Kitchen and Cooking File Folders for Special Education

It can be hard to teaching cooking skills in special education classroom, especially if you don't have a kitchen! I mentioned before how I love "tricking" my students into learning by working on concepts using file folders. They still seem to think they are games! Or at least they enjoy them. Some of my students will even choose to do file folder activities during their breaks.
How to Teach Cooking Skills in a Special Education Classroom
A lot of file folders that you can find online are for basic facts, such as colors, counting, and what-not, but my students need to work a lot more on life skills that will help them become successful as young adults! So I created this set of file folders based on all things cooking and around the kitchen.

I also include a variety of difficulty levels in my file folders so that I can appropriately challenge each of my students.

First, we have a simple file folder that works on sorting measuring cups vs. measuring spoons.
How to Teach Measuring Skills using File Folders in a Special Education Classroom

Then, this file folder works on students reading the label and finding the correct measuring cup or spoon.
How to Teach Measuring Skills using File Folders in a Special Education Classroom

Now onto liquid measuring cups. This one is more simple, matching liquid colors and amounts.
How to Teach Measuring Skills using File Folders in a Special Education Classroom

And then it gets challenging, matching the amount to the 1/2 cup as shown on the cup.
How to Teach Measuring Skills using File Folders in a Special Education Classroom

I only have one pictures for you here, but I have four different options for setting the temperature for both the stove top and the oven. There are two different levels for each one, one with exact temperatures (ex. med, low, 350 degrees, etc) and one with in-between temperatures as well (ex. medium-low, 475, etc). You "turn" the knob to match the temperature. Could also be an easier task for student to make sure all of the burners are "turned off" too!

Here's a food sort for what goes in the fridge/freezer and what goes in the cabinet.
How to Teach Kitchen Skills using File Folders in a Special Education Classroom

Sorting cups and plates vs. pots and pans.
How to Teach Kitchen Skills using File Folders in a Special Education Classroom

And finally sorting drinks vs. snacks.
How to Teach Kitchen Skills using File Folders in a Special Education Classroom

Aren't those fun? And they work on a variety of life skills as well! You can purchase these in my TpT store here. Want even more life skill file folders? Check all these out!
So what do you think, will these file folders help you practice cooking skills in your classroom?!

Where to Start: iPads in a Special Education Classroom

This will be my third year with 1:1 iPads in my special education classroom. I'm not going to lie, there's a lot to figure out and there's so many options of apps out there it is both wonderful and extremely overwhelming! Here's how I would recommend getting started with iPads in your classroom (many of these tips should apply to both 1:1 or classroom iPads).

Behind the Scenes:
Storage: Where will you store your iPads? If you have a lot you will want a cart. We have a cart of 30 that we use in our program and store in a central location. However, if you have just a few you can probably designate a spot in your classroom, make sure you can charge them there (love this idea for a few iPads)! Also be sure to consider where can you keep them locked up at night. You don't want your iPads to walk off...

Cases: Get sturdy cases! Let's be honest, an iPad will probably be dropped...or thrown, you want it protected! Sturdy does not have to equal expensive. Five Below has "Tuff Cases" that are very protective and only $5! If you don't live by a Five Below, these are similar, very protective, and still not crazy expensive. For my students who use the iPad as a communication device, we get them this RJ Cooper case with a strap.

Set Rules and Expectations:
Before you give a student an iPad they need to know what is expected of them while they use it. You can find iPad rule posters ALL over the internet. (I love this set of free rules from Soaring). In my class the rules are generally:
1) Walk safely carrying the iPad (this used to be use 2 hands to carry the iPad, and then my heart broke a little bit when I saw my one student with extremely limited mobility in his one hand try so hard to use both)
2) Use safe hands with the iPad. No hitting or throwing!
3) Use apps only when allowed.
4) Use headphones when you use an app with sound.
5) Be responsible. Know where your iPad is!

Have consequences for if rules are broken. In my classroom, if students break these rules (most specifically hitting or throwing), their iPad is taken away for the day or a longer amount of time depending on the situation.

Finding and Using Apps:
Don't download everything at once! You will overwhelm both yourself and your students I promise. Download a few things, check them out, delete the ones you don't like, and then see what you want to put on your student's apps. Some apps (especially free ones) look great, but once you try them out they don't always work how you expected, so try them out before you give them to your students and download them on all their iPads! Also, see what you can use on the iPad already. For example, we love the timer that is found right in the clock app already installed on the iPad. You can customize with different sounds and it has both a countdown and a visual red circle to show how much time is remaining. Isn't that awesome?!

Stay in touch for more about iPads! Posts to come soon include:

  • Communication Apps
  • Tips and Tricks for Using iPads
  • Educational Apps
  • How to Make iPads Accessible for All Students
Be sure to follow on Bloglovin' or Facebook so that you are notified when I post new things!!

