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Free Resources To Help Students Understand What Kindness Is

Do your students struggle with understanding kindness? Teaching our students to be a good friend and be kind to one another is often something that gets lost in the fast paced world of education. We often tell our students to "be a good friend" or "be kind", but how often do we TEACH them how to do this?

Do your students struggle with understanding kindness? Teaching our students to be a good friend and be kind to one another is often something that gets lost in the fast paced world of education. We often tell our students to "be a good friend" or "be kind", but how often do we TEACH them how to do this?


I teamed up with 8 other Teachers Pay Teachers sellers to bring you 9 FREE resources designed to breakdown the very abstract concept of "kindness" in a way that our special education students can understand. We have included resources for all levels and ages of students.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:%23KindnessRules


In my download, you will get a free interactive book which highlights different ways we can show kindness to others. The acts are simple enough that our students can begin doing them right away. Here is a page from the book:

Do your students struggle with understanding kindness? Teaching our students to be a good friend and be kind to one another is often something that gets lost in the fast paced world of education. We often tell our students to "be a good friend" or "be kind", but how often do we TEACH them how to do this?


To encourage kindness in my classroom, I started using a kindness jar. Every time a student is "caught" being kind to another person, they get to put a heart with their name on it into the kindness jar.


Do your students struggle with understanding kindness? Teaching our students to be a good friend and be kind to one another is often something that gets lost in the fast paced world of education. We often tell our students to "be a good friend" or "be kind", but how often do we TEACH them how to do this?


When I told my class about it, they had trouble understanding what they would have to do to get their name in the jar... they thought they should get a heart just for following the rules! The interactive book really helped them understand that it is more than just following the rules. You can download the kindness jar labels and heart templates in my FREE #KindnessRules:Interactive Book Set.

Don't forget to search #KindnessRules on TPT (or click the picture below) to snag the other 8 FREE resources. Be sure to share this post with other teachers you think could use the resources!!





How To Build Kindness In Your Special Education Classroom

Being able to show other people kindness is an important life skill which is often very difficult for students with disabilities- especially students with autism. Here are some ideas for helping students to understand the concept and put it into action.

Being able to show other people kindness is an important life skill which is often very difficult for students with disabilities- especially students with autism. Here are some ideas for helping students to understand the concept and put it into action.

With my class, I brainstorm brainstorm and list what would be a kind act. With prompting, my students came up with the following list. We wrote it out on a white board and reread the list every time we added another act to the list. This gave up another opportunity to practice reading and writing. 

Being able to show other people kindness is an important life skill which is often very difficult for students with disabilities- especially students with autism. Here are some ideas for helping students to understand the concept and put it into action.

Then, we took each kind act listed and broke it down further. My students have had years of social work services, so many of them are able to spit back things they have been taught. What they couldn't do was put it into action. We gave examples and acted things out to help everyone understand what we were talking about.

Being able to show other people kindness is an important life skill which is often very difficult for students with disabilities- especially students with autism. Here are some ideas for helping students to understand the concept and put it into action.


This helped students really understand what they needed to be doing to get a heart in the kindness jar... more on that later.  As you can see from the list above, students drew on experiences to make the list. For example, the zipper on one of my student's jacket was stuck at arrival. He wasn't able to get it by himself and was so thankful when someone helped him. Everyone in the class was there, so we were able to talk about the problem, how he felt and how the person who helped him felt. Good stuff!

Being able to show other people kindness is an important life skill which is often very difficult for students with disabilities- especially students with autism. Here are some ideas for helping students to understand the concept and put it into action.

Another thing we are doing is making gifts for other classrooms in our building. We started this in December during the holiday season, but I want to teach them that we shouldn't only be kind during the holidays! Kindness is an around the year necessity!! Click HERE to read more about what we did in December. 

A few weeks ago we noticed that our students were having a harder time treating peers nicely... enter the kindness jar. I explained to the class that when we caught them being kind to a friend, we would put a heart with their name on it inside the kindness jar. Once a week, I pick a name out of the jar and that student gets a prize. I choose a prize or reward specifically for the student that won. 

Being able to show other people kindness is an important life skill which is often very difficult for students with disabilities- especially students with autism. Here are some ideas for helping students to understand the concept and put it into action.


This student seriously LOVES music. For his reward, we danced to his 2 favorite songs as a class. He was thrilled!! And... not everyone in my class likes his favorite songs so they had another opportunity to show kindness to their classmate!

Make sure you are following my TPT store to snatch up the FREE kindness resource that will be coming soon!!

Being able to show other people kindness is an important life skill which is often very difficult for students with disabilities- especially students with autism. Here are some ideas for helping students to understand the concept and put it into action.




3 Ways to Target Reading Comprehension In Special Education

Comprehension of language in general can be very challenging for students in special education. Most of my students have been diagnosed with autism or another language based disability. As a result, understanding what others say to them, vocabulary and text comprehension is difficult. Here are 3 activities we do to help students understand language better.

Getting students in special education to understand what they have read can be really tough. Here are 3 different ways to ensure students are understanding what they are reading and can use it in a functional manner.


