Thursday, July 29, 2010

Edible Fingerpaint

This is the perfect activity for the messy little artist at your house.

Not to mention easy, cheap and fun!

Edible Fingerpaint
Quick reference recipe can be found here.
5 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
3/4 c. cornstarch
3 c. cold water
food coloring

Here's How:
Start by mixing your sugar and cornstarch together in a saucepan.
Over medium heat, add the water and whisk to combine.
Cook, stirring occassionally, until slightly thickened (do not overcook, you still want it runny).
It should look like this:

Next, decide how many colors you want and place that many bowls on a cookie sheet lined with ice cubes;
this will help cool it down quickly so it won't burn any little fingers...

Ration out the mixture.
Add food coloring and flavoring to each bowl.
You can do individual flavors for each color; ie: green = mint, or you can do them all the same.  I made mine all almond flavor.  You could also opt out of the flavor all together, but it won't be nearly as fun.

Now, mix them up...

By this time they should be cool enough (but still warm) to handle, so have at it:

The older ones preferred to paint with the spoons, but the 2 year olds got the idea.

This recipe makes more than enough for 4 kiddo's to make plenty of paintings.

Especially when one of them insists on simply spooning as much as possible onto the paper...

The younger kids lasted about 15 minutes.

The older ones couldn't get enough of it!
I would count on a good hour or so for them.

I stripped down the boys and put an apron on Rylie, but they were all suprisingly clean painters.
This was my first time making it and I was worried about staining.  Next time I won't take all the precautions.
It all cleaned up really nicely.

Another cool idea would be to let them paint a mural in the bath tub.
Next time...

The ones that weren't so heaved with paint that the paper literally dissolved turned out great!

Have fun!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Expressive Language Development

Expressive Language Development
Sharon Hendrickson - Pfeil, M.S., M.A., CCC

You may be wondering if your child is learning to talk "on time" or if your child's speech and language development is delayed.  Parents of children with special needs are often concerned about expressive language development, since language delays may be caused or complicated by a wide range of problems.

Some conditions which delay language development are hearing loss, physical disabilities which interfere with learning experiences,problems which directly interfere with speech (such as cleft palate), and overall delays in development and learning.

Most children learn to talk in predictable stages.  This is true even for many children whose language development is delayed.  You should become familiar with the normal process of speech and language development, so you can better help your child learn to communicate.

Preparing for Language
During the first few months of life, babies are already learning to use the senses and the parts of the body which will be necessary for speech.  They begin to develop attention, memory, and listening skills.  They also learn to control adults by gestures and by different kinds of crying.

Here's how most babies develop the skills that lead up to speech:

During the first month: Vowel-like sounds and crying emerge.

By 2 months: Baby is able to produce different kinds of cries.

By 3 months: Baby begins using m, p, and b, which are made with the lips and are easy to see and imitate.

Over the next few months, babies begin to use their voices in ways other than crying.  They learn to vary their tone of voice to express different feelings, and new sounds start to emerge.  Now, the baby begins to stop making sounds while being addressed by an adult.  Your child is really listening to you!

By 6 months: May spend long periods of time making sounds. May begin producing simple syllables, such as ma and pa.  This vocal play is a very important foundation for spoken language, which will emerge within the next 6 months.

The Beginnings of Language
The second 6 months are increasingly dedicated to "making things happen."  Babies learn how to make the same sounds over and over again.  They learn to control adults by using gestures.  They learn how to imitate adults' speech sounds.  Your baby will show enjoyment while you play together and will begin to take part in simple turn-taking routines such as bath time, mealtime, and simple games such as "peek-a-boo."  Gradually, babies put these skills together and learn to use their first real words.

Here are some milestones in this learning process.

By 7 months: Begin to put two syllables together while babbling.  Some sounds begin to sound almost like real words.  Vocal play is more frequent.

