Learning at Crossroads

March 20, 2023

11 classrooms, 6 therapy departments including a clinic, a handful of offices, 90 something team members, and more than 100 students and their families – clearly there’s no one story here at Crossroads Center for Children. Indeed we have a myriad of stories, which are woven together and grow to make a whole series and all with a common theme of learning skills that are socially significant in the world we are in.

This blog spot will cover all sorts of stories of learning from around the building. We’ll show you groups and one-to-one sessions here, and you’ll get to know us.

Outing to Rotterdam Library | 3.20.23

We’re blessed to have great neighbors in this location, one being the Rotterdam Library. It is literally just a driveway away. In the past, classrooms took turns going over for a reading time, but that ended with Covid … until recently. The library offers a read and play session for the community, and some of our classes have been interested in going to those. Room 3’s story was shared below, and this time we have a chance to see what Room 4 did when they went.


Dinosaur Dig | 3.9.23

As promised (below) we have an update on the dinosaur dig. This class set their dinosaurs free this morning, with such care and concentration and pride. They learned a great deal about changing states of matter, dinosaurs, fossils, and perseverance this week.


Dinosaurs & Ooblick | 3.8.23

It’s not every day that you get to dig for dinosaurs, but this week, Room 4 has been doing just that.

This week, learning all about dinosaurs, the class of 3-4 year olds has engaged in all manner of activities. The big favorite, though, has been this one.

Students made ooblick, a science activity in and of itself. Mixing cornstarch and water is fun, and playing with the constantly changing consistency can keep kiddos absorbed for quite a while. Here’s a great recipe for making ooblick at home: https://kinderart.com/art-lessons/crafts/ooblick-recipe/

They made it on the thick side, too, so that it would dry. Into a cup of ooblick, they stuck little plastic dinosaurs, and then let the “fossil” dry.

We’ll be back with more pictures to show you their dig!



Library Outings| 3.6.23

Our proximity to the Rotterdam Library has allowed for many collaborations over the years, and recently, Room 3 has been joining a community story time there. After a story with other children who are present with their parents, our students have the opportunity to participate in crafts and play with their new friends.



100th Day of School | 2.10.23

This week classes have been celebrating the 100th day of school by counting out hundreds of things. Here we get to see Room 4 students posing in front of the door they made and decorated, and wearing tee shirts they made. The students’ shirts feature 100 fingers, and we love the teachers’ shimmer shirts also!

Our Art blogspot has some of the projects showing up around the school, so head that way for more. Room 4

Individual Instruction | 1.22.23

When a concept or skill is only presented in a generalized way, or when concepts are assumed to be grasped through incidental learning, frequently students such as ours experience difficulty to the point of tuning out and engaging in non-preferred ways.  One of the fundamental ways that children learn in an ABA setting is by individualizing the child’s goals into SETS and STEPS. Breaking the skill down in this way allows it to be more manageable as well as more measurable. Since Discrete trial training sessions , also referred to as “DTT” sessions, are conducted in our classrooms and therapy settings. 

Today we are able to peek in on Room 13 as they work in DTT. Each child has his own “room” within the room, to allow for full focus and attention by the team member. Students are working on their own goals without interference from others at this time, while at other times they work together in groups. From sight words, to reading, puzzle completion to object identification, everyone’s goals are presented in a systematic way to ensure progress that is real, measurable and consistent.

Math Group | 1.18.23

You love to see children making progress; that’s why you’re here. So today we want to talk about how each student’s program is set up individually for him or her. Individualized to meet the goals they need to achieve. Highly specialized to his interests and abilities, and to her challenges and past let-downs.

Checking in with Room 6, you might not realize it at first, but the kiddos in this group have incredibly diverse goals and needs. Yet, their team has created a group where everyone is working on what they need to, all together, and at everyone’s best working pace.

Using the Learning Without Tears number books that we obtained through grants at the start of the year, along with supplemental pieces that are further reinforcing, students are working on number recognition, counting, handwriting numerals, and so on.

Play breaks are built in sand rotated so that every child has some individual attention to work on the curricular tasks. What a great system, and one that leads to progress for every child.

