Help for Haiti

Help for Haiti
This organization has been in Haiti for many years. They are trustworthy.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Homeschool Flashback #2

The assignment was to write a story, using the words listed in the box. My children always preferred to come up with their own topics to write about, and being given a list of words was too limiting for them. My daughter clearly was not excited about this particular writing task. As do many students with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), she wanted to complete the assignment quickly so she could move on to more engaging tasks. She fit as many of the words as she could into the fewest sentences possible. She didn't find a spot for one of the words in the box, but that didn't bother her since she wasn't interested in writing about those words in the first place. For the record, I am not the woman who was "scared of mice." In fact, over the years we have had a number of rodent pets including hamsters and mice. I have presided over a number of shoebox burials befitting a rodent. One time I couldn't come up with anything nice to say about Tommy, the misanthropic finger biter, who latched on to any hand with an evil mousy grimace. We had to wear thick gloves just to feed him and then we had to shake him off our hands when we were done. He leered menacingly all the time until I finally told the children to try to avoid looking him in the eye so he wouldn't give them nightmares. The other mice and hamsters were decent pets, and were eulogized appropriately. As for the rest of the story above, I do live with my husband and children. At the time of this brief essay, my children were still young enough to be losing baby teeth and it was an event to be celebrated when another tooth became loose and fell out. Last week, I had part of a lower molar break off. Loosing a tooth at this age is no longer exciting. In fact, it's downright disconcerting. I called my dentist at 8:00 a.m. the morning of Christmas Eve., since I was trying to be thoughtful and not disturb him when it happened the night before. I think I woke him up. I told him what had happened, and he didn't seem to think it was an emergency. I wasn't convinced, since it has been many years since I last lost a tooth and I didn't anticipate losing any more as an adult. I've had what's left of the tooth repaired, and was reassured that "sometimes with age these things happen." Sigh. This homeschool flashback could have an interesting twist if it were written today - the children and the Mom could each lose a tooth!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

10 Ideas for Teaching with Gift Wrap

Need some fresh ideas to use with your students? Don't throw those wrapping paper scraps away, and hold on to that used gift wrap for a little while longer. Here are some ideas for using wrapping paper as a teaching tool, and it won't hurt your budget a bit.
1. Use leftover pieces of gift wrap to practice scissor skills. Include some narrow strips of paper so that beginners can feel the success of cutting through the strip. Snip, snip!
2. Cut out images from the wrapping paper to play a matching game. Want something that will last? Glue one set of pictures on the inside of a file folder, and glue the matching pictures onto index cards or card stock paper. A little packing tape will work about as well as lamination to keep the pictures preserved for multiple uses.
3. Work on handwriting skills by having your child circle images on the gift wrap. If that's a bit too challenging for your student, help them just draw lines connecting the pictures on the wrapping paper. Washable markers may show up better than pencil, especially if the paper has an intricate design.
4. Use both hands together as you tear wrapping paper into pieces. Glue the pieces onto the back (blank) side of another piece of gift wrap. For a greater challenge, try shaping the pieces into seasonal shapes such as a snowman or Christmas tree.
5. Develop hand strength by balling up the paper and squeezing it.
6. Practice following directions and visual discrimination by pointing to named pictures on the wrapping paper.
7. Work on listening skills by covering your eyes and trying to identify the location of a crinkling paper.
8. Teach about recycling by crumpling up old wrapping paper to use for packing material when preparing packages to be mailed. For added fun try throwing the wadded up paper into the box from various locations near the "target".
9. Work on expressive language skills by naming or describing pictures on the paper.
10. Provide sensory input by putting scotch tape on paper. Try to offer a variety of thin, heavy, slippery and shiny paper to experience the different qualities of each.
Don't you just love inexpensive materials that you can make yourself? I sure do, and I feel so frugal and creative when the activities are also fun for my kids.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

That's a Wrap!

This is a busy time of year and there are many activities I greatly enjoy. Some of my holiday preparations are harder to fit into my schedule. Wrapping gifts is the one thing that I tend to put off. There are a couple of reasons for my gift wrapping procrastination. First of all, I need a cleared surface to work on in order to adequately wrap presents. I need to be able to spread out a bit so I can access and measure the paper, get to the scissors, and use the tape. Individuals with ADHD tend to see all flat, empty surface space as a good spot to dump their possessions. Finding an unoccupied area to use for wrapping is not likely to happen on the first perusal of my home. Then, once I manage to get a nice area cleared off it's a race to see if I can use it before my husband, son, or daughter spot the flat, empty surface and cover it again. Another reason I put off wrapping gifts until I can't avoid it any longer is the tendency of my inattentive family members to somehow notice what I don't want them to see. How is it that they can step over a laundry basket that needs taken upstairs and not even notice it, but if I inadvertently leave something unhidden they spot it immediately? It's one of those mysteries of life. I've made a great discovery, though, and it will work for birthdays and any other gift wrapping occasion. If I put a movie on for them to watch, I can wrap all the gifts while my family members are mere feet away! Amazing. Those who cannot sit still and pay attention during our homeschool day can actually hyper-focus on a movie. They become so engrossed in what they are watching that I think I could wear a tutu and stand on my head and they wouldn't notice. As long as I am the least bit surreptitious I can position myself behind my kids and get all my gifts wrapped while we watch a movie together. This strategy would probably work with a good t.v. show, too. I've found that many individuals with ADHD become as engrossed in the commercials as the show itself, so you can continue wrapping away until you are finished. I tend to wrap a lot of gifts at one sitting, because once I have a work space and my children are occupied I take advantage of it. Now if only they needed as much sleep as I do, I'd be all set to tackle whatever comes my way!