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How To Integrate Life Skills, Language Development & Sensory Motor

Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed with just how needy your students are? We definitely would need more than 24 hours in a day if we were going to design a program that meets all of their needs... yeah, right! What can you do??? Find activities or tasks that target multiple skills at once. Here is a fun way that I integrate life skills, language practice and sensory integration.

Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.


Here is an EASY way to target multiple areas all at once....

The goal of my lesson was for students to identify items that could be purchased at a grocery store and where the items go once they are bought, use complete sentences to communicate to peers, answer WH questions, attend to peers, and complete sensory motor tasks correctly. That's a LOT!!

Set up of the activity was quick and easy. First, I scattered the pictures cards we were using on the floor in one corner of the classroom. Our picture cards were of items you can buy at the grocery store.

Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.


Then, I set up sensory motor tasks leading from these pictures across the room to the sorting mats. On this day, students had to go through the squeeze machine, across sensory stepping stones and jump in and out of 3 hula hoops in order to get to the sorting mats.

The first thing the student had to do was to go pick an item to "buy" from the grocery store (see above picture). Then, the students had to tell the rest of the class the item they bought at the grocery store in a complete sentence. Next, the student brought their picture with them through the sensory course to the sorting mats.

Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.


Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.

Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.


Once through the hula hoops, the student has to put the picture on the correct mat. For this activity, students put the item they bought at the grocery store in the correct part of the house. There were 4 mats out to choose from:

Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.


So, how did we fit in the long list of targets we had?? Easy! While students were making their way through the sensory equipment, we asked the other students WH questions...

Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.


In order to answer our questions, the students had to listen and attend to the student who was taking a turn instead of zoning out. 

While we use cards from the Grocery Store Unit, this type of activity could easily be used with any picture cards you wanted to have students sort. We often use the language concept cards that are included in each of our Theme Units Bundle.

Here is a fun and easy way to target multiple skills with very little prep time. This idea is perfect special education classrooms, self-contained classrooms, sped teachers, and speech therapists.




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.


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