Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Year's Resolutions a.k.a. Simplify and Enjoy!

It’s a new year, a newly improved me!  That’s my goal as I embrace the 40th gift of 365 days that lays ahead of me. Or, more specifically, my goal is to improve who I am so I can better train up Luke, Nina and Jack.  Yep, my birthday gift to myself (my family and my Maker) is to be a better Model Momma.   So, here is my new year’s resolution (new year for me, that is):

I will SIMPLIFY and learn to enjoy more again!

Instead of making myself crazy trying to attend to too many things at once, I will focus on single action steps and habits every 21 days – or for simplicity and sanity’s sake, perhaps each month.   The timing does not matter.  The commitment does.

I will also remember to tuck my to-do’s away for a moment each day to simply stop, be present and laugh with my kids and my husband.

So, the first Monthly Commitment:

To simplify --  Reclaim Mike and my bedroom.
To enjoy – Dance each day!

Why these particular commitments?  Because I want to wake and go to sleep each day with a smile and I find that very difficult to do in the mass of clutter I’ve been calling Mike and my room.  And, because as I look back six years to when Mike and I met, I recall that loving to dance was one of the first things that drew us to each other.  Yet, we almost never dance in our home anymore.  Time to re-embrace the fun of it together with the kids.

Wish me luck!  Cheer me on.  Ask me in 5 days, 10, 15… 21 days how I am doing.  Then, at the month’s end, remind me to take stock of my first Monthly Commitment.  And, if you wish, leave me a comment about your own Monthly Commitment so I can cheer you on as well, praying for us as I move along with single-focused smiles!

Friday, October 29, 2010

7 Quick Takes and Another Honor

Oops!  Some things get lost in the shuffle of want-to’s, should-do’s and need-to’s every day.  On the want-to side, thanking A Grace-Full Life for honoring me with a Versatile Blogger award was one of those things.  And, jumping back into Conversion Diary’s 7 Quick Takes Friday is another.  So, today, I am doing both.  Since part of accepting the Versatile Blooger award is sharing seven things about yourself, I figure I can do that as my seven quick takes (although, admittedly, the last take won’t be quick since I need to include 15 blog links in it.)  Here goes…


I am honored to be awarded the Versatile Blogger Award again and at the prospect of finding more wonderful blogs through clicking the links over at A Grace-Full Life, and the links those lead to… and the links those links lead to…  I admit, sometimes I fall prey to the temptation of happily hopping down such bloggie-love bunny trails instead of attending to the long list of need-to’s I have going.  Good time management and prioritizing, which was once my forte, escapes me far too often these days.

The kids and I have enjoyed the best centerpiece ever at our breakfast table for the past couple days.
Yep, Jack!  At  four-moths-old tomorrow, he likes to be where he can see us.  I like to give him motivation for working his neck muscles with some Boppy-belly time.  And, we all enjoy giggles at having him at – well, on – the table!  So, he has become our breakfast time centerpiece.  (And, yes, I know, Charlotte Mason aficionados, this is not the best habit-training.  I will likely have to spend much time re-training him not to lay, sit, stand or walk on the table as I find Mike and myself doing with Luke and Nina.  But, for the joy it is brining us now, I will willingly suffer through that.)

Speaking of breakfast, I was very humored by and proud of Luke and Nina this past Wednesday.  While I nursed Jack, they decided they were hungry.  So, instead of whining while they waited, they decided to be proactive.  They fetched themselves and me breakfast.  Needless to say, since the camera was nearby, upon finishing up with Jack, I took some pictures of his siblings proudly preparing and serving what they felt was a delightful breakfast – yogurt and crackers for Nina, almond butter on a roll (white, not wheat, because it was on sale and a little organic white won’t kill us now and again) for Luke and almond butter and greens with yogurt for me.  Sometimes, I get oh-so-frustrated with their inflated sense of self-sufficiency.  At other times, I appreciate all their Montessori-esque practical life skills and independence.  Wednesday morning, it was definitely the latter.

Have You Filled a Bucket Today? and Fill a BucketHow Full Is Your Bucket? For KidsWhen we started the school year (if you could call what have been doing a formal school year), I selected the wonderful Fill-a-Bucket books as our weekly reads.  I also ordered How Full Is Your Bucket at our library.  It just came in and we picked it up at storytime on Tuesday.  I must say, it is not quite as appropriate for Luke and Nina’s level, and it is much more traditional-school-image based, but it is still a book I’d recommend others check out.  And, if nothing else, it brought bucket-filling and dipping back to the forefront of the kids’ brains.  We’ve been having so much fun filling each other’s buckets.  I just love the concept and so do the kids!

