Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Biking Our Way to Success!

Biking Our Way to Success!

My Students: "Big wheels keep on rolling!" However, this is not the case if you are a preschooler at our school. The kindergarteners have two very old bikes, which they allow us to use once a week, but this limited time is not enough for our developing gross motor skills! We need our own preschool sized bikes!
Our class is a Pre-K for students between the ages of 3-5 with special needs. Their disabilities differ, but most are placed on the Autism spectrum. We are located on an elementary school campus and are the only Pre-K in the district.

My students have their days, planned full of interventions, assessments and therapy sessions. They are all such little troopers that face great difficulties daily. When they come to school, I want them to be excited and happy. School should be challenging, but there's no reason it can't also be fun!

Despite their disabilities, the students in my classroom are just like any other preschooler. They love coming to school and exploring their environment in hands-on ways. We love music, dancing, and art (especially the messy kind!), but our favorite time of the day is story time! If you were to visit our classroom, you would probably be introduced to our favorite book, "Pete the Cat," within the first five minutes of your arrival (probably sooner!).

My Project: The students in my class eagerly await Fridays because they know they get to ride the "big kids" bikes. Unfortunately, because of the kindergarten's recess schedule, we only have access to the bikes one day a week. This simply is not enough time to help develop my student's large muscles and coordination. Many of the students in my class have delays in coordination, balance, and gross motor development. Our occupational therapist has suggested that many of the students in my class should start riding tricycles, in order to help encourage development. We are requesting one small bike and one bigger bike in order to accommodate all of the children in our class. We would also love a scooter to help practice balance and coordination for some of our more advanced students.
My students are so excited for the day that they can use bikes freely at school. Our new bikes will be well loved by the students in my class. Your donations will help ensure that the wheels of development keep on rolling!

My students need 2 cycles and a scooter to help practice coordination and to foster gross motor development.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Sensational Experience!

Your Teacher Photo

My Students: A hand dryer, a toilet flushing, a hug from a friend! All of these very normal sounds and sensations can be overwhelming for the students in my class because of their placement on the Autism Spectrum. We need a way to experience with our senses in a safe and structured way.
Our class is a Pre-K class for students between the ages of 3-5 with special needs. Their disabilities differ, but most are placed on the Autism spectrum. We are located on an elementary school campus and are the only Pre-K in the district. My students have their days planned full of interventions, assessments and therapy sessions. They are all such little troopers that face great difficulties daily. When they come to school, I want them to be excited and happy. School should be challenging, but there's no reason it can't also be fun! Despite their disabilities, the students in my classroom are just like any other preschooler. They love coming to school and exploring their environment in hands-on ways. We love music, dancing, and art (especially the messy kind!), but our favorite time of the day is story time! If you were to visit our classroom, you would probably be introduced to our favorite book, "Pete the Cat," within the first five minutes of your arrival (probably sooner!).

My Project: Autistic children often have difficulties organizing and processing sensory input. Sights, smells, touches, and sounds may be ignored entirely, or overreacted to. When sensory input is not being managed properly, problems in behavior, learning, and attention may arise. We have attempted to create a miniature sensory center in our classroom by using a radio, a swing, tumbling mats, and aromatherapy; however, we would love to expand this area in our classroom in order to better address our student's entire sensory needs. We are requesting one light table in order to explore sight in a hands-on way. The students will be able to use the translucent Prism Blocks and Climbers in order to explore color, light, and depth perception. The Magna Tiles will be an interesting way for the students to adjust to resistance and pressure. The bean bags will help our students adjust to sitting on different textures, by being enveloped in a soft, squishy chair.
Our class is designed to help prepare students to be able to function in a classroom before entering kindergarten. Some of the biggest issues facing Autistic students in the classroom are behavior, attention and sensory input management. We greatly desire a way to help our students better handle sensory situations, and thereby preparing them to be successful students later on. This sensory station will be a wonderful way to ensure our student's success and development!

My students need a sensory station that will help them with their Autism, as well as give them the sensory input necessary to better help them explore their environment.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Free Download: "Way Up High In the Christmas Tree!"

Way up high on the Christmas tree,
____ little candy canes winked at me.
So I shook that tree as hard as I could
Down came a candy cane,
Mmm it was good!

All of the candy canes on the tree are attached using velcro. When you start ask your students to help count how many candy canes are on the tree, then write (or have a student write) the number on the blank line. Each time you sing the song, remove one candy cane and recount how many are left on the tree. Continue singing until you wind up at zero! For a free download of the candy canes click here.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

December Book Alert!

