Powered by Blogger.

Polar Bear Science Lesson

Do your students have a hard time relating to science concepts? My kiddos have a hard time with concepts that don't directly relate to them. To help them better understand, we do experiments to help them apply it to their lives. Here is a fun way to help students understand how animals like polar bears keep themselves warm enough for the harsh environments.

Do your students have a hard time relating to science concepts? My kiddos have a hard time with concepts that don't directly relate to them. To help them better understand, we do experiments to help them apply it to their lives. Here is a fun way to help students understand how animals like polar bears keep themselves warm enough for the harsh environments.
May contain affiliate links


We began our study of polar bears by reading the book, Powerful Polar Bears by Elisabeth Bennett. We talked about the body parts of the polar bear and wondered how they could stay warm when the weather is so cold in the Arctic. It has been very cold here in NY and they could relate with having to put on snow gear just to walk to the bus.

For the experiment, we used Crisco to represent blubber. Before putting the Crisco in the bag, we took time to explore how it felt, looked and smelled. Then we put Crisco in one bag and stuck another bag on one of our hands before putting it into the bag filled with Crisco. Both hands went in the ice water... one with a Crisco glove and the other bare.

All of the students were able to identify how the "blubber" kept our hand warm while our other hand couldn't stay in the ice water for more than a few seconds.

Afterwards, we wrote a group summary of what we did. This shared writing activity is great for allowing all of the students to participate. Students can pick a picture for the next word, use word wall cards to spell a word for another student, help identify sounds of words we are stretching, etc.

Here is what they came up with. The word wall cards are from our Polar Animals theme unit.

Do your students have a hard time relating to science concepts? My kiddos have a hard time with concepts that don't directly relate to them. To help them better understand, we do experiments to help them apply it to their lives. Here is a fun way to help students understand how animals like polar bears keep themselves warm enough for the harsh environments.

I write in black and students used the orange dry erase marker. You can see how, as we went along, the students were doing more and more of the writing. I do frequently draw a line for them to write on. This helps give them a visual of where to write and how much space they get.

They did such a great job! This activity is great for practicing writing, reading, recalling information, sequencing, letter identification, writing on vertical surfaces, etc.

This is just one of the many hands on science activities we do. To meet the needs of my students' learning style, we need to keep things engaging and hands on. Click the picture below for more ideas on teaching science concepts to students with disabilities:


Don't forget to pin this post to share with other teachers and to refer back to. Just click the picture below to pin!

Do your students have a hard time relating to science concepts? My kiddos have a hard time with concepts that don't directly relate to them. To help them better understand, we do experiments to help them apply it to their lives. Here is a fun way to help students understand how animals like polar bears keep themselves warm enough for the harsh environments.



Help Your Students Comprehend Text And Language Better

Students with language based disabilities, such as autism, frequently have trouble demonstrating comprehension of text and language. Here are some strategies for teaching students to comprehend what they've read and heard.

Students with language based disabilities, such as autism, frequently have trouble demonstrating comprehension of  text and language. Here are some strategies for teaching students to comprehend what they've read and heard.


Being able to answer WH questions can be very difficult when you have a language based disability. It requires lots and lots of practice and that practice should be varied.

Most of my students have an IEP goal that talks about students being able to answer comprehension questions after reading or hearing a text. Many of my students needed picture choices that went with the text. I used to spend a TON of time looking for picture choices, but no more! These reading comprehension books with visuals have saved me SO MUCH TIME!



I am able to easily customize the visuals based on my student's needs. For example, if the student is struggling we use only one picture choice to make it errorless. This helps the student feel successful with a skill that has been very frustrating for him. It also helps us highlight why that is the correct choice.

There are also extra picture cards included in the sets, so we are able to increase or decrease the field of options as the student progresses.

Bonus: there are 8 books for each month and they pair nicely with my theme units!




Morning meeting time is a great time to work on WH questions that aren't associated with text. You could ask a student a WH question to keep them engaged when it isn't their turn and to practice comprehension. Here are some examples of the different questions we might ask:

          Who:     "Who gets to be the greeter today?"
          What:    "What did John put up on our weather chart?"
          Where:  "Where do we look when we say the pledge?"
          When:   "When is Sue's birthday?" (we mark all special days on our calendar)
          Why:    "Why did we take December off the calendar?"

Click to read more about morning meeting:






We also need to make sure that we are teaching students to respond to text- not just read it. This is a vital step in teaching students life skills. For example, it isn't functional to read a recipe if you aren't able to respond to the instructions.... you need to be able to DO what it says.

Often times, our students don't have the comprehension and attention to text needed to correctly respond to  the text. Ever had students who just read to get to the end? Yup! They aren't reading for comprehension and are going to have a lot of problems following written directions.

These read and do activities help teach students to read with meaning and then act on what they have read.


We start by teaching students to read and follow the directive during direct instruction. I start with one of the cards with the directive in isolation. Once students are able to do read and follow the written direction, we start to add in more directives. Not only does this teach students to read and follow written directions, it also helps build independence.

Once students are able to read and follow written directives during work centers, we then practice it in a variety of ways and across the day. The worksheets area great for work task boxes.

Click to read more about reading comprehension:






Another way to help students understand language and text is to focus on vocabulary. Above, are some of the vocabulary activities we use during our hygiene unit. Comprehension isn't something we target just during reading! Make sure you are also doing it during life skills lessons since we need to focus on building functional reading skills. 

