Special Education with Care

MVA Special Education Department Update

February 2021

Hello wonderful MVA parents,

The month of February is upon us and that means we are comfortably into the second semester and are moving right along with teaching and learning. We appreciate all your feedback and support and encourage you to write to us if you have a particular topic you wish us to cover.

In This Issue

  • Did You Know: Valentines Day Edition;
  • Feature Teachers: Meet your Education Specialists/Case Managers;
  • Academic Resources: Make Math Fun with Dry Erase Boards;
  • Behavior Bits: Using the Zones of Regulation with Visuals;
  • Sensory Corner: Valentines Day Sensory Bottle;
  • Caught On The Net: Helpful Websites and Apps;
  • Transition Services Corner: Transition Newsletter.


~Valentines Day Edition~

Saint Valentine’s Day, also known as Valentine’s Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is a holiday celebrated on February 14 each year in many countries around the world. It is not a public holiday in most countries and over history it evolved into a holiday in which people express their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery, and sending greeting cards (known as “valentines”). You can incorporate this fun and educational activity into your Valentines Day family celebration.

Building Structures with Candy Hearts

Building structures with marshmallows or candy is a classic engineering project for all ages. It is quick and simple and loads of fun! You can choose to lead your children in an activity or let them freely explore.


  • Toothpicks
  • Gummy Hearts
  • Timer {optional}
  • Measuring tape {optional}

Setting up the Experiment

Set-up is super simple. Simply place one container of gummy hearts out on the table with a cup of toothpicks and let your students explore on their own.



Make Math Fun with Dry Erase Boards

Want to make Math more fun and engaging for your child? Create your own dry erase board to make worksheets exciting and scrap paper more interactive. Creating the dry erase boards is easy and inexpensive. You can use this dry erase board in helping your student play math games, complete worksheets, and practice math facts. You can make this dry erase board together with your child to increase their engagement. Create a math binder full of different activities so your child can choose which activity she/he wants to complete. You will certainly find that children of any age love to use dry erase boards and markers!

You will Need:

  • Plastic sheet protectors (The heavy-duty ones work best, but any kind will work)
  • Dry erase markers
  • An eraser (or paper towels)

Once you have the plastic sheet protectors, you can put anything inside them to create a flexible, interactive dry erase board: math printables, blank paper, etc. Here are 3 options of how to use your dry erase board:


Using the Zones of Regulation with Visuals

In many of our Virtual Specialized Academic Instruction (SAI) classes, Special Education teachers are using the Zones of Regulation to help students gain tangible skills for self-regulation. Let’s take a deeper dive into what the Zones are and how you can also use them in your home learning environment.

What is the “Zones of Regulation” approach?

This approach is a systematic, cognitive behavioral approach used to teach self-regulation by categorizing all the different ways we feel and states of alertness we experience into four concrete colored zones.

What is the goal of this approach?

The Zones framework provides strategies to teach students to become more aware of and independent in controlling their emotions and impulses, manage their sensory needs, and improve their ability to problem solve conflicts. The Zones of Regulation incorporates numerous visuals to teach students to identify their feelings/level of alertness, understand how their behavior impacts those around them, and learn what coping strategies they can use to manage their feelings and states.

The Zone Colors

The Zones of Regulation uses four colors to help children self-identify how they’re feeling and categorize it based on color.

  1. The Green Zone is used to describe when you’re in a calm state of alertness. Being in the green zone means you are calm, focused, happy, or ready to learn. This is predominantly the state you want your child to be in.
  2. The Yellow Zone describes when you have a heightened sense of alertness. This isn’t always a bad thing, and you still have some control of your actions when you’re in the yellow zone. Being in the yellow means you may feel frustrated, anxious or nervous. But, it could also mean you’re feeling excited, silly, or hyper – which is okay in the right situations.
  3. The Red Zone describes an extremely heightened state of intense emotions. When a person reaches the red zone, they’re no longer able to control their emotions or reactions. Being in the red zone means you’re feeling anger, rage, terror, or complete devastation and feel out of control.
  4. The Blue Zone, on the other hand, is used when a person is feeling low states of alertness or arousal. When you’re in the blue zone you may be feeling down – sad, sick, tired, or bored. You’re still in control, as you are in the yellow zone, but with low energy emotions.

As students are learning the Zones, it is very helpful for them to see a visual of each Zone, such as the chart shown above. As a starting point, you can teach your student how to identify the “color” of the Zone they are in. Next, provide coping strategies to help them regulate their bodies and get back to the green zone. Below is a visual of some strategies you can use. These strategies are meant to take no more than 5-10 minutes.

Big picture


Valentines Day Sensory Bottle

Have you tried making a sensory bottle yet? Sensory bottles are a visual and physical tool for calming and relaxing the body. A child (or adult!) can use a sensory bottle when they feel anxious, overwhelmed, "wound-up", or overstimulated and use the sense of proprioception as they shake the sensory bottle and watch the contents shift. This visual cue is a great calming strategy for many children.

When appropriate kids love making them and enjoy the fun of discovering items in the bottle. When you add a learning component like math or literacy it's even better!

To make a liquid sensory bottle add: water, baby oil, cooking oil or other liquid non-toxic substance.

Add pieces to the liquid base: small toys, natural items (acorns/flowers/sticks/rocks, etc.), beads, glitter, paper clips, crafting pom poms, etc.

Or make a dry sensory bottle by pouring in: rice, dry pasta, colored sand, quinoa, beans, split peas, beads, etc.

Adding a learning (find and seek) component by dropping in: foam or cardboard letters and/or numbers, sight words, etc.

(Please be mindful of safety when exposing your child to any small swallowable items),

Be creative!

Try this great idea just in time for Valentine's Day: A beautiful heart waterbead sensory bottle!


Helpful Websites and APPs

With so many educational resources available online it is at times challenging to decide which ones to try. In each Newsletter issue, we will highlight several free educational websites or apps that support the core academic subjects as well as behavior and come from reputable organizations. We hope you will find them helpful!