Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Paper Christmas Tree Decorating

Yet another idea that came from the classroom.
(Don't you just LOVE the handprint design??? SO adorable...)

The possibilities are pretty much endless.  Here are a few that the boys have done:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Milk Carton "Ginergerbread" Houses

Every year in preschool around Christmas time Cannon would come home with a simple house he had made.  I thought the idea was too great not to share.

Using graham crackers instead of actually making gingerbread sounds like something way more realistic, doesn't it?

So if you are looking for a quick and easy Christmas craft with your kids, give this a try.  Cannon is so proud of his every time!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cotton Ball Snowman

This is a fun (and easy) activity for the snowy months.
Cannon brought this home from pre-school last year after they had spent a few months talking and reading books about snow.

Cotton Ball Snowman

Materials Needed:
- Cotton Balls
- Black Pipe Cleaners
- Google Eyes

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hand and Foot Reindeer Prints

Last year Lincoln's fabulous nursery leaders made us these cute Reindeer Prints for Christmas.

Brown and white paint, a red pompom or button, and your little ones prints are all you need!
Such a cute idea...

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Turkey Hats

Turkey hats are a fun Thanksgiving craft that your kids can wear around and show off.

This particular one is SUPER ADORABLE and fairly easy to make.

Here is what you will need:
I didn't measure anything; I just sort of eye-balled it:
- two brown strips (to measure around the child's head
- one brown circle (for the turkey head)
- 4 colored feathers
- one set of eyeballs
- one red waddle thing (whatever it is called)
- two red feather 'hands'
- one yellow diamond (for the beak)
- one sturdy strip of cardstock (for the neck)

Putting it all together is pretty self explanatory:
Measure the brown strips around the child's head, and tape/glue everything else together:

Fold the diamond in half so the beak can open and close, and use the cardstock "neck" to make the turkey's head wobble:

And that's it!

If this seems a little too ambitious for you:
They can be as easy as you'd like.

This one was made by my friend while she was watching Cannon for a playgroup.  She had him tell her 3 things he was thankful for and wrote them on the feathers.

Either way my kids have enjoyed them.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Paper Turkeys

Here are some quick craft idea's for making your own paper turkeys:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Turkey Handprints

The turkey hand print idea has been around forever.
At least I was doing it when I was a kid...

This particular one came from Cannon's pre-school last year.
The poem makes it perfect to give as a gift:
Poem Reads:

This isn't just any turkey,
As anyone can see.
I made it with my hand,
which is a part of me.
It comes with lots of love,
Especially to say - 
I hope you have a very
Happy Thanksgiving Day!!!

Or try this one:

And of course just your plain old hand dipped in paint!

If you are afraid of letting your kiddo dip the entire palm of his hand in paint you can always just trace it on colored paper or let them color it in themselves.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Painted Paper Plate Fish Craft

This is an incredibly easy craft that requires hardly any materials (or time).
Pretty self explanatory...

Materials Needed:
Paper Plate
Google Eye

Painted Paper Plate Fish Craft
Use the brad to hold the tail on so it can 'swim'.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I recently went to a self-reliance seminar that had a great class about helping to instill confidence and self esteem in your children.  The instructor is a counselor in a local school district and has worked with kids for years.  She presented a great lesson, followed by some excellent handouts.  This particular handout focuses on using books to help teach (with some excellent recommendations if you or your child are struggling with a specific scenario).

What is Bibliotherapy?
According to, "bibliotherapy" is an expressive therapy that uses an individual's relationship to the content of books and poetry and other written words as therapy.

Bibliotherapy is an old concept in library science.  In the is documented as dating back to the 1930s.  The basic concept behind bibliotherapy is that reading is a healing experience.  It was applied to both general practice and medical care, especially after WWII, because the soldiers had a lot of time on their hands while recuperating.

At its most basic, bibliotherapy consists of the selection of reading material that has relevance to that person's life situation.  The idea of bibliotherapy seems to have grown naturally from the human inclination to identify with others through their expressions in literature and art.  The concept of bibliotherapy has widened over time, to include self help manuals for adults.  Still, the phrase is most often used in reference to children.

