Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Check Your Child's Development

picture credit:
Many times when schools are called by parents who are concerned about their child's development an Ages and Stages Questionnaire is sent to the family to fill out. This is a fairly quick set of questions that look at all the areas of a child's development based on their age. Our public health system also uses this in their Follow Along program. You can now do this yourself anytime you want to online.

Easter Seals now has this available on their website. You input your child's birthday and the correct questionnaire opens up. You fill it out (trying the things with your child that you are not sure about) and then you submit it. You receive the scores by email a week or two after submitting the questionnaire.

Developmental Milestones Screening

The first five years are critical in a child's life. And this is the most important time to get your child support for a developmental delay or special need.

Children develop skills, or "milestones," at their own pace. How is your child doing? You only need 10-20 minutes to check with the Ages & Stages Questionnaires®, Third Edition. Your ASQ-3™ results will help you see if your child's developmental progress is on time and alert you to concerns that you can talk over with your health care provider.

Please note: ASQ-3™ is designed for screening, not diagnosis. It is a quick check for children from birth through age five. If your child is age six or older, please discuss his or her development with your child's health care provider, your local school district, or your child's teacher. Results from the questionnaire will be emailed to you within two weeks.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Press Here

If you only buy one book next year make it this one! I am totally in love with Press Here by Herve Tullet (he is known as the Prince of Preschool in France). What's so special about this book you ask? The dots are magical. Yep, its an interactive book. It's not a digital book, it has a sturdy cover and thick glossy pages and it's amazing. This book is available at the Dakota County Libraries
Follow the directions in the book
See what happens to the dots!
(they change colors, move around on the page, grow....)

There are so many learning activities you can do with your child to extend this book.
  • Get a package of dot stickers and let your child make a dot collage.
  • Make a small booklet with some white sheets of paper folded together and let your chidl put dots on each page. Now have your child dictate to you what the directions should be on each page.
  • Do you have dot markers/painters at home? Your child could make dot pictures with those.

This mother has some great ideas to extend learning with this book: Crayon Freckles

I've also pinned a number of activities on a Pinterest board because it's just that fun. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Making Chores Fun!

Wait, what?! Chores can be fun? Yep they sure can. If you look at the previous post you'll see a young boy vacuuming in his superhero costume. Here are some other ways:

Make a game out of the chores. Washing the floor can be huge fun if the children dress in their swimsuits and socks. Have a large bucket of warm soapy water on hand and have them swim on their bellies across the floor. Fun and a clean floor in one go. (reminds me a bit of Pippi Longstocking)

Use chore sticks. Write the names of various chores on wooden craft sticks but don’t forget to write some fun ones too… watch a movie, make popcorn, trade a chore, read a book etc. Have the children pick out three sticks and then complete those chores… they can pull sticks as many times as they like to try for the bonus sticks as long as all the chores get done.

2011-01-26-balls.JPG Or make them chore balls, these are pingpong balls in a jar.

This mom has a great way to make chores fun and a family activity 

If you want to use a chore chart here are a few different ones. Most are downloadable (and FREE) and one goes to a site where a very creative mom (with lots of time apparently) made some fun chore charts for her kids. Ooooh if I had the time..... 

Kids and Chores part 2

So now that you know why chores are such a good thing to have your child start helping with, here are some ways you can go about it.

The next time you are doing laundry let your 2 year old match the socks together. It's great practice in matching and helps prepare them for school. While you're doing laundry they can practice taking clothes into the right rooms too. The clothes may not stay quite as nicely folded as they were to begin with, but at least they are practicing helping around the house. This is also a great time to teach them to put their clothes in the dirty clothes hamper, a skill you definitely want them to practice now while their little, the older they get, the harder it seems to be to get them to walk across the room to do it.

Your preschooler can easily help you set the dinner table, just be careful not to use your best china, it may end up in pieces before the night is through. They can also help you water the flowers in the summer. You could also have them wipe down the cupboards with a rag or clean the windows with a spray bottle full of water.

