Why Fidgeting is Helpful + Focus Fidget GIVEAWAY!

As special education teachers, we know our students need to fidget, right? But usually the question is what is an appropriate fidget that will help our students focus AND aren't too distracting at the same time.
I was contacted by the Focus Fidget and knew I just had to do a giveaway for you guys so you could check this out!

Do you need to convince someone that these aren't just toys you are giving students to play with but tools that support learning? Check out these facts below!
  • Preliminary studies at NYU have identified that fidgets encourage body movements which in turn improve focus on a primary task.
  • A recent UK study of 16,000 women showed that those who fidget very often/constantly at work are healthier and may live longer than those who do not.
  • A study of 6th graders showed that students who used fidgets were less distracted in class. In addition, Fidgeting has been shown to benefit some students more than others: 
  •  Kinesthetic learners (i.e. students who learn best through moving their body and feeling their environment) get more focus and attention benefits from fidgeting than non-kinesthetic learners. Multiple studies have shown significant benefits of fidgeting for kids with Attention Deficit Hyperactiviy Disorder (ADHD).
  • A recent study indicated that the benefit of fidgeting is directly related to the arc of movement (i.e. the back and forth movement) of the body vs. the frequency of movement. 
Which then brings us to... The Focus Fidget is a multi-functional, multi-sensory fidgeting tool that encourages increased arc of movement of the legs in the sitting position. 

This fidget is ideal for use by students of any age in the classroom, at home, or anywhere in a chair. The Focus Fidget is especially beneficial for students with increased movement needs.
The focus fidget is a multi-functional, multi-sensory product that can be used by anyone! 
1. Use it as a foot rest
2. Roll it and push it with your feet to help maintain an alert, focused state and for exercise
3. The textured roller can provide a relaxing massage to the feet or thighs
4. The balls can be used as a fidget for the hands and/or provide deep pressure to the hands or feet
5. The balls can be used as a fidget for the hands and/or provide deep pressure to the hands or feet
6. Store the focus fidget on the roller holder when not in active use
 7. The focus fidget and roller holder are light-weight, durable, portable and easy to clean!
 8. The focus fidget and roller holder are available in a variety of colors and or patterns for boys, girls, men and women.

What I thought was great about the focus fidget is that it can be used multiple different ways, on the floor, on a lap, behind a kid's back, and even on the floor! And it's awesome that this product was created by Jack, a kid with ADHD and Autism, with the help of his mom! 

 Check them at at their online store at www.thefocusfidget.com for more info, videos, research, etc.

We will be giving one FREE Focus Fidget combo package (includes one Focus Fidget, one Roller Holder, and Logo Drawstring Bag)! Open internationally (free shipping in USA only, international winners are responsible for shipping) Enter using the Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

Calendar Skills (Days of the Week and Months) File Folders

Some kids learn calendar vocabulary quickly and easily with a simple daily calendar activity during morning meeting. Other kids, well, a lot of our kids, need more explicit practice. Enter: file folders!

As I have said so many times, file folders are one of my absolutely favorite ways to practice skills. For some reason, my students don't see file folders as work, but as a fun activity, so I definitely use that to my advantage!
This set of calendar file folders works on a variety of simple calendar skills at a variety of levels from matching pictures to ordering months.

 Here's a couple of the easier calendar file folder tasks to begin with. This one shown above is simply matching monthly pictures. This is perfect for your students who aren't recognizing words yet, but still need to work on calendar skills as well.

I love this file folder because it actually has multiple levels in one! Here are your options: 1)Take off the only words and leave the pictures to have the students match the words to the pictures 2) Or take them all off and have students order the months and include the picture as well.

And then there is a group of file folders that work on days of the week skills. Like seen above in the month skills, there are some file folders that work on picture matching. One of the higher days of the week file folders include putting the days of the week in order such as this one.

Another mid-high level is sorting the various days of the weeks words (with the words in different fonts for generalization).

If you liked the way these ones look, you'll love the rest included in this file folder pack! Skills included are:

Days of the Week File Folders 
-Picture Match
-Abbreviation Match -
Word Match (level 1)
-Word Sort (level 2)

Months File Folders 
-Picture Match
-Picture to Word Match
-Abbreviation Match
-Word Match (level 1)
-Word Sort (level 2)
-Order (numbers included)
-Order (no numbers, blank boxes)
Grab them here! And be sure to check out the rest of these calendar products to further set your students up for success!

