I guess its Montessori Monday

Today when two of my three babies were napping, I made something I have been meaning to for a while. Montessori sound boxes, well in our case there sounds jars.
I got nine little snap seal jars at the dollar store for 3/$1, and filled them with things I had in my cupboard.
My jars contained dry split peas, popcorn kernels, dry pasta, sugar, sprinkles, toothpicks, pennies, flour,and uncooked rice.
I then taped them shut with packing tape, because… well a lot of those items are choking hazards and I don’t want then opening them up.
Two of my daycare babies tried them out today and had a blast. Sorry I can’t post their pictures, however when Wesley came downstairs and saw how much fun we were having he joined right in an posed for some pictures.
They were also stacking them, it was super cute!


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Trip to Oak Hammack Marsh//Reading//Homeschooling Stuff

Wesley did something amazing yesterday! He took turns reading pages with his tutor. She said he did VERY well. Just needed help with names and really long words. I only wish he would read to me.
So last night I was suppose to go to a meeting, but Wes was off, he was real upset I was leaving. So half way to the meeting guilt took over me and I called and cancelled. I can home and we all jumped in the car and went to Oak Hammock Marsh. Wes was super excited because last time we were there a beaver ran up on shore and made Mommy scream and run away.
It was a really good experience. We got to see the beaver breifly(he stayed in the water this time), snails, and birds, as well as prarire dog wholes. Wes had a great time exploring and running around. Lucky for him, my bf is braver then I am and was willing to take him off the beaten trail and explore more interesting areas.


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I experimented this part weekend and allowed Wesley to have a few hotdogs that contained milk and gluten. It seems to have been a no go. He seems extremely emotion and tempertantrums are up. So back to gluten free and dairy free for now. I find that he is ok if something may contain milk, but if it does for sure its not a good thing I guess.
I can’t wait for things to quiet down around here. We haven’t had time to do math in a week or so. Which is not terrible considering we are over 1/3 kindergarten math, I just like to make progress every week. But I have to learn to accept that this is the bonus of homeschooling. Some weeks we will get more done then others.
We started doing DadDude from Brillkids fleshcards, its introducing phonics. We did half of the first pack and he seems to be getting it. We turn it into a game. I lay 12 out and pick one, we sounds it out then he can put it in his complete pile. So far so good, the first pack he is use to because of Hooked on Phonics. So hopefully they will keep going well.
And we are still working on our reading challenge!
This week there is something every day except Friday. My bf has to work, so Wes and I are having a Mommy and Me day after “work”, we will do homeschool after the kids leave and then I want to take him for a nice walk to the park. Maybe we will relax and pop some popcorn and watch Kung Fu Panda or the Bee Movie.
After he is in bed, and the house is a little tidied, I want to just focus on making a game plan for Spetember. Right now we are just winging it, experimenting to see what works and what doesn’t. But come September when he is offically in Kindergarten I want to have a nice path to follow.
Breath in and out and I hope to survive the week :)After this it should be a cake walk… Right??
Have a wonderful day!

Five Year Olds 1500 Book Challenge!

So I decided that we dont read enough in our home. This being said, my son now has trouble sitting for stories, unless he is stalling for bed. I realize that this is one of the most important things for him. He needs to hear me, or other adults read outloud to him. When I was working, if there was time we would read a book or two at night, sometimes we were great at this, other times not so good.
Now that we are at home full time, he is not getting any reading outloud anywheres but home. So I created a challenge. On his Fifth birthday (June 9th) I made a new list on my iPhone, called “5Year Olds 1500 Book Challenge”. We are going to read together atleast 1500 different books by June 9th, 2011. Sounds like alot, but really, its like 4.1 books a night.
I think this will keep me accountable, and is exciting for my son to see his list grow.
Another thing I’m going to do is start collecting books again. For a while I thought, “Really Monique! The kids got enough books already!” But I read somewhere (shoot! I forgot to book mark the site!!)that the more books available to a child the better they did in school in the future. Basically the larger the home library, the more the child wanted to learn, and went further in there education. And really! At this age you can get tons of great used kids books at thrift stores and garage sale. Forget having to pay $4.95 for a storybook, you can get them from 50cents used sometimes. I’ve also seen great titles at the dollarstore, like Franklin or Clifford.
Anyhow 4 days in we have read 20 books 🙂
I challenge you, keep a long of what you and your child read, and set a goal! Its fun!

