Monthly Archives: February 2010

special needs?

Standard

If I’m to be completely honest with all of you, I’ve never worked with children who have special needs.  I’ve never taken classes on how to work with children who have special needs and I have never worked at a school where there were special needs children enrolled.  It’s not because I have anything against children with special needs, it’s just that the opportunity has never presented itself (and I’ve never gone out of my way to look for that opportunity).

But now, I feel things have changed – I think.

Last Monday I got a new boy in my class – let’s call him Jumpy.  At first I was annoyed – every spring (well, it’s almost) I get at least 2 new students who have never been enrolled in school before and whose parents expect to be ready for Kindergarten with just a few months of school.  After the annoyance passed, I became optimistic – after all, I hadn’t even met the child or his family and it could be great!  So I went into work Monday expecting the best.  His mother (later I found out it was his grandmother whom he lives with) didn’t give me much information as she was in a hurry to leave – just that he is “very smart” and that he already knows “all his colors, shapes, letters, and numbers” and should have “no problems” entering into a class of 19 other children because he’s already been in “a small home daycare”.  Okay, I thought, sounds great!

However, by Friday (well actually way before Friday), we realized that he shows a lot of atypical behavior.  And not only have we observed this but many other teachers have as well.  Academically, he is behind where he should be – so much for his being “very smart”.  But that’s not where my concern lies.  When we do group activities, he curls up in a ball (the majority of the time) and covers his ears.  This can include music, dancing, flag salute, games (quiet and not so quite games), story time, etc.  When we ask him to go find his spot on the carpet, he runs to the nearest corner, curls up in a ball, covers his ears, and screams.  I have no idea why.  He also hides a lot when we are doing something he doesn’t want to do or he is asked to do something he doesn’t like.  He hides under chairs, tables, easels, cupboards – anywhere he can fit.

It also seems like he always needs to be touching someone/something, making noise, and moving around.  Don’t get me wrong, he isn’t ADD or ADHD – he can sit and focus if he chooses to – he just doesn’t choose to do it very often.  I’ve had to move all the children away from him who sit near him because he won’t leave them alone and is causing them to be very distracted!  I feel bad for him because I seriously think at times he doesn’t understand what we are asking him to do!

Jumpy also needs everything to be in order.  If we ask him to come with us and he see’s something on the ground or something on a table (for example a glue bottle that has fallen over) he won’t come with us until he straightens up what he perceives to be out of place.  I like neat children – but at times this gets a little out of hand!

He also can’t follow a line (or really stand in a line for that matter) so we’ve had to give him a buddy whose hand he holds anytime we leave the classroom.  He doesn’t seem to mind this, and the children I’ve had all year think this is a very special job – so they don’t mind either!

He plays with the other children (as opposed to still doing parallel play) but he tends to be aggressive and doesn’t seem to understand the boundaries and rules the children have set up within their games.  And he can become overly attached to certain kids and then won’t let others play with them or gets extremely agitated when they do – which can lead to more aggression.

So I’m not sure what to do.  Jumpy is a sweet boy – but we can tell he has issues.  Maybe we’re reading too much into his behavior and he isn’t special needs?  But I can’t help but think that in my 8 years of teaching I’ve never come across a child with all of these behaviors.  And this is just the beginning of what we’ve seen.  The grandmother doesn’t seem aware (or willing to disclose) if anything is special about him – but we’re under the impression that there has to be a reason for all of these behaviors.

Any advice would be welcome – thanks!  🙂

valenine gift

Standard

For this years valentine gift to my preschoolers I decided to make heart shaped crayons.  All my kids like to color so I thought this would be a neat idea and would be something different for them to use at home!

I took crayons that I found around the school that were old, broken, or about to be thrown away.  I took them home, peeled off the paper, cut them into small pieces using an old pair of scissors, put the crayon pieces in a heart shaped silicone mini muffin container, and placed them in the oven on a baking sheet at 275 degrees for about 15 mins.  I took them out when they were completely melted.  I checked on them 10 mins in and checked again every few minutes after that.

Once they were cool I took them out of the pan and put them into little baggies to give to the children!  They loved them!  🙂

celebration

Standard

I try to keep things as organized and simple as possible on party days.  I know from past experiences how quickly things can get out of hand – and I would prefer that not to happen!  We started out our party by playing a simple game called “I Love…”  Basically we go around in a circle and each person get to say who or what they love.  The sentence always starts off “I love _______ because…”  We went around our circle 2 times because the children kept wanting to say who they loved and why!  I loved hearing what they had to say!

Then Ms. Bennet read, “Valentine Mice” to the class!  We’ve been reading at least one valentine book to the class everyday this week.  After reading this book they requested to hear “Happy Valentine’s Day, Mouse” once again so Ms. Bennet obliged their request!

