Thursday, May 31, 2012

LEGOS Education?? YES!

On a recent trip to our local LEGO store, there was a very knowledgeable sales person demonstrating a few sets from LEGO Education line. My first thought was, "LEGOs has an educational line?" The second thought was, "AWESOME! I have a little boy who loves LEGOs but hates a lot of traditional approaches to math."

One of the sets that was being demonstrated was the LEGO Duplo Numbers and Mosaics set. It has tiles that attach to 4 included Duplo plates and can be used for a variety of math concepts from number recognition all the way to simple division. There are also shape tiles (similar to tangrams) and design cards to work on geometry skills and visual motor skills. I just had to get this set. Even better was that it was on clearance because of overstock issues, so I got it for 50% off!

A few weeks passed and I completely forgot that I had bought the thing. Then, on one particularly infuriating morning where Ben could not stand math and was fighting me on every activity, I remembered them and decided to pull them out. Why didn't I do it sooner?!? He absolutely loves this set, and so does Kate! The only problem is that Ben also thinks that he can dictate exactly what we do during the lesson, which is an entirely different issue.

Ben insisting that he needed to put on the odd numbers.
He used the equal sign as 11 because he couldn't find more ones... BRILLIANT!
He mastered this skill 2 years ago, but hey, it's extra practice.

Since I have had them out, Ben is REALLY starting to grasp subtraction. He is now understanding that subtraction is the opposite of addition. Since it is motivating (he loves LEGOs) and pressure free (he has all of the fine motor skills necessary to be successful), he wants to do it.

Using the colored shapes to help with subtraction.
This is what we did the very first day.
He had an entirely different set of problems today without the aid of shapes.
It just happened to be the same subtraction problem in the pictures below.

Working the problem without pictures!
This is his "I did it" face. He figured it out!

Both Kate and Ben are loving making pictures using the shape tiles. They are getting their creativity flowing and thinking about the shapes needed to make a picture. This practice is especially good for Ben since he has always struggled with drawing and the visual skills needed to make a group of shapes look like something. 

Ben says this is "happy Ben" wearing a party hat.
Kate's lollipop.

Ben's train. He was excited that he made it himself.

Kate trying to figure out how to match the activity card.
This was very difficult for her to do without help, but she did do it.
The only negative to this set? My family room has looked like this almost non-stop for two days.

We get them picked up and out they get dumped again. I strive for organization and have thought about separating the numbers from the shapes...but I have a feeling that particular attempt at organization will be quickly undone and cause more frustration than necessary.

The LEGO education line has some other really neat sets that I can definitely see in our future. One of those is a robotics set. Since we are still working on the fine motor skills needed for the small LEGOs, I think we will hold off for now. However, my hubby has mentioned that he might just like them... for the boys of course...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Time to Tell Time!

Today, Benjamin began the telling time section of his math curriculum. We started simply with just telling time to the o'clock. I used a large-sized foam clock (thank-you Target dollar section) and talked about the big hand and the small hand. I also have found that writing "o'clock" at the top of the clock helps him to remember.

Ben really seemed to understand how to tell time to the hour when presented with the foam clock. So, off to the book work he went. He did great! The second book page had a mock-schedule for a little boy named Matthew. After reading about Matthew and what he does at different times, I decided that we needed to make Benjamin's schedule.

First, I printed out a blank clock worksheet from the internet. I also folded a piece of construction paper into sixths to create a box for each event.  I had Benjamin tell me what happens throughout the day and what times he does them at.  Ben drew the hands on the clocks to the times that events happen and then he glued them on the construction paper. I printed out the digital times that go with the analog times and he matched and pasted those correctly. Then, he dictated the sentences describing each time and I wrote them out for him. The result was a very cute Benjamin schedule.

He has been just a little obsessed with swimming since all of the pools are opening around here. He insisted that I needed to add swimming as his 12:00 event and that we were going to do that today. Unfortunately, we weren't able to go since his brother was home from school with a fever. That's when we got into a lesson about flexible scheduling...

Tomorrow, we are going to be working with telling time to the half hour. I am really hoping that he won't be confused since he did so incredibly well today with telling time to the hour. Here's hoping!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

How Plants Grow!

