Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sensory Overload At T.G.I Fridays!

We came out of TGI Fridays on sensory overload! here is our story ~ lol

We decided to head out to TGI Fridays last night for dinner and were looking forward to a fun meal and some time to kind of re-connect before our weekend began. The boys like the appetizers (fried green beans w/dipping sauce) :) and my husband and I just planned to "try" to find something that was somewhat healthy, lol.

When we got there it wasnt too busy and took our seats. The first thing we noticed is how they seated us all in the same area, not spreading patrons out so as to not be on top of eachother...then we ordered....and as the food came my husband and I noticed right away that they quickly turned the music up really loud...(it was loud when we first came in) but by now we literally almost had to yell over to answer one anothers questions. The music, well let's just say it wasnt even near "Fall Out Boy" - more like " Drop Kick Murphys"~ even though I like this band I didnt appreciate listening to it while I was trying to eat and talk to my family.

The boys both have sensory issues so it was interesting to see them try to eat and block such noise out. They have both gotten MUCH better with their sensory issues and I think my 12 yo was ok with things until the music started screaming (yes I mean the singer was actually screaming during dinner), but the 10 yo had a really hard time eating...

I thought about asking them to turn it down but when I did when we were over at another restaurant they did not even touch it and just ignored us....so I thought it was futile..
Scratch one more restaurant off our list for dining for sure! lol

We came out of there and I told my husband it was like I was a kid who just got out of a dance or a rock concert....ears were ringing... etc.

We talked about it on the way home and my thoughts as I spoke with my husband are this:

Dining Out used to be for entertainment and enjoyment. A way to go and be waited on and just kind of kick back and enjoy your company and good food.

NOW, dining out in my opinion, for most of these chains has become more for convenience than enjoyment and entertainment. Fast food chains can give us these accomodations.
The loud music helps us as patrons to eat faster so we can leave and they can fill our table with yet another consumer and they can make even more money from our families.
Loud music also helps in their bars where it creates a party atmosphere and consumers drink faster and order more and more and spend even more money than if they were leisurely sitting enjoying the surroundings and eachothers company.

Hmmmm, I am just not buying in to it any longer ... I refuse to be fooled by these chains any longer dont you? We will stay with our family restaurants and away from the trendy chains and hope to have a more enjoyable, less stressful family meal! :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Portfolios and Scrapbooking ~

I have been exploring the world of scrapbooking~ I have never done any formal scrapbooking before and had heard from some veteran homeschool mom's about how they use scrapbooking techniques for their portfolios.

As I looked into this further, I became really interested...the more I heard and researched the more I think my boys would love to help put together their own portfolios for our evaluator and it would at the end be a wonderful keepsake for them to have of their "homeschooling days".

I began searching at our local Walmart store and found a whole bunch of sticker items and sticker letters and card stock...I really loved it... I ended up purchasing some "schooly" stickers for their cover (ie., a sticker of a back pack, a globe of the world, a little notebook, or a desk or chalk board or schedule etc..) they were really cute and will be perfect for our black binders.

I am going to start hunting for special scrapbook papers like for history, maybe to have the constitution in the back ground or for science some test tubes or a beaker with a bubbly concoction.

I also plan to design some of my own papers and use those which I will share once I get them finished. I was also thinking of letting the boys make their own papers as frames to frame their work on (collages, favorite cartoon cutouts, printouts of certain characters from a book etc.. ) the possibilities are endless and I think doing our portfolios this way will really make it more fun and interesting for someone to review.

I plan to add alot more pictures this year of things we do, like cooking, and experiments, things the boys build, models they make, even videos we watch, computer time.. etc.. this year I have found we do a great deal less book work or worksheets than we did last year and I have found it works better and they learn and retain more by doing instead of sitting in front of a worksheet. - So pictures will be a big part of our portfolio scrapbook.

An AKOL group member wrote on our group about smilebox a free program where you can upload your pictures into a visual scrapbook online - she showed me samples and I really loved it and would like to try that later on here is their site: http://www.smilebox.com/ really looks like fun! Thank you Velma!

