SDES White Logo
Specially Designed Education Services | Crafting a "Serious Sandwich" Classroom Management: Balancing Fun and Learning in the Special Education Classroom

Dear Special Education Teachers,

In the world of education, we often hear the saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Well, what if we told you that you can have both work and play, seriousness and fun, all in one delicious package? Enter the “Serious Sandwich” – a classroom concept designed to make learning engaging, meaningful, and downright enjoyable.

Building a “Serious Sandwich”

Imagine your classroom as a delectable sandwich, with each component carefully crafted to create a delightful and fulfilling experience. Let’s break down this concept and see how it can transform your teaching approach:

1. “Top Slice” Bread: The Icebreaker – Fun, Engaging, and Centering

    • Just like the fluffy bread on the top of your sandwich, start your class with an icebreaker activity that sets the tone. It’s fun, engaging, and helps center your students’ focus.

    • Icebreakers can be as simple as a quick game, a thought-provoking question, or a fun team-building activity. The goal is to create a positive atmosphere from the start.

2. Sandwich Center: The Heart of the Matter – Meaningful Content and Development

    • Here’s where the magic happens. The “Sandwich Center” represents your topic, instruction, lesson, and content delivery. It’s the “meat” or the main point of your lesson plan.

    • Craft your lessons with care, ensuring they are not only educational but also relatable and engaging for your students. This is where the serious work takes place, but it’s also where meaningful learning occurs.

3. Bread Slice on the Bottom: The Closer – Fun and Light Closure

    • Just as a sandwich is wrapped up with another slice of bread, conclude your class with a fun and light activity. It can be an exit ticket, a sweet or savory story, or even a joke.

    • The goal here is to leave your students with a positive, uplifting experience as they exit your classroom.

4. The Secret Sauce – The Flavor – The Group Dynamics: 

    • What makes the “Serious Sandwich” truly special is the attention to group dynamics. Think of your students as the unique ingredients that come together to make a delightful sandwich.

    • Identify and nurture different personalities within your classroom. “The Jokester,” “The Random-Abstract,” “The Time Keeper,” and “The Quiet Reflector” – these are all essential ingredients in your classroom’s recipe for success.

5. Fun and Fluffy Bread, Serious Middle, and Fulfilling Flavor Classroom Metaphor

    • Use the sandwich metaphor to help your students understand the flow of your classroom experience. The fluffy, fun bread represents the engaging and light-hearted moments. The serious middle is where the real learning happens.

    • Emphasize that just like a sandwich needs its middle to be complete, your classroom needs both fun and serious work to thrive.

Why “A Serious Sandwich”?

    • A “Serious Sandwich” approach builds a positive classroom culture by incorporating social-emotional learning and support. It recognizes the importance of group dynamics and embraces a whole-person approach.

    • It’s a recipe for success that ensures your classroom is not just a place for learning but a space where relationships are nurtured and students look forward to each “bite” of knowledge.

So, dear educators, consider crafting your own “Serious Sandwich” in your special education classroom. Balance the serious work with fun, engage your students, and watch as they savor the joy of learning.

Remember, you have the power to create an educational experience that’s both meaningful and enjoyable, just like a perfectly crafted sandwich.

Bon appétit to a week filled with “Serious Sandwich” moments in your classroom!

Journey on, Champion!

Barb Beck


P.S. Crafting Your “Serious Sandwich” Lesson Plan

As we’ve explored the concept of the “Serious Sandwich” and how it can transform your classroom experience, we wanted to offer you a practical way to implement this idea with your students. What better way to do this than by creating an actual sandwich together? Here’s a step-by-step lesson plan that follows the “Serious Sandwich” format:

Bread: Icebreaker – Fun, Engaging, and Centering

    • Start your lesson with an icebreaker activity to engage your students. For example, you can have a quick “sandwich trivia” game where they guess different types of sandwiches or their favorite sandwich ingredients.

    • Encourage interaction and excitement as you center your students’ focus on the upcoming sandwich-making adventure.

Sandwich Center: The Heart of the Matter – Meaningful Content and Development

    • The core of your lesson is making the sandwich itself. Depending on your students’ abilities, break down the process into simple, manageable steps.

    • For instance, you can have stations for each ingredient – spreading mayo, stacking lettuce, adding cheese, etc. This allows students to participate at their own pace and level.

The Secret Sauce – Group Dynamics: 

    • Embrace the diverse personalities and abilities within your group. Assign different roles based on your students’ strengths and preferences. “The Jokester” can share a fun fact about a sandwich ingredient, while “The Quiet Reflector” can focus on assembling the sandwich.

    • Encourage teamwork and collaboration throughout the lesson.

Bread Bottom: The Closer – Fun and Light Closure

    • Conclude your “Serious Sandwich” lesson with a light and enjoyable moment. Invite your students to share their thoughts on the sandwich-making experience or even tell a sandwich-related joke.

    • Ensure that the closing activity leaves everyone with a smile on their face and a sense of accomplishment.

Top Fluffy Fun Bread, Serious Middle, Fulfilling Flavor and Closing “Slice” – The Metaphor

    • Use the metaphor of the sandwich to explain each step of the lesson to your students. Just as a sandwich needs its “middle” to be complete, remind them that both serious work and fun are essential parts of the learning experience.

    • Connect the sandwich-making process to the “Serious Sandwich” concept you’ve introduced in your classroom.

By creating a “Serious Sandwich” together, you’re not only teaching your students valuable life skills but also fostering a positive classroom culture and social-emotional learning and also setting students up for a hunger for learning.  

So, roll up your sleeves, gather your ingredients, and embark on this tasty journey with your students. The “Serious Sandwich” lesson plan is not just about making a sandwich; it’s about creating a memorable and meaningful experience for your students.

Enjoy crafting your “Serious Sandwich” and savor the moments of learning and fun!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Register for a FREE Functional Academics Digital Trial!Click Here


SDES has teamed up with Mundo Pato, Inc., our cloud publishing partner, to create a simple and affordable solution for special educators to use during this critical time.

The Virtual Teaching Materials are a separate supplemental purchase that will greatly enhance the Styer-Fitzgerald Program for Functional Academics ​or can be used on its own.

Virtual Teaching Materials Pricing 1st year: $1000 non-recurring configuration fee plus 12 x monthly charge.

Per Month
Per Year*


































Monthly subscription charge is based on a minimum of 100 students ​and increases by $125 per group of 25 additional students.

Scheduling Tip

Find a student in your classroom who can read and understand your master schedule. Assign them a job in the morning to help set up individual student schedules. See the video of Megan setting up the schedule.
Play Video
Suzanne’s student Megan was her Teacher’s Assistant first period during her junior and senior year. One of her jobs, among other clerical tasks, was to set up individual student schedules. It saved Suzanne prep time in the morning and was a great vocational experience for Megan.

SDES has teamed up with Mundo Pato, Inc., our cloud publishing partner, to create the full Styer-Fitzgerald Program for Functional Academics in the cloud. *The Styer-Fitzgerald Program in the Cloud Start-Up Fee: a $6000 non-recurring start-up fee will be added to the first year subscription only.

Cloud Pricing

Per Month
Per Year*
Monthly subscription charge is based on a minimum of 100 students ​and increases by $125 per group of 25 additional students.