How Far She Has Come

For those who know Becca, and have known her for many years, you know the trials and tribulations.  But for those who might just see this post and not know, I’m going to give a little background before I get to the excitement.  

Becca was born seven years ago on Saturday, so we’re just two days away from all the birthday festivities.  When she was born, she was immediately a handful and Cody and I found ourselves thrust into parenthood with a baby that was fussy.  A lot.  So we became avid followers of the “5 S’s” from “The Happiest Baby on the Block.”  (It WORKS!  Try it!!)  As she got older, she became more and more headstrong, and was an extremely difficult toddler, who had frequent meltdowns.  She was “that kid” in the store.  Randomly.  Without any apparent reason.  And it wasn’t for lack of discipline.  We tried everything.  And then a friend’s son was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), and things started to fall into place.  About that same time she started mentioning that her “nose doesn’t work.”  After her talking about this a LOT, and even identifying herself with a child in a wheelchair whose legs didn’t work, we started taking her seriously and the doctor visits began.  We ended up in a neurologist’s office with her taking a smell test.  And then our world quit spinning.  Her nose didn’t work.  Anosmia.  We were told that because she was unable to sense positive OR negative scents, she was missing the nerves that connected her nose to her brain, and would never smell.  She was termed to have “Sensory Processing Disorder due to Anosmia.”  In other words, her other senses were in hyper drive to compensate for the lack of the sense of smell.  And her sudden meltdowns were similar to that of an autistic child who has some sudden input that their brain can’t handle.  This was her norm.  So we began to work (on our own because our insurance wouldn’t cover a therapist) on how to handle inputs.  We got her a mini trampoline so she could jump til her heart was content.  And lots of other modifications.  And she started coping.  She was calmer.  Because we were able to realize her needs and pre-empt a lot of her episodes.  

Becca and Mommy
This photo was taken the week she turned three – right at the same time she started reading.

And then, the week before she turned three, she picked up a book she had never seen before and read it out loud.  Correctly.  Our world stopped again.  The early childhood educator in me SCREAMED out. This wasn’t possible.  She didn’t even understand rhyming yet – how could she read?  I mean, we read with her every day, but how was she able to pick up long books she’d never seen before and read them – at THREE – with no formal training?  Her Mother’s Day Out teacher was SO helpful that year.  She gave her little challenges to do for “homework” because she saw Becca’s NEED/CRAVING for academia.  And Becca just kept growing mentally.  Her mental leaps and bounds were incredible.  But with those leaps and bounds, we saw and suddenly learned the meaning of “Asynchronous Development.”  One part of her brain was growing, but the rest wasn’t.  As she got older, Grayson, her brother who is 23 1/2 months younger, was also getting older.  And he was reaching physical milestones before she did.  He could put on his shoes and completely dress himself before she could.  He was climbing our play structure and sliding down and she was still needing help to get up.  When it came time for her to do PreK, I taught her at home while he spent the day at MDO.  The first semester, I allowed her to lay on the floor or stand up to work, and let her guide the instruction to things she was interested in.  The second semester, I had her sit in a hard chair at the table to work and made her do so for longer and longer periods – trying to prepare her for the rigors of public school.  But when she started kindergarten, I honestly wasn’t sure how our Sensory Seeking / Tactile and Auditory Defensive girl was going to do.  Kindergarten was full of behavior issues, but we pressed on and she grew by leaps and bounds socially and emotionally.

Processed with MOLDIV

This year in first grade, she has blossomed.  Suddenly, she started smelling things and her senses began to level out.  Girl Scouts has given her an outlet for her caring heart and adventurous outdoorsy side to really flourish, and she has worked really hard academically.  She has pressed hard to control her behavior, and has succeeded on many occasions.  Many profoundly gifted students are so asynchronous that their social abilities are lacking, and many are also far behind because they are not high achieving (they lack the drive to care about grades or pleasing teachers).  But Becca somehow has the social AND academic abilities AND is high achieving!  She WANTS to be the best.  And while she fights against homework like any other kid, she’s upset when she misses one on a homework paper or especially on a test.  She’s long been a perfectionist, and she was always proud when she brought home progress reports with 100 in every class.   This year, she learned to accept the fact that a 97 is ok, but would always fight back to try to bring them up.  That’s just the way she is.  She’s very hard on herself.  High school will be a challenge.  But we as parents strive to encourage her to be her.  “Do you” is a great theme for her.  Because who she is is amazing.

