WELCOME BACK! UNIT
By: Carmen Willings
It is important to start the school year with an introduction of yourself to the student. Even if you have worked with the student in the past, spending time getting caught up and talking about how you spent the summer can help ease any of your student’s anxiety. This is also a good time to help the student learn their new classroom or school (including the school campus) and introduce or reintroduce school personnel. An additional goal of this unit is to introduce, teach, and reinforce the daily routine of the classroom and orient the students to the classroom (find cubbies/lockers, work stations, locations in the school building). This is also a good time to introduce authority figures and rules at your school. Assure students that this is a place where they are welcome, and where they can make new friends. Discuss the importance of playing and working safely so everyone can have fun and learn.
Possible Materials for this unit include but are not limited to:
Abacus, art smock, award stickers, backpack, ballpoint pens, binder, book, bulletin board, calculator, chalk, colored pencils, colored pens, composition book, construction paper, crafts, crayons, dividers, dry erase markers, erasers, filler paper, flash cards, flash drives, glue sticks, hand sanitizer, headphones, highlighters, index cards, Kleenex, laptop, lunch bags, lunchboxes, markers, mechanical pencil, notebooks, pencils, pencil box, planner, protractor, push pins, rulers, scissors, sharpeners
Possible Vocabulary for this unit include but are not limited to:
Abacus, art, award, backpack, bag, binder, book, box, board, calculator, chalk, color, composition, construction, craft, crayon, divider, eraser, filler, flash, glue, gym, headphones, highlighter, index, janitor, Kleenex, laptop, library, lunch, lunchbox, marker, mechanical, menu, music, notebook, nurse, paint, paper, pencil, pen, planner, principal, protractor, pin, ruler, sanitizer , scissors, secretary, sharpener, smock, snack, sticker, teacher, therapist
Objective: Student will classify vocabulary words with words in the appropriate categories.
Inform the student that these words have things in common and can be grouped together. Present a simple web with headings of categories. Have the student read the word and place it in the category where it may belong. If the student has difficulty, encourage them to request help. Sometimes a word could belong in more than one category. When this happens, allow the student to select where they would like it to go, or write the word on two cards and place it in both categories. Possible web categories include:
Class Rules Discussion
Objective: The student will gain knowledge and understanding through topic discussion.
In order to help everyone get along and for the class to move smoothly, there are classroom rules that need to be followed. Discuss the need for classroom rules and discuss the consequences in violating the rules.
Possible classroom rules include:
Personal Responsibility Discussion
Objective: The student will gain knowledge and understanding through topic discussion.
Discuss that every day we have to make choices. When we make choices, we are responsible for our own actions. We must respect those in authority and respect the rights of others. Describe the importance of personal responsibility (doing your best in school). Build on citizenship traits (fairness, reliability, honesty). Consider introducing a "caught showing good character chart" to reward responsibility and good character.
If your school doesn’t already participate in the Core Essential Values program, talk to someone about funding to set up this program. The goal of the program is to create a values culture. The program partners with your local Chick-fil-a. Downloads are available for teachers, counselors, principals, and bus drivers to allow the value of the month to be interwoven throughout the school day. There is also information for home. You will receive redeemable Value-Able cards to reward kids that display the value!
Important beginning of the year concepts are:
Prior to this activity, record greetings by key school employees and specialists. Also be sure to take a picture of each person. If you are able to obtain recordable buttons (or use a recordable photo album), have a button or recording attached to each person's picture. Display the pictures of peers, key school employees, and therapists/specialists on the board or in a photo album. Prepare print/braille labels of each person's name as they are known to the students (some staff may go by first name while others go by their last names). Be sure to laminate the cards to ensure durability and attach Velcro for repeated matching opportunities.
Present cards with the school employees/therapists names printed/brailled on them. Play the recorded greetings from the staff one at a time. Encourage students to identify the person in the audio recordings and the picture (if the student has usable vision). Next, pronounce the person’s name. Encourage the students to locate the printed name. Stress the beginning sound of the person’s name to assist students in identifying the beginning letter of their name. Then locate names that begin with that letter. If there is more than one name that begins with that letter, continue by determining the next sound/letter combination in their name. Once the student has found the printed/brailled name, place it by the picture. Continue until all names are matched.
On My Way to School
Objective: Student will develop a more concrete understanding of unit and their world through direct interaction with their world.
Encourage students to share with the class their experience of coming to school. Prompt students as needed to include what they packed in their backpacks and how they arrived at school (bus, van, car, truck). Students may enhance their presentation by sharing personal items or may use pictures/videos/sounds of what they heard. Allow students to use pictures or objects representing various stages of going to school, have the students verbally tell or arrange the pictures/objects in the correct order. For example: put on shoes/coat, put on backpack, ride in vehicle (tire for object), hang up coat (hook). Identify transportation that students use to get to and from school.
