The Montessori Silence Game

The Montessori Silence Game is a fabulous way to help kiddos learn about self regulation.  It helps develop concentration and self discipline.  Kiddos also learn the value of silence as they participate in the game, which can be a great thing in this busy world we live in.
The Montessori Silence Game
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The Montessori Silence Game is very simple and can be played at home, school, or outdoors.  There are many variations that you can try out.  To help you understand how the game works, I've collected a number of resources from Montessori homes and schools.  This post also includes children's books about silence to help your child better understand and then apply the concept.
Silence Game

Home

Self Regulation & The Montessori Silence Game from Planting Peas
Montessori Silence Game from Montessori en Casa
The Silence Game in Nature from Montessori Nature
Learn Montessori's Silence Game for Your Home or Classroom from Carrots Are Orange
Exploring our Senses Outdoors (Montessori Silence Game) from The Natural Homeschooler

Silence Game

School

The Montessori Silence Game from Montessori Print Shop
Making Silence Game Variations from Montessori Bloggers Network
Nurturing Quiet from To the Lesson!
Variations on the Montessori Silence Game for Developing Skills from NAMC Montessori Teacher Training Blog
The Silence Game from Montessori Primary Guide

Silence Books

Books

Silence by Lemniscates
The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito
What Does It Mean To Be Present by Rana DiOrio
Visiting Feelings by Lauren Rubenstein
Take the Time: Mindfulness for Kids by Maud Roegiers
A Handful of Quiet: Happiness in Four Pebbles by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Lemonade Hurricane: A Story of Mindfulness and Meditation by Licia Morelli
Charlotte and the Quiet Place by Deborah Sosin
When I Make Silence by The Parent Child Press

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Christmas Eve Festivities

In our home, Christmas Eve (and Christmas Day) are celebrated early to avoid PTSD triggers related to Santa for Princess, and to help the boys and Sunshine with their holiday anxieties. In our opinion it's just not worth watching them suffer, when we can do something about it.  It's our hope that when they're older, they'll be able to make it to the official date on the calendar, but if not that's okay too.

I couldn't wait to share our Christmas Eve festivities with you.  Even days later, I still look back on the day with such fondness.  It was magical.
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During the month of December, every day starts out with the kiddos' LEGO Christmas Countdown.  The older three love this tradition. Sunshine, too young for LEGO, enjoys her Melissa & Doug Countdown Tree.  All four kiddos were super excited to finish their countdowns on Christmas Eve Day.
After countdown business was taken care of I surprised the kiddos with their favorite sugary cereals for breakfast.  It is a BIG deal to have sugary cereal here as the kiddos usually only get to choose a box for their birthday breakfast.  To say the least, they were quite thrilled.

Opening gifts from siblings came next.  Each Christmas Eve the kiddos exchange gifts they've purchased for each other.  They also give gifts they've picked out for Jason and me.  This is something they look forward to every year as they've each gone out on a date with me Christmas shopping early in the season, and secretly met with Daddy to surprise Mommy too.

I love doing this on Christmas Eve as it helps the kiddos endure the wait until Christmas morning.  It also provides a chance for the kiddos to take the time to thank their siblings and show their excitement without being overwhelmed with so many other things going on.
Sunshine was thrilled with her gifts as they were exactly what she had wanted.
Princess was delighted by the thought and consideration her siblings put into her gifts.  They know her well!
Bulldozer couldn't wait for everyone to finish opening their gifts so he could start building his new LEGO sets.
Dinomite, who is usually the most anxious before Christmas, worrying about if he'll like his gifts or not, was quite relieved to learn that his siblings did an excellent job!

On Christmas Eve we have a tradition of giving the kiddos each an ornament. The ornaments are not just any ornaments.  They're chosen because they represent something special about the kiddos from the year. Jason and I also exchange ornaments, which is always a highlight for me.
From right to left, top to bottom, here are the ornaments from this year.

Jason received a spatula and whisk ornament to represent his takeover of the kitchen this year so I can work more, and his success in preparing two big holiday meals for extended family.

Dinomite received his third Harry Potter ornament as he's still obsessed with the series and just finished book five on his own.

Princess received a stack of books ornament as she has been my bookworm this year.  I can not keep enough books in the house to satisfy her.

