2014 - Top 3 Favorite Posts, Products, and SALE

As we wrap up 2014, I thought it would be fun and fitting to share some of the highlights from this year...and give you guys a little sale to say thanks!

Your Favorite Posts of 2014
I pulled these favorite posts based on the number of page views each one received. I like to think I posted a lot of great stuff this year, so be sure to check out the posts below if you missed any and check out others along the way! :)

#1. As I looked through the most popular posts of 2014, I discovered you guys really enjoyed all of my work tasks posts. These posts were the most popular (by page views) by a landslide! Check all of those work boxes out starting here and hop through the links at the bottom of each post to see the rest!

#2. I also discovered this year that many of you share my love of adapted books! So, I started sharing the symbols for some classic books. You can check those out at this post and many others!

#3.  How to work with paraprofessionals was also a popular post for this last year. As I re-read it, I am reminded of the very good advice I shared and a few things I have slacked on this school year that I need to start doing again (like #2.)

Your Favorite Products of 2014
I have had a lot of fun posting more products to my TpT store this year, and I have really appreciated all of your support and encouragement! In order to say thanks, I have made these top 3 products 50% off for the rest of the year and have made the rest of my TpT store 20%! Maybe you can find something to help start off the new year smoothly and to put as a deduction on your 2014 taxes :)

Grocery Store File Folder Activities (special education)
#1. Grocery Store File Folders - I'll admit, I love file folders almost as much as I love adapted books, and my students love them too! I have been making file folders that are more age appropriate for my high school-ers and with a life skill focus. These file folders have been a winner for sure!

Kitchen Vocabulary Life Skills Unit (Special Education)
#2. Kitchen Vocab Unit - I found I needed something very simple and basic to help teach my student basic vocab, especially while working on cooking skills in the kitchen! This unit is great for that, and I have other similar household vocab units as well.

Where does the food go? Task Cards (Special Ed & Autism)
#3. Where does the food go? Task Cards. I love task cards because they can be used in so many ways! In my classroom we use them during direct instruction, in work boxes for independent work, and even to assess IEP goals. While, I love these task cards that work on where food goes in the kitchen, I'm surprised that these were more popular than this interactive book on the same subject which I have to admit I love even more :)

It's been a great year and I'm looking forward to 2015! Be sure to head over to my store to get any of the above products at 50% (which discounts them anywhere from $1.50 to $2.50!!) and get anything else for 20% off through December 31st! Happy New Year!!
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Christmas/Holiday Shopping Worksheets for FREE

Last Friday I took my students to the mall to go shopping for their family members. Thankfully, parents sent in lists so that they, um, I... didn't have to guess what everyone in their family would want for Christmas. I don't know about your students, but my students love to shop for the things that they like...not necessarily what others would like. We need to practice this more in the classroom, so I created some worksheets and am sharing those with you!
Shopping for Christmas Presents - Worksheets for Special E
Plus, some of our math concepts are just more fun to work with when you add the words Christmas and presents! :)

Some worksheets focus on simple perspective taking and choosing an appropriate present for various people.

Another worksheet works on choosing a present within a budget (with two levels, the first with the exact budget amount and the second with an amount under the budget).

And last, a couple leveled worksheets work on paying for items using the dollar over method.

Enjoy! I hope these six free worksheets make your last week before break a little bit easier :)
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Our Classroom Christmas Cards + Templates for Yours!

It's the season for Christmas cards! I always make one for my family...but had never made one for mu class...until now!

One thing I absolutely love about blogging and following other blogs is getting great ideas from other teachers! Sasha from The Autism Helper posted yesterday about her classroom Christmas cards, and I thought, OMG, why am I not doing this already? That is awesome! So, today, my class made Christmas cards and I am in LOVE! Seriously, how cute is this card?!

So I first found a few backgrounds that I thought would work for cards. I had my students choose which one they liked the best. We counted our votes by putting our picture next to our choice.
Clearly, the blue option won. I then took a picture of each student next to our classroom Christmas tree (which is felt like this one* - best Christmas tree ever, takes up no room, and is easily decorated by students with no additional help. I also love this magnetic Christmas tree* you can get from amazon!) *affiliate links
I then uploaded the pictures into PowerPoint and resized them all together and added a frame. (I love all of the options that PowerPoint has for pictures!) I then printed them on card stock and we cut them out with a paper cutter.