Update~ Grammar: You might recall I said I would give an update as to our grammar dilemna well I believe I might have found something.. I am looking into a program by the Institute for Excellence in Writing called "Fix it" ~ it is a grammar and editing program that has funny stories for the student to edit and change into grammatically correct sentences. I have not tried this approach before so I think he will enjoy the correcting more than the seeking out the parts of speech..
One other person mentioned to me to leave parts of speech " at the door" and just do grammar orally and ask what each word is and break it down that way, which I am definitely going to try and I think is a really great idea. I can still use Winston's Clue Cards for this exercise so I think I may have found what I am looking for. ~

Monday, January 26, 2009

Making Math Fun on our Monday

I found a book at our local library by the All Aboard Math Reader, "Breakfast at Danny's Diner" - a book about Multiplication. By Judith Bauer Stamper: http://www.amazon.com/Aboard-Reader-Station-Breakfast-Dannys/dp/0448432102

This is a Level 3 Reading Level book *longer text, *harder words, * more complex stories - The font is larger similiar to many level 3 books. The books are in a series of wonderful, enchanting stories that children can read while learning concepts in Math. My son, loves things with Diners and Services Jobs so when I saw this book I knew he would love it.

We use a math journal and as concepts are introduced in the story we write down the examples they give which for my son give real - life learning towards his math concepts which he really enjoys and understands much more.

There are several books in the series to work through, most can be found at your local library: https://www.enasco.com/product/TB21001L

Happy Learning from Home!

~ tracey

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Busy Days and Now a New Hobby!

We had an incredibly busy week last week. It was our first really full week coming back from our Holiday so we really began reviewing and assessing things to see where we were at with our studies.

We continue to work in our history program SOTW (Story of the World) and are learning about Egypt and mummies and pyramids. I found a wonderful video at our local library that touched upon the exact concepts we had been reading about so it worked out well. I also picked up a research guide from the Magic Tree House Series to supplement a bit further on the subject. We will work further on this next week.

Science was messy this week. Paper Mache' need I say more? The boys loved it... I was a bit unsure as to how my older one would be with his sensory issues - but he seemed to do very well. Chris is learning about our Earth so he is making a model of our earth and it's layers inside. Peyton is still on Antarctica..yup still, he loves to just keep going and dive into more and more information on a subject...pretty soon we will cut off but for now he was anxious to make a model of an Emperor Penguin so we are making that with the Paper Mache'.

Math is going fantastic with the new methods I am using and I am actually enjoying teaching math! I cannot believe it. I ended up working hard on a concept outline so that I can stay on task and keep moving forward reviewing and introducing concepts as we go. This was a real accomplishment because it will really help me as I move forward to write out our lesson plans. I am thankful a good friend was able to point me in the right direction for a resource to help me do this she suggested AAA Math and I have to say it is an excellent resource indeed.

Reading also is going splendid. Peyton is now reading Captain Underpants books! He loves graphic novels and the little stinker tricked me while we were trying to practice our fluency from our I SEE SAM readers this past week ~ he went to the BACK of our stack of readers where they are the hardest and read them to me...I had no idea he took those and was laughing afterwards because he said he wanted to show me how he can read other things now...lol sigh...well I suppose that is all good new ..

While keeping up on my e-group we had a discussion about journals and portfolios, one parent showed off her journals and I have to say I was so impressed! It truly inspired me to learn scrapbooking. I have never done it before and hit Walmart tonite to check out what all the fuss was about and wow, can I just say I think I might have found, yet another, hobby. ~

I ended up picking up some scrapbook papers and also some card frames so that you can write on the side about the photo ~ which really will be a nice touch.
I found a bunch of school stickers with globes, backpacks, notebooks etc..desks, I think the boys will really enjoy putting together their work in more informal way this year for their portfolios. It will be a wonderful keepsake and fun at the same time. ~

So it was a busy week and I am sure next week will be just as busy we ramp back up next week with some more stylistic techniques for our IEW writing series so that should be fun.

