Saturday, April 25, 2015

18 Teacher Made Graduation, Retirement and Special Occasion Keepsakes and Gifts

Tis' the season for gift giving!  Although it is not Christmas, in education this time of the year can seem like it! With graduations, retirements, goodbyes, and designated days for special people. . .

I felt like now would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite student and teacher made gifts and keepsake idea.  (Some of them may look familiar as I have posted them on the Considerate Classroom Facebook page at one point or another but this will serve as a one stop shop for creative ideas rather than searching through hours and hours of photos on Facebook.)

1. A Vase of Yummy Candies and Clever Sayings. This gift was given to my paras for our districts para week a few years back.

Below are photos of the sayings that are taped to the back of each candy.  Feel free to print them by clicking this link! 
2. A Personalized Vase  We made this one for the retirement of our amazing OT last year.  Each child drew themselves with a sharpie in appropriate Matman fashion as she had taught them. Then I sealed the vase by putting it in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  We added flowers and presented it to her on the last day of school. 

 3. A Keepsake Notebook I modge podged a morning class photo from every year I had taught the Buddy Bears on the front of a composition notebook with some of my favorite quotes. Then I modge podged afternoon class photos to the back of the notebook with more favorite quotes. 

This gift was given to all the Buddy Bear staff on my last day as the Buddy Bear with this special note. 

4. 'Tee'rific T-shirts For our school district's para week last year, I designed this t-shirt for my staff. This image was in the front upper left corner. 

And this image was on the back.  "If you think our hands are full, you should see our hearts." SO TRUE!

I wrapped the t-shirts with this t-shirt shaped card that all the students signed. 

5.  Para Trophies Also during para week last year, I had trophies of appreciation made from Crown Awards.  Each one was personalized with something unique that each para offered to the team. 

The paras were presented their trophies during a red carpet ceremony complete with flowers, princess crowns, and beautiful beads (each student had something to present to one of these amazing ladies to be a part of the cermony!)

6. Oh, the Place You Will Go  This gift was inspired by Pinterest!  Instead of using Dr. Seuss' Oh, the Place You Will Go for a student graduation gift, we gave it to our speech pathology practicum students at the end of their internship.  The children signed the book and predicted where they thought the practicum students would go throughout life.  They choose everything from Mars, to the circus, to Kansas City.  (Note: I used an aided language board for my students who are nonverbal to predict a place too.)

7.  A Thumbprint Tree This gift was originally created for a student teacher, I had several years back.  You have to use your imagination a bit as it is not the best photo, but what I did was frame this document after having each student put a thumbprint on it.  I then included a green ink pad with the gift for our student teacher to add her future students' thumbprints as an on going tradition!

8. A Quote Plaque This plaque was made for the amazing secretaries that I have worked with.  As those of you who know me know, I love quotes!  I find them inspiring and motivating so what better way to support the core of our schools than with a quote board for staff to drop off quotes and give some inspiration in the school office. (It was made out of a simple plaque from the craft section at Wal-Mart.  I stained it and then painted it with clear chalkboard paint.) 

9. Candle Plaque This gift was given as a birthday gift to EJ's kindergarten teacher.  Yet another quote inspired creation:)  Pretty simple I just painted a wooden plaque from the craft section at Wal-Mart and tacky glued candles to the bottom for a 3D look.  Then EJ and I used paint pens to decorate it. 

10. Thumbprint Art This gift included 689 student thumbprints as a thank you to a very kind family who gave a generous donation to our special education program a few years back.  It is a great gift idea to share exactly how many people, students or staff are impacted by a donation or action.  The phrase at the bottom of the gift said: "In this frame are 689 thumbprints to represent the 689 students who will be impacted by your generous donation.  Thank you so much for your support!"

11.  A Keepsake Plate  This keepsake was painted with love for a special educator to let her know we were thinking of her during a hard time.  Special thank you to our Pam at Pottery Works for conveniently allowing us to borrow paint from the pottery store and firing it after creating it at school. 

12. Memory Blocks I have made this simple gift for several co-workers and friends who have lost love ones.  They can put photos in the wire paperclips to remember their special loved one in the many roles they hold within their family.  This gift as well as the next one were inspired by Miss Karlie and her mom's students. 

13.  Class Memory Block This gift was created by and for each of the Buddy Bears last year. They each painted their own two by four then we modge podged scrapbook paper with the words Buddy Bears Forever on the front and drilled a hole in the top for a spiral paperclip to hold a class photo.

14. Retirement Magnets These magnets were created from the inspiration of Hobby Lobby's Spare Parts Collection.  I simply printed the phrases below, punched them out and placed them in spare parts' bottle cap with the self-adhesive bubbles shown in the top right picture below. Note the bottom pictures were specific to the amount of time the special education teacher who was retiring has served our district and our school. 

15. Dry Erase To Do List This gift was made for our Speech Language Pathologist during Better Speech and Hearing  in May.  All it is, is a frame that has a clipart of a notebook page inside and a dry erase marker velcroed to the side of it. 

