Alphabet of Thankfulness: G is for Graphing Activities


Apple variety for sampling

One of my wonderful classroom Aides, Dawn Dill, put together this apple activity to introduce our students with Autism to the taste, smell, texture, sound, and sight of apples in a few different varieties, namely red delicious, golden delicious, and granny smith.


Bites of golden delicious, granny smith, and red delicious

It’s a great opportunity to document student opinions regarding their likes and dislikes versus those of their classmates. It’s also a way to introduce graphs and charts to your students in a fun and entertaining environment. Often my students are apprehensive about learning a new skill, but this teaches it to them without it feeling like they are learning. The following apple graph can be found at


Chart for graphing favorite apple type.


Chart for documenting adjectives regarding what we found with the apples.


trace and color student work sample


trace and color student work sample


trace and color student work sample


Student work and graphs displayed in the hallway


Alphabet of Thankfulness – E is for Electronics

ipad-apps-for-teachersI am thankful for electronics in my classroom. Almost 4 years ago the district invested in iPods and iPads for all Special Education classrooms. This has allowed us to add several more learning opportunities to each day. Following is a list of just a few of the FREE apps that I use in my classroom:

  • Shapes Toddler Preschool by Toddler Teasers
  • Tiny Hands Sorting 3 by Tiny Hands apps
  • Amazing Coins by Joy Preschool Game
  • Articulation Station by Little Bee Speech
  • Paint Sparkles Draw by Kids Games Club
  • ABC Magnet Board Plus by Tatiana Churanova
  • Baby Sign and Learn by Baby Sign and Learn
  • Spelling Bug by Power Math Apps
  • ABC Phonics Rhyming Words Lite by Abitalk Incorporated
  • Spelling City by Spelling City
  • Stack the States Lite by Dan Russell Pinson
  • Toddler Counting Free by iTot Apps, LLC
  • Preschool Memory Match by Darren Murtha Designs
  • Mathmateer Free by Dan Russell-Pinson

Two of my favorite developers with free apps to check out are: 

  • ABC Alphabet by Little Sorter
  • Rhyming words
  • Little Reader
  • Little Speller
  • Things That Go Together
  • Sight Words by Photo Touch

  • ABA Receptive Identification by Class
  • ABA Which go Together?
  • ABA What Rhymes?
  • ABA Alphabet Flash Cards
  • ABA Animal Flash Cards
  • ABA Food Flash Cards

I paid nothing for each of these apps over the past 4 years, but there is a possibility they are no longer free. There are great free apps available all the time and make great remediation and practice for students or your own children.

Alphabet of Thankfulness: D is for Daily Routines

Children learn best through repetition. So, it is important to offer repetitive activities for reinforcement of skills you are teaching. In younger grades and in every level of special education, a morning calendar time is important for so many areas of learning. Click here to for more on Morning Meeting – Circle Time.

In addition to  morning meeting or calendar circle, there are other daily routines that students need to be taught. These include social skills and things as simple as toileting or hand washing. When students of any age or level know what is coming next or what is expected of them, they find it easier to focus on what they are doing now. Many times, student misbehavior is caused by perceptions of things to come. To alleviate negative behaviors, students need a routine in which they can relax and know their time frames and boundaries. Some example of these would be as follows:

Toileting Routine:


Obviously you could add more or less to this as needed.

Picture Schedule:


This is a small section of a full day schedule

Hallway Procedures:


Students change the location they are headed to before they leave the room each time.

These picture cards were created in Board Maker, but could easily be created with clip art or by taking actual photo’s of activities and locations. Each has velcro on the back so it can be removed and manipulated as needed.

Teacher Area # 1

Notice I didn’t say, “teacher desk“. That’s because I don’t have one. I started the 12-13 school year with a desk, in fact I finished over half of that school year with a desk, but in the Spring a new student moved into our room who liked to hide under our desks when avoiding work. Actually, this student hid under anything low enough to the ground to effectively conseal him. For some students this is a sensory issue. For example, the light in the room may be too bright for them so they want to put their face or their whole body under something. For others it may just be an avoidance mechanism. Either way, by removing the desk(s) and other items of interest from our room, I was able to assist this student with his ability to make more appropriate choices. What teacher spends much time sitting at a desk anyway? Certainly not one in a self-contained special education classroom.

