A Pumpkin for My Pumpkin

If you live in Texas, you’d never know Fall is upon us – it is still HOT HOT HOT.   (Okay.  I just checked the weather so I could complain how hot it still is down here, and www.weather.com says the high today was only 84 degrees.  It felt like 100, I’m telling you.

Noah (5 – with Down syndrome) and I moseyed on over to see Parker, another amazing Love Bug with Down syndrome at www.prayingforparker.com, and Parker made such a beautiful pumpkin, we just had to have one too.

Here’s Noah’s pumpkin:

This was such a great activity for Noah and Bella (4).  You can find full directions over at http://www.prayingforparker.com/a-paper-plate-pumpkin-craft/.

We neglected to paint our paper plate orange first, as you can tell.  It was really interesting how Noah could tear the paper into long strips, but he did not have the finger strength to tear the strips into smaller squares.  I found if I made tiny tears where I wanted him to tear, it made it a lot easier for him.  The resistance of the paper lets up quite a bit once that little tear is made.

I’m still finding the minute Noah finds an activity challenging, he starts whining and signing stop and stops cooperating.  I’m thinking he needs some confidence boosting activities, but I’m not sure how to go about that while still stretching him to learn knew things.  For now, staying one step ahead of him and making sure he is physically able to do the activities I give him and modifying activities to make them easier and more familiar for him is helping a lot.

We got a lot accomplished with the pumpkin, and I discovered another way to work on hand strength with Noah – hole punching.  I got out my little hole punch to make a hole in the paper plate and I decided to let Noah give it a try.  He had to use two hands and I held the plate for him, but he was able to punch the hole.  We also reviewed the color orange, worked on articulation with the word “pumpkin,” strung a pipe cleaner through the hole in the paper plate, gave the glue stick a good workout and talked about circles and squares.  I gave Noah a break by allowing him to cover the pumpkin with glue rather than glueing each individual strip of paper.

So one fall project down, what’s next?  Apples anyone?

A Week of Numbers

Noah (5 – Down syndrome) has been working on numbers lately.  Playing hide and go seek with the other children seems to have sparked his interest in counting.  When he counts now, he does a perfect intonation of counting to five or ten, but the only number he can say is two.  So I’m happy to report we at least have something to work with.

Here’s our favorite number activities of the week:

The starting idea for this activity came from Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/pin/234961305530367529/.  The original blog post and free printable, including numbers 1-30 and the alphabet, is here http://www.abcteach.com/directory/childhood/cut_and_paste/

I amended and extended the idea quite a bit in order to accommodate Noah’s abilities and to make the most of our work session.  I found that writing the numbers in the blank square board so he could match them rather than order them from memory enabled him to be independently successful in this activity.   Once he glue the numbers in place, I had him follow color them.  This was a great time to practice following directions, like “Color the 1 red.”  Next, I got out our foam numbers that we’ve had for eons and had him glue the correct number over the pre-cut and -pasted numbers.

Building Noah’s confidence in academic and skill-based activities is proving to be very helpful in gaining his cooperation.  I’m finding lately the less confident he is about an activity, the more likely he is to whine and resist doing it.

Next came another idea born on Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/pin/234961305530367547/.  This was just a simple printable booklet that used fingers and stamp pads to count 1 through 10.  Very cute.  You can get the free printable here:  http://homeschoolcreations.com/preschoolmath.html.  You’ll have to search through lots of pictures of printables on her page, but you’ll find lots of cool stuff along the way.

And another modified Pin, http://pinterest.com/pin/234961305529921075/.  I loved the details the author of this task included, colored dots representing each number  and the color-coded number and color words.  These kinds of details are so helpful for our youngest children and children with special needs.  Thanks, http://theadventuresofbear.blogspot.com/2011/08/bfiar-goodnight-moon-bonsoir-lune.html for the idea.

The original Pin was a Goodnight Moon activity.  We didn’t have colored bears, but we did have colored frogs, so frogs it was:

Next, I pulled out our number magnets.  I bought two sets at Dollar Tree so I could use them in a matching activity.  I put the numbers in order from 1 to 10 on the fridge, and let Noah unscramble the second set of magnets and place each one under it’s corresponding number.  The fact that both the 1s were yellow, both the 2s were red, etc., really helped support Noah’s discrimination skills.  When he had them all lined up, we pointed to each number and counted from 1 to 10.

The easiest thing we can do to help our little ones learn to count is to capture each teachable counting moment.  Is your little one helping to set the table?  Count forks.  Taking vitamins?  Count vitamins.  Reading a book?  Count dogs or balloons or whatever else is on the page.  Swinging?  Count pushes.  Neurotypical children often naturally go through a phase where they count EVERYTHING.  Our special kids sometimes need extra support to experience those otherwise natural phases, but they are so helpful to go through, one way or the other.  So if your child isn’t counting for himself, let him hear you count.  You know what they say, “More is caught than taught.”

By the way, the next time I’m sharp or sarcastic with my kids, would someone PLEASE remind me of that very thing?  You might want to wait until I’m done snapping, though.



A Conversation With Noah

Strangest thing happened tonight.

I had a chat with my Noah (5 – with Down syndrome).

He was engrossed with his Duplos which he suddenly has a renewed interest in.   I was walking by and I said, “Whatcha building?”

You know how when you have a child who has a speech delay, you ask questions that you never expect to get an answer to?

He looked up at me and signed, clear as a bell, “house.”

“House, you’re building a house?”

Then he signed “bathtub.” 

Okay, a house with a bathtub in it.

The he signed “bath” again and pointed to me.

I had given him a bath earlier this evening, so I said, “Yes, I gave you a bath, didn’t I?”

He smiled and said his “Da,” which means yes.

We were conversing.  It wasn’t a script, it wasn’t our typical speech therapy at home exchange.  We were taking turns having a conversation. 

And he had his own thought he wanted to communicate to me – that he remembered the bath I gave him.

And he was pretending – engaging in imaginative play – not just stacking Duplos – he was building a house.

With a bathtub.

I know people who celebrate each milestone like this with each of their children.  I could never do it.  I just wasn’t that impressed.  Kids are kids.  Of course they play, of course they build, of course they talk.

And then came Noah.