Halloween Academic Activities for Special Education

I don't know what it is about Halloween, seriously creepy things and spiders are so not up my alley, but all of my students always LOVE Halloween. So, in October, the best way to motivate them to work is to use Halloween activities!

I don't know what it is about a spider on their paper, but they love it! HA. This is also a great time to work on "scaring" and "surprises" and helping students gain a sense of humor.
During our morning meeting, I use a ghost beanie baby to help lead the meeting. My students think this is hilarious! In addition to fun little things like that, I sneak Halloween into our typical academic activities.

Teaching Students to Scare and have a Sense of Humor!
You already know that our job as special educators goes way beyond teaching the normal curriculum. In order to prepare students for Halloween, I think it's important to teach how to scare people in a light-hearted manner. Sounds a little weird? Stick with me here. If someone comes up to one of my students in a ghost costume and says "boo!", they might legitimately freak out.

So, in order to teach them that this can be funny and funny, I let them do the scaring first! We had a fake blow up spider in my room, and I would give it to students during breaks and show them how to go up to other adults (or students who could handle it) and put it on their shoulder or somewhere and let them freak out. When they thought this was funny, I would then do it to them. This gives our students important social skills and also prepares them for the holiday!

Of course, you may also need to teach when it is or isn't appropriate to scare too!

Halloween Life Skill Math:
I use this Halloween life skill math pack (which includes three levels for all of my students), and simply because it is Halloween themed, my students will suddenly become motivated to complete their math activities. Oh the magic of Halloween! ;)

The worksheet shown above is one of the level 3 money worksheets, students have to cut and paste an amount using one or more bills. Level 2 simplifies it by only using one bill and level 1 is matching bill pictures.

Sorting sizes, this one is a level 2 worksheet. (The cut and paste activities in this packet are my favorite!)

Then we have a level 2 counting and more/less worksheet. Shown on this worksheet are a few different strategies that your students can use to help them determine the answer. One of my favorite is writing the number on the objects while they count.

This time worksheet is a level 1 worksheet and focuses on day or night. The sentences describing each time can also be used as a good starting point for Halloween discussions too! Or of course, just adding to the fun! :) Other time worksheets also include an AM/PM concept as well as analog and digital clocks.

Halloween Journal Writing:
I know I say it all of the time, but seriously people, these journals are my FAVORITE. 
They have helped my students gain so much confidence while writing and even allows my non-writers opportunities to express their opinions and work alongside their peers.
I first display the classroom sample of the journal of the time in our journal station. Every student, no matter what their level is, uses the same classroom example, so you can even project the sample on your white board and have all of your students (at different levels) write their journals at the same time,

Level 1 is for my non-writers. They are able to color, trace a word (to the best of their ability), and then choose between two symbols to complete each sentence. If a student is able, I then have them read their paragraph to me (either verbally or using a communication device. They are SO proud of the work that they do on these!

Level 2 is for my beginning writers. It includes a tracing portion for the sentence starter, and then the student has to choose how they want to complete the thought. The options are on the classroom sample, but some of my beginning writers have difficulty tracking and copying from the board, so I have also included the options below each sentence. They can then circle and write their answer to complete each sentence.

Level 3 students are the ones who REALLY need the classroom sample. They will copy the picture, and then copy the sentence starters and complete the thought. Sometimes when students are working on this in the journal station, I will cover up the options and make them come up with their own thoughts if they are ready for that! Speaking of students who are able to complete sentence starters on their own....

Higher Halloween Picture Prompt Journals:
This journal comes from my fall pack. I love projecting these pictures on the whiteboard and just having my students write about whatever comes to mind when they see this picture. Of course, some students aren't able to quite do that on their own yet, so I have supports for them too!
 The first level is sentence starters, possibly what students were used to if they were using my other journals, but now there are no options to choose from, they have to come up with them on their own. These sentence starters are very open ended in order to allow for a wide variety of thoughts. The next level is a bunch of questions to get students thinking about the topics and give them ideas on what to write about. It also gives a basic paragraph format structure, including topic, detail, and closing sentences.

Halloween Cooking Activities:
Okay, so I usually wouldn't call this a "cooking" activity, more of a following directions activity that involves food, but it is fun none-the-less.

I lost all of my pictures :( but we would make Oreo Spiders!
Ingredients Needed: Oreos, Pretzel sticks, M&Ms, frosting.
Directions: Stick legs into the creme of the Oreos, add frosting on the top of the Oreos and secure the M&Ms for eyes.

Now, you can run around and scare people with your spiders or just eat them. ;)

Halloween Social Stories:
So, you've had fun all month with Halloween themed activities, but do your students actually know what to do if they go trick-or-treating? I love this trick-or-treating social story from Autism Adventures!

Carving Pumpkins:
Yes! I've carved pumpkins with my students. And, yes, as in gave them carving tools! We enlisted the help of peer tutors and they had a blast. Read more HERE.

Greeting Cards:
Who can you send Halloween cards to? Classmates? Parents? Friends? Janitors? Yes, yes, and yes! These cards are super fun and your students will love making them! Plus, there is a level for every student from your kids benefiting from symbol support, to your writers or students who need sentence starter support!

And the ideas just keep coming...
Tons more ideas on my Halloween Pinterest board! Check it out below

And I'd love to hear, how else do you prepare your students for Halloween?

