"These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." - John 16:33

Thursday, September 29, 2011

N is for Noah

School went much smoother this week.  I was more organized and I had taken a look at week one and was able to find ways to tweak our schedule.  I think by week four or five we will be right on task.  Our theme for the week was Noah and his Ark.  We learned about the letter "N", the number one, and the color orange.  Our memory verse was : "But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord." Genesis 6:8  The big discussion of the week was that just like Noah, we need to listen to what God tells us, no matter how crazy we think it may be.

 On Wednesdays the kids have a friend over who is doing the same home school plan.  We will call her "Princess".  This weeks sensory bin was a water bin with Noah's Ark.  We used the Ark and animals to act out the story.  I started and then prompted the kids to finish the story on their own.  They did an awesome job and had obviously listening been listening to the story when we had been teaching it to them because they were able to tell the story without my help.  I then let the kids have a little free play together in the water. 

And unlike in the Bible....our Ark sank.  :-)
After I cleaned up our wet mess from the water bin, I pulled out the bin from last week.  We didn't get a chance to use it last week because we ran out of time, and I thought the kids would really like it...and they did.  Last week we learned about insects.  I made a small bin filled with Decaffeinated coffee, plastic bugs and spoons and small cups.  The kids loved it!  It took alot to get them away from the bin when our time was up!  Although the kids enjoyed this activity, and it was a great sensory activity (the soft but gritty coffee grounds and strong fragrant smell), it was VERY messy and had the potential for some big stains on clothing.  (Next time, I think we will be sure to have old clothing on!)  I'm glad Peanut was wearing darker colors.  Sassy was wearing Khakis and although they looked like they may be ruined, all of the staining came out in the wash without any extra work.
They seem to love coffee almost as much as I do!
This week's fine motor activity we called "nickels".  I chose to use nickels because they began with the letter, "N" so it was an additional way include some phonic in our lesson.  I took a small shoe box for each child, and put a small slit in the lid.  The kids each got a handful of nickels (place flat on the table).  They then had to take the nickels, one at a time, and put them in the box.  This was a great fine motor activity!  It's not easy using your index finger and thumb to pick a coin up off a smooth table.

Peanut has an issue with a right sided neglect (he ignores/avoids using his right side).  He performs activities better with his right side, but prefers to use his left, which is actually more difficult for him.  He tries to use his left hand to write and cut but I suspect he is truly right handed.  When doing the nickel activity I instructed him to use his right hand to pick up the nickels.  After this activity was done, we moved on to cutting.

This picture is a little blurry, but which hand is her using???  His right hand!  I handed him the scissors and allowed him to chose the side.  He then took the scissors and cut out his memory verse 100% independently!  This is the first time he has ever been able to do this!  The picture is probably blurry, because I'm quietly crying as I'm taking the picture!  Once their memory verses were cut out and taped, we moved on to another cutting activity from "Lets Learn to Cut."  Again, I let Peanut pick which hand to hold the scissors.  This time he insisted on using his left and had much more difficulty.  I think we are going to start to encourage more right hand usage!  I have now begun to research this issue.  We can't be the only family out there seeing this type of issue.  I have found some answers, and will share what we have found as soon as I can understand it all.

Both children have some visual perception issues, although Peanuts is much more apparent, so I try to include upright activities with the easel every week.  This week we painted out number ones with orange paint.  The kids had alot of fun with this.  I think we'll make this a weekly activity.

I had found a Noah Ark activity on First School that turned out really cute and the kids like doing it.  It kept their attention for a good 45 minutes!  We used Q-tips to paint the rainbow and the ark.  I cut all of the construction paper pieces out before hand and helped the kids glue them on.  Using the Q-tips was another nice fine motor activity.  It also encouraged the kids to use a tripod grasp to help with begining to write.

Last week was busy but went very well.  I was able to get great progress with peanut and his ABA goals, and actually got some data graphed too!   I'm finding it's still going to take a while to fall into our new schedule so everything can get done.  I feel we are doing the right thing for our kids.  They are getting what they need.  This is just yet another confirmation for me that if you follow Gods guidance he will bring you in the right direction.

'"but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
   they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."
Isaiah 40:31

God Bless!
Mommy Provost

Monday, September 19, 2011

Our first official week of home school! (On our way to week 2!)