Early Learning Window of Opportunity (Updated November 2018)

Early Learning Window of Opportunity

Window of Learning Opportunity: What is it?

The window of early learning opportunity is between 0-5 or 0-6 years old, depends on who you are talking to. I feel under so much pressure these last few weeks, and I guess its because Wesley’s fifth birthday is quickly approaching. He is still learning info at a crazy speeds so I’m going to keep exposing him to things like Little Reader and Tweedlewinks. I guess I just feel with the big 5 coming, its kind of now or never, and I know soon enough that window is going to be closed.

Wes had his preschool graduation yesterday. Even though he left his daycare last month they still called me and invited him. Sadly I could not go because I had already taken Monday morning off for an MRI, I could not ask my daycare parents to move their schedules again. So my parents took him. How can he be kindergarten age already! I’m 25 years old but I feel years and years older now that I have a 5 year old.

Hands On Activities. Homeschooling Doesn’t Always Involve Textbooks.

Wesley helped my boyfriend and step daughter plant a garden in the back a few weekends ago. We thought with the crazy rains and flash floods it was going to be ruined, but when the water went away our garden was ok and actually growing better!!

Honestly there is no better way to science then diving right into it.

What Are We Doing to Take Advantage of the Window of Learning Opportunity

(Not everything is done everyday, but at least a few times a week)

This is a hands on math program that uses colorful blocks to teach children math. (UPDATE Nov 2018: This program landed up not being a fit for Wesley. We landed up switching to TouchMath, and he just blossomed. However, I don’t want to turn you off this program just because it was not a fit for us. I know several families that use and love Math U See. )

Hooked on Phonics(HOP). When I think of this company, I think of the infomercials from the early 1990’s. My dad actually called the 1-800 number back then, but the price was OUTRAGEOUS. However in 1994 HOP was forced into bankruptcy due to several lawsuits regarding misrepresenting their product. However in the 2000’s HOP was acquired by the same company as the people who run Sylvan Learning. In 2006 they introduced much more affordable products. A while back my mom found the whole K-Grade 2 set for Wesley at Zellers for $40, and we have just loved it!! Wesley has solidified his knowledge in phonics and has become and even stronger reader because of it.

(UPDATE Nov 2018: The set my mom bought years ago has been a great investment. Zakari is now using the the program. We started him off with their Hooked On Phonics App. While Zakari learned to read mostly using the Doman Program and BrillKids, this helped make sure there were no gaps in his reading skills.

This was another Zellers special my mom found on clearance. It was a great introduction to writing for Wesley. It is very colorful and kid friendly.

(Update November 2018. This was a great program for Wesley to practice his penmanship before we started Handwriting Without Tears. I wish I had the hindsight to have bought 2 of these back in the day. But the one book is reuseable and Zakari has gotten a lot of practice using it.)

Want to start introducing your young child to vocabulary in different languages? Little Pim is a sweet way to start that process. (UPDATE Nov 2018: These videos are now available on Amazon Prime Video)

TweedleWink is a program designed to maximize your child’s natural sponge-like learning state, beginning from birth. Your child can easily absorb information in less than ten minutes a day — quickly, joyfully, without any stress.

I can honestly say this has been a favourite with Wesley. I’m impressed with the quality of the information his is being exposed to. (UPDATE Nov 2018: These are still a family favourite. Zakari has gone through the whole series several times. I have also had many daycare kids who have been in my care enjoy them.)

This is a wonderful program that will help your child recognize different composers and pieces of music. The CD plays  a part of the piece twice. The first time it is just the music. The second time it is the music with lyrics. The thing is the lyrics help the child learn who the composer is and what the piece is called.

(UPDATE Nov 2018: To this day every time I hear Vivaldi’s Spring From the Four Season, the lyrics from this CD are stuck in my head. This has been a timeless program that has been used with all my children and many daycare kiddos.)

