Thursday, June 24, 2010

Grove Creek River Fun

Does your family like to hike?
We are big outdoor fans, so
we love taking our boys out and about in the foothills whenever we get the chance.

There are lots of trails around here that are perfectly reasonable for a 4 and 2 year old to go on (I'll have to get to those later).

There are also a lot of places/trails that include water!

We just went and explored the river at the base of Grove Creek Canyon in Pleasant Grove.
The boys loved it!

Just below the parking lot the river runs out of the canyon and forks into two walkable paths.

With lots of room for exploring...

And plenty of places to splash,

Or take a cookie break,

Or to run and throw rocks...

And everything else two little boys would love to do.
They had a blast, and were sad to leave after an hour and a half.
We will be going back, for sure.

want to take your kids?
If they love to explore and love getting wet,
this is the perfect place!

The water is pretty shallow (there are places that can get up to their waists, but they are easy to avoid), so no worries about that!
Just be sure to bring some good shoes.
And maybe some chairs for you.

Here's How to get there:
From State Street in Orem:
Head south on state street (toward pleasant grove)
Turn right just after "The Purple Turtle" restaurant on 100 East.
Continue on that road, until you take a right onto Grove Creek Drive (a cemetary will be on the left side).
Follow that road all the way up to the base of the canyon and you'll run into a parking lot.
There is a trail just west of the outhouse that will lead you down to the river.
You can follow the water up or down (it will fork off in a new direction if you go up).

Have fun!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Development of Imitation Skills

I am currently attending some Speech and Language classes taught by Kids on the Move, and am coming home with so much wonderful information!
I'll try and spread it out some, but don't be suprised if that is all you are hearing about from me for the next little bit.

The following is an article I recieved from class.
It has a lot of helpful information as far as what milestones certain aged children should be at concerning imitation;
which plays a critical part in their overall communication skills.

It outlines the average imitation skills from birth to after 2 years of age.
If you have questions/worries about what your child should be doing in terms of speech and language, this is an excellent source of information.

This article will talk about what imitation skills are, how to recognize them, skills for appropriate ages, and if/how you can help your child develop them.

The following article is copied completely from the handout I received.  I am in no-way taking credit for the ideas/opinions expressed.  I have simply added color/size to define what I found to be most helpful.

The Development of Imitation Skills
by Rebecca D. Yeatts, M.S., CCC-Sp.

What is imitation?
Imitation is the ability to copy the actions,sounds, words, or facial expressions of another person.  The ability to imitate appears very early in life and is refined for many years.

Imitation involves paying attention to something another person is doing or saying, then trying and gradually learning to copy the action, sound, or words accurately.

Your child may imitate you as soon as you do something (such as when you say "bye bye" and wave and the child begins to wave, too).  Or the imitation may be delayed - it could be the next day when the child puts on a coat and goes to the door and remembers to wave when someone says "bye bye."

Why are imitation skills important?
Children learn to use language by imitating the people around them.  Imitation also helps us learn the customs, accepted gestures, and body language of our culture, and how to interact with other people.

Development of imitation skills
Imitation skills develop in steps.  One step builds on the one before it, until the child no longer imitates but uses skills spontaneously.  Here are the average ages of children when they show some of the significant points in the development of imiation skills.

At a few months of age:
Babies first learn to imitate eye contact and to pay attention.  They take turns in interactions with their parents; they smile, frown, and use other facial expressions.  Most babies become very good imitators by simply watching and copying the people around them.

7-8 months of age:
Babies learn to make many different sounds and begin to imitate the sounds of others.  The sounds the baby made earlier were entertaining and automatic, rather than in imitation.  Usually, babies imitate sounds that they can see, such as "ma," "ba," and "pa," and funny sounds, such as tongue clicks, lip pops, coughing, "rasperries," and animal noises.  Hearing problems are often discovered at this point, because it is harder for a child who does not hear well to imitate sounds.

12 months:
Children begin to imitate intonation; sometimes they sound like they are using words and sentences.  When you drop something and say "uh oh,' your child may copy your gestures and say "uh oh."  Children at this age pretend to talk on the telephone, scold their toys, or comment on something that has gone wrong.  They are also excellent imitators of "pat-a-cake," "peek-a-boo," and other finger plays and songs.

