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Archive for October, 2012

In Oklahoma, we are not required to keep a portfolio of homeschool lessons.  I decided to make one anyways.  With Daddy on the truck all week, a portfolio is a great way to share with him the schoolwork completed.

I started out with a 3-ring binder for Little Miss.  Using the curriculum manual as a guideline, I made an index divider for each subject.  Some of her lessons involve written work while others do not.  When doing a thematic unit, that is often the case.  Many lessons are a hands-on activity.

Written work is easy.  I simply use a hole punch on the page and add it to the appropriate section in the binder.  This includes reading logs of books from the library or our home collection, copywork, and any paper that can be hole punched and added.

Hands-on activities are a little bit more work.  I take pictures with my cell phone and print them out from the computer.  I size the pictures to allow me to fit as many as possible onto a sheet or two of paper.  If you wanted to get fancy, you could do a digital scrapbook layout.  Once the pictures are organized on the paper, print it out to add to the portfolio.  A written sheet explaining the activity would be added with the pictures.

Field trips, such as the one we took to the Oklahoma City Zoo, are treated the same.  I have some field trip record sheets that I found online.  You can find free printable sheets at http://www.abcteach.com/directory/homeschooling-and-parent-resources-field-trips-8931-2-1     I love this resource for the field trip forms.  Instead of a simple record sheet, these are actual worksheets that require the child to participate.  For example, the form for a trip to the zoo includes pictures of animals that have to be matched to their names.  Some of their worksheets are for members only, but they have an assortment that are free also.  A second resource that I use for field trip records is http://www.thatresourcesite.com/printables_for_homeschoolers_logs_learner.htm  That Resource Site has a lot of fun and very useful forms on it!

One additional thing that I am doing with Little Miss’ assignments is to type up her Grammar lessons.  In the manual, they allow for you to simply discuss the lessons instead of having worksheets.  To help Daddy see what she is learning, and to provide a review we can use later, I am typing the lessons on the word processor and printing each week’s assignment for her.  One example being a lesson showing the difference between a sentence and a sentence fragment.  I typed each with a blank line before each sentence or fragment.  On the line, she wrote an “F” for fragment or an “S” for a sentence.  Typing the lessons takes very little time, yet is is giving her something to show Daddy when he is home.

Her Singapore Math workbooks are remaining intact.  I won’t be cutting the binding on those to add to the binder.  Any little books that she makes, such as her timeline book, are going to be added to the binder simply by tucking them into a pocket-style sheet protector.

With her homeschooling, I am considering adding in the Keepers of the Home program that she is doing.  It is a program from Keepers of the Faith.  The projects include not only the homemaking skills and Bible character trait studies, but her academics too.  Keepers also has a program for boys.

All in all, I am enjoying putting this binder together for her.  It will make a nice record of what she has learned throughout the year.

 

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Speaking Through Art

As many parents of a nonverbal child, we have prayed for our son to find a way to communicate.  Teaching him sign language can help, of course.  It does take time however for the child to not only learn the sign but make the connection between the gesture and it’s meaning.

This morning, Pookie was just having an “off” morning.  He was moping and watching out the kitchen window.  At that window, he is able to see the dirt road in front of our home.  I took him to the rocking chair and trying to comfort him as I endeavored to figure out what was bothering him.

Not having any luck, I asked if he would like to paint.  Painting is always a favored activity for Pookie.  If he is stressed or over stimulated, painting will calm him.  I set him up to the table with a palette of various colors of Tempura paints to choose from.

At first, he did simple broad strokes to make a background in purple.  When he kept going back to the paints, I would guide him to the lighter colors, but he knew exactly what he wanted.  He kept going to the purple.  I tried guiding his choices to see if he was making a true choice or painting aimlessly.  His insistence in color choice proved it was a definite choice on his part.

Next, he went for the red paint and began brushing it into the purple, which darkened the red further.  After a few moments, I began to see an image appear in his painting.  He was showing me what was on his mind.  Below is the painting that he made.  I took a picture of it as it hung to dry in the window.  The backlight from the sunshine makes the focus of his painting really stand out.  Keep in mind, he is 4 yrs. old.

What was on his mind?  He is missing his Daddy, who is a truck driver.  He painted Daddy’s truck.

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This week, Little Miss’ history readings have been based on the topic of the Pilgrims’ stories.  The current story is about a family in England.  It speaks of their daily life and how they came to become one of the first families to sail to settle the colonies.

Though it wasn’t a part of her lessons, Little Miss is wanting to find the town on a map of England.  She is very interested in the story and learning about where they came from.  We got out my netbook and looked up the area of England we were reading about.  We also looked up pictures of the king and any other references we could find.

