Blog Archive

Linear Measurement of Time Activities with Free Printables

It has been so much fun watching the kiddos develop an understanding of time.  I can remember just a couple of years ago, when they didn't get it at all.  Now, they're well on their way to mastering it!

This week we're working on refining skills, as we develop an even deeper understanding of linear measurement of time.  We hope you enjoy these activities and free printables.
Linear Measurement of Time Activities
Here's what we've been working on!

Telling Time to the Minute
Telling time to the minute
The kiddos have done very well telling time down to the five minute mark, but have struggled when it comes to being more precise.  In this activity they're practicing time down to the minute, using the cards and clock provided.

They select a card and then move the clock hands to match the time.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Linear Measurement of Time Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of this post.

Down to the Second
Down to the second
Bulldozer and Princess love numbers.  You can hear them arguing about numbers on a regular basis. At times these heated discussions have to do with numbers related to time.  This activity is designed for them and hopefully will elminate further quarrels.

The kiddos will match up the number to the correct phrase.  A control is provided in case they need it.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of the Linear Measurement of Time Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Days of the Week
Days of the week
The kiddos know the days of the week, but still struggle spelling them at times.  Since we've been working on roots and affixes, I decided to break down the days of the week in those terms to help with spelling. I aslo included the "why" behind the name on each  card, which they've absolutely loved.

In this activity the kiddos will match prefixes and root words to create the days of the week.  They will sequence them in order, and then practice writing them on the paper provided.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Linear Measurement of Time Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Creating a Calendar
Creating  a calendar activity
To further the kiddos' undertanding of time, we decided to create calendars for the next three months.  I provided a control calendar that listed numbers in the correct places, all important dates, holidays etc.  It also provided the spelling of each month and days of the week. 

I was worried that the kiddos would find this activity a little difficult.  It turns out they absolutely love it.  Some are drawing pictures for each special date, instead of writing out the name of the event.  The calendars are quite beautiful.

Source:  I created the printable for this activity as part of my Linear Measurement of Time Calendar Printable Pack 2. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Through these activities the kiddos are doing such a fabulous job refining their skills related to linear measurement of time.  We have had so much fun.  The best part is that they now have calendars of their own to help them through the holiday season with specific dates, so they know what to expect.

For your free copy of the printables, click on the link below!

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When Nightmares Become Reality

Growing up I can remember watching movies on the Lifetime Channel.  I could watch them because all of the plots seemed so bizarre and foreign to me.  Except for the one where a mother was killed by falling logs during a logging truck accident.  Ever since that movie, I've had nightmares about logging trucks and am petrified of them.  Ask my husband.

And then one day, while pregnant with Dinomite, there was a logging truck accident right in front of my house.  We lived on the main highway.  Every ounce of my being shook, as I called my husband at work.  I couldn't begin to describe how I felt in that moment, when my nightmares became reality.

When Nightmares Become Reality
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Little did I know, that the logging truck incident was just the beginning of a long list of Lifetime movies that would play out in my life.

After Bulldozer was born, I was told by my doctors, not to have anymore children.  I was okay with that then.  There were always other options like adoption.

When Bulldozer was six months old we felt the impression that a little girl was waiting to come to our family.  We researched all of our options.  In the end, we felt inspired to adopt through the foster care system.

The process to become certified foster parents took about nine months.  And then the waiting began.  I would be cleaning or putting the boys down to nap, when I'd be hit with these overwhelming feelings of sorrow and anxiety.

What was happening to my little girl, so that she could eventually come to our family?

I was overcome with emotion every time.  In my head, I couldn't begin to imagine what she was enduring, nor did I want to.  But I couldn't stop thinking about it.  I wept and grieved, praying fervently for her.

Things I had only known as nightmares were reality for my daughter, and I could do absolutely nothing to stop them from happening.

And then she arrived as a foster baby.  Her mother surrendered her rights quickly.  She was safe and she was ours.  But it wasn't that simple.  Permanent damage had been done before she came to us.  Our daughter had Reactive Attachment Disorder and PTSD.

Adjusting to life as a parent of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder was very difficult for me.  Looking back, those first few years were the darkest times I can remember.  Her screaming never stopped.  She experienced night terrors.  Every day seemed like a constant battle, with her refusal to let me care for her.

When I'm stressed, I don't sleep.

Parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder and PTSD is the most stressful thing I've ever done.

Sleep was not happening.

My daughter eventually grew from an infant to a toddler, and I thought times would get better.  I still had hope they would anyway.  But as her speech improved, she could communicate.  And with communication came descriptions of flashbacks and memories of incidents from the past.

