Thursday, May 29, 2014

People protect what they love




Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quiet Time Boxes - updated with independent reading and math activities!





Well, I've learned quite a bit about quiet time boxes since we started them about a year ago. To see those boxes of activities check out this post here!

One of the things that I learned was that those little books were a waste. If she wants to read, she'll go to her bed and read one of her favorite books. The little books, although cute, were never opened. Oh well.

Another thing I learned was that the puzzles were very challenging and she felt like she could not do them so I needed to be near by to encourage her (not the point with a quiet box though...she needs to be able to independently do all of the activities)

Finally, I learned that she gets really excited about the quiet time boxes at first but then as time goes on her excitement fades. I should have done new activities about 6 months ago, but I guess this is a live-and-learn opportunity. I'll plan to have these new activities for about 6 months then find some new ones.

That leads me to... our new activities! I figure that since I've done the work, I'll just share what I printed and where I got them. All of the printables were free. Obviously the stuff I bought at Target, the Dollar Tree and the Party Store were not :) But none of this was very expensive.

Pick what you think will work for your child, leave out the others and add things you think your child will enjoy! I love how personalized these boxes can be :)

The bottom right corner of each picture has my checklist of what areas are addressed in the box. It makes so that I don't have a box that is heavily focused on writing or math or whatever. Keeps me it balanced. You can get a set of these checklist here.


Box #1


Starting on the left going to the right we have
  • Easter Eggs with money amounts from .$40 to $.90 with enough dimes to fill each one correctly. I updated the lima bean counting by eliminating the double digits because I thought counting by tens to numbers 100+ seemed a bit complicated for just starting out. But if your child has some experience with skip counting by 10s do the amounts that work for you!
  • Rhyming Words book (here) - I did not want it to be a huge book, so I shrunk the pictures down to 4 on a page in my printer's settings. I actually did that A LOT for many of these activities!
  • Number Matching card game that I got in a 2 pack from the dollar store (the other deck is in box 2!)
  • Spiral notebook with lined pages. This is one of the few items that transferred from the first set of quiet time boxes to this set. I like that she can do independent writing when she wants to. Mostly she colors the lines but sometimes there are letter-like marks
  • Addition Doubles - CookOut! from TeachersPayTeachers.com (here) This activity was free but you do have to sign up to be able to print (it's totally worth it...I love the activities I get from this site!) There are six or so different themes with the same information. We did two different sets. Again I printed them 4 to a page to save paper and ink.
  • Spiral Art from the Target Dollar Spot area. It was either $1 or $3...I can't remember. It seems to work pretty ok. But it does need sharp pencils.


Box 2

Starting on the left going to the right we have
  • A color-it puzzle from the Dollar Tree. It's a little difficult for her to put together, but she loves it!
  • Letters of your Name Sequencing (this is a repeat activity from the last set). I just typed her name at the top, printed twice, cut one of them into individual letters, made lines on the second sheet under the letters so that she can correctly sequence the letters of her name.
  • Occupation Match Up card deck (the second deck from the 2 pack from the Dollar Tree)
  • Addition Doubles - Fish Friends! From TeachersPayTeachers.com (here) Again I printed them 4 to a page to save paper and ink.
  • Spiral notebook with lined pages. 
  • Money Matching - match the coin to it's amount (last page of this packet here)
  • Coin Books  from Teachers PayTeachers.com (here). They are cute one page books about each coin. They have the picture of the coin's front and back plus how much they are worth.
  • Syllable Counting (here) - as long as your child can remember what each picture's name is (it's not a spider, it a tranchula) and can count syllables, this is a good one for independent practice. Also, it is short one picture (not sure why....) but there are only 4 4-syllable word pictures. So, since big sister's name has 4 syllables, we completed the set easily. You could do something like peanut butter or television or whatever you can think of!

