Recycled Christmas Gift Crafts for Children--Picture Frames

Here are easy gift crafts special needs kids can make in school. High success rate, low frustration--greeting cards from trash with picture frame fronts. Read on Recycled Christmas Gift Crafts for Children--Picture Frames 

Free Printable Christmas Countdown Coloring Book

Advent is the Christian season of preparation before Christmas. Advent is the equivalent of lent before Easter. Here is a free printable Advent countdown to Christmas book with coloring and Bible activities for each day. Celebrate the nativity, or birth of Jesus with this daily devotional booklet. Dl-TK Bible  has assembled this 24 page Advent nativity booklet. There are pictures and Bible readings about every aspect of the Christmas story from the Bible and the joyful mysteries of the rosary: the annunciation, the visit to Elizabeth, St. Joseph's dream, the messenger angel Gabriel, the shepherds, the birth in a stable, King Herod, the wise men, the guiding star, the flight into Egypt and more.Free Printable Advent Christmas Countdown Coloring Book

Free Hanukkah Printables, Lessons, Worksheets, Grames

Very soon, the lovely Hebrew Festival of Light, Hanukkah (also spelled Chanukah) will begin. In 2013, Hanukkah begins Nov. 27, the day before the U.S. Thanksgiving and ends December 5. I encourage special needs teachers to find out what holidays their students observe. Whatever the creed--Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or other ideology, help kids expand their world view teaching this sacred season. Here are
free lesson plans, coloring pages, puzzles, games and activities to help Jews celebrate and non-Jews understand this winter holiday.  Free Hanukkah / Chanukah Printables

Got Stress, Aches, Pains? Get Yoga

Just got back from yoga and I'm walking on the shavasana buzz. Actually, it's a full-body high from all those nurturing, invigorating asanas. I hate jumping around exercise like aerobics and jogging. I need the serenity of yoga. And for special needs kids, ADHD, autistic, developmentally disabled, EI, early childhood special education,
yoga is awesome. Gentle non-competitive, non-threatening and soothing. And it energizes muscles tired from too much desk sitting and computer time.  Got Stress, Aches, Pains? Get Yoga

Sleep Apnea, Lack of Rest Cause Weight Gain

Kids with special needs are often more prone to obesity. Disabilities and related medications cause health problems. They affect exercise, nutrition and sleep. I've suffered from sleep apnea all my life; I snore heavily, stop breathing and spend most of my sleep time in stage one sleep.

Proper sleep and weight loss go hand in hand. As a teen, young adult and even into my late 30s, weight was not a problem. I was able to eat whatever I wanted. Since losing two stillborn babies and taking antidepressants, I gained 110 pounds (see photo right, 2010. Here's how sleep disorders caused that and getting on a CPAP helped me sleep better and lose weight (photo left, 2013). Healthy Diet Tips: Sleep Apnea and Lack of Sleep Affect Weight Gain

Feed Special Needs Kids Right and Health Will Improve

Special needs kids present a variety of emotional, physical, mental and health concerns. ADD, ADHD, autism, asperger, developmental delays are some of the common special education classifications. We can't control or change all variables in children's health issues. But one area we can impact is nutrition. Here's a series of healthy snacks to make with kids to improve health. Fall is a great time to integrate these units. I've included cross-curricular connections. Weekly Kids Snack Menu Healthy School Lunches S is for Squash

Free Halloween, Trick-or-Treat Mazes

Paper mazes are great teaching tools for eye-hand coordination. They're puzzles where the player follows a path, through a complicated pattern. Mazes are great fun and make great lessons for special needs and perceptually challenged kids. I'm a special needs teacher and I have dyslexia. I love mazes Here are free printable Halloween and trick or treat mazes. Puzzle mazes vary from complicated to quite easy. Free Printable Halloween and Trick-or-Treat Mazes

Homemade, Hands-On Reading Games and Book-Themed Crafts

Homeschoolers, can you use cheap , homemade language arts lesson plans? Special needs teachers, do you want interactive reading games? Here are hands-on reading activities for preschool to high school. Use cheap, recycled materials. Lessons are based on HOTS (Higher-Order Thinking Skills): analysis, application, synthesis and evaluation.Hands-On Homemade Reading Crafts, Book Activities, Literature Games