This is a classic for Wesley. He often request it. Be sure to check out my review about this DVD! Trebellina and Friends DVD Review/

  • Walking every day

At least once a day I load my daycare babies in a stroller and we go for a walk. There is several great parks near by that we frequent. We also walk to one of two groceries stores within walking distance to get fresh fruit for lunch.

  • Trying to crawl & creep everyday

According to Glenn Doman, crawling and creeping are important steps to a child’s development. If they skip one of these milestone, don’t do it long enough or if they don’t doing it properly this can severely impact their development. So I have purchased several of these Puzzle Exercise Mat and I create a path for Wesley and my daycare kids to crawl and creep around on.

UPDATE Nov 2018: Sadly we were never as religious about this as I would have like with Wesley. But after attending the What To Do About Your Brain Injured Child course in 2016, we started doing creeping with Zakari. I was unable to get Zakari to crawl on his belly though. However at our Evaluation visit at the IAHP/Doman International in 2017 we were able to teach him how to crawl on his belly using the Crawling Track. 

Little Reader is the cornerstone of Wesley’s reading program. It is a easy to use computer program that has helped him learn to read before he was old enough to suppose to be able to read. The multisensory approach help babies, toddlers and young children learn to read with comprehension and fluency.

UPDATED November 2018: 8 years later I cannot express how instrumental this program has been in teaching both of my boys to read. You can read more about our journey in the post below:

BrillKid’s Learning System with LittleZMan

BrillKid’s Success Story -He Read His First Book at 4 Years Old

BrillKids Learning Adventures!

  • And of course trying to read LOTS.

We try to make this interesting but keeping track of all the books we read. We are using a sticker chart right now and it is going very well!

What do you do to take advantage of the Early Learning Window of Opportunity?

This blog post contains affiliate links.

Homeschooling a Child with Autism – Day in the Life


Well our homeschooling routine is going well. When the daycare babies leave for the day we sit down and do our “work”. During the time when the babies are napping, I try to do a few lessons here or there to break things up a bit.

So far we are LOVING Math-U-See Primer. We are working on the Primer level. It seems to give lots of practice and as we move on to other concepts they throw what you learned in the past to keep it fresh. We have been working on it for about 2 weeks, and we are starting Lesson 3.

Homeschool Money Saving Tip

I pulled the book apart and put it in a binder so that I could just remove the pages we are working on and put them in a clear sheet protector. We then use dry erase markers, so that way I can save the workbook in case we need to go back and review. Also I can use it for future children which is nice too.

Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read -First Grade is going great. I’m doing that for language with a mix of Little Reader and Reading Eggs. Reading Eggs has become almost an addiction for us. Since Friday he has almost completed a full map. I think part of this to is the fact that he didn’t perform properly on the test. He slipped while taking the placement test and for the sound effect for the incorrect answer more interesting, so he purposely got 3 more questions wrong. But hey a bit of review isn’t bad right?

Hooked on French was dropped of by the UPS guy today. To be honest… I’m disappointed. The readers it comes with are in English and only the words they want them to learn are in french. I personally believe in a more immersion approach. The workbook looks pretty user friendly, so I’m hoping I can salvage the kit.

I should really go to the Library and order some french audio lessons. He also seems to be liking Little Pim: French for Kids. I have a few more products I’m hoping to get in the mail soon that might help our journey.

We just finished the yellow book in Hooked on Handwriting – Learn to Print Kit. I’m looking forward to starting the next level!

He has an real ear for music. I’m working really hard at fostering that for him, but with me being Musically Challenged, it’s not so easy. Luckily on the Brillkids forum there is a person on there that has much more musical expertise if you will, that has given me some great suggestions.

Wes has been sitting this week at the keyboard I bought him at a garage sale for 1 dollar and copying what they say on Tweedlewinks. First he announces “This is C sharp,” and hits the key (like I said I’m not sure if it is correct, but I’m guessing him practicing is the way he is going to figure out if that sounds like what he has learned, so I don’t interfere because I really don’t know.) But It sounds like I’m going to have to learn. Then he says ” this is half a note” and plays, then this is a quarter note, and goes alittle faster. Its pretty amazing. I just wonder what else is soaking into that cute head of his that I don’t even know.

