How to Submit Teacher Tax Deductions for TpT Purchases

So it's that fun time of year when we have to get all of our paperwork ready to submit for our taxes. I don't even do my own taxes and I still hate it! As teachers, we can claim $250 used for classroom expenses. I'm absolutely terrible at remembering to save my receipts for this kind of stuff, so I usually don't take advantage of it....until I realized that TpT purchases count for my classroom! There is a super easy way to print off your purchases for the year for tax purposes.

UPDATE: This just moved on me and might have on you too! Now, go to "My Account" and then "Purchase History." You should be able to see the download link right there.

Previous way to find it...might still work for some of you???
First, log into your TpT account, and choose the "My TpT" drop down screen. Then go into "My Purchases" (which also now shows all of your free downloads as well!), from there click on the statement "Download 2014 Annual Purchase Statement", and boom, you have a receipt for classroom expenses. 

Here's more details about claiming teacher deductions.

Also, reminder from Lynn: your Union dues are also 100% deductible!

Let me know if you have any questions! I hope that was helpful! :) Do you have any other tax tips for teachers?

Bowling Unit and Sports Themed Giveaway!

Since the SuperBowl is coming up next week, a few of us special education teachers have teamed together to put together a sports themed giveaway for you! Thanks Gabrielle at Teaching Special Thinkers for organizing!

Now, I'll admit I don't have a lot of sports themed activities in my store, but I do love making community units for the field trips we go on, and one of those units is for our yearly bowling trip! Which I think counts as a sport :)

This bowling packet make it SO EASY to prepare for your field trip! It includes Bingo boards, vocab cards, worksheets, a social story, a social skill game, and a coloring book! Check out this post for how we used this packet to prepare for our bowling community trip last year.
Now you could head over to my TpT store and purchase this bowling unit (it's a great deal, I promise)...or you could test your luck and enter to win this and multiple other sports themed products!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Good luck!

Daily Questions for Errorless Question Answering

So many students with special needs are concerned with answering questions correctly. Do you have any of those in your classroom too? These daily questions are designed for students to practice answering questions errorlessly. I finally finished creating my daily questions for the year pack over Christmas break and absolutely LOVE how it turned out. It has already made my morning run smoother, and I love the added communication piece this brings to our morning meeting. 
Each day we have a new question on the board. I store these in a file folder and switch out the question each morning. Students answer the question based on the two choices during morning independent work. Many of my students use devices, so they are expected to prepare their answer on their device. Students can use the sample sentence under the question each day to help them write (and say) their answer. 

For my students who do not use devices (or who are super fast), I also give them a weekly worksheet for our daily questions that they keep in their morning binder. There are several worksheets based on student levels. One involves drawing a picture answering the question, another writing the answer, writing the answer using a complete sentence, and answering the question plus adding details.  

This semester I got a new students in my class because his behaviors were causing issues in the higher level class, and since my class is more individualized, we wanted to see how he would do with that. I have given this student the higher level journal and so far this part is going well!

During our morning meeting, each student shares their answer and we move their picture under their answer choice, creating a graph of sorts. It is a great way to learn about everyone and also helps teach students that there isn't always a “right” answer, and that it is okay for your answer to be different than someone else’s.
Types of Questions:
82 What do you like? Given 2 picture choices. These are all opinion questions and students should learn that it is okay if their answer is different than their classmate’s answers. We graph our answers so we can compare and see our similarities and differences. (There are also a few options toward the end with 3 choices!)

20 personal info Yes/No questions. I included these at the beginning of the Yes/No questions because I wanted their to be opportunities for students to learn that is okay to answer no sometimes! This questions will always have a clear answer and staff can work with students to make sure they are answering correctly.
78 Do you like ____? Yes/No questions. For many students, answering Yes/No questions can be difficult. Many students are conditioned to always say “yes” (or “no”). It is important for these opinion question, that staff responds positively to all choices as not to make a student think they answered incorrectly.

What makes me even happier than using it in my classroom, is hearing how much others are loving this product as well! I love making things that not only help me, but help other teachers as well! Here's a couple of the comments from people who have purchased this packet on TpT.
  • Pam H: "This pack is perfect for my classroom. My students are all nonverbal or very limited in verbal skills. This pack will help us work on communicating with one another. I'm also going to use some of the questions with my students receiving discrete trial instruction. Thanks for a fabulous product! Totally worth the money!!"
  • Kandi G: "Love it! I've been looking for something exactly like this"
  • Erika W: "Love using this with my special needs students. It works for my students with communication devices, but also for my verbal students. It helps with their sentence structure and speaking in front of a group. "
  • Brittany M: "I absolutely love this for my FMD/MSD class. I have a wide age range and there is so much that I can do with this for all different levels. Thank you!"
Watch a video preview of this product below.

You can get the Daily Question pack in my TpT store which includes 180 questions with visuals plus four differentiated journal pages!! Want more? Grab the second pack of MORE Daily Questions too!

Educational Games - Tips for using Dice and Playing Pieces

I love tricking my students into learning by playing games! My department has a bunch of these PCI/Pro-Ed games and I love grabbing them when I need a quick back-up plan. They make for great sub plans, or back-up plans when suddenly half my students are out for therapies and I don't want half of them to miss out on my lesson! :) 

Even though it's quick and easy lesson for me, I love that it is still beneficial for my students. They work on basic game skills, such as rolling dice, counting, moving their piece, remembering what color their piece is, telling their friends it's their turn, and more (as well as learning about a specific topic including dollar over, money, health, cooking, and others)!
One problem we have often is students not remembering the color of their game piece. I'm using not paying attention to which color game piece they are moving either, and something things get quite confusing... Then, I had this GENIUS idea! We place a card in front of each student that says what color they have, such as "I am BLUE", or whatever color they are. This way we can refer students back to the card in front of them and I don't have to try to remember each student's color either. Game playing is so much easier now!