We took the advice of her teachers this year, and have had her test to be in third grade at her new school next year.  We won’t know the results until the end of July, and we know that God will place her wherever she needs to be.  If it’s His plan for her to be in third grade, she will be.  If she’s meant to stay with her age group peers, she’ll be in second grade.  And we are working hard to encourage her that either result is perfect because it’s God’s plan.  Her perfectionist side says she didn’t do well on the math test, but she OFTEN came home this year saying that about math tests, and then she’d get them back and would have gotten 100 or just missed one.  So we really don’t know what to expect.  She has to receive at least an 80% on each of the four subject area tests she took.  So we anxiously await those results.  This opportunity was truly made for kids like her.  

And then we got more confirmation of that today.  We had received an email that she’d be receiving a character award at the end of the year awards ceremony this morning, and we were ready with the phone to video when her teacher started talking.  But she didn’t receive a classroom award.  Instead, the principal started talking at the end, and we knew that was it.  She received the “Hugo Award” – which is essentially the Student of the Year award.  For all of first grade.  Based on character and academic achievement.  I’m still in shock at how far she has come.  I can still see myself, sitting in the floor, pregnant with Gray, bear-hugging my toddler who had just had another meltdown and was screaming and kicking, and I was begging God to take away whatever was making her crazy and just calm her down.  And I started singing.  Softly.  Under the screams, into her ear.  I started singing “Amazing Grace.”  Tears were streaming down my face and I gave up.  I gave her to God and said, “I can’t do this anymore.”  And she went limp in my arms.  If I had known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have given up so quickly.  But that’s exactly what I needed to do.  I needed to let go and trust Him with all of her disabilities and all of her abilities.  I needed to realize that He wasn’t expecting Cody and me to do this on our own.  He was expecting us to trust Him with her.  She isn’t ours, she is His.  Once I realized that, she was free to start becoming who He has made her to be today – and beyond.  I am so proud of who she is becoming.  She truly has a heart of gold, and is the most loving and thoughtful person I know.  We are beyond blessed to be her parents and get to watch her grow up.

Becca Hugo Collage
Becca with her teacher, Ms. Hudson, by her school sign, in the school garden, and with her principal, Ms. Palmer.

I recently asked her to finish some famous proverbs with whatever words she thought fit best.  Some of them ended up super silly.  But some of them ended up with my mouth hanging open.  I’ll share those here.  Because it speaks to the depth of her thoughts, the depth of her faith, and to possibly why the entire first grade team of teachers chose HER out of all of the kids they could select from.

It’s always darkest before … sunrise.

Never underestimate the power of … Jesus.

Don’t bite the hand that … does good.

If you lie down with dogs, you’ll … get licked all over your face.

Love all, trust … God.

An idle mind is … irresponsible and lazy.

Happy the bride who … married a good man.

Laugh and the whole world laughs with you, cry and … the world helps you.

There are none so blind as … the one who does evil.

Children should be seen and not … be ignored.

When the blind lead the blind … to Jesus, He heals them.

Happy 7th Birthday, Baby Girl! I love you, my Becca Boo!

The Best Defense is a Good Offense…

All of life is about growing and changing.  Even as adults.  Maybe especially as adults.  The more experiences we encounter, the more we realize the need for change.  Obviously, we could float along at the status quo, but would we ever truly be happy or see success if we did that?  No, of course not.  As a parent, I feel like I’m constantly pulled between the needs of my children and the wants of my own selfishness.  And there’s no way around that – we are as humans selfish beings.  We have the opportunity to lay aside our selfishness to serve others, but we often don’t chose to… or at least find that process difficult.  Call it my humanity, but giving up what I want for my kids is just crazy.  And yet, it happens.  Day after day.  Because God puts within a parent a heart of service.  Whether we want it or not, we have this amazing desire to do whatever it takes to help our children succeed.  To the point that we often forget who we were before they came along, and lose track of our interests and hobbies for the sake of becoming merely “Becca and Grayson’s Mom.”  As a mom, we give and give and give.  All day long.  Our pitcher constantly gets poured out to water these little beings we are raising.  So what are we doing to refill the pitcher?