As they get a little older you can teach them how to fold their clothes and make their bed. They can even sweep and mop the floor for you. Things likely won't be as clean as if Mommy did them, but they are learning the value of hard work, which is more important than having a perfectly clean house anyway.

But my child is delayed and has a disability... My answer to that is "So?" there's no reason your child with special needs can't help out with chores some how. You just have to be a little more creative. Here is an article giving 9 Chore Suggestions for your child with special needs.
Not sure if you noticed but this boy has Down Syndrome

Some of the ways I've adapted chores for people with disabilities when working in group homes: 

  1. When teaching how and where to vacuum I would empty the hole punch all over the floor, when the dots were gone the vacuuming was done. You could use anything, its just that usually in group homes you 3-hole punch a LOT of pages.
  2. When teaching how to sweep the kitchen floor I put a small masking tape square on the floor and they had to get all the dirt and debris into the square. That's a trick I learned from Maria Montessori, she was a great one for teaching children how to to tasks and then letting them go and do them. She taught children with special needs for many many years.
  3. When setting the table we had place mats we made out of construction paper that we traced all the items and where they go, then we laminated them and everyone had their own. So whoever was setting the table knew where to put the fork and spoon and plate and so on. I use this with my daughter all the time (my husband too if I'm being completely honest).
These are some sites that show you how you can teach practical life skills in a fun way. These not only help teach how to do chores but increase fine motor skills and planning skills which are precursors to writing. (Ahhh, see, that's the teacher in me. I will usually point out how the mundane thing you are doing can relate to your child's learning). (for this one scroll down past all the gobledy gook. It took me a while to figure it out, not sure what happened to their site but the article is there at the bottom. I love how they sort them out into age groups)

Kids and Chores part 1

Do your children have chores at home? At what age did you start giving them chores. If you haven't started yet you should seriously consider it. The toddler through early elementary years are when kids LOVE to help out with household tasks. Ok, yes, whey they are still fairly young they don't do the best job but that really isn't the point. When your young child is doing chores you praise them for their effort. When my daughter was 2 1/2 her absolute favorite thing to do was the dusting. I had some very clean spots and some that were routinely missed, but that's ok, she was so proud of herself for helping me. Did I go back later and "fix" it? Nope, because then all you are teaching them is that they can't do it right so why bother doing it at all, Mom will just do it over. Now that she's almost 6 her dusting skills have greatly improved. She is very good at noticing where things are dusty and cleaning them off. About once a week I see her running past the kitchen to the hall closet yelling, where's the duster? Hopefully she will continue to enjoy dusting as she grows up. I also let her mop the kitchen and do some of the dishes in the sink. The dishes that she washes are probably the cleanest in the house.  Give them a couple of tasks and as they get older help them see how they can improve while doing that job. Here are some reasons why your child should have some chores at home.

They will feel a sense of accomplishment
When kids finish tasks successfully such as ones that help their parents out, they feel a sense of accomplishment. They feel as if they were productive and they did something that grown ups usually do. If your kids are great with their chores and they do them constantly, dont' forget to praise them for their help. A compliment, an allowance, or even just a small gift once in a while will make them happy and it'll make it all worth it for them.

They will learn about house upkeep which will help them later in life
Just think about all of those people who get married and still know nothing about how to keep a house running smoothly; now just imagine your kids being the opposite of that because you gave them chores as young kids and they know how to get things done. This is one of the reason why it's imperative that they start to help out around the house at a young age; it will give them the ability to know things about house keeping when they are moving away from home or getting married.

Having responsibilities like chores provides one with a sense of both purpose and accomplishment

Make your life easier
Your kids can actually be of help to you! At first, teaching these chores may require more of your time and energy, but in many cases your child will be able to eventually do his or her chores completely independently, ultimately relieving you of certain responsibilities.

Chores may make your child more accountable
If your child realizes the consequences of making a mess, he or she may think twice, knowing that being more tidy in the present will help make chores easier

Develop fine and gross motor skills and planning abilities
Tasks like opening a clothes pin, filling and manipulating a watering can and many more actions are like a workout for the body and brain and provide practical ways to flex those muscles!

