Life At Sea Week IV: Vacation Edition


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This will be the last post inspired by our vacation last week.  Though we were relaxing, we did take some time (less than I would have liked) to fit in some learning.  I was able to create some fun new printables before we left.

If you like what you see, follow me on blogger and/or Pinterest, or like me on facebook and/or twitter!

Language:
Boat Memory Game
Last year we used these cards as nomenclature cards and paired them up with boat figures. This year I printed two copies out and we're using them as a memory game.  The kiddos loved the cards!

Source:  I created the printable for this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.

Vacation Phonograms
This is a brand new printable, created specifically for our vacation, but would work with any nautical unit.  The kiddos match up the pictures with the phonograms.

Source: I created the printable for this activity. For your free copy, click HERE.

Math:
Boating Addition
With this new printable to the Life At Sea collection, the kiddos will use boat figures as counters and glass beads as markers to solve and answer the addition problems.  I just love how this activity turned out!

Source: I created the printable for this activity as part of my Life At Sea: Vacation Edition Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Vacation Time Activity
This is also a new printable to the Life At Sea collection!  The kiddos will match clocks with their time.  The clock cards show pictures of what one might do while on vacation or camping.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Life At Sea: Vacation Edition Math Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Boating Supplies Money Activity
Here's another new printable to the Life At Sea collection!  The kiddos will match up coin cards to money amount cards.  All of the cards show supplies one might need while boating.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Life At Sea: Vacation Edition Match Printable Pack 1.   For your free copy, click on the link located at the bottom of this post.

Science:
Marshmallow Constellation Activity
This is an activity we've done before, but the kiddos love it.  I attribute their great knowledge of constellations to it.  Using toothpicks and marshmallows, the kiddos create the constellations on the cards.

Source:  The printable for this activity can be found HERE.  I originally saw the printable at Counting Coconuts.

Moon Cycle Activity
This activity is a favorite in our house.  Bulldozer especially loves it.  You create the moons in the cycle using Oreos.  It's so much fun!

Source: The free printable for this activity can be found at Noon Janan Homeschool.

Culture:
Land & Water Forms
I thought it would be very appropriate to review land and water forms on our vacation in the 1000 Islands.  I love these felt cut outs I created a while back.  They're so easy to use.

Source: I found the free printable cards at Montessori Mom.

Water Creatures
We've used this activity in the past, but I thought it would be fun to bring it out again.  Dinomite LOVES it.  Other kiddos on vacation tended to enjoy it as well.  The kiddos separate the creature cards into the correct categories.

Source:  I created these cards.  For your free copy, click HERE.

Practical Life:
Boat Lacing Card
It was a little difficult bringing along practical life activities, but I did manage to bring this, since it was easily packable.  The kiddos are getting better and better at lacing cards!  Hooray!

For those interested in the math printable pack, click on the link below.


For more Life At Sea activity ideas, check out these posts!
Life At Sea Week I

Life At Sea Week II

Life At Sea Week III:  Pirates

Pirate Activities for Tots
Coming soon are new 4th of July posts for kiddos and tots!


Kids Learning Printables Linky Party #10

This post may contain affiliate links.

Welcome to the Kids Learning Printables Linky Party #10

Co-host:   Montessori Nature

Our linky party last week had a few hiccups.  I'm so appreciative that my wonderful friend and partner Anastasia from Montessori Nature handles that side of things.  Hopefully this week it will run more smoothly.  Despite hiccups we have some fabulous features.  I just love seeing all of the amazing printables people create!

1.  5 Ways to Learn about Our Eyes from Suzie's Home Education


2.  Free Counting Book Printable for Any Theme from Living Montessori Now


3.  Pattern Blocks Freebie from A Thinker's Toolbox


4.  Letter E Printable Cars and Activity Ideas from Suzie's Homeschool

5.  Shapes Matching Printable from Montessori Nature

Here's how this works!

You:
1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterest, Twitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

Me:
1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!
Every Star Is Different

Nighttime Vacation Activities

This post may contain affiliate links.

