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.

 First, we work on choosing a smaller number. I may start off by writing two numbers on a white board and make the smaller number physically smaller (so a "2" would be written smaller than a "7") if the student is new to this concept. I try to quickly move onto the next step, with both numbers the same size, but giving the student a number line to help them if they need it. I have a variety of number lines in my classroom that I would use depending on my student's needs. Some are basic, with 0-10 in a line, others the numbers gradually get bigger, among other visual supports.

Next, I move to numbers as prices, including both dollars and cents. This can be tricky because it adds a lot of different numbers. I teach my student to only focus on the number before the decimal point, the dollar amount. To help them do that, I keep the cents smaller at first so it is easier for the students to learn to focus on the dollar amount and figure out which one costs less based on the dollar amounts. I continue to use number line support during this level if needed.

Then, when a student has learned to focus on the dollar amount of prices and not the cents, we work on determining which one costs less when all of the numbers are the same size.

Once students are able to complete this last level, I like to continue to challenge them further! I cut out a bunch of items with prices in grocery ads and glued them onto index cards. I can then give a student two cards and have them tell me which one costs less. There are a ton of different activities I do with these cards as written in the picture above!

Task cards and strategies for teaching this important money concept: Which costs less? Perfect for special education
You can grab this set of task cards here. I hope these ideas help your students save money by learning to shop smart! :)

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?

I create our exams out of materials that we would do daily. I love doing this for exams, because not only does it show a students competency on what we are doing in class, they are totally comfortable doing it because they already do it all of the time! Plus, I can easily make it formal and attach a score to it as well. Winning! :)

Some examples...

Language Arts / News2You Article Exam: 
If we did a lot of N2Y in class, I would go over the story like we always would, and make the exam out of the questions. I would still give students their differing levels based on their abilities. Most of my students use the simplified news articles, so their exam would be the game page (out of 6), the review page (also out of 2, each question worth 2 points), and the think page (out of 3: 1. read/listen to options, 2. circle choices, 3, write answer). Then I would tally all of those up, and their exam score was # correct/15. 

Writing / Daily Journal Exam: 
My students do daily journals, so this made for a simple exam and a great way to assess how they are doing on this daily journaling activity. I give each student the same level that they are working on in class. As for scoring, I would give them 2 points for coloring, copying, or drawing the picture and then 2 points for each sentence (did they copy the sentence (or listen/read it) and did they complete the sentence with their thought). Plus the score is out of 10, which is a bonus because it's super easy to get a percentage!

Math Exam: 
My students also complete a math worksheet daily, so this one was a little more work for them, as I would make them complete 5 worksheets for their exam (but this can always be done over the course of a few days as I would just collect them daily). I would pick a worksheet from each topic at their level and combine the 5 for a math exam that covers life skill math topics of money, time, more/less, sizes, and directions. Boom. Done.

And then for the two hour exam time that we have, we have the freedom to do something fun, like cooking (two years ago we made ice cream and I was creative at how I scored the kids on their exams!), or crafts, or games...or movies! :) It's the end of the year. The kids deserve to have fun just as much as you do! So my advice to you, stop overthinking it, and just do what you do. The kids will do better because they are familiar with it, and it's easier for you as well!

Read about past final exams here (after clicking, scroll past this post to read the older ones!)

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 with 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 that we could use with our students to practice these skills, but unfortunately I know that is not a reality for everyone. Here's some ideas to help you start thinking out of the box and bringing cooking lessons to your students.

Make it portable: Bring small appliances such as microwaves, blenders, griddles, toasters, etc. into your classroom. Either bring them in from home on the days you will be cooking or see what you can find at thrift stores/garage sales or ask for donations to your classroom. A mini fridge would be great as well!

Use your school resources such as the cafeteria: For recipes that use the oven/stove, talk to your cafeteria staff and see if there is a time they would be willing to help you out. Maybe they'd let your class come in and watch, or maybe just one student could come watch/help, or maybe your class could prepare the food beforehand (such as mixing up the cupcakes) and simply bring it to them and they could bake it for you. Can't hurt to ask!

Use technology to role play / pretend: Use cooking tutorials on websites such these food and cooking tutorials on  GCFLearnFree to practice the steps of using mixing and using an oven. I love that this one will have the cake turn out poorly if you set the timer wrong!
I bet there are some good cooking iPad apps too!

Interactive Books: Use interactive recipe books to practice cooking steps. I absolutely love these books because they can be used while your students are cooking or while they are at their desks. This book goes through each step of making a cake as if the student was doing it in real life and has interactive Velcro pictures for the student to match on each page while they read. (Have a student who is still a beginning reader and better at matching? Leave the symbols on the book pages and have them match to their identical pictures.)
Why all special education classes should cook and 8 ways to incorporate cooking lessons (even if you don't have a kitchen)!

Cooking "Homework":
 You could also practice various cooking skills and review recipes with resources like the interactive books above, and then send home a visual recipe for the students to prepare at home with their family. This is also a great way to get the family involved.

Worksheets and File Folders: Incorporate some desk work into your cooking lessons when you can't use the kitchen.
All of my visual recipes have sequencing worksheets that can be used for multiple levels as seen in the picture above.  I also love using these measuring cup and spoon worksheets and there's a ton of kitchen life skills to practice in these file folders!

Bake at home: 
Have your students make the recipe, you bring it home to bake it and bring it back the next day! How fun would it be to mix together a birthday cake and then frost it together the next day?!

Brainstorm with administration: Talk to your principal and staff and see if they have any suggestions on how you can get your students cooking and practicing these important life skills!

I hope that gets the ideas flowing! Let me know how you do cooking in your classroom? Are you lucky enough to have a kitchen or do you get creative?

Grab my cooking lessons here! And be sure to check out the bundle!
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