n2y Blog



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You do so much in a day! You help students with core subject areas using Unique Learning System. You help students with language, comprehension, and connections with the world using News-2-You, but you do so many extra tasks as well!

n2y created eXtras to help you with the many areas throughout the day that require symbol-supports. eXtras free materials page at n2y.com houses a growing collection of professionally created, symbol-supported materials  
that we share with you for free! 



Behavior and communication are undeniably linked. Time on task
with engaging 
Communication or chat boardcurriculum and activities is step one, but if you need some additional supports for communicating and addressing behavior, see if one of these might help!


Fine Motor

Holding, tracing, pinching, buttoning, opening a locker door, tying-fine motor skills exist throughout the school day! Use this growing group of activities for school or home practice.


Gross Motor

Individual gross motor activities and small group activities
can incorporate language, symbol-supports, and many group
directions. Access these pieces for on-screen or offline use
to help kids move!

                                               parachute activity

Lunch rules

Classroom Engineering

Engineered spaces aren't new, but these SymbolStix-supported materials are clear, consistent, fun, and helpful in the environment. Yes, they speak, and they are printable as well.

Fun Stuff

We couldn't resist adding a category of fun materials that
can be used by students, parents, and educational staff to connect using humor, fun, praise, and pure enjoyment. 

All of our collections will grow over time! In March, ten new pieces will be added each weekday for the first two weeks. See what you need? Love what you see? Snap a quick photo and tag us on Twitter or Instagram @n2yinc!


eXtras free materials are just one of the ways we thank you for all of the extra effort you use each day! We hope you love eXtras!

For more information about n2y's Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix or professional training, contact support@n2y.com or call us at 800.697.6575. 

What Does Bullying Mean to You?

By Anne Johnson-Oliss, n2y

When you hear the word bullying, what picture does the word conjure in your head? Do you see a playground with two children of disparate heights, one towering over the other making demands of some kind? Certainly this outdated image is one type of bullying, but abusive behavior takes many forms.

Even as researchers and legislators cannot yet agree on a definition of bullying, these behaviors must be addressed, (Blad, 2014). The situation becomes more complex when a potential victim has an intellectual or another impairment that creates a communication barrier.

So how do we help individuals with disabilities identify, stop, and communicate about bullying behavior?

Here are some supports that could help.

1)    Identify bullying behavior.

Bullying can include repeated overt physical aggression such as physical intimidation, pushing, kicking, or tripping. Helping children with impairments understand the vocabulary of bullying can help them identify it later. Using SymbolStix, photos, or videos, assist students in understanding the words paired with the images or actions.


In addition to physical intimidation, bullying can include verbal abuse such as insults, cruel directives, commands, criticisms, or lies. These can be very difficult concepts for children with intellectual or speech impairments. Pairing SymbolStix with audio or video examples from YouTube could aid understanding with more subtle forms of abuse.


Even more subtle than verbal bullying is bullying by isolation or encouraging isolation. Exclusion of the victim from conversations, activities, or projects creates a harsh environment for the victim who suffers both identifiable and invisible signs of emotional abuse. Helping children understand how friends behave through social stories could help them identify exclusion when it starts.


2)    Prevent bullying whenever possible.

Explaining the vocabulary of behavior and relationships including the positive and the negative will help with prevention. Incorporate the vocabulary into social skills stories, photographs, and activities. Use specific positive praise in all situations to identify examples of positive interpersonal behavior so that students understand what appropriate actions and words look like and feel like. If a story about bullying is required, n2y’s, I’m Being Bullied in the n2y Library contains several examples of inappropriate behavior for discussion, (Knople, 2011).


When more directness is required, consider using okay/not okay language and visuals to represent the two categories of behavior. A t-chart poster activity could be a great small group activity that involves the children listing okay behaviors and the not okay behaviors. Discussion can ensue about what those look like and why they are inappropriate.


You have educated the group about what bullying looks like. You have incorporated positive social behaviors and rewards into the discussion. You have shared examples of bullying to help prevent it from happening, but bullying episodes can still take place. What can you do?

3)    Facilitate reporting.

