Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pete the Cat Fun!

I was really looking forward to teaching a Pete the Cat unit. Pete books are fun and educational. We began the unit by reading "Pete the Cat: I love my white shoes"  and focused on learning colors and story sequencing. Students enjoyed coloring Pete's shoes for the bulletin board. During circle time, we graphed the number of each color of shoes represented each day and discussed the results. 
Students are completing story sequencing for I love my white shoes.
In the play area, I taped different colored pieces of felt to the carpet and I brought fuzzy socks of matching colors (purchased at the dollar store). Students pretended to step into the "piles" of things (blueberries, strawberries, mud, etc.) and quickly put the matching socks over their shoes, singing: I love my blue (depending on what they stepped in) shoes....."

For the send part of the unit, we focused on "Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons"  Many activities for this book can be found on the Making Learning Fun website
Here is an example of one of them. We printed out the cards with numbers from 1-10, then attached the same number of Velcro pieces as indicated on the card where the buttons should be. We then attached the opposite side of Velcro to some large buttons. Students practiced attaching the appropriate amount of buttons to the cards they were given.

Finally, the occupational therapist concluded the unit by creating an amazing Pete the Cat-themed obstacle course featuring elements from both stories. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Community Helpers Unit

Candlelit (led candle)
restaurant with waiter and
customer play scripts. 
Fire engine: made with red tri-fold display
board and a large cardboard box.
Community Helpers hats and coats
Doctor's/Vet's Office: X-rays from
an animal book, vision chart, play script,
telephone, and play medical instruments.
We began the unit with a puppet show for the kids! I made sure to include several community helpers in the script (see below), but no more than two characters were needed at once, so myself and one of the Educational Assistants performed the show together. I also created a slide show with backgrounds that went with each scene and asked students to play different parts of the script. Kids took turns coming up to the board, acting and saying their lines.

Puppet Show Script:
Built-in Literacy Opportunities

Sentence Strips: Students are able to easily manipulate these sentences by moving the words and pictures around. They enjoyed practicing reading using a pointer. The strip chart was conveniently located in play area where kids feel most comfortable.
WH- Questions Flip Chart: I assigned different students to the Read with Teacher area where we practiced answering Who, What, and Where questions. For example: Who fights fires? What vehicle do policemen drive? and Where do  teachers work? etc. 
Word Wall: We tried to include photos of community helpers of different genders and ethnicities (except for the teacher, I used my photo for that one) 
Writing: Students used pretend registration sheets at the doctor's/vet office, they wrote patient names, their symptoms and other information. I modeled writing during circle and made sure to remind students that writing can look like squiggling or random letters, and not everyone is able to write like a "big kid. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lakes and Ponds Unit

Here in beautiful Western Washington, we are surrounded by a lot of wetlands and the wildlife that resides there. This is why we (myself and the other teacher, AKA my partner in crime) decided to teach a unit that focuses specifically on ponds and lakes. 
Each of the four weeks of the unit was dedicated to a different animal. These included frog, duck, turtle and beaver. We read different books about these animals and ponds, created crafts which represent them, and sang songs about ponds. Plants like lily pads and cattails were also discussed.  As part of the unit, we visited a local lake park where students participated in a scavenger hunt. We had some real life cattail plants and lily pads for students to look at and feel. 
Literacy for the Unit
Writing Center: pond word tracing,
frog to lily pad tracing and cutting, frog and turtle coloring. 
Circle: Word Wall

Play Area: Students have the opportunity
to practice sight words during free play .
1-to-1 word correspondence: Students learn that
each spoken words corresponds to a written word.
Kids also practiced listening for beginning
sounds in order to figure out which sentence
 each animal went with.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Creating opportunities for social interaction