One wouldn't think a child so young would remember.

But they do.

Always.

Every time she spoke and shared more information about what happened to her, I lost it.  Since when do nightmares become reality in our home?  How can this be?  This isn't happening!  But it was.  There was no escape.

Oh, how I wanted to sleep.  I wanted to enjoy the innocence of sweat dreams.  But there was no innocence left.  Nightmares weren't even nightmares anymore.  Nightmares had become reality.

And so I stayed awake.  There was only one thing that could ease my mind, and that was watching medical dramas on TV.  The only thing I could think of that was worse than what my daughter was telling me, was medical trauma.  I would watch episode after episode of Grey's Anatomy until my eyes literally fell shut, receiving a maximum of about 4 hours of sleep each night.

This went on for years.

And it wasn't just me.  It was her too.  Every time she'd close her eyes, she'd have these vivid dreams of what was, or worse, what might happen again.  We began to see paranoia in our daughter.  She worried all the time and was developing OCD tendencies.  She wouldn't sleep, It was too scary.  In her case, medicinal intervention was necessary.

In my case, we had to stop living the drama that came with being foster parents.  Because not only were we hearing about past accounts from our daughter, we were living them every day with foster children we were caring for.

Until you live that lifestyle, you have no idea how many of your nightmares are reality for so many innocent children.

It took two years to recover from those experiences, before I was able to sleep at night.  I had to simplify life in as many ways as I could.

I'd like to say the stress lessens over time, and nightmares go back to being nightmares, but it just gets worse.  Except now different nightmares become reality.  These new ones involve the safety of our family because of Reactive Attachment Disorder.

The only thing that helps me endure it all is love.  I love my daughter.  If it takes every fiber of my being to help her overcome these nightmares that are reality, I'll do it.

It's also that love that helps me sleep at night, even on the worst days.  I need the courage and the strength to get up and do it all over again tomorrow.  Without sleep, I don't have that.

 I can't watch Lifetime movies anymore.  Heck, I can't watch a lot of movies anymore.  They're too much of a reminder of when nightmares became reality.  But I can finally sleep, and so can she.  We'll take the progress!

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This post is part of a monthly series called Parenting Children with Special Needs.  If you'd like to read more special needs posts, be sure to visit the links below!
Parenting Children with Special Needs

When Nightmares Become Reality | Every Star is Different
Surviving Night Terrors | Grace and Green Pastures
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10 Amazing Children's Books About Apples

 "A is for apple."

Apples are the star attraction of a child's first grammar lesson and, apparently, at the top of the list for children's book authors.  We have come across 10 amazing children's books about apples to accompany our new apple-themed activities.

Children's Books About Apples
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This list features books that are appropriate for beginning to intermediate reading levels, grades 2 through 5. Some are fiction, others are non-fiction, but each is wonderful in its own way.


Apples by Ken Robbins was Bulldozer's favortie book for this unit. Perhaps this was due to the crystal clear photograhs, clean page layouts and simple, easy-to reads text. Regardless, he really wanted to read this one every day. It helped that he could read it all by himself.


One Green Apple by Eve Bunting deserves a place of honor on any child's bookshelf. It just happens to take place in an apple orchard. This book hit home for all of us. We recently assisted in welcoming a refugee family to America. This story is a great reminder of how the simple pleasures in life provide a common language for all of us.


Mr. Peabody's Apples by Madonna (yep, that Madonna) strays from the formula in that the apples are a minor detail of the story. Madonna uses old-fashioned Americana and a pretty powerful metaphor to teach readers about the damage caused by gossip. She is greatly assisted here by the warm, inviting artwork of Loren Long.


The Apple Pip Princess is a gorgeously illustrated fable about the most basic part of the apple: the seed. Our daughter Princess read this one several times, and she seemed to appreciate the visuals as well as the beautiful, simple moral of the story.



Bring Me Some Apples and I'll Bake You a Pie is one of our favorites.  It tells the story of Edna Lewis's rise from her childhood, to becoming one of the first famous African American chefs. The vivid descriptions of the fruits, vegetables and legumes that Edna's family grew and incorporated into delicious dishes and desserts transport the reader into her world very effectively.


Johnny Appleseed by Steven Kellogg is an easy choice for our unit.  How can you talk about apples without mentioning Johnny Appleseed? We liked this book especially because of the beautiful illustrations. Dinomite really enjoyed learning about this legendary American folk hero. 