I’m putting an end to Your Baby Can Learn! (formally know as Your Baby Can Read), unless he’s tired and is just chilling. This series is amazing, however now that he can read all the words in the program, there is no benefit. He is past the reviewing stage and knows the materials taught like the back of his hand. I’m getting Your Child Can Read! in the mail soon hopefully. So I’m hoping that will bring a whole new perspective to the situation. Until then he is still doing Little Reader, Hooked on Phonics and Tweedlewinks.

The weather has been so hot around here I’ve been trying to get us all outside as much as possible. However its a little tricky as my daycare babies are 17 months and younger and tend to overheat. I’m hoping that the temperature drops just a few more degrees so we can go out and stay out longer.

Well I better clean up and get ready for another day. All and all I’m a lot happier now that I get to stay at home with my baby. And I maybe old fashion but I really like getting dinner cooking in the crockpot and having dinner on the table when my BF gets home. Its nice to have dinner ready at a good time, and being able to relax during the evening instead of cooking dinner.

Our First Homeschool Convention

Every year our local Christian Homeschooling group, MACHS, host their annual homeschool conference. This was my very first year attending. As a new homeschooling mom I was so excited for this day to come. Originally I had only signed up to attend the Saturday, because I was suppose to work in the Operating Room all day Friday assisting with dental surgeries. However the other assistant asked to switch shifts with me, which freed up my Friday!

I woke up and got Mr. Wes ready and sent him off to daycare. He only has about a month left of daycare in his centre and we will be transitioning to me being at home full time at the end of April. For now though, I am very grateful there was somewheres for him to go while I attended.

When I arrived I found it very overwhelming at first. I was dumbfounded. The original plan was I would window shop Friday, and buy on Saturday. Well after witnessing the line up at the Math U See kiosk, and that the Primer pile was going down very quickly I panicked decided to buy. I stood in the long line and asked everyone a million questions about the program, some moms had used it from kindergarten to grade 12. Everyone said they wouldn’t go with anything else.

(Update 2017)However looking back I do not recommend parents jump to purchase a curriculum because they are selling out. Enquire if they offer free shipping of the items if they run out and you order before the end of the conference. If they do, this you should take the time you need to make sure this is the program you want and is best for your family. Looking back now this program was not a match for my oldest son. It involved many tears before we put it away.

Early on during the day on Friday,  I was taken under the wing of a seasoned homeschooler. She was a wealth of information. I found it comforting that her oldest was participating in the graduation ceremony the next day. It made me see that people were really pulling this off.  She showed me a few other programs, and offered some great advice. This made me feel so welcomed. While I did not come alone, the people I was with were also newbies to homeschooling. Can you say the blind leading the blind? You can tell that this conference is full of people with the hearts of teachers. Everyone was so kind and willing to help a new mom out.

Tip to experienced homeschoolers. If you see a new homeschool parent at a conference and they are open to it, take the time to share your experiences. Make them feel welcomed. You will be such a blessing to them.

Since I had spent a good chunk of Friday in the vendor area, Saturday I figured I better go to a few more lectures. The woman had talked the day before, Stacy McDonald, and really inspired me. Made me think long an hard about how I might be destroying my family slowly by nagging and nitpicking my hubby. Well the next day it was hard to listen to her  Mother/Daughter talk she was doing. She was encouraging parents not sending their daughters to post education outside the home. That once a daughter graduates from homeschool highschool she should basically stay at home till she gets married. If parents of girls what their daughters to be more educated they should encourage her to take it online. She also promoted girls not to work outside the home unless she’s doing missionary work.

I know everyone has a personal opinion about this, but I strongly believe that even if I woman wants to be a stay at home mom, she should have several skills in her back pocket. What if her husband gets sick and for a short or long period cannot work? What if her husband dies? What if her husband up and leaves her? I think that as parents we should be training our children, son or daughter, to be able to be both self sufficient as well as be able to live in a relationship with a spouse. Boys should be able to cook and clean. Girls should be able to work and change a tire. After listening to her Mother/Daughter talk, it was hard for me to take her lectures to heart knowing she has such a different point of view on raising children.

