Blog Archive

Deal of the Week: Astronomy Bundle

 My kids LOVE astronomy.  This is the entire reason I created the Montessori-inspired Astronomy Bundle.  

We have used this bundle so many times in so many different ways.  It has provided months and months of learning for preschool and elementary students.

This week, Sunday, October 18th through Saturday, October 24th, 2020, this amazing science resource can be yours at 50% OFF for only $29.99.  

It's our deal of the week!  

(This will be the last time this bundle is available during 2020.)

Deal of the Week: Montessori-inspired Astronomy Bundle


Let's take a closer look at what's included.

Montessori-inspired Astronomy Bundle

Montessori-inspired Stars Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Sun Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Moon Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Solar System Printable Pack

If you aren't interested in the entire Montessori-inspired Astronomy Bundle, (which I HIGHLY recomend) all of the individual printable packs in the bundle are also on sale for 50% OFF.  Just click on the images above.

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Deal of the Week: Harvest Sale (50% OFF Halloween & Thanksgiving Resources)

 The leaves are changing.  Weather is cooling.  For us, the holiday season begins with the celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving.  

Though I live in the United States, my family grew up just 15 minutes from the Canadian border.  My grandmother was born in Canada.

In honor of the start of the holiday season and Canadian Thanksgiving, our Deal of the Week is a Harvest Sale.  

All of our Halloweeen and Thanksgiving resources are on sale for 50% OFF.  

You can purchase products indivually or you can grab our Halloween and Thanksgiving Bundles.

Deal of the Week: Harvest Sale at Every Star Is Different

Montessori-inspired Halloween Bundle

Our Montessori-inspired Halloween Bundle is such a fun nonscary resource to use during the month of October for preschoolers and early elementary students.

All images are true to life.  No imaginary concepts are included.  It is such a fun bundle!

Montessori-inspired Halloween Bundle 

You can purchase the entire Montessori-inspired Halloween Bundle at 50% OFF for only $19.99.

Or you can purchase individual components of the bundle at 50% OFF.  Just click on the images below.  
Montessori-inspired Halloween Themed Language Bundle Montessori-inspired Halloween Jack-o-lantern Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Halloween Animals Printable Pack

Montessori-inspired Thanksgiving Bundle

The Montessori-inspired Thanksgiving Bundle is the ultimate resource for use in the classroom during the month of November or any time you're studying Native Americans and early explorers and colonists.

This culturally sensitive and respectul resource is perfect for teaching children about American History from all sides.

Montessori-inspired Thanksgiving Bundle

You can purchase the entire Montessori-inspired Thanksgiving Bundle (300 pages+) at 50% OFF for $29.99.

Or you can purchase any of the individual products included for 50% OFF by clicking on the images below.
Montessori-inspired Thanksgiving Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Native American History Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Explorers and Colonists Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Self-Care: Nutrition Printable Pack Montessori-inspired Self-Care: Kitchen Tasks Printable Pack
I absolutely LOVE this time of year.  It is so fun to have holiday themed activities and printables in the classroom. The kids are so excited to use them!

Be sure to grab your Halloween and Thanksgiving Resources for 50% OFF as part of our Deal of the Week Harvest Sale today!

This week will be the last time you can purchase the Halloween and Thanksgiving Bundles during the year 2020.

This week will also be the last week you can purchase the individual Halloween and Thanksgiving resources on sale during the year 2020.

Grab them now while you can!

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What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

There is one question I receive more than any other, when discussing my daughters and the trauma they endured, before they became members of our family.

What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

So few have ever heard of it, which is extremely concerning for so many reasons.  

But... 

Once a child has Reactive Attachment Disorder it is extremely difficult to overcome.  Some never do.

What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder?

A child can learn to cope with Reactive Attachment Disorder, but that all depends on the child's cognitive abilities. It also depends on if Reactive Attachment Disorder is the only diagnosis the child has.

Many children with Reactive Attachment Disorder have other mental health and developmental diagnoses which complicate things significantly.

Some have Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or experienced drug exposure in the womb making the brain function more complicated.

There are some doctors and specialists that believe in neuroplasticity, which means the brain can change and heal over a significant period of time.  When possible, this take decades.

Reactive Attachment Disorder can be a life long struggle.

So how does one end up with Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What Happens in Utero to Cause Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What happens in utero?


We often think that a human's life begins at birth.  But before birth, an infant grows in the mother's uterus for about 40 weeks.  That is a LONG time.

During that time, everything that happens to the mother, happens to the infant.  When the mother feels stress, the infant feels stress.  

When the mother endures trauma, the infant endures trauma.

