Life Skills Classroom

Discussion in 'Special Education Archives' started by jschafer10, Jul 12, 2006.

  1. jschafer10

    jschafer10 Rookie

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    Jul 12, 2006

    I need help! I recently took a Life Skills position in a junior high setting. I have to figure out what curriculum to use and I'm having problems finding things related to LIFE SKILLS! Is there any Life Skills teacher that can help! This is something completely new to me....i keep telling everyone..I'm not in resource anymore! (haha...not in kansas anymore) If anyone has any ideas, books, websites, etc, that would benefit me, I would greatly appreciate it!

    Thanks!:angel: :thanks: :D
     
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  3. thecottage

    thecottage Guest

    Jul 12, 2006

    Is it a mixed classroom? Try a google search under home economics, see if that helps. All I remember from that age is cooking and sewing. Good luck!
     
  4. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I googled "special education life skills" and got a LOT of hits... perhaps something there will help.

    You might get some ideas from http://www.tasksgalore.com/ This is a site for a series of books that are especially used in TEACCH-based programs... they have one that's for the "real world" that might have some things for you.
     
  5. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jul 13, 2006

    Can you describe your classroom population a little better?

    I'm pretty well-versed in Life Skills resources, but suggestions are easier if I know what your classroom will be like with regard to functioning level/academics, etc.

    Definitely obtain a PCI catalogue, all the Lakeshore catalogues, and a Remedia catalogue. I like Darlene Mannix for social skills, I like Tabitha Orth's cookbook for nonreaders, I like the Math By All Means series by Marilyn Burns, I like the Topics in Down Syndrome series (good for all hands-on learners) published by Woodbine House (GREAT publishing house--their autism books are superb as well!). I like Carol Gray for social stories, BoardMaker for EVERYTHING, I like Cooking2Learn, etc.

    And now I'll stop rambling.
     
  6. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Ellen! Long time no see... I'm glad you popped on this thread, I knew someone in your expertise area would come along. ;)
     
  7. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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  8. RJN

    RJN Rookie

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    Jul 13, 2006

    Congratulations! This is a great group of kids to work with. I taught elem. LSS for 8 years and just moved to the jr. hi. level this last school year, so I know how you feel.

    My best advise is to think about your day. What do you need to do to get through it? What are everyday activities that you must perform? My philosophy is to make them as independent in their daily life as possible. Of course we work on reading and math, but the activities generally apply to a life skill. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping and social skills are the big ones. Leisure skills is an area I think is overlooked quite often. Most of these kids don't participate in sports or other activities that other kids do. I like to find things they can learn to do in their free time, to help occupy themselves.

    To get yourself started, I suggest you teach a theme or topic. I've used hygiene, clothing, shopping, restaurants, cooking measuring etc. Then you have something to focus on and you can find all kinds of vocab, math, and language activities from that. Hope this helps.
     
  9. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Another great theme to focus on can be holidays--this is usually a social studies tie-in and it is INCREDIBLY relevant as students can then communicate with families. I did a lot of functional academics based around holidays with my middle schoolers, and the carry-over to home was pretty evident. Basic current events can also be a great theme with a functional component. I changed my theme weekly, usually based on the calendar, and then integrated the theme into as much of the classroom as I could (i.e. morning meeting, small group reading, small group math, community instruction, science group, social studies group, art projects, cooking projects, etc.)--hitting the theme over and over really helps these students retain.
     
  10. jschafer10

    jschafer10 Rookie

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    Jul 17, 2006

    Thanks everyone! I really can't tell much about the popluation of my room....I have 3 students (possibly 4). 2 8th graders (1 girl, 1 boy) and a 6th grader. One 8th grader is non verbal, autistic, who is using the PECS system...I guess things were really starting to click right at the end of school in May. As for the 8th grade girl, I know she is involved in cheerleading, although cussing seems to be her thing! DOn't know much else about her. My 6th grader is new to the building, so I haven't received much on her yet either! Your ideas have been fabulous! I have an idea where to start from now. THanks sooo much!
     
