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!


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. 


Feeling Thankful for YOU + 50% off Products!

So, I love Thanksgiving. Absolutely love it. Some people jump right to Christmas, but I most definitely decorate for Thanksgiving. I love that this holiday is all about being thankful and setting time aside to appreciate what we have. I realize I have so much to be thankful for, but so much of it I often take for granted, don't we all? 
And of course, you can't forget about the PUMPKIN PIE! Oh, and the HAM! Turkey is fine and all...but ham is where it's at! ;)

This year I am especially thankful for all of you, my readers.  I'm completely serious, I want you to know that! Here's just a few specific examples of how thankful I have been of all of you lately.


Community Places Curriculum

I love teaching my students about places in their community.  In order for our students to be successful in their communities, they have to know what places are out there! Plus, community places are naturally meaningful for students, so they are often motivated to learn about them as well.

When to teach it? Community places is a perfect social studies theme, life skills or daily living, English/Language Arts, or you can even sneak in some math!

Of course, it all depends on your students and the time you have available, but you can easily teach one place a week, spending about 15-30 minutes each day on this topic. For students who work at a faster pace, teach three places a week.

How to Use Core Vocabulary in Your Classroom

Who here has non verbal or limited verbal students in their classroom and is overrun with communication boards and completely overwhelmed on where to go next? Well, core vocabulary might just be your answer!
I'm excited to have Krystie from AdaptEd here today to share a guest post on Core Vocabulary. If my students hadn't already come in with their own different communication devices, I would have loved to use core vocabulary for all of them! Seriously, the way Krystie lays it out, you'll be very tempted to give it a try! :)

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.

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.

Errorless Daily Questions: A Great Way to Start Class

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.

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

First Week Activities in a Special Education Class (with freebies!)

How do you start the first week in a special education class? I've been asked this question a lot lately, and understandably why! I think every teacher, no matter how long they have been teaching, has some sort of nightmares or sleepless nights about the first day/weeks (am I right?!).

Here's what I focus on during those first couple of days.


Morning Binders in the Special Education Classroom

My students use morning binders during our morning meeting and throughout our academic portion of the morning. I love using binders because I can personalize and individualize each binder according to my students needs.
I store our binders right by the door, so that students grab them as soon as they walk in for the day (well, that's the idea at least...there is a lot of reminding to go back and get their binders!)

Here's what I put inside each binder. Everything is separated by tabs (except for the schedule which is the first page).

Using Station Binders to Differentiate and Make Teaching Easier!

In the morning I have all of the same students for both Language Arts and Math classes, so I run the class as a block. This way I can run stations and individual work with math and language arts skills (along with independent life skills) scattered throughout our morning.

One way I make differentiating easier for each student is by incorporating binders.

Station Binders: Each student has a "work binder" that they use during their journal, math, and language stations (they also have morning binders where they keep their schedules and more).
I separate the work for each station with labeled tabs. What's great about this system is I usually put work in their binders for several weeks at a time, so it is ready to go and I don't even have to think about it until we start to run out. Also, if several students are working together at the same station at different levels, no students are singled out and given the wrong work.


Visual Color Coded Calendars for Students with Special Needs

Whenever we are about to start a new month, it's time to prepare our color coded calendars! These are ESSENTIAL in my special education classroom. My students absolutely love filling out and coloring their calendars as it really helps them know what to expect for the month.

Time can be such a tricky concept to teach...what exactly does tomorrow mean? When we have a field trip at the end of the month, how long do we actually have to wait for it? Using these calendars daily helps students better understand the concept of time, days, and calendars.


Fun Ways to Prep for Next School Year during the Summer

Being a teacher definitely has its perks and summer is definitely one of them! After we put all of our energy into our classroom and students for a year, we need these months to relax. But, also, like most good teachers, it's hard to turn off our teacher brain for the summer. After all, we do ENJOY our jobs :)
Here are a few of my favorite fun ways to prep during the summer. No paperwork, just fun classroom stuff. Plus, the more you pin, um I mean prepare this summer, the easier your school year will go!