In anticipation for December I just bought the book, "Who Will Guide My Sleigh Tonight". it's another book in the series by Jerry Pollata! I'm expecting it to be as popular as "Who Will Carve the Turkey this Thanksgiving?"

Good news you can get it on Amazon for as low as a penny ( plus shipping)! Just follow the link

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Heads Up for Next Year!

This is such a great book for little ones! My kids ask for it daily (multiple times a day). Each page features a different animal and why it wouldn't be a good choice to carve the turkey. We like making the animal sounds as we go. It finally ends with grandpa and grandma arriving and my students race to be the first to point out which adult is holding what. It's probably too late this year, but I'd keep an eye out on scholastic for it to go on clearance soon (it's already only around $4 with scholastic). Enjoy!

-Miss Timaree

Monday, November 21, 2011

Free Download! - Gingerbread Man Puppet

I made gingerbread puppets this weekend and although it isn't even Thanksgiving, I just couldn't wait to post them! You can download them here. If you do download the puppets please feel free to leave me a comment!


-Download the puppets
-Cut out and laminate
-Tape popsicle sticks to the back
-Have Fun!

A Song to Sing with your Puppets

(To the tune of Frere Jacques)
Gingerbread, gingerbread,
Yum, yum, yum, Yum, yum, yum.
I like gingerbread, I like gingerbread,
In my tum, In my tum.

Linky Party!

A Special Kind of Class alerted me to the linky party happening over at What the Teacher Wants. As a new member of the teaching blog world, I'm really excited about this chance for community!

1.  What are you thankful for in your classroom?
Our new iPad. Our school has something called "Wish Night" sponsored by the PTA where parents are encouraged to donate money to help provide for the "extras" in public education. One parent made a very generous donation to be used for the purchase of an iPad 2, case, and apps! We are so excited, and the kids can't get enough of it! Even some of our less verbal kids have learned the word iPad. Gotta love it.

2. What person are you most thankful for?My family, friends and (especially lately) my more experienced coworkers, who make me look good even when I feel clueless!

3. What 3 blogs are you most thankful for?
Certainly more than 3 but here you go:

-A Special Kind of Class

-Teach Preschool
Teach Preschool

-Kindergarten Klub
Kindergarten Klub

4. What guilty pleasure are you most thankful for?
Reese's Fast Break candy bars (a Reese's Peanut Butter Cups with nougat!), Diet Coke, Hulu, Pandora (my morning commute is 1.5 hours YUCK!)

5. What are you most thankful for?
The new transmission in my car, which makes me trust it (somewhat) more than I did before :)

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Teacher's Tip: The Best Bubbles Ever!

These bubbles by Gymboree are my all time favorite bubbles. For starters the bubbles are extra "floaty" and seem to dance around for a lot longer than other brands. An extra bonus of the bubbles is that they can be caught and held on a finger, or any other surface they land on. The bubble wand is easy to use (even for little people) and creates a large amount of bubbles from very little effort.  

A song we sing while playing with bubbles is:

Babies blowing bubbles, bubbles, bubbles,
Babies blowing bubbles, pop, pop, pop,

Babies blowing bubbles, bubbles, bubbles,
Babies blowing bubbles on the _______________.
(name an item in the classroom/playground, table, carpet, chair, tree, grass, etc)
(repeat second verse until students lose interest)

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Thanksgiving Party Pilgrim Place Markers

These are super cute place markers for you kids at your Thanksgiving feast party. (I write their name on the hat in a gold or silver paint marker, this one was an extra)


Lay 5 popsicle sticks together on the table. Then hot glue 2 more popsicle sticks about a third of the way down. Bend one additional popsicle stick in half and glue to the back for a stand. You can paint the top part black or have your students do it themselves. Add googly eyes and a mouth and you have yourself a pilgrim!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Patterns for All: Using Beads to develop patterns

We love this pattern kit from Lakeshore. The claim that they are indestructible, and while the beads and strings are very sturdy, I would recommend laminating the pattern cards before giving them to your kids. Patterning is a standard early childhood goal, and our kids need a lot of help working on building patterns. They love following pattern guides and trying to recreate them on their own.

I pour out the beads into shallow buckets so that they are easier to see and find. This also limits frustration for the students and helps keep the beads on the table.

String Beads Tip:

Tie a paper clip onto the end of the string to help keep the beads from falling right off the other side.

