Archive for June, 2009

6/26/09

June 29, 2009

We had a busy day with one of Charlie’s appointments, so not a whole lot of structured learning happened. Adrian still managed to do quite a bit. He played in the playplace at McDonald’s and asked a ton of questions at the doctor’s office. When we got home, he played with his food pit again. Then we made a stage for his popsicle stick puppets. He got right to work, putting together a show. Ever hear the story about the pirates, Jesus, and their dance club? I have! LOL

Subjects covered: Art, PE.
Total time spent: About an hour.

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6/25/09

June 29, 2009

I put both of the kids in front of the TV in the morning to watch the signing video I got from the library.  Man, it was booooring!  Nothing like Signing Time, which is awesome.  *I* even find Signing Time entertaining.  Oh well, better luck next time.  One of the things I printed off before was a collection of Ohio state facts….a map, the seal, the bird, flower, and the state quarter.  Adrian is very interested in the states, so I’m going to try to print off these things for a new state each week or so. He cared more about the map than anything.  See, I thought he’d like to learn about the bird and flower.  LOL  Maybe he’ll still learn a little something.

We found beans growing!

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Before long we’ll be picking them and learning to prepare them for dinner!

I made a “food pit” for Adrian.  It’s like an indoor sand box.  I put all sorts of dry food in a shoe box size storage bin….lentils, beans, rice, noodles, split peas, barley, ect.  I just put it on a tablecloth on the floor and let him at it.  At first he looked at me like I was crazy and very tentatively put his hands in it.  Before I knew it, he was scooping and dumping and sorting the food.  He hid things in it and squished it between his toes.  I learned online that this is a great sensory activity for kids and was a bit skeptical….would a 4 year old *actually* be interested in this?  YES!  He played with it for over an hour!

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After he finished playing with his food pit, we did a science experiment.  I introduced him to the states of matter.  I showed him how water freezes into ice (I actually showed him how I put water in the ice tray before I gave him the food pit so it would have time to freeze) and then we put one cube in a bowl and a few in a pot on the stove.  We melted the cubes and boiled the water until the steam hit the cover and turned back into liquid. Then we poured the water back into the ice tray.  I explained to him what each one was….solid, liquid, or gas.  Then I pointed to different objects around the house and asked him to identify each one.  He got all 9 right!  I asked about a potato, milk, farts (I know, nasty!), a spoon, juice, oxygen (from Charlie’s machine), and a few others.  I was a little surprised that he caught on so quickly, but maybe that’s because this was stuff I was taught in 2nd grade.  When you think about it, it’s not something you need to wait to teach.  It’s pretty clear cut with hands on learning available and tangible evidence they can lear from….just what preschoolers need!

He played with his Leap Pad for about 30 minutes and then we read a book about tornadoes, worked on his calendar (filling it out and marking important dates), and then we made popsicle stick puppets.

Subjects covered: Languages, Reading, Geography, Science, Art.
Total time spent: About 4 hours.

6/24/09

June 29, 2009

Just as a side note, I’ll be adding in other subjects to the “subjects covered” line at the end of each post. It occured to me that I really should be adding in some of the subjects that are often considered less important, like music, art, and life skills. They make up a large portion of our day and it’s a shame to not recognize all he’s accomplished in those areas.

Wednesday was a looong day. It’s funny how some days we seem to do almost nothing and other days he’s on the go all. day. long.

First, he grabbed the new poster I got from the dollar tree (seriously if you have one near you, check it out!). It has the numbers 1-20 on it. Now, Adrian can count to 20, no problem, but it just occured to me while working on learning to tell time that he has no clue what the numbers 11-20 LOOK like. So it was totally worth it to spent the dollar on the poster. He counted, then traced the numbers of each one. No doubt, he’ll recognize all the numbers soon enough.

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Then we visited grandma’s house. He played starfall for about 10 minutes. Then I got on the computer and printed out some learning materials. I made up sheets of “word families” for him to practice reading. We put together a huge alphabet puzzle (grandma has some of the coolest toys!).

