Sunday, November 28, 2010

What's in the box Monday?

I thought I would upload pictures of what is in our boxes.  We'll do Lydia's box tomorrow.  Now Lydia is actually enrolled in K12 because I didn't have a good phonics set when we pulled her from public school.  I figured it would be easier to just supplement what they had for the year, instead of me trying to shop, review and order books for her also.  We all know how much work it takes to look at curriculum.  So most of her drawers are K12 products, with a few extras from me. 

The first thing is copywork.  A scripture that we are working on learning.  I used ABCTeach to create manuscript and cursive sheets for the kids to work with. 

The copywork didn't fit in Lydia's drawers.  It's just on top today.
 First is Phonics.  She rolls her eyes at this everytime, so I decided to get it knocked out first thing in the morning.
 Next is Language Arts.  We are working on Rhyming.  I have a memory game I printed from Starfall and laminated that we have been playing.  We are reading Tom Thumb this week.  We'll be watching the video on YouTube and I printed a couple coloring sheets so we can have mini-puppets to act out the story.

 The next drawer is an animal print match game.  I downloaded this from homeschoolshare workboxables area.  It's called the Animal Fur match game.  You can put it in a file folder also.  I just printed, laminated and cut them out to do a simple match game.

This is such a cool idea.  I first saw it on Confessions of a Homeschooler letter of the week posts.   When I subscribed to ABCTeach they have a whole bunch.  This is a push pin fine motor skill activity.  I purchased large push pins at the local Walmart.  The box of 10 was around $3.00.  The concept is that the child lays on the carpet (or uses a piece of reusable foam) and uses the push pin to poke holes on the black lines.  They must stay on the black lines.  It is a lesson in focusing and improving the ability to control their hands for writing.  Confessions of a Homeschooler (halfway down the page you will see what is called Letter Poke) uses this technique with her children on letter cards.  I actually am just using pictures this week.  I am including a simple coloring page for Brayden to use in his workbox tomorrow also.  We'll see how they like this new activity.  This is definitely an activity that requires an adult to be around for safety reasons.  If you do not have a push pin and want to try this activity, a toothpick can produce the same results on basic paper.  If you print this on card stock, it will make it more difficult to stick either object through.

K12 uses Handwriting without Tears.  I have several of their books.  Lydia is struggling with letter size and pencil control.  So the push pin punching will help her.  She practices 10 minutes a day in their books.  And I also print a sheet from ABCTeach with her first and last name for practice.

Next is art class. 

Then it's K12 History.  I use this very loosely.  She is enjoying the Geography curriculum that they boys are using more.  So I do the basics, and then we have our Expedition Earth curriculum that she will have a notebook to show her teacher.

Then there's Science.  She is studying bones and muscles right now.  Funny thing is...the boys just started this unit in science also.  I didn't plan it, it just happened.

K12 Math....She is reviewing patterns.  She is finding the math extremely easy.  I found a traceable calendar (it's at the bottom of the page) for her to use daily.  She knows her days of the week, but is struggling with giving yesterday and tomorrow answers.  So this will help her practice that concept. 

One final fine motor skill activity.  A cut and paste ladybug picture.

If you notice, I have tried to include the supplies she will need to complete each drawer.  The pencils and sharpener are handy.  But Lydia is really protective off her crayons and will not allow the boys to touch her new box.  She loves the big box of crayons (who doesn't!!)!!! 

Have a wonderful Monday.  More on the boys later in the week.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Just a day like any other....

I used to cringe when I first heard that term "special needs" to describe one of my children.  But I knew that that stigma would be one I would have to get over.  If I stayed stuck in self-pity, who was going to benefit?!?!  I accepted that we have 2 with definite diagnosis and 2 with possible diagnosis, and each one unique and different in their own way.  Now the next stage is living with it or daily learning to live with constantly changing situations.

People who do not have kids with special needs just do not understand the stress that the parents that do have kids with special needs undergo.  They see us fight with our kids in the store and think what ill-behaved brats they have...don't they discipline them!!!  I'm sure I sound like the meanest mom in the world as I am threatening to pull privileges to do everything but breathe...but sometimes that is all I have the ability to do in hopes they learn that....
A) It is not appropriate behavior and they need to
B) If they don't stop they will lose a beloved privilege such as playing their DS game system.

