Math manipulatives are so fun! I just made this Hundreds Boards and now we are using it to create number patterns. I can almost hear the brain synapses snapping.
This was a simple board made mostly of cardboard. I printed a hundreds chart, rubber glued it to cardboard and thenused ModgePodge on top. When it dried we cut it out together and started playing immediately.
I also have used a montessori based app of a hundreds board, but this hard copy was much more fun.
I soon said to myself, a magnetic board would be really cool. Sure enough, a simple Google search showed they are available online for about $30.
Autumn has come to our home. This morning we went on "a little adventure", my way enticing Little Man outside for a nature walk. We searched near the milkweed and found another Monarch Crysalis. We saw smaller butterflies on yellow Zinnias. We saw a big orb weaver with a dragonfly in her web.
As we returned to our yard, I said "Wait, listen! You can hear the sound of Autumn." It took him a minute to understand. The leaves of our hackberry tree were slowly falling thru the branches.
It’s the third week of classes and I feel like we are starting to get into a good rhythm. The students have been getting into several projects, most popular being building shields with cardboard. This coincides with the book of stories I’ve been reading, The Barefoot Book of Knights. I just felt that a group of boys might relate to the stories of knightly chivalry as a way to connect with the social communication theme I’m bringing. So we’ve been talking about chivalry; seeking truth and justice, being fair, respectful, protecting the innocent; along with discussions about what our common needs are when we are working with a group.
During circle-time 2 weeks ago, what really came to me is that this class is about science - so this week we talked about what a scientist does (observe, measure, record, etc) and what different types of science they know about. There are so many, we concluded, that science can be about anything! I included social science and the science of happiness, letting them know that I am planning activities to focus on this in the mornings (games, stories,discussions) and then afternoons will be for experiments, inventing, and crafting.
In regards to scientists recording things, I am asking the students to keep a record of what they do each time they come to class. This could include what they enjoyed that day, what questions they have that day, projects they want to do, etc. I will help younger ones write, and everyone can add photographs and drawings. I’d like to bring them some samples of what Leonardo DiVinci’s journals looked like. I’m going to get some journals that they can keep in class, they can cut and paste into it like a scrapbook.
I have so many ideas for what to bring to the students, and they have so many things they are interested in, it’s always a packed day and I’ve been really enjoying it; despite the attention span at circle-time being a challenge. I’m so glad that Ansel and Aarti will be able to participate for another week or two before they head to India. I hope Django will be able to share a little presentation about his summer trip to Scotland, and that Ansel will do the same when he returns from India. Maybe the other students have a place they want to share about too.
Did you get some silly putty in any of your Easter eggs? We did, and I found it didn't hold the same fascination for our little man as it did for me as a child. Maybe because he has more interesting toys than I did. ( Read potentially spoiled here.)
So after showing him how to stretch it, make it pop, and copy cartoons, I finally hit on a smarter idea. It turns out putty is just the right consistency for practicing the correct formation of numbers and letters. It can be rolled into snake tubes and because it starts to shrink back, it keeps the activity interesting. And because it's not as moldable as playdough, it's not as likely to be a distraction, morphing into a modeling activity.
We had a lot of fun with our "smart putty", laughing as it started spreading out into goofy blob numbers after we'd made perfect numbers.
I just picked up the August issue of O Magazine at my local free book stop. Inside I found an article about adults who think they have ADHD. I found it very curious that the article had such great, down-to-earth solutions which I rarely see in articles about children who may have ADHD.
Right in the first paragraph there is a medical professional quoted as saying, " What they (adults) need is a better routine." Hmmm, I bet that's the same for most children labeled as ADHD.
The "lifestyle tweaks" recommended in the article include:
Swap caffeine for cardio exercise- good advice for everyone.
Drink more water- apparently slight dehydration has been proven to decrease our ability to focus.
Get enough delta sleep- recommends 7-9 hours sleep for adults; children need more.
Wiggle your toes - as a trick to stay focused.
I have seen some well taken care of children who are intensely ADHD and need medication to get through the day. But I wonder how many doctors prescribing meds to kids ask first how much water they drink each day, and how much heart pumping exercise? Or sends patients to a sleep specialist as the O article recommends?
So if you know someone who thinks they or their child may have ADHD, tell them to look up Oprah's advice first before visiting the doctor.
This is one thing I've learned over the years; treat whining like a foreign language. Right from the early 2's, I would tell my son, "When you talk like that I can't understand what you are saying. "
So whining was nipped in the bud because it was totally ineffectual for him.
