Special Education Classroom Daily Schedule- Lunch/Rest Time/Afternoon Specials

Like recess,  I am not with my students during lunch.  It is my chance to eat lunch and enjoy some quiet!  However, lunch is still a huge learning process for my students.  Communication is the main focus during lunch.  Read more about how we implement communication during our lunch routine in our cafeteria in my communication chapter.  Once students are done eating they get to attend recess outside with the rest of their peers. 

After lunch, my students come in and check their schedules for
rest time.  Rest time is similar to our book time after our morning recess.  Students rest while my staff take students to the restroom either individually or in groups.  During rest time, we turn off the lights, turn on a disco ball (YES A DISCO BALL), listen to music and relax.  Students can choose to lay in bean bags, peapods, swings, or with blankets and pillows.  Students can also choose to read a book or play with a puzzle.  Rest time is a great activity to give my students a break and a chance to re-collect themselves before the end of the day.

Our afternoons are a little more flexible.  Our activities change depending on the day.  This year we had whole group OT on Tuesdays which was always a blast.  Monday’s and Thursdays were typically art projects or sensory games.  Fridays were ALWAYS movies!  We work for Fun Friday in my classroom.  In our district, students have minimum days on Wednesdays for staff meetings so my students leave right after lunch.

THank you for joining me on my 6 day journey discussing all there is about my daily schedule!  Tomorrow we will be moving into Chapter 5, Visual Supports!


Special Education Classroom Daily Schedule- Afternoon Work Centers/Calendar

Our afternoon work centers are exactly the same as they are in the morning, except different work at each station.  Students know the routine, get their working card and rotate between the tables before they earn their reward.  Refer to the curriculum chapter to read more about what we work on at each center!

Special Education Classroom Daily Schedule- Snack/Recess/Book Time

After the earned free time after work centers students check their schedule and get ready for breakfast/snack.  The entire school gets to eat snack during recess.  However, I do snack inside my classroom before recess.  I like to keep it structured and functional within the classroom so we have all of our tools handy.  I utilize this time of day to really focus on communication.  My school SLP pushes in during this time to help with different students and their IEP goals.  Overall, this is a quick 15 minute snack time that takes place in the classroom.  The rule is- “if you don’t ask, you must not be hungry.”  During snack we have communication devices, switches, PECs books and iPad apps.  Check out the chapter on COMMUNICATION to learn more about how we use snack as a tool for communication!

Special Education Classroom Daily Schedule- Work Center Rotations

I absolutely LOVE my work centers!  This blog post I will only be discussing the system of work centers.  I will be discussing the actual work and curriculum that takes place at each center in the curriculum  section of this blog series!  I have finetuned this system to make it the most efficient system for my students. I love my work centers because it promotes independence and it is consistent!  I have 3 work centers during our work center rotations.  
There is a RED, BLUE and GREEN table.

Above each labeled table is a cute little sign to make it more noticeable which table is where. 

Morning work centers takes place right after our Morning Meeting. Students check their schedules and get their working card.  They are passed out once they check their schedule. 
 I come around and let them choose a toy/activity that they are going to "work for” from our token economy folder.   

Once they all have their working cards and activities picked, work centers start!  Students are grouped into 3 groups (3 students per group.)  Each student group has their own group color: purple, orange and yellow .  I have the student groups posted on the back cabinets so that all the staff and students know where they are supposed to be when!  

Each groups working card has the color table schedule on the bottom so that the student knows which table they are to go to first!

Working cards are carried by the student from table to table.  Each group's working card has visual cues at the bottom of the card indicating the order of tables they will attend to (Ex. 1st Red table, 2nd green table, and 3rd blue table).  
The working card serves as a great reinforcer for my student's.  When a student becomes unmotivated or begins to act out, a simple prompt to the working card reminds the student that they will be rewarded for good behavior and hard work.  

At the end of the rotation, if the student has completed their work and behaved appropriately they receive a colored clip to clip on to the working card..  We spend an hour total during the morning work centers.  We spend 15 minutes at each center totaling 45 minutes of work time.   If the student has earned all 3 clips after work centers, they place their working card on their desk and "trade" it in for their preferred task/activity.  For those student's that did not earn all three clips, they return back to the table they did not earn their clip from and finish their uncompleted work.  Student's are held accountable for their behaviors, and must earn free time.  The students have about15 minutes to play and clean up before snack time! 