Was it really a decade ago that I loved the song “My Next 30 Years”?  Must have been, because I am the big 4-0 tomorrow.  Yep, my youngest will be four months and I will be 40.  How did that happen?  Not sure, but am thanking God for grace and blessings and looking forward to lots more in my next 40 years!

As I listened to “My next 30 years” again today, the line that really hit me was “laugh a little more”.  I neglected to do that enough over the past 10 years, I think.  Mike will tell you I have definitely becoming too serious at times over the past six.  I want to change that.  Make me laugh!

The rules for the Versatile Blogger award are:

Rule number 1:  Thank the person who gave you your award. – Check!
Rule number 2:  Share seven things about yourself. – Check, as of this #7!
Rule number 3:  Pass the award onto 15 bloggers whom you have recently discovered and who you think are fantastic!  - Well, I have done this before – and, honestly, have not been surfing as much lately as I try to focus on other things, so I do not have a handy seemingly endless list of newly-found blogs under my Internet “history” tab for easy copying, so I am going to bend the rules and list 15 blogs I have found that I have (or want) to join in the memes, hops, carnivals, etc. of.  Here goes (in no particular order):
  1. I found Mom’s the Word through the Making Your Home  Sing meme it hosts, which was posted on another blog I read.  I have joined in once, since I love the idea of sharing ideas to make our homes happier places, and look forward to doing so again, as well as to browsing the links there on Mondays when I have time.
  2. We sometimes participate in Life as Mom’s Frugal Friday.  What a great way to share ideas to help keep things fiscally sound (or as sound as possible) at home – and I love the other posts at the site, too.
  3. Half Pint House’s Tourist in Your Town is something I have been meaning to take part in as it will encourage us to take advantage of a blessing of homeschool – field trips whenever we want – while sharing some great local places with others.
  4. Steady Mom hosts the 30-Minute Blog Challenge, which I think is a fab concept for reigning other sometimes Internet-addicted-but-should-be-doing-other-things-moms like me in!  What a fun and easy Tuesday carnival it is!
  5. Luke loves drawing so I think we might start taking part in Harmony Art Mom’s sketch Tuesday.  What a great sight harmony Art Mom is in general, too!
  6. I love Thankful Thursday and Gratituesday, which I have mentioned in previous post.  Now, I have just found PRAISE! at My Chocolate Heart .  There is so much to be thankful for and to praise God for.  We can never get enough of looking for the blessed moments!
  7. I ran across Hearts for Home at Cherished Hearts at Home and look forward to participating as a way to keep myself more focused with our homeschool goals as well as with just living and loving together.  What a wonderful way to share, inspire and encourage one another.
  8. I just ran across You Capture at I Should Be Folding Laundry, which I think looks so fun!  I want to play along one of these Wednesdays and, hopefully, will find the receipt for my camera that needs fixing under warranty so I can stop using the kiddoes cheapo one for all our family and blog shots.
  9. Maybe I can get some of those laughs I am looking for at Homesteader’s Heart’s Friday Funnies.  I know I sure have things to share with the things the kids come up with during our play and learning times.
  10. Blessed with Grace hosts tempt My Tummy Tuesday, which I want to browse and participate in as part of our Power Foods Labs, which sorely need starting again!
  11. Along the same lines, but with frugal cooking in mind, $5 Dinners $5 Dinner Challenge comes to mind.  As the kids learn about money in the coming years, I want to challenge them to help me plan some meals and tea times to meet this challenge, counting the costs and delighting in the cooking.
  12. Money Savings Mom Super Savings Saturday is a great place to share ideas for frugality and fun – a must in our home(school).
  13. Saved by Grace’s monthly Music Mondays sure seems like is will be a fun way to remind us to keep the music alive in our home.  We dabble in Cahrlotte Mason-inspired composer studies every once in a while and want to progress with our Montessori  music studies, too.
  14. Southern Daydreamer’s Outdoor Wednesday looks fun for sharing some of our nature study and motor skills play outside, as well as for inspiration for drawing, etc.
  15. May Dream Gardens has a fun one called Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day on the 15th of each month hat interest us.  We want to partake in it to encourage ourselves in developing green thumbs as well as to help us with our homeschooling nature studies. 
What memes, carnivals, hops, etc. do you have on your list?  Leave a comment to share their names and links.  We like exploring new ones for inspiration.  Thanks!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Field Trips and Socialization: Fall "Fishing"

One thing we often hear when we mention that we are homeschooling our kids is, "What about socialization? Why don't you put the kids in preschool at least a few days a week just for that?"