Teach empathy
Helping others out and making their lives easier is a great way to teach empathy. After your daughter completes a chore, you can praise and thank her, stating, “Wow… great job! Because you helped out, now Mommy has one less job to do. I really appreciate that!”

Did you know that chores did all that?

Are We There Yet? Is It Time Yet?

20 Visual Timers For Children With Special Needs

Have you ever told your child "5 more minutes" (or any other length of time) and then have them ask how long that is? We can set timers and many of us usually do, but timers are not all that helpful when you are still waiting and anticipating the beeping when the time is up. I've used a visual timer with my daughter since she was about 2. She's almost 6 now and she still prefers the visual timer to the digital timer. Often these timers are sold at Autism shops or in catalogs that pertain to special education. You will find them in may preschool and kindergarten classrooms now because those teachers have discovered the timers and LOVE them. Recently I received an email with a link to an article about time timers. This article lists many different options; physical timers, iPad/phone/pod timers, and android timers. Check it out (and remember that many times an app will have a free/lite version to try it out, those are the ones I use).

20 Visual Timers for Children


Monday, October 29, 2012

Caring Bridge

It's been a while since I posted anything on here. The school year started out rather hectic and I do believe things are finally starting to slow down.

Free personalized websites that connect loved ones during illness and recovery

In a recent e-mail I received there was a link to a 25 minute video about how to use Caring Bridge. Have you seen other families pages and liked the ability to stay up to date on health issues? Have you all of a sudden discovered that you need a way to keep family and friends informed about a loved one's major medical crisis?  This video clip gives you the in's and out's of the process. (ok now I'm starting to sound like an infomercial)
I've really been thankful for Caring Bridge, it's helped me keep up with some of my students, family, friends, and even random people that someone has sent me a link for and asked me to pray for them. You tend to get caught up in their lives and eagerly await the next post, praying it's good news while preparing for bad news. It can be started by a spouse, a sibling, a parent, a relative, a good friend..... There is a place for the family to post pictures, and a journal you can read. There's also a guest book that you can use to leave a message. I've included a link to a family that I follow on Caring Bridge, they've given me permission to share this with you.
This site is free for users and is funded by donations, it's a very very good site, check it out.
Caring Bridge video
Caring Bridge Site
A family that I stay connected with

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Saving Money

If any of you are like me you are always looking for ways to save money, coupons to clip (although I have to admit I stink in the coupon clipping area), etc. Here are a few websites that are chock full of money saving ideas:

  4. (printable coupons and daily deals)
  5. (has their own coupons you can stack with manufacturer coupons)
  8. (daily deals and printable copuons)

Inside a Toddler's Brain

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Rainbow Slime

Oooohhhhh I found a great sensory activity! I can't wait to try this with my daughter tonight! We've made slime in the past, mixing equal parts Elmer's glue and liquid starch. A couple of times we've added glow in the dark paint to the mix for something different. This mom and her little girl made rainbow slime using Elmer's clear glue and liquid starch. (follow the link for her exact recipe) Then they separated it out and used food coloring to make 4 colored batches and had fun mixing it all together. I'd bet it would be even more fun on a light box. 


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Planting an Open Terrarium

Here is a fun thing to do with your kids this summer. We are working on a couple of terrariums, we have one finished. This one has a dinosaur theme, if you knew my daughter you'd have no trouble figuring out why. :) There are 2  kinds of terrariums: open and enclosed. What is A Terrarium? A terrarium is a miniature landscape with living plants and even sometimes small animals like lizards or turtles. This is the best site I've found for information and directions and ideas and video how-to's.......  Since the requirements are different for different plants I'll let you go to the site for directions.
First.....decide on a theme and gather your supplies.

Add your dirt/soil and then place your plants to figure out where you want them

Now plant the plants

We added sand since we were going with a desert theme.

