Archive for July, 2013

I can’t believe that August is only days away.  It is amazing how it can seem so far away in May, only to blink and find yourself preparing to turn the calendar page.  With August, comes the beginning of the new school term.

While we are using Heart of Dakota’s curriculum again this year (we love it!) I chose to do unit studies in place of their suggested science curriculum.  I based the unit studies on the science lessons suggested in the lesson manuals.  For example, Little Miss’ lessons for the first couple of weeks will be based upon the Ocean and life at the seashore.  I found on Homeschool Share a free unit for the book, “Pagoo” by Holling C. Holling.  This will be a portion of Little Miss’ unit study.  It is a chapter book about a character named Pagoo that explains the life cycle of a Hermit Crab through the crab’s experiences in the story.  Each chapter has it’s own notebooking activity.

For Pookie, I am going to use the book, “Hello Ocean” by Pan Munoz which teaches the 5 senses in relationship to a child’s visit to a beach.  Homeschool Share has a free lapbook for this story also.

This is one of the aspects of Heart of Dakota curriculum that I enjoy the most.  We can purchase the economy package, then add our own science lessons to it.  The lesson manual in the economy package is thorough and has science activities in it to go along with each day’s studies.  You are able to do these activities, yet still add your own to it as a substitute for their suggested materials.

Another aspect of the final days of homeschool preparation is making the kids special “Back to Homeschool” gift bags.  This is becoming a tradition in our family.  It is based off of the idea of the German Schultuete or school cone.  The German tradition was to make a cone to be filled with school supplies and a few little extra goodies to make a child’s first day of school fun.  These were originally given to Kindergarten or 1st grade children though here in the US, families who have adopted this tradition often do it for all their children.

This year I am planning to wrap a gift box to put the kids’ goodies into.  A festive gift bag would work just as well.  If you are interested in making the school cone, you can find a tutorial at Alpha Mom’s blog.  For Little Miss, I am adding things like a blank book, stickers, glitter crayons, water color paints, decorative pencils, and a couple of her favorite treats.  Pookie’s will contain items such as jumbo crayons, water colors, small containers of play dough, a sensory toy, and a couple of treats.

Overall, I am feeling very little stress in getting ready for the new school term.  Amazing!  This is likely to be the least stressed I have ever been in preparing lessons.  Yet, another great reason why I love heart of Dakota!  Now, the only things left to do is to put a few books on hold at the library and maybe purchase a book or two from Amazon.

I decided to do a master schedule for the workboxes.  I will post about that in a future post.

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This past month has been one with a huge leap forward for Pookie.  He began feeding himself finger foods and with aid would use a fork or spoon.  Yesterday, he finally began to eat with a fork completely on his own!  No one had to help him hold the fork or assist in getting his food onto the fork.  He did it completely by himself!

Having a child with severe autism, you never take for granted the steps they take towards independence.  With each step that they take forward, they gain a confidence that cannot be gained in any other way.

Mealtimes used to be a time of stress.  Pookie would try to indicate what he wanted, then get upset if you didn’t give him a bite of the specific piece of food he was pointing to.  He also became upset if you didn’t give him a bite as quickly as he wanted.  It took a while for him to accept that he had to take turns, allowing you to have a bite of your own meal in between him being fed his meal.

Now that he is feeding himself, he is happier at mealtimes.  He sets the rate at which he is fed and can choose which piece of food to eat.  He has control of his meals.  During this past week, he has stopped using a booster seat at the table also.  This has him very happy as well.  He is able to leave the table on his own when he is done eating.

The best response I have heard all week to Pookie’s achievements has been from Little Miss.  When she watched her little brother feeding himself independently, he became teary-eyed and said, “God answered our prayers.”

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July is here and I am wondering where summer got the idea to be in such a hurry this year.  Daddy is going to be taking his vacation time in a few weeks.  Once he returns to work, our new school term will begin.

Last week, I made 20 file folder activities for Pookie.  They are very easy to put together.  Being that he needs a lot of repetition to learn new skills and information, I used a Pre-K level workbook from a discount store.  I looked through the workbook and chose pages that contained mazes, matching, dot-to-dot, and cut & paste.

The mazes and dot-to-dot pages were glued to the inside of a file folder with one page per folder.

The matching pages are the type where a line is drawn from a picture on the left to its match on the right.  These were also glued into file folders.

The cut and paste pages were slightly different.  The part to be cut out was in the bottom section of each page.  I trimmed that portion off and glued the upper portion (picture part) onto the file folders.  The bottom portion was left intact and set with its folder.

I took all the files to the Mardel’s store to be laminated.  I LOVE that store!  They have a self-service heat laminating machine that is large enough to laminate a poster.  The cost of laminating is 25 cents per foot.  I laminated all the file, along with the cut & paste strips, for a cost of $5.00.  Once I got home, I cut off the excess laminate from around the files.

For the cut-n-paste activities, I cut out the pieces for each file’s activity.  Using self-adhesive hook & loop dots, I adhered the pieces to the file folder.  Another self-adhesive dot was placed on the area of the picture where these pieces were to be placed.  This serves the purpose of Pookie having to match the pieces to their proper place in the picture.  With his delays in fine motor skills, the activity would have been impossible to do if he had to cut out and paste the pieces.  He currently doesn’t have the ability to use scissors.  By making the activity into a file folder game, he will now be able to complete the picture.  I have been having trouble getting pictures uploaded, but will post some as soon as I am able to figure out the problem.

These activities are great for tucking into a workbox.  Another great use of them is to take them along with you when go to an appointment. I have used these when we spend the afternoon at the library.  The kids are able to do a bit of homeschooling while they wait for a computer to become available.

Next, I will be making some of these file games for Little Miss.  Being that she is going into 2nd grade, her will be more challenging.  A page with multiplication facts for each number will definitely be one of the types of files I make for her.  There is so many possibilities!

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