Free Trial of How and Why Question Comprehension Cards

14 Mar

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I  have several students who are  answering  a  how question with a why response. Our students with language delays, autism, and 2nd language learners often have trouble with these skills.  “How” and “Why” questions are question forms that require a higher level of thinking and language skills to formulate responses.  The students often need the ability to problem solve or take on another perspective when answering them.  When looking through  the Language Arts section of the  “Common Core Standards”  I discovered this would be a skill they would need. Like many of you, I am rethinking what is most valuable to my students as we try to align curriculum with the “Common Core Standards”.  I made  task cards to specifically address  how and why question forms from a  given text.

Students  may require some direct teaching  on the differences between how and why questions.  How question  have  a few variations.  It may require a student to tell how something is done in steps, how something is done descriptively,  the amount  of something,  or state of being such as  with “How are you feeling?”.  The answer may contain an adjective or adverb.

Answering why questions  often involves finding the antecedent or cause  of an event.  The answer recalls  facts that happened before an event.  For example the question  “Why did the dog dig a hole?” He dug a hole because he smelled a bone under the ground.   Compare this to the  how question.  “How did he get the bone?”  He dug a hole with his paws and grabbed it with his mouth.

Answers to how question often  relate an action and possible  steps. These response can seem to be quite similar  to a student.  For instance, look at these questions and answers. “Why did the lights go out in the storm?” or “ How did the electrical wires get knocked down in the storm?”  The answers, “The electrical wire was knocked down in the storm because a branch hit it.” and  “A strong wind blew a branch off the tree and it hit  the electrical wire which was torn down.”  They seem interchangeable except the because is used in response to the why question and how elicits a series of events. Our language learners will shorten their  response to, “A branch fell off the tree”, for both questions.

The  packet I am posting on Teachers Pay Teachers  has  30, 3 inch by 3 inch cards with 3 questions on most cards.  In the packer there are 4 cards that deal with how many questions and amounts.  26 cards deal with the variations of how and why listed above. There are 17 cards that also contain a question on  vocabulary  within the story context.  This provides opportunity for students to derive word meanings from the text and verbalize it.  You can find them here or by clicking on the picture button at the top of the page which takes you to TPT and also gives a preview.

I made a free trial packet for my readers.  You can get it by clicking on the button. free trial button

There are 3 pages of cards for a total of 9.  You can see if they are something of value for your students.  I have been using them with my 3rd through 6th graders.  I try to keep the picture cues meaningful and appropriate for middle school range.  I  have a lot of boys and they don’t tolerate things that look cute. I make them double sided so they have possible answers available.  This helps when I have groups and it is motivating for them to flip them over and see if they got it right.

Free Spinners for Game Adaptations

4 Dec

You may have noticed that I like to use spinners to expand the therapy value of some of my games and teach concept vocabulary.  I have some of them as part of my downloads in the vocabulary section.  The spinners in my previous downloads are  black and white and  not very colorful.  I decided to update them with pictures and color to make them more friendly for my non-readers. You can access them on TPT for FREE.  Just click the button.TPT button


The spinners are made from the clear plastic lids you find on products  such as  whipped cream  or oatmeal containers.  A pony  bead, paper fastener and spinner from heavy cardboard or plastic are added. The lids are clear so that the paper form  can be placed underneath and still be seen.  The paper can be replaced from one activity to the next and the same spinner stays intact. Look below to see my showcase of spinners and the games I use with them.

Left and Right Spinner.

This spinner  is used when playing Blockhead or some other block stacking game. It  targets the concepts of left and right.  The spinner has the directions of Left or Right  with a handprint for cuing. Students take turns spinning the spinner and use the hand that is indicated to pick up a block and stack to make a tower.  Point out to the students that when their hands are flattened on the table their left hand will form an L shape with the pointer and thumb. This is another cue they can use to distinguish their left hand from their right hand. I have used this as a table or center activity with table groups of 6 students in a Kindergarten class.




 Size and Shape Spinner:

You need bean bags or soft balls that can be tossed, plastic pails and boxes of various sizes and shapes, and  spinners  with the vocabulary words printed on it.   Have the students  make a big circle with the containers placed in the center.  Instruct the children on how to toss the ball or bean bag safely so no one gets injured.

The spinners travel around the circle.  Students  spin the spinner and toss the bean bag or ball as required  trying to get the bean bag in the appropriate container that matches the word on the spinner.




For the Amount Spinner, I use  a game I made up called “Don’t Fall Through the Ice ”       IMG326

amount spinner

Use the amount spinner, one 2 lb plastic coffee container.  A rubber band that fits around the mouth of the container, tissue paper, marbles, cup to place marbles in water, spinner with vocabulary words.  Instructions:  Put one sheet of tissue paper across the opening of the  2 lb container.  Fasten it down by stretching the rubber band around the top of the opening. You may need an extra set of hands to accomplish this.   It should look like a drum.  Put marbles in the cup and fill with water.  Children take turns spinning the spinner and taking the number of wet marbles indicated.

The students place the marbles on top of the tissue paper top.  The wet marbles will weaken the tissue paper and eventually fall through.  The wetter the marbles the faster they will fall th rough.  If you are using this activity with table groups they can count the marbles and compare who has the most or least marbles.

