Learning in groups

August 19, 2021

8.19.21 Working Together On Different Goals

Oh, to be as motivated to work as these kiddos are! Both Room 12 students pictured here are moving along quickly with skill practice, “S” with patterns, and “M” with matching functional and safety signs. Hands-on activities that are interesting and fun are made specifically to address individual goals. M and S are each able to work on their own skill, but together at the same table. It’s definitely inspiring to see how motivated they both are!

5.18.2021 All Together, Yet Individuals

A large number of students here have individualized education plans (IEPs), which plan out the year’s goals, objectives, and approaches. Furthermore, here at Crossroads each of the objectives is broken down in detail with sets and steps, stemming from another intertwined plan called an individual goal plan (IGP).

Now, sometimes goals are similar enough that a group of students can all be working on the same activities. At other times, each student might be working on his or her own tasks.

The latter is the case here. The students in Room 13 are seen working in a group together, yet each is working with his and her own materials and goals. Interactions between students and staff members are ongoing, and student-to-student interactions are prompted by the educational team.

It’s awesome to see the kids sitting together, as this shows growth in tolerating others in the same space, being able to sit in a group of children, and in staying focused and refocusing after interruptions. Great job, Room 13!

4.7.2021 Planting Seeds

Students last week had the chance to plant flower and vegetable seeds and Room 12 was thoughtful enough to send some pictures from their group. Planting seeds is an activity children are always drawn to, and the students in Room 12, one of our school-aged rooms, are old enough to have seen their efforts come to fruition in the past. They already know that they’ll soon see seedlings and then be able to transplant into the ground or a larger planter.

The life cycle of a plant is a wonderful classroom lesson, unit, or theme. Our school has a garden outside in the front of the parent parking lot, which we encourage classrooms to plant in, weed and water each summer. We’re lucky to have had the help of volunteers for several years to help with the maintenance, but the purpose of the garden is for children to learn about growing their own food. We welcome parents to send in veggie plants if you have extra, and to pull weeds if ever you have a few spare minutes!

3.17.21 St. Patrick’s Day Shenanigans ♣

It’s a day of fun and mischief, and kids enjoying the silliness of catching leprechauns, following scavenger hunts, and making colorful artwork, the way kids love to.

Here at Crossroads, Ms. Shannon, Room 8 Teaching Assistant, organized a week-long celebration to fill the children’s minds and hearts with creativity, problem-solving, and physical challenges.

From Thursday, 3/11 to Tuesday, 3/16 a variety of silly pranks occurred!

Thursday: The bench and Janet’s chairs were decorated with St. Patrick’s Day decorations with a note left by the sneaky leprechauns.

Friday: Each toilet bowl was dyed green with food coloring and some glitter.

Tuesday: The halls were filled with gold coins and a caldron that students can throw a gold coin in as they go to their room.

Wednesday (today) No prank. In fact, all the decorations were cleaned up and a note was left from the leprechauns. They were so tired from playing so many different pranks on the school that they are sleeping in on St. Patrick’s Day. This is where the fun began, as there was a scavenger hunt to find the leprechauns. The sleeping leprechauns will be found in the board room. There were several clues on how you can find them. Once the classroom found the sleeping leprechauns then they earned a box of Lucky Charms and a set of St. Patrick’s Day tattoos.

Thanks so much, Shannon, for all the fun!

See some of the art projects with this theme! Integrating-art projects-into-classroom-themes.

Below, join Room 6 in practicing number skills, leprechaun style, and Room 2 in some sensory experimentation!

Send more pics for this post to Vickir@Crossroadcenter.org!

2.12.2021 Cookies and Cuteness

The theme in Room 7 this week has been Valentine’s Day, and today’s cookie decorating activity was a big hit. The teachers provided heart-shaped cookies and helped the children to decorate the cookies with icing and sprinkles! What a blast they had, and what a sweet group activity.