Do you know that most parents who have kids with special needs do not even understand what other parents of kids with special needs undergo.  There are so many special issues that children are faced with!  Each family situation is different.  I can say I empathize, because I may know slightly what a person who has a child with cerebal palsey is undergoing, but I do not completely understand because I am living in a different situation.  I can understand their sleepless nights and worry about what the future is going to bring.

Daily life is a struggle.  I feel like a juggling clown that is unable to actually see what I am juggling.  The next thing falling down at me could be a feather or a brick.  Most days I do not know what will set a child off into a meltdown or an issue.  And most days I stand a little shocked at what little issue can be the source of a problem.  There are other situations that I can foresee will cause a meltdown and try to curb the situation, especially in public.  Our oldest is at the stage where he doesn't understand that the boys his age are laughing at him, not with him when he makes a joke. Those are the days where I would love to drag those boys by the ears to their parents and say "Are you teaching these kids respect?!?!  I don't allow him to laugh at boys with unique needs.  How would your boy feel if he was being laughed at?!?!  I am not proud of the fact I yelled at a mom because she and her daughter were laughing Joey as he was having a meltdown.  I was literally dragging him out of the store, being watched by employees as if I was kidnapping him, and they are pointing at us and laughing.  What kind of person has the ability to participate in this kind of behavior with their child?!?!

I ask myself everyday:

Am I the enabler because I allow Brayden to have his bowl of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup everyday....because he feels he has to have that or his day isn't complete!?!  Am I the enabler because I allow Joey to repeat things two times because I know he thinks he has to repeat things two times in a row!?!  Am I the enabler because I allow Lydia to wear skirts and sleeveless tops in the house because I can tell when she wakes up whether or not she is going to grouch about things touching her arms!?!?  Can you be an enabler to a two year old who can only stand eating mushy foods right now and allowing her to eat chicken noodle soup three meals a day because if you don't....well she does have a molar coming in so I can see her need for mushy foods.  

Daily my hubby and I both lose sleep due to constant erratic sleep patterns from 3 of our 4 kids.  Lydia has started sleep wandering and wanders the house sometimes.  (We have been through this with Joey now for a few years.)  Joey feels only the need for 2-3 hours sleep most days.  Wow....that means long, long days for all of us!  Homeschooling is perfect for these situations because I can control and read his mental state to know whether or he is able to even take in information.

That brings us to this morning.....

We played a board game with the boys last night, and took away the DS early (like recommended).  So as we fought last night to get all down in bed, well the hardest was Joey (as usual), I fell asleep watching TV around 11.  I prayed for a good night sleep....ha, ha, ha!  Those sleep experts haven't been to our house!  I woke up several times overnight to Joey wandering around.  Then at 4:30 I was woke by him trying to quietly play on a computer in the school room and Caty sleeping on my legs.  I mean literally sleeping on my legs!  Joey was in the stages of a manic episode.  He's only 10, there's no sleep drug that is safe.  And what do you need during a manic episode, but sleep!  So it will be a long, long day.  I am praying for patience, endurance and anything else that will get me through this day.

For anyone who doesn't know what a manic episode is, let's break it down:

Mania:The fast ideas start coming too fast and there are far too many ... overwhelming confusion replaces clarity ... you stop keeping up with it … memory goes. Infectious humor ceases to amuse. Your friends become frightened ... everything is now against the grain ... you are irritable, angry, frightened, uncontrollable, and trapped.

  • Excessive happiness, hopefulness, and excitement

  • Sudden changes from being joyful to being irritable, angry, and hostile

  • Restlessness, increased energy, and less need for sleep

  • Rapid talk, talkativeness

  • Distractibility

  • Racing thoughts

  • Show poor judgment

  • (

    I'll stop there because the rest of the list is too scary to think about with a 10 year old!!  The doctor wants to wait for diagnosis, but we know its coming.  So I am prepared.  There's really nothing else than what we are doing right now.

    I'll pull out his regular medicine in about 30 minutes, because if he gets it too early the benefits of it will wear off too soon.

    We post alot of fun stuff that we do everyday because I try to make every school lesson fun and interactive for them in hopes it will stick with them more.  But in all honesty, today is going to be a true day in our house...chaos, yelling, screaming, hyperactivity to the extreme.  There will be laughter and tears (probably from adults too...).....

    Thursday, November 25, 2010

    OT therapy picks this week!!!

    With winter coming up, it will be harder to make sure that the boys get to therapy every week.  So I have been reading and stocking up on Occupational Therapy activities.  I have to share two that I have just now started using. 

