Sunday, January 29, 2012

Drawstring Backpack!

As I have mentioned in several blogs now (along with the previous one from today) DI has taken over my life in a good way!  DI.. what is DI you ask?  
"Destination ImagiNation, Inc. is an extraordinary non-profit organization that provides educational programs for students to learn and experience creativity, teamwork and problem solving. Every year, we reach 125,000 students across the U.S. and in more than 30 countries." from the Destination ImagiNation website.

I became involved in DI two years ago.  Our teams haven't always won, but the outcome of learning how to work as a team, grow as leaders, and just have fun makes it worth it!  I am kind of an overachiever (I bet you didn't know that) Anyway, competition is coming up and I wanted to do a little something for the kiddos to carry with them the day of competition.  That is where the idea of Drawstring Backback was born.  I have a new sewing machine, and my husband said I needed to do at least one project a month.. so it was PERFECT! I scoured the internet for easy and cheap ways to make a drawstring backpack.. and didn't really find anything that just stood out.  Off to Wal-Mart I went to get some inspiration.  Found some pillowcases, not what I wanted.  Found some fabrics and a sort of pattern.. not what I wanted.  Found BANDANNAS! Perfect!

Watched this video several times (it is great to help with the actual drawstring part)
All you need is 2 bandannas per bag, 2-3 yards of thick ribbon (or what you want to use for straps), scissors, sewing machine, and pins of course.  What is nice about the bandannas is that they are already sewn around the edges and a good size.  You can get them in tons of different colors.  For each of my bags I chose a color or design for one side and the other side I chose a white of sorts (so the DI kiddos could get signatures)

Don't forget to throw all of the fabric in the wash first!

Take 2 bandannas

Fold over one edge of the bandanna and sew.  Do this to both bandannas.  This is where you will add the drawstring.  I also sewed mine so it would face the inside of my bag.
Sew the 2 bandannas with right side together at the opposite of where you created the place for the drawstring.  

Now for threading the drawstring.  Although you have 2-3 yards of fabric, you need to cut that in half!
Thread one of the ribbons through both sides of the bag (still with right sides together) You will end up with 2 pieces on each side (took me a little while to wrap my brain around that)

Take the other ribbon and thread it the opposite direction through both sides.  Once you have threaded both sides of the the bag pull it even. Now to attach the drawstrings!  Just push them in between the two bandannas and pin at the bottom.

Sew up both sides (you might have to push the ribbon in as you sew up the sides)  
Turn the bandannas inside out and you have a bag!

My First Blogger Award!

So, almost a month ago one of the AMAZING blogs that I followed nominated me for the Liebster Award.
So the rules of the award go as follows:
  1. Show you appreciate the blogger who nominated you with a thank you shout out!
  2. Nominate 5 other blogs, who have 200 followers or less, by leaving them a comment
  3. Post the award on your blog
  4. Keep up with the blogs you've given the award never know when they are going to hit the blog world, big time!
Mrs. Virdell's BlogSo, I have to first thank Mrs. Virdell's Blog I love connecting with other special educators, and she has some great stories of a 18+ Transition Program.  Be sure to follow along and see all of the amazing things she does with her students.

The next part is the tricky part!  I follow more than 200 blogs.  There are SO many amazing ones for very different reasons.  It was so hard to not only pick 5, but also pick 5 that had less than 200 followers.  If I left you off my list, know that it is not because I don't love your blog! Most of my blogs deal with special education and adapting curriculum.  I know that I am always looking for other blogs with the same mindset, so I am choosing a few of my favorite from that area :)

1.  An Adapted Curriculum Classroom is a great blog with great resources in using the Unique Curriculum. I am always looking for new ideas and new ways to integrate the Unique Curriculum.
2. AAC Girls is a companion to a great to the website with lots of ideas.

3. Eat. Pray. Teach. This is a Fantastic blog that I found via twitter. @Room5friends is a Special Ed. Teacher/ Intervention Specialist for students with moderate to intensive special needs in grades K-3 and has some great ideas she does in her classroom.