Bibliotherapy can give children the confidence they need to deal with anything that comes their way.  It also gives parents an opportunity to discuss it with their children and find out what is going on.  Bibliotherapy can consist solely of reading, or it can be complemented with discussion or play activity.  A child might be asked to draw a scene from the book or asked whether commonality is felt with a particular character in the book.  The book can be used to draw out a child on a subjuect she/he has been hesitant to discuss.

Basically, bibliotherapy can be a way for parents to open communication with children about problems their children may be having.  Books chosen for bibliotherapy should be developmentally appropriate for the child and shared with the child in a caring way.

In my opinion, reading scriptures is the highest form of bibliotherapy!!  Certain stories either told or read in the scriptures can be "likened" to our own children's experiences (see 1 Nephi 19:23).  Other resources for bibliotherapy may include personal histories of ancestors or often told stories about meaningful experiences that family members have had, etc.  You may already have been using bibliotherapy in your family and didn't even know what it was!!

Here are some book titles that are recommended for certain scenarios (along with a link so you can look them over at

Anxiety / Fear
You've Got Dragons, by Kathryn Cave
Wemberly Worried, by Kevin Henkes (kids refusing school)
The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn (kids refusing school)
Smile a Lot, by Nancy Carlson (school problems)
Thank You, Mr. Falkner, by Patricia Polacco (learning disability)

What are You so Grumpy About?, by Tom Lichtenheld
When I Feel Angry, by Cornelia Maude Spelman
Andrew's Angry Words, by Dorothea Lachner
Feeling Angry, by Althea Braithwaite

Bullying / Friendships
How to Lose All Your Friends, by Nancy Carlson
Some Dogs Do, by Jez Alborough
Charlie the Caterpillar, by Dom De Luise
A Bad Case of Stripes, by David Shannon
King of the Playground, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother, by Patricia Polacco
I Like Myself!, by Karen Beaumont

How Are You Peeling?  Foods With Moods, by Saxton Freyman & Joost Elffers
My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss
The Feelings Book, by Todd Parr

Honesty / Tattling
Edward Fudwupper Fibbed Big, by Berkeley Breathed
Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal, by Jeanie Franz, Ransom
Tattlin' Madeline, by Carol Cummings

The Dog Poop Initiative, by Kirk Weisler (boy taking initiative)
The Paper Bag Princess, by Robert Munsch & Michael Martchenko (assertive girl)
Queen Bees and Wannabes, by Rosalind Wisement (for teenage girls)
The Feeling Good Handbook, by David D. Burns, M.D.
**Patrick K. Hallinan has a whole series of social skills books for very yound children called: My first Day of School, My Teacher's My Friend, That's What a Friend Is, etc.
**Cheri J. Meiners has a whole series of social skills books for young children called: Listen, Follow Instructions, Share and Take Turns, Talk and Work it Out, I'm Afraid, etc.

Personally, we read a lot at our house, and I am excited to try some of these books I haven't heard of before.  I'd love feedback if any of you have great book recommendations!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Helping Your Child Attend and Intend to Communicate

This article from Kids on the Move talks about how treating your child like they are a born communicators helps train them to become just that!  It also discusses ways to help children develop these abilities if it doesn't seem to come naturally.  A good read if your child struggles with communication skills.

Helping Your Child Attend and
Intend to Communicate

Do any of the following characteristics describe your child?
- My child doesn't pay attention when I talk to him or try to show him things.

- My child doesn't enjoy playing with toys with me or showing me what she's playing with.

- My child doesn't try to get my attention to notice what he's discovered or what he sees.

- My child won't listen and doesn't seem interested when I try to read a storybook.

- My child's attention span seems short, and she moves quickly from one toy to another as if she doesn't know what to do with them.