We have been talking a lot about plants for science lately. The kids have helped me plant the garden and go with me daily to water things, look at what produce is growing, and to continue to discuss what plants need to grow.

One of the things that Benjamin is supposed to learn about in science this year is how a seed turns into a plant. I decided to get out the science textbook that I have so that I don't feel guilty about barely cracking it. He got through it, but I am positive that he didn't learn much and didn't really enjoy himself. So, I turned it into a hands-on project.

I decided to do the "seed in the plastic bag" project that I did probably about 10 times in my elementary school career. It is super duper easy and I am sure that almost everyone has done this one at some point. You take a plastic ziploc bag, place a folded, wet paper towel inside, place in a seed, seal it up, and then put it in a sunny place. Ours is taped to our back slider. In a few days, the roots started to come out. The kids were all super excited to see the roots appear on their seeds. Benjamin even said, "Next will come the stem, and then the leaves, and then it will be a plant!" So yeah, he definitely gets it now. You can transplant them in theory once they grow a little bigger and you see all of the stages of growth, but I have found that mine tend to get moldy before they get transplanted. Oh well!

I also found some great hands-on activities at the Smart Start Resource Center and used them to follow up on the project. There were two puzzles and a stamp set that had the different stages of growth. We did the puzzles as we were "planting" our seeds in the plastic bags. I will bring it out again as our seeds hit each stage.

To check comprehension, Ben and Kate each made a plant growth timeline using the stamps. Then, they told me what was happening at that stage and I wrote the title for them. Both of them wrote the title of the project as extra writing practice. For this project, I just took a regular piece of construction paper, folded it in half "long ways" and then folded into thirds. That gave enough boxes for each stage and then one for the title. The kids really had fun with the stamps. Here they are!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Speaking of Field Trips

Speaking of field trips, we went on our last "real" field trip of the school year. The kids, grandma and I all went to the zoo. It was a ton of fun! We have been learning a lot about different zoo animals, so it was great to see them in real life and in action.

While there, we got to feed the giraffes. The kids found the super crazy giraffe tongues to be very silly. Totally worth the cost of $2 for lettuce... even though I could buy an entire bag of lettuce for about the same price.

We also fed and held lorikeets. If you do this at your zoo or aquarium, be careful... one of the lorikeets was mean and nipped at my hand when I tried to feed it the nectar. I maturely said to this bird, "Fine! Be that way! I'll give the nectar to a bird who deserves it!" This little birdie definitely deserved it. Look how sweet Kate looks with the bird on her arm.

I also decided on our science unit for the summer... ocean animals. The kids all LOVED the small aquarium at the zoo and have enjoyed learning about these amazing creatures in the past. I figured summer will be a perfect time for this unit. The fact that I wanted to be a marine biologist for most of my life has NOTHING to do with this decision... I swear....

And finally, the best picture taken of the day... three little monkeys sitting on a bench....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homeschooling FAIL

I recently read a homeschooling blog about a mom who feels like she is failing at her job. She feels inadequate compared to the "perfect" homeschooling moms who take their kids on countless field trips and do lots of hands-on experiments. Well, let me share how I feel. As THAT mom who loves to take the kids on field trips and loves to do hands-on experiments (but definitely NOT perfect), I feel inadequate compared to the mom who can get all of the seat work that she has planned for the week done. Every homeschooling mom has a different style and every kid learns differently. Let me share my own "inadequacies" and how I have gotten over them.

