The sweetest story about Cornelia Augusta who catches the hearts as it rains. She notices that each one is different and creates a unique valentine for each one of her friends . One of my favorites to read in class.
A great story for 4-5 year old preschoolers about kindness and showing others you care about them. Mr. Hatch is lonely and lives an ordinary life when an unexpected valentine’s day gift shows up to his house. He joyfully goes out looking for his secret admirer and makes friends with people in him community. When it turns out to be a mistaken delivery, Mr. Hatch is sad again. His new friends cheer him up and show him he is loved! Excellent book to pair with little acts of kindness activities.
Whenever I buy or create something for TPT, I always think about multiple ways I can use it. If I am going to spend a bit of my classroom budget or $$$ out of my own pocket (which I really try not to do!!), I want to make sure I squeeze out every ounce of value.
I created these printable phonics mini coloring books for my classroom. Here are some ways you can use them!
Morning work or table time activity
Print and set out crayons. Done! The easiest morning work. No prep activities save me when I am running late
Send home for families to work on and read together
Families are always asking for things they can do at home. Here is a simple one. Send home crayons and scissors too if needed!
Students practice “reading” their book
Such a simple way to build confidence and try out those book handling skills.
Use as a quick fine-motor assessment
which hand do they use?
what grip do they use?
what prewriting stage are they in?
how are their cutting skills?
Build phonics and phonemic awareness in your classroom
post them up on your word wall. students can add my drawing more things that beginning with that sound on notecards
Use 2 – 4 of the books at a time. Cut them apart and have children sort them by letter
Cut the cover page from each book and hid them around the room. Children search for the cards and work together to put them in alphabetical order.
Place visuals for core words and phrases students can use around the classroom. They serve as prompts for what to say. Students who are non-speaking can point or hand over the sentence to request or comment.
Do you have a student who uses an AAC device? Print a large version of their homepage so everyone can access it. I’m lucky enough to have a poster printer at school but you could also have this done at a local print shop.
Talk about different ways people communicate
Read books and discuss! Here are a few favorites!
Sesame street has some great videos about communicating in different ways
Have a student that uses an AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) device? If you can, get another device with the same communication system that can be used by a buddy!
We often use the buddy device to model language for the student. I can sit next to the student with the device and model language. There is no pressure for them to copy what I said. They can just look and listen or they can try it too! It’s so important that children feel ownership over their own device and it is respected as their words – no one else’s. Getting a buddy device means that I don’t have to borrow theirs to model langauge. I know this is definitely easier said than done. You can also print out the home screen of the device (take a screenshot or a photo) and use that to model.
Peers can use the buddy device too! Depending on age and familiarity with the device, they may also use it to model. In our preschool classroom, we allow other students to explore the device. Why keep it a secret! All students can use it to communicate (again, the student with the dedicated device never needs to share) It also makes them a natural part of the classroom.
MODEL, MODEL, MODEL
Honor all attempts at communication
One of my biggest pet peeves is when a student communicates by pointing to something they want or approximating a word and we say, “Tell me on your device” or “say ____”. That student expressed their needs and we’re asking them to do it again even though we know what they want. I have most definitely been guilty of this but I cringe every time I think of it! How exhausting to have to repeat yourself again and again. Allow students to communicate through gestures, pointing, bringing you to somethings, approximating words, using sounds, using visuals, and on and on. Honor their communication and model, model, model. When a student points to their cup, you could instead say, “You want the cup.” “want cup”
Teach peers to also look for and honor other kinds of communication. “I see Connor pointing at that block. It looks like he’d like to play with it.” Kids will often jump in and bring over the blocks so everyone can play. A fun circle time game is practicing communication in other ways.
Visuals for the Adults in the Room
We can all use daily reminders to use core words in the classroom. Sometimes it works to remind us to jump in with modeling and other times it gives ideas of what to say! For new staff members and visitors it can be easy to fall into questions mode….What color is it? How many do you have? or focus on the fringe words instead of core. Having visuals of phrases to use takes the guess work out of it. The more our staff practices using core words and phrases, the more it will become a natural part of the classroom language. Lots of times we have family visitors and substitutes in our classrooms too. It is a learning tool for them too!
Kids need to see themselves and others represented in all areas of the classroom – books, toys, visuals, songs. Creating a classroom community that embraces and celebrates inclusion does not stop with our attitudes. It needs to be infused into all areas of the classroom. Check out some of my students’ (and my!) favorite inclusive toys and classroom supplies.
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