Most parents of babies are very good at talking in single words or short phrases.  They use lots of gestures and facial expressions and maintain eye contact with their baby naturally, making it easy for the baby to learn to imitate.  As the child grows older, parents usually automatically adjust their words and phrases, gestures, and facial expressions to the child's level.

Before the first year, and continuing for several years, children learn to play with toys and other children by imiating and experimenting.  Parents unconsciously teach babies to play by showing them how to shake rattles, work "busy boxes," push pop-up toys, wind musical toys, and look at books.  Later, children learn to imitate complicated games, household routines, and habits.

After age 1:
Children become better imitators and begin to imitate actions and words.  At first, the imitation may be inaccurate (such as "gog" for "dog).  The child will learn to imitate sounds more precisely as control of the muscles and coordination needed to use speech sounds increase.

At about 18 months of age, children take great pleasure in watching and copying the same songs and finger plays over and over.

At 18-24 months, children use a variety of words to express themselves and begin imitationg the combination of words into two- and three-word phrases.  When mommy leaves the house and someone says "Bye, mommy," the 18-24-month-old will probably be able to imitate without any trouble.  At this stage, parents tend to talk in two- and three-word phrases, so imitation is easy.  The child's sounds may be inaccurate, but the child can imitate longer combinations of words.

After age 2:
Children continue to imitate words, longer sentences, more precise sounds, and household routines, and more complex songs, dances, and finger plays.  Gradually they take on more of the mannerisms and way of speaking and interacting of those around them.  Imitation continues to be refined even into adulthood.

Do imitation skills need to be taught?
Most babies imitate, remember, and learn naturally, but children with disabilities may need help.  The child who is hearing impaired or who doesn't learn as fast as other children may need o be taught sign language and will take longer to learn to imitate speech.  The child who is visually impaired needs to learn to imitate through touch and hearing, rather than sight.  The child with a physical disability may not have enough muscular control to imitate accurately.

Children with disabilities may need to learn alternate ways of communicating (such as with pictures or computers), but they learn to use these devices by imitating other people.

How can I help my baby develop imitation skills?
Talk face-to -face with your baby from about 12 inches away.  This helps the child see your face clearly and watch your facial expressions and eye contact.  To hold your baby's interest, change your pitch from high to low and your loudness from whispering to normal voice.  Alternate between funny sounds and speech sounds.

Don't be afraid to look silly and have fun!  Babies like funny faces and funny noises and can become bored more easily than we think.  Hold your baby in front of a mirror and encourage a conversation with the "baby" in the mirror.

Encourage older children to talk to and play with your baby.  Young children love to imitate other children and often copy their expressions and sounds more easily than those of an adult.
When your baby makes a sound or face, imitate it.  Turn-taking can go on for a long time and will help your baby learn that communicating is fun.

Children who are between the developmental ages of 1 and 2 can learn to imitate sounds by making animal noises along with the animal words.  Other fun sound-making activities include making motor noises with cars, trucks, and airplanes, and commenting on actions with sounds (such as "pat pat" and "tickle tickle").

Young children also learn imitation skills through copying finger plays and games (such as "Itsy Bitsy Spider," "The wheels on the bus," "so big," "pat-a-cake," and "peek-a-boo").  Dancing and clapping with music is another way.

Children begin to recognize themselves in the mirror around 18 months of age, but mirrors will interest them earlier.  This is a good time to teach the imitation of sign language, identification of body parts and clothing, and the imitation of sounds and words and funny faces.  Use puppets and other toys to keep it interesting.
When teaching the imitation of words, phrases, or sentences, make sure to use language that is not too long or complicated.  If the child uses only the first sound of a word - such as "b" for "book" - then say back the word "book."  If the child says "book," then add another word, such as "want book."  Language is easiest to imitate when it is expanded in small pieces.

Copyright 1990 by Communication Skill Builders, Inc.
This page may be reproduced for clinic or home use.