Box 3

Starting on the left going to the right we have
  • Medial Vowel Identification - Letter-Sound Train from fcrr.org (here) I printed this one 4 to a page as well. This took a bit of prep work as I had to cut out and attach the trains and print out a bunch of picture cards to go in the trains. One train for each vowel. I also modified it a little. It's just supposed to be for the /i/ sound, but I wanted her to practice all medial vowel sounds since that is one of the areas she struggles with. So in addition to the pictures from the Train activity I also printed the pictures for this activity here.  The train only has room for 3 pictures so choose the pictures you think your child will like/get correct/challenge her (depending on what your goal is!). 
  • Writing Pad, Markers and a ruler for measuring, coloring or whatever else she wants to do with these items (this is a favorite!) We got these in a little party pack from Party City.
  • Mickey Number cards from the Dollar Tree (these are a repeat from the last set but I've seen them at the dollar store recently)
  • Zoob toy - from the Dollar Spot area at Target ($3) These are pretty cool. She can connect them in lots of different ways to create - well, anything she can think of! It does require a bit of fine motor strength as the pieces can be tough to snap together, but with a little bit of elbow grease she can do it independently!
  • Money Match - Match the coin to the coin's amount from Teacher's Pay Teachers (here)
  • Shape Book from TeachersPayTeachers.com (here). Well, when I originally found this it was free (maybe it was on a special?), but now it's $2.50. If you are looking for a free shapes book try this one (here) but I haven't printed it yet. This one looks like the kind I would print 4 to a page to save ink and paper and so that it'll fit in the quiet time box.

Box 4

Starting on the left going to the right we have

  • Egg Carton Addition Game - from TeachersPayTeachers.com (here) We made the numbers in a Word document and printed it. I cut them out and she glued them in the egg carton (in any order she chose). Add two pom poms and a print out that matches her ability level and there you go!
  • First Words flash cards from the dollar store. These are older but I think they are still available.
  • Clips to match Numbers - I got these little interlocking shapes from the Dollar Tree. I printed out numbers and glued them on 3X5 cards that I had cut in half. The extras she likes to turn into bracelets or snakes (apparently).
  • Coin Amounts with pennies. This was fun to put together because I showed her how a number, say 5, could be changed into a money amount: .05 and you call it "five cents." We collected the pennies from a jar and then researched how to clean coins. It was easy - vinegar and table salt.
  • Note pad with pencils for writing, drawing or anything she thinks of. This is an activity from the last set of quiet time boxes, but it's good to have open ended activities for creativity to shine through!
  • Shape Book from TeachersPayTeachers.com (here). Well, when I originally found this it was free (maybe it was on a special?), but now it's $2.50. If you are looking for a free shapes book try this one (here) but I haven't printed it yet. This one looks like the kind I would print 4 to a page to save ink and paper and so that it'll fit in the quiet time box.
  • Counting Sounds in Words from The Florida Center for Reading Research (here). I did not make it the game that the original document calls for but rather an independent activity. I only printed the record sheet (page 5). I put tape along the coloring area, but I'm thinking I'm going to cut lengths of WikiSticks or yarn for her to lay over the pictures to count the number of sounds in each word. My only concern with this activity is that back in box 2 we were counting syllables and now we are counting sounds in words, so she may get confused, but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.





I hope that your child enjoys these quite time boxes as much as mine does! And I hope that you can get a few extra things done around the house while your child is independently working :)

What will you do with a few minutes of quiet time?

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, May 16, 2014

Gratitude, even when it's tough



Boy can it be hard to maintain an attitude of gratitude about anything when other's have something that you want and you have been told you can't have it! I know that I struggle with this as an adult (the budget is usually what tells me "no").  But I find it especially hard to tell Big Sister "no" when there's really no reason for me to say "no" except that she is allergic to nuts.

Don't get me wrong, I tell her "no" all the time and I have no problems with that. No, you cannot watch another movie. No, you cannot play in water in your bathing suit when its 50 degrees outside. No, you can't have a cookie before dinner. On and on it goes.

So, here was the situation. Her class was going to have a special event, then the ice cream truck was going to be there. I looked over the list of all the offerings, and since I could not see the boxes that the ice cream bars come in, I had to nix all novelty ice creams. Soft serve is usually ok and she has an EpiPen in case there is an emergency. So out of like 100 options, she had 2. Ice cream cone or milkshake. She did not like her options. I thought she was lucky to have those.

It's hard when your kid is disappointed about something, let's just be honest. It breaks my heart when she says something like "Why did God make me this way?" to which I've always responded "God makes each of us different. I don't know why He made it so that you are allergic to nuts. But He knows what He's doing."

I loved the book that we read tonight. This is the first time that I've read it. I highly recommend it to anyone, but especially those whose child has ever felt left out for whatever reason.

