Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who Loves "Big Joe?" I do!

Last school year I had a student with autism, who liked to be held.  When we sat on the floor for morning meeting or for instruction, he wanted to sit on my lap or the lap of his full-time paraprofessional.  It got to be a bit much.  He was chronologically a year ahead of the rest of the class, and a tall boy, too.  So, I decided he needed a special chair to sit in that would hug him.  (He loved hugs.  He'd say, "Squeeze, please" when he wanted a hug!)

I started searching online for beanbag chairs that had arms.  This is what I decided to check out at Target:
When I got there, I took it off the bottom shelf and noticed that it was kind of floppy.  The sides didn't really come up to "hug" the user, which was my main reason for buying a chair in the first place.  While I was looking it over, a mom and young daughter came into the aisle where I was standing and studying it.  I am rarely shy, so in full teacher/mom mode, I said, "Hi, I'm thinking of getting this chair for a special student in my class who likes to be cozy.  Would your daughter be kind enough to try it out for me?"  Moms are so sweet!  She agreed, and her little girl had a seat.  Yeah, the arms didn't hug her at all. "Thank you," I said. "I really need one with better arms.  My little guy needs to feel hugged." AND THEN THE MOM SAID, "Oh, you need a Big Joe." Then she explained how WalMart had these great beanbag chairs for back to school for the college crowd.  So, you know what I did?  I got in my van and drove across the street to the WalMart, but they were all sold out.  So sad.
All the college kids got them before I even knew they existed.

That night I did my research and found them online.  They were VERY expensive!  What was $40 in the store was $80 online in late September. Not to be defeated, I called every WalMart in my area until I found a store that had them in stock.  I bought mine the very next day after school.  Tah-dah!

Purchased at WalMart for $40!  So cozy!  So snuggly!  My student with autism LOVED his chair.  He was always willing to join the group on the floor since he got to sit in this awesome chair!  Eventually, he took his chair to his specials classes too.  He was able to spend much longer times in the room with the class because of his chair.  Just so you know, I actually planned on buying two of them.  One for my special guy, and one for my "student of the week."  However, the learning strategist ( spec ed teacher) thought it would be a good thing if the chair could move grades with him.  So I bought one for my class, and she bought one for him with her budget allotment.  Win - win!

Big Joe was loved by ALL the kids, I have to say.  The "Super Kid," (student of the week) got to sit in the Big Joe for Read to Self and all learning and instruction that took place in the meeting area.  Doesn't it look cozy?
We love you, Big Joe chair!

What special seats do you have in your classroom?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Five Minutes Later... An Update

Ok, I'm admitting that this is crazy, but as soon as I looked at my post to see if the links worked, I realized that I liked the chevron on the calendar better than the blue bandanna scrapbook paper. Sooooo, I did what I had to do.  Changed up the insert, and tah-dah! Brighter, happier.  I love it.

New Calendar & My TPT cart!

One of my favorite things about each new school year is getting a new monthly calendar.  A few years ago I volunteered to order some for our entire staff from Amsterdam Printing.  We got great red vinyl covers with an image of a husky (our mascot) and they were refillable!  Only problem... I put the year on the cover, so no one, myself included, wanted to use them the following year.  It's been three years since I ordered, but Amsterdam continues to send me calendars and pens in the mail every year.  EVERY YEAR.  Sounds good, but without the cover, I'm not very excited to use them.
It's a great little calendar, but I'm pretty tough on mine.  I like to have a protective cover, and I like it to be a bit bigger so that I can find it easily if it gets covered with work on my desk.

Last year, I found this polkadotty calendar at Target for under $10.  I was just beginning my "Top Dog" theme, so I added an insert to identify it as my own.  Loved it!  Couldn't wait for Target to get them in this year!  I've been school shopping since the sales started right after July 4th, but I couldn't find them.  

It was so hard to wait.  I checked for them EVERY time I went to Target without luck.  UNTIL TODAY!  Those sneaky Target people put them in the aisle with the collegiate items, like hangars and laundry baskets.  I never thought to look there before, and honestly, had finally chosen a different one from another spot.  What a relief to see them, and there weren't many left, either.  The one I didn't choose had bold yellow horizontal stripes.  When I printed out a new insert for the cover (had to change the year), I had a slight problem.

I solved it quite simply by cutting a small piece from the inside "title" page, if you will. Used it to cover up that blue date banner.  Go me!  Here is why I love this calendar:
Another thing I love about this calendar is that it is three hole punched, so I can keep it in a binder.  Awwww yeah!

Stopped in to my classroom to drop off all the supplies I've been buying, and NOTHING has been cleaned since summer school ended one week ago.  I am very envious of teachers who can set their room up waaaaay before they actually HAVE to go back to work.  All that setting up takes time, and I need to work on lesson plans and collaboration with my team when we go back.  I wish I could get the decorating done sooner.  Oh, well. 

Our school is doing a wild west theme this year.  I'm going to put bandannas and dolly straw hats on my stuffed husky, Clifford, and Little Critter (at Kohl's NOW $5).  If you have any simple ideas for a first grade wild west classroom, let me know!  I'm planning to get a few things from TPT tomorrow.  Woo hoo for a big sale!  Click each pic to see the product on TPT.  (Hope I did the links correctly).

WESTERN/COWBOY Theme EDITABLE Classroom Essentials-34 PrinWestern Cowboy Roll & Graph ActivityWestern/Cowboy Themed Bookmarks - 4 Designs
Wild West - Western Themed Classroom Newsletter TemplateMemory Book - Western  Theme! - End of the YearWestern Theme Signs, Binder Covers, Labels and Nameplates
Interactive Calendar Notebook {making the most out of caleWANTED Posters (Western/Cowboy Theme)
Click each pic to see item on TPT!

What's in your TPT cart?