While we were playing the game and reading the stories I had 2 parent helpers prepping snack (during the stories I went over to help).  For our party snack we had heart shaped cucumbers, heart shaped Jello Jigglers, a heart shaped piece of bread with strawberry jam on it, a valentines cookie, and a juice box.  The parents helped me cut the bread and cucumbers into heart shapes, open juice boxes, plate the food, and pass out napkins and plates once it was all done!  The 3 of us managed to do this very quickly!  🙂

After snack the parent volunteers, Ms. Bennet, and myself helped the children pass out their valentine cards.  Then we took the children outside to play and run off their energy!  Trust me when I say – they really needed this!  lol  At this point in the day one of my volunteers had to leave while the other stayed inside to hide various sized hearts all around the room!  Our next game was going to be a Heart Scavenger Hunt where each child has to find 3 hearts!  This is pretty much the same as an Easter Egg Hunt!  When the children came inside we played this game – and as usual they loved playing it and asked to keep their hearts!

The last thing we did was let them look at all the cards and goodies they had in their valentine boxes!  I think this is always their favorite part (even though they don’t admit it)!  They were not allowed to eat anything but they could look at it – and when they were done we put everything away and got ready for lunch!  It was a great party and I heard a lot of children say that this was the best party ever!  🙂

be mine

Standard

As I was looking for valentine activities on my favorite blogs and websites I came across this post from Kristin at Preschool Daze.  I saw it and immediately thought, “I have got to do that in my class!”  And so we did – and the children loved it!  I’ve done this before (with red and yellow) but I’ve never painted as a group on large piece of paper before (and while we don’t have a large rectangle table where a lot of children can be at once, I used a circle table and had 4-5 children paint at once).In the past each child gets their own piece of large paper to paint – but I loved this community painting!

After reading that post I went on and found this post (from last year) and more recently this post!  You can only imagine my excitement!  So after cutting our pink paper into hearts and savaging around the school for anything and everything we could use to make our own valentines, i dedicated a table in our room to this purpose!  Unfortunately this area was only open for 1 week (it took me awhile to gather up items and such) but the children immediately fell in love with creating valentines!  Next year this will be an activity for the first two weeks in February!  I adored seeing the children so excited and creating such wonderful valentines for everyone they love!  🙂  Who could ask for more?

valentine math

Standard

We did quite a few math activities for valentine’s day!  We sorted by color, graphed, estimated, and practiced our 1:1 correspondence!  As you can imagine, this has kept us busy over the past couple of weeks!  I like to do these activites with just 2 or 3 children at a time, and with 20 kids in my class – it takes awhile!  🙂

To do all of these activities, I used conversation hearts.  First I made sorting mats for the kids to use.  I cut out small hearts (in the colors of the candy hearts) and glued them to read paper.  Then I laminated them (so I can use them year after year).  They turned out great and other teachers have borrowed them since!  To do the sorting I gave each child a sorting mat and about 20 candy hearts.  I asked them to sort the hearts by colors (pink on pink, orange on orange, and so on).  Everyone was able to do this without any problems!  YAY!  I was very excited!

Next, we used this graph (scroll down to page 7) to graph the heart candy we had just sorted.  I had already colored the words at the bottom to show what color went in each column.  Then I had the children place the candy hearts in their correct column and count how many of each color they had.  Then as they took the candy pieces off, they colored the boxes the same color of the candy (we used blue for white because a white crayon wouldn’t show up).  I realized afterward they could have just glued the hearts to the graph – and it would have had the same effect!  Also, after we had just about finished with this activity, Karen over at PreKinders came out with her own version of this project.

For the estimation we used this paper and I had the children make a guess then I helped them write their guess on the line.  Afterward they glue on candy hearts and together we counted them and I once again helped them write the number on the line.   Many children enjoyed this “game” and wanted to “play” again!  Since they liked the estimation so much I let them guess out many hearts they could hold in one handful, then we counted those to see how close they were!  We wrote their guesses and the actual amount on a laminated poster board and hung it one the wall for everyone to see! They really enjoyed this – after all, what kids doesn’t like to grab handfuls of candy?  🙂

The last activity we did was play a Valentine’s Grid Game where the children roll a dice, count how many dots are on the dice, then place that many markers on their game board.  The game is played until all the spots are full!  This is not our first grid game and the children always love to play them!

clouds

Standard

We’ve been keeping busy the last couple of weeks preparing for Valentines Day and starting a new unit about the Seasons/Weather!  We learned about clouds, how they are made, what comes from them, and how many different types there are.  Ms. Bennet got a few books about clouds from the library and we have enjoyed taking them outside on the playground and trying to figure out what kind of clouds are in the sky!  We also love trying to find pictures in the clouds!

I used a globe that I borrowed from another teacher for our space unit to show the children why we have seasons.  I’ve showed them a few times and many of them think it’s very interesting!  They’ve also enjoyed helping read the the book, “It Looked Like Spilt Milk” and we made our own spilt milk pictures using blue construction paper and white paint! We also made raindrops by gluing a variety of blue items onto a raindrop shape (although we did learn in one of our books that raindrops are not, in fact, teardrop shaped).

So far, we’re off to a good start – if it weren’t for spending so much time on Valentine’s day activities – we could have done even more!  🙂