Loving Literacy, Loving Learning

February 17, 2021

2.16.2021 End-of-the-day BOOK routine, Room 5.

Reading books to children is oh so important! In fact, a vast amount of research in this area points to the impact on comprehension and literacy development of the number of times a child is read to on a daily basis. Further, the quantity of books and access to printed materials is a huge factor in how kids develop their reading.

In all classrooms here at Crossroads, students are read to by adults on a daily basis and have access throughout the day to books and other print. One example is the way that Room 5 ends their day each afternoon. Once they’ve eaten and cleaned up from snack, they grab a book and bring it to the rug to read. It’s a time of day the students enjoy and look forward to, and one that brings them a step closer to developing life-long reading skills and habits.

Here are some pictures caught recently in Room 5 at this time. See if you can pick out some of their title choices! When you’re done, if you’d like some helpful links to scholarly articles regarding this topic, click below!




12.29.2020 Learning Without Tears lesson, Room 3.

Crossroads uses the Learning Without Tears curriculum, which encompasses handwriting, literacy, numeration, concepts, and social skills, a comprehensive approach to classroom curriculum which is multi-sensory, hands-on, and research-based. It’s a curriculum used in many of the schools and classrooms that our students will someday transition to, and it’s one that our teachers and students alike, enjoy.

While all classrooms here use the curriculum at their own pace and to address the individual needs of the students within, most classrooms are using the My First School Books, more commonly known at Crossroads as “the green books.”

Here we enjoy seeing the children in Room 3 as they participate in their green book activity for the day, something they do two to three days each week.

On this day they are counting birds and then coloring each using a different color. The first bird is yellow, and the children all have an opportunity to find their yellow crayon, name the color, and then color just one bird and to STOP coloring when it is filled in. Ms. Melissa, Special Education Teacher, and Ms. Lindsay, Teaching Assistant provide assistance on an individual basis; some support is hands-on, and some support is gestural or verbal, but all children are given the supervision they need.

To be clear, the power of this visual story should not go unnoticed. For some of these youngsters, just in their second year of preschool, sitting at the table as a group has, in itself, been a goal to accomplish. To attend to the books, to hold a crayon, to select and use a requested color, and to count with one’s friends… these are hard-earned skills that are to be respected and applauded. Accomplishments, when practiced with classmates, are celebrations.

Once again, we are grateful for the use of this curriculum which is made possible by the kindness of our community who has provided donations and grants to purchase its pieces.

11.12.2020 LWT Curriculum materials have arrived!

Every year we place at least one large order with Learning Without Tears for materials needed for the school year. As well, throughout the year, we also need to purchase a slew of other curricular supplies, which are done on a monthly basis.

We’re so thankful for donations from so many folks and grants from foundations such as the Nora Roberts Foundation, Berkshire Bank Foundation, and Price Chopper’s Golub Foundation for supporting our curricular needs this year!


9.17.2020 Journaling Joy, Room 11

Nothing beats journaling as a way to practice and grow writing skills. It’s a great literacy habit that allows students to express thoughts, share experiences, and explore individual interests. The new school year has this group of learners breaking out their journals every morning, and they are getting into this excellent routine very well. The class also made firefighter hats recently; “J” wanted to wear his for his picture and took a quick break from his journal to put it on for the camera.

Additionally, we can note that all of the children and staff are doing a great job with wearing masks during the day. While students throughout the school have mask-breaks and different plans for increasing their individual length of time of wearing them, it’s awesome to see wearing their masks and working happily at this time!

5.11.2020 Art Projects and Learning Activities, Room 5

With students at home for school these past several weeks, our kids are not only receiving resources and interactions virtually. Young learners need hands-on activities to do, they need to touch and see and engage. Sometimes materials can be emailed, but what about the parents who don’t have a printer at home, or even those who don’t have a computer? What about the sky-high creativity that comes about when making things with high-interest supplies that moms and dads might not happen to have around the house. That’s why teachers have been compiling packets to mail and, in many cases, drop them off at their students’ homes.

