Was your child diagnosed with Autism, and now your scared and don’t know what you should do?
Have people told you that you need to have “realistic expectations” when it comes to your child’s future? But their idea and your idea of reality are completely different?
Are you overwhelmed with all the possible paths you can take with your child’s therapy, but want someone to help you sort through it?
Do you feel alone, and need another fellow special needs mom to talk to? However not trauma bonding, but to set up a battle plan.
Who Am I?
As a mom of two fantastic kids who have special needs, I offer over fifteen years of experience in both working with and challenging “the system”. I went from not knowing where to turn or who to trust to being confident in my ability to ask good questions and make my voice heard. It would be an honor to share my knowledge and help equip you to navigate through your specific journey.
I believe there is HOPE for every child. Too many people want to put children with Autism, or any other disability in a box, label it, and just accept the outcome. I am so different.
I know that every child, with a strong-willed Mom, can take a child above and beyond their doctor’s prognosis. Once Mom decides that she is going to do everything she can to help her child, there is no stopping her.
What Do I Offer?
I support parents, especially moms, of children who have been diagnosed with Autism, and other developmental disabilities. This can be a scary, confusing, and frustrating journey. I want to help hold your hand while we sort through the opinions you have been given, explore available options, and create a plan that is best for your family.
This can include:
– Mentorship for parents on the Doman Method Program, or parents looking into the program
– Special Needs Homeschool Consults – We can work together to come up with a plan to teach your child according to their specific needs
– A place to talk and be heard. Special needs Warrior Moms often don’t fit in with the typical cookie-cutter “support groups”. They feel gross trauma bonding and are looking to connect with a fellow special needs mama. We will share your trials & victories and your fears & dreams without feeling like you need to censor what you’re saying. It’s hard being a special needs mom and sometimes we just need someone to vent to, to celebrate the victories with, and link arms with someone who relates.
Plan & Conquer (via Zoom)
When you’re a Warrior Mom, you need to “Plan & Conquer”, and that’s what you will get when you schedule a session.
1 on 1 Planning Session
Homework and Accountability
Mindfulness Activity to make sure your remembering to take care of your mental health
Below schedule a time we can meet!
Disclaimer: By scheduling an appointment with Monique Lise Dupuis, you agree and understand she is not a medical/mental expert or attorney and cannot give legal advice or a medical diagnosis. Monique Lise Dupuis will not be held responsible for any actions or decisions you make as a result of your session with her. Services are not to be used in place of any professional, medical, financial, or legal counseling.
We are a group of 200+ homeschool bloggers that love to blog about homeschooling. We get the amazing chance to review homeschool products, and share how they work with our family.
If you have been around my blog for a while, you might remember that I was also a member of the crew back in 2011/12. However I stepped down because Wesley who I was homeschooling at the time transitioned to public school. Also to be honest I believe back then I was too green of a blogger and homeschooling mom to manage this responsibility to the level I needed to.
So now that I am homeschooling Zakari, and we are comfortable with the fact that we are going to be homeschooling for the long run, I decided to apply to be a member again. I feel now I am more experienced as a blogger to offer my readers a better review experience. However I still have lots to learn, but I’m walking into this endeavor with the heart of a student, ready to learn.
What can you expect from the reviews I share?
I hope to be able to give the point of view of a special needs mom. Using my position as a mom homeschooling a child with autism I can share how we have used these products, and what adaptations we may or may not have needed to make. With the numbers of autism families turning to homeschooling, I hope this will be a helpful point of view.
What Do I Hope To Gain From The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew?
As a blogger there are so many reasons why this is an amazing opportunity. And no its not about the free product. (But I would be lying if I said that wasn’t a nice perk.) But my two main reasons are:
I love the thought of working with experienced homeschool moms. My real life community of fellow homeschool mom’s is small, so this is a great way to get adult interaction and meet people who have been where I am. Even better to get the wisdom of mom’s who have been where I currently am.
Being a Crew Member is great way for my to start taking my blog more seriously. I have been wanting to take my blog to the next level for many years but just never have had the tools to do so. The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew requires me to take my blog as a career(I was going to say job, but that didn’t seem like the right wording). I’m not only required to write reviews, I’m also required to stay active and post at least once a week. With this new position, blogging has gone from a hobby to commitment. The only way to experience growth in any area is to be consistent.
I want to take the chance to thank the The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew Leaders for selecting my application. Its an honor and a blessing to get the chance to work with their team.
(This is not a paid for article, we paid for our stay at the Canad Inns Grand Forks.)
Day In The Life
In the past I avoided doing a lot of “Day in the Life” of aka DITL. But then I started to think about this blog, and what I want from it. My blog is a place for me to share my journey. The regular DITL stuff is part of my journey. I learn so much about myself, my kids, autism,and what life means to me during those regular days.
I also learn a lot about my family and myself when we go away together. By blogging about this trip, it allows me to go back and see how far we have come. I hope to share more about our journey. I also hope by sharing I can help other autism mom’s along the way. Even if it is just seeing real life struggles happen to other mom’s and that your not alone,
Mama Can’t Stand When People Stop Her From Preparing
Wednesday we were suppose to spent cleaning the house and getting ready to leave for a long weekend away from home. But Wes and my dad went back to the hubby shop to get a part for his car then we went back to his place to hang out. Travis and I drove around and went out for lunch. Then I had to do some last minute running around. You know, make sure we had enough gluten free snacks for Z, pick up some raw cat food for my dad to feed the cats while we were gone, etc. We came home in time to make dinner. Next thing I knew my parents dropped Wesley back off at home and we had to leave to go pick up my stepdaughter.
I’m the first to admit I was stressed out. I wanted to have everything done early on and get to bed early. But as we came home from getting Chloe, it was time to get Z to bed. I was frustrated and anticipated a long night up finishing up the house. But while I did bedtime routine with Z, Travis and my big kids made sure the last bit of the house was picked up, which left me with only a few small things to do. I love that they are old enough to help out more. This meant I was able to get a good night sleep which I was so grateful for.
Mini Vacation: Grand Fork, North Dakota Here We Come.
Thursday morning we all piled in the van, made a pit stop at Tim Horton’s for coffee and headed south to North Dakota.We listened to an awesome Spotify playlist hubby had put together the night before. While waiting at the border, I’m sure the people waiting in line next to us must have thought we were crazy while we danced to the Village People’s YMCA.
After we crossed the border we stopped in the border town of Pembina, North Dakota. I had to stop at the parcel pick up service and get all the homeschool materials I had bought on eBay and some Facebook Homeschool Buy & Sell groups. It saves me so much money having them shipped there instead of to Canada. Look for a post in the future how I save money on curriculum this way.
We of course had to stop at the truck stop in Pembina for a washroom break. There my hubby with his sweet tooth grab us some American treats. Even though I am following Weight Watchers, I allowed myself to enjoy a few treats here and there. The big kids chowed down on some candies and chocolate while we jammed out to Disney Music.
Are We There Yet? YES!
Finally we made it to Grand Forks. We were too early to check in to the hotel, so we stopped in at Walmart.
School Supply Shopping
After we picked up some food for the hotel, I brought the kids to the school supply section. I had done most of their supply shopping the week before, there were a few things I knew I could get for cheaper, or better quality on our trip. The kids picked out there zipper binders, and I was sure to grab an extra to keep as a backup should one of their zippers break. They both wanted the fancier, aka more expensive ones. But they both managed to destroy their binders last year, so they got the cheaper ones with the promise if they take better care of their supplies we could splurge next year and get the fancier ones.
It is Just a Pencil… NO! Its a Ticonderoga
I was also able to get some My First Ticonderoga pencils for Zakari. Last year I based on a recommendation from Erica at My Busy Bees and Me, I order a box of these pencils. I searched high and low, at every store in Winnipeg, Canada I thought might carry them. But I came back empty handed. So I had to turn to the internet. They were expensive and the cost of shipping nearly put me in cardiac arrest. But in the end they are worth the cost.
So this year I decided I was going to look in the USA and try and avoid the extra cost if possible. I was able to find 2 packs for $1.50 a pack. Since I had paid over $1.50 a pencil last year, I bought a case at this price. For kiddos like little Z who have fine motor skill issues, these pencils are worth the cost. He has a much easier time keeping a proper pencil grasp with them.
Can You Say Chick fil A!!
It was still too soon to go check in, so we went to get lunch at my favourite American Fast Food joint Chick Fil A. Honestly it’s a blessing to my waistline and wallet we don’t have a location in Winnipeg. Little Z loves the fries and grilled nuggets there too. I swear I do the happy dance anytime I’m waiting in line at Chick Fil A. We also have to plan ahead for Z. He really can’t have many proteins at other restaurants when we are on the road. But of course it is closed Sundays. So we have to buy extra grilled nuggets on Saturday to put away for the next day. When we got to the window, I indulged in my Spicy Deluxe Chicken Sandwich and waffle fries. When it comes to Chick-fil-a I forget all about Weight Watcher. Afterwards we headed to the hotel.
Check In & Tim Horton’s
We arrived at the hotel 20 mins before check in. We decided we would try and check in on the off chance our room was ready. Of course it wasn’t, but they had us choose which theme room we wanted. Travis picked out the Circus room. The front desk staff said they would call the cleaning staff and have them clean that room next. After waiting for a few minutes we decided to go get some coffee at the American Tim Horton. They sure know how to roll out the red carpet for us Canadians in Grand Forks. Bringing us the comforts of home.
We came back about 30 mins later, and now it was after our actual check in time and our room still was not ready. Before I could even say anything, she handed us 5 free vouchers for the breakfast buffet. We waited about 15 or 20 more minutes and then we were give our key, and our package (3 pizza vouchers and passes for the water park). We made our first trip upstairs with our luggage, and the kids. Afterwards I went back down with the luggage cart and brought up all my parcels.
