Learning at Crossroads

November 08, 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.

We understand that the work we do can be challenging at times, but we are dedicated to helping the kids we serve reach their full potential. Every child is unique, and we recognize that their progress may not always be linear or immediate. However, we believe that with our highly individualized programming, combined with patience, persistence, and compassion we can make a real difference in their lives. We are committed to providing the highest quality care and services, and we are constantly working to improve and innovate. Our passion for helping kids is what drives us every day, and we are grateful for the opportunity to make a positive impact in their lives.

This blog spot covers 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.

Individualized Education | 11.1.23

Step into Room 14, and see the impact of individuallized programming. Here, a remarkable group of kindergarten and first-grade students embarks on a learning journey together but with individualized tracks. The classroom is alive with activity, as each child diligently tackles their unique tasks, and the ratio of teacher-to-student attention is nothing short of extraordinary.

In this welcoming and supportive setting, every child’s needs are met with precision and care. The teachers, with their unwavering dedication, provide constant support, adapting to each student’s pace, strengths, and challenges. It’s a symphony of one-on-one attention, where personalized education takes center stage.


A Budding Artist | 10.17.23

In Room 13, a young boy “A”  has embarked on a journey of creativity and self-expression that goes beyond the ordinary. Not only has he mastered the art of writing his own name and the alphabet, but he has also blossomed into a budding artist.

Using dry erase markers and board, and his iPad, he’s been creating drawings from his memory. This young artist has discovered the transformative power of drasing, and his team is excited to see him coming out of his shell through his new-found talent.

A Space for Solace | 10.6.23

In the hustle and bustle of the classroom, there’s a special corner in the hallway where K, a Room 11 student has found an occasional oasis. After a thoughtful request to work in a quieter spot, she gets started on the carpeted floor, away from the noise of her peers. K’s determination and resilience are visible as she tackles her work with a smile.

More frequently, K works in her classroom and joins in groups with enjoyment. Yet, there are times of course when the classroom gets noisy, and she has learned to ask for what she needs. This is a great thing for any of our students to learn.

In the more tranquil hallway, she’s found the perfect environment to focus on her tasks, and the carpet beneath her feet seems to absorb not only the noise but also any obstacles in her way. Her ability to self-advocate for the ideal learning space is a testament to her growing self-awareness and communication skills.

As she happily engages in her work, she even takes a moment to flash a delightful “cheese” when approached for a picture, showcasing her growing confidence and comfort in her educational journey.

Individualized Work Sessions | 9.12.23

Imagine a typical morning in Room 12. The air carries a sense of purpose as students sit with educators for their individualized work sessions.

In this room, like others at Crossroads, magic happens through a method known as discrete trial instruction, a teaching strategy that has proven to be a game-changer for children, especially those who are diagnosed with autism. It’s like breaking down a complex puzzle into smaller, more manageable pieces.

The teaching team knows that, for these students, this is not just another lesson but a chance to conquer skills they’ve been working on tirelessly. Work buckets filled with colorful, interesting materials that are created individually for each child. Powerful reinforcers are present, encouraging students to stick with the work; each child working for something different, something he or she has chosen to work for.  Binders are open, filled with meticulously detailed goals and data sheets. They are treasure troves of progress, capturing the milestones each child has achieved and those still being worked on. Every session is a symphony of patience and dedication by both students and educators alike.

But what makes this method truly remarkable is the gradual transition from one-to-one instruction to the broader world. As a student’s confidence and accuracy grow, his skill isn’t just confined to this room. It’s generalized. First, it’s a different setting – maybe the playground or a hallway. Then, it’s a new face delivering the instruction, like another staff member in the building, or even a peer, or a visitor. The skill becomes a part of the child’s daily life, seamlessly integrated into the fabric of his experiences.

In the background, the team meets regularly, analyzing data and tweaking the sets and steps to ensure that progress is tailored to the unique needs of the students. It’s a labor of love and commitment, a testament to the unwavering belief that every child can shine.

So, here in room 12, amidst colorful buckets, binders filled with dreams, and the resilience of children like these, the magic of discrete trial instruction unfolds. It’s not just about teaching skills; it’s about empowering children to conquer their world, one step at a time.

