Unique Learning Systems: How I Utilize It

First of all, Happy Thanksgiving y'all!!! Hope your day is full of family, friends, and FOOD! I can't WAIT to stuff my face full of turkey, potatoes, and stuffing. :) (and pumpkin pie, DUH)

I'm here to talk about Unique Learning Systems. Do you use Unique in your special education classroom? If you're not familiar with Unique, click HERE to visit the website and learn a little bit more about it!

Basically, Unique is a monthly curriculum designed specifically for special education classrooms. The work is differentiated, there is always a pre/post assessment, and the lessons cover a variety of standards while hitting either a Science or Social Studies theme each month.

Our Special Education Director requires all of the moderate to intensive needs teachers in the district to use this curriculum to keep things consistent along ALL grade levels. 100% honesty here, I wasn't a huge fan at first. I tried getting rid of it and then finally accepted that I had to suck it up and figure out how to use it in my classroom!

Obviously, every year is different. Last year, I worked on Unique lessons in a whole group setting. This year, I now work on the lessons during our morning centers! I LOVE this because it makes differentiating a little easier for me. I already differentiate my centers (students are in pairs), so that helps immensely for using Unique! 

Last month, we learned all about animals in their homes. This theme was incorporated into everything from comprehension, math, sorting, etc.!

sorting animals by their home

working on patterns with animals

matching animals to their home

recreating "Daisy's home" after reading a story
I will occasionally use our school Chromebooks to help with a ULS lesson. In the lessons, there are some activities that are interactive. For things such as comprehension, sorting pages, etc., I will use the Chromebook to sort along with my students so that they can double check their work! It helps them visually complete their work as we do it together!

sorting animals by their habitat
As you can see, Unique does a GREAT job at incorporating the Science or Social Studies theme into all those areas you need to hit for grade level standards. I love that the theme is even carried over into math through patterns, measurement, addition, etc.! Best of all? The lessons are always the same layout and set up each month, so your students will know exactly what to expect!

To help me continue to reinforce concepts learned each month in Unique Learning Systems, I created these Science & Social Studies File Folder Activities!! I LOVE that I'm able to use these during morning work or independent work to continue working on the standards!! Below are the file folders I used along with the October Unique Learning Unit.

Best part about these File Folders? I prep them and they are ready for YEARS! The bundle contains 44 file folders that hit K-5 standards in both Science and Social Studies! Check out the bundle pack HERE! :)

If you use Unique in your classroom, I'd love to hear how you incorporate it into your day!!


  1. YOU ARE AWESOME! I use ULS however I never knew it could be used this way. I use parts of the whole by taking the story, going over the book parts, doing a picture walk, and using the comprehension page as an assessment. THANK YOU THANK YOU for showing me a new way to use it!

  2. What level are your students? I work with students with severe/profound cognitive/physical disabilities. They are non-verbal and require hand-over-hand assistance. Our district uses ULS as well. I'm always interested in how others use it with students that are not independent. Ideas?

    1. I work with mild/moderate students with cognitive/physical disabilities. My students are also non-verbal and one requires hand-over-hand assistance. I am a first year teacher starting in January and my district uses ULS as well. I am also interested in some ideas on how to utilize ULS effectively in my classroom.

  3. I am currently using it with my students as a large group read aloud. We discuss the book as we are reading it and relate it to our life by finding actual videos to explain things further. I use it also as comprehension and parts of a story activities within small group. I incorporate the science/social studies lessons and parts of the writing activities in throughout the month. I'm not a fan of the math lessons though. I make that the theme of the classroom for the month so I find other activities that relate to the concept. My students love taking home the books at the end of the month. I think any way you can relate it to information they know, they love it. (I use a lot of brain pop and magic school bus videos with this. Sometimes PBS kids has an activity or video I can show too.)

  4. Do you use each lesson or just kind of choose what you want to teach? I'm having a hard time getting it all figured out to start using it.

  5. I am interested in using ULS but feel so overwhelmed and don't know how to start! Any suggestions?

    1. Download the monthly lesson plan and look over it. Maybe start with one lesson a day and go from there. Once you start implementing the lesson plan, you can see how it's supposed to be presented to the students. It's overwhelming at first but once you start playing around with it and getting used to it, it becomes easier.

  6. I just went to training, I will have a 3-5 grade band. All my students are on access points (autism). But I too am feeling overwhelmed and not sure how to actually get started with the program. I use attainment for math and PCI for reading. My problem is finding the time to fit it all in. There seems to be soon much.
    Any suggestions would be wonderful

  7. I use it for our reading (since a good chunk of my kids go out to gen ed for a big part of the day) and since it switches between science and SS it covers 2 at once. We do the vocab every day and then read that weeks story. Ill read the first day they'll read sight words the second and third days, and the fourth and fifth days they read all the sight words and vocab (from the month) they know. by that point they are reading most of the book themselves. Sometimes I'll have one kid read the whole page (w/ assistance as needed).

  8. I use ULS as well, and I love it! It's what I use for whole group instruction, and then more specific instruction based more on IEP goals and specific needs are during 1:1 and independent work times. I teach in a 5-8 middle school setting with students who are severe/profound and are self-contained for most of the day. We especially like the life skills components at the 6-8 grade band for cooking and other application purposes.

    Once the month is available, I download it and share it with a para educator who works on printing and copying for me. This all gets put into file folders (one per lesson). When the current month is done, I store those materials (with the exception of the books), and the file folders that my para organized gone right into my cart that I had just empty.

    It is daunting at first, but after the third month or so, I was able to create a system for me that made sense. Organization was key for me. I'm starting to get into the assessment portions of it. Fortunately/unfortunately, however you want to look at it, I don't have a whole lot of guidance in the district, so I'm essentially pioneering this one my own.


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