16. Dry Erase To Do List and Inspiring Quote Board This gift was created for some special friends at the end of last school year.  I purchased the 3 picture frame at Hobby Lobby and then added my own words as described below, to transform it into a dry erase board/frame!

17. Home Sweet Home Painting This gift was created for my mom and mother in law for mother's day last year with the help of my little artists. Using a photograph of each of their homes, EJ drew their houses with a pencil. Then I traced them with permanent marker, he colored them with crayon, and Payton covered them with blue and green watercolor.

18. Everything Grows with Love Canvas The boys and I made this gift for the grandmas on their birthdays last year.  We collected green crayons.  I then hot glued them to the bottom of a canvas and we melted the tips of them using a blow dryer to create stems.  Next the boys put their handprints on them for flowers and EJ wrote "Everything Grows with Love" on the top. 

And there you have it, 18 creative gifts and keepsakes for any occasion!  Giving thoughtful and personalized gifts can be a very powerful thing. I like to think, it is a wonderful trait that I learned from my mom.  She has always been a loving, caring person who would give the shirt off her back to show her love, appreciation and gratitude for others so I write this post in honor of her!  Love you MOM! 

Happiness doesn't result from what we get, but what we give. -Ben Carson

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

'Tree'mendous Treasures: Sports Review Boards

I am super excited to share the second post in my 'Tree'mendous Treasures series!

All you need is this product from my teachers pay teachers store and these sports shooters from the party favor section at Dollar Tree for a DOLLAR of course!!
Print the review boards you wish to work on with your students.  There is a basketball court, soccer field and baseball field for colors, shapes, numbers and letters. 

Simply find a box lid or cardboard flat 9 by 12 inches or cut one down to this size, add the printable of your choice and shoot away!  Have your students take turns shooting the ball and labeling the concept they landed on. 
If you have students who are nonverbal or do not label concepts with consistency, you can use the aided language boards below to help students communicate what they landed on.
If you have students who are beyond colors, shapes, numbers and letters, print the blank basketball court, soccer field and baseball field, and laminate and program it for your own needs.  I use a vis-a-vis marker or permanent marker and Oops cleaner to reuse the pages for various concepts. 
Students can also work on prepositions with the use of this page:
and the corresponding aided language board:

Or even better they can use these review boards to work on specific concepts: in and out, inside and outside, and on and off. 
Then communicate where it landed and graph their answers.
Need a new work task?  Bonus the sports shooters can be used for an assembly task:
Or for a sorting task (either errorless with a lid for the ball tokens or without the lid for more of a challenge):
And there you have it, 1 party favor from the Dollar Tree with over 25 ways to play!
'TREE' MENDOUS for many learners!


Sunday, April 5, 2015

Using Work Systems to Create Educational iPad Success

As I wrote a guest post for Educational Experiences, I began to realize that we live in a world where iPads and other technology devices play a significant role in our family and educational lifes.  Let me be honest, on multiple occasions, I have put an iPad in front of my boys so I could get a few things done or we could have a successful car ride without the fights and 'are we there yets'. 

This is something I struggle with everyday: When is too much, what iPad apps are appropriate, and how do I create a healthy balance.  Especially with my technology loving seven year old, who would prefer to play an iPad the majority of the day.  A little less of a problem if he would engage in playing first grade educational apps, but unfortunately for EJ and myself, that is not the case.  He would rather spend hours playing Minecraft and watching Netflix and YouTube!  I am sure you can imagine the power struggles. 

So I asked myself, how can I alleviate the power struggle, in an appropriate way?  What better way then to use the principles of structured teaching!

I started by creating a folder for Math, Reading, Spelling, and Games.  (Don't know how to make folders on your iPad?  CLICK HERE)

Then I created labels in a word document for Math, Reading, Spelling and Games.  I cut them out, used packing tape to laminate them, and add rough Velcro.  Next I added soft Velcro to the inside cover of our iPad case and a self-adhesive library pocket to make an iPad work system.  

Notice in the beginning, I designed his work system as games, spelling, games, reading, math, games.  I did this to help support his success and compliance.  He use to have free rein on the iPad.  If I would have went straight to doing math, reading, spelling and then games, as I would prefer, I would have lost him!  So instead I started out small.  I even made game times double the amount of academic times.  To enforce the times, I set the timer under the clock app on the iPad.  I even put the timer on the same page as the folders.

Don't have a reader?  Label your folders by number. . . 


Or by letters. . .

Is your student/child unable to read letters or numbers?  Download this jpg to create a colored wallpaper for a colored work system. 

If you would like to create a word, letter, number, or color work systems, feel free to print this document.  I have included a large and small version, so if you have an iPad without a cover you can still use the system by attaching a strip of Velcro to the edge of your case. 

The bottom line is that if used in a systematic way, iPads and other technology devices can be influential in the lives of children at home and school.  For more tips and strategies for using iPads and other devices, visit my presentation on slideshare 25 Ways to Use an iPad in an Early Elementary Classroom.   

Wishing you an 'App'y Day!