Centered on Centers. | 1.13.23

Today we want to show you some centers that work. Room 5 employs centers daily as a way to engage students in multiple modalities of learning, and connecting diverse subject matters via different activities and interests.

In one center, we find students engaged in an art project that also bridges to science experimentation, and weather concepts. They are painting salt relief snowflakes, discovering that the watercolor is quickly absorbed and travels the length of the arms of the snowflakes they built yesterday. At the same, they consider that snowflakes are part of the winter season’s regular weather, that snow is a form of precipitation, and that the flakes are unique.

The next center gives students practice with counting, using tongs to exercise fine motor muscles, and reinforcing prior knowledge of appropriate clothing for the weather. The cards that have the numbers that they are counting the snowballs onto are mittens, and the task is to make a group of snowballs to correctly match the number on the mittens.

In the final center, students are playing a matching card game with rhymes. Students respond to the card that matches the teacher’s then practice the rhymes shown.

These kiddos have come so far this year in being center participants. They are able to engage in short, 8 or 9 minute activities, then move to the next center when it’s time to transition. They practice being members of a group, and participating in group goals and problem-solving. Getting along within a smaller group than the full class is sometimes a challenge that can also be addressed. Awesome job, Room 5!

Already at Work! | 1.3.23 9:30 am

It’s the first day back to school after the holiday break, and students are already back to working on goals. Here in Room 3, educators and students are working on individual goals! Data will show any regression of skills over the more than one week stretch, and the team will work on changes in approach to support those dips. Likewise, any growth over the break, typically attributed to time spent working on goals at home, will be noted in the data, and changes will be made to support those bumps. It appears that the reinforcer of choice this morning is bubbles!
It’s great to see the class so focused, refreshed and ready for making progress!

Learning Without Tears 12.2.22

You might remember that we are avid enthusiasts of Learning Without Tears here, and that a recent grant from Broadview FCU supported many of this year’s LWT materials for our classrooms. It was nice to recently catch students in Room 11 using their new materials, and to see the kids engaging so nicely with their learning experience.

Making Sets to Match Numbers – 10.5.22

Once a student masters skills such as identifying numerals on request, naming them, counting 1-10 (and higher), and counting objects, an important skill to know is how to make a set of objects to match  a number. This Room 14 group is doing just that.

The bucket in the center of the table is filed with laminated crayons – these are also of different colors so can be used for color matching, labeling and identifying as well as counting. There are also laminated crayon boxes, each with a numeral on it. Given a crayon box, students are counting out the crayons to put into their box.

This enjoyable activity with high-interest materials is one way these students are learning and practicing the skill.

Shape Recognition – 9.29.22

Concept goals, like recognizing shapes by name, are a lot of what we work on, and in Room 7, a preschool room, several students are learning their shapes.

Here a student is working with Mrs. Jacqueline. You will notice that she is using toys to work with him on this goal; this is a great way to keep a child’s interest and make the “work” fun. She asks him to find a particular shape, naming it, and when he does, he’s reinforced by putting the shape into its spot on the shape sorter.

Read Aloud with Early Journaling Activity – 8.5.22

It’s the end of the school day at Crossroads, and students in Room 6 have had a busy week. At this moment, Mrs. Jenn is reading a book to the class, while they work on early literacy activities that complement the story.

“N”, “E” and “B” draw on white boards about what they are hearing, while “R” puts letters and numbers in order along with the story’s characters. “L” likes to point to the pictures as Jenn reads about them. All have their snack available or finished; it is the end of the day and they need a tad of fuel.



Camping Day – 7.29.22

Students in Room 8 have a day of camping out today, with a tent, fishing, and even a (stuffed) campfire. What a fun way to practice something that many families will do this summer, and prepare for the types of activities of camping. And for some, what a great way to experience something new, and come to understand the concept of what camping is like.

5.30.22 Pattern Activity

Each child has a pattern board, a laminated sheet with three different pattern rows and Velcro pieces to complete the patterns that are started in each row.