Mix puzzle pieces from 2-3 puzzles in one container.
Prompt students to say: "here you go" as they hand
 the "wrong" puzzle pieces to their friends.
The majority of students on my caseload have significant delays in social skills. Which means that a big part of the school day is spend on teaching age-appropriate social interaction. Depending on the child's current level of social skills, I use different strategies to help him or her. For example, some students with autism first need to be taught to "notice" their peers. The point of the activities below is to help students understand that they need their peers in order to complete the activity or play the game. Some of these activities include:
- puzzle or matching game
Take all of the puzzle pieces out of the puzzle or game and give it to one of the students.
Give the puzzle pieces or matching game pieces to the other student. The first student is then prompted to ask for the pieces for his puzzle or game in order to completed. Having a written script often helps, for example: "David, can I have the square please?" The second student is required to pay attention and hand the correct piece to his peer.
Plastic egg surprise
- puzzle mix-up
Mix puzzle pieces from 2 different puzzles (ex: shapes puzzle and colors puzzle) in one container. Prompt students to say: "Here you go" or "Here is your piece" as they hand the puzzle pieces from the other puzzle to their friends.
- plastic egg surprise
Hide small toys or stickers in plastic "Easter" eggs and put them into a sack or a box. Have students take turns drawing eggs out of the container and open them to see the surprise hidden inside. Prompt students to show their surprise to their peer: "Look!" (written scripts help). Then prompt the peer to make a comment about the surprise: "Wow!" or "Cool!"
- bingo
One of the students gets to call out the cards (numbers, colors, or letters depending on the type of the bingo game) and the other student get the bingo card. Prompt students to play the game cooperatively.
- dramatic play toys (create sets of toys by setting the toys into two separate containers)
Garage playset with a visual play script
Student can play doctor or vet together. One of the kids could have the box with all of the medical instruments, while the other has the "patients". Restaurant, store, cars, and many other pretend play games can be played in this manner. It is helpful to have play scripts available for these activities. Many of my high-functioning students with autism are more inclined to play pretend games with peers when they have visual step-by-step directions available to them.
-Bear Buddies
Research shows that children are more likely to interact and play cooperatively when they play in close proximity to one another. In order to encourage more cooperative play in my classroom, I created an activity called Bear Buddies. I made many pairs of necklaces shaped like bears (laminated construction paper and yarn) in different colors. Students who are assigned the same color are required to: stay together, play together, and talk together. Depending on the number of students in the class, I sometimes assign a particular activity or play area to individual pairs of students. For example, Johnny and Rosie have to play in the kitchen, while Sammy and Becky have to complete a puzzle together.

For more ideas please refer to Tasks Galore Let's Play!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Gingerbread Man Unit

The Gingerbread Man unit was one of the my favorite ones to teach! There are so many ideas and materials which can be printed or used as inspiration. First, I wanted to create the Gingerbread Man atmosphere in the classroom, so I made the bulletin board for the play area:
You can see the Gingerbread Man doll I sewed for the kids to play pretend with. On the left side of the bulletin board are recipe cards for making gingerbread cookies. My students really enjoyed baking them pretend in the play kitchen. 

Story sequencing skills were a major focus of this unit. We practiced retelling the Gingerbread story at circle time using visuals and puppets, in small groups using the WH-question flip book, and during unstructured play time using puppets and pretend play.  At the end of the unit, students completed a sequencing project which required them to cut out sequencing cards, glue them in order of occurrence and color them.

Another activity which students enjoyed tremendously was the Where is Gingerbread Man? Power Point. I put this together by taking photos of my classroom and pasting a clip-art image of the Gingerbread Man in different locations throughout the classroom. This served as an opportunity to practice prepositions! Everyone's favorite slide was the silliest one of the Gingerbread Man on the potty  :-)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Data, data, data, I cannot make bricks without clay

It's progress report time again! How do you take data?

Sometimes it seems that there are nearly as many ways to take data as there are teachers. I have settled on a system that works for me. Each area of my classroom has data collection sheets on clipboards with my students' goals and objectives listed on them. I like to organize the goals by activity, so if a student has social/emotional goals like conflict resolution skills, data is most likely to be collected during leisure/recess time, not during daily living activities (there are always exceptions to the rule however). This system allows me to take data on any student during a particular activity.
When a student completes the task exactly as it is written in the objective, we mark it with a plus, if not then with a minus. My EAs understand that when the objective requires students to complete the task independently, it means that he or she must perform the task without any prompts (initial cues don't count as prompts). When prompts are used, we record it by writing a G for gestural prompt, V for verbal prompt, P for partial physical, and F for full physical prompt. This detailed data helps me assess student progress and adjust the program.

Some teachers create individual data sheets for each student and take data on 2-3 individual students per day. I find that my system works for me because there are less papers to keep track of and manage and none of the students get "forgotten". What works for you?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Finished early? You can....

 Every classroom has students who finish their work early, and ECE is not an exception! This is something I posted in an area of my classroom specifically for a student who often finished tasks early.
We practiced these yoga poses during circle time. Kids who maintain a quiet body, thinking brain, looking eyes, and a kind heart (see post on Whole Body Listening) throughout circle time got to pick out three yoga poses, which we did as a class. The kids definitely had their favorites including butterfly and airplane poses :-)