These behaviors are all related to joint attention and communicative intentJoin attention is the ability to share interest in the same object or event with another person.  It includes looking at, pointing to, talking about, or playing with the same objects or events.  Communicative intent is the ability to communicate about these interesting objects or events.  These communications include asking questions, making comments, requesting turns, rejecting objects or turns, and commanding others.  Joint attention and communicative intent both begin to develop during the first days of life.  Poor development in these areas may cause children to have many language and learning problems.

How Do Joint Attention and Communicative Intent Develop?
At birth, infants and their parents spend many hours establishing joint attention.  Their attention is focused on each other.  Parents look into the infant's eyes, and the infant gazes back.  Parents focus attention on the one thing that the child is able to attend to at this age: they attend to the child's body.  Parents encourage the infant to touch, to grasp an adult's finger, and to respond to their voices by talking in a high pitch with exaggerated vocal changes.  The adult's attention on the infant's body helps the infant learn how to share attention.

At the same time, parents treat infants as if they are born communicators.  If the infant hears a noise and widens her eyes, the parent considers that to be a comment about the sound.  The parent answers saying "Did that noise scare you?" or "Yes, your brother dropped the block."  Parents know that the infant was only reacting to the sound, but they behave as if the child communicated something meaningful and intentional.  Every burp, cry, hiccup, or sigh is reacted to as if it were communicating a comment, a request, a protest, or a command.

Three-month-old infants are able to attend to things other than their own bodies.  They begin to look at rattles, stuffed animals, colorful toys, and other interesting things their parents show them.  The joint attention now focuses on these objects.  Parents show and talk about objects, encouraging the child to look at and to try to touch, hold, or explore.  Every smile, hand movement, wiggle, or reach is treated as if it were a sentence requesting, commenting about, asking for, or rejecting the object.  The bond between the parent and the child increases during these mutually enjoyable "conversations."

Because they are treated as intentional communicators from the first day of life, infants become intentional communicators before the first birthday, usually about 10 months of age.  But some children have difficulty establishing these bonds.  They don't seem interested in watching their parents or looking at and talking about the things parents show them.  They show resistance, throw temper tantrums, leave, or attend to something else.  Their attention spans seems very short.  These behaviors are confusing to parents, who may feel hurt, frustrated, and even angry at times.  Parents know that the child isn't learning very much about objects used by people or the language used to talk about them, but their attempts to teach the child don't seem to work.

What Can Be Done?
You can help.  There are strategies you can use if your child has not learned how to attend jointly to objects with you or to communicate intentionally about them.  Play simple games that establish joint attention and communicative intent at the same time.  Follow the suggestions and guidelines outlined here:

- Select interesting toys.  Your child will attend to things that are interesting.  Interesting things are usually colorful and textured, make interesting sounds, or do interesting actions.  Children typically enjoy puppets, stuffed animals, music boxes, wind-up toys, and toys with push buttons and levers.  You will soon discover which things are interesting to your child and which are not.

- Share the toy.  If your child is holding an interesting toy, then there is no reason to include you.  To get joint attention, you must hold the toy and bring it to your child for a turn.  During this turn, the puppet might kiss the child or nibble on fingers and toes.  Or your child might turn the dial or push the button on a toy.  During this turn, you should talk about what your child is doing ("Push the button all the way," "Turn the dial") or about the toy ("The puppet's getting your toes!" "The music sounds pretty").

- Withhold the toyThe turn should last only a few seconds.  Then hold the toy just out of the child's reach to encourage your child to indicate he wants another turn to play.

- Give and take away.  Bring the toy back to your child for another turn.  Then, after a few seconds, hold the toy at a distance once again and encourage another request for a turn.  You might say things like "Now what?" or "What do you want?"  Continue playing the game through cycles of encouraging the child to communicate, interpreting some behavior as a request for a turn or providing a turn with the toy while you jointly attend to and talk about it, then holding the toy at a distance to set up another cycle.

- Respond to requests.  Indicating the desire for another turn is one type of communicative intent.  During early stages of this play, you may have to respond to a random hand or foot movement or other unintentional behavior.  Treat these behaviors as if they are requests for a turn.  Respond to these random movements just as parents respond to hiccups and burps.  If you behave as if your child is communicating (even when the child isn't), your child will begin to learn how communication works.