Grammar struggles ~
I also am going to be checking into changing our Grammar just a bit..My 10 yo is doing fine but my 12 yo is struggling so much...one wonderful parent recommended to me to start him on a foreign language and this might help his grammar in a round-a-bout sort of way...I have to say I think it is an excellent idea and plan to explore this further.
My 12 yo has ADHD along with CAPD and Dyslexia so Grammar is most certainly not one of his favorite or subjects he does well in. So I will work to change some methods and post back more on this with his struggles learning Grammar and what I have found that might help.

~ tracey

Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Madness and our "Brain Dump"

It is Monday and we had another snow storm yesterday that carried over into this morning. I know I should be used to snow, living in New England but it is only January and I am already sick of the "white stuff". ~
We started our morning off with shoveling and trying to get started with our morning studies. Mondays are never great days for us because we tend to have a hard time getting started into our week.
Today was no exception, we finally began and my youngest proceeded to remind me that today was supposed to be his "brain dump" day.
I am sure your asking "what is a Brain Dump Day". Well this came up during our de-schooling period when I was attempting to help the boys move away from the compulsory tendencies of public schooling and more into the child led side of learning and exploring.
I started this with my 12 yo and what we would do is:
Purchase a small journal and write on the cover: ALL ABOUT ME
Next we would subtitle each page that described something about them. For instance some pages would be: My Favorite TV Shows, My Favorite Movies, My Favorite Food, My Favorite Subjects etc...THINGS I AM GOOD AT or THINGS I AM BAD AT
Then we add the things they dislike: TV SHOWS, SUBJECTS, THINGS PEOPLE DO, FOODS THEY HATE, etc. THINGS I WANT TO LEARN, WHAT I THINK IS DUMB....etc.
{My reasoning behind this exercise was trying to get underneath all the feelings that
had my 12 yo all frustrated and distraught and his confidence level and self esteem was
very low, so I needed to find a way to get to the bottom and thought this tool might be
just the instrument to use} it was.
As we moved through the pages, you could see his mood change.. angry to happy and smiling to joking to then crying and then needing a hug...then talking some more about things that bother them and writing those down..and then crying again and then laughing through the tears. Sound exhausting doesn't it? Well it is. BUT, it really helped my 12 yo.

Now it was my 10 yo turn because he has been having a few rough days and came out of of the blue and said he needed a Brain Dump. So after, reading and math we sat to do our brain dump.
I really like this exercise because it teaches you so much more about your child and what his strengths are...we went back to last years, brain dump to see where he was at and he and I could not get over the difference in interests and how he had gained so many strengths.
For instance last year he wrote he hated reading ~ while this year he added reading to his page of things he liked, but commented (only books I like~ ) which is quite different from how he felt last year.
We add through pages and can continue throughout the year with this journal and sometime plan to make a scrapbook for him about his things only because he likes to do things with pictures instead of all words so I agreed to do this as well, once again following "his lead and his strengths.

So at the end of our brain dump mama learned we need to do even more hands on math, more science about animals because he wants to help and work with animals when he is grown up and he wants to work further on his grammar lapbook and make it more fun ~ oh and he also wants to know more about how things work, cable TV, cell phones, computers, and the stock market...lol I have my work cut out for me , :)

So if your learner is having a rough week and you cannot seem to get to the bottom of all those feelings that are pushed down so deep, try sitting down with a steamy cup of hot cocoa and doing a "brain dump" and you both will learn and feel a whole lot better. : O)