Add your decorations, have fun with it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Constant iPad Giveaway

A website that I go to quite frequently has been giving away iPads. Now they are apparently going to be doing them back to back for as long as their supplies last. Here's a link to the post and the directions on how to enter:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Road Trips With Kids

Recently I was sent a link to an article and then found the same article posted to Pinterest by a friend and co-worker of mine. The article has 70+ tips and tricks for taking road trips with children with special needs. Some of the topics covered: car safety, food, medical equipment, preparing your child, seating arrangements, frequent stops, paperwork and protection, knowing your limits, over and under stimulation. Here is the opening paragraph from the article:

It’s road trip season.  If you have a child with special needs, as I do, then you know it will take extra planning — and you have no idea if your best-laid plans will be successful until you actually go.
Travel always involves some risks for a child with medical needs or sensory issues.  But there are also significant benefits for traveling by car, such as:
  • Being able to bring medical equipment or comforting items from home
  • Freedom to make as many stops as necessary and to customize your itinerary
  • Being up close and personal with your family for long periods of bonding
  • Changing your daily routine and exploring new environments to learn life skills
  • Developing emotional regulation
  • Stimulating speech and language development with constantly changing scenery
My husband and I have spent years finding ways to balance the risks and benefits of a road trip, and we’ve asked for input from other families in our situation.  These are the considerations that guide every road trip for our family.
This same website also has a great article for airports and special needs travel.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Playgrounds in the Area

My daughter and I are going to explore the playgrounds in the area. By that I mean locally: Rosemount, Farmington, Lakeville, Apple Valley, Burnsville, and Eagan; as well as a little farther out there: Highland Park, Plymoth, Mendota Heights, Minneapolis, St Paul, etc. I found a couple of  websites that locates many parks that look fun. (links 3, 4, and 5 are good but not all are public playgrounds, the map is sponsored by Rainbow Play systems so some are in backyards but if you look through them you'll find some good public playgrounds)
  1. ,
  3. Lakeville playgrounds,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=585&wrapid=tlif133701513584410&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=Lakeville+city+playgrounds&fb=1&gl=us&hq=playgrounds&hnear=0x87f637bff0610147:0xa27e54424bdb4bf4,Lakeville,+MN&ei=YjuxT7LZJtGdgQe4qNSGDg&sa=X&oi=local_group&ct=image&ved=0CA0QtgM&iwloc=cids:718728124803080195
  4. Burnsville playgrounds,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=585&wrapid=tlif133701513584410&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=Lakeville+city+playgrounds&fb=1&gl=us&hq=playgrounds&hnear=0x87f637bff0610147:0xa27e54424bdb4bf4,Lakeville,+MN&ei=YjuxT7LZJtGdgQe4qNSGDg&sa=X&oi=local_group&ct=image&ved=0CA0QtgM&iwloc=cids:718728124803080195
  5. Apple Valley playgrounds,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&biw=1024&bih=585&wrapid=tlif133701513584410&um=1&ie=UTF-8&q=Lakeville+city+playgrounds&fb=1&gl=us&hq=playgrounds&hnear=0x87f637bff0610147:0xa27e54424bdb4bf4,Lakeville,+MN&ei=YjuxT7LZJtGdgQe4qNSGDg&sa=X&oi=local_group&ct=image&ved=0CA0QtgM&iwloc=cids:718728124803080195

Monday, April 30, 2012

iPad 2 Give-away!

Here is a link to Smart Apps For Kids. They are doing a give-away of 4 iPad 2s. Pretty easy to enter.


National Screen Free Week

April 30th through May 6th is National Screen Free Week from CCFC (Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood). According to CCFC, Screen Free Week is...

"Screen-Free Week is a national celebration where children, families, schools, and communities spend several days turning off entertainment screen media and turning on life. It's a time to unplug and play, read, daydream, create, explore, and spend time with family and friends." (CCFC)

One of my favorite blogs Teach Preschool has a great post about how you can do this with your family. Go read the whole post. She has a checklist to help you figure out just  how much technology is integrated in your life. You may not realize it because we just take it all for granted. It's amazing how easy it is for technology to enter our lives and how hard it is for us to do without it for even a short time.

