Sunday, November 26, 2017

6 Amazon Musts to Survive the Rest of the School Year


Guys... our jobs are really hard. I'm thanking my lucky stars on the daily that my job is also equally rewarding. I've taught in this high stress field for 8 years and have determined these 6 items to be my absolute necessities! A mix of teacher needs and student needs... go grab them on Amazon today!

Gone are the days of obnoxious callouses and embarassingly tired hands from endless cutting! This paper trimmer is an actual life saver. It also has a small lock on the blade in case your students get their hands on it - it's a little tricky to figure out so you'll have time to grab it out of their grip before chaos ensues :)

At one point I was pretty skeptical about essential oils, but I can now say I'm a true believer! This diffuser is so easy to use (all you need is water, electricity, and some essential oils!), and the results are honestly tangible. I love diffusing oils for MYSELF - the scents are so calming and honestly set the tone for a relaxed classroom! I also love it for my students. Not only does it mask the post-recess funk that inevitably takes over the room in warm months, but the benefits really help our kiddos unwind and focus. 

New to essential oils? This is exactly what you need to get started on diffusing in your classroom! What does lavender do? Promotes calmness, relaxation, and focus. Gee, I wonder who that could benefit? ;)

Don't skimp on a desk band by using an exercise band - they will break quickly if you have a major fidgeter! Stick with the real thing. These bouncy bands are a life saver in my classroom. My kids have so much more tolerance for sitting in their desks when these are available. Ever have a student who endlessly wants to go for walks as their break? I have seen a decrease in break-demanding in many of my students if they have the ability to move their legs purposefully and get some energy out WHILE they're seated. Give it a try...and, you're welcome in advance.


Ever tried to use chew tubes with your students to only have them tear them into small pieces within minutes? Ew, and, feels pointless. These - are the holy grail of chewables! Pros: hard to lose (always on the pencil!), easy to clean/sanitize, hard to destroy, fairly discreet. Cons: Covers the eraser. What are you waiting for?

Do you like your coffee hot and your water cold? Seems like a small delicacy to most teachers, right? Before I had a Yeti Rambler, I felt the same way. Now I have TWO - one for my coffee, one for my water! I can drink both at my leisure, stay hydrated and caffeinated, and not have to be grossed out when my non-iced coffee is cold at 11am. #bestmugever

So, what do you think? What are some teacher necessities that carry you through the school year?

Love,
Allie

This post contains affiliate links to get you right to the product. Any purchases you make using these links helps to support my blog so I can continue sharing and collaborating with you.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Mindfulness Strategies for Sped Teachers & Students



Mindfulness is the state of awareness of the present moment. What does this do for you? Minimize a feeling of overwhelm, assist in feeling grounded, Calm big emotions, and create an overall feeling of gratitude and happiness.

I can’t think of one teacher that doesn’t need to practice mindfulness - man, our brains are always in overdrive! 

For teachers... let’s think about breathing and focus. There are some awesome apps that you can tune into on your lunch hour or prep period to help focus and ground you in the present moment. Two that I love are Headspace and Calm. If possible, taking a walk outside just to pay attention to the sounds, smells and sights can help take away some of the endless bouncing thoughts about which kids you’re worried about or how you’re going to finally organize your data binders. 

Kids? There are endless resources these days! Check out GoNoodle, it’s totally free and amazing for a multitude of reasons. They have specific channels that focus on mindfulness which are visual and really engaging for kids. Another great resource is MindYeti! While I like it, it’s important to know they don’t use any visuals, so you have to ensure your kids will be engaged solely by the auditory component!

Tangible Items
I also love some of these tangible "mindful" items that you can snag off of Amazon. (these are affiliate links!)

Do you remember these sand zen gardens?! Well, they are honestly so relaxing. Who knew? We have one in my classroom and I have a student who regularly requests it. Just make sure you keep it in a safe spot, away from busy hands because it is 100% likely that the sand will go everywhere without supervision.
How about those cheesy plug-in zen waterfalls? I have some students that go into a total trance watching our mini waterfall! It's a great way to focus on sounds and sights to distract from small problems or feeling overwhelmed.

What about classroom resources?

Have you seen the Breathing Choice Board freebie in my TeachersPayTeachers store? It’s a great Kickstarter in engaging your class in targeted breathing exercises. I’ve seen an increase in my students buy-in with structured breathing exercises after implementing these! 


What do you think? Do you have some mindful strategies or activities that you do to teach mindfulness to your students and keep yourself at peace?

Love,
Allie

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Teaching Gratefulness in Special Ed

Fall! Everyone's favorite season, right?! I love fall for millions of reasons, including sweater weather, chai lattes, TV shows coming out, the World Series, and gorgeous trees - but I also LOVE teaching gratefulness to my class.

There is SO much research that shows us how crucial gratitude is in creating and maintaining happiness and joy in our everyday lives (here's one from Psych Today and one from Harvard Health). We know this. And while gratitude is something we should be practicing regularly to keep us grounded, humble, and - well - HAPPY, November really is the perfect month to teach this to our kiddos.

By November, back to school craziness is (hopefully) starting to settle, and you can begin some new routines, like adding gratefulness practice into your daily routine. And, of course, it nicely ties in with Thanksgiving!

So here's a round-up of some simple, easy to differentiate and easy implement ideas on how to begin incorporating this into your daily routine this month! (The Amazon links are affiliate links!)

Books


A lesser known Dr. Seuss book about gratitude, such a great read, and familiar for our students!



Focuses on being thankful for relationships with your parents.



This is one of my all time favorite books! Gives gratitude a very applicable face for kids.

TPT Freebies














12 Days of Gratitude - an awesome resource to get started on gratitude and get your class excited for the holiday season.














I love this freebie because it also focuses on needs vs. wants, which is an important piece when introducing what we're grateful for!













A more comprehensive freebie with more writing opportunities for older or more academic-based students.

YouTube Videos

Because who doesn't love Kid President?


A read aloud of "The Gratitude Jar". 


Kind of a goofy cartoon, but has a great message and older characters to appeal to upper elementary students and above!

Games

I love this idea from Teach Beside Me because there's so many ways you could modify or differentiate it for your specific class! 

SO CUTE! Getting kids outside and exploring all the things that we can and should be thankful for really opens up the minds of our kids. And who doesn't love a Scavenger Hunt?! (by This Little Home of Mine)

Imagine what amazing skills our students could develop if we took the time to teach them the value of gratitude at young ages?! What are you planning on doing to teach this mindset this season?

Love, 
Allie