Tracey ~

Friday, January 16, 2009

Peyton's Time ~

Today we had an interesting thread on our AKOL Group. I found that I wanted to share some more about this.
The discussion began with children needing to carry things around in their pockets. Lego's or items they want to bring with them to doctor appointments or a visit somewhere.
I really can relate to this and find it quite delightful for my son's to bring things along with them. I never really gave it much thought until this discussion came up.
One group member was concerned that where her child brings things along like lego people and such that it might hinder his learning at school or at home.
I always felt that this might be a kind of comfort for my sons.
A piece of home and sometimes a piece of themselves, maybe it might be a little car they might have worked so very hard on and were not quite ready to just put it down yet, SO, it came along...we always see them bringing things along, their GI Joes, Lego people or boats etc.. never really worried too much about it.
My son, calls himself a modeler. He goes upstairs to his room and can be up there for hours upon hours only coming down for dinner or lunch.
When he was at public school, the minute he would get off the bus, he would rush upstairs to his room to be with this legos and relax in "his world" and have "Peyton time" as we like to call it.

After the holidays when we were visiting all over, we would come home and no sooner were his boots off he was upstairs taking time for himself to unwind and play and build and create.

We love that about our little boy and I would never, ever want to take any part of his time away from him, unless for bath, eating or sleeping, lol .

I think it is very important for children to be able to explore their passions whether they are with legos, coins, paper dolls, miniature doll houses etc...it is important to their development and helps with their stressors throughout their day.

Don't we all wish we could have or make room to be "in the moment" for our own "Peyton time".
~ tracey

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Wednesday and that means it's Literature Day at our Home ~

Well, today is Wednesday and that means it is Library and Literature Day. We usually take the middle of the week to go and get our library books and also read and work through a book we have chosen to work through by my reading to them aloud, or sometimes we take turns reading outload. I pick up three of the same book so we can all follow along and pick out literature study units or lapbooks or just book unit studies to do that go along with the book.
We had lot's fun today; We are right now reading Mr. Poppers Penguins: http://www.amazon.com/Mr-Poppers-Penguins-Richard-Atwater/dp/0316058424
To go along with it we are making a Penguin lapbook: (this is the one we are actually using : http://www.lulu.com/items/volume_62/1828000/1828361/2/print/1828361.pdf and this is another I found.
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/poppers_penguins.php and http://www.homeschoolhelperonline.com/units/penguins.htm for activities.
We had alot of fun with this today, and we learn new words as we are working like "derby" and "waddling" and "coat tails" etc...great for reinforcing and expanding vocabulary.
We also, to tie things in are doing a unit on Antarctica and I found these links and information to help: http://h1.ripway.com/mtdew999/antarctica_4g67.pdf
http://www.abcteach.com/Themeunits/Antarctica/Antarctica1.htm - I use these to add to our lapbook ~
http://www.abcteach.com/free/k/kwl_antarctica.pdf
http://www.abcteach.com/Themeunits/Antarctica/penguinborder.pdf
http://www.teacherplanet.com/resource/arctics.php

We also read books from the library on Antarctica and on Penguins which some will be from their reading level while others are a bit higher and I read to them. We find pictures and print pictures of penguins and the Antartica and just today P decided he wanted to do a real model of the Antarctic and Penguins with real water, should be quite interesting....

Literature Days can be a fun way to add a kind of cross curricula method to the mid-week slump we can get into and can be really fun to look forward to.
There are lots of literature units to choose from on Homeschool Helper just look under Unit Studies.
Other links for literature units are:
http://www.mce.k12tn.net/units/units_with_books.htm
http://www.randomhouse.com/teachers/guides/title/
http://www.abcteach.com/directory/middle_school/reading/book_units/
http://www.bibliocat.org/bookunits.htm
http://www.sdcoe.k12.ca.us/SCORE/cyk3.html
http://teach.fcps.net/trt14/LiteratureGuides.htm#M
there are more you just have to hunt around till you find the right book unit you might be looking for.