This doesn't even account for what a mother is putting in her body, and how she takes care of herself.  When she is neglectful of herself, she is neglectful of the infant.

The infant's brain begins to develop around the 6 week mark during pregnancy. So much of the brain's formation is dependent on the mother's lifestyle and choices during pregnancy.

Even before an infant is born, the brain may have experienced so much trauma that it is already altered.

What Happens During Infancy to Cause Reactive Attachment Disorder?

What happens during infancy?


Once an infant is born, it thrives based on the caregiver's ability to meet its needs, and establish a secure attachment.

When a baby cries because its hungry, the caregiver feeds it.  The crying stops.  Caregiver and infant bond.

When a baby cries because it needs a diaper change, the caregiver changes the diaper.  The baby stops crying.  Caregiver and infant bond.

When a baby cries because it desires to be held and comforted, the caregiver holds the baby.  Once again the baby stops crying.  The two form a relationship of trust and love.

With every need that is met, the infant and caregiver are forming a stronger attachment with one another. 

The baby learns to trust that the caregiver will respond with love each and every time, meeting every need.

But... 

What happens when a caregiver doesn't respond?  

What happens when a caregiver responds only part of the time?

What happens when a caregiver responds negatively to the infant?

A baby may learn there's no point in crying, because no one will come.  So the crying stops.

A baby may not understand what to do, and remain in distress all the time, because the caregiver's response varies, and the infant doesn't know what to expect.

A baby may learn that crying results in pain inflicted by others, so it smiles all the time instead.

During these crucial months of brain development any one of these situations is extremely dangerous.

When the growing brain has to reprogram itself to survive, without needs being met by a caregiver, for an extended period of time, changes in the brain can become permanent or hardwired.

The infant learns through experience that caregivers can not be trusted.  

No loving attachment is formed.

Instead caregivers become a threat to survival.

What Happens to Cause Reactive Attachment Disorder?

So now what?


An infant who has not formed a secure attachment with a caregiver, and can not work through the trauma they've experienced, develops Reactive Attachment Disorder.  

The brain has been altered to the point that the damage may be permanent.

This can be diagnosed by the age of three years old, if seen by the proper professionals.

Reactive Attachment Disorder can be the result of neglect and abuse suffered by a child who is in foster care or an orphanage.  

It can also occur if a mother has post partum depression without any supports.  

In some cases it occurs as a result of medical trauma experienced for an extended period of time during the first months of life.

There are multiple situations that can result in this disorder.

Now please understand, Reactive Attachment Disorder occurs when an infant does not have a consistent caregiver who provides for its needs in a nurturing way.  This caregiver does not have to be the mother.  

If the mother is unable to care for her child, anyone can step in and do so.  The infant's brain can develop properly, so long as someone can be consistent at all times.

In rare cases, Reactive Attachment Disorder may have already established itself at birth.

No one knows how Reactive Attachment Disorder will affect each individual brain. Every brain is different.  It operates on a spectrum.  Some cases are mild.  Some are severe.

What Does Reactive Attachment Disorder Look Like?

What does Reactive Attachment Disorder look like?


Both of our daughters came to us at about six months of age through foster care.  In both cases, the damage to the brain was already done.  Both were diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder at three years of age.

But no one could tell from just looking at them that they had Reactive Attachment Disorder.  If people saw anything, they saw parents who appeared to be losing their minds.

Infancy

Princess would not let me feed her or change her.  She would scream inconsolably for hours on a daily basis no matter what I did.  

I could not bathe her without her experiencing significant distress.  No matter how much I showed her love and tried to comfort her, it didn't work.

Sunshine also screamed for hours a day.  She did not know when to stop eating. As a result, she was constantly vomiting while crying for more food.  

Sunshine could not tolerate being held.  It was as if it hurt her.  I can remember only two times she ever fell asleep in my arms.  No matter how much I wanted to console her, she was inconsolable.

Both girls had horrible night terrors that we could not stop, no matter how hard we tried.

My husband and I pushed through all of this with hope, that after a significant amount of time, the love that we were giving our girls, would help heal their hearts and brains.

The Toddler Years

We could identify PTSD episodes in Princess and Sunshine as early as two years old.  Through nightmares and sensory experiences, we were able to develop a pretty good understanding of the trauma and neglect they'd experienced as an infants.  

Sleep issues were significant.

Both exhibited a delay in motor skills and had significant sensory issues.  

Princess and Sunshine still struggled with food issues.  Sunshine couldn't get enough, and would steal and gorge her food to the point of gagging and vomiting daily.  Princess would refuse to eat for hours.  Mealtime was a nightmare.