  1. I use field trips as an excuse to NOT do seat work. You heard me... sometimes I use field trips so that I don't have to do the stuff that I find boring and monotonous. You know what though? I have seen my son and daughter learn so much from field trips, that I really feel that its ok and a good break. Sometimes, my field trips are walks to the park so that we can use our senses to discover the world around us, the store to learn about how to spend lots of money, the pet store to talk about the animals we see, and sometimes they are trips to the children's museum or the zoo. The point is to get out of the freakin' house!! I am not a homebody and cannot stand to "home" school every day of the week. I wish I could be okay with spending more time at home working on seat work. I have high expectations for myself and for what Ben needs to finish in this year and I sometimes feel like a failure because not everything that I set for him will be done. Of course, he has more than achieved most of the original life/learning goals I set for him, but that stupid math book won't be finished! Let it go, let it go....
  2. I do hands-on experiments to teach about science because I am too tired/unmotivated to make a lesson plan that follows the text. Maybe it is my teacher education coming out, but I would much much rather have my kids work with me in the garden for 20 minutes than read about gardening for 20 minutes. Plus, I decided to watch, "Grey's Anatomy" or "The Big Bang Theory" last night instead of doing a lesson plan. I need to fit science in somehow... let's plant some seeds, put water on them, and watch what happens... oh and draw pictures about them in our observation notebook. I glance at the textbook, see "learn how plants grow" and "learn parts of the plants" and then shoo my kids outside to go look at trees in our backyard.
  3. I sometimes use candy as counters for math because my son HATES math and would rather be doing something else. Add some M&Ms, and voila! he does his math. Yes, it is bribery, but who cares? I ENVY the mom who hands their child the math worksheet only to have it completed within ten minutes. Neither one of my sons is that way and sometimes it takes me hours to get them to do their work. 
  4. I deliberately rent thematic educational documentaries from Netflix for the mornings that I am just too tired or unmotivated to get going. Yes, even us "super hands-on moms" don't want to do anything sometimes. However, I am my son's primary teacher right now, so I need to make sure that the activities that he is doing count for something. For us, seat work is not an independent activity, but watching TV most definitely is. Watch a documentary on penguins or lions or dinosaur excavations and it counts as science.
  5. I use computer games to teach subjects that I HATE teaching. For instance, spelling. I love to spell and am a natural speller. Benjamin hates spelling even though he is decent at it. I get easily frustrated teaching him how to spell and hate the traditional spelling list method. Enter "Hooked on Spelling" and it is no longer in my hands, but he is still learning how to spell. It's fun and thus he asks to play it every single day...not to mention the promised reward for finishing all of the lessons on the first CD by the end of the school year. 
  6. I use sensory play/fine motor activities when I need a break....but it still counts as "school" time because his fine motor skills are being greatly improved. I use playdoh, the rice bin, piano time, ball squishing, and gymnastics to work on his fine/gross motor and sensory system. However, I can just let him direct the play and as long as he stays on task, I can kick back, relax, and drink some iced tea.
  7. I can't WAIT until it is enrichment time during the week. I should really look at it as my son branching out and learning life, social, and educational skills in a different environment than home and learning how to be part of and fit into a larger group. I am not saying that all of that is not true, but when I am dropping him off at enrichment, all that I can think of is where I am going to go in my precious "kid-free" time. 
  8. I sometimes allow my son to push off school in the morning because he is in a bad mood. I will make it up in the afternoon or evening (and sometimes even late at night if he is up), but I sometimes feel like he would be better served playing with his toys in the morning or watching an extra episode on the Disney channel than fighting with me on learning all morning. I really wish that I had a neat and organized little schedule that I could follow every day without fail, but that just isn't the way that he learns best. And, really, will he actually learn ANYTHING if I spend all morning getting frustrated with him?
So, for the scheduled, "finish the curriculum in its entirety" moms who I envy dearly, I say, hats off to you. And, also, "the grass is always greener" (or for you Disney fans, "the seaweed is always greener in somebody else's lake"). We're both doing amazing things for our kids and sometimes we need a break from that amazingness. My way is with hands-on activities or field trips and I automatically default to that. Your way is with seat work and you automatically default to that. BOTH of those ways are valuable learning tools for our children. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Firehouse Open House

A new and improved fire station just opened up less than a mile from our house. The kids were SUPER excited to go to the fire station open house this weekend, and boy was it a BLAST! It was one of the most fun events that I have been to with the kids in a long time. Benjamin, who desperately wants to be a firefighter and a paramedic when he grows up, was incredibly excited to check out the fire station and see the trucks. All I have to say is that those volunteer firefighters sure know how to throw an awesome party! You're talking free food, free drinks, an awesome cake, face painting, games, police dogs, police cars, a gigantic fire house bounce house/slide, fire engines of all sorts of shapes and sizes, a "safety" play house that the kids got to climb in to learn about fire safety, fire safety goody bags, Smokey Bear, the Chick-fila cow, not to mention the fire fighters and sheriff's officers themselves. My boys were in little boy heaven and Kate thoroughly enjoyed herself. Even Daddy, Mommy and Grandma had fun.