Mnemonic Device to Organize Information and Remember People

Hi I'm mar and I'm dyslexic. If there's a word, letter or number you need transposed, call me. Need directions FUBAR-d? I'm your girl. My husband knows from 26 years of marriage) when I say "turn left," he should turn right. He has learned that magazines mean newspapers, paper clips are clothespins, etc (well, etc., for a dyslexic--there's really no way to know what we'll mix up next.)

So I not only understand how learning disabled students think, I empathize. Spelling, word order, letters and numbers give me an ocular migraine. We aren't dumb or slow--we just rearrange details. Our perceptions are distorted, too. Here's a mnemonic device I invented for categorizing information and cataloging data. If  it doesn't make sense to you non-dyslexics, don't worry. My fellow sufferers will get it!  My Dyslexic Way of Mentally Categorizing Connections

Weekly Menu, Healthy Apple Themed Kids Treats for September

When I first started teaching special education there was a POHI category--physically and otherwise health impaired. And in teaching I've seen a lot of special needs kids with other health issues. Obesity is now recognized as a health issue. I see nutrition and exercise as the keys to improving these. So I started writing a series on healthy themed kids' foods and school snacks. I've amended that to a +Week-of-school-snacks and 5-day-school-lunch-menu using those tags. Preschool lessons tend to follow weekly themes. Last month's theme was Back to School. For this week in September, it's apple themed treats with a nod to Halloween. Read more Weekly Menu, Healthy Apple Themed Kids Treats for September

Benefits of Yoga for Kids and Adults

I started yoga 13 years ago, dropped out for 12 years and finally started going back last year. But I haven't been very faithful, honestly. I don't know why I always find a thousand excuses not to go. Mostly, it's just laziness. And yoga isn't just for adults. Kids can benefit, especially special needs kids who may not be able to participate in other games or sports. Yoga is great emotionally too. Here are a bunch of reasons why I'm going back to yoga and why you should consider for kids or students. I am Going Back to Yoga

Special Needs Students Need Patience And Expectations

I got my teaching certificate in 1986 with endorsements in special education--EI (emotional impairment) and CI (cognitive impairment). I chose special education because I'd volunteered in a centralized EI/ severely AI (autistic impaired) program. Asperger Syndrome (a variation of autism) was as yet undefined. Here are some tips on dealing with students on the autism spectrum, from teaching special needs kids.

* Ask for patience from others. Obviously, special needs kids deal with unique handicaps. With EI kids, it affects how they interact and communicate. Sometimes they appear rude. They have trouble expressing emotions, channeling anger and controlling behavior (those are things most kids struggle with). When you are out in public, It is perfectly acceptable to explain your child's disability. Be your child's advocate, but set expectations. Read more Special Needs Kids Need Patience But Also Expectations 

Case-It, Mead Five Star Binder Notebook Reviews

Back to school supplies requirements vary depending upon school district and grade level. One product that is commonly required in upper elementary, middle school and high school is a binder notebook. Case-it is a popular binder. Case-it and other zippered binders are all-enclosed notebook cases which store notebooks, folders and pencil case and 3-ring binder. Schools require a binder for students who rotate among classes. Binders are especially useful for special needs students who struggle with organization. But personal management is something all kids need to learn.  The zippered binder works well as it corrals papers, assignments and supplies in one convenient place. Here's a review of competitive brands.  Back to School Shopping: Case-It, Mead Five Star vs. Competitive Binder Notebook

Child-Minder Crafts for Preschoolers: Recycled Paper Weight, Door Stop

As a teacher, mom of four, homeschooler and former preschool coordinator, I'm always looking for educational activities. I'm Montessori and special education trained, so I want them hands-on, too. And cheap or free is good too. Here's a nature craft that even toddlers and preschoolers can enjoy. Special needs students would love these! Rock or shell paperweights. Child-Minder Crafts for Preschoolers: Recycled Paperweight, Door Stop