Unique Ways to use Bingo Games in your Special Ed Classroom

Bingo is everyones favorite educational, vocabulary game, right? If it isn't, you must be doing something wrong. Picture bingo is the absolute best! It works on so many skills, keeps kids involved, and adds some fun into your everyday lessons.

We use bingo when working on various vocabulary skills and while discussing various topics or community outings. I usually pick out a card, talk about it...("This is something healthy at the grocery store, it's in the produce section, carrots and beans are some of these, VEGETABLES! Find vegetables on your card.") and then I will be sure to show the card to my students so that they are able to match if they can't find it.

I love playing bingo in a variety of different ways in order to keep things interesting and also to work on additional skills. Here's some of my favorite ways to switch it up!

Teaching Students to Shop Smart - Finding Which Costs Less

When shopping, it is important for students to be able to spend their money wisely and choose the item that costs less. After my students are able to find items on their grocery list, I like to challenge them to look at the prices and pick the brand that is cheaper.
Teaching Students How to Shop Smart: finding what items costs less

When teaching students to determine which item costs less, I follow a three step process to help them learn this important skill.

Simple Finals Exams for Special Education Classes

So it's the end of the year and you're busy trying to gather some last minute goal data, update your goals, pack up your classroom, plan fun end of the year activities...and then you remember you have to give your students final exams, simply because the rest of the school does it. You might think, are you kidding me?! How am I supposed to give my students an EXAM?! Ain't nobody have time for that, amiright?!
I hated coming up with appropriate exams for the longest time...until I finally got smart. Are you ready for this GENIUS idea?

How to Incorporate Cooking Lessons into your Special Education Classroom

I think one of the best parts of being a special education teacher is being able to cook in your classroom! Seriously though, cooking is an important life skill for all of our students to have. Being able to independently make a snack or a meal is HUGE for our kiddos. Plus, there's so many other academic skills that can be worked on while cooking, such as reading, math, and language! Not to mention that cooking (and food) can be super motivating as well.
In a perfect world, we would all have a kitchen to practice these skills, but unfortunately I know that is not a reality for every classroom. But, you can still cook! Here's some creative ideas to make cooking a reality for all classrooms.


6 Ideas for End of the Year Paraprofessional Gifts

Can you believe it's almost May?! That means the school year is coming to a close...what, what? It will be here before we know it. With all of the end of the year craziness, you want to make sure you don't forget about your paraprofessionals. In special education, we all know that we simply can't do it with our classroom assistants. 

While we can't say thank you enough for everything they do on a daily basis, we can do something small to show our appreciation!

Laundry Life Skill File Folders

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I love file folders! Here's yet another one of my file folder obsessions...all about clothes and doing laundry! I love using file folders because they are so easy to store and a great way to practice life skills when you are at a desk. Plus, my students always think they are playing games with file folders too.
Laundry Life Skill File Folders Activities for Special Education

I have my students sort clothes in a variety of ways. 

How to use your iPad as a Switch Device (and other Accessibility Features)

At the beginning of this year I went to an iPad training and was absolutely MIND BLOWN. Did you know you can use your iPad with a switch? Don't have a switch? Do you know you can use your iPad as a switch?! 
How to use an iPad as a Switch and other Accessibility Features - great for special education
I'll show you where you can find these options, try them out and let me know how it works!

Community Signs UNO Card Game

When helping my students learning environmental print such as community signs, repetition is key. So I like to include the signs we've learned in as many places and ways as possible. We have signs hung up in our room, in our journals, in our math lessons, and even in this UNO game! I won't lie, this game is my favorite because my students don't really even think they are working or learning, they are just having fun playing a game! This community sign UNO game helps students learn and review 10 important community signs while having fun. #WINNING! :)
Teach community sign using this fun UNO card game. Great for teaching life skills and special education
This game is relativity easy to play and to learn the rules, because most students are familiar with the game UNO, and this game follows those rules, except instead of numbers, it uses signs.