I think so often we as moms get so wrapped up in our kids and their needs that we forget about ourselves.  When this happens, our pitcher of water starts to dry up.  And when the pitcher is empty, how can we pour anything else out to help our kids?  We feel tired, dry, depressed, frustrated, and yes, even angry.  Anybody with me on this?  I bet you are.  Because I know that I’m not the only mom who has ever felt the weight of the final straw.  I know I’m not the only mom with regrets.  Those “oh how I wish I hadn’t said that” moments.  And when those moments start turning into frequent events because your pitcher of water is constantly dry and you just don’t have anything else to give to your kids, it’s easy to start feeling hopeless and helpless – and stuck.  Like there is no other way to live but with a dry pitcher and feeling anger and depression pressing in on all sides – like you are some sort of human waffle being burned on all sides and formed into a shape that you don’t want to be.

Ya’ll, I’m here to tell you – IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THAT WAY!!!  I recently took a class on how to combat mommy anger, and the biggest thing I pulled from it (other than the concept of GRACE, which I’ll mention later) is that we as moms need both offensive AND defensive strategies to help combat our anger.  So I wanted to share some of mine with you to maybe give you some ideas.. and I also wanted to encourage each of you to take the time to go through this seven day course.  It really will change the way you interact with your kids!

Offensive ideas:
-Take the time to tidy that one area that you’ve been putting off for whatever reason… because just walking by that area has been adding to your stress unknowingly.  It’s amazing how just FINALLY tidying up our mudroom has reduced the anger in my life!  I never realized that that out of the way place was causing my anger meter to start higher with the kids.   (You’ll learn all about your anger meter and your personal triggers when you take the course!) But now, when I walk through there, I’m not constantly thinking “oh I’ll get to that someday.”  Because day after day of thinking that builds up to a LOT of stress.  Ya’ll, when I cleaned it out, I found the Easter egg hunt plastic eggs from LAST Easter.  I found a Christmas present that was supposed to be exchanged.  I found shoes that haven’t fit the kids in over a year.  I found last summer’s half empty bottle of sunscreen.  It had been building for a LONG time.  I also found those library books that we (yes, even still) need to return…

-Find a comforting scent for your home.  Whether you are into candles or Scentsy or DoTerra or YoungLiving or any other such thing, it doesn’t matter.  Having a scent in your home that refreshes you is just such an incredible and powerful thing.  It might also help your kids!  You might talk to them about what scents they like and let them have some input.  It could be that you’re already using a scent that puts THEM on edge and you don’t even realize it!

-Plan to have ME TIME every day.  I prefer to have mine first thing in the morning before the kids get up, with my quiet time.  (I love Hello Mornings – you should check it out!)  It’s amazing how committing that time to begin the day with me and God has made me start out refreshed.  Instead of crawling out of bed depressed and dragging about all the chores I have to do, I start my day by greeting the Son and watching the sunrise!  Nothing better.

Do these offensive strategies fix it all?  No.  Because as Alicia says in her course, anger isn’t going away.  And my main triggers are my kids and their behaviors and words.  So that’s where those defensive strategies come in (which really, they can be offensive too… you’ll see why)!!

Defensive ideas:
-Adult coloring is the latest and greatest craze.  And ya’ll, I have fallen into it hook line and sinker.  It is WONDERFUL!  When I am upset with child behavior, I can say “ok – we BOTH need to take a time out.  I’m going to choose to color while I take my time out to calm down.”  Sometimes I allow Becca to sit on her car rug and play ALONE with the cars.  It calms her just like coloring calms me.  (note: coloring is a very active process for her that excites her and also causes stress.  But when she is upset and playing with cars, she either sits or lays on her tummy on the rug, rubs the rug with the palm of one hand, and drives the cars repetitively back and forth on the same spot.  This gives her the sensory input she needs to calm her down incredibly.  Obviously, for many kids, coloring would be calming as well, and playing cars might be too much excitement.  Know your kid!)  Offensively, I love to color in the evenings after a long day to de-stress so that I sleep better, which thus starts me off on a more well-rested day the next day.