Not only was it fun, but it was very educational for the kids. One of the things we have been discussing a lot lately is emergency preparedness because I realized that although my kids know how to dial 911, they don't really understand what constitutes an emergency. Take this conversation for instance:

Me: "Ok, if Mommy fall on the stairs and you try to wake me up, but you can't, do you call 911?"

Andrew: "Yes! It's an EMERGENCY!!!"

Me: "Good. Ok. If Mommy falls on the stairs and hurts her ankle, but is still talking to you, do you need to call 911?"

Andrew: "Oh no! You broke your leg! Quick! Call an ambulance!"

Me: Explain in detail (minus the financial explanation of how much an unnecessary ambulance ride costs) why me breaking my leg on the stairs does not constitute a call to 911. "If there is a fire inside the house, what do you do?"

Andrew: "Call 911!"

Benjamin: "STOP, DROP, and ROLL! Call the firetruck so they put out the fire!"

Me: Explain in detail the difference between when you should stop drop and roll and when you should get out of the house as quickly as possible. "Ok, now, if there is a fire in the fire pit outside, what should you do?"

Andrew: "Call 911!"

Benjamin: "Can we make marshmallows?"

Me: Explain in detail why a fire in the fire pit is "safe" and why we can't make marshmallows right that second. 

So yeah, they don't quite get the whole emergency vs. non-emergency thing. We have already had one "false alarm" call to 911 last summer because Andrew wanted to see if it would really work.... fun times explaining to the operator why she should not send the Sheriff to our house and explain to her that everyone is fine at the moment, but might not be once I get my hands on my 6-year old.....

Back to the fun day. This day was so much fun and so incredibly educational. The kids walked away with a much better understanding of what to do in an emergency type situation. The highlight of the day: Benjamin randomly requesting a mustache from the face painter. He decided that he needed a mustache because "firefighters have mustaches." So, here is my french firefighter/pirate....

And remember, only YOU can prevent forest fires. 

(Hooray for the isolating the index finger! That is something relatively new for him... so YAY!)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Feed That Monkey!

I have learned over the last 7.5 years that for a child with special needs to master a skill, you have to break down that skill to its basic parts. It's been challenging learning how to do that for skills that I have long since mastered, can't remember learning, and have become second nature to me. However, that isn't how it is for my boys, which means that I must think about what my body is doing so that I can show them how to do something.

Take this new fine motor game that I found at Union County Smart Start. It's called "Feed the Monkey," and that is exactly what you do. The trick is that you need to use the over-sized tweezers to pick up the bananas and put them into the monkey's mouth. 

To give you an idea of the contrast between typical and special needs learning: Kate walked over, picked up the tweezers and immediately put all of the bananas in the monkey's mouth. No problem, not a challenge, really fun. I didn't have to show her how to do it. I didn't have to show her how to open and close the tweezers. Not so much for the boys.  Benjamin tried to pick the tweezers up and use them and he quickly threw the tweezers in frustration. Here is how I broke the skill down to increase independence and success:

1. First, I had Ben just pick up the tweezers with the correct hand position. We worked on that a few times just on its own. 

2. Then, I had him just practice opening and closing the tweezers with his fingers. I had to start with hand-over-hand help to get him to feel how to move his fingers. I did this with constant verbal cues... open, close, open, close. I also had him try those motions with his fingers without holding the tweezers so that he could see and feel what he needed to do.

3. Next, I had him try and pick up the banana while holding open the tweezers. The timing of the fine motor skill with the visual tracking of the object was really tough for him. He tried multiple times and failed. I decided to have him take the banana from my fingers so that it didn't move while he was figuring out the open and closing of the tweezers.

4. Then, he put the banana in the monkey's mouth and "fed" him. Success! It was really tough to let go of the banana without letting go of the tweezers, but after a few attempts, he did it!

5. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Someone once told me (and I don't know exactly how accurate this is, but it is what I tell myself and it seems to be mostly true) that if a typical child learns something after one attempt, it will take 100 attempts for a child with CP to learn it. Luckily, I have determined little boys. Benjamin really wanted to feed that monkey, and feed that monkey he did. 

