Severe/Profound First Day Activities

Discussion in 'Special Education' started by shelbug99, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. shelbug99

    shelbug99 Rookie

    Aug 16, 2008
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    Aug 16, 2008

    I am a long-term lurker and a first time poster on A to Z. I'm switching this year from resource room to a self-contained severe/profound needs classroom. I can't wait to meet my new students, but I need some getting-to-know-you activities for the first couple days that I could modify for my class. According to my IEPs, I have at least three students who are non-verbal and only one who can write more than her name. As I don't know my students yet, I don't know what they are able to do activity-wise. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Also, can anyone else who teaches severe/profound give me a list of their first-day routine?
  3. teachsph2008

    teachsph2008 Companion

    Apr 11, 2008
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    Aug 16, 2008

    Hmm, maybe you can create the schedule you would like and use this day as a way of doing informal assessments, which in turn will help you get to know them better?

    For example, during vocational time, you could see which students need HOH assistance, who could sort, the ones who wander etc.

    And during morning meeting or language...some students will know their names,days of the week, respond to sounds, recognize pictures and others not.
  4. inhisgrip20

    inhisgrip20 Comrade

    Nov 1, 2007
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    Aug 17, 2008

    Hey Shelbug! Glad you came out of lurkdom. :) Welcome to your first year teaching students with severe/profound disabilities. You are in for an exciting year!

    My advice... Start your first day on as normal a schedule as you can. Of course, you'll have to tweak things as you learn your kids abilities and how long different activities will take but do follow your typical schedule on the first day. Oh, and make sure your parapros know what you want the kiddos doing in the morning because from my experience you'll have parents trying to hang around that morning, on the first day (well, especially at elementary level) and you'll need your parapros to jump in and help keep the class running smoothly while you're distracted. What grade are you teaching?

    Here is my typical class schedule. And I do follow this schedule on the first day with a few adjustments. Keep in mind this is K-5th grade.

    7:15 = Arrival
    7:30-8:00 = Breakfast in the classroom
    8:00 - 8:30 = Self-Help (Brush Teeth/Bathroom)
    8:30 - 9:00 = Circle Time
    9:00 - 9:45 = Morning Work (Pre-Academic type tasks)
    9:45 - 10:15 = Group Game
    10:15 - 10:30 = Prepare for lunch (Wash hands, Potty if needed)
    10:30 - 11:00 = Lunch in Cafeteria
    11:00 - 11:30 = Self-Help (Brush Teeth/Bathroom)
    11:30 - 12:00 = Leisure Skills/Alternative Positioning
    12:00 - 12:30 = Afternoon Work (Pre-Vocational type tasks)
    12:30 - 12:45 = Story Time
    12:45 - 1:00 = Art Activity
    1:10 - 1:40 = Specials Class (Music, Art, PE with Buddy Class)
    1:40 - 2:00 = Snack Time
    2:00 - 2:15 = Bathroom
    2:15 = Pack up and Departure

    For first day activities... I follow the schedule from above, but depending on how long parents stay trying to chat on the first day, or other factors (like, one year, I was bombarded with therapists coming in and out all day the first day wanting to meet with the kids, parents coming and going to check on their "babies," and to top it off I had a new student who cried, screamed, and thrashed around in his wheelchair ALL day!) Needless to say we had to adjust a little that day. :)

    With that said, here are some activities we do in the first day or week.

    Circle Time
    - Lots of singing, imitating hand motions to assess if they'll do this

    - Bingo Name Song: Print out their names on large cards. Sing B-I-N-G-O using their names and see if they will point to the letters of their names or say them verbally or using a Step-By-Step. I explain it more here.

    -Do a felt board story or counting poem, let them interact with the board, or help count using a Step-By-Step or other device.

    - Make a Brown Bear, Brown Bear book ahead of time of people they will encounter around your school (like you, paras, principal, art, music, pe teachers, etc.) Read during circle. See if kids can name the people (if they've been at that school before.)

    Morning Work:
    - Start with basic tasks to assess their abilities, sorting colors, shapes, big/little, trace name, do a coloring sheet, file folder matching activities, etc.

    Group Games: Play a simple game like Color Bingo or an easy board game. You can see how students do with turn-taking, grasping objects. All students can participate by using an All-Turn-It spinner if needed.