By 9 months: May "sing along" with music and has probably learned to play "peek-a-boo" or "pat-a-cake."  Can babble a number of different syllables and is learning to produce new sounds.  Asks for toys or food by pointing and making sounds.  Shakes head for "no!"

By 10 to 12 months: Tries to imitate new words and usually says fist words.  More sentence-like sounds are present.  May "talk" to family members without using true words.  May make sounds as if singing along while listening to music and may wave "bye-bye" when asked to.

By 1 year: The baby who is developing language normally will use from one to three spoken words.  However, these words may have uncommon and unexpected meanings - baby may use bird for not just birds but also kites and even airplanes!

Developing Early Conversational Skills
During the second year, most children will learn about fifty new words.  They are learning to understand simple turn-taking rules and are beginning to really converse with adults.

By 18 months: Toddler repeats some over-heard words and usually tries to communicate using real words - not just gestures.  May begin getting ready to put phrases together by linking single words with a long pause in between:
"Mommy . . . cookie!"
"Doggie . .. go!"
"All gone . . . milk."

By 2 years: Most children use simple two-word phrases such as bye-bye daddy or more cookie.  Since they have become skillful at joining single words, pauses between words decrease.  During this year, the child begins making different kinds of short phrases in order to talk about objects, locations, and actions.  The two-year-old will use words to control adults' behavior, to request toys, to answer questions and of course, to reject some foods or, perhaps, a wet washcloth.

By 2 1/2 years: Children use more short phrases than signle words.  They usually begin to put together some three-and four-word phrases.  At this age, your child will probably sit with you and go through a picture book, repeating names of animals or vehicles and making the appropriate noises.  More turn-taking is obvious during conversations.

Mastering Language Forms
The three-year-old is rapidly mastering grammatical skills.

Children between two and three years old use very simple phrases; they often omit many word endings and small "helping words" (such as is, are, and and).

In contrast, three-year-olds are rapidly learning to use verb tenses, helping verbs, and other language forms to talk about past experiences as well as about what is going on in the present.

They can use many different kinds of words in conversation.  At this age,children learn to join short sentences together to make longer ones and begin to use plurals (cars, cookies).  They use some basic prepositions (such as on, off, in, and out) and adjectives (such as big and little) to describe things.

Language uses are expanding at this age.  The three-year-old asks "what," "where," and "who" questions and is able to discuss a single topic over several listener-speaker turns.  Many three-year-olds will use language imiginatively while playing with dolls and toy animals.

What do children need in order to develop expressive language skills?
Talk with your child!  Children learn to use new words, grammatical forms, and rules for conversation by listening.  Teach your child the names of toys, family members, pets, foods, clothing, and places you visit together.  Talk about the activities such as playing, cooking, shopping, and household chores that you share with your child.  Really listen to whatever your child has to say, rather than asking questions or trying to make your child repeat words after you say them.

What if my child is slow in learning to talk?
See a speech-language pathologist if you think your child is late in developing expressive language skills.  This specialist will determine whether threre is a problem with your child's language.  If help is needed, the speech-language pathologist will recommend an individual program of activities and will provide therapy if appropriate.

The first three years of life provide the foundation for the development of expressive language.  The three-year-old has the ability to participate in conversations and can communicate effectively in simple but complete sentences.  Remember, the more you talk with your very young child, the more you help you child learn to talk.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Highland Splash Pad

I have no idea what the actual name of this park is, but we went there the other day and my kids had a blast!

Okay, well Lincoln had a blast.  Cannon preferred to sit in his stoller, but he is a bit of a freak when it comes to water.

I didn't do a great job of taking pictures of the actual park, but hopefully you'll get the idea...

Aside from this area (which as you can tell Lincoln didn't stray far from), there is a man made "river" that your kids can walk around and play in.  This seemed to be popular for the older kids.  Sorry, no picture.

The entire area is pretty small (remember its a park, not a swimming pool), but there is plenty of room to run around.
We'll definitely be going back.
The one down side... there were a lot of people.
Still worth trying out, though.