Box Day! Homeschooling Mom Simple Joys
While the kids picked their bunks, and Travis relaxed, I got down to business with all my boxes. I wish I had taken a picture. It was quite ridiculous actually. 16 packages, 3 were full curriculums(Two levels of Bookshark and 1 Calvert). I had to load up one of those luggage carts to get it all up to the room in one trip. The boxes had taken up the whole back trunk of the van and I knew it could be condensed into fewer boxes. I even brought a large clear tub to package all the chapter books I had purchased. Apparently I purchased more then I thought, because the container didn’t hold them all. Nothing is more fun for a homeschool mom then going through 16 packages of new curriculum and read aloud books.
Wishbone, Magic Tree House, Puppy Place, Kitten Corner, Bailey School Kids, Usborne early chapter books, the list goes on. It was so nice to be able to get all those books for a fraction of the cover cost.
Soon all the new and wonderful homeschooling materials were all packed up, and everyone else was rested up. Z was standing at the window that looked out into the pool area longingly, ready to get going. So once everyone was in their swimsuits we headed downstairs to explore the pool. We were just outside the pool doors when I was stopped by a woman. She asked how long we were staying and I told her till Sunday. She then handed me 2 free pizza vouchers that were to expire on the Saturday and asked me if our family would use them. They were leaving and didn’t want them to go to waste. We thanked her and told her we would make sure they were used.
We continued to head to the pool area. For being a hotel pool, it was awesome. There was a large climber with a huge bucket on the top that poured down on the kids every 10 minutes or so. If you were brave enough you could climb to the top of the structures and slide down one of the 2 fun slides, But not without the risk of getting doused in gallons of water. The structure also had switches and valves that allowed you to adjust the water flow from all the fountains and spouts.
And Then We Were Flushed…
Then there was the huge toilet bowl style water slide. Riders jump on a tube (either singles or pairs) and blast down a dark tunnel. In the middle of the slide you would go around and around like your being flushed down a toilet. After each round your tube gets turned this way and that way. You never know if your going down the bottom forward or backwards.
Once your sucked down the bottom you come splashing down into the lazy river and float off. Travis and the big kids loved this slide. I couldn’t even tell you how many times they went down.
Zakari on the other hand was not crazy about it. Travis took him down once and then he refused to go again. Whether this was a sensory thing because of his autism, or just a typical fear many kids his age have I don’t know. However our method stayed the same. We gently help him get out of his comfort zone. If afterwards he is still uncomfortable with it, we accept it and move on.
So every once in a while Travis or one of the big kids would come and watch Z for me so I could go down could enjoy the slide and lazy river too. I think the kids thought it was entertaining when I would scream while going down the dark tunnel to enter the toilet part of the slide.
Kids…. Enjoyment at their mother’s expense.
Kiddie Pool, Learning to Swim with Autism
The kiddie pool was beach entry style. It had a double slide, 3 spraying fountains, teeter totter and a single baby swing/jumper. This is the pool that also leads to and from the lazy river.
Zakari spent hours in this pool floating, sliding and playing on the other pieces available. Because he was able to touch the bottom of the pool, he felt comfortable practicing floating.
When it comes to learning to be comfortable in the water, I find that with Zakari, he needs to be in a safe zone where he can gently push himself. If we try to push him he panics. But if he is allowed to his own devices, in a safe and supervised manner, great things can happen. While we have to sometimes push our children with autism, we also have to allow them time to explore and discover on their own. This method doesn’t work so well during a 30 minute swim lesson, and the instructor does have to push him along a bit. But we do our best to give Z lots of opportunities to have free time in a pool where he can touch the bottom.
The Big Kid Pool
Finally the slightly deeper pool was the pool my oldest hung out with other kids he met. It was about 4 feet deep, and the big kids enjoyed meeting people while playing water basketball in it. Next thing you know the group of them were going down water slides together and running under the huge bucket of water and getting soaked together
Traveling With The Big Kids
After a few hours of swimming we all started getting hungry. I ordered the big kids a pizza from the hotel by the pool and we went upstairs to get changed. By the time we got everyone sorted out, I ran downstairs and picked up the pizza. The big kids hung out in their room playing video games, and listening to music while Travis, Zakari and I headed out. I love that my big kids are old enough to stay back and hang out if they want. Sometimes they just want to relax while we have running around to do and we don’t have to drag them against their will with us.
Walmart and Supper Run
First stop for us was back to Chick-fil-a to get Z some grilled nuggets. Then we went to Walmart to get some snacks for the hotel. We did not want to have to spend too much money poolside on snacks if we could help it.
I just about fell over with how expensive produce was. It seemed that fruit cost the same price at home, but you have to add 25% to that price for exchange. Cereal, candy, junk food, all seems to be so much cheaper in the USA, but produce is another story. Yikes.
We grabbed a few things we needed, and then went across the parking lot to the Panera Bread drive thru. We had eaten at Panera Bread once when we were in Philadelphia and really enjoyed it, especially my husband. After we were served we took our dinner and Walmart purchases back to the hotel. Once again the soup and sandwiches were delicious. We both really hope Panera decided to start opening up shop in Canada some day.
Magic Tree House. The Perfect Book
Reading as always been a great way to get Z to relax. It also helps him fall asleep. So when we travel I always bring some books to read aloud. Zakari loves the Magic Tree House, so it seemed like a no brainer to grab the next one in the series to read. I didn’t even look to see what the next book was about.
When we started to read Buffalo Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House 18), I realized that it was about the Lakota Native Americans who lived in North Dakota in the 1800’s. I could not have planned that better. We were able to talk to Zakari about how this story took place in the same location we were, but hundreds of years ago.
As I read he drifted off to sleep. Honestly having my child fall asleep in my arms while I read to them is the best part of my day.
Rough Early Morning Wake Up
Around 4:30 am, Little Z woke up and had no idea where he was. He was in one of those startled states, where you cannot console him. After about 45 mins of trying to settle him, I was scared the big kids would be woken up, or the people in the next room could hear him. I did not want to be kicked out. So I quickly threw in my contacts, grabbed my purse and took Z to the van. As soon as we hit the fresh air, he seemed to snap out of it. He settled down, and I drove around, not sure what to do at 5:15 am.
For a little while drove around parts of Grand Forks I usually don’t travel. During that little journey I found a thrift store I never noticed before. Mental note, find time to go check out the books there… While I was in the parking lot checking out the times, I text my mom, and told her to call me if she was up. She’s one of those crazy people that choose to wake up at this time, ON PURPOSE!
Mom To The Rescue & Walmart Therapy
But Grand Forks is not very big, so that did not take me long to drive around. Finally I decided to take the long way to the new Walmart that is a bit further from our hotel. I stopped to see what time Kmart opened at, and drove through the older area of the city. This whole time Zakari was completely content. I hoped my family was getting in some good sleep.
As I pulled into the Walmart parking lot, my phone rang. It was my mom. Such perfect timing, she had wanted me to look for some American groceries for her. I figured now was the perfect time, since Z and I were just killing time. Before I went into the store, it was great to just vent to her. I’m not naturally an early riser. I’m also not always the most pleasant person when I’m awoken before I’ve slept enough. So it was nice to talk to her and get my frustration of my chest. I was able to get back into happy mama mode.
School Clothes Shopping
We walked all of Walmart, and got my mom’s shopping done. While looking at the boys section, I found some fresh t-shirts for Wesley’s back to school wardrobe. Before leaving I grabbed some stuff for Zakari and I to eat for breakfast. I’m love to say I bought some health fruit for myself, but that would be a lie. Besides like I said before fruit is SO expensive here. I had a delicious glazed yeast doughnut. You know what, I don’t even feel bad. I was tired and needed a sugar rush. Good Old Weight Watchers got kicked to the curb. Well not completely, I only bought one doughnut. Before Weight Watchers I would have bought a package, ate a few, and brought the rest back to the hotel. Not this time.
Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts to the Rescue
I was about 6:50 am when we had seen all there was to see at Walmart. So I googled Targets hours and was surprised to see they opened at 7 am. I knew it would take me about 10 mins to get there. So we checked out and took off. At Target I was able to find a few school supplies that were a good price. I also once again smacked Weight Watchers in the face. I mean come on, who can turn down Pumpkin Pie Pop-tarts.
It was still early, and I didn’t want to head back to the hotel yet, so Zakari and I went to a grocery store and did the aisles. When we got back to the car Travis called me to check to see if we were OK. The kids were still sleeping, but by now it was almost 9 am. So we hit up the Tim Horton’s, (because that’s what a good Canadian does when they need coffee)and head back to the hotel.
Traveling with Autism
Mr Zakari seemed to be in a much better mood. It is hard traveling when your little one has autism and anxiety. But setting realistic expectations is so important as a parent. It is hard when you have all these big plans and sometimes they are too big of plans for our special kiddos. Thing is to go in baby steps and that with practice it will get better.
Roll With The Punches
Even traveling with neurotypical children can be a challenge. I have learned we just need to roll with the punches. Some times I just want to lock myself in our house where it is safe. But that is not what is best for our family. Zakari needs to learn how to go out in and deal with the over stimulation the world has to offer. But we have to help him him learn to cope. These experiences mean so much to him. Even though he doesn’t talk about them, we know it is meaningful because of how he behaves after. He loves looking back at pictures of himself weeks and even years later. Or when we return he asks to do things we have done before there.
No matter how difficult it can be sometimes to travel with a child with autism, the life experiences are much more important. Both to the parents and the kid.