Learning to recognize and repeat patterns is an important skill for literacy, mathematics and science, and children in Room 5 have increased the complexity of their pattern abilities across the school year. Something to be proud of for certain!

Literacy Groups – 5.9.22

We all know the story of Goldilocks and the  Three Bears, right? When you ponder all of the concepts that are woven into the fabric of this beloved story, it’s surely incredible. We have counting, sizes, spaces, colors, animals, safety- the list goes on and on.

Here we have a group of friends in Room 7 being read the story with an adorable copy of The Three Bears which is interactive, with doors and pop-outs, and things for little fingers to do.

By the way, if you get a chance to review the history of the story, it has changed ever so much from what it was when first written in 1837.

One-to-one Sessions – 4.25.22

One of the best tools for teaching children with special needs is discrete trial instruction, an Applied Behavior Analysis strategy which breaks a given skill down into its more manageable sets and steps for the child in an individualized manner. It is the way we work with the majority of our students with IEPs and, evidenced by extensive research, has been accepted as an effective way to teach children with autism. Once the skill is solid in a one-to-one format session, it will gradually be generalized, meaning that his materials, the people delivering the instruction, the setting, and even how to state the instruction or ask the question will all be changed one aspect at a time, until the skill is truly mastered.

Here we have Room 6‘s Ms. Jenn with “L” a youngster, who is learning to group objects to a number using this method, and doing well. You can also see how the teachers here keep students’ materials organized and ready to go with work buckets holding materials and reinforcers and a binder with all of the goals and data sheets. It’s a lot of work to keep the data graphed and the sets & steps up to date with what the team has decided during their analysis meetings, but it is what works for our students.

Matching Binders-3.16.22

For a child who, with staff support, has learned to match – letters, pictures, shapes, etc. – and is ready for a greater level of independence, these binders are amazing. The learner removes the pieces, connected with Velcro, mixes them up on the table, and then matches. They can work together in pairs, or by themselves, and flip to the next page after each is completed.

Centers and Transitions – 1.27.22

Centers are part of every classroom at a different level, but in Room 5, this year’s group is already doing a great job with transitioning from one table and activity to the next when the teacher gives a verbal direction.

Here are recent centers in the classroom. One features building with sticks and connectors, clearly challenging and interesting work. The other table is for handwriting practice, coloring, and stickering. Room 5 has come so far already this year in being able to transition and attend to the work at hand.

1.13.22 LWT

We’ve been using the Learning Without Tears program as a foundation of our curriculum here at Crossroads for years. How many exactly is questionable since some teachers were already using pieces of LWT before the school adopted the curriculum to use in all classrooms back in 2014.

Each year, each teacher and Occupational Therapist requests the materials needed for the class for the year from LWT and our other curricular programs. One of the mainstays for everyone is the “My First School Books”, which have come to be known as “the green books” by team members here. Grants and donations provide Crossroads with the means to access these wonderful items for our children and we are thankful for these and all grants and gifts we receive.

Here is a group of work products from Room 3, depicting some beautiful recent progress in their green books this year. As you can see, the children work on handwriting in straight and curved lines, following directions, connecting phonics with letters, upper and lower case, sight words, and counting in these books. 

Awesome job, kids, and thank you again to all who donate to Crossroads!

12.1.21 A-Z

One of the many specialties of our teachers and therapists is planning activities that are highly motivating to their students and target the goals each is working on. Here we have Room 4 students posing with a recent project that did just that.

You see, the children in this room are working on letters of the alphabet in various degrees: identifying them, labeling them, letter sounds, sequencing the letters, reciting the alphabet, and so on. At the same time, working on puzzles is a skill that needs practice, also in varying numbers of pieces.

They are pretty proud of their finished product!

Please leave a comment to let them know how you like it!

11.4.21 Construction Theme

Talk about integrating lots of skills into a wonderful theme, here’s a quote and gallery submitted by Katie, Room 2‘s (The Toddler Room) Teacher.

This week, we have been talking all about construction and the kids are LOVING it! The kids have been learning how there are special vehicles like bulldozers and diggers, how they can build things or take them down. In one of our group activities, we used play-doh and golf tees to practice fine motor skills. We talked about how the golf tees could poke holes with the tip or if used sideways could make lines. Another activity we did was with the large foam blocks. We build walls and then knocked them over just like construction workers.

