This month we celebrated the beginning of school with our very own Park Fair! We worked all month with PT, OT, and speech to gain the skills we needed to be successful on the day of the fair. For the fair, students rotated through 8 centers: applesauce tasting (each class made their own recipe in advance), bucket bonanza, face painting, cotton candy, bounce house, petting zoo, corn hole and a water game. We tried to pick activities that the students would encounter at the Hudsonville Fair, but tried to also make it sensory friendly so that each of our students could access the event. Parents joined in on the fun and everyone had a great time! Below are a few pictures:
In our classroom, we have music therapy with Ms. Jenn every-other Wednesday. We love music therapy and the students really look forward to it. Ms. Jenn does a great job tying her music therapy sessions into what we are working on in the classroom. One of my favorite aspects of music therapy is that Ms. Jenn gives each child multiple opportunities to talk about what's important to them, pick a dance move, greet a friend, etc. It's great for their speech, social, and fine/gross motor goals! For the past few weeks Ms. Jenn has been working on a bell choir song with the students. Each child has a bell and must pay attention to the colors Ms. Jenn has up front to know when to play their bell. It's been a lot of fun watching the students grow in confidence and ability each time Ms. Jenn comes to our classroom.
Dear Family & Friends,
Welcome back and Happy New Year! Our book for January will be Where’s Spot?, by Eric Hill. This is a traditional lift-the-flap book that targets many speech-language elements, including asking/answering yes/no questions and “wh” questions, prediction, identifying and verbalizing a number of prepositions (under, over, behind, in front, etc.) as well as use of a number of common household vocabulary. The basic premise: It’s time for dinner and Spot is no where to be found. His mother goes looking for him in different hiding places around the house, only to find many other animals hiding around the house. If you don’t have the book, there is no need to buy it. There is actually an animated version on YouTube. If you have access to the internet at home, this would be a free option! To watch this video click on the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JH-pAJ87m8
Be sure to emphasize the sounds for them as a model. Here is a list of vocabulary to focus on:
Verbs: eat, hide, look, hiss, see
Concepts: big/little, under/over, behind/in front, in/out
Phrases: “Where’s Spot?” “Is he (under/over) the (object)?” “Yes/No”), “It’s a (animal name).”
Articulation: /s/ and /s/-blends: Spot, Snake, Stairs, Snake sound, Spot’s mom
Thanks for all of your practice at home!
Now that we have worked on strengthening your children's muscles in their tummies, backs, and overall core, we will now focus on practicing transitional movements to make it easier for them to get up from the floor or move from a chair to standing. We will also focus on shoulder stability and using both hands to complete activities. Some of the fun activities we have planned for the month of January include: parachute games, building an igloo with "snow" blocks, finding objects in "snow", knee walking like a penguin, batting at suspended objects, tall kneeling on various surfaces, "ice skating" on paper plates, and balancing on a beam while picking up various objects. We will be including plenty of fun winter games and snow activities!
Ms. Sandy and Ms. Jill
For the month of January we will be working on bilateral coordination activities for the arms and legs. Bilateral coordination skills carryover into many other areas in a child 's life so they are a vital skill to work on .
Social Work News
This month students are going to practice social conversation skills. They will learn and role play ways to start a conversation and ways to keep a conversation going. We will practice these skills with peers and with adults. I look forward to getting to know your kiddos as we use these conversational skills.
