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Now, that we have discussed creating a paper chain and ways you can make it a learning tool, let's take it one step further and make it a language-learning/writing activity!

Make a journal for the special days that you are counting down to on the rings (the rings that were a certain color).  Depending on your child's ability, you can do any or all of the following:

BEFORE THE EVENT:

Have your child write about how he/she is feeling about the activity or special day.  If your child is not writing, have him/her circle a happy face that is showing the correct emotion or tell you about it and you write it down. 

Have your child write about what he/she thinks will happen that day.  Again, the journal "entry" can be a drawing, a drawing plus a few written words (either by you or your child), a sentence, or a paragraph.

I know that sometimes the events occur in the morning or the morning can be taken up with having to get ready.  Therefore, this activity may be best to do the day or night before.  

AFTER THE EVENT:
Have your child write about the event after it occurs.  Have him/her write about what happened, how he/she felt about it, how it was different than expected, who was there, etc.  You may want to use the story order prompt that I created.  (click here for the pdf file)

For those of you who have children who are working on pragmatics or who have Autism Spectrum Disorder, this can be a great activity!  It can help you understand how your child is feeling about something that's coming up, it helps give your child the language to talk about how he/she is feeling, and is another method in trying to get your child to process the change or event that will occur.  

Have fun with your journal entries.  You can re-read them in order to talk about all the fun things you have done.  It will also make a great keepsake!

 
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I always feel like the fall flies by!  You start school and then you have: Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas all to look forward to.  Winter and spring are another story.  Do you ever feel like it takes forever to get to Spring Break or Easter?  I do for sure!

Counting down to an exciting event is a very abstract concept.  For young children, most days are the same.  They don't know about the days of the week yet and so they wait for an adult to tell them what that day holds.  

To get a child EXCITED about something coming up, I suggest a paper chain.  You know... those old school things you used to make leading up to Christmas (Christmas day was always a gold link in our house).  At our house, we are counting down to when Daddy comes home.  We have our paper chain up on the wall.  Normal days are white.  Holidays or special days are a color (St. Patrick's Day is green, Easter is blue, Memorial Day is red).  Anytime someone is going to come visit, the day is yellow.  The reasoning behind all of the days someone is to come visit being yellow is so that Timothy starts to associate yellow days as an exciting day when someone special comes to the house.  This way the day that Kyle is coming home, Timothy will have some kind of understanding as to what will happen.  This is also a good way to really start talking about holidays and teaching about holidays.  Timothy now knows that green is a special color to St. Patrick's Day.  Each morning we talk about our next special day that we are looking forward to (St. Patrick's Day) and then I tell him about who St. Patrick was, different symbols that are associated with St. Patrick's Day, etc.

If you have a child who gets nervous and anxious about change, a paper chain may be a good way for him/her to see when the change will take place.  It also gives you an outlet to talk about it each day.  You can use that opportunity to give your child language he/she needs in order to talk about how he/she is feeling.

What could you count down to?  I love seeing our paper chain getting smaller and smaller!

 
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I absolutely LOVE photos.  I love to take them.  I love to print them.  I love to frame them (I even took a course to learn how to do custom framing and do all of our own custom framing at the local frame shop myself).  I love to create photobooks.  I love scrapbooking (although I don't seem to have time for that anymore).  I love photos.  Therefore, I love Snapfish.

However, I didn't know that Snapfish had free printables until today.  They have an assortment of St. Patrick's Day printables up right now.  This one is my favorite.  It's a paper flower boutonniere.  It makes a great project for little ones!

This makes a great FREE activity to do with your kids at home, in school, or in speech therapy!

 
I've blogged about it before... it's one of my soap boxes... the topic of kids and TV.  My philosophy is that the less kids watch TV, the better.  My soap box stats come from the   American Academy of Pediatrics and their guidelines.  However, if your child is watching tv PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE make it a child appropriate show.  Child appropriate, in my opinion, is one that teaches some kind of lesson (letters, numbers, counting, colors, manners, etc), is a slower moving cartoon (I have read that its hard when kids cannot process the fast-paced moving pictures, they tend to zone out and just see it as flashes of light), and is not violent. 

Well, I was going through some old magazines and Parenting had a great article back in April 2012 (I know... I'm behind on everything... even reading magazines) that spoke on this topic.  The article focused on the speed of cartoons and its effects on their attention span.  They had three groups of kids:  those who watched a fast paced cartoon, those who watched a slower paced cartoon, and those who did not watch TV at all and drew instead.  They stated, "the kids who viewed the faster-paced bug-eyed yellow square did not perform as well as the scribblers and those who watched the mellow tot."

Next time your child is watching a cartoon or kid-friendly show, take notice of how fast the characters are moving, the number of scene changes (and the speed at which it happens), if the camera is panning back and forth between characters or has a wider angle so that there is less movement, etc.
 
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Sometimes you have to put your money where your mouth is.  You have to actually live what you preach.  Well, on September 7, 2011 I posted about the importance of a print-rich environment (check it out for more information).  It was easy for me to post about it then - Timothy was barely crawling!  Well, now he knows all of his letters and he is starting to figure out that letters make up words.  It's really cute.  He will name all the letters in a word and then guess what the word is.  It's usually associated with what he sees and knows, but he will be way off.  For example, he read the letters off my shirt: "f-r-o-g-s" and then said, "Mommy!"  He knew that I was Mommy and just figured that my shirt was advertising my title.  :o)  Therefore, I went to the dollar store (Dollar Tree), purchased some blank word strips, wrote out words of things he sees everyday, and posted them around the house.  Does my house look like a pre-school?  Yes.  But it will help him learn and, if you think about it, we are called to be the first teachers our children encounter.  Therefore, it's ok that our house looks like a pre-school!