After we got home, we worked in the garden a bit. He broke up big dirt clumps while I weeded it and then he watered it. I planted a bunch of new stuff the day before. I’m still learning a lot when it comes to gardening. I’ve had gardens before, but they always end up a mess because I get too busy to take care of them. Not this year! Because they are just in the flower beds and I literally just have to step out my door to tend to them, and I have a little helper, these gardens are flourishing! But they are a bit spotty because some things didn’t grow right. I’m replacing things quite late in the season, but it’s ok…it’s all a learning experience. For both of us.

Grandma came over a little later and we played outside. Adrian is learning to swing a baseball bat and he’s getting quite good. He’s managed to hit a small ball once, but we’re mostly practicing with a small beach ball. Then we went inside and did a few workbook pages on phonics and counting. I tried to encourage him to try my word families game, but he wasn’t interested. We played a game of bingo and a game of checkers. I’m so excited that he’s actually starting to understand the rules of games! Before, when we’d play candyland, he’d make up crazy rules and be very offended when you couldn’t understand his unreasonable requests and pitch a fit and refuse to play. But now it’s very enjoyable to play games with him. Before bed, we tried to read the book about the seashore, which turned out to be a little too advanced for him (and me…we both got bored pretty quickly). We read a Click magazine issue. Very nice mag. Very informative and geared to preschool/young school-age kids. We learned a lot about how different animals use camouflage.

Subjects covered: Math, Reading, Writing, Science, PE.
Total time spent: About 4 hours

6/23/09

June 29, 2009

The first thing we did on tuesday was go to the library. I actually managed to remember that our books were due back the 23rd. Yay me! (that’s a rare occurrence) So Adrian picked out about 10 books and I got an ASL video. He played on the computers for a bit and I ran into one of my friends, who has a little girl the same age as Adrian. And it turns out she moved in just down the street from me. So we are looking forward to hanging out. We ran to the store and got some things we needed, then headed home. Adrian watered his garden and then just played outside for a few hours until it got dark.

When we got inside, he asked to do some crafts (is there ever a time he doesn’t want to?). He saw that I had put some Styrofoam cups in his art bag and wanted to do something with those, so we made flowers in flower pots with foam sheets, googly eyes, easter grass, and popsicle sticks.

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Then he played with his g-tube teddy:

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I added the g-tube to the bear when I made his christmas gift…a complete doctor’s outfit. He played with it for a week and then it got put away. He just decided he’s interested in it again. He likes to give the bear meds and food through his g-tube and he also bandages up his arms and listens to him with the stethoscope.

Before bed we read some of his new books. We read a book called Otis, about a pig who doesn’t like mud, Splash Splash, about what animals do when they fall in the water, and a book about Dalmatians, which was actually really interesting. I learned a lot from that too. Did you know that Dalmatians are the only breed that work well with horses and because of this, they used to clear the way for the horse and buggy fire trucks and that is why they are now the fire house mascot? Sometimes they still work in fire stations, but that is why we associate Dalmatians with fire stations.

I sent in his pic with his bird bath to Family Fun. Cross your fingers….maybe he’ll get published!

Subjects covered: Reading, History. PE, Art.
Total time spent: About 3 hours.

Booster training…

June 21, 2009

So I’m a CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) and keeping kids safe in the car is important to me.  I’m putting this post on Adrian’s blog because it actually does fall into the “education” category.  This is real life education and quite important at that.  From the time kids are born, we put them in car seats.  When they outgrow their convertible seat rear-facing, we put them forward-facing.  The harness straps hold them in nice and snug and the buckle is quite hard for little fingers to undo (Adrian still can’t undo a harness).  But what happens when they get too big for the harness?  Well, you put them in a booster seat of course!  But a booster seat is very different from a harnessed seat because the child has the freedom to wiggle, move around, unbuckle themselves, pick up dropped items, ect.  But moving around too much and leaning out of the seatbelt is dangerous.  If the seatbelt isn’t properly positioned in an accident, it can’t do it’s job correctly.