    Story: This year I read "If You Take a Mouse To School" for the first week of school. "Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom" is another great choice, or "Mouse's First Day of School."

    Art: I always base my art work on our story for the week. Keep it simple... sponge painting a picture, tearing and pasting tissue paper onto a picture, dot-to-dot painting are all great choices for the first day. It won't take too long and you can see how students do during this task.

    Afternoon Work: Have some simple tasks planned for the first day... maybe it's just building with legos, assembling 2 piece objects, doing a computer game. We usually don't spend alot of time on afternoon work the first day b/c our day is so rushed.

    Specials: Our school never has Specials on the first day so I usually feel this time with some type of gross motor activity... bean bag toss usually. :) It's simple and I can access their grasp and throwing abilities.

    Additional "get to know you" activities could be:

    - creating a acrostic poem with each student's name. This would be great for your student that can write. Others could dictate what they want to say about themselves or you could provide picture choices on an AAC device for your non-verbal students.

    - Make a simple graph of "Favorites." Favorite food, Favorite school activity, etc. Just anything you want to know about them.

    - Send a "homework" All About Me sheet home. It's basically a questionnaire I send home and ask the parents to help fill out with their students.
    My name is: ____________
    I have ____ siblings.
    Favorite Food: _____________
    Favorite Snack: ____________
    Favorite Toy I play with at home: ___________
    Favorite Resturant: _____________
    Favorite item to order when I go out: ____________
    At home, I spend most of my time ___________
    Favorite TV show: ______________
    Things I'm good at: _________________
    My biggest accomplshment: _____________

    And any other tid-bit of info you want to know. :) You will get lots of information from parents this way that they wouldn't have otherwise shared.

    For other ideas you can check out my website too at

  5. shelbug99

    shelbug99 Rookie

    Aug 16, 2008
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    Aug 17, 2008

    Thanks for all the suggestions! I think I might have to make a Brown Bear book just for me. I still haven't met all the staff yet. :) I don't have a set schedule yet because I have to coordinate with the OT, PT and speech therapists. I plan to assess each student's skills, particularly because I have three IEPs coming up in the next two weeks. Fun, fun.
  6. teachersk

    teachersk Connoisseur

    Jun 1, 2007
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    Aug 17, 2008

    Do you have access to Boardmaker? You could make visual schedules for your students. You may have to "modify" the schedules once you meet your students (some students require digital photos to understand the activity, some require objects to know of the next transition, etc.) BUT creating a daily schedule for each student would be a good way to start. You can do this with the Boardmaker software. You can also "language base" your classroom - which is good for any special ed setting. You can print out cards with words on them (chair, door, ceiling, computer, desk, bathroom, schedule, etc.) This is great for literacy exposure and literacy introduction.

    I also really like the singer/songwriter Cathy Bollinger who writes songs specifically for special needs kids. She sings language based songs (with certain sounds, and also wh- questions, etc.) She also sings social skills songs (People like it when I say hi to them, Look at their eyes, it's okay to make a mistake, etc.) and they are CATCHY and great! I will tell you, I normally go insane hearing all of those kids songs over and over again - but we did Cathy Bollinger in our Circle time this morning and I NEVER got tired of it! The songs are so fun to hear, voices are great, words are interesting and fun, and the songs are best of all - educational!

    Here is her website:

    Another "literacy" based activity that we do in my classroom weekly is word families. I choose a word family (-at, -it, etc.) from the "most common word families" on enchanted learning . Then I print labels (you can buy packs of these at the dollar store for real cheap) with the different word family words on them. I create flash cards for each word (one set for me to have and present to the group) -- and each kid has a word family notebook. I present the word to them, show them the card, say "If I have __AT and I add an H.... I get...... HAT! Everyone say HAT" -- then the students who are unable to form letters or trace letters on their paper will "press down" the label that says hat in their notebook, while the other students write or trace the word hat in their notebook. We look at the card (picture of a hat, with the word hat) and say HAT one more time. Then we move on, etc. I also make sure students who use AAC devices (even if it's just a single switch) have the words we will be saying so that they can participate as well. Even if this is above some of the students heads as far as understanding the phonics goes, it's a great activity to expose the students to various word families (you can even do nursery rhymes with it if it's younger kids) -- it's a vocational skill (pressing labels, typing, writing, etc.) --- and it's a great group activity. Just an idea!

    That's all I can think of for now....

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