1.21.2021 Hibernation Station

When it comes to learning standards about climate, the environment, and habitats, this thematic unit covers a lot. Room 8 is working on hibernation. In their art groups, they have created hibernating animals and caves where animals are hibernating. They’ve talked about what hibernation means, and today they made hedgehogs and explained to this writer that the hedgehogs will be asleep for a long time.

Today’s group also incorporated other academic and concept skills, too. The students used yarn and craft sticks to create the spikes and the fur of the hedgehogs and were asked to identify features such as textures and colors. Soft, hard, brown, sticky were some sensory words used in their lesson today.

11.3.2020 Sorting it Out, Together

Creating a balanced, healthy plate is a cinch when you work as a group. Not only can you learn from one another when it comes to observations on finessing cutting and coloring, but you also get to discuss with each-other which foods go into which part of the plate. Sorting by food-types so to speak.

This group, all boys so far this year, has also been doing an awesome job with group work in terms of social skills, such as toleration of others, verbal interactions, and even encouraging the good work of each other.  Well done, Room 11!

8.13.2020 A Mud Sundae Picnic 

No, we don’t really eat mud! But when you’re working with little people, making lessons interesting and fun is key to having learners pay attention and engage in the academic aspects of the theme or concept.

For this particular activity, Room 5 made mud sundaes to integrate concepts of picnicking, dirt + water = mud, and cooking.

They made chocolate pudding (mud). They crushed up Oreos in plastic bags with a play-doh hammer. As one little guy said, “we crunched ’em all up with a hammer!” The crumbles became dirt, which was sprinkled in. Then, they took them outside to the summer tent and ate them (picnic). The children were very pleased with their product and enjoyed eating these cool treats too.

7.31.2020 Q: Do your students wear masks? A: They are learning to!

These days everyone’s got to wear a mask, and in September, in N.Y.S. schools, students will need to also. Here at Crossroads, we are working on helping our students learn how to wear masks, how to tolerate them while on, and to don and doff them.

Some students are already well acquainted with the mask-wearing and come to school each day ready to put theirs on. Others are having trouble tolerating them, but progressing every day in their ability to put them on and wear them for growing lengths of time.

Today in Room 12, everyone was successful in wearing their masks at the same time. For a learning unit, Room 12 is doing weekly group health and safety lessons, using songs, hand-washing practice, and practice of mask-wearing.

6.22.2020 A Parade for an Early Graduate!

The summer program will soon begin, and students with IEPs will be returning to Crossroads. Plans for a graduation celebration are in the works for the end of the summer. However, there are some students who will be moving on to their new schools for the summer, and won’t be coming back to the building. For Z, this was somewhat upsetting, as he wanted badly to be able to see his teachers again. So his Room 14 teacher, Ms. Lindsay, and his teaching assistants, Ms. Melissa, Mr. Nick, and Ms. Brianna, worked together with Z’s family to create a special farewell for him. Last week, they did a drive-by graduation parade. Sonic is this little guy’s favorite character, so the parade was Sonic themed. Z dressed up in his Sonic costume to make the whole event even more precious.

We’ll all miss this student, as well as the other children who are moving on at this time. We wish the best to all.

4.23.2020 ZOOM Show and Tell with Room 3

These days of being apart are growing in number, and our teaching teams and parents are working together harder than ever to conduct lessons and activities to engage our young learners and keep them moving forward towards achieving goals.

Today’s Show and Tell time in Room 3 was super cute. Today was for sharing PETS, both living ones and stuffed ones! We saw cats, dogs, a hermit crab and a stuffed unicorn to name a few. One of the children dressed in his favorite character and several of the live pets appeared not to be fans of ZOOM meetings.

Thanks so much for this wonderful time, Room 3. There is a lot of effort going into making distant learning work, by parents and educators alike. Kudos for all you are doing. Thanks to Mrs. Ashlie for getting these cool screen shots!

2.3.2020 Articles and research on group learning are prolific.

Group learning benefits life-long success in many ways. Here at Crossroads, children learn in groups throughout the day in every class; while we constantly report about the benefits of individual instruction for our students, it’s also important to note that the ability to participate in group activities and lessons is something that children also are working on and increasing. This will help them work alongside others as they progress in school, and in other settings such as work someday.