Students with language based disabilities, such as autism, frequently have trouble demonstrating comprehension of  text and language. Here are some strategies for teaching students to comprehend what they've read and heard.


Teaching Science In Special Education Classrooms

Science units are wonderful for teaching science concepts in a special education classroom... especially those with multiple grades. The science units help me differentiate and teach and reteach the science concepts year after year.

We need to immerse students in these concepts and vocabulary to help them learn the science information. One of the ways I immerse students in the science unit is to incorporate the unit materials across our day. I add the unit materials to our centers, task boxes, word wall, reading centers, etc.

Focus On Vocabulary

Many students struggle with all of the vocabulary and language that come with science concepts. From scientific tools to words associated with weather, the solar system, five senses, etc. There are lots and lots of new words to focus on. Each science unit that we use have word wall cards and vocabulary tasks included.


Students also have different activities to practice the language and vocabulary in different ways. For example, there are 3 different levels of vocabulary grids included in each science unit. Here is an example from the scientific tools unit:



One of my favorite things about using science units are they already have the language woven throughout the unit. Students will hear and practice the vocabulary over and over which will lead to better understanding and usage.

Integrate Reading

Science time is a great place to integrate reading skills. Each science unit includes at least two books. Students can practice reading for information, interacting and attending to literacy and reading with fluency even in science!

Example of the books in the science units:






Immerse Students

As I mentioned before, we need to immerse students in these concepts and vocabulary to help them learn the science information. One of the ways I immerse students in the science unit is to incorporate the unit materials across our day. I add the unit materials to our centers, task boxes, word wall, reading centers, etc.

Here are some of the hands on tasks we do in our science units:


Immersing students in the unit (while still meeting other academic and speech goals) will positively reflect in the assessments... which are included in every unit! 😀

We need to immerse students in these concepts and vocabulary to help them learn the science information. One of the ways I immerse students in the science unit is to incorporate the unit materials across our day. I add the unit materials to our centers, task boxes, word wall, reading centers, etc.




10 Hands On Tasks To Learn The Alphabet

A solid understanding of the alphabet is needed to build strong reading skills. Here are 10 different ways to master the alphabet and generalize those skills. All of these activities are hands on and engaging to help keep your students' attention.


A solid understanding of the alphabet is needed to build solid reading skills. Here are 15 different ways to master the alphabet and generalize those skills. All of these activities are hands on and engaging to help keep your students' attention.
May contain affiliate links


Sorting By Features

This activity is great for helping students cue into and discriminate letters. You can easily make this into a multi-sensory task by using magnetic letters. Have students run their fingers over the magnetic letters as they determine if the letter has the feature(s) you are looking for. Here are some ideas of different features students can sort by:

*Straight lines vs curved lines

*Tails vs no tails

*Dots vs no dots

*Tall vs short


Alphabet Tracing Books

Research tells us that tracing the letters of the alphabet daily helps students build a strong understanding of the alphabet. We have students trace both upper and lower case letters while stating the name. We then label a picture that starts with that letter. Here is an example of our Guided Reading alphabet tracing book:



Letter Hunt

This a great way to combine movement and letter practice.  I show my students a letter and they have to run to stand next to that letter somewhere in the room. They can find a word or individual letter. Choose a couple students and have them tell you where they found the letter to add in language building opportunities... win! You can also make this activity even more fun by adding in a magnifying glass.

When possible, I find something we can use in our hunt that starts with the letter we are looking for. For example, we used binoculars made for kids to find all of the "Bb" examples in our classroom.




If you are short on space, you could also do letter hunts using newspapers, flyers and magazines.


Practice Across Fonts

Students can become very rigid in their thinking and understanding of letters if we don't teach them to generalize across fonts and handwriting. Certain letters, such as 'A', can be written in two different ways. We need to make sure students have practiced all of them.


Write The Room Alphabet

Research supports combining learning and movement... enter write the room alphabet! My kiddos LOVE this activity.





Act Out Alphabet Books

Acting out books that highlight the alphabet will help students learn letters and engage them in literacy. One of our favorite books to act out is Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. 



We act it out with magnetic and felt letters. We also have this Lakeshore Activity Tree. I put this over in the classroom library so kiddos can retell and act the book out during reading centers.






Focus On Letters In Name

Starting with the letters in the student's name helps make the activities meaningful to the student. Here are 2 of the activities that we do to work on identifying and writing letters. 







Multi-Sensory Letters

Add in sensory elements by having students build letters out of popsicle sticks, playdoh, in shaving cream, sand, etc. You could also cut letters out of sandpaper. Another idea... and this is a fave in my class is to make pancake letters:




Alphabet Tasks

We also practice matching letters, matching capital and lower case letters, pictures that start with each letters, etc. Here are some of the hands on alphabet tasks we do in reading centers and task boxes:




Track The Letters

Have students point to letters in order while listening to the alphabet song. I write the alphabet on a sentence strips and have students point to each letter. This helps students learn that direction matters. We read left to write, so students need to practice reading letters in that way. If you have students with vision deficits, use colored sentence strips. The easiest on the eyes are yellow strips with black writing.



A solid understanding of the alphabet is needed to build solid reading skills. Here are 15 different ways to master the alphabet and generalize those skills. All of these activities are hands on and engaging to help keep your students' attention.




Back to Top