Monday, March 25, 2013

Wanting Spring

Living in the Mid-West you get all of the seasons and Winter has defiantly been a long drawn out occasion this year. I personally am ready for some warm weather! 

The other day I was looking at some of my newer found blogs that I am in love with and I ran across this post and it made me really, really want Spring to be here, like now! I do realize that the "official" first day of Spring has come and gone but it snowed all day yesterday and it's still on the ground today, so to me, it's not really Spring time. I want the warm weather, the planting of our garden, the long walks outdoors, bike rides and thunder storms! Oh, how I can't wait! Since reading that post I have been talking nonstop about our garden with the family and I have even brought Vada into my obsession. I am ready to get her into the land with me this year!

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of books. I love to read and have many favorite authors in all kinds of subject. Lois Ehlert is just one of my many favorites who happens to have an amazing set of gardening books. 

We read Eating the Alphabet and discussed all of the fruits and vegetables that were in this book. Lois uses vibrant colors in all of her books which seems to capture and obtain Vada's attention throughout the whole book but for his particular book my favorite part was the very end. Each fruit and vegetable is listed again with the correct pronunciation and a brief explanation of its use.

We then read Planting a Rainbow. This one is fun, not only because of its great photos but because of its use of actual flowers. Lois actually teaches in her books about our land and earth.

Last, we read Growing Vegetable Soup. This book just makes me hungry! Its all about gardening but in the end it gives a delicious vegetable soup recipe, which we will be making this week!

Vada likes to pretend to pick things off of the pages of books that we are reading and eat them. That's what what she is doing here.

To stay with a garden theme we got out the Farmer's Market sorting game and talked about the fruits and vegetables and their colors as well as theirs tastes and what we use them in or for. 

I know I have said this before but I feel as if I need to continuously mention this to new readers. Vada is not yet speaking many verbal words. She has many sounds and around if not more than a hundred signs but when I say "we talk" I am generally referring to me as the one who is doing the talking and her as the one who is doing the listening. It's like I am telling her a story but she is paying attention to my words and that's what counts. She shows many physical signs that she is comprehending what I am saying and makes attempts at making the same sounds that I use so we are making progress in many areas. It will all just come in smaller steps.

This weekend I made file folder games. These are the first of many. Today, I introduced them to Vada. Introducing new concepts to V is always a challenge  Sometimes it can be fun and other times it can really be a struggle. I think the way she reacts to new things has a lot to do with if she is developmentally ready for them but also her attitude comes into play as well, so I don't just dismiss things because she gives me a hard time at first. I also believe the way that I introduce things has a huge impact on the way she takes to the activity. When I first brought out this dinosaur color file folder (it being our first) I didn't show it to her with much excitement. I basically said "this color goes on this color ... blah, blah, blah." And this is exactly what I got when trying to get her to do the activity with me. 

She was very upset. She wanted to put the dinosaurs down her way and not on their matching colors. She threw a huge fit and I felt instantly overwhelmed. I took a deep breath. Turned her around to face me and embraced her in my arms and held her for a moment and when I turned her around we started again only in a more interesting way.

I put a few of the dinosaurs on my right side and a the rest onto the left side and one by one I would grab one and give my best dinosaur growl saying, "I am a _____ dinosaur." and then I would walk that match around a bit making it growl its color. I would then hand it to Vada and she would walk the dinosaur around. After about thirty seconds I would then point to the file folders matching dinosaur and ask Vada to put her dinosaur onto its matching dinosaur and it worked! That's how we played this game and we did it three times in a row!

I then got out the matching Farm Animal file folder game and since I had already had issues with the first folder I had decided since this was yet another introduction to something new I would do this one myself. I sung Old McDonald to her and had her point to which animal she wanted me to sing about, then I would slide its "bottom" match on with Vada's help, of course!

We also tried out the Counting Cupcakes Folder game. I counted the cherries out loud while using Vada's pointer finger and then we put it onto the corresponding numeral cupcake. We did this twice.

