Sunday, December 18, 2011

October and November Chicken Soup

Benjamin really likes his monthly Chicken Soup with Rice poems. Here is Ben reciting November's poem!

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I also realized that I forgot to upload the October poem. So, here it is!

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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Sneaky Christmas Activities

Like most kids, my kids LOVE Christmas time. We have been doing lots of Christmas activities including reading Christmas books and making cookies. We also recently made a gingerbread house. I cheat with that one... I get the premaid kits and then provide our own candy to decorate it with. It's just a lot easier than trying to get the gingerbread perfect on my own.

I am always looking for ways ton incorporate other subjects into fun activities. Kate has been recently working on patterning. I figured this was the perfect way for her to practice. It is also a great review on patterns for both of my boys, even though patterning is usually fairly easy for them. Take a look! 




I tried to include patterns all over the place. I made Kate figure out which one to put next to keep up with the pattern. She caught on really quickly. Ben and Andrew named the types of patterns that we used. More than anything, the kids had fun and learned something too (not to mention ate enough sugar for a month). 

Creating Christmas memories with the kids.
Other math activities that I did while working on the gingerbread house is asking Ben and Andrew how many more of a certain candy that we needed to make a certain total. For instance, "Ben, we have 2 Mike and Ikes on this row and we need 4, how many more do we need to get that many." After some practice, they quickly figured out the answers. This is a skill that Benjamin has really been having a difficult time understanding. I am trying to include as many real life examples into his teaching as possible in hopes that it will click.

We have also been working on crafts for the grandparents. Every year, my kids make ornaments to send to the grandparents for Christmas. Unfortunately, I can't post the ornament ideas on this blog right now because all of the grandparents read this blog and I want to keep them a surprise. Here's a sneak peek of Benjamin working diligently on the crafts. I will post the finished product once the grandparents get and open their ornaments. More to come!


Monday, December 12, 2011

Writing Time!

Benjamin's fine motor skills make writing exceptionally difficult. What I do for his journaling is have him dictate a sentence/paragraph based on a given topic. I write it on the white board as he is speaking. He then listens as I read it back to him and corrects it if he thinks there are any errors. He then comes up with a name. I rewrite it in his journal and then he has to illustrate it. I have really been amazed at his illustrations considering his fine motor limitations. He is also really proud of them.

Ben's drawing of Ben and Mommy holding hands.
Benjamin's drawing of a firetruck.
Today, I asked him to write a caption under his illustration. He wrote "presents!" I am so excited that he is starting to write letters on his own without having to trace them. More importantly is that he is gaining confidence with his writing.

The word "presents" and a picture of a present.
I am hoping that in the second half of the school year that I can get him to write more on his own. I also want to be more diligent with his journalling and make it a daily activity. 


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Hooray for Handwriting!

At the beginning of this school year, Benjamin HATED handwriting. He would freak out anytime anybody wanted to make him write. He would get mad, throw the pencil, etc. My goal for the first part of the year was really just to make him feel successful with his schoolwork without pushing too hard on the writing. He gets frustrated easily when the letters or shapes don't come out perfectly.

After talking to his summer tutor, I decided that starting him in the pre-K Handwriting without Tears book was going to be the best way to go. It was all about making it fun and  building confidence. By about October, his handwriting time became what he wanted to do in order to avoid other schoolwork. He would negotiate with me regularly: "Mom, can I do handwriting INSTEAD of math?" Once he got over the frustration and started having success, he blew through the handwriting book. The result is that he is finished with his first handwriting book by December! We will be moving onto the Kindergarten book with hopes that he has gained enough knowledge to be successful there as well. If not, I will just order another preschool book and have him do it again. No harm... especially since the books don't actually say the grade level on them. I'm sneaky like that.

I made a huge deal out of the fact that he finished. He was so excited to finish it that he actually asked to do more pages so he could get it done quicker. I then gave him an award. It is our very first award during homeschool. He was so proud.


