I'm always so thrilled to hear from other sped teachers!!) Among other things, she asked how I make our YouTube playlists - I thought I would share the "how-to" for anyone else who would like to know:

Note: I make my playlists on our iPad using the YouTube app, so that's how these instructions go. I'm sure it is a similar process if you use the website on a computer but I've never done it that way. Click the images to view larger screenshots if you wish.

First, you need to sign into YouTube (via the app). I created a just-for-the-classroom gmail account and just use that. Once signed in, you will be able to create and save playlists.

Then, search for a video you want. On the app, the search field is the magnifying glass icon in the upper right corner.

Once your video is playing, tap the plus sign (lower left side of the screen) and then tap "Add to Playlist..."

In the popup that appears, tap "Create New Playlist..." and then tap "Select."

Once you name your new playlist, the video should be added to the new playlist automatically. You will see this notification (checkmark with "Added to playlist"); if you don't, just try it again.

Search for another video; when you tap the plus sign and "Add to Playlist" this time, you should see your new playlist's name. Tap that, then "select," and the new video should be added.

Once you've added all the videos you'd like in the playlist, go to your login sidebar (to view it, just minimize any video onscreen) and tap "Playlists," and then select the name of your playlist.

Tap "Play All" (near the top) and your playlist should play through each video in the list.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Pre-Vocational Work Boxes

Well, I had planned on today's blog post being the return of Tasty Tuesday after winter break, but as we have yet another snow day today, that's going to have to wait another week. Instead, I'm going to share some of the pre-vocational work boxes we use in my classroom. I had brought a few home over break to replace missing pieces, re-do signs/instructions, etc., and some are new. (Yes, this is a long post...but it's mostly pictures, I promise!)

My students are pre-teens and teens, so I am always looking for new independent work activities that are age-appropriate while still at their level. I retired my old work tasks that feature those colored counting bears, pop beads, Disney puzzles, etc. several years ago. These tasks work on many of the same skills but "look" more "vocational," for lack of a better term. Many also look like TEACCH tasks, and would work well with that setup, though I do not explicitly use that system.

The Dollar Tree is my favorite place to look for ideas! Sometimes I just wander up and down the aisles there looking for things I could make into work box tasks. (Um, wandering around The Dollar Tree is dangerous!) I always look for items that come in multi-packs (more for your buck!) and of course, containers to go with them.
I always use the Dollar Tree "box A" (shoe box size) containers to store the work tasks. That way they are all uniform and stack well. Just a caution - the lids on these bins come off very easily, so no carrying by the top like you are able to do with more expensive bins! Small price to pay...

Each bin has an outside label - velcroed to the bin so I can change them out if needed - and a visual instruction card inside. Since these are designed so most of my students can complete the tasks independently (or with only physical assistance for some, due to motor impairments) the instructions are picture-based. My students can look at the instruction card and hopefully be able to complete the task with little to no staff verbal instruction.

My students know the first thing they do when they receive a task is to take everything out of the shoebox container and spread it out so they "know what they have to work with." (They are usually either working at their individual desks or only 2-3 students at a larger table at a time, so we have the luxury of taking the space to do this.) Then, they look at the instruction card and get to work. We've found digging around in the bins mid-task just causes extra confusion and losing track of what they're supposed to be doing.

Here are some of the tasks:

School supplies packaging - there are four pencil pouches, and they must put a scissors, a marker, and two pencils in each pouch. Also some fine motor for those who are able with unzipping and zipping the pouches.

Sock rolling - both a matching and a motor task. I just grabbed a bunch of multi-packs of Dollar Tree socks in different patterns, colors and sizes. Super easy setup!

Toiletries packaging - same concept as the school supplies packaging one. If I'm remembering correctly, these cute polkadot toiletries bags actually came in a 4-pack at TDT, so there are 4 packages to make. Again, fine motor with the zipper, too.

Flashlight assembly - this is a really difficult task that I only give my highest functioning kiddos. Not only do they have to unscrew the flashlight, insert batteries, and screw the top back on, they need to make sure they put the batteries in the right way. It's hard to see in the photo, but the instruction card gives step by step photo directions on proper placement.

Simple color sorting with pom poms. These cute little containers came in a package of 10 for $1! I simply labeled the tops with Boardmaker color icons. If I want to make this task a bit more difficult I can change it up and have them put one of each color in each container (there are 6 pom poms of each of 6 colors, and 6 containers - so either way works out well).