In case you haven't read it, here's the basic idea: little Joshua the lamb was born with a crippled leg so he could not walk well and couldn't play like the other lambs. He frequently felt left out and made friends with a sweet, old cow who encouraged him "Don't be sad, little Joshua. God has a special place for those who feel left out." The story continues on as Joshua cannot join the other lambs as they go to a new meadow, so he has to go back to the stable where he ends up having a special encounter with the Baby Jesus. It is then that he realizes that God made him the way he was for this exact moment.

I don't know why my sweet daughter has a nut allergy, it makes me sad. I know that she is going to miss out on things like peanut butter and banana sandwiches, peanut butter cups, or ants on a log. But I also know that God has allowed this to happen for a reason, we just get to wait and see.

I think that I'll add to my arsenal of sayings the quote about God having a "special place for those who feel left out." I think that putting those words to it really acknowledges the feelings of being left out and being sad. At the same time, though I want to focus on what she does have. She did have 2 very good choices (she picked a milkshake). Other times, she has gotten to sit with someone new because her friend had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Trying to find the positive in these really tough circumstances I think has helped in the past.

What do you do or say when your child feels left out?



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Eat, Drink and be Merry (Sign Language Basics for Young Children)




When babies, infants and toddlers learn to sign basic wants and needs, they can communicate with you before their little mouths can articulate the sounds to say whatever it is that they want. I've done signing with nonverbal toddlers, my preschooler to develop vocabulary and my young son to help him communicate with me.

I think that it is important to remember that you want to teach the signs that they want to use. "Please" is sweet, but not developmentally appropriate for very young children. "Please" goes with another word or words ("May I have juice, please?" Or even "milk, please"). Teach your child the word he wants to say and later as he begins to put words together, then add "please" to it.

Little W can sign "eat," "drink," "daddy,""water" and "dog" and signing any of those makes him merry! And he may have signed "mommy" this morning... I'm not sure, but I cheered and let him know that I assumed that's what he signed! (It may have been just a thumb in his mouth and he stretched out his fingers to wave hi? Either way, I know that he was excited to see me) In the main picture above, he is signing his version of water.


When teaching very early signs, it's important to choose signs with very basic hand shapes. I try to pay attention to the natural hand shapes that a child uses then build on those. The basic hand shapes are:

Open hand (5), a Fist (A) and a Curved hand (C).



- If your child can show an open hand (like a five), I would teach: dog, daddy, mommy, all done, fish, baby, hat and book.

- If your child can make a fist (like an A), I would teach: milk, cracker, bye-bye, shoes, bath, apple and blanket.

- If your child can make a curved hand shape (like a C), I would teach: drink, ball, balloon, cookie and Mickey Mouse (we live near the Mouse, so he is just as much a part of conversation as a favorite toy).


These signs are a great place to start with using the basic hand shapes and words that a young child, 9 months and older would want to say. You can show a younger child, but it is unlikely that he will use them independently.


Some Tips for Success!

  • use the signs yourself when you are talking about these objects
  • use the signs with your verbal words when you are talking about these objects
  • you can make yourself little cue cards with the signs so you remember what they are
  • show the object and say the word while you sign the word
  • when your child indicates he wants one of the objects that you are working on, help him sign it
  • let it be fun! Don't make it so much work he doesn't want anything to do with signing
  • pick words that your child wants (favorite people, favorite toys, favorite foods)


Next, I'll talk about modifying some signs for those words that are hard to sign but your child wants to say them.

What are your child's favorite people, toys and foods?



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, May 5, 2014

Maintaining an Attitude of Gratitude Throughout the Year



"But I wanted the yellow one" was what my daughter said to the adult who handed her a prize at a birthday party. Not "thank you" or "oh wow! A bracelet!" No, it was disappointment at what she had been given. It made me want to take the bracelet and give it back with a "well, if you don't like it then let's give it to someone who will." But then that might not have been the right attitude either, huh?

I want my daughter (and my son once he's a little older) to exhibit signs of gratitude and thankfulness as a part of everyday life, or at least when they are receiving something from someone. I don't expect a thank you letter when I get her a glass of water or her falling all over herself when I pick up her fork and get her a new one. I do expect a "thanks, mom" though. And I do expect that when she gets something, even when it's not her favorite color or favorite character or favorite whatever, that she can find something to be grateful for.