Science Center: Investigating Fall

This is a picture of our science center. We have pumpkins in a variety of shapes and sizes, real and fake leaves, and pine cones (someone is playing with them out of the picture) for ordering, sorting, etc. Magnifying glasses are provided for further investigation. I try to include interesting fabrics to make the center more inviting and visually appealing.
The red, orange, and yellow water bottles allow the students to play with and explore the colors we are focusing on this month. They love holding them up to the light and next to each other to see how they change.

Music: Pitter, Patter - Free Puppet Download

It is Raining!
(to the tune of "Frere Jacques")
It is raining, It is raining!
On my ____________________, On my ___________________!
Pitter, Pitter, Patter,
Pitter, Pitter, Patter,
I'm all wet, I'm all wet!

  • Fill in the blank parts of the song with body parts. The children can help name the body parts they want to include in the song (head, shoulder, arm). Sometimes my kids like to switch it up and say "In my Mouth! In my Mouth!" They hold their head back and open their mouths to the sky as though they are catching the raindrops with their moths.
  • We like to clap our hands on our knees while we say "pitter, pitter, patter" to imitate the sounds rain actually makes. (great for nonverbal or struggling students)

I made these puppets for my class and the children place the rain puppet on each body part as we say it. They are available for download. Just cut them out, laminate, and tape to a popsicle stick!

Art: Pitter Patter

Wax Paper Raindrops

What you'll need:

  • Crayon shavings (shades of blue, and white)
  • A cheese grater (one designated for school is best, because it will be covered in crayon afterwards)
  • Blue and White tissue paper squares
  • Wax paper cut into rain drop shapes
  • An iron or laminater
  • Blue, silver, white glitter

  1. Give each child one side of the wax paper rain drop.
  2. Have the child sprinkle crayon shavings, tissue paper squares, and glitter to their desired amount. (Encourage them to cover the whole rain drop with crayon shavings so that the two sides stick together better)
  3. Place the 2nd piece of wax paper on top.
  4. Iron, or place in laminater. (if using a laminater insert the rain drop between two pieces of plain white printing paper)
  5. I labeled my display in the window "Pitter Patter" (which went with a song we learned), but it is hard to see with the light.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Art: Indian Headbands

We are busy preparing for our Thanksgiving Feast this Friday. Today we made Indian headbands which will serve as our party hats.

Step 1: Have the kids decorate their headband strip with makers/paint.

Step 2: Have the children pick out the colors of feathers that they would like to include on their headbands. This is a good way to help them make requests, as well as identify/learn about different colors. (I had the feathers precut, you could have your students cut the feathers out themselves depending on ability or the goals you're working on. You could also use actual feathers)

Step 3: Measure the headband to the correct length and staple. We will be taking a picture of each child in their Indian headband for their portfolio.

Outdoor Learning: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Just like every other PreK-er I have ever met, we love Chicka Chicka, Boom Boom. Today during our outdoor time, I drew a large tree with sidewalk chalk. All the kiddos worked together to add letters to our letter tree.

Sometimes combining gross motor with fine motor skills makes activities more accessible to more students. My students who have a hard time forming/tracing shapes on paper, were able to make closer approximations to letters on this larger scale!

Music: Rain Is Falling!

(Sung to the tune of "Happy Birthday")

This is a great song to include as we move into colder weather.
I have a set of class pictures that I have laminated and use for a variety of activities. During this song, place one child's picture on each blank line of the song chart. The pictured students should stand up with the teacher. As everyone sings, the teacher can hold his or her hands above the students head and move their fingers down to represent rain.

This is another great way to help non verbal students participate in large group activities.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Art: Gobble, Gobble!

Turkey Hands are one of my favorite activities. The child has to sit with a teacher, or another student (if another student is helping you make sure they are more advanced in fine motor skills). Paint the child's palm + thumb brown, and then paint each of the fingers a different color. Have the child press their hand down on the paper. Once it has dried you can have the students add eyes, a beak and feet. I like to hang my finished products on a giant butcher paper turkey.

How is this helpful to SpEd?: This activity helps students to interact with one another and adults. Everyone is working towards a common goal, so communication and relationships naturally are formed. The students have the opportunity to discover and talk about the different colors involved. This is a sensory experiment and words such as "cold, tickles, sticky, messy, etc." can be introduced.

Some students might have issues with getting their hands messy. I usually do this activity close to a sink so that they know that AS SOON as they are finished they can wash their hands. If you don't have a sink in your classroom try using a bowl with soapy water.