    Last week through Homeschool Blogger I was able to take a class on the benefits of a membership to abcteach.  I had saw this site before, but didn't realize how much was on there.  I can create copywork for the boys to help improve their handwriting.  This type of work allows me to combine handwriting into different subjects without them even realizing it.  Last week I was able to put handwriting help into Geography, Science, and Bible.  It was soooo nice.  They were learning correct letter formation while working on labeling a skeleton for science!  No more complaining about working in their Handwriting without Tears workbook.  I can also create word search puzzles for Brayden with his interests in mind.  He loves word search puzzles and they have word searches in different shapes and you can use theirs or type in your own words.  I highly recommend the subscription to this website.  They are very homeschool friendly.  So far I like them better than edHelper.

    Another wonderful discovery was something I read on the blog Confessions of a Homeschooler.  She recently reviewed and had a giveaway for Pick and Draw.  I decided the cost was right and it would be a great visual perception activity for Joey.  And right now he is getting into drawing because he wants to make a comic book.  This is one of his designs from last week:

    This will definitely be in his box a couple times a week.  He really enjoys it.
    Next week we are breaking out two new items.  I found button art from Scholastic and foam mosaic tiles.  Will be fun for all!!!

    Our workbox drawers have been slid out.....

    After following the blog at Confessions of a Homeschooler for several months now, I joined a Yahoo Workbox group.  We had tried a simple system of the Workbox system with just basic numbered folders in a tub, but the books just were not working well in the file folder boxes.  Since each of the boys math textbooks are $40 a piece without shipping, I want them to last the year and not fall apart.

    If you are not familar with this form of homeschooling, it is an organization system that helps students see exactly when and what they need to complete.  It shows them a start and finish.  It helps to simplify the curriculum that you already are using.  Here's the link to Sue Patrick's website:  She started the system for her son with special needs, and it worked wonders for him.  When I make sure to use it, I have fewer issues with Brayden getting his school work done. 

    I searched several area stores, in order to avoid shipping charges, but finally had to order these boxes from JoAnn Fabric online.  They were on sale!!!  And I surfed around the web and found a coupon for free shipping and I was able to get an extra $10.00 off one set of drawers.  So I decided to take the plunge and order 3 sets.  I will wait to see about getting Caty a set, but will most likely be ordering a set for her in the next few months.  She has daily activities that we do for her therapy, so she will really like having her own set. 

    Our school area is now bursting at the seams!!!  But here's what our drawers look like set up.  So far we have loved this new system.

    Here's Joey's set.  He chose the black set.  I spent last weekend creating the box numbers with favorite Pokemon characters.  Laminated and cut them out.  I do need better velcro though.  I only had one pack and was trying to conserve.  Hey we live in the middle of a corn field.  It's a drive to get anything :(.

    Here's Lydia's drawers: 

    I made her box numbers a mixture of Disney Princess,  Barbie and I have extras made that have some Bratz characters also.

    Brayden also chose the rainbow drawer set.  He also wanted Pokemon drawer numbers.

    As each drawer is finished, they move the drawer number to the strips that are attached.  They can visualize how much more work they need to complete then.  I will probably make subject cards also.  But decided to wait and see if these would be needed.  I got all these great ideas from not only Confessions of a Homeschooler  but also another workboxer at Heart of Wisdom.  The latter blog has several free printables if you just want to print and use.  I opted to customize each kids box to make them that must more excited about what their school work.  Heart of Wisdom has really cute subject cards that I will print and laminate if needed. 

    I haven't moved them to a full velcro schedule yet.  That is another future project.  I just created a quick schedule for each child to help remind them what needs to be done each day.  Brayden loves picture schedules and views it as a race to get everything done.  The three older children each have a similar daily schedule.  I laminated them so that they can use a dry-erase marker to check off each completed task.  We are also working on a coin system.  That system is to remind them of things they need to work on.  They may get coins for making eye contact, controlling their voice volume, not screaching (and I mean screaching..that is something Brayden does) and not wandering away when shopping.  They can turn them in at the end of the day or week (depending on how many they have earned) to purchase extra privileges or even prizes from our little prize store.  Joey has leaned toward not having to eat what everyone else does at supper, and of course both boys want to purchase extra video game time!!  We'll wait and see how it works!!

    We had a pretty basic week last week, so nothing extra.  We reviewed math and english skills since we only had two days, and I extended South Korea over for a couple days instead of starting a new country.  Next week I will post some of the things we put in our workboxes.