Our answer:  We've got it covered.  There are so many free, fun opportunities in our area, there is no need for a formal preschool experience just to ensure our kids are "socialized".  The kids can spend time with other children while we enjoy witnessing their growth, giggles and learning and that is a privilege we are so thankful for!

Case in point: On a local homeschooling yahoogroup recently, we responded to a pre-k play-and-learning group post.  Then, last week, we went on our first field trip to join in the group.  It was fabulous!

We all met at the NRP Sheep Pasture, where Momma-conversation and kiddo-fun flowed freely in a safe, stunning setting on a gorgeous autumn day.  Picnicking.  Chasing fowl.  Hiking.  Feeding goats.  Seeing sheep.  Playing with sticks.  Sharing storytime on a large boulder with the book Changes by Marjorie N. Allen and Shelley Rotner (which we happened to pick up earlier that day at library storyhour -- another free fun-and-learning thing we regularly participate).  Exploring nature, particularly one big stump the kids engaged in studying together.  And, Luke's favorite, fall fishing for algae in a little pond...  Truly, it was a perfect afternoon spent with a group of folks we are more than pleased to have our kids socialize with at a location we would not know existed if it weren't for homeschooling.  Can't beat that!

Homeschool or not, what are some of your favorite places and activities for socialization and field trips?  Do share!

This post is being shared at Thankful Thursday at Spiritually Unequal Marriage.  Be sure to check there for inspiration about the better things in life and do take a moment today to take stock of what helps you maintain an attitude of gratitude.  We are all better when we do!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sensitive Sam, Written and Illustrated by Marla Roth-Fisch: A Read-Together Book Review

What works for us?  Having the privilege of being introduced to great new children's books through the opportunity to do reviews.

Sensitive Sam: Sam's Sensory Adventure Has a Happy Ending!We have recently been lucky enough to have a review copy of Marla Roth-Fisch’s Sensitive Sam in our household in order to review it for an upcoming giveaway at Sensational Homeschooling, where I am a volunteer editor and contributor.  Not only did I enjoy reading and re-reading it myself to write the official review and book study ideas that you will find at Sensational Homeschooling tomorrow, but the kids also became engaged in the story.  (Indeed, it was all I could do to hide the book from them daily in order to keep it in its like-new condition for the giveaway.)

Truly, none of us tired of Sensitive Sam’s rhythmic and expressive text, which used real language (including glossary terms such as “occupational therapy” and “sensory diet”) in rhyming couplets that kids can understand.  Nor did we get bored with its bright and plentiful illustrations, which offer concrete images to match almost every idea expressed in the book.  In fact, over several readings, the kids seemed to come to know and understand Sam and his life more and more while continuing to point out how they are similar to and different from him.  Love empathy (and sympathy)-inducing picture books!

What were some of their comments?

Nina said she really liked the dog pictured in the book.  She also said, just like Sam, she doesn’t like the big sound of a flushing toilet much, likes to play with glue and playdough (like Sam uses at OT) and loves splashing in puddles (like Sam does at the end of the book.)

Luke said, just like Sam, he doesn’t like scratchy tags, but, unlike him, he likes eggs.  He also commented that Sam looks like him (and with that curly mop, he does!)  And, he recounted which of the parts of Sam's OT experience were and are like his.

Both kids related to Sam and came away from readings with smiles, often asking to do one of the activities mentioned or pictured as part of Sam's sensory diet.

And me?  And how do I feel about the book?  Well, I love that the book carries readers from Sam’s very bad days with the sun too bright, his jeans too tight and so much just not feeling right, through folks realizing Sam isn’t just simply behaving badly, but has SPD, to a hopeful ending with OT making Sam realize that:

“Treating sensory challenges
Takes some patience, and love, too.
And now I LIKE doing lots of things
I used to hate to do!”