Deb over at Teach Preschool has these suggestions for using the checklist.

How to use the Screen-Free Checklist with your child
  1. Walk around your house or classroom and make a list of each item with a screen (television, computer, lap top, cell phone, toys, games, smart board…)
  2. For each item on your list, help your child come up with a simple activity that he or she can do to replace the screen time (read a book, take a walk, build a block tower, paint a picture…)
  3. Through out the week, refer back to the list and each time your child “turns off a screen” and “turns on life” – then give your child a check!
Note to Parents
Your child’s screen-free week will be more successful if the whole family will get involved. Make a checklist for the entire family to use throughout the week.

At the end of the post it sounds like she's going to give ideas each day of things you can do away from the screen. I'll definitely be watching because we REALLY need to do this at my house.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Radio for Kids

Are you finding it harder and harder to find music your kids like and that you will allow them to listen to due to content or language? I sure am! My daughter likes a good hip-hop beat but all that music is SO not meant for her 5 yr old ears. There's Radio Disney but I have had a hard time finding much else. Radio Disney has iTunes and Android apps. They are also on your AM radio at 1440.

I recently came across a couple of other options that I'm really excited about and she is too.

This link to the Pandora blog tells you about 6 different kids stations that they have put together:  Pandora also has an iTunes app as well as an app for the Android systems. You have to have an Internet connection but so many places have free wi-fi these days that it isn't hard to get a connection. You can also enter things like "Mickey Mouse" in the search criteria to get a lot of the kids songs that Disney has done over the years.

MPR RadioMinnesota Public Radio also has a neat station for kids. It's only available on their website and through their iTunes app at the moment (sorry, no Android app that I could find) but you never know when they'll get it on the air. It's called Wonderground Radio and has lots of fun music for both kids and adults. You won't hear the Wiggles on this station. :) 

Speaking of Public Radio there is an online Kids Public Radio that looks good as well.

One last app that was featured in my Family Fun magazine. Its called Fanlala Radio This is a profanity-free music streaming service for teens & tweens (or kids who really like that great rhythm). The free iPhone app (that apparently isn't quite ready for distribution yet) that lets kids listen to the artists they love. Upgrade to unlimited streaming for $1.99 a month or $14.99 a year

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Family Reading Night (FREE)

Join us this Friday, April 20, for FAMILY READING NIGHT and SLIME TIME!!!
Time:  6:30-8:00 p.m.  (Scholastic Book Fair opens at 6:00 p.m.)
Activities:  Guest readers will kick off the night followed by storybook crafts, games, snacks, and a JUMPER! 
Slime the Directors:  To close the event, leaders from each program will be getting slimed if the kids have met their reading challenge!!  (The Reading Caterpillar has grown so long it has already been on both levels of the church!)Attire:  Feel free to come dressed as your favorite book character!

We hope to promote a love of reading for all ages at this FREE event which is open to the community.  Bring your friends!  See you Friday!

River Hills United Methodist Church
11100 Riverhills Dr.
Burnsville, MN 55337

Pills vs Candy

Pills or candy? Click on the pills.  Pills or candy? Click on the pills.
Can you tell the difference between pills, poison, and candy? I got 60% right my first try. UGH! It's easy to see why children accidentally overdose on pills and poison when it all looks alot like candy! Try this game online and see how well you do, then try it with your kids! 

Friday, April 13, 2012

List of Apps for Little Ones

Many people have asked what apps we use for home visits with the babies and toddlers and what apps we use in the classroom.

Well, I found a site that creates a list for you. This has been a fortuitous find since there are MANY apps on my iPad and more on my iTunes account at school.

Follow this link to see what apps we use at school at in the homes:

Monday, April 9, 2012

Learning iPad app giveaway!


Here is a chance to win a VERY good $50 app for your iPad. Check out the post on the Smart Apps 4 Kids website.

