Thursday, March 31, 2011

What have we been up to? (March Nature Connections)

What have we been up to this month?

We have been jumping in puddles,

watching the waves

Climbing mountains of driftwood,

Sailing away in driftwood boats to far away places,

Enjoying the beach, even as wet as it was,

Making mud pies,

Going for walks,

loving the waves,

Climbing in trees,

Building sand castles,

Running from waves,

Building Mermaid castles,

Strolling the dunes,

Mountain climbing,

Discovering ladybugs,

Enjoying the fresh air,

Using our imaginations:
Collecting fallen branches to be wedding bouquets while humming "here comes the bride"

Enjoying amazing sunsets!
What have you been up to?

If you want to see more pictures of what we have been doing, or discovering where these pictures were taken, or follow along on our 4 1/2 month journey you can join us at (click here).

This post is linked to March nature connections.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St Patrick's Day! Crafts, games and sorting fun

Happy St Patricks day everyone! Today I made a cute little game your little ones are sure to love. It is great to use with a felt board or in a group on the floor at circle how ever you prefer.

All you need is to make a variety of different coloured pots and a gold coloured coin out of felt.

To start repeat the verse below while the children close their eyes, then the teacher/parent hide the gold coin under one of the pots. (while everyone's eyes are closed and the verse is being said)

Here are the words, it is one I made up many years ago for daycare:

Leprechaun, Leprechaun, Where's your Gold? (like doggy, doggy, where's your bone)
Leprechaun, Leprechaun, Where's your Gold?
Somebody stole it, they are bold!

Find your gold quick as can be.
Is it in the _(name colour pot)_, let's go see!

(above is a close up of the pot shape you could use as a pattern)
The charming little leprchaun pictured was made by Princess Nimble Thimble on Etsy. You can find her shop HERE. New dolls are added Wednesdays and Sundays I think so if the shop is empty check back soon or visit her sold area. We have many of these lovelies at our house :) I like to use the leprchaun as an added prop. You can give it to the child who is hiding the gold for added fun and to make it clear whose turn it is.

Above Aayla is searching for the leprchaun's gold

She found it so now it's her turn to hide it!
Our little leprchaun is also the perfect companion for sorting a rainbow!
Give your child at least 6 bowls and a jar of buttons, or pom poms etc and allow them to sort the items into the colour of the rainbow.

If your little ones want to be a leprchaun for the day click HERE for my past post on making leprchaun hats shown below.

Or THIS POST HERE for a fun Milk Rainbow.
And now I am off to go make one of THESE for snack. Doesn't it look yummy?

Monday, March 7, 2011

the simplest of things can be oh so hard... and a wishy washy washing game tutorial

Sometimes we take for granted of how lucky we are in so many ways. It is so easy to rush through each day and not take a moment to appreciate the simplest things in speech.

Those of you who know us, or have followed my blog for awhile will know that we have had a rough road figuring out why Aayla still does not speak. She will be 3 1/2 next month and has less vocabulary them most 8 month olds. It has been a long road of testing for things like cystic fibrosis and luckily ruling them out...but still since she turned 6 months I have been trying to fight to figure our what is wrong. At first I was told to "relax"..."just because Sierra hit her milestones early"..."wait and in time she will speak"... I am still waiting and she is still not speaking!

In September we finally got off of the wait list for speech therapy and Aayla goes weekly to our appointments at the Centre for Child development. Up until then we were trying signing with her and she picked up "more" and "please" but that was about it since she has muscle issues as well. She did a close representation of the signs but not exactly perfect. Signing was hard for her. She has had a few sounds for awhile now like "ma" for mom, "mo" for more which we can understand and differentiate but not easily for others to do. She has tried to say Sierra but it comes out as something sounding like "air-a". Her best word has been "YEAH!!!" and she says it with such enthusiasm, partly because her grammy Sue encoraged her with actions to try get the speech associated with an action and it worked!

Since being taken on by the Centre for Child Development Aayla has improved a lot. She is much more vocal with her coo's and babbles. It's so amazing to see her trying to make sounds, not words, but sounds and it is such a BIG step for her and it is such HARD WORK for her. She has also learned to say a two syllable word... "MOM-MY" and I must say it melts my heart to hear it :)

Just before Christmas we introduced a communication book of pictures she flips through to show us with pictures what she wants. She points to "I", then "Apple Juice" to use her "words". We are working hard on getting her to add the "WANT" picture inbetween and slowly but surely she is doing it.

It's a long slow road of persistence...of repetition...of trial and error as to what works and what doesn't...but why?

Finally we are getting down to that answer...not an official diagnosis yet but it is looking like this diagnosis will come.

Apraxia...wikipedia definition...

is a disorder caused by damage to specific areas of the cerebrum, characterized by loss of the ability to execute or carry out learned purposeful movements,[1] despite having the desire and the physical ability to perform the movements. It is a disorder of motor planning which may be acquired or developmental, but may not be caused by incoordination, sensory loss, or failure to comprehend simple commands (which can be tested by asking the person to recognize the correct movement from a series). Apraxia should not be confused with ataxia, a lack of coordination of movements, aphasia, an inability to produce and/or comprehend language; abulia, the lack of desire to carry out an action; or allochiria, in which patients perceive stimuli to one side of the body as occurring on the other."

A great site to learn more about Apraxia is found HERE.

Basically Aayla can understand what she is being asked to do, but somwhere along the trail of hearing the command, she looses the ability to do it. Aayla can blow bubbles on her own, but if you ask her to blow bubbles she can not do it.