I landed up back in the vendor area again. I decided to pick up some basic Rod and Staff Homeschool Preschool Activity Workbooks- Set of 4 (for 3 & 4 Year Old Children). They were fairly cheap, and I think they will help get Wes use to doing workbook type lessons. Each book contains 32 pages of color by numbers, tracing and matching. They are advertised as being great for teaching numbers, shapes, colors, and more

Something I have found helpful is it to unbind all these books and put them into binders. This way when I want to do the lesson with Wes, I can take them out and put them in the page protector and he can do them dry erase. That way we can reuse them if we need to review and I will have them to use with future children as well as with my daycare kids.

All in all it was a great experience. I definitely plan on attending next year. I think I will make sure to really study the schedule ahead of time. This way I can plan which sessions are important to me, and which I think I will skip to spend time in the vendor hall.

I do wish there was a non religious or secular convention here too. It’s not that I don’t believe in God, I do. I know though there are secular material available for homeschoolings that might be an amazing addition to our homeschooling classroom. These types of programs are not typically offered at Christian conventions.

UPDATE: Check out the other homeschooling conferences I have attended since 2010.

MACHS Homeschool Conference 2011- Keynote Speaker Andrew Pudewa

MACHS 2017 Homeschool Conference in Winnipeg- Keynote Speaker Heidi St. John

 

5 Things I Wish I Had Done to Help my Preschoolers Penmanship & Mommy and Me Baking Time

Wesley and I spent the day at home together, while my hubby took the car to work. It is so nice to have a day off in the middle of the week and be able to spend one on one time with my son. What a perfect time to work on some preschoolers penmanship skills and place math while baking. Plus he likes to play hookie from daycare too.

First thing we got up and after breakfast we tried out the new wagon I got free on Kijiji. It worked great. We stopped at Giant Tiger to return some curtains. We landed up buying a DVD and cd about Kids safety, plus we got a free set of reusable sticker and cards about anatomy.
Then we walked to Superstore and got some basic groceries, and we walked home. When we got home I made Wes lunch and then we made some no bake cookies.

This is what we made 🙂 They taste better than they look, I promise. These no-bake cookies were childhood favourites of mine. So when I found out that you could purchase oats that were gluten free, I was so excited to make these for Wes. I clearly remember as a child my mom making these for me, and sneaking some while they dried on the wax paper.

Then we sat down and did some coloring. I’m really going to have to make this a regular thing as Wesley really struggles in this area. Really it is my fault, I never provided him enough coloring time. He just hated it before so it was hard. But he’s starting to enjoy it a bit more. His tutor had been working on teaching Wes how to write his letters, but the occupational therapist said we should work more on coloring and tracing letters for the time being. So we did some coloring together today 🙂

If I could have a do over when it comes to fine motor skills and penmanship I would have prioritized colouring time more.

5 Things I Wish I Had Done to Help my Preschoolers Penmanship

  1. I would have introduced colouring utensils(crayons, markers, pencils crayons, chalk, etc) at a much younger age.
  2. Purchased rolls of paper and done larger drawings with him to build up the muscles in his hands.
  3. Worked on hanging from a bar and eventually teaching him to brachiate on an overhead ladder. This would have helped build strength in his hands. Check out Glenn Doman’s book,Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby!: From Birth to Age Six
  4. Looked for one of those kiddie easels, and had him work with different mediums on an upright surface.
  5. Spent more time outside drawing on the ground with sidewalk chalk.

We are also starting a reading/spelling program. But we’ll do that after nap I’m pooped.

 

Tonight I’m cooking chili! Hubby’s not crazy about it, but there are leftover steak skewers from yesterday. I just need to make a big pot of something so we can have frozen lunches. I spent way too much on food yesterday for dinner. I told hubby we have to stop splurging like that. I really hope that once I’m a WAHM I can manage to feed us good meals for less money. At least this chili will get a good run for its money, and I’m going to make some freezer meatballs too.
Last night I called Calvert School and talked to a teacher there. They were so helpful. I decided to put Wes in the kindergarten program. I was looking at the wrong assessment before, he is so ready for kindergarten!! Yeah! I haven’t ordered it yet, because I want to wait till after the Homeschooling convention here in Winnipeg, just to make sure there isn’t something I like better.
I also started printing out some stuff for our Hungry Caterpillar theme. I have to laminate(or macktak)some stuff first, but it should be good. I’m hoping he enjoys it.