What We Bring To Help Our Son With Autism:
Ear Defenders: When things start to get too loud, we can easily help him block out some of those noises by putting on a pair of ear defenders. I know some kids wear them a lot, but Zakari just uses them to regulate himself and then he takes them off.
His own blanket and pillow. The comforts and smells from home helps my son relax and eventually fall asleep.
Books: As mentioned above this is a great coping strategy for our son. I cannot encourage people enough to read to your child with autism. Even thought they may not seem like they are listening, they really are.
Catnip Fennel. Now I take this with me everywhere we go. It is so helpful for dealing with upset tummies and it helps calm the nervous system. It is a product that has helped us so much over the years. During those meltdowns that we cannot figure out the cause, a lot of the time Catnip Fennel is able to help defuse the situation.
Breakfast Than Back To The Pool
We came back into the hotel room and I got the big kids up. Zakari looked out the window longingly at the pool again while every got ready.
Friday was an awesome day to spend by the pool. The kids swam their hearts out. When lunch time came around we ordered pizza, fries and chicken strips by the pool for lunch. The kids waited for the bell to start ringing so they could run with the other kids under the giant bucket and get soaked. Everyone had so much fun.
At dinner time the kids wanted Pizza, so seeing we still had the free vouchers we had gotten at check in and from the woman in the lobby we didn’t see any problem with that. Travis and I ordered Buffalo Wild Wings. It was so yummy. I just love their food. Another restaurant that we don’t have in Canada.
Little Too Busy Saturday
We woke up Saturday morning, and after lazying around we decided to head down to the pool. Before we left we noticed the lazy river and the kiddie pool were taped off. I called the front desk and there had been a pool fouling, so we needed to wait till it was properly treated.
Finally after an hour or so the pool was reopened. We went down and it was BUSY. Thursday and Friday we had been so spoiled. There was a good amount of people at the pool. Today the pool was swamped with people. Zakari was not having it. Several times he asked to go back to the room. So I decided to take him back and we went shopping.
Thrift Store Shopping
After we went back to the hotel to change, we headed to the car. I wanted to check out the thrift store I had seen on my early morning travels the morning before. We arrived, and of course I went straight for the books. Sadly I was only able to find one book we were looking for. I was impressed with some of the toys they had. They had some real classics from when I was a kid. But I knew we didn’t really need them, so I left them behind.
Little Z was tired. Of course when I had suggested a nap in the hotel, that was met with him jumping on the bed and running around like a crazy head. I really could have used a good nap, but now that we were out I wanted to at least check out Kmart. Sears was the last stop I made. They had just 8 days before they closed their doors for good. We looked around a bit, but Zakari was just not having it. So we headed back to the hotel.
This weekend was just meant to be a get away. Get in some swimming, eat some good food and hang out as a family. The kids were not hungry yet, and we wanted to take them to the arcade at some point in the evening. So Travis, Zakari and I went out on our nightly supper hunt.
We stopped at Chick-fil-a because we needed to get Z chicken for that night and Sunday because, they are not open on Sundays. Then we tried The Noodle Company. It was just OK. I’m not sure I’d go back again. But I’m glad I tried it.
Arcade & Dippin Dots
The one thing Chloe wanted to have while we were in the USA was Dippin’ Dots. So when we got back we went to the pizza place/ arcade. We had two vouchers left for pizza, so the kids each ordered one. While we waited we loaded up the arcade cards and the kids had a blast playing all the games.
We got Chloe some Dippin Dots for helping us out so much with Zakari at the pool. She went up the play structure with the slides and huge dumping bucket all weekend to keep an eye on Zakari. With my contacts I couldn’t keep up with Zakari and not get chloride water in my eyes. I did not want to lose a contact, nor do I like water that much.
When the pizzas were ready, the kids cashed out their tickets, and we went back upstairs.
Packing Up To Go
When we got back I started packing and organizing our stuff. We wanted to be up early and be able to try the breakfast buffet we had free passed for. The big kids ate their pizza and enjoyed one last night of snacks, video games and movies.
Sunday Rough Morning
Zakari had a rough night. I almost wanted to pack up the van and head home in the middle of the night. But Travis talked me out of it. Luckily we got him settled and he finally fell asleep. Only to wake up again at 4:30 am. He wanted me to take him to Walmart again. Of course I didn’t want this to be a habit he got into. But even if I wanted to take him, I couldn’t, Walmart was closed until noon.
Once I read him a few chapters I was able to get him back to sleep. But now I’m worried. Travis and I have not slept well enough to be driving him as safely as we would like. Travis had a pounding headache at this point and needed time to sleep it off.
Late Check Out
I called the front desk and explained that our son had a rough night, we were not sure if he was feeling well or not. We ask for a late check out. They were amazing, they said that even though they don’t do late check outs, they would give us an extra hour or two. We were so grateful, so even though we slept through the breakfast buffet, we were all well rested.
We packed up the trolley, brought all our luggage and my packages to the van, and then checked out. Overall I was very happy with our stay. 3 hours away from home and the kids had a blast. Perfect mini vacation.
Last Minute Shopping
Once again I’m so grateful for big kids who are old enough to babysit. I wanted to run into Sears and have a better look. Travis was not with me the day before so he wanted to look around too. But Zakari was NOT interested in shopping at that moment. So the big kids babysit him in the van. We of course left it running and they locked the doors behind us. All of them were happy playing on their iPads while we spent a few quick minutes looking around. We stopped at the candy store in the mall and went back to the kids.
Afterwards we made one last stop at Walmart. Of course Zakari loves Walmart, so he insisted on coming with us. We grab a few snacks for the road and some more Tylenol to keep Travis’s headache at bay.
McDonald’s, Worst Service EVER
My big kids wanted to have McDonald’s for lunch before we left the states. I swear that was the worst managed McDonald’s in North America. They messed up our order twice, over charged me, and when I asked for something for compensation for our wasted time I was offered 3 free coupons for ice cream or cookies. Offered might now be the right word. The manager rolled her eyes at me, then said she guessed she could get me some coupons. A few weeks later when I went back down to the USA with my parents, they stopped their for coffee and they had an equally terrible experience.
Plus I had a ridiculously hard time cashing in those coupons, they tried to make me wait for a manager to get off their lunch break which would be in 30 mins. I explained that these coupons were given to me for wasting our time. He was able to get us the cookies. At least they were good, but I refuse to ever go to that location again. I will drive down the road to get coffee from now on.
Last Supper Before Heading Back to Canada
Travis and I decided, after long, and painful deliberation we were going to try Erbert and Gerberts. I’m so glad we did! It was so much yummier then Subway.
We ate, filled up our tank and hit the road home. All I could think was, well the moment of truth is coming up. I have to declare what I spent to the border patrol. Which means I have to admit to my husband how much all those boxes cost.
Back Home Again
We landed up making good time, and getting home safely. We were all glad to be able to sleep in our own beds that night. It was so much fun being able to spend time with our kids.
What We Would Do Differently
This was a learning experience for us. We want to take a trip to Great Wolf Lodge next summer and this trip was a great practice run. This winter though we might head back to Grand Forks Canad Inns.
However we will be doing a two things different.
Going for 2 nights instead of 3. I think we all had our fill of swimming after the second night, and the money we save in hotels can allow us to do this trip more often.
I would not go on the weekend again. Saturday was WAY to busy for Zakari. Looking down to the pool on Sunday, it also seemed crazy busy.
What is your go to tip on traveling with a child with autism?
Summer Life With Autism & Year Round Homeschooling
Summer is officially over. My big kids are back at their respected schools, and Little Z is back to the homeschool grind. Well not that we really stopped learning since we are year round homeschoolers. But we did pull out the new curriculum a few weeks ago.
Life has been very hectic the last few months and I had taken a long unplanned hiatus from blogging and YouTube. I just felt that I was being pulled away from this platform. Instead I needed to put all my energy into my family. Last September my body was getting so run down. I got sick 2 times that month. It made me see I had to slow down.
Now with this fresh start of a new school year, I am hopeful that moving forth with this blog is the right thing to do. I miss sharing about our lives and journey. It is therapeutic to me, and I need that right now.
Attack of the Disappearing Blog
Something that made me realize how important this site is to me was when it went down. A few months ago my credit card number information was stolen. Someone in the UK had a blast buying things off of Google Play, and grocery shopping. So obviously my credit card was canceled, and fraud claims were put in. Thank goodness I didn’t have to pay anything for that. But when I received my new credit card, I forgot to change the number on my host site. For some odd reason I did not receive any emails from the company saying this was going on and my site was taken down. Thankfully I noticed soon enough and was able to do a disaster recovery.
The thought of my site that I have worked on and off on for the last 8 years being *poof* gone made me sick to my stomach. This made me realize I needed to get back here and start sharing our life journey again. Even if what I write about helps only one other mom, it’s all worth it. Plus on a personal level, its a log of how far my family has come during these last 8 years. I explained it to my husband as if all our family pictures burned and I had no way of getting them back. I’m so grateful to have my little piece of the internet back safe.
All About Day-camp
This summer just seemed to go by so fast. In July, Wesley was involved in two day camps.
The first full week off of school he attended a camp for kids ages 10-14 years old. They had 1:1 camp counselors that switched each day. This way the kids would focus on building relationships with their peers, and not as much with the adults. The best part was Zakari’s old ABA tutor, and the respite worker that took Wes to camp last year was a counselor there! They worked on social, life and planning skills. Some of that activities they were involved in were Skyzone Trampoline Park, archery, bowling, Shapes Gym, swimming, and sports. Lunch preparation and cleanup tasks were rotated so campers actively participated. Something else that impressed me was they showed the kids how to do some basic auto maintenance like checking oil, tire pressure and adding oil and other fluids to a car.