- Be patient and continue.  If your child at first resists and fusses, don't give up.  This new way of interacting may seem different and confusing to your child.  Patiently continue to play the game, choosing some behavior to treat as a communicative intent and then jointly attending to your child's play with the toy.

- Recycle.  Your child should start to enjoy the game and should start to do something the keep the game going.  Your child might purposefully hold out a foot if you have been reacting to foot movements.  Or your child might purposely hold out a hand to request a turn with the toy.  As soon as you see these behaviors, provide a turn and continue the cycle.  If your child does not give you a purposeful communication on the next turn, then respond to a random movement again.  Your child is just learning to communicate, and it may take quite awhile to figure out how it works.

- Combine action of toys.  Once your child starts to play the game very successfully, add more complexity.  For example, during the child's turn, put a puppet on the child's hand and then bring over a second toy, such as a cup, a plastic apple, or a hairbrush.  Encourage your child to feed the puppet or brush its hair.  Your child is now learning to attend to objects away from her body.

- Continue cycles.  Continue the cycles: wait for your child to signal a request, present the puppet and other objects for a short turn, and talk about the objects and actions, then hold the toys at a distance to encourage another turn.

- Model language.  Use language yourself that your child can use to request a turn.  Point to the hairbrush and say, "Let me brush his hair" or "Give me the brush."  Model other communicative intents, such as having the puppet protest ("Ouch!  That hurts!"), comment ("My hair is pretty now"), or command ("Brush behind my ears").

- Add steps.  Continue to increase complexity by adding more steps to the play.  During one turn, brush the hair of several puppets, stuffed animals, and dolls, or dry their hair with a towel before brushing it and then looking in a mirror.  Talk about and encourage your child to talk about these events.

- Talk about details.  Begin to focus on parts of objects, talking about the same object or event in detail.  Talk about these details as you point to them.  Talk about the ears or nose of the stuffed animal as they are brushed.  Refer to their length, color, size, shape, spots, smoothness, and so on.  Encourage the child to talk to and about the animals and the ongoing actions.

- Introduce storybooks.  As you look through story-books with your child, talk about the pictures as outlined in the previous step.  If your child has difficulty attending to pictures, demonstrate the depicted actions using similar stuffed animals and objects.  Invite your child to point to parts of the picture, and then talk about what is seen.  Point to parts of the picture, and ask your child to talk about them.

You can establish joint attention and communicative intent through enjoyable play and storybook reading with your child.  You can also use the same cycles of communication and attention during dressing, eating, and other daily routines.  These interactions teach children how to focus attention and communicate.  Soon children become independent learners who can talk about their world.

Janet A. Norris, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Copyright 1995 by Communication Skill Builders, a division of The Psychological Corporation / 1-800-866-4446
This page may be reproduced for instructional use. / Catalog No. 3073

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sugar Daddy Father's Day Gift Idea

This was what our ward handed out last year for Father's Day.  Perfectly simple.

Sugar Daddy
by Roberta Stephenson
Some daddies are short and some dads are tall,
Some fish and some hunt and some like to play ball.
Some chase a ball 'round a golf course,
Some dads work as actors and some ride a horse.

Some dads like to fix things when they are broke
Like dishwashers, sprinklers and bicycle spokes.
Some daddies teach school and some work at the mall,
Some dads are policemen and some dads are on call.

Some dads work on computers all day 'till they're tired,
Some dads have gray hair and now they're retired.
Some dads are adopted and some are not,
But however we got them we love them a lot.

So whether you fish or unt or play ball,
Whether you're short or even quite tall,
Whatever your role as a Daddy may be,
Today you are a SUGAR DADDY.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Promoting Oral Motor Skills at Home

Another handout from Kids on the Move.
This is great if you suspect your child is having issues with oral motor; it gives you signs to watch out for, and several exercises that you and your child can do together at home to strengthen the muscles in and around the mouth.