Sunshine received a Princess Sofia ornament to represent her love for Disney Junior and her favorite characters.

Bulldozer received a Star Wars The Force Awakens ornament as we celebrated yet another year of Star Wars obsessions.

Renae received a laptop decorated in a Santa hat and lights to commemorate the publishing of her first book:  Holidays and PTSD: A Parent's Guide to Survival, and to represent all of the many successes she's had with blogging this year.  

After presents were unwrapped, packaging taken care of, and ornaments hung, the kiddos played and vegged out watching Christmas movies.  It's rare to capture a picture of both Sunshine and Princess together both smiling.  I'm so excited to have this picture.

For lunch we had our official Christmas Brunch.  Bulldozer requested homemade cinnamon rolls.  Dinomite asked for turkey bacon.  Princess wanted eggs. Sunshine LOVES any potato dish, so hashbrowns were an obvious choice.  The kiddos all enjoyed their meal, eating only what they liked, devouring the cinnamon rolls.
After our brunch it was time for Sunshine to nap.  When she woke up the kiddos dressed to go outside.  They love playing in the snow.  On Christmas Eve they decided to create animals out of snow.  A few snowmen where built as well.  Check out Dinomite's bird.
As customary in our home, homemade hot cocoa with marshmallows and whipped topping was served when everyone came inside.  Then it was time for some last minute baking.  Sunshine was determined to make "Santa cookies" for Santa.
She had a delightful time helping Mommy and loved her first time using the rolling pin and cookie cutters independently.  As with all things, Sunshine lost interest quite quickly and moved on, but her cookies turned out wonderfully.
When cookies were finished, the kiddos had requested homemade personal pan pizzas for dinner.  Usually they like to help make them, but on Christmas Eve they were too busy watching Christmas movies.  I must say, their pizzas turned out beautifully.
While the kiddos were eating dinner, Jason read the story of Christ's birth.  It was so fun to listen to the kiddos' questions after we finished this year, as they seemed to really understand everything more than ever before.

After dinner it was time to change into Christmas pajamas and leave out cookies and milk for Santa.  We have always been honest with our kiddos about Santa Claus, due to Princess' past trauma related to the character.  However, Sunshine is not one who follows the crowd.  She believes in Santa no matter what anyone says.

Bulldozer was much the same way, and even though he thinks he knows Santa is pretend, he questioned the idea this year.  In the end two kiddos decided to believe in Santa this year, while the other two decided to believe that Mommy and Daddy leave all of the gifts.  Can you tell who's more relaxed about the choice they made?  Lol.
I begged the kiddos for one last group picture under the tree before bed and am so glad I did.  In order to move the process along, I told them to pretend they love each other, and the picture below is what I ended up with.  I LOVE it!
All kiddos were finally asleep by 1 AM, which is pretty normal on Christmas Eve as anxieties are so high.  This year Bulldozer was the last to fall asleep and ended up in my bed.  Once the kiddos were finally asleep Jason and I finished wrapping and other responsibilities and headed to bed ourselves.

Our tree was absolutely beautiful this year, despite a few rows of lights going out a few days before our Christmas celebration.  I just love sitting on the couch looking at the tree with all of the lights out, especially on Christmas Eve when all of the presents have been placed underneath.
What a memorable and relaxing Christmas Eve Day we had! We hope yours was equally enjoyable!
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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from our family to yours! We’re playing a little catch up with our letter this year as we were unable to send one out in 2015. So much has happened over the past two years!
Jason returned home from work in May of 2015. The demands of Sunshine’s special needs are such that two adults need to be present at home to keep everyone safe, happy, and healthy.

He now works full time with Renae on the blog. The two released their first book, Holidays and PTSD: A Parent’s Guide to Survival in October, available now on Amazon and here on the blog.

Renae is working hard to finish up her second book, The ABCs of Montessori and Special Needs with an expected release date of December 28, 2016. She is participating as a presenter in her first Montessori conference in early January. (Don't forget to sign up to watch!)  All of these opportunities are a result of the blog, which has now become a business.

In October of 2015 our family spent a week in Walt Disney World. The experience was full of firsts for everyone, including flights, a Walt Disney World Resort, all four Disney theme parks, and delicious dining with character experiences.

