Sunday, 16 September 2012

Birthday fun!

Moo is 4! We have a 4 year old that thinks he knows everything, who likes the colour pink, dinosaurs and Hunstanton. At 4 he has started learning how to tie knots, can count to 12, write his name and constantly invents his own words.
For his birthday he asked to go to Hunstanton. We played crazy golf, and went grown-up bowling, went in the arcades, and Moo had his first pony ride (although I can't find the photos of that anywhere!) All in all, a really good family day out! He's already planning his next birthday!

Learning about Africa - Part 2

Sooo... Finishing up with our topic on Africa this week. Here's a little of what we got up to.
Send-A-Cow have a nice colouring/presentation resource for younger children (also very handy to simplify things for special needs kids) and some nice videos about the work that they do, which Lamb enjoyed. We plan on getting Daddy to help us send a chicken as a thankyou for the lovely resources. Great resources actually, not just for learning about life in rural African countries, but also for talking about charities and why their work is so important.

One of my personal favourites this week were our animal riddles. Lamb found this rather perplexing because he thinks so literally, but with that fact in mind I was super pleased with him for managing to come up with something... of course Mummy did the writing :) The point of the exercise was not handwriting so I didn't want to give him too many challenges at once thereby running the risk of failure. And nobody likes feeling a failure, especially little boys that already have too much "can't" in their vocabulary.

More practising bar charts too. As Lamb has already grasped how to fill in a bar chart we've started to move on so that Lamb has to start remembering how to draw up the bar chart itself. Went well!

And a quick name check of a couple of books that are brilliant for a KS1 African topic. 'Bringing the rain to Kapiti plain' is a lovely repetative, lyrical story of drought and the eventual rain that follows. "This is the Tree" is an equally good book that tells of all the different animals that are sustained by the Baobab tree, with really nice life-like pictures of the animals, both those you might expect to appear in a book about african animals, and others that get a look in far less often.

There were a few things we didn't get around to doing, but the enthusiasm for all things Africa. Unusually for me the end of our African topic found me completely unprepared for our next topic. Hmmm. I've ordered in lots of Shirley Hughes books for the interim and figure we'll spend a week or so just reading through these and talking about the life experiences in the stories, while we carry on with maths and literacy. I'm thinking maybe we might have an R.E topic next. Hinduism maybe? Or should we go for a science unit? It's been a while since we did a science unit. Ak, better decide quickly!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Burrell's Junk

As part of the Thetford festival there was an event at the Charles Burrell museum where the kids could come along to do some junk modelling. How do you like the boys traction engine?

Africa Part 1

For the last month or so we have been doing a topic on Africa. I had thought the kids would love The Lion King. Who doesn't love The Lion King? Yeah, they weren't much fussed with it. Ho-hum. But we have been working with some lovely books. We painted African animal alliteration pictures after reading 'We All Went on Safari: a counting journey through Tanzania' which is a fabulous resource we ordered from the public library. It works on so many levels. Lots of animals for pre-schoolers of course, but also alliteration on every page, a nice easy rhythm, and part of the book that we really enjoyed was learning how to say these animals names in an African language. This is Lamb's lion which I had to save before he completely obliterated all trace of it with the brown paint. Interestingly he 'got' the rather abstract concept of alliteration, understanding that he needed to find a 'l' word, but then struggled to actually think of one. He came up with 'long lion' in the end, and 'wide warthog'.

I wanted to get across that Africa is NOT a country, but is made up of lots of countries. We coloured all the different countries on a map and then we made these 'Welcome' posters. The idea was that we could all make posters that said 'hello' in lots of different languages used in different parts of Africa, using whatever materials the heart desired. It didn't quite work out as you might see. Impressively Lamb recognised 'bonjour' as French and expressed some surprise that French was spoken in Africa, but when it came to actually making the poster it wasn't so great. He wanted to scribble and glue. He did not want an objective. My trying to keep him on task only led to him becoming frustrated and aggressive, so it was an achievement to even get 'sopa' out of him!

Another wonderful book we have read is 'Mama Panya's Pancakes', which is about a little boy and his mum heading of to market. Along the way the little boy invites all of their friends to share their pancakes, leaving mum stressing over how she is going to feed all of these people. In a predictable but sweet turn of events all of their friends bring some extra food with them and everybody has enough to eat. At the end of the book there are a nice few pages of information about living in a village in Kenya. We used this book to look at how people live in Kenya and with some help to stay on task Lamb produced a great picture. There are even pancakes being cooked over a wooden fire and and outside toilet. Was really pleased with how this went actually!