Group learning is recognized as leading to success in education, college, and the professional work world. Positive group experiences, in which children learn to work on common tasks together, model and act as modelers, take turns, share and otherwise work collaboratively, are an important part of what students need to gain the skills for success in life.

Because it’s awesome to see the classrooms in action, this post is here to share what is recently implemented in our classrooms. We hope our readers will love this post, chock full of group activities!

1.31.2020 A Chinese New Year Theme in Room 8

Here, children in Room 8 recently enjoyed a week-long unit for the Chinese New Year. It was planned by Teaching Assistant, Ms. Shannon, much to the appreciation of Special Education Teacher,  Ms. Susanna. Throughout the week, students in the class interacted in an abundant number of exciting activities. They learned about an interesting and diverse celebration, and about another country, on another continent.

The class decorated their hallway with posters with good fortunes on them. The children delighted in looking at their pictures and those of their friends. Additionally, they were able to work on generalizing skills such as letters, words, colors, and pictures of places, people, and objects.   

Another activity this group enjoyed targeted their fine motor skills. It also provided lots of sensory reinforcement. Rice bins with Chinese food takeout containers, coins and chopsticks engrossed the class at length and exercised their pincer and manipulation abilities.

They had two scavenger hunts this week, a rice sensory bin activity, and a “homemade family meal” for dramatic play with yarn for noodles and cotton balls. They played bingo with Chinese zodiac signs, made crowns to celebrate the new year, and for art, made different different Chinese animal zodiac signs.

The class also put on a parade. Groups of students from other classrooms came out to watch.

Thanks to Ms. Shannon for the awesome pictures!


1.21.2020 Room 1’s Playdoh group develops social and conceptual skills.

Students in Room 1 work together at the table. The table, where each student has his/her own space, connects each to the others and also houses the materials to be focused upon at this time period.

Playdoh is the media, and forming with it is the activity at hand. Students work side by side, learning from each other how to use this substance, new to many.

Playdoh can be described as colorful, squishy, cool, smooth, with a clean and salty smell and probably brings fun and creativity to mind. For young children, it can be all these things and more, and for children who have challenges processing sensory stimuli, it can be an opportunity to engage with a compound and decrease defensiveness. At the same time, teachers use the opportunity to help the students learn words to describe what they are experiencing through their senses and to interact with each other. Colors, placement in space, common objects, size, shape and other early concepts are explored in this creative activity with friends.

Passing and sharing materials, requesting something someone else is using and then waiting for a turn, and showing someone else what we just created… these are social skills that all of us use throughout life in some form. Room 1, here is getting a great start on these and much more.

In this particular group, each student works on something different with the playdoh. One makes airplanes in different colors, while another creates a line of train cars. Children explore the use of a variety of tools from rollers to “cookie” cutters. Fingers find themselves active for pressing, squeezing, lifting and placing, helping to address fine motor goals and develop hand strength that will find its way into their handwriting someday.

So many skills are developing in this one half hour. Imagine how many additional skills are also growing all through the day in the group activities at Crossroads.

10.22.19 Room 8’s MSASC group lesson was a total hit! Talk about playing with your food!

Group Activities can integrate several concepts and skills at once.

Here’s an awesome group lesson which was recently part of Room 8‘s schedule. They used a highly exciting and fun food item – marshmallows – to motivate counting! Next, they used the same marshmallows to create patterns with their colors, and then they turned the marshmallows into a creative art project. Throughout the lesson, teachers modeled language and interaction and fostered social skills such as sharing and helping each other and attending skills such as modeling of teachers and peers. Finally, they were allowed to eat a marshmallow! Talk about playing with your food!

With so many different skills addressed, in effect, this activity was a MATH-SNACK-ART-SOCIAL-COMMUNICATION lesson. MSASC! Maybe this will catch on!

Awesome job, Room 8!



Here, Ms. Susanna has the students choosing rhythm instruments from a bin.


Group activities in the classroom can help form skills for school, home and life.Loving Literacy, Loving Learning