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Leaf Unit Complete!

I have literally had company for an entire month and have not been able to update the blog at all. We're plugging along here doing our daily work without anything too incredibly exciting (besides hanging with Great-Grandma, friends from college, and cousins). We finished off our leaf/fall unit last week and then celebrated by doing something INCREDIBLY fun... we made a GIGANTIC pile of leaves and played in them! The kids had a blast and I got to play some more with my camera (another passion of mine).

The pile of leaves was huge! Papa, Daddy and cousin Matthew all played in the leaves with us over two days...one time at night thanks to Andrew's suggestion. I guess you could say it was an up-close and personal experience with science. :-)




The pile of leaves was so big that we were able to completely bury Daddy in the leaves. By the time we were done, he was COMPLETELY covered from head to toe.

Everyone enjoyed playing in the leaves. Even Andrew was up for getting mostly buried. Kate ran and jumped in them again and again. Benjamin enjoyed throwing leaves at all of the adults, including the Mommy who was on the sidelines with a camera.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Card Sorts

Once again I scored at Target's dollar section. I found a bunch of card sorts on clearance about a month ago and picked them up as fillers and fun hands on activities. Plus, sorting by attributes is definitely a good math skill to practice. The kids loved them! Ben was working on a "quick add" card sort where he had to count or add together groups of items and then figure out the answer. We have been working on adding groups (knowing that 5 is a group of 5 and can be counted like that instead of counting individual items), so I thought it would be a fun way to practice.


Kate sorted pictures into categories based on various attributes. I read to her the category heading and she did the rest herself! 




This has quickly become one of Kate's favorite activities and asks to do it just about every morning. Sure... why not? :)  I love when we find an activity that helps with an important skill but is also one of their favorite things to do.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Early Readers

Benjamin and Andrew both started reading before Kindergarten. Benjamin actually started reading without having to teach him. I pulled out the K-1 sight words because he was showing an interest and he read through most of them on the first attempt. Since he could barely talk at this point (he was 4 and hadn't started talking until he was 3 1/2, I was MORE than impressed).

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Nowadays, my boys can decode just about anything that I hand them. They can answer specific questions about text. They do have some trouble with retelling the story, but I really am starting to think it has more to do with speech and attention issues more than an inability to do so. We are working hard on improving their retell.

Kate has been amazing lately. She is 3 years, 9 months old and has just started putting together letter sounds to make words. She does really well with simple words written out by themselves, so I thought I would try her on the very first BOB book. Check out how she did!! Not too bad for a 3 year old.

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No, she isn't like those genius children that you see on infommercials who are reading Charlotte's Web at age 3, but still, I am impressed.

When the boys were little, I was constantly focusing on their speech. I often used flashcards meant for beginning readers for speech. Surprisingly, they picked up the words printed on the cards and could read them easily. Also, when they were learning to talk, I figured that it would be helpful for them to hear the sounds that letters made. So, from the time they were about 1 year old, I would play a game with them while in waiting in line, driving in the car, etc. where I would literally go through the alphabet and say, " 'A' says a a a apple! 'B' says, buh buh buh banana..." I would often put in a word that they would think was super funny like a word in Spanish. They loved the game and it helped them both with their speech and reading. When they were at the point that they were learning their letter names, they already knew the sounds that they made.

Now that I am homeschooling Kate for preschool, we spend some time reading Abeka's Handbook for Reading and are formally learning the phonics required for reading. We are just beginning, but she is quickly learning and is very excited about it.