Worries About Recurrent Infectious Mono

May I drop the professional writer mask and be a worried mama for a moment? Our youngest has been diagnosed three times with mono and I'm at my wits' end. Now the specialist says she doesn't have it. Yet she keeps testing postive. Here's the story.   Worries About Recurrent Infectious Mono

Free Printable Preschool Games, Hands-on Activities, Lesson Plans

Hands-on preschool games and activities help build developmental skills in early childhood. There's no need to spend money on lessons for preschoolers. You can find free printable games and interactive educational materials online. Many preschool printables are also cut and paste crafts that kids can make themselves. Here are free printable alphabet activities, reading and letter games, math worksheets and shapes lessons. Use these games for special needs students, special education classrooms and ECSE (PPI) students. Read more atFree Printable Preschool Games, Hands-on Activities, Lesson Plans

Fun Father's Day food ideas for Special Needs Kids to Make for Dad

There's an urban legend, propagated by marketers that to give dad a nice Father's Day, it's necessary to spend big. That's not true. I've been throwing Father's Day bashes for 24 years with my four kids. For very little, we make big fun. How? With food--the secret to most any dad's heart is by way of his stomach. My plan gets kids involved and teaches them some useful cooking skills, too. Perfect hands-on, life skills lessons for preschool and special needs kids. Here are some of our most successful Father's Day fetes. Fun, kid-friendly Father's Day food ideas

Using Food to Teach: Edible Learning Activities to Reinforce Content

Since 1982, I've taught every age from 1-104 (seriously) and every subject from astronomy to zoology. I chose education to teach special needs kids. Special education, Montessori and adult education training frames my teaching. Every lesson I plan includes hands-on applications. Students see, touch, taste and smell content. One of the best multi-sensory delivery methods is food. I call it edible learning. Here's how it works in theory and practice.  Using Food to Teach: Edible Learning Activities to Reinforce Content

Free Printable Human Body and Anatomy Color and Label Activities

Coloring and labeling diagrams is one of the best activities to help children learn how things work. When my students and children in homeschool explored the human body, we colored and labeled diagrams of body parts. Here are free printable human body coloring and label diagrams. Explore body parts and how the work together as body systems. Use these free printable coloring pages to color and label parts of the respiratory system, circulatory system, digestive system, skeletal system, muscular system, nervous system, endocrine system and reproductive system. These are the eight major systems of the body.  Free Printable Human Body and Anatomy Color and Label Activities

Teaching Kids to Live Al-Anon Slogans: Practice Self-Care

Anxiety and I go back a long way. Fear has been a constant companion, if not a friend. Panic attacks have ruled me and fight-or-flight characterized my behavior. Thanks to 12-step recovery groups like Al-Anon, I use past tense. I am learning to take care of myself so negative feelings don't control me. Kids need to be taught young how to do this, so they don't end like me (and so many others) having to relearn self-care as adults.
Here's how.

Cast out false fear. My old modus operandi was others-driven. I lived in constant fear of upsetting, angering, disappointing and failing. Fear consumed, overwhelmed and exhausted me. I got physically ill. Fear will always be my most challenging nemesis. Combating it means stepping way outside my comfort zone. But if I don't, the zone only gets smaller. Self-care means bearding my lions.  Living Al-Anon Slogans: Take Care of Yourself, Do What's Best for You

Free Printable Brown Bear, Brown Bear Games, Crafts, Worksheets

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?" Thus begins Bill Martin's charming, eponymous preschool favorite. Via illustrator Eric Carle's pictures, preschoolers learn about colors, animals. patterns, math and also friendship. Here are free printable games, coloring pages, crafts, worksheets and learning activities from the children's literature classic, along with the companion Martin/Carle book "Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?" Use these lessons in readers' workshop, with reluctant readers, emergent readers. Interactive, hands-on, multisensory lesson plans for CI, EI and ECSE classrooms. Special education students love these stories!  Read more