Look for some pictures to come:)
Dear Family & Friends,
Our book for December will be Gingerbread Baby, by Jan Brett. The book is a bit lengthy and has only a few repetitive phrases (i.e. “Run, run as fast as you can. Catch me if you can!”), making this book not as predictable as the others we will focus on in the year. I have modified the book to compile a “short version” that uses more repetitions and simplified language. I will send a copy home with your child. I chose this book because of the holiday season. Along with the Holiday theme, it’s a great book that focuses on winter activities, an array of action words, and a slew of animals. Plus if you have access to the internet, just google “gingerbread man activities” and you will have a plethora of fun and interactive activities you can do at home. If you have Pinterest-that is a great resource too! ;) Along with the book, our activities within groups will be oriented around the gingerbread theme that focus on requesting, asking questions, commenting, and turn-taking. Here’s what to work on at home:
Be sure to emphasize the sounds for them as a model. Here is a list of vocabulary to focus on:
Verbs: mix, cook, listen, peek, prance, catch, tumble, ran, sprang, climb, hear, yell, shout, look, stop, wink, tie, toss, smell, trap, dance, sing, jump, creep, lick, hide, tweak, open, clap, live
Phrases: “catch me if you can,” “run fox, run cat, run gingerbread baby,” “turn the page,” “my turn, your turn” + make animal sounds
Our focus for the month of December will continue to be in the areas of strengthening your kids tummy and core muscles, weight bearing on arms/legs, and shifting of weight to get their bodies ready for transitional movements, such as getting up from a chair or the floor. We will also focus on using one hand to complete activities! We will be including some fun holiday activities, such as; penguin bowling, jingle bell bracelets, passing/throwing items through wreaths, gingerbread man building, snowball/snowman activities, identifying items in a stocking by feel only, fun with Santa’s sleigh/presents, and decorating a Christmas tree.
Ms. Sandy and Ms. Jill
For December we will focusing on 3 pieces of equipment. 1)trampoline: we will work on coordination ex's like jumping jacks and x-country skiing. 2)Balance Beam: we will work on balance skills. 3)Mat on the floor: we will work on push ups, sit ups and other trunk strengthening ex's.
We will be working on learning the process and independence of putting our winter gear on. Please try to encourage your kids to do this independently at home as well. We have sent home a list of the order in which we are teaching it here at school which may be helpful. We will also be spending sometime looking at Christmas traditions and activities your family does at Christmas i.e.. putting up a christmas tree, making christmas cookies. The last week we will emphasize what happens on Christmas break and a fun book they can share with you Christmas vacation.
We will try this month to get some great pictures of the kids to share with you!!!! Happy Holidays!!!!!!
This month in science we are studying the three states of matter: solids, liquids and gases. Our first hands-on experiment was making root beer floats. We used 2 liquids: milk and vanilla flavoring combined with 1 solid: sugar to create a new solid: ice cream! In order to make our ice cream, the recipe said to shake the ingredients for 5 minutes … so naturally, we had a dance party. The next day, we put the ice cream (solid) into root beer (liquid) to create a float with fizz (gas). It’s the best way, in my mind, to study science!
We will continue the study by making jello and seeing how a solid (jello powder) can turn into a liquid when heat is added (hot water). Then we will change the liquid into a solid jello form by putting it in the fridge and making it cold. We will learn that making something hot or cold can change its form.
In the past, we have relied mostly on having our students catch these concepts in the general education classrooms but as the students get into the higher grades like my fourth and fifth graders, the style of learning in those classroom changes (mostly taking notes) and the concepts are really complex. This is my second year explicitly teaching science in my classroom and I've really enjoyed it. I based my curriculum on themes I took from the Michigan state curriculum standards for students with special needs (EGLCEs). We spend a whole month on 1-3 objectives that I have tied together into a theme.
It is finally here! Some pictures will come in the next few weeks to show you some of the things we are doing!!
As I was able to share with some of you over conference week, our focus during speech-language groups this year will be reading and talking about “Predictable Books.” What I love most about predictable books is they are exactly what they sound like...predictable. Student’s who read predictable books are often better able to fill-in and use phrases, sequence story events, and answer comprehension questions. Predictable books are great for language-learning because they use repetitive language to teach an array of syntax skills including: articles (i.e. a, the, of), prepositions (i.e. on, in, around, above), noun-verb agreements (i.e. is, are, have, has)..not to mention a variety of verbs & vocabulary. Many of my speech-language students in the CI classrooms have goals in one or more of these areas, leading me to wonder..why haven’t I tried this sooner?! Not only will we concentrate on improving expressive and receptive language skills targeted in our monthly books, but will continue to work with students on functional and social communication skills through the activities used. I am excited for our upcoming units and look forward to sharing with you in your child’s progress!