  11. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2006

    I am glad to see this post I just accepted a Life Skills position for High School, I taught Life skills 11 years ago for one year then was moved to resource. I am very excited. I can give you some info on my class to if you all have any other links I could visit, i do not know much until next week, I have 3 students and 1 full time aide. My LS class is the middle of the road class, there is a class above us that does more reading and math and one below that is severe in disabilities and learning. We do have a functioning kitchen and we will be preparing our own lunches once a week and I knew hygeine was important, and I figure we will focus on money and time, not sure if I need to lable all the items in my class or if they can read some or not yet. Ilike the holidays, could you give me some ideas of how you did that at christmas and Halloween and how you tie dit into Social Studies, i think that is great.

    What also would be a good first day/week thing for me to do in this class?
     
  12. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Jul 20, 2006

    Oh yes, I forgot to add, I know one of my students is autistic and likes to escape, any suggestions? I have not seen my kids folders yet so I am not sure about anything else
     
  13. paperheart

    paperheart Groupie

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    Jul 20, 2006

  14. dixiedeb

    dixiedeb Rookie

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    Hi Giggles! I have taught in a life skills classroom for the past 10 years. Have you every used Boardmaker? It is fabulous computer software that allows you to make picture symbols for everything, including schedules, calendars, communication boards, etc. I propose you check into it....you can even make social stories for your run away student. Good Luck!
     
  15. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Jul 20, 2006

    I ran my room around a theme that changed weekly; I posted it on an easel each week and placed thematic literature on the easel (as well as posters, etc.). Then, I used the theme as much as possible throughout the day and in content-area groups in the afternoons. Morning group also focused on the theme--we might read a book, sing a song, do a quick art project, etc. Here is an example of a week:

    Theme: December 25th is Christmas. (previous themes in December were December __th is the first day of Hanukah, December ___ is the first day of winter, etc.)

    Math: I always did small group math daily to hit individual IEP goals or specific skills; we did Christmas themed math when possible but also did standard IEP work. Examples: calendar work focusing on Christmas, budgeting work focusing on Christmas/holiday shopping, Christmas themed worksheets that addressed relevant math skills, etc.

    Reading: I always did small group reading daily to hit individual IEP goals or specific skills; we did Christmas themed reading when possible but also did standard IEP work. Examples: spelling Christmas words, reading Christmas sight word stories, reading sale ads to make Christmas wish lists/shopping lists, writing Christmas/holiday cards, etc.

    Art Group (Monday): Christmas related art project (i.e. candy cane sledding pictures)

    Science Group (Tuesday): Christmas related science project (i.e.

    Music Group (Wednesday): Christmas related music project (i.e. make jingle bell bracelets and sing holiday songs

    Social Studies Group (Thursday): Christmas related social studies activity (i.e. examine festivities in other countries/states, map small picture icons accordingly on individual maps)

    Cooking Group (Friday): Christmas related cooking project (i.e. make Christmas cookies or prepare items for our classroom Christmas dinner)

    We also did a large community outing--whole class--to the mall where we shopped for our family members to buy them holiday gifts. We prepared shopping lists for each family member ahead of time, worked together on budgeting whatever amount each parent had sent in (I capped it at $20), and got to do LOTS of social skills work in the mall/community. We also bought wrapping paper and wrapped our gifts to take home to family members to include in their Christmas celebrations.

    Other themes during the year included: Bike Month, Poetry Month, Youth Art Month, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Election Day, Thanksgiving, Kwanzaa, April Showers bring May Flowers, President's Day, Valentine's Day, Kite Month, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, Peanut Butter Month, Better Sleep Month, etc. I would search for silly holidays/events on the internet, or choose those relevant to our school (i.e. school spirit week), then amass as much materials as I could at a variety of levels (so EVERYONE could take part to some extent). I liked finding kinder and primary materials and then "scaling them up" to middle school level.

