Friday, September 8, 2017

8 Amazing Classroom Products!

I am always looking for great products that help accomodate students with special needs, weather I am using them on my own consulting case or recommending them to teachers and parents I am always on the hunt. With the new school year starting up I figured I would share a few of my favorites and some new finds too. I hope that you will find something to assist your students and make your classroom function smoothly. You can get all of these things on amazon- BONUS! See why I love them below!(This post contains affiliate links)

1. Time Timer:This is my ultimate favorite and the product I recommend most to parents and teachers alike. This timer is a great way to allow students to visualize and understand time even if their cognitive level is relatively low. Students will watch the time pass as they complete a task. When the red is gone the time is up. I have used this during "thinking time" or free time and it has eliminated many difficult behaviors. This is an absolute must have!

2.Learning Resources Calendar and Weather Pocket Chart:I love this calendar, I love the setup of it and all of the necessary pieces that are here. I not only reccomend this for a classroom but I also used it in my own home to help my children understand days and months and identify when special activities were happening.

3. Do A Dot Art:I continue to have lots of students who struggle with do a dot handwriting and I am always trying to find new ways to help them use their fine motor skills without the stress of writing. These do a dots are chunky and fun. Students will love creating artwork and even doing academic worksheets (these are all over the internet) using just these!

4. Noise Reducing Headphones:there are many different versions of these headphones but the bottom line is that some students need them to function. Weather it be for focusing or to avoid adverse sensory input these headphones may be just want your student needs to succeed in your classroom.

5. Mind Sparks Foam Dry Erase Blocks:these dry erase blocks are amazing. There are so many ways to use them. It would be a great way to practice sight words, work on addition facts, or even making choices for breaks or sensory options. The best thing about these blocks is that just by buying one set you can open up so many different avenues.

6.Reusable Dry Erase Pockets:I love these dry erase worksheet pockets. There is nothing better than being able to use the exact same worksheet for multiple students or for the same student over multiple days. These are a must have for any special education classroom.

7. Tangle Jr. Original Fidget Toy:I was at a conference and the speaker was a 40 year old woman who had recently been diagnosed with autism - having gone until that point without a diagnosis this allowed her a better understanding of her needs and how to address them. She highly reccomends this fidget for students on the spectrum. In fact during the conference she was using one to help her stay on track and focused.
8. Liquid Timer:this thing calms me down! Seriously you may have to buy one for yourself.This item works well to track time or calm an upset individual. It is colorful and fun and gives students something neutral to focus on when things become too over stimulating or difficult to manage.

I hope you can find something here that will help in your classroom.  I have enjoyed using them and have found them extrememly beneficial for my students.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Primary Activity Day!

We had a wonderful primary activity day a few years ago. It was a missionary for a day theme!  It was fabulous!  I made this video and thought others might want to see what it entailed.  I hope you enjoy!  If you are interested in some of the materials/printables I will be adding them slowly to my teachers pay teachers shop for free.  Here are the links so far:

There are also some fun article of faith cards.
Follow my blog/fb page or teachers pay teachers site so you don't miss any freebies!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Speaking Strips- another way to slow down and clarify words

I created these speaking strips for one of my students.  We have been working on different ways to clarify and slow down his speech.  I thought it might be helpful to have visuals for phrases that he uses a lot.  Once I made the phrases I decided to put these syllable boxes underneath the corresponding pictures.

The goal is to have the student touch a box each time they say a syllable.  This will hopefully allow them to get every part of each word necessary for creating their sentence.

It may not work for every student but it is another method to try if you are working on improving the intelligibility of a student's speech.  
These materials were created with Boardmaker.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Monsters Inc Costumes How To

Monsters Inc. Costumes Tutorial!

So a lot of people have been pinning these costumes and asking how I made them.  I figure even though its a little after the fact I might as well link up a quick how to for anyone who is interested.  Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the process but I will do my best to explain what I did.

Now let me just make sure you are well aware- I am by no means a seamstress.  I just get an image in my mind and do my best to whip it up.  Sometimes- ok most times that involves a glue gun and I try to limit the amount of sewing I do- since that never looks as good as I would hope. Plus I like quick so since I never use pins I can't do too much fine sewing anyway.


Sulley was by far the most difficult costume mostly because I had nothing already available for it.  I bought a couple yards of fleece fabric in the bright blue (to get the most accurate sully fur without lots of shedding).  Then I got a yard or so of the purple for the dots and light blue for the belly.