I then had students sign the backs of the cards that would be going home and to a few other "special" people. I thought about doing all of them, but we came up with 30+ people we should give cards too, and let's be honest, I was lucky I got my students to write their name 8 times.

Students addressed our envelopes and they are ready to deliver tomorrow! And we will be mailing home the ones to their families!

And I just have to show you one more time...Isn't this the cutest thing ever?
If you have powerpoint and want to make Christmas cards as well, feel free to download and edit from this template. Four options are available and it will print 2 to a page. You could add individual pictures like I did, or if you're lucky enough to get a nice picture of your entire class, you could add just one instead! :) The size for these Christmas cards is 4x8.

Enjoy! Let me know if you make any!
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Practice Paying for Items in the Classroom

Today we finished our banking lessons a little bit earlier than usual so I decided to give out these Christmas themed dot-to-dot worksheets. I was just about to tell my students to put their classroom wallets away when I realized I could make them pay for their worksheets with the change back they had received from our lessons. :) Haha, I know I'm such a mean teacher. 
So I quickly set up this "store" and students came by and had to pay for each marker that they wanted to use and then choose the worksheet and pay for that as well. I even had a student come back up and give me another dollar because she decided she wanted to use red to make the reindeer into Rudolph. 

This little added step made our last ten minutes of class seem so much more meaningful. Anything to practice money exchange! I do this a lot with free time choices, but just think about everything else you could do here. Give each student a paycheck, have them cash it in for money, and when they need to get supplies, they can pay for them! Oh, the possibilities :)
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Functional and Community Lessons - read my post at Special Education Guide

Hey everyone! I'm blogging over at Special Education Guide today. Head on over to read my thoughts and ideas on planning functional and community based lessons for students with special needs.
I talk about how I use worksheets, where I find curriculum, how I make my own lessons, and how I set up real world practice opportunities. So, head over and if you have any other ideas, I'd love to hear those as well!

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Hand Santizer 'Tis the Season' + December Currently

As an early Christmas gift to my classroom paraprofessionals, I bought mini hand sanitizers with jelly wrap carriers, like these ones, and then made a cute (okay, cheesy) sign to go with it. It says "Tis the Season for the flu, let's keep those germs away from you!" I figure we have to enjoy these Christmas scents BEFORE Christmas, right?! :)
Feel free to download the graphic here (the preview shows in google drive, but download in Microsoft Word to get the right fonts and edit as you want!) And the hand sanitizers are available from Amazon with 2 day prime shipping. I'm obsessed with the convenience of prime! :)

Now, onto this month's currently link-up with Farley!
Listening: My husband and I are really into Chicago Fire and are eagerly waiting for season 2 to arrive at the library. It's in transit now, so we know it will be soon! But, since it wasn't there tonight, he grabbed Chicago PD instead. Honestly, not as good.

Loving: I finally got my computer back and I think it's working at 100% again!! It's been on again off again since September. Best Buy was no help, but it looks like the Lenovo warranty guys did their job. 

Thinking: It's the last day of the TpT sale. I bought a nice bunch of items on Monday but am thinking I have to take advantage of this sale while it's in the last few hours! So, that will be where I'm heading next!

Wanting: I can't even tell you how excited I am to go visit my little niece! My sister just gave birth last night and we will be waiting until Friday to go up to Michigan to see her. I don't want to miss school, but I can't wait to meet this little one!!!

Needing: More Christmas decorations in my classroom, because how fun is that?! We have a nice little felt tree that my students decorated already, and a few random bows, but it's still all coming together.

Giving: Hope you enjoyed my little freebie and gift idea above!! We can always use more hand sanitizer, right?
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Thankful for SPED Teachers - FREEBIE & Blog Hop

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for reading! In case you're new here, I teach high school special education to a multi-needs, low incidence population. My students' ability levels would fall in the preschool to second grade range, but they are freshman through age 22. We focus a lot on functional, life skills which can sometimes be hard to find material for, so I create a lot myself and share both those and resources I discover on this blog and on my TpT store.


I don't know about you, but it's been snowing here in Illinois the last couple of weeks...so I decided to make my simple adapted book, "It's Snowing! What do I wear?" free during this blog hop for you all in order to say THANKS! I love this book because it has repetitive language, which A) is great to put on a big mac switch for non-verbal students to read and B) easy for my emerging readers to catch on and be successful reading. Also, it comes with symbol support to help our emerging readers. Plus, it works on the life skill of knowing what you need to wear when it is snowing outside! (This freebie was only available during the hop, click the picture below to get it from my TpT store.)