 
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I know that our freebies are usually on Friday, but considering Valentine's Day is Thursday and this freebie is a Valentine theme, I thought I'd just post it early.

It's a simple game that helps your kids learn or review opposites!  I hope everyone enjoys the game.

You will need to: print the game board, collect up coins as place markers (each player selects either a penny, nickel, dime, or quarter and collects 10 of their selected coin), and play!

The clipart is the work of Scrappin' Doodles (I do heart Scrappin' Doodles' clipart).

 
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Cards can get expensive these days... especially if you are like me and set a precedent to send them to your "baby cousins" from the time they were born and don't feel like you can stop now.

Plus, we have had some bad weather days where we just can't go outside.  What is a mother to do?  Have your child make Valentines!

It's simple and it can be so much fun.  All you need is: paper, art supplies, time, and some imagination.

The card on the left is a bit more involved.  I used my son's hand-print and my daughter's foot-print to make the letters "o" and "v" respectfully in the word "love".  I suggest using washable paint and doing this outdoors.  I then wrote in the letters "l" and "e" with a red permanent marker.

The card on the right is easier and can be made into a learning activity easily.  Kids like stickers, right?  (I know mine does) Have your child do some "work" (whatever his/her speech goals are or whatever you are teaching him/her right now) to earn a sticker.  After you have placed some stickers on the card (we used heart and star stickers for our Valentines), then he/she can color on it afterwards (I don't think Timothy was quite into coloring the day we made this card).  Write a cute note inside and you are done!

If your child is older, then have him/her come up with the greeting that should be written inside, have your child write his/her name, etc.

This activity is a great activity that can easily be made easier for small children (we've been making cards since before Timothy could talk) and older children (even Middle Schoolers may get into this if you allow them to color a scene on the front instead of using stickers).

 
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Have you ever had those days that you went throughout the whole day without knowing what day it was?  That was me yesterday!  I didn't realize it was Friday until dinner time when I checked our calendar to see what I was cooking that day.  Wow.

Sorry Freebie Friday has become Freebie Saturday.  This freebie finishes out our week theme of snowflakes.  Simply have your child look at the three snowflakes and tell which one is different.  If your child has more sophisticated language, then have him/her tell you WHY it is different or describe one of the snowflakes.  Just print, play, and learn!

Our prayers go out to those who were affected by Nemo.  I grew up in Rhode Island and so I have many friends in the New England area who have LOTS of snowflakes right now (and some without power).

Click here for the pdf version.

clipart by Scrappin' Doodles

 
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Have you ever heard the old adage, "don't eat the yellow snow"?  If you live in an area where it snows a lot, then you probably have.  :o)

Well, now you CAN eat the yellow snow (and green and red and orange and blue...).

Simply collect up these materials:
  • water
  • food coloring
  • spray bottles (you can use spray bottles that you buy - i bought some at the dollar store - or spray bottles that used to hold cleaning products.  Just make sure you clean out the old cleaning product bottles completely first)


Put water in each water bottle.
Add food coloring to each water bottle.  
Go spray the snow and see the white snow change colors!!!  

You can make this into a wonderful language learning activity by talking about the steps, teaching colors, talk about how colors change when you mix colors (what happens when you mix: yellow and blue? red and yellow? blue and red?), describe the painting you created in the snow, talk about the verbs associated with the activity (pour in the water, mix the colors, spray the bottle, paint the snow, etc).

 
Continuing with our "snowflake"/winter theme this week, I found an app that combines winter fun and learning.  It's called "Winter Word Puzzle for kids".  It's available on the ipad and iphone.  I'm not sure about any android products.  The first 4 puzzles are free and then you can buy others as an "in app purchase".  For me, I see this app as a great way to change things up a bit.  You can do it a few times and then erase it - no need to keep it around long-term (unless you plan to purchase the additional puzzles).  Sometimes, it's just nice to have a different activity for a short time.

Each puzzle is some kind of winter scene (north pole with 3 animals, two kids having a snowball fight, a mom baking Christmas cookies, and a dragon outside of a castle with snow on the ground).  Open a scene and select one of the items by pressing the magnifying glass.  That will highlight that one object (i.e. a polar bear) and you will see the word written at the top.  However, some letters are missing!  There are letters on the left side of the screen that you can use to complete the word puzzle.  The easier level has the missing letters faded.  Therefore, you simply have to match the letters on the left with those that are faded at the top.  The harder level has the missing letters with no visual cue of the faded letter.  However, the empty block is the coordinating color of the letter on the left hand side.  

I'd say this game is great for kids who know their letters and are beginning readers or beginner spellers.  They also must have enough hand/eye coordination to touch a letter and drag it to the correct location.  Each letter block measures to be about a 1 cm square.  Therefore, the letters themselves are pretty small.  

Hope you enjoy this free game!  Tomorrow I'll blog about a great activity to do outside in the snow.  (although it's 60+ degrees at our house today... hopefully these activities can be useful to others in the northern half of the USA or tucked away in your mind for another time when you do have snow)