It was a very slow start with feeding the monkey, but eventually Ben was able to feed the monkey using the tweezers without any help from me at all. We are going to continue to work on this skill because it will be helpful for learning the motions for cutting with scissors as well. I decided to not focus on scissor skills this school year, but would like to start again during the summer. So, it is time to build up those finger muscles and learn the movements necessary.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Backyard Science

Who needs an expensive science curriculum when you have the woods in your backyard? Not us! Well... sorta. I DO have a first grade science text that I bought so that I could make sure I am covering all of the material I am supposed to, but I only use it as a guide.  I love biology, so it is natural for me to share that love and passion with my kids. Here are the things we have learned this year from spending time in our backyard and being good observers.

1. What do squirrels like to eat? Are they good climbers? Can they hang upside down? Are they smart? The answers? Take a look...

OBVIOUSLY, this squirrel likes to eat birdseed. He climbed up the slats on our deck to get to the bird feeder and then hung himself upside down for about 20 minutes without a problem. Smart? I think it's pretty ingenious. We have watched other squirrels reach up to swing the bird feeder to get seed out, but I think that this squirrel was by far the smartest. Once I went outside, he scampered off into the woods and up a tree, where he was hard to find. That led to a conversation about animal camouflage.

2. What kind of animals live in our area? What do they look like? How do they move? What do they sound like? Take a look...

Say hello to "Hopper," the friendly little toad that Katie captured the other day. This led to conversations about why you should never kiss a frog or toad (found out later that this one secretes a chemical that can irritate mucous membranes), why you should wash your hands well after picking one up, and the difference between frogs and toads. We also have been working on animal classification, so this opened up a conversation about amphibians. I always take pictures of the animals we find, from snakes (yes, snakes) to birds to frogs to lizards. I always try to get the kids to see the animals that I find... even if it is a HUGE spider with an egg sac on his back as it runs on TOP of the grass in my backyard (ewww) or the gigantic red, furry "cowkiller" ant that we found in our front yard (ahhh!).  

3. How do plants grow? What do humans use plants for? What kind of plants grow in the woods? What happens to trees and leaves during different seasons? Take a look...

Lettuce from our garden last year.

Every year, the kids help me plant a vegetable garden. They have learned what plants need to grow and have seen the transformation from seed to plant to table. The woods offers tons of different leaves and plants for us to observe and discover. Being that this is North Carolina, the seasons actually change and the trees show it perfectly.

This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to backyard learning. The moral of the story: use what you have to teach biology. It's been much more meaningful to my kids to learn about the world through hands-on, real life experiences than it has from textbooks. Ben can still tell me all of the different types of trees in our woods from our leaf collection and identification in the fall. Kate still reminds me to water the vegetables every day. Andrew still talks about "Crazy Squirrel" (pictured above) and how he hung on the birdfeeder and ate all of the birdseed. Kate has definitely picked up my love for biology. The boys... not as much, but that's ok. What is important is that they are meaningfully experiencing the world around them.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

When Did THAT Happen?

I have spent many hours working with Ben on his fine motor skills this year. It has been one of the primary focuses of our homeschooling day. I have shared in blog entries the struggles and successes of trying to get Ben to not only learn how to write, but to enjoy (at least not flip out over) fine motor activities. After months of working hard, I have to say that I have MORE than succeeded with my original intention.

Yesterday, Benjamin woke up early and quickly ate his breakfast. He was incredibly excited and did all that was asked of him in the morning so that he could get to his first homeschooling activity of the day. What was it? A fine motor activity! He was going to paint the airplane that his daddy and he built together the night before (a $1 kit that he picked out at Michaels). At what point did any fine motor activity become something he looked forward to? At what point did artwork become a reward? I am astonished at how excited this kid was to start painting.

Look at that focus! Look at that grip on the paintbrush! Look at those two hands doing something different simultaneously! Look at the absence of an insane mom getting frustrated in the background!

This was not the first time that he has shown a preference for fine motor activities. Slowly, our homeschooling day has transformed. He now wants to start his morning with his writing warmups sheet. When I give him a choice of the order in which he wants to do his seat work, he always chooses his writing first.  On days where he is fighting his work, he asks me if he can do his writing and be all done. He no longer wants me to write for him when doing his math work. He wants to write on the inside of cards that he makes for people and is very proud of his work when he is done. He does his finger muscle exercises throughout the day for fun. 