Want to go?
The park is located just south of Kohlers in Highland (just west of the UCCU).
Here are directions:
(Starting on State Street in Pleasant Grove, heading towards American Fork)
  • Start on State Rd/US (State Street)
  • Turn right at N 100 E/UT (The AF tabernacle will be on your left)
  • Continue to follow UT-74 (Highland Highway)
  • Turn left at W 10700 N0 (right before the UCCU)
  • Turn right at N 5400 W

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Horseback Riding at Courage Reins

Every friday my boys get to go horseback riding!
(another wonderful perk from being involved with kids on the move)

This takes place at
 Courage Reins Therapeutic Riding Center.
 (more info on that later...)

It is a great opportunity for them to branch out and try something new.
And it's really fun as a parent to watch!

Lincoln was lucky enough to get into the program (thanks, Marsha!), even though he doesn't deserve it. He is still very unsure about the whole thing...

The instructor took a special interest in Cannon.
He LOVES horses... until he see's them up close and personal.

It took him a few weeks to work up the courage to touch one.

Each week they had him try something 'harder' than the week before.
After about a month he actually asked if he could "sit on the horse".
(Did I mention that the staff is totally awesome?  And that they really know how to work with kids?)

They work a lot on the individual needs of the children riding.
Lincoln works specifically on "stop" and "go", since he is working on speech.
Cannon worked up to eventually holding the reins all by himself.

And if you haven't noticed they are really good about safety.
Helmets are a must.
(This is probably the funniest picture of Lincoln ever taken).  Makes me laugh out loud every time...

After a while he got used to it.

They also always have at least 3 people with the riders at all times; one leading the horse, and one on both sides.

Depending on the day they get to ride for 10-20 minutes (which is a long time for a toddler).

After each session my kiddo's like to walk around and say goodbye to the other horses.

I still don't think Lincoln cares much for it, but Cannon gets really excited when it is 'horse day'.

So... want to take your kids?
They wouldn't be in the same program (obviously), but Courage Reigns offers a lot of options.
Here is some information taken from their website:

Therapeutic horseback riding differs from traditional therapy in the sense that it offers physical activity combined with the development of a skill. With this skill the students can:
  • share their talent with family and friends
  • experience the excitement and fun of competition
  • enjoy the learning process
  • build self-confidence
  • improve concentration and attention span
  • learn memory and sequencing abilities
  • progress in speech
  • gain social skills
Riding therapy involves living, breathing animals. So students enjoy the well-documented benefits of pet therapy, including improved socialization, increased compassion and responsibility, and better communication. Each hard-working therapy horse is carefully selected for the individual rider.

Riding is dynamic. The three-dimensional movement of the horse helps to:
• improve posture and balance
• improve spatial orientation and body awareness
• increase circulation
• relax rigid muscles
• stimulate natural hip movement and development in the non-ambulatory
• tone and strengthen muscles
• improve coordination
• improve fine and gross motor skills
Riding Lesson for the Non-disabled Rider
The sessions are 60 minutes in duration and will generally include up to fifteen minutes of assisting with caring for or tacking their horse. Sessions are available in both English and Western styles of riding.
Group Riding Activity or Event
Horses are rented by the hour along with an instructor at a ratio of no more than 4:1.
The horses are available for on-site riding only. We do have almost 12 acres in large pastures and can sometimes offer a field riding experience after assessing the abilities of each rider. Group riding is great for birthday parties or other special events.
This particular option has been popular with many groups including the Alpine School District Special Needs Program, the Utah School for the Deaf & Blind, the Center for Change and the Alpine Transition & Employment Center, to name a few.