4 Ways to Teach Students how to Tell Jokes using Symbol Support (free download)

What do you do for April Fool's day in your special education classroom? This can be a tricky holiday to celebrate. In my classroom, we tell jokes! And not only on April Fool's Day. Jokes are a great way to give student confidence speaking, motivation to communication, and an appropriate way to gain attention.
How to teach special education students how to tell jokes using symbol support (free download)

I have an envelope filled with these 22 symbol supported jokes that my students can use in a variety of ways depending on their abilities.

How to Set Up an Independent Work Box Station

My independent work box station is one of my favorite activities for my students. It's amazing to watch them grow more and more independent and begin to work on these tasks all by themselves. Also, my students find so much satisfaction and pride in being able to do tasks on their own tool! Plus, I know a lot of classrooms are short on aides. After teaching your students how to use a work task station, you shouldn't even need any aides to run it so you can utilize them where needed (just obviously with someone keeping an eye on things in case a student needs redirection!).

What kind of supplies do I need? Shoeboxes (I got 30 of them at the dollar store), labels and schedules, and random things you can probably find in your classroom or at the dollar store to create the tasks! If you need more space and have small tasks, you can use index card holders (for task cards) or magazine file boxes (for file folders)

Quick and Easy St. Patrick's Day Ideas for your Special Education Classroom

Who's celebrating St. Patrick's Day in your classroom this week? Any excuse for a party, right? I love parties, but I also love activities that are quick and easy to prep. Here's a few of my favorite activities that you can have ready to go in minutes (or even seconds!)
Parties also help our students practice important life skills and offer a fun way to get used to changing the routine (which can be hard, but important!)

How to Teach Students Their Personal Information

Knowing and being able to share personal information is one of the most important life skills for our students to have. This might be achieved verbally for some of our students, whereas other students might work on handing over a personal identification or ID card. Some of our students might be working on filling out more detailed forms, and others working on writing their names.

How to Teach Special Education Students Their Personal Information
No matter where your students are at, they can (and should be) working on their personal information!

Organizing your Special Education Library

Books, books, books! What does your special education library look like? How do you keep your books organized? I asked these questions on instagram this week and these awesome special education teachers showed us their libraries and I absolutely love all of their great ideas and organization!!
How to Organize your Special Education Books

Check out how many purposes this area serves! I love how the bookshelves on the left have pictures to organize the books too!

Career Exploration: Vocational Daily Questions, Job Posters, Interest Inventories and more!

As a life skill teacher, one of our responsibilities is to expose our students to different jobs and try to help them figure out what they are interested in doing after they complete school. Career exploration is especially important in secondary education, but is an important part (and becoming mandatory in some states) of elementary life skills too!
These fun job posters and daily questions will help you do just that!

God's Love - Adapted and Interactive Books for Special Needs Ministry

If you follow me on Instagram, you know one of my new adventures is leading the special needs ministry at my church! For the month of February, we are talking about God's love for us.

Love can be such a tricky concept to grasp because it is so abstract but SUCH an important thing to learn about! See this post over HERE at Special Sunday School!


13 Things Every Special Education Teacher Needs in their Classroom

As a special education teacher, what gets you through the day? We all love our jobs, but will admit it can be challenging at times. We all have different essentials for our classrooms and things that get us through each day. So, special education teachers, what could you not live without in your classroom?
25+ teachers chimed in on Facebook and Instagram and we came up with this list. (Not in order of importance!) What would you add?

5 Tips for Writing IEP Transition Plans and Outcomes

Are you lucky enough to be teaching teens? Then you are lucky enough to write a transition plan! In Illinois, all students must have a transition plan in their IEP by the time they are 14 and a half. So, unless you want to hold another meeting at the student's 14 and a 1/2 birthday, you will want to include the transition plan anytime in that year before it is required.
What to include in a transition plan in the IEP
For all transition plans, a student needs to have an education OR training goal (and they can have both), an employment goal, and an independent living goal. Also, we need to be thinking and writing about what this student will be doing AFTER high school (even if that's still 8 years away). Here's a few tips to make sure your transition plan is compliant.