Can't wait? These few things might hold you over :)

Simple Visuals can make a HUGE Difference

Visuals are a must in every special education classroom. They will help your class run much smoother! I absolutely love my hard core rule following students. You know who I'm talking about, I'm sure you have them too. They might forget the rules, but once reminded of them they will try their hardest to follow them! Let's use that to our advantage!

Since my students often forget, or don't realize what they are doing, simple written visuals like those above can work wonders! Not everything needs to be made with board maker, although I do love the symbol support especially for my emerging/non-readers readers. (Psst...You will see a LOT of boardmaker symbol support in my classroom like the ones below that I keep velcroed to a rug stapled on the wall in my classroom or ones that I keep on my lanyard! But I want to show you that they aren't the only way to go!)
Similar keychain rule cards found here.

We use "quiet voice" for a lot of my script-ers. A lot of times our students with autism might not even realize they are talking while scripting. All I have to do is point to the visual and then this student is redirected, and also reminded of his strategies. This student's strategies to reduce scripting in the classroom are to write down his thoughts, or the other option is to listen and participate. He typically knows which one is best for his needs at the moment.

The "write small" visual has been awesome in having the student adjust his own writing to an appropriate size. No other prompts needed! I just place it on his desk. If only everything could be that easy, right?

That's just a few of the visuals you'll see in my room, and these are ones that I made while teaching, like in the moment. Seriously took no time and made such a BIG difference!

What are some of the best spur-of-the-moment visuals that work in your classroom?

Visual Task Cards for Special Education

I absolutely love using task cards for my special education students. They are easy to store, easy to use, and great for practicing a wide variety of skills! They can be used during direct instruction, for independent work, and in TEACCH / work boxes. Plus, I've created my task cards to be used for non-readers as well as readers so they can be used by any students in my classroom who are working on those skills.

Using visual task cards to help teach students with special needs various life skills - great for TEACCH boxes, independent work, and direct instruction!

I have a range of money task cards, great for my higher level students. And I have functional life skill cards, great for both low to high students, including simple concepts such as male or female and more complicated concepts, such as determining if food goes in the cabinet, freezer, or fridge.

Check out this video to see all of my task card sets and to hear about how I use them in my classroom.

Here's all of the task card topics that I currently use! Click on the picture to check out each task card set.

Teaching Size Concepts using Task Cards: Big and SmallWork on Concepts of More and Less using Task Cards (special education)
Helping teach students what to throw away and what to save (Task Cards for Special Education)Distinguishing between Male and Female - Task Cards for Special Education

Want them all? I have two great money saving options for you!!
Visual Task Cards (great for independent work and work boxes) for Special Education
Buy all 9 (non-money task cards) in this HUGE BUNDLE!

Interested in the 4 money task cards? They are bundled HERE
(Australian money task cards are also available here.)

Do you use task cards in your classroom? Do you have another idea for task cards? I'd love to help you out, so let me know what you need. I'm sure my students would benefit from it as well!

Money Saving Bundles + TpT Back to School Sale = Insane Savings!

I have having a hard time believing it's already back to school time! We start a week from Tuesday, on the 11th. Going back into my classroom today to get started. Yikes! There is no denying it now, it's time to get ready!!

Thankfully, Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual back to school sale today and Tuesday. I have set my entire store to 20% off, and then you can get an additional 10% off by using the coupon code "BTS15" when you check out.

This is a fabulous deal on all products, but an even more fabulous deal on my bundles, which are always discounted. With the sale you can get these for about half the price of what you would pay regularly on all of the products separately!

My new journals created for non-writers, tracers, and writers have been bundled HERE so that you can get an entire years worth (180) of differentiated journals in one pack at a major discount! I absolutely love using these because of my all students can participate. Options are given for students so that they can begin to complete sentence starters on their own.

Check out all of the different options for your students.  I bet there is a level for each one of your emerging writers (with no additional modifications from you - SCORE!) 
Grab all of these journals HERE. Need journals for higher level students? Check these out!

Another popular bundle that you can find in my store is my File Folder Bundle Pack. This bundle includes 69 file folders from 7 different packs in my store, all which have a functional, life skills twist, such as grocery store, cooking, household items, etc!
I love using file folders for many different reasons. First, my students seem to think they are games instead of actual work, WIN! They are easy to use in task boxes, or for independent work. I also send a couple of these home with some of my students for homework each night. They are also great to grab when you have some extra time.

Here's a couple of the file folders you can make from this pack!

You can also find more file folders in my store that have not been bundled yet, such as this Coin ID Pack, Telling Time File Folders, and School File Folders. Grab the file folder bundle HERE.