I love how excited she is becoming over the lessons.  The way the curriculum ties it all together makes the subjects flow into each other beautifully.  By the end of the morning, her work is done and she is free to play with her brother.

One art assignment that Little Miss had was to paint a climbing rose vine like the one in the story that was climbing up the side of the family’s home.  We cut a potato into a rectangle so that she could paint the bricks for the wall.  Next, she painted the green vines climbing up the bricks.  Sponge painting the roses was a favorite part.  Pookie saw her painting and wanted to join in, so I guided him through the project also.

It is such a humbling experience to watch your child enthusiastically seek to learn more about their topic of study.  Little Miss is taking the lessons a little further than the curriculum suggests, which I find to be great!

It is encouraging to me to see how interested she is in the whole process.  Whether it be her math, reading , or art, she is putting a lot of herself into the work.  I love that she finds such joy in it.  I am hoping that the love of learning will say with her.  If it does, it will serve her well throughout her life.

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With the Halloween holiday nearly here, I wanted to share a couple of ideas that I use with my little ones to keep them a bit safer.  These are ideas that I use year round.  Autistic children are known to wander off.  Unfortunately, they are so quiet that it happens very easily even with the most vigilant of parents.  So far, I have not experienced this with our son, but I still take precautions just in case.

The first tip is to use brightly colored or reflective duct tape to make a wristband.  Folding the tape so that the adhesive doesn’t touch the child’s skin, it is either taped or stapled together when ready to place on the child’s wrist.  On the tape, write your child’s name, if nonverbal autistic include that, your name and cell phone number.  Place this on your child’s wrist or around their ankle.

The second tip is to use your cell phone to take a picture of your child before each outing.  On Halloween, take a picture of them both with and without their costume if wearing a mask or face paint that covers their face.  If the unthinkable happens and you are separated from your child for any reason, you will have a current picture to show to authorities or others helping you to find your child.

 

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We are in our 2nd week of using Heart of Dakota’s Little Hands To Heaven preschool/Pre-K curriculum, but I wanted to share what we are doing with Pookie. First, for those who are new to my blog, let me give you a bit of background so that you may understand why we made certain adaptations. Our son, age 4, has a very low-functioning level of classic autism disorder. He is nonverbal, even after 2 years of speech therapies. Unlike a typical child, he never developed the pincer movement and has difficulty using his fingers to pick up or hold objects. He has to “palm” or use his fist to pick up and hold objects. Due to the lack of pincer movement and a sensory issue with objects in his hands, he is unable to feed himself or to even drink from a cup without aid. This is complicated with a weak muscle issue that he was born with. Though he will be 5 in early spring, he is cognitively between 18 months and 2 years of age.  We do not believe this to be accurate as the testing requires him to be able to answer or perform in ways that he is physically unable to do at this time. With that in mind, I want to share how we did a few of the activities.

Reading to Pookie is always fun. He loves to be read to.  When I get a book from the bookcase, he quickly goes to the couch and waits for me without being asked to do so.  I read the Bible and other stories to him, pointing out the pictures. After reading a story, I go through the pictures a second time. I point to each one, naming them. I then ask him to show me a specific item at which time he will point to that object in the picture.  This gives me a clear indication of that part of his understanding.

One art project involved drawing on paper with a crayon, then washing it with black paint. Because he is unable to hold the crayon on his own, I lightly held his fingers in the proper position to hold the crayon. He guides the movement of the crayon, while I simply aid him in not dropping the crayon. This worked out very well. Painting the black wash over the crayon markings was easy for him to do on his own. I have a set of paint brushes with a knob styled handle that is easier for him to grip.  He liked watching as he brushed the black paint over the crayon markings.  The black paint didn’t stick to the crayon, so the colors shown through.

A fingerplay activity is done in a hand-over-hand method. I have him sit next to me.  I recite the words as I guide his hands to do the motions. This is the same method that I am using to teach him sign language. In time, he will be able to make the motions on his own, but for now, it is a way to teach them.

The circle activity for math was done in a slightly different way than the lesson manual suggested. I wanted the activity to also serve a sensory & fine motor skill developmental function to aid in building his fine motor skills. The activity was themed on  circles & colors. Using his paint dauber (bingo marker type) he drew his circles. For this, I have to lightly hold my hand below his forearm to support his arm as he uses the dauber. He made circles in several colors. Next, he sorted colored pom-poms by placing them inside of the circles with matching colors, red pom-poms in the red circle, etc.

The letter “A” activity had to be changed to something within his ability. I put some rice into a shallow dish and guided his hand to draw the letter A in the rice with his finger. On a piece of paper, I wrote the “A” and “a” with a dashed line between on art paper so that he could do it with his paint dauber.