In this photo Vada is praying. Seriously! This is what she does if we pray somewhere where we don't hold hands and she was mumbling praying out loud, probably for this particular lesson to be over with!
 I have also been working on Big, Bigger and Biggest concepts with Vada so I used the stacking cups to talk about how we have them in order from Biggest to smallest. (We actually have a file folder game for this as well but I though that she had had enough file folder fun for one day!)

I had her work on her stacking skills. 

I know that stacking cups are rated for really young ages, like six months and up or something like that but they are so useful when teaching problem solving skills! Here we worked on stacking the cups into themselves which takes a great deal of effort, concentration and problem solving skills! It also helps with the big to small concept as well which in return is actually a math concept!

Another new introduction today was "Mr. Sunshine" (No pun intended, since we haven't been seeing any real sunshine around these parts in some time!). We call him Mr. Sunshine but the game itself is called "Hello Shine!" Mr. Sunshine is by Thinkfun, the same makers of Roll and Play which we also have and love to play with Vada.

Now, for those of you who are even remotely creative you may not need or even want to buy this game. Its a pretty simple concept that can be done with anything and more specially to be like the this game, any stuffed animal! I however, am not always that creative and as I have mentioned before I am not afraid to admit that I often swipe others brilliant teaching ideas and use them here at home as my own (always making sure to give credit where credit is due, however).

Anyway, Mr. Sunshine helps to teaches the concepts of: Over, Under, In, Beside, On, Under, Next To, On Top Of, Behind and In Front Of.

 I opened the box and took out Mr. Sunshine and Vada and I began to play. We played two different ways but I have to admit that I haven't read the actual game rules yet!

The first way we played was like the game Hide and Go Seek. I "Hid" Mr. Sunshine, while V covered her eyes (what she is doing in the photo below!!) and then once I was done, I told her where he was! I know! I know! It kind of sounds like I am defeating the purpose of the game itself but this was the first time we have ever played this game. She had no idea what I wanted her to do, plus I wanted to get her mind and attention on this game and not roaming onto something else since she had free range of the room! 

So, I told her where to find him, which was always in a very visible place for her but I also made sure to say it in a specific descriptive way... "Vada, go find Mr. Sunshine. I put him on top of the garbage can."

"Mr. Sunshine is under the chair."

"Mr. Sunshine is in the drawer."

After each "find" I would ask V to bring Mr. Sunshine back to me. Games like this are also good for building little one's listen and following direction skills!

After a couple of rounds of Hide and Go Seek, we sat down with Mr. Sunshine and did some listening activities with him. Again, this is all new to Vada and to me. Being specific in the way I talk especially in this way is not something I am used to or something that I have tried to be conscience of in the past. I now see the importance in these specific phrases. In fact, these too are important phrases to know for math as well and I am only bringing up math so much because I am rereading Teaching Math to People with Down syndrome and other Hands on Learners so it's really got me thinking!

We worked on putting Mr. Sunshine In Vada's lap.

And Putting Mr. Sunshine on top of Vada's head.

This is just another fun game that we will continue to play. My husband, Justin, brought up a really good idea. He thought that we should play it like the Elf on a Shelf and hide Mr. Sunshine everyday in a new place. I think that we will have to work on getting this concept down first and then we will  move onto hiding him everyday. Why not? It sounds like something fun to do!

I began reading The Wind in the Willows to Vada last week and today after lunch and before her nap we began to read the chapter titled The Wild Wood. 

It ended up being a perfect chapter to tie together our lesson of positions...


Leah said...

Wow! What a busy day for you guys and your activities. I'd say she did amazingly well considering that precious screaming face. She seems kind of like Cora. If it seems like work rather than play, then there's no way. You did a great job of making it interesting and accessible to her. Thanks for the ideas. I love working with Cora but seldom have the perseverance to keep working at the same things for long.

Anna Theurer said...

Great post! I am going to Office Depot for the file folders today! Okay, I must be honest, I laughed so hard at Vada showing her displeasure at the dinosaur folder game.