On the go art kits

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With a 3 and a 4 year old it is smart to always be prepared during outings that may be boring or long car trips to have some type of activity for them to complete.  It saves your sanity when they are busy (and creative) and it keeps everyone happy.  With the help of supplies from Oriental Trading, I decided to make “On the Go Art Kits”.

I included lots of items in the kits so different fun and creative ideas can be made from them.  Since we have moved and are permanently living on our boat, I also made the kits ocean themed.  My hope is that any time we are with other children, we can use the kits for all the kids to be entertained.  All the items are kept conveniently in a pencil pouch so they do not take up alot of room.

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What included?

Stickers-Lots of stickers!  I included all different types of sea life stickers with different textures.

Stamps-The kids have really enjoyed the stamps, but you have to watch out because they can sometimes get a little “stamp happy”.  I found my three year old with stamps all over her arm!

Paper-I loved this paper because it has all different sizes and colors.  It also included premade folded cards, which we plan to use for a different project.

Scissors-I included beginner scissors, so I did not have to worry as much about the kids cutting themselves or other items.

Glue-This has allowed them to get super creative with glue different pieces of paper together.  My favorite picture that they have made has been a collage which took lots of glue!

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Of course there are many more items that could be added, such as crayons, markers, pencils……the list could go on and on. The results of the the artwork completed has been pretty interesting and entertaining.  I made about 12 kits, so I always have one ready to go!

This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provideds the sample free of charge by the company toprovide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own

Test Day Treats!

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It is that time at our school….State Testing week.  In the past as a School Psychologist I never really participated in this week, but that has changed this year as a Special Education Coordinator.   In order to provide a little dose of encouragement, I found these great FREE sayings from Math Mojo on Teachers Pay Teachers that can be attached to different treats.  I wish I had found these a little earlier because I would have made more of them, but for this time, I only had time to make two of them.

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Teachers tend to get overly stressed around this time of year, so we had donuts of teachers in the morning and a little note of encouragement.

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We actually have testing coming up for another two weeks for different grades so I hope to be able to make some more little notes of encouragement for teachers and students!!

Linking behavior between home and school

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Often times, the missing link in changing a child’s negative behavior is the home school connection.  When children exhibit challenging behaviors, the consistency between home and school are vital in making any long term changes.  This connection can be reached through constant communication and unique systems that make both the teacher and parents life easier.

Recently we have begun a “Hole Punch” behavior modification technique with a student in order to reinforce positive behaviors.  The child has two behaviors that he must exhibit in order to get a hole punch on a card: Follow teacher request the first time the request is made and Keep hands and feet in assigned area.  When the child completes either task, he receives a hole punch.

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Once the child receives 10 hole punches, he receives 2 minutes of time in his “super hero” basket.  This basket contains all different kinds of superhero stamps, stickers, color books, and toys.  This system is used in the school setting and the child has successfully responded and the number of behavioral incidents has decreased.

However, I believe the true success of this system is the follow through that happens at home.  The parent uses an app called IRewards Chart.  The parent types the same behaviors in their IRewards Chart.  Depending on how many hole punches the student receives at school, the student can press the button on the phone to enter that many stars on the app.  The parent also has added some additional chores and behaviors that are expected at home.

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The app allows the parents to set up a reward chart, so the child can save their stars for certain items/rewards and then cash them in when they have enough stars.  So, basically it is a token economy on a mobile device which is such an awesome idea!

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Using this app is a perfect carry over from school and the connection is very clear to the student.  It is also an easy implementation for parents since the app has created the system for you already and it is FREE!

This is just one example of the two “worlds” of home and school coming together to improve student behavior.  This can also be accomplished by using Individual Behavior Charts for older students.  Students receive points throughout the day on a behavior chart and then are rewarded for meeting their goal.  The parent signs the chart and reinforces the positive behaviors at home.

Whatever the system that is chosen, the key is consistency and communication between the home and school.  When the child knows that both the parent and the teacher are working together, this creates a more likely chance of lasting and permanent changes in behaviors.


Autism Awareness Month

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April is Autism Awareness Month!  For this month our school has decided to make pins for the teachers and staff to wear.  These pins were incredible simple and fun to make.

Materials needed:

Hot glue gun

Puzzle Ribbon (I found this at Walmart for about $2 a spool)

Puzzle pieces (You can get a puzzle at the Dollar Store)

Pin hook (It cost about $3.50 for 40 pin backs)

Paint

Glitter

Decoupage

Step One: Paint all the puzzle pieces one color.  I used blue since blue is the color that represents Autism Awareness.

Step Two: After the pieces dry, paint with a layer of decoupage and sprinkle glitter on top.