In my class, we go on one community trip each month and we spend the entire month preparing and getting excited for those trips. This pack includes materials to help you prepare for 8 unique community trips. My favorite trips are Restaurants and Grocery Stores!
Each pack includes Bingo boards, vocab cards, worksheets, a field trip social story, coloring book, a class book, a social scenario game. 
You will be all set for your community trips! Grab them all and make your community trip planning for the year a BREEZE! Grab this community trip unit bundle HERE.

I have even more bundles in my store that might interest you, such as these household vocab units, task card bundle, money task card bundle!

Happy shopping and happy back to school! As always, let me know if you have any questions or anything I can help you with to help get your school year off to a great start! And be sure to check out the rest of my TpT store for items that will help you ease back into the school year prepared!

Our Morning Classroom Routine: The Morning Meeting for Special Ed

I love our morning routine and morning meeting in my special education classroom! It goes so smoothly because it is structured and my students know what to expect every day. After everyone has signed in and completed their jobs (see part one of our morning classroom routine), we start our morning meeting.
Morning Meetings for Special Education

Wait, Pause! Not all students will complete their jobs at the same time. Sigh, if only we lived in a perfect universe...however, I have a solution for that. First, if I can add something to the job, I go right ahead and make the job a little bit more work for them. Second, remember how they grab their binder with the schedule and their sign in sheets? I keep morning work for them in there too.

I focus on two different types of work in our morning binders.

Personal Information worksheets: For my lowest students, these were laminated sheets where they traced their initials or worked on sorting "their name" and "not their name". For my other students,  I created a fading personal information worksheets, where they would trace / write their name, address, phone number, birthday, etc. 3 times and I would lighten the font as they went down the sheet, and slowly take away tracing support so that they were working on memorizing their info as well. See these editable personal info practice sheets here!

Daily Question journal:
During our morning meeting, we will go over a question of the day. I have different levels of journals where students can draw their answer for the day, write their answer for the day, or even write an entire sentence that include why about their choice (as pictured above). An entire week is on each page. This helps students prepare to answer the question later on as well (but is not necessary, not all of my students have time to complete this before our meeting time). And for some of my device users, I will have them prepare their sentence, or at least practice saying, their sentence during their extra time as well.

Let the Morning Meeting Begin!
Okay, now that you have succeed at keeping everyone busy and everyone has completed their jobs, you are ready to begin your morning meeting! (This is typically about 10-15 minutes after the bell has rung for my class).

As a high school teacher, I try to give my students as much control and responsibility over this part of the day as I can. So, the first thing I do is ask who would like to go first (we work a lot on volunteering, raising our hands, saying "Me", etc, in my class). And yes, I sometimes have to model this my raising my own hand and saying "I want to go!" Note: for some students this will cause anxiety, I have also done a schedule on the board of the order when needed.

Student-Led Calendar, Weather, Attendance, and Lunch Menu:
Students then take turns explaining what they did for their job to the class. The jobs that students come up for are calendar, weather, attendance, and lunch. I also make sure to thank students who did our other jobs so that they realize their part is also important. Read more about our jobs in part 1.

Basically, the students do exactly what they did for their job, just in front of the class. I do add a couple of things, such as during calendar time, each student turns to the calendar tab in their binder and crosses off today's date, because we already woke up and made it to school today! Then we might look at what's coming up and I'll briefly mention a few things. Read about how we use our visual calendars and grab a set of calendars for your classroom here.

I also try to make this student-led (granted, with a lot of assistance) part of the morning meeting interactive, so when a student explains the weather, other students might also check the weather on their iPad to make sure that student got the information right. Or after a student states something, I'll ask other students in the class to make sure they are grasping the concepts as well.

Daily Questions:
After those parts are completed, we go over the daily question. This is my absolute favorite part of our morning meeting! I pick a student to lead this, and that student will go around and ask each student, "what do you like?" and after the student answers, the leader will go to the white board and move their picture under the correct answer. This is so great for working on listening and speaking skills! Then when we are finished, I usually quickly go over how cool it is that we like different things and what some people have in common, etc. Read more how we use our daily questions in this blog post and purchase this pack of questions for the year in my TpT store!

We also end our morning meeting with classroom greetings. This might be kind-of silly, but I have an animal, usually a beanie baby, that I switch out each month as our class pet or mascot. And the pet mascot "chooses" who will lead our greetings for the day.
 I will pretend to throw him, or trick students by going to them and then switching it to something else, or placing it on top of a head! They think this is hilarious! (Again, if a student is anxious about not knowing, work a deal with him and let him know when he is going to have his turn ahead of time). The person chosen then leads our greeting for the day, and goes around and says hi to each of his/her classmates along with a high five, handshake, or fist bump.

That wraps up our morning meeting, which usually lasts about 10-15 minutes and then students check their schedules and start their individualized programing!
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