Our book for November will be Cookie’s Week, by Cindy Ward. Cookie is a curious kitten who get’s into some sort of trouble each day of the week. What I enjoy about this book is it’s focus on the days of the week, sequencing, and the wide array of verbs that are targeted. I will send home a hand-made copy so that you may read the story at home with your child. Encourage them to label actions, pictures, and fill in the story. You can encourage them to fill in story events by giving the first part of the phrase (we call them carrier phrases) and have them fill in the rest. For example, say “On Monday, Cookie ____.” Encourage verbal attempts and be sure to give plenty of praise! :) You can also encourage your child to label possessive nouns and plural nouns by adding ending sounds -es to the word. Be sure to emphasize the sounds for them as a model. Here is a list of vocabulary to focus on:
Verbs: Fall, knock down, upset, stuck, run, close, climb, rest
Plural Nouns: Plants, footprints, pots, pans, dishes, clothes, curtains
Possessives: Cookie’s toilet, Cookie’s footprints, Cookie’s closet, etc.
We have been having so much fun getting to know your kids! It is truly a privilege for us to spend time with them in centers each Monday! We would like to fill you in on some of the areas we have been focusing on in the last 2 months and give you a glimpse of the things we will be doing in November. The focus for September & October was “tummy time”. We challenged your kids to build their back, neck, and core muscles by lying on their tummies, rolling over a therapy ball, and pushing themselves on a scooterboard to complete many different activities. We practiced many skills that involved using both of their hands together, such as; stringing beads, placing stickers, cutting different textures, passing or rolling a ball, building creative things with nuts & bolts, pounding golf tees into a pumpkin, and playing visual games.
Our focus for the month of November is going to switch from “tummy time” to “back time” and “all-4’s”. Your kids will be challenged to strengthen their tummy and core muscles through activities and fun games! We will be using special seats that will help to build strength and they will complete activities while on all 4’s to practice weight shifting. We will also be focusing on using one hand to complete activities, such as; throwing at a target, using a push pin to make a picture, using clips or clothespins to strengthen fingers, putting marbles on suction cups, manipulating small items, and doing some fun harvest & Thanksgiving activities, too!
Miss Sandy & Miss Jill
For November we are going to be doing obstacle courses with a different focus each week. We will be focusing on balance skills, jumping and hopping skills, and ball skills.
In social skills group we are identifying feelings and matching responses to situations. Activities we do will help the students connect cause and effect as well as a spectrum of emotions. At the end of our lessons, the students will have been exposed to language that you can use at home and teachers will be using at school "big feelings are for big deals and little feelings are for little deals." You can prompt your child with this question when they are overreacting, "this is a big feeling, the situation is a little deal. Let's try using a little feeling so we match the situation.". Remember to model and praise! It takes a village and I'm glad to be part of your child's. We will also be making a "thankful book" using our feelings to represent the many things we are thankful for! Once it is completed we will send it home so you can read it
The kids have been learning how to incorporate the social, speech & language, PT, and OT skills into real life situations and this fall we've been working on situations they might encounter at a fair. Because of this, we decided to try and re-create a "fairground" environment at school for a Fun Fair Day.
Here are some of the activities featured at the fair:
One of my biggest struggles as an upper elementary CI teacher is finding materials for my kids to read that are both age appropriate/interesting and at their reading level. There are many times in the library when my students will pick out chapter books that they can't read just because they want to be reading what their friends are reading or they want to read a book on that topic. The books at the lower levels can be really difficult to ask comprehension questions with because many times the books in their reading levels don't actually have a story, but rather follow a repetitive structure such as " the ____ is red". The students look at the picture and then fill in the blank.
I decided this year to try some chapter books. I know my students have much higher listening comprehension than reading comprehension so I wanted to try a high-interest chapter book with them to push their love of reading as well as some of the comprehension goals. This way we were able to read a book and answer deeper comprehension questions like "why did the character feel that way?", etc. I used the Jigsaw Jones chapter book series for this time around. I read the book ahead of time and for each chapter I chose 3 main events. I made pictures to represent each event, cut them out, and had them ready to go in a simple folder to keep it all organized. After reading each chapter together, I had the students sequence the three events. My higher students were able to add sentences to go with each event to further explain what happened.
It was exciting for me to see my students look forward to reading groups and make deeper connections with the higher level text. I still found ways to work on other reading skills such as decoding and vocabulary (and my para pros run groups at the same time that focus on these skills as well) but I was really excited to be able to push my students' comprehension to a deeper level. It was a lot of work up-front to create the pictures/events for each chapter but I am hoping to create these documents for multiple chapter books so that it will be less work in the future. It's not a perfect system yet, but I'm excited to have this as an option for my readers.