In March, Renae’s grandmother died unexpectedly, and once again our family returned to Florida, this time by car, for the funeral. We were thrilled to stay with family and friends as we traveled, some of which we hadn’t seen since before Jason and Renae were married. The kiddos also enjoyed two days at LEGOLAND in Florida, an afternoon in Williamsburg, VA, and a morning spent at the National Zoo in Washington D.C.

We had no idea the kiddos would do so well and enjoy being on the road so much. All of us are looking forward to many more travel and vacation experiences in 2017. There’s no better way to learn than through real life experiences. We’re thankful all of this is made possible as we homeschool our children and work from home or on the road.
Dinomite turns ten in January 2017. We can’t believe we’ll have a kiddo in double digits. It’s amazing how fast time flies. Dinomite’s biggest accomplishments this year have been advancing to riding a horse by himself during lessons and learning all of his swim strokes.

He is also very proud of himself for trying new foods this year. Those who know Dinomite, his autism and food issues, know this is a BIG deal for him. He is very excited to announce that he now loves steak, turkey burgers, and turkey bacon.

Dinomite continues to love all things LEGO, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. He also enjoys Star Wars.
Bulldozer turned eight at the end of August and celebrated his special day by getting baptized. It seemed like overnight he went from struggling to write his letters correctly to writing complete sentences. The same thing has happened with reading.

Bulldozer started hippotherapy and private swimming lessons this year to help with muscle tone and gross motor areas where he struggles, related to his autism. These weekly activities have been fabulous for him.

Bulldozer continues to love all things LEGO and Star Wars. He’s also developed a passion for Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
Princess really struggled during 2015 with behaviors related to Reactive Attachment Disorder and PTSD episodes. It was our hardest year with her yet. Thankfully she seems to be turning things around and is doing extremely well right now.

Princess is quite the bookworm. We can never keep the house stocked with enough chapter books from the library. She enjoys reading with her new glasses, which she received this Fall.

Princess has also shown a huge interest in learning how to cook and bake this year. I can’t believe how fast she’s growing up. Can you believe she’s already seven years old?
Sunshine who just turned five in November, was diagnosed with a mood disorder earlier this year. The diagnosis has been added to her already existing list, which includes autism, Reactive Attachment Disorder, PTSD, and Mild Cranial Facial Microsomia.

To say our road has been difficult with her is an understatement. The combination of diagnoses has been the hardest thing Jason and Renae have ever dealt with. Trying to find the correct medications to manage her manic episodes and dealing with daily rages and physical aggression has been such a challenge.

When Sunshine is doing well, she loves to learn. Her favorite school subject is botany. Sunshine’s smile and excitement for life are so contagious. You can’t help but smile when you meet her and enjoy her bubbly personality. She loves to play with baby dolls and dress up clothes. Just recently we’ve learned that swimming is something that calms her.

Life can be quite crazy and chaotic at times, but we’re making sure to enjoy every happy moment we can and learn from those moments that are challenging. The kiddos are growing up so fast. We’re trying to give them every opportunity and experience we can from camping to learning the Montessori way.

We hope this letter has found you well. Our family looks forward to staying in touch and following your wonderful life adventures in 2017. Merry Christmas!


With Love,

The Eddy Family
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Santa Lucia Day Activities, Free Printables and More!

The kiddos are learning about Santa Lucia Day as part of our Christmas in Europ study.  Princess loves the idea of Santa Lucia Day.  I'm guessing this is because the day has nothing to do with Santa.

In an effort to organize activities and resources, I bring you Santa Lucia Day Activities, Free Printables and More!  There are so many fun ideas.  We are going to have so much fun as we expand our Santa Lucia Day Celebration!
Santa Lucia Day
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Activities

Santa Lucia Dolls from Posie Gets Cozy
Santa Lucia and Star Boy Ornaments from Just Crafty Enough
St. Lucia Day from We Wilsons
Make a Starboy Hat from Twilight Bridge
St. Lucia Program from Nest Full of Eggs

Free Printables

St. Lucy's Day Coloring Pages from Super Coloring
Christmas in Sweden with Fun Freebie from Sunny Days in Second Grade
St. Lucia's Day from Kaing Learning Fun
St. Lucia Day from Willow of Wonder
Do you know what December 13th is in Sweden from Classroom Freebies Too!
Celebrating Staint Lucy's Feast from The Homely Hours