Does everyone has students who have to count each dot on the dice before they are able to move? Usually I don't mind, but I have some students who should definitely be able to memorize what a 5 looks like! I created this set of file folders to work on these dice skills and others. Right now I have these printed and they are in progress of being put together. I can't wait to start using them!
Counting and Matching Dice Math File Folders (Special Education)

Even though these games were bought just about eight years ago when our program started, they are a bit outdated in some areas. So when I find a card that says something like "Why should you always have a quarter in your wallet?" Answer: "So you can use a pay phone."  I just throw it out. And other cards might say something like, "What would happen if you returned a video back to video store late?, so I just grab some white out and change them to say something more relevant, like "What would happen if you returned a DVD back to RedBox late?

While I was writing this post, I tried to find these games so I could link them for you, and it looks like they have all been updated, which is great, but I'm jealous! :) You can find the games here. A little expensive, but if you have money in your budget or something, they are great to have! I would love to have the updated games, but ours still work just fine.
Life Skills Series for Today

Classroom ATM Machine and Entering PINs

You might remember a while back I asked for advice on what to use for a credit card swipe machine for my students to practice on and enter their PINs and you came up with a lot of great suggestions! One of those was this Zillionz ATM machine...but it was a little expensive! I think because it probably isn't sold in stores anymore. So I gave up on that decided to start asking stores if they had any old swipe machines they wanted to get rid of! LOL I asked once and then chickened out.

I had just about given up when....I found this in our school store (where teachers/parents donate items for students to buy with their hard earned school bucks)! 
Yup, that's the same Zillionz machine that Sincerely, School Psychologist recommended on my facebook post! I think I begged one of my students to buy it for me for $4 of his "thunderbucks." That sounds a lot better than $139 :)

Now, for how I use it in my classroom. We use the Banking for Non-readers curriculum and we have pretend debit cards that we use for practice. This machine turns on with any card inserted, so that was perfect because each student could use their own card! Whenever we got to a lesson that used the ATM machine (or depositing money into the bank or buying something with a debit card, etc), we used our ATM machine!
Now for the PINs, since each of my students had created their own PIN, I was afraid this would be a challenge. However, I looked up the instructional manual online and found you can change the PIN by entering the current PIN, pressing enter twice and then entering the new PIN. So I would walk around like a crazy person dedicated teacher, and change the PIN for each student. Why, yes, I did memorize each one of my students' PINs, that's not weird, right??

As you can see, you can insert pretend money as well! I was also very excited about this feature (I may or may not have been jumping up and down with excitement as I was figuring all this out). The machine has no idea of the amount, but that's okay.
I feel like this ATM has added a lot to our banking lessons. It seems so much more realistic, and I know that my students can enter their PINs and use a machine that is similar to a real ATM machine. Plus, it's a lot of fun to deposit money! (Withdrawing money just opens the drawer, but I have been known to load it with the correct amount they were withdrawing so that each student could withdrawal $20...)

A huge downside to this ATM was the volume with no controls. It was LOUD. Seriously, all caps necessary, LOUD! My ears were ringing after playing with it for a while. So, I filled the volume holes with putty and taped purple plastic over it...and that at least helped a little bit. My students didn't seem to mind the noise anyway, so that's really all that matters! 

It definitely isn't perfect, but it's a whole lot better than my students sliding their debit cards in the air or on their paper and entering their PINs on a calculator... :) If you are looking for one to use in your classroom, this ATM looks like the same thing just in different colors, and is just under $30 (or this smaller ATM by the same company, a little different but under $8!). Do you use anything else to practice skills like this? I'd love to hear what you use!

Happy New Year 2015 + January's Currently

Happy New Year! Well, technically, it is still New Year's Eve as I'm writing this, but the ball in New York dropped already (and I'm scheduling this to post at 12:00AM so it will count as a January post!) it just seems lame. :) Speaking of lame, my husband and I just stayed in tonight with our dog and bottle of champagne, but it's all good because we know how to have a good time and aren't really that into NYE anyway!

Anyway, so I'm linking up with Farley's currently linky tonight! Here's what's going on...

Listening: Not going to lie, TV was much more exciting before the New York ball dropped. Growing up in Michigan (in that time zone) was so much more exciting. I was telling my husband we should have just pretended that was midnight! It's so anti-climatic! 

Loving: Sleeping in. I'm really good at staying up late and sleeping in :) I'm just more productive at night!

Thinking: See commentary above in listening...

Wanting: I got a sewing machine for Christmas! It's been exciting doing a few small things, but it's kinda frustrating when it doesn't work the way I expect it to. I just want to know it all already! :) I'm not a very patient person when it comes to things like that.

Needing: I was planning on being super productive this winter break and make lots of freezer meals so that we will actually have real meals during the week. HA! I did make some stuffed shells today, and I have chicken and ground beef/turkey in the fridge so maybe I'll do that tomorrow.

Goals for 2015:
Yes: Blog 8-10 times each month (I changed this after I wrote in the graphic because I realized I posted more often than I thought I did this past year and I can do even better!). I really want to get some moire great content up here for you guys, so I'm really making this a goal this year. Last year my goal was once a week, and I got that far and even a little better, so let's see where it goes from here!
Maybe: I think I can do this one too, but it seems a little intimidating. I would love to double my products this year, which would bring me to 144 products. 
I wish: I would love to work out and just be healthier this year! It's just I have very little motivation and no one to do it with me. But I hope.,..and wish. We shall see. I have work out clothes at school so maybe I'll use them when we return :)

I'd love to hear what you're up to in 2015! 2014 was a great year, thanks for being here with me :)

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