Truly, we echo the first two lines daily here at Jammies School and Luke is living testimony to the last two.  Such authentic expression in the book makes it one I can highly recommend!

In fact, I only have two cautions about the book:

  1. If you are a homeschooler, you should be aware that Sam goes to traditional school and it is his teacher that makes the SPD connection.  Oh, for all teachers to be so alert!  Also, yay for parents who recognize SPD earlier than Sam’s folks did.
  2. Sam seems to be challenged by almost every sensitivity there is, so kids with fewer sensitivities might not identify with him right away and kids with no connection to SPD at all might need at least two read-throughs to truly begin to understand the book’s message.  That being said, as long as you are willing to read the book together with such children more than once – and I cannot see why anyone would not be, since it is so delightfully written – there should be no problem at all! 
Truly, Sensitive Sam is a book I would love to have in our personal library, not only so we could put all the great ideas I have for it as a book study into play, but also so I could lend it to friends, family and professionals to help them better understand SPD.  

Yes,  I am reluctant to pass the review copy we have enjoyed along to the upcoming giveaway winner at Sensational Homeschooling.  But, that’s what I agreed to do, so I will.  (Lucky winner!)  Be sure to keep an eye out at Sensational Homeschooling this week for your chance to win it, and if you aren’t the lucky one, consider getting a hold of a copy another way.  It is a keeper!

This post is being shared at We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday.  Check out the links there for tips and ideas on just about everything from home to work and in between.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Roller Skating: P.E. and a Little Drama

Luke and Nina recently found a box of sporting equipment I had set aside “until the kids got bigger.”  In it, they discovered some toddler roller skates a Freecycler had given us.  Their eyes lit up and they begged to try them out.  Since their feet are almost big enough to fit in the skates, I agreed.

After a quick fitting and two-stride test inside, we took the roller skates outside.  Nina, immediately got distracted with other outside wonders, while Luke stayed focused on his “new” skates.  At first, he moved gingerly– slowly taking “baby glides” up the sidewalk.

Then, he got bolder, playing peek-a-boo through his legs after losing his balance and discovering himself in the perfect stance for the game.

Finally, he added a bit of drama: fake falls!  Yep, Luke just had to test out his knee pads!  No sense having them on if they won’t work.  Gotta test them to make sure they work.

And, so the fun continued that day, and the day after, and the day after that…  Roller skating became part of our P.E. curriculum.

(And part of dramatic play, too – Can we say “zoo train”?  Ah, Luke and Nina’s imaginations…  Somehow, we lost the picture, but I am still smiling at how they attached all their roller skates together and stuffed animal figurines in them to make a zoo train across the entry to our home one day. )

What physical (and dramatic) fun have you been enjoying lately?  And, homeschoolers, any recent finds-cum-curriculum like our Freecycle-roller-skates-cum-P.E.-time one?

We are so grateful for all the wonderful free(cycled) fun we have been having outdoors.  God is good to keep us on track with our Mission and Goals, including "loving moving"!  To see what others are thankful for today, see the links at Heavenly Homemaker's Gratituesday.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Another Reason to De-Clutter: Not Passing on Bad Habits