I have not decided how I am going to educate Kate. She is catching on quickly to the reading and is already starting to learn her addition and subtraction since that is what Ben is working on. She can count well already and recognizes her numbers up to 20 (except for the number 16.... dunno why...). She is already starting to write her letters. However, she doesn't start Kindergarten for 2 more school years. I haven't decided if I am going to go ahead and start her on Kindergarten curriculum early or if I just let her learn at her own pace at home and then send her to Kindergarten in 2 years. Since I am currently homeschooling one child and have one in a very good public school, I am confronted with choosing between 2 very good options for Kate. Another option would be to have her tested to go to Kindergarten early, but she will be barely 4 1/2 when the next school year starts.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Leaf Identification

What better way to celebrate the fall season than to collect leaves from our very own backyard? This is actually something that we have done every year since moving to NC. From CA originally, we really are not used to seeing the beautiful colors of fall or even having enough leaves in our backyard to make piles of and jump into. My kids really don't realize how lucky they are to grow up in a place that is so beautiful in the fall.

Walking in the woods. Evidently caught Ben by surprise.

To celebrate the season, I have chosen to work on seasons and leaves for science in our homeschool. We started with making observations about the leaf changes of fall. We are lucky enough to live on a wooded lot.  So, we went for a walk in our very own backyard and talked about the changes in the leaves. I brought along my small point and shoot camera and had Ben take pictures of leaves (with a little help from me of course).












Then, he dictated to me his observation journal entry. I had him draw pictures of what he saw. After that, he wanted to label the pictures!! He actually wrote two words. He wrote "hole" for the picture of the animal hole that we found in the woods and the word, "leaf" for the leaves he drew. I was sooo proud of him! It is seriously the first words that he has ever written independently. And, his drawings are pretty good too if I do say so myself (yes, I'm very proud of him).


If you look closely, you can see "HOLE."
If you look closely, you can see "LEAF."




















After collecting a variety of leaves of different colors and shapes, Benjamin laid them out on paper towels so that I could dry and press them. I found a couple of kid identification pages to help identify the leaves, but really, they were pathetic and didn't even have 1/2 of the different leaves we found. I went online and found a really cool website that helps to identify leaves! We worked together and identified the leaves that we collected using this website. We will be doing a craft with the leaves early next week.


In this science unit, we also read two earlier readers about leaves. This explained what leaves are used for and also a simplified version of photosynthesis. It also explains why the leaves turn colors based on the seasons. I followed up with our science curriculum on seasons and leaves and had him complete worksheets to check for understanding.


As a fun science activity on Friday, I had all three kids watch "Sid the Science Kid: Don't Forget the Leaves," streaming on Netflix. It was a great way to follow up on all that we learned. Plus, my kids love "Sid the Science Kid" and tend to learn a lot from the episodes. 

I am going to be finishing up the leaves unit in the next week or so. I will post those activities as we complete them.

Used for this lesson:

  1. I Am a Leaf by Jean Marzollo (lexile level 70L)
  2. Colorful Leaves by Maria Fleming (no lexile level available, but is more difficult than #1)
  3. http://lib.oh.us/tree/leaf/byleaf.html
  4. Leaves from our backyard

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Special Halloween

Like all kids, my boys get super excited about their Halloween costumes every year. They start talking about them months in advance. My husband, also starts talking about their Halloween costumes months in advance. However, his reasoning is that it takes literally months for him to build their costumes.

Andrew's in a wheelchair most of the time. He can't trick-or-treat by walking up to the doors. Unfortunately, many people see the wheelchair and won't see the kid wearing the costume in it. My husband's solution: build his wheelchair into the coolest costume in the neighborhood. 

Last year, Andrew wanted to be a construction worker. My husband decided to make him a bulldozer to go with it. He could move the bulldozer and use the scoop. He LOVED it and it was definitely the hit of the neighborhood.
Andrew as a bulldozer, 2010

Benjamin was a firefighter last year and after seeing Andrew's bulldozer, decided that he wanted a fire truck. So, Benjamin was a firefighter again this year and Daddy built him his very own (gigantic) fire truck. Ben and Kate rode in the fire truck the entire night, lights flashing and all.



This year, Andrew wanted to be Wall-E, one of his favorite Pixar characters. Daddy quickly sketched up a Wall-E costume.  Once again, he could maneuver it on his own. It had flashlight eyes, moving arms and a working trash chute. Andrew would open up his door and say "trick or treat" and have his basket waiting for people to put candy in.