To say that the two were defiant was an understatement.  EVERYTHING was a battle.  And no, it wasn't in that terrible two and horrible three way.  They would not let us care for them.  

When it normally takes a toddler a few times to understand rules and boundaries, it took the girls a thousand times.  They could not trust anything we did, nor could they trust us to take care of them.

We continued parenting in the best ways we knew how, and sought out help from a therapist that specialized in trauma.  

No matter what our girls were struggling with, we were determined to help them.  Our love was unconditional.  We had hope that we could help them heal.

The Preschool Years

Defiance escalated to an oppositional defiance diagnosis level.  The girls would scream, yell and refuse the simplest and necessary tasks for hours.  We started to see destruction to property, harming of one's self and others, sexually acting out, cruelty to animals, and more.

Both girls displayed a huge lack of safety awareness that would often manifest itself similar to ADHD.

Princess avoided contact with everyone.  Sunshine had to hug and kiss anyone she met continuously.  Relationship boundaries of any kind were so incredibly hard.

Nightmares, PTSD episodes, and panic attacks were occurring on a daily basis in both girls.

Princess was in therapy at age three.  Sunshine wasn't cognitively ready yet.  

My husband and I worked closely with our therapist.  We read every resource we could get our hands on, willing to learn how to parent in the ways our girls needed.  Hope would keep us going on our most difficult days.  

Six Years Old

At six years old Princess took an interest in self injurious behaviors and sharp objects.  Room searches and lock boxes were a necessity.  She needed to be supervised around the clock, during the day, at arm's length.  An alarm was put on her bedroom door at night.

Six years of age was also the year Princess was threatening to kill me on a regular basis.  It stopped when I finally told her to just get it done and over with. 

Princess' longest screaming fit lasted eight hours that year.  Princess would destroy property the minute someone wasn't looking.  

At six years old Sunshine was taken from our home in a police car, and admitted to an inpatient pediatric psychiatric ward. She wanted her family dead, and was physically attacking me multiple times a day, on a daily basis.

Sunshine started at a day program, in an effort to delay residential treatment at such a young age.  We had an intensive in-home therapist in our home at least three hours a week.

Both girls were expert liars and enjoyed stealing from others.

And all of this because we tried to love them.  They couldn't handle it.  Their brains viewed us as the ultimate threat.

Still, my husband and I kept moving forward with hope.  

If we could just help them move past this phase of brain development...  

If we could just figure out how to help our girls.

They could and would get better.

Eight Years Old

Princess' self-injurious behaviors increased.  She talked about wanting to kill herself.  Constant supervision was required.  Princess could pick a fight about anything, and was sure to do so every chance she got.

Sunshine ended up being taken from our home, in a police car, and admitted to an inpatient pediatric psychiatric ward TWICE in one month, for attacking me, to the point of leaving bruises and bite marks.  From there she was transferred to a residential treatment facility where she remained for six months.  

Since returning home, she continues to tell me how she wants to hurt me, and that her brain likes it.  We're working hard to help her in as many ways as we can, but know there's a good chance she could end up in residential treatment again.

Eight years old has been by far our hardest year parenting children with Reactive Attachment Disorder, but with each one, hope has not been lost.  We're working through things.  We advocate for our girls.  We continue to love unconditionally.

Preteen Years

We've been fortunate that Princess has simmered down since eight years old. At eleven now, she is at her best.  

She still struggles daily with all that Reactive Attachment Disorder does to mess with her brain, but she's decided she wants to be part of our family.  It's okay that we love her.  

Just the other day, Princess blew me away when she said it was okay to give her compliments now.  They were no longer too scary.

To Princess love means safety, and we provide that.

Princess is beginning to heal.

I can't say that Sunshine's preteen years will go as well.  We continue to work with her intensive in-home therapist and psychiatrist to figure out what's best for Sunshine.  This could mean a few more years of residential treatment.  We just don't know yet.

The brain resets during puberty.  This is usually the most difficult time for a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Depending on how long they lived through the trauma and neglect, will determine how long it takes their brain to settle again.

Our main goal is to ensure that no matter where Sunshine is, we are still her family.  She deserves a family.  We have hope, that like her sister, eventually her brain can begin to heal.

Teen Years

Though we haven't experienced the teen years with our girls yet, I have many friends who have experienced this difficult time.  Things will either become far worse or they'll tone down.  

Nothing you've seen in a horror movie is off the table when it comes to the extreme lengths these children will go to push away love.  Some set fires.  Others become involved with crime, sex, drugs, and alcohol.  