My little corner of the room

I used to think of my desk as the place where I worked, but I actually work all over the room, not at a specific desk. Getting rid of my desk showed this to me very clearly. Other than the initial discomfort of finding all the things that were originally in my desk drawers that were moved to the filing cabinet, I have not missed having a desk. Honestly, I kind of enjoy not having one. It just took up space that I could better use for student needs. I have played around with different tables; straight, round, and horseshoe. When I moved to this new room, jackpot! There were two horseshoe tables which enabled me to place one in an area that is set up for language arts and one in the math-science area. Both are key spaces for working with multiple students and both areas need this kind of functional table.

There are several key items in the above photo which I would like to point out:

      • Filing cabinets – there are actually two of them back to back which serve a few purposes; separating my area from students at the computer tables, providing an additional place to post items I need to have at an arms reach.

My filing cabinet wall. I saw it on Pinterest!

  • Narrow computer table – I love this table. It just happened to be in my room when I moved to this campus last year and I brought it with me to my new room this year. It is just the right size to hold my computer, phone, binder, etc. and yet narrow enough that a student would not benefit much from crawling under it. Perfect!

My computer desk


Lesson Planning Binder


Substitute Binder

  • Personal effects on the wall and not on tables and shelves – It helps to feel at home in my classroom, especially on days or weeks when I feel like I live there! I recommend putting things up high so that students do not accidentally break or misplace them. Some students would be very sad to have hurt you in that manner, and you too would be sad if you lost something of importance.

My bulletin board filled with mementos and certificates.


Self Crafted sign for the wall – Decorated acrylic letters

It’s important to have your own teacher area, but it’s not important that it looks the way you remember a teachers area from your own childhood. Do what’s best for your students and make it your own!

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My New Classroom


STACC stands for Structured Teaching and Alternative Communication Classroom. It is a self-contained classroom for students typically on the Autism Spectrum who need additional structure and behavior strategies as well as communication alternatives such as picture schedules and adaptive technology.

My second year in STACC and at the elementary level, my 5th year in Special Ed, and my 8th year to teach. Fortunately, that all adds up to one of the best classroom’s I have had to date. We moved into a larger classroom on the Kindergarten hall. I had all summer to plan it out in my head, but due to complications from a summer surgery, I had little time to implement my ideas. Still, I love this classroom from decor to strategies. I cannot wait to share every bit of it with you right here. Let’s start with a pictorial overview and then as time allows, I will give you more detail into each part on additional posts. Many of the items you will see here are available on My Pinterest Page


This is where I post class schedules, co-curricular schedules, therapy schedules, our team calendar, the lunch menu, and other important information we might need at a quick glance.


Color coded picture Schedules on the wall and line positions posted on the floor.

My students use picture schedules as an added support to help them visualize the order of events in their day. Each student has a color all their own which is also evident in the line of cars on the floor which note where the students stand when we line up to leave the room. I will go into more detail on my schedules in a later post.


Weather and calendar centers

Our Morning Meeting consists of weather, calendar, counting to 100 and reciting the letters and sounds of the alphabet. I have several ways of presenting these lessons to my students, this set of bulletin boards is just one of those ways. For more detailed information see my post at Morning Meeting-Circle Time


Behavior Reward/Incentive Station

Reward or incentive charts are a BIG deal in a STACC classroom. They help to keep kids moving in the right direction and making more appropriate choices. These are racetrack inspired charts to which students earn a checkered flag for each time they complete a defined set of expectations or tasks. Typically they earn up to 5 per day; 25 per week will earn them a choice from the treasure box.


Technology Corner

My technology corner is where students spend time on audio-visual learning opportunities at various points of the day. They may also earn time on more fun academic sites by making good choices over the course of the day. I can’t wait to share some of my favorites in a later post!


My classroom rules are posted and always stated in the positive

Classroom rules stated in the positive help staff to use appropriate phrasing when redirecting students. They are also helpful for students who have higher reading skills and can be directed to read for themselves and remember classroom expectations.

I also have a word wall for high frequency reading words and one for high frequency math and science words. I tried to post those pics, but they are not wanting to stick. They will be included in a later post regarding how they are used in the classroom.

Finally, I cannot wait to show you my desk and teacher areas of the room. That will probably be my very next post since they are important components of the set up of the room. When teaching students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is important to have the run set up in a way that accommodates student needs more than teacher needs.

I hope you have enjoyed taking a peek into my classroom and I cannot wait to share it all with you in more detail, including freebie’s on my TpT page and links to other great freebies I use regularly.

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