My husband works at a hospital and wears scrubs everyday so I grabbed some of his scrubs to use as a pattern.  I chose scrubs because they are baggy and would allow a larger appearance to the sulley costume. 
I folded the fleece so that I could cut both the front and back at the same time and I put the scrubs on top.  I traced around the scrubs adding an inch all along the edge.
Next I removed the scrubs and cut. 
Then I sewed along the edges leaving as much room as I could.  I of course left holes for the hands and feet and when I got to the neck I sewed it up from the shoulders then afterwards I cut slit down the middle back.  When I was finished I sized it up on my husband.  I made some adjustments due to my lack of sewing skills and then added Velcro to the back to allow him to hop in and allow me to be able to lock him in there! 
Then I cut an oval out of the light blue fabric that fit on the belly- I had my husband keep the costume on until I got the size of the belly just right.  Then once the oval was the right size I guess you could  say I "frayed" the edges a bit so it looked like fur- I think this really helped with the whole look of the costume!  Then I glued it on!  That's right I glued it so I didn't have to sew it! Plus I liked the finished look a bit better.
Next I cut random sized circles and ovals out of the purple fleece and layed them out on the front of the costume.  Once I liked how ti looked I glued these on as well.  I did the same for the back.  Remember you want these to be random and not symmetrical because it is a monster after all. 

The head of sulley was a little tricky. In fact I am having trouble remembering exactly how I did it. (See below) I believe what I did was play around a little with a piece of fabric.  I made a loose tube- kindof by folding the fabric in half (sewing it) and had it sewn at the top close it off.  Then I cut the hole out for the face.  This might be the simplest way- I added the little place right above the forehead just to make it seem more read and have less hair showing but having it like a hood would probably be just fine. 
I had some gray cotton fabric lying around so I traced some large horns out of that.  Then I sewed the edges of that and left the widest side open.  I turned it right side out and filled it with cotton.  Then I sewed these onto the hood/hat- just so they would stay in the upright position.  Next I added more purple dots to the head. 

Finally Sulley was done!


So the mike costume was easy!!  I went down to savers and found the brightest green sweatshirt I could find (it can have something on it and you can turn it inside out- mine was blank!).  The one I got was also v- neck fleece which was perfect for a monster so that was a bonus!  When I got home I cut the arms off and I used the back as the front so the v was in the back and I could add Velcro to cinch it up later.  I then folded the bottom and sewed a new seam with room for an elastic.  Then I cut two holes in the inside of the fabric to get the elastic in and then out and put the elastic in and tied it up to fit my little guys waist- this gives the ball look!  Then I cut out the eye and a mouth from some black and white felt I had lying around.  I used denim for the blue of the eye.
We bought the green pants from the girls section at kohls (shhhh don't tell).  Then we bought the green shirt at a thrift store.  The Mike hat was bought at iparty (they have them in all colors)  I printed the monsters inc. logo from the internet. I had some gray fabric lying around and made little triangle pillows out of some small piece.  I cut 4 triangles and sewed two of them together on two sides, stuffed them with fill and sewed up the other side then I glue gunned them to the top of the hat.  Sorry I am not more technical- I do not have much training in any of these areas!!


So Celia was pretty easy. I got my purple shirt and pants from Walmart and then bought fabric to match for my head piece.  I bought the scaly fabric at JoAnns it was probably with the mermaid stuff but it worked perfect.  When I made the dress I just took one of my dresses and traced it then sewed the sides and tops and added a hem.  It was a cinch! I made it a little big- tried it on sewed a bit to adjust to how I wanted it to fit- no pins no tracing- not smart but it worked!  Then I found an old lei lying around that looked like the cute trip around the collar and glued that on with a glue gun.
The head dress was the trickiest part.  First I took some jersey fabric that I had from an old purple shirt and made a little cap- you can find a newborn baby cap tutorial all over the internet.  But to sum it up you just cut out two large half circles a little bigger than your crown and sew the round part of the half circles, turn it right side out and you've got it. I used this as my base.  It doesn't have to be perfect it just needs to fit. I  cut long about 15 in x 4 in strips of fabric and folded them in half the long way- then I sewed up the side and one end with a somewhat rounded shape.  Then I turned it right side out and stuffed it with cotton.  The closed rounded out end with the nicer finished look was the end I glued the googly eyes on because it had a nicer edge.  I repeated this process to create a total of 5 snakes. Then I cut little pieces of felt for the tongues and glued them on along with the eyes. I made some long sewn pieces without stuffing or eyes to add on top of the other pieces to kindof make the head look like a pile of hair. I glued like a crazy woman until it looked just right. I threw on a pair of flats and I was ready to go!