Two weeks later Wesley started a second one week day camp. A van came right to the house every morning and picked him up, and dropped him off in the evening. This was so helpful to me as a busy work at home mom. The camp two weeks before had me orchestrating a drop off and pick up schedule with my family and my ex’s family. It was one less thing to worry about. He spent his week learning to cook with camp friends, enhancing independence, trying out adapted sports, and allowing him to develop & grow friendships with the staff and other peers. They visited the Human Rights Museum, a local water park, and spent the day at Camp Manitou.
Zakari earned a total of 25 books and a back pack. Plus his group earned $700 worth of books for less fortunate kids. It was such an awesome program we can’t wait till next summer to participate again!
As his mother I’m most excited about the Hey Jack! books. They look great for a kiddo who grew up on the Doman program. The writing a large and clear. I believe these will be the first chapter books he reads to be aloud this year. Thank you again Abby!
Where Did August Go?
The month of August just flew by. From the 3rd to the 19th, Wes was off with his dad. He spent time at his dad’s place, then a week at a cabin, and then out to Gimli for a car show before he came back home. Between the 12th and the 22nd my stepdaughter was off to Disney with her grandparents. So during the time it overlapped that they were both gone Zakari was an only child. I think it was nice for him to get our undivided attention.
The kids are blessed with an aunt who owns a pool and loves to have them over to swim. Three times during the summer we went over there and lounged in her pool. It is fun to see each year how the kids have developed their swimming skills through all their swimming lessons during the year. Even Little Z was more independent in the pool with his life jacket. I did not have to be standing and holding onto him the whole time. I was able to float or sit on the side of the pool within arms reach and enjoy everyone’s company. Its sad the cooler weather is blowing in and the pool is closed for the summer.
Forget August, Where Has September Gone???
Like I said we have started school. Zakari was the first to start. We were so excited to dive into his new Bookshark Kindergarten curriculum. We started a day early on Tuesday September 4th. This curriculum is just such a perfect fit for my son. Several of the books these last few weeks have sucked us both in. I can’t image what we would have missed if I had just put him in the Grade 1 level.
A week later we introduced Calvert Grade 1. No, I did not purchase the whole Calvert curriculum new. $1500 US dollars is way out of my budget no matter how good the curriculum is. But I was able to get all the textbooks & most of the materials from a mom on an American homeschool Facebook group for $80 US shipped. I had looked at this curriculum years ago when Wesley was homeschooling kindergarten, but the price tag blew my mind.
Next up was Wesley. On September 5th he went off to his first day of grade 8. Guys, he’s in GRADE 8 now! I’m not entirely sure how that happened. This is his last year in middle school, then he is off to high school. He also started back up with piano & his once a week evening group at the local school gym. Two weeks ago we met his new teachers at the school BBQ. I also met one of his buddies that he has lunch with. I hope he’s off to a good start.
Then on the 7th we sent Chloe off to start grade 7. She’s already had one overnight camping trip with her class, and seems to be enjoying school. She’s soaking in book after book. I love that she shares my love of reading.
Portage La Prairie Here We Come!
September means Zakari’s favourite place is open again, the Portage La Prairie Aquatic Centre. We have already taken the 1 hour 20 mins journey out there. He loves that place so much. I look forward to several more visits between now and June when they close up again for the summer.
What Does Year Round Homeschooling Look Like For Us?
So I mentioned that we are year round homeschoolers. Because Zakari is a creature of habit, we have decided that homeschooling year round is in his best interest. This allows us flexibility throughout the year. If either of us is having a bad day, we can put the books away without fear of running out of time.
However year round homeschooling this past year allowed us the time to go through two full curriculums. We started the year with Bookshark PreK, which we finished in April. Between April and August we started and completed Build Your Library Level 0.
Homeschooling Year round allowed us to enjoy all the books in the PreK Level and still hit and complete our kindergarten year. So we not only stick to a routine that worked for him, and allowed flexibility, we also completed more this year then we would have if we stuck to a strict 36 week school year.
Weight Watcher Journey
Something this summer that I did for myself was joining Weight Watchers Online. My weight was climbing past my comfort level, and my body was starting to rebel. I’m happy to say I was able to lose 22 lbs since the ending of May. 18 lbs was thanks to Weight Watchers.
A few weeks ago I joined a meeting group, and I hope to get down to a healthy weight again. I’ve already been able to get past a frustrating plateau, and the scale is going down again. It’s amazing what years of stress and poor self care can do to a body. I feel now is such an important time for me to get back on track. The healthier I am, the more I can do for my family.
Starting Our Family Holidays
This year I took 1 week off of work. Part of it was spent going to doctors and dentist appointments. You know, all that stuff no one wants to really do. I’m happy to say check ups went well, and neither of the boys have any cavities. Although Zakari gave both doctors a run for their money. Thank God for patience doctors.
Waiting at the dentist.
Boys and Their Toys…
But we were sure to add in the fun stuff. Wesley saved $600+ dollars of his own money and wanted to buy himself his dream RC truck. My dad took him over to my uncle’s house to try out his RC truck and learn how to take care of them. Then on the Monday of our holiday we met my parents at the local hobby shop and with my dad’s expertise he picked out a Traxxas Rustler VXL.
Since Wesley has gotten his truck he has enjoyed spending time with my dad in the country, tearing up gravel and dirt, drag racing with my uncle and cousin, and just spending some quality time with his grandpa. Even though my dad’s main hobby now is RC boats, he loves spending time with Wesley racing his truck. He even fixed up his old RC race car he use to race when I was a kid. Since they are from the late 80’s they are not as quick, but even with a few modifications using today’s technology he was able to make them faster than they use to be.
Long Weekend Trip To Grand Forks
On the Thursday of our holidays we drove out to Grand Forks and stayed at the Canad Inns. But that trip deserves its own post, so stay tuned!
What did you do this summer? How has the start of the school year for your family?
Homeschooling Kindergarten: 75 Books We Read Aloud
One of the main reasons I love to homeschool is the amount of time Zakari and I can dedicated to Read Aloud Time. Helping my child grow into an avid reader is one of the most amazing feelings ever. Sharing the passion of reading is such a natural high and I feel it is a powerful gift I’m giving my son. Once a child learns to read, all knowledge is at their fingertips. A person who can read well can teach themselves anything they want to learn from books.
I am of the camp that all children should learn how to read from infancy. A child can learn to read the same way that he or she learns to talk. As long as we can make the words big enough, they can learn. I don’t want to hear that they will be bored in school. I don’t want to hear that they are developmentally not ready. That my friends is hogwash. Children who are taught how to read, love to read. Teaching my youngest who has autism to read as a baby opened up so many doors for him. Plus teaching them this skill while they are young and hungry to learn makes it so much easier.
Check out my other articles about teaching your child to read:
One of the programs that we were given when we visited the IAHP in August 2017 was to read with Zakari from books designed for children in grades 2-3. We have taken this program and ran with it. While we did take a break from many of the programs, this was one would could not stop if we tried.
Spencer Doman from Doman International (formally from IAHP) made a video about reading being the one most important thing families can do for their children.
Reading Can Comfort a Child
Reading has become a tool I can use to help comfort Z. We read every night before bed. So when we land up staying away from home, I can often get him to sleep by making sure we read our chapters before bed. I have also helped settle him back to sleep in the middle of the night while away from home when he wakes up startled by reading to him. When he is tired he will often ask me to come with him and “read chapters”. It makes nights where he is struggling to fall asleep more tolerable because it just means we read a little more.
Actually to be honest, Z has a habit of falling asleep just as we reach the last chapter of the book. I’m often sitting on pins and needles till the next day to find out what happens to the characters in our current story. I come out of the room and my husband asks me if Z is sleeping and you should see the odd look I get when I say with a pouty face, “Yes, sadly he is…”
Growing up I loved to read. But living in a rural community in the 90s limited my access to reading materials. Our school libraries had limited materials and in the summer they were closed. My mom was not one to go to a thrift store and being a single income family, books were not often in the budget. However my mom did often buy us the scholastic books on deep discount on the front page of the Scholastic Order forms. We also hit up the local mall book sale from time to time. But it was just not enough to satisfy my deep thirst for reading. I got through the summer borrowing the odd book from friends, saving my allowance and buying a book and rereading the books I did own.
It wasn’t until I was a teenager did I have access to the “Mail Library”. I went online and selected books I wanted to read and then waited. When my father came home from work he would stop at the community mailboxes and bring home the resealable cloth mail bag with my books. This was such a happy day every time these books made it into my hands.
Reliving My Childhood Book Dreams
Now that reading together has become such a special time that Little Z and I spend together, it is an opportunity for me to nurture that inner young bookworm of mine too. Zakari and I have been reading a series I loved as a young child, The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids. This was a series I did own a few of. My favourite one would have been Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots. So I have been slowly collecting the series for us to read together by visiting the thrift stores, garage sales, and the Facebook Buy & Sell Groups. At first it didn’t seem like his favourite series. However as we have gotten to know the characters, he seems to be liking it more and more.
Non Fiction Historical Chapter Books for Kids
However this isn’t the only series we have been reading together. For Christmas Zakari’s Aunt and I bought him many of the Who Was/Is Series, along with the Where Was/Is Series.I really enjoyed being able to sit with him and learn alongside him about these famous people and places. If you have never seen these books before I highly recommend them. We got most of ours for dirt cheap on BookOutlet. But I’m starting to see them pop up in thrift stores.