I would continue to say gently, "What? I can't understand? Take a breath and tell me again. "
There are still times when he's tired or hungry and I hear a whine. I might ignore it and give him what he needs, or I might say, "I hear that whining and I'm guessing your tired. Lets go take a rest. ". He might be resistant and shout " No, I'm not tired!" But if I sit down with a book of his, he comes to rest.
Ever heard of MTHFR mutations?
I certainly had not, until a year ago when I found out that I have this genetic mutation. By some accounts, up to 30 % of the US population have two points of MTHFR gene defective, 40% have one part of gene defective. MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate Reductase) is the name of the gene and the enzyme that plays an essential role in processing the folate we eat into a nutrient our bodies can utilize.
Why am I writing about this here? Well, apparently a lack of MTHFR enzyme can lead to ADD/ADHD, depression, and more serious health risks. One of my children was experiencing anxiety and depression. By a stroke of luck, we went to a counselor who was well enough informed to recommend a blood test to determine if an MTHFR mutation might be a contributing factor. It seems to be a little known fact, and I have to wonder why. Might it be because the solution is so simple?
This genetic mutation, or polymorphism, was first discovered as a result of the human genome project in 1995. "The gene produces the MTHFR enzyme, and people who have this mutation have a reduced ability to process folic acid/folate into something their body can use. People who have MTHFR mutations have an interruption in the “Methylation Pathway." Methylation affects more than 20 different processes in our bodies and when methylation is interrupted, many essential body functions are disrupted.” (Jennifer Walls, http://mthfr.webs.com)
“Impaired MTHFR function has multiple negative impacts on DNA synthesis and repair (read higher cancer risks), embryonic development, neurotransmitter synthesis, and cardiovascular risk factors.” (Dr. Bianca Garilli) Case-controlled comparisons revealed significantly higher frequency rates of MTHFR mutation among autistic versus non-autistic children (Liu X. et al. J. Autism Dev Disord. 2011;41(7):938-44).
Because of the indirect effects of MTHFR on the production of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine; there are increased chances of depression, insomnia, irritability, forgetfulness, ADHD or even Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease. One friend of mine found out about her MTHFR gene defect after suffering a mini stroke, and only after months of diagnosis.
So what can we do about this condition? After the blood test, to confirm that I also shared the genetic mutation with my child, the doctor prescribed an over the counter supplement of pre-methylated folate costing about $12 a month. After a few weeks, I did feel I was experiencing less anxiety. There are additional supplementations available, depending on the percentage of reduction of normal enzyme activity in your body. Some people experience negative side effects when taking too much methylfolate; so obviously, get your doctor’s advice before trying anything.
In the airport recently, I overheard a mother and child conversation. The child was very inquisitive and the mother sounded tired.
“Mommy, why do they have another door on the plane?” (Mom answers logically)
“Why?” (Mom answers logically)
“What’s that man with the sticks doing? (Mom answers logically)
“Why?” (Mom answers logically)
“Where is the plane going?” ( I don’t know, dear.)
You get the picture. I felt like turning around and saying, “Now is the time for a story or a song.” You don’t always have to answer all questions to the best of your ability, in a direct fashion. Often your child just wants engagement with you. The why, why, why’s are just to keep you talking. So make up a story about the airplane getting all ready for a flight to some distant land. Or break into a song.
Or ask them if they want to play ‘I spy”. I have whittled away many a traveling hour playing this educational game, which can have many variations. I spy something that’s red, I spy something that starts with the sound B, I spy something that rhymes with…
Yes, I also have games on my phone for my little man, but I try to use those as a last resort. He’s also recently found that he can take pictures with my phone, which I think leads to being more engaged with the world than any educational app.
One last tip - if you have an early or late flight, or traveling single with child, you might want to put your potty trained preschooler in diapers. We've had 2 embarrassing moments recently, including peeing into a bottle on a short flight that had no facilities.
It has been frustrating to see my last post get further and further into the past. I got busy, stressed, I struggled with self doubt and writers block. But now I'm back and making a commitment to myself to simplify my life and to keep writing. Which really means making a commitment to schedule writing time into my week. I love writing, but I'm sanguine and keeping to schedules is hard for me. So my first post back is about SteadyMom.com.
Steady Mom, Jaime Martin, went from 0 to 3 kids in under three years, thru birth and adoptions, and writes about how she stays sane thru it all. I like how she refers to intentional, professional motherhood, and jokes about easing stress by drinking wine while sorting the laundry. Her blog is full of good ideas and her ebook pictured to the left hit the Kindle best seller list. I've also ordered her book Steady Days. So hopefully some of her steadiness will rub off on me.
Insights into nurturing the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual wellbeing of our children.