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!

Last year I put together these simple gifts. I found some cute water bottles and added some tea bags/packets inside. I attached a tag to the outside that said "you're tea-riffic" and a short little note of my appreciation on the back. You'll notice one gift just had a box of tea and no bottle...I wasn't sure my male aide would have appreciated a cute water bottle so he just got more tea than everyone else :)

I've also passed out gift cards, packs of gum, or notebooks. It doesn't have to be elaborate or "Pinterest worthy", you know what your aide like, and they will appreciate the thought!

Here's a few ideas from some awesome teachers I've met on Facebook. I hope you all find an idea that you can use in your classroom!
  • Nicole says, "I buy a cute little bin from 31 and full it with chocolate or Kcups. I also do coffee on Friday once a month." I love that she makes this a year round thing too!
  • Cindy has this great idea:  "I bought 2 packs of contingo coffee mugs from Costco and gave them to mine. They told me those are the best coffee cups ever. Don't leak, keeps coffee hot."
  • As a para, Phil suggests "My favorite gifts I have been give as a para have been having a duty covered so I could get an additional break, 10 or 15 min breaks here and there that are rare. Yes, I know as teachers you do not get those kind of treats but it is little things like that that mean a lot."
  • I love how Marissa gets her students involved too! "I've done flowers and that has been well received. One year we did stress relief baskets from bath and body works. At the end of every year we have a luncheon for the paras where they all have at least 30 minutes uninterrupted lunch together. We try to have students escort them to their lunch, too."

  • Traci from the Bender Bunch has these awesome free printables you can use to put together these cute summer gifts!
Are you planning on doing anything for your paraprofessionals this year? I'd love to hear your ideas!

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 sorting clothes in a variety of ways. 

Students practice sorting clothing by color. A great life skill to prepare to work in a clothing store!
First, I have students sort clothing by color. This is a great skill that transfers to jobs in many thrift stores, where they may organize clothing by color.

I have students sort between colors and whites. As we all know, this is an essential skill for doing laundry!
Next, I have students sort between colors and whites. As we all know, this is an essential skill for doing laundry!

Another way students sort clothing is by putting the clean clothes in the dresser and the dirty clothes in the laundry basket.
Another way students sort clothing is by putting the clean clothes in the dresser and the dirty clothes in the laundry basket.

Another great skill for sorting clothing is sorting by size. (Sorry I don't have a picture of this one, but it includes tags sizes XS, S, M, L, and XL for students to separate).

Students can also separate clothing by warm or cold weather. There is also another file folder to sort people that are dressed for warm or cold weather as well.

Finally, a couple basic sorting activities include shirt/pants and hats/shoes and people dress for the weather.

Laundry and Clothing Life Skill Practice for Special Education
Ready to practice clothing/laundry skills in your classroom? Download here and make laundry/clothing practice easy! Feel free to tag me on Instagram @BreezySpecialEd if you're using them, I love to see these in action! :)

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?! I'll show you where you can find these options, try them out and let me know how it works!
How to use an iPad as a Switch and other Accessibility Features - great for special education
First, you're going to go into Settings > General > Accessibility.

Have you ever been here before? Take a minute to take in the awesomeness.

Vision Accessibility Options:
You can Invert Colors or Increase Contrast for students with poor vision. You also have options to choose Larger Text - which I love because not only does it make things easier to read, it naturally displays less on a page.

You can use Voice Over to have your iPad speak every option for blind/very poor vision students (warning - this can get crazy!)

Speech Accessibility Options:
Or you can check out the Speech options in order to set it up to read selected text for struggling readers (Speech > Speak Selection and you might also want to choose Highlight Content to have the words highlighted as they are read!).

Interaction / Switch Accessibility Options:
Seriously, I was SO EXCITED about these options! Like, who knew?!

The Assistive Touch menu options is great because you can add commands like turning volume up or down to a box on the screen if you have students who have difficulties accessing the volume control.

The Touch Accommodations include options such as telling the iPad to use the initial touch location, or the final touch location, which would be great for students who drag their fingers across the screen when trying to make a selection! You can also tell your iPad to ignore repeat touches!

And now my favorite, the Switch Control options!
Head over to Switch Control > Switches > Add New Switch... You then have three options.
External: If you have an external switch that plugs in or uses bluetooth, you can connect it and use it with the iPad.
Screen: You can use the screen on the iPad as a switch. (I think this is the easiest, especially if you don't have an external switch). See the video below for how I set this up and how it works!)

Camera: You can use left and/or right head movements as switches too!

Then you will want to scroll through the options to choose things like your scanning style, time, repeats, and tap behavior. You could easily use these switch options in combination with a communication app for students to speak too! Still have questions? There's a lot of options! Read this switch control article from Apple for more information on these scanning choices!

Easy Access to your Programed Accessibility Options:
If you end up using one of these accessibility options a lot, you can scroll to the bottom and choose Accessibility Shortcut and pick which options you want to pick from next time you triple click the home button (so that you don't always have to go through settings to go to your accessibility features!)

Now, you'll have to let me know. Did you find something new? How could you use this accessibility features in your classroom?

Community Signs UNO Card Game

I'm excited to say I've teamed up with seven other special education bloggers to offer you an awesome giveaway of 8 pre-made products shipped right to your house in honor of Autism Awareness! I love this community sign game I'll be mailing out to someone...EEK! Enter below for your chance to win this and other awesome resources!

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.

The signs are represented in four different ways, and any of them can be matched during the game. See below for an example of the handicap sign. There are two variations of the each sign, the word, and a picture representing the meaning of that sign.
If a student doesn't know how to read, they can just play the word cards as their colors until they are able to recognize the word. Also, to make sure students don't just match the colors, you can offer incentives when they match signs, such as tally marks and a certain number equals a prize. Or you can also make students say each sign as they lay down their cards. Of course, you can play just for fun too! The sign wild cards will force students to say a sign and then the other players to look through their cards to see if that they have that sign.

The game pictured here is of the Community Sign Uno #2 game but I have another set of Community Signs #1 as well! Not sure which one you want? Let me help you out.

  • Community Sign UNO #1 works on the signs: stop, taxi, bike lane, airport, gas station, speed limit, bus stop, railroad crossing, crosswalk, and do not enter.
  • Community Sign UNO #2 works on the signs: danger, exit, no food or drink, handicap, do not litter, no cell phones, no smoking, poison, flammable, and elevator.
(And yes, the signs in both of these correlate wonderfully with my journals and math packets as well!)
Teach community sign using this fun UNO card game. Great for teaching life skills and special education

A hint when prepping this game: Please don't make yourself go crazy by using a scissors and cutting out on all of those little lines. Oh my goodness, it hurts just thinking of it! Find a paper cutter, if you don't have one, someone in your school does, find it!
And just cut along the lines. It doesn't need to be perfect! You will be done in no time! I was done laminating and cutting before finishing an episode of Modern Family.

So, have I convinced you yet? Your students will have so much fun, they won't even know they are learning! I hope you will have fun playing this Community Signs #2 UNO game!

Ready to enter for your chance to win this and other amazing sped products? Enter below!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
So do you want to know what else could you win? Click on the blog buttons below to check out what's available from these other bloggers! 

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