This past week was our first official week of home school.  I wasn't sure how it was going to go, but it all turned out better than I expected and I'm loving our new schedule.  Last weekend, just before we were supposed to start, I got sick with viral pharyngitis.  I had a fever and couldn't get out of bed over the weekend.  I honestly don't remember the last time I was THAT sick.  Fortunately it was the weekend an so my husband was home and my mother stayed late with the kids on Saturday while my husband was at work.  My wonderful mother in law was ready to come help with anything we needed as well.  We really are so blessed to have such supportive family and friends!  By Monday I was feeling 80% better and ready to jump back into action.  I figured I'd share what we are doing and what we are using for the curriculum we've created.

Therapy:  Both children are in ABA therapy of some kind, and this is done daily.  Sassy has 5 hours a week through Early Intervention and we continue to reinforce her behavioral targets when the therapist is not here.  We can't afford to pay for private ABA therapy Peanut and I are doing his ABA therapy together using the Skills program through the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD).  I do trials with him while Sassy is in her various therapies and whenever else I can fit it in.  My goal is 20 hours per week.  My husband, my mother and occasionally Jacob's OT are also doing certain trials with him as well to help maintain the skills over various environments with different people.  I have to say I love this program.  Once we really get the program going I'll share more about it.

On Sundays Peanut does his Therapeutic Listening on the way to church and on the way back.  We live about 30 minutes from the church and we are there for a little over 3 hours (usually 9:30-12:30) so the sessions are separated by 3 hours.  During the week I work Peanuts therapeutic listening in while we are driving to a therapy, during free play time, or he will wear it during lunch or dinner.

Both children have Sensory Processing Disorder as well as fine and gross motor difficulties.  They both go to Sensory Integration (SI) therapy/OT at Easter Seals 1 hour per week each (We love Easter Seals!).  During our home school and play times I work in as many SI, fine and gross motor activities as well so they really are working on this daily as well.  We have our Sensory Room in our home, our awesome outdoor playground and sand table, and a local indoor playground that is run by a former therapists.  It is set up in a way that encourages socialization with the kids, fosters pretend play and is a safe environment for my kids (with safety issues) to climb, jump and slide to their hearts content. 

Sassy is seen weekly by a Special Educator through Early Intervention.  This person does OT and Speech activities with her.  Her receptive and expressive speech is considered advanced for her age, but she does need help on pragmatics.  Peanut still needs help with his speech.  We have him on a wait list at Easter Seals for an evaluation to get started in Speech Therapy with them.  I have training in Physical Therapy and some ABA (I learned the basics through a local Early Intervention program that Peanut was in 2 years ago, and I also completed and passed 40 hours of ABA training through the Skills program.)  So I am comfortable with OT, SI, PT, and ABA.  I know nothing about Speech Therapy so I've decided I need someone to help with this.  The kids also attend Music Therapy.  This therapy does a variety of activities that work on all of their therapy's combined.  We have seen some great language improvements as well as motor, cognitive and social improvements.  I recommend Music Therapy for any child with Autism.  The only downside is that many insurance companies don't cover this therapy.  For us, the expense is worth it's benefits.

With these therapies for both kids, I have been able to schedule it so we actually have 2 days without any therapy at all!  One of these days we have friends over to play and once a month, go with us on a field trip.  The other day I use to have a somewhat "normal" day.  We do our therapy and home school activities, go to the library, and run errands together.

We decided on a Bible centered curriculum.  Each week would have a theme that goes along with the letter of the week.  We also have a color or shape of the week, a number of the week and a Bible memory verse.  This past week we learned about the letter I.  Our theme was insects.  We also learned about the number zero and the color Red.  Our memory verse was "God will instruct us and show us the way."  Psalm 32:8.  We read about Moses during our morning Bible time and talked about how God instructed and showed moses and the Israelites the way out of Egypt. 

We went on a field trip with friends as well.  We went to a butterfly sanctuary to see various insects.  There, the kids were able to see insects in every stage that the butterfly and moth go through as they transform.  They also saw birds, fish and even a praying mantis.  This was calming for Sassy and difficult for Peanut.  Being in a humid room, with butterflies flying everywhere around you, birds chirping in a room that echos, plants everywhere (which you are not allowed to touch), with fragrant flowers and the sound of a water fall, was tough to say the least.  He was asking to leave and so after a quick walk through we left that are and went to an area where the kids could still see everything through a glass window.

We begin our day with 30 minutes of TV and "wake-up" time.  The kids have their juice with all their first round of various supplements mixed in.  I call this their morning coffee.  If there is even the slightest delay in receiving that juice they are at your feet whining until they get it.  After that we turn off the TV for most of the day and have breakfast.  During this time we also review the calender, our daily picture schedule, do our Bible reading, prayer and devotional. Depending on our schedule depends on what we do next.