Here is a summary of my work center routine:
Thank you for reading this LONG post about my work center rotations… I know it was a long one.  Tomorrow I will go into detail about my snack/recess/book time routines!

Here is a video tour explaining my work center rotations:


Special Education Classroom Daily Schedule- Morning Fitness and Morning Meeting

Morning Fitness takes place first thing in the morning..  After school wide flag salute students go straight to the playground for free play for a few minutes.  Once everyone is situated, I start morning fitness.
 It changes every day and is the most laxed part of our day.  Every day we do different activities.  Some examples include: swing 50 times, run around the handball courts, shoot the basketball, play tether ball, handball and soccer.   I try to keep it fun and incorporate sharing, rule following and team building skills.  It's not necessarily a drill sergeant type of PE.
 I use these visuals to prompt students to the activity.  Sometimes we only do one activity in the morning, and other days we do several.  
The most important thing that occurs during Morning Fitness is that my aides take students to the bathroom either in groups or individually based on their needs so that we don't have any bathroom interruptions once we get into the classrooms.  The ones that need assistance get it, and those that just need to be sent go on their own.  This makes the morning routine in the classroom way better with less interruptions.

This is the first thing we do when we step into our classroom following our morning fitness.  My students put all of their belongings away in their lockers, check their schedules and sit down to start Morning Meeting.  Morning Meeting is a 15 minute activity that, in my opinion, starts the day in a fun way!  

Morning Meeting is different every day but works on the same necessary life skills: communication, social skills, and team building skills.  The main goal of Morning Meeting is to take attendance and say good morning to everyone.  While I am conducting Morning Meeting, my aides can check my students back packs, pull out any communication logs, get student lunch/snack out, and have the morning centers ready to go by the time Morning Meeting is finished.  Like I mentioned above, we do different activities every day.  We rotate through them so that my student's don't get bored!

First, we sing good morning songs.  Next, I call students up to the front of the room to “check in.”  Their names are laminated and attached to the board with a magnet.  Students find their name and put it in the “present” or “absent” spot.  I love using the magnets because it makes it super interactive!

Once the student has “checked in” on the interactive bulletin board, they get to choose a greeting to give me.  The choices are: wave hug, high five and shake hands.  I have visual cues to help aide the students.  They have a lot of fun picking which greeting they will do for the day!  We also work on answering questions.  I have created a simple question binder that is laminated and attached with velcro.  I use this once or twice a week.   Here are some pictures of my binder and the questions I ask.

Once Thanks for stopping by to hear about my Morning Meeting and Morning Fitness routines.  Come back tomorrow to hear about my Morning Work Center Rotations! It is my favorite time of the day!!!!


"How To Set Up A Special Education Program"- Daily Schedule Overview

Now you have developed your physical space and bulletin board layouts.  It’s time to get into the nitty gritty….SCHEDULES!  You can read more about actual visual schedules for students in the visual support chapter.  This chapter will focus on the established schedule and routines within my classroom.  This chapter will go into detail about each daily event and include pictures to better explain!


"How To Set Up A Special Education Program"- Bulletin Boards

Once you have all of your furniture arranged you can start mapping out your wall space.  It’s important to utilize this space to set up interactive boards, visuals and dividers for each center.  Students with special needs THRIVE off visuals, so this stage in setting up your room is crucial!

Here is a diagram of how I utilize my wall space:

"How To Set Up A Special Education Program"- FLOOR PLANS!

When you first start thinking about your special education program, the first step to setting up your classroom is getting the physical layout set up.  It’s time to get down and dirty and move those tables, desks and file cabinets until you feel that you have establish a good environment!

Furniture used in my room:
       Teacher’s desk
       A desk/chair for each student (currently 10)
       3 Kidney/large center tables
       small desk for calm down area
       cubbies/lockers/storage for student belongings
       book shelf for library
       Computer table (size depends on how many computers you have if any)

       File Cabinets/Storage Cabinets to block of each section!

"Special Education Program Starter Series"- How to Set Up an Autism/Special Education Classroom

I am so excited to announce my six week summer blog series!! I have spent countless hours creating a 200 page manual to help teachers, administrators and professionals to set up special education programs on their own.  If you are a first year special education teacher, using this guide will help you to set up a seamless special education program.  This guide is also great for teaches looking to re-vamp their current program!  Over the next few weeks I will be going into detail about the following topics:


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