    I liked holidays as themes because, even though it is "primary" it was accessible to all of my students--I had some who were academically quite high and others who were very low. My higher kids could really discuss the holidays, the traditions, but even my lower kids were obtaining knowledge. I remember one of my very Christian kids went home VERY EXCITED because Hanukah was coming and his mom was amazed with what he had retained (he taught them some of the dreidle game). The parents in my room were VERY TRUSTING and allowed me to explore almost anything I wanted, gave me free reign to explore and have fun.

    I'm rambling too much!
     
  16. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Jul 21, 2006

    Thanks Dixiedeb I will look into that program, we may have that at my school, I am not sure I won't get to get into my classroom until the 3rd, but I will definately add that to my list of things tolook for.

    Ellen_a those are great ideas I have a ton of preschool/elementary fall themes I am sure I could upgrade to my kids level and use them, thanks for all the ideas!
     
  17. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2006

    I use the shoebox tasks as well. I would recommend another site too!

    Clarnet,

    I have both Tasksgalore books from TEACCH as well. Have you heard of HOT Ideas? http://www.handsontasks.com
    It's a great site for obtaining these shoebox types of tasks. I would also recommend two books called Life Skills for Special Students and Social Skills for Special Students by Darlene Mannix. EXCELLENT resources for teachers teaching life skills.
     
  18. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    Jul 22, 2006

    That's the other one I couldn't remember when I was posting. Thanks for the info! :)
     
  19. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    OOh I can't wait to see if I have stuf flike that in my class, they are giving me $12,000 to buy new manipulatives and supplies for this year, I am not sure what I have yet though, I like that hands on tasks sight.
     
  20. clarnet73

    clarnet73 Moderator

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    I made most of my activities (jigs) last year... using yogurt containers, coffee cans, whatever we could find with boxes from Aldi or copier paper box tops. I used all kinds of stuff from those websites as inspiration to create my own based on what my kids needed to work on. Exciting for you to have that much money to spend! :)
     
  21. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Jul 22, 2006

    Giggles,

    Please makes sure that you assess your students' level of functioning before you decide what to purchase. I bought 95% of the classroom materials and when I leave, my materials are coming with me. I don't trust districts when they try to use us and say it's for the benefit of the students. I have my receipts and i'm not allowing them to buy the materials either. I had to start on my own and that's the way it's going to be!
     
  22. k-3LifeSkills

    k-3LifeSkills New Member

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    Jul 24, 2006

    New to Life SKills!

    Hi, I am entering my second year of teaching and my first year teaching a K-3 primary life skills special education classroom. All of this information has been soooo helpful! If you have any other ideas specifically for primary let me know! :) THANKS!
     
  23. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2006

    Yes, I am not buying anything until after the 1st 2 weeks of school I want to read their folders but I am sure that will not give me enough infor to go n until I actually see them functioning.
     
  24. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Jul 24, 2006

    I currently work in a middle school (4th-8th) and my students have been diagnosed with moderate-severe autism. I have to keep my students constantly busy with some kinds of activities and a consistent, repetitive routine. I find the following schedule really works well with my students and there are less disruptions as well. I also use a timer with my students to make sure that they understand that there is a change. My students are able to handle a timer that beeps. I have been working in this classroom for 5 years already and this is the best schedule I've used so far. I hope this gives some of you a start.

    Here is my daily schedule:

    8:00-8:10: greetings, calendar, Pledge, turn in homework folders
    8:10-8:30 Phonics Worksheets (grades PK-3rd) (small groups)
    8:30-8:50 Phonics hands-on activities (Reading Rods, manipulatives)8:50-9:00 Physical Activity to become energized
    9:00-9:20 Reading Worksheets (K-3rd) (small groups)
    9:20-9:40 Reading Hands-On (sequencing, sentence builders, ect)
    9:40-9:45 wash hands, walk to snack area
    9:45-10:00 wait in line, get snack, sit with rest of school
    10:00-10:005 transition back to classroom
    10:05-10:40 Adapted Physical Education
    10:40-10:55 Free-time break (all students) (staff break)
    10:55-11:20 Math Worksheets (Pk-2nd grade level)
    11:20-11:40 Math Hands-On Manipulatives (coin sort, ect)
    11:40-11:45 clean up, wash hands, transition to lunch
    11:45-12:15 lunch for all students (teacher's lunch)
    12:15-12:30 Physical Activity to prepare students
    12:30-12:50 Social Studies Worksheets (K-3rd) (small groups)
    12:50-1:10 Social Studies Hands-On Activities
    1:10-1:30 Science Worksheets (Pk-3rd)
    1:30-1:50 Science Hands-On Exploration Centers
    1:50-2:00 Free-time (all students)
    2:00-2:35 Vocational Shoebox Tasks (all students) get visual activity schedules
    2:35-2:45 clean up, clean surfaces, pick up trash, get homework folders
    2:45 escort to bus

