Posts Tagged ‘Little Hands to Heaven’

One of the thigns we learn in reading scripture and in the walk of our faith is that the Lord provides an example of how we should handle all aspects of our lives.  It was a lifting of weight from my shoulders to realize that He even gave us the example in how to work with our son’s Classic Autism.  Strange thought, huh? Okay, just read on and you will see what I mean.

I have written before that the Lord always meets us where we are.  He doesn’t expect us to live a certain way to be “worthy” of petitioning Him in prayer, for example.  If the Lord can do that with me, why not try that with my son?  I began by getting down on my son’s level and playing along side of him, imitating his behaviors.  Over time, he began to sit closer to me and later began to make the first attempts to interact.

Once we had made that “first contact” of interaction, I was able to eaase him into more focused interactions.  He wouldn’t bounce a ball, but I held it for him.   I would say, “Bounce”, and he would slap the ball to bounce it.  At this point he would laugh.  I would ask him to go get his ball and he would retrieve it.  Eventually, he learned to bounce the ball to us adn would try to catch it when we bounced it back to him.  This was his first interactive game that he would play with us.  It seemed like such a simple thing but it opened up a door for more things.

I quickly learned that the key to working with Pookie was to start at his current ability level.  It takes some planning and effort on my part, but the fruits of that labor are priceless.  Once he begins to consistently do an activity at his current level, I gently increase the challenge of that activity to ease him into progression.  Pookie is a very smart kid and picks up new routines in his tasks quickly.  He may not always appreciate the changes, but he will accept them after a short time.  The gentle approach has worked well with Pookie.  He is slowly and steadily making improvements.  He is learning.

One of the best ways that we have helped Pookie is to treat him as much like a typical child as possible.  We include him in doing chores, for example.  Whatever task we are doing, we encourage him to pitch in and help in the parts that he is capable of doing.  The results have been great.  He is happier and is becoming more confident.  With that, he is trying more to imitate our behavior.  Through that imitation, he is wanting to do school work as Little Miss is doing hers.  If she is writing, he wants to sit at his desk and do something too.  When I ask him if he wants a story, he runs to their bookcase , grabs a book and climbs up onto the couch.  He sits through story times very well now.  No more squirming to get down!  We even are beginning to use sequence cards about the story.  I am making my own by copying 3-4 illustrations from a couple of his books.  The pictures are being laminated onto 3″x3″ sized cards.  I am starting with only 2 cards, then gradually adding in one more card at a time until we are using the entire set.  I do use all illustrations from the book, but a brief sample to cover the high points of the story.

I am so proud of the progress that Pookie is making.  He is vocalizing more and we have hope that he may one day start using words.  He is thriving in the gentle approach that we are using.  I thank the Lord for guiding us in this.



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For about 2 years now, Little Miss had been working on the Keepers of the Faith program.  The program is based on Biblical principles.  The program is similar to scouting, but can be done as a family or as a club.  Unlike scouting, there are no dues to be paid other than your own personal expenses for materials or awards.  The cost is very minimal.

Little Miss started out in the young girls’ program, Little Keepers of the Home.  This year, Pookie has begun the young boys’ program, Little Contenders for the Faith.  At age 7, they advance to the older children’s programs of “Keepers of the Home” and “Contenders for the Faith.”

A fair portion of the program is based upon academic skills.  Young children who learn to recite, write, and the phonetics of their ABC’s can earn the “ABC’s” award.  Like in scouting, the kids earn these acheivement awards which come in the form of a pin or a charm.  I purchased fabric to make each of the children a banner on which to display their award pins.

I have always known that Little Miss loves earning the pins.  She gets so excited about it!  Her Daddy and I make a big deal out of any new awards she receives.  He gives the handing out of the award as much attention as though she were receiving an honors award.  He recognises the hard work done and praises the kids for their efforts.