Step Three: Cut the ribbon and loop to form a ribbon.  Hot glue the ribbon together.

Step Four: Glue the glittered puzzle piece on top of the ribbon and glue the hook on the back of the ribbon.

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I searched pinterest and found this great card that I printed and pinned the puzzle piece pin on for a final product!

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Pencil Grips Review

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When The Pencil Grip company originally approached me to write a review on their Pencil Grips, I was going to try them with some students at school.  However, my 4 year old daughter has recently surprised me with her fine motor development, so I decided to try them out with her instead!!  She recently turned 4 and her writing skills have started to take off.   It seems like within a week she went from writing “A” to attempting a sentence.

We tried out all three pencil grips (The Crossover Grip, The Pinch Grip, and Pencil Grip) to help her with grip and formation of the letters.  Based on our use of the grips, I was impressed with the DURABILITY, TEXTURE, and INCREASED LEGIBILITY.

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At first she was a little awkward with the grip and she needed help with finger placement.  Please ignore the messy hands….we just finished with a painting project!!

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As you can see from the picture above, her finger wanted to cross over.  After she understood the finger positioning, she took off writing.

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I have noticed that there is more control with her grasp, thus an increase in legibility.  We now writing daily and she typically will choose the Crossover Grip.  This is the grip shown above which has wings on the grip which prevent the fingers from crossing over.  I have also used these grips when writing and like the texture of the grip.

On a side note, my younger daughter got a hold of the grips and started to chew on them.  I was rather impressed with there durability…..not one tooth mark!!

If you would like a set of Pencil Grips for FREE, just enter the raffle below!!
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This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own.

4 Ways to Increase Parent Involvement

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I’m excited to have an article on the Teach for America Blog, Teacher Pop.  Here is a sneak peek at the article.

Depending on where you teach, parent involvement can be a tricky issue to tackle. I’ve worked at schools with tremendous parent involvement—even to the point of over-involvement—and others where parents rarely stepped in the building. In order to create a continuous environment of learning and success for children, it’s important for parents and teachers to partner and collaborate. So, how can you build parent involvement in your school?

Click on the image below to keep reading.

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Show and Tell Tuesday

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I’m excited to be linking with Forever in Fifth Grade for another Show and Tell Tuesday.  I’m a little late this month since we have been wrapping up before Spring Break.  I want to show a couple of projects I have been working on for the past month.

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We hosted the first ever Special Education Parent Resource Night with the theme of “Putting the Pieces Together” at the end of last month, and it was a great success!!  We had 19 families attend and gave away a lot of resources for parents to use with their children at home.  We were very lucky to have received donations from a couple of companies and the PTO, so the event cost very little money.

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Our house sold and we are busy packing and giving away our things.  I have been using a simple organizational method of a “Keep/Boat” box, “Sell” box, and “Giveaway” box.  Plus, I have had many trash bags full of things that need to be thrown away!!  It feels so rewarding to de-clutter everything!

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I currently have a giveaway going on that you can enter to win a set of magnetic letters/numbers.  We gave away 11 sets of these at our Special Education Parent Night thanks to a generous donation from Educational Insights.  You can do so many different learning activities with these letters!

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Enter below to win this set of Magnetic Letters from Educational Insights (a 24.99 value).

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Hosting a Special Education Parent Resource Night

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This year we hosted the first ever Special Education Parent Resource Night at our school.  It ended up being a great success with many resources given to parents to help their children at home.  The theme of the event was “Putting the Pieces Together” with emphasize on how it takes a team of people to help a child achieve their best.

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The evening was structured around mini-sessions and parent could pick the three sessions they would like to attend.  The mini-sessions were conducted by myself, our special education teachers, paraprofessionals, Occupational Therapist, Speech Therapist, and Counselor.  The card below was sent to each parent, along with an invitation, for them to use to RSVP to the event.

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Each parent was also sent a reminder in the mail, as well as a reminder phone call.

The purpose of each session was to give parents take home resources they could use with their children immediately.  Depending on the session we provided a number of different learning tools.  For example, in the session titled “Making Math Fun”, we provided foam dice, cards, and dominoes and then handouts of different games parents can play with their child that practice various math skills.  We had a wonderful donation from Educational Insights of magnetic letters that paired with the session “Building Young Readers”.  Parents were given the letters, a baking sheet, and different activities that can be used on the baking sheet to learn letters and make words.

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As parents checked in, they were given a schedule of the sessions they would attend with a bag that contained the following:

  • Special Education Parent Binder
  • A book on their child’s current independent reading level with a card of Lexile and Fountas and Pinnell levels
  • Magnet of all their child’s passwords for different computer enrichment programs
  • Dry erase board and marker and a pen

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They were also given a schedule of the different mini-sessions they would be attending.