Here, Room 5 compiled packets for each student in the class, with projects that their students can engage in independently or with some guidance from parents. These envelopes will go out this week, and then further packets will be put together. Parents can later send pictures or videos to the teacher of the finished product.

Thank you for sharing with us, Room 5. Thanks for all you are doing to help your children keep learning and your parents have the tools they need to manage this situation as best as they can at home.

5.1.2020 Library Mouse, with Ms. Adriana, Room 11

On Friday late morning, Room 11 gathers together to hear a read aloud by Ms. Adriana. Today she will read Library Mouse by Daniel Kirk.


It’s a sweet tale of a little mouse who lives in a library and writes books. Today’s lesson was to listen to a text being read aloud by a teacher and to answer questions posed by the teacher.

“J” and his family joined in this group today, as did “S” and his family. The teachers wish that everyone was able to join the read aloud, but it’s not always possible for some of the families. Kerry and Adriana are happy to welcome the students and families who are there today, and those who will join another day.

As Adriana read the book  to them, Mrs. Kerry, the classroom teacher, asked questions to exercise their comprehension of the story.

Kerry: What do you want to write a book about?

J: “Spider.” Adriana remembers aloud that J has shown an interest in spiders in the past.

Kerry? What was Sam making?

J: A book!

Kerry: Did you like the story?

S: Yes I like the story very much! His excitement brings a smile to the present adult faces.

Great job, Room 11! Thank you for sharing your story with us!

4.30.2020 A Read-aloud of Book! Book! Book! with Ms. Adriana

Room 11 is one of our school-aged classrooms. This lively class of 9 -11 year-olds are doing their best, with the help of their parents and the guidance of their team members, to keep making gains on important skills. The following is from Mrs. Kerry, Room 11’s teacher. She writes,

Our theme this week is libraries and reading. Ms. Adriana hosted a live story time via Zoom and read the book: Book, Book, Book by Deborah Bruss. We had one student join, “S,” and he answered questions about the book like, “What does a pig say?,” “What does the hen want?,” “Where are the animals going?,” “What is your favorite animal?” and “How many animals are there?” I attached two pictures of our story time.
Thanks, Kerry

This is a truly a very changed way of teaching for all of us here, and of learning for our students. Thank you to the educators, parents and students who are all working so hard to make the best of a highly challenging situation. Thanks to Kerry, Adriana and the rest of the team for sharing your story!

4.27.2020 Here’s a new resource that Room 12’s teacher, Mrs. Erin has found at https://vcuautismcenter.org. She’s love to share it with our readers.

She writes, “This comic is a neat way for some of our students to read about COVID-19.  Kind of a cool way to discuss it!” Erin 

Check it out, and let us know what you think by commenting!

My Life with COVID-19 Comic Strip Printable

4.23.2020 Room 11’s Reading time each day is usually done following a large group model. The students typically work from the same text, with objectives and tasks that are adapted per individual goals.

Room 11’s kiddos are some of the eldest children in the school which goes to age 12. Currently, as for all of our learners, Room 11’s students are meeting with their teaching team daily, via platforms such as Zoom, ClassDojo, and Google Hangouts. Students frequently have assignments to complete on their own once the remote group has ended. Below, Mrs. Kerry, Room 11’s teacher has shared a video from one such assignment.

Here’s what she said:

“Here is a video of “J” answering comprehension questions after watching a read aloud of this book on YouTube: The Butterfly by Anna Milbourne & Cathy Shimmen.

For April, we have been learning about animal life cycles and this was a book about butterflies.”

J’s Butterfly Book Video

Wow! We’re all so proud of J for such great work.

We’re also grateful to his mother, and to ALL of the amazing parents who are currently guiding the school work of their children. We know it’s not easy, and are acutely aware that remote learning is not in the best interest of what our students truly need. But we do feel blessed to have such strong determination from these parents who are not willing to give up despite the challenges.

Truly, the amazing progress children make is the reason we all – employees, families, volunteers and friends – are brought together in our mission.

Many thanks to J’s mom and J for your hard work here, and to Mrs. Kerry for sharing this wonderful story today.