During the day it was easy to keep the kiddos entertained on our vacation last week.  There was the shore, the beach, busy bags, and so much more.  At night I knew it would be a little more difficult.  In preparation for the trip I came up with a few activities to have on hand just in case.  They proved to be fabulous!

1.  Shadow Finger Games

I've always wondered how to make animals with my fingers.  I stumbled across this guide on Pinterest.  Unfortunately it was a dead link, so I'm unable to source where it came from.  If someone knows, PLEASE let me know so I can give the proper credit.

Some of the animals are a bit difficult for children to create, but it's a great way to get parents and kiddos playing a guessing game together etc.  We didn't have time for this activity on vacation, but the kiddos and I did a little with it before we left.  I can't wait to try again next time we go somewhere.

Source:  For the Pinterest Pin, click HERE.

2.  Flashlight Games

Due to rain we didn't play flashlight games on vacation, however we've done it multiple times at home.  The kiddos love their flashlights.  There are so many games you can play with them.  We like flashlight tag!  I purchased the flashlights at Walmart with batteries for $1.50 each.

3.  Star Gazing

We were blessed with an clear night on vacation. The sky was beautiful and full of stars.  The boys and I had so much fun star gazing.  Dinomite was able to find the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia.  I was so proud.

Source: We used these cards as a resource to finding constellations. For your free copy click HERE.  My apologies for another link without a source. These cards were recommended by Counting Coconuts, where the link was shared originally.  

4.  Glow Stick Games

This was by far the most favorite nighttime activity ever.  I purchased several packs of glow sticks in different sizes from Walmart and our local dollar store.  Each kiddo was given a different color.  (I'm a HUGE fan of color coding to eliminate fights and arguments.)  We put glow sticks in water bottles for lights. We put mini glow sticks in 12'' balloons for games.  Then the kiddos had more glow sticks in their hands to use as light sabers, and so many other things.  They had such a fun time!

Source:  The idea for the balloon activity came from HERE.

I will definitely be bringing these simple items along with us next time we vacation.  They were so much fun.  It's so easy to vary what you do with the materials to accommodate different ages and games.

Coming soon is our vacation learning time unit and another Special Needs Perspective post!  This week is the last week of our school year. Next week we start our new year (we do school year round).  It's amazing how time flies!

Vacation Busy Bags for Kiddos Ages 3-8

This post may contain affiliate links.

Last week the four special needs kiddos and I went on vacation with my forever friend and her three children.  Our husbands stayed home due to work responsibilities.  We both agreed we wanted a media free week, and so operation busy bag commenced.  I love busy bags, but admit it's very hard to find ideas for children older than 3 years of age.  The bags I've created are made for ages 3 to 8.  One may say portable mini invitations to play may be a better name for them, but since they all had to fit in bags and were presented that way, I'll stick with busy bags.
The kiddos had a blast with all of the bags!  They worked perfectly during clean up and meal preparation times.  I only wish I would have created more.  On our next vacation I'm determined to convince Dinomite that it's okay that I use his superhero figures and possible Star Wars figures.  He was not at all down with sharing them this time around.  All of the materials used for the bags were items we had on hand at home from past units and kids' toy collections.

Here are our bags:

Pirate Play Dough Busy Bag
I admit, this is one of my favorite busy bags.  It includes a ball of homemade sand play dough, a package of dollar store mardi gras beads, plastic pirate coins, square glass beads, and our pirate figures.  The kiddos could play with this bag for hours.  It was one of the most popular bags.

Fairy Play Dough Busy Bag
This bag smelled delicious. Not only was the play dough purple, but was grape scented with glitter sparkles.  Also included in the busy bag were plastic flowers, fairy figures, and foam flowers.  The girls went nuts over this activity.

Insect Play Dough Busy Bag
This bag included green play dough, green and plain popsicle sticks, green pipe cleaners, and insect figures.  The boys played with this one some, but no nearly as much as I thought they would.

