I recently made a touchy feely, talking, braille book for a student.
I decided on a nativity theme- each page had a single recorded word matched with a single braille word and then a tecture to match. The pages included
‘hay’ a ziplock bag of hay gaffa taped in
‘Tinsel’ and ‘Christmas tree’- small pieces of tinsel and piece of pine tree taped in using double sided tape
‘Present’- a bow stuck on
‘Christmas’- a sandwich bag filled with ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks and star anise with a few very small holes in it to let out the scent.
We used one of these a5 recordable albums as it has a button to press on each page. On the rear of each page I recorded a snatch of christmas music
This is the braille label maker we use- it works really well as long as you press hard enough to make a proper indentation.
The student we made the book for isn’t currently using braille but we’ve started to introduce it in the same way that other students are introduced to environmental print and alongside music, the spoken word and the tactile pages our touch feely-braille-talking book has been a big hit!
Well my first month working in a Special school is over and it’s been a frantic, difficult and absolutely wonderful transition! I now feel like I’ve been there forever- I can work the printer, I know where the coffee is hidden and I have a large stack of ‘to do’s’ on my desk!
I have a small class of just 5 students with a team of 5 LSA’s. Three of my students have ASC plus sensory needs and two have multi-sensory impairments. All of them Early Years or KS1 age and they are all complex little people who need completely individual programmes of study, timetables and teaching methods! So far we’ve managed 6 community trips (4 to soft play, one to a pumpkin farm and one to go horse riding!) celebrated Eid and have managed to have 3 sessions a day where most of us make it into the same room at the same time!
What have I learnt
So far I’ve learnt that:
I’ve got to be flexible! From week to week, day to day and even hour to hour I need to be ready to change and adapt constantly!
I’ve got to let go! With 5 children off in 5 different locations doing 5 different things I need to trust my LSA team to deliver what I’ve planned, and they have!
Ask and ye shall receive! I’ve asked more questions this month that I have ever asked in my life before! From asking for resources (all approved lots of exciting things arriving soon!) to asking for advice to just asking where things are kept- don’t struggle just ask!
Sleep is essential. I’ve never been so tired I’m running around site all day (often literally running I’m glad i completed couch to 5k before I started work!) add on swimming, PE, trips out and the need to lift and guide children and I’m into bed and off to sleep by 9 most nights!
I’ve found my niche! I love it, even when it’s raining and the class are climbing the walls, even when I’m exhausted and just need 5 minutes with a coffee, even when I got covered in angel delight (from the sensory tray via a sudden and rather sticky cuddle) and then had to go to a rather high powered meeting with strawberry angel delight in my hair I love it and I genuinely feel like I’m ‘home’
September is so close I can smell it- heading out to drink a morning coffee in the garden I’m sure I could feel the leaves beginning to turn. We’ve been shoe shopping, new diaries have arrived and I’ve updated my wardrobe ready for the new school year! Traditionally resolutions are made in January but like many teachers my personal year runs September to September- so I’m making mine now!
I will use my diary! I will write things down, make my lists in one place and try not to over book this year!
I will keep on top of things at home- clothes washed, lunches made and Little B’s bag packed the night before.
I will record this year- my first in my new job. Here and in my paper journal I want to keep a record of the things I’ve tried, failed and at and enjoyed!
Keep healthy! Warding off the winter bugs will be easier if I keep running, keep taking the vitamins and put down the phone before bed.
And finally- I will make time to network, read other blogs and get inspired!
August brings the sheaves of corn, Then the harvest home is borne.
Warm September brings the fruit, Sportsmen then begin to shoot.
Part of creating a classroom where children feel safe and cared for and ready to learn is to create connections between staff and children and between class members. My digital camera is always by my side ready to photograph the class both on special occasions and as we work together day to day. The children love to see photos of themselves and their peers. We have a board where are current photos are stuck up weekly, I use photos as my screen saver on the laptop so the children can see them on the screen, I make photostories to share with parents and children and I create photo albums. Some are of special events and trips, some are where we store our weekly photos and each child has a little book with their own photos in. All year myself and the amazing team I work with stick photos into these and at the end of the year each child is allowed to take their own personal photo album home.
The most important thing to many of the children I teach is routine. Suprises are scary, change is a catastophy and what they really want is for today to be much the same as yesterday. They want to know what they’re doing, when they’re doing and who they’re doing it with.
Visual timetables are your friend here. The exact format depends entirely on the child. We have a daily class one with symbols, individual ones with symbols, objects and photographs and even a ‘smell’ timetable for a child who is deaf/blind. I also have a very simple weekly calendar which we review daily as well into which I slot any big changes/special events.
The times involved also depend on the child- from now/next to sessional to a full day to a week. Every child can benefit from a simple timetable to help them make sense of their world.
I know it’s only the begining of the summer holidays for us, but over in the USA teachers everywhere are sorting out their school bags, stocking up on new pencils and swearing that this is the year they will be organised. I’ve decided to join in with an online bloghop as it seemed like a good way to find some relevant blogs to steal, I mean ‘share’ ideas with!
Name: Mrs B
Job title: Teacher
Grade/Year group: Early years and KS1 mixed (4-7)
Number of years taught: This will be my 8th year in teaching. Time flies when you’re buried under a pile of marking…
My top tips for fellow teachers would be:
routine for the class and for yourself. Routine helps children feel safe and comfortable and routine helps me stay on top of work and have a semblance of a normal life! Get your routines going from day 1.
Have an emergency bag stashed at work- my contains pens and blutack, some very nice coffee sachets and chocolate for bad days, pain killers for noisy days, throat sweets for hoars days and spare clothes (including underwear) for messy days!
connect to other teachers, through blogs, pinterest and of course face to face in your school and in other local schools.
The zone board is a simple behaviour management tools- basically it’s a board where children can move up and down depending on their behaviour. What I love about this is:
Everyone starts the day/session/hour afresh- we reset after lunch everyone goes back onto green ready to learn!
You can always go up as well as down
In our class children who make it to ‘superstar’ get to choose a prize card- these are things like bubbles, a favourite dance video or story- generally things that the whole class can enjoy rather than an individual prize.
Like any behaviour tool it needs to be used consistently and with sensitivity adjusting expectations to childrens needs.
If you fancy giving it a go you can download mine for free here:
Recently I’ve been experimenting with Prezi- a free, online presentation creator. I’ve made a few Prezis for work and although it’s taken a while I’m finally getting to grips with it!
I created this Prezi to share with staff- it’s a very basic and simple introduction to sensory processing covering sensory processing disorder, sensory based motor disorder and sensory modulation disorder. Hope it proves useful to someone!
This is a super simple activity ideal for task and finish or TEACCH boxes- all you need is:
Simply laminate your paint charts, select some nice big buttons and then ask the children to match the buttons to the colours. A simpler activity would be to just have one colour rather than a whole chart of different tones but we already had these charts laminated froom a different activity and Little B enjoyed sorting the buttons along the line. I’ve also done this with just two colours of buttons and two charts rather than a whole set.