Teaching Special Needs Kids Appropriate Online Social Skills

Teaching kids appropriate social skills isn't easy, particularly for special needs kids. Emotional or cognitive impairment, autism, Asperger syndrome pose additional communication problems. Social networks like Facebook and Twitter complicate still further. Here are parenting tips for online social navigation from a 25-year special needs teacher.  read more

Free Printable Preschool Board Games, Learning Activities

As a certified special needs teacher for CI (cognitively impaired) students, I always write interactive lesson plans. Hands-on activities, like games, make content relevant, approachable and understandable for both general and special education students. Preschool kids particularly need multisensory learning activities. Happily, there are many free printable preschool games available online.   Free Printable Preschool Board Games, Learning Activities

Free Printable Preschool Story Starters, Picture Cue Writing Prompts

March 21 is World Poetry Day and April is National Poetry Month in the U.S. Teachers, why not celebrate in school by hosting creative writer workshops with students? Parents, you can do with kids at home or make activities part of a homeschool lessons. Here are free printable preschool story starters and picture cue writing prompts to get the ideas flowing. Free Printable Preschool Story Starters, Picture Cue Writing Prompts

How Fat People Are Bullied, Shamed

 "Fat" is one of the most common words in the English language. It's used mostly-negatively to describe, ridicule, shame, preach and value-judge. Being overweight myself, it seems fat people get more than their share of bullying. At least, I got treated better when I was thinner and now that I am losing weight. Kids are taught not to bully, but that doesn't always apply to overweight kids. They're still teased just as much and sometimes with adult sanctioning. There is a difference between harassing for weight problems and encouraging kids to diet if they're overweight. The first is counter-productive. The second can be helpful if it comes from someone who can and will help. If it's just one person pontificating about how a fat person "should" lose weight, it's also counter-productive. How Fat People Are Bullied, Shamed

Natural Pain Relief, Anti-Inflammatory Supplements, Muscle Relaxers

I've struggled with chronic pain all my life. I was born with congenital hip dysplasia, scoliosis and spina bifida. In adulthood, I developed bursitis, tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome. I have sleep apnea and don't rest well. Prescribed steroid treatments make me jittery, irritable and depressed. I've taken high-dose (2400 mgs daily) non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like Ibuprophen, but gotten only temporary relief. NSAIDs make me tired and sluggish. I get less relief with extended use. POHI, EI and CI kids and those with autism or ADD often have trouble sleeping. Parents of special needs students I've taught have used melatonin and sleep medicine to help them rest. If your child doesn't sleep well, he may be in pain. You may be reluctant to use drugs. Here are natural pain relievers, muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatory supplements that work for me and may work for your child. Natural Pain Relief, Anti-Inflammatory Supplements, Muscle Relaxers

5 Repurposed Uses for Valentines--Art Projects, Crafts, Gifts

Little Miss took her neatly-labeled valentines to school and arrived home with reciprocal Valentine cards from friends. So now, what to do with these prized missives? Clean freaks will surrepititiously toss them when she isn't looking. Sentimental (ahem, packrat) parents will encouraging saving. Artsy (aka messy) moms won't know what happens to them as valentines will filter into the child's general room litter. None of these is very satisfying considering cost and work put into valentines. Here are five cheap, homemade recycled ways to repurpose kids valentines.  Special needs teachers, use these crafts for all-age self-contained classrooms or resource room crafts. Teach recycling with these hands-on art projects--perfect for occupational therapy! Repurposed Uses for Valentines--Art Projects, Crafts, Gifts

Free Printable Valentine Worksheets, Crafts for Preschool, Special Needs, ECSE

Recently, I came across a blog managed by two moms called Over the Big Moon. The gals have created a 31-page printable packet of Valentine's Day activities for preschool children. The kit is perfect for little ones ages 30 months to six. It would work well for ECSE special needs, developmentally disabled kids, too. The activities are mostly for pre-readers and emergent readers. All the activities have a valentine flavor. Valentine Crafts, Lessons Printables, for Preschoolers