Books

Lucia Morning in Sweden by Ewa Rydaker
Lucia: Saint of Light by Katherine Bolger Hyde
The Tompten by Astrid Lindgren
Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
The Legend of Old Befana by Tomie de Paola
Hanna's Christmas by Melissa Peterson

Recipes

How to Make Safron Buns for St. Lucia Day from Catholic Icing
Santa Lucia Crown for the Feast of St. Lucia from One Perfect Bite
Saint Lucia's Braided Bread from Key Ingredient
Santa Lucia... from Miss Jane Home

Traditions

Rhythm in Our Home: Santa Lucia from Frontier Dreams
A December Celebration-Santa Lucia Day from Scholastic.com
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia! from Shower of Roses
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4 Steps to Managing Aggressive Behavior in Children

Parenting a physically aggressive child is a sensitive topic.  Unless you've experienced it, you can't imagine what it's like.  If you are living through it, you feel like the worst parent to have ever walked the planet.  There is no win.  It is so hard.

You've read all of the parenting books and know what to do.  The problem is, none of it works.  After venting to your elders and explaining everything you've tried, you listen to their words of wisdom, experiment and that doesn't work either.  Then you visit doctors and specialists and explain how bad things really are.  They can help in some ways, but the bottom line is, sometimes certain kiddos are just wired differently.

And since we have a child like that, we felt it extremely important to develop the 4 steps to managing aggressive behavior in children.
Aggressive Behavior in Chidren
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In our home, our aggressive child was adopted.  Her genetic makeup is completely different from my husband and I.  She has Reactive Attachment Disorder, PTSD, autism and a mood disorder that all work against one another and cause significant issues, but she's also just one of those children that's quick to anger and/or explosive about everything and anything.

The thing is there are behaviors that are acceptable and those that aren't.  Parenting a physically aggressive child isn't about how you'd like your child to behave anymore, it's about SAFETY.  This includes the safety of the child, other children (especially those in the home), parents, and other adults they may come in contact with.

One would like to think that safety is easily attainable in the home and/or at school.  But when you have a physically aggressive child, it's everything BUT easy.  Instead you feel physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausted.  Your stress level is through the roof.  Patience is something you seem to lose more and more of each day.  All of this because you're constantly managing behaviors.

There came a point a few months ago, where I felt I couldn't take it any longer.  After an incredibly difficult day I cried for hours.  I felt absolutely horrible about the parent I needed to be for my child.  Could she ever learn to love and treat another with kindness and respect?

I needed a plan, one that would help me regain confidence in myself as a parent, and one that would be beneficial for both parent and child.  It may seem simple, but in the midst of absolute chaos caused by a physically aggressive child, simple is always best.  The steps are easy to remember and carry out in the moment.

4 Steps to Managing Aggressive Behaviors of Children

1.  Use your words
Teaching and modeling correct communication skills not only benefits the child, but helps you keep your emotions under control.  When words are spoken calmly with kindness, there is a better chance that the explosive child may choose to respond verbally, because she doesn't feel threatened.

2.  Give a warning with a choice
If the child does not respond to directions, give a warning with a choice.  An example may look like this:  You can either calm down and enjoy playing a game with your family or take a break in your room.

By giving a positive choice, you're providing the child with a chance to make a good decision thus reversing the behavior that instigated the situation in the first place.  A choice also eliminates the need for the child to come up with what to do next.  When emotions are heightened your child may not be thinking clearly and therefore can't come up with what to do next on their own.

The warning helps the child know what to expect if they continue to act out.  Be sure to give your child ample time to process and act upon the warning with a choice.

3.  Follow through with the consequence
Once it becomes clear the that child is not calming down, the parent must move forward with the consequence immediately.  This will ensure the safety of others and show the child that you meant what you said.  The consequence must be consistent with the warning that was given.

4.  Safety first
At this point, the child will either choose to comply with the consequence or refuse.  Behaviors will likely accelerate to an unsafe level if the child refuses.  This is when safety must come first.  If you progress to step four, it is important to have a safety plan in place, one agreed upon by doctors, specialists, the parent and child.