— Katie Schwartz, Room 2 Teacher


10.7.21 Read Aloud

Research shows that the more children are read to, the more words they’ll know. Makes sense, right?

One article https://www.mother.ly/kids-who-are-read-to-hear-a-million-more-words-by-kindergarten stated that a child who is read to daily will have heard 296,660 words by the time he/she turns 5. They went on to cite a recent study published in the Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics that found that kids who were read five books a day start kindergarten having heard more than a million more words than children whose parents don’t read to them.

At Crossroads, teachers know that reading to children is an essential part of their education. Spending parts of the day immersed in books clearly only boosts their literacy and communication skills.

Here we get to see Room 1 in a read-aloud that Mrs. Kathy, teacher is facilitating. Not only are the kids sitting terrifically, but they are taking in pictures and words, and associating words and pictures with each other.

9.22.21 Playdoh Table

Where there’s playdoh, there’s fun! But not just fun. Learning too.

Kids with playdoh are exercising their fine motor skills as they push, press, roll, and pinch the dough and use the utensils that come with it. Additionally, they are problem-solving, and engineering as they design what they are creating in their mind’s eye.

One of our favorite things about playdoh, though, is that it gives a rich sensory experience to children, in color, smell, and texture, and the senses are part of Science. For the great majority of our students, subjects need to be hands-on and active, making this sort of activity a meaningful way to connect conversations about how something feels, looks and smells.

Room 3, shown here, is certainly enjoying their playdoh time!

Read past stories about Science below!

Science in Mind.

9.16.21 Early Writing

Crossroads students range in age and in skills. When it comes to writing, many are just now beginning to learn to hold a utensil and to make marks on a surface. While some students receive Occupational Therapy as an IEP service, all students practice early writing or writing skills in their classrooms. Teachers and Teaching Assistants engage students in fun activities in which the children can work on skills like holding a writing tool, making a mark, making specific lines and curves, writing letters and numbers, and eventually writing words. Names, sentences, paragraphs, and essays come along with much practice and time.

Here’s a group in Room 6 enjoying chalkboards from our Learning Without Tears Curriculum.

9.8.21 Morning Routines

After arrival, each classroom has a specific routine, allowing students to learn the expectations of the teachers and of school in general, as well as how to perform the various skills that are chained into that routine. Most classes go to their classrooms, then unpack and put their belongings into their own cubbies. Most then have students go to their desks or tables for an activity that is similar enough every day for students to know what is coming and develop a bit of independence. For some that activity is Snack Time, for others, morning work gets the day off on the right track, for others there are play centers to start the morning and for plenty, morning ADLs (activities of daily living) are the first step towards a successful day.

Today we can glimpse students back from summer break falling quickly into routines in Room 13 and Room 14.  We can see children engaging in all of the above.

Students receive support when needed, and team members will also teach and maximize opportunities for growth and independence by refraining from over-assisting students with tasks they have demonstrated the ability to perform partially or wholly independently.

It’s amazing to think that this is just the first of a whole school year full of days. So much potential and so much to learn. We are excited in every part of our organization about what will be accomplished this year.

9.1.21 Circle Time

Today’s story is from Room 2. This is our “Toddler Room,” a classroom for kiddos just 18 months and up. Ms. Katie is teaching them to participate in a Circle Time. Circle Time is something that is part of every classroom’s day, not just at Crossroads but in most elementary schools, where students practice assorted skills such as those associated with the calendar, weather, pledge of allegiance, and getting to know each other. Today’s lesson included learning some new words of things; Katie is showing the children a tile with a picture and a word, and asking them to say the word with her. The tiles are from the Learning Without Tears curriculum which is utilized across our school program. Over the course of the year, we will see lots of growth in the words students can use functionally. She is also starting off circle time with a mutually enjoyed toy since children as young as this are not expected to sit at length to attend to a teacher.