So what do we do?  Well, I recommend “booster training” from an appropriate age and weight, usually at least 4 years old and 40 lbs.  The idea goes like this….if you wait until the child has outgrown their seat to put them in a booster, it’s a lot to learn at one time. “Don’t unbuckle!  Don’t put the shoulder belt behind you!  Don’t lean out of the belt!  Sit back!  Don’t try to pick up the toy you dropped on the floor!”  Kids have to have self-control to sit properly and this is not accomplished overnight (well, maybe for some kids).  So BEFORE they outgrow that seat (most seats go to a higher weight these days which can buy you some time for booster training), you can try short trips in the booster so they can start learning the rules.  By the time they outgrow their harnessed seat, they should be better prepared for riding in a booster full-time.

Here’s Adrian in a Graco Turbobooster:

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It fits quite nicely from 40 lbs.  I recommend a high back booster, not only for the side impact protection, but for the support the sides offer.  A child can rest comfortably (even fall asleep!) and not fall out of position.  The shoulder belt should fit across their chest and not slip off their shoulder or cut into their neck.  There are height adjustments on the seat to fit it to the child.  The lap belt should rest across the top of their thighs, not across their tummy.  Most highback boosters do a wonderful job of positioning the belt correctly.  Usually convertible or combo seats that convert to a booster let the lap belt ride too high on their tummy and have belt guides that allow slack in the shoulder belt.  The exceptions are the Graco Nautilus and Britax Frontier.  Both convert to excellent boosters.

Remember, keep those kiddos rear-facing!  The AAP has recommended for years to rear-face to the limits of the seat, but a lot of parents assume you should turn them around at 1 year and 20 lbs (this is the *minimum* recommendation!)  Studies from Sweden and now England show that it is very important to keep them rear-facing until at least age 4.  It is difficult to do that in the U.S. now because our seats have lower weight limits that won’t accommodate bigger children, but we are making advancements every year!  Just this year, Graco came out with a seat that rear-faces to 40 lbs!  It’s not going to get all kids to 40 lbs rear-facing because some will outgrow it by height first, but is certainly a wonderful option for most average to heavy kids.  Other great seats for rear-facing are the First Years True Fit, the Sunshine Kids Radian, The Evenflo Triumph Advance, and the higher weight Britax convertible seats.  Some lower cost options are the Cosco Scenera and the Safety First Uptown or Avenue.

This is Adrian sitting rear-facing on the test bench at Babies’r’us in the Graco My Ride.  He’s a bit too tall because his head is only a smidge under the seat shell (you must have a full inch to rear-face) and right at the weight limit, but he probably would have made it to 4 years old rear-facing in this seat.  The pic below is him in the Sunshine Kids Radian, a higher weight harnessed seat, just to show he’s not a petite kid.

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Usually a parent’s first concern is that their legs shouldn’t be touching the back seat. It’s not a problem…really! It’s not dangerous and usually not even uncomfortable. Adrian actually likes to sit cross-legged on longer trips anyway because his legs hurt when they dangle in front of him too long.

So Adrian is doing quite well with the booster training. He has tried to put the belt behind him once and I caught him chewing on it another time, but a good lecture on crash forces helped him understand why we have to keep the belt in place. He’s nowhere near ready for a booster full-time, but I’m confident he’ll be ready by the time he outgrows our other seats. 😀

Subjects covered: Staying safe in the car!
Time spent: As many hours as it takes to help him learn. 😉

6/16/09

June 18, 2009

Tuesday was a slow day.  Charlie has me up quite a bit at night and then I have trouble falling back asleep.  My head was hurting and I think I pulled a muscle in my back somehow.   So we chilled out a lot.  I took him back to Grandma’s for some more Starfall.  He played that for about 20 minutes.   We read a lot of books and played outside.  He watched the rest of the phonics video and covered the other “short” vowels.  We watered the garden.  Towards bedtime he asked to “do a fun project”.  We made a clock:

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Then he freaked out over something tiny so it was bedtime!