I realized, right after that party, that May is 6 months after November. In little people time (mine being 4 1/2 and 15 months) that is a long time. I am sure that we talked about thankfulness and gratitude at Thanksgiving, but I am not so sure that I am deliberate about talking about those concepts after Christmas time (when I'm reminding her to be thankful for whatever the gift is that she is opening).

So, I am going to make May a time to remember to be grateful. A time to be thankful. I am looking for some good activities to work on these concepts with my kids (ones that are not autumn leaves or hand print turkeys!). As I find them and do them with my family, I will share them with you. In the meantime you can check out my pinterest page where I have pinned a few ideas.

What do you do to help your children maintain an attitude of gratitude throughout the year?


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Tongue Thrust Therapy Practice on Myself



Today I did some swallowing practice exercises that I usually do with kiddos who have oral motor issues or lisps or a tongue thrust, on myself because of some dental work I had done yesterday.

I wish that I had taken better care of my teeth. And I look forward to 10 years from now when I can say "I remember 10 years ago when I decided to really take care of my teeth" but for now, I am at the beginning of this journey. Don't get me wrong, I brush my teeth twice every day and (now) I floss daily and they look pretty ok, but I didn't get a cleaning done for about 5 years. And the time before that was, well, I can't remember the time before that.

It's not that I don't like dentists, and my new dentist is pretty nice. It's just the scheduling of the appointment and taking off work or having someone watch my kids or it's 11:00 at night there won't be anyone at the front desk to make the appointment or whatever other excuse seems to be popping into my head that kept me from just doing it.

But about 2 months ago I bit the bullet and made the call. Not to my surprise, I needed a lot of work to repair cavities, replace cracking fillings and a pretty intensive cleaning job. I am more than half way through this process now. I've got the cleaning, x-rays and 3 out of the 4 quadrants of my mouth taken care of.

Yesterday I did the whole left side: top and bottom. Today, I am very, very sore. I am super sensitive to cold and hot and sweet and room temperature. I am having to drink through a straw to avoid the liquids from touching my teeth and I can only chew on one side. I know that this is temporary but I am having to really concentrate on swallowing and eating carefully.

Eating, chewing and swallowing are activities that many of us take for granted. I am currently working with a few kiddos who have tongue thrusts. One of them is at the part of the program where she is practicing swallowing pudding/yogurt type foods. She has done great with thin liquids and this step is proving to be more challenging.

As we practiced together last week, we talked about what our tongues were doing while we swallowed and used a mirror to watch carefully and in detail as we took teeny tiny bites of pudding.

I am usually not quite so focused when I swallow, as I would guess most people would also not be.  But then today as I carefully - very carefully - sipped my hot cup of coffee and later ate soggy cereal (so that I didn't have to chew it) and now as I am sipping my yogurt smoothie, I am highly aware of what each part of my mouth is doing as I swallow! I am using those techniques that I teach to my kiddos who tongue thrust to swallow each bite that I take.

I have more empathy now for how my kiddos have to practice and how much work it is! I asked my dentist how many times we swallow a day but he had no idea. So after some internet research (so don't quote me!) the consensus is between 600-2000 times a day. That's a lot! My kiddos who tongue thrust have to retrain themselves to swallow correctly 600-2000 times a day. That's a lot of practicing to replace incorrect habits.


If your child has a tongue thrust or reverse swallow there are somethings to look out for:

  1. Open Bite
  2. Gap in between front teeth or pushed out front teeth
  3. Other dental issues, especially involving the front teeth
  4. Tongue sticking out when swallowing
  5. Frequent lip licking (cracked/chapped lips) especially after a bite or sip
  6. Mouth Breathing
  7. Drooling
  8. Weak facial muscles
  9. Frontal and / or lateral lisp
  10. Tongue sticking out when saying (any or all of the following): t, d, n or l
  11. Referral from the dentist

While any of these signs could point to a tongue thrust, your child may demonstrate one or more of these signs and it might not be a tongue thrust but something else altogether. In addition, your child might not demonstrate these and may still have a tongue thrust. This is where a thorough evaluation is very important, then appropriate therapy to address any issues that were identified.

It's always an interesting day when I end up doing therapy techniques on myself. Now that you are thinking about it, have you noticed anything about your swallowing?


Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Please know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...