 Uh Oh!  You know you are passing on bad habits when you walk into a room, declare it a mess and your kids say, “I know!  We need to create space,” and then attempt to do so by containerizing things rather than purging them.  Yep, that is exactly what happened in our home one day recently.  Instead of helping me to weed out some of the clutter (which was mostly toys that the kids had found in a storage area and dragged back into the living room when I was busy one day), the kids decided to simply organize them – covering every surface they could find with a bin or basket of “stuff”.  Not exactlt the best Montessori "prepared environment", I must admit.  But by the end of the afternoon, we were one step closer...
You see, while the kids were in the midst of their attempt to “create space”, I was happy.  I rarely see them so eager to clean up and even more seldomly witness them finish picking up without claiming to be “too tired”, pleading for my help.  So, just their we-can-do-it-ourselves attitude was enough to make me happy as they hurried about containerizing everything.
Yet, upon reflection, I was not so pleased.  For while I am happy that Luke and Nina recognize the value of putting like-things together when sorting clutter and that they understand that bins and baskets can make a room visually more appealing, I am appalled that I have yet to teach them that “less is more.”  You simply cannot clean and organize clutter in a way that will last, right? 
So, once I had “oo”ed and “ahh”ed over the kids’ organizational efforts, helping them to bask in the proud glow of their accomplishment, I gently explained how it’s so much easier to clean a room when there is less stuff in it and how we all feel better when we have more EMPTY space, as opposed a crowded, yet containerized one.  Then, together, Luke, Nina and I decided what we would take out of the room in order to put action to words.
We "made space", Mommy!
Now, for the moment at least, we have a more livable living room (with the pictured plastic bin "seat" above and "extra" on shelves and surfaces removed!).  Mom has come face-to-face with the fact that she has been a poor model to date and is making strides at better mentoring and continuing to prepare our environment for optimum learning and play.  The kids are recognizing that less is more, even when talking containers and bins.  And, we are all continuing to learn the valuable home-keeping lesson:  Getting clutter out (not just into bins and baskets) is definitely the first logical step to organization.
How about you?  Have you caught yourself modeling any less-than-great habits for your kids?  How have you transformed mistakes to learning moments?  Do share in a comment.
This post is being shared at One Hook Wonder's Montessori Monday.  Click on the links there to be wowed by home and traditional educators who have prepared their children's environment far better than we have here at Jammies School thus far.  It is also being shared at Mom's the Word's Making Your Home Sing.  Check out the links there for inspiration on making your house into a home.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Win an Awesome Sensory Prize Package!

You know I like to pass along news of great giveaways and contests.  Well, I am doing it again.  Check out this post at OJTA.  All you have to do to win a signed copy of Starting Sensory Integration Therapy: Fun Activities That Won't Destroy Your Home or Classroom or Sensational Goodies which have been graciously donated by National Autism Resources & Future Horizons and include Danceland CD & Booklet, 28 Instant Songames CD, BodySox with Activity Guide, WikiStix and Box O' Fidgets is leave a comment at the post about some sensational sensory activities you enjoy along with a way for OJTA to contact you.  How easy is that?  

And, hey, even if you don't have kids who need this stuff, I bet you know a local school or CCD teacher that could use them, or, if you live nearby, a homeschooler with three small kids that would love, love, love the CD's, BodySox, WikiStix and Fidgets for the kiddoes and would donate the book to her local library.  (Hint, hint!)  So, click on over and enter

Friday, October 22, 2010

We Are Guest Posting at OJTA Today with Shaving Cream Fun!

Need a lure to get your kiddoes into the tubbie tonight?  Check out our guest post over at Our Journey through Autism today where you'll find lots of fun pics and a full write-up of the sensory fun we had with shaving cream!

Part tactile experience, part practical life (self-care) and all exploration and fun, what a time we had with it!

Wearing SPD Lenses: The Jumping Mattress

When I was writing a guest post for Hartley's Life with 3 Boys, I coined the phrase “SPD lenses”.  Since then, I have shared several of our life-through-SPD-Lenses ideas both at Sensational Homeschooling and here.  Well, today, I have another one for you.  
Original Purpose: baby and toddler sleeping comfort

With SPD Lenses:  Gross Motor, Proprioceptive Fun

It may not be pretty, but it sure is frugal, fun and very useful!  See it there behind our cowboy and that piece of furniture?

Yep, we keep an old toddler mattress behind our “music center” as a tool for Luke’s home therapy.  The idea is that he can pull and push out the music center in order to retrieve and lay the mattress down (getting some great heavy work in the process).  Then, he can jump-jump-jump away.  It works like a charm!
  • Frugal alternative for other expensive home therapy tools? Check!
  • Something to do during study breaks?  Check!
  • Ingredient for Luke’s daily sensory diet? Check!
  • Tool for rainy day fun, evening-energy release and just plain old fun for all of us? Check!
 But, the honest truth…  Who uses it most?

Our adrenaline junkie, Nina!  Man those furniture-moving muscles and jumping legs love it!

This post is being shared at Life as Mom Frugal Friday.  Please check out other ideas for frugal living by clicking the links there.  And, be sure to leave a comment here about your favorite home therapy or plain-old-fun activity tools.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Guest Posting at Hartley's Life with 3 Boys

 As we continue to live and learn with Luke, Nina and Jack, we face as many joys as we do challenges.  One of the challenges revolves around the behaviors and symptoms that make us believe Luke has Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD).  But, the question remains:  "He has SPD?  He has SPD - not?" 