 Pairing and Playing | 9.7.23

It’s the first week of school, and many children are new to Crossroads, many are new to school at all. Imagine going to a place you’ve never been, or maybe just once or twice. Imagine not having words, not knowing a single soul, not understanding what is happening in your day. You might feel overwhelmed with fear, worry, or sadness. If you did, you wouldn’t be alone.

While many of our students came in yesterday excited and happy to return to beloved teachers and friends, many others are new here. Almost all are in new classrooms and with at least some new adults and peers. It is a usually high stress time for our kiddos.

That’s why the first days are spent playing and pairing. Children find things they enjoy, and learn to pair those items and activities with the people in the room. Soon teachers will increase the level of the requests made on students, and offering those highly interesting objects and activities as reinforcers, so that work on goals can begin. For now the focus is on facilitating a transition to all that is new, in a palatable way.

Here are some pictures from the first few days of our Fall Session!

Out and About | 8.24.23

Our students don’t just learn only in the classroom, as you’ve read previously. Room 12’s trip out into the community last week, culminated their summer outings and celebrated all they’ve learned this summer with money exchange, communication, traffic signs, and more. Plus, they celebrated “L”‘s birthday! What could be more fun?

DEAR Time | 8.3.23

DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) Time is a widely practiced time in the day at many schools, and even has a national day in April marked for it. It’s usually a 10 minute period of reading, not sleeping, playing or anything else.

As we look into Room 3, who has recently started incorporating DEAR Time into the school day, we see how hard it can be for small children to understand the concept, let alone to do it! So, let’s look at what they will learn, why it’s worth the effort for Melissa and her team to work on.

In one year, the progress these children make in developing their ability to engage in DEAR time will already be making a significant difference in their lives. Firstly, their reading skills will have noticeably improved, enabling them to tackle more difficult texts and comprehend information with greater ease. This development of literacy skills for any level of “reader” will have a direct and positive impact on their academic and conceptual performance, boosting their confidence and enthusiasm in various subjects that require reading comprehension.

Moreover, the habit of DEAR time will have become ingrained in their daily routines, allowing them to dedicate quality time to reading regularly. As they immerse themselves in diverse genres and topics, they will start to develop individual preferences and interests, encouraging a sense of autonomy in their learning journey.

In just one year, the joy of reading will be evident in the children’s interactions with books, as they eagerly share their favorite stories with peers and educators. Their expanding knowledge and imagination will fuel a newfound passion for learning, inspiring them to explore beyond the classroom curriculum and seek knowledge independently.

The impact of DEAR time will extend beyond academic gains. By regularly engaging with literature, these children will strengthen their communication skills, expand their vocabulary, and develop their ability to articulate their thoughts and ideas effectively.

Furthermore, DEAR time will nurture a love for reading as a form of relaxation and entertainment, promoting healthy screen-free habits and encouraging mindfulness. This valuable respite from the pressures of daily life will instill a sense of balance and emotional well-being, empowering the children to cope with stress and emotions in a positive and constructive manner.

In the Community | 7/28/23

Room 12 has also been hitting the community, to work on life skills, communication skills, community skills and money skills. Yesterday, if you were in the Rotterdam McDonald’s you might have seen this amazing group there, choosing items from the menu, ordering from the servers, paying for their orders, and eating lunch together. We are intensely proud of this group for their hard work and all of the gains made.

“I am so proud of each and everyone of my students today! They did amazing!” ~Danielle Winning, Special Education Teacher, R.12

 Out and About | 7/28/23

It’s a big world out there, and we’re getting the kiddos that come to Crossroads ready for it, and it for THEM. Part of the reason summer is so great is that the weather makes it possible and practical for some of our classes to head out of our four walls into the community. This offers practice with community skills, communication skills, and all sorts of life skills.

We listened to the librarian read a story about fire fighters, talked about what fire fighters do, toured their truck, and talked with the fire fighters.