Don’t Spill the Beans is an other game that can be used with the spinner.


The conversation spinner can be used with any board game that uses a typical number spinner.  It works well with games such as Snakes and Slides or Chutes and Ladders. Students try to follow the prompts on the spinner and give an example.conversation spinner

Free Trial: Reply to a Comment Task Cards

31 Jul

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Teachers Pay Teachers is having their Back to School Sale on Aug 4th and 5th. If you are waiting for the right time to get back to school materials, now is the time.  Don’t forget to use the Promo code when you check out to get the full discount.

In a previous post I mentioned how I worked with students to recognize comments and questions and how they should make a reply.  I made comment and reply cards last  Spring.  I have since updated them to include  pictures.  I’m putting a trial set here for my readers to try out.  If they look like something you could use, the full set is on Teachers Pay Teachers.

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Reply to a Comment trial set


Quick link to Teachers Pay Teachers.

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Irregular Past Tense Verb Task Cards

4 May


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We are coming to the end of the year and it is time to see how much progress my students have made.  I have been working on new irregular past tense verb cards. My commercial cards have pictures that don’t reflect the past event and also have the printed word below.   I end up hiding the written word when doing post testing  which is annoying.  I also find that students do not always generalize to other contexts.   I wanted an activity the students could use after they have memorized  the verbs according to the usual prompts of what happened today and yesterday and would be a better indicator of what they know.   I made the cards so the past tense would be elicited within the context of answering a question.   The cards may also be used for interpreting questions that use the words before, after, during, and while and used for making predictions.  I usually have students working on different goals in the same session.  The  answers are hidden.  Students can use a QR reader to get an answer.  I have a UV pen I bought at a school book fair that I use to write answers in the blue boxes.  The students find it motivating to self check their answers.

I am posting 3 of the pages so you can try them out. You can download them by clicking on the button.. free trial button

The complete set is at TPT  which you can reach by clicking  the button below.

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Irregular verb example


Social Skills and The Size of the Problem

21 Feb


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The need for social skills groups continues to grow at the elementary school where I teach.   We had enough students to form two groups this school year.  One group is made primarily of second graders and the other fourth and fifth graders. The counselor and I teach these classes together.
We have used  Leah Kuypers The Zones of Regulation® ( and Michelle Garcia Winner’s Social Thinking® materials for our lesson planning.  Recently we have worked on identifying emotions and how they fall into the 5 zones.  For a brief overview, the Zones are 5 color coded signs that rank from the lowest blue zone of low alertness which relate to being calm,  or tired to the red zone of heightened alertness which relates to feelings such as anger or fear. You can  click on the web sites to obtain more explicit information.

Size of problem

These colors and zones can also be used when talking about the size of a problem. Students determine if a problem is at the lowest level which would be a glitch in our day or at the highest level a crisis difficult to correct. Other problems may fall somewhere in between. When compared with the zones of regulation students  can see if the emotional reaction is appropriate to the problem. This also leads to talking about possible solutions.
When starting this unit, I found it difficult to find appropriate scenarios for the students to rate. They came up with a few on their own but typically do not think of the full range. you would be surprised at how much comes in as being a crisis.  I created 26 cards with written scenarios.  I added another four blank cards that if drawn the student would make up their own. The scenarios are ones that are common to students. I used  Ned’s head for drawing out cards.  Ned’s head is a good way to add humor to the situation and remind students that they may be  thinking and seeing from one perspective inside their head. They can step out to see another perspective and problem solve.  Here are a sample of the cards.  You can down load them and test them out by clicking the button below.

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You can reach the the full set by clicking the button below.

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Bad Thing, Good Thing; It is the perspective you take..

13 May

badthinggoodthingcoverjpgI imagine some of you are wrapping up your school year and ready for a break.  We still have 4 weeks to go here.  I am still doing lesson planning in the middle of all those end of the year IEPs and progress reports.  I can’t help thinking about last year’s contract negotiation issues which caused an unplanned for week off.  This year is going much better.  Looking at the bright side, I developed some strong relationships with my fellow teachers with all that walking.  It paid off in my interactions this school year.  This got me thinking about how bad things often have a silver lining, and how that carries us through to a better future.   My inflexible thinkers often have difficulty seeing this possibility and have difficulty making a recovery when things go badly.  It may be one of the most important life skills  to develop.  If you are using a Social Thinking Curriculum by Michelle Garcia Winner,, it fits in well with determining  “The size of the problem.”

I decided to address this ability to turn a bad thing into a good thing more directly. We’ve been using cards I made called “Bad Thing Good Thing’.  I started using them with my 3rd and 4th graders who are part of a social skills group. That was tough.  The inability to think flexibly was very apparent and they needed a lot of prompting to think otherwise.  The 5th grader did better.  I was worried that I might have created something too difficult for the age range so I brought them out for my articulation students working on sounds in conversational speech.  The 3rd graders through 5th graders were able to do them without prompting and pretty automatically.  I concluded that these cards were very telling about a deficit area.

I am putting the full set of 32 cards on TPT.  You can reach it by clicking on the button at the top of the page.

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I am listing the first 11 cards here  Good Thing no. eleven cards.  I would love to get your feed- back on how they work for your students.