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After they received their bag and schedule, they had a chance to pick out two books for their child and one book for themselves.  This way we were able to promote a “family” of readers.  I also provided information on our ongoing “Reading is Sweet” incentive program.

I was pretty excited when I found puzzle piece ribbon at Walmart and knew I needed to find a why to use it.  So, I attached the balloon to an anchor and hung a sign to label each area of the table.

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We provided light refreshments from Chik-Fil-A and a couple of veggie trays.  When all parents had a chance to get a bite to eat, I reviewed the contents of the notebooks.  Anyone who has experience with special education, knows how much paperwork is given to parents.  I wanted to provide them an organized notebook to store all the paperwork they collect over the years. Dividers were labeled as follows: Current IEP, Progress Reports, Evaluation Reports, Past IEP’s, and Notes.  They were also given a pre-meeting and meeting notes templates to use.

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After we reviewed the notebooks, parents split up to begin their mini-sessions.  Each session had between 2 to 7 parents at one time, which created a nice intimate setting that made parents comfortable to ask questions. We had a total of 19 families attend and provided childcare for the children.

I loved the feeling of teamwork that was accomplished by the end of the night between parents and the school.  My goal has always been to create a special education program that is collaborative in nature and hosting a special education parent resource night is definitely something I would continue to do in the future to continue positive relationships with parents that ultimately benefits the students.

As I mentioned above, Educational Insights graciously donated boxes of magnetic letters to our event.  Enter below to win a FREE set of Magnetic Letters from Educational Insights (a 24.99 value).

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Springing into Learning

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I’m excited to be teaming up with some other great bloggers for a Springing into Learning Blog Hop!  Thanks to Kim at Elementary Antics for organizing this fabulous Hop!

I would like to share a fun craft I recently made for St. Patrick’s Day which is right around the corner!  With some old pots we had in the yard, I created “Pots of Gold” to take to both my school and the girl’s school.  This is a simple, yet thoughtful way let others know you are “lucky” to have them either teaching with you or teaching your kids!

All you need to make these pots are black paint, gold glitter, decoupage, outdoor pots, shamrock stencil and Rolos!  The pictures below walk you through the different steps.

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Now for the fun FREEBIE!!!  We have been working on numbers lately at the house , so I have made my starfish numbers 1-9 free for the next three days.  This set includes numbers 1-9.  It is a great way to introduce and practice numbers as Spring time begins!

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I am also currently have a giveaway going on for a set of 12 Kwik Stix for the next 12 hours.  You can read my review here of these fun, vibrate, no mess paints.  Enter the raffle below to win your own set!

Kwik Stix 12 pack

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Make sure you check out all the other blogs for more great Springtime ideas!!


Take Home Math Kits

coverIt seems there is typically a larger focus on literacy skills than math skills, so I wanted to make sure to give both of these skills their equal share of practice with our students.  We sent home take home literacy kits earlier this school year, so now we will be sending home take home math kits.  With the help of Oriental Trading, we were able to make five different kits that target specific skills and are engaging for parents to do at home with their children.

Kit #1

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The target skill for this kit is one digit addition and subtraction.  Included in the kit are Counting Monkeys and Flashcards.  Parents can quiz their children with the flash cards and use the counting monkey for manipulates.  Once students have mastered this skill, I plan on adding sand timers, so they can work on fluency.

Kit #2

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This kit is for students who are still learning numbers and number sense.  Student count the number of objects on the sheet and place the correct magnetic number on the tray.   Included in this kit is a Cookie Tray, Counting mat, and Magnetic Numbers.

Kit #3

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The focus of this kit is Number Bonds.  Children fill in the blank circle with the correct number to complete the “bond”.  Each tote includes a set of 15 Number Bonds, dry erase marker and eraser.

Kit #4

red2For this kit, I made an activity sheet so students can create equations with the numbers they roll.  Each kit includes a blue and a red number cube, as well as an operations cube.  Students role the cubes, fill the numbers into the corresponding color box and then complete the equations.  The contents of the tote include a dry erase marker, activity sheet, and Math Connecting Blocks.

Kit #5

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The final kit focuses on place value.  Each kit includes 15 Place Value Puzzles which consists three separate pieces.  Parents can build the puzzles with their children and practice math at the same time!

Students have enjoyed receiving their colorful tote bags to take home to use with their parents.  And parents have appreciated  the engaging and hands on activities to do at home with their kids, which is a welcomed alternative to worksheets or other homework!

This review is based strictly on my opinion. I was provided the sample free of charge by the company to provide my honest review. No other type of compensation was received. All ideas and opinions are my own.