4.15.2020 PBS is a great resource for at home learning during the COVID-19 school closure.

Everyone at Crossroads is working harder than ever to make sure our students and families have what they need during this school closure. Therapeutic and educational team members are making every effort to create, find, plan and provide materials and activities that parents can implement at home, and in ways that students can engage. And all through virtual means, no less. We are so proud of the way that our Crossroads family has embraced stepping up to the difficult tasks at hand, and come together for the good of the students.

Although each day, individual instruction is being provided directly to students and parents, still teachers are sharing resources that they’d like others to also see.

Today’s share comes from Mrs. Erin, Room 12’s Special Education Teacher.

She writes, “I have been reading articles to try to come up with ideas for families that may be different from just websites and things. The PBS site is really good for educational shows. I wanted to share it.”


Thank you, Erin, for your thoughtfulness and help. Whether you are looking for help with literacy, math, science or something different, this is a great place to check out.


PS- Don’t forget to visit the Parent Resources page from time to time, as new items are added almost daily!

Parent Resources


There’s nothing children love more than having a parent or teacher read a book aloud to them. Time set aside for a “read aloud” is a daily part of the schedule in most classrooms at Crossroads. While school is closed, Ms. Rebecca, Room 5’s teacher has started sharing a Virtual Read Aloud via You Tube, as well as a Circle Time for her students. Here is her channel, which readers and viewers can go directly to from this point on, in order to see her updates as she posts them.

Thank you, Rebecca!

Ms. Becca’s Storytime & Preschool

PS- Even though Ms. Becca is a preschool teacher, school age students are highly likely to enjoy this as well!


Earlier today, this post was updated with some wonderful resources for Learning Without Tears, but our teachers continue to share materials. Here we have a video created by Mrs. Rebecca, Room 5’s teacher. It’s a sweet read-aloud called “Goose on the Loose.” Thank you to Mrs. Rebecca for her creativity!


Now in Week 2 of our COVID-19 school closure, teachers and therapists are continuing to create and discover the best resources for at home learning to share with the parents of the students we serve.
This one is from Mrs. Erin, Room 12’s Special Education Teacher. She writes, “Learning Without Tears has opened up free resources for distance learning!”
This, from LWT:
Distance Learning
Whether you’ve already closed for the school year, or are considering a path forward, the following resources can help you continue children’s handwriting, keyboarding, and pre-kindergarten development from a distance.
Thank you, Erin, for finding this resource and sharing it. As this is a fundamental curriculum at Crossroads, all of our students can benefit!


Mrs. Rebecca, Room 5’s Early Childhood Teacher, shares a great list of authors reading their own works that she has come across. She says, “There is a variety of different levels listed. Some are live events, but some can be accessed at any time because they are recorded. I thought it might be good to list as a resource for parents.”


Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing for our families during this challenging time.


This week, since we are closed for COVID-19 precautions, we are trying to help our families who now have children at home for the time being. Our teachers and therapists are putting together resources to share for their students. In many cases, individual paper packets were sent through the mail, or documents sent through email, but as much as possible we’re attempting to post their resources here on our website on various blog spots and also on our Parent Resources page.

Today we have a wonderful list from Mrs. Susanna, Room 8’s Special Education Teacher.

Hello everyone, happy Tuesday! I found some great resources I thought we could share for parents.

Here are a few online activities and resources I thought could be useful and fun to use during the school closure.

1. How to catch a leprechaun read aloud. Following the activity you could build a leprechaun trap with your child 🙂

2. Virtual field trips! Take a moment and go to the San Diego Zoo and watch the animals on their live feed cameras. Yesterday my son and I watched the penguins get fed 🙂

3. Sorting, gross motor fun and more! See the attached pictures for some fun ideas to practice sorting, matching color identification, and number identification.

4. Cincinnati Zoo will have a Facebook live event every day at 2pm-2:15pm featuring an animal from their zoo.

5. Atlantic Shark White Conservatory will hold a live Facebook event at 10am every day this week. They will read a new shark themed book each day.

6. Attached is a photo of websites that offer free online academic activities for kids!

Stay safe and healthy and most importantly have fun!!