Last week, I received a box from Keepers.  In it was Little Miss’ new manual.  She graduates up to the “big girls” program this year.  The box also contained a few awards that were earned over the past few months.  She was thrilled!  One special award though was a real treat to hand out.  Amazingly, Little Miss was more excited about this one than her own awards.  Pookie had completed a unit study with lapbook on the Creation story from the Bible.  Among the awards in the box was one called “Creation.”  This is Pookie’s first achievement award.  When he was handed his award, he carried it all around the room.  He kept turning it over and over as he studied it carefully.  Little Miss also got a Creation award for her unit study, but she seemed unfazed by that.  She was too busy smiling with pride at her brother.

Looking over the awards that Keepers makes available, there are many that both kids will be able to work towards over the next 8 years or so tha tthey are of age to be in that program.  The awards have suggested guidelines on what a child should do to receive it, but they are also open to your own customizing to fit your child’s ability levels.  This is what helps to make it possible for Pookie to also earn awards.

Seeing his complete enthrallment, as well as Little Miss’ joy, at receiving the awards makes it even more important to us.  Kids love working for them.  Though Pookie may not fully comprehend what the awards are all about, he sure was happy to get it.  We will be setting aside a special spot just for the displaying of their award banners.  By making them something that we hold as something to be proud of, they will continue to work towards earning them.  Not that simply getting an award should be the goal, but that they learn that we respect and take pride in the efforts that they make.

Each week, there is at least one activity in their workboxes that goes to an achievement they are working on.  By reading through the suggested activities for each award, I am able to match the requirements to whatever curriculum they are doing.  There are awards for each of the states in the USA, for example, which means that when she does a unit study on our home state she will earn that award.  She is currently learning how to crochet.  Once she makes a couple of  projects, she will earn that award.  Pookie will earn the ABC’s award as soon as he is able to write each letter.  Currently, I am teaching him the letters and their sounds.  As he is non-verbal, I am able to know if he understand phonics through use of a chart.  I say the sound and he points to the letter that makes that sound.

If you are looking for a special way to encourage and reward your children for their school efforts, take a look on the Keepers’ website.  They have a wide array of topics and skills to choose from.  Their service is fast and very courteous.  I have been pleased with each order I have received from them.  The true joy though is in seeing the pride that Little Miss has in her accomplishments and Pookie’s happiness.


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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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I am so excited!  Today, when we arrived home from taking Daddy back to his truck, the curriculum box was waiting for us at the door.  We placed the order to Heart of Dakota on Monday.  Here we are, 2 days later, with the materials ready to use.

Pookie is going to be taught from the “Little Hands to Heaven” program for 2-5 year olds.  The program is preschool to pre-K level, which will work great for him. Lots of interactive and hands-on activities to help him learn the lessons.  I will be taking them slowly to be certain he is learning the lessons.  Still, it is a much better fit for his learning style.  The materials cover a wide range of subjects including Bible, Fingerplay, Phonics, Math, Writing, Art, and Music.

Little Miss is going to be using the “Beyond Little Hearts For His Glory” program for 6-8 year olds.  When I went through the placement chart to see where she is at academically, she was able to skip the “Little Hearts For His Glory” program for 5-7 year olds.  I was very surprised and thrilled.

When she saw that the box was here, you would have thought Christmas had arrived early.  She was very excited and eager to see what the box contained.  As I unpacked the materials, she asked, “Is that all of it?”  She was uncertain when she realized that the program contains no workbooks, except for her Singapore Math.  I assured her that we have it all and she got very quiet.  Just as I began to wonder if she would miss doing so many worksheets, she let me know that she’s happy to not be doing so many.  LOL

I have been scanning through the materials and am amazed at how gentle of an approach the curriculum takes in teaching.   Subjects covered in her materials include: Bible, Language Arts, Spelling, Grammar, Writing, Reading, History, Math, Geography, Science, Art, and Music.

I think that the best indicator for me of how this is going to work with the kids is that Little Miss was so excited and gave me a big hug when I explained the materials to her.   She said something that really shocked me.  When told that she would be studying history, she asked what kind of history.  I explained that she will learn about Colonial times and the early Pioneers.  She asked if she gets to learn about the Constitution this year.  Wow!  Guess she has been paying attention when Daddy & I were talking about the Constitution over the weekend.    🙂

In looking it all over, I am seeing that I will definitely be able to continue using workboxes with this curriculum.  I will post more on that as soon as I have it all set up.

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