Pill box filling - A very functional and relatable task for my kids, as most of them will be taking medicine all their lives! Of course, they are not filling the pill box with real meds - the "pills" are decorative jewels. **My students know never to take or even handle medication without knowing what it is, that it's theirs, that they're taking it at the right time and right amount, a doctor/nurse/parent has given it to them, etc. If your students do not understand this caution, I would not suggest work tasks that have to do with meds, no matter how unrealistic the "medication" looks!

Curler assembly - putting together two different colors/sizes of curlers. Fine motor and matching.

Silverware sorting - pack of plastic silverware from the Dollar Tree and three skinny "drawer organizers" for the baskets. Have to make it fit into my shoebox container (aka, a traditional silverware tray would not work)! These little baskets are also nice because I could twist-tie an example of the silverware to the bottom of each. I can also make it less concrete by using pictures or words.

Bottle cap name spelling. I have a set of bottlecap letters and a name strip for each of my students' names, and they spell the names with the cap letters, with the name strip as a guide if needed. The way this task is set up now, each name has its own baggie in the task so they can do just one name at a time. For my higher functioning kids, I combine a few of the bags so they first have to sort out the letters for the name they're working on.

Toothbrush holders - Ready made task! I found these toothbrush holders packaged already with 6 toothbrushes! This is a little more than 1:1 correspondence, since each holder has more than 6 slots for toothbrushes. Students have to make sure they have 6/an equal amount in each.

Occupation tool sort - I found Dollar Tree plastic play sets of pots and pans (chef), hairdresser tools, and doctor tools. And I'm sure everyone recognizes those Dollar Tree yellow bins! Love those.

Cleaning supplies packaging - obviously, the same concept as the school supplies and toiletries packaging tasks. In each little bag goes a dish scrubber, a sponge, two gloves, and a cloth.

Obviously a Halloween one, but many of my kids like "creepy crawlies" so much we keep it in the rotation all year. I found the Halloween cups in a pack of 4 for $1, and the little party favor things as well. Again a "packaging" type task.

Wrapping presents! This would have been fun to have in December, but I just put it together over break - definitely can be a year-round task, though, as there is nothing explicitly Christmas about it. I found a package of different shaped little gift boxes and a package of mini bows at TDT, and the "presents" are little toys from the party favor section. This is a more involved/tricky task - students must first find a box bottom, choose a toy that fits, find the matching box top, and then choose a bow. I velcroed the bows to the box tops so they can be re-used over and over. It's a task that could require some trial and error, too, because some of the toys will fit in some boxes but not others!

Many of these are not my own ideas. Here are some of the many places I get ideas for pre-voc work boxes (other than wandering the aisles of the Dollar Tree!):
-Awesomeness and Autism (1)
-Awesomeness and Autism (2)
-Awesomeness and Autism (3)
-Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs (1)
-Teaching Learners with Multiple Special Needs (2)
-Shoe Box Tasks
-Considerate Classroom
-more on my pre-voc/life skills Pinterest board

These two books are fantastic resources, as well:

Monday, January 6, 2014

Rights and Responsibilities

This is officially the longest winter break I've ever had - not only did we have a snow day on the Friday before break, we have another today - and I just got the call that my district has already closed for tomorrow! I'm using these extra days to put the finishing touches on prep/printing/laminating/planning for January. Nice to be able to get even more done than I'd expected - and in my pajamas, no less! ;)

Our January unit is all about Rights and Responsibilities. I've said before that I try to make a youtube playlist with our unit theme each month, to be played while we have arrivals/breakfast time each morning. Here are some videos I've found for this month:

"We've All Got Rights" by UNICEF - catchy! It also touches on issues of refugees - as I have a refugee in my class this year, this one will be good to talk about.

"Rights and Responsibilities of Children" - not a song, but I love how it pairs each right with a corresponding responsibility. The images in the video are a bit young for my kids, and I usually would not use a video like this because of that, but the info is so excellent and in language my students can understand, so I'm keeping it in.

"Here I Am and I Have Rights" - not sure my students will love this one, as it's not as catchy a song as they usually like - but it has a great message/information. The images in the video would be great discussion starters for higher-functioning students, too.

"All About Responsibility" - gotta love Harry Kindergarten! My kids will certainly be singing along to this one.

"Rights and Responsibilities of Citizens" by brainpop  - another one that's not a song, but excellent!