This is from the Smart Apps 4 Kids review:
A suite of well-done games that targets a whole host of developmental skills in a fun way. Impressive but very expensive.

 Injini: Child Development Game Suite can successfully be used with typically-developing children but it was specifically designed for, and tested with, children affected by autism, cerebral palsy, down syndrome and other developmental delays.
Injini is a “Suite” because it is actually 10 learning games in one app: puzzles (90 of them), a balloon game, which helps develop awareness of colors and shapes, eight mini farm-based games, a Find-It activity which works on discrimination skills, Feed the Frog, which is great for developing the fine motor skills, a letters game, and games that focus on matching, patterns, squares and tracing. Most of the games have nine levels, and there are several screens within each level.

There is a wealth of content here...

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Egg Hunt For Your Lunch

(click on the picture to take you to the blog where there is more explanation).

I found this on Pinterest (VEEEERY dangerous site if you ask me) and then another teacher here sent the link to me as well.

I'm going to do this at my house, and probably not just for Easter. How fun would it be to hunt for your lunch? If you have very young children, or children who are lower functioning, I'd say hide the eggs in sight, it doesn't matter to them, they just love finding the eggs.

I may even do this for snack in my classroom. We've been practicing finding eggs so that they are ready for Easter at home. The kids think it's awesome everytime they find an egg and I'm not even really hiding them. They sit on chairs, or just next to the trash can, on the counter top, etc. Some are a little trickier because a couple of my students are just that much higher functioning. Those get hidden behind something or under something.

Parents' Guide to Face Book

I received a link to a web safety site in an e-mail that I thought I'd share. I've been reading through the free downloadable booklet and there are things I had no idea about.

Very interesting reading. Good website too: 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Easter Egg Hunt In the Dark!!

I saw this on one of my favorite blogs/pinterest boards. I've also seen many variations on this idea. This mom took her plastic easter eggs, some small lights found in the wedding section at Michaels (click to see the lights) and made a very fun hunt for her son. Who says you can only hunt eggs at Easter? Who says you have to celebrate Easter for this to be FUN? Here is her post: Illuminated Egg Hunt

My daughter and I (and my husband too) have been having fun with this all weekend. I've seen other posts about this activity where people used glow sticks that have been folded up and stuffed inside the eggs. that would work as well. I like the lights because you can turn them on and off and use them over and over. The ones we bought have replaceable batteries - of course they are the SPENDY kind. We've done this inside, and outside. We all take turns hiding them and then finding them. My daughter has just as much fun finding them as she does hiding them. Give it a try, you can get glowsticks and eggs at the dollar store if you need a less expensive way to get this off the ground.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The "I Can Do It" Sock

I got an email about some socks that look fabulous. These socks were designed to help kids learn how to put their socks on. Apparently they now have them for adults too. What a great adaptation for a very frustrating skill.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What's On Your Computer?

Computers are here to stay and our kids are learning to navigate them earlier and earlier. Heck, I'm even teaching my 2-4 year olds in my classroom a bit. So, what can the kids do on the computer? The popular sites that link to popular characters are always an option. My trouble with them is that the screen for the actual game is about 1/4 the size of your computer screen and then all around that little window are dozens upon dozens of links and ads that the kids inevitably click on. Half the time these lead to inappropriate sites for kids. More important it's FRUSTRATING for kids to not know where they are, how they got there, and how to get back. are some recomendations that I've found and have tried and liked.

What's On Your Computer?    I absolutely like the sharp keys program as I can't TELL you how many times my daughter yells "Mommy, I can't close it!" after hitting a key on the keyboard that she didn't mean to.

This is a favorite in my house, and in my classroom. There are many many things on here that are free. Actually anything on the main page is free. There is a link to More Starfall that goes to a subscription page. I got the subscription because the site is fantastic, my daughter loves it, and it was very inexpensive. The main Starfall page has great activities for kids learning their alphabet or just learning to sound out words. Also there are NO ads or links to outside websites and I like that they have their own characters, not all the licensed ones out there.

Other good kids sites: