Trick AND Treat: 3 Non-Halloween Ways to Party

October is such a glorious time of year, especially in school. The leaves are turning (at least in the North East), you are getting into the swing of things after heading back to school, and there's nothing like fluffy teacher sweaters to make you feel cozy. Another plus about October in the classroom? The treats! And I'm not just talking about Halloween candy. Think pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, and cider! Also, who doesn't love the autumn decor, like the scarecrows, corn stalks, and more pumpkins?!

So, if you are like many other classrooms or schools who do not allow Halloween-themed parties in your classroom, here are 3 tricks for non-Halloween parties to celebrate this awesome month with your kiddos!

1. Pumpkin Party!

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Trick AND Treat: 5 Tricks to Have in Your Therapy Bag

It's October, so how about a trick and a treat? Let's talk today about 5 things you need in your therapy bag if you do in-home services. This also applies to any teachers or parents who work to support a learner on skill building and decreasing problem behaviors. You can't go wrong with these tricks in your bag!


Obviously, we know to pack certain things, like pens, data sheets, therapy binder, etc. (check out this post for some fun, therapy-specific ideas to bring) But here are some additional tools you may not have considered using/needing during your in-home sessions!

5 "tricks" to pack in your therapy bag...

1. Sheet protectors

Sheet protectors are key! I use them as a folder for new worksheets or data sheets I need to add to the treatment binder. I use them to protect master copies of said worksheets and data sheets. I also use them in a pinch as a dry erase board or lamination -> this is my favorite way to use them!


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How to Reinforce Your Staff

We are all familiar with reinforcement. We use it daily with our students, our kids, our pets. We also use it with our spouses, neighbors, mail carrier, and selves (though you may not realize it). So, why not use it with our staff?

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How to Hack BTS When You Don't Work in the Classroom

I remember the feeling of back to school and how exciting it was. Sure, it was the end of freedom and summer, but it was also the start of new beginnings and hopeful journeys. Each year I would think about how amazing that school year would be: all the friends I would make, all the classes I would master, and all the memories that I would cherish.

You can use that same mentality no matter where you are. Whether you are in the classroom, office, hospital, or field. It's a second chance at change (kinda like your New Year's promises). Make the most of it!


Organize, Organize, Organize

I'm sure you've noticed all the Instagram and Facebook images of the pristine, organized classrooms teachers are designing for back to school. Now it's your turn. This is the perfect time to employ some of those organization strategies you've been meaning to try out. Be it color-coding schedules, setting up a new filing system, or creating a family command center for your home, this is your time to shine. Check out some inspiration below:
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What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

Ever feel like you haven't reached your full potential yet? You're not alone! If you are not where you want to be right now, and have no idea how to get there, read on for some simple ideas to help you reach your goals!
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Quickie Post: BTS Sale 2017!

Act fast! Head over to Teachers Pay Teachers to fill up your cart now. Make sure you enter the promo code BTS2017 at check out to get the most savings!




Here's what's in my cart (so far):

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The Wonders of Preference Assessments

Preference assessments are fabulous tools for anyone looking to change someone's behavior. I've used them in the classroom, in adult services, and even with my dog! (more on that below). Keep reading for the what, why, and how for preference assessments.

What are preference assessments?

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Random DIY That You Don't Need but Totally Want

Leave it to the world's worst procrastinator to decide to make a pillow for my cats with a piece of foam I found while attempting to clean my house. I had JUST walked into my office to clean it up, when I found a large piece of packing foam that I received in a package to keep some fragile vases safe. I decided this was perfect for a cat bed, and that this was the best time to do it. If I wait, I rationalized, then it would just be adding to the clutter. But if I made it right away, I wouldn't be hoarding garbage and would be making my cats happy. #ADHDJustification

Ready to see this odd-ball, last minute craft I decided to make for no reason? Great! I present to you, the DIY Cat Bed (with foam and pajamas)...

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5 Ways to Enhance Your Teaching Over the Summer

As teachers, you never stop working. Even on your "summer off" you will be toiling away, strategizing new classroom management techniques, shopping for new classroom manipulatives, and outlining new lessons to enhance your students' learning. Here are 5 ways you may have not considered spending your summer that will improve your teaching for the upcoming school year (now if we could only use these to earn CEs)

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Operational Definitions in the Classroom

So we all know what an operational definition is, right? Well, if not, here's a quick review: 

Operational Definition: A way to define a behavior in simple, observable, and measurable terms. You want it to be specific, like a SMART goal.


So, now that we've jogged our memory on what they are, why are they so important? Here's another quick review:

Writing an operational definition is crucial, as it defines the behavior so specifically, that it can be accurately measured, assessed, and treated by any person working with the individual. The point is that, no matter who reads the definition, they know exactly what the behavior looks like.


Okay great. But now how do you use them in the classroom? Keep reading for 6 different ways to use operational definitions in your classroom.


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Teacher Appreciation 2017!

It's that time of year again, where we appreciate all the amazing teachers out there supporting our learner's of all ages and abilities. As a way to show our love and appreciation for these teachers, Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a Teacher's Appreciation Sale!

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Procrastination: How to Stay on Track

Procrastination. We know this word all too well (some of us more than others). Procrastination can be useful, to an extent. People argue that they do better under pressure, and while that may be true for some, sometimes you just have to get started on something immediately. Other times, your procrastination (or avoidance behavior) takes over and all of a sudden something is due, but you still can't get started. If any of this sounds like you, this post is for you. 

seriously struggle with procrastination and initiating tasks (did I mention I have executive functioning difficulties?). Over the years I've read lots of articles and tried out a variety of ways to help manage my procrastination. Here are some things that work for me:

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Autism 101: Support Strategies {Part 4}

Welcome to Part 4 of the Autism 101 series. Today we are diving deeper into specific support techniques for working with people with ASD. If you want an overview of different interventions used with people with ASD, check out Part 3. For more information on what autism is, and how to identify it, check out Part 1 and Part 2 respectively.


Today we will be talking about different support strategies for those with an ASD diagnosis. Keep in mind, that we've previously discussed how each person with ASD is different, thus these supports and ideas are not a one-size-fits-all approach. You will need to take these approaches and individualize them to your students or adults you're working with.
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Executive Functioning: What is It?

I'm sure we've all heard this term before. If you are a teacher, especially a special educator, you know this term well.  You might even be someone who struggles with this yourself (*raises hand*). This is such an important term that encompasses so much! But what does this all mean..?

What is executive functioning?

Executive functioning is the command center of the brain. Executive functions are the skills of the brain used for planning, organizing, and managing our thoughts. To say executive functioning is important is an understatement.

What are some executive functioning skills?

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10 Things Tuesday: Every Day is Earth Day

Earth Day is right around the corner, so you might be thinking about ways you can help the earth (or teach your kids how to help the earth). But just because Earth Day is April 22nd, doesn't mean you stop caring about and celebrating the earth the other 364+ days of the year!

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Autism 101: Supports and Interventions Overview {Part 3}

Welcome back to my Autism 101 series. Today is Part 3 of the series where we will focus on supports and treatments for individuals with autism, or ASD. If you want to know more about what autism is, or the warning signs and causes of autism, check Part 1 and Part 2 respectively.

Today we will be talking about different support strategies for those with an ASD diagnosis. Keep in mind, that we've previously discussed how each person with ASD is different, thus these supports and ideas are not a one-size-fits-all approach. You will need to take these approaches and individualize them to your students or adults you're working with.


Notice how I didn't say "cure". It's important to differentiate between supports and cures in this case, as there is no cure for autism, and many autism advocates push to have those with autism be viewed as an individual with strengths and weakness, just like anyone else, rather than someone who needs to be fixed. We all have our deficits (such as my organizational challenges), and wouldn't identify ourselves as someone who needs to be treated. Instead, we look for ways to help manage our deficits and supports our selves in being as independent as possible. This should be the drive when working with people with autism as well. Even still, with a word like "treatment" it's important to note that we are treating the symptoms and challenges that can come with autism, not the actual disorder itself.
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Autism 101: What to Look for? {Part 2}


Welcome to Part 2 of the Autism 101 series. Check out Part 1 of the series, which begins with an introduction to autism spectrum disorder. For Part 2 today, we will be learning about red flags and potential causes according to current autism research.


There are lots of misconceptions out there about autism, which is why it's important to read up on current (and valid) research. Not everything on the internet is true (the majority of what's out there is probably false!) so make sure to do your homework! Make sure you are backing up what you are reading with other sources of information - this is just good practice!

So, we've gained a basic understanding of autism, and the common characteristics of ASD. Now, let's take a look at some of the warning signs of autism, or the indicators that you may consider an evaluation...

Warning Signs

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SPEDtacular Freebie!

Today, I've linked up with Bender's Bunch to share on SPEDtacular Sunday Freebies! Check out Bender's Bunch for an archive of awesome freebies


My freebie for the link up is a set of comprehension posters for the classroom! Head over to Bender's Bunch to check out mine and all the other great freebies!

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Operational Definition: What?!

Maybe you've seen this term before. Maybe not. Either way, it's important for you to know what the heck it is, especially as a special educator. It's a useful term and helpful to think about whenever we are defining anything.

What is an operational definition?

An operational definition is a way to define a behavior in simple, observable, and measurable terms. You want it specific, like a SMART goal.
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Autism 101: What is Autism? {Part 1}

April is Autism Awareness Month, so this month, we're going to learn about autism! Today's post is devoted to spreading awareness on what autism actually is...

Come back throughout the month where we will focus on supports, employment, and independence living skills with autism.

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurobiological disorder that affects brain development and lasts throughout one's lifetime. You may see the term autism spectrum disorder or ASD used to refer to the disorder. ASD according to the DSM-5, consists of persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction, and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.
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Review: Natural Calm Magnesium Powder

This post has been sponsored by Natural Vitality, the company who makes and distributes Natural Calm magnesium supplement. All content and opinions are my own.

When Natural Vitality contacted me about doing an unbiased product review for Natural Calm, I jumped on the opportunity! I have been seeing this product pinned all over Pinterest, on co-worker's shelves, and being showcased on blogs I follow. As someone who devotes their time and energy in alternative health practices, I've been intrigued by this product for some time, but had not gotten around to purchasing it. (blame my lack of energy...)

Why is Magnesium Important?

Magnesium is one of the most important nutrients for our bodies. We are able to get magnesium through our diet, but for a variety of reasons (including lack of nutrient-dense soil and stressful lifestyle), many of us struggle to get a sufficient amount of magnesium through diet alone. When this happens, supplementing with the nutrient is key. Natural Calm is a powdered magnesium supplement that easily dissolves in water and helps to restore magnesium to optimal levels.
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SpEd After Graduation: Supports in Adult Services

When we think of "special education" we think of children. And rightfully so. Children with special needs generally (hopefully) attend special education classes and/or schools so they can access the general education curriculum and continue to grow as learners. Even those who don't attend special schools or are enrolled in sub-separate classrooms benefit from additional supports in the general education classroom. such as visual supports or environmental accommodations, to help them access their education. But what happens after graduation?

Transitioning from school to the real world is already challenging for most of us! Without getting into all the bureaucracy and funding difficulties within adult services, leaving special education services in the child world and entering the adult world is a beast. Limited resources and staffing, paired with challenges in maintaining an adequate budget and exemplary clinical supports, makes the on-going supports in adult services all that more difficult for the staff and administrators of the programs. The highly-structured, highly-funded, highly-ratioed dynamic of the kid-world is not easily replicated in the adult world, and if a transition plan is not given the necessary forethought and preparation, a child can easily slip through the cracks in adult services.

Photo: Pixabay

While we cannot control the budget or bureaucratic issues that arise in adult services, we can make these programs more clinically effective and supportive for our individuals. Read on to learn more about providing supports in adult services.

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Easy Like Sunday Morning: A 90s Love Playlist

Happy Sunday! Hope your weekend has been treating you well so far. To help keep you going, I've created a playlist for the 90s kids (like me) out there. This playlist is a mix of heart wrenching ballads for unrequited lovers as well as passionate lyrics for the love birds. This carefully curated mix gives me all the feels (usually the angsty middle school feels), either connecting with the singer's rejection of their outpouring of love, or my longing for the deeply amorous love songs meant to incite love and passion in the listener.

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Tips and Tricks: Target Dollar Spot Finds

Have you checked out Target recently? Well, duh, I'm sure you have. In my neck of the woods (Massachusetts) I've found some excellent finds at the Target Dollar Spot. I've snapped some pics below to show you some of the finds and include some ways you could tulize these in your classrooms, during 1:1 ABA sessions, at play at home with the kids, etc.

Jar of Super Heroes/Jar of {Insert Small Object Here}

These are as low-tech as it gets. These figures can be used for a variety of games, activities, skill concepts, etc.
  • Sorting (by color, type, size, etc.)
  • Counting/Math activities
  • As game pieces (for either homemade game boards, or board games in which you've lost the pieces!)
  • As tokens for earning reinforcement (earn one super hero for x behavior, or x time period without engaging in x behavior)
  • Sensory bottles (having a few small toys in a bottle of beans, rice, etc. to search for. This is a great coping strategy
  • Parts of speech (prepositions, adjectives, verbs)
  • Hide the Super Hero (skills you can target include: listening to directions to find the object, asking questions/20 questions to find it, following multi-step directions, written or verbally)
  • Receptive sorting (for use when you have a variety of different themed figures, such as sorting by ability to fly, sorting by living/nonliving, sorting by real/make-believe, etc.)
  • Patterns and sequencing
  • Receptive identification
  • An adapted version of this really simple, cool idea!

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Celebrate Women: Reading Comprehension Pack

Rabbit Rabbit! Happy March!

In preparation for Women's History Month, I've created a resource for middle school students - a reading comprehension packet celebrating inspiring women in our history!

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Valentine's Outfits No Matter Your Status

Celebrating Valentine's Day? Celebrating Galentine's Day? No matter - I've got you covered. I've created three different outfits for you, however you celebrate the holiday!

For a night out with the girls:

Galentine's Day Date


For a romantic evening with your loved one:

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Valentine's Playlists (and a Contest for You!)

Hey Lovers and Friends,

Today, I'm throw backing to two different playlists: One for the Lover and one for the...uh, Hater. Hater of Valentine's at least.

Click the buttons below to be taken to that post. One of these has a secret contest...

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Grainz 4 Lyfe: #ILoveBread

Ok, what's this all about? Well, it's my attempt to showcase one of my favorite foods in the world: bread.

I'm not shy about this. I don't feel guilty about this. I have been borderline obsessed with bread since I was a child (eating slices of plain white bread as a snack) and my infatuation only grows as I get older. In this war time against the perfect side, I call to you for support. Grains are not the enemy! Sandwiches are not the problem! Gluten is not the reason you're sick (unless, of course, you have a diagnosed allergy, then, ok, sorry). We no longer have to shun our once-beloved pre-meal nosh. We can embrace our friend once again, and this campaign from Grain Foods Foundation is helping us get there!

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Do You LoveTPT? Here's a Valentine's Treat

Happy Monday! Needing some extra love this time of year? Teacher's Pay Teacher's are celebrating YOU and spreading the love. Starting tomorrow and through Wednesday, TpT is throwing a #TpTBeMine sale! Many sellers will throwing their own store sale as well, which means, with the 10% off discount from TpT (using the code LOVETPT) you could save up to 28% off! My store will be discounted 20% - so you get the most savings!
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IEP Writing: A How-to Guide

Happy Ground Hog's Day friends! In a totally unrelated topic, I'm going to take this time to talk about IEPs...

Image courtesy of: blackzheep for freedigitalphotos.net
Writing IEPs can be a lot of work! As a former special educator for 7 years, trust me - I know! To help make the process painless and efficient, I'd like to share with you some tips and tricks that have worked for me. I originally posted this guide on A Special Sparkle's blog, but have updated it for you here. This is a LONG post, so grab a cup of coffee and join me. Feel free to use this guide as you embark on all of your IEP endeavors!

Keep in mind, your state’s IEP may be outlined differently, but all of the information provided in this post is relevant, wherever you teach. 

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5 Faves: My Top Oatmeal Recipes

Who doesn't love a warm, creamy meal in the morning? While some might prefer a crispy egg and cheese sandwich, or a stack of fluffy pancakes, I reach for a bowl of oats to satisfy my cravings. Not only do I think they're delicious, but I find them highly satisfying and manage the ravaging hungry I experience mid-day with other breakfast choices. The key to a satisfying oatmeal bowl? Read below to find out about my favorite recipes.


1. Blueberries and Honey

 I use frozen wild blueberries (FAR superior in taste and nutrients) and local raw honey (same deal with the honey). A delightful bit sweet and tart. Delicious combo!

2. Strawberries and Coconut

I also use frozen strawberries as well, if only because I don't eat them fast enough when fresh. Add some unsweetened (although still sweet) shredded coconut for a delightful tropical twist!
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Can't Get Outside? 5 Ideas to Manage Cabin Fever and Indoor Recess

If you live in the Northern Hemisphere like me, you are in the dead of winter right now! Maybe some of you don't live in a climate where "winter" is as scary a concept as it is here in the Northeast, but for those of you who suffer from blistering wind, arctic temps, and freezing rain and snow during this time of year, you know how challenging it is to ensure your kiddos get the fresh air break they need. No matter where you live, indoor recess happens on occasion, and it helps to have a plan of action when that inevitable disappointing announcement comes through the loud speaker.

Images courtesy of Mrs. Fun and Supertrooper at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Below are my 5 favorite ways to manage indoor recess and your sanity:

1. Specified Activity Centers

You likely use centers throughout your classroom: library, computers, circle area, teacher's area, etc. You may also employ "centers" in your teaching. Do they work for you and your kids? How about incorporating them into you indoor recess activities too! You may have games or activities that you have specifically for indoor recess. Have centers available and a routine for when kids switch to their new indoor recess activity. Kids remain engaged, aren't constantly asking you what they can do, and you get to eat your lunch in peace (maybe).

Check out this great post for how to organize your indoor recess activities.

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Need Help with Your Resolutions? Enter: Mason Jars

Hope your resolutions are still going strong! I'm here today to give you some tips to keep up with your health resolutions using mason jars!

Oh how I love the mason jar. Not only are they super cute and "rustic-ish", but very versatile! Here are my 5 ways to use mason jars to maintain your healthy lifestyle!

1. Mason Jar Portion Control

With the right size jars, you can easily control your portions when packing your lunch and snacks! Check out this nifty chart below, from Gourmandize, to help you keep your portions in check!

2. Mason Jar Overnight Oats

I love me some oatmeal. Especially steel-cut oats. However, steel-cut oats take a long time and when you don't have time in the morning (like me, who gives herself 20 minutes to wake up, get ready, and get out the door), it can seem like a fantasy to have warm steel-cut oats for breakfast on a workday. Enter: Overnight Steel Cut Oats

Overnight steel-cut oats are different than regular overnight oats, so I've included the recipe above for your enjoyment. This image is from my #RunTeacherRun tab, so check it out from more healthy tips
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2017 New Year's Resolutions

Happy New Year's! Hope everyone isn't feeling the effects of last night too hard. (If you are, check out my post from Friday)

In preparation for a new year of goals and opportunities, I'm writing down my list of New Year's Resolutions. Call them what you want: goals, promises, intentions. To me, it's just a name of things I want to work on this year. This year, instead of coming up with specific, measurable goals for my resolutions, I came up with a word for the "theme" of the year, and open-ended resolutions from which to make specific goals. I'm doing it this way, so that I'm not pigeon-holing myself to commit to a specific goal until I determine what's right for me and then at that point, can create more manageable, SMART goals of which I speak so highly. So I present you, my 2017 Word of the Year: Focus.
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