Reading Challenge 2018
Because of Goodreads, I have been able to record everything we have read together and create this list for you. I know I’m always looking for new booklist to read with my kids, and I hope this will help you. While I was recording what we read together from the beginning of the school year, our reading journey did not explode until January 2018 when I joined the Goodreads 2018 Reading Challenge. I highly recommend joining and coming up with a goal for you and your child to read together. Find me on Goodreads and ADD ME to Goodreads as a way to track our reading sooner, we would have read more than 75 read alouds together.
Our Kindergarten Reading List
Who Was Steve Irwin? If you haven’t check out this series, what are you waiting for. Zakari is being introduced to many different famous people in a fun, kid friendly way. As the parent I am also learning. After reading this book I ordered the biography Teri Irwin wrote because I wanted to learn more.
Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House, #1) Honestly I wasn’t sure if I’d like this series. However I picked up the first 42 in the series for the crazy price of $15 on Kijiji, so I decided to take the risk. I was pleasantly surprised once we started reading it, Zakari and I got attached to the characters and their crazy adventures. When given the choice of what book to read as our next read aloud, Zakari often picks the next one in this series.
James and the Giant Peach This was a classic from my childhood. I was one of the longer books we read this year, so it took us a long time. But Zakari seemed to really enjoy it. He often dragged me to read it with him at other times then our regular reading time.
Who Is Wayne Gretzky? A book about a Canadian hero and hockey. Of course we had to read it and it did not disappoint. Even my hubby sat in and listened to this one.
Salty Dog (Adventures of Wishbone, #2) Wishbone was one of my favorite TV shows when I was a kid. I never knew they had Wishbone books. Since I found out I have been on the hunt to collect them all. They are also on the longer side, so I am saving them for now. But when the time comes we can binge read them. (Does anyone else binge read book series? You know how people binge watch Netflix shows? I can’t be the only one, right?)
Who Was Elvis Presley? We enjoyed this book. I also loved how they handled explaining some of Elvis’s shadier parts of his life. Very age appropriate in my opinion.
Because of Winn-Dixie Apparently I live under a rock, because I never heard of this book or movie. I stumbled upon this book at the thrift store and it caught my eye. A few days later our tutor noticed it on my cabinet and told me how she read that in school and loved it. So I decided to read it as our next read aloud and what an awesome story about a girl and her dog. I’m not a dog person and this story really touched me.
Winnie-the-Pooh I’m not going to lie, I didn’t care for this one. I know, its Winnie-the-Pooh, how can you not care for that. Well to be even more honest, I disliked this book. Its not on my list of books to ever reread. I felt there was no point to the story. Zakari didn’t seem too interested either. We only finished it because it was part of our BookShark Curriculum.
PeeWee (This link is for the French version. I found my English copy at a thrift store) I’m so sad I cannot find a link to share this book with everyone. It is an awesome book about a Canadian Pee Wee hockey team. I love how they grew as a team and reading about the team’s journey.
Babe: The Gallant Pig This is another childhood classic for me. I remember my teacher reading this to my class in the 3rd or 4th grade. Plus after you read the book, you can watch the movie with your child.
Who Was Jim Henson? I’ve always loved Jim Henson, but after reading this book I have a new respect for him. He was a household name when I was growing up, and my big kids have no idea who he was. Now they do.
Little House in the Big Woods (Little House, #1) While I loved the little house on the prairie show growing up I never read any of the books. This was one of the books assigned in our Level 0 Build Your Library Curriculum. I enjoyed it very much, but if I’m honestly I could tell Z didn’t care for it much.
Twenty and Ten I heard about this book from Emily at ARRRGH! Schooling. So I ordered it for myself. Then I was surprised to see that Bookshark use it as a book for Kindergarten. So instead of just reading it to myself, I read it aloud to Z. We very much enjoyed it. Its a story of a selflessness and courage during the time of Hitler. 20 young children and their teacher risk everything to save 10 Jewish children. I have since recommended it to another homeschool mom and her family enjoyed it as well.
Anne Of Green Gables (abridged version) The copy we read was from the Target Dollar Spot,
The Trouble with Tuck This was one of those random thrift store finds that caught my eye. Its about a girls search to find a seeing eye dog, for her dog who as gone blind. Tuck had saved her life, now it was her turn to save his. Her perseverance and determination was heart warming. If you can get your hands on this book it worth the read.
Magic School Bus – Blizzard Another educational but fun series. Especially for kids who are already familiar with the characters on the two Magic School Bus shows on Netflix.
Rise of the Earth Dragon (Dragon Masters #1) This series was such a hit for Zakari. He just loved reading about the children who become Dragon Masters. We stumbled across books 1-6 at Once Upon A Child, and I grabbed them. Books in this series are still being released, and we can’t wait to read more as we get them.
Jack and the Beanstalk (Wishbone: The Early Years, #1) For kids that are not quite ready to sit through the longer Wishbone books, this might be a great starting place. They are not as simple as the Bailey School Junior Books, they are quite a bit shorter then the other Wishbone series. This school year we had a blast reading though this short 4 book series.
Where Is the Amazon? This book was not as good as the Who Was/Is series. It was good as a research book for kids learning about the Amazon. But it was not a book that sucked you in. We did learn a lot, but it did feel like learning.
Who Is Stan Lee? After watching a newer Thor movie on Netflix, I nerded out and read Zakari this book that night. He seemed to enjoy it and we got though the whole thing in one sitting. What I like about this series is finding people that your child has been exposed to in one way or another and expanding on it.
The Children of Noisy Village From the author who wrote Pippi Longstocking, we read The Children of Noisy Village. It was part of our Build Your Library Level 0 Curriculum. While I would have never picked it up if it wasn’t a required reading. But it was a nice read. It had a Little House on the Prairie feeling.
Goldie (The Puppy Place, #1) Wow! This series is something else. Each book Lizzie and her brother Charles help a new foster dog find the perfect home. I’m not a dog person, but this series has both Z and I sucked in. Thankfully they seem to be still be printing new books in the series. I know this is one series we are always on the hunt for use copies to complete our collection.
Little Pear Another Build Your Library Level 0 Curriculum required reading. Its about a naughty young boy names Little Pear. Each chapter is another one of his adventures. While I would have likely never picked it up before BYL we enjoyed Little Pears antics. It helped push us out of our comfort zone.
The Adventures of Peter Cottontail I had never read any of these stories but found this book at the local homeschooling conference for only $3. Zakari and I have enjoyed it. Each chapter was like a mini story. Mostly about Peter Cottontail and his archenemy Reddy Fox.
Who Was Milton Bradley? I always thought that Milton Bradley was just the creator of the Milton Bradley company and games. Turns out he was instrumental in bringing kindergarten to the USA.
The Mystery on the Great Barrier Reef This was one of our favourite books in Build Your Library Level 0. This is book #6 in the Carole Marsh Mysteries series. Before this I had never heard of this series. Now I want to collect them all. Its all about 10 year old Christina, 7 year old Grant, their grandfather and mystery-writing grandmother Mimi. What I liked most was it was a easy to read, yet rich in vocabulary not usually used in books geared to this age category.
Shadow (The Puppy Place, #3) As a family trying to get our son a autism service dog, this story helped us understand the process a dog goes through to become a guide dog. I’m sure when we are finally accepted to the service dog program, we will be rereading this Puppy Place book.
Mr. Popper’s Penguins Once again I’m going to be honest, I didn’t care for this one. Even Zakari who loves penguins, didn’t get as into it as I thought he would. I know its a classic that has been around as long as I can remember. But if I were to homeschool another child(which no more are planned) I would find a different book to read.
Buffalo Before Breakfast (Magic Tree House, #18) The timing for this book was just right. We read all the Magic Tree House books in order. So before leaving for our 4 day get away to North Dakota, I just grabbed the next book in the series. I could not have planned it better, seeing as this book is all about the Lakota natives that lived in what is now North Dakota in the 1800’s.
As you can see, some of our favourite books have been random thrift store finds. I can’t stress the importance of getting books used. If your not a library family like we are, its an awesome way to try a series and not invest too much money.
Why don’t we use the library to borrow books?
We don’t often borrow from the library because I’m to irresponsible to get the books back to the library on time. Its terrible but sometimes the late cost me more then buying the book to keep used. At one point, my library late fees were part of my Dave Ramsey Debt Snowball. That being said, I do often hit up the library book sale.
What books did you and your children read aloud this past school year? How do you keep track of what your reading? Does your child have a particular series they can’t get enough of? Stay tune to find out which series we are loving, and how they are fitting into our homeschool lessons.
What to Learn More About Doman International? Click HERE to fill out a quick form and a representative from Doman International will contact you to set a FREE 30-minute consultation.
Disclaimer: This page may include affiliate links. I appreciate it when my readers use them as it provides me a little compensation and no extra cost to you.
Wow it has been a very long time since I have last updated. I think about writing often, however with all of Z’s programs and homeschooling, mixed with my day job I have had very little time. That being said I also kept this blog in secret. I know that sounds absolutely crazy, it’s posted on the Internet for crying out loud. But I don’t share with many people in my real life that I keep this blog. I have been a Secret Blogger. I didn’t even tell my hubby. He knew I did reviews and stuff, but he didn’t know the details.
The other day I decided that I need his help. So I shared with him my blog and YouTube channel. He is very knowledgeable in computers and I’m hoping that the two of us can work on this blog and my YouTube channel as a team. He’s also been wanting us to work on a project together but we couldn’t figure out what we could realistically do. This seems to fit the bill and I’m so excited to start really getting involved in the blogging and vlogging world.
Last year my goal was to write here and post a YouTube weekly. Every time I got notification that I had a new YouTube follower I felt guilty there hadn’t been any new content in such a long time. But because of the fact I’ve been so shy to share what I do with my hubby, I never had enough time alone to write and edit. Now I’m hoping because we are going to be doing this as a project together I can jot down a rough post in the day and we can edit it together in the evening. Even if he’s not part of the editing process at least I can just sit at the kitchen table and not be embarrassed of my work.
