Our Family Blog Page! »

Monday, March 2, 2015

Learning time and Learning favorites

When my oldest four kids were around one I started to focus on things like letters, numbers, rhyming, songs, counting, and writing. All my bio kids were reading by 4 and able to write their full name in print before they started kindergarten. At age 3 my oldest two girls were singing the ABCs in English and in Hebrew.  By age 24 months my now 18 year old could count to 20 before she turned 3 she could count to 100.
My oldest son (now 16) when he was 3.
Learning hand control for writing does not have to be hours and hours of holding pencils. We just tried to make it fun, we painted with brushes, used water colors, colored with crayons, used stencils, played with clay to build hand strength, and things like that. In 2012, when Veronika was 12 months old, and Gavyn was 10 months old we adopted them from Ukraine. Both of them have Down syndrome. While we fully understand that they have Down syndrome and would need things like, PT, OT, and Speech, it did not mean that we should treat them any differently when it came to learning.
Veronika (age 3) now counts to 15, and recognizes numbers 1-20, and also the numbers 25, 50, and 100. Gavyn recognizes numbers 1-10. Both Veronika and Gavyn know all basic shapes and many 3 dimensional shapes. Veronika can count objects then label them with the correct numeral. She can also see a numeral and then count objects to get to that numeral. (today we were working with buttons and she was able to look at numerals and count out the correct number of buttons to match.

 With reading, we started sight words and labeling words at about 18months or so. We started with words like eat, sofa, more, yes, please, no, help, go, mommy, daddy, (and all names of siblings). We haven't worked on those in a while but we do a lot of flash cards.
Our kids LOVE flashcard time. I make it fun, it goes FAST, you do NOT spend a lot of time on it. Make it memorable. We are learning about famous paintings, organs of the body, countries, and polygons currently. For example, with the famous paintings I try to be silly and make it fun so they WANT to learn. Take the painting of the Mona Lisa Leonardo da Vinci, I would ask them if they can sit up and smile like she is smiling, or the Sunflowers by Van Gogh, I would pretend like I am smelling them. The idea is that you do not spend a lot of time on any flash cards, you flash them say what is on the card and move on quickly to the next card. If your child seems to be losing focus or attention, liven it up by making it funny or silly.

 I remember when I was teaching my preschool class (ages 3-5) it was around the time of the summer Olympics (years and years ago) and we made flags for every country who was participating. The flags of the countries the kids remembered easiest was Hungary and Turkey, because when I would get to those flags, I would hold Hungary and say...... "Mmmmm, I am SOOOO Hungary....I think I want to eat.... TURKEY!!!" Then I would hold the flag of Turkey and say.... No no don't eat me, and I would have the flash card of Hungary chase Turkey and pretend to eat the card. The kids would laugh and laugh and they had fun learning. As long as you can make learning fun, what is wrong with teaching a child? All my kids in my class also learned to identify different cloud types. I would talk about how the cirrus looked like someone had taken a paintbrush and gently swept it across the sky, or how the cumulus looked like big puffy cotton balls in the sky.

We are pretty careful about what our kids watch and we try to make sure things they do watch are educational. One of our favorites is Sparkabilities You can look them up on YouTube and some video previews.
An all time favorite is Signing Time.
I am always on the look out for flash cards. For me, flash cards must have certain qualities, they must be sturdy, they must be pleasing to the eyes, and they must present only the info I want. For example, some flash cards show a blue ball and it is trying to teach a new learner about the color blue. If I am trying to teach colors, the easiest way to do that is to buy construction paper and laminate it. Of course you can also just use your natural environment. Talk about what color your child is wearing each day, what color is their tooth brush, what color is the grass, the bark on the tree, their bedroom walls, etc. My favorite flash cards are Eric Carle flash cards, they have a numbers one, and an animal one that has animals on one side and letters on the other. When working on letters, we always say the letter and the letter sounds. You can find them both on Amazon. The flash cards we are using in the video are called BIT cards, and can be found at The Gentle Revolution Press.
One of our newest discoveries is BrillKids. We love it! We are currently just on the free trial part, but it is keeping both of our three year olds very engaged. (we are using the app on our tablet with BrillKids)

Friday, February 27, 2015

Exciting Times!!

February has been an exciting month for our family. After careful consideration, with different speech therapy times, and different times for all kinds of appointments, I decided back in October that it would be in our two 13 year old girls best interest (adopted from Eastern Europe - both have Down syndrome) to attend public school. This month both girls started attending and are loving it!
Gavyn, who has Down syndrome and is nonverbal has up until this point been unable to share all that he knows with us. Imagine our surprise when we found out he could do all this....

The app that Gavyn is using for the reading is called BrillKids. Gavyn has only been using this program for one week, but has always loved books and we have been doing flash cards on and off since he was 18 months old.