Take the students on a tour of the classroom. Point out what is available in each area of the classroom. Point out labels (print/Braille/object) that will help students identify stations and locations within the room and will help them in putting things away properly. After the orientation, play a game to challenge students to locate areas (ex. "If I have to go to the bathroom." "If my hands are dirty." "If I need to hang up my coat.", etc.).
Place a variety of school related objects and materials stored in various locations throughout the room on a tray and present it to the students. Encourage students to identify the objects. Discuss the objects and how they relate to school. Encourage students to individually or in pairs, bring the items to their correct location. This will be individualized to the materials available in your room, but may include: pencils, crayons, glue sticks, manipulatives, books, paper, etc.
Play classroom “I Spy” (Or alternatively, I'm thinking of something that...) with objects/materials/toys found in various centers or common to school. Describe by function. Ex. I Spy something that is used to cut; I Spy something that we hang our coat on.
Take the students on a tour of the school campus, even if they are returning students to orient or re-orient them to the building. Prior to the orientation, remind students to ask pre-selected staff members what their names are and what their job is at the school. Introduce students to the principal and other school personnel they may meet. Record the staff greeting the students. (ex. "Hello, my name is Mrs. Johnson, the school nurse."). Identify authority figures in the school and their roles. Also take pictures of each staff member. Consider purchasing a recordable photo album. Place staff photos in the book along with a recording of them saying their name and their job title and brief description of what they do. Place printed labels of each staff members name on the sleeve (pair with Braille if there are any current or future braille readers). Place the photo album in the book area for students to look at, listen to and enjoy.
During the orientation, be sure to systematically show the students where the playground, cafeteria, library, music room, gym, art room, principal’s office, nurses office and front office. Also orient them to the other rooms/areas and to locations they will need to find within the rooms/areas. As you are walking through the building, identify physical land and water forms around the school campus. Discuss cardinal directions and left and right as you orient students to the school building. Identify transportation that students use to get to and from school.
Meet Principal, Therapists & Specialists
Invite the principal and related service personnel to come to the class and introduce or reintroduce themselves to all the students, tell them what their job is. This would be a good time to take updated pictures of staff for student schedules. For students with limited or no vision who use an object schedule, encourage staff to choose an object to represent themselves if they will be a part of the student's regular schedule. Encourage students to listen attentively to teachers/therapists/staff as they discuss their school jobs, ask questions. Encourage them to use active listening skills (body/facial expressions, eye contact, asking or responding to questions) While therapists and/or specialists are discussing their jobs, encourage students to listen for information and obtain information from them. Encourage them to display courtesy and respect during the presentation. Identify similarities and differences in school personnel. Incorporate staff pictures and/or representative objects into daily schedules.
Share with students that just as it is important for everyone to know where things are located and how to get around throughout the school building, it is also important to know teachers, classmates and therapists’ names. Have students answer riddles about therapists, school personnel, stations, etc. "This person comes to help some students write their name, etc."
School Tour Sequence
Objective: Student will sequence the occurrence of events.
Take the students on a tour of the school to refresh their memories or simply to greet those they haven't seen since the previous school year. Bring along a set of recordable buttons such as these from Learning resources.
Record the voices of people you meet or sounds from locations you visit on each button. Upon returning to the classroom, have the students listen to recordings from activity/experience. Encourage the students to place the buttons in the order in which they heard the sound. Extend the activity by removing one of the buttons. Have the students listen to the remaining buttons and determine what button is missing.
Objective: Students will complete a written assignment following guidelines and directions.
Help students create a weekly newsletter. Tell students that a newsletter is a way to communicate with their families and tell them about what happens at school. Encourage students to include the weeks highlights, upcoming events, and any requests.
Objective: Students will complete a written assignment following guidelines and directions.
Encourage students to begin a journal that they can add to each day. Some students will have more success writing about their day and what is familiar to them. For others, provide possible topic starters such as: activities they did in school or preferred/non-preferred activities. Modify the activity for students who are non-verbal and unable to write. Take pictures of their day using an ipad and group the photos using an app such as Pictello.
Have students write about their favorite summer activities or vacations. Provide assistance in dictating and summarizing when needed. Encourage students to bring in objects and/or pictures from vacations or that depict activities. Allow students to present their writing to their peers along with the pictures and objects. Encourage students to ask the presenter questions about their activities.
