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Archive for December, 2013

I am always on the look-out for free resources to extend activities.  One such resource are the fun pattern blocks.  Yes, there are books available but what about once your kids have tired of them?  Well, after doing some searching I have found some sites with free printable pattern block pages.  These activities are good for Pookie to teach him to match shapes, fine motor, and visual discrimination.  A worksheet/mat and the pattern blocks needed to complete it can be placed into a TEACCH task tray or a workbox.

Prekinders has a nice selection of printables in both outline and in full color.  Scroll to the bottom of the page and you find another link on their page for Christmas pattern block mats.

Confessions of a Homeschooler has pattern block printable mats for the numerals 1-20 and the letters of the alphabet.

This is a link to a Pinterest Board for patterns.  Lots of great ideas and printables here.

Making Learning Fun has not only the patterns but some printable pattern blocks for those who have not purchased the sets from a store.  Print onto colored cardstocks and laminate before cutting apart.   Optional idea is to place adhesive backed magnets onto the back of each pattern block.  Lay the pattern mat onto a cookie sheet and the magnetic paper “blocks” will stay in place once you place them.

This is another site with printable pattern blocks.  This set has a color suggestion at the bottom of each page.  It is recommended to print onto cardstock and laminate for durability.

Guided Math website has a long list of links to pattern block resources.

Learning Resources has a free 32-page pattern block workbook that you can download and print.

 

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We are blessed where we live.  We are about 1.5 hours from 2 major cities that have museums, a zoo, and aquarium.  Closer to home, we have additional smaller museums and cultural centers to take the children to.  These become very important resources for homeschooling families.

Recently, I was driving past a children’s museum that I have known about for some time.  We have been visiting with family members and the museum is in the town near their home.  The Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum is located in Seminole, Oklahoma.

When I entered the museum, I spoke to the receptionist at the front desk.  My intent was to ask a few questions about possible sensory issues that our son might face during a visit.  He has a pain response to certain stimuli, such as echo acoustics and strobe lights.  I wanted to find out ahead of time if these types of stimuli would be present and to what extent.

To my pleasant surprise, she gave me an autism puzzle wristband and told me to go ahead and walk through the museum to gauge for myself the stimuli he would be exposed to.  There was no admission fee, simply a free pass to check out the exhibits.  As I began walking down the entry towards the first exhibit room, I was greeted by another museum employee.  She offered to give me a guided tour and explain which exhibits had stimuli that would possibly cause him distress.  An extra bonus for me was that she has a relative with autism and so she understood the stimuli issues very well.

The museum is very interactive and fun.  Lots of things to explore and hands-on activities to promote learning.  There were many that I know both children would enjoy.  Some exhibits will be more interesting to Little Miss than Pookie, but there are others that I know Pookie will be enthralled with.

I am so grateful to the staff at Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum for allowing me to tour their facility.  I am looking forward to taking the kids to spend the day at the museum.

One thing that I would like to mention is that Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum annual memberships are very reasonable in price.  If you pay an additional $40 at the time of buying your membership, the membership extends to all of the 5 museums in the Oklahoma Museum Network.  These museums include the Science Museum Oklahoma, Museum of the Great Plains, Leonardo’s Children’s Museum, Tulsa Children’s Museum, and the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum.

When I checked the prices of the most expensive of the 5 museums of the network, the admission cost for our family was over $65.  That is about the same amount as an annual family pass at the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum.  By adding the extra $40 to that membership, we will save a bundle each time we visit the museums.

I encourage you to check the museums and resources in your area.  They provide so much enrichment to you and your children’s lives and their education.  If you have a child with special needs, consider contacting them ahead of time or stopping by.  I am quickly learning that many facilities are welcoming and will do all they can to make your child’s visit as enjoyable as possible.

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I wanted to share today some of my favorite resources for ideas to use in homeschooling Pookie.  With the significant developmental delays that he is having to overcome, I try and incorporate occupational therapy styled activities wherever possible.  There are many websites for OT activities available online.  Here are some of the best “go to” resources that I use.

Therapy Street for Kids is a database of ideas that are categorized by the developmental skill that you are working on.  When putting together Pookie’s TEACCH tasks for the day, I choose activities from the areas that I want him to focus on that session.  The activities listed require minimal supplies.  To date, I have not had to purchase anything special to do the tasks.  I do love the fact that the activities that involve specific types of games give me ideas of what to purchase when I see them on sale or at a thrift store.  If you happen to be unfamiliar with the developmental skills listed, the site also provides a very thorough explanation of the skill.

OT Plan is a searchable database of OT activities that you can use.  I love the fact that I can search by skill or by materials used.  For example, if you have cotton balls, you can click on the Materials search button, scroll down to cotton balls and click.  You are then taken to a skills page. Once the skill areas are chosen, you are given suggested activities.

OT Mom Learning Activities is yet another resource that has the activities categorized by skill.  Like with the other sites, the materials used are basic ones.  Within each skill level, there are activities that you can do using what you already have at home.

The Ultimate Guide to Autism Home Therapy on the Meet Penny blog is a comprehensive listing of their favorite blogs and websites for OT activity ideas.  I love this listing and have found ideas at each resource.  Tabitha, who writes the blog, was in a situation where she had to become creative in providing therapy activities for their own child.  The result was finding these blogs.  The ideas are very effective and fun.  Best of all, you can make them on even the tightest of budgets.

Your Therapy Source is an online resource for Occupational and Physical therapists to purchase materials they often use in their sessions.  I found a page however that is a long list of activities that you can access for free.

Make, Take and Teach is a blog that has free printable activities available.  At the time I am writing this, they are offering a Mitten Match game.  The child matches pairs of mittens by doing the math problem.  For example one mitten may have the problem 2+3 and the other will have the answer 5.

Teaching Ideas is a UK based website.  This link takes you to a special education resource directory. I love this page in that it not only has activities but gives advice on how to teach a special needs child.

Childcare Land is a favorite site that I have been using for several years.  I first found it when I was doing preschool with Little Miss.  Lots of ideas for preschool level activities.

Autism and More is a website set up by occupational therapists to serve as a support for teachers and parents.

MontHome is a site with a plethora of activities that are inspired from the Montessori educational method.  The activity bin ideas are perfect fit for TEACCH style homeschooling.

On Pinterest, you can find a wide range of ideas for educational and developmental skill building activities.  DIY Montessori Activities is a collaborative board which has pins from multiple people.  The ideas that are gleaned there have been especially helpful.

I hope that these websites offer to you some ideas to build upon with your own children.  The activities are easily assembled for workboxes, trays, or activity bags.  Write onto an index card the information about the activities that you are wanting to assemble.  Place the cards into a recipe box with divider tabs categorizing the various developmental skills or school subjects for quick reference.  You can further organize these cards by using a different color marker to make a line across the top edge of the cards to color code the categories.

Enjoy!

 

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Homemade Play Dough

It is that time again. Thinking about little gifts to make for kids. Nearly every child I know likes play dough. I have had requests to post the recipe that we use. Here is the recipe. All ingredients are easily found in the kitchen pantry. The finished product smells just like the store bought. Note: you can scent and color this by adding a packet of kool aid but I wouldn’t recommend it if your child likes to eat play dough.

Homemade Play Dough

1 cup flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tbsp Cream of Tartar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp oil
Food coloring

In a saucepan, mix all ingredients. Heat over a medium heat stirring constantly. When mixture thickens and begins to clean the sides of the pan, remove from heat. This process takes about five minutes.

Turn mixture out onto a lightly floured table and knead as you would bread until no longer sticky. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Typically, this play dough will last over a year if stored correctly.

Enjoy!

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