It was so silly of me to keep this to myself as he has been extremely supportive since I’ve shared my projects.
So I’m excited to announce that in the next few weeks you can expect the following post:
– The last installment of what I thought about the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child Course. I can’t believe how disorganized I have been. I took this course in Sept 2016, yet I have not written about the last day of the course. To make it worse I started sharing about our most recent trip, before finishing the first.
– Finish writing about our trip to Philadelphia with Little Z. We had 2 days before our appointment that we did some traveling and visiting with friends. I have so much to share about the evaluation, Lecture Series II and the programs we received.
– Why we are not going back to the IAHP for our 6 month reassessment.
– How we have changed our nutritional program to better serve Little Z’s needs and how we added in Ozone water.
– Why we love a literature based homeschool curriculum.
In September Wesley started back up in Trampoline at our local gymnastics gym. He’s still loving the sport and is excited to go every week. Since Wesley alternates his weekend between my home and his dad I’m only responsible to bring him every other week which is less on my plate. He’s old enough now that I can just drop him off and pick him up and hour later. So the whole thing requires very little from me.
Wesley is also back in piano lessons this year. We allowed him to take the summer off, and I’m a little more relaxed about his practice schedule. I vlogged about him wanting to quit last summer. As his mother I was torn. On one hand I don’t want to make him do something he does not want to do anymore. On the other hand I know so many people who quit piano, that now regret it. So we are working through to find the right balance.
Both boys are back in swimming lessons with SwimAbility. They finished their fall season right before Christmas, and they just started the winter session 2 weeks ago. I cannot say enough good things about this program. All the volunteers are amazing. You can tell that they really want to be there. The boys have been part of these program for 4 years now out of 3 different city pools and we have not had one bad coach. That is so rare to find such an amazing group of people. Wesley also attends summer camp offered by this program. This year will be the first year Z is old enough to participate in that as well.
Welcome to the Family!
Apollo & Artemis
In October we introduced two new members to our family. We adopted two Canadian Sphynx kittens, whom we named Apollo and Artemis. They are quite the characters. It’s like living with two wild toddlers. My husband describes them as a cat tumbleweed. These two are not like any cat I have ever met.
Originally we were just going to just adopt the male kitten Apollo(cat to the right in the photo above). On the way to my herbalist house, who happens to also breed Sphynx kittens, my husband was against it. He spent the whole way there trying to convince me this was a bad idea. However growing up I had always dreamed to have one of these sweet kittens as a pet. In my mind it was such a wonderful opportunity. There was no way we would ever be able to get one of these beauties from a person I trusted, for the price she was willing to sell him to us for.
When we arrived the breeder took us up to her room where these kittens were. They were just so small and sweet. They would be ready for us to take them home on Thanksgiving Day. While I was snuggling my little boy, my husband kept being drawn to this female kitten with a black and white stripe down her nose. After a bit the breeder told us that she would understand if we couldn’t, but she would love it if the male we were taking and the female that my husband was drawn to could go to the same home. He seemed to think this was a great idea. I on the other hand wasn’t so sure.
So the ride home was much different then the ride there. Now my husband was trying to convince me why we should adopt both kittens. Well needless to say, I have a rubber arm. When we got home I text messaged the breeder and made payment arrangements. So a week later we brought home two kittens instead of one.
Gizmo with the kittens
Our Devon Rex Gizmo took a little while to adjust to them. She’s been an only child so to speak for the last 9 years. So bringing these two home was a real game changer for her. We took it real slow. They have learned to tolerate each other. I don’t think Gizmo will ever love them, but she is willing to live with them, as long as they stay out of her bubble.
Now to talk about Little Z’s progress.
Little Z has been doing amazing. We have noticed even more changes since altering the supplementation program that the Institute gave us. Because Zs blood work came back so amazing, we were on only a few basic supplements. I really felt that he needed a bit more in this area and joined a biomedical Facebook group to learn more. No clearly I don’t just jump on the bandwagon and purchase a supplement because somebody on Facebook says it’s good. However I’m able to find what other families are using, and then do my own research to find if that is a product that would work for my child.
Ideally I would have him on an herbal plan like I’m on with my herbalist. But sadly I know this would be a waste of money as I would not be able to get the herbs into him due to the taste. Like his hearing, he taste can also be hypersensitive at times. So for now he is on the supplements I have researched myself and one herbal supplement that my herbalist recommended that I can get into him.
Since making these changes in his supplementation, we have noticed huge changes in his behaviour and his ability to follow directions. He’s still a busy boy, but less wild. He actually plays with toys now. He’s building better relationships with people and overall we are getting to know the real Zakari.
Little Z on the incline floor
Last week my dad delivered Zs crawling track that he built for us. This was one of the missing keys to our Institute program. So over the last week we have been using it to get in our military crawling. At first I was concerned about Z’s lack of coordination when it came to military crawling. Currently when we have him doing his creeping(crawling on his hands knees) he is able crawl in a cross pattern. But when we started military crawling he was all over the place. So I went on our Facebook group for parents on the IAHP program and spoke to one of the black jackets (aka staff that specialize in the physical program).
Currently on top of our IAHP program we have been working through Bookshark’s PreK homeschool curriculum. I love the literature-based approach to homeschooling. This was a major adjustment for me as I learn best using a workbook approach. But I quickly realize that this was not going to work for a little Z.
Now while we do love Bookshark, we are planning on switching to Build Your Library Kindergarten after we finish Bookshark PreK. Now I’m usually of the mindset, if its not broke, don’t fix it. But over the next few weeks I will share with you why I feel this is the best course of action for Little Z. I will also share with you the critical thinking math program we are working through that is great for kids who are not ready to write just yet. Also we have found a few series that we are reading aloud before bed, and both of us are enjoying them.
Have you ever changed curriculum even though the one you are currently using works? Let me know in the comments below.
Look forward to sharing more with you in the weeks to come.
Can a child have too many books? The answer is no according to a study done at the University of Nevada. Having more books in the home makes kids smart. Whether you living on a minimum wage income or are in the high income tax bracket. Or live in the United States or China, illiterate or college graduates, parents can help their children by have books in the home. This 20 year study says that this simple act can increase the level of education their children will attain..
For years, educators have thought the strongest predictor of attaining high levels of education was having parents who were highly educated. But, strikingly, this massive study showed that the difference between being raised in a bookless home compared to being raised in a home with a 500-book library has as great an effect on the level of education a child will attain as having parents who are barely literate (3 years of education) compared to having parents who have a university education (15 or 16 years of education). Both factors, having a 500-book library or having university-educated parents, propel a child 3.2 years further in education, on average.
We Need All The Books!!
Anyone who has been to my home knows that I have a love for books. Especially kids books. I have shelves and shelves of book bins in my daycare area along with a Rubbermaid bin of board books. Boxes of chapter books put away for Z when he is older, and each child has 50-100 books in their bedroom at any given time.
But Books Are Too Expensive. Right?
When I read this study back in 2010, we had just moved from a tiny apartment to a more spacious townhouse. Reading this I knew I had to grow my son’s home library. However, even though I had a great job, at $4.99 and up a book, I knew it was going to be a long process. Especially since I was planning on quitting my good paying job to open up my own home daycare.
Thrift Store Snob No More!
During this time I was part of a online forum called BrillKids and was constantly on Amazon or Chapters adding recommended books to my shopping cart. It was starting to get pricey.
One day I met up with another mom from this group who happened to live in a city 30-45 mins away from me. She introduced me to this thrift store in her town that had an amazing used book section. Up until that point I was a bit of a snob when it came to buying stuff used. But when I saw I could get my son books for .10-.75 cents a piece, I got over them not being new pretty quick.
Expanding Our Family Library Without Breaking The Bank
Over the years I have figured out many ways to buy books for my kids and expanded our family library without breaking the bank. Of course their are still times when I will pay full price for specific books. My oldest son loves graphic novels and comic books. He’s not as big of a bookworm like his younger brother and sister are, but he will pick up and read a graphic novel on his own. So in this situation, I have no issues, ordering him full price books off of Amazon.
Why The Library Is Not For Me
Before someone asks, we don’t use our local library often. I am terrible with due dates. I often forget to return books and the late fees we incur get down right embarrassing. One thing I don’t like is to be rushed with a book. I like to go back to a book and have it available to me. So while this is a great for a lot of families, I can’t seem to get my act together.
11 Ways to Build Your Child’s Home Library Without Breaking the Bank
Over the last several years I have found a few ways to expand our home library without breaking the bank, here are a few ways I’ve done so.
1) Hit up your local thrift stores.
Parents are often shocked what they find on those shelves. I often drool over the Usborne Catalog. I have yet to place an order. Why? Because I have managed to find so many Usborne books at my local thrift stores. Many people go to Usborne parties and feel obligated to buy something. And well, what happens when you don’t really want something? Yep, it lands up at the local thrift store.
What about those Leapfrog Leapster Pen (formally known as Tag Pen) books that retail for $9-$15 a book? Yeah I don’t buy those new anymore either. I can find them at our local Value Village Thrift store for $1.29 a book. Of course you have to have patience, but after a year or two we have a very large collection of these books. The plus is since I have also been able to find these pens for $2-$5 at the thrift stores as well, when we are done with these books, I can bundle them in lots and resell them. I should be able to easily regain what I spent.
2) Garage Sales.
