A couple of year's ago I set up my first donor's choose project for an iPad. The application process was and still is pretty simple and it is great because they do have people that check it for you to see if you need to add additional information. This time around I set up a project for gross motor and sensory equipment for my students. Last time, I didn't need to advertise the project. It was funded quickly and easy (I think this is due to the fact that Donor's Choose was not as large as it is now). This time around I had to put in a lot more time to advertise and ask for donations. I didn't have any people fund it that were not related a student or mine or that I knew. So if I were to do this again I would definitely recommend that you choose smaller projects that you think could get funded relatively easily rather one big project or split up a project in half to get it funded easily.
The equipment came in super fast (within a week) and the thank you process is also not crazy difficult. I made a thank you card template for my kids that each of them filled out and took pictures and I will be writing a thank you stating the impact that this equipment has made on my students.
I definitely recommend taking advantage of Donor's Choose, but do expect to ask friends, family, and your student's parents for help. :)
I don't know about you, but around this time every year I start to think about next year and what changes I need to make and what things I definitely want to do next year.
One of the challenges I face is having my students for up to three years. I want to keep the activities we do new and challenging for them. So I try rotating through activities. Some activities I do repeat because the kids really enjoy them or because I feel they can get something else out of it this year that they didn't the previous year.
One of the things I do change every year and have not yet repeated are my alphabet activities. Every Wednesday we do alphabet related activities and I had some ideas of things I wanted to do and so I created the alphabet activities I plan on using next year. This summer I will take the time to print, laminate, cut, and velcro everything, but here are some pictures of what are in the packet. Everything is available at a discounted price in the mega pack or you can buy everything separate depending on what you need for your kiddos.
Our OT is fabulous! (I think I say that every time that I talk about her, but she is really phenomenal!).
Anyways, a couple of weeks ago she had the kids do some animal walking. This is great for their core strengthening, balance, and coordination.
She had the students walk like a bear.
Walk like a crab.
Walk like a cat.
She also had the kids pretend to be bunnies and hop with feet apart and together on premade feet. She added a box to define the space. She used painter's tape to do this and it was super easy to peel off!
Well, spring break is over. We went down to TN to visit family and I finally just had the opportunity to sit down and relax. Amber over at SSS Teaching has a great way to reflect on your teaching year...writing a letter to your class. So here is mine.
This past year has been a crazy one, but you guys have been very resilient and have taught me a lot!
This year with an inconsistent aid and with me having to be out at times because of my own children being ill you have made it with two new people in the classroom. You got through the day and helped the aids out as best as you could and tried to be on your best behavior. You did make some messes (rice everywhere around the classroom...I'm still finding some behind my desk, some artistic crayon drawings on the wall, and the balls escaping from the ball pit), but you still all made it on to the bus safely. Upon entering the classroom and seeing these things it put a smile on my face because it looks like you had some fun and it can all be cleaned. When there was a rotating aid (up to four different people throughout the day coming in and out) you rolled with it and taught me to roll with it too, adjust the plans, and make the most of the situation. When we got new students in January (and will be getting two new ones tomorrow) thank you for helping them out and welcoming them in. Thank you for helping me to learn to relax and just be thankful when there was consistency and when there wasn't, it would be ok...we would survive together and you would put a smile on my face by something silly you said or did. You knew when I needed a hug or couldn't handle that much more that day and I am thankful for that! It has been a rough year and we still have a couple months to go, but we will get through it and have fun while it lasts. :) Love you guys and my two little gals. You have grown a lot this year socially and academically and you are all beautiful inside and out!
This past year I started doing table time with my class. In the past I would have them come in, get their mail, put their belongings in their locker and then begin circle time. However, in the past couple of years our kiddo have been coming in with more and more challenging behaviors and we have been faced with trying to figure out how to reduce these a much as possible. One of the things we have started implementing is table time. It has made a big difference in my student's behavior overall. During this time we are able to meet their sensory needs, learn how to share, practice conversational language, reinforce academic skills, practice fine motor skills, learn how to use new toys, and just ease our way into the school day. So if you are not doing a table time, I do recommend it. We have noticed a difference in our students. Initially we did have some more behavior problems because when the time was up certain students would get upset because they did not get to keep "playing" but we used visual timers, and a picture showing the students if we clean up table time and come to circle we are making a happy choice, which ultimately most of my students want to make.
Here are some pictures of activities we have done during table time.
Clip activities, magnet activities, letter and number activities.
Sensory activities. Here is shaving cream, but we have also used rice, sand, shredded paper, and beans.
Do you have a table time? If so, what activities do you do?