-Food is an addiction for many Americans.  It’s why so many of us are obese.  Alcohol is also a very dangerous addiction.  I have found that I used to defensive eat before I started the Best Body Countdown back in January.  (Read about my weight loss journey here.)  Thankfully I’ve never defensively drank.  But, I have discovered that coffee is a very benign addiction that calms me considerably.  On days when I’m just frustrated out of my mind with the kids and my anger is about ready to bubble out of the pot, I make a pot – of coffee.  The world can swirl and spin out of control around me, but that moment of standing at the coffee pot and sipping the first sweet sips of hot relief are freeing.  It’s a moment that I can close my eyes and just escape.

-Another way that I have found to escape and calm myself down is to duck into the pantry and read the daily verse from my morning Bible study again and say a quick prayer.  Like literally taking two minutes (sometimes less) to run away and hide.  Offensively, I figured out that I was regularly ducking out around 4:00 each afternoon, so I set an alarm on my phone that goes off daily at 3:45 to remind me to go ahead and step out and reset my mind before it becomes a defensive need.  I also love using that quick moment away to look up the verse on my YouVersion app and make a photographic reminder of the verse using their easy photo/verse maker.

Obviously, I have discovered these things over time, and they are what works for me.  They might not work for you, or you might need to modify.  I HIGHLY recommend that if you are struggling with anger, or even extreme frustration, that you take the course and come up with your own combative strategies.  (I’d love it if you’d share them in the comments below!!)  You’ll also learn how to approach your emotions, how to voice them, how to offer yourself grace, and so much more.  Don’t think that offensive and defensive strategies are all the pieces to the puzzle… you’ll have to take the course to get the rest of them. 😉  (Yup, I’m an affiliate, so your purchase helps out our family, as well as yours!!!)

Click on any of the text links, or click the photo below to learn more!

Our Penguin Unit

Throughout this post there will be a variety of links.  Some will be to other websites or files for you to download.  All sources are credited where necessary.  There will also be affiliate links which will be denoted with (aff link).  When you choose to click on these links to purchase items, I make a tiny % of the sale profit off of that item.  That goes to helping keep this blog alive.  Thank you for your purchases.

So of course this blog post wouldn’t be complete without a little bit of back story.  I’ve said previously that I’m great about setting goals, but not so great about putting the nose to the grindstone and actually making them happen.  But this year that is going to change!  Because I’ve switched my focus from super long term objectives, so short term monthly objectives.  Especially when it comes to school at home.  Becca’s love for learning is voracious. She keeps me on my toes at all times.  She constantly is begging for more activities, more books, and asking more and more and yes, more! questions.  Since having her own dictionary and LOTS of other non-fiction reference books in her room the questions have backed off a little bit, but not entirely.  She just can’t learn enough, fast enough.

I used to stress out thinking that homeschool needed to look like me sitting down with her all day and actually doing instruction time.  All day.  Boy doesn’t THAT sound like a nightmare with a child who has SPD and has to move ALL. THE. TIME.  Except when she doesn’t because she needs to be wrapped tightly in a blanket and suck on her finger.  But then this fall I read a book that truly changed the way I think about homeschool.  I realized that what it looks like for somebody else isn’t going to be what it looks like for us.  And that is OK!  (Thanks again to Alicia Michelle from Your Vibrant Family for your encouragement and support every step of the way!  I believe I CAN do this homeschooling thing as long as I have to!  Which I not-so-secretly hope is not very long!!)

Anyway, I discovered that I can plan a STACK of activities for Becca and we can sit down and do them in an hour, or an hour and a half.  And then we are done.  I’m now realizing – that’s ok!  We go at her pace, I tell her what activities we’ll be doing, and she selects which order we do them in.  She gets to take breaks between them if she so desires, and play with learning games, engineering materials, etc.  (All of her breaks are STEAM breaks of some sort.)  When she is done, we take a STEAM break (want some STEAM activity ideas?)…  Then we get back at it.  All the while, Brother can play in his room on his own, and is perfectly content since it’s no more than an hour and a half time block.  (Yes, I am blessed!)