Still there is hope!

Parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder is the HARDEST thing an individual will ever do, but it's worth it.

How the Reactive Attachment Disordered Brain Works

How the Reactive Attachment Disordered Brain Works


The most tragic thing about Reactive Attachment Disorder is that it's not the child's fault the brain is wired the way it is.

There is this constant negative working model cycling inside the child's head.  

The caregiver shows love and support.

Then, the child's Reactive Attachment Disordered brain is triggered.  Love and support are too scary.

The child provokes the caregiver, because the brain is craving the same response it was given during those early months of life.  Neglect and/or abuse feels better.  It's calming. It's their normal.

Please note that in a situation where an infant is experiencing significant medical trauma and pain, and can not be held or cared for by caregivers, the infant's brain can and sometimes does identify this in the same way it would abuse and neglect, even though medical procedures and distance from loved ones is necessary.

When caregivers give in to the child's provoking, they satisfy the Reactive Attachment Disordered brain.  But, they also feed the brain's thoughts of worthlessness.

This cycle continues over and over again day in and day out.  

A caregiver doesn't want to, and can not become a neglectful and/or abusive caregiver.

But, doing the opposite, showing unconditional love and support no matter what, doesn't work either.  

The child can not accept that love.  Not because they don't want to, but because their brain is now wired not to accept it.

Both situations are equally dangerous.

This same negative working model can occur with siblings of children with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  It is crucial that parents identify this and set up safety plans to keep everyone safe.

The negative working model can also occur with anyone who tries to form a close relationship with the child with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  The closer the person tries to get, the more behaviors they will see.

The Caregiver's Job

The Caregiver's Job


It's the caregiver's job not to give in to the negative working model, no matter how severe the behaviors become.  Hope for healing is a necessity.

At the same time, the caregiver needs to find safe boundaries when showing love and affection, so as not to trigger the Reactive Attachment Disordered brain.

In some cases this may mean no physical affection.  

In other cases it may mean loving from a distance, as a child receives residential treatment, where both the child and the caregiver can remain safe. 

Parenting in this way feels backwards and upside down with a lot of judgment from others.

It means loving someone who may never be able to love, or even treat you kindly.

A child with Reactive Attachment Disorder usually has one main target in the household. 

In most cases it's the caregiver who fulfills the role of mother.  

The child may act completely normal and innocent with the caregiver who fulfills the role of father, but then go to the extreme of trying to hurt or kill the mother figure.  This can lead to significant marital problems and triangulation scenarios.

When it comes to others in the child's life, so long as they don't get too close, they may not see any of the Reactive Attachment Disorder behaviors at all.  

Caring for a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder is an emotional rollercoaster that may come with PTSD, an anxiety disorder, depression and more.

But, despite all of that, you're saving a life, one day at a time.  Though it is incredibly hard, it can be worth it. 

Every child deserves a chance.

Every child deserves to be loved.

There is hope of healing.

Children with  Reactive Attachment Disorder do not want to behave the way they do.  

They wish more than anything that they could control that part of their brain that has been damaged.

They wish they could accept love.  

They wish they could handle having a family, even when they don't seem to.

It is so important for the caregiver to understand this.  Don't lose hope!


If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
Reactive Attachment Disorder Support and Resources To Be a Mother of a Young Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder Our Pediatric Mental Health Crisis From the Mother of a Bully How to Discipline a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder Must Have Safety Resources When Parenting a Child with Reactive Attachment Disorder 4 Steps to Managing Aggressive Behaviors One Sure Way to Help Your Child Work Through Emotions

What Is Reactive Attachment Disorder?


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Deal of the Week: Montessori-inspired Continents Bundle

My kiddos are super excited about continent studies right now which I'm really excited about.  We're focusing our studies on Africa right now.  Each day we focus on a new country.  They are having so much fun!

In honor of my kiddos' current love of continents our Deal of the Week this week is the Montessori-inspired Continents Bundle.  

Now through September 29, 2020 the Montessori-inspired Continents Bundle will be available at 50% OFF.

This will be the last time during the year 2020 that this product will be available so be sure to grab this bundle while you can!

Deal of the Week: Montessori-inspired Continents Bundle

The Montessori-inspired Continents Bundle includes printables for every continent.  Ocean printables are also included.

Printables aren't just focused on geography, but language, math, culture, and science as well.

If you can not afford the entire Montessori Continents Bundle, all individual products in the bundle are also 50% OFF now through Tuesday, September 29, 2020.