Promoting Oral Motor Skills at Home

If your child experiences oral motor difficulties, you may see some or all of the following problems: drooling, poor lip closure, mouth breathing, inability to suck a straw or blow out candles, chewing with mouth open, or the tongue protruding outside of the mouth.  If your child has developed speech, you may be hearing poor articulation of sounds, a nasal quality to the voice, or speech that sounds slushy or slurry.

The oral structures (lips, tongue, jaw, and throat) are made up of many muscles that must work closely together to produce clear, well-articulated speech and safe swallowing.  If weakness or poor muscle coordination exists, the exercises listed below can improve strength and coordination.  Much like exercising to keep our bodies fit, the oral structures can also "work out" to become stronger and more coordinated.

You and your children probably work closely with a speech-language pathologist.  In addition, it is important to continue to practice at home to help your child more quickly learn to control the oral structures and increase muscle strength.

There are two types of exercises you can do with your child.  Active exercises involve your child performing oral movements.  Passive exercises are exercises that you do for or to the child.

Passive exercises work well with infants who are too young to follow directions.  They can be used as warm-up exercises to "wake up" muscles before you begin active exercises.  Also, if your child has been diagnosed as "orally defensive" (very sensitive to touch), these exercises can help to desensitize the child's mouth area to touch and various textures.

Passive Exercises
- Stimulate the outside of the lips, chin, and cheeks with various textures such as cotton swabs, a toothbrush, a small vibrator, a warm or cold cloth, or a cold spoon (do not use ice because it is numbing).  Lightly touch or rub the area to be stimulated.

- Tap firmly on closed lips with two fingers.

- Rub firmly downward on cheeks toward lips and upward from chin to lips.

- Use an index finger and thumb on the corners of the mouth and stretch them outward, then release.

- Stimulate the inside of the cheek and gums with a soft toothbrush or cotton swab, rubbing gently.

- Rub downward firmly on the upper lip and upward firmly on the lower lip.

- Push down firmly on the tongue with a toothbrush or frozen-pop stick several times.  Then tickle the roof of the mouth.  Push down on the tongue several times.

- Alternate placing a small amount of food on the upper lip, the lower lip, and the roof of the mouth; then have the child reach for it and lick it off.  Use foods of different temperatures.  For example, applesauce can be warmed or refrigerated so that the child can "feel" it better.

- Hold an ice cream cone or frozen juice pop just outside the mouth and let the child lick it several times.

Your child may not be able to perform these last two exercises until later in his development.

Other Exercises Specific to Swallowing and Eating
- Rub firmly from the chin down along the throat to encourage swallowing.

- Feed the child with your finger to encourage chewing and biting.

- Place food on alternate sides of the mouth to encourage chewing.

Active Exercises
Children usually develop the ability to do these active exercises between the ages of 18 months and three years.  Use language your child can understand when giving directions to do these exercises.  It is helpful to use a mirror so your child can see the mouth and the way it is supposed to move.  Set a big mirror on the table or use the one in the bathroom so you can be side by side with your child and watch each other making "funny faces."  Do each exercise ten times and all least two to three times per day.  If your child is unable to perform a certain movement, try it once or twice, then move onto the next exercise so as not to discourage your child.  You can use your hand to help guide the tongue or lips into the proper position.  Make these exercises fun for your child, not a frustration.

- Open your mouth as wide as you can, hold for 3 seconds, then close it.

- Pucker your lips like a kiss, and push them forward as far as you can.

- Make a big smile and hold it for 3 seconds.  Then relax.

- Now alternate smile and pucker.

- Purse lips together hard.  Hold for 3 seconds.

- Puff up your cheeks by blowing with your mouth closed.  Hold for 2 - 3 seconds.  Try to make a tight seal so air doesn't escape.

- Stick out your tongue.  Make sure that you push it out in the middle of your mouth, in line with the tip of your nose.

- Try to touch your chin, then your nose, with the tip of your tongue.  (To help guide the tongue, you can use jelly, peanut butter, or other food on the upper and lower lip as a guide to the target.)  Repeat this exercise with the corners of the mouth.