So back to those goals – I decided that it was time to do a thematic unit from start to finish.  And actually finish.  So I gave us two weeks.  Which was a perfect time frame.  She goes to Mother’s Day Out a couple days a week, and we often don’t do “school work” on those days, though sometimes we do.  Just depends.  I like having the flexibility to let her be three and a half, while also letting her brain be whatever age it happens to be that day.

learning about penguins

So the past couple of weeks we have been learning about penguins.  I first told her we were going to make a mystery picture to find out what we were learning about.  Granted, this took a little bit longer than her attention span, but I kept it exciting for her by asking her which block to color next, and we traded off who colored and who read the letter/number combos, and who found the right block to color.  We got to a certain point on it, and the light bulb came on!  “We’re gonna learn about penguins!  Like in my Magic Treehouse Book Eve of the Emperor Penguin!” (aff link)  She was so excited she was literally jumping up and down in her chair.

We sat together (she often sits in my lap while we do school) and talked about all she already knew about penguins (which was actually a good deal) and then we both came up with some questions we wanted to answer about them.  I wrote down what she dictated to me on one of the graphic organizers, and then we talked about another way to organize our thoughts – with flaps.

graphic organizers

She really enjoyed the flaps, which I cut from one file and attached onto another.  (Hey, teaching is all about getting creative, right?)  All of the files I used will be linked in a list below.  All were found on as freebie files.  Later in our study, we talked about how we can also organize our thoughts into a web format.  She decided that for her, she prefers flaps as her method of thought organization.  She especially liked having the definitions of the penguin vocabulary words behind a flap, so that she could easily just flip and see the one she wanted to see.

coming soon

You might have seen this picture if you follow my page on Facebook.  This was one of her favorite parts of the unit of study.  I modified her old Antarctic Habitat Box to be just rock salt and white rice (less messy), and she not only got to have free play time with the penguins and their blue activity tray (aka water), but she also used the penguins (want to get your own set? Click here – aff link) and her penguin word bank sheet to sort and classify them.  We pulled a few prey and predators from our ocean habitat box as well.  She enjoyed acting out the food chain in her habitat, pretending the penguin ate a fish, and then a leopard seal ate the penguin.  Morbid?  No.  Not at all.  She is fully immersed in how the animal kingdom functions.

penguin reference guide

Then, we took all of the worksheets we completed and compiled them into a book.  She drew her version of a penguin on white card stock paper for the cover, and I even stapled onto the back cover her story book that she dictated to me.  Not only does it serve as a mini-portfolio of her work, it’s also a great reference guide for her in the future.  She is so proud to have it on her bookshelf in her room.  (And she took it to Mother’s Day Out to show her teacher and coordinator!)  We also wrote on the back cover the title and author of the two reference books we used (Penguins by Emily Bone, and Nat Geo Kids Reader – Penguins aff link).  We also listed the YouTube video we watched to learn more about a crèche, and the fabulous online resource of the New England Aquarium, where we saw amazing penguin pictures (we found them when searching for “molting”) and learned more about penguins in captivity.  It was important to me that she start learning the importance of sighting her references when she does research.  We didn’t go into formal sighting rules, just listed them so they are credited and we could go back to them in the future.

And now, to give more credit where credit is due, here are the links to the files that I used from TPT.  Again, they were all freebies, so I can share them with you, but please realize that these are NOT my creations – each creator has a page within the file that gives her credit for her work.  And each of these files is WONDERFUL!  I’m so thankful for a resource like TPT to find fabulous content for our projects!

Penguin Mystery Picture Graph

Penguin Word Bank 

All About Penguins

Flip Flap Fun

Penguin Pre-Writing Fun

Did you like this post or find it helpful?  Please comment and feel free to share on social media!  I’d love to see how you’ve used these ideas to help your own students!  Follow my Facebook page here.  Check me out on Pinterest here.  And now also on Instagram!