Andrew had a cooler than cool costume that everybody noticed. He got lots of attention and loved talking to people as he went down the street. Overall, it was a successful Halloween. The problem: My husband is going to want to try and top this next year....



Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jar Jack-O-Lanterns

I recently saw an activity in Family Fun magazine that I thought would be a lot of fun for my kids. Basically, you take clean, empty jars and paint them orange. Before painting, however, you put masking tape in the shape of a Jack-O-Lantern's face on the jar. When dry, you take off the tape, revealing the face. Then, light a candle inside or use a flameless candle and VOILA!  Jar Jack-O-Lanterns. This activity is fun, inexpensive, and easy. I decided to do it on a day that I watch a fourth child as a pre-Halloween activity.


The kids really enjoyed covering the jars in orange paint. I made the faces ahead of time with the tape and just had them pick out which jar that they wanted. This was just to save time. If I do it again, I would let them do the faces and would make the openings bigger. I also would use acrylic instead of tempera. That was actually my original plan because acrylic tends to cover better, but I didn't have any orange acrylic paint and had a whole bottle of the tempera. 

It DID however, look like a pumpkin massacre all over the art table when they finished. Maybe I should just display the art table on Halloween....




Once they finished drying, I was eager to see the final results. Here they are! They will definitely be out front on Halloween... imperfections and all.

The jars after drying before candles.

The jars all lit up... the faces are a little hard to see.


The winner of the easiest to see face is Kate's.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Watercolor Art



The kids are still working on making and collecting their very own Artist Trading Cards. I feel that it is still best to let the kids experiment with the given supplies without too much direction. I decided to go ahead and give watercolors a try this week. The only directions were to color in the card as much as they could with the watercolors. I really like the way that Kate experimented to blend the colors together and how Benjamin used black in the center of the cards after using the lighter colors.

Benjamin and Kate liked the watercolors so much that they wanted to paint on bigger sheets of paper. Kate loves to cover the entire sheet of paper in colors right now and does so with anything she uses. Benjamin wanted to try and make some cool designs. I also had them name their paintings for the first time ever. I think I am going to continue having them do that in the future. Kate named her large painting (bottom) "Christmas Decorations." Benjamin named his (top), "Roller Coaster." The trading cards will go into their collections.




Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Retell Shmetell

One thing that both of my boys are HORRIBLE at is retell. I am not sure if it is because of their speech delays or attention... who knows?!??!? They have a hard time with reading retell, but they also have a really difficult time with daily retell in general. I really have to prompt them to get them to tell me all about their day and they often go off into tangents or sometimes completely lose focus and start telling me about their favorite toys. In fact, Andrew's reading retell is the poorest part of his academic performance at school right now. So, now I need to come up with ways to help them learn how to retell. I am also doing this with Kate for preschool, but she already seems to be a natural at retelling everything and finds this very easy.

Fairy Tale Retell
Don't you just love when you come up with a name to an activity and it just fits well and maybe even rhymes a little.

  1. First, I read a fairy tale from a fairy tale book that I have. The hope is that these stories are already familiar enough that the kids kind of know what is going to happen.
  2. I sit the kids down on the rug and have them look at the pictures that go along with the fairy tale. That way, they are able to remember what happened during the story.
  3. I then have them tell me step by step what happened in the story. I prompt them at the moment by writing numbers on the white board and asking them, "What happened first?" "What happened next?" The goal is to have this be the only prompting and to occasionally remove all prompts.
  4. I then have them re-read what I wrote on the whiteboard for them. This is so they can get practice retelling without me having to ask questions. I am hoping the process will be more ingrained in their brains by doing it this way.
The white board as Ben retold me the story of Godilocks.

Eventually, THEY will read the stories. I just want them to start out by having me read them to them to practice the narrating and retelling. Once that skill seems to be under control, we will move to them reading it and then retelling it. We are still practicing this skill with all books that we read, trying with and without prompts. This is just a time a couple of times a week that is set aside specifically to work on it.