5+ Valentine's Day Activities for Special Education

I can't believe it is almost Valentine's Day already! Are you celebrating Valentine's Day in your classroom this week? Here's a few of my favorite Valentine's Day activities that you can easily include in your activities all throughout this week or for your Valentine's Day parties! 
Valentine's Day Party Ideas for Special Education Classrooms

Valentine's Day Cards

Of course, you can't have a Valentine's Day party without cards! I love these cards because students are able to personalize their card, not only by coloring it, but by including their own words and thoughts, making it a really meaningful card.

  Valentine's Day cards for Special Education

Differentiated Valentine's Day cards for inclusion and special education
These cards include symbol support and choices for your symbol readers, tracing options with visual choices for your beginning writers, and mix and match sentence starters for your students who might be able to write, but sometimes need some help thinking of what to say!

Differentiated Valentine's Day cards for inclusion and special education classrooms
You could have students write to everyone in their class, their parents, siblings, grandparents, and the list goes on! Have fun with it! 

Math using Conversation Hearts   

I loved doing this estimating lesson. This is great for your students who need a bit of a challenge. This activity is a freebie from Miss Britnee on TpT, read more about it and grab the freebie here!

We also did conversation hearts with my lower students! 

We practiced color sorting, counting, and graphing. There are like 50 freebies for activities like these on TpT! I thought these free worksheets looked great, and check out even more candy heart math lessons here. This is such a fun and classic activity. If your students love candy, they will love doing these math lessons! 

Valentine's Day Errorless Journals


Try out this free Valentine's Day journal in my TpT store. 
I absolutely love how these journals allow for my students to write using their own thoughts errorlessly and that there is an appropriate level for all of my students. Grab this FREE journal here or check out all of the Valentine's Day journals here!

Valentine's Day Reading Comprehension (with symbol support)

Designed for non-to-beginning writers, symbol picture support helps students be more successful at reading in this Valentine's Day comprehension set! This is a mini set with 5 stories instead of the typical 10, perfect to use the week of Valentine's Day!
These five reading passages are all about Valentine's Day including: February, valentine's cards, candy hearts, chocolates and Valentine's Day. There are five different stories along with reading comprehension activities including: a cut and paste cloze (fill in the blank) activity and a quiz. Grab these reading activities here!

Valentine Would You Rather Questions

These Valentine's Day would you rather questions are great for teaching students how to have a sense of humor, imagination, and fun! All questions have two visual options for answers to help all students answer and are focused on a Valentine's Day / February theme.

10 visual questions: Variety of funny, opinion, and thought-provoking questions.

Leveled journal pages: Levels including drawing, writing, or extended writing

You can use these questions as a question of the day activity, a journal lesson, or a fun social activity!

These questions are perfect for special education or preschool classrooms because:

• there is no right answer

• students can answer errorlessly

• each question include visuals to support non-readers and readers

• there is a consistent answer structure

• communication is encouraged through AAC, verbal, and/or written

• corresponding journals come in a variety of levels

 Symbol Supported Candy Heart T-shirt 

How cute is this Valentine's Day shirt made especially for special education teachers (and speech therapists too!) The widgit symbol cards in the middle of the hearts is EVERYTHING!

Valentine's Day Crafts - Inspiration from Instagram!

This past week we were sharing crafts on Instagram and I was loving the heart themed crafts! Any and all of these would be great to do for a fun Valentine's day craft. Thanks for the inspiration ladies! :) 

Be sure to click on the links and follow these awesome teachers! 

Kara from @teachingdifferently used the easy art pack from Teaching Special Thinkers that you can find here!

Aren't these love monsters from @positivelyprek adorable!? Check out the Love Monster book here(amazon affiliate link)

How cute are these polka-dot hearts from @youautaknow! You can paint them with a variety of items, including pencil erasers and q-tips. It's fun to switch it up sometimes! :)

Be sure to check out more of this past week's crafts by searching #bseinspiration and #spedcrafts!

