TBT: Inanimate Nouns Need Loving Relationships Too!

Afternoon Friends,

So excited to link up with Primary Possibilities today for Throwback Thursday! This really saves me time!

This Throwback post is all the way from October of 2012! Talk about a throwback...

Original Post, October 1, 2012:
Our class is learning about noun-verb relationships in writing. Animate nouns and verbs are "easy" - we see them every day, we experience them every day, we hear them every day. When talking about verbs, it's fairly easy for students to generate verbs such as run, kick, sing, etc. They are taught early on that verbs are something that we do. But once we move on to more complex topics, such as inanimate noun-verb relationships, the connection is not so clear...

Thus, I have incorporated a visual activity when teaching bout inanimate noun-verb relationships. The concept of an inanimate noun doing something is very abstract. Rulers don't move and tables don't do anything. So how could I possibly give a coat an action?

In order to clear up this confusion, I have supplemented my teaching of this concept with an activity where the students create sentences using provided verbs with an inanimate noun of their choice. We then took pictures to show how the inanimate noun could possibly do anything. 

Here are my dynamic kiddos' original sentences with pictures:

The book stood.

The coat laid.

The headphones hung.

The shoe hovered.
The papers spread.
This activity really helped my kiddos grasp this abstract concept and use these relationships in their own original writing assignments! I use this activity every year, and it is always a big hit :)

Check out a FREEBIE product for animate and inanimate noun-verb relationships by clicking the picture below.


Take Advantage of the Wiggles: All About Fidgets!

Greetings Friends!

Welcome to the Bright Ideas Blog Hog - hosted by Shelley Gray from Teaching in the Early Years, along with some special helpers (ahem...Blair Turner and Amanda Nickerson)! I am so excited to be a part of such a phenomenal blog hop! This one is so great because it is all about fabulous teaching ideas - and who doesn't need more of those?!

Bright Idea: Take Advantage of the Wiggles!

I work with special needs students, ages 6-9, so I know a thing or two about the wiggles! Not a day goes by where you won't hear me tell my students "Time to get the wiggles out!" or "Wow, you are very fidgety today! Let's use a strategy" - it comes with the territory!

Special educator or not, I know you have all had these days. It may be challenging to manage these high-energy days (or as a teacher friend once said, "spicy days"), but you CAN make it work! Research supports the use of "fidgets" and "movement breaks"(check out these research articles here, here, here, and here) as preventative strategies and interventions as they relate to behavior, attention, and memory.

There are many different ways you can help support students who are fidgety. There are lots of sensory strategies I have discussed in the past, and will discuss in future posts. If you are interested in staying up to date on these ideas, make sure to follow my blog! Today's post is devoted strictly to the wonderful world of fidgets!

What Are Fidgets?

"Fidgets" are strategies or tools used to help students self-regulate. They may help the child in a variety of ways, depending on their needs and the type of fidget being used, such as: maintain focus/attention, to calm/soothe, to alert or stimulate, or to "ground" or provide sensory input. There are fidget's of all different materials, colors, shapes, sizes, and uses. Generally, people think of "hand fidgets" when they think of the term fidgets, or items you can play with in your hand. These are wonderful strategies for many kids, but there are a variety of different types of fidgets out there worth checking out.

Types of Fidgets

As mentioned above there are all different types of fidgets. Lots of different companies sell products aimed toward teachers - marketing their toys/items as "fidgets." However, I must say that some of the best fidget's I've ever found have been little toys at the dollar store, putty I found in my niece's Easter basket (don't worry - I asked first!), or pieces of fabric/materials from old clothes or bags. It all depends on the types of fidgets you are looking for and which ones work for you kids. Once you become well-versed in the World of Fidgets, the easier it will be to find fidgets for your classroom.

Below are some common fidgets teachers use in their classrooms:

When To Use Fidgets

In my classroom, fidgets are provided by non-contingent, meaning my students can ask to use a fidget at any point, or help themselves from my fidget bin. I want students to be able to have access to supportive strategies throughout the day - I want them to advocate for their needs!

Many students benefit from using fidgets to help them focus during lessons. Notice the student who is doodling in her notebook when you are lecturing? Or the student who is gnawing on the cap of his pen? These students are looking for some sort of input or sensory tool to use to help them concentrate. This is where fidgets come in!

Managing Fidgets

Fidgets can be fun, but it is important to that you, the educator or parent, as well as the students, view these as "sensory tools" or "strategies." Fidget's do not work for all students - many students, depending on their needs, will not benefit from having a stress ball in their hands during a lesson, as they will become distracted. It's all about Trial-and-Error, and knowing your kiddos.

