Today’s guest blogger is Heather from Full Sped Ahead! Heather is a middle school functional life skills teacher. She has taught life skills for 6 years and it is her heart and soul! She actively shares her teaching journey on her instagram account (@full_SPED_ahead, give her a follow!). Heather loves to prepare and adapt materials for her students in order for them to become more independent! Lamination and velcro is her love language!
Hello! My name is Heather Cacioppo and I am a middle school functional life skills teacher. I first saw Alyssa’s Simple Fine Motor Centers on her Instagram. I thought those were AMAZING! Immediately I thought of my students fine motor abilities and what skills they needed to work on in order to be successful in the future. It can be difficult for my students to complete worksheets when they can not draw a line to match, cut or glue pictures or words in the correct position. I also thought about how it would be awesome for my students to have “office skills” like hole punching and stapling. These Fine Motor Centers were the gateway to life-long successes! I knew I had to have them in my room starting the next school year.
HOW TO PREP:
Once I purchased the Simple Fine Motor Centers on Teachers Pay Teachers, I printed and began the prep. I loved that it was low prep as I had a majority of the materials. I purchased the clear 12×12 scrapbook cases from Michael’s when they were on sale (ALWAYS wait for a sale and use coupons and your teacher discount– just sayin’). Here is a link to a similar type of case I used.
I laminated the teacher’s directions and visual directions for each box. I felt this would be helpful for assistants, substitutes and related service members to look at and be able to quickly instruct when needed. I also felt that by displaying visual directions, my students will be able to gain independence (which they’ve done very quickly– they even ASK to work on them). The teacher’s direction page made it quick to see what materials I needed and I was able to grab them in my room or purchase them at the Dollar Store. Low cost tasks are my favorite!!
HOW TO IMPLEMENT:
Once I was able to put the specific materials in each box, I had to teach my staff and students how to use them. I grabbed one box each day and taught them in a whole group setting, this way I was able to determine how much differentiation and support each student needed. For example, in my hole punch box, I have a hole punch that is a one-finger push and another one that is a full hand grasp (typical hole punch). For stapling, I have a large stapler and small stapler.
I have my boxes set on a shelf in my classroom all labeled and easily accessible. In my room, we have Fine Motor Wednesdays. My students know that during this time we work on our fine motor skills for 45 minutes. These have been a great activity to have either my students make their own choice or I make a choice for them to complete a box. Students typically spend 15-20 minutes on a box, then we rotate. Each student completes 2-3 boxes during this time.
Now, I have a proud teacher moment, I did not teach this, but when there is downtime during the week and my students are in between activities or are on a break, they will grab a box and work on the chosen task until the next activity. Let me repeat that, students are CHOOSING to do WORK when they are on a BREAK!!! They think it’s fun, I know it’s work! They are doing wonderful with these skills and after only a couple weeks, many of them do not need help when completing the tasks!! Major teacher points right there!!
And remember to follow Heather on instagram for more great tips and ideas!