Mermaid Busy Bag
This bag was a "just add water" bag, whether it be at the beach or in a bowl at the table.  Sunshine really loved this bag.  It included 6 mermaid figures, foam sea life figures, and sea shells.  I made sure to include two of each kind of shell and two of each kind of foam figure, so Sunshine could practice her matching.

Alligator Busy Bag
This was another one of Sunshine's favorite busy bags.  It was also a "just add water" bag, however she didn't even need it to keep her occupied.  The bag included blue, green, and brown glass beads, popsicle sticks, and alligator figures.
Princess Stamp & Color Busy Bag
This busy bag included small pieces of white paper, stamps, ink pad, and colored pencils. All of the girls did this activity at least once during the trip.

Vehicle Stamp & Color Busy Bag
For those boys who prefer not to stamp and color princesses, I brought along a bag full of vehicle stamps.

Bead & Pipe Cleaner Busy Bag
I decided to use pipe cleaners in this bag instead of string, to make it easier for the littler ones.  A couple of the kiddos had a lot of fun making bracelets.

My Little Pony Busy Bag
Princess loves My Little Pony. I thought it might be fun to include one of her favorite books with ponies so she could act out some of the scenarios in the book.  It was a hit!

Space & Astronaut Portable Sensory Bin
 This sensory bin originally came in a plastic container with a lid.  We found this beautiful glass tray where we were staying, which worked fabulous for the activity.  Contents include dried black beans, dried white beans, marbles that look like planets, sun, & moon, and astronaut figures.  I can't think of a kiddo who didn't play with this.

Make Up & Accessory Busy Bag
I wanted to save the best for last.  This busy bag was a HUGE hit with the girls.  It worked because we weren't going anywhere except for the outside and the beach.  The bag included children's make up-lipstick, lip gloss, eye shadow, etc., bangles and bracelets, rings, easy to put in hair accessories, a portable stand up mirror and Q-tips for application.  There wasn't a day that went by that the girls didn't put on make up.

These bags were so successful, I don't think I'll ever leave for vacation without some again.  None of the kiddos brought any of their own toys.  Everyone shared the bags so well.  There were no arguments that involved the word "Mine!"  The only issue we had was that some bags were so popular it was hard for some kiddos to wait their turn.  In total, I had twelve bags for six kiddos. The one not shown here was a water dropper activity.  I highly recommend three bags per one kid to make the rotation go well.  I love it when plans go so well!  These bags were such life savers. I can't say enough about them.

Kids Learning Printable Linky Party #9

This post may contain affiliate links.

Welcome to the Kids Learning Printables Linky Party #9


Co-host:   Montessori Nature

Sorry this post is a little late.  The kiddos and I have been on vacation, having a fabulous time.  Our features are totally worth the wait though!  I love them!

1.  Shapes Real World Objects from KB3Teach



4.  Free Construction Vehicle Printables from Living Montessori Now


Here's how this works!

You:
1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterest, Twitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

Me:
1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!
Every Star Is Different

How Do I Handle My Child's Defiant Behaviors?

This post may contain affiliate links.
Disclaimer:  Any advice or suggestions that I write here CANNOT be considered therapy or professional consultation, due to counseling ethics standards. It is not really practical or possible to do counseling with someone I have never met. What I hope to offer IS my personal experience as a person with ASD, AHD, and Anxiety Disorder NOS, combined with experience as a parent of special needs children, plus the things I have learned as a professional counselor.  Take any advice that fits, leave aside what doesn't fits.

While we should expect some degree of defiance from children all along the developmental path, sometimes there is an anger or aggressiveness that is unnerving for a parent. There are many elements that might play a role in an episode of defiance.

