Thursday, April 17, 2014

Sea Life Sensory Bin

Sensory bins have always been a favorite activity for me to put together. B has always had a propensity of putting inappropriate things in his mouth, so it has been a while since I made one. As he gets older and has more tools to help (thank goodness for chewelry) I thought I have another go-around with sensory bins. 

Now I know we are quickly approaching Easter. I had all these creative ideas flowing of an Easter theme, Holy Week theme, or other Spring ideas. However, B just kept going back to the shark toy. I am trying to fight my natural instincts to take over and instead have more kid-directed play/craft time, so a sea life sensory bin it is.

We started out with little brown rocks that go into fish tanks. We added shells, agate type rocks, green play tree that look sorta like seaweed (well at least to me), and whatever sea animals I had on hand. Don't forget the sharks!!!
I also found a boat with  little guy (in case we want to play JAWS), a fishing pole game found at the $3 bin at Target, and  a whale sponge. Wringing out soaked sponges is not only fun sensory play but helps strength hands and forearms which promotes fine motor skills.

Next I added water dyed with blue food coloring. Another day B wanted me to try green water. Do a mixture if you want. Then just let them play. He has played with this numerous days for at least 20 min. each.

This isn't the only beach theme sensory bin I have done. To see a more traditional sand sensory bin without water go here. Also if your family loves sharks I have a great game to work on learning ABCs or sight words here. Lastly, for your budding scientists out there we did a closer look and activity with shells here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Calm Down Basket

Making calm down baskets have been on my bucket list for years. Nothing like having a homestudy being done at your home, where your parenting techniques will be under a microscope, to light a fire under me. Part of the reason I held off for so long is because I thought it would cost a lot to get everything together or too difficult to make a calm down jar (something that I felt just HAD to go with it). Yeah, I was so wrong on both counts.

If you don't know what a calm down basket is let me enlighten you. It is a basket of items your child can use tools to help self soothe and/or self-regulate their feelings. Calm down baskets are NOT to be used as punishments. I actually have them in a different area of my house than our time-out (or in) chairs. I personally made a basket for each of my boys because some times I need them to calm down at the same time, say when sibling emotions are running high. Also with the four year age difference I needed to think about gearing certain items to appropriate age/maturity (mainly books). I ask the boys to go calm down when they are starting to get irritable and either a meltdown or fight will break out, overly-hyper and I can tell an accident will occur or any times they are being over-emotional. The trick to the success is finding times to implement it BEFORE a choice has been made that would result in a punishment. They go shake the glitter calm down jar (acts as a timer and object lesson) and then they work in the baskets until THEY feel calm. It is meant to be self-regulated where they can learn when they need to calm down and also when they can come out. Self regulation is a life skill for all kids, but for SPD (sensory processing disorder) children it is especially important. Of course, as a mom we need to teach them how to do this. You may need to give a few reminders. Don't forget to model!!! When they are in calm down I try to do something calming too: read a Psalms, drink some tea, take deep breaths, journal, and sometimes I even color.

Here is what I included in our calm down basket. Keep in mind almost ALL items I had around the house or got for a couple dollars at Target. I so wish we had a Dollar Tree up here in Anchorage. I would check there first. The goal is to find items that are calming, deal with kiddo emotions, and think about letting the children use all of their senses (great for all kiddos and especially ones with SPD).