"I Have a Dream" song for MLK Day - how perfect that we're studying rights and responsibilities during January this year!

I also wanted to share about a book I found at the library over break that I'm definitely going to be using in class:
We Are All Born Free: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Pictures by Amnesty International is a fantastic picture book! It uses a simplified version of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and many different artists contributed illustrations for each of the articles.

I'd never read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights before, but I love how this book starts: We are all born free and equal. We all have our own thoughts and ideas. We should all be treated in the same way. These rights belong to everybody, whatever our differences.We all have the right to life, and to live in freedom and safety. And it ends: We have a duty to other people, and we should protect their rights and freedoms. Nobody can take these rights and freedoms from us. What a great summary!

Since the book is rather long (there are 30 articles in the declaration) and my students will not be able to focus on it all, I'm planning on using it during our group circle time but skip pages here and there (the articles that either my students don't have a frame of reference for and/or they would have trouble understanding) and further simplify the text on others. I'll use it in my higher group to discuss further.

I'll be sure to share other "rights and responsibilities" things we do as the month goes on.

Also, don't forget to hop over to Tasha's blog to check out my guest post from yesterday, too: Adapting Books @ A Tender Teacher for Special Needs :)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Guest Post!

Just a reminder that I'm not posting on this blog today - I'm over at Tasha's blog, A Tender Teacher for Special Needs! Click her blog button below to see my post about adapting books - and while you're there, be sure to check out the rest of her great blog!

A Tender Teacher For Special Needs

Saturday, January 4, 2014

January Currently!

First of all, I have an exciting announcement...tomorrow I'm going to be guest blogging over at Tasha's blog, A Tender Teacher for Special Needs! I've never guest blogged before, so I'm excited to have this 'first' with a fantastic fellow sped blogger! Be sure to check it out tomorrow for my post on creating adaptive/interactive books for my classroom:
A Tender Teacher For Special Needs

Now, I'm a bit late to the party, but here's my January 2014 Currently! I can't believe this is my third January Currently - my little ol' blog turned three on New Year's Day!

I am loving the new Downton Abbey DVDs I got for Christmas...I had already seen the first season and now I'm diving into the second!

I'm really wanting a snack right now, yes...but as one of my resolutions goals for this year is to not snack as much - especially at night (and especially on chips and salsa!), I'm holding back.

I really do need to go grocery shopping. I'm dreading going tomorrow, though, because I hear the stores are insanely busy right now. We are supposed to get hit hard with both snow and below-zero weather Sunday night on, and as usual people are stocking up. I just need to be prepared to stand in line...

A fun memory from this Christmas was doing a funny photobooth photoshoot with props with my family! Even my 89-year-old grandma got in on the fun! I think my family would mutiny if I posted a photo of them online, so just trust me when I say it was great. We used these really cute, free props - totally bringing them to my classroom next holiday!
-Set 1 from Talk Crafty to Me
-Set 2 from Catching Fireflies

Go link up with Farley's Currently, if you haven't already:

Friday, January 3, 2014


I had some errands to run this morning and totally meant to post this before I left...oops! But here it is, the final New Year's Flash Freebie! "Henry and Mudge The First Book Literature Study Packet" is by far the most popular product on my store, and you can snag it for free today only! I'll post on Facebook when time is almost up. Enjoy!
Henry and Mudge The First Book Literature Study Packet

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Today's flash freebie is another one of my very favorite products! This functional math center has really helped a lot of my kiddos begin to understand paying for items with dollars. You can snag "You Have...It Costs...Can You Pay For It?" for free all day today; it will go back to paid before I go to bed tonight. I'll post to my Facebook page when time is almost up :) Enjoy!
Money Math Center Activity - You Have/It Costs...Can You Pay?

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Flash FREEBIES for the New Year!

Happy 2014!

In order to say Happy New Year and a huge "thank you!" to all my wonderful followers, for the next three days I am going to be offering one usually paid product from my store as a FREEBIE! I'll choose the product and set it free whenever I get on the computer first for the day, and I'll set it back to paid right before I go to bed. I'll be sure to post on my Facebook page when the time is almost up.

Today's Flash Freebie is one of my very favorite products - "The Ways I Feel - Interactive/Adapted Books About Emotions and Feelings" - you can click the image below to grab it for free, today only!
The Ways I Feel - Interactive/Adapted Books About Emotions

Happy New Year, everyone!
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