The hardest part of this costume was having a baby girl who was so adorable and looks kindof like boo but I pulled that part off like a superstar so the rest was a cinch!!

The Boo costume obviously was so easy.  Purple pants and a pink shirt.  I made our pink shirt out of one of my old pink shirts so I could get the longer nightgown tunic length so it would be more accurate.  Throw some pig tails and pink ribbons or bows on her and you are good to go!!

So there it is folks.  Nothing too fancy- not too tricky and believe me when I say my sewing skills are very very basic.  The nice thing about halloween costumes is that they are usually only worn once and don't need to be perfect.  They are just plain fun!Sorry this is just a quick overview but people were asking and I did my best to remember what I did.  I will try in the future to do tutorials as I go.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Infertility Thoughts

Once you've gone down the "lets have a baby" road you can't really get off of it.  Its not like applying to a college and not getting it.  Its not always that cut and dry.  For some it is and I can imagine that abruptness is so unbelievably heartbreaking.  For me it was the ups and downs, the hopeful moments that crashed and following that cycle over and over.  There are so many roads that lead to having a family once it seems that one road has closed, you just head down another one.  For the door to close it can take a long time and for some people it never happens.  That is what makes infertility so difficult. There is often so much hope but there is also so much heartache. Its heartache after hope over and over again.  To those who are struggling with infertility and don't have any children yet.  I am so sorry.  I have been there.  It can be dark, and lonely and utterly devastating.  There is nothing in the world like it- wanting something so pure and perfect- something you were born to have and yet it isn't happening.  Its happening to those around you family, friends, strangers and those who don't want it to happen.  It is harder than anything you have ever imagined.  All I can do is say I am sorry and pray for you and let you know that when it is over and you get that baby it will all be worth it. You will say to yourself what I said after my first baby, I would wait 100 more years if it meant I could have you.  You will realize that although it seems like forever it was a small moment and a small price to pay for one of the most priceless gifts you could ever be given.

Today I just have some random thoughts.  I am currently struggling with secondary infertility (infertility after a baby- weather you were infertile the first or second time or not). It is really hard but for me I recognize that there is one significant thing that makes it a lot easier- my children.  Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't be upset about infertility anymore like I am being unfair to those who are still struggling.  Yet at the same time I ask myself why shouldn't I be allowed to want more just as other people who have never struggled with infertility can perfectly plan their families.  That is what makes secondary infertility difficult for me.  I feel like I am being selfish and selfless all at the same time. I feel awful for the people who are still waiting for that first baby.  It brings back those still fresh, lonely, awful, deep feelings.  I still feel those at times when I see someone with a new baby.  I think will I ever have that again.  We take our children one at a time- we can't plan- we can't know.  We hope and we wonder but we love and swoon over those babies more than we otherwise would because we realize this could be it.  We may never have those stages again and its okay and difficult all the time.  Its ok because we feel like we have won the lottery to have not only one but three children.  At the same time it hurts to know that if we decide to go down the baby road again we may never get there.  I am nervous about going down that road- do I not go down that road again because it could end in sorrow but it could also end in so much joy.  Its the unknown for the outcome that scares me because the known of both the joy and the pain is so fresh in my mind.  Its worth it for that baby but will there be baby?
Hold on to your hope and your faith and keep praying.  Sometimes that is all you can do.  

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Are you going to have heart surgery or are you pregnant?

Ok so heres the story, the one I have needed to document for quite sometime, sorry its a little long but there are pictures! The end of April 2008 I went on Clomid. I was so excited to finally be trying something different, something that has worked for so many other people. The first month I was on 50 mg. I didn't have any negative effects (I took it in the pm just to make sure I didn't go loco while at work or anything crazy like that) but I also didn't ovulate. The doctor boosted me up to 100mg and I started to feel cramping 1/2 way through the month, I saw a glimmer of hope. During this time (May) I found out that I had a hole in my heart which was most likely causing the neurological symptoms I was having accompanied by the migraine headaches which have ailed me for the last 12 -13 years! I was so excited that they found something that was causing them as they have so often studied my brain with endless MRI's and had nothing to show for it. Well I finished out my clomid cycle and had planned my heart surgery for June.