- Lick your lips in a circle.  Start in one directions, then switch and go the other way.

- Put a spoon or tongue depressor against your lips and push hard against it with the tip of your tongue.  Push for 3 seconds, then relax.  Push again.  Relax.

- Drink liquids through a straw to improve lip strength.  (Check with your speech-language pathologist if swallowing problems are also present.)

- Sucking on frozen juice pops or lollipops is good for strengthening.

- Practice whistling.

- Play "blowing games" with feathers, cotton, plastic foam chips, and bubbles.

The rates at which children show improvement vary widely.  Progress depends on the severity of the problem, the nature of the disorder, and the amount of time you are able to invest in practice.  The key is to be patient and work at a speed that suits your child's needs.  You may even find that your child enjoys doing these exercises and will practice without you!  Remember, exercising can be fun!

Kathryn Morrell, M.A., CCC-SLP
Copyright 1995 by Communication Skill Builders, a division of the Psychological Corporation / 1-800-866-4446
This page may be reproduced for instructional use. / Catalog No. 3073

Friday, May 6, 2011

Handprint Craft and Poem

Every year Cannon's pre-school class sends him home with some adorable Mother's Day card / craft that they made.
This is a simple and cute reminder if you have a small class/playgroup - just in time for Mother's Day!
(This would also be a cool gift for grandma)

Mother's Day Hand-print Poem

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hand Print Flower and Poem

9These would be fun for your kids to make any time, but can also double as a Mother's Day card/gift.

Hand Print Flower

Hand Pint Poem
Sometimes you get discouraged
Because I am so small
And always leave my fingerprints
On furniture and walls.

But every day I'm growing -
I'll be grown some day
And all those tiny handprints
Will surely fade away.

So here's a little dandprint
Just so you can recall
Exactly how my fingers looked
When I was very small.

If you are afraid of what can happen with paint smeared all over your child's hands, just trace it on colored paper and cut it out.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Helping Your Child Listen to Learn

Another handout from Kids on the Move:

Helping Your Child Listen to Learn

Why is listening important?
Children learn in many ways.  As infants, they touch, smell, and watch others.  When they are learning to talk, listening becomes even more important.  Understanding what someone says is called auditory comprehension.  As children hear and understand words, they develop their own speech and language skills.

As children approach preschool age, they learn to play together.  Sharing simple conversations and listening to each others ideas become more important as children develop friendships and language.

In school, children need to listen for longer periods of time, tuning out other noises and distractions in the classroom.  In fact, students spend more time listening in school than doing anything else.  If they develop good listening skills, they will have a better chance at succeeding in school.

What can a parent do to help?
Be absolutely sure your child hears normally
Make sure your child's hearing and fluid level in the ears are tested periodically, particularly after a cold or ear infection.  If the doctor suggests ventilation "tubes," have them inserted to prevent further disruption in your child's critical developmental years.

Speak in a way your child can understand.
- Turn down the TV, radio, and other noise sources so your child can hear you without competing noise.
- Get your child's attention before speaking to them.
- Wait until your child is looking at you (gently turn their head if you need to).
- Stand close to your child, squatting at eye level if possible.
- Speak slowly.
- Pause between thoughts.
- Give one direction at a time.
- Give your child time to think after a question.
- Say your message again, another way.

- long explanations or complicated directions
- using "adult-like" idioms (such as, "Try to put yourself in my shoes")

Help your child be an active listener.
Even at an early age, children can learn what helps them listen.  Here are a few suggestions:
Eliminate Distractions: When beginning a conversation or giving instructions, make sure the TV and stereo are off.  If the dishwasher or washer/dryer is nearby and making noise, move to another room.  Explain that you are doing this because it is "time to listen", and you need quiet to do so.  Discuss how hard it is to think about what someone is saying when there are other noises to think about or things to see.

Your child needs to learn to do this independently.  Give feedback and praise when he does so: "What a good idea!  That music from the video game will make it hard for us to listen to each other.  I'm glad you turned it off.  Now we can listen better."