We love literacy, math, science, concepts… simply put, we love learning!

2.19.2020 Making the World a Better Place.

Room 14’s theme, We Can Change the World With Our Own 2 Hands, brought students together in art-making, writing and reading this month. Their sentence completion projects and mural are a beautiful tribute to ways students determined that they could make the world better, by smiling, hugging, laughing and more!

2.4.20 1 Fish, 2 Fish in the Clinic. 

Ms. Meggie’s student asked to see the fish, and also counted them! He counted to 10, pointing his little finger at the tank throughout. He needed no prompting to do so, and was super proud of himself when he finished. Fantastic job!

1.17.2020 A Reading Corner in Room 6

Room 6 has created this cozy book nook to encourage independent reading. Children can select books to look at, and whether they are at the level of reading words or enjoying the pictures, this activity will help with literacy development. Awesome job, Room 6!

1.14.2020 Feeling our Fables!

Room 11’s Literacy Theme brings together concepts and skills that students can relate to. This month, their unit is Fables, Folk Tales and Fairy Tales, using curriculum from Mrs. Moe’s Modifications.  

Goals being addressed include sequencing a story, matching words to pictures, and answering comprehension questions. The activities include interactive books, which Mrs. Kerry prints out for the students, giving some students word choices and others picture choices to answer questions for each page of each story. The lesson of the moral of the story is always part of the discussion, something that children of this age group are keenly interested in. Social skills, such as learning in a group, allowing others to have input, and attending to others are also targeted during this unit.

Kerry and her teaching team relate that the students are doing great with the unit. They enjoy the interactive books and the team enjoys finding opportunities to apply the story morals to real life throughout the week. The group

The daily art project is planned to go along with the story of the day. Can you tell what the tale is for each art work from our gallery?

12.18.19  Straight lines make letters A and K!

The way Learning Without Tears introduces letters is not alphabetically. First, kids learn about straight lines and curved lines, big lines and little lines. Little by little, lines become shapes, letters and numbers. The curriculum is more than just handwriting. Everything is integrated with academic concepts, social skills, school readiness and numeration skills. It’s very hands on, and extremely fun for the students. Check out a group this week in Room 8!

12.16.19 Hooray for My First School Books!

We were so fortunate this year to have funds developed specifically for our curricular programming. We’re proud that, as we’ve grown in enrollment, we were able to order replacements and updates to our Learning Without Tears curriculum mid-year! These consumable work books are so greatly appreciated! Thanks again to SEFCU, Nora Roberts Foundation, and Schenectady Kiwanis Club for grant funding for these and other curricular supplies this year!

12.11.19 Reading and Writing Group

In Room 11 this week, the students are learning about holiday customs. Their reading and writing group today gave them practice with essential academic skills and also with this highly interesting classroom theme.

Using a book from their Reading A-Z curriculum, students take turns reading aloud. Providing assistance as individually needed, classroom Teaching Assistants and the Teacher work with students on reading strategies such as sound-spelling, recognizing sight words, using pictorial cues, and so on.

Today’s lesson deals with customs that we might experience in the upcoming holiday season. Discussion of the material being read gives students a chance to share thoughts about familiar concepts, such as Santa, whereas new ideas, such as mistletoe, can be introduced to scaffold upon prior learning. A student whose current main form of communication is adaptive has several opportunities to use the assistive device to respond to the discussion, and is also prompted by the teacher to attempt verbal practice of the words.

Motor integration of concepts helps to reinforce what is being learned; a cut and paste activity for reading comprehension allows the young learners to experience learning with visual and tactile materials in addition to the reading component. Written responses in combination with answer selection helps students learn that there are a variety of ways to respond to text.

11.4.19 I Know My Numbers

The I Know My Numbers books from Learning Without Tears are getting some great use! Here are some students in Room 6 working on number 5. The lesson integrates handwriting, spelling, counting and reading, and these youngsters are doing a great job!


We’re ever thankful for the grants we’ve received to help gain the curricular materials needed for the 2019-20 school year.