Apples to Oregon is another tall tale based on a real person who was unusually dedicated to fruit. In this case. a pioneer named Henderson Lewelling, brought a wagon full of seedlings on his journey to settle the American Northwest. This book combines a fun story, historical settings, and facts about raising apples perfectly.  


Applesauce Weather is a nice choice for the more advanced readers. Not only is it the most complicated text of the books for this unit, the subject matter requires a more mature reader. This is a tender story about family traditions, grief and mourning, and the apple tree in the middle of it all. This book is a good candidate for parents to read aloud with the kids.


Apple Tree Christmas is another beautiful story about family traditions that involve annual apple harvests and the great memories and traditions that develop over time. What happens when the family's beloved apple tree is destroyed by an ice storm? Our kids couldn't wait to find out (OK, the adults were pretty excited too.) 



The Apple Orchard Riddle is for the young reader who likes a little mystery with their apple literature. In the story, an ordinary trip to the local orchard becomes an intriguing puzzle, thanks to a thoughtful teacher. This is an inventive way to teach your kids about how apple orchards work. 

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Apple Unit 2 Fall Harvest Week 1: Apples Apple Tot School Autumn Activities & Free Printables
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Spanish Activities: Numbers, Colors & Shapes with Free Printables

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In a life long, long ago, before marriage and children, Jason and I were fluent in Spanish.  And then life changed.  Both of us moved away from opportunities to use our skills, and we stopped speaking Spanish (unless we were trying to carry on a conversation in front of our children that we didn't want them to understand).

That is, until our kiddos started begging us to learn a foreign language.  This year, per their request, we've included Spanish in our curriculum.

We're starting with the basics.  Our current lessons include Spanish activities about letters, numbers, colors, and shapes.  The kiddos are enjoying Spanish as they learn it in a variety of ways.

Spanish letter, number, color and shape activities and free printables for kids.
Here's what we've been up to!

Music


I always like to introduce Spanish learning concepts using music videos on youtube, if possible.  They help the kiddos learn pronunciation and remember vocabulary concepts, while providing visuals.  Songs also provide opportunities to practice phrasing in a melodic way, which helps with overall fluency.

The kiddos have loved listening and singing to the videos below.

We started with the Spanish Alphabet Song.


 And then added the Numbers Song in Spanish.


The kiddos love their Spanish song about colors.  It's their absolute favorite.


And last, we introduced a song about shapes in Spanish.  This one has been a bit more challenging for them, but it's growing on them.


Once each of the concepts were introduced through song, activities were placed on our shelves to encourage further exploration.  All lessons for the activities were presented in Spanish only.  At first this was bit confusing for the kiddos, but after a few minutes they started catching on and were excited about it.

I did not create an alphabet activity, because every activity that we work through, includes aspects of the Spanish alphabet and pronunciation.  However, I did create activities for all other concepts with my husband's help.

We hope you enjoy.

Activities


Mi libro de los números/My Book of Numbers
My Book of Numbers
The kiddos have learned their numbers using the Montessori Method, so it only seemed right to learn Spanish numbers the same way.  In this activity they will create a book of numbers in Spanish, using the Montessori beads and number cards as controls.  Each kiddo will put the book together themselves creating a cover and using the stapler.

Source:  Jason and I created the Spanish numbers printable for this activity as part of our Spanish Activities Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.  

We also created the "My Book of Numbers" printable for this activity, as part of our Montessori-inspired Math Bead Bar Activities Printable Pack 1.  Click HERE for your free copy.

Las tarjetas con nomenclatura de colores/Color Nomenclature Cards
Spanish Colors Nomenclature Cards
There's no better way to practice new vocabulary than using nomenclature cards.  The kiddos have really enjoyed matching up the words and pictures.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of our Spanish Activities Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

La clasificación por color/Color Sort
Spanish color sorting cards.
The kiddos love learning colors in Spanish, so much that we introduced more related vocabulary.  In this activity the kiddos will sort the noun cards by color,  As they sort, they will practice pronouncing each noun and color together, in the correct order.  

We have also taught the kiddos the difference between masculine and feminine nouns.  They are all perfectionists now about making sure they choose the correct color word ending to describe each masculine and feminine noun.  I love it!
Spanish Color Sorting Cards
Source:  Jaosn and I created the cards for this activity as part of our Spanish Activities Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

Dibujar las formas/Drawing Shapes
Spanish shapes activity with free printable.
Learning the names of shapes has proved to be a little bit more difficult for the kiddos.  I'm guessing it's because these words were introduced last, but also because the words are a little bit more difficult to say.