Today, we are guest posting over at Hartley's Life with 3 Boys about this as a part of her awesome awareness-and-funds raising event, 30 Stories in 30 Days.  Please head on over to read the post today, and be sure to click through to read all the month's posts, which are sure to enlighten and entertain.  Then, if you are inspired and have the funds, please consider donating through the Chip In link on the left of her blog.  (If you do chip in and can do so noting our name and email address, we'd be so appreciative!  It'd put us in the running for some great prizes which we could use with the kids.)


Also, for more on SPD check out 30 Facts in 30 Days at One Sensational Life, being sure to leave her your thoughts for fact #30!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Home Therapy: Hugs, Swings and Rough Play

Nina and Luke run to the door. “Daddy!  Daddy!” they call.  They are excited.  They know the fun will begin soon…

Daddy picks each one of them up, offers a tight squeeze hug and, then, swings them down, clock pendulum style, as he tries to enter the house. 

From there, the race is on.  Daddy tries to beat the kids down the hall to his bedroom door so he can go change.  Often, this race turns into a literal “drag race”:  One or both of the kids clings to Daddy’s legs – giggling.

Later, once Daddy is in his comfy clothes, the pleas for “rough play” begin, and the games commence.

Sometimes, the game of the night is a recent one that Daddy, Nina and Luke have made up – Elephant-Rhino.  It entails singing out the name of the game in loud shouts, while enacting the animals with lots of running, pushing, pulling and butting.  At other times, it’s their old favorite original, Red Bull- Blue Bull, which is much like Elephant-Rhino, but with more charging and butting.  Or, it might be their oldest self-created game – Touchdown.  This one was made up one cold evening while Mommy was at work (since Mommy would have never allowed it when she was home!), and it involves running all throughout the house,  dodging one another’s blocks and tackles, while trying to make it to the goal – a dive onto the bed or couch – shouting “touchdown”.  Still other nights, “rough play” becomes just that – rough play.  Pushing, pulling, tackling, jumping and wrestling in madcap mayhem with no particular rules (besides Mommy’s mandate that the general area of play be cleared of extra objects and furniture which might poke out an eye, crack a skull or otherwise turn laughter into crying.)

Now, before you wonder, “Elephant-Rhino.  Red Bull-Blue Bull.  Touchdown.  General rough play.  Don’t these types of play belong outside?”  Let me interject by saying, “Ideally, all this rough play would not happen in the house!  Mommy would very much like slower feet and quieter voices inside.  But, in the name of Dad-and-kiddo fun and health-for all, I have turned a blind eye to my ‘no running in the house rule’, adapting it to 'we only do this with Daddy.'"  Why?  Rough play works for us!

"What", you say.  "In the name of health?  What does that mean?" Well, in the better weather, we have lovely EEE-carrying mosquitoes holding us hostage inside at dusk when Daddy gets home.  So, we feel it's better to be crazy inside then bitten outside.  And, in the colder months, the sun is already down when Daddy gets home.  So, we figure, it's better to play where you can see objects that might trip you up and cause injury inside rather than playing "blind" in darkness outside.  Plus, rough play – inside or out – is just what Daddy, Luke and Nina need.

Daddy spends hours each day stuck in traffic, commuting to a job that requires mostly sedentary mundane mental tasks.  So, for both his physical and mental well-being, he needs the activity and amusement of acquiescing to the cries of “rough play” when he gets home.

Nina is but three – a prime age for ensuring good motor development and skills in the name of better all around development.  (See the book Gorwing an In-Sync Child, which I reviewed here, for more on this.)  All the running, jumping, pushing, pulling and other large muscle work involved in rough play with Daddy are building blocks, believe it or not, for more academic success later on.

And, Luke?  Well, not only is he in the same motor-driven stage that Nina is in, but he also needs a daily dose of much of what rough play involves.  When we stopped doing formal Occupational Therapy (OT) with him in the late spring, his therapist instructed me to continue to do OT with him at home, maintaining a balanced sensory diet which includes ample portions of proprioceptive (muscle) and vestibular (balance) input.  That is just what generous quantities of “rough play” can offer.

So, call the squeeze hugs, pendulum swings and almost-too-crazy-for-indoors play a fun ritual for Daddy, Nina and Luke (and Jack, once he gets mobile, too).  Call it all crazy (as Mommy sometimes fears it may instill bad habits regarding running and shouting in the house).  Call it whatever you like.  We know what it is:  Home Therapy through a Large Helping of Daddy Time!  It works for us.