Free Lessons on Blizzard Emergency Preparedness

A major blizzard is heading for parts of the U.S., this February 2013. What causes severe weather, fire, earthquakes and natural disasters? How can families stay safe? Here are resources to help children learn more about weather, earth science and emergency preparedness. Written about earthquakes,  many websites have weather disaster information, too. Free Lessons About Earthquakes, Weather, Earth Science, Emergency Preparedness

Healthy, Sustainable Mediterranean Lenten Diet for Special Needs Kids

Obesity and weight problems plague many special needs kids. Disabled kids can't always get exercise. Mentally impaired kids tend toward sedentary activities. Kids with allergies or dietary conditions struggle to get adequate nutrition. That's why I recommend families with special needs children follow a Mediterranean diet. It's healthy, easy to follow and helps with weight loss. Eating a low-sugar, mostly meatless diet rich in vegetables helps with ADHD, ADD and learning problems. I think it could even help kids with autism--even if it doesn't, eating right certainly can't hurt. As a Catholic, I give up eating meat for Lent and follow the Mediterranean Diet for the rest of the year. I'm not a vegan because I eat fish, but I do nix most dairy (except yogurt) and eggs. I call it the Lenten diet and like the Mediterranean Diet, it centers on eating fresh produce in season, alternative protein sources, fish and sustainable, locally-produced foods.  How We Eat Local, Healthy, Sustainable with Mediterranean Lenten Diet

Free Printable Astronomy Lessons, Astrology Activities

As a teacher and homeschool mom, my winter lesson plans revolve around science themes. With the holidays over, it's a good time to explore physics, earth science and biology themes. Why not check out these printables for your students? The Detroit Science Center closed in 2011 and has since reopened late in 2012 as the Michigan Science Center. The center website offers free printable lesson plans and activities. Teachers, homeschool families, kids and parents will love the science-themed coloring pages, puzzles, games and learning extensions. Here are lessons on astronomy and educational astrology from Michigan Science Center's Dassault Systemes Planetarium. These lessons work well for special needs students because they are hands-on. Astronomy Lesson Plans, Astrology Activities

Best Preschool Toys, Learning Materials for Special Needs Kids

As a teacher and mom, I insist on educational toys and gifts. I don't want a lot of junk toys cluttering my home or classroom. As educators and parents (parents are kids' first and primary teachers), we need to choose toys with educational connections. Special needs kids particularly need hands-on, interactive learning activities. This article was written to help people choose gifts for holiday and Christmas giving, but the tips apply to any toy buying. Here are low-cost, high-learning toys and gifts for preschool special education kids.  Educational Toys, Gifts for Preschool, Special Needs

Free Online Home-School Curriculum

As an educator, I well remember the old days of creating worksheets with "mimeograph" and "spirit-master" ditto machines. Back then, cut and paste was a literal, not digital term. And who could forget when "laminating" consisted of fighting with a huge sheet of Contact Paper? It stuck to everything but the thing you were trying to cover (unless you got it crooked; then it stuck too well!) Thankfully this generation of educators won't get duplicating chemical buzz. Thanks to cricut machines, no more tedious hours cutting out 100 construction paper pickles (don't ask!). The new-millenium have a handy little gadget called the Internet. But for some reason, many educators don't avail themselves of the wealth of resources. Perhaps their administration is too 'curriculum-bound'. Maybe they believe that Internet materials are too expensive. Well, happily, there's a plethora of free printable materials available. So whether you're a general or special needs teacher or homeschool parent, you can create an entire complete curriculum using these printables and online websites. Read more

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Freelance writer, Top 100 Yahoo! Voices, Yahoo! News, Shine, Michigan, Detroit), blogger, teacher, mom of 4, happily married 25 years. Graduated GVSU 1986, psychology/general education and special education. continuing ed up to present. Certified MI teacher. Writing Michigan history mystery, children's Gothic fantasy. Areas of expertise: education, relationships, mental health, nutrition, history, world cultures. Passions: faith, Catholic church, sustainable living, interfaith initiatives, living simply that others might simply live. Working on MA in EI education. 

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