For this activity, the kiddos will practice drawing shapes on their white board, using the crayons provided. They will then label the shapes in Spanish.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of our Spanish Activities Printable Pack 1.  For your free copy, click on the link at the bottom of the post.

We are so excited that our first Spanish lessons and activities have gone so well and can't wait to do more!

For those interested in the free printables, please click on the link below.


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Witches and Wizards Halloween Party

Let's face it.  Halloween can be an absolute nightmare for our family.  Why?  I'll give you my top five reasons.
  • Autism
  • Food Allergies
  • PTSD
  • Anxieties
  • Reactive Attachment Disorder
Need I say more?  

We've tried and tested many alternatives to trick-or-treating over the years, but our favorite is our annual Witches and Wizards Halloween Party, held on Halloween Night.  The kiddos absolutely love it!

I love it because it's super easy to put together, and can become whatever you want it to be.


Witches and Wizards Halloween Party
This post includes affiliates links.  

Here's what ours looks like!

Halloween Table Decor

Decorations

My kiddos love decorations, especially Dinomite.  A Witches and Wizards Halloween Party wouldn't be complete without them.  We focus on decorating our dining room.  Our favorite decorations include:

We seem to have a love/hate relationship with costumes in this house.  Either they're too uncomfortable for the kiddos to wear due to sensory issues, or they rip and tear, causing tears and meltdowns.  

Instead, we buy each of the kiddos a Halloween outfit.  They're sensory friendly and don't cost nearly as much as most Halloween costumes.

Everyone, including adults have witch and wizard hats!

Wand

One year the kiddos each made wands as well.

Food

Food is yet another sensitive topic in this house.  Though I'd love to make an elaborate Halloween Feast, I don't.  No one would eat it.

Instead I focus on making one of the kiddos' favorite foods, with a slight Halloween variation (if they're up for it).

And then we put all of the focus into making fun Halloween themed treats, like the ones below.  The kiddos pick out a treat they'd like to make on Pinterest, and then prepare it themselves for everyone to enjoy.
Halloween Treats

Some of our favorites include:
The kiddos also receive a Halloween bucket filled with sensory and allergy friendly candy that they like.  Sometimes I pick out the candy. Other times I give them money to pick out their own.

Since we are already enjoying homemade Halloween treats, we usually set a limit on candy intake for the evening, and save the rest to enjoy for days to come.

Entertainment

Our Halloween party involves music and dancing, a candle light dinner, and then a Halloween movie.  The movie seems to help the kiddos stay calm as strangers in scary masks come knocking on our door.

If a kiddo is feeling up to it, they may help hand out candy, but usually, that's left for the adults to do.

Once trick-or-treaters stop knocking on the door, we usually wind down by playing Halloween games.  I try to keep it as low key as possible, especially with all of the sugar intake.

We look forward to our Witches and Wizards Halloween Party every year.  The night is fabulous.  If you haven't tried to have your own, you're missing out!

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The Best Schoolbook Storage Hack

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Storage is always an issue when homeschooling.  There are so many items that need the perfect storage container, shelf or bin.  Each year new books and materials are added to the mix.  It's a never ending battle.

This year our morning work shelf was overflowing.  Each kiddo has:


No matter how much effort the kiddos put forth, trying to keep their books and materials organized and neat, it wasn't working.  There was stuff everywhere.

That doesn't even take into consideration how hard it was to move all of their materials from one place to another when it was time to work.

And then I found the best schoolbook storage hack ever!
The Best Schoolbook Storage Hack
I was shopping and just happened to spot four large utility caddies in the clearance aisle.  They were bigger than others I had seen, and only had two compartments, one on each side.  The compartments were large enough to store the kiddos' workbooks horizontally.  They happened to be teal too, matching our learning time room perfectly.

I couldn't resist purchasing them.

When I had the caddies at home, I transferred all of the kiddos morning work material over.  At first I was worried it might be difficult to use.  Some materials stood up higher than the handle.  But, I was wrong.  It was extremely easy to grab hold of the handle with everything in it.

I worried about the weight of the caddy with all of the materials in it.  But, because of the handle, and materials balanced on each side, it was super easy to handle.

Before the caddy, the kiddos were trying to carry their materials, stacked on top of each other from the shelf to their work spaces and back.  Inevitably, someone's books or crayons always fell. Now we don't have to worry about that.  The kiddos can carry their caddies anywhere.
The school book caddy
I am so excited about our new schoolbook storage hack!  It's working perfectly.  Our learning time room remains clean and orderly.  The kiddos can carry their books with ease, and have no fear of dropping them.  I wish I would have thought of this sooner!

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