One thing I found really interesting to me is my P who is dyslexic never really wants to try or even attempt to follow along when I read. He says it is too hard and I go too fast. Well I tried something today and it might be something that helps someone so I wanted to share.. in the book the penguin many times will speak up with a sound or a penguin comment, if you will, like "gook" or "ouk" penguing noises...well my older child was following along in the book and asked when he heard me make the penguin noise, if he could do it when it comes to that part. I said sure so we read along and my littler one spoke up and said he wants to do the penguin part, SO, I explained he can certainly do the penguin part but he has to follow along....so he got up and picked up our third book and found the page and I read a bit slower as I saw he was tracking the words with his finger. Each time he never missed when the penguin did his little antics and we would laugh at the noises P would make.....he was practicing tracking and it was something he has never been able to do very well with someone reading, often times I will have him draw or just listen...but today was very interesting...So I thought a bit more afterwards and asked P if the next time mama read a story would you like to pick a silly word or persons name or such and jump in as I read along? He Loved the idea. BINGO - now I am onto something. lol
Just wanted to share this little piece that may not seem like a big deal but looking at the larger scale of things it is very BIG. :)
Hope these have been helpful and Happy Reading!
tracey

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Someone's Birthday Today!

Today is my youngest child's birthday. P is now 10 years old today! How exciting. My son was so excited for his special day to come, afterall he explains " I waited all year Mama"!

We all agreed to day would be P's day. We are going out to get some books at the library and then out to McDonalds for lunch (one of his favorite places). Then it is home for a Birthday Lapbook ~ yup, a birthday lapbook~ here is ours that we plan to use today (older brother plans to do it too for his date for his birthday).

Here is where I purchase many of my lapbooks:http://www.handsofachild.com/shop/ note, that as of yesterday HOAC is having a 35% discount on their Kits. May be a great time to take advantage of one, if you have not tried them before~
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Here are some more lapbook links that might be helpful since we are talking about lapbooks~
http://littleblots.ning.com/group/lapbooking
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/index_lapbooks_master_list.php- this is through homeschool share and provides all kinds of lapbooks and "folds" for you to choose from.
http://www.homeschoolshare.com/lapbooking_resources.php- more places to purchase premade lapbooks in case your not the creative type.
http://blog.choosyhomeschooler.com/?s=lapbooks- this is an article from Choosy Homeschooler about lapbooking~
http://www.homeschoolhelperonline.com/lapbooks.htm- free homeschool lapbooks
http://www.cathyduffyreviews.com/creative-learning/lapbooks-knowledge-box.htm- a review of lapbooks by Cathy Duffe and how it can be used in certain programs you might be using.
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I could give you more but you can contact me if you want more information~ :) There is Knowledge Box Central that offers Lapbooks and on the Homeschooling on a Shoestring website if you search for lapbooks you can find videos of how to make lapbooks which helped me a great deal in the beginning...
Some curriculum that uses a lapbook style is Time Travelers Series by Homeschooling in the Woods for history. For science there is Great Science Adventures by Common Sense Press. These just to name a few. ~

So happy birthday to my baby! And happy Lapbooking~ a fun, creative way of learning and teaching our learners at home ~

Monday, January 12, 2009

My first post~little pieces about us....

Winter in New England....freezing temperatures but I suppose it is to be expected here in the month of January.

I was thinking for my first post I should tell you some bits about our family and home:

Home Learning can be quite a journey~ we are in our second year of homeschooling. I am finally starting to feel like I am understanding how my boys need to learn and how I may need to teach them so they can enjoy learning...

We have many days filled with interesting exploration and fun, through child led learning.
We have an abundance of places to explore through nature. Tucked away at the foot of the Lakes Region, here in New Hampshire we find ourselves learning from home and the world around us.

We are a family of four boys ages, 22, 19, 12 and 9. Our two older boys both attend public college and public schools while the other two younger children learn from home.
Our boys have special needs and are learning to overcome their learning disabilities by learning about their uniqueness, gifts and strengths. We are teaching them that their disabilities are not who they are but rather only a small piece to their abilities they have to offer our family and society. We encourage the children to think for themselves and to learn problem solving skills that can be helpful as the children grow.
Learning at home can offer a unique time where children are free to learn about themselves and their world around them.

I hope you enjoy our special place I have created in order to help and share with others.

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