 The lucky day came, boy was I nervous! I had prayed and felt that having this surgery was the right decision (always fearing that migraines would get in the way of my ability to care for my children and give them my undivided attention). When I got to the hospital I was brought to a room, hooked up to a monitor and told that I would have a 2-3 hour wait. I was still really nervous and to say the least I wanted to get out!!! I was really afraid I was going to die or something like that. The nurse came in and asked me if I had taken a pregnancy test. I told her that I hadn't but that there was no possible way I was pregnant, My period had started right on time and was currently continuing, I also added that we had been trying for almost a year and a half so that just added to the fact that it was impossible. She nodded and said ok but by law we have to take one anyway. I went through the drill, gotta love those cups!! About a half our later the nurse came into my room and said,'re pregnant! I looked at her and didn't really think anything of it and said, No you have the wrong person, its not possible. She said, No its you and I tested it three times. I replied in a matter of fact way "I don't believe you, bring on the blood test." She agreed and went ahead with the process. This testing method takes a little longer and for the next 45 minutes I was trying not to get my hopes up. My husband and I laughed a lot. I was like, CAN YOU IMAGINE if we really were. I remember walking into the bathroom, still nervous that if I went through with this surgery that something horrible was going to happen. I remember praying, "Please let me be pregnant, I don't want to do this right now, I can't do this right now. " I felt peaceful, I didn't know if it was peace that all would go well with the surgery or peace that I would be pregnant, but it was Peace. The next image I have will never be erased from my memory all of a sudden I heard some noise outside my room, in came 8-10 nurses all smiling and saying, CONGRATULATIONS! YOU'RE PREGNANT! They brought me a bag with my positive test results attached to it. Inside was a little brown bear, my main nurse said, "This is the first gift for the baby!" Needless to say, I didn't get my surgery that day. I took a picture with my nurse and the bear! My husband and I took this picture outside the hospital

and then went to Zupas to celebrate. It was an amazing day! Within the next two days after more blood tests I found out that I was having a miscarriage. It was really hard, there were a lot, A LOT, A LOT of tears! Although I don't know exactly why this happened there were a few reasons why I think it happened, why I am grateful it happened and a few things that I learned because this happened.

1. I could get Pregnant, after 14 months I felt a glimmer of hope, although this month (February) I would have this baby or babies in my arms I still felt so blessed to know I could get pregnant!
2. My Father In Heaven Cares for me and knows me personally, He answers my prayers and reminds me constantly that His Ways are best.
3. I wouldn't have known I was pregnant if I had not gone to the hospital, I wouldn't have known it was possible. (I was on my period, you don't check when thats goin on)
4. The nurses in the cardio cath lab are amazing! I felt so loved, special and cared for that day. The cute bear, the fact that they all came to my room! It was the sweetest thing ever!
5. If I never get pregnant again, I will always feel so blessed to know what it felt like, even if it was just for one day, some people have never and will never have that opportunity, although it was early and there was so much I didn't experience I experienced the excitement of it and it was overwhelming.
6. I got to go to Babies R- Us Pregnant, I had never done that before! Even though I was pretty sure that I was having a miscarriage, I had to go before I knew for sure, so I could really enjoy it!
7. I didn't have to get my surgery that day, I saw my family a few days later and was so glad I could see them before I had to go through it again!
8. Clomid worked once and it can work again!

After doing research I have suspicions that I was pregnant with twins or another type of multiples as my levels were extremely high for as far along as I was, who knows, but that is exciting too!

Sometimes I like to relive that glorious day when I was pregnant, We lived it up! It will someday happen again, I have faith.

Update: To this day this bear has always been on a shelf or dresser.  I have never put it away.  It has always been a reminder of the hope it provided at the beginning of our journey.  Each time I have found out I was pregnant it has been in "the baby's room."  All of my kids have heard the story and each of them know how special this bear is.  These amazing nurses had no idea that they were bringing hope and joy into our lives and they may never know how special that made me feel.  Their kindness and thoughtfulness I am positive spared me many extra tears and reminded me that that bear miscarriage after miscarriage would someday be hugged and snuggled by one of my sweet babies.  It is well loved in our house! I am so grateful for those angels.


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