A grant from the Nora Roberts Foundation will help students develop literacy skills

Thank you, SEFCU!

Thank you, Kiwanis Club!

8.9.19 Research projects at the Rotterdam Public Library

Room 11’s students took their research projects out of school yesterday, by spending time at the public library. They’ve been working on a science and literacy unit all summer and this represents their culminating work.

“The trip to the library was an extension of our animal classification unit we have been working on this summer. Students chose an animal, found a nonfiction book with their teachers help, and then wrote information about their animal,” explains Mrs. Kerry, the class’s teacher.

This outing was not only academic, however. Since it can often be challenging for our students to participate in public places, this opportunity to work on social and community behaviors was fantastic. Great job, Team 11!


5/31/2019: Art and Literacy: A Rosy Combination

There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Rose! By Lucille Colandro was the topic of a recent literacy theme in Room 11.

Some valuable resources can be found to go along with Room 11’s work here from theautismhelper.com :  http://theautismhelper.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/There-Was-an-Old-Lady-Rose-1.pdf

Meanwhile, we want to show you what they did to integrate an engaging creative activity into this literacy theme.

Paint was used on paper, but the interesting part is that the application of the paint was done with celery!

The cut off ends of celery, dipped in paint, created a beautiful rose impression.

These are so inventive and lovely in the upstairs hallways of our school-age program!

These are so inventive and lovely in the upstairs hallways of our school-age program!

Thanks, Room 11! Well done!










12/4/2018: Organizing a classroom theme around a book is an terrific way to integrate a wide variety of subject areas as well as skill levels and interests.

In a school-age classroom, it works exceptionally well. Here’s a fantastic example of a book theme from Room 11.

The book they used was Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner.

Room 11 used this book to introduce the theme of Winter. The book also brings in many interesting related topics, such as animals, gingerbread, snow, snowmen and the North Pole. During their book theme activities, teachers were also targeting skills for reading, listening, comprehension, position words and prepositions.

First the students listened and read the book. They used templates to create animals and then place them in a large class poster with scenery.

The students also made their own posters. Ms. Kerry reports that they did a wonderful job of listening and placing the figures and working together, and she was very proud of them.







Many of our classrooms are looking for volunteers. Interested? Click to learn more!

Volunteer at Crossroads Center for Children

2.28.19   Loving literacy leads to loving learning.

Giving students a lifetime love of learning is the goal of every teacher around. By making activities meaningful and incorporating the students’ needs and interests into the lessons and skills being taught, teachers at Crossroads engage students and foster a love for literacy that translates into a love of learning.

Check out what’s happening!

Room 14 is our newest classroom, a school age room that opened in September 2018. This group is currently using readers from the curriculum Kids A-Z .  Each week, they work with a reader and an accompanying 5-day vocabulary lesson.

This weeks reader is called “I Love Pirates.” The students take turns reading pages of the reader and answering the questions. They are also given the opportunity to come up to the board to add to the teacher copy of the worksheets for their peers to copy the answers down.
These pictures are day 1 of the worksheets vocabulary words and drawing pictures to go with them.



Another favorite recent activity was analogies. Teachers note that the boys did a great job taking turns reading the book, then the questions then working together to fill in the analogies.

Excellent work, Room 14! We are so proud of you!

1/25/2019: Here’s how Room 11 is integrating science and literacy!

Room 11 has been working on  FABLES unit. The kids, all boys at this time. are really relating to the fables.  Fables teach life lessons in addition to being important in a literary sense.

They’ve also been incorporating other work into their unit. Other subjects that that this group of pre-tweens are interested in. One is Science.

Here’s a cool science experiment they did recently. It’s an extension of The Crow and the Pitcher.
The science experiment is one of water displacement. Students made predictions regarding the number of pebbles it would take to raise water to lines on cups.
Great work, Room 11!



If you like seeing the impact that our teachers and therapists are making with children here at Crossroads Center for Children, you might also enjoy these past stories.

Over and Under the Snow and other Literacy Units

Progress towards goals is because of ABA

Integrating Academics and Physical Activities


Classroom Centers That WorkShowcase of Talent