Subjects covered:  Reading, Writing, Math, PE, Art.

Total time spent:  About 2 hours.

6/15/09

June 18, 2009

On Monday we went shopping first thing.   Did I mention I love Family Dollar?  They have a whole aisle dedicated to teaching aids.  I found full-size laminated posters for $1! I got one with the map of the U.S., one with letters, and another about telling time.  They work with dry erase markers too.  We got some craft supplies and a travel chutes and ladders game.   We were in the toy aisle (which isn’t all that impressive) and he stopped dead in his tracks, looked at me with huge eyes and said, “Mom! I seriously need a dolphin!”  How can you say no to that?   So he got his dolphin.   I guess his rescue heroes at Grandma’s house needed a dolphin.  After that, we walked to the pet store just to visit the animals.   We saw lizards, frogs, tadpoles, birds, guinea pigs, bunnies, fish, snails, and a cat. He got to see a tadpole whose legs had just sprouted.

Then we went to Grandma’s house and I set him up on the computer at starfall.com.  Adrian has never used the computer much but someone recommended that site, so we tried it.   It is great! He played for 30 minutes and only stopped because his “butt hurt”.  LOL Starfall basically teaches reading and phonics.  Grandma also read to him for about 15 minutes.  He learned about farm animals. We hung his birdbath on Grandma’s front porch.

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Then we went home and he played with his dolphin in the bathroom sink.   I filled his little pool and smeared sunscreen on him.  He found a spider in his pool and caught it with his net.  The set I got him had a butterfly net, a container to keep bugs, tweezers, and a compass.   He pretends the compass is a clock.  He looks at it and says, “Yup, time to go catch bugs!”.  So he was catching everything.  He caught 2 spiders, a couple of ants, and a beetle.  Then he gave them grass and raisins to eat.  I made him put his shoes on when he was running through the yard because there were a ton of bees hanging out.  He said he wanted to step on all the bees and kill them so they wouldn’t be in our yard.  So I explained 1) Why they are important and 2) That they have an exoskeleton and stepping on them in the soft grass wouldn’t likely kill them anyway.

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We went inside for a bit and he made a door hanger with his foam sheets and stickers. Then he played with his calculator a bit. So far he knows how to add on it. We played chutes and ladders and I noticed there is one square that has a boy chasing a dog with a stick and it goes down to a picture of his mom beating him with the stick. What the hell?!

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In the evening one of my friends came over with her 2 little boys. One is not quite 2 and the other is 8 months. We connected quickly partly because her older one has a birth injury too. Not a brain injury like Charlie’s, but a brachial plexus injury. He’s had surgery on his left arm and lots of therapy. It’s taped up and splinted most of the time. So they ran around the yard for a couple of hours while we at and talked.

After they left we watered the garden and then went inside. We read a book about the American Flag and realized that the day before was Flag Day! So we made a flag to celebrate.

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We looked at our new posters. Adrian drew on the telling time poster and showed what time it was. He knows “o’clock” and he’s starting to figure out “half past”. He was able to draw the hands to show it was 8:30. Then he pulled out his letters poster and said “Let’s do this!” but it’s really just a visual aid, not like a game. Hmmm….how do we “do” that poster? I laid it down on the floor and had him toss a bean bag at it. Whatever letter it landed on, we had to make the sounds that letter makes. Well, that works as well as any game. He got out the map poster and asked about Ohio, Michigan, Washington, New Mexico, and Florida. I just told him what I knew from looking at the map. “Washington is by the Pacific ocean.” “Ohio has a long river under it called the Ohio River.” Stuff like that. He asked about the lakes around Michigan. I told him those were the Great Lakes and showed him which beach he visited while he was there. Then he got his globe and showed me where the lakes were on it. Smart boy!