 

What Are We Using For Music in Kindergarten: Themes to Remember Vol 1

 

Well I was super excited when I got the postal office slip to go pick up my package. And there it was, our new Themes To Remember, Volume 1 book and cd.

What is Themes to Remember?

Themes To Remember, Volume 1 is a 124 page hard bound book. The product is designed to help anyone {particularly children) to recognize 40 classical music themes, to know the name of the composer of each theme, and to be knowledgeable about and love classical music. It is a light-hearted, fully illustrated book that includes portrait sketches of the 24 composers and definitions of musical terms. Piano, a quiet little cat, and Forte, a rather noisy little dog, will accompany you through the pages of Themes To Remember. The book also includes “good listening” suggestions for each of the four classical music periods covered in the book. -Amazon

I quickly uploaded it into my iPhone so Wesley and I could listen to it in the car.
The music seemed to catch his attention, but I personally found the lyrics hard to understand at first. But over time we are getting accustomed to them, and they are catchy. I hope this will help him appreciate classical music more than I did as a kid.
One thing that I noticed that everyone said would happen. I never had to force him to listen to it. It’s like he instantly can tell good quality music.

What kind of music program have you used with your child?

Our First contact with the IAHP- Founded by Glenn Doman

So I finally had a conversation with someone from The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. After days of phone tag, we managed to connect.
She suggested I read “What to do with your Brain Injured Child”, stating that even though Wes is still on the road to losing his diagnosis, he is still in the Institutes eyes “Brain Injured”.
I told her about how we are doing a home reading program and it is proving to be successful, she informed me that is just one piece to the puzzle and to look into the book “How to Teach your Child to be Physically Superb”. I told her I did have that book, but was confused on where to start, as the book is written for children starting at birth. She told me she could not give me advice over the phone, however crawling and creeping even in older children helps get the brain to develop.
She offered to send me an information package with more information about The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential. Once I have read the book “What to do about your Brain Injured Child” that will give me a good idea if the program is for us. Then to call her back to book a course.
The course would cost me $1900, but is for 5 days. It is a parents only thing. As hard as it would be to leave Wes I think this is the best thing I can do for him. I mean the reading program alone has helped him develop so much, and he is loving the EK program too.

My main concerns was by the time I go out there and finish this course Wesley will almost be 5. Won’t that be too late?? The lady assured me that they go by neurological age, and that it would be still very valuable 🙂
So after getting off the phone I went online to chapters.ca and ordered the book.

I have to say I was very impressed. She was not pushy at all. There was no salesman talk, she just answered my questions.
Step 1 Read book… I will keep you guys posted 🙂

Have you heard of The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential? What are your thoughts?

Eye Check Up for Wes//Homeschool Lesson with Handwriting Without Tears

Well I was home today. I had the worst head cold. I don’t usually stay home for that kind of stuff but my eyes were swollen and watery. Plus Wesley has been complaining about his eyes hurting him this weekend so I took him to the eye doctor.
He was so good! He thought it was like school because he was being asked to name then letters. LOL he’s say “T. T says Tah” Turns out he has perfect vision, his eyes are a little dry and that’s whats bugging him.

So instead of spending the morning with his ABA tutor, he spent it with me. He asked to do “words” a million times. “Words” usually means a mixture of flashcards. Right now he knows his time when it comes to hours and half hours, and today I introduced 15 mins. We are also working on some basic sight words, organs, sea creatures and musical instruments. I still don’t see how he can tell the difference between a oboe and a clarinet but he can lol.
To end the day after I got some meds, I was making dinner and he was demanding some attention lol. So I pulled out our “Handwriting without Tears” wooden pieces and he did those at the kitchen table while I cooked.

I’m still waiting for my Tweedlewinks DVD’s and Themes to Remember Cd and book to come in… I’m so excited. I’d really like to order “Your Child Can Read” and this other Math program another mom recommended but I have to pace myself. LOL don’t want to go broke 🙂