Individual Components of the Montessori-inspired Continents Bundle

To obtain more details about each component of the bundle, click on the images below.
Montessori-inspired Continents and Oceans Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired Africa Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired Antarctica Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired Australia/Oceania Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired North America Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired South America Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired Europe Unit Printable Pack Bundle Montessori-inspired Asia Unit Printable Pack Bundle
We have had so much fun using these printable packs over the years with our kiddos.  There are so many great memories attached to them.  It's my hope that you enjoy them just as much!
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Fall Counting Activities for Preschoolers with a Bonus Free Printable

We are so excited for the beginning of the fall season.  The leaves are falling.  Temperatures are finally dropping.  Kids are all too excited to wear pants and long sleeve shirts to play outside on crisp mornings.  I can't help but carry over the anticipation of fall to our learning environment.

Sunshine has returned home from residential treatment and has once again joined us for learning at home.  Though almost nine years old, Sunshine is developmentally and cognitively about five years old.  She's at that perfect developmental age to really master counting and writing her numbers!

In an effort to help her in this endeavor, I've created these Fall Counting Activities for Preschoolers with a bonus free printable. We're having so much fun with these new printables!

Montessori-inspired Fall Math Printable Pack with Bonus Free Printable

All printables used in our activities this week are from the Montessori-inspired Autumn Math Printable Pack with the exception of the Subscriber Bonus Freebie debuting in this post. 

Fall Counting Activities for Preschoolers


Fall Themed Counting Books
Montessori-inspired Fall themed Counting Books for Preschoolers

These beautiful fall themed counting books have been used in a variety of ways in our classroom this week.  On the first day the control cards were introduced, we simply put the cards in order from 1 to 30 to see if Sunshine remembered them.

The second time Sunshine brought them out she grabbed the control cards and the empty writing cards.  She then practiced writing each of her numbers correctly on the lines.

Today we're using the control cards with the Montessori bead bars to create numbers.

The sky really is the limit as to how these cards can be used in the classroom.  As Sunshine transitions from a non Montessori public school setting back to our Montessori homeschool, I've observed that Sunshine tends to expect a new activity each day.  

To help her work through this need and transition, I find myself creating printables that can be used in multiple ways, in case I need to come up with something "new" in the moment to help her stay engaged and learning.  

Fall Themed I Can Count to 30! Charts and Cards

I briefly discussed above how Sunshine put the control cards in order from 1 to 30 when I first introduced them.  Here you can see one of three I Can Count to 30! charts included in the Autumn Math Printable Pack that was used as a control.

There are three versions of the I Can Count to 30! charts included in the printable pack. One has numbers on writing lines, one has numbers with no lines.  One is blank for the child to fill in.

Fall Themed Fill in the Missing Number

There are days when Sunshine loves to write.  To fulfill that need, I created the fill in the missing number cards.  She has thoroughly enjoyed these.  They are helping to build her confidence in her writing and counting abilities.

Fall Themed Fill in the Missing Number Clip Cards

On days that Sunshine isn't up to writing we use these adorable fill in the missing number clip cards.  I gave Sunshine a choice of using orange clothespins or our acrylic pumpkins to mark her answers.  She chose the orange pumpkins.

Montessori-inspired Autumn Math Printable Pack Bonus Freebie

Since Sunshine enjoys writing so much I created a bonus freebie where she could practice writing her numbers.  

Once again this printable can be used in so many ways.  Sunshine can match up number cards with the control word strips.  She can practice writing each of the numbers on the lines provided.  Those who aren't able to write on their own yet can using the tracing word strips.

What's also cool about this freebie is that it comes with both print and cursive options.  My older kiddos will be using the cursive option, while Sunshine sticks to print.

To grab your own copy of the Autumn Math Printable Pack Bonus Freebie follow the directions below.

Directions on How to Obtain Subscriber Only Freebies

1. Click on the Subscriber's link at the bottom of this post.

2. Subscribe to our free newsletter.

3. You will be sent a confirmation e-mail. Be sure to click the link to confirm your subscription.

4. Once confirmed you will receive a "Thank You" Message.

5. The link to our Subscriber Only Freebies page as well as password to access it is in the "Thank You" message.

6. Click on link and type in password.

7. Find the printable pack you are looking for listed in alphabetical order, click on it, and viola!

We hope you enjoy your free printable.

Note: If you are already a newsletter subscriber, open your most recent newsletter. At the bottom you will find a link to the Subscriber Only Freebies page, along with the password in case you forgot it.

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If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy the posts below.
Autumn Leaves Unit with Free Printables Montessori-inspired Fall Harvest Unit Printable Pack Bundle Autumn Math Fact Clip Cards Bundle
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