Autism Classroom Tour
Welcome to my elementary Autism Classroom Tour, where the magic happens! Here you’ll find me spending most of my days, hanging out with tiny humans bringing me joy and never ceasing to amaze me! It really is my home away from home. Does anyone else ever feel like you’re living at school? I have spent a lot of time (and a lot of money) on my classroom, making it as functional as possible for my students.
The makeup of my Autism Classroom
My second home, or Kaluger’s Koyotes as we are known on campus, is a special education day class for the moderate/severe Autism population. I currently teach the grades Transitional Kindergarten (TK) and Kindergarten. I have a total of 10 students, which is actually our maximum amount of students if you can believe that! The ratio for our program is 2:1 and I have 4 paraprofessionals. In total, there are 5 adults and 10 students (3 girls and 7 boys). I am loving having so many girls this year!
I just love my classroom door; it’s a real conversation piece around the school! My school really is all inclusive – it doesn’t hurt that our admin comes from a sped background! As we are a peanut and tree nut free classroom, I am always making sure that information is clearly labeled so anyone entering is aware. We also use baby gates in our doorways, this is the first school district I’ve seen that uses them in an Autism classroom and can I just take a moment to say how amazing they work?!
Classroom Canine Companion
I’ve also hung a picture of my facility dog, Connie! I know that not everyone is a fan of dogs, so I like for people to know the classroom is home to my four-legged assistant before they enter. Canine Companions facility dogs are highly trained and trustworthy dogs partnered with a professional facilitator who is directly serving clients with special needs. She knows over 40 commands!
Inside My Autism Classroom
Colored dots on the floor are the first thing you see when entering my Autism classroom. These dots are velcro (hurray for no more ruining the carpet with tape!) which my students use as markers for lining up. (you can find them here! affiliate link)
Next, you will see a kidney table that students use for centers and whole group. The 3-drawer organizer next to the table holds writing utensils, reading and math curriculum. The letters of the alphabet and ten frames hang on the walls.
You’ll notice my standing desk (affiliate link) tucked in the back of the room (a highly recommended accessory for a teacher always on the move!). If you’re a teacher you know sometimes there is no time to sit!
You may also notice the dog crate in the corner- that’s where Connie takes her much-needed and hard-earned breaks throughout the day! Inside is a soft bed and a waterproof mat that holds her water dish. I left her water on the carpet at first but quickly learned my mistake as soon as one of my students dumped it out all over the floor! Hanging on her crate is a visual that says “Dog on break, do not touch”. Next to her crate is a laundry basket that has a tug strap attached. She is able to pull the basket backwards across the room!
Turning right, you’ll see the students’ cubbies. When they arrive, the students place their lunches in their cubby and hang up their backpack! You may also notice our Autism classroom rules, along with blue cubbies, for items or work that get sent home.
These visuals hang near the cubbies. A backpack routine and a CORE board are visible for students to access if needed. Similar visuals can be found here.
When entering through the front door and turning left you will see quite a few things! First, you might notice an orange button- this has a bathroom icon and when pressed says, “Bathroom.” A few of my non-verbal students use this to request a potty break.
Another set of cubbies holds manipulatives for our “morning tub” activity. This is the very first activity that my students do each day. You will also notice a birthday wall and word wall. The words that I use and focus on are functional (ie go, eat, more). You might also notice the clipboards hanging, which are used for data collection. You’ll also notice one of our center tables! I have multiple visuals hanging too, you know those are always needed FAST!
On the front of the cabinet that holds my data collection clipboards I have all staff listed (usually I have pictures of students under each name) which is used to know who will take data on what student. I also have more visuals and token boards for easy access. If you know, you know!!
What Exactly is a Calm Corner?
Continue walking right and you will see my “calm corner”. Students use this when they need a break or a quiet place to calm down. Sometimes, adults prompt them to go sit and other times they know when they need to go calm down and they go independently. I have found this space to be essential in an Autism classroom. Some items that might be helpful to students are: fidgets, sequin pillows, weighted blanket, and an egg chair.
Adjacent to the calm down corner is our circle time spot. We do calendar and the whole group follows directions here. Different seating options include cube chairs (affiliate link), regular chairs and floor cushions. Students are able to choose where they’d like to sit within this circle.
The numbered balloons on the wall are used near the end of the year as a countdown to wonderful summer vacation! Students pop one a day and inside is a picture icon of a surprise activity. Surprisingly, they really love popping the balloons.
As you can probably notice, I think students thrive off clear, defined locations. Furniture partitions various areas of my classroom.
This next area is my play center. When students have free choice, they may go and choose any item. Students remain in this clearly defined area. There are a variety of toys and items for the students to choose from. The door that you see leads to the upper grade structured Autism classroom.
If you keep turning (are you dizzy yet?) you will see another center table and my “teacher area”. I have a small table to help block off the area. It hold crates containing file folders and curriculum.
Next to my standing desk you will see the dog crate, filling cabinet, fridge and microwave. The kidney table is in front of white boards that hold the classroom schedule, staff breaks, and important information listed. If you are wondering what the blue covers are on the lights they are light filters! It really helps make those florescent lights less bothersome!
Here is my daily schedule! I split my class for part of the day so that it is more manageable. I reference the schedule multiple times a day until they have learned our routine. Depending on student need, I will refer to it more often or make individual schedules. I rely heavily on using timers as well!
Making a full circle brings us to this view of the front of my classroom. On the very top of my whiteboard rest tubs for each month with my monthly activities. Behind the white boards I have quite the collection of manipluatives, puzzles, and games!
I hope you enjoyed touring my Kindergarten Autism classroom. What questions do you have?