Modified Readers' Theater
Benjamin is a very kinesthetic learner. So, I decided that a good way for Ben to really understand what he is reading is by having him act it out. I have been having him do this with stories that have a clear storyline. In general, this activity doesn't work well with phonics readers.


  1. I take a story that has recently been read by either Ben or by me to the kids. I take the most popular characters and assign those parts to one of the kids to act out the part.
  2. I then re-read the story (editing out unimportant details) aloud while the kids act out what I am reading. 
We do this activity both with puppets and with the kids as the actors. They LOVE to pretend to be the villains or the heroes and do a great job creating voices and movements to be the characters.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

What can't be taught...

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This is a video of Ben telling me the exact notes that I am playing on the piano without looking. This is NOT something that he has been taught. This IS something that he has been doing since he was 4 years old. I have video of it somewhere from when he was little, but I am not quite sure where that footage is at the moment... probably on my old dinosaur of a computer that is being stored in our computer graveyard in the basement. I just thought that I would post the amazing skill that he has. He continually missed one note in this video (F# when in the higher key), but I really wonder if it is more because my piano needs to be tuned... who knows!? I can't even come close to doing what he can, so I have no idea if that is what an F# is supposed to sound like. All that I did was show him what the names of the keys were when he was about 3 years old. This is a skill that I believe cannot be taught... or at least one that I didn't teach him.





Number Line

We are still working on using the number line for addition and subtraction.  One of the activities we do every day is using a laminated number line and have him complete math problems. He uses a game piece as his marker to help him keep his place. I have found that the larger number line is easier for him to use than the small one in the book. By laminating it, I can write the math problem that we are working on in dry erase marker and then erase it once we figure out the answer.


Ben doing an entire page of math using the number line.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What special need does he have?

Today, a little girl asked me that question. She wanted to know what special need Benjamin had.  We get questions all of the time from kids, but what I think is most important to realize is that they aren't being malicious, they truly are curious about what they see.

I explained to the little girl that Benjamin has something called Cerebral Palsy. It means that he doesn't move as easily as she does, talks a little slower, and sometimes has a difficult time making friends. I told her that he loves to play with other kids, but sometimes doesn't know how and that it really helps him when other children show him. She's very sweet and caring and immediately said, "I'll be his friend!" (she had already played with him on a playground for a half an hour and had been holding his hand as they walk, so I had a feeling that would be her response).  I then told her about all of the things that Ben likes to do. I told her that he loves to read, play on a playground, be silly, and that he plays baseball. I have found that is important for other kids to realize that even though they may act a little different, my boys are a lot more like them than they aren't.

Kids commonly ask questions about Andrew's wheelchair. I have found that teaching Andrew to answer these questions has been very effective. I have actually heard Andrew say, "It's how I get around. You walk and I need a wheelchair." In fact, very recently I heard him having a discussion with another 7-year old who said that he wanted to ask Santa for a wheelchair for Christmas. Andrew looks at him matter of factly and says, "Why do you want a wheelchair? You can walk already!" There was another time at the park that Andrew was talking with a little boy who then offered to switch him.... Andrew's wheelchair for his scooter. Andrew said yes....I had to intervene...

I have found that if Andrew opens the conversation with other kids, then they are more likely to accept him. We have actually had more issues with parents than we have with kids. Parents don't really know how to respond to the kid in the wheelchair. They don't want their kids to say anything that could be offensive and often tell their kids, "Don't look at him," or "Don't talk to him."I get not wanting your kid to be offensive, but it is more offensive when Andrew hears the adult telling the kid to ignore him. So, when Andrew was old enough to understand (around age 4), I began to teach him to say hi to kids that we pass, especially kids who were looking at him. This opened the lines of communication and usually, the parents would see that it was ok for their kid to talk to Andrew and that Andrew wasn't offended by the normal, "Why do you have a wheelchair?" Also, the wheelchair has light up wheels on the front. I have found that this alone is a great conversation starter for kids. They see them and then say, "WOW! His wheels light up! That's so cool!"