Now for actually making this applicable...
As the article stated, "imitation skills develop in steps.  One step builds on the one before it, until the child no longer imitates but uses skills spontaneously."

So, to make this a little easier to work with I have identified some of the major steps (in the order they were written above).  That way you can determine where your child is and what you need to work on next or what to expect.
  1. maintains eye contact
  2. ability to pay attention
  3. smiles, frowns, and other facial expressions
  4. starts to imitate other's sounds, rather than spontaneously making sounds
  5. makes environmental noises (animal sounds, car/truck noises, etc.)
  6. makes sounds "ma", "pa" and "ba"
  7. tongue clicks, "raspberries", lip pops, coughing
  8. imitates intonation (change in tone: "uh-oh")
  9. pretend play (talk on phone, talk to toys, etc.)
  10. finger play imitation ("peek-a-boo", "pat-a-cake", etc.)
  11. learn to imitate complicated games, household routines, and habits
  12. begin to imitate actions and words
  13. learn to imitate sounds more precisely
  14. interested in repeated specific songs and fingerplays
  15. uses a variety of words to express themselves
  16. combination of words into two- and three-word phrases
  17. Continue to imitate words, longer sentences, more precise sounds, and household routines
  18. Imitate more complex songs, dances, and finger plays
  19. Take on more of the mannerisms and way of speaking and interacting of those around them.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pre-School Projects

Cannon's pre-school is officially over for the year.
Here are some of the projects that he brought home.
 Maybe it can spark some arts and crafts ideas for you and your kids.

Colored Leaf Picture
This one is pretty cool, and very easy.
Just pick some leaves, put them under your paper, and color over them with crayons.

Paper Plate Masks
(modeled by his cousin, Blake)

Finger Print Painting
I have wanted to try this idea for a while, but never got around to it, so was glad that he did it at school.
The idea is to stick a finger in paint, press it to the paper, and make pictures using your fingerprint.

In this case, they did a book about lady-bugs:

While they were on 'bugs', he also brought home this ladybug craft that he thought was pretty cool:

My guess is that this activity was used to practice cutting with scissors.
A brad holds the wings in place so they can open and close:

They also made a Felt Train, using cotton balls for the smoke.

Paper Flowers were made as another 'cutting' exercise.

And of course you have to do fingerpainting, right?

Have Fun!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Your Name = Something Positive

This is such an important concept.
One that I think is terribly underlooked by parents everywhere.

Let's start with a story:
I went to visit a friend, and noticed her kids playing in the backyard.
I wanted to say hello, so I went out and called one of them by name.

Instantly, the child's head shrunk into his shoulders, and he had a terrified look on his face (you know, that 'body language' your kids always do when they know they are in trouble).

I took the next minute or so reassuring him that I just wanted to say hello and that he hadn't done anything wrong.

The point?
He was so used to hearing "DAVID!" every time he got into trouble that he was associating his name with something negative.

It should be exactly the opposite:

Name = Positive
A name is the word we use to represent ourselves and others.
You want your child to think of their name as a positive representation, rather than a negative one.

Here's How:

* Don't use your child's name repeatedly:
For example: "Cannon, can you bring that to me?  Go sit down Cannon.  Come here Cannon.  Cannon, leave it alone.  Not right now Cannon.  Cannon, don't ignore me!  Cannon, Cannon, Cannon! (You get the idea).

Whether it is to get their attention or to discipline, most phrases can be used without adding their name to it.  You can just as easily say, "Hey, I'm talking to you, please listen to me".

Also, their name will lose meaning if that is what he/she continually hears (ever wonder why you have to call them by name 15 times, getting louder each time, before they respond?)  It's because you use their name repeatedly.

* Try to avoid using their name for discipline
For example: "Cannon Aaron Denna get back here NOW!"
Every time you do this, your child associates his name with trouble.
Meaning: their name = a negative experience.
Just as before, it is just as effective without the name.

And finally,

* Use your child's name when praising them
For example: "Good Job Cannon!"
If you do this, your child will associate his name with positive experiences, and most importantly, will associate his name with feeling success.