As soon as the snow is mostly melted in my area, we start seeing garage sale signs popping up at the usual corners. This can sometimes be a bookworms paradise. I have picked up full box sets of chapter books for my kids for $5-$10. However be sure to pull each book out and quickly flip through them. A month or two ago I was so excited to find the Little House on the Prairie box set for $5. I was about to go pay when I thought I should check them out. Good thing I did, 2 of the books apparently had something split on them and the pages were are stuck together. Needless to say I left them behind.
A lot of people just want to clear out their kids books and will sell them for .25cents to a few dollars. Know your prices! I have seen people selling books for nearly full price. Or selling a book for $2 that has been widely circulated and can be found every other time at the thrift store for a quarter. However because I’m well aware of the prices of graphic novels, I’m willing to pay up to $5 for some of them.
If you find several books at one garage sale that you want to buy, try haggle down the price a bit. A lot of the time people just want to get rid of stuff as soon as possible.
3) Kijiji and Craigslist.
When shopping on these types of sites I prefer to buy lots of books as opposed to individual books because I have to factor in the cost to drive to pick up. Many homeschoolers clear out their homeschool libraries as their children outgrow them to make more room for age appropriate materials.
Also remember you don’t always have to pay the posted price. Some people post their items for more than they think they can get to give wiggle room for haggling. Just make sure you are being respectful when making an offer. Nothing is more insulting when you’re selling something for $20 and a person offers you $5.
4) Library Book Sales.
Our local library often has books for sale. They are usually withdrawn books, or books donated to the library that are no longer needed. This is a great place to get DK Encyclopedia type books, kids chapter books, picture books, even graphic novels for CHEAP. Where I live they charge .50 cents a book or a reuseable bag full for $5. Be sure to carefully look over the books for water damage and missing pages.
I love getting board books here for my daycare. Lets be honest, my daycare kiddos are all learning how to respect books and are like a pack of wolves a little rough with them. If I have spent $5 on a bag of books and have to throw a few a way from time to time, I can live with that. If I had spent $5-$15 on that same book, I find that a bit harder to swallow.
Maybe your mom saved a box or two of your old kid books? Maybe a friends with older kids is looking to get rid of some of their kids old books they have outgrown.
When I was maybe ten years old, my grandma’s neighbour called her and told her to send us over. Turns out she had several subscriptions to the Archie comic series, and over the years she had boxes and boxes of them. She could no longer read the small print, so she had not renewed her subscription. She wanted to make more room in her apartment for other things and sent us home with hundreds of the comics. Irene may have passed away a few years ago, however her memory lives on, my oldest 2 kiddos are now working through those books she gave me and my brother all those years ago.
When my kids birthdays come around, friends and family often text or call me to ask what the birthday boy or girl might like. This is the time that I sometimes suggest books that are harder to find in the thrift stores. Or my step daughter often asks for gift cards for Amazon or Chapters, so she can order books she has wanted.
7) Advent Books.
Ok this is more of a suggestion on how to give books to your kids. But that being said, instead of buying those expensive $40 Lego Advent calendars, go to the local thrift store and buy 24 books. If your child is young, look for Christmas theme picture books. Wrap each book up and write a number on it. Each night before bed allow your child to unwrap one book and read it together.
8) Amazon or Chapters Book Market.
This is a good option if your looking for specific books that are a bit pricier. This year we decided to use the curriculum BookShark(the secular version of Sonlight). But the complete kit would have cost me $500+ Canadian with exchange and shipping cost. Instead I ordered the Instruction Guide and went on the Amazon Market and bought used copies of the books for much less. While it was cheaper for me to buy a few of these books new, most were purchased used and I saved $200.
9) Mcdonald’s Kids Meals.
While we try not to eat fast food, I have noticed that instead of getting a toy with your child’s Happy Meal, you now can request a book. That is something that will typically get a lot more use than a dinky plastic toy that will likely land up in the donation bin in a few months.
10)Create books for your child.
Since following the Glenn Doman method of teaching my son to read, I have created hundreds of books for him. This way I can control the content, font size, and positioning of the words and the pictures. You can either do these by hand on cardstock, or create them on Google Drive. I prefer the Google Drive method, because this way I can share them with other parents. My thoughts are if a group of 10 parents each made 10 books, and everyone shared them, each family will land up with 100 books. Many hands make light work.
I find my son enjoys books about the characters on shows he watches on Netflix. However I find with these books, a lot of the time are why too long. Not to mention they have itty bitty writing. Licensed character books are often easy readers with limited vocabulary and next to no story line. By creating my own books, I can take books he already owns, scan the pictures, and change the story. I can summarize and make a book that’s too long appropriate for him. I can also take those lame readers with no real story and make them more exciting.
Has your last child has outgrown those phonics reader? Their princess storybook collection collecting dust? Sell them and use the money to buy more age appropriate materials.
Of course you’re going to want to keep your kids favourites. Pull those ones out and put them away for their kids. But all the rest sell online, at a garage sale, etc. Clear some room on the old bookshelves and fill the space with age appropriate books that will be used .
Is it important to you for your child to have a large home library? How have you grown your family library?
UPDATED Nov 2020: Since I wrote this post, IAHP split into two separate organizations. We are now working with Doman International.
Click HERE to fill out a quick form and a representative from Doman International will contact you to set a FREE consultation.
Debating between programs to help your child with autism?
Family led autism treatment are a great option. But which program is better? Two that come to mind are Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential aka IAHP and the National Association for Child Development(NACD).
I should mention right now, that my family has been involved in both of these programs. We are still involved with one. This article may seem bias to some, however, it is strictly based on my personal experiences and feelings. Others may disagree, and they are entitled to their experiences and feelings.
I’ve known about The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential for years. But I had it in my mind that Philadelphia was too far away. I could never put together enough money to make that happen. Right?
The National Association for Child Development
However, in 2014, I heard about a program run by Robert Doman Jr, Glenn Doman’s nephew. It was called the National Association for Child Development(NACD). A few things intrigued me about this program. They could conduct their assessments via Skype and I did not have to travel to start. Also if we did want to see them in person there was a chapter in Minneapolis about 7 hours south of Winnipeg.
I don’t want to say that they mislead me, but I was sold that this was a better, more modern version of what they do at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential(IAHP). I guess I believed this because of what a speaker at a homeschooling conference years ago had also told me about the IAHP when he had suggested that I skip the IAHP and go to yet another program called The Family Hope Center.
Over the years I had heard stories that the IAHP was like a military camp, everything was their way or the highway.
I was led to believe that if you could not commit 10-15 hours a day to run IAHP programs, you were not good enough for them. These other treatment centres are sold as if they understand families, and they can help you and your child in the amount of time your family has available.
I should also disclose that in the past I have been quick to drink the kool-aid when it comes to helping my boys. I can be easily swayed on and sold an idea if there is hope that it can help my boys. You could say I have curriculum coming out the wazzu because others have said it was amazing. Over the last year or so I have become more selective of what I jump into because I realize I might be wasting money that could be better spent on proper treatments.
Maybe This Is Not What I Signed Up For?
As we got more involved with the NACD, I started feeling like it was not what I signed up for. The monthly fee of $260 US dollars a month started to really hurt when the Canadian dollar took a dive. This wouldn’t have bothered me so much if I felt the money was well spent. However, I just didn’t understand what these programs were really doing to help my children.
I was also told we would have a coach available to answer all my questions and be in constant contact with us to help us stay on track. While my emails were answered when I emailed my coach, the constant contact we were promised was just a Monday thru Friday mass email. Nothing personal, no checking up on how things were going. If I didn’t email them, the only contact I got was this mass email.
Enough Is Enough
I guess the straw that broke the camel’s back was when one Skype evaluation, our evaluator suggested we make some changes to Little Z Man’s diet. When the report came back with all the program changes, there was no mention of the diet. When I emailed to ask for more information I was told it was not actually part of the program. She suggested that we avoid processed foods and simple carbs, but besides that, if I wanted more guidance I would have to set up a consult with one of their doctors for the fee of $250 US dollars. This was on top of the $260 a month I was paying for their support, and the extra $250 4 times a year when we had reevaluations.
I felt with the money I was paying, and the fact that the gut is the second brain, this should have been a more important part of the program. Eventually due to the lack of understanding why I was doing the programs, and the constant need to spend even money on subscriptions to programs, apps, mp3 lectures, CD programs we discontinued treatment with the NACD. The minimal changes in the boys were not worth the kind of money I was spending.
The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential – IAHP
Eventually, I started connecting more via Facebook and phone conversations with a mom who had attended the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential course for well children. She started getting on me about having to go and take the What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child course. I agreed with her, but I didn’t really believe I would.
Make It Happen, Captain
However, she became ruthless about it. She cleared up some misconceptions that I had about the IAHP, and kept telling me, “Monique, you just need to make this happen.” Make this happen? How does one just make something like this happen? Money doesn’t just materialize when you need it.
Okay, maybe money doesn’t just materialize. However, it is amazing that when you make up your mind to make something happen, you can make it happen. I decided I was going to Philadelphia and I put down my deposit and made the rest happen.
Boarding A Plane
On that early September morning on the way to the airport, I had butterflies in my stomach. This was really happening. I had been dreaming about stepping foot onto the campus of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential for 9 years. Now after 5 months since deciding I was going, I had made it happen. It was surreal.
Nearly 10 months since taking the What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child Course(WTD course), life as we know it has changed forever. The programs that I learned to implement are making a HUGE difference for Little Z Man. We have in a general sense, to treat his whole body, physically, intellectually, and physiologically.
The Why Is More Important Than The How
I realized that knowing WHY you are doing a program with your child is just as important as HOW to do the program. The staff at the Institutes made me realize that without knowing WHY you are doing something, I am less likely to be motivated to do it. This is why the NACD programs did not work for my family. The short 10-minute videos and 1-2 page write-ups about their programs did not answer the WHY for me.