Toddler Development

As we mentioned in last week's post about transitions, one of the major goals of the toddler years is autonomy and self-determination. Your child is learning what is within and without his/her control. When mom asks her 2-3 year old son or daughter to pick up their toys, this is perceived as the end of play time, (which is sad) and a loss of control over his or her time (which is frustrating.) Also remember with toddlers, there is the lack of verbal expression, especially when it comes to talking about feelings. We as parents see the anger and defiance. What we don't see is the child's inner conflict and frustration about not being able to find the words to describe what they want or why they feel the way they feel. A researcher named Neal Miller developed the frustration-anger-displacement theory to explain what might be happening (Click here for original link to article first published in 1941.) In basic terms, Miller said that when we are frustrated by someone that we cannot challenge (because the other person is bigger, has more authority, etc.) we can become aggressive and take out the frustration on an innocent target. So, when the 3-year old boy is being aggressive towards his little sister for example, it could be that he is acting out his frustration about being told "no" or directed to complete a task.

Remember:
1. Take a step back, regroup and remember that you are the adult.  

2. Be firm, consistent, and calm.

3. Distract and redirect when possible.

4. Pick your battles.

For more information about helping toddlers transition, click HERE.

Finally, remember that your child's brain is a complicated and amazing thing. It is undergoing so many huge changes and absorbing so much information, there are bound to be bumps along the road to normal development. Integrating cognition, behavior, movement, memory, sensory input and emotional processing, all within a complex and sometimes baffling social context, is hard work for young brains (not to mention some adult brains as well). Be patient.

Emotional Regulation

Not surprisingly, kids with developmental disabilities, mood disorders, reactive attachment, ADHD, and other related disorders have a hard time managing their feelings. This deficit goes beyond the normal social-emotional development issues, and lasts well into adulthood sometimes. While the defiance of toddlers goes away as the child learns to communicate and develops coping strategies, some special needs kids lack the emotional regulation skills that their normal peers gain over time. They continue to display behaviors that appear to be defiant and oppositional, but actually are not, and instead a result of their lack of emotional regulation. Take it from me, when an ASD person is anxious or upset about something that happened hours or even days ago, it can result in some attitudes that look defiant or oppositional here and now. So, how can you cut through your child's emotional turmoil and avoid negative interactions?

Remember:
1. Get to know your child's self-soothing behaviors. These can be clues to guide the way you choose to interact with him or her, and will help you avoid escalating things with a request or direction the child isn't ready for. If your child is already in a self-soothing mode, you don't want to require something more of them, because they can't handle it at the moment. Doing this can also reduce the likelihood of a meltdown or temper tantrum. 

2. Keep the daily routine consistent. This reduces stress/frustration, and therefore decreases the likelihood of aggression and unintentional defiant-like behaviors. 

3. Consider your child's sensory needs. When you are seeing a lot of agitation or irritability, try to minimize the amount and/or intensity of sensory input before making requests of the child.

Behavioral Plans

Once you have accounted for developmental and emotional regulation issues, oppositional and defiant behaviors are addressed most effectively with behavior plans. Toddlers, and older children, both with and without special needs, can all benefit from a solid, comprehensive, and efficient behavioral plan. There are dozens of approaches and programs available to help parents manage their children's behavior, so you need to do your homework and choose one that you think you can manage. No matter what you choose-

Remember:
1. All behavior is purposeful

This means that whenever your child does anything, you have to consider the context in which it happens. Remember ABC. What was going on just before (A or antecedent)? What is the behavior (B) that's occurring? What resulted from that behavior (C or consequence)? If screaming "no!" is a guaranteed way to get parental attention (negative or positive), your child will try it every time, whether you "approve of" his behavioral choice or not. Your job is to understand why your child is non-compliant, and to make any necessary arrangements to convince him or her that compliance is in his or her interest.

2. Motivate your child with positive reinforcement.

People tend to do things that are rewarding or enjoyable, and avoid things that are painful. Use this principle to your advantage. Millions of words have been published in books and online about positive reinforcement, punishment, etc. and there are almost as many opinions about how to best use them. No matter how you choose to do it, just remember to keep if simple, consistent, and effective. The plan should be made in advance, with the child's input, so that when the parent gives the direction, the child knows what is expected, when it should be done, and most importantly, what the reinforcement is for following the direction. If mom says, "time to put away your toys", the child knows where to put the toys, when to do it, and knows that he will get a big hug and/or a dinosaur sticker on his behavior chart for complying fully.