Sensory Items: teething/oral tools, massager, pinwheel, bubbles (that don't spill), Walbarger Brushing Tool (only for kiddo with SPD), velcro, I Can Calm Myself ABC Cards from Training Happy Hearts, and some natural components (smooth rocks to rub or shells to listen to).
Lacing Cards, squishy toys that have different textures, weight, and lights, stress balls, and small stuffed animals for comfort. The elephant is a baby toy but we like it because it makes a crinkly sound and B can chew on the feet.
Picture books on emotions, manners, and behaviors, a picture book of the boys doing positive things, a prayer book, children's bible, and a compilation book of poetry for children.
Each basket has an accordion file. In it is some laminated mazes, search and finds, and code breakers for A, For A I also add special paper airplane folding paper and mandalas to color (which is used in Tibetan culture for gaining wisdom, compassion, and healing through positive energy).  I also added a white erase marker and some crayons in the file.
A stretching printout (image from Bambinis) and Angry Bird Cool Down Strategies from The Home Teacher( (this unit she created is  EXCELLENT)
Of course it would not be complete without the much loved glitter calm down jars.These are so easy to make. Get glitter glue (think Elmer's glue size) and put about half of it in a mason jar. Then add HOT water (almost boiling). Stir until all the glue dissolves (takes a couple minutes). Next hot glue the lid on. Wait to cool and then you are done! Some use these as a timer to get out of the calm down area, but my jars take about 20 minutes to settle. The object lesson  is just like we feel all jumbled when we are out of control (have kiddo shake the jar-which reliefs stress and show the glitter whirl about) we can calm down and feel relaxed when we take time to quiet our body (set jar down and watch glitter settle on bottom). 

What do you or would you add to your calm down basket? I am planning on a small crank music box and making a lavender rice pillow to add in more smell and audio. Love to hear other ideas.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'm Back!!!

I can't believe I haven't been blogging in over a year and a half. YIKES! I have to learn how to do things all over again. Back in 2012, I started really examining my motives for blogging, and started to slowing stop. Taking a year off, I realized that blogging actually helps me be a better mommy. It held me accountable to actually PLAY with my children. Busyness of life crept in, and with that the time my boys spent in front of electronics increased. Confession.....I became a lazy mom. In all fairness, living in Alaska, the long winters are tempting times to bunker down and hibernate.

We are in the process of adopting from foster care. Something I will share about more when I am able.Something we talk about a lot in training is attachment disorders. The amount of time kiddos are in front of television, movies, and electronic devices can exasperate an attachment disorder because they don't have to bond, attach or socially respond to other people. Even for children who aren't at-risk too much time with inanimate devices can diminish their social skills. The great thing about the adoption process and all the training and poking into your life is you get an idea of the type of mom you want to be. It is a reboot to your family. One we are in desperate need of.  

So it is back to more actively, engaged time playing with my children. It is time to get silly, dirty, creative, exploratory, and active. I'm ready for more healthy and happy children who are connected with their family and the security, delight, and wonder that  attachment brings. 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Jet Pack Costume

For youth group last Tuesday we had to dress up with the theme of the unit we had been teaching on: Space Quest! I knew exactly what to make for "A"-a jet pack costume! The greatest thing is I had all items on hand using recycled items and it was completely free. I originally saw the idea on Pinterest and a different variation at Classy Miss Molassy. Mine is a lot less fancy because I am a no fuss type of gal. So without further adieu...

Blast Off!!!


Take two 2 Liter soda bottles and I taped them together with clear packaging tape. Then tape them to a cardboard piece (I used a flap). Punch holes in the four corners of cardboard. Add string to be able to put it on like a backpack. Add red & orange tissue paper for flames. Viola-easy peasy you are done!!!

"A" also wanted to make a space man "helmet". He just cut a hole in a box (the same one we got the flap off for the jet pack) and he decorated it with space drawings and "buttons".

Friday, October 5, 2012

How to Make an Apple Pie (FIAR)

A little fun with lots of learning-1st try at apple bopping 
So we have finished our first week of homeschool and my first book of Five in a Row: How to Make an Apple Pie and Travel the World by Marjorie Priceman. It is a cute book about a girl who travels the world to get the ingredients to make apple pie. So here is our row:

Various farm theme math sheets for cheap Grade 1 workbooks 
3 part apple math cards from 1st Grade Parade 
Measuring Trees printable from 2 Teaching Mommies
Odd & Even Apple Trees from 1st Grade Parade
Ripe Math was also a printable from 1st Grade Parade
We asked 25 people what their favorite type of fruit pie is and then made a pie graph. We also did a lot of introduction to fractions as well. 
Social Studies:

This idea came from Delightful Learning. We took the manipulatives from our sensory bin (you can see that here) and placed them on our world map.
Paper Plate Globe from Mrs. T's First Grade 
We did all the maps from the How to Make an Apple Pie lapbook from homeschoolshare and the Vermont coloring sheet from Crayola
We love this song on Youtube to teach the names of the continents

We also studied about Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman). What a truly amazing American. Here "A" is writing about how he would throw a party for Johnny Appleseed. He had to know some of his likes to answer the questions. 
We also filled out this Look Who is Famous informational sheet. I think we will use this sheet for all amazing people we learn about. You can find it at homeschool creations.