Send-A-Cow have some wonderful resources available on their website that we've been using too. Lamb had fun using the 'Povertron' machine to compare rural African life to our lives, and they also have a huge photograph bank which we have used lots to look at different aspects of living in rural Africa, which led us to thinking about wants vs needs which Lamb coped with admirably (though I had to laugh inwardly at some of his thoughts - we don't need beds but they are nice - school is a want but it is important - play is definitely a need)

And of course a topic on Africa wouldn't be complete without reading 'Handa's Suprise' which we used to cut open some exotic fruit... It was a great activity. KS1 I would guess? The kids had to estimate how many seeds each fruit would have inside, then actually count the seeds and record the information on a table. We got some pretty neat handwriting from Lamb for that too! Once the fruit was cut open the boys got the opportunity to taste the fruit. Moo loved this but Lamb couldn't be convinced to try any of the fruit. He did consent to sniff the familiar orange though so I count that as a success. He was pretty afraid of the pineapple though so we had to tread carefully there. Afterwards we used all the fruit to make prints - see, what a great all round activity?! Incidentally passionfruit makes great prints :)

Tears over nappies...

A month or so ago we dived in and attempted to send Lamb to bed without a nappy on. At almost 9 I would love to see Lamb out of nappies at night time. Although he eventually potty trained within 'normal' age-frames, we never could get him out of nappies at night. Some months ago we decided to just go for it with Moo and despite the fact we hardly ever had a dry nappy in the morning, and much to my delight we had one accident in the night and Moo has been dry ever since. But Lamb, no.

He cried an awful lot about being put to bed without a nappy on, but I put him to bed anyway, feeling rather dreadful. After 15 minutes of not hearing a peep from him I popped my head around his bedroom door to check he was actually in bed. He wasn't.

Lamb was sat on his potty with tears in his eyes, and was prepared to stay there all night if he wasn't allowed to wear a nappy. His evident distress wasn't worth it. For some reason he is afraid of not wearing a nappy at night. I haven't a clue if he is actually able to go the night dry because his fear has meant that we haven't even considered trying again. For now we've decided to put up with nappies.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Mummy Time


Moo has been... difficult, shall we say? There has been some aggression, rudeness, and just odd behaviours. The most concerning is that he keeps hitting himself in the head. When asked why he says it's because he thinks it's funny.

I thought about it. Thought about it some more. Is it because Moo also has some developmental difficulties? Is it learnt behaviour from  his brother? Is it attention-seeking because he can see the amount of mummy that Lamb gets? After thinking about it some more I figured I'm just not going to be able to know. But I can try to sort it out. So commenced mummy time because I thought some quality one-to-one time would help. I took Moo out, just the two of us, to play. But strangely Moo asked continuously if we could bring Lamb next time we went out. I'm at a bit of a loss. Going out, just the two of us, is obviously not the answer, but I'm still not sure what the answer is? Happy as Moo was to be taken out, it didn't quite go as I was hoping. Maybe we need a special 'thing' to do together at home where Moo still feels we're all together? Maybe starting nursery will help?
Which of course is also another important piece of news! Moo had his first day at nursery today! He was so excited and carried his back pack around all morning just waiting to go. When he actually got there he more or less blanked me! He didn't want to talk to me any more, and wouldn't give me eye contact. It was almost like he was trying to show how annoyed his was with me for not being able to stay with him. After a sucessful first session we walked home slowly and Moo commented to me "Ah, isn't it nice being in a family mummy." He's obviously in two minds about this growing-up and going to nursery business!


Back in July Lamb not only got his bronze scouting award, which is the highest award a beaver can get, but he also won a trophy at the end of the term for effort. The Beavers had been having their own Olympics at the time so medals and trophies were all the rage.
Oh how pleased he was with himself! What this trophy doesn't show though is the flood of tears which preceeded it. 9 Beavers scouts had just had their official leaving ceremony to go up to Cub scouts and Lamb was very sad that his friends would no longer be Beavers. Lamb should have gone up to Scouts some months ago but we decided to keep him back in Beavers not only because developmentally he is behind, but because physically he is so small. We're thinking that we're now going to need to think about moving him along to Cub scouts. A few of the boys he was so sad to see go are children that he used to go to school with before we started to home-ed, and though he might never talk about it (indeed the boys in question probably would never know it) it seems he has formed some attatchments that genuinely mean something to him. However difficult Cub scouts might be I think it must be out weighed by the importance of friendship.