Teach students what to do if they identify bullying behavior. Reporting and getting help are two of the main ways to fight back against bullying. Help children understand and access symbols for talking to an adult or bullying before the need arises. Make those symbolic representations available to children on their communication devices across environments. Programming self-advocacy communication is as important as teaching other self-care skills.


4)    Stop it as soon as it starts.

On first sighting, report, or intimation of a bullying episode, take action to care for the victim, the bully, and the group as a whole.



Assuming the victim does not have any immediate medical needs, he or she needs to hear and understand that:

-what took place is not his or her fault                    

-it is not okay behavior

-the situation will be different


Assuming the bully is not in custody of law enforcement, he or she needs to hear and understand that:

-what took place will not happen again

-it is not okay behavior

-consequences are in place


If there is a group of people affected by the bullying incident, the individuals need to hear (and see) consistent messages that positive, pro-social behaviors are rewarded and bullying or abusive behaviors will not be tolerated.


Attached are files to help discuss bullying with your class.


 Blad, E. (2014) Researchers and Schools Diverge in Definitions of Bullying - Education Week. Retrieved from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/10/08/07bullying.h34.html?cmp=ENL-EU-NEWS1

CPI. (2014). Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI Training) | CPI. Retrieved from http://www.crisisprevention.com/

Harris, E. (2014, October 13). Cruel's Not Cool | CPI. Retrieved from http://www.crisisprevention.com/Blogs-CPI/Blog/October-2014/Annie-Fox-Cruels-Not-Cool

Knople, N. (2011). I'm Being Bullied. Huron, OH: Unique Learning System.

Petro, L. (n.d.). Emotional Abuse Signs. Retrieved from http://www.teach-through-love.com/emotional-abuse-signs.html



Find n2y and SymbolStix on Facebook! @n2yinc on Twitter  and @n2yinc on Instagram. To chat with us by phone about Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix or Training, 800.697.6575 or n2y.com



Had a Bad Day?

We’ve all been there!

By Anne Johnson-Oliss, n2y

Yes, we have all been there. The last bell has rung. The buses have pulled away from the curb. You have wandered back to your classroom weighing which of your personal needs to fulfill first: bathroom or drink? Maybe you slump in your chair taking a few quiet breaths in your nine free minutes before the staff meeting starts.

You survey the classroom space and reflect on the day's teaching and learning. In a flood of tiny memories during the busy day, you unconsciously evaluate your performance. As a professional educator,  reflection fuels your desire to do better each day with wait time, higher level thought questions, reciprocal communication opportunities and a thousand other written or unwritten goals. You mindlessly pick at a mark on your pants. Could that be from snack time? You tick through the day's activities in your mind searching for a substance that matches the stain.

You wish that the day had run more smoothly for the students. Several students seemed to be out of sorts today, but because they have significant communication barriers, the source of angst is elusive. You tried to keep a schedule, continue with instruction, and offer individualized assistance. The mandatory monthly fire drill at noon reversed any calm from the morning. 

Only 8 minutes until the staff meeting! Time to tidy up the space, gather your materials, and head out to meet with colleagues. The phone rings. It is a breathless parent of one of your students. The excited mom relays to you that her son pointed to a symbol of train. It seemed to be a spontaneous first for him after many weeks of practice. She tells you that he has been asking for foods and drinks using his communication device for about a week. You site teamwork. You excitedly talk about next steps, reinforcing vocabulary, language-rich environment, and more opportunities for self-expression.  You realize you are late for the staff meeting and promise to connect with her later. You thank her for calling, grab your bags, and dash off to find an open seat next to your colleagues. You think to yourself, "What a great day! I wish more days were like this!"

Your mind drifts during the staff meeting, reminding yourself there is significant good in every day! Goal-oriented thinking, relentless pursuit of answers, structured schedule, team communication and careful listening are all inherently good even if the results are mixed some days. You re-focus. You listen. You plan for tomorrow.

You are a professional educator who had a very good day. 



Find n2y and SymbolStix on Facebook! @n2yinc on Twitter  and @n2yinc on Instagram. To chat with us by phone about Unique Learning System, News-2-You, SymbolStix or Training, 800.697.6575 or n2y.com




Search. Find. Use. SymbolStix.

New searches in SymbolStix support professionals as they support students!