That being said, some students will take advantage, or will choose fidgets that are inappropriate for their needs or the situation (want to use a finger puzzle when they need to do finger painting). From the start of school, when I'm teaching students how, when, and why to use fidgets (as we would with any other part of our classroom/school day), I instruct them that teachers have the final say. At any point, a teacher can confiscate the fidget, change the fidget, or deny a fidget. I explain that, as teachers, we are experts at using fidgets - we know which fidgets will work best for which students, and we are especially good at figuring out who is using the fidget to help them, and who is using a fidget for fun. fThis works well with younger grades, as they buy into this mentality more, but can be tailored for upper grades as well. Establishing these rules and sense of responsibility from the beginning really starts the year off strong. Just like any routine, students will test it out the first several weeks of school (or first several weeks from when you introduced it), but allow time, patience, and support, and you will be amazed at how useful these tools can be!

If you want to find out more about fidgets, make sure to follow my blog, as I will be posting more about their uses, as well as finding the perfect fidgets for different needs.

Looking for more bright ideas? Make sure to check out Amanda's post for more practical classroom ideas at One Extra Degree. Amanda's blog happens to be the FIRST stop on the Blog Hop if you are keeping track - so make sure you go back to check out all the amazing ideas from some amazing educators!

Alternatively, if you are looking for more grade-specific posts or want to find posts based on your interests and classroom needs, check out the 2 linkys at the bottom of this post! Thanks for visiting and happy hopping!

Holy St. Valentine! It's February!

Hello again friends,

Just a quick post to share my "current" happenings on the FIRST DAY OF FEBRUARY!! Yeah - I know. I can hardly believe it!

Listening: My kitty Fred is laying on the couch, sound asleep, purring. I don't want to play any music or watch tv, because I just love the sounds of his soothing purrs.
Not Fred "currently" but a nice picture of the cutie in question.

Loving: Lately, lots of great things have been happening in the blogging community. I met some wonderful New England Bloggers last weekend at the Winter Warm-Up, I am throwing a giveaway in just a few short days to celebrate my 400 followers, I'm a part of something wonderful and secretive happening tomorrow (take a look at that image below!), and I am continuing to make new blogging friends everyday! I'm loving it!

Thinking: I know, I know...cue the eye rolls. But, it has been DAYS since I actually exercised, and my body could really use a detoxing sweat at the gym. I also have been eating pure junk the last few days, which is making me feel yucky and bloated. Gross. Despite my body screaming at me to get off my butt, I still needed extra motivation. I called my friend this morning to ask her to join me so I wouldn't bail. As soon as I am done with this post, I'm headed out!

Wanting: My feet, hands, face, and back could really use some TLC. I LOVE getting manicures, but it just hasn't been in the cards lately - between not being able to justify the extra spending, and life getting in the way, I haven't made it to the nail salon in a while. My feet, not to gross you out yet again, really need some loving. Being a runner, my feet really take a beating. I need to do it, not only for my sanity, but for the wellbeing of my generous feet. Due to the dry winter weather, my face too needs some extra love. And who doesn't ALWAYS needs a massage?

Needing: So there are some changes happening in my room with staffing. It's a real disaster at school right now between some families and the extra staff in my room. If you are a fellow Winter Meet Up Attendee, you may be able to recall a little story I told about this...and I bet you can guess what this change is all about. Needless to say, there are lots of changes happening, and this is the perfect time to revisit those classroom routines and expectations - not only for my kiddos, but for the new staff in my room. More on that later in the week!

2 Truths and a Fib: Can you guess which one is my fib? It's number 2! While I wish I was a more confident cyclist, I am not. I always long to be one of those commuter who whizzes their way to and from work on their bicycle, but I can't. I'm too freaking scared! I'm not confident on two wheels. I can ride a bike just fine, but not when there are giant metal deathtraps speeding past me at 50 miles per hour! I have been to bike safety workshops and have tried practicing on my own in my city, but I'm just not ready to make the jump to strictly cycling everywhere. It's a goal, just not there yet.

Wanna join in on the Currently fun? Hop on over to Farley's blog to link up yourself! Enjoy :)

IEP Tips and Tricks: An In-Depth Look at Writing IEPs

Hey Y'all!

Find me at A Special Sparkle today to read all about writing IEPs. This post is jam-packed to help new special educators understand the ins and outs of IEP writing.

Hop on over by clicking the button below :)

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