After it was good and dark, we went outside to catch lightning bugs. We caught 2 and went back inside. We learned that they are small enough (and smart enough) to find their way out of the bug container. Oops!

We went to bed and I read him a book about underwater creatures. It reads like a story, but has lots of info about the fish. He couldn’t fall asleep yet, and begged for a video, so I put in one we got from the library about phonics. Man it was boring! I don’t know who thinks kids will like this. But it was perfect because he got tired quickly. We only got through the “short a” sound.

Subjects covered:  Reading, Writing, Math, Science, Geography, PE, Art.

Total time spent:  About 8 hours.

6/14/09

June 18, 2009

Adrian tried to sleep in Sunday morning because he was up so late the night before.  I got him up eventually and he went right for the workbooks.  LOL  He did pages on the letters “O and “P”.   He did a beginning sounds page and another addition page.   Then he got his seashells out and started sorting them.   He started scooping them up with his butterfly net so I told him I’d hide them and he could find them with his net.  That was a lot of fun. 🙂   Like an easter egg hunt.  I showed him the calendar I got.  It was a $1 at Big Lots and you put the month stickers on each page and write in the dates.   So you can start it at any time during the year.  So we labeled June and he wrote in the numbers through 14 (with help).  He played with his inflatable globe and I showed him how it compares to the pictures in his book about space.   We’d looked through the book before, but he didn’t seem to understand what a planet was exactly, so that’s why I got the globe.   To make it more real to him that we actually live on something round!

Subjects covered:  Reading, Writing, Math, Science.

Total time spent:  About 1 1/2 hours

6/13/09

June 18, 2009

Well, we’ve had a crazy month!  First Charlie ended up in the hospital twice.  The second time we decided to bring her home on hospice.  She really wasn’t doing well and the doctors thought she had about a week.  That kid is a stubborn one though and she pulled through.  She still doing very poorly and we don’t know how long she has, but it’s not as touch and go as it was before.

Adrian is handling it pretty well.  We did tell him she might die.   He doesn’t quite understand how permanent death is, but he’ll have to find out eventually.  That’s one of life’s harsher lessons.  Even though Charlie wasn’t doing all that well, I told Adrian’s dad to go ahead and take him on the trip they had planned.  They would only be 5 hours away if anything happened.  So Adrian got to enjoy Michigan for a week and a half.  I’m so glad I told them to go.  Adrian needed a break from the stress and I needed to focus on Charlie.

So when they got back I got Adrian late on Saturday and was only able to keep him until 1 or so on Sunday.  But I missed him so much I couldn’t wait until Monday!  The first thing he did was dug through the stuff I bought for him.  The Dollar Tree is an awesome place to shop. 😉  I got him 4 disney workbooks.  He grabbed those first.  Now, he’s not one of those rare kids who likes to sit for hours just doing workbooks.  He likes them because I try to make them fun.  If we are learning about money, I dig out real money.  If it’s math, I get out his abacus, or anything to count with (pennies, goldfish crackers, ect).  For reading, I get out the fridge magnets.   For writing, we’ll draw on the magna doodle, or paint, or shape pipe cleaners into letters.  Workbooks, alone, he couldn’t care less about.  So we did pages on seasons and time.  He got out his clock board and it helped him figure out some of the stuff.   He did a page on the letter “H”.  We counted money out of my yard sale cash box and did a page on that.  We did an addition page and used the abacus and beans for counters.

Then we went up to bed and he saw the bag with the craft supplies.  So we made the bird bath I saw in the Family Fun magazine I subscribed to.  And then we counted seashells, sorted them by size and color, and talked about what types of animals live in the shells and what you can use the shells for after the animals leave them.   After all that he didn’t need a bedtime story.  LOL

Subjects covered:  Science, Math, Reading, Writing, Art.

Total time spent:  About 2 hours.