Check out our circle time blogs from the archives:





8.19.21 We Love Books!

One of the most awesome feelings on earth, at least for those of us in education, is the satisfaction and pride of seeing your students growing and knowing you played a part. So it’s not surprising that this picture was sent from Room 14 with exclamation points and the explanation that after playing board games, the students in this group were given time to choose whatever they wanted to do as a free leisure activity, and they chose to read.

Warms your heart, doesn’t it?

7.16.21 A Walk to the Library

The Rotterdam Library has a new display going on, and it’s not only outdoors but interactive. They’ve made and displayed a sidewalk long stroll called a story walk. It’s pretty awesome.

This week, Room 6 decided to take a walk over to the story walk, since the library is right on our grounds, in the same industrial park.

For many of our kiddos, outings present challenges. One of the biggest concerns for our parents is safety when they have to go anywhere. So it’s something team members address in the ways they can, and one way is by going for walks with the group, learning rules for staying with a group or with your adult, learning the traffic signs and other community signs, learning to stay safe during different scenarios, and so on. Often classes are seen taking walks around our parking lot, which is a great start. Some classes have walked to the local park or Boys & Girls Club. Most classes have walked to the Library, where we even had monthly visit times arranged for a storytime, pre-covid. Learning the skills along the way isn’t always simple, and there are always times when a class has to turn back due to the challenges or to work through difficulties en route.

So you can see how proud we are when a group gets to the point where they can have a successful outing with all hands on deck happy and safe. The class enjoyed the display and also rested in the shade of the outdoor stone gathering space with cups of water.

6.10.21 Eric Carle

Eric Carle was an American-German author, designer and illustrator of children’s books. His picture book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, first published in 1969, has been translated into more than 66 languages and sold more than 50 million copies.

— Wikipedia
BornJune 25, 1929, Syracuse, NY
DiedMay 23, 2021, Northampton, MA

Room 8 has been spending time honoring the late Eric Carle, with an Eric Carle books unit. They’ve read as many books as they could get their hands on, including the world-acclaimed and beloved The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and Brown Bear, Brown Bear. On this occasion, a visit to the classroom gave an opportunity to engage with a group practicing colors and counting using the animals from Brown Bear and m&m counters. Students had to match the color m&m to the animal, name the color, count the m&ms, and hardest for everyone, wait until the teachers direction to eat them. Meanwhile in other parts of the room, other students had their turns to work individually with teachers and therapists.

4.1.2021 Mat Man

Mat Man is a friendly hero from Learning Without Tears (LWT) who loves learning and hands-on activities. Our school uses the LWT curriculum and we love it. Here in Room 2, students are making Mat Man with the wooden lines that are in the kits each class has.

Here’s a link to find lots of Mat Man resources from LWT: https://www.lwtears.com/search?s=mat+man

3.29.2021 Reading Comprehension.

Reading comprehension is the ability to process text, understand its meaning, and to integrate with what the reader already knows.

— Wikipedia

Today we see a small group in Room 11 working on the important skill of Reading Comprehension. The students have a print text with several pages. They read the booklet together, and then go through page by page to discuss the questions and then answer in writing. Teaching Assistants provide one-to-one support for the students as they work through the lesson. When complete each learner will be able to bring home a book that he has both read and written!

3.10.2021 Labeling colors.

What’s important about learning skills of any time is that you can eventually learn to perform them in any environment, with any person, not just in a discrete one-to-one setting, and not just with one or two people asking. This phase of learning is called “generalization,” and is strived for to the greatest extent appropriate for each learner.

Here is “O” with Ms. Logan, as they practice colors while waiting for the bathroom. He finds a lot of GREEN in this hallway, as some of the office doors are decorated for St. Patrick’s Day. He’s so proud to not only find something green to show Logan, but also to label it!

3.3.2021 Learning is what we do best, Room 2.

When you are learning to count, it’s fun to use objects and pictures. One-to-one correspondence here shows up as one block for each animal; at snack time, this practice will translate to one snack for each student, and at art time, one brush for each painter.

Similarly, R, E, and N here are having a go at matching letter magnets to picture tiles to match the beginning sounds. They are also using straight and curved wooden lines to build letters.


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