Pssst, if you want more forever freebies, be sure to also check out my latest post about grocery shopping!

Anyway, I hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving and are out enjoying all the sales this weekend!!! The sale fun continues Monday and Tuesday in my TpT store where all of my products (including my bundles) will be discounted 20% plus you can get an additional 10% off with the coupon code provided by TpT. :) I've been filling my cart up already and can't wait to check out on Monday with all my new goodies!


Thanks for stopping by! Before you leave, be sure to follow me on Facebook for even more tips, tricks, and sales throughout the year. For more freebies and tips, continue the trip through the blog hop by checking out Autism Classroom News...just click the button below.
Autism Classroom News
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Grocery Shopping in the Classroom

Sometimes you have to practice grocery shopping without going to the store. Our official grocery store community trip won't be until January, but we will be practicing our grocery shopping skills, specifically shopping from a list, all year long!
One way we do this is through a simulated grocery shopping experiences. 

Bookshelf Grocery Store: I created a mini shopping experience on a bookshelf. We have a variety of empty food boxes and containers. My first thought was to make mini departments and have a "refrigerated' section...but I haven't had time to be that awesome yet. :)
I created two levels of shopping lists, one including pictures and the other with only words. Each list has 3-4 items on it. I taped a folder with the directions written on it and each level goes in one of the two pockets. 

Students will take a shopping bag, fill it up with items on their list, and then put the list in the bag and move to the next one. I have students complete it this way so that we can check to see if they got the correct items. If you can find the same items I used, feel free to download the lists I created for free.

Work Task Shopping Lists: Another way we practice this is during our work task boxes. This is very similar to the grocery shopping set up, just on a much smaller scale. Student look at a shopping list and fill the bag with those items. I have shopping lists with pictures or with words, ranging from 3 to 5 items. This task is available to download at my TpT store.

Online Tutorials: I've talked about how much I love the GFCLearnFree website before. Seriously, if you are looking for functional life skills, you will find an interactive tutorial in their Everyday Life section! The grocery list tutorial goes over finding the right aisle and then finding those items on your list. Did I mention its interactive? Awesome! :)

Grocery Store File Folders: And then there's my grocery store file folders that I've talked about in detail here. There are a total of 10 file folders, 2 which specifically deal with shopping from a list and the other cover a variety of grocery store topics.

Grocery Store Field Trip Prep: I created this grocery store community unit that is packed full of materials including Bingo games, social stories, vocabulary, coloring pages, worksheets, and more! We will start using that unit the month of our grocery store trip.


Honestly, I didn't realize I had so many grocery shopping resources when I started to type this post! What other things do you do to prepare your students for grocery shopping? I'd love to hear about them!
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3 Ways to Adapt Keyboards to Promote Typing Skills

I have quite a few alpha smart keyboards in my room and have personalized them for a few of my students in order to improve their emerging typing skills.

One finger peckers
How many of you have one-finger peckers when it comes to typing? It can be frustrating because I know go some they could be so much faster!

I cut apart some circle stickers so they would fit on keys and stuck them on the keyboard to distinguish between the right and left hand. Hopefully this will help promote my one finger peckers to at least two finger peckers! :)

Emerging Letter Recognition 
Last year I used four colors to help a student narrow down where to find the keys (very beginning typing/letter recognition skills). So I would say "find E purple E" to help him focus on a smaller area.

Little/No Letter Recoginition - Name
I also have another keyboard where I have highlighted the four letters in that students name so he can type his name. He can find the first letter of his name and I hope he get used to the sequence of the rest of it. We still have to work on putting them in order but it's a start!!!

Do you do anything similar? How are your students at keyboarding?
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November Currently

Happy November! I know we're all thinking it, but seriously, how is it already November?! Link up with this month's currently over at Oh Boy Fourth Grade!

Listening: Seriously, I am so sick of political commercials! So much negativity, it can really get you down! Sometimes I catch myself thinking, why even vote, if it's just one evil over another. But I will be out at the polls tomorrow! However, I feel like I need to do a little bit of research. I know who I want to vote for for governor, but there are so many other people...sigh. And then I think it doesn't really matter.

Loving: We got hardly any treat-or-treaters due to the nasty weather so I'm enjoying their candy for breakfast, lunch, and dinner! Oh, and for snacks too :)

Thinking: See above in "listening"

Wanting: I'm at a point in the year when I am exhausted and just feel like I can't do anything. And everything's so difficult and nothing is going the way I want it to go. And my first IEP is coming up in 3 weeks. It was a nice break not having those for a while... Ugh. I'll get over it soon enough but I just want things to get easier again!!