Christmas Activities

I debated about how to do this post – if I should put everything separate so it doesn’t seem overwhelming, or just put it all together.  I decided it’s easier to reference later if it’s all together… and honestly, if I wait on some things until later, you have less time to do them with your kids!  So… get ready.  I’m about to bombard you with a bunch of fun ideas – the first several will be great for even your little toddlers, and the rest will be geared toward your older kiddos.

Many of these activities I have stored in little plastic bags and all inside a storage box (in fact, the same box that once held our Apple Activities).  But a couple of them are ready at the window any time one of the kids wants them.  The great thing about the activities in the box is that while Becca is working on her activities, she can select something from the box for Gray to do, to appease his desire to do what she is doing.  She can also interact with him on his activities, and I love watching the tender moments they share (which usually come right before a snatch-grab-cry-scream fest HA!) together when working on a project.  If you have a toddler and an older child, you know how hard it is to find something they can both do either together, or to keep the little one occupied while the older one does something different.  This box of activities seems to be my best effort yet in this department.. and is about 80% effective!   So, here we go!  Let me know if you try any of these with your kids!  I’d love to see you share pictures on my Facebook page, as well!

sticky window

The Christmas Tree Sticky Window is super simple to make – just draw a Christmas tree onto a piece of clear contact paper, and then attach it to your window with tape – so that the sticky side is out.   Then, cut various shapes out of felt or other fabric (so that they won’t adhere permanently) and let your kids decorate the tree over and over again!  While Becca enjoyed this activity at first, this is definitely a Grayson favorite.  He LOVES standing at the window and moving the shapes around.  Of course, he also loves to carry the shapes all over the house and leave them random places…

shape identification

This felt Christmas tree was a busy bag I made a few years ago at a MOPS meeting – simply by cutting shapes from various colors of felt.  It’s a great activity for the kids to do together – Becca loves to tell Gray the names of the shapes and their colors.  She likes to make patterns of ornaments – he likes to throw them in the air and watch them rain down around him.  Either way, they are happily occupied.

writing coloring

In an effort to provide activity for Gray AND Becca in the same box, I have a couple of Christmas coloring books and some blank paper that either of them can enjoy, but I also have magnetic Christmas words that Becca can spell, and then write in her bare book (I found a bunch of them in the Target dollar section at one point this summer!).  She also has two rhyming word wheels that she can practice with and write the rhyming words in her book.  Gray loves that he’s “writing” with crayons while Sis is writing too.  He feels so big and important, and it shows!  We just have to watch that he doesn’t run around with a crayon sticking out of his mouth… he has that tendency.

geo shapes

We have some really fun building materials – you could use anything you have laying around – Legos, Duplos (for your little hands), building blocks, marble runs, whatever you  have.  Challenge your little ones to build a Christmas tree out of the supplies provided!!  Looking for more STEAM Engineering ideas?  Click Here!

reading retelling

We have a play Peanuts nativity set (affiliate link – thank you!) available on our low window sill for Becca to retell the Christmas story anytime she’d like.  Gray also enjoys playing with the characters, and he loves to sit and listen to her act out the story.  I also provided in her Christmas activity box Jan Brett’s Gingerbread Baby and Gingerbread Friends (affiliate links – thank you!) books – along with a tiny stuffed ginger baby that she can read the books to, and then use to re-inact the stories.

christmas treeNot an activity for Brother, Becca LOVES making Christmas trees of various designs using green popsicle sticks, red buttons, white pom poms, and one gold one for the star on top.  She has come up with some of the coolest, and also weirdest designs.  Some look like trees, and some, well… don’t.  But she is having a blast, it’s a great sensory activity for her that really allows her imagination and creativity to go wild.

fine motor

Becca struggles with some simple things like getting dressed, and in order to strengthen her hands and fingers to work on those little things like putting on socks and shoes, I try to find lots of fine motor skill practice activities for her.  I had some green colored pasta leftover from one of our habitat boxes, and also have some little Christmas jewelry pieces that I put in some little containers and let her string onto pipe cleaners to make bracelets and necklaces.  She LOVES it, and it’s great practice.  I even made an extension to this that stays in her room for holiday play – mini ball ornaments that she can string onto pipe cleaners.  It’s fabulous for her, and I’ve seen just in the past couple of weeks her fine motor skills making some great improvements!