3. EVERYONE involved in the behavioral plan must be on the same page and carry out the plan consistently.

Any variation in parental expectations or responses to behaviors (good or bad) will undermine the plan and undo any effectiveness you might have had in changing the behaviors. Getting everyone on board might be the hardest part of putting a plan together, but it is essential.

Special Cases
I want to make a distinction between defiant behavior and Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (ODD). You can find all of the criteria for ODD at many sources online (This link takes you to the Mayo Clinic's website). Please note that ODD is a consistent pattern of negativity, arguing, and vindictive behaviors that occur across multiple settings, for at least six months. If your kid is in a "funk" for a few days, this does not meet criteria for full-blown ODD. If the behaviors occur in one setting, whether school or home, consider environmental factors influencing behavior. The main component that sets ODD apart from other mood and behavioral disorders is the willful vindictiveness towards authority figures. With some mood disorders, the negative behaviors are directed towards whoever might happen to be in the path of the upset or agitated child, but with ODD, there is something more planned out and specific to adult authority figures that set it apart. ODD only occurs in 10% of children. That said, if your child does have ODD, you will likely need the assistance of a whole team of professionals to develop a comprehensive plan for managing it.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is another special case where the basic rules mentioned above, don't necessarily apply. With RAD, behavioral plans are not effective. One reason for this, as noted by several attachment experts, is that the behavior is intended to create chaos, or to reduce anxiety and fear that come from the child feeling out of control of himself or herself. No reward for "good behavior" is stronger than the fear of feeling out of control with some RAD kids. Many will actively try to sabotage a carefully constructed behavioral plan, to see what you will do about it. There is a lot going on inside the brain of a RAD child, and this deserves attention in a separate post. Just know that with RAD, basic behavioral approaches are not recommended.

Thanks again for reading. I look forward to your comments and questions. Check back here for a new post next week!

If you have a parenting question you'd like Jason to address, please e-mail him at renaemarienae@gmail.com or send him a message on facebook.

About the Author:
Jason has a master's degree in Marriage and Family Counseling.  He has spent the last eight years working as a therapist to adults and children, in a private and group counseling sessions, and in residential facilities.  At home, Jason has four plus years experience as a foster parent with his wife, caring for children ages newborn to eighteen years of age with multiple special needs.   He is also a parent to four special needs children, two biological, and two adopted, with diagnoses of autism, ADHD, RAD, PTSD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome of Effect, anxieties, and sleep disorders.  Within the last year, Jason was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADHD and Anxiety Disorder NOS.

Kids Learning Printables Linky Party #8

This post may contain affiliate posts.

Welcome to the Kids Learning Printables Linky Party #8

Co-host:   Montessori Nature

There were so many fabulous printables linked up this week! It was so hard to choose only five to feature.  I'm loving this linky party!

Father's Day Pack from Enchanted Homeschooling Mom


Father's Day Poem Printables from Crystal's Tiny Treasures


Build Up Pond Week 2 from 3 Dinosaurs

Here's how this works!

You:
1.  Link up to 3 educational printables for kiddos.  Free, paid, and giveaway printables are welcome.
2.  Add our Kids Learning Printables Linky Party Button to your post or blog.
3.  Support your fellow educators by commenting, pinning, and/or sharing the post published before yours.
4.  If you're not already doing so, follow me on FacebookPinterest, Twitter, and/or through my blog.
5.  You give me permission to use and repost images from your blog.

Me:
1.  Visit all posts.
2.  Share and pin as many links as possible throughout the week.
2.  Feature my favorite posts in next week's link up.
3.  Get to know you, your blog, and your printables for future use.

Let's get this party started!
Every Star Is Different

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