    Little Green Frogs

    We visited South Korea over the past week.  We read a really cool Korean folk tale about 2 little green frogs that NEVER listened to their mom.  Even her last wish was not honored because of their mischieveousness.  It was a fun tale showing the importance of listening to our parents.  I don't really think they were listening...again:)  I asked them, "Do you want to be little green frogs, or humans?"

    Korea was known for its fine metals and the fine crowns and jewels that the royalty wore.  So we made crowns out of "jewels" and pre-cut crowns I found at the Dollar Tree.  We found the craft in Global Art, a wonderful collection of art from around the world!  In the end the jewels kept falling off our crowns, not sure why.  But they were still very pretty.

    We stamped our passports and watched some tourism videos on YouTube.  I have a new found love of  We have been able to find tourism videos for all of our countries so far on there.  Of course, I am the one searching and previewing to make sure there is no inappropriate content.  We also found videos on learning the language in most of the countries, including simple counting.

    We did a copywork assignment on 6 different animals of South Korea.  Then we classified them on our animal wall.

    The flag of South Korea.

    We did not have our South Korean meal.  It just didn't happen this week.  Did you know that South Koreans love potato salad and it is very simple to make the favorite style of dish.  They include pear and apples in their salad with mayo.  Sounds good, our kids probably won't enjoy it.  I will be making a small batch of the potato salad to go with our lunch one day next week.  Dad and I will enjoy it!!! 

    Next week we will be studying Japan.  I have the menu planned already for next week.  A Japanese style of a chicken nugget with a sweet potato side dish.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Monday...extra kid day:)

    We had a visitor that came over to play with us on Monday.  Our little friend...we'll call him Little Man.  The kids were so excited!!  Little Man is 17 months and a ball of curiosity.  So we did several little projects throughout the day. 

    This was also the first day of our new workbox program.  This will take some getting used to and I will post more on how we are doing it later.  This seems to be working well for us, and Brayden really likes having a checklist to remind him of what he is supposed to be doing everyday.  Lydia liked her checklist also, even though she couldn't read it yet.  I should have used more pictures on hers.  But I was getting very tired when this part of the new system was being created. 

    This post is a few of the things we done with Little Man.

    We made rainmakers with paper towel tubes and plastic wrap.  We used rice and beans to make different sounds in the tubes and in empty prescription bottles.  We also used the homemade "maracas" to play our toy drums.  It really made the sound different!

    Filling our tubes....they knocked over the bag of rice.

    Little Man loving his Thomas rainstick.  It was fun.

    We used clothes pins to pick up fuzzy pom poms. 

    And then I lost my mind.....yep.  I put the bowl of rice and beans out to play in.  We hid play food, pom poms and other little tiny items in the bowl and took turns finding things.

    We stirred, dumped and eventually started throwing the mixture.  Yep at the throwing stage I took the bowl away.  They were bored then.

    I used my hand (broom) and a piece of cardboard cut from a cereal box (dustpan) to keep the mess under control and just kept dumping it back into the they could dump it back out again.

    Allowing this mess brought every OCD I have about a clean living room floor right up.  But I remained calm and had the mini vac next too mee the whole time.  They loved this though, and played more than an hour before we put the mixture up. 

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Our week of November 15th, 2010

    It was a busy week.  We tried to get a bunch of school work done.  But we also had Med checks for the boys and they had OT therapy on Monday.  There was also Basketball practice.  Lydia, Caty and I were going to see the Rainbow Fish play.  The older kids also had their Homeschool Zoo class. 

    We talked about South Korea this week in Geography.  The kids located it on our big wall map in the hallway.  We colored the flag of that country and talked about why there is a North and South Korea.  We also read about what the daily lives of kids in South Korea.  We attempted to make crowns from the Global Art book, but the jewels fell off when we went to put them together completely. 

    On Tuesday the Girls and I went to see a Rainbow Fish live play.  It was cute, but not what they expected.  They were expecting to see people jumping around in fish costumes.  And instead it was us seeing the ocean through a fish's eyes.  No fish constumes.  Just humans dressed up in pretty dresses.  Lydia still enjoyed the performance, Caty got a little bored though toward the end.  It was a good time though for us girls!

     The stage, no pictures were allowed during the performance.

    When we got home we made our own pretty fish. 