This is all working for now. We luckily live in a community that is very accepting of my boys and their disabilities. The teachers and parents at our school have as a whole been awesome with talking to the kids about differences in people and including the boys in anything that they can. We haven't had to deal much with bullying or negativity (a couple of isolated incidents). I know as they get older, the boys will probably have to learn new strategies to cope. For now, we are all fine answering the questions as they come.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Baseball Time!

Ben and Andrew
My boys both play buddy baseball. It is a special needs team where the kids are teamed up with typical children (usually middle or high school aged kids) and play a game. There is absolutely no score keeping. In fact, most kids hit a "home run" every time they hit the ball and run all around all of the bases. The plays that the kids make in the field are getting the ball and then throwing it either to first base or home. Nobody is ever out. This makes it a great experience for the special needs kids who would otherwise not be able to participate on a baseball team.
Ben's first attempt at hitting without a tee.

I am very proud to say that at baseball this week, both of my boys attempted to hit the ball without a tee! The coach pitched to them. Benjamin tried his hardest to hit the ball and did with some help from a buddy! Andrew, amazingly, hit the ball on the first try without any help! It was the very first time that he had ever even attempted to hit the ball without a tee. Everyone was so excited!

This year is the first year that my boys have had any interest in fielding at all. Ben did so great this week chasing after all of the balls in the field. I have never seen him run around the field so much during a game. 
Andrew in the field.

This is their 5th season playing baseball, including Fall and Spring seasons. It is amazing to see how much they have progressed in this time and how their confidence has increased.




Saturday, October 15, 2011

Art for the Fine Motor Haters

Ben freaks when I tell him it is art time. It's a frustrating prospect for him. He has trouble with his fine motor skills and can't make things look the way he wants them to. In preschool and before, he loved to play with the materials to create. Once the expectations increased and his projects needed to resemble something, he simply gave up. I decided that for art this year, we are going to go back to just enjoying the process.

Benjamin's Trading Card Folder
I knew the folder had to be fun.










I recently came upon an article about art trading cards. Evidently, it's a trend that is becoming huge, even in the professional artist world. The way it works is that each artist has a binder with trading card sleeves in it. Then, you make cards out of cardstock that are trading card size (2.5x3.5). The artist creates on these cards using whatever techniques or materials they want. You can collect them, trade them, etc. This sounded perfect for Ben. It was low stress (it's a lot less stressful for him to fill up a small card than an entire sheet of paper) and I figured I could start with simple experimenting with materials and eventually move up to more directed art lessons.

Ben experimenting with colors on his trading card.
The first morning, I announced that we were going to do an art project. Ben, of course, started to freak out. His anxiety went way up and he told me that he wasn't going to do it. I got him to sit at the art table and then showed him the folder.... it was a Cars 2 themed one that I got at Target on clearance. That caught his attention. Then, I showed him the small card and told him that all that he had to do was paint the small card... any way that he wanted with any colors that he wanted. The anxiety disappeared. He started choosing his colors to put on his paper plate (his palette), chose his paint brushes and began mixing and painting. He actually enjoyed the process!

Ben experimenting with spin art.
The second art day came and I decided to pull out the Spin Art machine that I once again got at Target on clearance. I already knew that he LOVED this spinner. I decided that instead of just squeezing the paint on and watching it spin, he needed to use items to "scratch" the surface while it was spinning to see the types of patterns he could make. We used a paintbrush and a straightened paper clip. He was excited to do it and was really surprised when he figured out that he could make a hole in the center of the card if he held the paintbrush down long enough while it was spinning.



Ben's trading cards after 2 art sessions.