Free Download: Music: Ted the Turkey

Here's another Thanksgiving song about turkeys. Each child holds a TURKEY PUPPET and points to the different body parts (head and feathers) on their puppet as they sing along. Not all of my studnts are able to sing along, so the puppets provide a fun way for them to still interact and participate. The "gobble gobble" sounds are also really enjoyable for students who are still learning to communicate.

Ted the Turkey
(Sung To: I'm A Little Teapot)
I'm a little turkey, my name is Ted.
Here are my feathers, here is my head.
Gobble, gobble, gobble, is what I say
Gobble, gobble, gobble, It's thanksgiving Day!

The turkey puppets are available here. Simply print out as many as you need, cut them out, lamenate them, and tape them to a popsicle stick. You make wish to write the word TURKEY or TED on the puppet to further increase exposure to litearcy.

I make one per student, and one per adult. Usually a total of 12). Its important for the adults to sing along and participate, as they serve as great models to the students.

Free Download: Music: Did You Ever See a Turkey?

Our main song for our Thanksgiving theme is titled, "Did You Ever See a Turkey" and is sung to the tune of "Did You Ever See a Lassie".

Did You Ever See a Turkey
Did you ever see a turkey, a turkey, a turkey
Did you ever see a turkey with feathers so bright?

With red ones and brown ones and yellow ones and orange ones,
Did you ever see a turkey with feathers so bright?

I make a poster for each of the main theme songs we learn. The posters help to serve as a visual or focal point for students who may otherwise be uninterested. Posting the words also promotes early literacy. This poster has a picture of a cartoon turkey that can be downloaded here. I cut out 2 sets of feathers in each of the colors mentioned in the song ( red orange brown yellow). As we sing the song a child can match the loose feathers to the feathers on the turkey.

Free Download: Who is Here Today?

We use this during our morning circle time. Each child has a picture card with Velcro on the back. We put all the pictures in a basket and each child has a turn pulling out a card. They then identify the person on the picture (either by verbally naming, looking at, pointing to, or walking to the child, depending on their individual ability). The class then decides if the child pictured on the card is present in the classroom that day. If the child is there, the pictured child takes the card and places it on the school house. If they child is absent, the class helps to figure out where the student is. Possible guesses might be at home, at general education, or in speech therapy. The title is available for download.

Our Classroom

We just had a student free day and my TAs and I were finally able to get a lot of work done in regards to our classroom arrangement and organization. (Yay!)

Our classroom is divided into a variety of learning centers. We have a library, block area, pretend play area, puzzle center, tool bench, train table, writing center, and circle time area. Each of the areas of labeled and defined either by furniture or rugs. We are also really lucky because our classroom was once designed as an Occupational Therapy "gym" and so we have sturdy beams on the ceiling, and swings that can be attached.

Group Time

Our Circle Time area is located in the right hand corner of this picture. We have found that having everyone sit in chairs is a much easier way to keep bodies still and focused.
The half circle tables are the greatest invention yet. We push them together for large group activities like snack time, and then pull them apart for small group work. Teachers can sit in the "nook" and easily have access to the task at hand.


Our class entrance is fun and welcoming. Sometimes leaving mom and dad can be difficult, so making the class as inviting as possible is key to easy transitions. The class door has a picture of every child to remind them that this is their space.  We have two sets of cubbies and they are arranged in an L shape. Having the cubbies right by the door helps to remind the students of our morning routine of putting their belongings, ie: snack box, jacket, etc, away before coming inside. The cubbies also prevent students who are excited to come in from charging through the classroom.

More Circle Time
All of the supplies we need for circle time are easily accessable in this area.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Magic Pumpkins

Our class is too young to carve a pumpkin, so every year we adapt this activity and make it a sensory activity. We cut open the pumpkin and have the children reach in and feel the insides. This is a great opportunity for language too! Make sure to talk about the textures (slimy, wet, etc). Talk about what they find inside, count the seeds, etc.
After the pumpkin is cut open it will likely rot pretty quickly, so we usually just toss them out. However, this year we filled the pumpkin with dirt and placed it by the window. Once the pumpkin was filled we talked about what we thought was going to happen. Have students help water it every day (we used a spray bottle from the Dollar Tree, a great OT/fine motor activity).
My students loved charting the progress of the pumpkin and posting updated pictures of it on the wall next to it. This helped them to make observations and refer back to what the pumpkin looked like before.

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