Practice good listening behaviors: When we listen to another person speaking, we make eye contact.  It is also socially polite to stop what we are doing (reading, writing, and other activities) while listening.  Many children with listening difficulties need practice doing this.  And because they may be highly distractible, these behaviors often take their focus away from what is being said.  Social language behaviors are called pragmatic skills  by speech-language pathologists.

Talk about how looking at the person speaking helps keep your eyes away from other things (such as a colorful poster or a squirrel running up a tree).  Discuss how looking at the person who is talking makes that person feel as though what he is saying is important to the listener.

Practice this throughout the week as a family.  It is a good habit for everyone to practice, and it reinforces the concept.

After Eye Contact is practiced successfully, begin to work on the rest of the body.  When a person is listening, the body should be relatively still.  Hands should be relaxed and not tapping pencils, pulling paper clips apart, and so forth.  Feet should be quiet and still.  Practice this as a family as well.  Teach your child to be aware of what her body is and isn't doing when she is listening.

(In some cases, a child with hyperactivity may need to be allowed some non-interfering motion when listening.  Talk to a special education teacher, a psychologist, or a speech-language pathologist for individual suggestions.)

Give feedback.  Encourage your child to ask you to explain words or phrases he doesn't understand: "I don't understand that."  Sometimes children understand short phrases but get confused when they are put together in conversation.  This is called a language-processing or auditory-processing problem.

For children with listening problems, long directions are hard to remember.  Remembering what people say is called auditory memory.  By making listening a successful experience, your child will avoid "tuning out".

Talk together about how hard it is to remember so many things sometimes.  Brainstorm what to do if someone says too many things at one time.  Encourage your child to say, "I can't remember all that.  Can you tell me one thing at a time?"

Give positive praise whenever your child lets you know that she has forgotten something you've said or is trying to understand it: "I'm glad you told me this.  This time I'll tell you one thing at a time.  Are you ready?"

Use strategies to help remember.  What if your spouse wanted you to pick up four items from the supermarket?  Most of us reach for a pen, because writing the items down ensures that we will be able to follow through on the request later.  Because children are even less able to remember multiple items or directions, they too can benefit from learning to write things down.  But what if they don't know how to write yet?

- You can help your child learn to draw a simple sequence of pictures to remember the steps.  For example, suppose the directions are to "go upstairs, brush your teeth, wash your face, and put your pajamas on."  Together, you can brainstorm how to draw several pictures to remind your child what to do.  Listening and putting pictures in order is also a good way to prepare for taking notes in later school years.

- Help your child make a mental picture of what is being described (sometimes closing our eyes helps us block out distractions.)  Describe a scene, such as a farm: "I saw a farm with a white, wooden fence around the pigs.  Some of the pigs were rolling in mud.  Nearby a farmer was feeding some chickens."  Have your child draw a picture of the farm on paper.  Talk about what we "see" in our minds.

- Help your child learn to listen for "important" information during story time.  Ask simple who, what, where, or when questions, then read the next sentence or two from the story.  See if your child can remember the answers.

Patricia McAleer Hamaguchi, M.A., CCC-SLP
Copyright 1995 by Communication Skill Builders, a division of the Psychological Corporation / 1-800-866-4446
This page may be reproduced for instructional use. / Catalog No. 3073

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sign Language

Sign Language is the perfect way to help the communication process along with your children.
Many kids are able to sign long before they can speak!

This post will cover tips on using sign language with your children, instructions on how to sign some early and everyday signs, and my recommended home video's.

Tips on Using Sign Language
Keep these tips in mind as you and your child begin using signs.

Use signs that are useful for your child and a part of his life.
If the signs aren't useful, your child won't learn them or use them.

Be sure that you have your child's attention when you sign to him or show him signs.

Use the sign and word(s) together.
Repeat words verbally after your child signs them to reinforce the spoken word.

Use the signs that your child is learning in as many situations as possible.
Your child needs to see a sign many times and understand them before he will try to sign them.

