Thank you for joining me here at Autism Zen! I’m on a journey as a special education teacher to help increase independence with life skills and social skills for my group of amazing special needs students. I’m creating resources for other special educators to utilize to help students grow and become lifelong learners.
I’m going to to take you on a virtual tour of my special education classroom in this first blog entry. I’ll be showing you the different centers in my multiply disabled classroom. The layout of this classroom was designed with an amazing team of ladies that I work with (paraprofessionals)! The learning space is functional and inviting and has everything we need to promote independence and help students reach their fullest potential! We also take the skills that we work on each day in our room and generalize them into the local community every other week, but we’ll save that for another entry!
Morning Meeting Area:
We begin each day in our morning meeting area. You can see the calendar and visual schedule board above. We use this time to review the date, weather, theme and special activities that we have coming up. Our students really look forward to morning meeting and our discussion of our theme and upcoming “community outing.” After we conclude morning meeting, we complete a morning calendar journal to increase independence with labeling the date and weather. Click the link below if you’re interested in implementing the use of a morning calendar journal in your classroom.
Morning Calendar Journal
Life Skills Area:
Our life skills center is utilized in the afternoon and focuses on various skills that can be generalized into the home setting or community. I currently teach second through fifth grade students and many people ask why I start life skills so early. I think life skills are essential when we talk about creating “lifelong learners”. At times, individuals on the autism spectrum take additional time to master certain skills. When we start addressing them at an early age we can utilize a task analysis to break down more challenging skills. We can also help the students feel successful in school and at home by generalizing the skills that we work on. Our students look forward to the life skills portion of our school day and parents have reported that they truly enjoy completing these tasks at home too.
Computer and Word Work Center:
Pictured above is our computer and word work center. The students in our classroom use the computers to type their personal information including their names, addresses, phone numbers, etc. We also research information about our current theme and practice basic computer operation and behavioral skills. I have a “Computer Rules” chart posted in between the computers that reminds students to use their headphones, wait their turn, have a calm body and refrain from loud talking. These rules include visual pictures. Our general classroom rule chart follows the same visual format and is shown below. The word work center (pictured right) has individual pocket charts for each learner and students work on their current sight words that go along with our weekly/monthly theme.
Classroom Rules with Pictures embedded:
Life Skills Center: Our Market
Pictured above is our classroom market during the month of September. We focus on apples in the month of September and have created a mini apple market in our classroom. Our students work on sorting apples, labeling the ingredients needed to make an apple recipe, paying for apples and ingredients, etc. (see price list above). Think about how many academic and social skills can be incorporated during these activities! The possibilities are truly endless! After we practice this skill in the classroom we walk down to the local market and purchase apples and the ingredients needed to make a recipe. We then create the recipe when we return to school. When we focus on one specific theme and generalize it to the real-world setting we make learning meaningful for our students and see a tremendous amount of progress in several different areas.
If you’re looking for a weekly theme list to help plan out your life skills lessons, please click the link below. (FREE PRODUCT)
Life Skills Bins:
Pictured above are the life skills bins that we use during our activity schedules. I will go into further detail about what activity schedules are in an upcoming entry. These bins focus on several different academic skills, social skills and life skills. We work on inserting batteries into remotes and flashlights, creating different sandwiches, sorting sugar packets, matching community helpers with their tools, sorting coins by value, matching objects to the rooms that they belong in, locating the items needed to make a specific recipe, labeling safety signs, sorting shapes that are found in everyday life, and many many more. Don’t forget to subscribe and check back because I will be showing you individual pictures of what’s in these bins very soon!
Thank you so much for checking out my first entry and taking a virtual tour of my classroom! Please remember to subscribe and check back as I go into further detail about my life skills and social skills programs! If you’d like to explore additional programs check out my Teachers Pay Teachers store to see the products that I have created to promote lifelong learning!
Zen be with you,
(Author of Autism Zen)