1000 calories

OK, so it's been a long while. I know. But as far as excuses go... I forgot not only my password for this blog but also the email address it's attached to. Yeah, I really am that flakey.

I'm going to work on catching up!

After a chance conversation with Lamb's speech therapist she came out to the house to do a feeding assessment for Lamb. Feeding has been difficult since day 1. Hour 1 even. All through toddler hood he vomited everyday. Frequently more than once a day. The old health visitor would make me feel terrible every check up because my baby just wasn't putting on enough weight. If she'd had her way I would have been force feeding him. It wasn't a particularly fun stage of childhood or parenthood. It started to get better by the time Lamb had turned 3 but it was still a pretty nervey experience taking him some place like McDonalds. The doctor told me it was behavioural, nothing wrong. Well 6 years later and the speech therapist says something most definitely is wrong, was always wrong and should have been looked at as soon as Lamb was taken to the doctor about it all those years ago.  The good news is that food seems to be going to the place it is supposed to go to, rather than into his lungs but we need to keep an eye on it. Less than good news is that Lamb's oral muscle strength is incredibly weak, and may or may not improve. Which accounts for his poor speech and feeding problems. The SP says it's surprising that he's even managing the little food that his does get down as his muscles really are that weak. A feeding tube is an option, but not one that we're going to follow up on unless things get really bad. Facial massage is something that the SP wants us to give a go, but with the sensory issues no one is sure how that one is going to go! But good news... He is coping. Despite the challenge of having a mouth that doesn't really work very well, he is coping!
So what's the 1000 calories a day all about? Aha, that's the milkshakes! 400 calories everyday with fresubin 2cal vitamin shakes, and 600 calories a day in the calshake supplimentary nutrition. Though Lamb eats so little I doubt he's getting his recommended calories even with the1000 boost, and even the milkshakes are not something he enjoys having. I feel a beast hassling him to drink his milkshakes but feeling a beast is better than him getting poorly because he isn't eating.
That's the eating news...

Thursday, 3 May 2012

speech therapy and sensory play

The speech therapy has hit a bit of a stumbling block in its infancy. The SLT doesn't believe traditional speech therapy is going to work for Lamb and so while we will still be keeping out appointments she is going to go back to the drawing board and is researching methods used specifically with autistic kids. She's been great listening to my concerns about Moo generally and is keeping notes on him as well for when his referal does go through.
I finally remembered to snap some pics with JT in the sensory room. Honestly this woman is fabulous, she really cannot do enough for you. Not only is she doing sessions in their sensory room with us to help Lamb out with his sensory integration problems (it doesn't compensate for an OT assessment, but it's a whole lot better than being left alone to try to help Lamb) but when I mentioned how I had really wanted to find a gymnastics group for Lamb (The only one in our town is a girls only group) she told us she was a kids gymnastics instructor in the next town over and that she would take us over to the gym and do a few sessions with the boys. Honestly this women is an angel!

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

clever daddy

Lamb's behaviour had deteriorated over the last month or so, his focus too being all over the place. We needed something GOOD to get him interested again! So we decided to start our 'cars and racing' topic earlier than intended. Daddy is pretty clever. He made us some nifty tracing and handwriting sheets of various F1 race tracks. Lamb is F1 mad - it went down well! 
We're also trying to conquer number sequencing for both of the boys. Dot-to-dots are perfect but there's always the problem of the numbers either going too high or not high enough. So daddy has been making us custom made dot-to-dots of F1 race tracks and characters from Cars the movie. They've gone down so well that the boys keep asking for more! Both of the boys did really well. I had thought Moo was still shakey with his number recognition upto 10 but not so. And I had thought Lamb was still very uncertain upto 20 but he coped really well.

impromptu aeroplane crafts

making tally charts to record what type of vehicles passed the house

experimenting with floating and sinking
Was nice for Lamb to try to explain his previous knowledge to Moo and made him feel very grown up!

sweet literacy...

We're continuing with the analytical phonics but we've slowed the pace considerably. Mumma was pushing things along too quickly and the change in behaviour was a sure communication that I was getting it wrong. 
These pictures were made using icecream sprinkles. Both Lamb and Moo have really embraced the multi sensory learning :)

Never by halves

I couldn't coax Lamb into doing some foot prints, but Moo really did thow himself into the task in hand!