Parent Gifts your Students can Make (and parents will love)!

Every year, I try to think of a creative gift that my students can make their parents that isn't too childish and one that parents will really appreciate.
Here's a few of my favorite ideas!

Cookie-in-a-Jar: I especially love making these because we can incorporate cooking skills such as measuring while we make them! We used this recipe, but there are a ton of different ones you can find online. You can find ones for brownie mixes too.

Sugar Scrubs: Okay, this gift idea is geared more towards moms, but I love it! Plus, this gift also works on measuring skills. Check out this super easy recipe from Pocketful of Motherhood!

Photo Coasters: We made these photo coasters a few years ago and I loved how they turned out. You can read the tutorial here. They are made out of cheap shower tiles from Home Depot! You could also have students decorate the coasters with sharpies like this tutorial explains here.

Hot Chocolate Cones: Who doesn't love hot chocolate and these are simply adorable! Photo credit and recipe found at Simply Jessica Marie

Sharpie Mugs: I love the idea of using a sticker outline so that kids can scribble to their hearts desire, and it will look super cute when the sticker is taken off! Of course, you could have your students create their own designs as well. Tutorial and photo from Messy Little Monsters. (She uses a porcelain pen, which is great, but if you don't have them, I've heard other people have great success with Sharpies!)

Of course, ornaments with photos are always a big hit too! What are some of your favorite creative parents gifts?

Errorless #ResourcesThatGive Students a Voice and Give them Confidence

One thing that I have noticed with my special needs students, especially those with autism and/or those who are limited or non-verbal, is that they are often looking for the right answer. It didn't matter if I was asking them what they wanted to do for break, they wanted to pick the 'right' answer. No matter what I said, they would look at me and nod their head as they pointing to their choice, hoping that they were right. How sad!
 I knew this meant we needed to stop having so many right/wrong activities in my class. I needed to teach my students how to give their opinions. 

Errorless Question of the Day:
First I incorporated a question of the day, "What do you like?". Each question has visual answering options and there is no wrong answer. We do our question of the day first thing in the morning, which allows my students to complete their first academic activity errorlessly while giving them the support that they need.
 Once incorporating the daily questions, I noticed my students began to speak in sentences more often as they become so familiar with the "I like ____" structure of each sentence. The wait time to answer the question also significantly decreased as students become confident in their choices. Students were smiling and excited for their opportunity to share their opinions. Plus, I got to learn some really cool things about my students!

Errorless Journal Writing:
Journal writing is a wonderful open ended activity that many students participate in, and it's great because there are so many right answers...but what about when students can't write? Or don't have the vocabulary to express themselves? I realized I was limiting my students by not allowing them to express their thoughts in writing and only having them work on "wh" question activities. They have important things to say!
So, errorless journals were born. These journals provided my students with sentence starters (which I had been doing for years) but also gave them options to use when completing those sentence starters so that they didn't have to guess on a right way to complete the sentences. Also, my students who had never been able to write because they couldn't read or trace? Well, I made a symbol supported level for them too!

I can't even explain how wonderful the changes were that happened in my classroom after implementing these journals. Suddenly, journal writing was FUN! My students were excited for journal time and so proud of their work. My students who struggled with completing sentences were now doing it on their own.
One of my students who had never done journals because she wasn't able to write, just giggled and giggled and wanted to show everyone her cut and paste symbol supported journal.

Anyone worried that your students would become dependent on the options to complete their sentence starters? I'm not going to lie, I did too, but I saw multiple students get to the point where they were so confident with themselves that I was able to cover up those options and they did it all of their own!

Other Errorless Activities:
These errorless activities quickly became my favorite. Which is why you can find multiple daily question packs, journals for the entire year, and greeting cards, all designed to help students express themselves and give them the confidence they need and deserve.

There are so many times that we have to correct our students and tell them that they are wrong (and that's not necessarily bad, we have to teach them and they have to learn)! BUT, if we can create even just a few opportunities a day where all students can express themselves however they want and be successful without wondering, we will give our students more confidence. And with confidence, our students can do SO MUCH MORE!
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