Still looking for more Valentine's Day ideas? 

Check out my Pinterest board full of ideas below!

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? Leave a comment, I'd love to hear about it! 

Special Education Math: Core Words, Xtra Math, and Monsters!

This week for #BSEspedinspiration, I asked everyone to share something that they were doing in math this week. I loved seeing everyone's responses (even though math definitely isn't my favorite!)

Here's a few highlights from the week. Be sure to follow these Instagrammers if you don't already!
If you want to see more, search the hashtags #BSEspedinspiration and #spedmath

Core Word Math

this_teach_loves_speechHere is what we are doing this week for Math. We are non-verbal and try to incorporate our core words (what we use to communicate) into everything we do. This week we are playing fun games using our core words then graphing them in different ways. The students are learning how to read graphs, how to graph information, counting, colors,etc. #bsespedinspiration #spedmath#iteachsped #weteachsped#teacheraofinstagram#teachersfollowteachers#this_teach_loves_speech#multipledisabilities #autism #nonverbal

I thought this idea was absolutely genius! Sure, math is important, but it's SO important that our kids can speak, so I love how this_teach_loves_speech included core words in her math lessons!


Telling Time File Folders for Special Education with color support

When we talk about life skills and math, telling time is one of the first concepts that probably pops into your head. Understanding time is an important skill for so many reasons, which is why we work on it so often in special education classrooms. I created this pack of telling time file folders that ALL of my students could work on.
Telling Digital and Analog Time - File Folders - great for Special Education

But wait, what about your students who aren't able to recognize numbers yet, or maybe are just mastering numbers but aren't ready to move to a clock yet? I have something for them too!

Visuals in a Special Education Classoom

You can't have a special education classroom without visuals. Probably LOTS and LOTS of visuals! I asked you all on Instagram this week to share your favorite (or most used) classroom visuals and I love what everyone shared!

Check them all out at #BSEspedinspiration and #spedvisuals. Here's a few of my favorites...

I am in love with all four of Miss Lulu's favorite visuals!

@missluluspecialedJoining@breezyspecialed for #BSEspedinspiration. Some of my favorite visuals are my 1) computer stop signs, 2) my reinforcer chart, 3) my math materials board, and 4) my noise levels chart. Can't live without my#spedvisuals!

This next one cracks me up. I totally had the same visual in my classroom a couple of years ago! Go pick your nose in private please ;)

Calendars in Special Education Classrooms #BSEspedinspiration

The first week of #BSEspedinspiration was so much fun! We had 32 different posts and it was so much fun to look through and see everyone's calendars in their classrooms. I loved them all! This is going to be hard, but I'm going to limit my feature to three each week, and you'll just have to check out the rest on instagram #bsespedinspiration!

Use a Desk Calendar as a Classroom Calendar
This great pic is from @n1colette09, who says "Writing on a posted desk calendar has given my calendar time more meaning than ever before! I'll never go back to Velcro numbers!" There are so many things I love about this. The home visuals help students understand weekends and days off. It is easy to set up! And it's extremely age appropriate for older students as well!


Winter Themed LA, Math, and Crafts: Lessons for Special Education

Hello winter! They say it's going to get to -2 degrees today. I had to shovel our driveway yesterday. Brrr. In fact, I'm drinking hot chocolate right now. Winter is indeed here so it's time to bring some winter activities in the classroom!

Let's get started with some winter journals!
These journals are my absolute favorite as they reach all of the needs of my students. A classroom sample provides sentence starters and three errorless options. The options are errorless because so many of my students are concerned about getting the right answer that they always look for help. I want them to be successful and these journals help them be confident about their writing abilities.


Celebrating Birthdays in a Special Education Classroom

I love it when we have a birthday in my class because it's a great opportunity to practice tons of life skills! Whenever we have a birthday to celebrate, we plan a party. This is usually pretty low-key (because I usually don't think of it until the day of) but awesome just the same and my students love it!
(clip art in graphic by Monkeying around in First)

Here are some of our QUICK and EASY birthday party planning steps:

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