How about you?  What are some of your favorite at-home therapies or rough play games?  Do share in a comment.  and, be sure to check out links at We Are THAT Family's Works for Me Wednesday for sundry other tips for home, work and life in general.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

We Play Summer into Fall

Yesterday, I wrote about a wonderful sensorimotor resource we have come upon.  Today, I wanted to share how the activities we have been doing from it extended into an afternoon of kid-initiated outdoor fun one recent afternoon.

That afternoon, as we were saying "goodbye" to summer and "hello" to autumn by looking for “signs of fall” outside, we noticed that we still had summer items out – buckets, a kick board and some pool noodles.  Thus, the fun began:  a summer-into-fall “We Play” afternoon. 

Here’s how it unfolded:

Nina wanted to jump in the leaves.  So, we gathered a bunch together.

Then, when Luke started to help us, he noticed how leaves fell from his rake as he raised it up.  So, he decided to make his own trees. 

Yes, this is our boy purposefully putting leaves onto (not picking them from) a rake so he could raise the rake, calling it a tree, and shake the leaves down, thus making his own autumn.  What fun he and Nina had doing this.

Then, Nina and Luke asked me to help make an obstacle course.  We decided to make it “summer to fall”, with summer items at the beginning and a big leaf pile at the end.

With summer fun in mind, Luke insisted on setting up a kickboard as a diving/jumping board to launch into the leaves from.

And from there, the jumping, running and balancing began.

Run through...

after balance through...

after jump through...

we made of our course as it initially stood.
 Then, Luke decided he should tweak it.  He added a new element to it – the rake.  “You have to go around the hulahoop with the rake."

"Then, shuffle it across the balance board.” 

We followed his lead until...

He decided to include a kamikaze jump with rake-in-hand as an additional challenge.  At that point, Safety Mama suggested that the latest adaptation to our course might might get a bit dangerous.

Then, to avoid a possible "I-Wanna-Do-It-Anyway" meltdown, I opted for a bit of adult intervention.  Jack was laying on a towel, smiling at wind-blown leaves on the branches above his head.  A observed aloud, "Look!  Jack is laughing at the leaves."

It worked like a charm.  The rake was forgotten as the kids gathered different colors of leaves to wave in front of their little brother's face.  Then, with giggles, they tried to get him to hold one.

Since Jack is not quite at the grasping stage yet, they gave up after a few gleeful tries and went back to the course, which they decided it needed some rearranging.

I bit my lip as they tested whether the plank worked as well just leaning up and onto an upturned recycling bin as it did balanced on same-level buckets.

And, I was pleased when that test ended as a complete change of focus developed.  In deciding to adapt the course still further, they turned the recycling bin over.

They tried putting the plank across it a different way.  Then, added buckets and pool noodles into the fray.  At which point, Luke’s imagination began a tangent of play.  “Mixing.  Mixing.”  A noodle became his mixing spoon...

...then, his blender.  

Meanwhile, Nina added ingredients (leaves) to the blender jar (the recycling bin).

And soon enough, the two merrily went from making shakes to food processing pancakes.

Then, there was taste testing...

...and stirring together elephant enrichment.  (We’ve had a fascination with elephants here recently and recently had the privilege of helping to make a real elephant enrichment snack at our local zoo’s elephant day.)

After which, noodles, then one arm, then both hands became elephant trunks and the feast was on!

Before long, Luke Elephant turned the entire box of enrichment over his head to get the very last bites… 

 And, then, the refilling began anew...

What fun we had with our summer into fall spontaneous play and, upon reflecting on it, what skills and learning were reinforced, too!  From leaf piles (with the practical life  work of raking, the science of seasons and, of course, the gross motor fun of  jumping) to the obstacle course (with sensorimotor skills, practical life/following directions skills, problem-solving and creativity) to leaf-cooking (with dramatic play, engineering through talk about machines such as blenders and food processors and science through a recap of what elephants really eat as we put in leaf ingredients), the afternoon was full of some of the best of early ed here at Jammies School – playful learning and development.

We Play
What about you?  What have you and your kids been playing at?  And what kind of skills and learning are being reinforced naturally because of it?  Do share.  And, do check out the We Play links at Childhood 101 for ideas and inspiration.


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