Contact Information:
We would ask that visits to Courage Reins be made by appointment only. Once we get into the lesson schedule things are very busy. By making an appointment we can make sure someone is on hand to give you a tour, ensure your safety and respond immediately to any questions you might have.
Barn Office
Tuesday – Friday 9pm – 5pm
Saturday 9am – 5 pm
(there is an voice messaging system to pick up calls whenever we are not in the office)

Physical Address
5879 W 10400 N
Highland, UT 84003

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Normal Development of Receptive Language

If you are worried about your child's speech/language abilities, this is yet another great article with checklists about what the proper developmental stages for receptive language are.

Normal Development of Receptive Language
Nancy Williams, M.Sc., CCC-Sp.

What is Language?
Language is a system of symbols people use to communicate with each other.  It is one way to receive and give information.

Three systems work together to produce language:
  • The Input System - called receptive language - which takes in information through the senses
  • The output system - speaking, gesturing, or writing
  • The symbol system, which allows the input and output to work together
What is receptive language?
Receptive language is the input system of language.  It is what we see and hear and the information that we take in.  Receptive language is the comprehension of information.

Language does not improve according to age alone - it develops as one skill helps the next.  Once an early skill develops, it allows more difficult skills to be learned.  Language develops in a way similar to physical or movement skills: one stage leads to the next.  Receptive language skills begin as early as birth and get stronger with each stage in development.

Normal sequence of receptive language
A newborn baby responds to sound.  Loud or sudden sounds startle the baby.  Within weeks the baby can tell the difference between happy and angry voices.  This is seen when the baby coos in response to a pleasant voice.

Auditory perception - when the baby associates meaning with a sound source - is developing now.  At 6 months a baby looks around to find the source of a sound.  At 9 months the baby responds to "no." A 1-year-old can follow simple directions.

Here are some points in the sequence of receptive language development:

1 Month: Responds to voice

2 Months: Eyes follow movement

3 Months: Coos in response to pleasant voice

4 Months: Turns head toward source of sound

5 Months: Responds to own name

6 Months: Appears to recognize words like daddy, bye-bye, and mama

7 Months: Shows interest in sounds of objects

8 Months: Recognizes the names of some common objects

9 Months: Follows simple directions ("Find the ball." "Give me the ball.")

10 Months: Understands no and stop

11 Months: Appears to understand simple questions ("Where is the ball?")

12 Months: Recognizes names of objects, people, pets, and action verbs

13-18 Months: Understands some new words each week.
Identifies pictures in a book
Identifies a few body parts
Identifies some common objects

19-24 Months: Recognizes many common objects and pictures when named.
Understands possession ("Where's mama's shoe?")
Follows many simple directions

25-30 Months: Understands the use of objects.
Understands prepositions (in, on, off, out of, up, down)
Understands simple questions
Understands pronouns (I, me, my, mine)

31-36 Months: Listens to simple stories
Follows a two-part direction
Understands taking turns

How can I help my child?
Language stimulation can be fun!  You can do language training during your daily routine, but never insist on working if your child resists it.  Pick times when your child is eager to work - bath time and story time are natural communication times.

You don't need to reserve a special time for language; each time you stimulate language in a daily activity you help your child learn.  The quality of time you spend with your child is more important than the quantity.
Here are some things to try:

Parallel Talk:
Talk about your child's actions and those of other people.  Talk to your child when your child is playing, riding in the car, bathing, or doing any favorite activity.  This helps your child learn to connect what the child sees, hears, does, and feels with the words to describe them.

When your child speaks or points to an object, be sure to imitate the sound and then give your child the label (the name of the object).  For example, if your child points to a dog, give the label, "dog".

Monitor your speaking rate and stress:
Talk at a speed your child can understand.  You may need to talk more slowly than you usually do.  Stress the words you are teaching by saying them louder, longer, or in a high voice.  Produce your words clearly without exaggerating them too much.

Enlarge on your child's topic by adding related information to whatever your child is talking about.  If your child shows you a dog, talk about what a dog sounds like or eats.

Keep it fun!
Don't ask your child too many questions!  Comment on your child's activities, speak clearly, and provide more information.  Also, don't make your child imitate all your words.  Language stimulation should be fun, not work.

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