One day, the lesson manual called for using a caterpillar activity.  The suggested activity was not within the abilities of Pookie, so I adapted it.  We made caterpillars by gluing pom-poms onto a piece of cardstock in the caterpillar shape. I bent a pipe clearer to make the antennae for him and using a q-tip, he put paint on one pom-pom to make the eyes.

An activity teaching the numeral 1, which involved cutting was completely out of his ability, so again, we used paints.  The activity was to cut out 1 tree to glue to the page for the numeral 1.  Instead of the cutting activity, I painted his hand and wrist brown (this is another sensory activity to aid him in his sensory issues) and helped him make a handprint on art paper. After washing his arm & hand, he used paint daubers to make colored leaves on his tree.

I am thrilled that the Heart of Dakota curriculum is so easy for me to adapt.  Pookie loves his lessons.  I am seeing that the one thing he loves to do above all else is to paint.  Who knows?  They say that autistic children have one or two areas that they excel at.  Maybe this is the beginnings of one of his.

It is such a blessing to find a curriclum that is not laden with worksheets or other activities that would set Pookie up for failure.  Even in the work that Little Miss is doing in her lessons, I am already seeing where minor adjustments may need to be made for Pookie later on when e is at that level.  I am so glad that we were guided to it.

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We are on our second week of using Heart of Dakota curriculum.  I am so grateful to those who emailed and have spoken to me about this company.  Their materials are very easy to use and effective.  Already, I am seeing a difference in what the kids are learning.

Little Miss has been having fun learning basic grammar this week. The first grammar lesson was learning the difference between a sentence and a fragment.  I am amazed at the level of grammar she is doing.

In history, she is learning early American history.  It is wonderful timing that she is learning about the Colonial period just before Thanksgiving.  One request that she had was to have me check out a book at the library on the Constitution.  I never thought I would see a 6 year old interested in that.  We are so proud of her!

Pookie has been doing activities from his Preschool/Pre-K book with a few adaptations to meet his physical abilities.  Sorting colors, painting, using various mediums to draw alphabet letters, these are all easy adaptations.  He does each lesson, I simply make small adjustments to make it an activity that he is able to manage.

By far, the kids’ favorite subjects are reading and art.  I still read to them about 3 hours each day.  Even Pookie will run over to the couch when he sees me take a book off the shelf.  Reading old classic stories to them is a joy. For history, I am reading to Little Miss a biography about George Washington.  We also have added into the history readings a couple of smaller books on Colonial life.

I have a small book of Colonial period foods.  The recipes are very simple dishes, but typical of what would have been eaten at that time period.  I am planning to have Little Miss assist me in preparing a meal using recipes from that book.  It should make a nice addition to the studies.

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Little Miss learning the chain stitch.

Our Little Miss is just growing up too fast.  My youngest daughter, I had thought she would be my baby girl forever.  This past week, she watchd as I was crocheting a dishcloth.  After a while. she remarked to me that it looked like fun.  She then asked me to teach her.  I had a ball of cotton yarn and an extra crochet hook, which I have given to her.   On Sunday afternoon, I sat with her and taught her to chain stitch.  She is now working on making a chain that can be used as garland on a small Christmas tree.

Some days, Little Miss is very much still a little girl.  She keeps reminding me that her 7th birthda will be here in a few months and she will be a big girl then.  LOL   It is cute to hear her so adament about that.  She loves her Barbie dolls, yet is just as interested in baking bread or doing the more old-fashioned homemaking skills.  At her age, washing laundry by hand with a washboard is still fun to do.

Each morning, now that the cooler weather has arrived, she enjoys a cup of “little people coffee” as she calls it.  A nice warm cup of cocoa!  She also loves having a cup of herbal tea at lunchtime.  A favorite activity is to help me make my buttermilk-raisin scones served warm with cinnamon-butter to serve with the afternoon tea.  A real treat is when we have a “high tea” complete with the little meal.

Another side to Little Miss is that she loves to be in dresses or skirts. She wears jeans or leggings, but prefers the dresses.  In cold months, she wears the leggings under her dresses.  Those leggings are the ones that she refers to as bloomers.  She actually has been wanting me to make her real bloomers like what girls wore long ago.  She has alredy learned that they keep your legs arm as well as being “wind insurance” when outdoors.  What is wind insurance, you might be asking?  That is simply our way of saying that if the Oklahoma winds pick up the hem of the dress, she would not be embarrased.  LOL

I adore my little “big girl” and all the facets of her personality.  She is a joy and a blessing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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