4. The Autism Teacher is another member of my PLN.  Nicole is an amazing teacher for children with autism and other abilities in a special education classroom.

5.  Sped-Adventures ... adventures of a special education teacher  I teach a class of students with severe multiple impairments in a center-based special education school. My students range from 9 to 14 years old, and all have moderate to severe cognitive impairments as well as physical and/or other disabilities. I am in my 8th year of teaching, and my 3rd year with this disability level. I love my job and my students and am always looking for ways to improve!

I know there are so many that I have left off the list.  Go follow these blogs and check out my blog list for my others.

One reason this blog took so long to write (and I have been behind in blogging in general) is because Destination ImagiNation has taken over my life!  Next blogs up will be about Destination ImagiNation and calendar time.  Have a Great weekend!

Monday, January 2, 2012

News 2 You

Our district uses the Unique Learning System (along with modifying and adapting the regular curriculum.  We also use News 2 You.  What is News 2 You, you ask?  It is a Special Education Online Weekly Newsletter!  We LOVE News 2 You.  There are So many things that you can do with the paper.  There are different levels (just like in Unique).  There are different worksheets.  There are different words.  There are different assessments.  In other words, it is a fabulous way for my students to get information from a newspaper geared towards my classroom.  

This all sounds fantastic, but can you say OVERLOAD!  Just like every other year I change things up a bit.  This year, I really  like how I have my News 2 You.

I pull my students over to the calendar area in the afternoon.   Remember, I have many different levels of learning, so I really have to make sure that I use my time wisely and get to all of my learners.  

Couple of quick things before I go into more pictures.  Every year I go shopping for school supplies.  I found these really cool clear sleeves that are heavy duty.  I bought them and then spent a good 3 months trying to figure out how I wanted to use them.  I Finally figured out that I wanted to use them for my News 2 You area.  It is great to put the worksheet inside and then add tape to make the area interactive and easy to change for the next day.  The activities on this board we do every day for a week.  On Friday's I then give my students the activity to do by themselves so I can assess.

Vocabulary Words
Every week there are new vocabulary words that go with the theme of the paper.  I print these off and on Friday's we add them to our word work books (students) and our word wall (class)
Some ideas
-we alphabetize these
-we find the beginning letters
-we point to certain pictures
-we read them

Webbing Activity
I LOVE this activity!  I have even made a larger one in my classroom for when we read books (can you say getting my kiddos ready with anchor charts and STAAR-alt and being just like every other regular ed class!)  As we read our news we fill in the blanks.

Cut and Paste Sentences
This one is another great activity for putting sentences in order.

The News
Because News 2 You is in a PDF format to download I print them on half sheets.  I make sure there are enough different levels of books for each of my students to be successful.  We read these as a group at the first of the week, and then I listen to my readers throughout the rest of the week.  For my non-verbal students to participate I have them point out pictures as we go along and supply words as able.

Other Great Things about News 2 You
-my students LOVE The Knock Knock jokes!  What a great way to teach taking turns and humor!
-on Thursday's we do the science experiment that goes with the News (yes, there is a science experiment too!)
-on Friday's we cook (we even have a special helper that comes in on Friday's to help us do that)
-on Friday's we also put the weekly News 2 You in book boxes.  Students can then color them, fill them out, and read them on their own time.

There are a TON of different things you can do with News 2 You! These are just a few of my ideas that I have used for my students to be successful.

One Last Note
I completed my first project for sewing!  I had been talking about making myself an apron all year.  I had an amazing parent make me a BEAUTIFUL apron a couple of years ago, but I have retired it to my house.  I really wanted a half apron.  Not only did I want a half apron, I wanted one with a clear pocket on the front so it could hold my badge.  I am constantly leaning over to help my kiddos, and my badge always gets in the way.  So, I did it!  I followed the pattern, and added a couple of touches of my own.  It has 2 pockets, one clear pocket, and a pen holder.  I am pretty proud.