Honestly, when I was sitting in that course I realized a lot of the information was available in the books, however the course explained to me in more detail the WHYS and the HOWS in a way I could really get. Without the history of the program, the science behind how they figured out the brain works in children with brain injury, and the experiences of other families who were successful, the books did not have the same power as they do to me today.
These books are also not the type you read once and put away. I’m always coming back to them and rereading them and referencing them. Every time I read them something else jumps out at me. Something that we were not ready for the first time I read it and I forgot about jumps out at me and gives me new ideas.
No Secret Handshakes
I kept hearing that the IAHP is a super secretive cult, and unless you are part of their Intensive program you can’t access their wealth of information to help your child. I have learned this couldn’t be further from the truth. The IAHP honestly wants to help as many families as physically possible. They are doing what they can to do that in a safe responsible way, such as:
Free webinars on Youtube
The What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child book. This is a must-read for families and the prerequisite to all of the other programs.
The Home Program Consultation- After you take the course you can do with with your advocate via Skype
The What To Do About Your Brain-Injured Child course
Private Facebook group for families who have already taken the WTD course. Several staff members frequent this group.
Except Maybe Masking…
There is one program that the IAHP seems very hush-hush about, that is the masking program. However, this is for good reason. The masking program is only prescribed to children that have had a complete medical evaluation. They must be found to be fit for this program. If done on a child that is not a candidate it could be very unhealthy for them. It has nothing to do with the IAHP wanted to keep their methods secret. It’s about protecting children from well-meaning parents without the proper information.
That course is enough for many families to change their children’s lives without ever having to go back to the Institutes. However for myself, to keep my momentum I need to continue to learn. I need more, but that is just a personal thing. I have seen so much change in Little Z Man. Even so I feel like I need the staff at the Institutes to do a thorough evaluation on him. They will help me come up with a more personalized program for Z. I’m the type of person that will take on too much and not get anything done. I feel that having the staff guide me will keep me on track.
Once Was Not Enough
Next month we are jumping on a plane and the staff will be getting their hands on Little Z Man. Through the power of answered prayer and determination, we have made another trip to Philadelphia possible.
In order for any program to work, not just therapies. It could be a diet, financial plans, etc, the WHY is as important, maybe more important than the HOW. I need someone with the heart of a teacher guiding me through the process. It is very discouraging when I’m promised a coach and a whole program to find out that parts of the program are not included. Let alone only come at yet another fee.
For me, the IAHP is the tried, the tested, and true path for my son. They have 60+ years of experience and data to back them up. Yes of course they do have their cases where they cannot help that particular child. After taking the course I can now see that the kids they cannot help are not forgotten about. Actually, the opposite is true. Those are the kids on the back of their minds day in and out. Pushing them forward to find new techniques and programs to solve that problem.
You can read a bit about our journey with NACD in there past post:
Wow! I can’t believe it has been well over a month and I still have not not written about our local homeschooling conference. I originally wanted to wait until the materials I had ordered arrived, and then life got in the way.
A local Christian Homeschool group, MACHS, puts on the Homeschool Conference here in Winnipeg every year. Back when I was homeschooling Wes I also attended. You can read about my past conference experience in 2011 HERE. It is such a great way to get motivated and inspired. As usual the event was 2 days long. I closed my daycare and took a personal day on the Friday to attend on my own and scope things out. Then Hubby and I attended together on the Saturday.
The Friday was a great time for me to reconnect with other homeschooling moms. We were able to eat lunch together and chat about our kiddos, what was working for us, and what wasn’t.
Saturday was a great time for Hubby and I to explore our options. We were also able to talk about what we really wanted for our son, and what we didn’t want. We spent the session before lunch that was biblically based at the vendors as hubby is not religious. It was nice to see what we think will really work for Little Z Man and what likely wouldn’t be a fit.
The keynote speaker was Heidi St.John, mother of 7, grandmother of 2, author of The Busy Homeschool Mom’s Guide to Daylight and blogger for the blog The Busy Mom. My friend was saying that all the women in her co-op were super excited to hear her speak. Tracy and I had no real idea who she was.
Now I can say I follow her blog and social media accounts. She was an awesome speaker. Some of what she said was not what we wanted to hear, but it was the truth. There is no sugar coating things in the way Heidi spoke.
I heard her speak on the topics:
Fearless Homeschooling: How to Ignore the
Critics and Do What’s Best for Your Child
Real Life Homeschooling
The First Three Years: A Workshop for
We also sat in on three sessions by other speakers:
Learning Disabilities, ADHD, and My Homeschooled Child – By Ross McCallum
Homeschooling 101 – By Stacy Fraser
Hands on Learning Fun! By Debbie Mogilevsky
The vendors. Oh the vendors. It is amazing how one could get lost in the 2 vendor halls. I could also spend our life savings. Heck, I could even miss all the speakers speak, because it so easily get lost in the shopping aspect of the conference. I think of my first conference, before I started blogging. I spent so much money on curriculum I didn’t really need.
The vendors are not evil. They are actually very helpful, but you have to remember to keep your wits about you.
Before you go to the conference, try and keep these things in mind:
Look at what you already have at home, how are you going to use it?
What are you hoping to accomplish next year?
What do you have missing to do just that?
Now you know what you have. How your going to use it. What you want to do, and what you still need to get.
Now when you get there and you see this amazing phonics program, and the sales pitch sounds unbelieveable, you can really decided if it’s necessary. Oh yeah, you have two other phonics programs at home, and they seem to be going well. Why fix something that is not broken? But now you have the name and contact information for a different phonics program, should you hit the wall with the ones you current own. You just saved yourself from buying something you may not have needed.
Answering the above questions also keeps you focused. If you love anything to do with Language Arts, and are not too drawn to Math, but you need to find a math program for your child, this will help you say no to the unnecessary stuff. You can now keep reminding yourself to focus on finding a shiny new math program that hopefully you and your child will enjoy.
So what did I buy? Isn’t this what all homeschool moms want to know. Well I’m happy to say we didn’t go crazy. I have A LOT of materials from when we were homeschooling Wes. We also are going to be going back to the IAHP(If you’d like to hear more about that, check out the video below.), so I know they will have an entire, intensive program for us. I do not want to buy materials, only to not have time to work on them.
Now while Z is already reading, and has a solid understanding of phonics, I grabbed Get Ready for the Code A (Explode the Code). The main reason I grabbed this book was to work on following directions and another way to work on penmanship. I thought if I used a subject he was strong in(phonics) to work on a skill he needs practice in(fine motor skills).
I was really impressed with the whole Akeba curriculum. However Little Z’s level in different subject areas varies too much to follow an all in one curriculum. However I did pick up Readiness Skills K4 – A Beka. It is a great resource for skill appropriate activities for Little Z Man to work on those fine motor skills.
As you can see, I wasn’t kidding when I said fine motor skills are really our main focus.
One other thing that I will be sure to plan ahead for next year is to bring a lunch on Friday when I’m there without my Hubby. I found the lunches they served to be small, and overpriced. The food was good, but $9 for a small chicken salad sandwich, a few carrot sticks and a bag of chips was too much. I could have gotten the same at Subway and have been full.
The prices of the conference has gone up, but the price now includes a one year membership to MACHS(Manitoba Association of Christian Home Schools) as well as access to the video/sound recordings to all the sessions presented this year and last year for one year. This is great because there were times were two sessions were happening at the same time that interested me. But now I can listen to the second one at home and not have to miss either of them.
The one thing I always dread about the conference is its location. Calvary Temple is a beautiful church, however it is located right downtown. Traffic is horrendous during rush hour on the Friday. Parking is a nightmare, and quite costly. So to hear the conference is moving to the Victoria Inn with unlimited free parking was amazing news!
What are conferences like in your neck of the woods? Please leave a comment and tell me all about them. Feel free to ask any questions.
Little Z is not an easy child to shop for at Christmas time. Before the holidays, my mom had me on the search for some gift ideas. While we were shopping we landed up in the LeapFrog section of the toy store. Little Z had really wanted the My Pal Violet plushie toy to match his My Pal Scout. When were there we noticed this game, LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters.
Basically this game is like the game Perfection. Except instead of an assortment of shapes, this game requires the player to put the alphabet in order. There is also a second part to the game, level 2 I guess. You instead a card in the indent of the board and start trying to build as many 3 letter words.
I love that the timer is quite long. I mean the game is designed for 3-6 year olds, so I appreciate that they actually have a chance to complete the task. How frustrating would it be for Little Z to never be able to complete the game. However I do love that as they get older you can give them less and less time to complete the game.
I do have to say, keep your receipt when you purchase LeapFrog Letter Factory Leaping Letters. The first one we got was a dud. We sat down to play it with Z and the board would not click down. We landed up having to take it back to the store to exchange. The second one works great, and we have had no issues. However I wanted to be fully transparent as I would hate to mislead my readers.
I originally thought it was just a great game for fine motor skills and focus. Z already knows his alphabet and his letter sounds. However, this week I realized this game will be a perfect addition to the All About Spelling curriculum I plan to use with Z in the future. One activity that is required is learning how to put the alphabet in order. I think this game is a great start. Parents can talk to their child when they are looking to put the letter in its correct spot, “What comes before Q?” or “What letter comes after V”. It is a great tool to facilitate these types of conversations with with child, without them feeling like they are being tested.
Disclaimer: My son received this game as a gift from my mom. We were not paid or compensated in any way by this company to share our opinion. I just thought what an awesome addition to our homeschooling curriculum and wanted to share it with my readers.