Today I decided to take advantage of the children’s creativity and curiosity. I am reinforcing math skills by developing a secret code. We sat in a circle with math manipulative s. I carved potato stampers with various numbers on them. I put up a chart. The accompanying letter for each number was placed on the chart.

Each child was asked a question. They would enter the center of the circle and solve the math problem. The majority of the children tackled this activity with great fervor. The thought of using the potato stampers caused the children to forget the mundane task of solving the math problem. It was seen as a game. As a math problem was solved, the children collected their secret potato stamp number that corresponded with the alpha answer. The thought of making secret codes with their coveted numbers caused an air of excitement in the room. Children are naturally curious. If a curriculum is developed with this curiosity factor taken into account the children naturally want to participate.

As is common in terms of my mode of thinking, this lesson had multiple goals, the children were learning how to use math manipulative s and problem solve. The use of the coveted potato  stampers merely served as a reward for their efforts. It was a carrot on a stick. If they reached and strive high enough they could earn the carrot. Once the math project was complete, the children used their potato stamper numbers to make code words. Obviously a literacy lesson had been secretly blended in. What we see is not what always meets the eye. This project possessed more depth than was visibly possible. A lesson in logical abstract thinking is present. In order to spell secret words, the children had to decipher the letter and numeric companion on the wall chart to comprehend its secret meaning. I wanted to boost class room climate and enthusiasm. The children wore homemade pirate hats and patches crafted from construction paper. The project seemed more exciting due to the environment that was present.

We ended the project with a treasure hunt for gold. (Foil covered chocolate coins) hidden about the classroom and playground. The children had developed a new skill. I had used a child’s natural curiosity to my benefit. Eureka, the day was a productive success!


Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9




     I am sitting back and searching the cobwebs of my mind for the earliest memories of reading capabilities.  The memory banks of my brain afford me memories from approximately the age of five years old. My mind does not provide me with memories of personal reading development before I entered kindergarten. Recollections of learning to read are non existent. I entered kindergarten with a love of books already embedded in my very being, Initially, I was an avid reader. At the age of five, independent reading was my forte. I was the textbook example of a child who entered school as an enthusiastic advanced reader. Negative experiences would soon change my perception of literature.

     Parents and teachers tend to place demands on early readers. The child can become a showpiece. It is human nature for a parent or teacher to push a child to excel. As in my case, this can have deleterious effects. I was capable of reading simple story books independently in kindergarten. Dr. Seuss books were a source of enjoyment for me. Whenever I brought a Dr. Seuss book home from the school library, my mother would force me to return it. I was pushed to read more advanced books. Dr. Seuss books were deemed as below my reading level within the home. What was neglected was my cognitive level. Without question, my reading skills were advanced. I was only five years old however. Dr. Seuss was age appropriate for my developmental level.

    I was born in August. This placed me in the youngest age group within my kindergarten class. My innate need to appease my mother and my love of simpler books caused me to devise a secret plan. The simpler books would remain at school in my desk. My mother never caught on.  In first grade my level of fluency increased. Nancy drew chapter books were the norm for me. They were devoured by my six year old mind. Many hours were spent in my bedroom reading Nancy Drew. One setback caused irritation for me. My mother would quiz me on the plots of the books I had completed. At the ripe old age of six, I had mastered the comprehension of plots. My mother was so absorbed in pushing me to hone my skills that she had once again forgotten that I was a small child.

          Second grade was the year that I began hiding my skills. Too much attention and pressure was placed on my young developing mind. The five year old who had displayed pride in reading skills became the seven year old who hid them. I completed the whole S. R. A. box by mid year. My second grade teacher perceived me as a novelty. She would call in the fifth grade teacher and have me read fifth grade S. R. A. cards out loud. This attracted the attention of other children in my class. The attention was not positive.  When other children struggled with reading passages, the teacher would call on me to read out loud for the struggling child. I grew to abhor my second grade teacher.

     Although I was an avid reader, I suffered from severe speech impairment. My speech impairment was described as a watery s. I spent six years of elementary school in speech therapy. By junior high, my speech impairment was a memory. The damage to my self esteem was not. The children in my second grade class had lashed back at me by naming me slurpy Sue the teachers pet. Playground scuffles ensued as a result. My resolution was to pretend that I was a struggling reader so the children would cease their relentless teasing. I would publicly ask the teacher to decipher a word for me. I always made sure the children were in earshot. My rationale was that if they saw me getting reading help I would be accepted as one of the guys.

    Another ploy was to play the part of classroom comedian. The negative class room climate had thwarted my love of reading. If more sensitivity for my developmental level and speech impairment been exercised by the teacher, I would have flourished. My perception of second grade was threatening. The teacher was not a safe person for me to share my skills with. I would continue to be a class clown until high school. Reading continued to provide me enjoyment. I became a closet reader for the majority of my school career.

Mari Nosal, M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9




 It takes a village to raise a child. With the popularity of mainstreaming in today’s society, this phrase has taken on a new meaning. Children with disabilities must be successfully included in a classroom with their non disabled peers. These children can succeed, and learn life long compensatory strategies. The teachers, parents, and community will be the deciding factor in terms of positive or deleterious outcomes.

     Students with disabilities can feel socially isolated. Strategies that can minimize this problem abound. After school programs can assimilate children into every day social situations. Teachers should take time to teach non disabled students to respect children who are different than what they perceive. Holding class meetings where kids express themselves is an opportune time to foster understanding.  I did this each Friday with structured chats. Teaching social skills to the entire class during this time-frame is extremely effective.

     Parents play an instrumental role in the process of building self efficacy, incorporating parent trainings, web sites for communication between the parent and school, open door policy in the classroom, phone calls, and daily updates between the school and parent. Ensure that parents of every economic level are included in the learning process.     Classroom Climate is the deciding factor of success or failure. Mainstreaming can minimize friction, and social isolation. For disabled children to live cohesively among their peers, teachers must be prepared to see each child as an individual, be free of bias, thus not instilling the self fulfillment prophecy, and last but not least, envision each child as having talents that can make a positive contribution to the class.

   As educators, emphasis should be on envisioning each and every child as a future contributor to our world. Their positive outcome necessitates our working together as a cohesive unit with a united goal. That goal is a human being whose future well being rests in the palm of our hand. Their assimilation to society can be positive. Teachers, parents, and the community, will be the deciding factor.

Mari Nosal M.Ed., CECE

Mari Nosal : Please stop by my site at Amazon Books and check out my published books on autism aspergers special needs and more   http://tinyurl.com/kdspqy9


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