This is our poetry journal which I will do a complete post about in awhile. He highlights high frequency words and illustrates it. Here is with apple paint prints. 
Our apple picking sight word game. I took the idea of my popcorn game and wrote our high frequency words on apple prints and wrote the word Rot for the word to send the apples back. Check out my popcorn post on how to play.
We had a vocabulary word each day that he wrote on apples and defined: harvest, acquaintance, crop, coax 
I love this KWL chart from 1st Grade Parade
Sequence Cards from Fiarcircle
We did a comparison of the All in Just One Cookie to How to Make an Apple Pie and mapped where the books got their ingredients. 
This isn't the best picture but he had to write an alternate ending to How to Make an Apple Pie. What if he really wanted vanilla ice-cream. What would he need and where would he go. The only thing extra is vanilla which in All for one Cookie we learn he could go to Madagascar if he wanted-s that is what he did.
He labeled the parts of an apple. This printable is from here 

I got this idea from Mrs. T's First Grade. I love the art component. 
This is a salt evaporation experiment that is in the Five in a Row Volume 1 book. The worksheet is part of the lapbook at HomeschoolShare.
This experiment I read on Pinterest and can't find the owner. Let me know if it is you. Take one clean apple slice and then drop another, rub your hands on it, etc and see which molds fastest. Great way to discuss germs!
Of course we made an apple pie! This is part science and math. We also made homemade applesauce because I love it! 
We also had to do an apple tasting. This is great to do for once for everyone. "A" loved the sour and hated the sweet-me complete opposite!
We studied still life paintings. Did you know that apples symbolized knowledge and in religious paintings it represented temptation? Here is our set up-we ran out of red apples so we had to imagine.
Here is"A's" finished piece using watercolor pastels. 
Here is my still life. I love how this is something we can learn to do together. We are both students. 
Other Resources we used:

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Tot School-Apples

This week I have attempted once again to start up Tot School. As I have mentioned many times before my tot is behind in speech and some other cognitive development areas due to his Sensory Processing Disorder. Previously, I would print out tot school pages and suggested activities and it just brought to light all that he couldn't do and not what he good. It made me feel frustrated and grieving the fact he wasn't where other kiddos were at. I am going to do things I know he can succeed and like-period!
A is for Apple Color sheet from Twisty Noodle with our color of the week RED! 
Going on a red hunt. I had these in a basket for the week. I had to help with this because he has a hard time sorting and matching. That is why we are staying on one color and trying to saturate him with it!
Montessori-open and closing containers with different trinkets inside. This he excels at and loves it! 

Apple prints. I put a corn on the cob holder in the apple so all he had to do was stamp it. 
Another thing he recently learned to do and enjoys is stickers.I colored the tree for him. 
This week was his first time using a glue stick. He LOVED it but had some difficulty. 
He did the bingo paint plotter. We both loved it and will keep doing it. I definitely had to model it by guiding his hand for the about half of the sheet. 
He tried apple bobbing after watching brother. Then we did an apple tasting. He has trouble chewing so this was a sensitive activity but he did great under TONS of supervision.

A red collage-Mommy precut the pictures and he helped put them on the page. 
Matching-this is REALLY hard for him so it took about 3 days. 
All that he achieved in his first week. A lot to be proud of!!! 

We used the awesome Aa is for Apple pack from Allfordays. We will be linking up with Tot School at 1+1+1=1. She is the go to for anything and everything tot school related and such an inspiration.