Needing: See above to know why I need some energy and motivation! :)

Reading: I'm doing this book "One in a Million" by Priscilla Shirer with my Bible Study girls. I enjoy it, but would love to be reading a book just for fun!
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Red Ribbon Week Poster

Anyone else doing red ribbon week activities this week? We are at my school and I like to have my students participate in at least some of the activities.

Each class makes a poster to submit, and here's what my class came up with (after a google search, I can't take all the credit...)
Isn't that too cute? I love the saying "Drugs are Despicable" and once you add the cute little minions (thanks to Learn.Create.Love), you just can't go wrong! Plus, I was going to print out the phrase with my color-in font, but then stumbled across this monster font I had downloaded a while back. WIN! :)

I think it's a winner, we shall see on Thursday!!!

For the rest of the week, I'll probably just pull out a few worksheets from my Red Ribbon Week binder I was given years back and then next month we will spend more time talking about Drugs/Alcohol as it is the November ULS topic. Which I am still trying to figure out, but am getting there, I think!
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Halloween Peer Buddy Event - Carving Pumpkins

I won't lie, I was so nervous to carve pumpkins with a bunch of special education students! We had the most students signed up ever (20! And one signed up today, the morning of the event) and only 4 confirmed buddies. I was feeling a little nervous how everything was going to end up...and then over 20 buddies showed up to help us! AH-MAZING! We had a blast getting to know each other while carving pumpkins! Here's a few tips for carving pumpkins with a group of special education students that made today run smoothly. 
I lined totes with garbage bags for all of the pumpkin guts. Put plastic tablecloths from the dollar store on the table - made clean up so much easier! I had gloves available which helped some students to be brave enough to dig in and get all of the guts! I had the pumpkin scrapers that came in the kits and also large kitchen spoons to help spoon everything out!
I printed off templates that the kids could then attached to their pumpkins with push pins or tape. Both seemed to work well but tape (just regular scotch tape) seemed to be the easiest. Here's one of the packs of face templates I printed. This one is good too, but you have to click on each one you want to print. You can also find a ton of these on google!

I got a few sets of the pumpkin master carving tool sets - like this one - and they were crap! About half of the knives broke. I will be looking for larger, more sturdier ones at the end of the season this year to get them while they are cheap to stock up for next years event!

So, didn't these turn out awesome or what?! This event really was just one miracle after the other, from the pumpkin (requested 17, 20 were delivered), to the amount of buddies showing up! I am so thankful for how well it turned out and for all of the fun that my students had!!
The pumpkins took us a good hour to complete. We also used this get-to-know-you question page in the very beginning to help encourage conversations. Then at the end we had dirt dessert pudding with chocolate pudding that my daily living skills students made, with crushed oreo "dirt" on top, complete with a gummy worm!
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Addressing envelopes - a simple yet effective trick

I decided to work on addressing envelopes in my consumer economics class today. We were practicing writing a check for something in a catalog (I know...outdated...but we focus on the basic ideas, items cost money and we need to take money out of our bank account to buy them). So I figured, why not work on addressing envelopes as well.

Some of my students were all over the place, writing to the very end of the envelope and/or putting info where it fit instead of where it belongs, so I started to highlight some envelopes.
It worked! Students used smaller letters to fit in the spaces and the right info is on the right lines! Winner winner!
Some students do great with just 3 simple lines which is obviously the direction to move in. I've also thought about creating a cut out to put over the envelope while students write to help them stay in the right spots. Any other suggestions or strategies you've used?
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October Currently and FREE file folder activity

It's October already and here's what is going on currently. Link up with Farley to add your currently!
Listening: At the most when I was filling out the graphic I wasn't listening to anything, but now Shark Tank is on and I love Shark Tank! :)

Loving: My paraprofessionals are amazing! It's true, life isn't always perfect, but I had to have a conversation with two aides today about distracting conversations going on during class, and they both responded so well! I'm not good at all with confrontation, but they were both so sweet and actually thanked me for bringing it to their attention and came up with a strategy to prevent it in the future. So thankful for them.

Thinking: It was one of my student's last day today. So sad!!! I sent his new school a ton of stuff and tried to prepare him as best as I could. I'm still not sure if he understands, but I'm sure he'll be fine. He's such a good kid. I will really miss him, but he needs a self contained classroom which my school doesn't offer.

