How To Implement More Than One Academic Focus Per Month

Looking at the yearly planning guide, the month of October has a lot in store! I love celebrating the different holidays from all cultures of our learners and their families. It adds some spice to our daily routines! Predictability and consistency is very important in easing anxiety in our classroom. When celebrating holidays, birthdays, and other special events, we only do for a minimal part of the day and we keep our normal rotation schedules. It is most important to give our learners what they need in order to be successful, and with that comes some environmental changes or calming stimuli. We have soft colors on anything on the walls, few distractions, soft sounds, rhythmic sounds, mild smells, access to less aversive tactile stimuli, and space for proprioceptive and vestibular input as needed. Along with a center based “class party”, the rest of our classroom stays the same so we don’t interrupt anyone’s day.

Along with an area of focus of pumpkins, Halloween, and all things Fall, my example from an October planning guide shows an academic focus of:

  • Nursery rhymes: if you’re happy and you know it, teddy bear teddy bear, humpty dumpty, and three little kittens
  • Letters of the month: P, N, K, E, C, H
  • Number of the month: 3
  • Color of the month: Orange
  • Shape of the month: Square
  • Core words: you, like, go
  • Social emotional skills: listening, asking for what you want, identifying your feelings
  • Life skills: washing your hands, matching clothing, get in line when your name is called
  • Social Game: musical chairs

Activity Ideas

Below are some activity ideas that are simple and easy to send home for carry over!

  • Numbers: Incorporate direction following by placing written numbers on the floor and giving directions to find them.
  • Letters: Pass out letters (uppercase or lowercase), and name a letter, asking for one to be held up. Also playing BINGO or I have, who has games are engaging and fun!
  • Color: Scavenger hunt around the classroom and outside. Find items that match the color focus and bring them all to the art table to make a collage.
  • Nursery rhymes: Mix up the words when identifying rhyming words and see if the learners can find the mistake.
  • Musical chairs: Implement the social and calming strategies that have been practiced. Help your learners initiate requests for help and more. Another fun activity is to point to the play button on the radio, look expectant, and say “do you want me to press play?”
  • Core words: Use visuals and focus on these words through all activities and transitions throughout the school day.


Incorporating Ideas Throughout The Day

I include these areas of focus throughout the entire day. This adds more practice, opportunities to explore, exposure, and adding to intrinsic motivation. I enjoy having a “what we are learning” bulletin board in the classroom to use as a reference, and teaching material. Some of my favorite tools that I have made and gathered throughout the years are from Especially Education and The Autism Helper. These resources lend themselves to be useful for many areas of focus!

Large and small group:

1:1 direct teaching time:

Other centers: art, music, independent work, reading

Ways to celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way:


Have fun with teaching!


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