    Giggles, you should have simple activities ready for your students before you decide what to purchase. You also have to take into consideration the time it takes to purchase the materials and when you'll receive them. Are you allowed to go to a local teacher's supply store? Wal-Mart, Staples, Office Depot, and Target also sell basic classroom materials as well. I wish you the best of luck.

    Troy in Downey, Ca
    AspieTeacher
     
  25. Roxie

    Roxie New Member

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    Angel, I am in the same situation that you are. I teach a Life Skills class for mothers on welfare. When you get any info will you please pass it on to me. We don't have any set curriculum either.

    Thanks, Jackie (jrobbins@mchep.osrhe.edu)
     
  26. Roxie

    Roxie New Member

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    I wrote just a bit ago. I'm sorry my student population isn't what yours is. Like I said my students on mother's that need life skills such as resume writing, time management...etc. I just need some organized curriculum and not sure how to get it.

    Thanks, Jackie
     
  27. hescollin

    hescollin Fanatic

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    A money project. Have coins and glue magnets on the back. They put the right amont of change on a large calendar for the day it is. Like the 13th. Could be 2 nickels and 3 pennies OR a dime and three pennies.

    Have a large thermometer outside your window and they read and record the temperater.

    Read Stone Soup and make soup in a crock pot.
     
  28. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Oh I like the money idea on the calendar.
     
  29. RockyMtTeachn

    RockyMtTeachn New Member

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    Hi, I'm new too

    I've loved reading everyone's suggestions listed thus far. I have been a life skills teacher for 5 years at the primary level. I just signed a contract for a alternative high school life skills position. I'm really excited about the change but am nervous because all my materials are for the primary levels. I just found out I have a budget of $20.00 a month. Does anyone have suggestions for free resources and enrichment materials that could be downloaded and used in the classroom.

    I've also decided to use a weekly or monthly theme based on the amount of materials I can find. Any suggestions for themes appropriate for high school students would be much appreciated.

    All of my students are diagnosed with severe autism and are lower functioning. In the past the teacher had the students do arts and crafts daily. This is my weak point. Where can I find good arts and crafts ideas that will relate to my themes.
     
  30. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    Why were they doing arts and crafts every day?
    What kinds of arts and crafts were they doing?
    What functional skills were they gaining from them?
     
  31. RockyMtTeachn

    RockyMtTeachn New Member

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    arts and crafts

    I really do not have that much information. The classroom is set up with TEACCH. The previous teacher had the students rotate through stations. One of the stations was group and they students always did some type of craft to sell at the school store. An example that was given to me: Resturant theme: During group time the students made styrofome puppets of different fruits and vegetables. This is all the information that I have gotten.
     
  32. jschafer10

    jschafer10 Rookie

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    Great ideas guys! This is really helping me develop my room! I've been searching for tons of things relating to life skills...and now that I have an idea of what to look for, things are going so much better! Keep the awesome ideas rolling in!
    :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
     
  33. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    To what extent do your students participate in the store? Do they stock? Sell the items? Make change for the items? Have social interactions with the 'customers'?

    My point is that in high school, you want to focus on what is functional, particularly what is in the students' transition plans. If they are not gaining functional skills from doing arts and crafts (and in some cases, they may not be), and the skills gained in arts and crafts do not correlate to long-term goals on transition plans (and in some cases, they may not), then I think you should examine your priorities.

