Saturday, August 25, 2012

So Much Great Stuff for Work--So Little Money Spent

Today was an unusually good day for yard sale-ing and thrifting.  At an estate sale I found an almost-new Tupperware cake tote (with riser for double decking), incredibly chic b/w coasters from New Zealand and an old bottle opener, perfect for picnics--$3.00 total. 

Then...I went to my favorite thrift store nearby and found all this amazing stuff for school, just $8.00! to use this stuff?
These old-fashioned puzzles will help students focus and practice bilateral coordination when they first sit down to work with me in the classroom.  I can also pull them out for the student to use independently if I need to talk to an adult while I'm in the midst of an activity.

The "kaleidoscope" visuals in this book will help students increase their attention to the mystery letters being created as they turn the wheel.  What letter do you think it will be?  Any clues in the pictures?  We can practice some functional handwriting as we explore the book.  Lots of opps for improving pencil grasp and using the helper hand to stabilize the paper.  The index finger must gently turn the tab on the wheel.
The tic-tac-toe game might be good for practicing a refined pinch, but I really bought it for stamping designs on paper.  We can ink up one side of the shapes and use them to make our own game.  If need be, I can glue something to the top of the shapes to make them easier to grasp.  This was really 50 cents--such a deal!
Now, the Winnie the Pooh stamp isn't really for work, it's for my creative buddy, Lauren.  She loves Tigger and Pooh-Bear and I could give her Hundred Acre Hugs all the time for all she does for me.
Okay, here's the best find of the day:
These little plastic shapes are between 3/4" and 1 1/2" in length and width.  There are at least 8 designs in the bag. 
Last year I was trying to think of how to implement a behavior management program in a classroom with very vocal, high-intensity elementary students in special education. Smiley Face System  The system I used for one of the students worked well, for 30 minutes at a time, but how could the teacher manage 8 students who were equally intense?  Here's my idea:
Set the computer to use an automatic timer system, sounding a gentle alarm every "x" minutes.  Hopefully, it can be an intermittent timer so the students don't figure it out too easily. One Timer Option
Each student has an identity, based on what little plastic critters are available.  Susie's a butterfly, Johnny's a starfish...  The hard-working teacher keeps 5 or so of each critter in her traveling basket, or pouch attached to her belt.  When the timer goes off she pulls out one randomly-selected critter and looks to see if the corresponding student is 1) working hard with smart fingers and 2) paying attention to the task at hand.  If so, the student gets to put the critter in his/her critter cage and earn a point toward a classroom privilege.
Yes, this interrupts the lesson and yes, there may be squabbling about this or that related to the system.  However, over time the intervals between alarms can lengthen and students might increase their attention to their work, a little.
Remember, yard sale-ing and thrifting are really noble pursuits because you're helping recycle things in the environment, supporting lots of charities and building up a big nest egg for your future with all the money you'll save.

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