Safety plans will look different, depending on the age,size, and behaviors of the child.  They may change over time.  A safety plan is to be used as the last resort after steps one through three have been completed, so long as no one's safety is threatened.

The four steps to managing behaviors of aggressive children gives power to the parent and to the child.  It's a tool that helps keep a parent's emotions intact, removing the frustration and anger that one may feel as situations arise.  The parent feels more confident and assured, knowing she is giving her best effort.

The steps also empower the child. A physically aggressive child knows what to expect, whether she decides to comply with what's being asked or not. Teaching moments happen too, since the child has ample opportunities to change her actions before losing control of her emotions.

When a plan like this is in place, documentation about incidents becomes easy.  With a physically aggressive child, documentation is everything.

As a parent of an aggressive child, I know how hard it is to deal with behaviors day in and day out. The stress is unreal, especially when you're worrying about your response to the behaviors as well.  No parent is perfect.  We make mistakes.  Our emotions get the best of us sometimes.

Since implementing these four steps. the worry is gone.  I know I'm doing my absolute best at parenting my child.  Though I may be discouraged at times, these steps are a great way to assess how I'm doing.  Once I confirm I'm using them consistently, I know I'm okay and so can you.

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Emergency Preparedness for Kids: Water Purification with Free Printable

There's nothing like waking up and realizing that you have no running water.  Such was the case for our family not too long ago.  Thankfully it only lasted a day, but that's still a long time when you have four special needs kiddos completely freaking out about it.

It only seemed natural to turn the experience into an opportunity for learning.  This went perfectly with plans on this year's school syllabus.  Today I'd like to introduce a new series on the blog called Emergency Preparedness for Kids.  Our first post focuses on water purification and comes with a free printable.  We hope you enjoy!  
Emergency Preparedness Activities: Water Purification
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Our water purification activities focused on educating the kiddos, easing their anxieties, and providing them with steps to follow in case they are in a situation without water in the future.  All activities are safe and kid friendly.

Filtering Water
Filtering Water
We taught the kiddos that the first step to obtaining clean water is to filter it.  We used a strainer with a coffee filter for this process.  The kiddos practiced pouring water from the pitcher into the strainer with the filter.  They thought it fascinating to see what residue was left on the coffee filter.

Before moving on to the next activity, I must share a precious moment from our learning experience.  Neither Jason or myself drink coffee.  We do not have a coffee maker and never have coffee filters in the home.

When Bulldozer first saw the coffee filter for this activity was ecstatic and exclaims,

"WOW!  Look at that giant cupcake holder!"  It was priceless.  I just love little moments like this.

Purifying Water with "Bleach"
Purifying Water with Bleach
The second step in our water purification process was boiling water.  I do not have a picture off this, but it's pretty safe to assume that we were boiling water all day to meet the needs of our family.

The third step in the water purification process was placing a few drops of bleach into the strained and boiled water.  To prevent accidents and skin irritation the kiddos practiced using water instead of bleach.

I loved this activity because it required so much fine motor skills practice and concentration.  The kiddos needed to unscrew the top off of the bottle.  They had to count their drops carefully after opening the bottle of "bleach."

Foods that Hydrate Sorting Activity
Foods that Hydrate
As we talked about water purification and emergency preparedness one concern the kiddos brought up over and over again was the worry about not having any water at all.  This anxiety led to the creation of this activity.

The kiddos sorted the cards, determining which foods are hydrating and which foods are not.  This activity helped them with their anxieties so much.  They liked knowing that there are options if you have no water, but do have food on hand.

Source:  Jason and I created the printable for this activity as part of our Emergency Preparedness Water Purification Printable Pack 1. For your free copy, click on the bottom of the post.

Brushing Teeth with Limited Water Supply
Brushing Teeth
We had to make a lot of changes at home during our day with no water.  This activity stood out, as it affected everyone.  How do you brush your teeth without running water?

The kiddos practiced pouring a very small amount of water into the cup provided, brushing, rinsing, pouring, and repeating. It did take some adjusting, but by the end of the day they were experts.  Lol.

Overall I was thankful for the experience of having no water in the comfort of my home, because the kiddos had time to practice skills they will need at some point in the future.  It was fun to turn the experience into a learning process, one I don't think the kiddos will ever forget.

If you're interested in the free printable, click on the link below.


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