    Lydia is working on her days of the week.  We sing the Days of the Week song about twenty times a day.  In fact, Lydia now loves the watching the old Adams Family reruns on Netflix.  I went to and printed some really fun activities for Cookie's Week.  We colored and laminated the felt templates on just regular paper and we acted out the story of what kind of trouble that Cookie got into everyday.

    We also worked with The Very Hungry Caterpillar.  I found a game based on the book at Target last year.  Since she is just now at the point of picking up on the days of the week we broke out the game.  It was a lot of fun and we would highly recommend it. 

    I also pulled out file folder games for all the kids.  The boys practice math facts.  Joey practiced putting popcorn kernals in popcorn bags.  I had the problems written on the kernals and 10 popcorn bags numbered.  He had to put the write kernals in each bag.  He had fun with it.  Brayden used clothespins on laminated cards to mark the correct answers to problems with multiple factors.

    We started working on our human body unit.  We are working on basic bone work for the next few days.  No pictures, most of the week was copywork and reading from some awesome books.

    Lydia and Caty decided to play with the trains the other day.  I had our wooden Thomas trains put away in the basement because Brayden had sooo much Thomas stuff we had to choose what was played with most.  He is still attached to the wooden trains, so I agreed to just store them and bring them out every few months.  Well it's been a couple weeks since we got them out and he's moved away from his Thomas stage again (it's was all the time for a couple weeks..movies and toys).  But Caty and Lydia still have been enjoying them.  Out of the blue Lydia screams, "I MADE A C!!!"  "HEY MOM...I CAN MAKE LETTERS WITH THEM!!"  Maybe some of those phonics lessons are starting to stick!!
    The boys and Lydia are taking a Rainforest class monthly at the local Zoo.  This was Lydia's souvenier from her first class yesterday.  She was nervous, but she had a lot of fun.  When she got there she saw another girl she recognized from another one of her homeschool groups.  It was great!

    Next week, we will continue learning about Joseph.  We are going to work on some testing this next week so I can gauge where the boys are landing in their learning.  It's only a partial week due to the holiday.  And we have two days this week we will be selling candy bars for our Special Olympics team in Henry County.  Still have lots to sell.  Starting the week of the 29th we will get started back on full week.  I am also working on getting our workboxes ready.  Yep, I actually bought a tower of drawers from JoAnn  Each of the boys and Lydia have a full set.  Nothing for Caty yet, we will get her a set soon.  I worked on creating unique drawer tags for each of them today off and on while I was rearranging our school room area.  None of my measurements worked was very frustrating.  I will post pictures of what everything turns out like:)

    Have a great week!!

    Saturday, November 13, 2010

    Geocaching and letterboxing adventure

    Well we have been wanting to try this new adventure for a while, and it never failed that something came up and we couldn't do it.  Today is one of the last good weather (and warm) days of the year, so we embarked on our journey to "treasure hunt" or geocache. 

    If you are not familiar with it, geocaching is when you use a GPS to find caches that people have buried in locations around the world.  The caches can hold little trinkets or "treasures" as our kids called them.  You exchange out a trinket for tricket that is in the box.  I went on to and picked out four locations and printed out the coordinates.  We only got to two today, since this was our first day and we were using a cell phone GPS our first cache took us a little bit longer than we anticipated. 

    Lydia checking out what trinket she was going to trade.

    On to our next cache site.....Yes that is my hubby trampling around the river bank.  We were using his GPS on his phone and he was still learning to use it.  Turns out the box was not at the bottom of the bank, but at the top:
     You can see the clear box next to the little rock toward the bottom of the picture.

    Lydia again got the privilege of opening the box, the boys were being their usual selves, but we kept going anyway.

    So then we headed to Perrysburg to try Letterboxing.  We started out at the 577 Foundation. 

    It was hidden in the Bird Blind.

    Look outside the Bird Blind and the squirrels and chipmunks were "stocking" up.

    Filling out the journals.

    Brayden filled one out too.  He was quicker than I could snap a picture.

    Then we went off to Orleans Park to go off on our next scavenger hunt.  This was quite a little trail to go along.
     We went down by the Maumee River and back up to the park.

    Then we spotted the tree with 7 trunks........

    Counted our 9 steps back toward the river.......

    And Lydia found the journal envelope.

    Our Letterboxing Journal.....

    Our very first Letterboxing Stamp!!!

    And there were plenty of leaves for Lydia to throw in the air!!!!