You know SymbolStix. They are the symbols used in Unique Learning System curriculum and in the News-2-You newspaper and materials. Access to thousands of symbols and SymbolStix ONLINE is free with these subscriptions!

Did you know that searching SymbolStix is as easy as typing in the search box? Let’s type: oral motor. Here is an ever-growing collection of oral motor exercises and tools. 

Let’s search for: heavy work. Here are a few examples of what you will find! We searched, found, dragged into a 12 place board template and typed the labels. (9 images shown here).

Hmmm….many students require symbols of sensory items and activities. Can I search for the word sensory? Yes!


What are some other umbrella terms in SymbolStix ONLINE? Try these searches: fine motor, yoga, exercise, brass, woodwind, string, noble gas, government, don’t, do not, prohibited, hospital, red, (each color word) and more!

Want to have some fun? Search in SymbolStix ONLINE for: I am your father, bad day, or need more cowbell.

Like the templates and want some quick help to use them? Try these quick tutorials.

Saving Symbols from SymbolStix ONLINE

How to Create a Template or Folder in SymbolStix ONLINE


SymbolStix - symbols with attitude.

#SymbolStixForLearning #SymbolStixForLife

For subscription or licensing information for SymbolStix, find us online at n2y.com or call us at 800.697.6575. 

Should we call it a classhome instead of a classroom?

Happy home. Happy classroom. Same basic techniques.


If we were to search online for how to make a happy home, we would find the same tips rephrased on a variety of websites. Tips for making a happy home and family include these:

-Speak nicely and often

-Develop routines

-Have fun

-Be goal-oriented

-Keep a tidy space

-Welcome guests

Wait a minute! These are all applicable to our classrooms too! We spend 6.5 hours per day (+/-) with students each day. In some cases, this is more time than their primary caregivers will have with them daily. Sometimes, we will spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our significant others. This amount of time spent together in one space places even more importance on making our classroom feel more like a home.


Speak nicely

Of course, we should all use kind speech, rich vocabulary, and various sentence structures. We should also give our students the ability to do the same! Language rich, print rich, question rich environment with appropriate amounts of activity and downtime create spaces in which people are engaged and want to spend time. Use those dedicated communication devices. Use them until the charge runs out and then charge them up again!

Develop routines

Routines help all of us understand expectations and feel safe. Even if the routines involve skills that are harder for us such as home chores, exercise, spelling, or math, we know these are simply parts of the routine for this space. Schedules and lists help provide routine as well and first/then charts are useful for everyone. Of course, as the leaders of home and school spaces we have to be flexible, but routines help us to be efficient and effective.


Have fun

Home and school both have the function of preparing people for other environments, but that doesn't mean we can't have fun too! Consider planning some theme days or silly celebrations. Think about Fun Fridays on which you read more, tell more jokes, bake something or perform a public service activity. Try designating the first of a few months, maybe February, March and April, special days on which you will do specific themed-activities. Whether at home or at school, these are all great ways to work on skills and still have fun!

Be goal-oriented

If you have a stated goal, then plan for it and resource it! If your goal is to move more and others to as well, plan for it! Start with interest surveys whether over a meal or during an activity. Collect a few pieces of equipment if needed and put more movement into your routine. Have fun with it and achieve your goals!


Keep a tidy space

Just before leaving a space, whether at home or at school, spend 180 seconds tidying up. Only three minutes of organizing will help you and the other people using the space to re-orient and feel welcome when they return. Still having trouble with this one? Treat each space like the face of a clock moving around in a circle clockwise until your time is up. Use a Time Timer(R) to help you stay on task.



Welcome guests

Guests at home and at school always involve preparation, cleaning, hosting, and language! "Hey guess who I saw?" or "Guess who will be coming?" Welcoming people into your space is a great way to connect with people. We use skills when we invite people in that we may not use otherwise.

Considering that education professionals work so diligently to make classrooms feel warm, safe, clean, orderly and fun, should we call them classhomes instead of classrooms? Did you smile just a little bit because you have created a classhome? Congratulate yourself! We certainly do!



Click on these links for more information about Unique Learning System (ULS), News-2-You, SymbolStix or Training, or find us online at n2y.com. Call us at 800.697.6575. We love to hear from you!