Have you found ways to meet the interest/comprehension needs of your older readers who are still reading at a pre-primer or primer level?
I was really excited when I found the website for Kiwi Crate. It's a great website where you can sign up to receive a box full of ready-to-go, hands-on projects to use with children. At first I was hesitant to order a crate because they are designed for one to two children only and I have 8 students in my classroom. After looking at the contents of the crate, I realized the projects could be completed as a group so I ordered the crate "Colorful Inspiration" and figured I'd give it a try. It tied perfectly into our science unit and I loved that all the materials I needed were in the box. Since we don't have a science curriculum here at school I feel like I spend a lot of time and money trying to create hands-on activities for my kids because I know that's how they learn best.
To begin the lesson, we looked at how colors mixed together can create a new color. We used the spinning tops and when we mixed two colors and spun them we found that they really did look like the new color. The kids loved guessing which color we would see when we mixed red/yellow, blue/yellow, red/white, etc. They were really excited when they saw the final color as the top spun. Next, we created stained glass windows. Since the crate included 3 stained glass window kits I hate the students work in pairs to create each window. We layered different colors on top of each other to create new colors and reinforce the idea that when colors mix together they can create a new color. Finally, we did the same thing with layering tissue papers on a canvas bag. When we added water on top of the tissue paper using a dropper (great fine motor task!) we were able to watch the colors blend together onto the canvas. I made the canvas bag with the students' ideas and then gave them each a sheet of construction paper and let them try it on their own. Again, this wasn't exactly how the crate was intended but it worked well to take the concept and make it hands-on for each child.
The lesson ended up being a lot of fun for the kids but more importantly I loved that there were three different ways to reinforce our objective about mixing colors. The Kiwi Crate made it really easy to teach the objective since all the materials came in the box and it ended up saving me a lot of time in gathering materials. I'd love for Kiwi Crate to come up with a class crate but until then I will just stay creative with how I use the materials for a group. If you'd like to check out Kiwi Crate and see if they are a good fit for any lessons coming up, I've provided a link in the image below.
On Friday we had a reading party with just our two CI classrooms to celebrate Dr. Seuss' birthday and March is reading month. Sometimes we struggle to find a balance with inclusion. We love that our students can have the opportunity to go to classroom parties with their peers and can participate in a classroom with other second graders. But as many of you know, party days for some students (and parents) can be stressful and not at all fun. Extra noise, unexpected events, unstructured time, and unpredictability can turn what's supposed to be a fun day into a very frustrating event. Our goal is to try and balance experiences with peers and fun, low-stress activities. We had considered holding a party on Valentine's Day, but it was such a busy day with classroom parties that we decided to postpone and have a Dr. Seuss party instead!
For our party, we opted to have five centers that small groups of students and their parent/special person could rotate through. The goal for each center was of course to have fun but we also tried to reinforce things we had learned in the classroom.
Bowling for Dr. Seuss Books
We had pictures of Dr. Seuss books we had read taped to bowling pins. The students had fun identifying and recalling what they had read as well as practicing their gross motor bowling skills.
Sensory Treasure Hunt
The kindergarten room in our school has a rice table. We borrowed it and added Dr. Seuss-themed things for the kids to search for. Our student teacher, Mrs. Draayer, made a fantastic treasure map that listed the Dr. Seuss books and the corresponding things to look for. We like to incorporate sensory activities when we can, and the kids had a blast digging through the rice.
Bean Bag Toss
For this center we had the students practice their underhand tossing while trying to get the bean bag into the hole past thing one and thing two. We had a lot of fun encouraging each other and of course taking turns.
It wouldn't be a party without food! For our snack center, we had the kids listen to directions to make a Dr. Seuss striped hat out of marshmallows. The students had to use strong hands to squish the marshmallows and then had to follow directions to make the different colored stripes. And, of course, they got to eat the snack!
The final center was set up as a photo booth in the reading corner. We used a striped backdrop, truffula tree inspired hanging poofs, and lots of Dr. Seuss props to make an interactive photo booth. The students (and their special guests) got to dress up with their favorite Dr. Seuss attire and get a picture taken. When they were finished with their photo opportunity, they could choose a Dr. Seuss book from our display to read with their special guest.