In order to help Aayla we play many games...simple games like using an alligator prop and asking her what do we say to the alligator to get him to open his mouth..."AH" and after a few week sessions she now can say "AH" on command. The simplest of sounds...yet such a challenge for her...

We play a game at speech therapy called wishy washy with a handmade washing machine and Aayla really likes it so tonight I sat down with Sierra and we made one for her.

To make one I took apart a 1 Litre creamo container and eye balled up the measurements to make it into a box with a little flap on the top back and a lid that would open.
and put it back together inside out so the white was on the outside.
It then had to be taped back together. I just used clear packaging tape. My eye balled measurements were a bit off so I had to tape the back part where the buttons will go a little bit apart so the lid would still close (the picture will explain that better then my words!...hopefully)
Next Sierra drew on some buttons and the front view window :) How do you like her hairdo? She proudly did it all herself! After drawing on the buttons we hot glued the machine to a piece of cardboard from a recycled pizza box lid.

Next for the clothes. Since we don't have any small barbie doll type clothes in the house so we made our clothes out of old paint chips. Just draw some clothes on the back of the chips, cut them out and add a few details to the front and voila! (please don't look too closely at my drawings...they are barely recognizable but the girls don't care)

The object is to get Aayla to say "o" and "ou". The idea is to fill the washer with dirty clothes, then shake them around by moving the cardboard bottom and sing...

"wishy washy wishy washy wash wash wash"

Then open the wash up and take the clothes out one by one and say "Is it clean?" "OUUUUU, NO it smells" and really accentuate the "ou" and the "no". She loves it! Still hasn't had any luck with the sounds...but with persistence...she will :)

(Speaking of persistence have a look at THIS blog (PootandBoogie) of a friend of mine, she recently posted a blog on persistence her new BFF)

Wouldn't a fun extension to the washing machine be to make one of THESE (Click here) found at Filth Wizardry. You could use coloured clothespins and make it a matching game as well. Aayla LOVES matching games of any kind so I might have to give it a try tomorrow when I can find those little clothespins I have buried in the craft room somewhere...

Before signing out...I just want to urge you to stop and take time to sit and reflect on the simple things in life...of all the things we have to be thankful for, be them big or matter what our hardships in strong and carry we are lucky in life and fortunate to have all the simple speech for instance :)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Paint Chip Craft Fun Tutorials

I am stating to think about simple, compact activities to take on the road with us when we go on our trip this spring/summer all over the US and Canada. (to follow our travels starting in April and read about our preparations follow my other blog at Operation Explorations-click here)

After seeing this post at Dandee I was planning on making one of her miniature memory games for the girls on the trip but then I had an idea...what if you used paint chips instead?

Which led me to making an even simpler matching game.

All I did for this was take a 1 1/2 in square paper punch and made 16 pairs of different shades of coloured paint chips. I used a wavy edge square so the corners wouldn't be so sharp. If you don't have any punches you could simply cut the rectangles off of the paint sample.

Then I stored them in a small container that scrapbook embellishments came in which I had been saving for who knows how long, waiting for the perfect something to come along. All you need to do is line them up in rows with the colour facing down and try to find a pair.

Since Aayla loves matching games and she needs to work on small motor skills I also made a matching game from clothespins.

For this just punch out a shape again and then with the same colour paint chip, cut off a strip, glue it to a clothespin and store in a container.

To play Aayla will have to find the clothespin colour that matches the square and clip it on. Voila! It is easy and cheap to make as it cost me about .25cents worth of clothespins.

With the scrap peices when you make these...don't throw them out! Put them in an envelope and when you need a few minutes while making supper, pull them out, hand over some paper punches and a glue stick and you might be amazed as to what they can create!
I also found THIS idea at Elegant Muslings which uses just a hole punch so if you don't have any shaped punches this would be easy to do. I will be making an activity bag for the trip with paint chips, a hole punch and glue as well as one with punches. Two similar, but yet with their own creative endings.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potatoe and Shamrock print tutorial

Tonight Sierra wanted to paint and St Patrick's Day is just around the corner but it was nearing bedtime so I thought we'd make Shamrock prints because they are quick and easy :)

All you need is some paint in varying shades of green, and a pepper (green would be better but this red one was getting past it's prime so we used it), a knife to cut it in half (adult use only) and some paper to print on.

Of course Aayla has to get her hands in does the saying go? If they don't get dirty then they aren't having enough fun? My girls must have lots of fun because they are always dirty!

After getting all washed up we read Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potatoe because I couldn't wait until St Patrick's Day to break out the wonderful wooden figures to go with the story.

Jamie and the leprechaun where made by the ever talented Lorilee of Mamakopp on Etsy and the girl Eileen was made by Jalutoys on etsy. Two of my favourite etsy shops for sure!

Using these wooden toys and a few simple props we had on hand like a green playsilk, brownish scarf, a wooded pot filled with golden wool roving and of course a big potatoe we had everything we needed for a magical bedtime story.

After I read the story once with the props the girls were both eager to jump in and have a turn retelling the story with their own little spins :)

Sierra studying the pages before she has her turn telling the story.
in Sierras version the potatoe rolls out of the ground and lands, ``kerplop...right in the bed of lazy Jamie!``

Aayla had more fun with the scarves :)
Sierra so proud of the story she told
Such fun for awhile until the tiredness sets in and the grouchy non sharers arrived...then it was off to bed...night night Jamie O`Rourke!