— McKenzie Hay, Special Ed Teacher R.4

Rooms 3 & 4, two preschool classrooms, had a great experience going to the Rotterdam library to see the firetruck. They were able to talk about community helpers – firefighters – and what they do – put out fires and save lives, and to see a real truck, up close, and all of its tools and gadgets. Additionally, they needed to follow safety instructions with their group, following traffic signs, such as STOP, walking in a crosswalk and staying with their group. What a wonderful experience that is preparing them for success in their lives.

Ocean Slime | 7/25/23

Creating sensory material can be fun and educational for kids, expanding sensory boundaries and generating science concepts. Recently Room 5 made Ocean Slime to compliment the Ocean theme they’ve been working on. While they simply used Dawn dish detergent and cornstarch, here’s another simple recipe for making ocean-themed slime:


  • 1 cup clear school glue
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon saline solution (containing sodium borate)
  • Blue food coloring
  • Glitter (optional, to mimic the shimmering ocean)


  1. In a mixing bowl, pour the clear school glue.
  2. Add a few drops of blue food coloring to the glue. Adjust the amount of food coloring to achieve your desired shade of ocean blue.
  3. Stir the food coloring into the glue until it’s evenly distributed.
  4. If you want to add some sparkle to your ocean slime, sprinkle in a pinch of glitter and mix it well with the colored glue. This step is optional but can make your slime look like it has ocean sparkles.
  5. Add the baking soda to the glue mixture and mix thoroughly. The baking soda helps create the slime’s desired texture.
  6. Now, it’s time to activate the slime. Add the saline solution to the bowl gradually, mixing as you pour. Keep stirring until the slime starts to form and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  7. Knead the slime with your hands until it becomes smooth and less sticky. If the slime is still too sticky, you can add a few more drops of saline solution and continue kneading.
  8. Once you achieve the desired consistency, your ocean slime is ready to play with!


  • Store the ocean slime in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag to keep it fresh for future play.
  • Adult supervision is recommended during slime-making, especially when handling the saline solution.

This ocean slime is a great way to engage children in sensory play, as they can imagine themselves playing with the textures of the ocean while exploring its color and sparkle. Additionally, you can add ocean-themed toys or figurines to the slime play to enhance the imaginative experience.

Learning Centers With a Big Impact 6.7.23

Learning centers offer many positive benefits for students of all ages and abilities. Centers provide a supportive and personalized learning environment that caters to individual needs and learning styles. Within smaller groups and with dedicated leaders as needed, learning centers foster a sense of community and encourage active participation. Students can receive targeted instruction, personalized attention, and tailored curriculum, leading to enhanced academic progress and improved performance. Learning centers also promote self-confidence, as students can work at their own pace, mastering concepts, and skills before moving on to more challenging material. The interactive and engaging nature of learning center programs often instills a love for learning, creating a positive attitude towards education and future academic pursuits. Ultimately, learning centers play a vital role in unlocking the full potential of students and empowering them to reach their goals.

All over the school, teachers have implemented the Learning Without Tears curriculum, a program that is receiving a remarkable and enthusiastic response from the students. This innovative approach to education has proven to be highly effective in engaging learners and fostering a positive learning environment. With its hands-on and multisensory approach, Learning Without Tears enables students to develop essential skills such as handwriting, literacy, and numeracy with confidence and enjoyment. The program’s thoughtful design and emphasis on individualized instruction ensure that students of all abilities can participate actively and make significant progress. As a result, learning centers are witnessing increased student engagement, improved academic performance, and a renewed sense of enthusiasm for learning. The transformative impact of Learning Without Tears is evident in the smiles, achievements, and growing self-confidence of the students it serves.

Room 8 is seen below as they get started with centers one recent morning.

Educational Progress in the Face of Challenges 5.10.23

It’s heartwarming to see children with special needs making progress in their education, especially when they face unique challenges. In a recent visit to Room 11, children were working diligently with their teachers, engaged in activities that seemed impossible at the start of the year.

For some, attending to a task or accepting directions from a teacher was a real challenge. But now, they are more focused, listening attentively and following through with tasks. They have learned to tolerate others around them, and their social skills have improved greatly.

What made these changes possible? A lot of hard work and dedication on the part of the teachers and the students. By providing a safe and structured learning environment, and by using techniques tailored to each child’s unique needs, these teachers have helped their students grow and flourish.