Story Mapping

Story mapping can be great for teaching students the different elements of text. For example, title, characters, setting, etc. When we do story mapping, I usually do it in  a small group setting, I use these free story map labels from Teaching Special Thinkers.



They visuals on the labels are great nonverbal prompts for helping students understand what we are talking about. The first thing we do is review the different elements of a text while we put the story map labels up. Then, we fill in the sections starting with the title.  We alternate writing in the info and filling it in with pictures. The pictures we used to fill in the sequencing section below are from The Mitten: Interactive Companion Set.

Getting students in special education to understand what they have read can be really tough. Here are 3 different ways to ensure students are understanding what they are reading and can use it in a functional manner.


After we get finished filling out the entire story map, we work on comprehension questions. Having the story map in front of the group helps the students answer deeper or novel questions about the book. For example, I might ask a student to tell me 3 characters or animals in the book. Or, I might ask the student to tell me where on the book would I find the title.... that leads to a nice conversation about where to find things in texts, what an author or illustrator does, etc.  There is so much you can do!


Journal Entries

Another way we extend or work on comprehension is to do journal entries. After the story map, you could carry it over to the journal page by asking students to draw a character or animal from the book. Another option, is to ask students how they would change something or how they would do something. Here's an example,



Another option would be to have students make text to self connections. Have students draw or write abut how they and the character are the same. For example, Matthew could have drawn a picture of him and Nicki from the book with a sentence about how they are both boys, children, etc. All of the book companions in my TPT store include journal pages with and without sentence starters. Click HERE to see the book companion sets. 


Read and Do

One of the most important things to remember about reading comprehension is, to be functional, students need to be able to read something and do something with it. For example, it isn't enough to read the word "pull" on the door, you also need to know what that means AND be able to put it into action. I usually start this during direct instruction at our work centers time.  I start with simple directives that can be done at our table. You could write them on idex cards or on paper...



For some of my students, this doesn't start at a low enough level. For those students, I start with a picture cue paired with a word or short sentence.


Getting students in special education to understand what they have read can be really tough. Here are 3 different ways to ensure students are understanding what they are reading and can use it in a functional manner.


As students start understanding the cards, the pictures get smaller (or fade out completely) while the text gets longer. 

Getting students in special education to understand what they have read can be really tough. Here are 3 different ways to ensure students are understanding what they are reading and can use it in a functional manner.

This can progress to reading and following recipes, completing worksheets, etc. 

Getting students in special education to understand what they have read can be really tough. Here are 3 different ways to ensure students are understanding what they are reading and can use it in a functional manner.



Looking for more reading comprehension ideas? Click HERE to read about ideas for beginning comprehension activities.


Getting students in special education to understand what they have read can be really tough. Here are 3 different ways to ensure students are understanding what they are reading and can use it in a functional manner.


How To Ensure That Students Retain Mastered Skills

Students in special education programs have to work extra hard to master skills, so it's important that we have a plan to make sure they don't lose them.

As special education teachers, we need to have a plan for what happens after our skills have reached mastery levels. We need to have a plan for helping students keep their skills while learning new things. Here is how I work review into the schedule.

After watching my students work so hard, I am beyond thrilled when my students master a skill. The down side? Now comes the real hard part! We need to have a plan on how to help students retain their skills while moving on to harder or new skills. In other words... we need to have a maintenance plan for students. I have a tiered system that I use.


During work centers, we target all of the academic goals on students' IEPs. You can read more about how I set up and run work centers time HERE. Each student has a 2 pocket folder of data sheets in each work center. Once a student has got 100% accuracy for 3 days in a row, we either add another small set of the larger skill to it or move it to the maintenance side of the folder. Here is how the work center folders are set up:

As special education teachers, we need to have a plan for what happens after our skills have reached mastery levels. We need to have a plan for helping students keep their skills while learning new things. Here is how I work review into the schedule.


At the bottom of each data sheet it lists what your are practicing with the student or if it is on maintenance. When a skill is first moved to maintenance, it is reviewed with the student once a week.

As special education teachers, we need to have a plan for what happens after our skills have reached mastery levels. We need to have a plan for helping students keep their skills while learning new things. Here is how I work review into the schedule.

To make sure that we don't forget about the data sheets on maintenance, we do Maintenance Monday. Every morning, we review all of the skills that have been moved to maintenance. Once a a student has gotten 100% accuracy on the weekly checks for 4 consecutive weeks, we move it to once a month. If accuracy levels begin to dip at any time during the maintenance checks, then it is moved back to the right side of the folder.

I also add materials into students' work task boxes to practice mastered skills. Using mastered skills tasks in task boxes helps my students build the amount of time they can work independently before reinforcement or prompting. Looking for materials for work tasks? These two bundles have the tasks that I use most. Click the pictures for more information.






Do you have a tip on helping students to retain their skills? Leave a comment so we can all learn!!

As special education teachers, we need to have a plan for what happens after our skills have reached mastery levels. We need to have a plan for helping students keep their skills while learning new things. Here is how I work review into the schedule.




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