Monday, April 11, 2016

Think Green!

April is one of my favorite months of the year. There are tiny little wildflowers hiding in the grass and the sweet songs of birds float through the air. It's the perfect time to remember that we have so much beauty surrounding us if we just take the time to notice the small things. It's also a beauty that we must protect. 

So beauty, inspiration, music.......It all led me to create a simple mobile craft activity for Earth Day. I recommend watching a brief video on recycling before you start this craft. My current favorite is a clip from Reading Rainbow that shows what happens to recyclables once they reach the recycling plant. There are quite a few good ones out there though.  

Once you have watched your video, it's time to talk about the "Three R's". Students get to write about what they can do to reduce, reuse, and recycle on one side. The other side is blank so you can have them draw a picture of what the action looks like once they cut the shape out.

The top and bottom of the mobile have small recycling related pictures for them to color as they would like.

Grab your copy of this Earth Day craft here

Monday, March 28, 2016

Conversational Skills Superheroes

If it hasn't become obvious by now, I am really loving Michelle Garcia Winner's Social Thinking materials this year. My students love it too! 

I've recently started adding in some conversational skills activities into several of my groups. I wanted to tie Superflex into this so the students have a constant reminder to use their social toolbox. Even though we have really taken our time with the basics, I think it is always helpful to have a reminder when you are branching out. As you can see, the activity we ended up doing took a little bit of time and creativity on my part.

I made four posters featuring Aiden, We have an expected and unexpected poster for both conversational roles. The unexpected listener is frowning because he's really not sure what is going on. The unexpected speaker is so busy talking about HIS interests that he forgets all about his listener. The expected speaker and listener are both happy to be participating in the conversation.

I wrote down different expected and unexpected behaviors for my students to put on the posters. The hardest part was getting them to pay attention to the key words (listener/speaker).

The sort took us about 15 minutes to go through.

Next time, I need to make more cards for the listener. I really felt like I had more made until we finished the sort.

My follow up activities are pretty simple. We'll review the post-it posters and design our own mini posters on construction paper. I chose the red and green to contrast the expected vs. unexpected roles of each person. I drew Aiden on the bottom of my posters and my students will draw their own version on the bottom of their posters.

Once they have made their posters, I will have my students come up with their own expected vs. unexpected behavior sort using the green and "red" (pink) post-its. We'll sort these out on the big posters again.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Here's a Blast from the Past

Now that I am finally getting to start Superflex Takes on Rock Brain & the Unthinkables, I am also dusting off one of my favorite creations from the past, Conversation Junction. Why? I think it correlates pretty well with several of the Unthinkables and the continuation of expected vs. unexpected behaviors. I'm starting with what's expected and then we will work on more scenarios, videos, and role-plays of conversation skills. They will have their book to help them remember the expected behaviors through all of these activities. While this activity is more geared towards upper elementary, it can be modified for first and second grades if needed. 

In this booklet, students write about what a conversation is and the role of a speaker/listener. They learn the parts of being a good speaker and listener. They also learn about personal space as it relates to conversations. 

Grab your copy of Conversation Junction here.

P.S. I wish all of you the best during IEP overload season! Summer is coming, I promise, it is closer than you think.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Social Skills Round 2

While my husband enjoyed the Superbowl (sort of--his team lost), the dogs and I thought up new ideas for my social skills group. We decided that football games are a good time to reminisce about the good old days when I did inclusion groups last year. Some memories were good and some were not quite as great....

But what a great way to to talk about what we are expected to do in the classroom! Students see things like these actions all the time in classrooms and they leave a HUGE impression. I imagine some may see worse and some may see better depending on the make-up of the classroom. 

I hope you will find these scenarios to be another helpful addition to your social skills toolbox!

You can grab your copy of Classroom Social Skills here.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Buyer Beware

Don't you just love it when something breaks after the 30 day return policy? I know that I sure do.....

I bought an extra EET strand from Northern Speech Services during their Christmas sale. I have used it all of three times since I bought it on 12/18 and the plastic balls are crumbling. I haven't let my students touch it. I haven't banged it on any tables or dropped it on the floor. Yet, I can see little white lines on every single plastic ball.....and today the "where" ball split at the top. So out comes the hot glue to put it back together as well as secure the little end piece that fell off yesterday. 

I think I am justified in warning all of you readers considering I put the one at my previous school through the works without any damage. Either Northern Speech gets all of the crappy extras or the company selling the EET has started using a cheaper materials. Buyer Beware.

If I could send this $30-some dollar piece of crap back, I would do it in a heartbeat. This is exactly why I am very picky about the materials I buy in the first place. It has to be able to stand up to children. You can't even look at this thing without it falling to pieces. 

Clearly my students are going to love playing with the dried glue more than listening to me now.
The first one to go....but not the last.
You can see the white line on the Pink Parts ball is at the bottom. I'm going to assume it too will break soon.
I kept falling off during the middle of a session.

Thursday, January 28, 2016


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade because sometimes the situation just is what it least that has been my motto to some degree this year. Not because of my job--- my job is often the cure for the craziness that is family (mostly on one side). It's my refuge during the day and my little puppy family is my refuge at night. So I apologize to you for not being consistent in blogging. I don't like to get very personal on here so all I will say is that we are starting to look for a house or an apartment to give me a buffer from some very unneeded stress. We've also booked our one-year anniversary trip back to Disney! I cannot wait to get back to the Magic Kingdom and enjoy some carefree time. 

In the meantime, I thought I would share some pictures of things around my room that I love. Things that make me smile when no one else is around. 

My weekly EETchy bulletin board. We haven't gone through all of the strands yet, but I think it's important for them to see how it's going to eventually progress. Each session, we do one card together on my whiteboard and we put Thursday's card on display.

One of my fall thrift store finds. This desk divider was $20 at a local thrift shop that funds programs for men recovering from substance abuse. I walked away from it until I saw that they're over $100 on Amazon. I have word lists for all of my most frequently taught sounds and then I taped some names that I can use for phrases or sentences. The word lists are all free on TPT:

1. Articulation Word Lists for 15 Sounds
2.Free Phoneme Word Lists
3.Vocalic R Word List

Lastly, one of my summer thrift store finds. My best guess is that it's supposed to be a purse organizer. It has some little loops to hook on to something. I bought it knowing that it looked like something I could put homemade cards or craft supplies in. I ended up using it for phrase strips, calendar pieces, and a few of my hand-made social skills materials.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Seeing hearts?

As the weather turns colder (and snow finally decides to hit), I am looking towards the end of winter. I think this time of the year is hard in a way that can come as a surprise. IEPs are manageable and the assessment frenzy is still a little bit off in the distance. It's just the thinking process that starts now. The knowing that in a few months I will be sending students off to middle school or elementary school with goals that someone else has to use. Will they understand why I did things the way I did? Or will they think that my goals are terrible? I know that I was certainly guilty of not liking the way things were written by one of the SLPs who left my school last year. 

It brings me back to my social skills groups. Thinking about how other people perceive you is hard. Yet, we have to do it all the time. So why not get a head start on one of the trickiest holidays of all?

Take Heart! is a simple social skills activity to identify which action is an expected/unexpected behavior. When they pull out an unexpected behavior, students can use their predicting skills to come up with possible outcomes. They can also tell you a way to fix the unexpected behavior.

You can grab your free copy of Take Heart here!