It’s important to recognize the progress that children have made, and to continue to support them in their learning journey. With the right tools and resources, every child can reach their full potential.

A Happier Child | 4.11.23

Introducing “J,” the incredible student in Room 6 who has not only made impressive progress in all of his skills, but has also captured the hearts of everyone at Crossroads Center for Children with his hard work and loving personality. Watching him learn to manage his own behaviors and express his wants and needs through words has been a true joy for his team, who have designed a behavior plan tailored to his individual needs. J’s determination to stay safe with his body and communicate with his words has allowed him to access the things he wants and needs, replacing maladaptive behaviors that once hindered his growth.

When it comes to reinforcement, J chooses to play with a toy or go for a walk, but his favorite activity is visiting the fish tank in the Resource Development office. There, he continues to practice knocking before entering, asking for what he wants to do, and using his words to express himself. He eagerly feeds the fish, puts in rocks and shells, and plays music for them while answering questions and expressing himself clearly. J has also learned the importance of time management, asking for one more minute before his timer goes off once per visit.

It is truly heartwarming to see J’s transformation from a child who struggled with changes in routine to a happy and confident student, comfortable interacting with his peers and teachers alike. His progress is a testament to the power of hard work and the love and support of his team at Crossroads. We are so proud of him and grateful to be a part of his journey towards a happier and more fulfilling life.

Exploding with Science | 3.30.23

The boys and girls in Room 4 had so much engagement with the baking soda alphabet volcano last week (see below) that the explosive lessons continued this week. The class pulled of a mento cola explosion outside on the grounds, and enjoyed that very much too.

This is how Room 4 did this experiment and what is needed:

  1. A bottle of cola: You can use any brand of cola, but it’s recommended to use a 2-liter bottle for a bigger reaction. Ms. Kenzie poured her cola into empty water bottles so that she could repeat the experiment a handful of times with her students.
  2. Mentos candies: You can use any flavor of Mentos, but the original mint flavor usually produces the biggest reaction. You will need several Mentos for the experiment.
  3. A flat surface: You will need a flat surface to conduct the experiment on, such as a driveway or a sidewalk. Make sure the surface is stable and won’t tip over.
  4. Once you have all the necessary materials, you can drop the Mentos candies into the bottle of cola and watch the reaction.
  5. Remember to stand back and stay safe, as the reaction can be very messy and create a lot of foam and soda spray.


Volcano Experiment | 3.23.23

Room 4  has been learning about volcanoes lately, and learning about chemical reactions in a fun and educational way. Volcanoes are geological events that occur when molten rock (magma), ash, and gases escape from the Earth’s crust. Last week they created a baking soda alphabet volcano. A baking soda volcano is a popular experiment often done as a fun and educational activity for children. It involves creating a simulated volcanic eruption using baking soda and vinegar. Room 4 built a volcano from playdoh and surrounded it with plastic alphabet letters for extra umpf. Each child was also given their own small cup to create the same bubbling over fizz in, after the group observed the first volcanic eruption.

To make a baking soda volcano, you will need:

  • Baking soda
  • Vinegar
  • Dish soap
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Container (such as a plastic bottle or a clay volcano model)
  • Funnel (optional)

Here are the steps to create a baking soda volcano:

  1. If using a container, create a hole in the top that is large enough to fit the funnel.
  2. Place the container on a flat surface that can be easily cleaned up (such as a tray or a large sheet of paper).
  3. Mix 1/4 cup of baking soda with a few drops of food coloring (if desired) in the container.
  4. In a separate container, mix 1/2 cup of vinegar with a few drops of dish soap and water.
  5. Pour the vinegar mixture into the container with the baking soda.
  6. Watch as the mixture foams up and flows out of the container, simulating a volcanic eruption.

It’s important to note that while a baking soda volcano is a fun experiment for young learners, real volcanic eruptions are much more complex and can be dangerous, so it’s important to always follow safety precautions and never attempt to recreate a real volcano at home.


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.


OT and PT put the FUN in FUNCTIONAL!Thank you The Arts Center of the Capital Region