Wanting: Tomorrow I'm running in my first 5K ever. It's a color run, so it's not too hard core and should be fun, but the weather is a high of 46 and raining...which wouldn't be so fun, so I'm really hoping that changes!!

Needing: I love making pumpkin desserts and need more pumpkin to make more pumpkin muffins. Easiest recipe ever, a 15 oz can of pumpkin and any boxed cake mix makes muffins! Find the recipe here, but you can add any type of cake mix. AWESOME!

Treat: I created a product for my classroom/TpT earlier this school year, but haven't put it on TpT yet. Not sure if I like it enough, so I'll leave you with one of the file folders and you can let me know what you think and maybe look for the whole product on TpT later!! Download the freebie here!
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School Assembly / Pep Rally BINGO Freebie

Our homecoming was this past week, and while it's a ton of fun and full of great experiences for our students, there's lot of new experiences. One of those being the school assembly! It's loud, different, and new! We prepared for the assembly in the funnest way I know how....BINGO!
pep rally bingo
I went though all of the cards as I would in a social story type of way. If that doesn't make sense, here's an example. "Today after class we are all going to go to the...'GYM!' In the gym we will sit on the bleachers and Mrs. Holtrop, Annie, Megan, and Kathy will all sit on one side because they are all....'GIRLS'. The 'MARCHING BAND' will play and it might get kinda 'LOUD.' If it's too loud for you, you can wear...'HEADPHONES'. You kinda get the progression.

I uploaded the school assembly boards and calling cards to BoardMaker Online, so if you want to download it and edit to fit your school you can do so! Just switch the school, principal, and colors and you should be good to go! Our school does competitions between girls and boys, but you might want to switch those to grades with a couple others if your school does something different.

I hope this Bingo game will help your students prepare for a pep really or school assembly as well!
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Our Fast Food Community Trip to McDonalds

Our first community trip of the year was a great success and that came with a lot of planning! And it doesn't hurt that fast food is extremely motivating...and I allowed my students to eat ice cream for breakfast. I won't lie, I had a hot fudge sundae before we left, because, it's not everyday you get to go to McDonald's during school! :)

Anyway, let's start at the beginning. I sent home this parent letter in order to inform parents of our upcoming trip as well as give them the words to practice at home.

We did these worksheets pictured above and these ones here scattered throughout the month to work on our regular skills while including some fun fast food trip prep!

There are a few different ways I like to play this "game" with my students. I usually introduce the activity as a class and give each student a red card (a couple students may have to share). I then read the yellow card and asks who has the right response. After going through all the cards like that, each student goes through these on their own and matches them appropriately. You can also do this activity without the red cards and the student actually has to respond like they would in that situation with the clues. 
The social story / coloring book is definitely my favorite part of my community trip materials. It goes through each step very simply and tells you what to do. We read this together as a class. I give directions like "color the tray green" in order to practice some following directions / listening skills. And we also practice and role play each step.

Here's our vocab cards on our pocket chart on our whiteboard. We did a few activities with these, such as taping them to the walls and going on scavenger hunts to find all the symbols. And of course...

We also played BINGO. I love Bingo, my kids love Bingo. It's a win-win all around! I store all of my Bingo boards in sheet protectors in a large binder. It's the best system ever.

We also working on recognizing logos of other fast food restaurants using this adapted book and these flashcards.

We did a lot of role playing and practicing ordering our food, as well as getting our money out of our wallets and handing it over to the cashier. I tell my students if they can't order, they don't get to eat! We aren't going to do it for them, so they have to do it! We also had a countdown going on our calendar. Oh my, my class would be so excited and giggly whenever we were talking about that!

So, even though we spent all month working on saying and recognizing typical food at fast food restaurants like McDonalds....we had to order off the breakfast menu since our trip had to be scheduled in the morning! Since many of my students are non-verbal (and our iPads aren't loud enough to be used as communication devices in the community, I've tried), we used these sentence strips to order our food. It was a great way to allow my students to be independent!

And look how well she's doing ordering her food with her sentence strip!


In case we have extra time after eating, I quickly created this scavenger hunt to go with the steps at McDonalds. You can download it for free here.

Fast Food Community Trip Unit (special education, multi-ne
I was so proud! I love a good, successful community trip! Get many of the resources mentioned above in this fast food community unit!
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