Make Monday Mornings Easier: Weekend Reports

Ah Monday mornings... You just had fun all weekend and suddenly are back to reality. And oh my goodness, you forgot that you were going to put together a lesson plan and now you are scrambling...NEVER AGAIN! I planned all of my Monday morning lesson plans for the YEAR with this one language arts / social skills activity.
On Fridays I give my students a homework assignment, to record things that they do over the weekend. I have different formats based on student needs. Some students write their responses, others students email, and still others send pictures or have their parents write it out for them so that we can later record it on their device or switch.

When students come in on Monday, they check off if they completed their report on the board. If a student didn't finish their weekend report over the weekend, I have them complete that instead of their morning job when they arrive. (This is an especially great time to use the symbol supported weekend report if students aren't able to provide many details on their own).
We all take turns sharing our weekend reports. I have students volunteer to read their report instead of me calling on anyone. Sometimes we have awkward silence (and a lot of me modeling raising my hand and saying "pick me", waiting for a student to copy me). It took a while at first, but after getting used to the routine, students begin to volunteer on their own!

While students are sharing their reports, I remind my students to listen when others are talking and to think about what the speaker is saying. Students who can write have a worksheet that they write down something each person did and they can also ask questions (sometimes prompted by me, such as "Hm, he said he went to see a movie. I wonder what movie he saw....What could we ask to find out?")
Also, I now have students asking ME what I DID over the weekend! It's great to see these skills being carried over to typical social situations.
I have included my weekend reports (9 different levels) in this packet.

Morning mornings will never be the same again. And definitely for the better! You're welcome! ;)

Grab these 

Errorless Daily Questions: A Great Way to Start Class + GIVEAWAY

I love starting my class with a question of the day. A visual question of the day gives my students opportunities to communicate and express themselves with having to wonder if they are wrong or right.  No matter my students abilities, they can all answer these questions (and enjoy doing it)!
 Another perk to doing these questions right at the beginning, is I can have something for my students to do if class doesn't start on time, or if all students aren't ready to go right away. I have journal options including drawing, writing one word, or writing sentences that students can complete while they wait.

I display the question on the board and pick a student to lead the question of the day. This student then goes around and asks each student what they like. Then, that student moves each student's picture under their answer.

Since each question has two pictures, I can easily print two copies and put the option on a two button switch for my non-verbal students to say which one they like. Of course, if my students have their own communication device, they use that instead.
I make all of my students work on answering in complete sentences during this time. Each answer starts with "I like" and then the student chooses the one that they like. Some students I challenge by making them state why, " I like _____ because."

Don't just take my word for it though! Here's what other teachers have to say about these daily questions:

Laura M: "This is literally just what I needed for morning work right before our morning meeting. Thank you! It allows me to get set up while my students are engaged and not making mistakes on a worksheet!"

Special Kiddos: "My students love the question of the day now. I use it during circle time and I get a fly swatter and each student gets a turn to hit the choice given to them, they love that part. I make them repeat the full sentence to me to work on speech. Awesome!!"

this teach LOVES SPEECH: "Absolutely love this product! So often we focus on right and wrong answers ... I'm excited to learn more about my students by asking questions that I don't know the answer to and there is no right or wrong answer. Great product!"

CKspeechlanguage: "Love this product for encouraging independent question answering. Perfect for a variety of kids ranging from gen ed preschool to High School students with special needs. Thank you!"

The Speech Spaniel: "These were wonderful both as a speech "warm-up" with my life-skills students as well as the full activity for the session."

I'm giving away my second set of visual daily questions as a part of this awesome Back-to-School Giveaway with resources from 5 other sped bloggers, Attainment resources, and a Smarty Symbol subscription!
Continue this BLOG HOP over at Adventures in the ATC to see what else you could win!
And enter using the Rafflecopter form below! I know resources like my daily questions, and year long resources like these journals and life skill math packs make the school year a lot easier for me. Less planning is always a good thing because there is so many other things to focus on at the beginning of the year! What do you think is the most challenging part of starting off the school year? 
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New School Year and Exciting Changes!

As many of you know, last year was a big year for me personally, as I became a mama. It's hard to believe my little guy will be one year old in just one month!

When my life took this change (for the better), it was time for me to re-evaluate my professional goals. I have always wanted to be a mom and be there for my kids, staying home, if it was possible. BUT I didn't always know how much I would LOVE my job. Special education is my passion. I love my special education students. I love teaching. I am so passionate about helping special education students succeed.
Turns out, I'm also very passionate about my little guy ;)

It was a difficult, but at the same time, an easy decision to make. Thanks to this blog and my TpT store and all of the special education teachers who use my resources to help their students become more successful...I can do both.

I have decided to step away from the classroom for now and be at home with my baby. But you better believe I will continue to use nap time and evenings to continue to create awesome resources to share with my fellow special educators.

To everyone who uses my products or ideas in their classrooms, THANK YOU. Thank you for allowing me to continue to do what I am passionate about, both helping students and staying home with my son.

I want to make sure I am truly helping you in any and every way that I can. Please email me at anytime with any questions or if you ever need anything. I'm taking product requests, blog post ideas, or any questions that you have about running your classroom! I want to share in your classroom success and accomplishments as well! Please share your great news and pictures as well!

Are you in the Chicagoland area and looking for 1:1 classroom consulting in your special education classroom or program? I'm offering that now as well! Contact me for more information.

There are so many things that I haven't been able to share with you yet, and now I'm hoping I will get the chance to share those things. Be on the lookout for more new products and blog posts! :)

I'm here to help you help your students. Thank you for the opportunity to do that!
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