Veronika continues to work hard on counting now that she knows her numbers

We are trying to keep changing our sensory bin, this month it is pink and white rice with scoopers and little heart shaped boxes for them to play with. One thing we noticed is that Veronika does not have very strong hands. We are going to be buying some therapy puddy which is able to be washed again and again. She used some with her speech therapist and loved it so hopefully that will help with working on her hand strength.
In other news, potty training is happening. It has been happening for a while but now we are having a lot more successful bathroom trips and Veronika telling us when she needs to go.
That is our news for now!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

January 2015

Can you believe it is 2015 already?
Time is just flying by!
In December the kids were all in our church's Christmas pageant. Alina had a narrator part, which is a pretty big deal when you have only just started learning English. Ellie and Veronika were angels. And Gavyn was the cutest cow ever!

We ended up taking a mini family vacation to the Great Wolf Lodge, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa for the amazing Christmas gift!! Nothing like a fun vacation to get you ready to get back to work. 

Veronika is doing very well with her reading.  Here she is at age 3, reading some high frequency words.

Here she is working with some of her shapes.

Will be updating more on Alina, Ellie, and Gavyn soon!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Learning time with Veronika and Alina.

Alina has only been working on her English (her native language is Latvian) for a few months! She is learning at such an amazing pace!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Our Newest Homeschoolers

 Alina working on reading comprehension

Ellie working on colors and shapes

Veronika has been hard at work too!!

Veronika working on positioning (the scarecrow goes on/in/under/beside/above/between) 

We do hand over hand with tracing letters

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Numbers and Homework

Veronika and Gavyn worked on decorating their pumpkin for their preschool class using glue, glitter, and sequins. 

Veronika has been working on her numbers and has mastered 1-10

I decided a new challenge was in order, so I got these cards last week and today was the first time I ever asked her to tell me which was which on the number words and dots. She blew me away!! I am not sure if she is counting the dots or reading the words, but she is doing amazing!! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

New Tasks

 One of my biggest goals currently is to work on their fine motor skills so they can write their own name. A lot has to happen before they are able to do that thou, they will need a lot of fine motor practice to work on getting their hand muscles working well enough to be able to hold a crayon and pencil correctly. They will need to be able to follow directional lines, and they will need to learn how to trace. So currently we are working on coloring in coloring books.
I will also be printing out these amazing highway letter papers that can be found at one of my favorite websites: Making Learning Fun

I have some little vehicle erasers that I found at the Dollar store and I will have Veronika and Gavyn practice running the car along the letter highway. There are so many things that can be done with these letters and I can hardly wait to get started. 
 We are also working on color matching. With Veronika I can set out all the cups and give her several bears at a time and she will sort them into the correct color, often signing the color as she places it into the cups. Gavyn needs more guidance with this activity. I want him to feel successful and not stressed out about it so we only do two cups and one bear at a time. If I see him starting to put the bear into the wrong cup, I will tell him the color of the bear and cup it goes in and help direct him to the correct cup, then we clap for him. I think his favorite part is the clapping.

 This is a little game Veronika got for her 3rd birthday a few days ago. It can be played many different ways. For Veronika, we had her open the shoot and take out the chips and match them to the correct color and animal on the fence. She was able to take out each piece, look for the correct color fence for the chip and find the correct animal that went on it.
 When she was finished we had her put them back in to work on those skills as well.
 With Gavyn, we focused on one color fence at a time and I needed to help him match it by pointing out where the piece would go. Once I showed him where it went, he would put it in the correct place.
 Another skill we are working on is matching shapes and putting them in the correct hole. We got this Melissa and Doug shape sorter. While I am normally a big fan of Melissa and Doug toys the box on this is not very child droll proof. I will be having my husband stain this toy and coat it with a water resistant coating to protect it and also make the lid that slides on and off a little more harder to pull off. Currently the lid comes off a little too easy as you can see in the first picture where Veronika is trying to get her shape in and the lid moved on her. Other than that, we love the shapes and it is proving to be wonderful for their shape recognition.
 Veronika is just learning her shapes so we are working on two at a time. First I will flip the the flash cards once or twice telling her the names of all the shapes. Then I will put two down on the table and ask her for a certain shape. I will either ask her to point to the shape or hand the shape to me.
 She is very good with all of her colors so we do three colors at a time.

Gavyn is working on his colors so I will offer him two and ask him to give me the correct color. 
For shapes, since he is just learning, I only put down one shape and ask him to hand me the shape. Using the name over and over and having him hand it back to me makes him aware of the shape, it's name, and works on following directions.
 Another great activity is the Mellisa and Doug beginner pattern blocks. The more advanced pattern blocks have a flat surface but these are great because it works like a puzzle with the space the shape goes being indented.

 Of course, exploring is also lots of fun and very educational so a trip to our local Children's Museum is a wonderful addition to our learning time.