star math

I programmed several index cards with a variety of patterns and addition/subtraction/multiplication story problems, and had her use these little star cards to solve them.  She even said “I wish all math was fun like this!”  So we’ve started using the star cards for other kinds of math too.  You could use anything you have around the house – scraps of paper, fabric, cut pipe cleaners, Legos, Duplos, crayons, etc.  Hands down, using manipulatives makes math more fun!  (And Mr. Gingerbaby even got involved in the math, too!)

more math

Becca has always struggled with seeing the importance behind having any numbers beyond 20.  She can count to 100 now with ease, but just really doesn’t see the point.  But she does love a good challenge, so I cut some 100s grids into lots of funny pieces, and she really enjoys putting them together.  I also took her sensory box from last Christmas and stepped it up a notch.  She loves playing with it with her balance.  She has discovered that the shiny and matte ornaments do not weigh the same as each other.  She has weighed the cookie cutters that are also in the box, and loves to scoop and pour the rice/split peas into and out of the balance.  She gets so excited when she makes them equal, and loves trying new combinations to see how much she needs to equalize if one side has more ornaments, etc.  I love seeing her creativity come out in this simple hands-on sensory activity, and I love to see her enjoying math.  She’s measuring with her measuring cup each time, and getting better at recognizing the values, etc.  Seeing her enjoy math is so good for me – I’m not a fan of math at all… so I try hard to make it really enjoyable for her so that she will love it.

What Christmas activities do you have going on in your house?  We are also doing daily advent activities, reading lots of Christmas books, and watching lots of special Christmas shows.  I’m hoping we can get out to look at Christmas lights sometime soon as well.  It can be such a crazy time of the year, but when we remember to stop and focus on the Reason for the season, it is all worth while.

May God richly bless you and yours this Christmas!  I look forward to hearing from you on Facebook, and I look forward to starting the new year with some new resolutions and some new post ideas!!  Do you have something you’d like to see me post here on my blog?  Send me an email!  I’d love to hear from you!


The Farmer’s Market – 2 More Ways To Play

farmer's market

You might be wondering what on Earth I’m doing talking about our Farmer’s Market set again (for the millionth time between the blog and my FB page), and what on Earth does it have to do with SPD… maybe I just mis-categorized it, right?  WRONG!  Check this out, ya’ll.

Becca is constantly playing with our Farmer’s Market Set (affiliate link, thank you!), and Grayson is too.  But today on her own she said she wanted to do something different.  This first game was totally her idea.  She got one of her brother’s baby food spoons and carefully practiced picking up each fruit/veggie with the spoon and carrying it to the correct color bucket before dropping it in!  She was so serious and concentrated the whole time!  I was really impressed!

Then, when she got tired of that, she threw the fruits and veggies EVERYWHERE.  Ugh.  So I made a game out of cleaning up, and she actually played it about 4 times!  We’d throw all the fruits and veggies out all over the foyer/dining room.  Then I’d hand her a random color bucket, she would read me the color name, and then I’d start counting down from 10 to 0.  She was racing around like a cute lil chicken with it’s head cut off!  Going nuts!  She was soo excited!  HA!

We had so much fun with these two simple made up games, that I knew I had to share them with you.  They were perfect to get her calm and centered, and then to let her run around and bend over and back up over and over in a quick period of time.  Her need for proprioceptive input is so great, and often leads her her getting in “trouble” because she just can’t control her body’s need for activity.  So racing around to pick up all of one color was an awesome input for her, and her brain had to really stop and think about what color she was picking up.  She forgot a couple of times and had to look down and read the bucket again.

So, if you’re looking for a way to occupy kids on a rainy day, or simply a way to keep your “seeker” fully engaged, these are a couple of really fun activities.  Truly, this set should be on every toddler/preschooler/early elementary schooler’s list for Christmas!!

Let me know if you have any questions – I’m happy to help! 🙂