    For example, if I had a classroom of six students, all of whom were planning on attending a day-program with a technology emphasis after high school graduation, then I would be REALLY focusing on technology and maybe doing arts and crafts less.

    I'm not telling you NOT to do it, because I don't know your kids or your program. I'm just saying that if you're doing something EVERY DAY you should make sure your students are gaining useful functional skills that can be generalized to their lives outside of school.

    I probably sound really mean and I don't mean to be. :D
     
  34. mrsf04

    mrsf04 Rookie

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    I just accepted a position for a life skills high school and i'm used to pre-primary aged. Does anyone have their hs schedule i can look at for ideas??
     
  35. AspieTeacher

    AspieTeacher Comrade

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    Attainment, has some great curriculum
     
  36. RockyMtTeachn

    RockyMtTeachn New Member

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    I completely agree


    I completely agree ellen a. I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place right now because when I was hired I was told to use the same schedule the previous teacher used because parents and staff were happy with it. I do not see the students gaining any functional skills doing arts and crafts. Most of my concentration I want to be on vocational skills that the students can use after high school. I still though do not have that many details about how the classroom has been run in the past. I've talked to two of the educational assistants and that is where I've gotten my information from. Interestingly though, their opinions of the classroom have been completely different. I start on Monday and have the week to get everything set in place before the students start next week. Hopefully I will find out more information as the week progresses. Thanks for your input and you don't sound mean at all.
     
  37. jschafer10

    jschafer10 Rookie

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    It's crunch time!! I've spent the last week in my room trying to prepare for my students. I've found out a little more on the population. My 8th girl has very very low writing skills (can hardly write her name). Behavior is a HUGE issue with her. Skills are sporadic with her. Some of her goals are measuring things (liquids, flour, etc). She can be sporadic with her skills. My 8th grade boy (autistic) is using pecs, is very sporadic on his skills (will have it one day, but not the next). He is good at math, has some excellent reading skills for his level...but lacks in other areas, social, writing, etc. What I'm looking into now is work box ideas. Yes, my room has some..but I'm looking to expand on what I already have. Some ideas I'm considering is first aid kits (having the students put them back together), sequencing pictures, etc, alphabetical order (which my autistic student is pretty good at) with the phone book, I also want to incorporate the community in to these. I want to take pictures of stores, shops, etc....things that the student will see and come up with activities. I'm looking to get a map of the town and do simple direction activities with them. I know that my students are really low in areas...but I'm trying to make the things I do as relevant to them as possible. Does anyone have a good website or ideas for work boxes??? Any help is appreciated!
    :thanks: :thanks: :thanks:
     
  38. Giggles1100

    Giggles1100 Comrade

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    Aug 12, 2006

    I lIke the first aid boxes, I was wondering, are you going to do a unit on First aid, you sound like you have my population at the middle school level where as I have them in HS, I think a First aid unit might be great to do, I foyu have one I would like ideas, if Not I will work on one and be happy to share.
     
  39. dixiedeb

    dixiedeb Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2006

    Some great workbox ideas can be found at hands on tasks dot com (remove the spaces) and I really like tasks galore dot com. Of course you can order workboxes from either of these sights. Another one is tinsnips . org...follow the autism links and you will find ideas.
     
  40. dixiedeb

    dixiedeb Rookie

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    Aug 13, 2006

    Oh and I forgot to mention previously that tasks galore . com also has a great Vocational workbox book you can order that has pictures and descriptions of each workbox, so you can make them yourself.
     
  41. jschafer10

    jschafer10 Rookie

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    Aug 17, 2006

    Yes I'm hoping to complete a unit of first aid. When I was talking to my paras about this, they were very excited. I'm not for sure when I'm going to do it and where I'm going to get the resources from...but I'm slowly working on it! I know the first things I'm going to hit in Science/Health is Hygiene! All of my kids shower after PE...so this is something I am wanting to hit immediately!
    Thanks;)
     

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