Accept your child's signing attempts and try not to over-correct.
As your child begins to use signs, he may have difficulty making the sign because he can't form his hands in the shape of the sign.

Try not to anticipate your child's needs before he does.
Leave enough time for your child to recognize and express his need to communicate.

Start teaching as early as 6 months.
You can start signing when your baby is between 6 and 8 months and holds your gaze for a few seconds.

How to Sign Early and Everyday Signs

Milk: Hold your hand out in front of you - open and close in a squeezing motion (like milking a cow).

Eat/Food: close your fingers to your thumb and tap fingertips against your lips

More: close your fingers to your thumb (on both hands) and tap fingertips together.

Drink: Position hand like it is holding a cup, and "take a drink"

Finished / All Done: Hands out with palms facing you - then turn them over so palms face away
Please: Palm rubs on chest in circle

Thank You

Thank You / Your Welcome: Move open hand from your chin, going down

Play: Both hands with thumb and pinkie outstretched, and shake

Ball: Claw hands to form a ball shape.  Rotate hands alternately.

Stop: One hand moves down and is stopped by the other hand (palm up)

Help: Thumbs up on top of one hand, and move them both up
Mom: Outstretched hand, thumb taps your chin
Dad: Outstretched hand, thumb taps your forehead

Signing Time
If you are unfamiliar with the Signing Time Series, it is definitely worth checking out (see the links to Amazon on the right hand side bar as well).
They are 30 minute dvd's that teach children how to sign.
My boys LOVE them, and they were an absolute life saver with Cannon - if they impact Lincoln half as much as they did him I will be a happy mama.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

How to Make a Dinosaur Cake

I am just going to give a warning before you read this post.
This is simply how to MAKE a very easy dinosaur cake,
NOT how to DECORATE the cake.
For Cannon's 5th Birthday I let him decorate his own cake.
Which if you ask me was the best part of the whole thing!

Here is the finished result:
How to Make a Dinosaur Cake

And here's how to do it:
You will need:
1 cake mix (I used one from a box)
- One 8 or 9" cake pan
- Muffin Tin
- 1 small - medium glass (ovenproof) bowl

Prepare the cake according to the package directions.

Thoroughly spray the bowl, cake pan and 4 muffin cups with cooking spray.

Use half of the batter to fill up the 8-9" cake pan.

Fill 4 muffin cups with batter

Pour the remaining batter into the ovenproof glass bowl (make sure you use a bowl that is large enough - you don't want cake flowing over the edge.  I put mine on a cookie sheet just to be safe).

It should look something like this:

Now put those all in a 350 degree oven.
** Note that the cooking times are going to be different for each.  Check the cake box for cooking times for the cupcakes and round.
I put them all in at the same time, and took the cupcakes out as soon as they were done, and then took the cake pan out when it was done, and finally took out the bowl.

The bowl is going to have to cook for the longest amount of time, since it will be the thickest.  I had to cook mine for about 40 minutes.  Just poke a butter knife in there and make sure that it comes out clean (same as the toothpick concept).

Let everything cool completely.

Now for the assembly:
The bowl cake is going to go down first, and will be the main body of the dinosaur.  I used frosting to hold it in place.
(**You may have to cut the top of the cake to ensure that it is flat)

Cut the tops off of the cupcakes, leaving them in-tact and set aside.
Now cut each cupcake in half, making a moon shape so it will fit around the body (they are going to be the hands and feet):

Now use the cupcake tops to form the head and the neck:
One top is cut in half to form the neck.
The other half of that piece connects to the neck to hold up the head (the 'nose' and 'head' are each one cupcake top).

Now use your round cake and cut out a tail.  I followed along the edge so the tail would curl around, like so:

And there you have it!
Cannon wanted it blue with green, so we used blue frosting with green sprinkles:

He also informed me that it needed "spikes", which ended up being chocolate covered almonds.
He went a little spike crazy but he had a great time doing it and he LOVED the end result!

He spent a long while admiring his work...

Happy Birthday Cannon!