Circle time: There are some other daily things we are sure to do.  One of those activities is circle time. Each child has a carpet square to sit on.  We sing the hello song to each other, a Bible song, a preschool song, and a finger play activity related to the weeks theme.  We then site together and use use my laptop to do a couple of activities on Starfall.com

School work: The kids are both working at a preschool level.  We will do small and big art projects as well as various worksheets and activities relating to our weekly topic.  It seems impossible to buy one curriculum in a box and have it "fit" you child, let alone 2.  We have created a curriculum using multiple sites and books.  We are using an eclectic approach, mixing multiple forms of teaching including classic teaching methods, the structure of ABA and theories of Charlotte Mason, Montessori Method, and Sue Patricks workbox system.  I will share more as we go.  I was unable to really take any pictures of anything this past week because I was so busy trying to make our new schedule "work".  I think as the weeks go on it will get a bit easier and I'll be able to post more as I go.  All of the kids therapy progress and school work progress is documented in a sheet I created to keep track of everything.  I was able to fill most of it in last week.  I guess so far, so good right?

So that is our new home school plan!  Phew!  I'm tired just looking at it!  Well, I'm off to try to unburry ourselves from some laundry before bed.

Goodnight and God Bless!

Mommy Provost

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Our Construction Birthday Party!!

Peanut turned four August 21st!!!  I can't believe he's already four, they grow up so fast!  In the past couple of years we have transitioned from having a giant birthday party for each child to having a small family party and a small kids party.  This year for Peanuts fourth birthday we had his party at our house.  I got a Celebrate Express catalog at the hours a few months ago, and I went through, pulled five pages out of the magazine and let Peanut pick his own theme.  This year he chose a Construction Theme which I have to say, turned out to be a really cute theme!

I was able to have custom made invitations created through Vista Print.  We dressed Peanut up in a cute construction outfit and downloaded his picture on to the invitation.  
(Our personal information is blacked out)

The morning of the party, I went out and picked up our balloon order.  A friend of mine and I went out ant decorated while my wonderful husband stayed in side, fed the kids lunch and got Sassy down for a nap.  We wrapped streamers around the swing set and attached balloons and happy birthday signs to the fence.  We set up a table for face painting, filled the sand table with sand and construction toys and filled a kiddie pool (which ended up being the star of the party).  We blocked the driveway off with a car and left out chalk and tricycles for the kids to play with.

 The party started at 2 and ended at 5 so we only really had to serve snacks and cake.  We had water, soda and juice in coolers.  We also had out a veggie platter, watermelon slices, chips, pretzels and chocolate covered strawberries.  I wanted the kids to be able to have most of the snacks too if they wanted them.  The chips and veggies were organic and the strawberries were organic an covered in chocolate from Enjoy Life which is milk chocolate  made from rice milk instead of cows milk.  The kids loved being able to eat most of the snacks and everything was empty when it was time to bring the dishes in to prepare for the cupcakes.

Here is the view of the swing set.
For favors, we filled pails from the Dollar Store with goodies (bubbles, crayons, coloring sheets, Slinky's, wiki stix, stickers and an organic lolly pop.)  I then got hard hats from Celebrate Express and used letter scrap booking stickers (I had found on clearance) and put each child's name on their hard hat.
I went to Toys R Us and bought some inexpensive tool sets ($2-$5 a piece) and put them in a pail of sand as the center piece for the tables.  I also got paint swatches from the hardware store and put them on the table as well.
I printed off a little tag to put on the goodie pails to thank the children for coming to the party.  I mounted them on card stock an put small construction stickers on them as decoration.  The tag says, "Thank-you for joining the crew.  Peanut had fun celebrating his 4th birthday with you!"
For the food table we took black table cloths and used yellow duct tape and made the table into a road.  The trucks are puzzle pieces from on of our infant puzzles.
Walmart was having their toy clearance a couple weeks prior to the party.  They had their construction moon sand set (Moon Sand is gluten free) on clearance so I bought 2 sets.  One the day of the party we assembled the pieces and combined the sand from both sets into one container.

I made our own cupcakes (as well a a few that were gluten free, casein free, egg free, soy free for my kids).  We crushed chocolate and cinnamon graham crackers, crushed them and sprinkled it on top for the "dirt".  I had printed off this construction symbol from Microsoft Publisher, cut them out and glued them to Popsicle sticks from our home school supplies.  Wallah! Cupcake toppers made with what we had around the house!

Peanut enjoyed his cupcake...

And so did Sassy!
 All I can say is, what a great day with great friend and great fun!  I not only had fun during the party but I also had fun planning it and making all of the decorations.  It's days like those that make me feel that we are really blessed.  God is good!

God Bless!

Mommy Provost