The visible results of all of this hard work? If that first picture doesn't prove it to you, here is another one. 

This is Benjamin's writing warmup sheet from a few days ago. Almost every number and letter is legible and most are formed correctly. He wrote this COMPLETELY on his own. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Reading for the Non-Fiction Lover

When the boys first started reading, I couldn't wait for them to experience some of my favorite fiction stories. Visions of them reading Charlotte's Web until 2 am danced in my head. I just KNEW that they would especially love fiction, since that is mostly what my husband and I like to read. WRONG! Yes, they have a love of reading and will read until 2 am if they can get away with it, which is great. But, both boys would much rather read non-fiction, especially books loaded with facts about a certain topic. I am amazed when I walk into my 7-year old's room and hear, "Mom, can we ride on the trans-siberian railroad sometime? Or how about going to Europe so that we can ride on a bullet train. Did you know that the Amtrak that we went on was a passenger train? But, it was different than this passenger train in this book." I simply stare at him and think, "Wow! I can't believe how much information he is picking up in these books... and HOW did he figure out how to read 'trans-siberian' anyway?" Benjamin can tell you all about all of the different airplanes and what makes one fighter jet different from another fighter jet. He can also tell you all about all of the different rescue vehicles and what their jobs are.

However, hand Benjamin a fiction book to read and he draaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaags his feet. Whereas a non-fiction book will get him enthusiastically reading, he will only read a sentence or a few words at a time in a fiction book and then stop and focus on something (anything) else. They simply don't keep his attention. I know it is important for him to read a variety of texts, so we do a "you pick one, I pick one" reading format. I am amazed at how much more motivated he is to read "nonsense" (as he calls it) when the reward is any book of his choice.

In my quest for age-appropriate, highly motivating, reading level appropriate texts, I came across Zoobooks' younger kids' magazine called Zootles. A big portion of our science this year has focused on various animals, so I figured this would give him a broader range of animals to learn about.  After seeing the samples online, I came to the conclusion that the reading level in the Zootles magazines would be independent reading for Benjamin, even though the target audience is actually a little younger. Since I want to use them for science and reading, I figured that this was the way to go. They have so far been fantastic and I am glad that I decided on Zootles instead of the classic Zoobooks.

Ben was VERY excited to get his very own mail. He was even more excited when he realized that these magazines are about animals. Today, we read the parrot Zootles together. He could read just about everything in the magazine, loved the format, and even read the poetry and fiction story in it. There is also a tear-out guide that gives more information on the animal in a more condensed form. Ben really liked that feature and wanted me to tear it out so he could easily carry it around. It took approximately 25 minutes to read the magazine together, which is PERFECT for a kid who can't and won't stay focused for longer. Overall, two thumbs up for fun and educational magazines for non-fiction loving kids.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mothers' Day Cards

Mothers' Day is coming and that means that the kiddos need to make a plethora of cute, easy to do cards. Here is what we are doing:
Circle coffee filters
Construction paper
WASHABLE markers
Water spray bottle

1. Have the kids color the coffee filters with as many colors of washable markers as possible. Make sure they color on all parts of the filter. The filters don't have to be completely colored in, but there needs to be some marker on all parts of it. Kate did polka dots while coloring this time, which worked really well for this project.

2. Outside (or a place that you don't care if washable marker gets dripped on), have the kids spray the coffee filters with water. The colors will immediately start to run into each other. Some color will run off of the filters.

3. While coffee filters are drying (they took about 15 minutes on a warm day outside), have the kids decorate the insides of the cards. For the cards, I just folded a piece of construction paper in half. You can also use cardstock. I had Kate copy "Happy Mothers' Day" and then write her name on the inside.

4. Bunch the dried coffee filters into either a butterfly shape or a flower shape. I used a rubber band to tie the butterfly, but you can also use string or a pipe cleaner. Using all-purpose or craft glue, glue the flowers or butterfly onto the front of the card. I chose to do this step to make sure that they were securely glued to the paper.

5. Decorate with pre-cut stems and leaves or have the child draw a scene to finish it off.

This is a SUPER easy, fun to do craft that can be adapted to all different ages. The youngest child that did this project with me was 1 and the oldest was 8. They all love to use the spray bottle to spray the coffee filters and I think the results are fantastic.