Have students help create signs for each classroom station. Provide posters/boards for each classroom station with names printed/brailled on each one. Have the students help determine which objects best represent the center to attach to the sign that will help them identify them.
Lunch Assembly Patterns
Objective: Student will recreate simple sequences or patterns using AB, ABB, ABC, etc. patterns.
Provide students with sandwich parts using tactually and visually different materials to represent meats, cheese, pickles, lettuce, mustard, bread, etc. as well as empty milk and juice containers, and chip snack bags. Create sandwich assembly cards that depict what goes on certain kinds of sandwiches. Provide lunch trays along with mock lunch order requests. Have students fill orders. For added fun, have the worker ring a bell and announce "order up!" when each order is complete and accurate. For an added challenge use a timer and challenge students to complete a certain number of orders within a specified time.
School Supply Number matching
Objective: Student will match numeral with the same quantity of objects, 1–20.
Have students determine “how many” in created sets of objects (pencils, erasers, spoons, paper clips, etc.).. Encourage students to write the number that corresponds to the amount in a set on cards labeled with object name. Arrange the cards from least to most. Have the students determine if the amounts are odd or even
Bus Stops On My Way to School Sequencing
Objective: Student will sequence numbers from 1-10.
Create a poster or file folder titled "On My Way to School". Draw or create a tactual house in the top left corner of the poster and a school at the lower right corner. Draw or create a tactual road leading from home to the school. Place 10 "bus stops" using Velcro, along the road. Provide the students with Velcro numbers 1-10 and encourage the students to label the stops to school in sequential order.
The Long and Short of It
Objective: Student will place objects in horizontal arrangement by size (seriate), match long and short objects, and compare the objects (ex. Big, bigger, biggest).
Provide students with pieces of chalk, various size pencils, markers, scissors and crayons. Encourage students to measure the length using a ruler, yardstick, meter stick or measuring tape. Encourage other students to identify tools used to measure with. Provide assistance to students as needed to determine how much longer one object is than another. Create a graph to represent the data and determine which items are the longest
How many Crayons Tall are You? Encourage students to lay on the ground and have peers measure how tall/long they are in crayons. Encourage other students to identify other standard/non-standard tools that can be used to measure with.
Compare the materials and arrange from smallest to largest. Encourage students to estimate length using inches, feet, centimeters or meters (or nonstandard units). Provide assistance to students as needed to determine how much longer one object is than another. Create a graph to represent the data and determine which items are the longest.
Cookie Taste Test
Provide the students with a variety of cookies (following reading, “If you give a Mouse a Cookie”) and encourage the students to taste each item. PLEASE BE AWARE OF ANY ALLERGIES & SUBSTITUTE ACCORDINGLY!! Ensure there are enough "safe" foods for all students to be able to participate. Complete a chart depicting each item. Have students identify which items they liked and place a smile/frown (or other indicator) on the chart. Keep in mind that tactual smile/frown stickers are available through quota funds from the American Printing House for the Blind. Engage the students in a discussion about the different tastes and textures (salty, sour, sweet, bland, crunchy, soft, etc.). Discuss how results may vary if other classes or family members completed the graph. Encourage the students to read the completed graph and develop a summary sheet. What was the most popular item? What was the least popular? Possible cookies include:
Chocolate chip, M&M, No Bakes, Oatmeal, Nutter Butter, Oreo's, Peanut Butter, Snicker Doodle, Vanilla Wafers
How did you come to school?
Students will complete a graph on how they came to school. Bus? Car? Van? Walk? If all students use the same form of transportation, vary the activity by bus number, color of car, etc.
Present the student's with the previous year's yearbook. For students who have minimal or no vision, describe the information that is found in yearbooks. Discuss or show: what information is provided, the purpose of the yearbook, how it is laid out, and what types of pictures are shown. Help students identify unknown words and identify pictures. Identify illustrations including maps, charts and photographs. Point out the different sections in the yearbook as well as teachers, and peers.
Literature Related to Welcome Back to School...
If You Take a Mouse to School – Laura Numeroff
My Teacher Sleeps in School – Leatie Weiss
The Kissing Hand – Audrey Penn
Will I have a friend? – Miriam Cohen
The First Day Jitters – Julie Danneberg
Arithmetic – Carl Sandburg
Songs (children’s & pop culture)
Good Morning – Greg & Steve Vol.. 2
So Happy You’re Here – Hap Palmer – So Big
The More We Get Together – Raffi, Silly Songs
We’re All Together Again – Greg & Steve Vol 5
Pop Culture Songs:
Be True to Your School - Beach Boys
Welcome Back (from Welcome Back Kotter) - John Sebastian
School Alma Matter
Yearbooks from previous years
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