My favorite thing about these art projects is that I can see how my kids' art progresses throughout the year in a completely organized fashion. I put their names and the date on the back of each one and pop them in their own folders. My kids also love being able to show off their folders to family and friends. For now, I am not going to allow them to "trade" the cards, but that might be something we do in the future.


Art time with Ben and Kate.



Thursday, October 13, 2011

Allowance??

When I was a kid, I had an allowance.... of course it was only $1 a week and was often spent on video games at the pizza parlor we frequented on Sunday afternoons. Since the boys are now 7, we decided that it was time for them to understand the concept of working for and saving their money to buy the things they want... in their case, trucks (we already have what seems like hundreds, but the toy company just keep making more of the darn things).

At first, only Ben was on board. He wanted to clean up and understood that somehow doing his chores meant that he could buy something he wanted. He didn't understand, however, that he was only getting $2 a week and that it would take 3 whole weeks to be able to get a truck. Andrew wanted nothing to do with it. He actually said to me, "I don't need allowance... I'll just wait for Christmas to come and then ask for the trucks I want." Alas, he missed out on the first 3 weeks of his allowance for his comments and attitude.

Ben was very very impatient for the first 3 weeks, but still saved up his money. Here is when the real world math came in. In all honesty, my boys know very little about money... one of my main motivators for giving them an allowance. I started by having Ben count his money. He already knows the value of the coins, so with a little help and prodding, he was able to come up with a total. He had 6 dollars and 50 cents (after getting a bonus for doing Andrew's chores when Andrew failed to do them). We went to the store and compared how much he had to the price of the things he wanted. He had to tell me whether or not he had enough money.  Once the truck was chosen, I had him work on the real life skill of talking to the checkout person, paying the money, waiting for the change, and using his manners. Social situations are incredibly difficult for Ben and his speech is slower than average. Luckily, the checker knew who Ben was and was very patient and caring toward him. I had to talk him through the conversation some, but he remembered to say thank-you at the end and was all around charming. He soon left with his change in his pocket, his purchase in a bag in his hand, and a huge smile on his face. Of course, I allowed quite a bit of flaunting of his new truck in front of Andrew.

Andrew's attitude has changed since seeing the prize that Ben got for doing his chores. All of a sudden, Andrew is the one asking to clean the playroom and is facilitating some of the cleaning. This is the week that HE will finally have saved up his $6. He can't stop talking about being able to pick out a toy of his choice and keeps a countdown of how many days until he gets his allowance.

So far, so good. It is 7:45 at night and my boys' room is clean, the playroom is spotless, and I really didn't have to do much at all. I think I'm liking it....plus it's a lot cheaper than a maid... just sayin'.

Mommies

Last night, I had a mom's night out with a group of friends. All of us have children who have CP.  I have no way of expressing just how valuable having friends who "get it" is. We were able to discuss lots of different aspects of raising kids with CP.... our frustrations, successes, doctor experiences, etc.. For me, it is also a reprieve from the constant demands of my two special needs boys. I love them to death and do anything I can possibly do for them, but every parent needs a break sometimes. Until recently, I had met very very few other moms who had children with CP and often felt completely isolated. I am so very lucky to have met these other moms.

Jumping Math!!

For math, we are learning about using a number line to add and subtract. Ben is great at memorizing math facts and great at using manipulatives, but he has had a really tough time grasping the number line concept. We have done lots of different things with the number line, but he found the activities either uninteresting or frustrating. It is just easier for him to regurgitate the answer, so he doesn't want to do the work. 

One really nice Fall morning, I decided that we were going to do as much schoolwork as possible outside. I decided to draw a number line on the ground using sidewalk chalk and have Benjamin work on his addition and subtraction by jumping from square to square. He LOVES jumping now. I would show him a math problem flash card and then have him stand on the top number. Then, he had to decide if he had to jump forward or backward on the number line and also how many spaces. Suddenly, the concept clicked.  I have a feeling we will be playing "math hopscotch" a lot more often. Here's a picture of him doing some problems. I wish I did math this way when I was a kid :-)